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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jack's Second Halloween!


Today is Halloween! Your second ever!

I am waiting for the end of the day and evening with the anticipation that I remember having as a child. I remember once standing outside. Mom had said we could go trick or treating in five minutes which meant that we had to count to 300. I remember standing there with my siblings in full costume in the driveway counting to 300 as fast as I could.

I didn't understand and didn't want to understand the "one-one-hundred, two-one-hundred" rule of speed when counting seconds....

Well - 300!! I want to leave and have fun with you!

I picked you up at school yesterday and I think it was much easier for you yesterday than before. You had made this art project:

The teacher explained that they put glue on the paper and let the children pick out scraps and place them on the paper where they wanted them. When I arrived and started gathering your things from your cubby, you grabbed up this painting and held it up for me to see and said "OOOOOOOH!!!" as though you couldn't believe how pretty it was.

I was SO proud of you both for doing it and for being proud enough to show it to me. What a little man!

Well - Daddy finished carving the pumpkins a couple of nights ago.

Boy, I know I'll start sounding like a broken record, but the difference between last year and this year is huge. Last year, you barely paid any attention to the pumpkins next to you. This year, they are your entire focus. You actually even reached in them and got a little surprise at one point (you sucked in air and looked hurt and turned my direction in disbelief like... Mommy, you won't believe what this crappy thing DID to me!).

Tonight, I'm sure I'll take like a billion more of these!

Oh! I repaired the Woody hat with tape so it will be okay to wear tonight.... see if you can tell when you see the pictures! :)


See you soon, little man!



Monday, October 30, 2006

World Series CHAMPS!


All I have to say about this past weekend is "WOW!!!"
The whole weekend was a whirl of excitement! Friday night - we won the World Series!!! The Cards are #1!!! You and Cal may have been asleep for the win, but you were awake for most of the Series game and then your monitors were right there for the win! So, you WERE there!!!
In retrospect, it was probably good that you weren't there for the celebration after because the adults got a little crazy:
The next morning, the effects of being Champs carried over. Your Daddy and I were relaxing on the couch the next morning, when you brought Daddy one of his shoes. He thanked you and put it on. Then, you brought me one of my shoes. I did the same. Then you brought Daddy his other shoe....

Now you had us wondering.

Daddy put on his other shoe and you brought me my other shoe and I put it on. Then, you went to the hall table, pulled down my purse, removed the car key and brought it to me.

I looked at your Daddy and said "so, where are we going? Should we let him drive, too?"

It didn't really matter where we went as long as we went somewhere because you were ready for an adventure, so we went to Dierbergs because that's where all adventurous people head, isn't it? We bought some items that we would be needing for the next evening because the guys were planning on making a Shrewsgiving meal complete with Turkey and THE WORKS!
OH - and you said Uncle Brett's name this weekend! It comes out like "bra", but it's clearly Uncle Brett that you are speaking of. Poor Uncle Brett. I don't think he got teased this bad since.... well.... EVER!

Poor, Poor Uncle Bra....
And then there was yesterday. What a day!

We took the MetroLink downtown to be a part of the World Series Celebration.
The ride in itself was one of the craziest parts of the day. It was SO crowded on the MetroLink that I thought a fight was going to break out and....if one had, your Uncle Bobby would have been the first one to throw down.

Now - he may not look it, but Uncle Bobby has a passionate streak when it comes to transportation. I've heard he becomes more than a little riled when driving the car, but this weekend we found out that that carries over to MetroLinks, too.

Bobby was the one on the crowded ride that was yelling "Stop Making Stops!" "NOOOOOOOOOOO! You CAN'T GET ON!" "HOLD THE DOORS SHUT!!!!"

A couple of times, with eyes as big as ping pong balls, you would turn your head around to look at Uncle Bobby as though you couldn't believe it.

Actually, I think you were reading my own thoughts.

Uncle Bobby the bad ass.... Once downtown, the streets were a complete jam with people everywhere dressed in all forms of costume. There was a lot of shouting and clapping and, while you weren't sure what was going on, you quickly warmed to the sentiment and were soon celebrating along with the masses. You ended up having a fantastic time.

I'm so glad we were there. It was a historic occassion and one of these days you'll be able to look back at these pictures and know that you were there!

The parade was exciting. With the throngs en mass, you and Calum could only see on the shoulders of the tallest family members.

Needless to say, I think there may have been a few sore necks the next day, but we were feeling so good from the win - there wasn't any complaining!

The parade consisted of many cars driving by with players in them, confetti in the air and music playing....
You did a lot of "OOOOHHHHHHHHH!!!"ing. It really was amazing to you!

Watching your face was a lot of fun!

I think you would have been content for the celebration to continue forever!

You were a little reticent around some of the more boisterous and strange fans at the celebration and kept a watchful eye on them....

Smart boy!!!

Needless to say, we had a blast cheering on our Cardinals!

The day ended with the first (hopefully, ANNUAL) Shrewsgiving feast! Complete with a whole cooked Turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread and stuffing - all completely 100% made by the GUYS (Thanks Da-Da, Uncle Ba-Ba and Uncle Bra!)
How's the food coming guys?

And the rating of the meal is in:


Wow! They can COOK! This is a secret that they have kept well protected until now and - now that we know how good they are at it - it may very well be exploited by us, the wives....

All in all, this past weekend was a weekend to end all weekends!

This is the first Monday that I remember feeling bright eyed, bushy tailed and thinking "the weekend isn't that far away!"

You went easily off to daycare this morning and I'll be seeing you soon, sweet Jack!




We didn't know it at the time, but when we went to the parade, we became a part of Sports Illustrated history!They were shooting a picture of the World Series Celebration of the Cardinals and we were there.See us - look really close - it's a "Where's Waldo" game, but worth it.I think this will mean a lot to you when you are older and worship the publication like other males all over the world.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Catch Phrases


Your Daddy says some comments that you'll hear over the course of your life. I don't know where they come from but it's one of the things I love about him.

Just yesterday we were shopping at the store. After a particularly dull one-sided conversation with our bagger about how Pepsi was stealing ideas from Coke which I politely nodded my way through, we were walking away when your Daddy said:

"I think I left the 'Fuck Up' open.... would you mind shutting it?"

Remember, you heard it here first. That phrase will be sweeping the nation before you know it and your Daddy coined it!



Friday, October 27, 2006

Love in My Family, Too!


I wanted to post this letter to you to share with you an extension of the first entry I included a few days ago.

It's been brought to my attention that it may have hurt some feelings. I think maybe the intention of the entry wasn't as clear as I had thought it was.

To be honest - I had debated posting that blog because I DIDN'T want to hurt anyone's feelings or leave them feeling on the outside. The reason that I did is that I really wanted you to know when you were grown how much getting to where we are now is due to the day to day support of your grandparents on both sides, The Shanks and Wassels.

Without their almost daily support of watching you, we wouldn't have been able to both go back to school, worked full time jobs and still known that you were being well cared for. Infant care is very expensive and they all made it possible to get to where we are now without it hurting too much financially.

Seeing what daycare is like for the first time makes me realize how lucky you have been to have that foundation to build off of. There are many children in the facility and, while the teacher to child ratio is like 5:1, it's still tough for the kids to get a lot of one-on-one time with the teachers for this reason. You've been lucky enough to have had this for the almost full two years of your life and I wanted you to know it and them to know we recognize the efforts and we appreciate them.

Clay has four brothers and sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews - all of whom live here in St. Louis - all of whom we love dearly. The only reason I hadn't mentioned them is because they aren't a part of your daily support structure, which was the point of that previous entry. The intention was certainly not to be hurtful - just because that entry was about that daily support that has gotten us this far. We love all of Clay's brothers and family and you DO see them and have relationships with them just as you do with my brother, Matt, and your Aunt Lisa. We love every last one of them very much! The point of that entry certainly wasn't to be hurtful - and I'm sorry that it had that effect. It was meant to be grateful. That's all I was trying to convey.

The truth is, you will be most influenced by those that you interact with on a daily basis. They will teach you - intentionally or not - right from wrong, how to express yourself, how to behave, respect of others, and all of those things that we all learned as children simply by being surrounded by the people that we were surrounded by when we were young. Those people that you see frequently will be the ones that you learn this from in addition to learning from us, your parents. These family members will be the ones that help shape the person you become the most.

All of your family will influence you as you grow, it's true. But when you are young - your memory is short and that influence comes from those you are most familiar with more than anything else. It's not a hurtful thing, it just is what it is.

The point of today's entry is to clarify the intent of that previous entry and put it in a new light - the light I intended - because I want this blog to be a collection of letters for you that are based in love and never used as a vehicle for hurt.

You have a large family FULL of WONDERFUL people that ALL love you very much and would do anything for you. You are a very lucky little boy, Jack!



Thursday, October 26, 2006

Can you say…“Social Services”?


Boo-boo’s. They really suck, you know?

Boo-boos inevitably happen when you are having a fantastic time and are as happy as you can be and they strike out of nowhere, making the surprise effect of the sudden hurt that much more painful to you (and to me).

I haven’t taken many pictures of your boo-boos because it pains me to see them and I always feel SO much better when all tell-tale signs of them are healed and behind us.

When you are wearing a prominently displayed boo-boo, it is a reminder to me as a Mommy that there was a time that I wasn’t fast enough or careful enough to prevent that injury and there are lots of times when I find myself wondering what that magic number of times is that it takes to bump your head before serious brain injury is reached. I worry that you may be closing in on that magic number so each bump increases my anxiety a little more.

Still, you are quicker than me on many occasions and the bumps don’t seem to decrease your desire to:
Run down the hill every time we leave the park even though you are careening at top speed towards a gravel parking lot…
Spin in circles until you are so dizzy that you fall down, inevitably on something with a sharp edge or against something nearby – like a wall.
Climbing stepstools or on your wagon or something with wheels which you can and have slipped off of and fallen backwards
Run face first into the corner of the phone table when escaping the dogs (even though they weren’t REALLY chasing you to begin with)
Falling headfirst into the rales or head/foot board of your crib when playing peek-a-boo over the side and you become too overexcited
And on, and on, and on much to my growing concern….

Can you say “Social Services?” NO? Good! Let’s keep it that way!



Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Right in our Own Backyard


As I’m sure you’ll become aware over the years, our backyard isn’t exactly “child friendly”.

Your Grandma Mary (my mom) has worried about this on several occasions and even suggested we put a fence up around the top of our retaining wall, but the idea was quickly shot down since it would look ridiculous.

It’s true. We have a five foot retaining wall that could be considered a “safety concern” as there is the risk of “falling-and-breaking-your-neck” or “getting-a-serious-concussion”. But – like I said before…. It’s pretty!

Also, there isn’t a lot of room for “running around” and “playing”, but our yard does offer one thing that makes it all worthwhile in your eyes. A stagnant pool of smelly, murky brown water that is perfect for throwing rocks in!

Sure, if you were to imbibe this water, it would probably set you back with a full scale case of German Measles and Febrile convulsions – but it sure is COOL the way it SPLASHES when the rocks hit it, isn’t it?

Oh, and I also HIGHLY recommend reaching your hand into that mosquito larvae infestation of a pond and swirling them around in the freezing water until your hand turns red and you can’t feel it anymore. It’s TOTALLY FUN!

Actually, I have been supporting your enjoyment of this activity by foraging for additional rocks outside of our minute rock bed around the “pond” itself. I just love to see you get so much enjoyment out of the splash that comes from dropping a rock in the water. Also, when you find a big rock, you hold it up first for my inspection and utter this “Oooooohhhhhhh” sound as though you can’t believe your luck.

Check this out, Mommy! Won’t this make a big splash?

Honestly, I think if I got it in my head that you would really LOVE to swim in a tub of instant pudding, I’d be dumping the required amounts of the instant packets into the tub as we speak and loading up the trunk with gallons of milk.

Actually – that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Mmmmmm……pudding…..