Birthday girl

We had this huge party for Z yesterday, the day before her birthday. It was going to be a simple backyard birthday party, and she asked to celebrate the obvious theme of "The Wright Brothers and Lil' Orphan Annie save the dinosaurs from extinction."

After some discussion, she agreed to simplify it to "things that fly." 

We started inviting people and, in keeping with our It's Just a Low-Key Backyard Birthday Party Philosophy, we didn't really keep track of just how many people would show up. Bring your siblings! we said to her friends. We're CAS-U-AL. We've got a bounce house, an airplane pinata and kites!

We figured the kids would bounce and eat pizza and run around in the April sunshine.

Or, you know, the April SHOWERS.

Yeah, it rained part way through and was freezing cold.

So we had 25 + kids (and most of their parents) in our house for more than half of the party. It was insanity and I went to bed last night exhausted and traumatized, ears ringing and nerves sizzling.

They all brought huge presents! Why didn't we say no presents?? Have I ruined her with this huge party with so many kids and so many presents when what we really want is a simple celebration of her and her special wonderfulness? Will she always require a huge, loud PAR-TY? Why didn't we plan a single inside activity? Why WAS IT RAINING?!?@?!@?!#*!#@%$&$%??

We didn't get to fly the kites, we didn't get to run around the yard. We hopped the kids up on sugar and had them whack the pinata in the garage and it was all sort of insane.

If yesterday was the disease, today was the balm for my recovery.

We woke up slowly to blue skies, ate breakfast, went to church with my parents.

We had a leisurely lunch and received birthday phone calls from family and friends.

We had quiet/nap time followed by a bike ride to the park to fly her new kites.

We had her favorite dinner and ice cream sandwiches for dessert. We toasted her many times over, read to her, indulged her silliness at every turn, told her stories, tucked her in with kisses and hugs.

I gazed at her so many times today with adoration and awe.

My baby.

My fleet-footed, graceful, tender-hearted, curious, wise, 6 year old baby.

This was the way I wanted to celebrate her.



I parked my car at the end of the gravel parking lot and spent a few calculated minutes playing with my phone. I didn't want to be too early. Alone would be challenging enough, but early? No, thank you.

When I finally got out of my car, I noticed a man walking a few steps in front of me. He turned and smiled in a nervous way I recognized before asking "You know where you're going?"

"No," I chuckled. "I'm following you."

"Perfect," he replied. "Two lost people will follow each other!"

We smiled and walked side by side in silence.

Perfect, lost, together.


The wooden chapel was built by the freed slaves of a local plantation. It's tiny, too small for this congregation, but beautiful in the ways that cannot be expanded or rebuilt.

Everyone was friendly, looking happy and open and welcoming. I tried to smile through my new-kid nausea, waiting for the service to begin.

This church is casual, small and intimate with laughing and clapping and singing and big questions and comfort in mystery and I liked it, I liked it all, which is not surprising since it is the denomination of my childhood. The hymn books and chalice and general ideology were instantly familiar and calming.

At this stage of my life with seemingly no spare time, when I am always and forever wishing for fewer commitments, I am choosing to go to church and I'm not exactly sure why.

But I think I may find out.


"Mom? Why do people go to church?" asked Z, a child who has never gone to church.

"Mom? If God is supposed to be in heaven, did the rocket ships hit him on their way to the moon?"

"Mom? At school everyone at my lunch table believes in God and Sarah said if I don't believe in God he'll be very, very mad at me and what if I think God is just all of nature and its power? Does that mean nature could hate me?"

She's almost 6. She has a lot of questions, and lately, a lot of specific questions about God and church and death. I'd like her to have a place to explore them.

(Me too.)


I took Z to her first church service yesterday. When we drove up in the rain, she was bouncing in her seat.

During the service she paid attention and watched and bounced a little more.

When we drove home, she was still bouncing.

And saying, "Can we go back next week Mama? On my birthday? Since it's my birthday I get to decide, right?"

Right, darling. You get to decide.



There are months and weeks where my children seem the same. The same meltdowns, the same silly jokes, the same dance steps, the same quirks, the SAME OLD SAME OLD.

When they are in a bit of a routine, a plateau, I am lulled into smugness, thinking, I know them. I know everything about them.

Then there are other weeks when they seem to change suddenly and completely. Of course, their essential nature is change, as is all of ours. Yet my gaze is so close to them, so close to the tip of my nose, I often don't add up the little steps and spurts that lead to each surprising big development.

I am always, always shocked at their growth. As if they could ever stay the same, even if they wanted to.

Even if I wanted them to.

(Which I don't.)

(Except when they're super cute and snuggly. And then YES PAUSE TIME HERE FOREVER PLEASE AND THANK YOU.)

Last week, both girls went into hyperdrive. It seemed every time I turned around they were doing something new and different.

Z lost her first tooth

and rode her bike on two wheels for the first time (barely stopping except to sleep since then!)

E went from sleeping and napping like a champ to crazy quiet time shenanigans and early morning wakeups. On the plus side, she also suddenly got interested in potty training, having success with both #1 and #2 last week. 
Me: "Okay E, put your pull up on." E "OKAY!"

All of these developments had both CG and I grinning like loons (even, especially, the rogue pull-up wearing).

If those moments before, when all I can see are the same old girls I think I know completely, are plateaus, then this is certainly a downhill. Life seems so fast all of a sudden and the rushing of the wind smacks me in the face, each and every time.

I'm holding on, opening my eyes, coasting, adjusting to the new landscape even as it rushes past me.


The Death of the Nap

As reported last week, when we took away the side of E's crib (because she catapulted herself over it and appeared, weepy and naked, at the bottom of the stairs much to my ever-lasting horror), we also discovered that her last pacifier, the one we were still allowing her to sleep with because the dentist said to wait until she's potty trained to take it away and OH YEAH NOT POTTY TRAINED AT ALL OVER HERE, well that last pacifier had a big rip in it and wasn't safe to use. She told us herself it was time to throw it away.

I mean, when your own kid tells you that it's time for them to throw away their last remaining, much beloved pacifier, it's kind of time, yes? This is, even to those of us who tend toward intuition deafness, what they call a CLEAR SIGN. So we threw it away, even though we thought it was horrible timing.

And LO it was!

Last week was Spring Break and my parents came to visit and I had a week's worth of fun activities planned including going to DC to see art! And animals! And possibly several longish hikes! Which all were now shot to hell since I would be dragging a deranged, sleep-deprived child with me. The absence of the pacifier combined with the thrill of FREEDOM means her nap has rapidly transformed into a pretty unsuccessful "quiet time".

Oh but this wasn't the hardest part for me. Yes, she's been negatively effected by her lack of sleep, vacillating, even more than a normal almost-three year old, between spazzy and weepy and irrational. But even if she wasn't clearly missing the sleep, I'd still be missing her nap.

Because, I'm embarrassed to say, it was often MY NAP.

I've gotten used to having a definite respite in the middle of the day. I could count on a reliable window of at least an hour - often TWO - to clean up, email, blog, read or, yes, SLEEP. Most days, I could chose to do whatever would be most stress relieving to me, and several times a week, my choice was to curl up in bed with a book to read and snooze. This time of rest and restoration was often like pushing a reset button on my mood:  after nap time I felt recharged and ready to start again in my best motherhood self.

That I used to nap feels like a dirty little secret, because the stereotype of a SAHM is one of a lazybones with unbrushed hair, clad in pajamas in the middle of the day, popping chocolate and napping at whim.

I'll have you know that I'm often dressed BEFORE noon AND I cannot nap at WHIM. Just at naptime! Which is no longer!


(Ironically, I was able to write this because E decided to take a nap today. On the ONE DAY I finally planned for her NOT TO NAP. Jezuz. This is why we moms think our kids plot to make our lives more difficult. BECAUSE THEY DO.)


News from The Clueless But Hopeful Zoo

Breaking News: The Clueless But Hopeful Zoo announces sweeping changes for its youngest cub.

Do not let that sweet face fool you. This is a wild animal.
After months of avoidance preparation, we are excited to announce her new cage-free, "free range" sleeping quarters.

While she is adjusting to the new sleeping arrangements, we expect this wild cub to range outside of her own habitat regularly. Cub wranglers will be on hand to return the cub to her new habitat as often as necessary.
"Oh yeah, cub wranglers? I'd like to see you try."
(Yes, we are experimenting with the baby gates across her door, however, as some of you may remember, we don't seem to have one that is up to the task.)

We fully expect that as the cub matures, she will settle into her new sleeping quarters and come to understand the expectations and limits of a free-range cub. Until that time, we suggest all guests get a lot of sleep before arriving at our lovely zoo.

Do not feed the animals. Unless it is at the table.
In another, ill-timed change, management has removed the last of the cub's pacifiers. This understandably adds to the volatile nature of this wild animal. 

Next up! Getting serious about potty training! (OMG)

We are currently accepting applications for new cub wranglers. ALL APPLICANTS ACCEPTED.


The Clueless But Hopeful Zoo Management

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