One Year With Coura

For my sweet Coura Joanies:

As I attempt to color your beautiful world with words, I have to start with the truth. Your first year of life was the most challenging of mine. A transition into a whole new existence that neither of us saw coming. And yet, you never left my side through it all – our bright light behind the dark clouds. From the day you were born, you’ve been my teacher.  You make me want to be present in the moment, stepping outside of my chatty brain to enter your world of endless possibilities. 

Thank God for your deep belly laughs, your big cheesy grin and the way you liked to speed-crawl across the hardwood floor with your head down. You are coordinated, determined and always in motion. Climbing is first nature for you, which goes hand-in-hand with your rock-solid glutes. You are a lover of fine foods with a special palette for noodles and raspberries. Anytime music comes on, you stop in your tracks for a signature move: a unique mix of the booty bounce and a side-to-side sway. 

Your sister’s scooter is the current object of your affection. Scratch that: you love riding on, sitting on, chewing on or being near anything that is Maisley’s, including the legend herself. I love seeing you two together. You make Maisley brave and she does the same for you, and my sisters do the same for me. You will always be your own person with your own preferences, but her steady influence will also be your guide. Someone to test the waters so you can later jump in with ease.

One day, at any moment, you will enter toddler-hood. I now know what that means – for better, for worse – but until then, your sweet self can do no wrong. I wish I could wrap you up in a baby carrier onto my heart forever, tied just as you are now so that I can come here anytime I need to feel your silky smooth skin, thick auburn hair, determination, goofy-loving heart and life-giving courage.

Poppi didn’t cry often, but he got choked up when he first heard your beautiful name. You were named after Grandma Joan, his mom. She was a loud-whistlin’, fun-lovin’ lady who made a mean broccoli chicken casserole, hosted the best parties and always had a trick up her sleeve. She was a bright light, just like you are. In addition to loving your name, Poppi loved holding you in his arms any chance he got, soaking up your calming, Heaven-sent presence. Even though you only knew him for a short time, he is a part of you and forever your trusted angel advisor.

Just like we all the know the story about Aunt Linny eating a cigarette butt when she was little, you will reluctantly grow up hearing about the time you ate dog poop. Though, I hope the stories you hold onto at your core are the ones about how you didn’t stop laughing and smiling from the day you learned how. I hope you see photos of your baby self that reflect your patience and optimism. I hope you hold onto the moments where you gave me strength when I didn’t think I had anything left. I hope you have beautiful babies when you grow up and understand how much bigger the love is than any frustration or moments of sadness.

Thank you for all that you are. We love you forever and ever my sweet baby Jo. 


Dear Coura

Dear Coura Bear,

I think my first words to you weren’t exactly words, but sighs of joy, admiration and relief. I eventually looked up to your dad, breathless and euphoric, saying, “Oh my God, I can’t believe she’s here. She’s so perfect.”

Your birth day was a mix of blurry moments and vivid ones that are stamped safely in my memory. When we first met I remember seeing the tiny pink hemangioma on your middle toe. I love that it still makes an appearance when your bitesize feet pop out of the Solly wrap or the car seat; it’s uniquely you.  

You were covered in thick vernix and your face was all scrunched up. Your beautiful, plump lips were hard to ignore, mushed together sideways like they were too tired to match up just right. You had long curling eyelashes that people would pay a lot of money for and the softest part of your skin was the inside crease of your elbow. It felt just like butta.

Your blue-ish kind eyes, one just slightly bigger than the other, are brightening by the day. You squirm and stretch and grunt your way through the wee hours of the morning. You fit so comfortably on my chest. I know firsthand now how quickly these moments go, so I take an extra deep inhale of gratitude when your face is soundly asleep next to mine. Your smile is always close to the surface, ready to cheese at a moment’s notice.

Your sister loves you so much, sometimes a little too much. You already think she’s the funniest one and someday, she will be the keeper of your deepest secrets and wildest dreams.

There are a few things you will come to know about us, your forever family. Like how Sunday mornings are for banana pancakes. And that we don’t sit still for very long. Or how much we love road trips and family adventure days. And that around here, the trash man is a superhero. We will grow together and you will teach us new things about who we are and the capacity of our hearts.

We are so happy you joined our family. You will always belong here. We’re far from perfect, but you are the perfect fit. 

Your mama

IMG_3046 (1)IMG_3332IMG_4055 (1)



I remember the day you were born so vividly. I think about it all the time. I hope you don’t take the look of shock on my face when we first met as a bad thing. I was just so surprised that my body actually gave birth to you and that you were a real, live human.

You didn’t cry at first. We had to rub your back to get things moving. Now you sing and yell and say “mAma” with the bravado of an Italian woman.

We came alive when you came into the world, and every day since then I have thought about you more than anything or anyone else.

I’m trying to remember what I remember most about this first year of you. Ups and downs like any other years, but ups higher than the mountain tops, and downs that dropped a little below our comfort zone.

It was a bewildering year full of paradoxes and wonder.  I’ve never wanted something to stay the same, yet continue growing more in my life. Many of your early days resembled a tired, elated, blissed-out blur. Holidays, trips and milestones all punctuate the simple, yet extraordinary everyday happenings of your year. 

Some of them funny, like when Dada, in a moment of parental desperation, bounced with you in the ergo at 3am – in his birthday suit – while singing the Star-Spangled Banner just to get you to sleep.

I’m always asking my mom (Nonni) what I was like as a kid, so that I can understand my true self.  This is a snapshot of who you are now:

  • Your energy is magnetic. A trip to the grocery store with you makes me feel like a celebrity. 
  • When you spot Dada from across the room, you smile so hard at him. Your eyes carry a hint of sparkle and the usual amount of mischief.
  • You are independent, confident and fearless. When we walk together, you sometimes pull your hand out of mine, subtly saying, “I can do this on my own, Mom”. 
  • You have a mind of your own and you don’t care what people think; and people love you because of it. You are my greatest teacher.
  • You say our names now. What started out as “Mamika” and “Dikka” are more clearly Mama and Dada.
  • You stick your tongue out, point to your nose, raise your hands tall like a tree and say, “oooh ooh and aah aah” like a monkey.
  • You are always on a mission. To the kitchen! To the books! To Sammie’s water bowl!
  • You smile all the time. You make us the happiest people in the world, because that’s what you are.

As you grow into your second year of life, I grow more into Mom, more into me. 

Happy 1st birthday my sweet Maisley Moo.  I love you more than you know.