Learning to Drive

The last three miles to my grandparents house is on a back road.  You know those roads that have a few houses, more farms, and an old elementary school? It’s the kind of road that has a turn here and there and a hill or two.  Except for a school bus, a tractor or the occasional deer, it’s a quiet road. Especially in the middle of the day when the people who live in “the Valley” (as we call it) have gone to work.  It’s a simple place and the cars that travel through are in no particular hurry.  

It’s the road where I learned to drive.  When I was barely old enough to see over the steering wheel while sitting on his lap.  Coming back to Pap’s house after going out for breakfast or a Burger King lunch with Grandma; as soon as we got to the intersection by the hospital Pap would look at me and grin.  He’d unbuckle my seatbelt and I’d crawl on his lap.  We’d slow down, take our time and he let me steer the red pick up truck those last few miles home.  Unbuckled, with the window down, his arm holding me around the waist.  He’d tell me I was doing good and to keep it between the lines.  

I could say that during those three mile driving lessons I learned about taking control or confidence.  I could say I learned the thrill of doing something that I probably wasn’t supposed to do. I could say I learned about trust and knowing that Pap would never, ever let me get hurt.  But really, all I know is that more than a year since he’s been gone when we come to that intersection by the hospital, I remember sitting on his lap and driving his truck.  

As I see my daughter play with her grandfathers, I see them let her pull their hair.  They try to sneak her cookies, walk her around the house and blow raspberries on her tummy.  They will be the ones that say “yes” when I say “no.”  They will spoil her, buy her too many presents and let her stay up past her bedtime.  On their watch, she might not be dressed in matching clothes, they might forget her hat or let her have ice cream for lunch.  And hopefully, when the time is right, they will find an old back road and they will let her drive.     

My daughter with my father


What moment or memories from your childhood are you hoping your child gets to experience as well? 

4 Month Letter

Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. 
Listen to the shouldn’t, the impossibles, the won’ts. 
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child.  Anything can be. 
– Shel Silverstein


Hello Baby Girl. 

Four months old today.  Four whole months.  Like every letter I write you I could marvel about how big you are or how cute.  I could go on and on about how much I love you and how the squeals and giggles that you greet me with when I walk in the door after a long day at work, make whatever annoyance or frustration I’m bringing home melt away. 

But I think instead I will talk to you about the things I want you to learn as you grow up.  And while it’s not fun to hear this and your daddy would give his left arm to prevent it, I want you to know that sometimes you will have to fight for what you want.  Whether you are learning to walk, trying out for a starting position on the basketball team or interviewing for a job.  Sometimes you will fall.  I want you to get back up. 

Get back up and try again.  Put one foot in front of the other.  Practice.  Kick. Scream. Cry.  But get back up.  You are already such a determined little girl that I have no doubt that if you dream big dreams you will achieve big things.  You will find people along the way that will tell you can’t.  There will be voices in your head that tell you to just give up; to go home.  But I want you to remember that you can do anything you set your mind to.  Stretch your imagination.  Reach for the stars. 

Your mommy and daddy will be with you every step of the way. 

I love you, sweet girl.

…and may all the wishes you wish come true…

May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!
~Irish Blessing
I love making wishes.  I make wishes on stars.  I make wishes when the clock says 2:22 or 11:11 or 3:33. When I find an eyelash on my cheek, I make a wish before blowing it off of my finger.  And, the wishbone of a turkey? Oh yeah.  I’m all over that. 

Or, I was.  Until all of my wishes came true.  Now I’m trying to get better at being grateful for my blessings.  Today (even though it should have been yesterday) I count them:

  • I have a husband who I love with all of my heart
  • A baby I love more than that and who brightens every moment of every day
  • Parents who are not only loving and helpful but who are a source of inspiration in my marriage and in parenthood
  • In-laws who live close and are supportive enough to babysit when I need to work, shop or go for the occassional drink – thus allowing me to feel like the person I was before I became a mom
  • Girlfriends who were mothers before me and now provide me with an unending source of advice on sleep schedules, product reviews and date nights.
  • Siblings I would do anything for, especially now that I see them as an aunt and uncle to my daughter
  • Friends who over the years have offered me their shoulders to cry on, phone lines to burn up with phone calls or texting, or a seat next to them when having a drink became the obvious solution
  • A job that challenges me and has given me an opportunity for professional growth.

So, when I realize that I have all of that in my life, what’s left to wish for? 

Two Years Ago….

2 years ago today, he wanted to decorate his Charlie Brown of a Christmas tree. She thought it was too early for that kind of nonsense and wanted to go out for wings and beer. But he convinced her that they should mark the end of football season by preparing for the beginning of the holiday season. “Fine,” she said begrudgingly, partly because she felt bad that the season had ended so soon. “We can decorate the tree quick, but then can we go for wings?”

The final ornament that he handed to her was a gazebo with two miniature people ice skating. She can still remember the music it played. He made a promise that some day they would be decorating a bigger tree. She smiled and as she placed the gazebo on the tree and then noticed the hidden drawer. Inside the drawer she found a ring. With the ring, came the declaration that she had been waiting for and the question she thought she’d never hear. She said yes.2 years ago, I promised to spend the rest of my life with this man. This man who had always had sort of a wall around him, who never made plans for the future and who professed his belief in letting things happen. This man has since become my rock and my support. He encourages my dreams and ambitions. He fights for what he wants and what we deserve. He is the one who literally held me up when we said goodbye to my pap. He is the one who wiped my tears when I cried during the second ultrasound, worried that something might be wrong with our baby. He is the one who stayed calm when I nervously checked into the hospital to be induced seven weeks ago. And, he is the one who melts when our daughter cries and lights up when she smiles.

My daughter is a lucky girl to have this man in her life. I only hope that she grows up to realize that a person who doesn’t look at her with this much adoration,

or make her feel safe and secure

or snuggle with her on demand,

is not worth her time. If she grows up and finds a man just like her daddy, she will have everything she needs.

Well that was scary….

We had our regular 34-week check up yesterday. I joked with Craig on the way there that hopefully we would get right in and right out… I had things to do at work, he wanted to get in some pool time and I was hungry and was planning on a milkshake after the appointment. The getting right in part worked out… we got called back pretty quickly and then we waited… and waited. Finally we heard Dr. Sterlin’s voice in the hallway and knew that we’d be back to our regularly scheduled days in a matter of minutes.

…Or not… When listening to the heartbeat she got a bit of a concerned look on her face and listened and listened and listened – longer than she normally does. When she put the Doppler down she told us that she was getting an irregularity in the heartbeat and she wanted me to go for an echocardiogram. That it was probably nothing and would heal itself but to go get it checked out. The receptionist tried to make us an appointment for sometime in the next week, but the ultrasound folks didn’t have any openings so they told us just to go right away.

Craig, practicing his night of labor driving skills, gets us to the doctor’s office in record time where we sit in the ultrasound office and wait… and wait… (Really, we could have stopped to get something that milkshake and still had time to spare.) For the record, I’m doing pretty good at this point… A little bit excited that we get to see the baby again, joking that maybe he or she would reveal his or her gender to us after all, playing with my phone – looking at Facebook and returning emails. All in an effort to stay distracted. Finally we go back and the ultrasound tech measures Munchkin’s head, shows us the face – the baby’s mouth was moving like he or she was talking to us, and then starts looking at the heart. At which point I think the fear kicked in. To just be laying there knowing that there could be a problem, not knowing what it was, what she was looking at, whether she saw something… Wanting so desperately for everything to be OK. Wanting to take back every time I complained about my back hurting or getting up four times a night to pee. Wondering if the chocolate I ate, the sugar in the lemonade or the beers I had before I knew I was pregnant was causing this. Thinking about our family histories of heart disease and missing Pap. Wondering how it was possible to love someone that I never met so much and feeling helpless to protect her. Turned out that while everything isn’t “OK”, it’s not terrible either. The baby has an irregular heartbeat caused by premature atrial contraction – a fancy way of saying that one side of the heart ‘fires’ before the other side is ready which causes an irregular beat every now and then. Apparently it’s pretty common and usually clears itself up on its own before birth or within the first few months. I have to be careful not to drink caffeine (not a problem) or eat chocolate (slightly more challenging, but totally worth it), make sure to count kicks and movements and the doctor will monitor the heartbeat a little more closely.

All in all, it’s the best news we could have gotten after discovering the irregular beat. Craig is convinced that the baby’s OK and I’m choosing to believe him. His or her kicks not only get my attention they give me a bigger feeling of security, we have new pictures of our little one now and we did still make it out of the room without discovering the gender. That’s good too… I suppose! 😉

How to Make Krista’s Heart Melt

When you kiss her goodnight, kiss her belly (which is still pretty flat, by the way) and say your goodnights and I love you’s to the baby too.

PS. This only works if you’re Krista’s husband… otherwise it might be weird.

Rough Week

Hi Munchkin’

First the good news… I think you have a nickname. Daddy and I have both been referring to you as you munchkin, so until we meet you in September, Munchkin it is!

I guess you know this was a rough week for Mommy. And a lot of other people. You’re too little to understand, but your family lost a rock this week. Your Pappy P was (and always will be) a very special man, but he had a bad heart. For as long as I can remember actually, he had trouble with his heart and was scaring us with trips to the hospital and doctor visits upon doctor visits. But since he’s such a fighter, he always came home. But this week, things went the other direction and now he’s in heaven where I know he’s grinning ear to ear because he knows about you and Grandma doesn’t. Not very often that Pap got to know things first, so I have to believe that he’s tickled.

I’m not sure if I really remember this or if I’ve heard the story so many times that I think I remember it… but it seems I did not like to share Pap Pepple’s attention very much. He was all mine for FOUR years so when your aunt came along, it kind of pissed me off! Especially when he held her. So, to mark my territory, I’d crawl up on his lap and sit between him and my sister. At the funeral home this week, there were quite a few pictures of Pap with us grandkids and in quite a few of them, I was crawling on his lap, or standing right next to him. Boy, i was a brat!! But I think he liked it. I could tell you that I was his favorite, and I would say it with much conviction and defend it to the ground if questioned. But there is no doubt in my mind that all of his grandkids felt the exact same way. That’s why he will be so missed. He loved us all so much and was such a special, special man. I’m so sorry that you won’t get to know him.

Munchkin, you and I have something in common. I was not only the oldest child, but the first grandchild for both sides of my family. Just like you’ll be. And that means you’ll be spoiled. We’ll laugh about it, and we’ll admonish your grandparents when they pour on the gifts and the favors, but we’ll love it just the same. So, don’t take that for granted. I want you to suck up every moment of love and attention that you get from your grandparents and know that you will have a very special bond with all of them because they’ve been waiting a very long time for you.

We love you baby. Stick tight.