Jul 22, 2011


Dear Griffin,

Today you are three years old. By the time you're old enough to read these birthday letters I've written, you will know how much I hate cliches (and you also will know exactly what cliche means). But I have to use one now: I don't know where the time went. Wasn't it just yesterday that we brought you home from the hospital? Or when you curled into a little ball on Daddy's chest and napped? What happened to all that time? Some days I want it back. I want those early mornings and long days when it was just the two of us while I was still on maternity leave. I want the long walks that calmed your colic. I want to hear your squeaky little noises warning me you were about to wake up.

Yes, all those things were wonderful and sweet (even when they really weren't), but now we have a happy, willful, and independent little boy. Each day you say something that makes me laugh. Each day I discover something new about you, like the fact that you would pass up every meal just so you could have something sweet (just like Daddy). Or that no one is allowed to help you - or even ask if you need help - unless you tell us (just like your Mommy). You are curious about the world you live in and are not shy about asking questions. Where did da sun go, Mommy? Why's thunder so loud? How do I get up on a cloud?

Your curiosity and wonderment over the littlest things makes me see life through your eyes and appreciate the world so much more. I forgot how beautiful the moon was until you pointed it out to me. I forgot how how good the rain feels until you suggested we run around in it. And I forgot how relaxing it is to sit on the front porch eating a popsicle until we did that together. As silly as it seems, I feel like I should thank you for that. For making me stop the chaos. For making me take the time to see all the beauty in the world that you see. For making me enjoy all the little things - the sound of the ice cream truck, a cloudless sky, a single Hershey Kiss.

In your first birthday letter I told you that I wanted so much for you in life. I still do. I want you to continue to be curious about the world. Never stop asking questions. Never stop learning. As much as you are loved, I want you to give that love back to others - not just family and friends, but those in need. I want you to be sure to not let fear rule your life. Most importantly, I want you to know that you will always matter (your thoughts, your opinions, your feelings). We will always listen. We will always care. We will always love.

Hold your own
Know your name
Go your own way
And everything will be fine.
~Jason Mraz~

You are loved.
You are sweetness.


Jul 12, 2011


When I was a little girl, I loved visiting my grandparents' house because they had an amazing vegetable garden. The funny thing is that back then, I wasn't all that interested in eating those vegetables, but was amazed at how someone could start with a tiny seed, add some water, sunlight, and TLC, and grow bright, red tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers. During my visits, I watched my grandfather pluck the cucumbers from the garden and lay them out on the counter, while my grandma worked her magic in the kitchen.

Ever since we moved into our current house a little over six years ago, I've wanted to plant a vegetable garden. We even had the perfect spot in the corner of our backyard, just begging to be transformed. I put it off while Griffin was a baby - just too much work. But this past spring I made the commitment. I pulled weeds and turned over the soil. I spent my Mother's Day buying seedlings - tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, basil, and strawberries. Together, Griffin and I planted our garden. We stepped back and I crossed my fingers. I can grow anything in a pot on my deck, but could I keep alive a real backyard vegetable garden? I could only hope.

The quick answer is yes. Our garden is thriving and growing each day. We just picked our first cherry tomato and everyday Griffin asks when we can pick all the other vegetables. Soon, baby. Soon.

While our garden was simply intended as a way to grow our own vegetables - cut back on expenses, eat fresh, try new recipes - it has provided us with so much more. Griffin has been learning about science and the lifecycle of plants. He is interested in eating the vegetables and fruits we are growing. But most importantly, he takes pride in his work - standing alone in the garden with me as I picked weeds, he opened his arms wide and said, "My garden makes me happy."

And as for me? Well, I've spent a lot of time during the past year in a major funk. OK, so it has been more than a major funk, but you get the idea. Lots of sadness. Lots of worry. Our garden has given me a place to work off those emotions (it's darn hard work in that garden!). I've committed to something and followed through with it. I started with nothing but a six-by-six square foot section of grass and overgrown weeds and brought it to life.

It has given me a purpose outside of my regular life as a wife, mother, and employee. That might sound silly to some of you, but when you feel the way I've felt for the past year, it means the world. Each day that I watch it grow, I feel myself grow - farther away from the tears and the worry. I am learning to leave them behind.

My garden makes me happy...

Jul 9, 2011

All he has left

My grandpa has the gentlest soul I've ever known. I've never heard him raise his voice. Never seen him angry. He believes in forgiveness and second chances. He knows that no matter how hard of a life he had growing up, someone else's life was even harder.

He is a veteran of World War II. He battled cancer. He fought back after a series of strokes. If there is one thing people who meet my grandfather say about him it's this: He's got a fighting spirit. He's a tough cookie. If anyone can get through this, it's him.

My grandpa turned 95-years old in March. It was one year after the strokes. He is now in a wheelchair at all times. But that same energy and personality shone through when he piped up and said to the family, "So who's ready for 96?" We all raised our hands and he smiled and said, "I'll be here."

This past week has been tough for my grandpa - he had an infection which turned out to be MRSA. He's been seeing a lot of doctors and taking all kinds of medications. When my dad visited him the other day at his assisted living center, my grandpa said, "They've finally broken my spirit."

I cried when I heard that he said those words. I cried because I don't ever want to hear anyone say that - especially my grandpa. And I cried because I'm afraid that's all he has left. I understand that he's 95 years old. I know that he has had a good, long life. But he's still my grandpa. Everyone who knows him, and even those who only know him through the stories I tell, knows that his spirit is what has carried him through these years - growing up as a first generation American, serving the nation in war, losing the love of his life after 54 years of marriage, fighting cancer, etc.

It's difficult to see someone's body deteriorating, but it's almost worse to see someone's spirit dissolve because it is our spirit that sustains us.

Love you, Grampa.