Friday, July 31, 2009

The Moments

I received the following story in a newsletter from the yoga studio I went to last winter. It's great timing, because this week, after literally months of ignoring my yoga practice in favor of running (something I tend to do in the warm-weather months), I went to a new yoga class with a friend. It had been a typically hectic day, but it was a gorgeous summer night. The studio opened onto a courtyard garden, and during the hour-and-a-half class, there were moments of concentration, complete focus, spontaneous clapping, and total silence while the dusk fell outside. Afterwards, we drove home with the windows down, laughed about parenting, and promised to get together more. I stepped back into the house determined to be more intentional in my focus, more patient with myself and my family, more aware of each small moment and its weight.

Last night, I took the girls to the pool around dinnertime (fed them Fig Newtons in the car, if you must know), and because the skies were cloudy and it was a weird time of day for swimming, we were the only ones there. We splashed and swam for a while until Jason met us there, straight from work. The girls were overjoyed to see him, and Annie was so proud to show off her increasing confidence in the water. At one point, Jason was throwing her up in the air as high as she would go, then letting her fall down into the water and go under. She'd emerge, and we'd hear her giggle before we'd really even see her face. Meanwhile, Jemma had gotten cold, gotten out, wrapped a towel around herself, and was dancing with total abandon on the pool deck - spinning around, making faces, dipping her little butt down to touch the ground. I took in the moment, wished I could freeze time, and, in lieu of that, made sure to remember it.

Later, we honored our annual summer tradition of eating sushi in the front yard by candlelight with some of our favorite friends. More laughter, good beer, and a tall tree to shield us from a very few late-night raindrops. Too late at night, we cleared the dishes, hugged good-bye, and felt lucky for the friends in our life.

In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

Violinist at the Washington Metro station

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that hundreds of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip; a woman threw a buck in his case and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3-year-old boy. His mother pushed him along, but the child stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only six people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but they continued to walk at their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before he played in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a Boston theater where the price of admission was about $100 a seat.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito at a Metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. Among many other things, the experiment questioned: In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

But maybe the question we should be asking ourselves is this: If we don't have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stephanie and Kate Plus Ice Cream

The last time I got my hair cut, I picked up a People Magazine while I was sitting under the dryer and read the cover article on Kate Gosselin, who at the time was just announcing her divorce. She mentioned how "normal" they were trying to keep things for the kids and talked about how they had just made Ziploc baggie ice cream the day before.

Kate Gosselin being an inspiration in the field of entertaining small children (if not so much in the field of building a strong marriage), I went home and Googled it. Then, we made it. Here's the recipe, courtesy of me and of Kate Gosselin. I didn't have rock salt and didn't feel like getting any, so we used plain old regular salt, and it turned out fine.

Now, any time you feel like ice cream but have had the foresight and the willpower not to stock it in your house because, who are you kidding, you'll eat the whole pint in one sitting, you can just go ahead and make some in five minutes. You're welcome.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Nerds of America, Unite

I sometimes claim that I can't be friends with people who don't like to read. I mean, how can you not LOVE reading? Not that everyone has to love the same books I love (though it is good if you do), but I just can't imagine life without a book in bed at the end of every day. (Clearly, I, too, am in need of the t-shirt Jon Stewart was recently given on The Daily Show emblazoned with "Nerd Society of America" on it.)

Apparently, I make exceptions to my claim, since I go to sleep next to someone who has taken one of the same two books to bed every night for about a year (Hawaii by James Michener, and some French cookbook that was free in a used bookstore) and then fallen asleep after 30 seconds. But since I suspect most of the rest of you are readers, I thought it would be fun to post this three-part, book-related question, which I found over on the blog finslippy:

1)What's the book you wish you had written?
2) What book do you read when you want something comforting and familiar?
And 3) What book do you think everyone should read?

Wedding Season

This afternoon, while the neighborhood kids played in the sprinkler in our front yard (why, hello, 80 and sunny, it's so nice to SEE you again), I played catch with Jemma. We tossed the pink ball back and forth and were having so much fun that Jemma must not have noticed when my neighbor Shelly came over, wearing a long, white cotton cover-up after being at the pool.

Mid-catch, Jemma spied her, stopped, and ran over to stand in front of her. Shelly was drinking a big glass of something pink, and I thought Jemma was going to ask for some. Instead she planted her little legs on the grass, leaned toward Shelly sweetly, and said, "Are you having a wedding?"

Meanwhile, the older kids switched up their play to begin a game of "family." Wyatt, the dad was "42 or 43," Caden was 5, Jonathan was the baby, and Annie, the mom, was 21. (I have NO IDEA where she might have gotten the idea that 21 is a normal age to be married . . . )

Forget the college savings plans. We should probably start saving for the weddings.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Unrelated Lists

Schedule for the last 18 hour or so:

5:00 - 8:00 p.m. - neighborhood "Fiesta" cookout in our yard.
8:00 p.m. - adjourn for kid bedtime
8:20 p.m. - gather for post-kid fire and absurd adult conversation with baby monitors
9:35 pm. - Annie still singing in bed, complaining of being "too hot."
12:00 a.m. - adults go to bed
2:30 a.m. - Annie wakes me up by yelling out, "Mommy!" in her sleep.
3:00 a.m. - Jemma begins calling for us, saying "Daddy, I am Uuuuuup!"
3:30 a.m. - I go in Jemma's room for a second time, bring her out to see how dark it is, show her Jason sleeping in the bed, etc. She requests certain books and food, then begins screaming when I put her back in bed.
5:00 a.m. - screaming from crib FINALLY ENDS.


Things Annie Ate for Breakfast This Morning:

-an adult-sized bowl of cereal
-a Nutri-Grain bar
-a bowl of yogurt with strawberries
-string cheese
-a container of applesauce


States of Being at Our House:

-Both children fighting with each other/screaming/arguing/taking toys away from each other and chasing through the house.
-Both children ganging up on me, doing something I call "The Naughty Giggle."
-Both children watching television, silently, on the couch (less than 60 minutes a day).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Every Step You Take, Every Move You Make

Jason's been working 8-5 this week, which means 7-6, which means I'm running low on patience and giving much credit to moms who are home full-time with kids and have spouses who work long hours or travel. Except for a couple babysitter hours on Tuesday (when I had legitimate work to do), it's been just me and the kids until the last hour before bedtime at night.

I think most moms do this thing where they look around and think of the ways that other mothers have it easier. If I had a babysitter that much; if I had grandparents who swooped in every few days to help with the kids; if I had a cleaning lady; if my kid went to bed so early; if my kids slept in; if my kid still napped; if I stayed home with my kids and didn't have to be out the door at a certain time; if we ate out instead of cooking; if I worked and had a kid-free lunch hour every day; if my husband got home well before dinnertime every day; if my husband worked from home . . .

I used to do this, too. But you know what? It's just plain hard sometimes, all of it, no matter who you are or how much money you have or how much your husband is gone. And I chose it.


I took the girls to the pool yesterday morning when it opened right at 11:00 because it was humid and partly sunny, and because I had pushed them in the jogging stroller and was sweaty but knew All Hell Would Break Loose if I attempted a shower. (Because that's the vibe we've got going here right now: All Fighting, All the Time.) The weather didn't look promising, but the girls were the happiest they've been at the pool in a long time. They forgot their fighting for long enough to play catch with a ball in the water and take turns jumping in. Annie showed me how long she can float face-down holding her breath (about 15 seconds). When it was time to eat, I let them order the dreaded Uncrustables PB&J sandwiches, Cool Ranch Doritos, and pop - possibly the least-nutritious lunch possible, but oh, well.

We were sitting and eating at a little picnic table - their hair wet and messy, their skin flushed from the swimming and jumping - when it got much cloudier and darker. Annie looked up, mid-bite.

"Is it going to rain?" she asked.

"It looks like it might," I said.

Her eyes got big. "What if it does?"

"Then I guess we'll leave," I said.

"What if it rains on us before we can leave?"

"Then I guess we'll get wet, right?" I said. "Good thing we already have our bathing suits on."


We were playing in the driveway today after Annie's dance class (It was the last one of the summer, so at the end, she got to choose a family member to dance with her. She chose Jemma, and the two of them sashayed around the room, holding hands and giggling, and thus this morning is now among The Best of Jemma's Life.) and I was tired from my late-night reading. I was sitting in the grass, watching Annie scoot, not really paying attention to what Jemma was doing at the end of the driveway. Then I heard Jemma talking to herself.

"I don't know what this is. Must be raisins," she said, and something clicked in my brain where I realized Raisins Outside = Poop. By the time I was next to her, she had about five little brown turds clutched in her hot little hand. I had to explain it was probably rabbit poop, which did not really strike her as disgusting, and then we went inside to wash it off. Because "Getting poop off of child's hands" is just another basic thing that falls under the category of Thankless Mom Jobs.


So this week has been long, and interesting, and hard. But even now, even when they are with me EVERY SINGLE SECOND and making noise and bickering and whining and asking the same questions a bazillion times, I realize that the days are long but the years are short. I realize, too, that being their mom has made me cope with these things better than I ever would have if I was by myself. When you're a mom, and your kids are with you every single second, they're watching you, learning from you, noticing, remembering. So you are brave when you have to smush a spider, patient when the old person at the grocery store is taking too long, positive when the clouds threaten to rain on your pool. You make ice cream and popsicles for fun. You grow a garden and cook healthy food and share your bounty with the neighbors. You give second and third and fourth chances for them to meet your expectations. You forgive them over and over. You act like dancing with Miss Amy is the Best Thing Ever and like picking up rabbit poop is No Big Deal. And you wash your hands a lot.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pro/Con Lists Don't Really Work For Me

While admittedly there are some days when this item would be a selling point, over in the "Pro" column, today this simple fact is single-handedly dominating the "Con" column as we indecisives continue to ponder the having of another child:

That child would possibly be a GIRL and would therefore eventually be a two-and-a-half/three-year-old GIRL and would therefore make her mother want to go live elsewhere.

The tantrums this morning were innumerable. I took photos. Thank goodness my wise unconscious had somehow sensed that today was going to be That Kind of a Day and had pre-arranged a lovely babysitter to arrive at 3:30 p.m. Thus, I am happily in my coffee-shop-laptop-working place, writing productively, looking forward to date night at The Green Well, and hoping said child is in bed upon my return home this evening.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Field Trip

We went to Meijer Gardens this morning, though getting out of the house took three cups of coffee and every ounce of patience I had.

The girls ran gleefully up and down this hill about ten times until Annie tripped at the bottom and fell head-first into the cement, resulting in much crying and a small goose-egg at her hairline. She was far more concerned about "what it looks like" than actually hurt, but it did make for a dramatic end to our picnic.

Singing some sort of song about string cheese . . .

Annie was pretty into drawing in the children's garden. Also, she was apparently feeling left-handed today.

Listening to some sort of story about an artist told by a batty but nice volunteer.

The rest of the day, the girls fought. They fought over:

-dress-up dresses
-the accessory bin
-the baby stroller
-Polly Pockets
-whose turn it was to brush teeth
-setting the table
-the pink ball

They kept dragging their problems into the kitchen, where I was making dinner, and I kept repeating, "I'm sure you two can find a solution to that" whenever they tried to tell me about it. They didn't ever really find any solutions, and by the time Jason got home, they had driven me so crazy that I packed them all off to get ice cream without me. That's right, children, I chose to stay home, put away laundry, and do dishes after a looooooong day with you two. But I did love snuggling with you at bedtime . . .

Saturday, July 18, 2009


We took the girls to see Up yesterday in 3-D, their very first movie in a theater, EVER. LOOK AT ALL THE CANDY!!!!!

Jemma enjoyed the popcorn. She did not enjoy: the barking, snarling dogs; the part where the house was on fire ("Oh No! Oh No!"); the crazy old scientist shooting a rifle; the old-school airplanes shooting at the house; the part where the little boy almost falls to his death off the blimp; or the squawking noise the bird made when it "talked." Between this movie and her traumatic experience with the Grand Rapids Griffin mascot at the gym last winter, if she has a bird phobia as an adult, it will not be surprising.

Annie, who was heard to say random things during the movie, like, "Well, this is turning out pretty good!" later claimed she didn't like it at all. Probably because there were no princesses.

Please note how adorably cute the 3-D glasses are on Jemma. Also note that this dress is size 9-12 months. Further note that Jemma is almost 31 months old.

I am not going to lie: I cried. That damn grape soda cap pin almost killed me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Still Stephanie

My mom came over yesterday morning to watch Jemma so that Annie and I could go to a Mommy/Child cooking class (moderately fun until Annie dropped an egg on the ground and wanted to LEEEEEEEEAVE, then back to moderately fun when we commenced making ice cream). Because my grandpa was on a trip with his brother for a few days, my mom brought along my grandma, who has Alzheimer's and can't be left alone.

They walked in the door, my grandma first. When I asked how she was, my grandma muttered, "I shouldn't be here. Your mother should have left me at home." She likes to stay in bed until late in the day. She likes to be left alone at home, doing crossword puzzles. Luckily Jemma saved the day with all her spontaneous hugging and kiss-blowing, and soon my grandma was playing puzzles and watching Sesame Street, seeming for all the world almost like the grandma I grew up with.

I just finished the book Still Alice by Lisa Genova. It's fiction, about a woman who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. My great-grandmother had it, and now my grandma does, too. So as I read it, while I was following the events, a second storyline was running concurrently through my head: is this how it feels for my grandma? Will my mom have this, too? Will I? Because there's a strong genetic linkage, I've wondered this before, but it's something I don't let myself think about too much. In the book, two of Alice's three children elect to discover whether or not they are positive for the genetic mutation (one is, one isn't), while the third doesn't want to know. The one who is positive is also trying to start a family, and she undergoes PGD to implant only embryos without the gene. (And now you don't have to read the book . . .)

It was hard to read, for sure, and it's hard every time I see my grandma, slightly diminished in what she can do and what she remembers. In my mind, she's still washing dishes and looking out the front window almost every time we pull into the driveway (our family joked that "grandma has her hands stuck in the sink again"), canning peaches and pears in big glass Ball jars, frying potatoes in a little bacon grease, fluent in English, German, and Latin, a master of crossword puzzles and writing to her Senator. She hasn't yet reached the stage where she doesn't know who I am, but that will come soon. She is still Beatrice, and yet she is not.

Every time my memory has failed me this week, every time a word takes a bit longer to come to the front of my mind, I have thought about it. About if I have already passed this gene on to my two children. About if, given the opportunity, I would want to know if this is going to happen to me, someday. Or if it's better to suspect, then to cross your fingers and go about living your life as though it isn't.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Annie and Jemma have been playing a new game recently. Here's what they pretend:

Jemma is a baby. Her name is "baby Natalie." She sticks her tongue halfway out of her mouth and makes baby noises. She cries a lot.

Annie is the mom. Her name is "Emma." She spends most of her time transferring things from one purse to another, going to concerts, going to birthday parties, and going to Africa. She will be home before bedtime, though.

I am the babysitter. My name is "Miss Kelly." I am to feed baby Natalie lunch, give her a nap, and play with her when she wakes up. I should be careful with her on the swing.

This game has been happening, off and on, for a few weeks now, but it was very big this weekend, while we were at "the cottage." Amidst jumping huge waves, swinging on the monkey bars, having a great dinner with my parents at the new Su Casa, eating ice cream, and showing the house (three times, but NO, surely nobody is going to actually want to BUY IT . . .), the girls played these roles so much that, even today, Jemma keeps correcting me when I address her. Especially if I am directing her or disciplining her, she cops out. "I am not Jemma. I am baby Natalie." She scowls, then sticks her tongue out a little bit.

The funny thing about this is, Natalie was actually one of the girl names I originally liked when we got pregnant with Annie, but Jason would never consider it because of lingering associations with the sort-of-obnoxious-and-not-super-attractive character on the 80's sitcom The Facts of Life. Looks like we got ourselves a baby Natalie, after all.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Making Her Birthday List Already

Last night, about an hour or so after I'd tucked Annie in to bed, I walked past her door and noticed a lot of light coming from the crack underneath. I opened the door quietly and found Annie, sitting up in bed, her blinds open and her lamp on, casually perusing the American Girl catalog.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rewarding Good Behavior

The girls have been mostly good lately, Jemma's daily morning tantrums about Not Wearing a Ponytail and Not Getting Dressed notwithstanding. Today, Jason and I both had things we wanted to get done, so we split up the day and each took half to do fun things with the girls while the other parent had "alone" time.

This morning, Jason took them out for breakfast, then ran a couple errands, then hit a new park, then brought them to the gym to play. I ran the lake with Sarah, showered, lazed around drinking coffee and reading The Hour I First Believed, got a pedicure, did some laundry, and ordered Jemma's new Big Girl Bedding (not that we are in ANY hurry to move her out of her crib), which I've been meaning to do for some time.

This afternoon, while Jason got a few projects of his own accomplished, I brought the girls to the pool. When we pulled up, I was confused: fountains off, lifeguards not in chairs, pool completely empty of people, gate closed. I did a mental tally - it's Friday afternoon, it's hazy-but-sunny (no rain, no lightening), it's 80 degrees . . . So I stopped the car and ran over to yell to a lifeguard who was straightening empty chairs. Yep, they're open.

So we tromped in (via the other entrance) and proceeded to be the only people in the entire pool for 45 minutes until, finally, one other family showed up. It was amazing; normally, there are 50 million kids bashing against you and splashing and yelling. Today, just Annie, wearing her goggles and diving down to retrieve rings on the bottom, and Jemma, crawling and jumping and throwing a ball in the shallow end. I sat on the edge, they yelled, "Mom! Watch this!" a hundred thousand times. I guess I'm entering the "Mom, watch!" phase of life, which I'll take over the "Mom, hold my hand and be one inch from me at all times so I don't drown" phase.

I read this recently (on and thought it was good enough to share:

If you’re debating a day trip or an outing with your kids, or keeping them up late, or doing something spontaneous and out-of-the-ordinary with your spouse: do it! The best memories rarely come from the most meticulously planned events. They come from that late-night-firefly-catching ramble or last-minute trip to the beach. It’s never practical, rational, or well thought out. It’s just plain a good thing to do. Find something absurd to do this week, grab your kids, a friend, or your kids friends, and do it!

And off to "the cottage" we go tomorrow morning, fingers crossed for sunshine and happy memories in spite of the absurdity of another weekend on the road.

p.s. - New post up at Bodies in Motivation!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


After several, several posts with ZERO COMMENTS, my curiosity is piqued. (Also, my pride is a little wounded, I admit.) And though I'm writing this blog mostly for myself and for the girls in the years down the road when they care to remember, it's fun to know who's reading it from time to time, too. So instead of writing tonight about all the new recipes I'm attempting or how we made ice cream this afternoon, I posted a little poll. See? Over there in the right-hand corner? Indulge me, please.

Fourth of July 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Christmas in July

We're happily home from a big, busy Fourth of July weekend up north, where we went all the usual places and did all the usual things. There is something comforting about marking the years this way: taking pictures of the girls splashing ankle-deep in the freezing beach at Harbor Springs; watching the small-town parade along with thousands of other people decked out in red, white, and blue; eating Tom's Mom's cookies; having Sunday brunch at Bay View; watching the sun set before the fireworks; boating on Walloon; making s'mores around the campfire. It's my second-favorite holiday, rivaling Christmas and coming close to edging it out just by virtue of the glorious weather.

This was the first year that Annie dared to jump in (wearing her lifejacket) and paddle around by herself in the lake; she and Jason swam underneath the boat and delighted Jemma every time they came back out. This was the first year that Jemma held her own marshmallow over the coals and waved it slowly from side to side. This was the first year that we've stayed for the whole parade and then gone right out on the boat, defying naptime altogether and putting the girls to bed, sleepy and full of sugar and sunscreen, very early in the evening.

I snuck away a few times - to town, to read down by the dock, and to run on the trails near Camp Daggett. As I tackled one dusty hill after another, I thought about how this holiday is different from the ones in the past. When Jason and I were dating, then married with no kids, we did fun things outside every minute of the day. We stayed up late, eating and drinking on the lawn of the Perry Hotel, waiting to watch the fireworks. We played bad tennis, we drank beer and played cards on the boat, we rode our bikes to Harbor Springs just to drink a Bloody Mary on the deck of the Pier.

After Annie was born, we were lucky to make it to a parade at all, much less fireworks, much less lounging around drinking or eating. Over the last few years, we've adapted. We've missed our share of fun due to naps and we've had lots of hurried meals and frantic drives to beat crowds, but it's fun of a whole other variety to watch Jemma's eyes grow big with wonder as a sucker lands at her feet while a float goes by or to see Annie get up and dance when the bagpipes play.

I realized, as I ran, that I used to MIND the fact that having children had limited my ability to life as freely and easily as I used to live. And even though I got up with a sick child in the middle of the night, cut short a parade to make it home for a nap, missed the fireworks or a concert or a fun event because of bedtime, it was hard. I admit: every time I scraped back my chair to chase an "All Done!" toddler when my meal sat untouched on my plate, I harbored the teeniest, tiniest scrap of resentment - not at my kids, really, but at . . . the situation. At the fact that it was almost always ME who got up to do those things, who had had to change my life so radically to accommodate these needs.

And I admit, although I'm actually not proud that it's taken me nearly five years of parenting to do it, that I don't MIND, anymore. Jemma, who was 100% completely, totally healthy when we left on Thursday, got a bad cold while we were up north, and I was up with her most of the night last night. Instead of feeling angry, resentful, bitter (instead of calculating how much sleep I was losing), I felt OK. Not thrilled, but actually sort of glad to be able to comfort my girl. Not pleased, but able to have enough perspective that this, too, shall pass.

So Happy Fourth of July, little girls. You are seeming not-so-little to me, this year. And I am feeling ever-so-grateful to be your Mommy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On the Cusp of Five

With a little more than two months until she is officially five years old, Annie is, more and more, my big girl. Less frequent are the days where she whines and hits and yells and can't pull it together. More common are days - lots of them, in a row - where we do one fun thing after another, where we talk about anything and everything, where we kiss and hug and giggle spontaneously, where I am so glad to be with her.

She continues to astound me with what she knows and what she notices. We still play "Which is more, 18 or 43?" with various numbers in the car, and she still mostly gets them right. The other day, Annie turned to Jemma in the middle of a game and said, "Jemma, which is more, 1 or 3?" And I was amazed that she knew to make the game as simple as possible for her two-year-old sister.

She loves words and letters and knowing what things "mean." Driving through Eastown today, she pointed out the "lowercase e" and then started listing off things that begin with the letter E: "elephant, eggs, Elizabeth, . . ." and went on for about five minutes. She "reads" a few words on sight. She asks how to spell things like "Congratulations" to make a card for baby Arlo next door, sticking her tongue out of her mouth with concentration as she prints each letter with an orange crayon. She can tell time (just the hours) on a non-digital clock.

She flies around the sidewalk on her scooter and balances for what seems like minutes at a time, coasting between driveways. Just this week, after weeks of ignoring her bike completely, she abruptly decided that she wasn't afraid of falling down on it, anymore, and now she straps her helmet on and pedals furiously around the block on that, too. We went to the track this afternoon to run off some steam, and she had me time her running a lap. She ran a 400 in 2:17 (by comparison, it took me 1:27, only fifty seconds less), then wanted to do another one. Immediately.

She can crack an egg to help me bake. She chooses all her own clothes. She does the monkey bars all the way across without stopping and can pump on the swing with no pushes at all. She has plans for herself every day, ideas about where we should go and what we should do, and it is a great joy to stand back and watch her, my almost-five-year-old, embrace her life.