Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

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!


  • Nina Amelia

    Happy belated birthday Marlo 🙂
    And congratulations on your beautiful girl, mom & dad

  • Truthful Mommy

    Happy 1st birthday Marlo! What a beautiful post and loved the video of Marlo. That first birthday, actually all of them, are pretty emotional for us Mommies. It always takes us back to moment they were born.Hope you and your beautiful family had a wonderful day celebrating Marlo.Happy Mothering!

  • comicmummy

    Happy birthday Marlo and happy labor-is-over anniversary Heather!

    Beautiful vid too. x

  • teetotaled

    You made me cry Heather!
    My little girl turns one next week. I love reading about Marlo’s adventures, especially because they so closely mirror those of my own little peanut.
    Happy 1st Birthday Marlo!

  • BeanMa

    Congrats! Happy Birthday, Marlo!

  • J. Bo

    She is so smart, so funny, so beautiful, and she’s looking so much like her wonderful sister. Give her lots of extra squishes for all of us out here on the Internet (and see if you really CAN fit a pot roast in that left dimple of hers; I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of room).

  • Scott-5×5

    We, the internet, have watched your kids be born and start their lives in amazing detail. This is like reading a book that I want never to end, or like watching the longest, best movie ever.

    You, this website, what you give to us. Fantastic.

    Happy Birthday Marlo!

  • solaana

    For a baby with so expressive a face, your daughter has got bershon down. She’s the 3rd cutest baby I have ever seen (Sorry, but #1 is my nephew, Erik Estrada, and #2 is my cousin’s baby Q…but I might be biased). But I don’t understand how you can share a home with a baby with eyes like that and not just be a drooling mess within 5 seconds. Like living with Marina Abramovic or something.

  • myeena

    Wow. I can’t believe the Lil Donette is a year old already. Beautifully written, Heather…as always. Much love to you all.

    Your internet family. 🙂

  • jlduke55

    I hope she had a wonderful birthday! She’s so gorgeous and I can’t get over those eyes!

    Thank you for sharing so much with us Heather. Seeing your experience the second time around makes me think I could handle it all again too:)

  • allison76

    Well, you certainly have come a long way with your girls. I am so very happy for you, they obviously bring you such joy and light.

    Loved the slide show especially. Beautiful images to cherish. She just looks delicious! And the pics of her with her big sis are so precious.

    I think you have summed up her first year so amazingly accurately with tears, laughter, frustration and the sheer joy of raising a tiny baby into a toddler.

    Thanks for letting us all peek in at your life together and I am really looking forward to seeing what Marlo’s second year brings.

    Allison 😀

  • simpliSAHM

    Video b’day tributes are awesome! In fact it was the one you did for Leta that inspired us to do our own for little guy when he turned three last summer.

    Also? The shot of Jon holding Marlo complete with the 70’s sideburns and accompanying porn ‘stache was priceless!

  • mrscunning14

    Beautiful post, and lovely video. I love the song, as well.

    I’ve been reading for a while and wanted to say how wonderful it is that you are sharing your life with us this way. I know you get a lot of negativity and hate, but putting yourself out there, and describing otherwise ordinary life occurrences in such colorful ways–both with your writing and through pictures–is really engaging and, if you’ll allow me to get sappy here, just plain special.

    I do not always agree with what you write (for instance, I got pretty skeeved out after reading your shower post. Hahaha.), but you do have “it,” whatever “it” is, and I really enjoy reading what you share. I relate to a lot of what you contribute and I think your journey as a human being and as a mother is an important one. You give voice to a lot of us who wish we had a forum such as this to express what you do. And you do it well!

    And good for you for blogging and making a living from it. I am a stay at home mom who heads up two community-based organizations, and collectively put in about 50 hours a week doing so. The rewards I gain are non-monetary, but if someone wanted to pay me for what I do, I’d say, HELL YES!

    No surprise that you’ve got another fan, here! 🙂

  • beadbabe49

    Happy Birthday to Marlo…she’s clearly so thrilled to be alive and in a family that adores her!
    Fantastic job you’re all doing…

  • Mom101

    Happy happy birthday gorgeous Marlo.

    Don’t believe what anyone tells you – you have a mom who loves you more than anything in the world.

  • eddeaux

    Wow… Leta is 6.5 and Marlo is 1. I remember when both were born and it’s been so fun to tag along and watch you and your family grow up. What I’ve been blessed by most of all is to see how much joy you have in your life. Now we rarely see letters about depressed episodes or incorrect drug dosing. Instead, we see your smiling face on HGTV and wonderful letters that make me hopeful that one day I will go through the challenges of parenthood and come out changed. Knowing that whoever said, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” was surely talking about parenthood.

    Love you guys.


  • dianneph

    I can’t believe it! A year already! When Leta was little I could not believe a child could have such huge beautiful eyes, but I actually think Marlo’s eyes are even bigger and the most mesmerizing I’ve even seen! She is an incredibly adorable baby and I am so happy to hear you Heather, saying that this is what you’ve always wanted in life. Nothing can compare to the love we have for our children. Thanks for the lovely video of Marlo’s first year. I found myself just sitting here with a huge smile on my face – just like you told her in your letter – who can look at her fantastic face and not smile? I can’t wait to see future videos of Leta and Marlo dancing and laughing together. (Leta’s video dancing to Coldplay is still my favorite ever!) Happy Birthday Marlo!!

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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