My shimmy girl

Jan 28

Tonight after dinner, Greta ran over to me (because Greta doesn’t ever walk; she runs).

She said, “Mom!  I’m ready for my snuggie jammies,” as she did a little shimmy shake.

(Greta ends the majority of her declarative sentences with a little shimmy shake.  I’m pretty sure that I have never done even one little shimmy shake in my entire life, so this is such a mystery to me.)

I said, “Okay, G.  I’ll be ready in a few minutes to help you.”

“‘Kay Mom!” as she ran off again.

A few minutes later, she came running back into the room.  She is wearing her favorite-of-the-day monkey jammies, she’s taken out her ponytail, she proclaims she’s ready for night-nights as she — you guessed it — does a little shimmy shake.  It’s the first time I can remember that she’s taken the initiative and figured out all those sleeves and leg holes and other tricky elements of pajamas without calling for help.

Next, the two of us climbed up into Maren’s top bunk, where Greta has been sleeping for the past two weeks, and she picks up her pillow by the top corners and places it precisely in the middle of the bed, at a slight angle, optimal for story-reading.  She says, “Just a minute Mom, I have to get my bed all organized.”  She painstakingly positions her night-night items of the evening just so.  Her favorite blankie is squarely across her pillow so that her cheek is on it as she sleeps.  Her doll Emily (named after her best friend’s doll Emily) is snuggled to her left with her own softy blankie against her cheek.  The little pink elephant and Belle, both from outings with Chief Sister, are snuggled to her right, along with her Dreamlight and a sippie cup of water.  I watched her sorting and her precision with a little bit of awe, marveling that a little girl could grow up so much in one evening.

The lining up and the organizing and the pleasure that she derived from such things was so very mature for my little three-year-old, and also so very Maren.  Maren, I recognize, was very much a rough-and-tumble toddler like Greta was, but now is pretty methodical, organized, and takes pleasure in order (with certain notable exceptions being her own closet and desk).  Will Greta end up with these same traits?  It seems so unlikely from the tornado we call Greta, but this is one of the fascinating parts of watching my children grow.  Their evolution constantly surprises, befuddles and thrills me.  We’ve so long affectionately referred to Greta as “the Godzilla of Maren’s world”, it seems other-worldly that she might soon defer to another person’s will.  (Audible gasps are escaping from the lips of all who know Greta intimately at the thought of such a change.)

We named Greta for strength and beauty, and I’m quite sure we nailed it with regard to her personality.  Her will and vivaciousness — when she uses her power for good — are remarkably endearing.

Last summer I met four of my friends at the local amusement park.  Between us, we had forty-seven seventeen kids.  We divided them into groups according to height as you would at an amusement park, and I was one of two moms assigned to the “little-littles”… half a dozen of the smallest kids to do the baby rides.  After an hour of lines, rides, walking, we lined up our herd in the shade and gave them their water cups.  My friend and I, who were in charge of the little-littles, looked at each other and agreed the carousel was next.  As we surveyed their pink faces and chubby legs limp with exhaustion, my friend clapped her hands together, rubbed them excitedly, and drummed up as much contagious enthusiasm as she could, “Okay kids!  Who is ready to ride the CAROUSEL???  Yippeeeeee!”

While five of the kids gave her a dull gaze, my Greta threw both arms up into the air, jumped up and yelled “Meeeeee!  I WANT TO GO TO THE CAROUSEL!!!!  Yipppeeeeeee!”  And then she did a little shimmy shake.

Greta has the unique gift of making you feel like the most amazing human being on earth.

It’s absolutely counter-balanced with the reality that she is a hard kid a fair amount of the time, too.  She just has no in-between.  She’s all in.  Awesome or miserable.  (We just try to keep our focus on the awesome, don’t we G?)

I’m so entrenched in the story of Greta.  I love praying over her and seeing the girl she’s becoming.  She’s dynamic and fierce and gorgeous in the coolest ways.  I can’t wait to see what she does next.  I love you G!


  1. Melody Smith /

    Jen, you captivate us with your descriptives … shimmy shake had me glued. Go “G” – shimmy shake on!

  2. Julie Talford /

    Organized…our G? Remarkable. Thanks for the smiles while reading about Greta…


  3. Unfortunately I only know Maren & Greta through your marvelous posts (so I guess I know them pretty well after all!), but I can so see a little red-headed fireball doing a shimmy shake! How great that you take the time to write about an everyday happening that can make us yearning for more! Your little girls are blessed in many ways! ♥p

  4. Thank you so much for giving me a huge smile and a hearty chuckle on this cold, gray Thursday morning! As I tackle my To Do List (which includes tax prep and other equally “exciting” adult responsibilities) I will think of Greta and her carousel, remember Mary Poppins wonderful words of wisdom “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun”, and joyfully embrace my life today.

    • My Collin (also the second child) is very similar. Not so much with the shimmy shaking, but the “little girl who had a little curl” syndrome. He can be the most delightful child you’ve ever met, or he can throw the world’s hugest meltdowns and make me want to poke my eyeballs out. I really think there is something to this whole birth order philosophy.

  5. Michelle /

    Maybe if we all did little shimmy shakes all day the world would be a happier place!

    • I needed to read this today, the part about counter-balanced. My Lucas is similar and so often I get stuck in the hard part and forget about the awesome. We have some scary stuff headed our way this summer and I get frustrated trying to make every minute count. Your post reminds me that I just need to focus on the awesome.