Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lauren at 27 months

27 months

Lauren is now my lone little one at home. Having just one child with me most the day is simultaneously strange, heartbreaking and awesome. I miss her brothers, but I also enjoy the slower, more peaceful pace of my days with her. They are an especially nice counterbalance to our afternoons and evenings, which involve a lot of running around between my radiation treatments, school pick-up, dinner and the boys' soccer practices.


On one of our first just-the-two-of-us days, I wanted to vacuum the dining room where Lauren was coloring at the table so I asked her to go play with some toys in the other room so the noise wouldn't bother her too much. And she said "Okay!" and went and quietly played with superheroes for the next half hour or so. I didn't have to intervene and remind anyone to take turns or that siblings aren't for hitting. And though I wondered how Evan was doing at school, I also thought, Wow, this is nice. I guess the best way to describe how our first few weeks together have felt is quiet. Lauren enjoys reading together and helping me wash dishes (playing with water in the kitchen sink) and asking me to watch as she hops like a frog. She even seems to like cleaning up toys, provided we sing a little song while doing it and she's, you know, finished playing. Lauren's also very content on her own, playing with her animal or superhero toys, looking at her books or coloring. (Lately she's enjoyed soliciting high-fives for "drawin' a picture!") Right now her favorite toys are two small, rubbery lizards, the kind you can buy by the pack at the dollar store. There's a red one and a green one and they run around together, playing and talking. Almost always, one is a mommy or a daddy and I'll catch myself running in from another room to check on her because I hear her saying "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" only to realize it's just a lizard talking--to his mommy.

bein' silly w/brothers

Our mornings involve mostly smooth transitions from school drop-off to our morning walk to running errands and then to lunch and nap time. But sometimes I break the peace by not adequately appreciating her independence. It might happen if I put her in her car seat when she wanted to climb in by herself. She'll start yelling "My turn! My turn!" and if I don't reverse course quickly enough, she'll fall apart and I just have to wait until she's ready to forgive me. She uses "My turn!" to let me know when she wants to do something by herself--walk up the stairs, climb out of the bathtub or take off her own shoes--and then has funnier variations for handling her own yogurt tube ("My squish it!") or, my favorite, ringing the door bell ("My ding dong!").

hey guys!

Lauren likes to pick up heavy things--say, a chunk of a fallen tree trunk--and tell us, "Look, I big strong!" She's also working on introducing herself. When I ask her name and age, she cheerfully replies, "I Yaya Smiff, I two!" The other day Matt was telling us he missed us while he was at work and without missing a beat she said, "I missed you too, Daddy." How quickly my baby is becoming a precocious little girl. Most mornings, she whines that she wants to go to school too and often insists on carrying her backpack to drop them off. On Evan's first day of school, as Lauren and I walked out of the school building, some of the teachers in the car pool line noticed her backpack and one of them asked her, "Are you ready for school too?" And in a rare shy moment, she turned away, grabbed my leg and then looked up to me and asked, "Mama, hold you?" I gladly obliged and took heart that she's mostly content to be my constant companion . . . for now.

look, i big strong!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

At summer's end

at summer's end

At its end, this summer feels like it slipped away as quickly as any other. Yet its beginning--bustling with birthdays, family visiting, our little beach trip and even the end of chemo--feels like a really long time ago. The second half of summer had a very different feel with my surgery and recovery. I guess the pace was a lot slower, for me at least. Like any summer, we spent almost every hour of every day together. We just happened to spend our days close to home instead of putting in long hours on the road, visiting friends and family. There was a sweetness to the simplicity of it all, even if I wish cancer hadn't sidelined me for the season. (Next up for me is six weeks of radiation treatments; I should finish in mid-October.)

the sweet picture

Fall is always a time of transition with Matt returning to work. And this year, both Tobin and Evan are off to school. So we go from days spent together to going four separate ways suddenly. Lauren and I are still holding down the fort at home. She's as delightful as ever. One of my favorite phrases of late is when she runs up to her brothers and asks, "Hey guys! Whatcha doin'?" She holds her own very well with her "guys." They have the occasional scratch and bruise to prove it. In sweeter moments, she'll seek out Tobin to comfort her when she gets hurt or upset. She and Evan have a funny bedtime routine where she'll blow him kisses and he'll "block" them. They get quite a kick out of themselves. After Matt went back to work a couple weeks ago, it took Lauren a few days to get used to me picking her up out of her crib when she woke in the morning or after a nap. She'd always ask for Daddy. Lately, she's come around and greets me each morning with "Hi Mommy, oh Daddy goes to work?" It's been especially nice for me to feel strong and well enough to hold her more after my surgery because, all too soon, she'll be out of my arms and following her brothers off to school.

ev's first day of pre-K

One of Tobin's big adventures this summer was taking his first swim lessons. The upside of him being at a relatively older age taking his first lessons was that he took to it all very quickly. At the end of his six sessions, he was independent in the pool and enjoyed retrieving diving toys from the bottom of the pool. He also has done a great job encouraging Evan through his own first swim lessons, day of school and soccer practice. Evan wasn't too thrilled about any of these at first, but Tobin helped him tremendously. Tobin had a great first week of the second grade. His Montessori school has multi-age classes, so he's in the same first through third grade class with the same teacher as last year. And having Evan at the same school as Tobin has helped me feel better about sending Ev to school. Tobin has enjoyed walking Evan to his classroom before heading upstairs to his.

"are you ready, ev?"

This past week was particularly big for Evan. We've talked over the summer about him starting school. Almost any time we brought it up, he'd say, "I don't want to go to school." When I tried to tell him that going to school is one of the fun things you do when you get bigger, he responded with something heartbreaking and adorable like "I don't want to grow up, Mom. I want to grow down." As we hoped, a real turning point in his attitude towards school came at the open house the week before when he got to visit his classroom and meet his teachers. He happily explored his classroom, completing a little scavenger hunt with Tobin's help, and when we got home he told me an imaginary story about collecting seashells at the beach with his teacher. Tobin started school this past Monday but Evan's pre-K/Kindergarten class didn't start until Wednesday and even then he had just a couple half-days. He insisted on packing his lunch and backpack on Monday. On Wednesday morning, he only looked a little nervous when I said goodbye to him. I was so relieved for him (and me) that there were no tears. His first full day was on Friday. When he climbed in the van after school, Matt said something about how tomorrow was Saturday, which meant no school! Evan frowned and said, "But I want to go to school everyday!" While I fully expect he could change his mind about school from time to time, I couldn't be happier with how things have started for him.

Evan also had his first soccer practice on Thursday and--rather unpredictably given his enthusiasm watching Tobin play and kicking the ball around with Matt--he insisted that he didn't want to go. Matt carried a crying Evan out the door to practice, promising him he would only have to watch if that's what he wanted to do. Matt coaxed him to go sit and listen to his coach and then he ran a few drills half-heartedly. But when the coaches started a scrimmage, something clicked and Evan loved it. I came to the soccer field to see if he wanted to go home with me instead of staying an extra hour for Tobin's practice. He furrowed his brow and said, "No, Mom, I'm a soccer player and soccer players don't go home; they stay and practice!" And I totally played it cool and casually told him to have fun, even though what I really wanted to do was scoop him up, give him a big hug and tell him how brave he is.

the boys, walking to THEIR school.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013



For the first time since February 22nd, I feel like I can truly breathe.


Today, at my nine-day-post-surgery clinic appointment, I received the best possible news. Going into surgery, we knew that I had more than one area of cancer in my breast and that the cancer had spread to at least one lymph node. The surgical pathology report we received today showed that chemotherapy shrunk each of my three cancerous tumors (all removed during surgery) to a tiny two millimeters or less. Of my 24 lymph nodes taken, only one had cancer. In a full-circle moment, the same kind nurse practitioner who gave me the awful news of my diagnosis back in February, today told us this report places me "in an awesome prognostic category going forward." I still have radiation therapy and hormone therapy (in the form of a daily Tamoxifen pill for five years) ahead to further reduce my risk of recurrence. But I will face all of it breathing easier--with every reason to believe that there is no more cancer in my body.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Another step closer

rock climbing

On June 16th, I completed chemotherapy. It feels good to have that stretch of the treatment road behind me. It was a tough four months but I'm thankful it was only four months. I rebounded well enough between treatments to stay on my sixteen-week schedule. My mammograms and ultrasounds show that my cancer responded well to the chemo.

river bank

This Monday, July 15th, I'll take another big step when I have a mastectomy. After surgery, we'll have even more information about how my cancer responded to chemo.

wait for me!

Once I recover from surgery, I'll complete six weeks of radiation therapy. Six months after radiation, I'll have reconstructive surgery. On the one hand, this plan is the same as it has been from the beginning. I'm thankful there have been few surprises. On the other, next spring--when I'll have my last major surgery--feels like a long time from now.

fun evening

I find myself very focused on right now. If I look too far back, I find myself longing for our pre-cancer life, our normal life. If I look too far ahead, I get overwhelmed by the surgeries, my radiation schedule and, of course, the uncertainties.

stormy morning

Right now, I'm enjoying a nice summer with Matt and the kids. We've had some fun little adventures since I finished chemo, the highlight of which was a trip to the beach.

time to play!

This week, we're looking forward to some time with extended family. My aunts Louise and Bethany are already in town. My parents and sister arrive later today and my brother, Sunday. Matt's mom will join us for my second week of recovery.

happy tobin!

Honestly, I don't know how much I'll be able to enjoy family time as I recover from surgery over the next few weeks, but I am immeasurably grateful that they are here, to support and love us.

happy evan!

I find that we are making our way through all of this: one step at a time, buoyed by love.

toes in the sand

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Evan is FOUR.


Evan is my summer baby. Lauren's birthday is also in June but falls before the summer solstice, so Ev has a season all to himself, which is quite appropriate. I think of him less as my middle child and more as my "center" child as he often finds his way to the center of my attention. He's an exceedingly charming, entertaining fella. He has always had a very strong sense of what he wants. Evan's a lot less interested in pleasing us than he is finding his own way. Recently, I complimented him on an "E" he wrote, and he furrowed his brow and informed me, "Mom, that's not an 'E.' It's an 'F-E.'" He then drew an "E" with four horizontal lines and quipped, "See Mom, that's an 'E.'" Since this was a rare instance in which he seemed interested in writing letters, I suggested he write the next letter in his name. He intentionally drew a "U" and told me, "That's not a 'V'; it's a 'U.'" Next he substituted an "H" for an "A." Then he moved on to something else. That's how things often work with him: if it's not his idea, he's not necessarily interested in doing it. But if he's into something, he's all in.

taking inventory

Evan's birthday officially ends our six-week birthday celebration season. He's had to be patient, waiting his turn for presents, festivities and cake. Tobin helped him with his countdown, telling him exactly how many days until his birthday for the last month or so. When June 28th finally rolled around, his reaction to the first present he opened did not disappoint.

hulk gloves!

He's been talking about those Hulk gloves since he first spotted them on a Target trip about four months ago. Thank you, Grandma! As for whether the gloves were a good idea, I guess I can report that there having been fewer violations of the no-hitting-people rule than you might think.

ev smash!

Our original plan for Evan's birthday was a celebration with my side of the family in Louisiana, where we find ourselves most summers around this time for the Lantrip family reunion. Alas, my course of treatment has me scheduled for surgery in the middle of July (more on that in a later, separate post), so we're traveling very little this summer. Evan's birthday ended up being a just-the-five-of-us affair. And there was something extra special about that because, as much as I've enjoyed having our helping visitors over the last few months, I've found myself especially treasuring the times in between when it's just us.

first movie in a theater!

I thought a special birthday treat would be for Evan, Tobin and me to go to a movie, because Evan's never been to one. When I talked with Evan about, he wasn't super excited but I figured that was because he didn't really know what a movie theater was. He perked up when I said the movie we were going to see was Monsters University; we'd seen Monsters Inc. recently. When we got to the theater, he thought his folding seat was cool and he commented on each of the previews, saying, "Oh, I'd like that movie!" But about thirty minutes into the feature, he started asking when we could go home. He was never too insistent but did ask several more times. We stayed for the entire movie, and he laughed and smiled some but mostly seemed restless. When we got home, he reported to Matt that he didn't like the movie because "It was just too scary for me." I don't think he was really scared of the movie but probably just less than impressed with the whole experience. It wasn't his idea after all.

birthday play time!

Leading up to his birthday, whenever we asked Evan what he wanted to do, he would usually just tell us he really, really wanted those Hulk gloves . . . the ones he saw in Target? And then he'd list a few more presents. Eventually he came around to saying he wanted to go to the play gym where we had Tobin's birthday party. So we went there after the movie, and it was a particularly great idea because, like so many days around here recently, outside play wasn't really an option due to a thunderstorm. I actually didn't get many pictures of Evan there because he spent the entire time running past me.

birthday blur!

At the end of the day, we headed home for pizza and cake. The day before Evan's birthday, when I set out the ingredients to make the vanilla-vanilla cake he requested, he asked if he could help. As he pulled a chair up to the counter, he announced, "I want to make chocolate cupcakes!" I was a bit taken aback because for weeks Evan had insisted on this particular cake and he will tell you that he loves vanilla but he doesn't really like chocolate. Anyway, I told him that it was a little too late to change his mind and he was okay with this, happily helping me mix the ingredients.

this kid loves vanilla ice cream.

Evan seemed impressed with the finished cake but after blowing out his candles and being offered the first slice of cake, he frowned and said, "I don't want cake. I want vanilla ice cream." So that's what he had.

how old are you?

I find myself so especially sentimental about Evan turning four, perhaps more so than Lauren turning two, even though she's my baby. He's so big now. Physically, he's quite tall and is wearing some of Tobin's 5T hand-me-downs. He keeps up with his big brother riding bikes and playing whatever kind of ball they're into at the moment. He's done with naps. Socially, he loves striking up conversations with other kids wherever we go. He's excited about starting school and playing organized soccer in the fall. Maybe he was feeling some of this sentimentality too because on his birthday morning, when we started saying things like "Wow, Ev, you're four years old!," he would retort, "No, I'm just three!" But at some point in the day, he decided he was okay with being four, so if you were to ask him now, he'd proudly tell you he's four. (I think.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lauren's birthday video

Here's (ample) footage of Lauren blowing out her candles and bein' cute enjoying her cupcake. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lauren is TWO.

two years old

I know I've been saying this for months now but seriously, where did my baby go?!?

2yo girl life

Lauren turned two on Sunday. Of course, we can't celebrate her birthday with out thinking of her especially dramatic Birth Day. From that crazy beautiful moment when she made her entrance into our lives, she has charmed us with her sweet, strong personality. At two, she is very busy, keeping up with her brothers, demanding snacks and snuggles, and letting us know when she's not so pleased with something. She is healthy and strong, weighing in at 29 lbs. and measuring 34" long. Lauren's also quite the talker, chatting us up when she gets the chance. Lately, she's taken to talking to me after I put her in her crib to sleep. She whispers something I can't quite understand except for it being clearly addressed to "Mommy." I nod and say "Okay" and "Shhh, it's time to sleep." Eventually, she quiets down, puts her thumb in her mouth and drifts off to sleep. If I try to leave before she falls asleep, she'll protest loudly. Matt has an easier time putting her down awake, but she's definitely pushing back against the bedtime routine we've had for months. But testing boundaries is just what you do when you're two. And one sweet change to her sleep habits is that she's started sleeping with a baby doll.

birthday bike

Lauren woke up on her birthday morning to find a tricycle from Mimi and Granpa. Mimi is here with us for the week but we are definitely missing Granpa and look forward to him visiting sometime next month, when Lauren can show him her bike-riding skills.

birthday swim

We're fortunate to have other family in town for Lauren's big day. My aunts Beth and Cherilyn and cousins Abigail and Nathan are visiting from Texas. Fifteen-year-old Nathan is attending basketball camp at UNC this week. In addition enjoying their company, we've had fun swimming in their hotel pool.

birthday dress!

With only a little protest, Lauren indulged me by wearing her birthday dress. She's not necessarily opposed to dresses, she just doesn't enjoy changing clothes these days.


For her birthday celebration, we enjoyed pizza and cupcakes with family and friends. Mimi had the brilliant idea to get a piƱata, which the kids loved.

happy hitter!

This year, Lauren's birthday fell on Father's Day, which I think was especially sweet for Matt. He didn't seem to mind sharing his day with her at all. (Note he's sporting his present from the kids above: a cool Iron Man T-shirt.) Lauren's big day also fell on the eve of my last chemo infusion on Monday, June 17th. All cause for lots of celebrating around here.

where did our baby go?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Evan at 47 months

47 months

One day a few weeks ago when I was putting Evan down for his nap, I said, "I love you, buddy. Have a good nap." He replied, "I love you too, Mom. I love that your hair's all gone. I love that I can see your ears!" I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I left the room and did both. The change in my physical experience since starting chemo has been difficult for me. Looking in the mirror at my bald head and thinning eyebrows and lashes, I hardly recognize myself. While I feel conspicuous and self-conscious when I'm out in public, sometimes it's harder to face myself in the mirror than it is to walk through a crowd wearing a headscarf. So I take heart that Evan sees me . . . and my ears. Evan also loves to kiss my "bump"--my chemo port site located just below my collar bone--and usually says, "There, you'll be better, Mom." While I wish he could kiss away my cancer, his tenderness goes a long way in helping me feel better.

classic evan face

When he's not being heartbreakingly charming and hilarious, Evan is, um, up to something else. Whenever we visit a playground or go to the ball field, Evan makes friends. He'll find someone to race up and down the slide with or play hide-and-seek or kick a ball. Recently, at one of Tobin's baseball games he made friends with a couple ten-year-old girls and followed them around on their adventures. I stayed home for that game and Matt texted me to report: "I just climbed 20 feet up to pull Evan out of a tree!" I had to read that text like three times before I comprehended what I was reading. I've never seen Evan climb a tree but apparently he scaled this one pretty easily. Fortunately, he didn't make it as high as the older kids.

bridging the gap

At another ball game, Evan kept asking Matt to play catch with him but Matt explained he wanted to watch the game plus it wasn't safe to play so close to the bleachers since he might accidentally hit someone with the ball. So Evan smartly wandered down the adjacent hill and played catch with himself by throwing the ball against the side of the hill and scooping it up with the glove as it rolled back. He got very into it, cheering for himself with each "catch." Later in the game, he followed some other kids to play with some old tires on a huge mulch pile. (The conditions of the middle-school field where Tobin plays most his games leave something to be desired.) I asked him to stop playing with the tires and come back closer where we could watch him. He whined a little but came back over to the hill to play catch by himself. We have to keep a close eye on him, but when he wants to, he can be quite cooperative and creative.

sibling swing

Of course, Evan is uniquely positioned to enjoy two very special playmates: his brother and sister. He's big and strong enough to race bikes and play basketball with his Tobin after he gets home from school. And he's still young enough to enjoy playing with Lauren during their days at home together. Several times a day now, I hear him say "Lala, let me show you somethin'!" and he tries to teach her how to explore her world Evan-style. The other day, he showed her how to go down the slide backwards and jump off a swing. I had to intervene when he tried to show her how to use a swing as a skateboard. She loves to follow him around on these adventures. They don't always get along but they can be a sweet pair, especially when Evan takes on the role of protective big brother. On a recent walk, as their path approached a busy street, he instructed: "Lala, hold my hand!" And she did.

'hold my hand, lala.'

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tobin is SEVEN.


On Saturday, our big boy--our first baby--turned seven. Each birthday brings with it a certain mix of disbelief and joy. I can't believe he's so grown up, and wow, this kid adds so much happiness to our lives. And it just gets better and better.

2nd career game ball.

Baseball has been a source of fun for Tobin for three seasons now. But for Matt and me, this season has felt different. A lot of parents and coaches seem more competitive. This makes sense because at this level, they are keeping tracks of wins and losses, there will be a post-season and each game is officiated by an umpire. However, it seems that competitiveness sometimes comes at the expense of encouragement, sportsmanship and even skill development. We've heard a lot about players playing "well" during wins and being "unfocused" during losses.

Even in our mild disappointment, we would do well to follow Tobin's lead. He's been as positive as ever, taking it all in stride. One night, he came home from a late game I couldn't attend to tell me about his best "hit" ever. "It went over the pitcher's head, Mom!" he boasted, smiling ear to ear. "But then a player on the other team caught it." So basically, he was very pleased with his own hitting even though it ended up as a pop-out. A couple weeks later, he actually hit a ball very hard and very long, over the left fielder's head, and he was thrilled about this, but not necessarily more than about the aforementioned pop-out. His team has won only a few times this season but Tobin plays hard every game, cheers enthusiastically for his teammates and hustles in and out of the dug-out every time. He's one of the younger players on his team and quipped, "It doesn't matter how old you are; it matters how hard you play." We couldn't agree more.

Tobin's attitude in baseball is similar to his attitude in school. We hardly ever hear a complaint about anything that happens there. Every day is a great day. And that's what much of parenting Tobin has felt like. It's been really easy and pleasant. Sure, he's not a perfect kid. He definitely struggles these days being patient with his younger siblings and seems increasingly frustrated when they "do stuff just to bother me." He's even started using the "B" word in the last year: "bored." But just as I don't expect him to have an entirely easy and pleasant life, I know certain parenting challenges are inevitable too. We all do the best we can, and I just come back to how amazing this parenting experience has been . . . and how grateful and proud I am to be Tobin's mama.

quite a crew

We celebrated Tobin's birthday with a busy, fun day. His little league held their annual fundraiser, a hitting competition called Slug Fest. Tobin squeezed in his at-bats before the skies opened up for a rainstorm. His birthday party at a local play gym followed: two hours of running around with his friends interrupted only by brief pauses for pizza, cake and presents.

happy birthday to tobin!

This birthday is fraught with special emotions for me. Because I was feeling pretty good during this chemo cycle, I was determined to do what I've done before: make Tobin's birthday cake from scratch. I also made some cookies and a fruit salad for him to take to school for his birthday celebration there. I even made extra cupcakes for his party as I feared the cake itself was too small for the crowd. All this resulted in a few late nights for me last week. By Saturday night I was spent, but I found myself thankful that I'd been able to do what I would normally do for one of the kids' birthdays and that my fatigue was mostly due to my sleep deprivation and not so much my chemo. Once again, I find myself cherishing the moments when I feel "normal" in the midst of this cancer journey.

The flip emotional side of it all is thinking about how I never expected to be celebrating Tobin's seventh birthday with a cancer diagnosis--without a hair on my head and with my sixth round of chemo set for just two days later. The weight of my illness--wondering what the future holds--settles most heavily in my thoughts and feelings about my precious little family. And while the mama in me feels the very usual heartache of wanting to slow down time because this kid of mine is growing up too fast, I also find my heart longing for this particular year to pass very quickly. Because I just feel that if we can get through this year, we can do anything. That may not be totally true, but it's what feels true right now. So I hold onto that and hug my awesome seven year old especially tight whenever I get the chance.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Teacher appreciation

teacher appreciation

In mid-February, the week before my diagnosis, Matt was chosen by his colleagues as Riverside High School's Teacher of the Year. We were so happy but then a few days later our world spun in a totally different direction. Part of my inevitable sadness over the last almost-three months has been that we haven't gotten to enjoy and celebrate this honor like I felt we should have.

So last night I was really grateful to accompany Matt to a lovely dinner hosted by the school district for all the Teachers of the Year. I was thankful for so many things: feeling well enough just four days after chemo, my parents being in town to watch the kids, a gorgeous spring evening on Duke's beautiful West Campus and especially, my inspirational, dedicated husband and his fellow educators.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lauren at 22 months

22 months

Lauren and I are engaged in a bit of a power struggle lately: the battle of the barrette. Her hair is getting quite long and hangs in front of her blue-gray eyes. Fortunately, it's wispy fine and see-through blonde so it's not too much of a mess. I try to explain to her that she might actually like having her hair out of her face and wouldn't it be pretty if her barrette had a bow that matched her outfit? On this particular day, she humored me and wore this little blue bow for several hours. Oddly, she even insisted on wearing it during her nap. But most of the time, she's still pretty adamant that she doesn't want anything in her hair and will throw hair bows and hair elastics an impressive distance from her.

smile w/bow

My girl definitely knows what she wants. This has placed her right in the middle of sibling squabbles. Even she and Tobin argue over toys these days. His meticulously ordered car-race tournaments--replete with seeding of the competitors--don't mix well with her sudden and strong interest in one particular purple car. She's definitely the youngest of the kids to use phrases like "Mine!" and "My turn!" As sharing is especially hard for her, we're trying to get the boys to help her learn by getting them to ask for something instead of trying to grab it back from her. Sometimes she'll surprise us by returning something with a concilatory "Okay."

silly lala

Understandably, Lauren is very intent on keeping up with her brothers. She will slide down any slide on any playground. She's fearless. She reminds me of Evan with her enthusiasm. When coming down a slide she'll yell something like "Okay! Watch! Woo hoo!" She'll spend much of the time at a playground squealing as she runs from one thing to the next. And "woo hoo!" is like a catch-phrase for her. She uses it frequently--when finishing a meal, when catching a ball, when climbing into her car seat on her own--and often solicits an accompanying high-five.


Lauren is talking up a storm. She particularly loves numbers and now counts rather effortlessly to ten and adorably ventures into the teens. I love singing to her before I put her in her bed. She snuggles up and sings her ABC's and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" with me, usually with her thumb in half-way in her mouth. It's a nice pre-sleep bonding time for us, replacing our nursing routine that we had to end so abruptly about two months ago. Around that time, I was really the only one who could put her to sleep. Now she's fairly easy for anyone--Matt, Mimi, Grandma--to put down for a nap or bedtime if they follow her reading and singing routine. I'm very proud of her for making this transition. It's so helpful for all of us and I'm thankful that others get to share this especially sweet time with her.

"i try! i try!"

As the weather has warmed we're going on more frequent and longer walks. Walking is especially good for me as it helps counteract my fatigue. The boys prefer to ride their bikes and Lauren likes to stop and pick up rocks and sticks and "pretty flowers!" This made walks a difficult "shared" activity as one of us walked quickly to keep tabs on the boys while the other hung back with Lauren to try to coax her to pick up the pace, or at least walk in the same direction as everyone else. She's not a big fan of the stroller these days--plus it's kind of annoying to add to the mix as one of us usually ends up carrying Evan's little bike when we cross the street or encounter big hills--so Matt started carrying Lauren on his back in the Ergo. While she doesn't love it all the time, she rides happily enough, especially if Matt plies her with granola bars and apples along the way. And at some point, we always let her get down so she can run and squeal or collect treasures. In this sense, she's learning to compromise, which means gives me hope for barrettes or ponytails--and everything.

catching a ride