little girl with cup of popcornSings to herself all the time. Everywhere. Loudly and softly. But mostly loudly. Her current favorite? Baby Beluga. I ask her to sing it to me at bedtime because it is the sweetest song ever. I’ve been meaning to record her so I can capture her little voice singing it.

Loves the guinea pigs. Loves, loves, loves. Sometimes handles them a bit too, shall we say, aggressively. But is learning to use “gentle hands.”

Reads us books at bedtime. The switch has officially flipped, and she loves trying new books and new words. All the words.

little girl sitting on beachDevours spaghetti, pizza and mac and cheese. Also likes broccoli and brussels sprouts. Is warming up to watermelon.

Still doesn’t quite sit at the kitchen table. Perches on her knees or her feet. Squirms like a toddler and still falls out of chairs. Drives me crazy.

Loves to wear dresses and all sorts of accessories. The bigger, the better.

Constantly makes us laugh. I don’t know how she thinks of this stuff. Here’s a sample:

Me: Goodnight! I hope you have sweet dreams.
Sophie: Like a donut pushing me on a swing? Okay!

Shines like the sun every single day, even when she’s not feeling well (which has been frequent in the past year, since we discovered some sort of reflux that causes vomiting. Bleh.)

Gives good tight hugs around my neck and cradles me in a pseudo-headlock at bedtime. A super-snuggler.

Likes to pretend she’s Moana. Or Elsa or Ariel. Or a bunny rabbit. Depends on the current mood.

little girl taking a selfieLoves to take selfies with my phone. Especially upside-down.

Has an imagination that blows me away. Wacky and brilliant at the same time.

Adores animals of all kinds. Has the stuffed-animal collection to prove it. Current fave is a sea turtle, but trusty river otter holds prime real estate in her bed.

Stole my heart from the moment I laid eyes on her. Will always be my baby, even with those long, lanky arms and legs becoming longer and lankier.

Happy birthday number six, sweet Sophie. You own our hearts.

Meet Benny … and Lou

guinea pig named Benny

Say hello to Benny. This guy loves hay, green bell peppers and snuggling in Lily’s lap. He’s one year old and poops ALL THE TIME.

guinea pig

And this little bouffant-head? This is Lou. After we got Benny, I did a bunch of research on how guinea pigs get depressed by themselves, and I seriously couldn’t stand the thought of it. So I drove back to the rescue and adopted his son, who is just three months old. The girls had NO IDEA what I was up to, and they were beside themselves when I showed up at home with little Lou.

Lou loves carrots, squeaking at Benny and hiding in his igloo. He has a gift for eating hay on the run and shares Benny’s propensity for pooping EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME.

These two are possibly the cutest things I’ve ever seen (besides my own human babies, of course). The girls are totally smitten. Lily is proving how “machor” she is, waking early to hand-feed them veggies, cleaning the cage and playing with them every chance she gets.

Adopting Benny and Lou was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. I’m so glad Lily pointed our hearts in the right direction.

How to get your parents to buy you a guinea pig, by Lily S. (PART 2)

So after I discovered Lily’s first letter on my pillow a few weeks ago, I walked it downstairs to Marc and said, “I think it’s time.” He agreed.

The next morning, I promised Lily we’d sit down and talk about her letter over the weekend (which was only two days away, for the record). In the span of that 48 hours (the longest of her life, I imagine), she launched phase two of her campaign: ply the parents with facts.

On my pillow for the next two days appeared pro and con lists, a venn diagram, a drawing of the cage with dimensions, and pages (upon pages) of her hand-written research on everything from “guinea pig care” to “if you go on a trip,” in which she assured us “Don’t worry. I have the answers to all your quesntons. And believe me I can do this!”

Then, on that Friday night, came the final letter of appeal:

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

If you thoght my letter was not perswaseve I relly want a guniea pig. I have done all of the reserch and I have drawn a lot of picshors of all our addvenchers. So, please, please, please, I relly need this.

((hand-drawn picture of a guinea pig with a conversation bubble that says “I want to be with Lily!”))

Because we are not heartless, and because she has proven herself to be a responsible, caring kid, we are (of course) getting her a guinea pig. We sat her down that Saturday and told her the news, and she beamed. She had answers for every single one of our questions. She was REDDY, after all.

Then I got the flu and our plans stalled out. Lily came to me in the middle of that ordeal last week, approaching the bed with concern in her eyes, and I thought she was going to ask me how I was feeling. Nope. She said, “Mommy, are we not going to get a guinea pig because you’re sick now?” I assured her that the plan was still on, and that as soon as I could hold my head up, I’d call the vet to talk about the best place to find our new pet.

In the meantime, Marc had found a great cage on Craig’s List. And as soon as the vet referred me to a couple of rescue websites, Lily hopped online and found her guy. We picked him up tonight, but he is too scared to make his photo debut. Sophie was devastated that she couldn’t hold him. Lily sat by the cage and patiently sang to him, trying to lure him out of his igloo with treats. Because, of course, she had researched ways to make guinea pigs comfortable in their new homes.

Tomorrow (I hope) you’ll get to meet the newest member of our family. I can tell you that he is one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

How to get your parents to buy you a guinea pig, by Lily S. (Part 1)

letter from child asking for guinea pigShe’s been campaigning for months. Almost a year, actually.

It started out slow. The occasional mention of a new pet. Library books on hamsters and guinea pigs. Drawings, paintings, and lots of “did you know” fun facts at the dinner table.

Then she started the hard core research, practically filling a binder with her findings on all things rodent. Comparison charts. Brochures from the pet store. Magazine clippings.

And just a few weeks ago, letters started appearing on my pillow at night.

“Please read this! Mommy and Daddy!” she’d scrawled on the first one, after folding it 16 times into a little one-inch-square nugget of hope. Here’s what it said:

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

I would relly like to have a nother pet. The pet that I would like is a ginea pig. I know that you might think that I am not muchur enognf to have one but I think I am doing really well in school and I am very machor. And if you aggre to all of this I promis to take care of it. I will clean out the cage, scoop up the poop, let it exersiz and play with it evory day. And I will also pay for as much as I can.

So, pleas pritty pleas with a chery on top can I do this? I know it is a big responsibility. But I am reddy! I have don all of the reserch and the mesherments so don’t worry! I feel like I am more than reddy because I am sinding you the research that I have done. And like I said before, I will take care of it all by myself without your help. And I will let Sophie play with him too. I just hafe to set ground rules with her.

I can do this remember!

Lily ((hand-drawn paw print emoji))

P.S. Waht I mean by mesherments is I know where to put the cage.


little girl on beach

Starts almost every sentence with “Did you know?!” and launches into an explanation before we’ve had a chance to answer.

Loves, loves, loves school.

Is a bookworm who begs for extra minutes to read every night.

Has the same tickle-spots as when she was a baby. Often laughs until she cries.

Can remember ANYTHING. Like that time three years ago when she lost a penny and then found it.

Despite the general, persistent irritation of having a little sister, she protects Sophie, walks her to her classroom every day (holding her hand) and hugs her before bed every night.

Delights in being outdoors. Climbs trees like a monkey, seems to feel most free when riding her bike and loves a good game of hide-and-seek.

Is a loyal friend who loves sleepovers, dressing alike and playing in secret hideouts at school and home.

Loves animals — especially little ones — beyond measure and is steadfast in her campaign for a hamster or guinea pig (complete with a research binder stuffed with facts and illustrations).

Tries to sneak a little blush and lip gloss for school. Tween-age-hood, here we come.

Has this wonderful confidence and self-assurance that makes others believe they can feel the same way about themselves.

Loves a good joke. Often tells bad ones.

Lights up a room with her toothy smile, twinkly eyes and infectious silliness and positivity.

Will always be my first baby, the person who made me a mother, my snuggle-bunny. (For real. She promised to keep snuggling me even when I’m an old lady.)

Owns my heart.

Happy ninth birthday to my super-girl Lily Maxine. You make life marvelous.


Why I marched

women's march in Raleigh NC

I marched for all those who are marginalized, bullied or mistreated just for being who they are.

For HUMAN rights, equality, inclusivity, kindness, justice, love.

women's march in Raleigh NC

women's march in Raleigh NC

With deep gratitude for all the women who came before me, especially my mother who shattered glass ceilings in corporate America, then came home every evening and cooked us dinner, exhausted, still wearing her power suits. Now she works for peace and justice as a secular Franciscan. And for my grandmother, who at 79 years old, was just elected to her county school board and is passionate about helping children.

women's march in Raleigh NC

women's march in Raleigh NC

women's march in Raleigh NC

For myself, because I should never be made to feel afraid or uncomfortable or unworthy because I’m a woman. Because I deserve equal pay for equal work. And control of my own body.

I marched to celebrate being a woman. Because it is a gift, not an impediment.

women's march in Raleigh NC


women's march in Raleigh NC

Above all, I marched for my daughters, so that they know they are magnificent individuals who can do and be anything they want.

I marched for their futures.

women's march in Raleigh NC

women's march in Raleigh NC

I wasn’t alone. 17,000 here in Raleigh. Half a million in our nation’s capital.

Thousands and thousands more all over the country and the world.

And I’m going to keep marching. Every day. As best I can.