Friday, February 8, 2019

Dear Libby 4

I know I say this every year but how - how???? - can you be another year older? Didn't we just have Elsa from "Frozen" here for your third birthday? Now, another one has come and gone - this year with Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" as your requested guest (you made your Mom so proud with that one!) - and you are 4.

You're rapidly leaving your toddler days behind and moving into full Kid status. And, man, do you let me know it. You insist on doing everything on your own, to varying degrees of success. Getting shoes and socks on you can handle. I just make sure I give you a 20-minute heads up before we're leaving and you're typically ready to rock by the time I'm heading out the door. Dressing yourself is still dicey - pants are easy. Shirts - especially hoodies - tend to trap you and you end up with your head encased in the inside-out garment with your arms straight up in the air and belly exposed, traipsing blindly about in search of rescue. Not gonna lie, sometimes I let this go on for a minute until I can compose myself enough to intervene.

You love to help me cook dinner, you set the table, you help with sweeping and dusting, you feed the dog - I've got it made until the day you start demanding allowance.

Hoodie removal aside, you're pretty good at just about anything you try. You love letters and words and are actually pretty skilled at coming up with your own. You still call yourself (and me and dad) Sassabroni daily. You also have a way of mashing up words in a way that totally make sense. If you find something "yummy" and "delicious," you'll call it "yumlicious." Exciting and incredible becomes something like "excredibling." At first, I discouraged this by saying, "That's not a word," until I realized neither were Quidditch or horcrux until J.K. Rowling created them for "Harry Potter," so as far as I'm concerned, go for it.

In all seriousness, everyone you meet tells me how advanced your language skills are. I know it's because you love to read and you listen to everything everyone says. You're at that age where I can't gossip about anyone behind closed doors because I know you will repeat exactly what I said word for word the next time we're around the subject of my dishing.

This photo, to me, sums up your "I got this" attitude. Just try messing with that.

The last year has been a huge one for you. You started swimming on your own (with the help of a life vest but still), you started preschool (which, shockingly, you LOVE), you had your first sleepovers, you got your first bike, you had your first school recital, you went to your first Disney on Ice show (the first of many, based on how much we both loved it), you went to your first amusement park, you started dance class. But the biggest change, I think we'd agree, was the beginning of your life as a Big Sister. This little guy has been around for about nine months now, and it's taken some getting used to on your part.

Luke is unabashedly enamored with you. Do not mistake the photo - he is not pulling your hair to hurt you. He's pulling your hair to bring you in closer to him. He gazes at you all day, panics when you're not in sight, laughs at everything you say and do, squeals with glee when you so much as glance at him and just generally believes the sun and moon rise and set with you.

You reciprocate his affection with an attitude most people reserve for filing their taxes.

Don't get me wrong - you're really good at helping me care for him. Need someone to fetch a diaper? You're on it. Help with a bath? Just hand you a washcloth. Hunt down a binky that went missing? No problem. But when it comes to showing him any kind of emotion beyond general indifference, you're just not there yet. Maybe once he starts walking and talking and can actually play with you rather than just steal focus when you're trying to hold my and Dad's full attention. Here's hoping. Otherwise, that boy is in for an early life lesson on the pains of rejection.

Outside of how you treat Luke, you are incredibly kind, thoughtful, empathetic, caring and attentive.You pay attention and you know when someone needs a hug or a smile. You relish the opportunity to help someone in need. You're eager to brighten anyone's day, even if it's with a friendly wave to an unfamiliar face in the mall (we'll work on Stranger Danger later). In those moments, I'm most proud to be your mom. That kindness is not something you can teach. It's innate, and I know in many ways it's your Grandma shining through in you. She always said, "Above all else, value kindness," and Kid, you give that stuff away all day every day. You remind me to be kind even when I'm not in the mood to be, and I appreciate that beyond words. Being your Mom has made me a better person than I ever thought I could be and I love you beyond words for that.

Everyone always tells me you're my Mini-Me, and I take that as the biggest compliment of my life.

You're the best, Crunch (yes, we still call you that). Here's to another fantabulous year.



Saturday, February 3, 2018

Dear Libby

Wait. Didn't I just write you a Happy 2nd Birthday love letter like, one viewing of "Frozen" ago? What on earth happened to the last 12 months? I remember hanging out with you a lot doing some of our favorite things (walks in the park, trips to the library, watching the same movies 1,000 times). I remember dealing with the occasional (daily) tantrum and cleaning up the occasional (hourly) mess or two, but other than that, I can't tell you where this year went.

A few things stick out. You got really into the holidays this year and asked everyone you saw every time you saw them one of the following questions for months:

1. What are you gonna be for Halloween?
2. What am I gonna be for Halloween?
3. What do you want for Christmas? 
4. What do I want for Christmas?

It was super cute...the first 8 million times. After that...well, let's just say I was okay with New Years finally rolling around. It's now February and you still manage to work all four questions into regular conversation. Only eight more months until they become relevant again! 

You also had an incredible vocabulary explosion this year and have been known to call me:

1. Gullible (sometimes appropriately)
2. Complicated (also appropriately)
3. Your best friend (swoon!)
4. Your true love (mega swoon!)

I hang on to the moments when you call me those last two because I am painfully aware of the day in the not so distant future when getting you to spend time with me will take some kind of hypnosis like the kind Ursula uses on Prince Eric when she's disguised as Vanessa and using Ariel's voice (hopefully, you still love "The Little Mermaid" as much as you do now and get that reference).

You also make up words. I have a (probably not great) tendency to call you a jabroni when you're acting like a goofball. I also call you out on your frequent sass about 800 times a day. You opted to save time by combining the two, and call yourself a "Sassabroni." The first time you said it, your father and I looked at each other in disbelief and laughed for an hour. Now, we use it daily. 

Sidenote: We do still call you Crunch, and we still don't know why. I think you're stuck with this one for life, kid. Apologies. 

Oh, Crunch, that I could hit a pause button and just freeze time where we are right now, because let me tell you, now is pretty great. Here are a few more highlights: 

Wheel-san (as you call him): Your best friend in life is super hairy, sometimes smelly, and stalks your every move. Wilson, our beloved border collie/lab mix who we brought home around your birthday last year, has imprinted on you in the most adorable way. You reward him for such devotion by treating him basically like you do all your stuffed animals. You tug at him, pull at him, jump on him, smash your face into him. If you could, you'd probably pick him up and toss him around a little. I regularly remind you that Wilson is indeed a living being with actual feelings, emotional and physical, but you prefer to see him as a lifeform whose sole existence is for your personal amusement. You do tell him often how much you love him and that he is your best friend. It's just enough to keep him coming back for more day after day after day. God bless this creature and all he tolerates in the name of loving you.

You Really Do Love All Animals: I mean, Wils gets top billing, but if there's a petting zoo within sight, a neighbor walking his dog, or a feral raccoon scrounging around a nearby Dumpster, WATCH OUT. You will do anything to pet them, snuggle them, name them, and pretty much claim them as your own. You've ridden a pony exactly twice in your life. The first time you did it, you hopped on the saddle like you'd been winning rodeo competitions your entire childhood. Sometimes, though, this love gets you into the occasional sticky situation. Once, we were in a very crowded petting zoo and I was holding your hand, guiding you through it. I stopped short when I felt you lagging behind and, still pressing forward, I gave your arm a yank and said, "Come on, Lib!" only to turn around and realize a cow had walked between us and I was smacking you into its backside over and over. The mom next to me LOST HER MIND and I couldn't help but join her in her laughter. I mean, some days are good days. Some days, you hurl your kid into the backside of a cow. It happens. 

"Friends": You started going to daycare this year at the church, and you LOVE it. You must turn on that signature Libby Charm when you're there because everyone who runs it LOVES you right back. (Did I mention you're super charming? I know all parents probably say that about their kids, but I don't know many others who, on two separate occasions, have had complete strangers walk up to them and  HAND THEM  MONEY simply because they are far too cute to go unpaid for being that damn adorable in public. Your father keeps trying to get me to take you on auditions for commercials. I mean, you've already pulled in $4 doing exactly nothing, so he might be on to something there).

I mean, come on. Whatever you're selling, I'm buying. 

I digress. You call daycare "Friends" and you get so excited when it's time to go. Before we started taking you there, I was sick, panicking about how much you'd miss me when I dropped you off. The first time, I only left you there for an hour and sat at the library across the street in case they called me back to reclaim my hysterical, homesick child. You have never, ever cared for one minute about me not being there. In fact, I don't know that my existence even registers to you once we enter the daycare room. At first, I'd wait awkwardly by the front desk, calling your name and waving like a passenger on the Titanic as you bolted off to grab a toy or join another toddler already playing. Now, I just sign you in and know I won't talk to you again until you're back in the car nagging me for a snack on the way home.

Hold On!: Sometimes, for reasons neither Daddy nor I can discern, you talk in this super nasally, borderline creaky weird whine/talk thing that we can only describe as Kardashian Voice. You don't do it super often, but it comes out most when you're playing a game with Dad you've dubbed Hold On! We'll all be sitting around, and suddenly, Kim Kardashian is in our living room telling Dad to "hold aaaaaaan," and you'll jump on his back and demand that he piggyback you around the room. It's super cute and we laugh every time. I just hope that laughter isn't reinforcing the idea that that voice is OK to use anywhere but in the privacy of your own home.

Big Sister: This is probably the biggest thing going on in your life right now, and honestly, I'm not 100 percent sure you even know it's happening. In about two months, you're going to become a big sister. You know something's up. You see my belly getting bigger, and you know that sometimes the baby kicks in my tummy. You'll say, "I'm the big sister!" every once in a while. Still, I'm not entirely convinced you know what that means. But the good news is this: I know in my heart of hearts you are going to be the most amazing big sister any little brother could ever ask for. I know you're going to love this baby more than you'll be able to tell us, and I know you're going to teach him how to be just the best kid God ever put on this earth. You'll show him how to be fun, sweet, caring, goofy, smart, and, more important than all those other things, kind. Because you are all of that. He will watch you and learn from your extraordinary example, and I feel so blessed every day that Dad and I have you around to help him learn and grow.

Our family is growing, and as it does, so will my already-consuming love for you. I can't wait to see where this journey takes us. Just know that wherever it leads, we're going together.



Thursday, October 26, 2017

Oh boy!

I was busy making googly eyes at the little creature on the computer screen in front of me when the ultrasound technician furrowed her brow and shook her head. 

"You're how far along?" she asked, peering closer as the image swam in and out of view.

"Twelve weeks," I said not taking my eyes off it as to not miss a single movement. 

"'re at least 15. Probably closer to 16," she said.

Huh. "OK," I said, thinking that made no difference to me. I soon learned that was not entirely true. 

"Because you're further along, I can tell you the sex," she said grinning. 

Well, that changed things. "TELL ME!" I said. 

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"TELL ME!" I repeated. 

"Well, see those?" she said, pointing to two long lines on the screen. "Those are legs. And that in the middle..."

"A boy!" I said, a shocked smile overtaking my face. 

"A boy," she nodded. 

It's official - Justin, Libby, Wilson and I will be welcoming a baby boy into our family on or around April 19. We're excited and overjoyed and nervous and happy and just feeling really lucky that we get to do this again. 

I'm not entirely surprised at the sex as this pregnancy has been so completely opposite of what I experienced with Lib. When I was pregnant with her, I felt so Earth Mother goddess glowy, I remember thinking, "What's the big fuss about? This is awesome! Look at my nails! Look at my boobs! I've never had either before! This rocks!"

This time, on my best days, I look recently exhumed. On the bad days, I avoid reflective surfaces altogether. I feel like I've been hit by a garbage truck, then scooped up by said truck, taken to the dump, and am barreling toward the fiery incineration pit, Toy Story 3-style. Like the characters, I've accepted my fate, only I'm actually kind of looking forward to my imminent demise. 

Every single person I told this prior to knowing the sex responded with, "Oooo! I bet it's a boy!"* Based on the way I feel, I just hope it's human and not something sent from an evil realm to destroy all mankind. 

*I guess boys make you sick? Well, technically, a boy did do this to me, so it's not completely wrong. 

I'm told this phase will pass, and I'm already starting to feel a little better. What won't pass, I'm coming to realize, is the incessant reminder that I really should not have even considered conceiving again in my decrepit state. "Advanced Maternal Age" is a term I'm becoming quite familiar with, as every time I do anything at the doctor's office - go in for a routine check-up, have any test done, blink - I'm reminded that I am SO OLD OMG and probably should have thrown in the towel on this whole motherhood business the instant I became legally able to drink. 

I'm 36. I had Libby when I was 33. Apparently, those three years mean the difference between super-normal-nothing-to-worry-about pregnancy and EVERYTHING YOU DO WILL RESULT IN DISASTER pregnancy. I get it. I do. And of course, better safe than sorry, but the whole thing just gets a little old (ha!) after a while. 

We have told Libby she's getting a sibling, but she's 2, so her understanding of what's happening is pretty much limited to "Mama's tummy hurts." One night, we were cuddling on the couch when a giant wave of nausea hit me. I knew I was going to hurl and didn't want to scare her, so I told her, in the calmest voice I could muster, to go get daddy, who was downstairs. She tore off, barreling through the house, screeching, "DADDY!!!!! SHE'S HURT!!!!!" at the top of her little lungs. Justin bolted upstairs, thinking I had been violently murdered only to find me green-faced and clawing my way to the bathroom. I felt terrible for having upset her, but at least I know the kid can hold her own in emergencies. 

So yes, this time is around is different in many ways from the first, but despite the entire preceding, I'm not really complaining. I'm so excited and happy to get to do this again, and I can't wait to see what this child is like. Super outgoing and life-of-the-party like Lib (and her dad)? More reserved and quiet (like me)? Horned and fanged, as to better annihilate all who stand in the path of its demonic rage (as I suspect)? Kidding! Regardless of all of it, I just can't wait to meet him. Because if how I feel about this one is any indication, we have a love like I've never known in our future.

Monday, March 13, 2017

I Think They Like Each Other...

For some time, I'd been thinking it was bordering on child abuse that Justin and I had not gotten Libby a dog yet. She's slightly in love with puppies. All of them. As some of you may remember, her first word was "puppy," and she stills talks about them nonstop. It was time.

So a few weeks ago, we grew our little family by one when we brought home Wilson, a border collie lab mix who we met thanks to the great folks at Pet Search. He's a total love bug, super affectionate and cuddly, playful, friendly and just overall a really great dog.

And as anticipated, Libby kind of likes him.

I think he likes her too. Mission accomplished.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

It's the Oscars! And we're here to talk fashion and politics. Except, forget politics! 

A h, awards season. It never disappoints, even when the red carpet styles...well, disappoint. That's part of the fun! My bestie Jason and I let you all into our awards show viewing circle with the Grammys a few weeks back. You seemed to like it, so come along with us as we recap the most important awards show of the season, complete with our most important comments! It's the 2017 Academy Awards!   

Jason on Octavia Spencer: Look how awesome she looks!...(camera pans down)...Oh. How many Muppets had to die for that?"

Jason on Brie Larson: That. That's architecture.

Jason: Jessica Biel looks like someone took an Oscar, kicked it down the stairs and made a dress. (For what it's worth, Rachel: YOU ARE SO RIGHT.)

Red carpet interviewer on Casey Affleck: Look who I found on the stairs! 
Rachel: On the stairs? Or under them? 

Rachel: Keith Urban's hair never changes. And I don't mean he never changes styles. I mean his individual hairs NEVER EVER move. EVER.

Rachel: I feel like Janelle Monae's stylist is playing a practical joke on all of us.

Jason: What is that, Leslie Mann?
Rachel: Asked and answered.

 An aside, by both of us, as The Rock comes on stage: Velour. *GIANT SIGH* OK Fine.

Another aside, as Lin-Manuel Miranda comes out to rap-speak about "Moana": We love Lin. EVERYONE LOVES LIN. But does this feel a smidge like a push for him to get a PEGOT. Yes, of course, he deserves it but...OK fine.

 All of us, as they played Viola Davis off: Was that.... "The Heat Is On." I mean, Sure!

General observation: What is up with the wrist-to-wrist clap all the A-listers are doing? And why?

Becca, Jason's wife, as they announce the nominees for Best Animated Film: I feel like a turtle is nominated every year.

General impressions:

Dakota Johnson: Horrid

Nicole Kidman: Perfection, finally.

Taraji P. Henson: SO GOOD. Also, finally.

Emma Stone: Neck up, flawless. Neck to waist, boring. Waist to floor, LOVE.

Last Word:

Jason's Fav: Brie Larson (see above). "I like the architecture of that dress. I thought it was classically different. In that it was classic, but something we haven't seen before."

Rachel's Fav: Shockingly, for the first time ever because usually I can't stand any of her red carpet looks: Nicole Kidman!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hello from the outside. It's the 59th annual Grammys! And we have tulle! 

My bestie Jason and I love awards shows. LOVE them. We watch every single one, even the less watercooler fodder-worthy ones (I'm looking at you, Tonys and SAG awards) and seriously look forward to every minute. Our favorite thing to do is to watch them together, then call each other the next day and recap, complete with our own best and worst dressed list and a thorough analysis of each acceptance speech, red carpet interview gaffes and everything in between. 

I decided this time, we'd keep track of our more noteworthy observations and share them here because honestly, what we think really matters and we're very important, informed people. Also, SIKE! I decided to do it because...funsies! 

So, have some fun with us, understand we take this entire thing with the world's largest grain of salt and let's get to werk, werk, werk, werr werr! 

After James Corden's raptastic opening, Rachel: "I hope Lin Manuel-Miranda made royalties off that."

Jason, on JLo's dress: "Do you think the designer just said, 'So I have this leftover tulle....(crumples it up and chucks it at the shoulder). That'll do.'"

Rachel" "Even Carrie Underwood can't stop this Keith Urban song from sounding like every Keith Urban song."

Rachel: "Is Seacrest wearing an outfit I don't like for the first time ever?" Jason: "(Significant pause) Taupe velour. That's rough."

Rachel on Tina Knowles' intro of Beyonce: "I am blessed to have daughter. DAUGHTERS! Daughters."

Rachel, after five minutes of Beyonce's epic ode to motherhood intro: "How hard would you die if she came out and sang 'Single Ladies' right now?"

Jason, on Beyonce: "So, we have this tulle...."

Rachel on Maren Morris' dress: "I would love that dress if it was more...dress. More dress." Jason: "She clearly won't be wearing that dress to her church."

Jason, watching the Bruno Mars performance: "This song makes me want to go shake my ass at the club. WE SHOULD DO THAT! We should go be those people at the club this summer." Rachel: "We are 35 years old. NO WE SHOULD NOT."

Rachel: "I would buy an entire album of Little Big Town covering Katy Perry songs." *I really would. Let's make this happen, people!*

Jason: "3M stock just went up with the amount of double-sided tape that's holding these girls into their outfits."

Jason on Adele: "You have to love her. She is the most flawed flawless vocalist out there." #truth

Jason on Taraji P. Henson's dress: "What. Why? She has thunderbolts coming out of her tits."

During the Bee Gees tribute, Rachel: "How hard do you want Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake to come out right now and do 'The Barry Gibb Talk Show?'"

As Celine comes out to "My Hear Will Go On," both of us, in unison: "Really? Still??!?"

Jason, upon seeing Solange: "So we have this tulle...."

After we both looked up info on The Time during the Prince tribute, Jason: "It says here they produced all of Janet Jackson's successful albums." Rachel: "Did they really have to throw 'successful' in there. I mean, burn."

Rachel: "Oh, hey, Rihanna. So we have this tulle."

Friday, February 3, 2017

Dear Libby,

Hello, my baby girl.

No surprise here, but I'm already making mistakes. According to the potty training book I’m reading, I’m not to refer to you as “baby” any more as it sends a confusing message about your new status as a toilet-ready Big Girl. As one who rarely considers any parenting advice to be gospel, I found this idea to be a bit ridiculous when I first read it. As a person who’s slowly realizing her days as Mama to an infant are long gone, I also cried my eyes out.

Your official foray into toddlerdom became abundantly apparent in real life a few days ago, when I was sneaking us a handful of our favorite snack—baked Cheetos, which we call “puffs.” I turned to you and said, “Mmm! Mama loves puffs!”

“Me too,” you said.

Since when do you and I have conversations? Since now, I guess, and this time I won’t tell you how hard I cried after that exchange (A LOT).

Basically, you seem to be having a much easier time than I am when it comes to accepting the fact that you are no baby. You’re 2 today, and honestly, you’ve not stop talking since you learned how to make words, so our little exchange should have shocked me in no way.

A few things are the same as they were around this time last year. You still save most poops for times when only daddy is around (keep that up, by all means); you still love when we tickle your stinky feet. You still love other kids and all things Mickey, though another show, “My Friends Tigger and Pooh,” is gaining on the mouse (you call it “Tig Pooh” and I die every time).

Much more has changed. Here is what you’re up to as of Feb 3, 2017:


As previously mentioned, unless you are asleep or eating, you are rarely quiet. But actually, you do talk in your sleep quite a bit and I holler at you daily about talking with your mouth full, so, really...YOU NEVER STOP TALKING. There are days when I think, “Child, I love your sweet little baby girl voice but if you say one more word, I’m going to go cry in the pantry.” Joking(ish)! Mostly, you narrate your day. If you’re watching a show, you tell me so many details I could watch it with my eyes closed, which is tempting. For example, a typical episode of “Tig Pooh” involves the characters doing something fun until a problem arises and the Super Sleuths (Pooh, Tigger and Darby) must use their smarts to solve it. Watching with you goes like this:

You: “Tig Pooh! Piglet! Eeyore! Darby! Rabbit! Friends? Play? Woods! Fun! Uh oh. Sad. Oh no! Super Sleuths! Think, think, think! Tigger? Bounce! Yay! Fun! Friends! Play! Tig Pooh!”

Me: (after everything you say): Mm hmm.

This type of exchange applies to just about every activity imaginable: talking a walk in the park, grocery shopping, coloring, sitting quietly. Just kidding on that last one! You never sit quietly! But, now that we’ve brought it up...I mean, it might be something worth considering. I hear it’s fun! Just saying.


I have no idea where you learned this or when/how it started, but when you ask the question, “Where?” you press the back of your hand up to your forehead in this “Woe is me, I’m just a dainty damsel in distress,” manner that slays me. You also pronounce it like, “way-year” making it all the more hilarious. Never stop doing this.

It's hard to catch you randomly saying, "Where," but around the 42-second mark, it happens in all its glory.

You also developed a super secret handshake that you surprise us with from time to time. We’ll be hanging out, and you’ll come rushing over, and say, “Friends?” We’ve come to learn we are expected to present our hands side by side, so you can do this little finger wiggle atop them, like you’re trying to tickle our palms. Again, no idea where this one came from, but no one is complaining.

It's nearly impossible to catch your "Friends" handshake in action but this is my best attempt.


This is my favorite thing in life right now. You’ve taken to snuggling up on either dad’s or my lap, wrapping your arms around us and simply saying, “Much.” It’s because I tell you about a thousand times a day, “I love you so much.” It’s your way of telling us the same and I melt every time. I hold on to you so tight in those moments, as I am fully aware of the day in the not-so-distant future when a teenage you will want nothing to do with me and I will have to wait for days like my birthday or posed prom photos for you to even entertain the idea of hugging me. Regardless of what happens in the next 12 months, if I’m still able to say “Much” is a thing, I’ll call that year a success.


Your grandma, who loved you beyond measure, died this past November after suffering a stroke a few months prior. It equal parts kills me that you were robbed of your time with her and comforts me that I don’t have to help you navigate your grief as I stumble through my own. All I can tell you, my dear, is Grandma could not have wanted you more, loved you more or been more excited for every single second she got to spend with you. She loved to rock you to sleep or get down on the floor and play with you. She loved feeding you snacks, watching you run around her big backyard or swim in the pool she set up every hot summer day for you and your cousins. We took many walks in the park, went on countless shopping trips, and just really had so much fun together.

Grandma also loved to laugh, so I’ll end this with perhaps one of our funniest memories with her. You were playing in the pool and got out to run around for a bit. Grandma had been using the garden hose to fill the pool, and it was still out in the yard. You were very curious about it, so she picked it up to show you how it worked. She failed, however, to realize the nozzle was still set to full pressure and essentially blasted you in the face full stream, practically knocking you off your feet. She was horrified, until we all realized you were utterly unfazed and, squealing, came rushing back for more. She held the hose out, this time at a reasonable setting, and the two of you had the time of your lives. She retold that story to anyone who would listen and nearly cried laughing every single time.

So, remember, my love: Life will knock you off your feet from time to time. That’s no reason to forget about all the joy there is to be had.