These are letters to Jack, my son, and my daughter, Audrey. You have given me the gift of motherhood. This is just a little gift back. I want to share my experiences with you of your childhood from my perspective of watching you grow - of being your Mom.

Monday, July 31, 2006




Good Morning! Well - I wanted to share with you a little word to the wise. Watch yourself as you grow older and become frustrated. I see you struggling with it now and I am trying to help you figure out how to deal with these feelings when I realize that I still struggle with my own feelings of frustration on a daily basis.

Just yesterday, someone (I won't say whom) commented that they had laughed at me because I had chosen to ride in the backseat with you when we drive somewhere as a family.

Here's a word to the wise that I learned on dealing with frustration. Don't go with your initial instincts. Although, the world may temporarily become red and you may have urges to open your mouth and bite that person's head off or allow utterances to issue forth that you know you will regret in the long run - resist the urge! Clamp your teeth shut and force yourself to smile non-challantly (even if you are giving the finger to said person under the table).

I have found that I don't react very well to criticisms of how I raise you. I realize that I'm not perfect and that I make mistakes but I find it INCREDIBLY bold of other people to point these out to me when they are certainly not in possession of the perfect formula for parenting themselves. Don't get me wrong - I can understand and even appreciate a shared suggestion when mothers are comparing stories and asking for information on how someone has dealt with something in the past or someone volunteering their experiences when they see you going through the same thing, but I don't understand the purpose of criticism when no one is being hurt by the actions in question or helped by the criticism.

Anyway, in light of our quest recently to figure out how to manage our strongest feelings, it's brought to light for me that this is an ongoing process that I still need some help with myself.

FYI - you aren't hitting anyone else anymore although you do still sometimes hit yourself, but you do complain and fuss when being made to do something that you don't want to do. I think we all feel that way, don't we? :)

Love you, Sweetie!



Postnote: We went this past weekend to Grant's Farm as a family. It was us, the Shanks, the Wassels and Grandma and Grandpa Dough! Here are some pictures from that fun outing!:

You were so cute greeting all the animals from the train! I found you!!!

Just one of the guys!

Them thar are chickens, yung uns!


Oh, Sweet Jesus! Tiny droplets of water! RUN! RUN!!!!!

We made it!!!


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Frustrated J



I think you are getting to a point where you are realizing that there are limits to things that you may want to do and you don't completely understand them. In addition to these limits, there is still the communication barrier because, although you can say some words, you're still in those early stages and you haven't ventured to try many new words out recently.

As a result of these limitations, you are experiencing moments of frustration during the day and I can tell that you aren't really sure what to make of these feelings or what to do about them. The way that it's manifesting right now is for you to flail your hands around which has resulted at first in a couple of accidental swats, but now it's becoming more purposeful expression and you are sometimes hitting when you get frustrated. This only happens at the height of exasperation on your part and you sometimes even unleash it on yourself, swatting yourself with your hands when you are so frustrated because it's time to leave the pool, or come inside or lay down. I am a first time mom and I don't pretend to know the best way to help you when these moments come up, but I try to be firm about what is acceptable and what isn't. At the same time, I want you to know that it's okay to express yourself and to be frustrated. We all experience that and there is no shame in it. I just don't want you to act out in a destructive way or a way that could be harmful to yourself or others.

I've read some articles and I think I'm going to try giving you a spot with a blanket and pillow that you can go to when you get frustrated so you can work out your feelings. I'm not sure how this will work. I know that I will try to help you put words to your feelings and I'll do my best to give you choices whenever possible because I know you are your own person and I love you and want you to be yourself as much as I can.

I'm hoping that having a calm place to go to will help you to find a way for you to show your frustration in a way that is acceptable and gives you some release. I will try this out and let you know how it's working. I love you, sweetie! You hang in there! As your language develops, you'll understand better and these periods of frustration, although they will still be present, won't be quite so upsetting. (There's my naiive first-mom-ness showing through again, isn't it?) :)

Love you!!!!



Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Big Power Outage of 2006



You lived through the great Power outage of 2006! What a wild week this past week was!

Last Wednesday night, July 19th, in the evening - you and I were at home. We had eaten dinner and we were playing around on the first floor. I had just put the dogs outside and we were just getting ready to head upstairs when suddenly winds started to pick up. The front door blew open. I didn't think anything of it really because it just seemed like it was windy, but I could hear the dogs at the back door and they seemed anxious so I let them in. The wind was really picking up now and so I scooped you up and we were fixing a cup of milk for you when we heard a crash. We hurried out to the front porch in time to see that the wind had shattered a window on the front porch and the storm had gotten significantly worse. I locked the inside door, too, and turned around when the transformer across the street exploded. There were sparks and I jumped backwards. You grabbed onto me tightly and started to make anxious little worried wimpers. I was scared, too. I called Erin and she told me that the tree on the side of the house had blown off and was in the street outside the bay window. Sure enough - there it was. The wind was whipping by now through the broken glass and through the cracks in the doors and making loud whistling noises that were scaring you, so we went to the basement and closed the door to wait out the worst of the storm. The electricity had gone out by this time and the basement is always hot so we were snuggled up in the hot dark basement listening to the loud storm on the other side of the door. You were getting very hot, but I couldn't pull you away from me in order to cool you off because you were so scared and you seemed to be afraid that I was trying to put you down which I would never have done. So, I held you and tried to give you some cold milk to cool you off, but you were too upset to drink.

We waited out the storm and Daddy came home from class and helped clean up some of the trash and debris that was littering our front yard. The electric stayed off for most of the evening, but came on at about 4 AM on Thursday. I went in to work on Thursday morning, but my job was closed down because they didn't have any power. Your Daddy took off from his work and we set to work on cleaning up the yard from the broken branches and debris.

By that afternoon, we were back up and running with all new groceries and we played together and had a wonderful rest of the day.

Through all of this time, there were over 500,000 residents without power in our area. Your Aunt Erin, Uncle Brett and Cal were without power for that whole period as were GG and Great-Grandma Jane. Bethesda (Great-Grandma Jane's nursing home) had generator power, so they were okay. GG and the Shanks went to stay with Grandma and Poppa Dough.

Friday, a second storm blew through the area and we lost power again. We were lucky because the temperature on Friday and Saturday wasn't too high and we were comfortable in our home. We didn't have to leave to stay with anyone else.

Uncle Brett brought home a generator on Friday from work and we moved all of our freezer and refrigerator items from the Shanks, Roses and Wassels together in order to keep them from going bad. By 3:30 on Saturday, we had the power back on for all of us - but even till this moment there are still many without power from that storm. It was a gust storm and it was powerful and scary! There were homes in our area with whole uprooted trees on the houses, but we were very, very lucky.

Just wanted to share with you a little of the excitement from this event before it fades from my memory. Even now, you are still a little jumpy. The dogs scare you when the bark and startle you now and you cry. I think this is left over from the scare of the storm because you were very terrified for the whole length of it and I think this is a trailing effect.

Just know - I'll never let anything happen to you if I can help it. You are safe with your Momma!



Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Beautiful Baby



First off - I want to preface this entry with a disclaimer. I want you to know that looks are not important. I say that because I want you to value yourself for who you are and the way that you look is such a SMALL part of that. Your looks will change through your life - for some people a lot more than others due to accidents, etc - but we all change as we age. Looks are fleeting. I have always found that I am more complimented when someone says something about a good idea I had or complimented some achievement of mine than how I looked. Trust me - I like when I'm complimented on my appearance, too, but I find the other types of compliments make me feel much better about myself.

That being said - there is no denying that you are a beautiful child. I receive compliments from complete strangers when we are out about how beautiful you are.

When I was younger, my parents got me involved in modeling. I was a child model for clothing and I really enjoyed it. I had fun at the shoots and had a lot of fun seeing my picture in the paper. It was a real treat to get to see it in black and white print next to the news and know that hundreds of people had seen my picture. I felt important.

Well, all those compliments got me to thinking that it might be fun to do this for you. I went ahead and submitted your photos to an agency and you got a call for a Macy's ad. I took you yesterday. It was fun - a little crazy, but fun. The photographers were very patient and enthusiastic about you. They loved you! They put you in three different outfits and took a lot of pictures. I think you are going to be in some sort of Macy's ad/catalogue that will be delivering with any credit card statements to cardholder's of Famous Barr and Macy's accounts. We don't have one, but I have put information out there to anyone that does that they should hold onto any mailers that they receive with their statements because I want to check for any pictures of you in them! :) I think it would be fun if you do end up in print, but we'll see.

That aside - you and I got to have the whole day together and that was the best part of it for me. I had such a wonderful time showing you off and getting to be the proud mother of such a sweet and wonderful little boy. Aside from being cute - you had the best disposition of any of the children there and it came through in your pictures. Your confidence and inquisitiveness and passion for life. What a joy it is to be your mom!

Well, I guess the apple didn't fall too far from the tree in the area of child modeling. Even if that was the one and only time - it was fun to share that experience with you, Jack! I love everything about you, honey! You are a smart, sensitive, caring, curious and beautiful boy!



Friday, July 07, 2006

BOOL, balls, dadadada and Ed



Sorry I haven't written in a while! My head is just SWIMMING with everything that has been going on! :)

My job situation has panned out and I have gotten a job with my company, but I'll be moving to an hourly position rather than salaried like I was. This may end up for the best, though, because the company won't want to pay me overtime, so it means less time dedicated to work and more time for family! And since you and Daddy are #1 in my book - I feel like everything is working out for the best!

We just got back last week from our trip to Florida with you and the very first experience that you had with the ocean. MAN, did you LOVE it! There was a pool at Tropical Breeze where we stayed and then there was the ocean. You couldn't say "ocean", but you called it a "BOOL" which I determined came from "Big Pool". So there was the pool and the BOOL. I put BOOL in all caps because you would always say it with such enthusiasm and expressiveness to show how very much you NEEDED to go there at that moment. :)

I HAVE to mention that the first day we were there, you and I got up first and I was making breakfast (about the only meal that I CAN make well) and you walked into the bedroom. I figured you would wake up Daddy by smacking his head with your enthusiastic hello, but Daddy said he woke up with your bottle in his mouth and you making lip smacking sounds and smiling as you "fed" him. Hilarious! You laughed at it, too, as though you knew how ridiculous it was!

We would wake up in the morning at about 5:30AM - you let us sleep in a little. Yes - this IS sleeping in to all you non-parents! We would eat breakfast together and watch a little TV as we went through the rituals of sunscreen and diaper changes and finally getting dressed for the pool. It's a long process of getting ready when you are trying to change, dress and grease up a squirming little monkey that wants nothing more than to run, run, run! By the time you were ready, Daddy and I would have to scurry to finish getting ourselves ready because you were ready to jump out of your skin to get down to the BOOL. You would start out with an impatient whine that would slowly increase in pitch and volume until we got the message of urgency and dashed out the door with everything but the kitchen sink piled in Daddy's arms.

On the elevator, you pushed the buttons and we taught you how to point accusingly at the camera in the corner of the elevator - just to freak out the watchman that was monitoring the screen. Once the elevator opened at the bottom, you would take off at top speed to the BOOL saying "BOOL, BOOL, BOOL" announcing to the ocean that YOU were on your way!

You would run so fast down the pathway to the ocean that I had visions of you slipping and going flying on your face on the hot, scratchy wood path so I would dash alongside of your with my arms out until we reached the edge of the sand. Even though the edge of the sand was still on the pathway to the beach, you would flop down as soon as you reached the sand and smile. You had MADE it and you didn't feel the immediate need to go any further or worry about anyone that was waiting behind you. You were at the beach. The BOOL! There was nothing else you needed! (Except for momma and dadda, right?) Watch out people! We've got RAKES and we aren't afraid to use them!

While we were in Florida, we had a cooking contest and you determined our theme of "Balls". Daddy made rice balls, meatballs, Matzah ball soup, and we had cheese balls for appetizers and ice cream balls for dessert. It was all so delicious! Kelly and Bobby took home the prize with their theme of Meet Me In St. Louis and cooking things that were made popular or introduced at the St. Louis Fair. Very interesting and yummy! Grandma and Poppa Dough cooked homemade applesauce and pork which everyone enjoyed! They came in second!

Speaking of Kelly and Bobby - I don't know which of them started it, but you have always been very curious about belly buttons. You know you have one and that Daddy and I do, too. Well, in Florida as you can imagine, there are belly buttons galore! You were very interested in Kelly and Bobby's belly buttons and they were very accomodating letting you touch their belly buttons and then letting out a little beeping noise as though belly buttons make sounds when you press them. You were delighted with this fun game and it was a regular occurence. We would be playing in the BOOL and it would suddenly occur to you that you needed to press some belly buttons and would point to Bobby and Kelly so that you could hear the noises they made. Well, there was one close call where you almost pressed a belly button of an unsuspecting sunbather who had his eyes closed at the time and had NO idea how close he came to a belly button goosing by a curious toddler. Imagine the story we would have had THEN. :) So, in the future if you are obsessed with belly buttons, you know who you have to thank for it!

Kelly and Bobby also went parasailing while we were down there. You saw them leave and come by on the parasail and then come back. After witnessing this, you were very aware of parasailers and would point to them and wave. I couldn't tell if you thought you were waving at Kelly and Bobby each time or if you simply found them fascinating. Remind me if I haven't done it when you grow up that I need to take you parasailing sometime, okay?

We went sand crabbing on our second to last night there and you enjoyed seeing the crabs. We were all surprised to see Poppa Dough duking it out with a true ocean crab in the surf. It was wild. The crab was leaping up at him with his claws out and Poppa Dough was smacking it away with his open palm. Once he had it calmed down with a flashlight in it's eyes, we put it in your little yellow bucket. It was huge and had it's claws folded in front of it in order to fit in the bucket. It was clicking and really ticked off, but you loved it! When we released it and it went back in the ocean, you were waving and waving at him. We have a Curious Buddies video that you love and it has a sandcrab on it and when that part comes on, you smile and stare and wave when he runs off at the end of it. Very cute! So glad that we did that with you - thanks to Poppa Dough and Grandma for that suggestion!

The airplane rides with you were a little crazy, but fun, too. The seating space was very crowded so we would pile you on our laps and you managed to make use of the smallest wiggle room by getting down on the floor to check under the seats and climbing on our laps and pulling over the tops of the seats to wave at all the passengers behind us. Sometimes there was a TV on the headrest in front of us - you LOVED that! You would point out anytime there was a picture of a dog or a ball on the screen (you'd be surprised how often that was). You also won over the airline stewardess staff and one of them took you into there little room and let you push all the buttons back there. You were in toddler heaven!

Now we are home and settling back into our routine. Both myself and Daddy had such a great time getting to have so much one-on-one time with you. I must admit that this was the highlight of the trip for both of us! You and Daddy are getting closer and closer. Every night when you drift off to sleep now, you whisper "dadadadadadada". It has become your satisfied contented baby mantra as you fall asleep and you always have a little smile on your face as you drift off saying it. It brings tears to my eyes with how sweet it is.

The other night Daddy fell asleep first and started snoring. You just KNEW he was playing around and started cracking up. You would stand up to stand directly over him with a huge smile on your face while he continued to snore and then you would fall on his head.

I can only imagine what he thought when you did this, but I have to commend him for his "Daddy skills" because he only opened his eyes and said tiredly "hey, buddy!" and then fell back asleep so that you could repeat the process when the snoring resumed.

One last thing before I cut myself off. You got your first pet on Sunday! It was a feeder goldfish named Ed. (only known photo of Ed pictured here):Yes - I said "was". Ed only made it till yesterday and he is with us no longer, but you sure did love that fish while we had him. You would press your little nose up to the glass and watch him swim back and forth. April would do this too. Sometimes April would become so excited by his movement (I kept the tank on the floor - securely covered, though - so you could observe all you wanted) that April would start digging furiously at the glass and making excited little groaning sounds. I would have to shoo her away from Ed every once in a while. I think this may have in part contributed to Ed's early demise, but he was also a feeder goldfish, so it could have been anything. It could have been he had 800 goldfish diseases and therefore died. I haven't broken to you that Ed has gone to the big BOOL in the sky yet. Your Daddy and I are going to replace the fish this weekend with a hardier variety that will hopefully last more than a week. Maybe we'll let you help pick out Ed 2 like you did with Ed 1. :)

Life with you is better than I ever could have thought that life could be, honey! Thanks for the daily adventure that life has become holding your little hand and seeing everything again for the first time!



And now for some pictures!:

Obligatory photos of buring a child in a hole in the sand:

Of course I love you sweetie! Now, hold still while I stick you in the ground for no reason!

I've got to hand it to you.....

You didn't seem phased and went right on playing! IMPRESSIVE!

Oh, my god - a TOE! Someone lost a TOE!!!

What do you mean I can't stay here all day?Check out my boys. Note the matching mischevious expressions:

I know - I'm in for some trouble!


A sandcastle?!?!?


Bye, Bye Florida and BOOL! See you next year! :)