Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Thanksgiving Love Letter



November 21, 2012

Sweetest Boy,

It’s the eve of Thanksgiving, and I am sitting on my bed listening to your cute chatter over the baby monitor as you settle down to sleep. My heart aches with the love I have for you. 

I just want to tell you how grateful I am for you.  The past few weeks have been perfect.  Perfect.  This is the happiest I have been as a stay-at-home mom.  Every day, I thank God that I get to be home with you, that I get to be the one that you run to when you are afraid of the vacuum cleaner, that I get to be the one to hear your new words and witness your milestones. 

A few days ago, I noticed that you were stinky, and I said aloud, “Someone needs a new diaper…”  You looked at me thoughtfully, got a self-satisfied smirk on your face, and then ran back to your bedroom.  You emerged waving a clean diaper and giggling wildly.  I could not believe it.  It was the first moment that I realized that you understand me.  My Noah Nugget isn’t a baby anymore—you are a little boy—you are my little boy, my buddy, my best friend.

And then yesterday, you were eating breakfast when I heard a suspicious rumble reverberating from the seat of your high chair.  You looked up at me innocently and said, “Toot.”  Shocked, and wondering when your daddy taught you that word, I burst out laughing.  You make me laugh every day.

You have your birthparents’ eyes—Drew’s shape, Katie’s color.  Every time that someone comments on your gorgeous eyes (which, believe me, happens almost daily), I am filled with love and joy and thanksgiving—for the gift that you are in my life, for the gift that they are in my life.  I would not be a mother without them.  I will never forget their sacrifice.  

Sometimes, I watch you from the doorway of your bedroom when you are absorbed in a task—when you are concentrating on putting your white noise machine together, or sitting on your globe with both of your chubby hands on the glowing surface for balance—and my heart swells, and I can’t stop smiling, and when you finally look up and notice me there, you smile too. 

Thank you for being my son.  

Thank you for bringing me storybooks and climbing into my lap, saying “Book?  Book?  Book?” until I set aside whatever I am working on to read to you.  There is nothing that I wouldn’t set aside to snuggle with you. 

Thank you for spinning in circles until you fall over when we listen to Taylor Swift together as I clean the kitchen.

Thank you for searching the night sky for the moon—and lighting up with absolute wonder when you find it. “Moon!  Moon!” you’ll say, arching your back so you can watch that spot of light all the way into the house.

Thank you for reminding me how beautiful this world is and how lucky we are to be a part of it—just one mama and one little boy, rocking in our creaky blue chair as we read bedtime stories together—the moon outside our window watching over the whole world.

I love you, Noah.  And of all things under that big starry sky that I am grateful for, tonight, I am most grateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, my precious, perfect son.

Mama

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ode to the Brown Bomber (AKA "Why I am Thankful for my Parents")

It is Thanksgiving Week, and I am thankful for my parents.

I was recently going through our family photos albums, and I stumbled across some priceless pictures from the year 1983.  Apparently, when my parents' 1976 Ford Torino (the Brown Bomber, as she was affectionately called) hit 100,000 miles, they threw a little party in her honor.

The party guests all piled into the beloved vehicle, and then they drove around the block a few times until the odometer hit exactly 100,000.  They pulled over to the side of the road, the guests climbed out of the car, and my dad stood on the hood to make a solemn speech.


I am so glad that my mom put a type-writer copy of his remarks in the photo album:

"This is a great day.  It is appropriate that the weather is beautiful as we celebrate this milestone in our old friend's life.

My remarks shall be very brief, lest I embarrass the Brown Bomber, which has always been a humble creature.  I hope you don't mind if I read my comments.  It will make it easier for me to control my emotions.

Only a select few--those who truly appreciate and have experienced the goodness and worth of the Brown Bomber--have been asked to be here today.  It is heartening that there are at least a few true believers.  For, sadly, there are many who, blinded by outward appearances, scorn and ridicule this noble machine, unwilling to look beyond the surface in an attempt to discern true worth.  Indeed, quite recently, a friend (shall we say a former friend), upon encountering the Bomber for the first time, exclaimed in disgust, "Is that your car?"  We mourn for the makers of such remarks because, due to their prejudice, they shall never have their lives enriched by a meaningful relationship with this well-traveled, mature, and venerable friend.

But let me conclude.  To you, Brown Bomber, hats off!  Your virtues are many.  You are dependable, solid, and strong.  You have traveled, undaunted, through 100,000 miles of searing heat, bitter cold, and terrifying Boston traffic.  We make special note of one of your noblest achievements: On December 25, 1982, at an age when most cars are fit for nothing but the junkyard, you forged your way through over two feet of new snow to bring family and friends together on Christmas Day.  We shall not soon forget such acts.  In today's world of flimsy and insubstantial foreign cars, you are an inspiration.  We salute you.  May you travel another 100,000 miles.

(Whereupon each person present is invited to leave with the Brown Bomber a lasting token of his esteem--by striking the Bomber with a hammer.)"

Yes, they really did hit the car with a hammer.  And then they went back to my parents' house and ate a cake, lovingly prepared by my mother in Bomber's honor.


The sense of humor and fun conveyed in that story is just one of the many reasons I am grateful for my parents.  My dad is a reserved person, and those who don't know him well might never know this goofy side of him--but, honestly, I don't think it takes more than a few minutes of talking to him for flashes of his wit to come out.  That speech is going to have me laughing all day.

Happy Thanksgiving Week, everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blog Booking

I recently made a book of all of my blog posts from 2011.  I say "recently," but what I really mean is for eleven stinkin' months.  Who knew that making a blog book would take so much time?  I started it in January, and granted, I didn't work on it diligently every single month, but I think I spent close to 100 hours putting that (d-word) book together.  I must qualify that by saying that 2011 was a huge year for us, so there were tons of posts and tons of photos (the finished blog book is 210 pages), and I must also acknowledge that I am the world's biggest perfectionist, so I'm sure that some of those hours were poorly spent with me rearranging and trying to make everything just perfect...but still, what a project.  

Before I started this colossal undertaking, I researched websites to use, and I found Blog2Print (which just slurps your blog into a PDF file and binds it, and you don't have to do any formatting at all)--but when I tried that, it made the spacing in my book all wonky, and there was no way to go in and edit it.  The photos were also super small, and it was just one long, continuous document, so sometimes the title of a post would be at the bottom of the page before...it didn't look professional, and I knew it would drive me nuts.  If this was going to be our family journal and photo album, and if I was going to pour time and money into it, I wanted it to look really nice.  So I decided to use Blurb.com.  It slurps your blog into a file, so all of the words and all of the photos are there, but then you have to go through post by post and choose or create layouts that fit.  It sounds easy enough, but let me tell you, it takes some serious time (especially when you are still figuring out the program).

 I love the way my book turned out, but the thought of doing it again--for the years 2008 and 2009 and 2010 AND 2012--makes me shudder.  There has to be a better way.  I mean, can I honestly keep blogging if it is then going to take 100 hours to transfer a year of posts into a book?

I do think the next book will go faster, now that I know the computer program better and know that I can't be such a perfectionist, and I do recognize that the years 2008, 2009, and 2010 will probably add up to the same length as the year 2011...but I am still feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of starting again.

Any suggestions?  Has anyone else run into this problem?  Have you figured out a way to make it more manageable?  Do you have tips for better ways that I can write my posts in order to make the transfer to a book easier?  I would really appreciate some advice!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Update on our Mr. Noah


Noah is just over 15 months now, and he is fun.  Every day I say to Ryan, "Aren't we so lucky?  Isn't he the best?"  I just can't get enough of him.

He had a "word explosion" this past month and is talking up a storm.  He says about 35 words--all the basics like cracker, milk, shoes, ball, book, apple, baby, go, bread...the list goes on.  The other night, we were coming inside our apartment, and he pointed up at the sky and said, "Moon!"  I was shocked.  It is so fun when he busts out a new word that I didn't realize he knows.  I love it when he says, "Hi!" in a very friendly voice whenever he sees someone new, even Baby Jade (as if she could understand him).  Or sometimes, if I am holding him and talking to a friend for a long time, he gets tired of all the gab and starts waving at the other person and saying, "Bye!"  It's his polite way of saying, "I'm done--please leave now."

He still says "whoa" at appropriate moments, and it cracks me up.  Sometimes I have rowdy outbursts of song and dance--often when Noah is eating peacefully in his high chair--and whenever I suddenly burst into loud song with crazy dance moves, Noah responds, totally deadpan, "Whoa."  It is perfect.

His newest favorite word is "Callum."  He says it more like "Cow-m."  The other day, he heard me telling Ryan a story about my nephew, and when I said "Callum," Noah looked up from his toy and said, "Cow-m?  Cow-m?  Cow-m?" and ran for the front door.  I guess he thought his cousin was coming over to play.

Speaking of Cal, Sarah and I made them matching glow-in-the-dark Halloween shoes (you can probably imagine that this was Sarah's idea), and the boys loved them.


We wanted to get some pics of them in their Halloween shoes and sweatshirts, but getting a good photo of a three-year-old and a one-year old together is easier said than done.  This is how that went:


Ha!  We did manage to get this shot of them--though neither boy is smiling, I think they look like hipsters.  Cute boys.

Noah is a little parrot.  He imitates words, but he also imitates sounds, such as singing and sighing.  I never realized how often I must make long, belabored sighs of stress throughout the day.  Now that I have my parrot, whenever I let out a tired sigh, he does too.  Sometimes he'll even sigh and say, "Okay..." at the end, like he's gearing up to do something difficult like clean the kitchen. :)  It reminds me that I shouldn't take my life too seriously.

Noah developed a crush this past month--not on a cute little girl from church, as you might suspect--no, on someone even "hotter."  Literally.  He seems to have fallen in love with his space heater.  We recently put a space heater in his room to combat the plunging winter temperatures, and he is enamored with it.  He tries to carry it around with him everywhere he goes.  A few weeks ago, whenever we put him to bed, he would scream for a few minutes before settling down to sleep.  Though he always fights naps, he doesn't usually fight bedtime, so I couldn't figure out what the problem was.  I peeked into his room one night when he was carrying on, and I saw that he was standing in his crib, reaching dramatically toward the space heater, and sobbing.  He wanted his buddy to come to bed with him.  I've learned that I have to hide the space heater from his view to avoid this tantrum before bed.  Too funny.


Here is a video of Noah trying to lift his space heater.  His grunts of exertion, as well as Ryan's coaching that "It's all in the legs," had me laughing through the whole thing.  I also love how he tries to walk away from it, but he just can't bring himself to.



He has started to like playing independently for short spans of time.  Sometimes he will be playing in his room, and I will go peek to make sure everything is okay, and when he sees me, he runs over to the door and shuts it in my face, like "Give me my space, Mom!"  It is lovely to have a few minutes to myself every day, but he is also at an age where he is into everything, so I constantly have to check to make sure he isn't up to no good.  Fortunately, he almost always gives himself away when he is getting into trouble because I can hear him saying "No! No! No!" from the other room.

"No! No! No!  I shouldn't be getting into Mom's canned goods!"
He has become obsessed with electrical outlets.  He can plug things in, such as his beloved space heater, and I have to be very vigilant about always making sure the guards are on all of the plugs in the house.

I love my little rascal.  I know I said this last month, but this is my favorite age yet.  Being a mom to a toddler is so much fun.  Especially when I can dress mine up as a newsie for church:



Friday, November 9, 2012

October Happenings

October has come and gone (and I've already blogged about the main events), but here are a few collages of photos from some of our Halloween outings and activities.  We went to the pumpkin patch at a historic farm, to the Denver Zoo for trick-of-treating, and to our annual church party for "trunk-or-treaing." Funnest!  I love this time of year and am looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas.



Friday, November 2, 2012

A Long Weekend in Boise

You may have noticed that I have started doing monthly update posts: I dump all of the highlight photos from the previous month into one post, and I just do a quick catch-up, rather than devoting an entire post to each event or milestone.  I like it a lot.  Takes the pressure out of blogging.

But as I sat down to write my October post, I discovered that I have far too many fun photos from a weekend get-away that Noah and I took to visit family in Boise, Idaho--and thus, this event earned its own post!  (Exciting, right?!  Don't know why I narrated all of that!)

Anyway, Noah and I went to Boise to visit Aunt Ashley & Uncle Nate (Ryan's little sister and her husband) and Aunt Dana & Uncle Mark (my aunt and uncle).  It was such a wonderful weekend.  Ryan's parents also drove up from Pocatello for a day--they couldn't miss the opportunity to see their cute grandson!

We stayed with Mark and Dana, and it was so much fun.  Dana is my mom's older sister, and I love being around her because she has some of my mom's mannerisms and characteristics.  We stayed up way too late talking every night, and there is nothing I love more than chatting for hours with someone who really "gets" me.  It is just so comfortable and so comforting.  It was really fun to see Dana and Mark interact with Noah--they loved him and were so good with him.


We spent the days with Ashley, playing at the park, reading books, going out for pancakes (it's possible we went to the same breakfast place twice while I was in town), and strolling around the farmers market downtown.  Ashley has always had the magic touch with Noah, and I love watching her with him because it is so obvious that she adores him.  Isn't it amazing how much you love people who love your kids? Ashley is going to have a baby girl in December, and we can't wait!  She is going to be an incredible mom.


The surprise of the trip was how much Noah took to Uncle Nate.  For some reason, Noah woke up from his naps on the trip incredibly grumpy, and there were a few times when nothing I could do would console him or stop his screaming.  Then Nate picked him up, and all was well in the world.  Noah immediately got silent and calm.  He wanted nothing to do with me--he just wanted Nate and would sit on his lap and play quietly (very unusual for this active little boy).  It was amazing!  Nate is going to be a great dad.


And we can't forget Grandma and Grandpa--two of Noah's very favorite people!  About a month ago, we called Sally on Skype, and when Noah saw her on the screen, he walked up to the iPad and kissed it!  I was so shocked--I have never seen him do that.  It was absolutely precious.

When they came to town, we went to a rose garden (Noah is obsessed with "zowers," as he calls them), and Grandma and Noah had a grand ol' time sniffing flowers together.  Then we went and played in the leaves!



The next day, we went to church, and Grandma took Noah out during the Sacrament (he was being rowdy--shocker), and she stayed out and played with him the rest of the meeting.  Lucky Noah!  Lucky Grandma!  (And most of all, Lucky Mom! I got to enjoy an entire church meeting without Noah climbing all over me!) That evening, as we were cleaning up dinner, I heard insane giggling from the staircase, and I found Noah and Gordon playing a game with Noah's shoes.  This giggling went on for about fifteen minutes.  Too cute:

video

Before Gordon and Sally headed home to Pocatello, we went to the park, and Noah had a great time swinging and going down the slide with Grandpa.

 


Overall, it was just a perfect, relaxing trip.  The only thing that would've made it better is if Ryan could have come along.  We are looking forward to a long trip to visit family with him at Christmas!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why do mothers do this to themselves??

Several months ago, I spotted a Halloween costume online that I knew would be just perfect for Noah.  It was, by far, the cutest costume for a baby boy I had ever seen, so obviously my son needed to wear it.


I will admit (a bit sheepishly) that this quest for the "cutest" costume was motivated by pride.  Who doesn't want to have the cutest kid at the Halloween party?  Who doesn't want to receive blog and Facebook comments about how darling he is?  (This is all rather embarrassing to admit.  Please tell me I'm not the only person out there who exhibits this kind of ridiculous pride on occasion.)

I often say that Noah has humbled me.  And he certainly has.  Before Noah was born, I will admit that I sometimes judged my friends' parenting.  (I am sorry, Friends.  I promise it wasn't malicious.)  I was basically the last of all of my friends to become a mother, so I had many years to observe and critique. When their kids didn't nap well, I thought it was Mom's fault.  (If you were just consistent with him, he would nap.) When their kids refused to eat a variety of nutritious foods, I thought it was Mom's fault.  (If you just introduced him to vegetables sooner and insisted that he eat them, he would.)  The list goes on.  Every problematic behavior displayed by a child would have an easy fix, if Mom were just consistent.

Well, you know what the old Proverb says: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall" (16:18).  I now have a son who takes 30-minute naps and refuses to eat anything but white bread and bananas.  I swear I am consistent with him.  I have read all the books and done my darndest to make him sleep, eat, and behave well.  I will continue to do my best, but despite all of my efforts, he does in fact have a mind and will of his own (shocker!).

He certainly demonstrated that strong-willed nature when I tried to put him in his Halloween costume earlier this week.  Every time I put the old man glasses on him, he had a complete and total meltdown.  I tried several days in a row, thinking that he would get used to the idea.  But no such luck.  Noah was NOT going to wear the costume that his mother had dreamed up for him.




I would be lying if I said that I wasn't absurdly disappointed.  My resulting disappointment was totally disproportionate to the cause.  I mean, honestly, it's a Halloween costume.  No one cares!

But what about the cute photo shoot that I had planned?  What about the awesome blog post I was already writing in my head?

SERIOUSLY, RACHEL, NO ONE CARES.  Not the grandparents (who would think he was darling in a paper sack) and not my friends (who would see a photo of him in his costume, no matter how adorable it was, and think "That's cute!" and move on with their day).  We live in a very strange culture today where every move our children make is Instagrammed, Facebooked, and blogged, and I don't know about every one else out there, but for me, it is sometimes distracting from the most important part of mothering: being with my son.  When I am worried about getting a perfect photo of him to broadcast to the world, I often end up frustrated and grumpy with him.  It is quite ridiculous.

And so, after giving myself this pep talk, and realizing that it mattered more that he was happy on Halloween than that he was perfectly costumed, I pulled out my nephew's old ninja outfit and slapped it on Noah.  Though the costume was a little big for him, I will admit, he looked stinkin' adorable after all.  It turns out he doesn't need his mama's help in order to shine.

Who needs throwing stars when you can use crusty snow as a weapon?
A little ninja and his sensei
Are they cute or what?!
A moment of meditation before pursuing his enemy
"I will defeat this ghost with my ninja broom-wielding skills!"
We tried a little Japanese-inspired facial hair, but decided it wasn't really Noah's style. :)
"This is so much more fun than wearing those bulky glasses, Mom!"
I wish this photo weren't blurry, but he is one speedy little ninja!
I'm lucky I got him in the photo at all!
I hope you had a fun Halloween, my little ninja face.  I'm sorry that you have to endure the hardships of being a first child. (I have a feeling that I will let go of all delusions of being in control and having things perfect after more children come along). In the meantime, thanks for humbling your mama and reminding her what really matters.


Happy (belated) Halloween everyone!