The Unwrapped Present

Clara has a baby doll that she feeds with a bottle whenever we get in the car, and lately when I see her giving her baby a sip of juice and then taking a swig for herself, I think, Hang on, Honey, Mom’s going to give you a real baby soon! Often I think of this baby as a gift, all wrapped up in placenta paper and put on layaway at Wombs-R-Us. I will give Aaron and me another baby to love, but most often, I think about how I will give Clara a baby brother or sister to care for and smother with love and Cheerios. At first, it seemed strange to think of the baby as a present, as something that would start its little baby life as an actual physical gift to other people, but then if I’ve learned one thing in the last few months, it’s “trust the pregnant inner self” when it comes to matters of the heart (and cravings for kalamata olives.) Our lives are gifts to other people, and here’s some of the giving that happened over the weekend.

Oh, yes, Aaron and I went to our first adult birthday party in ten years. It was our friend Katie’s 40th Mardi Gras birthday bash, and here I met the first woman I’ve ever known to have an au pair. I also found the Baby Jesus in my piece of King’s Cake. Good luck for a year! . . . until Aaron told me that if I wanted my luck, I shouldn’t have thrown Jesus away with the leftover icing.  Aaron enjoyed some tasty New Orlean’s punch and is looking a little sloshier in this picture than he really was. He wasn’t too thrilled about getting green glitter all over his face from the mask so maybe that’s the tilted half-smile we’re seeing here.

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On Sunday, Clara got us going around 7 a.m. after breakfast and insisted we start cleaning. She moved all her toys to the carpet and gave them and the floor a good Dust Busting.

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Next, she thought it would be a good idea to vacuum up her clothes. Notice the footwear. It’s always one boot and one patent leather shoe for cleaning days.

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After so much attention to detail, we were exhausted and enjoyed an afternoon  nap before the big game on Sunday.

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Then it was party time and we headed over to Kelsey and Paul’s to watch a pretty darn good Super Bowl game. The girls displaced every toy Anna owns and played together smashingly well while we watched the whole game and ate Kelsey’s delicious pulled-pork sandwiches.  Here Clara and Anna make a bed out of a dog bed.

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They climbed into Anna’s toy chest and enjoyed throwing out puzzle pieces and purses and miniature pianos.

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I stole a couple more pictures off Kelsey’s blog and included them below. Clara has the precocious tendency of energetically closing her door when she wants to be alone with her toys, and here, her toy of choice happens to be Anna. After closing the door on us a couple times, Clara was caught by Kelsey while playing “Bury My Friend in Blankets with the Door Closed.”anna and clara

This was one of our favorite shots from the night. Later, Anna took a little spill and Clara pulled out her new trick—a kiss with a real kiss-noise, but Anna wasn’t quite ready for Clara to smooch it and make it better. Poor girl just wants a little time to cry on Mom’s shoulder first:)

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It’s the most wonderful thing to watch a human grow up. Clara won’t leave the house unless she’s kissed the dogs “bye,” she loves to hold our hands and say prayers, she doesn’t like sharing unless she’s sharing with her friends, and she loves doing whatever her mom and dad do. If I try to sneak out in the 35 degree weather with just a sweater, Clara wants to do the same.

I probably won’t ever forget what my dear friend Mandy said once. She told me she had never heard a friend of hers in Fairbanks, who has a whole flock of amazingly well-behaved children, say an unkind word to any of them.  As we watch our little gift of a baby slowly come unwrapped as she turns one and then two and then soon eighteen, I think that once we remove the tissue paper and the bubble wrap and all the other stuff we layer on top of ourselves to keep from making much noise in case someone forgets to handle with care,  we see that kindness is always our best gift.

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