The Power of a Mother's Love

When did I first learn about love? Did it happen with my baby's first belly jiggling laugh or when she first looked into my eyes and said love you? Perhaps it was when I meet my now husband over Thanksgiving break from college.  And I felt a searing pain in my heart every time we had to separate while I finished out that long school year away from home, away from him. Or was it even when a stranger passing by on the street offered me the honor of a heart-felt smile?

The love I found in all of these profound experiences was based on a foundation built long ago near the beginning of my life.  And it was my mother who taught me about love, as most mother's do.  She was my hero, my everything when I was a small child.  All that sweetness she had poured into me everyday filled me up and one day was solidified while I played in our backyard.

Nestled securely in the middle of my beloved tire swing, I was twisting the tire round and round.  With each successful turn a delightful popping kink of the hanging rope would gratify my efforts.  I struggled to keep my feet in place with each turn as the tension from the rope sought to undo all of my hard work.  Finally the rope, being all bunched up with tension, would go no further.  Looking forward to my destined ride, as I had a hundred times before, I lifted me feet from the ground, held on tight and with eyes closed I began a fast spin.  This time though, something went terribly wrong and in an instant I was slammed to the ground tangled up in tire and rope.  The rope had broken and I, being a very small child, was trapped beneath a tire to heavy to move.  Feelings of shock and pain began to consume me when an angel appeared to free me from the tire.  The angel was my mother.  I couldn't imagine where she had come from or how she had known I need help but she was there right when I needed her.  Such a feeling of love and appreciation filled my heart that I was overwhelmed.  Turns out she was folding laundry and watching me from the window that looked out underneath our porch, while I had no idea she was anywhere nearby.  This was the moment, this moment when I really needed someone and that very special someone was there.  This was the moment when I learned about love in a deep yet conscious way.  While she rescued me from the swing, I felt the world become a safe and beautiful place.  I knew that she would be there for me when I needed her, that I could trust and believe.  And, as I moved forward into my life I carried this deep knowledge and used it to recognize love everywhere.

Even now I am blessed to learn more about love everyday.  Everyday with my kids and husband there is more to learn, more to experience.  Each day I witness acts of kindness and caring in the world, cherishing even the smallest of gestures.  Mostly what I am learning about now is love for myself and appreciation for life simply as it is. With each breath and each step I endeavor to appreciate and love myself, those around me, my world and embrace being alive.

 Thanks Mom!

Shared On: The Sunday Parenting Party

Puppy Magic for a Little Girl ~ In Honor of National Puppy Day

This is a story of how a sweet puppy helped a little girl along her way; the power of an animal in the life of a child.

The summer of my 10th year I spent largely beneath my bed or at least that is the most memorable part of that time.  I had someone very special with me, a new puppy.  Her name was Heidi.  She was a small miniature schnauzer, covered in soft light gray fur, with a bushy white beard and deep brown eyes; just perfect for a girl like me.  We would climb under the bed and snuggle down together in the mist  of the discarded toys I had hastily shoved into place under the bed while "cleaning" my room.  I would lay on my stomach, throw my arm over Heidi's back, rub her and talk to her.  She would always listen to me with great care, never seeming annoyed by my lengthy speeches.  My family was going through a tough time and Heidi helped me feel comfortable with myself and the world.  She helped me to  retreat into this special place of calm and love.

Later I would take her on long walks to the park and train her to play me on the slide.  She slept in my bed with me, her back to mine.  She had a way of slowly edging herself up against me as the night wore on and I would often awake to find myself perched on the edge of the bed while she had the rest of it to herself.

Heidi was always there for me.  Sad or happy, lonely or distracted by friends, she was always there.  I loved her very much and was surely a lucky girl to have a dog like her.

In honor of National Puppy Day and mostly Heidi!

Shared On: The Sunday Parenting Party

Planting Peas

This is really a story about the beauty of a child.  For children can't help but be beautiful when we slow down enough to let them share that beauty.

"Where are you Vi?" "I am in here on the potty.  Will you read my bug book to me?"  Vi implores. I start to panic, it is 7am and I have my full morning of timely responsibilities pressing on me.  I know if I stop to read to Vi, everything will run late. Sadly I tell her "maybe later" feeling like I say that way to often.

Happily later that very afternoon I remember the bug book.  We snuggle up for a good read of this brightly illustrated lift-the-flap book about all kinds of bugs.  Vi is so snuggly and enjoying the book so much it is pure delight to be with her.  I suggest that we go bug hunting after reading our book.  Bug hunting will get us outside to plant the pea seeds we had planned to put in the ground that afternoon.

With the book finished we head out to the garden for good old fashion bug hunting.  At first we don't see any bugs despite Vi calling "B-U-G-S" in a sing-song voice.  I ask Vi where the bugs in the book were and she remembers that bugs like to hide.

"There's a rock Mommy!"  Vi points. We lift up the rock and are rewarded with a wriggly earthworm. "There's another!"  Vi exclaims.

On it goes until we exhaust our supply of rocks.  Now that we are outside I suggest that it is time to plant pea seeds we had planned to put in the ground that afternoon.

"That sounds great mommy!"

While I go to get the compost for amending the soil, Vi waits for me bouncing on the trampoline.  We, are as usual, are a few weeks late in our pea planting.  Sometimes it takes a while to get around to these kind of things.  And, I am feeling anxious to get the soil prepared and the seeds in the ground so we can enjoy the best harvest from our garden. Also, in that moment, I feel the lateness of the day and dinner is starting to loom as well as other things that need my attention.  I pull myself back to the moment and the task at hand.

After a bit of struggle I make it to our garden with a big bag of compost.  Vi and I start to shovel the compost into the garden.  As I had anticipated, Vi loves this.  She has a blast with each shovel full talking constantly about the dirt and how to grow plants.  After a bit she remembers two little pots which have been the focus of her attention over the past few weeks.  Into these little pots she had carefully placed soil, dug from the garden beds; planted little seeds from around the yard and two pea seeds given to her by me upon request.  She insists that these pots need compost of their own and I agree.  I get the rest of the compost into the garden while she works on her pots.  Still talking, she tells me long stories about seeds and how to keep them healthy.

After a bit I get her attention to plant the seeds.  At first it goes well.  We decide that I will poke the holes and she will drop in the seeds.  We hum along for a bit and she is pretty well focused.  But then we hit a snag and start to have an argument over how she is holding the seeds in her hand and how I am poking the holes.  Deep breath for me and I realize that I am getting grouchy and am pretty much the cause of our distress.  I look at her sweet brown eyes so earnest and loving and at her little pudgy dirt covered hands and I let go.  There is nothing here to be concerned about.  Just the beauty of a darling little girl and her desire to help, her desire to experience.  I realize that it doesn't have to be perfect and that I can't make it perfect because it already is.  We finish planting our peas and set up the sprinkler to water our new "babies."  I breathe again, a breath of gratefulness for the chance at motherhood.  With our garden started and a mommy lesson learned, I know this year the peas harvest will be the best ever.

I wrote this late last spring,  Have been waiting and waiting to share it!  Now we are close again to pea planting time and I thought the time was right at last to share this story.  In anticipation of earlier pea planting this time around, Vi and I are attempting to sprout our peas in the window before we plant them in the ground.  We took some peas left over from last year, put them in plastic bags with wet cotton balls.  First we soaked them overnight in water and then used that water to wet our cotton balls.

Then we sealed them and now they are in the window.  We will watch and wait to see how it goes.

I am hoping for little roots and leaves to show themselves soon.

When the peas are ready we can transplant to the yard.  The pea seed package I have says not to pre-sprout indoors, but I figure it is an experiment and like anything in life, you just gotta try to see what happens...

Shared On:  Sunday Parenting Party, Eco-Kids TuesdayKid's Get CraftyHome Link Up

At Long Last An Essential Mommy Time Out

Just Me, Myself and I

This is important.  This is something many of us forget.  This is something we need to remember for ourselves and the other people in our lives.  Each of us has a responsibility to care for ourselves.  When feeling depleted and frustrated it is hard to care for others and more over, we deserve to take care of us, to feel good and happy.  As a mom I find it so easy to forget about myself and get caught up in the everydayness of life; all the things each day that come and go pulling my attention.  It is easy to become overwhelmed and depleted at a very deep level.

Well, today it was time to take care of me!

Back Story

We had a fun and exciting holiday season topped off with four birthdays in our immediate family.  That is right four!  We are all Capricorns and have our birthdays from December 29th to January 11th.  With two little girls eager to celebrate their special day and with the excitement of Christmas, the last six weeks were a whirl wind of planning and activity.  I always try to make their birthdays a bit extra special because, let's face it, having a birthday close to Christmas and New Year can be a big bummer.  So this year, true to form, they each made special plans and we carried them out to the best of our ability.  So, for me, today really feels like the first day of the new year, like the holidays are finally over and I can get on with life.  But instead of feeling ready to go and grab the bull by the horns so to speak, I found myself feeling grouchy and tired.  Previous life experience gained from ignoring signals from my body told me that  I must stop, truly, and take sometime for just me.  Just me, myself and I.  With the kids at school and nothing immediately pressing in my day I decided to seize the morning and after a bit of ponderous deliberation settled upon a good old fashion spa day.  As a young woman I used to relish in a custom, homemade spa day for myself once a week.  Unlike in my youth when I would do hair masks and rinses and multiple different facial masks while soaking in a herbal bath, today's spa day needed to be easy while also feeling decant.  I would say that I hit upon the perfect balance because now that I am done not only does my skin feel fabulous but my soul is peaceful, my mom brain is refreshed and clear, and well, I smell really good too!

The components of a luxurious, nourishing and simple mommy spa day

For this easy and relaxing morning I chose to do a honey mask, milky salt bath, shea butter foot rub and to finish off by brushing my favorite essential oil lavender right into my hair.  Each time I move my head I am still surrounded by drifts of calming lavender being liberated from my hair.  Um....

This spa day was simple with hardly any preparation required and easy to execute.

Here is how I did it...

  • Honey Mask:  I put a spoonful of honey into a bowl then added 3 drops of helichrysum (great for skin health and encouraging fresh new skin cell growth) and 2 drops of lavender essential oil to the bowl along with a sprinkle of mild soothing kaolin clay.  While I am super lucky to have all of this in my bathroom, simple honey alone would be excellent because it is so very hydrating and nourishing for the skin.  Before getting in the bath I applied this mixture to my whole face.  It is important to put honey on dry skin as it kind of dissolves away when exposed to water.  I left this mask on for my entire bath and throughly enjoyed the scent of honey and helichrysm wafting up to my nose!   After rinsing the mask off at the end of my bath I followed up with a small amount of rose infused coconut oil from my favorite herbal apothecary Rebecca's.  This oil was dreamed up by none other than oil making goddess Rebecca.  So amazing!
  • Milky Salt  Bath:  Epsom salts always find their way into my baths nowadays but today I wanted something special.  So I filled a large glass to the brim with milk, took it into the bathroom and dumped it into the tub along with about two cups of epsom salts (this amazing salt relax muscles).  Milk bathes, reputedly used by none other than Cleopatra, hydrate and smooth skin.  Then when I got into the tub I added 8 drops of lavender and 4 drops of cedarwood (encourages a meditative mind and releases stress) essential oils and gave the water a good whooshing to mix in the oils.  Now, I admit it, I take baths pretty regularly.  I consider it one of my rights as a human being.  But this bath was special.  I think the milk really held the essential oils in suspension so that the smell from oils permeated the water for the entire length of the bath.  It was so luscious!
  • Shea Butter Foot Rub:  After my bath I got all  dry and toasty and then  I gave my feet a nice rub with some rosemary lavender shea butter that I have on my nightstand but don't use often enough.  My feet were thanking me as the dryness and tension melted away.  Then cuddly warm socks topped my feet and kept the moisture where it needed to be.
  • Lavender Hair Brushing:  Last but not least, a few drops of lavender on my brush and some kind strokes through my hair topped off this wonderful experience.  Lavender essential oil is a great conditioner for hair and the aromatic benefits of brushing essential oils into ones hair is profound because the oil is placed so close to the nose!

So here I am.  Happy and calm again.  So glad to be sharing my beautiful morning.  It always surprises me that with a little intent and attention things can readily change.  Feelings become clearer and thoughts settle.  This was a fun adventure in self care using what I had on hand so that I could really focus on me.  Now, when my kids come home from school, they will find a happier mom.  A mom who is ready to listen fully and play and cuddle with her whole self!

Longmont Pumpkin Patches in Review

Every year we go to at least one pumpkin patch.  There are so very many to choose from here on the Front Range and they are  each unique.  Happily this year we made it to two!

Sunflower Farms

This place is like a gem.  So sweet and very country, almost romantic in its appeal.  At least for me.

Huge tree houses greet you has you walk into the farm with all kinds of swings hanging on the surrounding tree branches.  These are some big trees and the swings go high!

The hay bale maze here is built-up at different levels with wooden planks for walking over gaps.

There is a great long zip line.  The animals on this farm are friendly and some of them roam free.  We had a couple of turkeys gobbling at us by the camp fire when we first arrived.

Kids can play in a big enclosure filled with corn like a sandbox and feed the corn to the goats.  The goats are funny and very gentle at least with us humans, there was some serious competition for corn.

We also took a horse-drawn carriage ride to the Enchanted Forest where the kids played among trees and picked a pumpkin from the nearby field.

I love how natural and old fashion Sunflower Farms is.  How it is set up for pure imaginative fun!

Anderson Farms

This place has a HUGE corn maze.  We went early in the morning and the breeze through the corn was rustling like a forest on a mountain side.  Actually we went to this maze twice this year and were able to complete the maze during our two visits.  There are sign posts or markers throughout the maze where you can punch your map to show that you made it through.  The kids had a lot of fun figuring out how to get from one section of the maze to another.  There is also a who-done-it mystery to solve in the corn maze that is very kid friendly and kept them going strong.

Anderson Farms  also has barrel and tractor rides.  A tire castle to climb and a super fun hay bale maze for the kids to jump around on.   We didn't see it all, we focused on the maze.  So I know there is more at this pumpkin patch, maybe for next year.

Anderson Farms  also has barrel and tractor rides.  A tire castle to climb and a super fun hay bale maze for the kids to jump around on.   We didn't see it all, we focused on the maze.  So I know there is more at this pumpkin patch, maybe for next year.

Rocky Mtn. Pumpkin Ranch

This is our old stomping grounds.  We have gone here for years and just recently branched out.  I am planning to sneak over there by myself one day to score some of there wonderful organic produce.

The fun here involves bouncy houses and carnival rides, face painting as well as pumpkin painting.  The kids were sad we didn't go here this year, maybe next time....

Please Note:  As of Fall 2012, it looks like Rocky Mtn. Pumpkin Ranch has changed some things around since last time we went.  Still  fun things going on, but maybe no carnival rides?  And it looks a bit less expensive which is something to cheer about!

From First Snow to Novice Chicken 'n' Dumplings

It is magic... looking out the window before bed there is nothing but Earth and Sky, or perhaps just a little bit of rain coming down. Then when you wake up piles of snow greet you while a soft pink sky glows above.

It is like someone came and brought a lovely present for everyone. I love living in Colorado. I love the changing weather, it is never one way for too long, not to mention the ever-present beauty of the mountains that we get to enjoy each day. Today is the first snow of the year and it came in overnight, just like magic.

When my daughter woke in the morning, I held her soft little hand and lead her over the window. We excitedly pulled back the thick velvety brown curtain and I showed her the peaceful beauty outside. She stood motionless and quiet for a few minutes. Then she asked if she could go out and play. It was still before dawn and we had to get ready for school. But who am I to say "no" to such a basic and justified request? If I had been 5 years old this morning, I would have asked the same question. So we got her all bundled up and off she went. She stepped into the yard and sunk in to just above her knees. There is a lot of snow out there today, way more than a dusting. With our dog frolicking around her plowing through drifts of white, Violet played for a good 30 minutes and was not ready to stop when she finally had to get ready for school. I know that she and her big sister will come home eager to play outside and enjoy this special snow, the first snow of the year.

I want to make something warm and healthy to support their bodies and spirits in their play. I am a big fan of homemade chicken soup because it too is like magic. There is something about it that really feeds the body, strengthening every part. Research has shown that chicken soup can be anti-inflammatory. But whatever it is, it seems to me that a nice bowl of soup made with love and intention is like having a warm hug for your insides. But, I really don't want to make chicken soup. I am thinking that chicken and dumplings would be fun. Maybe I can find a way to make it similar to chicken soup. I am sure the dumplings will not add to the health benefits, but I do think they will be fun and I know my eldest daughter has been craving this tasty dish. So off I go to search for a chicken and dumpling recipe that will help me on my way.

Ok, so I have done some research and found a bunch of interesting recipes.

My favorite came from Ree's site The Pioneer Woman that is filled with lots of humor and delicious looking recipes!

Here is the recipe I complied from Ree,  and about a dozen or so other places:

  • Roaster Chicken(s) equal to about 1 whole chicken that you have been waiting to make soup with, I had 2 in my freezer waiting to be used up.

  • 3 cups water
  • handful of dried nettles
  • 5 or so 2-3" pieces of astragalus

Simmer this all together until the chicken is ready to fall off the bone.

Let cool. Strain and reserve liquid. Pull chicken off the bone.

Why the nettles and astragalus you ask? What is this stuff you wonder? Nettles are a dark green highly nutrient rich plant that can be purchased dried.

Astragalus comes to us from Traditional Chinese Medicine. Astragalus builds the immune system and it great to use as a preventative during cold and flu season, though it is not to be used during acute illness. I add astragalus to anything that is cooked in liquid during the winter months to help my family, things like soup, rice and crock pot meals. You will want to remove the astragalus before eating your food.  Purchase nettles and astragalus at your local herb store or natural grocery.

Next the veggies:

  • 1 red onion chopped
  • Lots of minced garlic, to taste
  • 2 italian heirloom zucchini, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • Olive Oil, about 3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup apple cider, courtesy of Ree, she says it is a great addition.

Really use any veggies you have that sound good to you.  This list is just what I had on hand in the fridge.  Cook this all up together until tender. Add salt, pepper and herbs like thyme, oregano and sage to taste.

Put the chicken and the stock (enough to almost cover the veggies and chicken, reserving about a cup) back in the pot and add the cider, you will have a very thick chicken soup at this point. I know that chicken and dumplings has more broth than this sometimes but I was scared. Scared to have a lot of broth because last time I made chicken and dumplings the dumplings dissolved into the broth and then I had a big pot of gravy stuff not really so very tasty!  Simmer to let flavors blend.

Then for the dumplings: These are right from Ree, her dumpling recipe looked great so I had to try it, plus she says to add cornmeal to the dumplings and anything with cornmeal is a winner with my family!

  • 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, Ree uses all-purpose
  • 1/2 cup of cornmeal
  • 1 heaping tbsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup of milk, I used 2%, Ree uses half and half
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley, if I had only had that to add... would have been yummy!

Mix together dry ingredients then add milk or half and half. Drop this by the tablespoonful onto the top of your chicken mixture. Cook, covered for about 15 minutes.

Last, I made a gravy:

  • Reserved chicken stock, I had about a cup, you might need to tweak the proportions below based on how much you have left
  • tbsp or so of butter
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • Add salt and granulated garlic to taste

Melt the butter into the stock and then whisk in the flour. Whisk until the gravy thickens. Serve the gravy on top or next the chicken and dumplings if you wish.


My family loved this.  And it did not turn into a big gooey pot of mess.

Yummy and perfect for the end of a cold day.

Baby Tooth is MIA in Which Mommy Done Bad

Shock tingles up through my body filling me up from feet to head. My hand is in the dishwasher delivering a glass to the top shelf when the realization dawns on me. The plate which held my child's newly lost tooth has been placed upside down into the top shelf of the diswasher. Checking the plate I find my fears confirmed. Her tooth is gone and I have committed a grievous error. This is a tooth that Violet not only wanted to put under her pillow but also planned to keep forever. Violet is already off to bed and seems to have forgotten about her tooth for the moment. Knowing that time is probably short, I start frantically searching for her tooth. Pulling out the bottom rack of the dishwasher and loudly lamenting the situation, I call to Nyssa, Violet's sister, and ask her to bring me her flashlight. Nyssa comes running and we begin to search through the dishwasher. "Is that it?" asks Nyssa.

"No, that is a piece of rice." I reply.

On we go, with me getting my head as far back into the dishwasher as possible trying to keep my weight off the open dishwasher door and Nyssa examining every little thing she finds. After a while we back track to the dining room table. Do you know how many things look like a tiny baby tooth? Every little white bit of anything could be it and given that I haven't vacuumed recently there are a lot of little bits everywhere. "Um," I tell Nyssa, "Maybe it is in the garbage disposal."

By now Patrick has come downstairs from putting Violet to bed. While relating the predicament to him, I stick my hand into the disposal. Feeling a sense of protection for my hand come over me, I announce to the room that it is on it's way into the depths of the disposal. Patrick stops mid-step opting to stay out of the kitchen until I am done rumaging. Nyssa notices this and wonders what the big deal is about garbage disposals and hands. So we begin her education of this dangerous kitchen appliance. I am uncovering all kinds of things in the disposal and to my amazement find myself searching these things very, very thoroughly. It dawns on me that this is yet another of those experiences parenting has brought me. Another one of those things I never thought I would do, that I wouldn't have even imagined doing. Things like catching vomit in my hands or eagerly cleaning mucus out of a sick baby's nose. Or, more pleasantly, playing night-night in the bottom of my closet for long stretches of time laying amoungst various clothing and shoes that had made their way to the floor to create a comfy nest. And even more surprised at being glad to be involved in, if not the center piece of this activity, because as a pregnant mom I was exhausted and at least I got to rest while keeping my child happy.

"Well, the tooth isn't here. What am I going to do?"

I feel like I have failed. I meant to protect that tooth and help Violet get it under her pillow but I really just totally and completely forgot all about it. As I poke around in the kitchen I start to form a plan. In our house we often communicate with the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and even the Easter bunny by writing notes and leaving them where the visiting guest is likely to find them. So, I will leave the tooth fairy a note and apologize for losing the tooth. Maybe the tooth fairy would leave Violet an extra coin to lessen the hurt of her mommy's mistake. But, Violetreally wanted to keep all of her teeth and had planned to ask the tooth fairy to leave her each one behind, how do I deal with that?

I am trying to reconcil this in my mind when Nyssa decides to try and help me. She finds a lovely piece of stationary and writes the tooth fairy a letter telling of the lost tooth. She then makes a fake tooth out of a cotton ball on which she puts a bit of red marker to look like blood. In her letter she asks the tooth fairy to take the cotton ball as a replacement tooth. It is so sweet and cute. But Nyssa doesn't know that Violet wanted to keep her tooth. As I start telling her about this, her attention wanes. Deciding to let it go for the moment, we move on with our evening. In the end I decided to leave the tooth fairy my own note with a confession of my mistake. The tooth fairy replied on that same note and left Violet a little something extra, just this once!

And, the next morning when Violet came running down the stairs and jumped into my lap for a snuggle, I had to tell her about the tooth and the note which I had slipped under her pillow. She handled it well, in her calm, sweet Violet-like way, though she did say she was really sad I lost her tooth, which pained me. After the news sunk in we quietly made our way upstairs together to find the note complete with a reply from the tooth fairy and six shiny quarters. Then we had to count all the money in Violet's clear blue plastic piggy bank adding in the quarters. Afterwards a happy Violet stayed behind to feed her piggy bank. Phew!

But it turned out that not everyone was happy and appeased in the end. It turned out that Nyssa was sad because I didn't leave her note too. "Well Nyssa, I dont' know why I didn't leave your note too, I guess I just didn't think that it would work with the note I wrote, I'm sorry!"

And, on we move into the new day ready for whatever comes and happy for it.

Shared On:  Sunday Parenting Party

I Am Going to Kindergarten


This is about me going to kindergarten for the last time. One last time as my youngest goes off for her big day at school.  The excited anticipation of the first day is palpable.  What to wear?  What to pack for lunch?  Who is Violet's new teacher?  And, will they take good care of my baby?  There will be new friends to make, a new school to enjoy and new experiences to be had.

I am 36 years old and I am going to kindergarten.  While I am excited about this big change in my life, I am also nervous and sad because my youngest child is off to school.  So sad in fact that I find myself tearing up at the school office while filling out paperwork for admittance into kindergarten.

"Is it your baby?" asked the kind lady behind the desk. "Yes, my last one." I replied. "Ah," she commiserates, "my youngest kid is in middle school this year."

After I finish filling out the paperwork and put down a deposit to hold Violet's space in the full day program, I go home grieving but happy. Violet is there waiting for me with big brown eyes, a hug and kiss, and of course a fabulous story concocted from her imagination.  I hope that I have made the right decision for her and our family to put her in full day kindergarten.  Only an hour or so earlier, I had received the phone call telling me that a spot had opened up for her in full day.  We were next on the waiting list.  I hesitated.  I had finally adjusted to the idea of Violet going only to morning kindergarten.  They had cancelled the enrichment program at our school that I had planned to send Violet to two afternoons a week.  So now it was all or nothing.  Full day kindergarten would mean she would be gone all day, everyday. That I would only be with my kids together, both of them at the same time.  The special alone time of the preschool years would forever and finally be over.

Two people have now said to me, "No more babies for you!" because Violet is starting kindergarten.

"How did this happen?" I wonder. "Wasn't I just pregnant with her?"

I can still feel her pregnancy in my body and soul.  I can still smell her sweet baby scent and feel my arms cuddling her while nursing in the wee hours of the morning, just her and me.  But she has grown so much and she is so very ready for the next stage in her journey.  Am I?  Am I ready?  Can I bear to watch my last child, my baby, go off into the world?  Mentally I know this is just the beginning and that I need to let her go with love and confidence.  I remember how my mother clinging to me as I neared the end of highschool drove me mad.  It could not have been a surprise after all that I would be leaving home soon, didn't she expect it?  Hadn't she known for years that this time was coming?  Now that I am here and experiencing separation, not for the first time, but on a new level, I am able to appreciate some of what she was going through.  All the while during the past 5 years while I changed diapers; made food; cleaned the house; read stories; scheduled activities; created art projects; put kids to bed; cleaned up astounding, sometimes disgusting messes; and more; my baby has grown up.  It was a sneaky wonderful thing to do.

In the meantime Violet's older sister is doing her own growing.  She is reading novels; developing artistic skills and learning things unknown to me.  I can sense her mind working quickly behind those beautiful hazel eyes.  I can feel her absorbing all she can from the world, from each situation and interaction.

The experience of raising children, of watching them grow magnifies the poignancy of life.  If you don't pay attention, you might miss it.  To take a moment and stop to see my children growing, this is truly bittersweet.