An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Newsletter: Marlo turns one

Dear Marlo,

Today you turn one year old. In dooce terms, that’s twelve months. Years from now when you and your sister look back on what I’ve written here and you realize that I wrote a lot more about her first year than I did about yours, I kindly ask that you forgive me. It is, after all, completely your fault. You require a lot of time and work, more than I could have planned for, and to make it up to you I promise to buy you an occasional piece of clothing that hasn’t already been worn by your sister. Like, for Christmas.

That’s the thing, though. Leta didn’t have a big sister that first year, and you do. And what an incredible thing she is for you to have. Your father and I are important, yes, but your big sister is everything to you. She is who you want to see first in the morning, and while I am in the other room preparing a bottle I always wait for your squeal when Dad turns on the light in your bedroom and you see Leta in the doorway. You sound exactly like a pig being gutted alive by a flock of mangy vultures. Totally adorable.

You call her GeeGah. Yes, that’s right. You’re already starting to form words. You can say Mama, and Dada, and Coco, and DUCK! for Chuck. You also refer to my niece Mariah as Riah. Your gift for repeating sounds is uncanny, actually, although I still haven’t been able to get you to refer to my assistant as Tyrant. That’s a difficult, one, I know. But we’re working on it. He doesn’t have any kids, doesn’t want any, and he asked me the other day why your hair is so scraggly. Couldn’t we put some gel in it, or something? CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THE NERVE.

I told him right then that his next assignment was to change your poopy diaper. The one that had come out of the sides of your pants and was now dripping on the floor. His response was to faint and hit his head on the wall. Good thing he has insurance!

I’ve written about this before, but we are not used to having such an active child. You are crawling all over the place now. Speeding in and out of rooms, up and over every obstacle in your way. Climbing up onto the couch by yourself. You are a human wrecking ball and hit your head on everything. That’s part of the soundtrack to our lives these days, the thud of your head on the floor or some other hard surface. I’m always quick to run and make sure you’re okay, but your father tells me to chill out, you need to learn the physics of your head. And I’m like, but what if in that process she suffers brain damage? And he’s all, well then we’ll know she’s a slow learner!

Other than some brief, almost unbearably whiny periods when your two bottom teeth were coming in and you were learning how to crawl, you have been pretty much the most delightful baby on the planet. At times, I can hardly stand it because you’re generally just so happy about being alive. And that mood is contagious. I dare anyone to spend an hour around you without walking away singing a show tune and skipping like bow-tied buffoon. Your giant blue eyes, your miles-deep dimples, a smile so vibrant that it swallows all the light in the room. Along with electrical cords, dog toys, rocks, and your favorite, shoes. Yummy, yummy dirt-encrusted, feet-smelly shoes.

“What does she have in her mouth?”

“My shoe.”

“Why are you not stopping her?”


Tell you what, in preschool if some kid drags in a disease on his shoe, you’re going to be the only kid who doesn’t get sick.

It was a year ago that I was walking around all day thinking I had a chronic case of gas when really I was in labor with you. And then finally when I’d had enough I idiotically took that sleeping pill, and BOOM! Less than three hours later you popped out, and everyone in the room gasped at your size. That whole thing was in there?! And then they laid you on my chest and the first thing I remember thinking was, AWESOME! NO MORE PAIN! And then, wait a minute. I don’t have dimples, and neither does Jon! I gave birth to the wrong baby!

Turns out your father’s sisters do, so we decided to keep you.

You were never a crier, didn’t ever shed a single tear until you became mobile. And now, oh my, the tears. The deadly silence before the wailing. Because you hit your head again, or you’re stuck, or we won’t let you chew on the dog’s tail. And boy, do you play it up. Like every incident is the end of the world. And when I pick you up to comfort you, you snuggle in, rest your head on my shoulder and heave a sigh so heavy as if to say, “Guys, I know that what just happened was a tragedy for all of us, but I’ve decided I can move on.”

Marlo, there could not have been a more perfect addition to our family, and with you we are complete. Yes, it was a circus before, but now the music is louder and the tricks are even more death-defying. You are pure joy, a bundle of electrifying awesomeness that just keeps getting better. Like, just last week I discovered that you like bananas, and every morning when I cut one up to put in my cereal, I leave several bites for you. And while I eat my breakfast, I feed you tiny bites of banana, and you smile like a total goofball each time you see a piece coming. Like, I’m a momma monkey feeding her wacky baby monkey. I looked up at Jon while you were humming on a piece and said, “I never knew this, but this right here is everything I wanted in life.”

He rolled his eyes appropriately.

To celebrate your first year your father and I have set up a little slide show of photos set to the song “Elevator Love Letter” by a group called Stars. It has nothing to do with babies or children or even family in general, but it was the song your father and I were listening to on the way to the hospital when I was about to give birth to your sister. For months after she came into our lives and changed it forever I couldn’t listen to this song without crying, because life had become so complicated and confusing. And this song reminded me of what life was like before then. What life was like when I wasn’t a mother.

It’s been six and a half years since then, and now I’ve got two beautiful girls. And instead of feeling confused, I feel at home. So blessed. So complete. So right where I’m supposed to be. This song now reminds me of the journey I took to get here.

Happy birthday, Lil Donette Butternut!


  • ilovelucy1976

    Time flies! They grow up so fast. She is so adorable. Enjoy this time now because it goes away so fast! Happy Birthday Marlo!

  • little miss headlock

    aw jeez. you got the 24 year-old, never wanna have kids, “ew, kids have sticky hands and runny noses” girl all choked up. well played, armstrongs. well played.

    that granny boone photo is my absolute favorite. (was it granny boone? i should know this by now!) i went to my boyfriends grandmothers memorial yesterday, and there were so many photos and mementos laid out, and it was just so intense with the great-grandchildren running around as we sifted through photos of their great-grandma. it was my boyfriends last time at her house and when we got back into the city, he said it was like a little piece of childhood was gone. maybe i’m wrong, but i said that having the memories was better than having the actual physical place or mementos. you can remember it exactly as it was without time changing it. i’m happy you have such great memories stored away for leta and marlo to look at when they’re older. i’m still young, but i’m so grateful my grandparents and parents kept photos for me to look at, too.

    i don’t mean to sound like a bummer. i just think it’s so important to document all these little moments and hold on to them. i don’t have kids (hoo lordy!) but as i’ve been following this blog and from watching my own younger brother, i see how fast time goes by. i’m happy you guys celebrate all of these milestones and moments. and i’m happy you share them with us, too!

  • Fitz and the Dizzyspells

    *sniff sniff* These posts always bring me to tears because they’re so sweet.

    Good god, pull it together Fitz!

    Happy Birthday Marlo!

  • weebits

    Thank you Heather & Marlo for being such an inspiration to our little family! Reading Marlo’s labour story was a HUGE turning point for me. As someone who always feared birth (because you know, your lady parts get ripped to shreds and all), you allowed me to have an Oprah type “ah-ha” moment! After much research and mental preparation, I too went the natural as a bran muffin way and on April 11th had a perfect, 100% drug free birth!! (I honestly was reading your story over & over while in labour for THREE DAYS!!!) So, I celebrate with you! Happy Birthday Marlo and don’t forget about yourself today Heather as it is a year to the day that you moved mountains and inspired me(and I’m sure others) to do so as well!!

  • HellsBells

    Just gorgeous. That little lady is sooo cute. I know it is fairly mad but I feel very connected to your little family (in a cyber-computer-internet-virtual stylee)as you had Leta when I had my boy. My girl is 3 1/2. I love your sense of humour and the fact you make me feel less bad for not being some kind of saint who never gets cross or frustrated with parenthood. And thanks for the intro to the Doocers via the community bit – they also rock!

  • Mor to the gan

    What I love about your writing in general, but your writing about motherhood specifically, is that it is at once so cheeky and ironic and hilarious and full of personality and so HONEST, but incredibly touching, tender, so sweet and effing gushy about your babies that I feel like I CAN be a mother someday, but still retain a sense of humor and annoyance at living a life that does not always revolve perfectly around me.

    Thanks for that. (I should buy more music on iTunes, also.)


  • CO Momma

    Happy Birthday Marlo! It’s been great watching you grow and hearing about all of your adventures this past year! Can’t wait to watch all the exciting years you have to come!
    Enjoy the day!

  • Enatural7

    Happy Birthday Marlo!

  • tracy

    Pretty sure my milk just came in. And I am neither pregnant nor nursing.
    It seems like last week that I was hugging you & your preg belly at Powell’s & now Miss Marlo is one.
    Really beautiful letter. Really, really.

  • Pearl Berries

    Thank you for sharing your family with us. I know some people are awful and stupid but I hope the joy you bring the rest of us outweighs it. Your love and life has greatly impacted mine. Plus, your kids are incomprehensibly amazing.

    Happy birthday, Marlo!

  • ChrisB

    She is beautiful!!! And what a lovely tribute to her first year! Happy Birthday, Marlo!

  • Shana in Texas

    Happiest of days, Marlo! Congratulations on reaching the big 1!

  • Sasa

    I don’t even *like* kids but I like your one – those eyes, that gummy smile – and I like your writing too. I like to think I’m kind a tough but I shed a tear…Just a little one ;P

  • designaddictmom

    I thoroughly enjoyed the slideshow-exudes such love. Happy birthday Marlo!

  • HeckYes

    Happy Birthday sweet baby Marlo!!!

    Heather and Jon, enjoy every minute of their lives because before you know it they’re all grown up. Thanks for sharing the adorable with us!

  • Pandora Has A Box

    What a beautiful, heart-felt letter to Marlo.

    You know, yesterday my daughter and her two cousins were standing on top of the coffee table in grandma and grandpa’s living room, being supervised by grandpa. He was letting them take flying leaps from the coffee table into the arm chairs. My daughter had to “share” a chair with her boy cousin while his sister got a chair all to herself. When I walked into the room with my son, my daughter wanted to show me what she could do, but her cousin also wanted to show off. So, they had a spat and then he shoved her off the coffee table and she landed hard on her arm.

    There were tears. But do you know who was more upset and cried longer and harder? Not the one who was actually hurt, but her little brother, who was so *terribly* upset about the injustice done to his big sister.

    In that moment, if I’d had any doubts that I was “doing it right”, they were erased completely.

    Congratulations on having a complete family and happy birthday to Marlo!

  • oddFrogg

    Ahhhh…..wonderful slide show. I was in a bit of a whiny mood, but suddenly I feel better! Happy, Happy Birthday Miss Marlo!

  • lovems

    Happy 1st Birthday Marlo!

    Heather, that was beautiful, but it’s not nice to make your readers cry at work!

  • duffylou

    What a great post. Love the pics.

    She’s really starting to look like her big sister.

    The boys are going to be lining up around the block for those two. But I guess you have a few years before that happens.

  • miss_meow

    In 2 1/2 weeks (ISH. You know how them babies are), I will be beginning the journey that you’ve been on this past year. (However, it’s my first. Uh oh.)

    And, what a beautiful journey that is… Thank you for letting us on it.

    Happy Birthday, Marlo!

  • Buttons McTavish

    What a doll baby! Happy Birthday to her. I loved reading about how your family is now complete, especially with Sisters who are the best of friends! xo Amy

  • souphead

    Happy Birthday Lil Donette!
    Congratulations Heather and Jon. And thanks for sharing your lives with us.
    It just keeps getting better.

  • wockawocka

    Gah, I was already on the edge of the weepies & this video pushed me over. Thanks!

    Happy birthday, Marlo & Heather!

  • Ray1987

    Time SURE does FLY right on by! Can’t believe a year has passed and Marlo is already “ONE!” Happy 1st Birthday Marlo and to you guys as a family for surviving it! =P

    I loved this line: “Yes, it was a circus before, but now the music is louder and the tricks are even more death-defying.” ;D

  • Nhiro

    Leave it to you to play the one Stars song I have (and love). I saw them in concert last week. Really great.

    Just like your precious kid 😉

  • 1eyedmonkee

    I was struck thinking back over the 365 days since Marlo arrived…the personal losses you’ve experienced, the wisdom you’ve gained, the stresses that have NOT been your undoing, the many new challenges you’ve faced and most of all, the joy of family. Well done. Leta had to come first. Marlo needed a big sister just like Leta. The best is yet to come…

  • vsatt

    I’m all teary-eyed, that was so beautiful! You should just whip this out anytime she complains about ANYTHING. And oh my gosh she really is just the cutest thing! I feel like a traitor saying that about any babies other than my own, but you just can’t deny the truth. Happy Birthday Marlo!

  • bambooska

    Feliz aniversário, pequenininha!*


    *Happy birthday, little one!

  • decorgirl

    She may regularly gnaw on footwear, but she’s the CLEANEST baby I have ever seen!

    You must use a pressure washer, yes?

  • ClaireinAustin

    it makes me think of when my son was born and our first year with him.
    When babies come we all get reborn, I think.
    best to you all.

  • theotherlion

    Happy Birthday, Little Lady! Way to shake things up!

  • blackpanther

    Simply fabulous. Happy Birthday Marlo.

  • kimkan

    Thanks for bringing your light in the lives of so many around our planet. This is an amazing world we live in and I hope each year brings you closer to all things amazing! happy birthday, marlo. And thanks Leta for being the best big sister ever!

  • frau cowtown

    So my little girl, who will be a high school freshman this fall, wanders by as the slide show plays, and says, “that’s a cute, little, blue-eyed baby!” She summed it up. When I first saw the title, my thought was, “no way… already?” The days can drag by, but wow, the years fly by, no?! Happy Birthday, Marlo


    Happy birthday, love Aunt Bossy.


    Happy Birthday Marlo! She is so beautiful. She really is. And you can tell the little stink really does love life.

    I actually created a video like that for my daughter who just turned one in February… I’m not really involved with her dad anymore. Well… let’s just say he told me he would help me pay for an abortion, and I told him he could shove it. Long story short, I knew one day she would ask where she came from and where her dad was, so I made a nice little video to explain it all. And it ended up being more for me than anyone else. It’s on my facebook if anyone cares to watch…

    Video is titles “Where you came from… How ‘We’ Began”

    Congrats on making such a beautiful family! I love the music you put with it too… and the letter is very Dooce. They better appreciate this stuff when they’re older.

  • Tricia

    So beautiful! You and Jon are so blessed- and I am truly happy for you.

    Happy birthday, Marlo!

  • Yolanda

    Happy birthday, dear Marlo. And congrats, Momma, on such an amazing year.

  • betsyashbrook

    You’re always funny but not cutting. I love that about your writing.

    Jon is so. hot.

  • lunacydress

    That Granny Boone picture never fails to choke me up Heather! Beautiful slideshow, beautiful kids! Happy Birthday, Marlo!

  • ERStolpe

    Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

  • dolphy36

    It is so wonderful to hear you enjoy your little girls! I do remember back when life was a lot more complicated for you, to use your word. And here you are…able to soak up the awesome world you are blessed with! And, while some think that writing about your kids like this is an invasion of their privacy, all I know is that if my mom had taken the time to encapsulate some memories like you do, I would be forever grateful.

    Happy Birthday, Marlo! You brighten my days! (You, do too, Leta!)

  • adventuregirl77

    What a fantastic slideshow. I especially love the photo of Marlo in the foreground and you in the background with matching blue eyes. Our little one is less than 2 months older than Marlo. I cannot believe a year has already passed!

    Alecia from

  • Brea

    Happy birthday, little girl!

  • Camilla_AE

    “Veels geluk met jou verjaarsdag Marlo, mag daar nog vele meer wees” (Happy Birthday Marlo, may there be many more).
    Thanks for sharing Dooce. You give a little inspiration to each of us.

  • Ginrod

    This read was really beautiful,but my question is: what happen to your old assistant?

  • Ginrod

    This is a really lovely write, but what happened to your old assistant? did i miss something??

  • Rich

    Marlo is amazing. You are lucky parents to have your 2 girls.
    One thing I was told when we had our daughter 6 years ago;
    Remember, they will never be this age again, so treasure your time with her now.
    Congratulations again on your 2 girls.

  • Badger

    Many happy returns Marlo.
    I love her – she’s just so munch-able x

  • Bree

    Aww Happy Birthday, Marlo!!

    This was a truly heart-warming, day-making post. I know it’s been said before on this comment thread but truly, it makes me happy to read that YOU are so happy! 🙂

    LOVED the slideshow. Your family could not possibly be more adorable. 🙂

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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