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A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

dear ramona,

as i type this it is 9:16 on tuesday evening, july 15th. your third birthday. you are on the futon eating strawberries and watching the lego movie with papa. today has been a very good day. for the record, you don’t typically stay up this late. in fact, many moms i know are flabbergasted that i put you to bed between 6:00 and 7:00. however, birthdays are so so special. at least papa and i think so. so, basically, you get to do whatever you want to do on your birthday. and, thus, today was a very good day.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

before i get started on how awesome our day was, can i just tell you how freaking weird it is to have a three year old?! i can’t believe you are three already! i can still vividly remember the day i first met you (which we revisited over pancakes this morning) and since then time has flown. seriously. they (they being every parent before me) tell you that it goes by in a blink of an eye. boy, they were not lying. it’s easy to forget that when the tough stages seem so long (newborn sleepless nights, infant teething, toddler surliness) but always in hindsight those more difficult, trying bits are always just that. bits. bits out of larger chunks of speedy awesomeness. bc that’s what it feels like to be your mom. just chunks of days filled w awesomeness. then a bit of holy shit. and then back to chunks of awesomeness. thank you for being so awesome. you are three, girl! it has been so much fun getting here.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

so july 15, 2014. you woke up later than usual (thank you so much) and eased yourself outta bed and onto mr. hippo [readers: he’s a large pillow-shaped stuffed hippo]. you two had a chat. i made my way down bc i couldn’t wait to tell you happy birthday. it is, after all, the first year where you have been old enough to anticipate your birthday. you’ve been planning it and talking about it for at least the past two months. which is, like, eternity for an almost-three year old. i sang you happy birthday and you threw your arms around my neck. you were so excited. it was adorable.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

papa made raspberry-vanilla pancakes and scrambled eggs. i made the table and the doors pretty. you couldn’t wait to blow out the candles. we spilled watermelon-pink-lemonade-coconut-water drink all over the table in our excitement to celebrate. mama forgot the candles but you didn’t forget to remind me. ugh. i love how your brain works.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

after breakfast, we sat on the couch and watched you open up the presents from us. you are so cute in how you spend such good time w each present after you open it: taking a good look at it, telling us what you see, trying to figure it out before you move onto the next one. your economy of movement and focus isn’t always precise but it sure is beyond your actual years.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

papa left for work so he could get back early to celebrate the late afternoon with us. so you and i settled in and played in the basement while harriet took her morning nap. when she was up, we were all ready to head out on a walk to tattered cover, which was followed by a pizza slice at anthony’s and then a walk back home.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

the way home took us past the denver skate park. you floored mama by not only asking to go to the skate park before you had even seen it (or ever been there before) but also by promptly and unabashedly wheeling your bike right up to the first bowl (i don’t actually know what anything at a skate park is called bc that is one thing i have no familiarity with whatsoever) and diving right on in. fearless. dare devil. girl, you seriously are going to do some amazing things in life bc i don’t know any other three year old or thirty year old that would tackle something so foreign and unfamiliar and new to them with such courage and confidence and non-plussed, bad-assed attitude.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

but i shouldn’t be surprised! you’ve always faced challenges head on. you might pull the shy card now and then but, overall, you’re up for anything, scared of nothing, eager to try new things, and also conquer them. today was no different. and it was extra special for me to watch you do this on the day of your third birthday. it just seemed so apt.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

you’re silly, ramona. (see the photo above? you learned you can roll your tongue [something inherited from your papa] and find any excuse to do so.) you make me laugh. you make me beam. i am so proud to be your mama.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

and more and more you and i have become a team. you seem to be catching on to how much fun we have together. we have inside jokes. we have tickle fights. we have daily “rituals” have activities we do each day that make us happy and smiley and giggly. we have ongoing stories and conversations. you tell me to “don’t be too serious” or to “smile and be happy” if i need that reminder. and i am amazed at how much you offer to me: “i love you.”

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

and the way you include your sister! you search for her first thing in the morning or after your nap. you work hard to make sure she’s content: pacifier, smiley faces, tickling her toes. someday she’ll join in on the inside jokes we have together and i’m so proud at what you are doing now to make her feel loved and included even though she can’t can’t quite keep up on her own yet. i’ve told you this but: you are such a kind, loving, fun big sister. thank you for making it easy on mama.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

ramona. after some quiet time to recharge from our long walk, we got a special visit from lashley and koan, who popped by just to see you and say happy birthday! (kola: if you couldn’t tell she was short on sleep and long on sugar…). you seriously are so so loved by so many great people.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

from that (i know. can you believe we’re not done?!) we went on to lakeside amusement park to give you a ride on the ferris wheel. this year you were finally tall enough for it and you’d been wanting to try it since last season. after we whet your whistle with that you wanted more. you went on the matterhorn and the flying dutchmen with your mama! and, then, you even begged for more. all our tickets were gone so it was time to go. but we’ll be back. seeing you “living on the edge” for your three years of life is amusing and exhilarating. you’ve got way more courage than i ever had as a little one. i am thoroughly impressed.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

and that’s what brings us here. you (now asleep curled up into papa, who is also snoozing) on the futon with the lego movie going on. it’s so dear. happy third birthday, sweet minka moo. thank you for your zest, your spirit, your silliness, your listening, your new ideas, your patience, your spunk. thank you for your goofy faces and voices, your persistence, your make believe, your willfulness. thank you for being you.

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i love you. love, mama.

wasn’t ramona’s party fabulous looking?! i couldn’t have done it without the help of party planner extraordinaire, nicole, from hey! party collective. she’s also my new business partner in our event space, 3126. more information on that awesomeness soon…

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

I have decided to find myself a home in the mountains, somewhere high up where one learns to live peacefully in the cold and silence. It’s said that in such a place certain revelations may be discovered. That what the spirit reaches for may be eventually felt, if not exactly understood. Slowly, no doubt. I’m not talking about a vacation. 

Of course at the same time I mean to stay exactly where I am.

Are you following me?

–Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resortA Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

after a wonderful trip to florida with ramona and my mother (three generations of spunky olson women!) followed by a babymoon getaway to texas hill country with jp, it is time to hunker down, settle in, nest, and prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the arrival of little bug. i’m thankful i got to jet away for a little bit before life plants me firmly at home, where i ought to be. and where i want to continue cultivating as a sanctuary of peace, serenity, intention, and calm.

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resortA Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

the diapers and burp rags are washed and folded. i’ve gone through all of ramona’s baby clothes, from 0-12 months, laundered and put them away in a new spot for baby #2. my birth kit is stocked and ready to go. i have been taking my vitamins, watching what i eat, drinking tons of water, constantly sipping on red raspberry leave and nettle tonic, and snuggling ramona whenever she will let me. home feels good and right. we are ready to meet this little girl.

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resortA Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

time with ramona is precious. it’s important to me her and i keep connecting as much as we can since things will be changing so soon. i make eye contact with her, dance w her, hold her when she needs, take our sweet old time with tucking into bed and nap time, sing her a million songs, and always say yes to one more book. man, she sure is my little lady.

we accept any good vibes and prayers sent our way as we enter into this next stage of family. love to all of you.

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

this above photo is from when we finally arrived in denver on our way home from florida. ramona, who has been potty trained for the good part of a year, decided to empty her bladder in her plane seat while i was reading her a book. just like that. soaking her pants and dress on the first of our TWO legs home. and of course i didn’t have any extra clothes bc, well, she never has any accidents. never say never, right? luckily, i had one stray diaper, which was intended for our second leg where i was hoping she would take a snooze (she does wear diapers for bed time). i asked her why she did that. “because i do that,” she said matter-of-factly. i couldn’t have put it more succinctly myself, miss minka. the pilot on our second flight offered her a t-shirt from his suitcase (god bless southwest airlines) which she wore for about 10 seconds. she just loved being able to be mostly naked out and about. silly girl. this is one for the books. 

A Denver Home Companion | ramona dancingA Denver Home Companion | ramona dancingA Denver Home Companion | ramona dancing

ever since she’s been taking weekly ballet/tap classes and we’ve been jamming to all sorts of music (we’ve been listening to devotchka, katy perry, whitney houston, grandchildren, lorde, and the wizard of oz album all thanks to rdio [sign up for it. it will change your music listening, seriously]) ramona cannot stop moving her body.

“watch my move!” she commands. “watch me, mama! do you like my move?” and she shakes her booty and flips her hands and shuffles her feet and throws in some plies and passes and releves (all those french ballet words should have accents on them somewhere but i’m not going to bother) followed up with some twerking. yes, you read that right.

it’s our new favorite way to spend our morning: jp and i on the couch with our coffee, watching ramona bust a move or two or five on the living room floor. usually she prefers to dance on her own. until she doesn’t. then you betcha she’s dragging us out there and bossing us around: “no! move your head like this! you stand there. now bend down. move like this. my turn. SPIN ME!” not sure i would usually condone this attitude but her being a little dancing maestro really kills me.

and i love to see her discovering how she can use her body movement to express herself. she gets this look in her eyes (you can see it in the photos) and she gets into her own world and gets so so serious about what she’s doing. even though she demands an audience, this little lady is not hamming it up. no sir-ee. she is straight up all business.

now, when she’s sad, we talk about dancing as a way to cheer her up. it usually works. goodness, if we all had a coping mechanism like that.

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A Denver Home Companion | lashley rhodes photography

Dear Ramona,

I’ve written many letters to you about you, and being your mother, and how much I love you, and how you’ve been growing and learning. I love writing these letters and reflecting on where we’ve gotten and who you’ve become since our family grew to three.

For a long time I will continue to be –as simple and complex as it can be– your mother. You will know me as “mama” and you will assume, rightly so, that my job is to be there for you, to feed you, to clothe you, to kiss your owies, to read countless books to you, to drag you around on errands, and to tuck you in at night. Being the person most familiar to you, who has just always been there, you will, understandably, take me for granted. I am your most constant — always have and will be for many more years (at least 16 more if all goes as planned).

My Minka Moo, I accept this position and relationship fiercely, passionately, and enthusiastically. I am yours as much as you are mine.

But the day will come when you will realize I am more than just your mother. And if/when you realize this in your pre-teen or teen years, you will most likely think of me as an alien. You will wonder why I laugh so loud or why I eat chips by the fistful or why I say silly things that are best left for inside my head or why I insist on asking your friends a million questions or why I’m pretty darn particular about how the house is kept or why I get grumpy and take it out on you and Papa for what seems like no reason at all.

What you won’t realize, in your growing independence, is that these traits/quirks/obsessions of mine aren’t new to me. They’re just new to you. I’ve always been this way. You’re just slowly realizing I’m not the perfect caregiver and playmate you always thought me to be. This will be hard on both of us. And when you do come to understand this, there are some things you should know to hopefully understand me better…

–I do best w some quiet time for myself each and every day. Perhaps it’s because I’m an introvert –but no matter what it is, if I don’t find for myself enough time to steal away and do my own thing (read a book, blog, clean the living room, nap, watch trashy reality shows, journal, do my nails, whathaveyou) I get a bit grumpy. And sometimes a little rude. And I’m not proud of it all and I’m working on that. But it’s hard when I know that all I need is alone time and I cannot get it. So please don’t ever stop napping. 😉 And we should both be thankful for your father who loves stealing you away for father/daughter adventures. I’m also learning to not be so possessive and compartmental with my time. It is MY responsibility to get out of bed just a little earlier to carve out some sacred, quiet space for myself and make sure I am ready for you and Papa. Again, I’m getting better at it.

–I am learning how to be a better listener but I’ve still got a ways to go. Your Papa is teaching me some really important things on how to put other people first. A big way I can work on this is by listening to other people and without judgment. This goes along with my stubbornness: I assume I’m always right thus it’s hard for me to be a gracious listener when I disagree. This gets me into trouble. Which makes me grumpy. Which makes me need alone time. It’s a vicious cycle. Like I said, I’m working on it. You and I will undoubtedly butt heads over this. I’m sorry. I love you.

–I can’t cook. I was never taught, never thought about learning, and your father enables me. Now, I am working really hard to want to learn for you but it’ll never be the best thing you ate. And if it is, bless you. Needless to say, if your Papa continues to work evenings, we’ll have many dates over take-out and at restaurants. And I’m kinda excited about all those dates with you.

–I laugh really loud. By now you’ve probably figured that one out. I’ve been doing it since I was a baby (ask Pops, he’s got home video to prove it). It’s not ever going to change and if it ever bothers you or embarrasses you this is just something you’re going to have to deal with.

–I react quickly and emotionally to situations I am in. Often this is a very good thing: I have street smarts, I am very good at getting the feel for a situation — knowing when it’s best to stay or flee. I have a pretty darn good judge of character and I do judge people fairly quickly. Most of the time it serves me well. However, I’m human, I’m flawed, I make mistakes. I have probably missed out on meeting some lovely people because they rubbed me the wrong way and/or I misread their vibe the first time around. I will try and be gentle with the friends and dates you bring home even if I’m not too fond of them. If something bad happens, I usually jump to the worst conclusions (doctor’s calls, if Papa doesn’t answer his phone, when I hear sirens in the distance and you and Papa aren’t home). You may want to break bad news to your father first. His response is usually a little more measured. I tend to freak out. Again, I’m working on it.

I tell you these things so that perhaps, one day, when you’re frustrated that I’m not always on point or that I don’t seem to know you the way you assumed I always would,  when you realize that I’m human –that I have my own personal struggles, personality quirks, character flaws– you’ll have some grace. And remember that I still love you fiercely, passionately, and forever. I am, enthusiastically, your biggest fan.

I love you.

Love, Mama

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A Denver Home Companion | cheesy kid smiles

she calls this “cheesing.” and i’m curious if this is how i look to her smiling bc smiling is what she thinks she’s doing and i’m assuming she learned it from us from when we ask her to smile and then demonstrate what she should be doing. terrifying, hilarious, and adorable all at the same time. my nephew does this too. my niece does not. i’ll take what i can get and, either way, i think she’s the most fantastic thing ever.

how does your kid fare in front of the camera?

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