On the Menu

As I opened the fridge, I asked Lauren what sounded good for lunch today. She proceeded to hand me the following items:

* An Avocado
* Cherry Tomatoes
* Baby Carrots
* Celery
* Fresh Spinach
* A Bottle of Ranch Dressing
* Grapes
* Watermelon
* Honeydew Mellon
* Cantaloupe
* A Pear
* An Apple
* Her Sippy Cup of Milk


I had to slip in a slice of cheese and mini pepperoni on her plate to provide a little protein. I have to say, LP sure loves her fruits & veggies!

“Bye-Bye Gymnastics!”

Today was our last day of gymnastics…maybe for some time. We have swim lessons and an art class scheduled for this summer and then in the fall Lauren will be going to preschool two mornings a week. Knowing how much she values her time at home, I’m not sure if we are going to try to do another activity in addition to school in the fall – and if we do, it might be dance instead of gymnastics. Knowing that this might be Lauren’s last time, I made sure that she said all of her good-byes. She blew kisses and waved lovingly at Mr. Giraffe (the beloved inflatable in the back room), she hugged Ms. Kay and said the sweetest “Thank you”, she counted and told each monkey in the entrance bye-bye and then we finally headed for the door. However, Lauren wasn’t done with her farewells. She exclaimed, “Bye-bye door!” as we walked outside. Greeted by the parking lot, she proclaimed, “Bye-bye cars! Bye-bye road! Bye-bye gymnastics! Bye-bye everybody!” Smiling as big as she could, I wondered if she truly understood that we were not coming back. I felt a little sad.Once in the car, Lauren began to examine her hand very closely and said, “Mommy, I got a really, little, tiny boo-boo on this finger. I probably got it from Zack.” Zack is the hyper little boy that always seemed to be running into LP while they ran across the mats, jumped on top of her in the foam pit, knocked her over in the giraffe, or kicked her on the trampoline. All completely accidental, of course, however, my feelings of sadness quickly diminished as I realized there would be no more Zack! Thanks to Lauren for always putting things into perspective!I can say with certainty, she had a great time this year at gymnastics – she’s not as timid around other kids (except Zack), seems to be a lot more coordinated, takes direction very well, and is a little tougher (thanks to Zack). Now it’s time for a summer filled with swimming, drawing & painting!To see a few last pictures of Lauren at gymnastics, click here.

Summer Begins!


The weather is getting warmer.  The days are getting longer.  Summer time means lots of fun in the sun!  Lauren, it seems, is the ultimate water baby and so enjoyed starting off our Memorial Day weekend in the pool!  Check out some more pictures from the Marnell Family Reunion, click here.

Hailey’s Twelve


Another day of celebration at our house…Hailey’s birthday!!  And what else would I do but take a few pictures to commemorate the day.  There’s a little more gray, a lot less hair, but all I see is the same beautiful little girl that we brought into our lives almost 12 years ago.  She’s endured living in Arkansas, a near “dog attack” (that only left me hurt from stepping in between her and a charging dog), birthdays, holidays, a move to a new town, more birthdays and holidays, a new baby and now a toddler that has too much energy to keep up with…or should I say keep away from.  Lauren is completely in love with her – and so am I.  And that makes me so happy and heartbroken at the same time.  With each birthday that passes I’m overjoyed that we’ve created that many more memories with Hailey.  And I always cry a little too knowing that one day – one day closer than yesterday – there will be a part of our family that will be missing.  As I had to say goodbye to my childhood cat this week (We had 20 wonderful years with Wendi.  What pet lover wouldn’t be thrilled to have 20 years?!), I know that no matter how long we have with Hailey, it’s just never going to be enough.

Check out a few pictures from Hailey’s birthday, click here.

32 Months: Baby vs. Big Girl

When everyone is a baby…like 3 1/2 months old…they are little. Bigger than a snail though. They are about this big. (holding her hands apart from each other about 12 inches)  –Lauren, 4/21/09

Emerging is this internal battle.  Lauren can’t decide if she’s a baby that can’t walk, talk, stand up – whatever the task at hand might be that she doesn’t want to do – or if she’s a big girl getting to bask in her independence. I’d say I’m struggling with it too…where has that baby gone?!


When I watch her running and jumping outside, she seems so big.  As she’s walking up the stairs, alternating feet and not using her hands, I think man, she IS so big.  In four short months, we will be celebrating Lauren’s 3rd birthday – 3 years old!!  Where has the time gone?!  I definitely have a conflict inside me brewing.  How can I hold onto that little baby of mine forever while nurturing her freedom?  I know, it can’t be done…eventually every mom has to let go.  I’m just glad I won’t have to for some time.  However, I’m certain that moment, which seems like so far away, will arrice before I’m ready.  Just knowing that Lauren says, “Mom” & “Dad” as much as she says “Mommy” & “Daddy” now is a constant reminder that she’s growing up!  In the meantime, I’m embracing every minute of our Mommy and Daughter time!

Let’s see, what did this past month bring??

I learned that I need to slow down and enunciate more when talking to Lauren.
5/1/09 — Driving home from vacation.

Lauren: “Where are we?”
Holly: “Memphis, Tennessee.”
Lauren: “Mommy, they put Memphis in the sea!  (singing now) Mmmm, Mmmm, Memphis in the Sea!”

Lauren has the ability, if she wants, to entertain herself in the most unconventional ways.  Again, as we made our way back to Oklahoma from Florida, she played with her feet.  She proclaimed that they were baby kangaroos and that her sandals were their pouches.  She spent quite some time caring for those kangaroos – taking them out of their pouches, feeding them, hugging them, kissing them, rocking them to sleep, putting them back in their pouches and then starting the cycle all over again.  It was good entertainment for all of us.  I love to play and interact with Lauren, but sometimes it’s the moments that I’m the fly on the wall that make me smile most.

Lauren is obsessed with rhyming words. Throughout the day, she’s always coming up with words that rhyme. And if she can’t think of a word, she’ll make them up. A few examples of what you might hear Lauren exclaim with pride on a normal day: “Reach and beach rhyme!” “Dog and frog rhyme!” “Sea and me rhyme!” “Bake and cake rhyme!” “Stop and lop rhyme!” “Shine and tine rhyme!”

The time I spend with Lauren really means the world to me. We definitely have days that she tests every fiber of my being. It’s these times that I start to question if she’s intentionally trying to torture me that she will then grab my hand and say, “Mommy, hold my hand so that you feel special.” That’s when I know, she’s always listening to me – she’s always looking to me for guidance – she’s always going to be my baby no matter how big she gets.

Check out some of her latest pictures, click here.

Kala! Kala!! Kala!!!

It seems that Lauren really looks forward to Grandma & Grandpa’s vacations…because we get to keep their dog, Kala. Lauren LOVES her. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that when LP goes to pet her, Kala actually stays put. Hailey enjoys her personal space when it comes to Lauren. For the first few days, LP followed Kala around everywhere she went – well, maybe that’s not the most accurate description. Sometimes Lauren followed but a lot of the time she was guiding Kala around the house – clapping her hands at her to get her to walk and sometimes gently tugging on her collar. Lauren couldn’t wait to get down stairs each morning so she could turn on the light in the utility room and shout, “Wake up, Kala!” Lauren even learned the best way to give Kala her cookie. Unlike Hailey, who you can just throw a cookie up in the air in her direction and she usually catches it no matter how bad the throw…Kala hasn’t perfected that technique. After Hailey beat Kala to the cookie a couple of times, Lauren began to run all the way to the end of the hall and drop Hailey’s cookie there. Then she’d run back and gently place Kala’s cookie in her bowl, then lead Kala to the cookie staying, “There you go, Ka.” As endearing as it was, I’m certain Kala was so ready to get back to life without a 2 1/2 year old. However, I have to say, she was such a good sport!

WOW!  What a difference a year and a half makes…

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What’s Mine is Yours

Every day with Ryan and Lauren is special…Mother’s Day is exceptional. This year, the whole family was a little under the weather as I had given Ryan the cold that Lauren had given to me – and now Lauren, who had only experienced a mild case while on vacation, is getting sick again. Share and share alike, right??  However, we tried to not let it damper our weekend too much.

As I celebrated with Ryan and Lauren, I thought about all of the mothers in my life, past and present – my mom, my mother-in-law, my grandmothers, my sister-in-laws, and my friends. It’s a wonderful thing to have such amazing role models and influences. I admire and respect each one of them and am always looking to them for ways to becoming a better mommy to Lauren. Of course, I am far from perfect. However, I can honestly say that I do my very best each and every day to ensure that one day, when my daughter celebrates Mother’s Day with her children, she can be proud of her mom. My hope is to provide her with laughter, joy and security; to instill in her a sense of respect and self-esteem, kindness and compassion, courage and humility, and the deepest feeling of love for her family. To be the best mommy for Lauren is what I strive to become.

To see some pictures of me holding my beautiful daughter on Mother’s Day, click here.

Let’s Go! Let’s Go! E-S-P-O!!!

Perhaps the correct saying might ring a bell, “Let’s go! Let’s go! L-E-T-S-G-O!’ It’s something I sing to Lauren often, trying to get her motivated to get going – she is the ultimate lolly-gagger! However, it was Lauren’s version — “Let’s go! Let’s go! E-S-P-O!” that rang in our ears over and over again while on vacation. We took our time heading down to Florida in a 3 day road trip. It only took 30 minutes in the car for Lauren to ask, “Where’s the beach, Mommy?” Honestly, it wasn’t that bad and would have been much better if poor LP didn’t have a fever all the way down there. However, we made the best of it – stopping at rest stops to run, watching Lauren’s favorite movie, “Horton hears a Who”, staying only at hotels with indoor pools, visiting McDonald’s playplaces (another first for LP) and finally enjoying a little nap time from Lauren on the last day of travel, only to reach the condo to her chanting. “Let’s go! Let’s go! E-S-P-O! Let’s go! Let’s go! E-S-P-O!” Apparently, I was not getting her sun block and swimsuit on fast enough. It had taken us three days to reach the beach, now she wasn’t going to wait a second more to get her feet in the sand. While we got dressed, packed our bag, put on our sun block, sun glasses & hats, she continued to chant. As we walked down to the beach, she sang…getting louder as we got closer. Yes, people stared. But, Ryan and I just smiled as her excitement was contagious! Finally she buried her little toes into the powder white sand. It was warm. She was undoubtedly curious and decided to investigate it more…she licked it! That’s right; she just bent down and stuck her tongue right in it! Needless to say, she only did that once. We were just feet from the boardwalk, and she was rolling her whole body in the sand.


The next few days were pretty much the same. We spent all of our time at the beach, making sand castles and sand angles, burying each other, digging and digging and digging, jumping over waves, and filling up her watering can with ocean and dumping it onto the beach, pausing only briefly to watch it disappear into sand then heading back out for more water. The beach vacation of relaxation and doing nothing that Ryan and I have become so fond of over the years is now a thing of the past. It has been replaced with non-stop running, and jumping, and laughing. Different? Oh, yes…but still fantastic. It’s just so amazing to witness LP’s pure joy and excitement and wonder. Sharing the experience of Lauren’s first trip to the beach was sensational. It was extraordinary. It was truly marvelous!

It wasn’t until the last evening that we even ventured across the street to the bay side of the condo to check out the lazy river. We walked down to the water to check out the temperature…it was almost 8:00 and the sun was fading fast. As I turned around to inform Lauren that it was just too late and too cold to get in, she was already half undressed. There was no stopping her; she was going in no matter what. It’s nice to have a 2 ½ year old around to remind you that sometimes you just have to break the rules and enjoy the moment.

No words can accurately describe the occasion and really pictures don’t do justice to the wonderful time we had, but that didn’t stop me from trying to capture it all with my camera. Check out some pictures from our first family vacation, click here.