Tag Archives: girl

Our Number Two Turns Two


January 12, 2012  |  Mabel Claire Brunner


You, my dear child, were sent here by someone who really knew what they were doing. You fit into this family like a well-oiled glove. Nothing about you seemed to not belong. Your humor, your grace, your ability to get your point across using only your eyebrows and the tip of your nose…you were one of us from the get-go. And we welcomed you with open arms that cold January day.

Today you turn two. You’ve become an insanely talkative, playful and smart little bugger! Your dad and I could not be more proud of you and the person that you are. I almost don’t dread the 5 a.m. growling wake-up calls (“Moooooooooom”) from your crib anymore because, from the moment I turn on the hall light and you get a glimpse of who is coming to get you, our day starts off on a bright and joyful note. You have never failed to greet me with a smile and immediate conversation about the “guys” in your crib (and you will name them all before you can be removed…”Nemo, Mikey, Raph, Molly, Millie, Dorrie, etc. etc. OMG etc.”). When you wake up, we eat breakfast together. You like Special K with berries, but really you only eat the berries and leave the flakes (I don’t blame you much). If you can’t have pop for breakfast (which you can’t), you love juice. Usually during breakfast you will tell me about your family or whatever little bits you remember from the day before. This morning, I heard all about grandma and grandpa, your Sully cake and then we counted to 9 without the 3, 4 or 5, of course. We chased balloons in the living room and threw all the ninja turtles in poor Chloe’s dog bed before turning on Mater Tales and settling in to our Dora chair. Even TV doesn’t distract you for long (our best shots are Bubble Guppies and UmiZoomi) because you’d rather use your energy playing monster or running from room to room with your hands behind your back like Donatello, which is wonderful! 

Some days you go to Amy’s Daycare. Amy loves you and you love her, but we all know the real reason you adore her house – Noah. Don’t deny it, little girl. You’re smitten, and he’s cute 🙂 You play hard there with your buddies Georgia, Ella, Lula and Baby Mila and we are very comfortable with your days there. But, man, the days I get to spend with you? I tear up just thinking about them. Yes, they have their difficult moments. Nearly once a day, you and Coen get in some sort of brawl due to wanting the same toy, and my obvious pointing out of the six million other toys in this house goes unnoticed, so you both get to duke it out in the privacy of your own room. Your brother is patient with you and loves helping you learn. In your car seats, he will often have you repeat after him. “Mabel, say A. Say B. Say C.” Sometimes you jump ahead and you’ll say “D” before he prompts you, and I smile because I know you’re already smarter than he thinks you are, but it puts a small nick in his big brother armor. When you get frustrated, your default is to scream. And, you, my small one, are not quiet. You will do it in the middle of a restaurant, a grocery store, or an elevator. It is all tied to your independent and determined demeanor, which I love about you but definitely had to learn to embrace after raising that cool-and-collected brother of yours. You are just starting to try things on your own without fear. You’ve always wanted to – I could see it in your eyes. Just yesterday, you did the frog slide at the splash pad by yourself and only took a couple tumbles (shook yourself off…no tears…typical) and got right back at it. And similarly, but without the potential for accident, you will open the cupboard doors and bring out the snack bin over and over and over and over and over until you finally get one parent to open those darn Teddy Grahams. Determined, I tell you. And charm might have something to do with it too. But, that charm doesn’t always work, especially on your peers. When you play with your cousin Ruby, I am often reminded of the saying by Margaret Atwood: “Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another, they are not cute. They are life-sized.” Some day, you will be best friends – I promise. For now, you will do everything in your power to protect your space. I guess bullheaded could be added to your descriptive adjectives as well.

Things you enjoy: taking baths, playing monster, swimming, Ninja Turtles, Thomas the Train, the Peanuts collection, making pretend “pea soup,” greeting your brother in the morning (“Hi, buddy Coen!”), neighbor Kayla, sleeping in your brother’s bed, talking, and talking…and talking, being naked, blueberries and strawberries, sitting in the big chairs at restaurants, climbing (literally anything), fruit snacks and applesauce, watching home videos on daddy’s iPhone, plane rides, car rides, inserting tokens into games at Chuck E Cheese (but not actually playing the games), smelling flowers, dumping out puzzle pieces and refusing to put them back, and dogs.

Things you don’t enjoy: Carnival rides, snow, wearing coats, and cake. Yup. That’s about it.

You, our strong and beautiful Mabes Babes, have such a way of bringing joy into people’s lives. The way you use your comedic timing to make us laugh at the most unexpected times, the way you walk with such confident diaper butt that passersby point and giggle, the way you adore, replicate, and physically love your brother to the point that he needs to push you away, the way you talk. Oh my, the way you talk. We don’t call you “Pebbles” for nothin’. Everything about you, child – the good, the bad and the ugly – You are ours and we are yours. If that isn’t God’s work at its finest, I don’t know what is. 

Happy birthday, baby girl. May all your dreams come true.


January 12, 2014  |  Mabel Claire Brunner



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Cate and Coen sittin’ in a tree!

Caitlin Willow

Two Fridays ago, one of my besties continued my friend trend and popped out a baby girl. I have never in my life paced so hard as I did that night between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. awaiting the call to find out health of mother and name of baby. FINALLY! A weary but proud Anna announced her 7 pound bombshell (and my future daughter-in-law) Caitlin Willow. As a sense of relief and excitement soared through my body, I was instantly transported back in time 7 months. I was the weary mom on the phone delivering the news with a noticeable high in my voice every time I said his name. I was the mom looking forward to maternity leave. I was the one complaining about exhaustion and converting my living room into four walls of worship (sponsored by Kodak and my shutter-happy husband).

It was very strange to hear someone else going through those same emotions, especially someone so close to me. The following day we were invited to the hospital to meet the new addition, so Nate and I got Coen dressed in his finest and headed off to play matchmaker. This was my first newborn experience since my own and I dove in head-first! Such a small human being – little wrinkly hands and the finest hair I’d ever touched. This is why they call it a “miracle” people! She truly was. And buried among the fatigue and fear in her parents was complete awe and anticipation for their new, bright, beautiful future together.

We came home that night and I had some thoughts. No, I didn’t have those cliche “new-mom-that-just-held-a-newborn” thoughts. In fact, the thought of doing it all again so close to numero uno made me a tiny bit nauseous and (no joke) gave me one solid week’s worth of nightmares. No. The thought I had came from holding my own little guy in the rocking chair, simply watching him fall asleep. I realized something: I know more about this particular person than ANYONE ELSE on the planet (Nate excluded). And that’s really sayin’ something.

I know exactly how long he will make sucking faces with his mouth after the bottle gets pulled from his lips. I know that he sleeps with his tongue sticking out (like his mama). I know what makes him shake with excitement. I know which PBS cartoons capture his attention and which ones he would love to see pulled off the air. I know just how much facial hair a guy can have before Coen will cry at the sight of them. I know the face he makes when he’s pooping. I know just the right rendition of Ave Maria to play for him when he’s fussing. I know his tickle spots. I know his sensitive spots. I know his bald spots. I know this kid like the, no, better than the back of my hand.

Then, I thought about Anna. I thought about the idea that Caitlin was probably still a bit of a stranger in her house. I tried to recall those first two weeks with Coen – trying to figure out sleep schedules, organizing an assembly line to prep bottles as fast as humanly possible, cleaning for company, googling poop to determine if “that was normal” – you are running on pure adrenaline. By the time you get your head above water, a month has gone by and you’ve subconsciously learned more about your child than you ever knew about yourself.

There is something special about that ability in this particular relationship. Maybe it’s the maternal gene rearing its ugly head YET again, but for some reason, you take pride in being the beacon of knowledge in your child’s life. After ten years, I know that Nate hates when his hair grows over his ears. He can’t sleep on a hard pillow, he sneezes when he walks outside on a sunny day, he can plow through an entire box of shortbread cookies in one sitting, he can’t buy anything without researching the living daylights out of it, and he doesn’t drink Root Beer. I know a billion other idiosyncrasies about my husband, but that doesn’t quite evoke the same feeling you get from your own child. Is it because we are their protector? Is it because we are their instructor? Or is it simply because we are their parent? I choose D. All of the above.

Upon further reflection, maybe I wasn’t happy for Anna just because I finally knew the baby’s name. I think we wish the happiest feelings upon the greatest people in our lives and there really isn’t a more spectacular emotion than a moment alone in a rocking chair with your very own tiny miracle. And, knowing you not only created that miracle, but you get to spend every day going forward learning more and more about her, is an eternal high.

It might not be tomorrow, but someday soon Anna will be the Yoda of all Cate Knowledge. What makes her tick? What makes her sick? What makes her laugh? What makes her cry? What does she look for in a boyfriend (hey, I can throw that in for personal reasons…it’s MY blog!)?

Anna and Steve – I’m so very happy for you guys! Enjoy the ride…


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