I love the way you…

Dear Dahlia,

I love the way you…

  • Ribbit like a frog every time we pass a Geico billboard
  • Give hugs and kisses
  • Shrug
  • Run across the apartment, yelling “Blueberry!” in Dahlia language whenever I open the freezer
  • Like trucks and trains
  • Read books to yourself
  • Dance
  • Adore your Da-Da
  • Are comfortable spending time alone with other people
  • Bring me pieces of “yucky” (lint, paper, etc.) that you find so we can throw them out together
  • Eat my chapstick
  • Roll around on the floor, squealing and screaming with one of your large stuffed animals
  • Carefully hand me any food that does not belong on your tray, since you are not planning on eating it!
  • Imitate us when we blow on your food to cool it
  • Put your books or stuffed animals “night-night” by gently stroking or patting them
  • Make that adorable sign for squirrel
  • Sleep through the night
  • Are so brave at the playground
  • Tell me when you have finished going potty in your diaper
  • Say “boom!” when you fall
  • Call any child under 15 yrs. old a “bebe”
  • Are eager to help me
  • Model for me a much needed, refreshingly innocent view of the world

I love all of these things, and more, but most of all, I just love YOU!

Your Mama


Just joined an organic food co-op called Purple Dragon. I picked up my first food share last night in Maplewood, and then drove the long, dark, windy road through Irvington to get home. Not such a nice neighborhood, for those of you who don’t know. When I got home and had a chance to happily paw through the loot, this is what we had gotten:

  • a bag of fresh blueberries (Dahlia was VERY happy about this one)
  • a bunch of carrots
  • 3 fresh red onions, greens and all
  • some green kale
  • a bunch of dark green lettuce
  • 4 ears of corn
  • peaches!
  • a small cantaloupe that promises to be sweet
  • a bunch of fresh flowering herbs that I have yet to identify. Possibly oregano? marjoram?


The mystery herb has been identified as Thai Basil!

  • abag of green beans
  • 3 tomatoes
  • some small yellow and green squash
  • one funky looking cucumber
  • a bunch of bananas

So now I really have to get cookin’!


Just wanted to send a shout out to my husband who watched Dahlia for the past 5 days. It is incredibly comforting to know that I can leave Ken with the baby and watch him turn into Mr. Mom without a complaint, and seemingly without effort. 

When I got home last night, the house was picked up, the dishes were done, the dog was taken care of, and the baby was peacefully asleep. Incredible. 

Dahlia said she enjoyed her time with Da-Da immensely. She even asked me when I was going away again.

Paying Off Credit Cards

We’ve been working aggressively to pay off our cards over the last year or so. Running the numbers on our situation has led to some surprising insights about the potential of a debt-free existence.

Let’s say you’re carrying the American average of $10,000 debt on your credit cards, but, rather than pay the insane 29% interest on most consumer cards, you were smart about it and moved the money to a 0% card. And let’s say you’re paying that money off at $400/month. That leaves you 25 months to pay the sucker off. Should you try to pay it off sooner?

Well, let’s take a look a what life would be like without the $400/mo payment. 400 times 12 months equals $4,800/year — not an insubstantial chunk of money. And, you’re paying taxes on that money for the privledge of sending it to the credit card companies every month. Assuming that’s around 30%, you have to earn $6,854 per year just to give it away to Uncle Sam and the bank.

Let’s say you make $65K per year: paying off the card completely would be like giving yourself a 10.5% raise! But let’s take that a step further: what if you paid off the card and invested half the monthly payment into a retirement account like a 401(k). You get to pocket $200 every month ($2,400 a year), but because a 401(k) is a pre-tax investment, you’re investing $285/mo in your future.

Knowing that many companies match retirement contributions — some match a dollar for every dollar you contribute — that means you could be saving as much as $570 a month, or $6,840 a year!

Now you’ve given yourself a 14% raise ($2,400 pocket money + $6,840 in savings), all by just paying off your credit cards as quickly as possible. And, note, that’s assuming that you’re not paying any interest on that debt — that adds a whole new level of urgency to paying off your cards ASAP.

A “friend of mine”:http://sapridyne.com calls the difference between his expendable income and his credit card debt his “shovel to hole ratio” — in other words, his ability to dig himself out of debt. Paying off your cards and saving the money for the future takes this analogy to a new level. Once you’ve got the hole filled, now you can start stacking bricks on it and really build something.

It’s a wonder more people aren’t doing this.

Dear Dahlia Month 12

Dear Dahlia,

Well, Little One, we have made it through 12 months together. There have been rough spots, but more than enough joy, laughter and sweet times to make up for them. It is so difficult for me to remember clearly the time before you came into our lives. Maybe because it was so boring? Who knows. All I know is my present happiness as a complete family with you and Dada, and I am content in that.


As always, so much has happened this past month that I am astounded when I look back and see how different you were just a few weeks ago! I guess the big thing is WALKING. You blew by this milestone with hardly a glance and a nod. It seems one day you were grabbing everything for support, and the next day you were practically running! Seriously, I cannot turn my back for more than a few seconds, and you can make it to the other side of the apt. and back. Good thing we baby-proofed because unless I follow behind you constantly, you are impossible to keep in sight! Dahlia Joy Walker officially took her first steps on March 11, 2008. 🙂 I’m so glad I got it on camera too! Since I feel like I miss documenting so much, I am so grateful for what I do get.

This month was busy! I was working a lot of evenings, and I am loving it. Also, there were a few holidays this month. You enjoyed your first corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. I wasn’t brave enough to give you cabbage. Easter also happened so early this year that it fell a week before your birthday! So it felt like your first Easter, even though it was officially your second one. We spent Easter at our church in NYC, then went out to have a nice dinner with Poppy and Grandma. We had a lot of fun, and I loved buying you a beautiful dress. And of course there was that huge Holiday on the 30th–your Birthday! We had the party near here in Independence Park. Over 30 friends and family braved the sunny but chilly weather to come celebrate you! I made you an Elmo cupcake cake, and we had a blast!


Since I am a little late with this letter, I am going to cheat and tell you about some things up to this day. For instance, I gave you your first “hair cut” today. Although to call it that is to use the phrase very loosely. I really just trimmed your bangs a bit. I bought some hair clips a few weeks ago, which look really cute, but your hair was getting so long in front it started bothering me. Now I finally understand all those times that my grandmother (your great-grandmother) would look at me and tsk over my bangs hanging in my eyes when I was a young girl. I was always so puzzled as to why it should bother her, let alone me!

You also have lots of new teeth! In one month’s time, you doubled the amount of teeth you have! Now there are 4 on top and 4 on bottom. The last 2 on top came out almost simultaneously with the first 2, and the last 2 on bottom just came out yesterday. You have certainly been clingy and cranky enough to have been cutting teeth. I admit that it is really cute when you bring books over to me and hand them to me so I can read them to you, though. I love that you love books already. Definitely a Posegate (ask your Uncle Russell for some stories on sneaking book reading in after bedtime).

A new favorite game is to come up to us with any object and hold it out for us to take. When we take it and say, “Thank you!”. You wait a second, and then sign “Please” to ask for it back. When we give it back, we try to get you to say “Thank you” too, but mostly you don’t yet. That’s fine, though. You have learned so many new signs this month already. You now use “Please”, “Milk”, “Nap”, “More”, “All Done”, “Eat”, and sometimes “Thank you” or “Book”. You also shake your head “No” quite a bit and have started pointing at things. Your communication skills are blossoming daily. Today you were getting on towards nap time, so you were kind of cranky, and were begging for a bit of my ice cream. I gave you a fingerful and put the dish away. Shortly afterwards, you came back over and started whining and crying. I asked what you wanted, and you just kept crying, almost out of control. I asked if you wanted a nap (you usually sign to me when you need one—amazing, right?) and you put your fist to your cheek, which for you means “eat”. I thought you were just confused and asked again. Again, fist to the cheek. Very seriously, looking intently in my eyes, you did it one more time. I finally realized you were asking for more ice cream. Wow. Why didn’t I think of that sooner? Gotta love sign language.


Your repertoire of animal sounds has grown too. This is very important, of course, because of all the animals in your books and toys. How else can we identify them, if not by the sound they make? (It is really hard to teach rabbit) You are doing well with your sleep habits, as you have been for a while now. You enjoy cuddling up on your side with a favorite white soft blanket. You used to always sleep on your tummy, but now that is changing. The rash on your back cleared up when your top teeth finally came in. There are still bits here and there that get better and worse when you are teething or not, but lotion seems to help. You also suffered your first black eye when you stumbled and fell against your toy basket. I almost forgot about it until I looked at the pictures, since it healed so quickly!


Well, we are getting to the end of this letter, and subsequently, the end of my 12 month Dear Dahlia series to you. Maybe I will continue every other month, or every 6 months. I don’t know for sure, but I have really enjoyed these opportunities to let you know what happened in your first year of life, and I would like to keep them going. As I said at the beginning of this letter, this year has been an emotional mix with just a bit of everything thrown in. One thing is for sure, it has been a wild ride so far, and Dada and I are loving it! This song came to mind today as I was rocking you, and as I sang it to you I thought it would be a good one to close this letter with!

Baby, Baby / I’m taken with the notion / to love you with the sweetest of devotion.
Baby, Baby / My tender love will flow from / the bluest sky to the deepest ocean.
Stop for a minute, Baby, I’m so glad you’re mine. . . Oh yeah.
And ever since the day you put my heart in motion, Baby, I realize there’s just no getting over you.


Here’s to another year of my dearest Dahlia!
Love Always,

Dear Dahlia, Month 11

Dear Dahlia,

Well, little girl, I sit here with you on my lap, and I can honestly say you aren’t so little anymore!! I am thrilled that you will be a whole year old this month. Wow. This has been a busy month! You are still working on that walking thing. I was so sure that you would be walking weeks ago. Hah! Maybe I will learn some day to not be so sure of when you will do what. You are certainly getting around with more and more agility. Today you enjoyed pushing your walker around with the stuffed animal in front, kind of like a stroller. Then you turned it around and tried to climb on it yourself. You aren’t taking more than a tiny step or two on your own between objects, but you confidently push your walker around, or walk places while balancing on Mama or Dada’s hands. Of course, this month was your first Valentine’s Day too. Dada got you a cute little knitted dog whose nose you love to munch on.


Your are eating most anything nowadays, and you can eat little pieces of whatever Dada and I are eating. You are also quick to let us know what you do and don’t like. You are not above begging for bits of things that we probably shouldn’t be giving you, like croissants or muffins. I am going to be going away in May for 5 days to a Training Course, so Dada and Grandma are going to take care of you. This plan sparked my decision to put you on more of a schedule for feeding/nursing. You had been nursing pretty much as often as you wanted (every 2-3 hours) until about a month ago. I decided you would do well nursing 4 times a day: Morning, late morning, early afternoon, and bedtime. You adapted very easily on just the first day of this schedule. You didn’t even cry to nurse, I just made sure you were distracted and fed you a lot of food. Boy can you pack it away! I am starting to understand just how many calories you have been sucking out of me for the past 11 months! I also realized that you had only been snacking when you were nursing before. Now you actually sit down for a serious meal when I nurse you. That schedule has fallen apart the past week or so because of a trip to Ithaca and some teething issues. Thats OK, though. I know it will be easy enough to get back onto it when you feel better.

You got your third and fourth tooth a week and a half ago. Now you have a very sharp set of 4 front teeth! Let me tell you, it has made nursing a little more uncomfortable for me, but hopefully they will dull a bit soon. Maybe I will give you a wood block to chew on 🙂 You have a dry skin rash on your back that has developed from a small spot to cover most of your back and small spots on your arms and legs over the past month. The doctor said it was eczema due to teething. Well, I know you are teething because of the clinginess, drool and crankiness, but it amazes me you can have a skin rash from it! At least it doesn’t seem to bother you. Otherwise, you are growing well, and are currently in 18 month clothing. You have been in that for a while, though. Your hair is long enough for me to really want to put a clip in it. I don’t think anything would stay in that silky mane of yours, though! You have a runny nose right now, but hopefully that won’t develop into anything more!


I started a new job this month. I now head to work 2 nights a week while Dada puts you to bed. I’m not sure if you even notice I’m gone, but I’m really glad you get the extra one-on-one time with him. I think it is good for both of you. Having a job outside of the house, even a very part-time job like I have now, has definitely been good for me. I admit, it feels good to get out and be independent for a few hours. It makes me look forward to coming home to you and Dada that much more. It is true that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Getting this job will also enable me to keep my skills sharp, and has inspired me to be more responsible in other areas of my life too, like with my spiritual disciplines, and getting projects done around the house.

It amazes me how quickly you learn new things. When we give you the remote for the computer, you start clicking buttons and immediately look towards the computer to see what you are accomplishing while you click away. Even when you are on the floor and find the remote, you will crawl towards the computer and check out which podcasts you have pulled up by clicking buttons. Your favorite podcast is the Sesame Street one. You are still obsessed with Elmo, and say his name (“Ell-o!”) when we give you the stuffed Elmo doll. Sometimes I hear you repeating things I’ve said when I didn’t even know you were listening. You usually say Ba-bye anytime I say it, whether it is during a conversation in person or on the phone. Other times, you just mimic the sounds and consonants of the last few words I said. It is incredible to watch you learn language. You actually made a big leap in language this month with your signing. You finally used a sign when communicating with us: “please”. We just kept saying it to you and showing it to you and helping you sign it yourself, and you finally repeated it on your own. It was so exciting!! Now you have a way to ask for something that doesn’t involve whining and crying. It is so nice to see you ask “please” for food, getting picked up, or even for help getting a toy. You also learned to sign “milk” for nursing. The only hard part now is figuring out what you are asking “please” for.


You also learned a few animal sounds. When we ask you what an elephant says, you usually give us a raspberry noise, and if we ask you what the pigeon says, you say “uh-Oh”. The pigeon noise comes from one of your favorite books: Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Towards the end of it, the pigeon says, “uh-oh” when he thinks he may be in trouble for trying to get you to let him drive the bus. It is pretty cute to hear you make the connection and say “uh-oh” when we ask about a pigeon. We are also currently working on lion and cat noises.

This month we hit another difficult step in this cooperative learning process of parenting/growing up: discipline. This has been another struggle as Dada and I sought to truly do what is right and best for you. Up until this point we really have just been managing you like a puppy, confining you to “baby-safe” areas, and moving you physically if you got into mischief. Of course, you don’t know it is mischief, you are just exploring your world–much like a puppy would! Well, this month, we noticed that you made that leap from curiosity to disobedience. It was inevitable. The only way to prevent you from disobeying was to have no rules to obey, ever. While that may be something Dada and I could pretend at if we chose to, we live in a world full of rules that you would have to obey, sooner or later. It seems there are rules for everything, from social interactions to playing games, and from personal hygiene to crossing the street. A big part of our job as your Mama and Dada is to teach you about those rules, and how to play this big game called Life as we know it. So, until you can understand the rules yourself, Mama and Dada are going to have to tell you what they are. You are going to have to trust and obey us, even when you don’t know why. Whenever I hesitate to enforce discipline for something you have disobeyed me about, like touching some wires, or grabbing at the dog’s chew bone, I try to envision what could happen to you if you didn’t obey us at a crucial moment crossing the street or touching a strange dog. Those mental pictures are enough to help me try to make you understand that you need to listen to what we say. I don’t pretend to know it all, but Dada and I feel that loving discipline is better for you than ignoring you and treating you like a puppy for the rest of your childhood. We want to honor your ability to learn about things and make moral decisions. We want to keep you safe while you learn. And most of all, we want you to grow up into a happy, healthy girl who has large reserves of both self-control and curiosity.


Lot of love,

Seriously, Guys?

No one wants a Memoirs of a Geisha book for free? Either no one reads this blog, everyone is too shy to comment (except for you, Kyleen :), or no one wants this book. Hm. Oh well, I will just donate them to the library!