Not so Little anymore

I realized just now how big Aria is getting. I went to shift her so she wasn’t sleeping horizontal im the bed. I guess it’s the first time it surprised me to be moving the girth of a child instead of a baby. Some part of me was expecting that ten or fifteen pound infant, less than two feet long.

Things happen so gradually with your kids, sometimes you don’t notice how much they’ve changed in so short a time.

There was something stirring about that echo of a memory, not of a singular moment, but of the extended and unexpectedly finite experience of having a baby. It made me so grateful for what now seems such a short gift of time – the chance to experience the love and life of being a mother during those early, frail, and tender months after birth.

Aria just started asking for a brother this week. She calls sisters brothers too, so, either way 😉 I hope we get to have another one a year or two down the line. Then I can enjoy this ridiculously awesome phase Aria has entered into while also getting to do it all again with fresh, but keener eyes.

Last week we were in the car and Aria and I were chatting about something. There was a pause and she reached up to turn my face to hers. “Talk to me mommy,” she petitioned. And so I did. Because instead of a baby I can move effortlessly, I now have a little girl, a conversationalist and a companion, to keep me company 🙂

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Life, Loss, Arrival

I’ve never been so deeply affected as the two times I have watched the movie Arrival. The first time is sweat over me in an inarticulate wave of hope and meaning for life that I, a reluctant atheist, never thought possible. I’ve spent fifteen years grappling with the impermanence of life. Running. Weeping. Hiding. Burying questions and feeling and good and bad all together in the dozen graves I visited between sixteen and twenty six. Slowly the shroud has fallen with each visit to my mother’s grave. Gray and dead I left it. Then slowly I changed. When I left the roses and the ornament this time, the beauty there. The meaning. I felt meaning to life. There within reach. Not in my hands, but there. Real. More real than the ten thousand prayers for a testimony of the god I was raised with.

As I watched the movie, I made the decision that life inherently matters because it exists and it is beautiful. I made the decision that if I knew how long I had on this journey with you, my dearest little Aria. If I knew and it was shorter than I ever wanted or thought I could bare. I would still walk the journey. I would walk it to know you for as long as I was given. I hope it is until I am ninety and I leave in quiet simplicity and satisfaction of having lived a life worth living. It is the hope we all have. But gnawing fear of what might be has sat there deep in the pit of my insides since I fell in love with your father and since I first met you, warm and perfect inside me, then warm and perfect in my arms. And now beside me, sleeping softly.

I asked you the other day why you like to sit on me. You smiled and answered, “because I love you mommy.” Today as we rushed freezing from the National Christmas Tree and I got you bundled as well as I could in your stroller, you reached out and took my hand. I was warm. Because love is perfect. Love is everything. It drives me in everything I do.

I love you Aria. I hope I say that enough. Getting to live life with you here a part of it, it just makes everything so much better.

I like how I am changing inside. After I finally conceded on acknowledging my lack of testimony in religion, I wandered onto such an uncertain path, angry at the fairytales and closing my eyes to the big gaping hole in my hope for finding a meaning to life.

Perhaps just like finding the beauty of a dozen roses at a tomb, I have hope of finding so much more. A second phase. A second life within this one.

You’ve been such a big part of this change little one. You’ve not just given me meaning, but helped me find meaning that is even bigger.

Her own little writing nook

Aria has found her own little writing nook. I kind of love this. ♥️

She actually found it this morning trying to escape getting dressed!

After she left the now writing nook this evening, she announced she was done with her writing and ready to share.

“I was on the bus coloring. Want to see my drawing? I got that and that. Oh, that is not the right page. Here daddy!”

“Mommy, you want to see my coloring. I had three pages. I had that one and that one and I’m all done with the pen.”

What’s that? I ask.

“A finger puppet!”

It’s never to early for science! Because the world is awesome.

“Look Daddy, espirament!”

A while back while at a library in Iowa, I encountered a children’s book for early elementary school called “Things That Float and Things That Don’t.” Science being my weak spot, it explained big concepts in ways I had never understood, using fun pictures and descriptions of experiments. I ordered it right then and there.

The book was pretty text heavy despite all the pictures and I’d planned on waiting until Aria was 5 or 6 to read it to her.

Then a couple of weeks ago Aria found her bathing suit and suddenly the whole world revolved around Water. She insisted on a book about swimming.

Things that float had plenty of pictures of Water. I pulled it out and started to read.

DH playfully mocked our reading party as the book illuminated concepts of density, displacement, and dissolving. “Why don’t we read her Einstein’s theory of relativity next!” he chirped.

(Which felt especially ironic when I found him reading a graphic novel about the Holocaust called Maus to Aria the other day. I walked in just as it was talking about giving up grandma mouse to be taken to Auschwitz.)

Aria fell in love with the book. We discussed each page. She asked question after question, engrossed in the idea of doing an experiment. “Read it again Mommy!!!”

We read it maybe a dozen times over the past three weeks.

Yesterday morning, it felt like time to put the book to the test!

Aria picked out a bunch of objects to test: a penny, a big stone and a little stone, some fruit, and a little plastic Pooh bear.

“Should I write our experiment like in the book!”

“Yah!!”

I went and got paper. At first my sheet was too small. I got a bigger piece.

“Why your paper to small mommy?”

“We have lots of data to record!!”

“Okay!”

“What shall we start with??”

“Pooh bear!!”

“What’s your hypothesis? Will he sink or float?” I asked.

“Float!” she enthusiastically predicted.

I recorded her answer and let her drop him in the pot of water.

He floated!

I had Aria mark the results with an “X”

We went through all the items the same way.

She only got one wrong, and I would’ve made the same guess!! Who knew the pear would sink??

Happy

I don’t know why, but I feel such delirious happiness spending time with my daughter. I feel it all the time. There’s this edge of worry that it can’t surely last. And I hold her and DH close. But then it does. Seven and a half wonderful years with DH and three and a half years since I found out I was having Aria. I know everything is temporary. But yet love and life somehow persists. Love you Aria. Love you DH. Always and forever.

Whysplosion! Aria the Private Wye!

Last Thursday, it appeared out of nowhere. In a desperate attempt to unearth the mysteries of Where the Wild Things Are (see previous post), Aria unearthed the powerful, enchanted spell word, “Why??”

And now it officially represents 75% of Aria’s phrases.

I am not joking.

“Put the puzzle piece there.”

“Why?”

“Now put this one over there.”

“Why?”

“We’re having tacos for dinner.”

“Why?” (And later during dinner… “Why are they tacos?”)

“You need to wear a shirt.”

“Why?”

“No spitting.”

“Why?”

“It’s gross and disrespectful.”

“Why?”

“Why?”

“Why?”

We are apparently living with a private eye. There’s no escaping Detective Aria. She will get to the bottom of it.

Like really. And she actually wants to know.

Let me illustrate.

“What’s that?” she asks about the bandaid on my finger.

“A bandaid.”

“Why you have that?”

“I cut my finger.”

“Why?”

“Because I wasn’t being careful.”

“Why?”

“Because I was thinking about something else.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I just wasn’t being careful. The knife was too sharp.”

“You cut your finger?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I wasn’t being careful. I was cutting chicken and got too close to my finger.”

“You cutting chicken? You cut your finger?”

“Yup.”

“Why?”

It goes on like this for several more minutes.

I feel as though I’m in a Groundhog Day-like time warp. Replaying the same question over and over and over.

But it was not a trap.

The detective was at work.

“Why you cut your finger mommy?”

I try and answer again for probably the tenth time. I’m feeling more and more embarrassed by the minute. There’s no explanation.

“I-I don’t know. Really. I just wasn’t being careful,” I stammer in the hot seat.

The detective pauses. She leans back. She takes a deep breath. Then she comes forward again and taps my hand.

No. I’m not making this up. DH is my witness.

She’s made her conclusion. She knows how to help.

She gazes up at me in her serious two–and-a-half-year-old way.

“Mommy, you need to be careful when you cut chicken with the knife.”

My jaw drops.

Um yes. Excellent conclusion.

Really. That’s a crazy good conclusion.

“Okay. I’ll be more careful,” I insist.

I guess I wasn’t convincing enough.

She glances up at me again, as if sensing I needed just a bit more clarity.

“You need to be careful with the knife. It’s too big for you, Mommy.”

Maybe she’s right??

Either way. “Why” seems here to stay! Aria is officially on a quest to figure out the world!

From What to Why. The search for an explanation in Where the Wild Things Are!

I never expected it to happen so young, I mean the questions. I don’t know when I expected them. Then the nod of understanding when I give a satisfactory answer, if even it takes me half a dozen tries. But she is looking for a reasonable answer.

“Why is Max sleeping?” she asked near the end of Where the Wild Things Are.

“Because he’s tired.”

“Why’s he sleeping?”

“Because he’s been gone a really long time and needs to rest.”

“Why he sleeping in the boat?”

“It’s like when you fall asleep in the car. You’re out for a long time and get tired.”

“Why is Max sleeping in the boat?”

“Because there’s no bed and he’s tired.”

“Oh!”

“Where did his bed go?”

We read the book again. This time she was obsessed with the bed.

Every page after the forest appears.

“Where is Max’s bed?”

“It disappeared. Let’s see if we can find it.”

Next page.

“Where Max bed go?”

“It’s not here. Let’s keep looking.”

Next page.

And the next.

And the next.

“Why is Max sleeping?”

“Because he doesn’t have a bed yet.”

“Oh!”

“Let’s see if we can find it.”

Next page.

“There his bed! It’s Max bed!”

She laughed with delight. A huge smile, ear to ear.

Mystery solved!

See? I can win the Why contest. I’m so curious if this is how it will always work. I never thought you could win those. That they’d keep asking why forever.

I can hardly wait to see.

For now, why may be my favorite question!

The Great Corn Maze Adventure

By the time we escaped, my phone had logged a two mile, 75 minute journey through the corn. And to think we thought we’d make it out in time for the pig races after 15 minutes!

We are adventurers, sometimes exploring great museums or traversing great parks and playgrounds, or traveling to far off lands to bike and play on the beach and taste the great flavors the world has to offer.

And yesterday our grand explorations to us to the most incredible place — a corn festival!

What a wondrous place to behold! Full of sights that once seemed no more than the mythical imaginings of braggarts and storytellers, like my sister who has moved to Iowa and really, really likes it there. Perhaps there’s more to corn than I once realized?

I mean, picture it, a silo full of enough corn kernels to bury a body or make snow angels!

Or imagine a goat pen overlooking the corn fields like a great castle full of royal baby goats!

And then, you have to come and join me on our great corn maze adventure.

There was an option for a shorter maze. I thought it the difference between a 5 minute and a 10 minute maze. I mean, I’ve done plenty of paper mazes with my super fast pointing skills. No biggie.

The corn stalks rustled above and all around us, reaching out far above our heads. We pressed into the maze, letting Aria show us the way. Her natural instincts took us deep into the fields. Past marker 1, then 2, then 3, then 4.

We went left at marker 4. We circled around and around. We got back to the 4 and DH said we needed to double back, that we’d missed a turn. I disagreed. We went further. Someone said there was a 5 further in, but we got turned around.

We came back to the 4.

We doubled back and it was a dead lead.

We considered going back. It wouldn’t be far. We could quit. We didn’t even know how far the maze was. The maze was huge. Bigger than we’d ever imagined. It’d already been over a half hour.

What if we got lost forever?

Really? Do we look like a family of quitters?

Heck no!

Never. Not this family. We would make it through the maze. We’ll make it through anything.

So we put on our thinking caps.

We pressed on. DH pulled out his gps. It took us ages to realize he was working off a two year old google map. Two years old! Two mazes ago. But at least it gave us a sense of the vast world we were lost within.

And somehow, through sure grit, determination, DH’s out of date GPS, and Aria’s keen directional skills, we finally found the 5.

We hunted for the numbers, cupped our hands to our cheeks:

“Six! Six! Where are you six?”

Aria would echo our hunting call.

Six.

Seven.

Eight??

We couldn’t find 8!

We found a tower and surveyed the landscape. It was endless and intimidating.

An endless, endless sea of corn.

But we kept going.

And going

And going

And then, and then!!

Nine!

It was nine! Somehow we’d skipped right over 8!

Our pace accelerated. It was only a matter of time.

Ten. There’s ten! High fives!

Left

Right

Left again

One more turn

Around the bend

And yes, yes, yes

We made it to the end!

It was a bit bright at the time. I’m pretty sure the sun was glowing extra because of our victory.

High fives!!

Doink!

Now isn’t that something? Maybe we should’ve taken a look at that map before we entered??

Or maybe we should’ve just taken the easy route:

Nah!!

Holding on

Some times, most times, I hold you tight.

With each inch you grow, I know, I know.

Soon you’ll ask me to let go.

You snuggle close, beneath my chin. Head on my arms. Deep steady breaths.

Not much longer. Absolute trust. Absolute need.

Less need now. More wants. You choose to be close. To be independent. To be held or to run.

So I take advantage of each cuddle, each hug, each request to be held. “You need to put me down. I’m too heavy,” she said the other day.

There were a few times I wanted to hold you less. But as time slips by, I hold you when you ask. It’s a gift, I realize.

Wanted. Needed. Ridiculously happy.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love you?

When I say, “Guess what?” you laugh and say “Love you Mommy.” You know what, just like your dad. “Guess what? I love you.”

I know you won’t be small forever. I savor the thought of long conversations together. I’m eager to hear about what you learn, what you do, who you become.

But right now you are small, no matter have enthusiastically you protest that designation

So I’ll hold you because I can, because you ask me to, because I love you.

“Not yet Mommy! I need one more hug!”

Quotes upon a time… The epic tale of conquest with four months of *misused* Aria quotes (Part 1 – May to June)

Let’s see how well I can turn quotes I’ve been collecting since May into a single cohesive story! In consecutive quote and accompanying picture order. Each of these have something new. Something I’d never heard before. Hopefully the story is as fun as watching her language evolve, add new verbs and grammar and concepts! Enjoy! 

There once was a kind and playful young princess named Aria. On the eve of her second birthday, she began to form sentences. These were no ordinary sentences, for Princess Aria had mystical heritage that gave power and resonance to her every word. Yes. This Princess had super powers. 

It all began with “I want daddy,” and there he was, minutes later. Her voice had called him. 

Aria, though young, was determined to use her powers for good. She began by caring for the doll named Moana who lived in the castle. Moana loved her stroller, but sometimes it wouldn’t work!

“It’s broken. I fix it.” And low and behold, the stroller worked again! 

She didn’t stop at fixing the stroller. “I changing the baby’s diaper.” Right there in the middle of the royal forest, no matter the great beasts that abounded!

All that work wore little Aria out. “I want to lay down. The baby sleeping. Aria sleeping.” They both rest easy under the blanket of her words. 

It was time to go and the Queen Mother insisted that Aria leave Moana behind. “I want to bring my baby!” Aria asserted. 

It soon became clear why, “The cat woke up,” and what a danger it surely was. Moana would certainly be safer with them. 

Aria had to use her extra special bubble powers to save the kingdom from the prowling cat beast! “I blow it!” she howled, and the cat beast was gone, a stream of magical bubbles chasing it away. 

The bubbles weren’t enough! It was time to go to war. The Royal Family donned their military colors and prepared for the battle of the cats. “Mommy has a pink shirt. Daddy has a pink shirt. Aria has a pink shirt!” We we’re ready. 

Aria wanted to battle the villains herself. She didn’t want Mommy and Daddy to risk the feline wrath. “Walk away,” she begged. Then she demanded. “Walk away.”

As she tumbled to the ground from another attack by the rebel kitties, Aria had an idea. Perhaps the king and queen could hide! 

“Right there the potty is!” she shouted over the melee of battle. 

The king and queen didn’t want to hide. But it wouldn’t be forever. They crouched and trembled in the darkness of the fetid latrine, protected for the moment from the coming onslaught.

“One minute daddy!” Aria shouted to them. They just had to last a minute longer. 

But then, it became clear falling back to their fortress was the only option. 

“I close it. Mommy get in!”

From within the protective walls of the castle, another idea came to mind of the courageous princess. She could bury the invaders. Just a few words could do it. 

“I knock down the tower. It’s off the table!”

She didn’t have to use any hammers or cranes to do this epic fear. “Not my hands,” she told the masses of peasants watching in shock and hope. “Just my head!”

It felt as if the rebel cats were all around them. Their scratches echoed through the castle halls as they pounded against the gates and clawed their way up the walls. The people of the castle sobbed for fear.

Then Aria raised her hands. From within the white walls of the castle, a deep rumbling began. It grew louder and louder. The earth shook with the force of Aria’s super powers.

The terrified cats leapt from the walls and abandoned the gate, afraid of being thrown down by Princess Aria. The earthquake followed and chased them away, until at last the entire rebel army was in retreat.

Victory. The castle was safe. Moana was safe. The queen and king were safe. Hallelujah! 

And now, our great champion was hungry! Not for those unsubstantial potatoe chips. For the good stuff, the high fiber stuff. The blackbean chips. 

“I want chips. No, Aria chips. The *whole* bag.”

The queen and princess wandered off together, quietly celebrating the great victory. They went up to the battlements and looked at the great sea to the west of the castle. The sun glinted off the water. Crashing waves were just barely audible in the stillness of the late afternoon. Aria smiled. 

“There is water, Mommy!”

Yes darling, the queen agreed. She smiled, but there was a solemnity in her look. Her daughter was growing up. She wouldn’t always be able to protect her. The battle with the cats had proven that. It was time to give her the keys to the family armory. 

The queen led her from the battlements to the keep in the center of the castle. At the very bottom of the keep a hidden door suddenly appeared. The queen handed Aria the keys.

“I open the door!” Aria said with wonder as the door opened up to a vast network of secret rooms below the castle. 

The little warrior dressed herself in magical armor from the family stash. “I got my pockets mommy!” Aria noted about her hauberk.

Aria and the queen walked in their brilliant armor. Lords and peasants alike gazed in awe at their finery. Cheers seemed to follow them wherever they went. They looked every bit the victors of the great battle just won.

Mother and daughter went to the great strategy room to join the king and their advisors in planning out their next move. The threat had abated for now, but that wasn’t enough. They needed a lasting peace for the kingdom to survive.

An idea started to percolate. Perhaps they could begin to make peace with the rebel cats by hosting a great feast. Some diplomacy was definitely in order. Aria suggested the king and queen themselves go as chief ambassadors to the foreign lands to propose the idea of a Feast of Peace.

“Daddy needs to go to work. Mommy goes to Aria’s gym,” Aria asserted, almost to herself as she drafted up her plan on the window of the Great Hall.

After several weeks, the queen and king came back with good news from abroad. Rebels and friendly neighbors alike would join them for the Feast of Peace. It was time to send word by invitation to all.

Aria’s scribe drafted the invitations and she authenticated it with her noble insignia. “That’s my handprint!”

Aria yelled out into the wind, calling her fastest curriers to deliver the invitations. She would send them by air, on the wings of dragons and in the hands of the king’s most trusted envoys.

“I want to put the guy on the dragon. Help me daddy!!”

It would soon be time for visitors from all around the land and neighboring kingdoms to arrive. But would they all truly come in peace? What will happen next? How will Aria’s words change what could be a disastrous course of events?

Tune in next time for Once Upon a Time Part 2: Quotes from July and August!

Maybe!!!

Me. Okay, how about this. We read the book once in Mommy’s room then we read it in Aria’s room. 

Aria: Ya! Ya ya…(strategic pause) … Maybe 

Me: (does she get “maybe?” This is new…) Um, so we read the book here, then in Aria’s room and go night night, okay?

Aria: Ya ya. Book here then Aria… Maybe

Me: 😑 Once in Mommy bed. Then in Aria’s bed. Okay?

Aria: okay, Mommy! Maybe. 

Whoa now. She’s seriously hedging!

Me: Here, then Aria room!!!

Aria: ya, ya 😁

Uh, I think I won??? Who knew “maybe” could be such treacherous vocabulary!

Today Aria asked her First Question

“Where’s daddy?”

Not “I need Daddy”

Not “I want Daddy”

Not “Daddy?”

But “Where’s Daddy?” 

Don’t quite know why I found it so striking. It sent a thrill through me. Like we’re on the verge of an even more exciting phase of her life. A new level of curiosity and discovery. Not about what she can touch and figure out, but what she can hear and process, muse on, or understand. 

Introducing my Mom to Aria

Went to visit mom yesterday. I explained to Aria that we were seeing Mommy’s Mommy. That made sense to her. “Mommy’s Mommy!” It didn’t seem to phase her that mom was in the ground. She just gave a little kiss on the headstone. We then went down to the lake in the cemetery and saw a swan. Aria was determined to hug the hissing beast. She has a lot of love to share, my girl does! Love her so much!!



I love my mommy

I’ve been waiting. Wondering. Does she or doesn’t she??? Months and months and months of speech. Which petal will fall last?

Finally! It’s official!!

She loves me!!