Fifteen Glowing Moons

Dear Lusciousness,

Your fifteenth moon bestowed upon your sweet spirit the gift of babble. This month, your stare and point and nod, with raised eyebrows, while ranting in Kaiababble. You do this in the morning, standing in your crib, as soon as I enter your shadowed room. Sometimes you lift your hands, palms facing inward (Italian mobster style), to emphasize your point. Lemme tell you, it’s usually verrrrry convincing. You pick up the cordless phone and immediately begin a conversation full of swift “Ahga’s” and “Gulguldada eeeepah’s” and lots of “chayaw’s”. Your eyes wander as you listen to the babbler on the other end but as soon as they try to make their point, you interrupt with a “leedalah, dada” and I’ll be damned if they ever call back again. Telemarketer’s beware!

You also sneak in some “real” words every now and then such as: dog, out, wa-wa (water), car, bye, book, hi, duck, Kaia, Kai-Kai, and a strange muttering you say for “light” (which sounds nothing like it). You smack your lips together to make the sound for a “fish”. You sign “all done” and “all gone” and “milk”. You blow kisses and know how to find your belly button and your yoni. And mine. You know how to form the hand motions to “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Pat-a-Cake”. Your little person friend Julianna Banana must have taught you your newest trick: vocalizing “nana, nana, nana” when you want anything. Immediately. What’s tough is you also say it when you see a banana, so we’ve become adept at deciphering. Oh yeah, and upon repeated prompting (read: desperate begging) you MIGHT say “Mama”.

A few weeks ago, you awoke at 2:30 am and was not consoled by nursing. You stretched your arms towards the door and tried to push off of me. I decided you may be thirsty and swung you onto my hips. As I bent over to search for the sippy cup on the living room floor (yes, my love, in our house this is a perfectly acceptable place to stash a sippy cup) I noticed a grubby, dirty chunk of banana on the carpet. I tried to stand up quickly so that you wouldn’t notice. But you did. And you immediately proclaimed, with much concern, “Uh-oh!”. I made my way into the kitchen to fill your sippy cup and you whined and furrowed your brow and began to incessantly chatter “nana, nana, nana”. You flailed your arms toward the living room. Again, I squatted to the floor, placed your pajama clad feet on the tile, peered into your deep chocolate eyes, and said “Show Mama what you want, honey”. You took off at lightning speed and I followed your shuffling body across the kitchen, around the corner, through the living room, right to the icky banana. I fetched you a new banana, and you sat on the counter eating your snack at this awful hour. Truth be told, you melted me that night.

You hold a special mystery, my Kaia. Sometimes, late at night, you smell like fish. You waft of fish. Right at your temples. I’ve noticed it, your Daddy has noticed it, and our friend Ember has noticed it. I cannot figure it out, though I’ve googled it numerous times to no avail.

Today, we walked to the mailbox together with our dog. Your eyes squinted in the sun. You clutched my keys and giggled with glee as our dog leapt and ran along with us. I held your hand and meandered right along with you, under the cool desert sky. I looked down at our feet, yours in soft, pink shoes and mine in bronze flip-flops. I noticed that you take about 3 steps for every one of mine. That made me smile and laugh and remember to slow down and enjoy every amazing moment with you.

You are working hard on trying to sleep through “most” of the night. Sometimes you have a mighty good run. But you keep it fun by peppering the week with random wakings. I’m tired, but not that tired…not too tired to see your messy-haired head swaying over the rails of the crib, your arms reaching for me. Mama to the rescue!

You are teething. Again. And the only good thing I can say about that is you sure like to cuddle with me. Feeling the slight heave of your chest on mine, your billowy cheek on my shoulder, and your tousled hair tickling my nose is divinity perfectly packaged.

You have your Daddy’s engineering/architect/detailed mind. You thread bolts through holes, can almost turn a screw with a screwdriver, and tonight poked the tiniest earphone plug into the holes of your plastic stacking toys…for twenty minutes straight. And while I always had dreams you would by a dark-eyed gypsy, traveling by boat to some far off land, bathing in the mother ocean, remembering me…I somehow believe you may take on a more respectable career involving problem solving or analysis. But please, my love, always follow your passion….never let work become “work”…and take time to explore…

I made a shocking and truly devastating discovery tonight. While reading a blog about another Mama’s 14 month old, she described sweet kisses from the lips of her babe. And I suddenly realized that I don’t kiss you on your red, puckered lips enough. Why?, I asked myself. I totally drown you in kisses on your plump cheeks, button nose, squinty eyes, perfectly round head, fine hair, poochy belly… And I DO kiss your lips, but not enough, not enough, not enough. The, I figured it out. You are a total “binky” fiend, especially at night when I carry the soft weight of your warm body into bed. This would be the perfect opportunity for lip kissin’ for most folks, but you, my love…have a binky in your mouth. And instead of popping it out at the risk of interrupting your flow, I smother your face in kisses…I promise you more lip kisses from now on. Indeed, I stole more than a few tonight as I watched you stack your cups and poke the earphones into the holes.

You’ve been bonding with your Dada much more now that I’ve had to leave you to attend three births in four weeks. You love his sense of adventure and play…you adore the bike rides in the bike trailer, memorizing at the landscape…you appreciate his inquisitiveness and love of creating “puzzles” for you to solve. I can tell you he is ecstatic about this, totally reeling and joyful. I mean, we know you’ve always loved him. But a nursing babe is a mama’s babe for quite a long time. Now that you are gently weaning yourself (but not givin’ up!) from my breast, you are branching out to the other important people in your life like Dada. I love to see your relationship growing together, blossoming like the morning glory. It warms the heart which you’ve managed to expand.

Darling love, my greatest wish is to stay at home with you…and I’m trying so hard to make this a reality. The guilt of leaving you with a sitter is sometimes too much to bear. My heart aches the entire drive to work…but on the walk into the building, I smell the sweet cooling of the air, and look up towards the clouds, and notice the way the breeze caresses me and heals me…and I know I can make it one more day…My arms constantly await the moment they can scoop your body up again. And I tattoo you with my kisses.

As of late, you’ve exhibited a few signs of shyness, but it is a rare occurrence. Very rare, my social butterfly. You draw your chin into your chest and turn your head slightly and look at people out of one lash-batting eye. Dada says that when you walk into a new place, a strange room, you do your “Bill Cosby” stance, with arms to your side, chest out, and hands twisted outwards behind you. You walk slowly and move your head deliberately from side to side, checking out the surroundings. I wish I had a photo of this. You crack us up.

Peanut, I’ve witnessed three brand new souls enter this world recently. And every single time, I am reminded of you and I am reduced to grateful tears. I think of the moment I was gifted with your presence and how it encased me with light, light that burst forth from my heart uncontrollably. It continues to lead me, to help me find my way when I’m stumbling around in this thing called life. Life which holds sacred meaning now that you are here. My earthly, ocean gift…My Kaia Marin. Under the glow of each night’s silvery moon, you remain infinite…

I love you,



6 Comments Add yours

  1. mb says:

    ok. hello. crying over here.

    your daughter is magnificant. i love her so and can’t wait to see her again. Sula still looks at me, looks at the door and points, “Kaia? Kaia?”

    kaia is a cuddle bug, a squishy love, a sweet smelling pea. I think it’s so funny she has a scent of fish. Sula smells like sand. Mia smells a little like worms in the dirt after a rain-fall.

    Where did these angels come from? Same place as us?

    This letter to her is precious. She will cherish it, hold it until the fibers tear and then hold it even tighter.

    We all love you all.

  2. leighsteele says:

    And we love all of you. 🙂

  3. em says:

    She is utterly gorgeous. My little one turns one in two days – so Kaia and she are close in age – and it is such a beautiful age with all the babbling and laughing and delight in the world!

  4. S says:

    The icky banana story had me laughing out loud. They know what they want, don’t they? And M is a total binky addict, too. We have succesfully limited it to naps and nighttime so far, but I’m worried this will end soon. If she catches sight of the binky on the counter, for example, she has a total meltdown until I give it to her. I have learned to put it out of sight whenever I get her up. But just like she pops on and off the boob while nursing, she has the binky in and out of her mouth constantly too. So I still get lots of opportunities for mouth kisses :).

    Kaia is so beautiful. Clearly a joyful, happy and loved child.

  5. amygeekgrl says:

    so, so sweet. i love that you document all of this for her each month. what a treasure.
    and i LOVE that first pic! what a happy girl! the one of her in the swing with her tongue sticking out is priceless as well. 🙂

  6. Dad says:

    My dear Leigh,

    On Wednesday of last week Kaia’s grandfathers Ritchie and Steele set off on an adventurous road trip through the mountians of Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. Top down on a silver BMW Z-3; two “mature” friends of a lifetime….cruising beneith the azure skys of a crisp, October day. Wind in our hair…. well mine anyway…. sun in our faces; winding road weaving together memories of half a century.

    Sunset on Wednesday night found us in an Appalachian village on the Tennesee, Kentucky border. We checked into a small “mom and pop” motel by the roadside. No surprise that we were greeted by the resident owners….a Pakistani family. Seems that every motel in America is now owned by Indian, Pakistani or some middle eastern denizen.

    A lovely, young, woman of maybe 30 years checked us in. It seemed likely that she was the daughter of the “50 something” gentleman who had greeted us. As we began to talk with her; the gentle, warmth of her soft voice, brown eyes and almond skin melted away any residual, predjudice of my Hoosier youth.

    Something of her spirit began to draw me to her. I felt our hearts touch. “I have a daugher about your age” I said. “In fact she is married to my buddy’s son and we share a grandaughter who is about 15 months old” A soft smile, flushed cheeks and sparking eyes…. tenderness flowed from her lips. “I have a daughter too….who is 15 months old” she replied. “Oh….when was she born?” “July 6th, 2005.” “We had hoped she would be a July 4th baby.” “Ah…only a day younger than my precious Kaia.” “Born one day apart!”

    Spirits of gene pools far different; ancestry that could not have been more foreign. Yet one and all; gifts of God. Tiny souls now part of our lives, bringing miracles:love, joy, happiness and hope into our common world.

    In a tiny town of Kentucky far from Osama: centuries beyond Mr.Washington…. children of God touched hands and the angels sang.

    Love you,


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