The Saying’s Correct: Sisterhood is Powerful

Dear Ellie — Your great-aunt Ellen celebrated her 64th birthday last month. Since you’ve only seen her once and she lives thousands of miles away, I want to write you so you’ll know more about her. After all, in my unbiased older-sister opinion, she’s one…

The Final Flight

Dear Ellie — It’s been a tumultuous fall. Aside from the November presidential election, your great-grandfather died that same month. He was your mother’s father’s father and his name was William Fendall Pennebaker. He would have been 99 on December 3. Everyone called him Bill,…

Roaming With a Passport

Ellie — Well, you just had your first international trip. You even have a passport, with a photo that shows you glaring at the camera. (Passport photos are never good, even when you’re an attractive baby.) You and your parents met Uncle Nick, his girlfriend…

Time Well Spent

Dear Ellie — You’re looking really happy these days, busily exploring the world around you. Recently, when Opa and I were talking to you on FaceTime, your little face lit up at the sight of us — we thought. Turns out, you just wanted your…

Learning to Crawl

Ellie — Opa and I took a wonderful trip to Seattle to see you and your parents two weeks ago. We came back with lots of warm memories, a zillion photos of you and us, and, as a bonus, the cold you had. What did we…

Actually, Failure is Always an Option

Ellie — You’re six months old now, and your latest accomplishment, according to your parents, is doing a great plank pose. Here you are in mid-action: What fine form! A couple of thousand miles away, I’m recovering from my most recent MOHs surgery — removing…

The Teal Stories

Dear Ellie — When you’re pregnant, one of the most delightful tasks you have is to pick out a name for the baby. Well, wait a minute. Delightful may be overstating it. It’s a big responsibility to name a new human being, after all. And,…

Turkeys and Temblors

Dear Ellie — Thirty-three years ago, Opa and I came across a quote we really loved. “Having a baby,” it read, “is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain.” Exactly! we both exclaimed, screeching with deranged laughter. A bowling alley! How very precise!…

Don’t Mess With Grandmothers

Ellie — I visited Seattle last week, staying a few blocks away from your parents’ townhouse. You’d changed a lot since I first saw you as a week-old newborn. For one thing, you’re smiling. Do you have any idea what undignified lengths presumably sane adults…

Dear Ellie

You’ve now been in this world almost 48 hours. Forty-eight hours of photo flashes and prying, poking doctors and grinning, rhapsodic parents and rumbling traffic and leaking breasts and blaring sirens. Kind of a wild, teeming mess, isn’t it? Welcome! I’m your maternal grandmother, Ruth…