Third Birthday!

“Growing, bearing, mothering, or fathering, supporting, and at last letting go…are powerful and mundane creative acts that rapturously suck up whole chunks of life.” –Louise Erdrich
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Somehow, my little rainbow girl is THREE today! I can hardly believe it!

(As is my tradition…Alaina’s Complete Birth Story)

On January 2nd we had a family photo shoot…in the snow! It was 14 degrees outside. But, my brother and his wife and my sister and her husband and my parents could all make it work to get pictures taken together, so we did it! Alaina was really cold and we only got part of her face in the outdoor shots…

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This was the “act cold” picture, but we didn’t have to pretend much!

When we went over to the photographer’s house, we got some cute indoor shots of the kids too though:
JanuaryMollyBarb 089 JanuaryMollyBarb 102 JanuaryMollyBarb 127One of my favorites is actually this picture of our family’s socks together (my mom is a world class sock-knitter and we all wear them!):

JanuaryMollyBarb 165Just look at that little person in her pink sparkly socks!

Here are some things to remember that I’ve written down over the last couple of weeks:

  • Heard Alaina yell at Zander (while working on making a marble maze together): “you ruin my ex-perience!” ;-D
  • Made brownie cookie sandwiches and she said,”these so strong they make my ears jiggle!”
  • Has excellent vocabulary and communicates well, but still says “me” instead of “I.” I haven’t worked on it too much with her, because she is the last little, “me do it” person who will live in our house and I’m not quite ready to stop hearing it! I wish I’d taken more videos of her talking (I’ve tried and they just don’t turn out. Or, she says “poop” too much to put them on youtube!). I missed out on video of “Happy Hall-o-yeen!” and “Merry Cwistmas” both and now those moments are past!
  • Later realized that when Alaina talks about her “experience” she actually means experiment! Pretty cute! (We were working on a make-your-own-bouncy-ball kit and she kept calling them her “experience.”) She can also open doorknobs now. I remember writing that milestone down for each of my kids at about three AND it usually exactly coordinated with a big leap in drawing skills. Better get this girl some paper to experience with…
  • She loves making “sacred bundles” lately and currently has three that she carries around and puts on my altars, says, “have yittle ceremony, Mama?” and, “me want make this yittle bundle for tiny baby.” (my sister-in-law’s baby) She plans ceremonies all the time and want to sit around with candles holding my hand.
  •  She likes to help me with my sculptures too!

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She still nurses, but we night weaned at some point in the last couple of months. I find myself increasing unenraptured with the toddler nursing experience and have been actively discouraging it in recent weeks. We go many days now with no nursing during the day after morning wake-up snuggle time. This also coincides with sleeping most nights in her own little bed from about midnight until 7-9. She is still the same little night owl she was the day she was born. Early this week she actually fell asleep on her own waiting for me to come to bed and I moved her to her own bed where she slept until almost 9:00. When she woke up and climbed in with me, I realized that that had been the first night in almost exactly three years that she hadn’t fallen asleep on my arm. This little girl has slept in my arms every night of her life until this one night! And, while I have a little pang of nostalgia and memory to see that time in our relationship slipping away, I’m also pretty ready. I’ve had a child sleeping in my arms for most of the last ten years and it feels like a good time to now just sleep. 😉

All that said, last night on the eve of her birthday, I had Mark take a couple of pictures:


Nostalgia. I so enjoy this little person as she is now and that I feel is quickly passing by, but I also think about the boys and I know that who my kids are now fills me up so much, that I rarely ever have much time to miss their old selves! There is a special poignancy though to this little girl’s infancy and then toddlerhood and then little girlhood. I have marveled at her existence and some element of her sweetness every single day of her life. Consciously and genuinely. I do not remember this sharp clarity of daily appreciation with my other kids. It may be as Barbara Kingsolver wrote, that the last baby trails her sweetness through your life like a final flag of surrender. And, it definitely isn’t that I didn’t appreciate and marvel at the the boys—I remember plenty of sweet moments of appreciation and marvelment of them too—but when Lann was little I felt like I struggled so much with the adjustment to parenthood and the struggle over my own identity and sense of loss, that that is almost my main memory. When Zander was little, I also had toddler Lann to occupy much of my attention and time and I was much more splintered between the needs, sometimes conflicting, of two small kids. The age difference is big enough between Zander and Alaina that I simply have more energy to savor her than I did with him.

“A mother’s body remembers her babies–the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has its own entreaties to body and soul. It’s the last one, though, that overtakes you. I can’t dare say I loved the others less, but my first three were all babies at once, and motherhood dismayed me entirely. . . . That’s how it is with the firstborn, no matter what kind of mother you are–rich, poor, frazzled half to death or sweetly content. A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world.

But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after–oh, that’s love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she’s gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She’s the one you can’t put down.”

― Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

JanuaryMollyBarb 137She wanted to have a tea party for her birthday today and specified it be with “little girls,” so that’s what we did! She did not get a pocketknife like she requested, but she did get a ferocious mom and baby t-rex as well as many other lovely and thoughtful gifts from family and friends. 🙂 I was glad to have a friend and my mom who took some cute pictures for me!


After the birthday extravaganza she requested music so she could dance in her new “mermaid dress” (hand-me-down from friend). The girl has moves and I videoed them (random radio music happened to be Material Girl):

20140119-220628.jpgAnd, then it was time for bed…

20140119-223808.jpgYes, those are three t-rexes nestled lovingly in her arms.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl! 🙂

Postscript: after originally posting, I remembered a couple of things. First, she totally had a big girl overnight at my parents’ house in December! Somehow I forgot about this while waxing nostaglic about her sleeping in my arms. We didn’t expect her to stay and kept waiting for “the call” telling us to come back and get her, but she stayed all night. I was freaking out! (And, I couldn’t fall asleep. It was totally a shock that she stayed.)

I also wanted to remember her adorable way of calling bamboo “pandaboo” (!! The cute!!!) and her speculation that dog toys “prob-ly have dognip in ’em.” Less adorable is saying, “get out of my face” to me recently while making cookies and I told her not to dump all the chocolate chips in yet. And, flinging herself dramatically on beds or couches or in cracks between furniture and sobbing loudly when told she shouldn’t have done something or that she is, in fact, in the wrong about something (such as slapping Zander’s face while playing dinosaurs and then yelling at him that it is his fault). Back to adorableness is the frequent reminder that, “me only little person” when asked a variety of things (such as, “why did you do that?!”) or when requests are made she does not want to fulfill (such as, “please don’t throw string cheese wrappers on the floor, take them to the trash”). But, it is also often a very good reminder. And, finally, we’ve noticed within the last week that she can roll her tongue! Mark can roll his and I can’t roll mine. It has always been a tiny little sore spot for me, because I just don’t like not being able to do something. My dad can’t either and said when he was a kid he was pretty sure only bratty people could roll their tongues, so we exist in non-tongue-rolling, recessive gene solidarity together. Lann can’t roll his either, but Zander can and now Alaina can too! (I feel a little betrayed ;-P)

And, when we toured Bass Pro in conjunction with a homeschool field trip to Askinoise Chocolate Factory in Springfield last week she did get a little pink pocketknife after all.

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2 thoughts on “Third Birthday!

  1. I can hardly believe she’s three!! This was a lovely post celebration who she is right now and it just made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I also liked that you acknowledge that you can feel a pang if nostalgia for something while also being ready to let it go. That doesn’t really go away, each new stage brings with it these mixed blessings. As we approach 15 (!!) I’m kind of ready to stop being chauffeur but I also know that our time in the car, with nothing to do but talk to each other, is precious. So, nostalgia tinged with readiness fit the next stage is just part of mothering I suppose. I hope her year as a three year year old is a big, full one!!

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