Tuesday, March 26, 2013

another first

This morning was a big one for me and Annalise.  It was the first time I dropped her off with a babysitter who wasn't her grandmother.

The first time I left Annalise with her grandmother, my mother-in-law, for a day was just after she turned one month old.  And it was weird, definitely, but I wasn't sad.  In fact, here's a good Mommy Confession - the very first time I was away from my daughter for more than a half hour, I was elated.  I was a grown-up again, out of the house, driving!  Dressing up for meetings!  Talking about something other than breastmilk and diapers!  I was happy to have her back in my arms that evening, but I didn't really mourn the hours "lost" either.  Neither did Annalise, who stared wide-eyed at the new toys at Grandma's and was spoiled and cuddled to the content of both.  And it stayed that way for over a year, until a lot of circumstances called for a change.

Today, when Annalise figured out Mum-mum was leaving her with a stranger, she cried, and I scurried out the door, cognizant of two things.  One, if I stayed to comfort her, I would ultimately make it worse, because I would need to leave eventually.  Two, that I had left my makeup bag at home, and my mascara was not going to last very much longer.

It was fine, of course, in the end.  She had a great day with her new babysitter, who has her own daughter, and a tame, kid-loving cat.  Lots of fun to be had, new things to explore, and a whole day in which to do it.  And I was fine once I was on the road (more specifically, once I got a comforting text message from my husband reminding me that I was going to be just fine).

So there it is, another first in our book.  Our day ended in a very regular way - Annalise wanted to be read to (tonight it was James and the Giant Peach, for about ten minutes, and then a variety from her growing Dr. Seuss collection), and she cuddled and hummed and played with my fingers as she dropped off to sleep.

Monday, March 11, 2013

fox in socks

Ever since Annalise began to crawl, she gravitated toward the many (many!) books in our house.  She was pulling them off shelves and flipping through them almost immediately.  And when she started walking a few months ago, there really was no stopping her.  To the books she would go.

Of course, I can't describe the elation I feel about this.  When asked what my daughter's favorite toys are, the answer is usually "books, Minnie Mouse, her caterpillar pull toy, and books."  She's fascinated by the sound pages make as they are flipped. She likes her board books, too, for chewing mostly, but also the bright pictures - she's started pointing at them and saying "dat?" to get answers from us.  Need a distraction during a diaper change?  The mini board book collection she has is perfect.

In the last couple of weeks, she's started searching for specific books and putting them in our hands to be read.  The two most popular are "Sleepytime with Rory" by Chris Friden and "Fox in Socks" by Dr. Seuss.  

I know from personal experience that repetition like this is great for the budding reader.  Yes, she's far away from that stage, but this is all instructive in one way or another for her tiny mind.  Who knows what wonders in literature lie in her future, all because she started out by asking us ("Dat-da, dee?" or "Mum-mum, dee?")  if we would read her favorite books to her again and again.

So no matter how many times we put Rory to bed with Flicker, or how many beetle battle puddles my tongue trips over, I'm happy to comply with my daughter's requests. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

third fencepost

Once upon a time, I was a Girl Scout.

I have so many fond memories of my 12 (!!) years in Scouting that I could honestly dedicate this blog to little else.  Mom came up to me one day, right at the beginning of first grade, and said to me and my friend Oni, who stayed at our house sometimes after school, "How would you girls like to be Brownies?"  And I remember jumping up and Oni jumping up and both of us giggling and excited.  We definitely wanted to be Brownies!

Mom was my troop leader all through Brownies.  Then we moved to Missouri, and I joined a Junior troop there for the short time we stayed.  Then it was back to Oklahoma, and I was an active Junior there, too.  Camping, cookie sales, crafts, all-nighters with dear, dear friends.  There are so many stories there.

When I crossed over to Cadettes, however, well, that was when the fun really started.

Cadette Troop 121 on one of our
many adventures
Not many girls stay involved once they hit junior high.  I joined a Cadette troop that was, I believe, no more than seven or eight strong at the beginning.  It was the best possible troop experience I think anyone could have.  The leader was a young woman, a teacher, named Leanna.  She was living at home with her folks, Barbara and Bob, who were also really involved in Scouting - both Girl Scouts and, until their son was no longer involved, Boy Scouts.  Barbara and Bob served as co-leaders.  

"Ladybug" at Camp Kate Portwood
in Altus, OK, spring 1994
We were a camping, crafting, cookie-selling kind of troop.  If there was something we could do, we did it.  I learned a lot about leadership, about friendship, about teamwork - this family of Girl Scout leaders taught us all so much.  

Barbara, or "Ladybug" as she was affectionately known, was a force to behold.  She was the consummate volunteer, and she loved kids.  She loved showing us what she knew, whether it was camp cooking or sewing or skits or songs.  She was a wonderful woman who helped show me a bigger world, and I remember her with a lot of love.  

Barbara, and Leanna, were incredibly influential women in my life during a period where it was difficult to find connections.  Adolescence sucks, as I'm sure you'll all remember.  Being a Girl Scout, in that troop, with those ladies (and my wonderful friends, especially Keri Dawn and Juanita), was life-altering, in the best ways.  

A postcard from Our Chalet in
Switzerland, dated October 2000
Barbara kept in touch over the years - I got the occasional postcard from overseas adventures, from trips she and Bob took to visit friends or do Girl Scout things.  I got Christmas letters and sometimes other notes. And then, after a long period with little contact, we reconnected over Facebook.  You can't tell me social media doesn't serve a greater purpose - being back in touch with Barbara and Bob and Leanna, while it hasn't been extensive contact and I haven't seen any of them in nearly twenty years, has been incredible.

Fifteen months ago, Barbara went to the doctor for an eye exam, and came out with a diagnosis of brain cancer.  She was given eleven weeks to live.  She beat the cancer back with radiation and chemo and a ton of prayer from warriors she knows literally all over the world.  But the Lord called her home this morning.  I found out from Leanna on Facebook while I was, ironically, doing something the two of them taught me to do - leading a meeting of women.

All day long, as I was out doing the things that I feel Girl Scouting, and especially Barbara Thompson, taught me to do, I thought of her, and her laugh, her irrepressible optimism and good attitude.  Her encouragement, her determination, her giving spirit.  

We learned a song, my last summer in Troop 121, that has been in my head all day.

"I've been sitting here thinking about leaving,
Just when I wanted to stay the most.
So I went outside and left a piece of my heart
Buried by the third fencepost.

When tomorrow morning comes
I'll be smiling
Though I might feel a little down.
Though my body's leaving,
I'll still be around."

Rest in peace, my dear, dear friend.