Junior Ranger

Dear Love Bug,

Mother Nature gave us a gift of a day, and it was so unexpected I felt like doing cartwheels down the beach. We actually got there today, and it was a pretty damn near perfect beach morning. The sun wasn’t beating down or anything, but it was warm (but not hot) and slightly breezy, and the beach was relatively empty because I think the forecast kept people away.

You immediately got your big shovels out and began to dig in the sand, which you’ve been waiting approximately one year to do. Then you played your favorite game of Run Squealing Into and Out of the Water, letting it get as high as your knees. You also made some friends, played badminton and bocce (each for about 5 minutes), and dug for mole crabs (also admittedly one of my favorite things to do). I got hot at one point, which was completely surprising because again, the forecast made it seem like it was going to be the most disappointing beach week ever, and waded past the breakers to cool myself off. You called to me from the shore, so I came back, scooped you up and took you in with me. “I can swim!” you kept screaming above the roar of the water. “I can do it on my own!” Love Bug, your confidence overwhelms me. I love you so much for it. But you can neither swim nor do it on your own. So I flipped you tummy down and let you kick about while I hung onto you pretty tightly. I’m what I would consider an excellent swimmer. I’ve been jumping waves since I was barely bigger than you. But I have a HEALTHY respect for the ocean, and I’m trying to instill it in you, too.

At 11:30, we wanted to get to a ranger-led activity out on the boardwalk behind the visitor center. You put up a little bit of a fight because you really wanted to stay on the beach. But eventually you capitulated and let Daddy carry you across the parking lot to the center. The program had already begun but we were able to catch up easily, and we joined a group of 10 or so people in examining “clues” along the boardwalk of life/death in the marshy salt flats on the bay side of the beach. You stole the show in your loud, adorable, smarty-pants way. You were by far the youngest participant, but you’d blurt out answers to the ranger’s questions or say “Excuse me, Ms. Ranger!” and then ask a question or make an observation. You really seemed to enjoy it, which made my heart happy, because I spent many summers immersed in the ranger programs here when I was (much) younger. Hope we can do many more in the years to come.

I’m exhausted. I’m listening to you sleep-sigh along with the rolls of thunder outside, and my eyelids are getting heavy. We’ll have another big day tomorrow. Night night, my love.

Love you like crazy, kiddo,


Back to the Beach

Dear Love Bug,

Here we are, back in our beloved Chincoteague. This year may not be as beachy as years past; the weather looks just ok. But we’ll make do and we’ll still have fun. 

In the late afternoon, after unpacking at Misty Moon, we drove out to Assateague to make sure it was still there. Just kidding (but some years we worry). It’s there, and other than the addition of a bike lane along the road across the island, it’s more or less unchanged. We parked as far to the left as we could, kicked off our flip flops, and ran across the sand toward the water. It was incredibly windy and pretty chilly, so we zipped you into a hoodie. 

After launching a kite–it was great kite weather!–in which you immediately lost interest and retrieving a shovel to ward off a meltdown, you got to work digging, which is your favorite beach pastime. But when you’d had enough of that, you ran toward the water’s edge and absolutely squealed with glee at getting your feet wet. You were jumping and twirling, running up toward the drier sand and then back toward the waves. You’ve found your happy place. 

The next thing we knew, the water–all 65 degrees of it–had lapped your front up to your belly button, and you’d managed to sit down in it as it creeped up the shore from the breakers. I consciously quelled the OCD rising up inside of me and told myself it was fine. 

I continued to do so as you hauled your fully wet self up into the powdery sand beyond the reach of the water and rolled around in it. You became a sandy burrito. A very, very happy sandy burrito. 

It was hard to haul you away from there, but we did. And we stripped you down and let you air dry in the gentler wind near the car until you were clean enough to put on dry clothes (Mother’s Instinct FTW, but it failed to remind me to bring a towel). 

Tomorrow will be a true beach day, and you can dig and jump in the waves to your heart’s content–and to mine, too. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,


Crossing the causeway, having just woken up from your nap. 

Playing Airplane

Dear Love Bug,

It’s been a milestone a minute this weekend. We’ve been really focused on supporting your self-identity as a “big boy” by making changes, probably long overdue, to facilitate bedtimes, which have become increasingly nightmarish. At about 7:30 p.m., you turn into a raving lunatic. (That’s for posterity, my love.) And because of this, Daddy and I turn into exorcists. And it makes us cranky, and it makes you cranky, and many a night has ended in tears. It wasn’t sustainable the way it was, so we set up some ground rules:

  1. No more diapers. Trying to get you into your diapers multiple times an evening–because inevitably you have to use the potty at some point after we’ve finally wrangled you into a diaper but before you climb into bed–was like trying to get one of our grumpy cats into a diaper. It just wasn’t worth it anymore, so we made an executive decision that you’ll be wearing Pull-Ups only from here on out. I thought you’d fight this, but instead you’re so proud of wearing Pull-Ups that you’re telling everyone you know about it.
  2. No more milk before bed. I’m super tired of cleaning up your spilled milk, and I’m fairly close to crying over it. So you get milk with dinner–you can drink as much of it as you’d like while you’re at the table–and it doesn’t come upstairs. After all, only babies need milk before bed, and you’re not a baby anymore. You’re a big boy.
  3. You must be bed-ready before getting either TV (on rare occasions) or a book. TV is an extra-special treat for extra-good behavior. It’s not a given. You can read a book (or two or three, depending on the length and depending on the amount of time we have) before your bedtime cuddles. But you can only do this if you’re in your PJs and have brushed your teeth. So it behooves you to cooperate through those processes to allow time for reading or watching.

And because we have big-boy expectations of you at bedtime, we thought it was fitting that you should have a big-boy bed. We weren’t terribly concerned about the transition from crib to open bed. At Nonna’s, you’ve been sleeping on an inflatable big-boy mattress (that is, a bed without bars) for some time, and you don’t have issues staying in it. So yesterday, Daddy went up to the attic to haul down the toddler bed railing we’ve been saving since before you were born for this very moment.

We tried it out for the first time during your afternoon nap yesterday. You crawled in, turned over, and went straight to sleep. Success! And last night was problem-free too. This morning, though, through the fog of being dragged from sleep, I heard, “Mom! Dad! The light is green!” I squinted at my alarm clock to confirm; your OK-to-wake clock is programmed to turn on at 7:45 a.m. Yup, right on schedule. Then I heard your door open and your little feet slapping the wood floor. Hmmmm. That was not what we’d discussed. Your footsteps stopped, and I heard you say, “Oh! Hi, Obie!” (Apparently, our big blond furbaby was staring up at you from the other side of the barricade we set up at the top of the stairs, not to keep you in but to keep him out.) Then pitter-pat to just outside of our room and then the door handle jiggling. And finally, the door flew open. My eyes still weren’t open.

I had to remind you, once I was up and awake, that you’re not allowed to leave your room until we come to get you, not even when your clock turns green. “But Marshall said it was OK,” you said. “Marshall is a cartoon dog,” I responded, “and he doesn’t make the rules. Mamma and Daddy make the rules.” I explained that leaving your room without us could be dangerous. “Well, Marshall was impressed,” you said. I was still too groggy to  wrap my head around the exchange we’d just had, let alone ask exactly what Marshall was impressed by. “Impressed!” You’re something.

At nap time today, you had a hard time settling, and I found you sitting up on the edge of your bed, playing with your stuffed animals . I had to come in to reminde you that it was nap time, not play time, even if it’s now easier for you to get out of your bed to play. I had to rock you to sleep.

But once you were down, you slept for almost three hours. And when you finally woke up, we went to the playground with Nonna and Opa. You wanted to walk there like a big boy, not ride in the stroller. I brought the stroller along just in case you changed your mind, but you made it there (and back) without once wanting to climb in.

At the playground, you launched yourself down the gentle hill from the jungle gym area into the wide, grassy field below, arms flung out to the side and behind you. You ran in a wide arc and then made your way back up the hill. You did this a couple of times before I asked what you were doing. “Playing airplane,” you responded, matter-of-factly. We stood at the top of the hill, watching you propel yourself down with your arms out and your head back, racing through the field sprinkled with bright-yellow buttercups, so fiercely independent and just so adorable.

And I’m fairly certain this is my favorite age: when you’re a big boy but still so little in so many ways.

Love you like crazy, kiddo,


Barefoot on the Moon

Dear Love Bug,

This will be a quick one because I just took NyQuil in an effort to win the war against this nasty cold. 

We barely left the house today, mostly because it was rainy, chilly, and generally icky but also because I couldn’t much motivate to do anything other than nap while you napped. 

When you woke up this afternoon, we found ourselves playing in the basement–one of your favorite spots in the house–and I pulled out the rocket-shaped tent that Nonna got you for Valentine’s Day that you haven’t played much with since then. We set up the play mat so you’d have some padding, and you and Marshall hung out in there for a bit. 

When you were done in the basement, Daddy and I asked if you wanted to bring your tent up to your room, thinking it might get more use if it’s in a spot that you constantly inhabit. You were very excited about this, and once Daddy got it re-mounted in that location, you went about decorating it with blankets and pillows, invited your friends in, and grabbed some books and toys. Daddy read to you for a bit, his head inside the tent with the rest of his long body protruding. When he went downstairs to start getting dinner ready, I took his spot. I can tuck myself inside a bit more easily. 

We read and played. At one point, you asked if you could take your socks off. It was about 1,000 degrees inside that nylon rocket, so I could understand. Still, I asked why you wanted them off as I helped you remove them. 

“Because,” you said, “I want to walk barefoot on the moon.”

Love you like crazy, kiddo,



Dear Love Bug,

This is something I want to remember forever. We went to the other playground this afternoon before dinner–the one at the elementary school–and we played in the sun and crisp air. It feels more like November than May. 

You bit it hard at one point and went sprawling, hands first, tummy down in the mulch. Instatears. You scraped up your hands pretty badly but you went running toward the jungle gym, still howling. I ran after you and even though I know you really wanted to climb that jungle gym through the tears, you had to take a moment to crumple into my arms and rest your head on my shoulder. I’m glad that makes it better. 

That’s not even the part I want to remember. 

That part came later, long after the tears had been forgotten. Daddy had just texted to say dinner was almost on the table, and I was facing a three-block walk with the slowest, most distractable toddler ever. So I scooped you up and put you on my hip. At one point, without warning, I took off at a gallop. At first, you looked terrified, bouncing on my hip. But then it was squeals of joy and uncontrollable giggles. 

“Do it again!” you demanded. So I walked a bit and then suddenly started running. More giggles. And then I started giggling, and I was out of breath but couldn’t stop laughing at your laughter. 

“Run all the way home!” you squealed. And we sprinted and laughed and walked and giggled and ran until we made it home for dinner. 

I want to remember what it feels like to have the giggles with you. This is maybe what I’ll miss most when you grow up. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,


photo by our cousin N from this past weekend

On the Town

Dear Love Bug,

Tonight was one of the ones I want to stamp in my memory forever. It’s way too late for me to write about it in as much detail as it warrants, but I’ll give you the highlights. 

Once Daddy got home from work, we loaded you up in your little red covered wagon and hiked down and across town in the most gorgeous spring weather–bright and sunny but coolish and dry–to the Volunteer Fire Department. When we got there, the big lot where the carnival comes every year was already hopping. It was lined with food trucks, buzzing with the sound of generators, and heady with the smells of the most delicious combination of foods, ethnic and not, you can imagine. 

You’d never really been exposed to a food truck before, so you asked if you could get on the trucks and then seemed disappointed that you couldn’t. It was a little hard for you to wait, strapped into your wagon, for our three meals from three different trucks to be ready, but you managed with minimal complaints. 

When we got our boxed-up meals, we went inside the fire hall to meet our friends the B’s, who also live in town. You and Aubrey will be in the same class at summer camp, and her mom and I have been good friends and colleagues since the two of you were born, two months and one day apart (she’s older).  You plowed through your (delicious) pizza, sitting nicely on a folding chair with super-minimal fidgeting. I was very impressed! 

Another family joined us whose son also goes to the preschool where you’ll be headed this summer, and the mom gave me details about the teacher in your room. All of a sudden, it feels like we’ve been welcomed into a community. 

You asked if you could have a treat, and I wanted one, too, so we loaded you back into your wagon and Aubrey into her stroller and we all made our way across the street to the ice cream cottage. We sat outside at a picnic bench while our gorgeous day turned into a sweet, breezy evening, and you and Aubrey diligently worked on your cups of ice cream until you were both covered in it. 

And the miracle of all of this is that we adults actually got to converse while you guys just kind of did your thing. It was amazingly civilized. When it was time to walk/ride back home, you and Aubrey said your good-byes, and you hugged her (kinda), which was adorable despite the awkwardness of her being strapped into her stroller at that point and you going head first at her. I’m just thrilled that you haven’t already made her a sworn enemy like you have with little E at daycare. I have high hopes for this summer–and for more ideal outdoor evenings like this one!

Love you like crazy, kiddo,


Bumps and Bruises

Dear Love Bug,

This morning you were playing in the living room when you let out one of those wails that only half comes out because you start suffocating on your own cry. It means it’s bad, whatever it is. I rushed up from downstairs where I was doing laundry and scooped you up, but you were barely able to breathe you were crying so hard. I held you tight and asked what hurt and waited till you could get it out, but by then we’d already spotted the blood, and it was a gusher. 

Somehow you’d fallen into your box of Duplos and had scraped right through the ring finger cuticle on your right hand. I rushed you upstairs to the bathroom, where Daddy tried to clean it out with peroxide, but you kept letting out these bizarrely non-human yelps and wouldn’t let us get near your finger. So instead I dunked your whole arm under running water from the sink and let the water flow down your arm. You were highly unhappy about this but at least we were able to flush out the cut. 

Then we managed to get you dried off and somehow got a Band-Aid around your finger even though you kept screaming and insisting it should go on your foot. 

Eventually you calmed down enough to choke out, through sobs, that you wanted to watch Paw Patrol and of course that did the trick. 

When I looked down, my nightshirt was stained with splotches of blood as were your PJs. As far as I can remember, this is the first bloody trauma you’ve lived through (except, of course, The First Bloody Trauma, to which nothing will ever compare). 

Once we’d got you cleaned up and dressed, we headed out to a local community fair at which there were a couple of moon bounces. Once we’d encouraged you past the severe disappointment of not being able to partake in the one designated for children five and up, you happily bounced for a bit in the other one. When you decided you were ready to come out, I was directing you down the blow-up ramp to help you down to the pavement. You sat down hard and bounced, of course, right off and landed hard on your back. More wailing tears. Thankfully you’d managed to keep your head up so we avoided head trauma, but you banged up your elbow pretty decently. (And not even your balloon toy laser gun made the tears stop.)

At Lincoln’s second birthday party (happy birthday, Link!) this afternoon, you were perhaps the only kid that didn’t bite it on a protruding stone or a tree root–those state parks’ll git ya every time–but you did manage to spill an entire bottle of bubbles solution down your front and you got your first big ol’ mean splinter. Right in your palm. And oh the tears at getting it out! That one merited an M&M! 

So you’re a bit worse for wear today, but you survived–and you got a corn dog for your troubles at Famous Dave’s, which happens to be the first restaurant you ever went to. “Who’s Dave?” you asked. And we didn’t have an answer for you. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,



Dear Love Bug,

Yesterday you encountered your first “piñatya,” as you call it, at Anthony’s fourth (!) birthday party. In typical you fashion, you jostled to be at the front of the line, walked right up to the papier-mâché dinosaur, and with one hand whacked it hard with a little wooden bat. No fear. Some of the other kids hung back or couldn’t quite figure out what to do. Not you. Whack whack whack. And as soon as your turn was up, you wanted to go again. On your second turn, we convinced you to put down your goodie bag and use two hands on the bat. You have some swing. 

When the piñata broke open, you were immediately down on all fours, scurrying to collect candy you don’t even eat. But you were so happy to be in the midst of the hubbub, scrambling about with the other kids and watching them to figure out what you should be doing. 

Back at home, after pizza and snacks and the most giant piece of birthday cake ever (you were the only kid still sitting at the table, carefully shoveling forkfuls into your mouth and licking the plate clean), you were in the bathtub having a conversation with Das Quack. DQ is a rubber duckie dressed in lederhosen and other traditional Bavarian accessories that we’d picked up during our layover in Germany when we went to Italy. He’s since been a constant companion. You play with him in the tub and have recently started conversing with him. 

Yesterday, you felt the need to debrief him on your entire day, which is adorable. He responds to you in a German accent, and you just babble on, sparing no detail. You talked about all you did at the Science Center that morning and then regaled him with stories about the party, especially its highlight: when A opened a remote control truck, one of his birthday gifts, and let you play with it. You also pronounced that you, too, would like a piñatya at your birthday party, as long as it’s a Paw Patrol one. 

Today, Nonna and Opa came to play and to celebrate Daddy’s birthday. It turned out to be a nice day, so we all spent a lot of time outside, working with you on your trike-riding skills (you’re not yet a whiz at this) and trying to explain the concept of gliding on a scooter. You’re too distracted by the mechanics of the vehicles to focus very long on your technique for making them go. After a while, you were done with the trikes, and Nonna pulled out the little wooden handmade crossbow and arrows she and Opa had bought for you in Transylvania. This keeps you occupied. 

You quickly learned how to slide the little rubber-tipped arrows into the groove and pull the trigger, although you still need help priming the string on the bow. You love watching those arrows soar over the open area next door and over the tree stump to drop into the grass. Then you go retrieve them and start all over. 

And while seeing a 2-year-old with a crossbow may be a little unnerving, I feel very well protected!

Love you like crazy, Kiddo,



Dear Love Bug,

Please don’t ever stop closing your eyes and scrunching up your face when attempting to catch a ball. It’s the sweetest thing ever. As is your excitement when you “catch” it, which is to say it bounces off of your hands and you run after it. 

But please don’t chase it into the poison ivy. 

Can’t wait for more evenings in the backyard doing nothing but playing catch and giggling until we’re called in for dinner. These are the days I’ll remember. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,


Two Lips

Dear Love Bug,

We fulfilled what’s become an annual tradition today: visiting Sherwood Gardens, a blissful, green enclave in the heart of the city surrounded by mini-mansions, at the height of tulip season. It lived up to all expectations, and we were all drawn to a patch of nearly neon orange blooms. 

We met Aunt Danielle, Anthony, and Elisa there, and Daddy and I were looking forward to you and Anthony running around and tiring each other out. We brought a couple of balls and a frisbee with us to ensure this would happen. And at first, it seemed our plan would pan out spectacularly. Until you and A started fighting over the toys. A wanted you to chase him, so he’d grab a ball and run. You, instead, wanted to hover over your treasure trove of outdoor athletic equipment. So it turned into a morning of tears, hurt feelings, tattling and whining. Delightful. 

We were a little disappointed and a little concerned, since you’ll be starting preschool (for all intents and purposes) in about six weeks, and sharing toys to make new friends is going to be a big, important part of that experience. And you won’t make friends if you claim all the toys for your own. 

And honestly, you’re usually relatively good about sharing. You share willingly with Daddy and me. I’m not sure what was going on with you this morning, but it wasn’t an overly positive experience. I did enjoy seeing Elisa trying to keep up with the big boys, though. She’s a pistol, that one, and adorable in every way. Maybe some day you’ll pay attention to her. 

It took some cajoling to get you to sit down for me to take some photos with the flowers. In the end, what worked is promising to allow you to take pictures of your own on the big camera, in which you’ve never shown any interest. “I want to learn,” you said. So I showed you how to hold the camera (with assistance), how to put your eye up to the viewfinder and how to extend your little index finger to the shutter button. You took a bunch of photos and they’re not half bad. You may just have a Stieglitz gene in you yet!

Love you like crazy, kiddo,