My husband, always thoughtful, surprised me this morning with the perfect Mother’s Day gift: an opportunity for a special mother-daughter date with Katie this morning, and the promise of more time for a mother-son date sometime later this week. The best presents for me are always the gift of memories, and this is no doubt what my husband has in mind. The gift of time…the gift of a chance to focus all of my attention on one child at a time….the gift of really getting to savor each of them one-on-one.

As much as I adore watching Katie and Eric spend time together as brother and sister, so often I lament that my attention most of the day is so divided between the two of them when I know how much children need to have full attention, especially to learn well and to feel valued. Eric and I occasionally have one-on-one time in the morning before Katie wakes up, and Katie and I have time together when Eric naps or goes to bed. Yet, especially with Katie, it is fun and special to have the chance to be on our own doing activities geared for older children, when I can give all of my attention to her and not have to worry about slighting Eric. I am equally looking forward to my date with him (which I think will be a picnic somewhere) when I can do all those baby-games he loves to do and practice his walking and let him feel special.

For our date, Katie and I went to Painted Earth. My mom and I went several times years ago when I was in college, and I have been wanting to take Katie for quite some time. Katie chose to paint a small plate and I painted a small teacup and saucer as a keepsake for Mother’s day 2011.

I forgot to take pictures while we were glazing, but I did get this one after we had finished and cleaned up. Our pieces haven’t been fired yet, so I can’t wait to see how much more vibrant the colors are when we pick them up next weekend!

Katie stands outside the door of Painted Earth.

Since Katie loves Mexican food, and since one of my favorite restaurants is Rosa’s Cantina in Old Town, we went there for lunch.

We had a fun time talking together at lunch.

Before we went home, I told Katie that I had a secret place to show her. Probably most Temeculans (especially long-time residents) know about the Rose Haven, but it is fairly tucked away and has never been too busy when I’ve stopped by. We were there alone for awhile today, and then a pair of older women came to stroll and then a young family. Katie was delighted to be let in on the “secret place”—I told her that someday we would take Eric, but that for today, only she and I would know about it together. She loved every second climbing around there and strolling the pathways. She said it seemed like a princess’ garden…

Katie, gripping her hands in excitement shortly after we entered the Rose Haven.

It was a beautiful day for a mother-daughter date in Temecula!

We took a picture of ourselves!

Katie was looking for a frog amongst the lily pads. We did see a mallard duck and many tiny fish.

In the hilltop gazebo, which Katie called her “tower.”

She really loved this part of our date the most, and she is eager to return to the Rose Haven with a picnic lunch and for further exploration.

What a beautiful date with my daughter, my oldest, my girl who made me a mother. I am thankful for this time—the best Mother’s Day present Bill could have given to me. He gave us magic.

I am taking Eric out next week sometime, while Katie will get a special date with her Daddy to see a movie in the theater together. We are making memories all around, and that makes my heart incredibly happy.

Tomorrow is a late brunch with my mom and Nana and my aunt, along with our children and men. This is turning out to be one of the best Mother’s Day weekends I think I have ever had. It is also my first with both of my children here with me, and I don’t think I could be any more fortunate than that.