God is always working to make His children aware of a dream
that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream,

a new dream that
when realized will release a new song, sung with tears,

till God wipes them away
and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts

--Larry Crabb

Friday, September 28, 2012

18 Months of Lauren

Eighteen months ago we held our little Lauren for the first time.  Those early days with her are somewhat of a blur as we were overwhelmed with being responsible for such a precious gift, but I do distinctly remember looking Craig in the eye and saying things like "What do we do now?" and "What have we gotten ourselves into?"  Tonight, I sit in amazement of this little girl that is growing up before our very eyes.  She is getting so big and picking up new words all of the time.  Being a mom is MUCH more demanding than I ever imagined, but so much more fulfilling.  Here are the latest tricks that she is up to.

Lauren has discovered that she has a hole in her nose.  As far as I know she still thinks there is only one...on the right side.  She has also realized that her right pointer finger fits perfectly in this hole.  Yuck. 

The ever expanding vocabulary is amazing.  She will not say many words on command, but when you are not expecting it, she has LOTS to say.  The other night, for example, we were at a friend's house and I was standing next to a veggie tray.  (I tend to hang out by the food...go figure!)  I dipped a carrot and offered some to Lauren.  "No."  Then, as clear as can be, she said "Tomato."  Sure enough, after giving her a tomato, she was happy as a clam.  Her other favorite word is "Poo."  She says it at least 50 times per day.  In Lauren's world Poo is a universal term for pretty, shampoo, and, well, poo.  She'll look at my earrings or a picture of herself and say "Poo."  She also says it repetitively during diaper changes until we either confirm there is poo or tell her no that it is just potty.

Her first kiss.  It has happened.  From a boy.  I think it caught her off guard, but her little friend Connor planted a big old kiss right on her lips during a recent playdate.  The look on Lauren's face was priceless as he pulled away.  Completely frozen.  I don't think that she really liked it.  Psshhew.  P.S.  Daddy is keeping a closer eye on Connor these days.

Books.  This girl LOVES books.  We read at least 40 books per day...no exaggeration necessary.  She doesn't show a lot of favoritism, but really likes ones that have animals in them.  She also has her favorite pages within them.  For instance, in the Big Bird's Big Bike book, she only wants us to read the 3 pages where Big Bird is riding the bike down the hill going "EEE-YII-YIKES"  "EEE-YOW" and "AAII-EEEE!"  Every now and then we have to shove a particularly annoying book under the couch to keep from having to read it constantly.

Eating.  If you ask her before any meal what she wants, she will always tell you "ga gog."  Hot dog.  Gross.  She does get hot dogs a couple of times per week but I cringe every time and feel like I am failing as a mother.   Lauren doesn't like potatoes, (which some say means she can't be a true Riedel), but loves most vegetables.  Corn on the cob, green beans, tomatoes, avocado, squash, cole slaw(!), and brussels sprouts are the favorites.  Yeah!

Mario Kart.  Craig and I still play Mario Kart quite regularly.  It is one of those things where we are almost equally matched (although I admit I am usually not the one with the higher score).  As soon as she hears the music, Lauren chants "go Mama go."  On occasion, she'll say Dada but then smiles and says "No, Mama!"  Smart girl.

"Melmo"  aka Elmo.  Tonight we went to Wal-Mart for a bit.  I never realized that they display Elmo in nearly every aisle, but they do, and Lauren pointed each of them out.  I am not a big fan of commercializing kid's clothes, diapers, etc, but I do love Pampers Baby Dry diapers and they happen to have Sesame Street Characters on them.  While it is mildly ok to wear "Nernie" (Ernie) and "Bir Bir" (Big Bird) at times, the girl's eyes tryly light up when an Elmo diaper is pulled out of the box.  I broke down and bought her a pair of Elmo jammies this week (because they were cheap and she needed new pj's) and was awakened in the night more than once to Lauren giggling "Melmo Melmo Melmo." 

While she truly does cute things all day long, sometimes she is a little on the naughty side, too.  She likes to throw food.  And toys.  And make the house look like a bomb went off.  And lift up my shirt in public to show others my belly button.  However, I thank God every day that He allowed me to be the one that she calls Mama.  So in love with her.  Here's a short video of her and Daddy reading a book.

(Sooo...we bought a new video camera and I evidently STILL can't figure out how to upload videos. Sorry!  Check back...I'll keep trying!)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Daddy's Home!

Lauren was so excited last night when Craig walked through the door after being in Maryland for 3 days for work.  She was sitting in her high chair at the time and immediately stopped eating (the girl loves her food--this rarely happens!) and followed him around the rest of the evening.  They read books, shared ice cream, and littered the house with all of the toys that I had meticuloulsy picked up.  I became invisible. 

I, the one who stayed up late with my girl on Monday night when she spent the hours of 9-10:30 in her bed, and then in my bed saying "Dada Dada Dada."  And who later that same night (or perhaps more appropriately early the next morning) coddled her when she was up from 12:15-1:30 saying "Dada Dada Dada."  And who again from 4:00-6:00 held her, sang to her, and told her how much daddy and I love her as she cried "Dada Dada Dada."

I fed her every one of her meals and changed every one of her dirty diapers.  I took her to the mall to play on the germ-infested playground, I took her clothes shopping, I took her to Church to play with other kids, I read books, stacked blocks, and gave her candy by day and by night did my best to comfort her as she cried "Dada Dada Dada."

And on Thursday Daddy came home and all was right in her world again.  She slept for 12 hours straight after Daddy, of course, put her to bed at her request/demand.  This morning when I got her up (Craig had to work) she smiled and said "Mama."

I guess she still loves me, the girl just missed her daddy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Three years of yellow roses.

On the mantle above the fireplace I have a memorial picture of my dad.  Lauren has taken notice of it lately and demands that we stop to look at it for a while saying "Pa, Pa" and pointing.  I tell her how that is my daddy and he is in heaven.  I tell her how much I miss him and how I am sad that I can't see him.  I tell her how much Grandpa would have loved her.  And we talk about the expression on his face...how he is smiling at us because Grandpa liked to smile and tease.  She smiles back.  For those moments Lauren is perfectly still in my arms taking it all in while I fight tears and occasionally let them fall.  Every time. 

Since I first learned that I was pregnant with CJ and then with Lauren my heart would break all over again knowing that they would never have an earthly relationship with their Grandpa Daryl.  Maybe it is my mother's heart that can accept that my dad is gone but continually wonders why my children were robbed of the chance of building memories with him.  God has given me an overwhelming desire keep memories of him alive so that my child(ren) can have a sense of knowing him. 

Yet, when that picture catches my girl's eye there is a stillness that comes over her.  It is almost like she knows him.  When she spots a picture of Craig or I or my nieces she gets excited and wants to look at them together but it is short lived.  With pictures of Dad she is drawn in. I think--or maybe just hope--that she is feeling a connection. Oh how they would adore each other.

Tomorrow will mark the three year anniversary of the day that Dad died.  Three years.  It has been tougher than I ever thought it could be. In some ways it seems like just yesterday that he was here and in others it seems like he has been gone a lifetime already. Three years of a single yellow rose marking Dad's absence on the table through the holidays and other special days for the family.  Three years of missing him. 

If wishes could change reality I would wish for one more talk with my dad.  One more hug.  To hear his laugh one more time.  One chance to see him and Lauren play and bond.  I guess one more of any of things would never be enough. 

I find so much comfort in knowing that dad is in paradise basking in the fulfillment of God's promise of eternal life...but some days I just miss him so much here!