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

Tagged with:

A Denver Home Companion | dear ramona

dear ramona,

sweet girl, you are growing before our eyes. you are so tall and strong and able. overnight, it seems, you are suddenly able to tell me many of your needs: i’m thirsty, i’m hungry, i have to go potty, i’m tired, i’m happy. in addition to this making life a little easier for mama and papa, it also makes you more independent. since you are so good at communicating you have more time to go do the stuff you want!

you are figuring out more and more how to do things yourself, get what you want/need quicker, and explore on your own. we’ve always let you do your own investigating but now your boundaries are bigger. you go down to the basement to play by yourself at your kitchen or with your dollies. you climb through the doggy door and dance around in the grass w otto while i cook lunch. we always know where you are but now we get to give you much more space so you can continue to grow in your confidence and independence in your own abilities.

i love you, big girl. love, mama.

Tagged with:

A Denver Home Companion | trading post trail at red rocks A Denver Home Companion | trading post trail at red rocks A Denver Home Companion | trading post trail at red rocks A Denver Home Companion | trading post trail at red rocks A Denver Home Companion | trading post trail at red rocks A Denver Home Companion | trading post trail at red rocks A Denver Home Companion | trading post trail at red rocks

dear ramona,

your nona, my mama, came to visit this weekend under the guise of helping me decorate your new room. but really, it was time for us girls to hang. we shopped, we dined, we caught up on fall tv, we talked about books, we read books to you, and we got out for some fresh air. we did hang up some artwork in your new bedroom and nona hemmed your closet curtains for me, but mostly it was a girls’ weekend.

the three of us read a lot of books (most of them thoughtfully picked out just for you by nona!) while lounging on your new big-girl bed and nona helped me wrangle you in your two-year-old craziness. she’s taught me a lot about parenting children based on their personality and spirit. you sure are giving me a run for my money with your wildness!

multiple times this weekend i found myself whispering to you that i cannot wait to do this with you when you are older: long lunches, shopping sprees, tv marathons, long walks or hikes with thoughtful conversation. it’s an olson thing — something i got to do with my mother and hers, your namesake. and we’ll carry on the tradition.

i love you, miss ramona marilyn. you are my main lady and you always will be.

love, mama.

readers, if you’re looking for a nice, easy morning hike that’s also great for little ones, i suggest the trading post trail at red rocks. it’s not really a hike but offers beautiful views and a nice loop around the park. it’s a for-sure stop if you’re showing visitors around.

A Denver Home Companion | happy birthday ramona

dear ramona,

today you are two years old. it seems both a blink and eons ago that you came into this world — but either way i remember the day clearly. you waited for a full-moon and then demanded your way out. your papa working with me and me working with you to make this so. once in your mama’s arms, we clicked right away. and we have continued to do so, with the exception of a couple grumpy days here and there.

you are light and joy and smarts and movement. you are glee and silliness and chub. you are toots and pitter patters and big hugs and wet kisses. you are song and dance and wiggles and wrestles. you are rain and sun and helper and reminder to me that yes, sometimes life does get to be just about tea parties and building blocks and splashing in puddles. you are you. wholly and perfect, you.

my prayers for this new year, your third year of life, are that you continue to learn new things, have the freedom to play a lot, that you keep on exploring your independence, learn to ride your kick bike, climb higher on the playground, watch less barney, and keep making mama read you all those books you love. i pray you remain steadfast in your fearlessness and your desire to make friends with just about anyone. you are tough and gentle, and i pray you develop a good balance of the two.

it is inconceivable to me, our life without you. i’m glad that you are ours and we are yours bc it just makes quite a lot of sense.

heaps of blessings and hugs and snuggles and love to you, my sweet minka.

i love you. love, mama.

Tagged with:

A Denver Home Companion | superhero capeA Denver Home Companion | superhero capeA Denver Home Companion | superhero cape

dear ramona,

when the camera comes out you say “file!” and give me what you must think i look like when i smile: scrunched up, squinty eyes, clenched and bared teeth. it’s so so hilarious. you’ve also started running to the front door to pose. thanks for being so cooperative.

i love you, silly grin and all. love, mama.

psst: a very simple tutorial on making a superhero cape of your little one’s very own

a portrait of ramona, once a week, every week, in 2013. inspired by jodi’s project.