Meet Happiness Herself

Dear Mary Elizabeth,

Happy birthday! Two years old – wow! Two years old and your constant curiosity has not resulted in too many casualties besides a busted lip, a bruise here and there, and a broken leg – wow-wow-wow! Here’s a much-deserved hat tip to your very busy guardian angel.

My adventurous, sweet Mary Elizabeth, known as M.E. to your big sisters and to others who love you, just recently you kept finagling with a gate at Gaba and Papa’s back deck. On the other side was a steep set of treacherous wooden stairs. Papa kept trying to divert you, but you are tenacious.

“What is she doing?” Papa said. A rhetorical question, I’m sure.

“She’s on a mission to kill herself,” Madeline said.

You certainly keep us on our toes, digging through drawers, putting paper in your mouth and chewing it into a pulpy wad and calling it gum, popping other foreign objects in your mouth, running away from me when I’m trying to get you dressed (or trying to fish out one of those foreign objects from your mouth), and scaling anything that’s taller than you are.

Your daredevil tactics are surpassed only by your happiness. My dear, you are deliriously, unabashedly happy. I love the way you greet me in the morning with smiles or, “Mama!” Your smile – sometimes on the impish side – warms a room. Your giggles and the way you say, “More!” when you want me to keep tickling you or kissing your round, soft belly. The way you quickly walk with a hop in your step and with purpose, pumping your right arm as you go – it’s your happiness overflowing.

I love how cuddly you are, too. Yes, you’re a mover and shaker, but you’re also, by far, my most affectionate child. You offer spontaneous hugs, and you’ll rest your head on my shoulder when I scoop you up into my arms. You’ll ask for “milk in cup” when you want the cow stuff and “mama’s milk” when you want to be close to me and close is what you get. The fidgeting stops as you fold into me, my growing, preggo belly not getting in your way at all as you wrap your body around mine.

You’re also more of a mama’s girl than your big sisters and always want me to be the one who puts you to sleep. Recently, I had plans to go to confession. I picked you up, and you grabbed a hold of my clothes with a tight, fearful grip and said, “Mama?” I told you I had to go bye-bye and that Daddy was going to get you asleep. You burst into tears and clung more tightly to me. At that moment, it didn’t seem right to leave you stranded and wanting, especially since I’d just returned from a mom’s day away and also because I’d planned to confess some of my failings of a mother. Yes, O Faithful Remnant, soon enough you’ll discover your mama’s far from perfect. So I stayed put. I nursed you in the glider – what you call “rocker chair.” We read Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Me, Too. Then you wanted more “mama’s milk.” After just a few sips, you said, “Sunshine,” which means you wanted me to sing “You Are My Sunshine.” You find music entrancing – everything from the Beatles to Beethoven, and you’ll often sing softly along with me when I croon to you.

After my lullaby, I blessed you, gently tracing the shape of a cross on your forehead, a part of our nightly ritual. “God bless you,” I whispered.

You smiled and said, “Bless you.”

Mary Elizabeth, may God bless you as much as you bless me – and others. We have an elderly neighbor who likes to sit out in the sunshine now that the weather is becoming warmer and read. You always walk over to him and hug his legs. You give love freely, indiscrimnately. The first time you did this I apologized and started to lead you away by the hand, but the man smiled and said, “I’m not used to little girls hugging me. It feels good.”

You are good to the world. You are good to me. You came into this world as a surprise, and like any good surprise, you’ve offered me wonder. I’m thankful for your happy, friendly nature, the magical glint in those earthy green eyes of yours, your penchant for adventure, and your cuddliness. I love everything about you – from your nose to your toes and all that’s inside of you and all that will bloom as you continue to grow. Hold onto your happiness, Mary Elizabeth. Life is sweet. Drink it up. Life is beautiful. Pay attention. Life is what you make of it, and you make it very, very happy.

We had a little celebration on your actual birthday. This weekend we’ll be throwing a small family shindig with a strawberry theme. I can’t wait to see how happy you’ll be then!




I love you, sweet girl. Happy, happy birthday!


Don’t miss another sappy birthday letter to one of my kids.

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see. 

My blogging fast has meant a lot of private moments that will never make it to this blog but have brought me plenty of joy all the same. I’ll likely be back next week. We’ll see. Hope your Lent is off to a good start. Have a good weekend!

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Top 10 Reasons to Nurse a Toddler

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


My youngest, Mary Elizabeth, will turn 2 in just a few weeks and as far as I can tell, she’s still going to be frequently asking for mama’s milk. I have no real plans to begin the gentle process of weaning; however, since I’m pregnant with number four and have a history of premature dilation, down the road I may have to start  curbing her nursing sessions.
People occasionally ask me why I’m still nursing. I usually just say something generic like “because it works for us.” Not that I owe anyone an explanation, but this is true and perhaps the most important reason to continue breastfeeding beyond what is considered the norm in the Western world. If Mom and Baby are happy with it, then why wean? 
Still, the reasons I’m nursing my toddler, enjoying it, and not planning to force weaning right now are many. I decided to come up with a top 10 list based on my own motivation for practicing and embracing extended breastfeeding. If you’re nursing a toddler, I’d love to hear reasons that would make your top 10 list. 

Kate’s Top 10 Reasons to Nurse a Toddler

10. Because your toddler wants to.

9. Because you want to.

8. Breastfeeding is a great way to quell your tiny tyrant and is the single best (and often easiest) way to diffuse a titanic tantrum. An added bonus: When your toddler’s mouth is taking its fill of mama’s milk, he can’t physically emit pteranodon-like screeching.

7. You’d rather your tot get her narcotic-like hits from you than from some other form of toddler crack (i.e., furry red monsters; noisy, obnoxious toys; singing vegetables and/or animals; sticky lollipops, etc.).

6. Babies don’t keep, and you don’t care what anyone else says. Your toddler is still very much a baby.

5. Extended nursing boasts both nutritive and emotional benefits for moms and children. Plus, you’ve always been somewhat of a rebel.

4. You get some great mom’s-eye views.

Actually, a camera really can’t capture the kind of view I get while nursing Mary Elizabeth. The colors here are all wrong. Her eyes are greenish-blue and look brown here, and in real-time the way she gazes at me goes straight to my heart. You lose that palpable love in a photo.

3. When you nurse her, your toddler looks at you like you’re the universal life force, and it’s good to be queen, especially when you suspect (fear?)  spontaneous eye-rolls directed at none other than you are likely in your future. For now, you’ll savor the “I’m in ecstasy” eyes rolling in the back of the head as your sweet nursling draws nourishment from you.

2. Nursing a toddler is a nice ego boost because it feels really good when a child climbs on your lap, cuddles close, says, “Mama,” “milk,” and “love,” and you’re reminded that nursing a toddler is just that – an act of maternal love.

1. Toddlers and all children in fact – whether they’re nursing or not  – deserve the milk of compassion and as their mother, you’re thankful you’re there to give that to them drop by drop, day by day.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)

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