“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." - Rachel Carson

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Retta at 8 Months

Whoa, wait...what's with being all vertical?!

My little love turned 8 months old on Sunday and to mark the occasion she decided to start crawling. I swear that little bugger heard me tell person after person that with Rowan we were so enthusiastic for her to reach every new developmental milestone but with the second one I was not going to encourage mobility, so she decided to crawl 2 months sooner. Once Rowan started trucking around the house, constant vigilance was required...you just sit down for two seconds and then, "Oh no! Sweetie, we don't eat cat food!" Less than a minute later: "Ooops! No, no! Chewing on electrical cords is not a safe recreational hobby!"...and of course, then you find yourself saying, "Shoes are not for licking!" So, that's what we're doing now. Don't get me wrong...I am thrilled and thankful to have a healthy, thriving little lady about the house, but we are all adjusting to this new phase of movement. We are also discovering that Retta has lots of tricks up her sleeve, like her ability to be on all fours crawling and then suddenly she's doing a perfect downward dog yoga pose. Yesterday I caught her stuck in an awkward split, and this afternoon I glanced at her and she was doing plank pose. Future yogi or circus contortionist? Time will tell, but her antics have been keeping us entertained. Over the past month Retta also sprang her first tooth-- a cute little white bump front and bottom center, and she started eating lots more finger foods. This has made us think about the merits of a dog, because the floor crumbs have increased at an exponential rate, and every time I pick her up out of her booster seat she has about 76 pieces of dehydrated apple chunks and cereal puffs stuck to her butt. It is such a fun stage though between the grinning, laughing, babbling, morning smiles, and perhaps my favorite new trick she's learned: playing peekaboo. A couple of weeks ago she was sitting on our bed and picked up a shirt from the laundry pile and lifted it up over her head, then yanked it down with a big grin and did it again...I realized she was trying to play a game with me! Whenever I'd say "Peek-a..." she'd pull the shirt up over her head, and when I'd say, "BOO!" she would bring the shirt down to her lap and giggle. So cute. I don't think I'd ever get tired of playing that game with her. Looking forward to the next month and what cute mayhem Christmas + baby brings!

Monday, November 26, 2012


“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” -Thornton Wilder

As many of you may have noticed by now, Wonder Parenting has been rather quiet for the last month. Blogging has taken a backseat to the sickness that cycled around our house from late October until now. After a month of colds, viruses, sinus infection, etc. I had another round of persistent flu-like symptoms recur last week. I couldn't take being sick any longer so I went to walk-in care at the hospital, ended up spending the night in the E.R. and then being admitted to the hospital for 3 days. I was treated for dehydration, and my blood counts were incredibly off. Scary-low white blood cell and platlet counts meant that I was incredibly susceptible to new infection or viruses and my blood pressure was so low I was in danger or passing out every time I stood up. I completely stumped the doctors, and still after numerous tests, they aren't entirely sure what happened or what I have going on. What was unexpected during this time was that I went from thinking I had a routine virus or a reaction to my flu shot, to hearing that I could potentially have leukemia, other types of cancer, or serious immune system disorders. You go along thinking you are young and healthy one day and the next you are completely humbled, knocked off your feet and faced with the very real possibility of fighting a potentially terminal illness. What both surprised and relieved me during this moment was that rather than completely panicking, I felt as if I was emerging from a fog into total clarity, with what is truly important in my life coming into sharp focus. It was the gift of immediate perspective- the silly mundane details that I somehow find time to routinely stress over fell away, and all I could think about was how cute Retta's chubby little hand looks when it reaches toward her mobile in a beam of light, or the piles of love-infused drawings Rowan showers me with each day as she unpacks her school backpack, or the feel of Aaron's hand in mine, or the purr of our cat as he sleeps happily on my blanketed chest, cozy by the fire on a winter's night. I thought about my parents taking care of my kids all weekend and how they continue to be a source of steadfast support no matter how old I get. The strength and happiness I draw from my family and friends is immeasurable.

These are the things I live for, the things that matter, the things that if told my time was short, I would want to fill my last days with. Of course I was lying in my hospital bed thinking about worst case scenarios and making bargains with some higher power about all the great things I will do if afforded more time and continued health. The likelihood that I have some type of cancer is very small. It has not been entirely taken off the table yet, but I am fairly certain that rather than a more serious diagnosis, I ended up in the hospital because of an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. That coupled with the perfect storm of being run down from a lingering cold and depleted from lack of sleep, nursing, and not taking in enough calories to offset my daily expenditure of energy. Regardless of the diagnosis, this week I was given many gifts. I am thankful that this week I was forced to slow down and examine my pace, reminding me that if you don't take time to truly take care of yourself, you won't be able to really take care of anyone else either. I was immediately reminded at the tenuousness of this life and that I should always try to avoid taking my time for granted. I was reminded of my greatest gifts- my family and friends. I was surrounded by people who love me and showered with their love, thoughts, prayers, and gifts. I was blown away by the generosity of others. I was given the gift of good news with an improved prognosis, and told to resume feeding Retta. I've had meals and plants and cozy pants delivered and so many kind offers of help. To have so much love in my life is a blessing, and to know it is yet another. I realized the other day that I would much rather have a life of quality over quantity, and so regardless of how many days I am gifted, I will be grateful to have lived so many days already with wonderful companions and amongst such beauty and grace. There is much to give thanks for every day, and health, family, love and kindness top my list today.

Some of the people I am thankful for, enjoying Thanksgiving dinner

Friday, November 9, 2012

First Snow!

We knew it was coming, and yet, there's always something surprising about the first snow of the season. Yesterday morning when we woke up we weren't expecting to see 3 inches or so on the ground and coating the trees, our brown November yard transformed into a winter wonderland overnight. We were thinking it was just going to be a little dusting. Rowan was so overjoyed about this change in landscape that she and Aaron were out playing by 6:30. By the time Retta and I had bundled up and joined them at 7:00, they had already built a snowman, shoveled out Rowan's name on the driveway, and made snow angels. Rowan was handing out carefully selected snowballs for each of us to munch on, and then she led us to her "secret hideaway," in a stand of pine trees.

I know that many of us are not so enthusiastic about the appearance of the white stuff and the gray, cold days that often accompany it, and I am often among that group. Yesterday however, I found myself grateful for this glimpse of winter- Rowan's enthusiasm was infectious. We rarely venture outside so early in the morning, but there was something great about getting up and immediately going out, feeling the cool air on your face and then retreating to the warm house for breakfast. We were all so awake and happy, all before when we'd normally just be rolling out of bed. As I spent the day with Retta, I embraced the wintry weather, determined to make a roaring fire in the woodstove, drinking tea while looking for the perfect chocolate chip banana bread recipe,  working on homemade Christmas gifts, making time to slow down and enjoy the day playing with my little one. We had an excellent day together and it made me remember the good parts of winter- the cozy house, candles burning, baking, snuggling cute children in fuzzy pajamas, and the turning inward to more quiet and reflective pursuits. Summer is so much about getting out, having adventures outdoors, soaking up as much sun and warmth as you can while it lasts. Then there's winter, where I feel like all my reading, my crafting and my dreaming and good ideas happen. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to see the sunshine and the grass again today, even if it's dead, but I'm also thankful for yesterday's snowy day.

Retta is curious about the snow

Rowan in her secret hideout

Little Lulu all bundled up--that fleecy suit is like a sleep machine

And here's a video, but for some reason the sound isn't working for me, so it's probably not that interesting, but it's kind of cool, like the old home movies that didn't used to have sound...

Friday, November 2, 2012


Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, the best of friends (let's hope right?!)

I love Halloween so much more now that we have kids. I can't think of much in this world cuter than little kids in Halloween costumes, and getting to make parts of their costumes really appeals to my inner craft nerd. This year Halloween felt especially big because we had been cooped up fighting some nasty virus for nearly 2 weeks and we were all so cagey that getting out and about for trick or treating felt like a major social event. Also, when we woke up on Halloween morning, Retta was sitting up in our bed cheerfully babbling when we ALL heard her say, "Mama!" Music to my ears. Not that I'm jealous that she had already said "Dada" or anything, but it was definitely my most memorable Halloween treat this year.  Before getting costumed-up my mom and I also took Rowan to see Sesame Street Live for the first time, which was a banner experience for Rowan. It was really cool to see her even wider-eyed than usual trying to take it all in. She was super impressed by the cannons that shot streamers out into the crowd during the big finish. Then we got Rowan into her Winnie the Pooh costume (2 minutes) and Retta into her Piglet costume (20 minutes of squirmy rangling) and we were ready to go. We visited grandparents, great-grandparents, family friends, and our neighbors the next day for round two. Rowan got loads of candy and cool toys while Retta enjoyed baby food, a teddy bear, some money and glow-in-the-dark pacifiers. She also hauled in a lot of candy for her parents. Not bad for a baby's first try at this whole trick or treating gig. Here are the pictures...

Trying to figure out how to bust into her treat baby food at my grandfather's apartment

Attempts at taking a photo where both girls were looking at the camera were futile, but these are still cute

She barely fit in her car seat!

The little pig trying to crawl across the floor while also gumming a jar of baby food...

Feeling a little 11'oclockish!