I cry over spilled milk and closing chapters.

I had an unexpected emotional trigger when, as I walked toward the office fridge to grab my pumped milk at 18:45, I saw the fridge door already open, with its glistening empty shelves, and the cleaner standing in front, putting new garbage bags in the trash cans.

The office manager had emailed earlier that everything in the company fridges would get chucked today at the end of the day… I frantically asked the bewildered cleaner if it was really all gone, ‘no, I don’t need milk, it was my pumped milk, mother’s milk, that was in there, in a special bottle,’ and he did feel sorry for me… and had been just doing his job…

I left and stood by my car watching the other cleaner toss the day’s garbage bags into the parking lot dumpster. I debated looking through them. I debated crying. I debated going home.

It wasn’t a lot of milk and I have more bottles. But finding 30 minutes during the day to put my baby first is hard. Every. Day. And finding time to give her special attention is hard. She doesn’t even drink it… she eats it sometimes, as a meal. She never accepted bottle feeding.

She’s nearly nine months and I’m sad to come to terms with moving on from pumping. Because it’s just another little chapter to close up in our lives together.

[UPDATE January 16 2017:  Is now a good time to mention my frozen stock just fell to the floor and cracked and broke?]

Zooey update: eight months

Durable. Is that a weird way to describe you? 

Persistent. Attentive. Problem-solving.

You’re proving more by the day that you can keep up, especially with Nettles. The thought of the pair of you… well… makes me realize I’m going to need to up my game.

In the meantime… stay innocently curious, deliciously cute, with that face that reads, yeah, I’m in the joke.

Zooey update: seven months

Zooey,

No joke – you’ve made it clear. You may be four, but you’ve given me a run for my money. This doesn’t get easier just because you’ve done something similar before.

Going back to work has been extremely difficult – that has always been the case – but your refusal to take a bottle was incredibly frustrating and a little scary. For a couple months, I had to contend with the fact that I’d have to go back to work and you would just not eat enough. You wouldn’t take a bottle and you wouldn’t let a spoon enter your lips.

We got through it – you’re eating beautifully, and you’re getting your nutrients your way. And you did me a favor. Us a favor. You’ve forced me to slow down. You’ve shown me I have to make time for you, make sure we spend time together. You won’t fall between the cracks. You won’t be neglected or forgotten.

You’ve made a point of not being just #4 or the baby or another kid to feed.

You are THE kid to feed. The kid I have to stop what I’m doing and sit with.

So thanks, Zooey. Thanks for creating the space for that. Thanks for making me slow down with you.

Also… I love when you high-five me as you start your meal.

Koala update: seven and a half

Did you hear the one about the kid that wanted to know everything about everything?

(Aside from Sid the Science Kid, which you’ve grown out of,) that’s… you.

I can’t wait to show you Wikipedia… and to catch you at 11pm with a flashlight under your covers reading in a Wikipedia spiral…

Huge milestone this past half-year: learning to dive. Much like everything else you care to try, you really dove deep into that one.

Trying over, and over, and over, (ima look!), and over, and over (ima look now!), and over until you really got it right.

Even when there was no water around…

You spent hard core quality time learning baseball with your grandpa and uncle. That’s four sports you’ve gotten into over the years.

This made me proud – you took this on, on your own. When we were busy, or asleep, or pretending to be asleep – you’d wake up, come down, and work a little bit more on your model airplane project. Minimal frustration makes a slightly more mature boy.

You started second grade, and I know you love it. I know, despite your token response ‘my favorite class is recess’ – I know you.

Learning is your favorite class.

Zooey update: six months

Even after three other kids…

Even after seven years of parenting…

Even after hundreds, if not thousands, of sleepless nights…

It just goes to show you can still be taught.

Zooey, every day that you move, grab, scoot, reach, crawl as quickly as you can,

clinging to the idea that you can keep up with everyone here,

grabbing the bra by the horns…

…is another day you’ve taught me something new.

Bebe update: five and a half years

Bebe,

We enjoyed such a great summer together. It was the highlight of the last half year. Your curiosity is my favorite thing I discovered about you. You’ve got to touch and smell and feel and wonder at everything. It’s your age, and it’s you.

Wearing a flowery dress to feel pretty, while exploring a botanical garden to feel nature. That’s you.

Dressing up as Snow White, to pretend your a ganenet to dwarves… that’s you, too.

Your science projects – that’s you, too. I think the science here was trying to figure out how many stones could fit on this plate filled with water before the water spilled, but it also just could be that I completely missed the point.

And what’s also you is painting your nails and together, getting excited about the newest color we’ve got.

And like I said, getting dressed up for a mother daughter day at the Botanical Gardens, where you found colors and butterflies and beetles and frogs. You’re also so outdoors.

And that extends to the beach, which I think is pretty funny since when we first brought you, you were overwhelmed by the waves and the sounds and the textures – until you weren’t. Now you are the beach, too.

You are so water – being with and in and around water – running through sprinklers, floating in pools, pouring it, dumping it, splashing in it.

And another texture you love.. a good messy dessert.

And a good messy juice-making.

You are so many things, Bebe, and you are also Super Gwirl, and as long as you keep being everything you are, you will always be.

Nettles update: two and a half years

Nettles.

When you’re not around, I think about you. Randomly. You pop up in my thoughts.

I was thinking the other day if you had this much character a year ago. I guess you did but in smaller bites?

These days, the bites are getting chunkier (and I don’t mean because of your dinosaur teeth). You’ll ‘bite’ into anything – you’ll try whatever is happening du jour.

Can it be sat on? Can it be sat in? Can it be carried? Can it be dragged up the top of the couch and thrown? Can it be climbed? Can it make siblings cry? Can it make mom and dad laugh?

Chances are, yes. Always. Because whatever you want to happen, you make happen.

You’ll get what’s yours, and then some. Your eyes, man. You’re going to have to reign in those eyes. Or not… your eyes are your magic.

And your magic makes us crack a smile when you know you’ve got us cornered.  You have a sense for reading people. For turning it for your benefit.

It’s a life skill you’ll have to hone and develop. It could be huge.

I love your magic. Hold on to your magic.

A dream horse come true.

Because it’s so obvious I’m going to just lay it out, plain and simple. Because it’s so cliche, I’m going to hide behind my hands while doing it, peeking out between two fingers:

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who spent her early childhood in the 1980’s, into the 1990’s. It was a time of The Last Unicorn, of Lisa Frank. My Little Pony. Rainbow Brite.

It was only natural that the little girl, who’s first name actually was so suited to this, really really really wanted a horse.

Yadda yadda yadda… thirty years later… she has her own five-year-old girl…

And now, Bebe, who nearly six months ago started doctor-prescribed horseback riding (for building confidence and body awareness), riding, standing, trotting, smiling on a horse…