Hello sweet bear, and happy 82 Months! Or rather, happy SIX-AND-THREE-QUARTERS, as you are quick to remind us. Your seventh year is quickly coming to a close, and I'm not too keen to let it go.
Just see how grown up you look here - stretched out on the beach with the long legs of a not-so-little girl.
I still manage to convince you to wear skirts and tankinis. I blame it on sunscreen - I mean, who has time to put sunscreen on exposed stomachs? But really, it's just my way of trying to keep you covered up for as long as I can, because soon enough I know you'll be asking for a bikini and sneaking on the roof to sunbathe like I used to do (horrors).
But for now, you're blissfully unconcerned with tan lines, and much more keen to jump the waves or go searching for seashells.
These pictures were taken last weekend on Cumberland Island - what a magical place. We went camping with the Gaddy family at a campground in St. Mary's and took a ferry over to Cumberland for a day trip. And oh, we will be back.
The trees on the path to the beach were simply unreal, forming a spiderweb of thick branches and spanish moss overhead. As we trekked toward the ocean, we had to stop to spend some time on the Best Climbing Tree Ever (no research was needed to verify the claim - seriously, there just can't be a better one). The branches swept so low they had literally grown back into the ground, like a natural jungle gym just begging to be explored.
Then, over the sand dunes we went to picnic on the unspoiled beach, to harass conchs in their shells and to karate chop the waves.
We love camping with the Gaddys because they're just darn good folks and we like their company. Added bonus - Ashley is such a talented photographer, and captures images like these. I foresee a longtime friendship with you and Lola, and I think these are pictures you will cherish in years to come. I know I will.
After a weekend away, we were glad to spend this weekend at home, though it was not uneventful. You participated in your first-ever end-of-year gymnastics showcase. This was an opportunity for you to demonstrate some of the skills you've learned in class this year. You had to memorize various routines, and all your practice paid off as you executed the steps without prompting from your teacher.
Every student was awarded a medal at the end of the show, and you simply beamed from that medal stand. I was very proud of you - proud of the way you practiced, proud of your good attitude every single week at gymnastics, and proud of how you performed.
I put together a video of your routines, including a little extra footage of your first-ever gymnastics class when you were barely four years old. My how you've grown.
Sometimes growing up is so much fun. Sometimes it's not.
One day last month, we pulled up into our driveway and your Daddy noticed something unusual. A little bird was hopping around in our grass, stretching its wings but unable to fly. His dutiful mother swooped down from the nearby holly tree to bring him a berry, but otherwise he just hopped and squawked. It seems he'd left the nest a bit too early and wasn't sure how to get back home.
We all stood in the yard for a while, watching him as he watched us. He still had a tuft of fuzzy down on his head, so you named him "Tufty."
Eventually we went inside, but continued to watch Tufty out our window. You desperately wanted to pick him up, either to put him back in his nest or at least comfort him, but we explained that you couldn't. That his mother might not understand, and might abandon him. So instead, you grabbed your sketchbook and began drawing pictures of Tufty.
Tufty finally hopped his way toward the holly tree, and then jumped onto one of the low-hanging twigs. From there, he hopped higher and higher from twig to twig until he was happily reunited with mama bird. All while we cheered him on from behind the glass of our living room window.
It's not hard for me to draw a parallel from the plight of poor Tufty and his distraught mama to what's it's like being your mama, too. Or any kid's parent for that matter. Every week I seem to find myself asking this question about one thing or another - do I keep you close and protect you? Or do I let you try out your wings this time? Last month I told you about the incident at the water-covered bridge, where I let you jump over the water even though it made me nervous. And you fell. As a parent, had I made the wrong choice?
It happened again this month. We met up with good friends at a Sand Gnats baseball game. Two of the girls were going on a reconnaissance mission to see what concessions they could get for $3, and invited you to come with them to check out the price of Dippin' Dots ice cream.
Of course I thought of saying no. The umbilical cord just doesn't stretch that far. But these are good girls, and girls we know well. And they'd already been walking around the stadium that night and coming back to us unscathed. So I said yes, but with strict orders that you three stick together.
Fast forward about 5-10 minutes, and your Daddy was the first one to spot you. Alone, walking in panicked circles, sobbing, clearly unable to find us. I lept down the stairs toward you, nearly knocking down another kid in my haste. When you finally saw me, the wailing started anew, but this time they were cries of relief.
When you were finally able to talk, we learned that after visiting the Dippin' Dots stand, the girls wanted to explore some more, but you wanted to come back to us. Why you didn't ask them to walk with you I don't understand. But when you got into the stands and realized you couldn't find us, you were terrified.
And of course, I was terrified thinking of all the things that could've happened if someone else had spotted you first. Someone unkind. And again I had to ask, did I make a bad parenting choice? Or was this one of those lessons you learn as part of growing up? Of leaving the nest, squawking and hopping for a bit until you learn how your wings work? I honestly don't know.
You cried and cried for the longest time, clutched tightly to me in the stands. But then, you lifted your head from my wet shoulder and said, between choking sobs, "THE DIPPIN' DOTS ARE THREE-FIFTY! CAN I GET SOME?" I knew you were ok.
After a few more minutes of crying, you were ready for some ice cream. You walked with me to the Dippin' Dots stand, gripping my hand like a life preserver in a tumultuous sea. And I was gripping yours, fearful of ever letting go again.
I know I'll have to let go again someday. I know the next twelve years will be fraught with this same dilemma, over and over again. I will make mistakes. I'll get it wrong. I'll shelter when I need to give you space. I'll let go when I should keep you closer. Just know this - what I do, I do out of love for you, and in the hopes that when it's time to fly, you fly with strong wings that carry you wherever you want to go.
I love you so much, little bird.
Happy 81 Months to you, my best girl! You're upstairs in bed, and it wouldn't surprise me if you're tossing and turning, trying to solve a most interesting dilemma: how to best safely transport your beloved deer skull to school for show and tell? It was on your mind as we tucked you in - should it be carried in a box? A bag? The skull is small and fragile, and you cannot wait to show it to your classmates.
We discovered it a couple of weekends ago, when we spent some time with friends who have a place on a pond in rural South Carolina. It was a perfect weekend retreat, and we enjoyed many outings on a walking trail through the pines and around the water.
There'd been a big rain the previous week and the water level was high - so high that it partially covered a bridge on the trail.
"Can I try to jump over the water?" you asked me.
My initial instinct was to say no, because my initial instinct is to always protect you, and what if you missed? But I'm a helicopter mom who is trying to let go, so I said "Sure."
Here you are, in mid-leap, moments before your shoes hit the wet bridge and slipped out from under you.
You fell on your back, soaking your shirt and your hair on a particularly cold day. We were out in the woods, a bit of a walk from the house, and you were inconsolable.
As we trudged toward the warmth of the house and the promise of dry clothes, I spotted something on the trail. A skull of some sort - we're guessing either a small deer or dog.
When you saw it, the tears stopped. You held it in your hands like a trophy, and said, "Well, at least this makes me happy." You walked the rest of the way to the house with a new bounce in your wet step. Funny girl.
As much as you love this skull, you still prefer communing with animals that are alive. Your love affair with horses has not dulled, and you are particularly smitten with Cassidy, the sweet mare you ride most often during your horseback riding lessons.
You are quite certain the feeling is mutual. We often bring carrots with us to the barn so we can give the horses a treat, although you usually eat half of the carrots before we get there. The other day, on the way to a lesson, you sat in the backseat crunching on a carrot and came to a conclusion. "I like carrots," you said, "and that's why Cassidy likes them. She likes what I like."
You like Cassidy so much you wanted a t-shirt to prove it. Since the stores seem fresh out of Cassidy t-shirts, you improvised and made your own. You drew a picture of yourself with the horse, cut it out and taped it on a shirt. Voila!
I admire your resourcefulness!
One of the highlights of this month - rather, one of the highlights of our whole year I'm sure - was a visit from Will and Sam. They're two of your best buddies who moved to DC a couple of years ago, but happily came with their mom to spend Spring Break with us this year.
I can't tell you how many times you declared, "I wish Will and Sam were my brothers!"
We got to spend Easter weekend together, which I now think should be a tradition. We dyed Easter eggs at Boo's house, and went on several egg hunts. We got dressed up for church.
And we went to the beach with a group of friends - another Easter tradition I'd like to repeat. It was sunny but windy and cool. We told you that you could just wade in the water, but soon the waves proved too enticing and you "accidentally" fell in. You kids were practically turning blue with chattering teeth, but Sam in particular could not be kept out of the surf.
We toweled you kids off and thankfully had a change of clothes, because then we were off to dinner at the Crab Shack. A perfect ending to a perfect week.
My sweet girl - this month you have made me so proud. Not because of some achievement at school or in sport. But because of your heart. As your mother, one of my greatest hopes has always been that you would grow up to be a positive force in the world. A person who thinks about more than herself, and who lifts up her fellow man.
I got little glimpses of that this month. They were small things, but they were sweet things and they showed me you're making that mature shift from being the center of your own universe to a consideration of others.
One morning last week I came downstairs to make you breakfast, but instead found that you'd beaten me to it. Not only had you made breakfast for yourself, but you'd made mine too, even setting the table. It didn't matter that I hadn't been in the mood for a bagel - that was the best-tasting nutella bagel I'd ever had. My favorite coffee mug sat on my placemat. "I didn't know how to make coffee, so I put water in your favorite cup," you explained.
One afternoon, your riding teacher let me hop up on a horse during your lesson. Each time I passed you in the ring, you were quick with a word of encouragement. "How's she doing for you today mom? Is she being a good horse?" Or, "You're lookin' really good up there Mom! Nice job!"
And today, do you know how you wanted to spend your Saturday? Biking around the neighborhood, picking up trash. It was your idea, unprompted by me. Your class discussed Earth Day at school, and you wanted to do your part.
What a precious girl you are, and I feel so lucky to watch you grow into this sweet, loving, person. Thank you for being you - I couldn't have asked for anyone better. I love you so much.
In this episode of Cooking with Camille, our favorite petite chef whips up a strawberry pie. But these are no ordinary strawberries - they're fresh, local, and she picked them herself. Makes the pie taste even sweeter, don't you think?
I also created a Facebook page for Cooking With Camille so people would have access to her previous episodes and an easy place to comment on the videos, share them with friends or suggest recipes. You can check that out at www.facebook.com/CookingWithCamille.
1 prepared graham cracker crust
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 cup strawberry glaze
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake pie crust until lightly browed, about 5 minutes; allow to cool completely before filling.
- Beat together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and milk in a bowl until slightly thinned; spread with a spatula onto the pie crust.
- Arrange berries atop the cheese filling in the pie crust with the points pointing upward, pushing down slightly to anchor in the cheese filling. Cover the cheese filling as completely as possible with berries.
- Pour strawberries glaze evenly over the pie.
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
I was at a concert last week. The show was part of the Savannah Music Festival, and as such, it was not held in a dark, dank venue where you stand up the whole time and wonder where that pot smoke is coming from. We were among the youngest of the attendees, and enjoyed plush seats in a great theater. We were home by 10 p.m.
Rewind 2 weeks. As part of Lee's birthday celebration, we headed to Atlanta to see Gaslight Anthem play a show at the Masquerade. One of those dark, dank venues with the pot smoke. One of those places where you make sure to spot your nearest exit lest the place catch fire. It's not a bad venue at all, but it's a rock club so that's what you get.
I'm actually more at home hearing live music in a place like the Masquerade, although now we're usually skewing the age in the opposite direction. We're not the youngest ones in the crowd, not by far.
I found myself thinking about my age during that Gaslight show. I found myself remembering all those nights in college, spent sweating and swaying in the 40 Watt Club.
I remembered borrowing a friend's ID - not to drink, but because I was only 17 as a freshman, and couldn't get in on my own. I remembered memorizing her license data, even her zodiac sign, in case the bouncer quizzed me. Which he didn't.
I still had to show my ID at the Masquerade 2 weeks ago, but it was a formality and we all knew it. I stood there listening to the band and thinking about how things have changed, when I realized with a warm happiness that some things are unchanged. Many years ago, Lee and I developed a concert stance. I don't even think I'd recognized it until now, but I do believe it has always been this way.
I stand in front. He stands protectively behind me. I lean back a bit, maybe because my feet are tired from standing. Mostly to be closer to him. He has one hand on my hip, and his fingers are tapping out the beat of the song. It is intimate. It feels natural.
We stood this way then, when I was 17. We stand this way now.
So maybe we're skewing the average age in the club. Maybe I have a hard time staying up so late these days. Maybe I bring earplugs because the music is too loud.
But we're still there. Still enjoying the music. And each other.
How much longer will we want to keep doing this? How many more years will we pay good money to stand up all night, way past our bedtimes in a dark, musty bar to listen to music?
Who can say. I do remember taking my parents to the 40 Watt Club when I was in college. I wanted them to see my favorite band. Were they suppressing their yawns? Longing for bed? For earplugs? Maybe. But I sure thought they were cool to come along with me.
Maybe I'll go to shows with Camille, if she'll have me. Then I'll really be skewing the average age. But maybe I won't care as long as Lee comes with me, stands behind me and taps out the rhythm on my hip.
Hello sweet girl - my 80-month-old, snaggle-toothed girl. Or perhaps I should say "thnaggle-toothed," because your missing front tooth has given you a little bit of a lisp. It's adorable.
Oh how you loved to torment me with your loose tooth this last month. You'd already lost two others, but this top tooth was particularly stubborn. You could twist it in all sorts of unnatural ways without dislodging it. Your favorite move was to poke it outside of your lips, all by itself. It was a look that your cousin Jones called, "Grandma Tooth," as if you were an elderly lady with only one tooth.
May I present: Grandma Tooth.
That tooth finally succumbed to the official Tooth Puller, a saint who works in the Media Center at your school, and who all school children visit when they need assistance with wiggly teeth. God bless her, because loose teeth give me the heebie-jeebies.
Jones had a chance to see - and name - your Grandma Tooth when he and Eli and Auntie Erin came to visit during their winter break. They couldn't take the Boston snow one more minute, so we enjoyed a week of lots of outdoor time in the grass.
Jones even got to accompany you on a riding lesson, where Ms. Linda was sweet enough to invite you to "help" care for the animals. She even let you give Jones a pony ride. You felt like SUCH a big girl.
Spring is simply glorious in our city, with a sudden explosion of colorful flowers. It's even better because it coincides with the biggest party of the year in these parts - St. Patrick's Day. Boo made you a special St. Patrick's Day dress, and even made one for your doll Addie. Fantastic! And check out that awesome snaggle-toothed smile.
We joined the hundreds of thousands of parade watchers descending on downtown, and were thankful for a comfortable, elevated spot to watch from the front portico of our church.
Now that Boo is a Savannah resident, we absolutely had to bring her to watch her first St. Patrick's Day parade. I do believe you were quite glad for her company.
I realized the other day that we haven't heard too much lately about your "boyfriends." When you were in Pre-K, you had several boyfriends. The first was Billy, but the longest-lasting was Quinn. But in the last 6 months or so, there has been no talk of any significant others.
But that doesn't mean you're not still noticing boys. In fact, you've recently begun identifying certain boys as "cute." Actually, the way you pronounce it, the word has two syllables and is more like, "key-OOT!"
Currently, you have a crush on Obi-Wan Kenobi from Clone Wars.
And Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers.
And James Franco from a picture you saw on a movie poster.
Do you know what all these men have in common? Beards. Wonder why you like that?
Oh, hello there Daddy-O.
You even made the connection for yourself when you saw James Franco's picture. "Oh, he is key-OOT. He looks like Daddy."
Well you're right. He is cute, and you two are key-OOT together.
Lucky, lucky, lucky. That's what I am to have you two. I love you so much, snaggles. With all my heart.
The Tybee Run Fest is one of my favorite races of the year - not just because it's a rare night-time 5K, not just because it's at the beach, not just because it has such a good vibe. It's one of the top on my list because for the past two years I've run it with three of my favorite people.
Leading up to the race, my training runs had been ho-hum. Nothing bad, but nothing spectacular either, and fairly slow. So I went into the race with zero expectations. I didn't even have a plan. I ALWAYS have a plan. As we lined up in front of the starting chute, I still hadn't decided on my strategy. What run/walk interval would I use? What was my time goal? I finally gave up and decided not to set any intervals. I'd wing it. As for a time goal, not a chance this would be a record for me. I was just going to run this for fun. Nothing else.
My running companions had much loftier goals, so when the start horn blasted they were soon out of sight. But as I trotted along, suddenly up ahead of me I spotted a chihuahua. A chihuahua? With a race bib?
Ok, so that is not a picture of the racing chihuahua. It's a picture of a random chihuahua, but I like the visual impact. For a dog with such short legs, he could boogie. Suddenly, I had a race goal. I was going to beat the chihuahua. I mean, I had to, right? How hard could THAT be?
So I slowly, very slowly began to gain on him. It probably took me a good 3/4 mile to pass that dog, but I have to say it felt good. I ran along, continuing to wing it. Should I take a quick walk break? Nah. I felt fine. Keep moving.
Suddenly, my phone app told me I'd finished the first mile in under 10 minutes. You guys, I don't run sub-10-minute miles. I just don't. I tried not to panic. Panic might seem like a strange emotion when you realize you're running well, but I just didn't want to get my hopes up. "Just keep moving. Don't think about it. Beat the chihuahua, that's all you have to do."
I kept moving along, not stopping at the aid stations, not stopping to walk. By the last half-mile, I was beginning to fade when suddenly I heard a jingle. The little jingle jangle of a dog collar. Or was it my imagination?
Then I heard people in the crowd. "Look!" they shouted. "Look at that cute dog!"
Oh no he didn't catch up to me! I broke into a sprint. I could NOT be humiliated by having that chihuahua pass me in the last quarter mile!
Soon it was my name I heard being yelled from the crowd as Nicole, Lee and Andrew had doubled-back to cheer me on. I flew through the chute - before the dog. VICTORY WAS MINE.
And wouldn't you know it? I had a personal best 5K. For a girl with no plan and no expectations, it was a pretty cool thing. It was only the second race I'd ever run without walking, and I hadn't even meant to do that. It just happened.
Lee, Andrew and Nicole all had personal bests too, so it was a pretty epic night. We celebrated - as we did last year, and as I hope we do every year - with post-race beers and pizza at Huc-A-Poos.
Is it race time yet? I'm ready to do that again.
Hello sweet girl and Happy 79 Months! As I type this, the three of us are on the couch, and you're snuggled up to Daddy watching an episode of "Star Wars: Clone Wars." You are several months deep into a Star Wars obsession, and your Daddy couldn't be more pleased.
You've inhaled the movies, TV shows and books. You're 8 chapters into a fairly complicated Star Wars book, and nearly fainted with joy when I informed you that on Saturday morning you could stay in bed and read as long as you'd like. I nearly fainted with joy at the thought of sleeping in while you sat in bed reading books. It remains to be seen if this will actually happen.
But by far, your favorite Star Wars activity is playing with your Daddy. On a warm day the two of you can usually be found in the backyard with all his old Star Wars toys, re-enacting favorite scenes or making up new ones. He's a kid again when he plays with you, with boundless energy and imagination.
A couple of weeks ago, one of your best pals Nate was in town, and he also happens to be a Star Wars fanatic. I am so thankful that when I saw Jedi costumes on the post-Halloween clearance rack at Target, I grabbed two just in case you had a Jedi buddy someday. Seeing the two of you together was ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS.
Our backyard became a Jedi training academy, and epic light saber battles ensued. There were only minor injuries, and lots of great photo ops.
I've had plenty of occasions this month to ask myself, Nature vs. Nurture? It's something I'm sure you'll hear about in a psychology or science class one day, but the basic question is this: were you born this way? Or did we influence you? Because right now, your two biggest passions just happen to be two of our biggest passions. Star Wars from your father, horses from me. We never tried to push these things on you, but I'd be lying if I said we weren't thrilled.
You've loved being around horses as long as I can remember, and in the last year or so began begging for riding lessons. They're not cheap so we held out, not wanting to invest too much if it would be a passing whim. But as it became increasingly clear this was a lasting desire, we started the hunt for a riding program.
The day of your first lesson, we were both so excited. I adored horses as a child and never grew out of it. I still love them, and the idea of being around them again made me giddy. The thought of watching you ride made me simultaneously afraid and ecstatic.
I figured they'd assign you a small pony, but no - your first lesson was on the beautiful and amiable Cassidy, a full-fledged horse. You looked so small on her back, but you were so fearless (a little too fearless for my taste!).
I don't ever want to forget the moment when the teacher instructed you to give Cassidy a squeeze and tell her to walk. She meant to squeeze her with your legs, but being the big-hearted novice you are, you leaned down and hugged the horse's neck for a different kind of "squeeze." I melted.
One day, you may decide to move on from horses to something else, and that will be ok. But for now, we are having A BLAST.
I'll leave you tonight with one more set of pictures - sweet, sweet pictures of you and your favorite man as you both got dressed up and headed out to the annual Daddy Daughter dance at school. You wore your fanciest red and white dress, and he donned a matching red tie. He got a red rose corsage for your wrist, which you called a "croissant."
He says you two danced for a bit until you ditched him for your classmate Laney. That's ok, I don't think he felt too threatened. After all, tonight you told him, "Daddy, on a scale of 1 to 10, I give you 100." I think his place in your heart is pretty secure.
Thanks for another great month, my Jedi equestrienne. My sweet daughter. I love you so much.
Kids are great, aren't they?
You know what else they are? They are a mess. They are little walking tornados leaving great swathes of mess in their wakes. They drive me crazy.
Today I was a classroom helper during Camille's school Valentine's Day party. I momentarily lost my senses and agreed to supervise the finger painting station. We might as well have renamed it a "full body painting" station, because I think there was as much paint on their entire bodies as on their fingers. The table was better decorated than the paper. Paint brushes were discarded on the floor rather than placed back in the paint.
Worst of all. THEY MIXED THE PAINT COLORS IN THE BOWLS.
Horrifying, right? I wanted to cry.
The bathroom, where they were supposed to be washing hands, was a disaster. I should've taken a picture. Instead, close your eyes. Imagine a crime scene in which the bodies have already been removed, but there is sign of struggle. Of great struggle, and ultimately, defeat. Now you know what that bathroom was like. Paint on the sink, the mirror, the toilet. Red and pink paint everywhere.
I always wanted to be one of those moms. You know what I mean - the kind who celebrate messes, and regard them as proof of joy. The kind who don't wince when glitter gets on the floor. Who flippantly dismiss the sticky glue in the hair. The kind who allows - nay, encourages - the mixing of playdough colors.
These things make me hyperventilate.
The thing is, I don't keep a tidy house. I am far from a neat freak. I live in fear that someone will drop by unannounced and see how messy I actually am.
I can tolerate clutter and dust bunnies and mountains of dirty laundry. If Camille wants to get muddy or sandy outside, then that's fine. But I simply can't handle sticky, sandy or gritty messes in my living space. I don't know where this comes from or why, but there it is. And it is just one reason why I wouldn't last two weeks as an elementary school teacher.
God bless 'em.
My kid did well on her projects though, didn't she? They may be messes, but they're worth it.
Back in July, I wrote a blog post about running with my besties. I really enjoyed running with them, but since my best running friends live in north Georgia, Oregon and Boston, it's not going to happen very often.
At the time, the idea of running with strangers terrified me, mostly because I was self-conscious about myself as a runner. Also, I didn't know too many other people doing run/walk interval training, so I figured I wouldn't easily find a good match.
Then Nicole told me about a national running club called Moms Run This Town, with a chapter in Savannah. It's a free club for moms who want to get together for very informal group runs, and generally support each other. Joining simply requires liking the local group's Facebook page - so easy that I had to give it a try.
The first time I went for a run with them, I was worried about embarrassing myself. But as most runners are, these ladies were welcoming, enthusiastic and made me feel like I belonged. I've now done several runs with them - sometimes with just one other runner, sometimes there are a dozen of us. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we put our headphones in and just run. Some of them run intervals, some don't, but I can usually find someone running my pace.
This month, the national chapter sponsored a virtual race, meaning that all members could participate by running a 5K, 10K or half-marathon at some point during January. There were even medals!
The Savannah chapter organized a day for us all to run together, so yesterday I lined up for a 10K at the imaginary start line and struck a silly pose with several other women.
I ran with people I'd met before. I ran with new people. The miles flew by. As I came down the street toward the finish, the organizers stretched a streamer across the imaginary finish line for me and for every racer who finished. That was almost certainly the only time in my life when I'll be able to break the tape across a finish line, so I hammed it up and enjoyed it.
And I didn't realize until a bit later that I'd just run my thousandth mile. I'm not a runner with a high weekly mileage, but I've stuck with it, and have now run the equivalent of a route from Savannah to Boston.
It makes that 10K medal even sweeter. Cheers to the next thousand miles!
Happy 78 Months my sweet girl! This is one of those letters. One of those, "where do I begin and how do I fit it all in?" kind of letters.
So I'll just start at the beginning. When I last wrote to you, we were in the car headed to Tennessee for a Christmas weekend with Nana, Granddaddy, my brother and his family. And of course we had fun. There were s'mores by the fireplace, foot races on the golf course, and general goofiness with cousins.
And there were zebras. And llamas. And the pouring of food onto a slobbery buffalo tongue.
We loaded everyone up onto a tractor one day at the nearby Briarwood Safari for a ride through the woods and a chance
to be bombarded by to meet the creatures who live there. We fed deer and llamas and zebras and ostriches. We fed a "zorse" (part zebra, part horse naturally).
But I think the buffalos were the biggest hit. They're so slobbery that it's recommended you just pour the food onto their tongues. They've learned to approach the tractor with eager purple tongues already hanging out, at the ready.
We also opened presents at Nana and Granddaddy's house. As soon as you ripped the first bit of paper off your gift from them and spotted the red box with the stars on the side, you screamed out "It's an American Girl Doll!" You tore off the rest of the paper and flipped the box around to see the front. "It's Addy Walker! My favorite!"
You'd been talking about Addy Walker for several months, ever since the first American Girl catalog appeared at our house (we didn't ask for one - how did they know?).
You read and re-read her back story, and then read it to me, and then read it again. Addy Walker is from the historical line of dolls, and in her story she is freed from slavery via the Underground Railroad.
Slavery is a subject that has interested you since learning about it in school last year. I had not broached the topic, wanting to keep you colorblind as long as possible. But we were at the library last year when you saw a book about Jamaica that had a dark-skinned woman on the cover.
"Mama, is that Harriet Tubman?" you asked.
"Nope," I said, and we kept walking. But then I really thought about what you'd just asked me.
"What do you know about Harriet Tubman?" I asked.
And the story poured out of you. You talked about slavery. You talked about how terrible it was. You talked about how the slaves would try to escape. How they would have to hide. How people would help them as part of the Underground Railroad.
A few days later, you brought home a drawing you'd done in school. The drawing was of your bedroom. There was a rectangle in the middle of the floor. "That's where I would hide slaves if I lived when there was slavery," you explained. "In a room under the floor. We'd have a ladder and a lantern down there."
"What would you do with these slaves?" I asked.
"I would hide them until I could help them get to the Underground Railroad," you said.
Even though I hadn't been sure you were ready for the story of slavery, I was pleased that once you heard it, you wanted to be on the right side of history.
So I wasn't surprised that you were drawn to Addy Walker. You were so thrilled to receive her, that for a little while you wouldn't even let me touch her. You took her to a nearby room and sat alone with her, looking at her, talking with her. You call her your "little sister," and you have already enjoyed her very much.
You and Addie both had a big Christmas, with matching clothes from Santa Claus and an Addy-sized horse. Your buddy Lola got a doll and horse too, and the two of you have had grand playdates.
Boo provided another big hit of the holiday season - a Wicket backpack. Your love of all things Star Wars continues to bloom, and you can often be seen running around the house with this furry ewok on your back.
After a few days at home, we were on the road again for our annual trip to see Mr. Glen at his home in the mountains of Big Canoe. I cherished the time we spent on the trail to the lower falls, with spitting rain turning to little flakes of snow as we enjoyed going deeper and deeper into the woods.
From Big Canoe, we continued on a path north to see Uncle Trent's family in Cincinnati. We were excited to visit with them, and we were THRILLED that mother nature had also provided several inches of snow for our amusement.
You and I share many things, and an obsession with snow is surely one of them. Neither of us can get enough, and we're both ecstatic at the prospect of playing in snow.
Uncle Trent secured several sleds and helped us scout some excellent hills for our adventures. By the way, in that picture above - that crazy face you're making is your tauntaun face. You spent the day pretending to be a tauntaun on the planet Hoth. We threw snowballs. You and your Daddy made an R2D2 out of snow. And we went sledding - lots.
I put together a video of our sledding shenanigans, complete with a wipeout reel of course.
Soon it was time for the long trip home and a return to our routine. But I can't complain - we sure managed to pack a lot of fun into a month. And after all, even routine life is pretty great with you to keep things interesting. Your mama loves you so much sweet girl.