Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas and a milestone

It's here, it's really here. And I'm not talking about Christmas.

Our sweet little girl is one year old today. It seems like just yesterday that Chip and I were spending Christmas eve at St. John's, me strapped up to every conceivable monitor and Chip dozing in the chair while we waited for our baby to arrive. I can still remember lying on my side, with Chip just inches from my face, reciting our two girl names slow, fast, backwards and forwards until we decided on one because, as I said to Chip, you never know, it could be a girl. It still makes me smile that we were both completely convinced we were having a boy. And now I don't know what I would do if I didn't have a little girl who needs -- yes, needs -- all those hair bows and shoes I just can't seem to stop buying.

What a truly delightful year it has been. All of those milestones and firsts flew by, and each new accomplishment makes me happier than the next. The tantrums and squirming I could do without, but the smiles, hand claps and nuzzles more than make up for the drama Mary Clare brings. And boy, can she bring it. The child is not one to suffer silently. Or do anything silently, for that matter. Even when she's tearing bits of toilet paper off the roll or taunting Buddy with a toy, she squawks her way through the entire event. We're hearing more and more mama and dada business, as well as lots of yeahs, all which seem to apply to the conversation at hand, of course. She's still our good little sleeper and eater, and let's all say a prayer that that doesn't change anytime soon. She is getting better with the spoon and sippy cup, which just kills me. I mean, she looks so old drinking out of a sippy cup, I might as well just transition her to a wine glass, for heaven's sake. But no matter the age she's acting at the moment -- baby, toddler or teen, we love her to bits.

I'm clearly beyond sappy this fine Christmas morning, but gosh darned it, I just feel so grateful. And happy. And loved. Here's wishing you all these same things this Christmas and in the year ahead. Merry Christmas, and happy first birthday to our sweet Mary Clare!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

No to the nose

Before we had Mary Clare, I remember looking at little kids with runny or crusty little noses and thinking, "Ugh, gross. I would never let my child look like that in public."

And now, after engaging in countless nose wiping battles with Mary Clare, my standards most definitely changed. Runny noses are always wiped, and she must go to school with a clean nose, but I've learned to tolerate the little crusties when we're out where no one knows us. And when we're home, all bets are off. Basically, as long as she can breathe, I don't care what's going on beneath that nose. It's just not worth it. I take quick swipes as needed and then spend the rest of the time gearing up for the bedtime battle, the result of which is a peeved baby with a clean nose and an exhausted mother with ringing ears.

Oh, and she may be small, but that girl is strong. Like mad badger strong. And she fights dirty.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ready for St. Nick

St. Nick's Day* is December 6. Growing up, this was one of my favorite days. It kicked off the holiday season and offered a tiny little taste of what was to come on December 25. The night before, I would excitedly put a pair of shoes outside the front door, careful not to select the ones I had to wear the next day because those babies got cold. The next morning, our shoes would have small gifts like a book, fun socks (I still remember the E.T. socks I received one year) or a Christmas ornament. The tradition continued even after Sherri and I stopped believing in Santa Claus, and stretched into college as well. My mom would ship a box to my roommate who would dutifully fill the shoes I left outside my room door the night of December 5. A box continued to appear once I lived on my own, and one now shows up on our doorstep around December 4 with strict instructions not to open it until December 6. Over the years St. Nick has fine-tuned his offerings, and we typically receive a Christmas ornament that is in some way indicative of a major life event or experience from the past year. So, as you can see, St. Nick's is kind of a big deal in my family.

In addition to what my mom sends, St. Louis St. Nick also leaves a little something for Chip and Buddy as well. And now that Mary Clare is here, her little shoes get to join the line-up. I know she doesn't get it, and probably won't for quite a few years, but when have I ever let a little thing like practicality stand in my way?

Happy St. Nick's day to you. Here's hoping you don't find coal in your shoes.

*For anyone unfamiliar with the St. Nick's day tradition, here's a link to the always reputable Wikipedia, and here's a blurb about the tradition in the United States:
While feasts of Saint Nicholas are not observed nationally, cities with strong German influences like Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and St. Louis celebrate St. Nick's Day on a scale similar to the German custom.[5] On December 5, the Eve of St. Nicholas Day, each child puts one empty shoe outside their bedroom door or on a staircase before they go to sleep. The following morning of December 6, the children awake to find that St. Nick has filled their footwear with candy and small presents (if the children have been good) or coal (if not). For these children, the relationship between St. Nick and Santa Claus is not clearly defined, although St. Nick is usually explained to be a helper of Santa. The tradition of St. Nick's Day is firmly established in the Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis communities, with parents often continuing to observe the day with their adult children. Widespread adoption of observing the tradition has spread among the German, Polish, Belgian and Dutch communities throughout Wisconsin, and is carried out through modern times.