Letter to Camille: 93 Months, Part 2

Camille and Chance Go Hiking

Hello sweet girl! Right now I am sitting in a cramped airplane seat, on my way to see my friend Anna and meet her new baby in Seattle. And right now you’re at school, not very happy with me about this. I’ve raised you to be a traveler, and you don’t particularly like being left behind. Can’t say I blame you!
The flight is finally giving me time to pen the second part of my monthly letter, one with happier tales. Or perhaps, happier tails. 
You’ve always loved animals, and for some time you’ve wanted a dog, but your Daddy and I weren’t ready. Every time you’d come across a dog, you’d bury your face in its fur and say, “I wish I had a dog.” And every time it tugged on my heart a bit. As you’ve grown and become more independent and responsible, a dog began to seem like a reasonable idea.
I told myself that I wouldn’t go looking for a dog, but that if the right one crossed our paths, I might not say no. Then one day last month, a neighbor posted to Facebook about a lost dog that had wandered up to his home. The cute, small black shihtzu had a collar but no tags or microchip.
I figured his owners would find him soon, and I didn’t think any more of it until the neighbor posted again a few days later. Despite his efforts, no one had come forward to claim the dog, and he was taking it to the shelter in a few days if it still had no home. Did anyone want to adopt him? 
So we went to meet him. He was quiet and sweet, never barking, never jumping up on us, and content to just hang out. We’d been thinking of possible names all morning, and your Daddy came up with Chance (because he was willing to give the dog just one.) It was a perfect fit for the situation.
We took Chance home, and you just wanted to carry him around like the proud new mama you were. He didn’t seem to mind.

Bringing Chance Home

You started drawing pictures of him everywhere – on the dry erase board in the kitchen. In the drawing app on my phone. 

Dry Erase ChanceComputer Doodle Art Chance

Over the next days we took him everywhere with us that we could, and discovered that we had been quite lucky to let this little guy into our lives. He is well mannered, housebroken, and friendly. He loves to go for walks, but when at home is happy to curl up on a pair of shoes and be cute. He even tolerates playing dress up, and makes a heck of a good-looking ewok.

Chance Loves ShoesChance, the EwokOur Pet Ewok

Just a few days after we brought Chance to live with us, we got to take him on his first road trip. We were headed to north Georgia and Cloudland Canyon State Park for a most happy reunion with our buddies from Washington, DC.

With Her Boys at Cloudland Canyon

You love these boys, Will and Sam, so very much. Though it had been a year since we last saw them, there was no awkwardness or hesitation. The three of you made quite a crew, and the state park was a perfect place to play.

Watch Out, Will!

I am admittedly a hovering mom – someone who has a hard time granting you the independence I know you need. But there in the state park, with those boys by your side, I let go a little and let you grow up.
We were staying in a cabin, and there were a series of trails right out our back door. We allowed you three to explore those trails unsupervised (to a certain distance), and I think this was very exciting to you. I worried, as I always do, but I also felt that you kids would watch out for each other. And you did.
We enjoyed several hikes to area waterfalls, and had a wonderful time scrambling over rocks and playing near the river. 

Jessica and the KiddosThe Queen on Her Throne

We were there Easter morning, and even arranged an Easter egg hunt in the campground. 

Easter Egg HuntThis Egg Has Been Bugged!

Then, it was time to say goodbye, with lumps in our throats and promises to get together again soon.

Cherokee Falls

Your month was also filled with Easter fun at home. There was the annual Palm Sunday egg hunt with church buddies, with the trees and bushes of Orleans Square serving as a wonderful hunting ground.

Scrambling to Get the EggReach for it!

Then you enjoyed the annual egg hunt in Boo’s backyard, but this time with your cousins there to hunt with you. 

Egg Hunt at Boo's HouseEli Found an Egg

Sweet girl, we sure do have a lot of good times together. I will miss you terribly over these next few days apart, but look forward to sneaking into your room when I get back late at night, planting kisses on your sleeping head. Until then, know I am thinking of you often, and loving you always. 

Letter to Camille: 93 Months, Part 1

Hello sweet girl. I have started this letter in my head several times, and I still haven’t gotten it quite right. It was going to be a letter about getting your first dog (!). About our trip to the mountains with long-distance besties. 

But now, it’s about losing your very first pet. It happened just this morning and so it’s very fresh on my mind. I’ve decided this letter will just be about Piglet, and I’ll write you again later about these other, happier things. 
We surprised you with Piglet on your 5th birthday – a sweet, furry brown-and-white guinea pig with wild and crazy hair. 

The Arrival of Piglet

He was very shy at first, preferring to hide under his house. But he made no complaint when we’d scoop him out of his cage and let him sit on your lap. He’d even chirp in approval when you’d stroke his fur.

Birthday Pig

You named him PIglet, and in 5-year-old scrawl, you penciled his name all over his house. Spelled “P-L-I-T.” A year or so later, you added the rest of the consonants.

Plit

When you had friends over, Piglet could often be found sitting patiently in a baby stroller, being “walked” all over the house. Sometimes he’d watch TV with you on the couch. Sometimes you’d just wrap him up in a baby blanket and let him sit in a chair and watch you draw.
He was a very good pig.

Piglet Goes for a StrollPiglet Observes the WorldPiglet Watches TV

But Monday night he was clearly unwell. We took him to the vet Tuesday and got some medicine for him, but he never perked back up. When we went to bed Tuesday night I suspected he might not make it until morning. And sure enough, when we checked on him this morning he was gone.
I told you the news, and you crawled into my lap, put your arms and legs around me, and cried. You cried for a long time, and we talked about what a good boy he had been and how sorry we were to see him go. 
While you were at school, your Daddy buried Piglet in the backyard and covered the fresh dirt with a stone marker. You came home from school with a friend and the two of you set to decorating the stone, covering it in loving messages and surrounding the whole mound with flowers, shells, and various grasses that you knew Piglet loved to eat. 

Decorating Piglet's MarkerFor PigletSweet rememberances

It was a beautiful way to memorialize your sweet pet. Pets teach us about the joy and the responsibility of caring for another creature. And they also teach us about letting go. I’m glad Piglet was your first pet, and I know you will always remember him fondly. 
Mr. Piglet

Cooking With Camille – Girl Scout Cookie Cupcakes

Our favorite chef has been busy this year selling Girl Scout Cookies with her troop in Savannah. The cookies are delicious on their own, but Camille has incorporated them into some dessert recipes for an extra special treat!

Letter to Camille: 92 Months

Petting the Elephant

Hello sweet girl and belated Happy 92 Months! You are upstairs asleep and I am downstairs worrying about you. Just a little.
Several weeks ago you got a cold. No biggie. You got a cough. That’s ok. But the yucky cough just stuck around and stuck around until we got a phone call from your teacher that you had a stomach ache and looked pale.
When I came to pick you up, I voiced my suspicions to her. Walking pneumonia. You had it a couple of years ago, with a cough much like this one. 
“Yep!” your teacher said. “She’d be the one! She’d be the one to have walking pneumonia.”
At first I wondered if she meant you were sick more often than your classmates, but then I realized she was referring to your sunny attitude. Your lack of complaint even though you were ill.
The doctor confirmed my suspicion. We got some meds and we have a follow up appointment this week, so I really shouldn’t worry. But I do, because I’m me.
I remember having a conversation about this with you one time. “Mom, you worry too much,” you said. 
“I’m your mother,” I replied. “It’s my job to worry.”
“You’re the BEST mom in the world!” you said, which made me wonder if the compliment was because I was clearly the best worrier in the world.

In the Trees

Your illness was the low point in what was an otherwise great month. March is always a favorite around here, with spring in the air and plenty of St. Patrick’s Day fun to go around.

Green Fountain in Forsyth Park

Nana came to visit for Tara Feis, and then we joined a bunch of buddies downtown for the big St. Pat’s parade.

St. Pat's Parade 2014

The parade is full of traditions, one of them being the “kissing of the BC boys.” The Benedictine Military School cadets march in uniform, and each year women of all ages apply layers upon layers of bright liptsick and then decorate the cadets with kisses.

Scoping Out the BC Boys

You and buddy Elsie were standing at the edge of the parade route as the boys marched by, scoping out “all the cute ones.” Later, you told your Daddy that you had difficulty holding yourself back, and that next year you plan to don the lipstick and dole out kisses.
Oh dear. 
Thankfully, the only date you had this month was with your Daddy for the annual Daddy Daughter Dance at school. You picked out your dress months ago, a lovely purple velvet dress, which you paired with white socks in classic Camille style. Your Daddy chose a coordinating purple tie and wrist corsage.

Ready for the DanceDaddy Daughter Dance 2014

As I curled your hair in the bathroom before the dance, I thought about how different these dance nights will be when you’re older. When your Daddy isn’t your date. When it’s a date.

Curling Her Hair for the Dance

I’m sure there will be years when you’ll fret over your clothes and hair, and beg us to extend your curfew. But not this year.
We’d given you permission to stay up until the dance ended at 9, but you were home by 8:30, ready for bed. Daddy tucked you in, and then came downstairs to watch some TV. A band was playing on screen.
“DAD?” you yelled from your room. 
“Yes, sweetheart?” he said. 
“I hear music. Can you turn that down a notch?”
Oh how the tables will turn one day I’m sure!

Dancing with her DaddyFancy Dance Photo

One of my favorite moments of the month happened one Saturday night when we joined friends for dinner at a local restaurant. We were seated near the piano, and when the pianist took a break, your friend Oliver asked if he could play a song. 
Oliver is also 7, and has recently begun piano lessons. He played a song, and your wheels started turning too. We had just come from a viola lesson, and happened to have your instrument in the car. 
“Can you go get my viola?” you begged. “Pleeeeease?”
I wasn’t so sure. I mean, these restaurant patrons didn’t come here to listen to young children play instruments. They came to eat nice food and mostly ignore the piano player in the corner.
But how to tell you this? And your friend’s piano song had been well received. Finally I asked the pianist if one quick viola song would be ok, and he replied with an enthusiastic yes.
So I brought in your instrument. As you played the first notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, most of the patrons grew quiet and listened.
You played the song well, and when it was over, you basked in the applause, gave a bow, and even collected a $1 tip. And to your great joy, the pianist asked for another song, and another.

Playing her Viola at B. Matthews

There are plenty of days when you get frustrated learning your instrument. But then there are days like this, when you shine. I was proud of you. Proud of your courage and poise.
Thanks for all the great moments this month – for the big ones, for the little ones, and all the moments in between. I love you so very much.

Letter to Camille: 91 Months

My Girl at 91 MonthsHello sweet girl and Happy 91 Months! You’re upstairs getting dressed for bed right now, and part of your bedtime routine every night is this question: “Short sleeves, long sleeves, or feetie pajamas?”

It’s a valid question in Savannah in February, where the weather is so fickle you can be in a light nightgown one night and fleece pajamas the next. You can be riding horses in short sleeves one day …

Riding Toby

…and then released from school early the very next day under a winter weather warning. We were sure – SO SURE – that we were finally getting snow in Savannah. School was cancelled for a day and a half, but all we had to show for it was some cold rain. We were disappointed, but nonetheless enjoyed a mid-week pajama day that didn’t involve anyone being home sick.
The "No Snow" Day
The cold rain stuck around that weekend too, but couldn’t keep us away from race day out on Tybee Island. For 3 years now, we’ve made this a family & friends race weekend, with the grown ups racing on Friday, and the kids racing in a 1-miler on Saturday.
As usual, you were running with Team BDR JR, but this year there were 2 new faces on your team. Jacqueline and Maggie were about to run their first-ever mile. As we walked to the starting line, Maggie – typically fearless and tenacious – confessed to me, “I am really nervous.”
When I told you what Maggie said, I was pleased to see you run up to her and throw an arm around her shoulder. “It’s going to be fun Maggie,” you said. “Do you want me to run with you?”

Pre-Race Pep Talk

You two grabbed hands. It was a nice gesture, but I didn’t expect it to last. I know that sometimes once the starting horn blasts, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your own run.

Ready to Race

Three … Two … One … And off you went, still hand-in-hand. We parents craned our necks until you kids disappeared into the crowd and around a corner. Then we cut over to the finish line for the anxious wait.
We watched and watched, and then I felt relief to see your bright blue shirt coming up the final stretch. But what brought the tears was seeing Maggie beside you, and your hands still locked together as you crossed the finish line. 

Friends to the Finish Line

Would the two of you have run faster if you’d dropped hands? No doubt. But I couldn’t have been prouder if you’d won the race. Being fast is nice, but being a good friend is even better.

Team BDR JR

We experienced another big milestone this month – it was the month you began wearing glasses.
It did not come as a huge surprise. We’d known since pre-K that your vision wasn’t perfect, but the eye doctor didn’t feel you needed glasses at the time.
I kept waiting for you to tell me you were having headaches or trouble reading, but you had no such complaints. But when you started playing viola, you sometimes struggled to see the sheet music and would sometimes miss the finger tapes on the instrument’s neck.
So off we went to the eye doctor, with you repeating in the backseat, “I hope I need glasses! I would be so adorable in glasses!”
The doctor did not disappoint. Only after he’d made the announcement that you needed glasses, you mentioned “sometimes I have to walk to the front of the room to read what the teacher writes on the board.”
Good grief. Why had you not told me this? 
Anyway, you picked out a purple pair of glasses and could hardly bear the expected 4-10 day wait for them to arrive.
Back home, your princess drawings began to include new accessories.

Princess with Glasses

And I found this note on the dry erase board on our refrigerator. You were counting down the days.

Counting Down the Days

The glasses did in fact arrive on Monday, and you were thrilled. I, on the other hand, need to get used to this. They look lovely on you, but they also make you look older than your seven years.

New GlassesNew Glasses

Tuesday, I admit I was apprehensive as you went off to school. Would the kids be nice? Would they agree that you do indeed look adorable in glasses? Or would your feelings get hurt? Your enthusiasm stifled?
When I picked you up that afternoon, I acted nonchalant. Asked all the usual “How was your day” questions.
Finally, I asked how you were liking your glasses. Did they help you see the board? 
“Yep!” you said.
“Did your buddies like them?” I asked. 
“Well, so-and-so said she liked me WAY better before glasses,” you announced. 
I wanted to march back into school and find this so-and-so.
You, however, didn’t seem upset by this. But I worried anyway, and started qui
zzing you about your other friends, listing them by name and asking what they thought (and they were complimentary, thankfully). 
But I quickly realized my mistake in asking you to tally their opinions. To care about what everyone else had to say. I only cared because I worried about your ego, but I didn’t want to convince you that their opinion was so important. 
“Well, all that really matters is what you think of them,” I said. “And what do you think of your new glasses?”
“I love them!” you said, unfazed. 
And you should. I love your confidence – it’s one of the things that makes you beautiful on the inside and out.
My smart, beautiful, sweet girl.

Alive and Moving Forward

Running is one of my favorite things. And then again, sometimes it’s awful. Sometimes it’s a chance to explore on a gorgeous day. Sometimes it’s a freezing push through a polar vortex. 

Trail Run

At some point on nearly every run, my body says, “Are you sure about this? Wouldn’t it be better to stop? To sit on that bench? To rest?”
And then I don’t stop, not just then anyway. I go just a bit more. And THAT. That makes me feel alive.
I believe my friend Julie feels that way sometimes too. A few months ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began chemo this month – and get this – RAN to and from her chemo treatment. She’s committed to running throughout her chemo and even put up a Facebook page to document her journey.
I’m sure some people think it’s crazy, but I think it’s brave and courageous and simply brilliant. Instead of saying, “I can’t,” she’s showing that she can. There is so much she cannot control, but she can still put one foot in front of the other and RUN.
I thought about her, and about running, when I was reading “The Time Traveler’s Wife” this weekend. It’s not a book about running, but the main character is a runner.
He says, “Running is many things to me: survival, calmness, euphoria, solitude. It is proof of my corporeal existence, my ability to control my movement through space if not time, and the obedience, however temporary, of my body to my will.”
Survival. Control. Proof that we are alive and moving forward. Sometimes running is hard and sometimes I’d rather stay in bed. But when I lace up anyway, running can give so many gifts.

Letter to Camille: 90 Months

Camille at 90 Months

Hello sweet girl, and Happy 90 Months to you. Today I’m feeling so much better than yesterday, and I attribute a portion of my quick recovery to all the love you have shown me. I came down with a vicious stomach bug, and most of that day was spent tossing and turning in bed, feeling wretched. In between all of this, there was you, tip-toeing into my room from time to time. Always quietly. Always with a gift – a stuffed animal, a coloring page, a get well note. Always with a question, “Do you need anything Mama?” Then you’d disappear and appear again, with the glass of ginger ale I asked for, but with your special touches – served in a favorite Star Wars glass with a silly straw.

From Nurse Camille

Being sick was terrible, but being cared for by you was the opposite. It made me feel very loved.
Thankfully that day of illness was the only real bump we had in the last month, which included your 8th Christmas. It included a trip to Tennessee to be with my side of the family, and many Christmas get-togethers with your Daddy’s side too.

Tennessee ChristmasSay Cheese!Making Cookies for SantaCaroling Christmas Eve

Christmas day, Santa was quite good to you and seems to know you well. The pile of gifts in our living room reflected a girl with many dimensions – one who loves Star Wars and American Girl Dolls. Books about Disney Princesses and prepared microscope slides, of which “human blood” was your favorite. Bumblebee legs are pretty exciting too.

The Millennium Falcon!Jedi Reading Princess BooksA Boo, a Huttlet and a BanthaA Closer Inspection of Human Blood

Our Christmas break travels included a trip to see the Leonards and a visit with them to the World of Coke, where the ladies of the group were not keen to wait in line.

Waiting in Line

But you later declared the wait was worth it, because you enjoyed the tasting room so much. You hated the Beverly flavor from Italy, and loved the Fanta from Costa Rica. And you got to sneak a kiss from the Polar Bear.

The Polar Bear

From Atlanta we traveled north to see Mr. Glen in the mountains of Big Canoe. How I love to look out his huge living room windows and see nothing but mountainside and trees. We spent a morning stomping around his backyard, with you jumping over creeks and using fallen trees as balance beams.

Big CanoeMr. Glen's BackyardNature's Balance BeamAdmiring the Creek

One of your favorite activities was a simple one – using a stick to dig red Georgia clay from an upturned stump. I don’t know why this captivated you so, but it did.
I, on the other hand, was watching you with my teeth on my tongue, holding back reprimands.

Playing in the Clay

I very much want you to be an outdoor kid. In theory, I want you to get dirty and muddy because you are enjoying nature. But then there is this other side of me, the side that can’t bear to watch you fling clay all over your adorable grey boots and your fairly new school uniform khakis.

Getting DirtyRed Clay

I knew if I sent you inside to change
clothes, the moment would be gone. So I held my tongue.
Almost. At some point the laundress in me came out, and I found myself asking you not to get too dirty.
“But mooooooom,” you said, “If you’re not getting dirty, how do you know you’re having fun?”
And you were right. The uniform pants were found on clearance at Target. The boots – you’ll grow out of them soon anyway. The play is important.

Exploring

Back home in Savannah, we returned to our usual routines, but with a few new challenges. We began biking to school some mornings, and I think it’s going to take us some time to build confidence with this. We’d done several practice rides on weekends and holidays, but the first time we biked to school we were confronted with the realities of morning traffic. It made us both nervous, especially when you took a spill on Washington Avenue. But we’re finding better routes – slightly longer but less busy, and I can tell by the singing that you do along the route that you’re enjoying most of the ride.

First Day Biking to School

Another new challenge – you began taking viola lessons this month. Your father and I both thought it would be great for you to learn music, and fortunately we found a wonderful teacher through friends and began lessons right after Christmas. 

First Viola Lesson

You’ve had 4 lessons now, and while I think you’re doing quite well, playing has not come as quickly or as easily as you would like. It’s hard to watch you struggle – hard to watch you get so frustrated with yourself when the note isn’t right or the bow slides over the wrong string. But I have to remind myself that this is good for you. We all need to learn what it’s like to start from zero and build up. To struggle, to practice, and then to improve.
Just like you taught me in Big Canoe that it’s important to play in the dirt, I’m hoping to teach you that it’s important to challenge yourself and learn something new, even when it’s difficult.
Thank you for this month – for being my willing student, who is also sometimes my teacher, and sometimes even my nurse. But always, always my very best girl. I love you so much. 

Pearl Jam From the Pit

Pearl Jam: Charlotte

There were more than 20,000 people at the sold-out show, and they were all singing with the band. I added my voice, singing along to songs I’ve loved for 2 decades. I had been on my feet for hours and my legs were aching, but I couldn’t have cared less. This was Pearl Jam. And I was in the pit.
I’ve been to lots of concerts and seen lots of bands, and most of the time proximity to the stage isn’t terribly important to me. As long as I can hear well and see a bit, I’m good. But Pearl Jam is special to me – one of the rare bands of my youth that is still as important to me now as it was then. So on my bucket list – attending a Pearl Jam show and being close to the stage.
Lee and I entered the fan club lottery to be in the stage-front pit for the Pearl Jam show in Charlotte, and were lucky enough to get in. The night of the show, we filed in to the roped off section a couple of hours before the concert started, and found ourselves about seven people back from the stage.

In the Pit

And it was unreal. I’ve seen them before, from the comfort of an arena seat – but at that distance it’s hard to appreciate how much fun these guys are having. They were full of energy, constantly interacting with the crowd, looking for ways to connect with the audience. Because the stage lights were so bright, I couldn’t see much past the pit. That meant the rest of the arena was in darkness to me, and I could almost imagine we were in a mid-sized club. It was fascinating.

Pearl Jam on Stage

And then three-quarters of the way through the show, the band launched into Porch. During the guitar break, Eddie hopped off the stage and perched himself on top of the fence at the front of the pit. The crowd behind me began to surge, and I was pushed forward. And then this.
The band played for 3 hours – 3 glorious hours. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever experienced, and it has ruined me. How can I ever see Pearl Jam again from an arena seat, now that I’ve experienced the pit?
A good problem to have.
Eddie Vedder

Letter to Camille: 89 Months

Camille at 89 Months

Hello sweet girl and happy 89 months! Right now we’re heading over the river and through the woods – to Nana and Granddaddy’s house we go! As I write, you are in the backseat devouring an Ivy and Bean book, and asking “How much farther?” about every 15 minutes. The answer: lots farther. 
But the drive is worth it. This is one of my favorite events of the season, getting together with your Uncle Jeff and his family at Nana and Granddaddy’s house. We always have so much fun together.
We’ve been lucky to see a good bit of Nana and Granddaddy this last month. They came to Savannah for Thanksgiving and were able to stay almost a whole week! The first day of your Thanksgiving break we declared to be a low-key pajama morning, but apparently it was a little bit too low key for you. As I was in the kitchen trying to get ahead on some Thanksgiving cooking, you came in, plopped face down on the tile and declared, “This is how bored I am right now.”

So Bored.

Thankfully your boredom was short-lived. Thursday morning, Granddaddy ran in his first race, but not before cheering you on in the kids version of the Thanksgiving day turkey trot.  

Turkey Trottin

It was great fun to have Erin and her family in Savannah this year, joining us for Thanksgiving too. After the meal we had a rousing session of Thanksgiving karaoke. Jones provided percussion, Eli played guitar, and the rest of us pitched in with vocals. And thus a new tradition was born.

Jones on PercussionCamille on Lead VocalsEli on Lead UkuleleThe Granddaddy BlurGranddaddy Has a FanBoo, with Dave as Backup Singer and Fly Boy

Not long after Thanksgiving, you experienced a pretty big first – your first adventure with a sleep-away camp. Your Girl Scouts troop goes to a local scout camp each December, and I could scarcely believe I was letting you spend the weekend with a bunch of girls in cabins in the woods. But you loved it.

Packed Van

We packed up your clothes, a hula outfit and your sloth, and I tucked a love note in the suitcase when you weren’t looking. According to the leaders, the note was a hit, and you propped it in the window by your bunk. “That way if I get homesick,” you said, “I can look at this and feel better.”

Suitcase for Girl Scout Camp

But I don’t think you had time to be homesick, what with all the fun activities during the day, and the excitement of the raccoon trying to break into your cabin during the night. I snuck over for lunch and got to see you enjoying your friends and even watched you play your first-ever game of red rover. It’s nice to know some childhood games don’t change much.

Girl Scout CabinScout BuddiesCamille's Girl Scout Troop

Back from scout camp, our attention turned to all things Christmas. 
We decorated the tree. You and Daddy had a fake snowball fight in the backyard. You rode a trolley with your cousins, singing holiday songs and looking at neighborhood Christmas lights. 

Hanging OrnamentsPutting Stars on the TreeFake Snowball Fight!Launching Fake SnowballsTrolley Ride with the Cousins

You wrote a letter to Santa, including a picture of you and Mr. Claus.
   

Writing her Letter to SantaDear Santa

Last weekend, you had a chance to deliver the letter in person when Santa came to a neighborhood holiday party. I love your expression when you leaned in for a hug – one of pure sweetness and joy. 

Sharing her Letter with SantaHugs for Santa

There has always been so much joy and magic in this season for me, but experiencing it all through you only elevates that magic even more. I couldn’t think of a gift better than the gift of being your mama. I love you so much.

Letter to Camille: 88 Months

88 Months

Hello my sweet girl, and Happy 88 Months! I am going to have a hard time with this post – not because of anything I will write. But because I will need to condense a month’s worth of photographs – really great photographs. Halloween. Our annual family photos. Camping. Races. Horses. Buddies.
Photos like these. How can I possibly choose which to post? 

Family Photo ShootGorgeousNuzzle nuzzle

We did our annual family photo shoot last month (thanks to the talented Ashley!), this time choosing the trails at Skidaway Island State Park. But choosing the location for the session wasn’t the hardest decision to make – the real nail-biter was wondering what you’d decide to wear. 
You see, you and I often make different style choices. I try very hard not to exert my will on your wardrobe, because I realize this is not a battle worth fighting. After all, you have to wear a school uniform 5 days a week. The least I can do is back off and let you pick your clothes on the weekends.
This is not as easy as it sounds though.
Over the past year or so, you have worn the same head scarf more times than I can count. This one.

Head ScarfIt’s a cute scarf, but your head is cute too and I want to see it from time to time. I may have “lost” the scarf for a couple of weeks because it needed a break.

You have a closet FULL of beautiful church dresses, but wore the same one two weeks in a row because when you sit down really quickly it goes, “poof.” 
You like animal prints, and in your mind, they all match. A leopard turtleneck with zebra capris? Match!
Last Sunday, you wore this beautiful, chic dress to church. And a pair of mismatched knee socks.

Dress and Knee SocksThe Socks

That same evening, you changed for a picnic in the park and put on another of your cute dresses. Then you accessorized by wrapping a chain around your head like a headband.

Accessorize!

Most of the time, I just bite my tongue. I mean really, it’s kind of cute how unconcerned you are about the fashion trends of the day. Blissfully unconcerned. 
But for our family photos, I was hoping for something a little more mainstream. Thankfully you agreed to an adorable dress and sweater, and did not attempt to wear a head chain. I thought the danger was behind us, but then I sent you to put on socks and shoes. You came downstairs with BLACK shoes and NAVY socks.
Cringe.
Your Daddy raised his eyebrow and said, “You ok with the socks mom?”
“Yep,” I said, somewhat unconvincingly. 
The thing is, I know there will come a day when you won’t be so cavalier and carefree about these things. So when I look back on these pictures years from now, I think I’ll love the navy socks and black shoes. I’ll probably wish I’d let you wear your head scarf or your chain in these photographs. This is part of who you are right now – you aren’t afraid to be your own person. And that’s beautiful.

Family Photo Shoot 2013Navy socks. Black shoes. Just right.

As always, Halloween is another season ripe for picture-taking. First, Boo threw a Halloween bash in her backyard which we’ve now decided must be a tradition. BooFest was full of great games like apple bobbing and “pin the wart on the witch.” You and your cousins loved every minute.

BooFest 2013Bobbing for ApplesCreepyNot-So-Spooky Story Time

Then Halloween night arrived, warm and humid. This was unfortunate weather, since you had decided to be a fuzzy ewok. But what an adorable – and fierce – ewok you were, ready to take on “Harry Potter” Jones and “Fireman” Eli.

Ewok CamilleEwok and Harry Potter
TastyWatch Out Jones!

We gathered with buddies and headed into the neighborhood, but it wasn’t long before you were covered in sweat with flaming red cheeks, ready to go back home.

Halloween Crew 2013Headed Home, Hot and Sweaty

A couple of days later, you were invited to come ride at the barn in costume, and it still wasn’t fuzzy ewok weather. Fortunately you have a lot of costumes, so you opted to be a Jedi. Here you are on your favorite horse, Cassidy, light saber in hand, ready to take on the Dark Side.

Jedi Camille Atop Cassidy

There has been excitement at the barn this month, with the birth of a half dozen baby goats. One of them, beloved Eddie, has to be bottle fed – a task you thoroughly enjoy.

Feeding Eddie

On this day though, Eddie’s siblings wanted a snack too, but were more interested in your costume. Silly goats.

Delicious Jedi RobesTaking a BiteBring it On, Goats!

This month was also the annual Rock n Roll race weekend in Savannah, which happily brings friends together from near and far for all sorts of shenanigans. That Sunday, you and a crew of buddies ran the kids’ race, representing Team Brew Drink Run Jr. More good photographs. More good times. 

2013 Team BDR JRCousin ChokeholdRun Camille! Run!Proud Finishers

I’ll close now before this letter gets any longer or before I come across any more pictures I need to post. Thanks for giving us so many reasons to smile this month. I love you so much.
(Ok – just one more)
Hunting Island, SC