Juliette is becoming more observant, more curious, and more opinionated with each passing day.  She’s tossing her toys by the wayside and making a mischievous break for our phones or remote controls or whatever other baby no-no’s we’ve unwittingly left lying around.  And oh, do the crocodile tears flow when we take said remote control or iPhone away from her.  She’s suddenly very interested in what I’m eating and has all kinds of ideas about what should be on her own plate (the tight-lipped turn of her head when I offer her freshly made baby food is not a welcome development).  The older she gets, the less it feels like parenting is just about keeping her fed and dry and as happy as possible.  As her personality really begins to shine through, it’s hitting me:  We’ve got to teach show this little girl kindness and generosity and patience.  She’s watching us.


And what else do we want to show her?  What does it mean to be a Schnell?  Nance wrote last year about what it means to be a Rust, and she’s spot-on when she says, “Our family will have a culture, a way of being, whether we plan for it intentionally or not.  So I’d rather give it some thought ahead of time rather than looking back in 25 years and wishing I’d done things differently.”  What’s at the heart of Shane’s and my being?  How do we give and receive love?  What brings us the most joy, tugs the most fiercely at our hearts?  As we watch Jules grow, there will (hopefully) be moments when our breath catches in our throats and we proudly nod and say, “Yeah, she got that from us.”  What will those moments look like?  What matters most?  This is a start:

We jump at the chance to help out our people.  A ride to the airport, a home-cooked (or picked-up, at least) meal, a shoulder to lean on when the going gets tough – we are ready and willing when friends and family need us.  People matter more than to-do lists or money or naps.  I fail at putting this into practice sometimes, but Shane inspires me over and over again to live out our love.  I feel so lucky that Jules will be learning about friendship from her incredibly loyal dad.

We laugh hard and often.  There is always room for silliness in our home, room for dance parties and funny faces and made-up songs.  I have been pulled out of many a funk by Shane’s air guitar.  And now we’re doing the same for Jules, bending over backwards to draw forth a giggle, because a good belly laugh is so good for the soul.  We were heading out to a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago and Juliette was completely over being in the car before we’d even finished buckling her car seat straps.  So Shane hopped in the back seat with her, perched her stuffed puppy on top of his head, and blubbered his lips like a madman.  A car full of teenagers pulled up alongside us just in time for the show.  They smirked their too-cool-for-school smirks, but Shane felt no embarrassment, no shame – we’re a family of damn proud goofballs.

We do our best.  We work hard at school or at our jobs.  We aren’t the slacker lab partner or the project team member that people don’t want to get stuck with, because we are thorough and conscientious and we follow through with our commitments.  We are not perfectionists and we are not without limits, but we make ourselves proud, however that looks.

We love the outdoors.  We’re not hard-core backpackers or mountain-bikers and our hikes are usually more like short walks with lots of snacks involved, but when we have the choice between staying inside and watching TV or heading outdoors to play in the park or just lay in the grass, we go out.  I’m convinced that we live in one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.  We don’t take that for granted.

We are San Francisco Giants fans.  I know, is this really at the core of who we are?  I note it because I know how important (and fun) it is to have a shared pastime.  Shane and I have wildly different interests, but baseball is one of the few things we both really rally around – we find so much joy in going to a game together or letting the voice of Jon Miller whisk us away to AT&T Park, filling us in on the latest happenings with Buster and MadBum and Timmy.  And so we’ll do our best to raise Juliette to love baseball, too.  We’ll let her watch The Sandlot and enroll her in tee-ball as soon as she’s old enough to run the bases (but no pressure, baby!).

Here goes, kiddo.  Looking forward to watching (and helping) your inner Schnell shine through.

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