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Two years, two months

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Dear Sage,

In many ways you are becoming the typical two year old. Insisting on pushing the stroller by yourself, instead of riding in it. Fighting me about having your teeth brushed, until I ask you which teeth you would like me to brush first, second and so on. You insist of dressing yourself--even putting on your own socks. You use your scooter beside your brother and are starting in improve on your balance bike. There are new words and sentences. My favorites are you mispronunciations. 'Bunny' is "Dunny" and 'Yes' is "Yeth" and 'nap' is "Map". "No map today," you often tell me. Best of all, this month we have found peace. It had more to do with me than either you or your brother. When I find peace within myself, I find tolerance, gratefulness, and a slowing down of our days. All which equal a happier mommy and in turn creates a happier you. Sometimes I want to act like you. I want to yell, run around the house and plop into my angry corner for a good cry (your's in under the art easel in the corner of the dinning room). I become overwhelmed by the weight on my shoulders, but then I realize that is all perception. Instead, I should be celebrating the fullness of this life. For some reason, this is easy for some people, but my moods have always swung from high to low. In the low I get so angry and frustrated with myself. Why can't I have the same cheery energy every day? So, I work at it every day. I work at self improvement for all of us.


This month there was the entire seed fiasco when you stuck a sugar locust seed up your nose. We ended up in the hospital where you were put under amnesia  Turns out you had swallowed the seed. It was a low point this month. My stress sky rocketed. I could barely sleep. I knew it was minor, but I hate anything medical and my children. I am just glad you will forget about the many times I had to restrain you, kicking, screaming, crying, those two frantic days. During those types of moment I am become resentful. Why is it always me that has to be the bad guy? Why do I have to sit there and watch you screaming? Why was it me who was the only one to suffer pain to bring you into this world? I have to wipe those types of thoughts from my mind. They bloom from fear and wanting to run from responsibility. They create discord. Instead I have to focus on the fact that only I was able to house your body. That when you came into this world, it was into my arms that they put you first--recognizing that I had earned that right. That I share the trying moments with you and also the best moments because I am fortunate to be home with you taking the main role in your early years. There is no sunshine without rain. There is no life without strife. Without those challenging days, the lovely ones would not hold the same power. It is only through comparison that we create value. It is from loss that the blessing of your life brought to me world. I think these types of lessons are ones we need to review and remind ourselves of. From you are your brother, I learn the most important things. You have my Sage--my wise teacher. You know so little and yet, you hold the kernels of the greatest truths already. I hope someday you will have children of your own and learn from them in the same ways I learn from you. 

You love when I chase you and peek out form behind the couch. You scream, "Boo!" and you collapse into giggles. You love when Daddy tosses you. You do smile and laugh but people who don't know you well are always surprised  I am becoming more in-tuned to your muted expression. When our neighbor raked a pile of leaves around you, just for you, you became very still. Head canted slightly down, eyes slightly wider. I understood that this expression that others might see as displeased or not interested, was actually you being thrilled. Like River you are a cool child. Not quick to temper and no resentments. You get punched by your volatile friend, you just run to me. No revenge. I have yet to find you and your brother fighting on the floor. Granted, you did bite him the other day and had to go in time out, but that is about the extent of it. Yes, you have your tantrum days. Usually because you are tired, don't feel well, or are hungry. I've lucked out and have two wonderfully sweet and chill children. I often think how lucky I am and how lucky you are. Daddy and I are very good friends before we are anything else and it sees us through the hardest times in our lives. Neither of us, like you children, hold grudges very long. We forgive. We never yell at one another. Maybe a raised voice here and there. Sometimes at marvel at how well we compliment each other and run this family machine. I am so glad that you and River get to have a father present and one as steadfast and kind as this. 

You are still the least affectionate person in this household! The child that runs from kisses or covers her mouth. The one that ran up to me when I came home one day and gave me the briefest cuddle before running away again. I was surprised by the greeting at all, honestly! You love to count and sing to yourself. We are working on colors now. You don't know even one letter! Some days you mostly use the potty, other days you don't use it at all. We're in an in between place that I am savoring. I don't try to imagine you older or think about, "O, when you are three you'll be able too..." because everything is often one big blur these days. I used to crave tomorrow and now I am amazed it is here already. So, I work on slowing down. Savoring. Reflecting. Relaxing. It's not easy for me. I feel like I've been running for too long, away from my past and towards a brighter future. But I don't want to run through these years. I'm already to those brighter days. What I want is here, it changes, but slowly. It only seems to go fast because I am so happy in the present.  I want your little knees and feet curled into my belly at night. I want the mess of your curls and even the tedium of picking out the tangles each morning and each night. I want to be here with you. 


Today I said, "Come here, Strawberry. Let me change your diaper."

You looked at me sternly, 'No," you said. "I Sagey".


And you are. You are the incredible, original you. You came to me a mystery and every day you teach me more about life, celebrating, joy, challenge, working...and on and on and on. You are one of my hardest lessons, but one of my most rewarding. 



Two years, one month

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Dear Sage,

Language is the biggest thing this month. You talk constantly. Entire sentences of thoughts said frankly with gestures and then an intent look. You desire a response, instantly. You are craving a conversation. You join into the talk around you after listening intently. I can see the concentration on your face as your search for words and piece them together. When I ask you a questions it is "No" or "Yeah." I ask you if you had fun at preschool, you say "Yeah, Fun. Baby. Evy." From what I hear you love the baby at preschool (one of the other student's little sisters). I caught you rubbing another baby's brow gently. My kids and babies. If I ever get brave or crazy enough to create another, he or she will be in good hands. "Please, open it." you might tell me or "Look, Mommy. I colored." "You colored?" I asked back. "Yeah, I colored." Looking down at a drawing on the sidewalk, you proclaimed-- "River, did it." "What are you doing?" I asked. "Eat grapes!" Everything is said a bit mushily. The annunciation not really there. It takes a bit of careful listening to decipher the sudden explosion of thoughts that comes from your mouth. It's not surprising in the way it was with River. It seems like you have always been here, sharing your opinions and desires. The fact that they are now in word form, is just another step. 


Potty training is bizarre with you. We tried again eight weeks after attempt one. This time, I put you in underwear I allowed you to pick out. You love clothes and I assumed you'd want to keep on your new Hello Kitty underwear and you did! For over 24 hours you wore underwear without a single accident. You chatted about those underwear. You peed and pooped on the potty. I took you our in the car, on walks and to River's martial arts class in underwear. Then we went to the playground. You pooped in your underwear as you were pulling them down to sit on the potty I had brought. After that, you had more and more accidents and asked to be put back in diapers. So, in diapers you are. Occasionally, going on the potty still but not forced any longer. Physically  I think you can do it but mentally, you prefer the ease of diapers. I don't bother you then. You don't have to stop playing to go. I could push it, but it stresses me out too. I want you to want to potty train. I guess we're just not there. This morning, fighting me on where to sit (daddy was in your preferred bathroom), you refused to sit on the toilet and said "oh, no" and started peeing into your hand. I said, "Hold it in!" and you stopped your pee, I sat you on the toilet and you finished peeing. Girly, you can so do this thing. You just so don't want the hassle of learning. We'll try again in a few months and maybe by that time I can convince you that diapers aren't the coolest option out there.

You have your rotten moments. Moments when you are hungry and refuse to leave the open refrigerator, being in the way, throwing your milk when I move you. You slapped Daddy one day, hung on the curtain so you bent the rod, pulled it again and tore it out of the wall. You've spit milk on the floor and purposefully went on top of the kitchen table and peed after taking off your diaper. You watched that pee and laughed and talked about peeing on the table. Sometimes you refuse to nap. You tell me "No nap today."and will not go to sleep. Then you are almost always crabby and emotional. 


You grow more independent. You love preschool. I am never there with you which I regret a bit because I was so involved with River (and still am). Next year, I promise you silently. Next year when he is in kindergarten you will have my full attention on your preschool education! You carried your book bag around for a hour today before it was time to leave for preschool. So, you certainty don't seemed hurt by my absence. You are learning to use your scooter and refuse to let me help you, instead watching River, falling and getting up again celebrating yourself when you get your pushing foot to slide you a few more inches forward.  You and River are fighting a bit less and playing a whole lot more. He says, "Come on, Sage! Come play with me!" I peek in and find you huddled together on the floor. Sometimes you conspire against me. Often you squabble over me favoring one of you too much. Daddy and I have been watching a show where these people where caught in a storm and got super powers based on what they desired most. Mine would surely be to be able to duplicate myself so I can better juggle life at home with two kids and so I never need to worry that by giving one of you something and I taking something else from another. You see, my heart's desire is to give me my best and I want you to remember that when you are a teenager and I refuse to let you do something you think is very important. Remember it that moment before you scream, "I hate you, mom!"

There are times, I must admit that I wonder if I should have stuck with only one child. Not because I want to undo you, but because it was so much easier with one. Two is very stressful. Two needing me, two arguing over my attention, two fighting, two whining but when I see you sitting close to River, canting you head to one side to look up at him and talk to him--I know that though this time might often be trying for me, you and River have each other to comfort and love and give protection. It makes me feel that no matter how many times I might drop the ball, at least you will never be alone without me. At least you will have each other. 



Two Years Old!

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Dear Sage,

My vivacious little miss. Two years old and you are a skinny little string bean of a girl. Long, dark legs and shoulders so narrow the straps of your dresses often fall out of place. You have a sudden, ecstatic smile that is all pointy chin and round teeth and squinted dark eyes. It's corruptible in that anyone seeing that rare and toothy grin, can't help but return it with a smile of their own. O, how you talk now. Babbling and mumbling and parroting. You come out with complete sentences I've never heard before. "Hey, stop it." or "I be two". You gesture while you go on and on. You very seriously converse and join in to conversations. When I brought out your birthday presents you squealed happily and danced around. Right before you began opening them, you leaned over to our neighbor, Juliana, and seriously told her, "J'anna, presents."

Your birthday party was a total success. We just had a few people over for dinner and their kids. Daddy taught you to blow out your two tiny candles then and there. You got one and then another. You weren't shy with the cheering and the clapping. You beamed happily. My quite, watchful girl, coming out of her little shell. When we went to a family reunion you fell head over heels in love with my mother's cousin, Carol. From the moment she came over and talked to you (while you were nursing!) you popped off and gave her a smile. The rest of that day you talked and played off and on. I had never seen you warm up so quickly to someone you didn't know. The next day we had a cake and presents from Grandma and Kevin. Two years old and two cakes, you lucky girl!

I have more favorite singing memories from this month. One night I was putting you to bed. I was rocking you and singing, "Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep little Sage." You took the pacifier out of your mouth and sang back to me, "Go to sleep, Mommy." You still sing the "Mama Mursie" song to me but you also supplement other names. You sing, "River, Johnny. Johnny X" (which is a kid from a cartoon River likes). You sing, "Mommy, Daddy, River, Ebby, Sagey, River." You attempt to sing the ABC song. You identified letters on River's bed. You call them "A, B, or I.". It's just the start. You have the right idea. When you draw lines on the board you tell me they are any of those letters. You love to color, play with play-dough and paint. Of course, you also like to try to eat everything. It drives me nuts. Especially when the moment I look away your tongue is blue from licking the ink pad or you've destroyed another marker by gnawing on it. 

You like to wear clothes you pick out. Usually, you try to dress as much like River as possible. When I put a dress on you, you took it off and got a superhero t-shirt and shorts. You try to wear your brother's shirts as well. You make us laugh when you run in circles on the bed until you fall down. Once when Daddy was tossing you, you looked terrified but then you started laughing wildly and couldn't get enough.

Potty training is going well. As in, you still go at least once a day, you have started taking off your diaper and going on your own (but it is random). You take off wet diapers and get dry ones. You suddenly like to be naked and don't have instant accidents on the floor. You usually tell me when you have pooped. I often read to you when you are on the potty and one of the books you love is "Brown Bear". Every time I got to the last page you were putting your little palms on your cheeks. A closer look at the illustration showed one child of the entire class, sitting with her hands on her cheeks. You were coping her. Every-single-time. It was adorable.  

It's hard to sum you up here. At this point in your little life you are a wild bit of joy or rage. Happy to do new things and go new places. Entranced by the simplest of things, but then throwing tantrums on the floor or running crying to your bed and laying down because you are so frustrated. It can be hard when I am tired and trying to do something simple like go to the bathroom or brush my teeth and you are following me about tearing into things like a whirlwind of destruction or insisting I hold you. But those challenging bits are a small sliver of our days. Your company is so much fun and endearing. Your love is like a balm when all we seem to hear in the news is horrible things, monstrous things that make us questions the worth of humanity and life itself. Life can be so painful and frightening, but you don't yet know this. I wish I could keep it so, but I know I can't. Yet, somehow your innocence inspires me to optimism. Into believing if I hope, if I send out good into this world, it will come back to us again. That when sadness comes and the rug is pulled out from under our feet, it is worth fighting to keep going. You and your brother add value to my life that puts everything into perspective. 



Twenty three months

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Dear Sage,

It took you over a week to be comfortable with the ocean. At first you would only be held, screaming "Up! Up! Up!" and stretching both arms up, sometimes on tip-toes and sometimes jumping in place. Then you were okay with being dipped into the water. Next it was sitting in the surf on a lap and then you began playing around us and laughing when the water foamed around your feet. Finally, on our last day at the ocean you were down by the shore with your brother while we sat up in the chairs and watched you both scoop a big glops of wet sand up with your hands. You are not my communicative child and I am always rather flustered and busy. It in only in hindsight, dissecting your quirks that I begin to understand where you are at. Lately it is as if you forgot how to walk. You want to be held constantly. I think you just have a burning desire to be included--to not be overlooked. And though you are not a clingy child, this is your way of saying the big world is a bit intimidating to you. You won't cower, you want to watch--but from the vantage of my arms where you are sure to see and be a part of all the action. 

It isn't as if you can't speak. In the car you told me, "Mommy water bottle back now" and you go through whole slews of people to point something out. "Mommy has eyes. River has eyes. Daddy has eyes." I think we just don't require as much speech from you. You make due with a shriek, a yell, a fake cry. Even River gets exasperated with your tantrums, saying "Sagey, why do you keep crying? Why won't you tell anyone what you want?" You still love to sing. Mostly, "Apples and Bananas." and a song of your own creation, "Mama Mursie" (Mommy Nursie) which sometimes involves a little shoulder shimmy to the beat. Your favorite words are "Mine" and "No" No is said in a sing-song with a head-shake. 

Favorite words this month, "Boom" (Balloon). You chant, "A Boom. A Boom." and "A ummmm" (a spoon). Now that I think about it. You are always using pronouns and connecting words far more than your brother ever did at this age! Also, you are always very aware of him. If I give you milk, you get his milk too. "Ri-rah milk". I give you a spoon for breakfast, "Ri-rah, ummm". You will always, usually, share your food with him. Even, yes, your lollypops. The same can not be said of him. You truly adore your big brother. 

You do ridiculous two year old things like insist on wearing one pair of shoes, spy another, scream until you get to change your shoes, but then scream when I go to put the unwanted shoes away, get into the car holding one pair and wearing another, then hand me the held pair five minutes later, than hand me the worn pair five minutes after that, then scream when I go to put another pair back on you (so you can get out of the car).... I know giving limited options helps and I try to do this often. You usually pick out your clothes, pick where you sit to eat breakfast, pick your shoes, pick what you want done first (brush teeth or wash face). Sometimes I just am short on time and this causes us to butt heads. When you won't walk inside while I have dozens of groceries in bags in my arms, I have to drag you by one arm and leave you at the foot of the stairs while you scream in rage. Or I have to tell you "Drink your milk or don't" because I am done with guessing where you want to sit and how you want to get there or what I might have done wrong that sends you into hysterics.

I've slacked off with potty training around here. I still put you on every morning and you've gone from sitting there awhile before you go, to going almost instantly, wiping yourself, helping dump your pee from the potty to the toilet, flushing and washing your hands like an old pro. You also sometimes say, "Have poopy" and pat your bottom. I am going to attempt going diaper-free with you this week. We'll see how you are doing in a month! You dislike wearing dresses most of the time. If River is shirtless, you want to be as well. If River has his hair tied back, you want to as well. In fact, we need to be very careful to let you do what he does or you flip out screaming and yelling. You love our neighbor and her daughter. You can her "Ebey" and you know the names of both her siblings. An elderly woman at the pool held her arms out to you and you went to her, sat on her lap, realized you didn't really know her and got down and quickly walked away. Overall, you are friendly though friendliest with the people you love best. We ended up passing you around on our vacation from one set of arms to another. You made it very clear who you wanted and when. 

You are really developing a sense of humor. The baby and toddler that hardly cracked a smile is now pretty damn smiley. You like peek-a-boo and being chased and tickled. You will laugh and laugh and laugh. There is not much that is more satisfying than a child having a laughing fit. In one month you will be two and I have a general idea of what will come next: your skinny little butt in underwear, sentences and questions and ramblings pieced together into bigger thoughts and expressions, learning how to interact with peers and explore your world more independently, playing more with your brother, and blooming further into the little girl you will become. One day, looking back, it will be hard to remember you this way. It will seem like you were always able to express your needs, able to put on your own shoes, able to tell me when you had to go to the bathroom. In this moment, in the wind-down from a whirlwind vacation and settling back in to being home--it seems like I should look forward to the end of your next year and the one after that--when you are 41/2 and as wonderfully easy as your brother is now. When the reality is that it just all goes too fast. Let me savor you. Let me savor you even when you are screaming on the floor and my head is beginning to pound. Let me savor you my second born. My only daughter. The one and only original Sage Nirvana. Because, at this age,  you change in the blink of an eye. 


My favorite memory this month was keeping you up late on the boardwalk. Heavy and tired in my arms, you molded against my chest. We stopped to wait for fireworks and horrible dance music was playing. I began to hop you up and down on my lap to the beat and you starting moving yourself. Eventually we ended up in a circle, River, you and I dancing to the music. Life with you and your brother is hard. Very very hard and demanding and I scarafice a lot of myself to give you both what you need. Sometimes my nerves feel raw. But when I have those moments with you and River--when my life feels so very big and connected to your two bright souls, I feel like there is no better place in the world for me than our little mundane corner. 


Twenty two months

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Dear Sage, 

I have been thinking of you as a newborn: your small round head in a knit pink hat fitting snugly in the palm of my hand. Just over six pounds of human being so light in my arms--spindly legs and arms and lips that folded in towards the middle in a crease. Life was slower when there was only one child and now it blurs. I don't often have the time to snuggle you, to look down at your sleeping face. So I tried today. I lay beside you when you woke from nap and you fell back asleep. My hand very pale on your dark tanned back, your brows straight and relaxed with sleeping, your curls soft and thin and scented from the chlorine in the pool. I thought, "How long will you lay with me like this?" wedging your feet into my flesh, your fingers slowly unfolding to find a touch of my skin before you settle back into sleep. I should have stayed, slept beside you, woken to your brightened eyes urging me to get ready and go. Instead I sit here writing this feeling compelled by my to-do lists and the reality of how hard it is to get anything at all done with two children underfoot. 

You've become volatile in that way of children this age. One minute you want everything done for you. Trotting in front of Daddy or I with you arms upraised going, "Up! Up!" and once up holding firmly to our arm and hip. Your body becoming a vice around us, hard to even remove unless you are ready to dismount. But then at breakfast, you are quick to burst into tears, falling to your knees, head bent to the carpet all became I guessed the wrong chair you wanted to sit in this morning. This was after picking out your cereal, your bowl, River's bowl and your spoons. Independence in extreme-mode almost all the time now. Asserting, demanding, and asserting some more. No, of course, is one of your new favorite words. "Noooooo" you sing-song shaking your head. You enjoy being defiant merely to be defiant. Saying no when you mean yes. Refusing to kiss Daddy goodbye because he asked for it. Your head dipping, shoulders a bit hunched, stiff legged walking away with a pouty lower lip and you stomach pouched while you swing your arms. Your defiant shuffle in which you thoroughly enjoy being defiant. So you, in the same was your serious intent face is so you whenever we do something new. I took you to a cafe for a sing-a-long. Before it began we were in a small room waiting. You and River sat on the rug playing with the few toys among all the other moms hovering over their children. You sat still, looking seriously with what appears to be displeasure and pure mini-bitch at each person. But that isn't what it is. It's you enjoying yourself--dead-pan and considering. Minutes slid by and then you are chatting, moving, anything but shy. It's never you being shy, ever. I don't birth shy children. It's you sucking in information like a sponge. You became still again when the music began. Not a smile. Not a look around. Your eyes riveted on the guitarist. Hours later, after nap, you walked around singing "I like to eat eat eat, apples and bananas." Which you had only heard for the first time that day. Because this is how you work. Not like River or I--quick to smile and play and jump into new situations with both feet without looking where we are going and then going, "When did I do that?" hours later--the experience lost in the blur of being in the center of things and chatting up a storm. You are so unlike me that I feel like I am still slowly coming to understand how you work. That is how subtle you are. Your smile, with wrinkled nose and small peeking teeth, is as fleeting and wondrous as the sun breaking through clouds after weeks of rain. 

There are numerous new quirks, rapid quick, that pass from you into our little family world. Thing like "a ummmm" which is your way of saying, "a spoon". Or the way you so often shove your hand into your dirty diaper, covering your fingers in shit and then call for me to show yes indeed you crapped in your diaper. I find myself happy you aren't painting with poop, decorating your person, or eating it off your little fingers. I remind myself of these things are I scrub feces from your hand again. You are still potty training in a relaxing way. It's helping you begin to learn to listen to your body. The other day when you pooped on the toilet I called in Daddy to sing the little song I made up, 'Sagey went poopy in the potty! Sagey went poopy in the potty! Yeah!" and we clapped. Your smile was small and pressed, eyes flashing between us. I could tell though, that you were thrilled. Your third smile is slanted, pulled at only one side--sheepish and a bit self mocking. It reminds me very much of your father. It looks like "Seriously? You are so lame, mom." You can be silly. Maybe not as silly as your brother, but you have your moments. Like in the car shaking your head back and forth or leaning back until you fall down. So many of your silly bits include River as you look to him to make you laugh, share some inside sibling joke of exchanging looks and contorting features, or mimic him much to your delight. 

We've learned that, like Daddy, you have an extreme sensitivity to mosquito bites and although you rarely complain, you swell horribly at the bit your skin hard, taunt and hot as if you were stung by a bee! You are also teething again, slowly, as your canines move in. It makes you miserable. But I can usually reason with you. Something I did not do with River for a long time, "Let me look in your mouth and then we will get a snack." You love to jump over and over and over again and playing the song baby beluga in the car can almost always calms you down. We just have to play it over and over and over again until we get home. The entire family will be singing the words manically just to deal with hearing the song again!

I begin to see how each and every person is a coin. River was clingy which was maddening. He needed me in ways you never have as if I was his other lung and half his beating heart. From the moment he was born, his eyes latched on to me and I saw in them myself as the axis of his world. I've had to pry myself from him, reluctantly but necessarily to see him bloom into himself. You were so different. From the first wanting your space. Nursing with little to no cuddles, fed and now done. Needing to be held up and away from me to watch and wincing away from furious kisses on your chubby cheeks. One kiss was enough for you. River would have been a giggling puddle of baby goo begging for more. But you have been okay being alone, intent with watching and doing apart from me. Of course, your independence means you are fearless. Longing to swim alone in the big pool and laughing when I try to show you how you will sink. Tearing through rooms and getting into the most unlikely things. Trying to dress yourself and screaming when two legs appear in one hole again and again and no, you do not want my help so fuck off mama. As I've said from the very start, I revel in your differences. In your night to day personalities. In that someone so unlike me could be a part of my body and contain the invisable bits of me like puzzel pieces of my bone and blood and spirit swiming around in the unique stew that is my petite, daring, serious little daughter. I love the who you are now and how I can remember back and see that essence of you embedded in memories of you from day one to now. Like unfolding a piece of paper to see the larger design. That's what watching you grow is to me. 


Twenty one months

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Dear Sage, 

Where has my baby gone? In her place is a long legged girl who thinks she rules her little world, watches with bright, curious eyes and tries to communicate. 

I love this age.

I love how there you are and how you learn. I love how you follow River and do everything he does. I love how a new situation sends you to my side where you yell "Up! Up!" and watch intently from my arms. I love how freely you love others-how grandma or our neighbor, Adventure Mom, are just as good as mommy. Or how someone you just met makes a good friend or a good lap to sit on. You are obsessed with water and now that summer heat and humidity have made themselves known, you want to live in the water. There are always so many things to look forward to with children and right now I can't wait to see what a year older and the beach will mean to you. I already am thinking about your next birthday party. I think about things as simple as how your long feet are stretching to the boundaries of your new sandals already or when your canines will grow in or when I should start potty training. But in all things, you will be sure to let me know. You're just that kind of girl.

Toddler-isms are one of the most endearing bits of this age. "Camee" is your way of pronouncing "candy" and "adem" is how you say "again." You pretty much repeat every single word you hear. I can get you to sprout off entire sentences like, "See you tomorrow!". If we are trying to get out the door you will yell "Rivah! Rivah!" until your brother shows up. You will bring him clothes to put on in the morning, his shoes, and whatever you think he needs to hurry him along after you. "Rivah shooooes" In your small world, River is your other half. You hate leaving him at preschool and ask about him while he is gone. Of course, you are quick to snatch a toy from him, then scamper off yelling "Mine! Mine! Mine!"

When you throw a tantrum you will run away from me and plop down on the floor like a frog to cry into the carpet. Or you will run to whatever parent didn't piss you off as if to tattle on the one that did. Your tantrums aren't extreme. As in all things, your emotions are contained and muted. Your brother had big smiles, loud laughter, sudden drama tears, and great throwing himself about tantrums. Your smiles are small, your laughter is small, and your tantrums are brief. You are my little watcher. Carefully observing, demanding equal treatment (a jelly bean because River got his vitamins, for example) and trying everything we all do. Today in the bath River was pouring water over his face so his hair was slicked down over his eyes, then peeking out and yelling, "Look at me!" and then you were peeking out, uncomfortably blinking water and the ends of sodden curls from your eyes and blabbering something. It was only when the blabber repeated verbatim and your round dark eyes waited for my response that I understood that you were also saying, "Look at me!".  Then I did just what I did for River, I widdened my eyes and accused you of being silly. Your smile came, quick as a flash--your teeth round and crowded in your small mouth.

You liked to stand on bellies. I don't know why, but you will pull up my shirt or Daddy's shirt and put your naked little feet on our bellies and then balanced there. Twenty pounds of you on my weakened, loose skinned mama gut. You think it is hilarious. You also plop onto River's back and try to get him to let you ride around--only you are getting bigger and bigger. He is having a hard time obliging you. On a walk with grandma, you patted her back and told her "Grandma, back." and then you patted my back, "Mommy back". Everything you say is said in a little sing-song way of speaking. I caught you singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to yourself the other morning, in tune. The line "Up above the moon so high" was so surprising clear that it caught my attention and made me realize you were singing. When I began to sing with you--there was that little smile again--quick as a flash.

It is hard to believe that a year ago, you couldn't walk. A year before that, you were in me curled like a little snail in a shell. Some things remain the same. You still press your feet against me for comfort--as you did in my womb, as you did as an infant as well. You still have the same watchful, intense, considering expression. You grow so quickly and I can't savor each day enough. I'm always so busy. I should be spending each moment soaking up your small feet, your dimpled knees, your short, wispy curls, your inheritated-from-who-knows-who pointy chin. But time runs as quick as your smile. There and gone. I blink and you're suddenly sprinting. I look away and back and entire years have flown.




Twenty months

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Dear Sage,

Here we are only four months away from your second birthday and you've finally come into toddler-hood full swing. Tantrums off and on all day, saying "mine", refusing to listen, running away, fighting diaper changes and clothing changes, and refusing to eat what you are given. It came a bit later than the toughest time with River (the pre-twos) and I know it will eventually pass. We'll find a groove, slide out of it, and then balance again. You are happiest when outdoors exploring and borderline miserable when inside our home. Bored with all your toys, you want interaction. When you aren't barging in on whatever River is trying to do, you are demanding I read book after book to you. The peace of our family is often broken by River yelling, "Mom! Sage is--" and your angry crying which usually involves you running away and facing a wall or chasing me around screaming. You and River play in small bursts before we go back to the previous sentence. He's frustrated or you are. Usually you are crying. So far, thanks be, you haven't begun hitting. River is on his way to sainthood with how calmly he usually manages you. It helps that you are such a challenge. It makes him look like an angel. I dread the day you guys team up against me!

You still love songs and are happy to watch children's songs on youtube. I like to sing to you kids. We play London Bridge a bit differently around here. You two run around me and then I snatch you into my lap. Well, we were playing this game when you got excited and ran away. You returned with a piggy bank toy which sings a song about dropping the coins into her and another song between oinks. You pushed her nose until one of the songs sang and then started running around me. Then it dawned on me. She was singing to the tune of London Bridge! I'd never noticed, but you had. You have an ear for music! Something you must get from your father who is an auditory learning. I'll keep flaunting my ability to hold a tune better than him, but music itself has never been my favorite. I do love to sing and so do you. Now you try your hardest to sing along to "Baby Beluga" with me. 

I try introducing signs now and then. I taught you to sign for more after only three attempts, but then you began to say it. "More, cookies". So now I am working on the sign for please. You sometimes use it with one hand clawing insanely at your chest. You speak quite a bit now. Yesterday you escorted Daddy out the door by saying "Bye Bye, Daddy. Go Go Go. Door!" And you bodily pushed him out the door and slammed it behind him. This morning we had a broken conversation about where Daddy was in the morning. "Where Daddy?" "In River's room sleeping." "Daddy work?" "No, Daddy's sleeping in River's room."  and then I had to drag you away from door you were banging on screaming for him. When we read simple books you identify most of the pictures. If you are unsure of a word, you say it and then look at me to confirm. This happens with fruit. Everything fruit was a banana last month. Now you know apple and banana. We're working on oranges. You know strawberries and berries and more food words than I assume most twenty month olds know. You are quick to accuse someone of being "messy", you say dirty diapers are "nasty" and you have begun jumping in guilt if I snap a "no!" at you when you know you are doing something you shouldn't. "My papi" you tell me when I try to take you pacifier. Your favorite color is surely yellow since it is the only one you know and talk about and point out. (and you say it correctly. Both River and his friend couldn't say yellow correctly for years!) The other day you said "green" and pointed at grass. 

You are still using the potty. Some days you won't pee in it at all. Some days you pee three times in the potty. You know when you are peeing in it and that's a good start. I assume the transition to the potty won't be so weird once we get to that point especially since you already try to put on your brother's underwear. You copy everything he does. Naughty things too. If he has yogurt, you want it--even if you won't eat it. If he had on socks, you must get socks. It gets tedious after awhile but is very very sweet. 

You are such a fangirl about things you love. If you see a beluga picture, you scream shrilly and run over. When you see my breasts as I change, same response. You now call them "mursies" and will ask for "mursies. Mommy mursies" and "other mursie". You point our your own nipples. If you catch sight of my naked breast, you scream, dance in place, run over chanting "Mursies. Mommy mursies." and then insist I bend down so you can lay a hand on my breast. As if to say hello. I find it adorable. I couldn't imagine not having a nursing toddler. It just seems so right that little ones get at least two years of breast milk. You show no signs of wanting to ween. 

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You have begun to drag out one of my old baby blankets and a stuffed monkey you have taken a fancy too whenever you are tired or what a snuggle. "Blanket. Monkey," you tell me. I wrap you and the monkey together in course rainbow yarn that once wrapped me. Then I hold you close and sing. You have grown so much this past month. You are looking two years old and photos from your first birthday seem so very long ago. There is something wondrous about watching you grow, not lessened by having seen your brother do the things you do just a few years before. Even in the midst of hard days (and there have been a lot this month) when I feel exhausted, bored, and trapped--I continue to marvel. The world unfolds for you, new and wondrous, and your smile brings back that magic to me. 

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P.S. you insist on keeping the hood up on all you jackets!

Nineteen months

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Dear Sage,

This past month has seen a lot of changes. You're on the go, go, go. Climbing down stairs alone, into the booster seat, using the potty one, two, or three times a day, and talking more and more. With River each milestone would have been encouraged, celebrated and captured on video. Your accomplishments come with a gentle smile. I knew you would get there and every change is a bitter sweet event as you leave your babyhood behind and develop further into your own little person. Now you walk by the stroller or push it instead of sit strapped inside. Or, if you do climb up there, you insist River push you and glare daggers at me until I release the handle bars (occasionally checking to make sure River is doing the pushing). On the local playground you are doing everything: the slides, the climbing net, the bridge. You are the second born: emulating your big brother, watching each of us carefully, growing up faster than your brother or with more ease as we've all been there before. 


You are so not a cuddly child. I mean, this is nothing new. From day one you weren't a cuddly baby. Kisses and hugs are few and far between from you. You will fight River for my lap and affection though. Sometimes I sit there and watch you both squabble for a bit of my body until I have River pinning down my legs and you on my torso. O, the squabbles. I can get the kitchen cleaned with just you around--you'll play on the floor at my feet. I can do the same with just River-he'll read a book close by. Put you both together and it is a few mintues of laughter while you play, then he's whining about what you're doing or you begin angry crying about something he did. I cleaned two feet of kitchen counter over the course of an hour before I gave up. Still, even though you often loose your temper and River does like to torment you a bit, you do adore him. If he has his warm "feety" pajamas on, you have to put yours on too. River always insists on bringing a book into the car with him. Now you insist on doing the same, even trotting away from the door, fully ready to go, and not listening--flat out refusing to leave until you pick out a book for yourself. If you are going out and River is not coming, you will stand in the hall and yell for him over and over again. You will ask for him if he has been at school for awhile. Kid, you love your River. 

You are talking so much. You told Daddy, "Daddy, go outside". When you wanted to go out for a walk you said the following, "Mommy's keys" and then "walk walk walk walk", "Daddy walk" and "Daddy shoes." But only I took you outside. "Goodnight, Daddy. Goodnight River.", you said. When I took you out, you ran and laughed at everything. You pointed to things and asked me to tell you their names and tried to repeat what I said. Then you stopped holding my hand and when I insisted either "hold hands" or "up", you held your own hand instead. River did the same damn thing and seeing you do it reminded me of River when he was 18 months old--around the time we moved here! That time seems so long ago but in fact was not long ago at all. But oh, you children change so quickly when you are very young. Like caterpillars morphing into butterflies or tadpoles growing legs and becoming frogs! Speaking of frogs, you love them. "Frogy" you say. "Tiger". You know a lot of animal names. You held my necklace and said, "Necklace." Once, you sat to put on your shoes and announced, "Ready! Ready!" You point out every flower and the flowers on your new shoes and clothes. "Flower. Flower." And you will only call one cat by name, "Doodle" you say and with a smile. The words child, they are happening all the time. If sometimes you call an apple a banana, it's all good and also sends your brother into fits of giggles.

It isn't all fun and sweetness around here. Sometimes you bite. You took a long time to start getting any teeth but now you're on a roll. After almost constant teething, you only have your canines and two year old molars left. This means we give you almost everything to eat, but it also somehow ended up that you took to biting. I was changing you diaper the other day and while I had you legs hoisted up to wipe some serious mud butt poop off your behind, you pulled my closest finger into your mouth and bit down as hard as you could. I had marks. I screamed. You laughed. So far you have only bit Daddy and I--hard enough to leave little tooth marks. 


You love songs. I get song books out of the library and I have to sing them over and over to you. You can listen to big kid picture books if they are in song. I sing to you while I sit you on your potty. So now, sometimes, you will insist on sitting on your potty fully clothed and you will go "Spider. Spider. Spider" for Itsy Bitsy Spider or "Qwack Qwack Qwack" for Five Little Ducks or my favorite "Bwak Bwak Bwak" for Old McDonald.  You call The Big Rock Candy Mountain "Mountain" and Yankee Doodle, "Doodle". 


You are still my little clean freak. When River forgot to put away his shoes, you did it for him. When something falls, you put it back. I just wish you would stop reaching your arm in the garbage pail. You finally managed to climb into your father's computer chair. You did this then announced, "Weeeeeee" and "Yeah!" until he spun you around. You love to be spun and tossed. Anything with lots of movement and a bit of daredevil. Even your nursing is acorbatic. I know all toddlers are wiggly nursers, but River usually relaxed and cuddled in my arms for "nursie". You try to flip entirely around for "Mem Mem". You are single handly destroying my breasts. Take a gander at a mother dog who is nursing pups. Her nipples dangle like strings. I'm afraid that's how I will end up if you keep using my nipples like a bungee cord. 


You are our little piggy always demanding "nacks" and "more" and "milk" and "mem mem". You are watchful and serious in new situations. When we had professional photos taken, I told the photographer not to bother trying to make you smile. You are a go getter who wants to try new things. You like to be in the thick of things. You like meeting new people. You love water and will play in it, even if it is freezing cold. Your eyes are the richest, darkest brown (close to black) and your skin is a beautiful light brown almost the same shade as your fathers. I love you just as you are and each and every milestone is like a little gift you give to us. 



Eighteen Months

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Dear Sage,

All of a sudden you've grow a bit, just a bit. Finally you've gotten too big for most of your twelve month clothing and suddenly pants that you couldn't wear are wearable. Most of the length seems to be in your scrawny little legs. Like River, you are thin--very. I expect the doctor to question if I feed you at all when you have your next appointment. You have a great appetite most of the time and eat a wide variety of foods. I think part of this is that I am not afraid to let you eat solid, chunky items even if you don't have all your teeth. Though, you are making good work catching up in the tooth growing department. Only all your missing teeth (minus those canines) are coming in all at one time on only the right side. Even your teeth are particular. 

As in all things, you are far more subtle than River. I'm always shocked. O, you understood that? O, you know that word too? O, are you speaking often--I didn't really notice. It's partly you being the second born and partly your no-nonsense attitude. Of course, you can do that. It's easy, isn't it? I watch you work to try to get on pants, skirts and shoes. Your desire to be independent is so strange to me. Here is my daughter who flushes the toilet, you knows how to wash her hands, that leans forward to have her nose wiped. All these small things that River didn't care about until he was much older. There you are demanding I must make your bed after nap before we can leave the room. There you are putting everything back when prompted. My neurotic baby. My watchful, intense little girl. Often overlooked because your are independent and quite but so bright. The neighbor was watching you and said you could identify, you friend, River's friend, and their Daddy in a family photo. It really surprised her and it surprises me too. You run about outside hardly needing me and so confident in yourself and your world. Fierce child. Silent but watchful. 

When it took us too long to get you undressed for a bath, you just slid in head first while fully clothed. You are constantly demanding things, "Shoes. Outside. Walk. Bike. Bath. Toothbrush. Milk. Wawer. Chair! Chair!" You are a huge fan of the song "Baby Baluga" and sing it to yourself while rocking back and forth--your legs stiff and splayed. When I was reading a Diego book to River that featured a Beluga whale you almost lost your mind. You carried that book around singing the song to yourself and demanding I read the part about the whale. And when you aren't singing that song, you are chant/singing gibberish words to yourself. 

Today I watched you chase your brother and his friend around holding a stick--because they were. I watch your pleasure when you get into a small chair at the library and flip through a book--just like your brother. Cuddled in your bed together, you laughed and laughed as he bounced you both up and down. Though you are quick to yell and cry. Getting angry that he is in your space or that the game has changed and you don't like the peek-a-boo bit. You liked the bouncing. Go back to the bouncing now! Yes, the tantrums have begun. The angry, limp body crying when things don't go your way. How you hate the word no. You won't be soothed so I leave you there to vent your rage. Eventually you stagger to your feet looking for me, needing the comfort you at first refused. How could I let you cry like that? How could I leave you on the floor when you were upset? Your face shows your betrayal. Your confusion. I can see the world opening for you like a flower. What do you do with this anger? This feeling that you can't express in any way but tears and your entire body folding over? Do I care? Yes, I care. I get angry too. I wish I could throw myself on the floor sometimes. I've even been known to yell just to get my frustrations out. A long, insane yell that makes you laugh. You laughing makes me laugh. It all passes. You learn to speak, to express. Then you whine. Then you turn four and argue and argue and argue. It's nice that River went before you. I learned so much from him that now I am more confident for you. While you are very different, you too will learn that all that crying and body flailing won't get you a thing. But yes, I will always be there with kisses afterwards.

You were sick this month. Some sinus virus with a fever and then a twenty-four hour bug of some-sort that involved an evening of vomit. (I caught the last one myself). I had you sitting on my lap when you started to puke. I thought it was caused by coughing so I caught your vomit in my hand. But then you continued. While Daddy rushed for a towel, you continued to puke all over me. Better me than the floor and furniture, I thought. Afterwards, we took a bath together. You nursed in the tub--naked body against mine, content and smooth in my arms. Nursing is such a strange thing. I never imagined it beyond that first year. How you'd want it for comfort. How even the site of my breasts makes you smile, point and say "Mem! Mem!". That you'd tug open my shirt and try to just help yourself when the mood took you. But nursing a toddler seems just as natural as nursing a newborn to me. It provides a source of constant comfort. You nurse when you teethe. You nursed when you had your virus and wouldn't eat anything else. You nurse when you are hurt or upset. It's like an instant relaxer. It brings you comfort faster than anything else. Yes, it is annoying to have a wiggly toddler in my lap--playing with my earrings, shoving fingers in my mouth, twisting this way and that with restless energy, but is it worth it? Yes. Oh, yes. As with all things, this time is fleeting. 

How can you be one and a half? Only six months away from two-years-old! Wasn't I just pregnant with you? We're you just a chubby-faced little baby? You were, but here you are--vibrant, learning each day, curious, changing. I jokingly told River that maybe we should find a new home for you. "No!" he yelled. "She belongs here. I don't want to get rid of her!" You do belong here. You and River make me look forward to each day. 


Happy half birthday, little girl. 




Seventeen months

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Dear Sage,

You have been changing quickly over the past month. There are so many things to write about and I know I've forgotten most of them. Little things--as your world and understanding expands. As you communicate and try new things. Today as were getting ready to leave you went up and laid your pointer finger on the door and said, "Dar". "Yes," I told you. "Door!" There is so much you say, but I forget to write it down. I don't have the time to push your vocabulary as I did with your brother--still out of the blue new words will pop from your mouth. Even without language, you understand so much. "Put that back." I tell you and you listen. "Go get some socks." and you come back in the room with socks. "Are you ready to get your teeth brushed?" and you take off for the bathroom. 

Your independence is so strong--as it has always been since day one. Actually, even in my belly you were curled into your own little ball--quite and mostly still. Just a few little stretches here and there mostly with your feet. Feet you still love to press into things as you fall asleep--be it my arm or the arm of a chair we sit in. River was an acrobat in my belly--already demanding attention. At birth, you hardly cried. River wailed for the better part on an hour. You slept contently by yourself. River had to be curled against me. River didn't care to learn to dress himself until he was 3 1/2. You have begun dressing yourself. You drag out a skirt and try to pull it on over your feet. You try to put on pants over your pants. You try to put on my shirts, your brother's socks, my shoes, his shoes, Daddy's socks. You drag out clothes all day and try to put them on. Your clothing is scattered about the house. Your brother didn't even open his dresser drawers until he was three! And that isn't all, you brush your own teeth (after I brush them) and you brush your own hair. You try to wipe poop off yourself with a wipe you took out of the wipe container while I was wiping you. You carefully watch River and then try to do exactly as he does. This is down to details. You grab a book, because he has one. You sit down and align yourself directly beside him. You look at him with the book and then open the book. I call you "My Monkey see and Monkey Do".

You pretend to talk. I will ask you something and you will jibber jabber quite seriously with head nods and hand movement. I can respond back and you continue. You can't stand when I spend solo time with River. First you stole the second book we were going to read and came back with one of your favorite books. Then you tried to give it to me. When that didn't work you yelled angrily. Not one for many long drawn out tantrums, you then looked surely and threw the book over the book we were reading. I gave it back to you and said, "Mommy read River book." You yelled again, looked determined and then tried to take the book we were reading. I repeated myself. You pointed to my chest and told me you needed to nurse. "No, nurse." (You had just nursed so I knew that was a lie). You stomped off yelling and crying angrily. A few minutes passed and you climbed your way onto the couch and flung yourself across River, who tried to shove you off him, but I grabbed you and you pressed yourself into my chest. I could feel your stubborn triumph. I call you my Tiger. It is your Chinese zodiac. In a house of a dog (myself), a pig (your brother) and a sheep (daddy) you are fierce. A tenacious, plotting, determined, independent and sudden rage of temper. If River dares to ignore you, you will sit on him, lay on him, fly planes near his face or slide your entire body across the table to eat out of his plate or steal him food. And since you have a darling, gentle older brother--he usually either lets you or yells for me to stop you from "dancing on the table" or "drinking my milk!" or "trying to take my book!".

He does love you though, even if you are a force of annoyance and interruption in his life. He and you play a kissing game where you go to kiss and one of you runs from it. In the bath, you laugh and laugh as he squirts or splashes you. Sometimes you both twirl like mini tornadoes until you fall down. You fearlessly barrel into the midst of him and his friends wanting to be as close to River as possible. "Rivah! Rivah! Rivah!" you yelled today--when he was not in the room. 

You call me "Ma-Mom" and nurse is "Mem mem". Daddy is a clear "Daddy!" and you say his name more than any other. "Wa-wer" is the most adorable. You have a crazed love for water. You try to climb into fountains and swim with the Koi. You laugh if you stand on a stool and stick your hand into the sink where water is flowing. 

Each morning you climb onto the toilet to get your teeth brushed. You watch what I do carefully and reach for anything close. You grab River's toothbrush and call "Rivah!". You grab my invisalign and mimic putting it in your mouth and then hand it to me. You sometimes clean up automatically. You won't let us leave the house if a shoe falls off the shoe shelf behind us. It must be replaced. When I say I have to go potty, you open the toilet, wait till I am done, shut the toilet and try to flush it. Your smile is adorable each time I help you turn on or off the light switch. Such joy in something so mudane. To you, it is great fun. 

You have been going to sleep in your own bed in the room you share with River. You often sleep till 2:00am there before I take you in our room. You've gone as long as 5:00am. I say, "Sagey sleep in Sagey's bed" and you climb under the blankets and lay down. Anywhere you see a picture of a cat, you say "Kitty cat!" You love our neighbor, Juliana (who watches you when I teach) and will grab your shoes and demand I put them on so you can go to her house. You call her "na na" and once she dropped you off and went to leave and you tried to get her to take you with her again! If we go over her house, you plop on her lap. If you see her outside, you ask her to pick you up. Basically, if Juliana is around---you don't need your mother! 

You used to wait for me on the top of the stairs and/or hold River's hand and wait. I usually say "River, grab sissy's hand!" and often I have him help you from the car to the front door or hold you near the car while I get things out. But once I was talking to Daddy and not paying attention while standing in the doorway and you fell down a few stairs. Your head was pointing down and your feet up. I grabbed you up quick and you were just fine. Since then, you always wait with me at the door and you hold my fingers tight as you slowly make your way down the stairs. You are a great finger holder. River never, ever was. I love your tight grip as we walk slowly side by side and your brother ranges ahead. 

You grew inside me during such a hard time in my life. I was afraid my tears would effect you. That my sadness would seep into my womb and change you. I couldn't celebrate my pregnancy with you in the same way I did your brother's because part of my heart was broken from Bryan's passing. All my joys had an echo of empty grief. Slowly, I have healed as you have grown. When you were in the emergency room, finally, it all clicked in my body. I saw how your name has come to suit you and how it is entirely possible to love both children equally though they are such different little people. 

You are my Sage, a wise person. Nirvana, peace. You have made me wise. You have given me peace, balance, and contentment that I didn't have before you. You brought me full circle back to my own mother and the mother love she gave me. I am a woman raising a woman and that is a gift of balance.You also let me see my brother again through the dynamic of a brother and sister. I better understand all the ways we loved each other as children and the base of the bond that even death can't ripe from my being. You are like a tiny redemption. One with a fighter's spirit. I know you'll do what you want to do. So, I'll just be hear cheering you on and giving you "Mem mem" when you demand it with one, poking imperious finger.



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