a day in your life

To Annie: this is what happened the day you turned 3 years and 8 months old.

At 6am, Paul goes on a crying jag that brings Dad in the room for comfort. You seize on the opportunity for a potty trip while he’s handy, then go back to sleep hard. When we push into the bedroom at 7:35, we wake you.

You head downstairs in your pajamas, climb into your chair, and consider the blueberries I have arranged into a smiley face. “Blue berries, Annie!” Paul exclaims, and you take little bites of them to show me how the insides are NOT blue, but ARE the same, berry to berry. You proceed to your banana yogurt while we make the toast.

I coax you into your dress for the day, but you DO NOT CONSENT to our pant selection. I implore your mercy. You request a different pair, and we proceed. I buckle you in the car and wave goodbye as Dad takes you to school. Until Riverside, you loudly mourn the fact you had not told me to “have a nice day.”

At school, you carry Paul’s diaper supply to his teachers, and bid him farewell. Dad drops you in the Owls with your 4th water bottle of the year. We suspect there is a ditch on the playground where you have been dumping them.

I hope you have a good day. You have become very fond of your teachers, especially Ms. Nomi, and your classmate Winnie seems to have finally replaced Isabella in your triumvirate of friends. I pick you up at 4:30 or so; you’re climbing on the playground structure and find me as I’m hugging Paul off a swing.

We obtain cracker snacks and are about to get into the car when you declare you have to go potty. We head back inside and make a shockingly efficient trip back to your classroom, where you kindly suggest the toy Paul can play with and make sure it’s back on the shelf before we go.

In the car, you remember the line of nursing students we once saw streaming down a long sidewalk—wow, was it only two months ago??—and ask where they’ve gone. You and Paul negotiate some disagreements about music volume, and I remember to appreciate how much less you two just shout over each other’s words now than you used to, when Paul had just found his voice.

You clamour out of the car and into the house. Dinner is not quite ready, so we sit on the couch and watch family pictures cycle through the new Google product Dad has introduced into the living room. Access to a special fork (a single, purchased foolishly when there was only one of you) causes strife, even removed from the choice set, and you and Paul both want the red plastic fork that remains. Dad pushes you to work it out, and you graciously concede and take the yellow fork instead. Peace reigns. I teach you how to pick up your pasta (don’t just stab—stick-slide-scoop). We all learn and grow.

After dinner and with clean hands, you sit on my lap at the piano where I bang out Rudolf in exactly the same halting pace my mom did. You call it “Rudolf the Red Reindeer” and have loved it since you heard it at the Capitol tree lighting a week or so ago. It’s your carol of the year, I think. (Last year’s was “Jingle bells, jingle bells, ALL the way…”)

You discover new presents under the Christmas tree. OMG. They have arrived in the mail from Debbie and Bianca, and, you correctly read your name on yours. You caress it, carry it around, play with its string, and generally risk loving the package to death two weeks before you get to open it. I extricate you from the loops you’ve used to fashion it into a backpack before you bring it straight into the tub.

We have a relatively joyful bubble bath, and you hurry into your pajamas to warm up and watch an episode of Daniel Tiger (today’s lesson: when you’re upset, you can find a way to feel better). For a bedtime book you select The Gruffalo but express regret on the way to bed for not picking the Jeanie book, which you just discovered and we read several times over the weekend.

Your last questions are in a morbid vein as you continue to grapple with death. I do my best to be honest without completely freaking you out. I think there’s a lot more of this in our future.

a day in your life

To Annie: on the day you turned 3 years and 7 months old, I forgot to notice. Aunt Peanut just texted me today to check on our well-being. Here are some high points, to the best of my recollection, three days later.

It was Saturday, and you slept in! You and Paul ate toast and tea with me for breakfast while Dad mowed the lawn. You dressed yourself in three shades of pink. I often wonder what your future self will make of your 3-year-old sartorial choices.


We bundled up in the 45-degree weather for our usual walk—trail, turtles, and tacos—and made a Central Market trip together for the first time in a few weeks. Balloons were obtained.


You asked me to stay with you during your “nap,” which I agreed to do on the condition of no talking. You watched over my shoulder as I read the 1000-page The English and Their History. I got sleepy and closed my eyes. You did not, and poked them—my eyes—gently. After an hour, you went downstairs to watch Dad play video games.

You joined me in the kitchen to make another pot of sweet orange tea, and donned goggles while I sliced a load of onions for soup. Dad took you to the playground, and I met you there. You can swing yourself now. Did you hear that? YOU CAN SWING YOURSELF NOW. This may be the most significant accomplishment of your life to date.

Back home, we seriously spooked you with 30 minutes of Monsters Inc., broke for dinner, and regrouped with Finding Nemo. You went to bed, with no bath, and just a little bit of lollipop in your hair.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 and a half.

I walk into your room at 7:30 and find you standing in your crib, smiling. You throw your leg over the side, threatening to learn that you actually can easily climb out of that thing. I intercept you before you obtain dangerous knowledge, and leave you curled on the floor, pretending to be Baby Annie. Dad curls up next to you, and you have a discussion that ends in a piggyback ride down the stairs.


You are a BIG fan of the overnight oatmeal I’ve made, a new breakfast experiment. When we finish, you request more for tomorrow, and watch me make it in the kitchen. I give you a few inches of foil to play with, and you wrap it around your baby bottle and tell me it’s a taco. We start to head outside, and you declare loudly that you do NOT want to put on your shoes. Then: “Actually, I DO want to put on my shoes.” It’s hard to keep up with you.

We frisk around a bit in one of our first cool mornings, then head to the car. On the way to school, you’re full of your usual questions about why everything in the world is the way it is. You spot the golden clouds and tell me you see a sunset.

You escort Paul and I to the Pandas class, bottle-taco in hand, and then we head down to the Owls. You stash your treasure in your cubby for Show and Share on Friday, and cling to me, as you have all week, when I say goodbye. We have a long and thorough hug. I leave you with Ms. Jolene, trying to psych you up for the next activity.


A few minutes before five, Paul and I stroll onto the playground and find you barefoot on a tire swing, with Ms. Noemi pushing. We fail to find your sandals, and you tell Ms. Stephanie all about it as Paul obtains some crackers on the way out. Halfway into the car, Ms. Noemi comes running, sandals in hand and full of apologies.

“Mom, can you please roll my windows down?” YEAH I can, cuz it’s gorgeous. You wave to a horde of nursing students in scrubs as they walk down the sidewalk. We discuss the air quality on the highway on our way home, and when it’s okay again to roll down the windows.

At home, you climb out of the backseat and ogle our across-the-street neighbor as he does yardwork. Dad smears bug repellent on you, and we load up into the wagon for a picnic dinner.

"Annie!" I say, and you turn my way.
“Annie!” I say, and you turn my way, your face in rare repose.

We find a nice spot on a hill overlooking the playground and unpack our meal. You don’t eat much, but ask questions about what’s happening on the tennis court until your understanding of the game matches my own. You slide and climb and rampage around the playground, visit the blanket for some grapes, and ask if I’ll push you on the swing. I do.


You desperately have to pee, and we make a brave excursion to the extremely off-putting bathrooms on site. You can’t quite muster the courage to enter, and clench up ever tighter. I resist the temptation to let you squat in the grass. We play some more and make it home dry. You decline help in the bathroom and do it all yourself.

We play a bit downstairs. I follow your directions and Paul’s through a game of pretend, cycling quickly between firefighter rescuing you, a doctor, and your mom while you’re a baby. I tuck you into your pretend bed on the couch and bring you your “bottle.”

7:00 rolls around, and it’s time to wash the Deet off you. You hop happily into the shower (“I want it cold.”) but throw a fit when Dad tries to wash your body. Eventually we get you clean.

You pretend to be a baby all through our bedtime ritual, which we all enjoy. Maneuvering your body through all the tasks is at least twice as easy as persuading you to do it yourself, and we’re brushing your teeth thoroughly for perhaps the first time in your life. Two thumbs up to the Baby-Annie game from all players.

We read some of Fox in Socks for our bedtime book, which really highlights the absurdity of all your why questions. (“Why is he sewing his nose?”) I carry you to the light switch, and you execute your duties. In bed, it’s socks, questions, a pet, and hand-hold, more questions, last-minute demands for your pet and hand-hold because “I didn’t feel them!!”, more questions, an I-love-you, and goodnight. Phew. Three-and-a-half.


a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 5 months old.

You wake up slowly, and I find you still lounging peacefully when I open your bedroom door a few minutes past 7:30. You let out a few “wah wahs” to indicate that Baby Annie is in residence—a favorite pretend character these days. Paul pipes up, “Baby Annie!” and we navigate the potential pitfalls of the morning through an elaborate game of pretend-baby. Ten minutes later, you’re in the car, happily mining a breakfast cup filled with toast, grapes, a chewable vitamin, and a small slice of the banana bread we baked together yesterday.

By the time we’re getting off the highway, you’re 3 again and back to experimenting with language and social norms. You spar with Paul over who tooted (“I tooted! No, I tooted!” Actual fact: no one tooted), then segue into jokes:

“The airplane tooted on the tree.” (Pause for laughter.)

“The airplane tooted on the car.” (Pause for laughter.)

“I put the potty in the toilet with a cockroach.” (Pause for laughter.)

Paul is a generous audience. You ask me if your jokes are funny, and I tell you that the test is whether people laugh at them, so therefore they must be.

You are making an airplane shape with your hand and zooming it around---something you learned at the CDC.
You are making an airplane shape with your hand and zooming it around.

At school, you run all the way down the hallway to the Pandas class, and wait patiently through Paul’s drop-off process. Then it’s off to the Owls, where your classmates are already in full swing. We unload your spare clothes and clean sheets, and you head off to wash your hands for a second-breakfast of canned pears and Cheerios.

When I pick you up at 5:15, you run for a hug and sing “mooo-oom.” We grab your sandals and put them on at the stairs—you are barefoot at school most of the time now. I don’t mind philosophically, but it means your feet are always filthy.

You hug Paul at pick up and run full-tilt back down the hall. Outside the building, you walk on the limestone wall like a balance beam before heading to the car. I feel compelled to reprimand you for dallying, as you crawl in through the drivers’ side and take the scenic route to your seat.

In the car, we discuss interrupting, and how we need to practice not doing it as a family. It’s a tricky one, though. I may have just taught you to interrupt politely: “Excuse me, Mom…(pay attention to ME now).” Better than nothing I guess.

You ask a series of why questions about car windows, and exhaust, and air quality. At home, you ring the front doorbell and summon Dad, who talks to us from California. You suggest “turtle-ini” for diner, and you and Paul romp happily while I make it. We sit at the table for a good spell, then you go wash your hands and face under your own power.

playing while I make dinner
playing while I make dinner

We play upstairs. You are very into Paul’s new baby doll and set up an elaborate scene where you two are its parents, and I’m the doctor. We follow up with a classic game of  Hall-Klingner hide-and-seek, which bears only passing resemblance to real hide-and-seek. We talk to Dad on the phone, then play some more. You and Paul make me pretend coffee in your kitchen.

I lure you into fresh clothes with the promise of “being the monster,” and you hop to it. We do a raucous few minutes of mom-monster eating two pink princesses, who line up to be devoured. Staying on theme, we read every word of Beast. You trot off to do the lights by yourself, and I scoop Paul into his crib, then you. Socks, hand-holding, tummy pet, and a brief series of stalling questions—“what happens if we have the tummy troubles on our dog?”—finish off the night. Sleep well, kiddo.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 4 months old.

It’s Paul’s birth-week, and the special attention is rolling in. He wakes up talking about his new fire truck while you stay quiet with your eyes screwed shut. I come to you singing a song about you and lift you up into a big hug. The attention helps you face the day.

You wake up in dry undies, having decided a week ago that you don’t need to wear diapers at night any more. So that’s it for diapers, just, done! You head to the potty, and I sit you on the bathroom counter for a ponytail.

Breakfast is plums and mini-pancakes.
Breakfast is plums and mini-pancakes.

Dad takes you to school and drops you off in your still-new class, the Owls. Special features include Splash Day, wherein you get wet and muddy, and a classmate’s birthday, which offers further training in not being the special one. You come home with an almost implausibly sophisticated piece of art.

I actually asked your teacher a few days later to verify that you had really painted this by yourself. She backed you up.
I actually asked your teacher a few days later to verify that you had really painted this by yourself. She backed you up.

At home, you encounter Aunt Camei, Granddad, and another birthday girl—Susu! She’s here to celebrate her 70th, and what better way?

catching up
catching up

You have apparently learned to snort at school today and are pretty delighted with that accomplishment. The next half hour passes in frantic play with grandparents, Paul’s new firetrucks, Rabumpus—I lose track. You cap it off by literally running laps around the house, which Susu and Granddad obligingly count. Twenty-five.

I would have thought you worked up an appetite, but you decline your dish of mac and cheese and for dinner eat five strawberries and a glass of milk. Then upstairs we go, for a lengthy game of hide and seek that involves running out of the room, shouting some numbers, running back in, and squealing when you find me and Susu hiding under a blanket. Paul tails you through the process. Eventually the whole family joins in.

At 7:15, it’s time to wind down. We wash hands and brush teeth, and you pick out Ollie the Stomper to read, then Dog Goes to Nursery School with Dad. “We haven’t read this one in a long long long long time.”

You turn off the lights, and we proceed through our cuddle routine. As I’m leaving the room, you bust out the hard questions, and I stand in the doorway and spontaneously generate answers to such gems as, “What happens to me when I die?” In response to my answer (something like: our bodies go back to the earth, and everything else that’s alive carries a little piece of us), you follow-up with, “Do the crabs get me?” Oof. Where’s heaven when you need it? You are also curious about whether clouds die, whether water is alive, and when I find myself trying to answer whether the sun will die, I decide to call it.

I say goodnight, and you ask your true burning question: “Is tomorrow a school day or a home day?”

A home day, Annie. A home day.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is what happened on the day you turned 3 years and 3 months old.

You wake up in the kids room at Gamma and Gobka’s Colorado casa. Rosie and Max have already rolled out of their bottom bunks, and you and Paul chatter to each other in your pack-and-plays until I come and lift you out. It’s the fifth day of our visit, and Uncle Jeff, Max, and Rose are getting ready to leave. You are sad about this.

We come upstairs for a breakfast of yogurt and fruit, but Totoro is playing on the TV, and its tractor beam sucks you into a screen coma for 20 minutes before you make it to the table. Breakfast finally achieved, you do a little cuddling and romping, and then it’s time to say goodbye to our cousins.

reading with Gamma
reading with Gamma, and preparing for a luxurious hair twirl

You and I head out for a walk around the neighborhood. You start a little whiny (“I’m TIRED from WALKING”) but we persevere, picking daisies and listening to birds. That description sounds a little more idyllic than the reality, which involves quite a bit of distracting you from your desire to be carried.

Back at the casa, we read books and play with blocks, then load up in the car for a trip to the playground in downtown Winter Park. You climb and walk on ledges and check out the other children.

"This is my home."
“This is my home.”

We head back for lunch: peanut butter sandwiches and milk. Your sandwich-eating technique is to blaze a trail straight through the center, frosting your cheeks with crumbs and peanut grease. You have loved sharing a bedroom with Max and Rosie, and at naptime have been sleeping in Rosie’s bottom bunk. I get you tucked in there and read you your favorite local book, a Cherokee legend on the origin of the Milky Way (a dog stole some food—wonder why this resonates?). We snuggle a little longer, and you ask me a stream of questions. “What happens if water spills from the top bunk? What are thumbs for? Does our home have string? What’s inside the bed?” I finally extract myself, and you seem to sleep.

It’s a good nap. We see you again a couple of hours later. Paul sleeps on, so you have us to yourself. We sit on the back porch and watch the hummingbirds, and you abscond with my kindle to turn all the pages and thoroughly lose my place. We do a little reading together and building with blocks. Paul wakes up and joins us.

Dad and I head off for a date night. You watch the end of Totoro, a bit of Moana, and a PJ Masks episode. For dinner, you have a bit of chicken, request and do not eat tomatoes, and reject thawed peas in favor of still-frozen ones. Afterward, it’s playtime a little longer, and then you walk Gobka carefully through the process of putting on your nighttime diaper. He does an excellent rendition of the story about cornmeal and the Milky Way. You make sure everyone has socks, and go to sleep.

pure Annie
pure Annie

At 10:00, you are fast asleep when I sneak into your room and scoop you out of bed, whispering to you to be quiet. I carry you out onto the patio and lay down on a blanket to look up at the bright stars in the clear dark sky. I don’t think you’ve ever seen them before. In your tiny nighttime voice:

“Why is it so dark?”
“Because it’s the middle of the night.”
“Does Paul know it’s dark?”

Brighter than the stars are the headlights of cars on the highway, and those are what catch your eye.

“Mom, why are people still driving to their homes or other places?”
“Because it’s nighttime, and time for people to go home to their families if they can.”
“Why do some people not go home to their families?”
“Well, they may have other things to do. We’re lucky to be together with our family.”
“I love Gamma and Gobka, and Granddad and Susu. We haven’t seen Granddad and Susu in a long time!”

We talk for a little while, and sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at your request. You ask to go back to bed, so I take you there. You snuggle back down, and go back to sleep.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 2 months old.

You wake up around 7 and are thrilled to find Granddad and Susu to greet you. Dad is on a work trip in Zurich for a whole week, so we have called in heavy reinforcements. You request that Granddad pick you up and change you out of your diaper, then dazzle him with your ability to put on your own undies.

After breakfast, we loiter in the front yard, and a flirtation with the wagon prompts a playground trip. You and Paul head first to the swings, where again my attentions are unwanted, and you demand pushes from ONLY GRANDDAD. We move onto the slides, where your sweaty legs squeeeeeeak your slow way down.

foot-drumming in the tunnel
foot-drumming in the tunnel

You pull a shift serving play-pizza out of the playhouse, ride the turtle, and do some very serious swinging in the big-kid swings. We roll on home after a good hour.

Passing through the neighbor’s sprinkler in the wagon reminds us of our own, so when we arrive in our backyard, we hook it up. You pull your usual nudist routine and have a ball running around. Thank goodness for spray-on sunscreen.


At 10:15 or so, Charly arrives, and your grown-up family bugs out for some quiet time. You continue your romp and eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. You help Charly settle Paul down in his crib for nap, then create a splendid tent palace for yourself on top of our bed. At 2:30, I see you again, cuddled up with your pillow and friends, tent flap open with a pile of books and toys outside it. You can unzip your tent now, so we must exercise persuasion to keep you nap-ready. Good practice for when you realize you can easily climb out of your crib.

We get dressed and make for Uncle Mike and Evie’s house. It’s a Hall family spectacular over there. You require your usual warm-up time but are soon upstairs with Miles and Lyla, playing with 20-year-old toys and having a ball. Knocking a full cup of water onto a coffee table full of books is the only hitch in the program.

Dinner at the kids table is followed by a round of firearms training. You pose for your NRA-member profile pic.

Annie's got a gun.
Annie’s got a gun.

We head home around six. I bug out to go see Bill Clinton on his book tour, and you coach Granddad and Susu through your bedtime routine. You take a bath with a good shampoo from Susu’s magic fingers, execute a successful potty break, and then dry off and pick out the dress you remember wearing when you fed the cows at Pig Roast. You read five books together and proceed through your light-switch routine, more or less. And that’s a wrap!

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 1 month old.

You wake up at 7, but we’re not quite ready for you in the grown-up world. You hang out with Paul for half an hour, chatting about this and that, maybe playing with the window shades or throwing your toys out of your cribs—who knows? It’s your time.

Good morning to you!
Good morning to you!

I find you smiling and lift you out of your crib. You unfasten your diaper and let it drop on the floor. Your undies selection is elaborate. You pull all of your Paw Patrol pairs out of the drawer, line them up meticulously, and select your favorite. Watching for the tag in the back, you pull them on more-or-less by yourself.

Downstairs we go, to “breksis.” You peer into the fridge and pick out lemon yogurt, and chat with Granddad and Susu while you eat. They’re here for most of the week while your poor dad is on his third work trip in as many weeks. You request an album. (We have just bowed to hipster culture and procured a turntable—I know). “The one with the white stripes, side D,” you specify. We’re Going To Be Friends.

Breksis complete, you and Paul make a lap or two with the push toys, then it’s shoes on and out to the car.

IMG953927 (1)


En route to school, you inquire about the panhandler. “What is he doing?” I try to be honest with you about this stuff while not offering you more information than you ask for. “He’s asking for money.” “Why does he want money?” “So he can buy things.”


Hey! We’re on the highway. You tell me you can see a circle moon, and I realize you’re looking at the sun behind the clouds. “Oh, Annie, that’s the sun, don’t look right at it.” “Why-y?” “Because your eyes might burn.” “Will it make me sick?” Well, no, it might just, um, damage your vision forever.

It’s hard conversations we have in the car. The other day I may have accidentally taught you about death when trying to keep you from putting a plastic bag in your mouth.

We arrive at school, and I leave you waiting in line for the potty. Bye bye, sweetie. I assume you have a normal day, and I actually don’t see you again. Shanna picks you up from the playground at 4:30. You ride home in her car to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus.” Stuck at a light downtown for 15 minutes, you and Paul name vehicles of different types, and you speculate on causes of the delay. “Are there firetrucks helping people?” Could be.


At home, you play outside until the mosquitos find you. (I confess this photo is from last week with Shanna, but I assume it’s a similar scene. CHEEEEESE.)

It’s pasta for dinner, and then a bath. You are too tired for life. “I can’t read a book, I have my bracelet on!” Shanna comforts you: “It’s okay, honey, we can take off the bracelet.”

At 7:25, you’ve completed the ritual and are tucked into bed. Ten minutes later, I get home, and you are fast asleep.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned three years old.

At 7:20, I hear you singing the birthday song to yourself, quietly, through the door to your room. Dad and I walk in, boisterous.


“Annie, do you know what today is??” I ask. You look up at me from your book with a sweet, hopeful smile, and venture, “…A home day?”

Oh, well, not quite. But hey, it’s your birthday—that’s pretty good. I ask if you want to put on your special dress, the one that your classmate Isabella’s family left in your cubby yesterday as a gift. “Um, yeah!” you affirm. I lift you out of your crib, we select some Paw Patrol undies, and you step into your confection of a dress. (When you tried it on for the first time yesterday, you looked so sweet and soft that Paul immediately hugged you.)

Downstairs, you request lemon yogurt, and I oblige. The mood is cheerful. You and Paul finish your yogurt—not a drop on your dress!—and munch through a couple slices of toast. We slide on your shoes and head out.

It’s trash day, so we remark on the garbage trucks. You ask why they’re called that, and I explain that garbage and trash are two words for the same thing, and you add that there are also recycling trucks, and compost trucks. True. You point out the alligators (elevators) on the buildings under construction downtown, and debate with Paul whether certain vehicles are cars or trucks.

At school, we run into Isabella and her dad while you are doing this:


So they are able to see how much you enjoy your new dress. We drop Paul off in the Sea Turtles, and Shanna and Maricela make a fuss over you. I leave you in the Peacock class with a promise to see you again at 3. Mary tells me you spend the whole day twirling.


At 3:20, I find you and your classmates having snack around the tables, which I enhance with tiny cupcakes (HEB’s finest, with the icing sliding off the top from spending the day in my warm car.) You are quiet, but I engage your classmates in conversation about who is two and who is three. When I ask what comes after 3, I am greeted by blank stares. In another life, I’d know precisely when you were developmentally able to understand sequence in that way, but that is not the life we’re leading. I also would have baked the cupcakes.

We say goodbye to the Peacocks and seek Paul on the playground. He spots us and runs over for a hug, pink and damp. I hustle you all to the car with a promise of a cupcake in the backseat. You do not get one speck of it on your dress. Paul is another story.


At home, we say hi-bye to Dad as he gets home from the office but heads into a last meeting. While I’m helping you on the potty, Paul joins that meeting, and we call him out. You ask to watch “a little Kiki,” and what the hey, it’s your birthday. So we do that for half an hour or so, until Dad finishes his meeting and the good weather lures us outside for a walk.


We come home to open presents: animal puppets from our friends Katie/Poppy, a rocketship tent from Gamma and Gobka, and a baby doll from us. You’re into it.

It’s potty time again. With a taffeta rustle, you gather your skirts in your lap and give me the grimace I have known for three years. “I’m going to poop a lot and tinkle a lot,” you inform me. Yes ma’am.

You and Paul are coming a little unglued but have a mostly-good time romping in the tent while Dad and I rinse berries and thaw peas and make two boxes of Annie’s macaroni and cheese. I wish I could tell you this was a special meal designed with your favorites in mind, but really it’s just what we eat these days.


Dad offers you the option of continuing to push your baby in the stroller downstairs or watching 10 more minutes of Kiki after a bath. You opt for the latter, and cooperatively get undressed and into the bath. I wash your giant body, thinking of my vanished newborn, and it’s back to the movie for the gripping conclusion. Your doll joins the pack of friends in your crib, and we read a new book from our friends Caroline/Jane. We start our lullaby, and you turn down the lights—the bedtime job you relish.

After I tuck you in with your baby, you ask me to sing “Twinkle Twinkle,” so I do while you hold my hand.

“Thank you for singing me the song, Mom.”

“You’re welcome! Goodnight, Annie. I love you so much.”

“I love you so much TOO, Mom!”

I visit Paul’s crib for a last cuddle while we review the plan for the morning, which involves making toast and consulting clocks and the location of the shelves in our bedroom. You want to know everything. I back away slowly and say a final goodnight through a crack in the door.


Then you sing and make siren noises and say “I’M THREE I’M THREE I’M THREE wee-oh-wee-oh-wee-oh” and ask Paul if he speaks Spanish for another 40 minutes. I listen to you while I write this.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 11 months old.

I lift you out of your crib at 7:15, and we check the boo-boo on your butt right off. (You sat down hard on something at school yesterday and bruised yourself; when I saw you at the end of the day, you appealed, “Mom, can you please kiss my butt?”) We head downstairs for a brief breakfast, then buckle you into the stroller for a walk with Dad, Paul, and Sous. It’s Saturday!

You meet Kalia with Eleanor and Riley for tacos at our usual truck, and at 9:30 are home to regroup for our next adventure. We’re headed to your friend June’s house to celebrate her birthday with one other classmate of yours. Y’all are besties.

June, Annie, and Isabella
June, Annie, and Isabella

After your usual warm-up period, you’re swarming all over the playground and ordering cups of water from June’s mom. You feast on berries and cupcakes (you lick off the frosting, and Paul eats the cake—brilliant collaboration). June gets upset for some 3-year-old reason, and you spend 20 minutes delivering toys to her to make her feel better.

We head home for naptime, which you protest as usual, starting things off un-peacefully with half an hour of yelling. Eventually you do sleep, and we see you again around 2:30. You briefly meet Uncle George, here for SXSW and currently plugged into the VR machine. We’ll get some quality time later.


We hustle to the grocery store. After a critical first stop for a balloon (purple), we make our usual rounds. You enjoy samples of fruits, cheese, and a blueberry pancake, and select peach yogurt and a chocolate cookie, which we’ll carve into 8 tiny wedges for dessert.


Back home, you and Paul play together with only light supervision while Dad and I get dinner started. Around 4:30, our friends Katie, Doug, and Poppy arrive. We eat shrimp and grits around the table while you stroll around the living room. (Alone, we will require you to sit at the table with us for at least 10 minutes, but with company we are not in the mood to force it.) Dad ends up eating your dinner—boy, you would have loved those cheese grits if you’d tried them—and you deign to join us for a bit of cookie at the end.

While the grown-ups linger at the table, somehow you and Paul maneuver yourselves onto your bike together. (Not authorized for indoor use, but again, we’re in no mood.) You lead the pack of children in a lengthy round of pushing toys across the house. We turn on 20 minutes of Totoro to wind things down, and you use the potty to good effect.



We make our way upstairs and take a quick sponge bath. You turn on the noise machine and click the lights down to a low setting. We sing the lullaby and proceed through our increasingly elaborate bedtime ritual. (It now features you standing on your crib railing, while I hold you, to check whether you’ve grown tall enough to touch the ceiling. “Not quite!” you conclude.) As we leave the room, you chirp a reminder not to turn the lights all the way off. You got it, boss.