Three Zinger Years

0301

Dear Zinger,

Happy third birthday, my love! I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking of what to write you for your birthday. I thought I could plan something elaborate and fun and recap the last year of your life with a flourish, because your third birthday is a really big deal. The planning didn’t go so well, but I’ll still reminisce this past year with you. You have grown so much, and the world anticipates all the new things you have yet to discover.

0302

Dadda and I worry about you all the time. We’ll keep worrying about you as the world continues to open up to you. That’s what parents do. We wonder how you’ll play with other kids, communicate your wants and needs. You do express yourself well; all it takes is one look at your irresistible face, and we can tell what you’re feeling.

0304

You want to be independent so badly. You’ll climb the countertops to get what you want. If you need help with it, you’ll bring it to us, at which time we realize you’ve climbed the countertop, which is a big no-no. But you’re stubborn and persistent. These characteristics will ultimately prove valuable to you in this world, if you use them the right way.

0309

0305

Lola and Poppy are in town to celebrate your birthday, and you’re so eager to show them how much you know. Just last night you led Lola to the bathroom, where you brought the iPad, then brought the stool to the toilet, put your potty seat on the toilet and had Lola help you with your pants. You then sat on the toilet and went potty. Lola was so very impressed.

0306

0307

Only recently have you started opening the refrigerator to retrieve one of your favorite foods, yogurt. You’re getting stronger and more resourceful, and if there’s a way to do something without our help, you’ll figure it out.

0308

0312

A few months ago, we bought a house with a back yard and lots of space to play. You seem to enjoy it. You’ve found your little niches where you love to play, but it seems that you can fall asleep anywhere, which is so convenient.

0313

For some reason, you’ve gotten a lot more energetic as you’ve gotten closer to 3. You run, skip, jump, and dance so much more. Jumping on the couch, jumping on the bed. Running from one room to another. Going down your slide while watching one of your favorite movies. Climbing the fence, throwing rocks. Spinning and spinning wherever you are. You’ve also gotten a lot more curious in your old age, and it’s so much harder to keep up with you.

0311

0310

You’re also putting a lot more stuff in your mouth that isn’t supposed to go there. Just the other day I barely saw you eat a giant booger before I could do anything about it. It really grossed me out, and we need to do better at catching you eating prohibited things. We actually need to be better at teaching you not to eat those things. Ah, parenting. Thanks so much for your patience, little one.

 

0315

0316

We love how you’re participating more at school (daycare). We love how excited you get when you want to show us something. We love how often you sing and how you recognize the songs we sing to you. We love that you like watching music videos, how Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and ‘NSync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” are among your top favorites lately.

0317

So much is happening in the world. So much legitimately weird stuff. You’re oblivious to most of it, but we do want to teach you how to navigate all the weirdness in a constructive way. We want to teach you how to give beauty and goodness to the world. I know you’re only three, but you’re actually already three. You’re growing too fast. I would like to stop time just for a little bit, just for today, to really sit back and enjoy remembering the past three years with you.

0314

IMG_9356

We’re having a party for you today: balloons, yummy food, family and friends. Toys and clothes and everyone cherishing your life. We hope you like it. Thank you for bringing us so much joy, for teaching us, for making us love more deeply and way beyond what we originally thought our abilities were.

This next year will be very exciting, and we cannot wait to live it with you.

Happy birthday.

Love, mom

Two Zinger Years

Good morning of 2nd birthday!
Good morning of 2nd birthday!

Winter is finally starting to retreat, and the warm weather calls to you every day. When you lead us to the door to go outside, we are excited to help you put your clothes on and let you roam the great outdoors. Two years ago, you were a little too comfy in Mama’s tummy, and we coaxed you so to join us in this wonderful and crazy world.

Two years later you’re taking it all in.

Last week we were watching The Good Dinosaur, and one particularly sad part made me cry. You came up to me leaned your forehead toward me. You do this when we want you to give us kisses. We say, “Can I have kisses?” and make a kissy face. But I didn’t do this last week. I was crying quietly and wiping away my tears because the dinosaur was saying goodbye to the human. When you gave me kisses with your forehead, it was hard not to cry even harder.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the past year while watching movies, you often laughed at sad parts, but now you also get sad, and you scream when the little girl Merida screams. You are developing a sensibility about other people. You are developing empathy.

At the same time, you don’t like being around a lot of people. You’re still unsure of other little kids. You recognize them; you acknowledge their existence, but you’d rather not interact with them. You appreciate the safe place of family and familiar friends. I’m grateful you cherish this, and I hope you continue to do so for as long as you can, because there will be moments when the world seems a little scary, and we won’t be able to hold your hand or pick you up and hold you. We want to teach you how to handle those moments well. We’ll still be there, just not in the same ways we are now. This makes me profoundly sad.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But I am so exquisitely happy that it’s your birthday. It’s hard to believe two years have already passed, because I was just reminiscing about my constant need to pee, which seems was only yesterday. (Which it wasn’t.) You’re saying a few words here and there. You’re getting stronger and faster. More curious. More mischievous.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You love light switches and doorknobs. And bubbles. Climbing to higher heights. Sprinting between rooms. Squealing during sacrament meeting. Reading your books. Singing your favorite songs; chilling out on the floor for a few moments before another burst of pure energy. Basking in the sunshine. Giving Mama and Dadda hugs and kisses. And mastering potty-training all the while.

We couldn’t be prouder. Or happier.

This crazy world sure needs more people like you.

IMG_8781

You are a joy and a blessing, dear daughter. Wonderful Z.

Happy birthday.

Love, Mom

One Zinger Year

Evil?

Dear Zinger,

Look at you.

On Mondays I volunteer at a children’s hospital library up in Salt Lake City. Before going down the hallway that leads to the library, I pass through the cafeteria. Sometimes I see parents with their children. They have food in front of them, seemingly going through the motions of eating just to pass the time. As I make my way toward the information desk, I often see parents dreading results in the lab waiting room. Sometimes in the next room there are children and their parents in the sibling playroom. There’s a life-sized cardboard cutout of Elsa, looking glittery and friendly. The hospital is bright with tall, green plants, left-spectrum colors in the furniture and carpet and fun, educational murals on the walls. This effort to cheer patients and their loved ones is commendable, because everything possible needs to be done to raise spirits in a place that can generate so much fear and heartache. The parents especially look tired, probably from waiting or lack of sleep or anxiety. They look worried. The parents try to get their children to eat or play to make waiting bearable, to lessen time’s weight, to relieve the pain of slow ticks of a clock. I come home and think of the parents looking at their children. Exhaustion, defeat, hope. Love.

I look at you.

I don't know what you're talking about

RUNNNNNN!

bond

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine posted a video of her daughter walking with crutches. This amazing girl was born with limb differences, and I talked to you about the video after showing it to you. As Lamp (her online name) took her first few steps, she squealed and laughed, and I saw your face light up and smile. Tears filled my eyes. I said that’s your friend Lamp. I said do you remember her. I said she lives in Ohio now, but we went to the park with her and her family when you were two months old. I said her arms and legs are different sizes, so her dad and doctors built things to help her move around. I said let’s watch the video again. So we watched it again, and you smiled again. I cried again. We watched the little 11-second video at least three more times, and you smiled each time. Each. Time. I said you can see she’s having fun learning how to walk. I said you have a good heart to be so happy for your friend.

I said please don’t lose that.

Sweep

You like to play a game where you close our bedroom door and I’m kneeling in the hallway. I put my knee just across the threshold so that the door doesn’t close all the way. I see your fingers wrap around the edge of the door just before you swing it open. When it swings about halfway I see your face, and I say boo. Then our eyes connect and we laugh. You love the game with Dadda where he says I’m gonna get you! and you smile and run away from him, but not so fast that he can’t catch you. And sometimes you actually run toward him. Then he picks you up and laughs while you smile that smile saved especially for Dadda. It warms my heart.

You want us to get you.

Peas & Carrots

curly

bear

toes

You are one year old. And you can probably tell that I still don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m doing the best I can, like I said I would. I read books and articles and watch other parents with their children and ask for advice. For the most part people are very helpful. They share experiences and make suggestions and gently reassure me of my role as your mother. As long as you’re clean, eating, and sleeping, you’re doing okay. You even play hard every day, so Dadda and I are doing something right. And I’m doing okay, even when I shower only every 2-4 days and skip some meals (but eat snacks) and dream about eight hours of sleep during a five-hour slumber. I know I’m supposed to take care of myself, but I can’t say that I’m neglecting myself because I have so much fun spending time with you and Dadda. We eat dinner together at the kitchen table; we share hugs and kisses and snuggles and laughs. We dance and spin and read. We pray. We say amen. While Dadda holds you I stroke your face three times and kiss your cheek. I say sleep good, little girl. I say I’ll see you in the morning. I say I love you. And Dadda lays you in your crib.

hair

wavy

cloak

cozy

You are one year old. You are so smiley and gentle and curious. You point at people you know, and you look at people who ought to know you until they smile at you. I have never known so much anxiety, uncertainty, wonder, and joy than I have in the past year. I never knew I had the ability to love so far beyond myself. I will gladly keep giving up showers and meals and sleep for more years like the first one you gave us. Those will years will be different, because you’ll be learning and growing and progressing exponentially; you’ll be forming opinions and making discoveries and forging relationships, but those differences are what makes those upcoming years the same. Does that make sense? We’ll be teaching each other. We’ll continue to strive to understand each other. We’ll keep playing and reading. Hopefully there will still be dancing and spinning.

We will still be praying.

Happy birthday, little one. We love you. Watch this slide show to see just how much you’ve blessed our lives this past year. (Some songs are cliché and cheesy, but I couldn’t help it.)

Love, Mom

 

 

Birthday Man

During your first birthday as a husband, we waited for Into the Woods to begin at Shakespeare in the Park at Central Park in New York City. We sat there while it poured rain until a couple behind us held their giant golf umbrella over us to provide a little relief. We sat for at least an hour and watched sheets of rain sparkle in the stage lights until they announced a rainout. We walked on Broadway in the 70-streets in our wet clothes until we found a place that served cake and hot chocolate. We ate cake and drank hot chocolate. We were two months into being married. You were helping me move my stuff out of storage to Utah. I was excited about sharing so many more birthdays with you.

IMG_4445

Today is your 3rd birthday as a husband, your first as a father.

IMG_0114

We began your birthday celebration last night at dinner. A little party, just the three of us. You and I talked while our daughter sat quietly and watched us until she started trying to stand, which turned into rolling over in her carrier. Then you held her while I ate. I watched you with her across the table from me and thought, man, how did I end up with this amazingness in my life?

IMG_5283

You have spent the last four months getting up in the middle of the night to rock our daughter. You’ve stayed home and fed her and changed diapers and sang to her and taught her to blow raspberries. I think she understands the time you spend with her more deeply than we know. You are totally killing it as a father, which not only inspires me but makes me ever so grateful that you’re my husband. And I know our daughter is grateful that you’re her dadda.

IMG_5315

Tonight, you have class, and that’s okay. I hope you have a wonderful and special day with lots of laughs and smiles and memories, and we look forward to more fun birthdays with you.

2014-05A

One Week Old

I'm cute!

You were born last week, in the middle of the night, but not without a little resistance.

Lola!

We came in to the hospital last Monday, when you were already 5 days overdue, to take a nonstress test.

First contact

Da-da!

Nurses fastened monitors to my tummy to keep track of your heartbeat and movement.

They watched and waited and said that they would keep me in the hospital until you were born.

I guess you were exhibiting some stress.

So they set us up. They attached an IV and started a pitocin drip to start contractions.

They administered an epidural.

Then we waited.

When they increased the pitocin to the maximum dosage, you reacted poorly.

So much so that they stopped the drip so that you could recover.

After a couple of hours they restarted pitocin at the lowest level and increased it slowly and watched you very carefully.

You seemed to respond well, but the pitocin didn’t help the contractions progress.

They called the doctor. The doctor called for a c-section.

They prepped us for surgery.

At 1AM on Tuesday, you were born.

I never knew a mere week could be so full of joy. And sleeplessness. And poop.

You came out alert, eyes assessing the scene. Your very first cry made me cry. The anesthesiologist wiped the tears from my eyes.

We have spent the last week learning how to communicate with each other. Your dad has been quick to get up in the middle of the night to change your diapers.

More Da-da!

Your dad and I have already spent so many minutes gazing into your angelic little face and watching you sleep. We laugh at the faces you make; you make a lot of faces.

One of many

Cautious skepticism

 

Seriously?

The world is cursed.

 

Sometimes we talk to you in cutesy voices, and sometimes we get serious and explain things about real life to you. You look at us intently.

Our joy is supposed to grow from here? I wonder how that is even possible.

We look forward to many, many more weeks together with you.

Awwwwwww...

Mom’s Birthday

Do you know my mom? You should. Everyone should. She’s great. She’s been great all her life, and she’ll probably keep being great, because once you’re great, there’s no point in stopping. I don’t think she’d even know how to stop.

This is my mom:

Young Mom

Super cute, right? I don’t know how old she is in the photo, but I’ll guess late teens or early 20s.

Here’s a photo of mom and me. I like the way she appears to be adoring me:

Wedding day

But today isn’t about me; it’s about my mom. Today’s my mom’s birthday. She was born in the Philippines in a tiny town in the middle of the 20th century. After 8 siblings. She was 9th out of 10 children total.

I am taller than my mom. This shows how unselfish she is, how she doesn’t have to be at the forefront of every situation. I really admire how my mom knew to stand back and let me be taller.

Just because I’m taller does not mean that I am stronger. My mom has amazing upper body strength. And since she watched a lot of Bruce Lee movies while I was growing up, I know that she can use her compact body to force a thunderous fist to send me crashing through a wall if I ever provoked her. My mom has worked hard her whole life, and the result of that is a wonderful balance of brute strength and endearing gentleness.

My mom also pounded rice when she was a kid. My brother and I attribute most of her strength to this traditional chore. Here is a short video of some villagers pounding rice. I don’t know if this is the way my mom did it. I remember a bowl carved in a log and then the poles you see in the video are used to pound the rice.

Of course she’ll give you what you deserve. She won’t let you walk all over her or disrespect her. She won’t hesitate to lecture you if you’re being a jerk. She’s learning Spanish, and one of her favorite phrases is to tell you to kiss her butt.

And if you deserve a hug, she’ll give you one. If you need a hug, she can tell and will give you one. And even if you don’t feel like you’re doing anything to deserve it, she will raise you with your best interests in mind and make sacrifices so that you can have wonderful opportunities and encourage you in every way to be happy. She will love you with more energy and effort than you think is possible coming from any one person. Which is what she has done for me.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Click

i click on the red callout box
coming from the blue world
on the blue banner
i forget
is zuckerberg’s.

i select the notification
and wait
for the page to load.

i scroll and
see your name
and yours
and even yours
with a message
for me
to be happy
on my birthday.

i smile
and i click
again
and i smile
again.

should i thank
zuckerberg?

you kept me
clicking all
day, smiling
all day,
but now
it’s tomorrow.

there is no red
on the blue banner.
but i know
i can click on my name
next to home
next to the blue world.

i scroll down screens
upon screens.
my smiles remember
the one day
in may
what the clicks
really mean.