Friday, December 31, 2010

525,600 Minutes

How do you measure a year?

- January - 

- February -


- April -

- May -

- June -

- July -

- August -

- September -

- October -

- November -

- December -

2010: What an amazing year it's been!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dear Me: I haven't forgotten you

A baby changes everything.

It sounds like a country song - probably because I'm pretty sure it is. 

But country twang or not, it is certainly the truth. 

It's funny how even really, really good things can steal little pieces of who you are.  It happens a little at a time, so slowly you don't even notice they've gone missing.

Hang with me, I promise I'm going somewhere with this...

I went to the gym yesterday.  Not the gym I had to go to over the summer because it's the only one I could find with daycare that worked for Leah.  MY gym.  The gym I used to go to before I was pregnant.  And I took the class that I used to take at least 3 times a week pre-Baby.

I don't have a single picture of me in work-out mode.  So here's Jessica and me running the Bolder Boulder in May 2009.  One of my favorite rituals, which I would LOVE to recapture, was our work-out and coffee Thursdays.  Those were SO the days!

And it was awesome.

Being in that gym and doing moves that felt familiar to my muscles even after all this time (cough - like 15 months - cough) felt like I might actually be in here still somewhere.

Not pregnant Melissa.
Not new-mom Melissa.
Not the Melissa who can barely multitask anymore.
Not the Melissa who looses her keys.
Not the Melissa who randomly forgets words and calls everything "thingy." 
Not Melissa who worries about things like milk supply and breastpumps.
Not the Melissa who worries all the time about everything. 


The me that I was for 25 years.  The me whose body belongs to, well, me.  The me who is strong and tough and healthy - and for no one else besides myself. 

The new Melissa is improved in many ways, and frankly, I wouldn't trade where I am now for anything in the world.  But it is nice to know that the old Melissa isn't completely gone.  It's taken 18 months to find her, but she's still in there. 

Goal for the new year (and OHO, what a goal it is!): Go to the gym three times a week.  This means getting up at - gulp - 4 am Mondays and Wednesdays.  Hey, you never know until you try, right? 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Christmas Post

After waiting for this day for 9 months, and very possibly the 9 before that, I almost don't know what to write about this Christmas.

Should I write about the fun and anticipation of bringing the baby downstairs to her first Christmas morning?

Should I write about her stocking that was hung by the chimney with care, or the beautiful presents under the tree?

Should I write about the way Leah was more interested in the tags and bows and wrappings than the actual presents themselves?

Should I write about how the weather outside was anything BUT frightful?  That we took a walk and it was nearly 60 degrees outside?  The fact that this winter has been the least snowy since the 1920's? 

Or, should I write about the snuggly, cuddly baby we had all day?  About the way she kept crawling over to me, wherever I was, and climbing up to lay her head on my shoulder?  About all the giant, open-mouth kisses she was giving away?

Should I write about the complete joy and contentment I felt while watching our sweet girl encounter Christmas for the first time?

Should I write about the fact that it has felt like Christmas every single day in our house for the past 9 months since Leah joined us?  That Casey and I got so much more for Christmas this year than just presents?  How we've been blessed in bigger and more amazing ways than either of dreamed possible?

I just can't decide.

We hope you had a merry Christmas, and that the New Year brings abundant blessings! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house...

The table was set,

for the guests to arrive.

There was still work to be done in the kitchen,

but the work under the tree was well finished!

Before our meal (and before someone had visions of sugarplums dancing in her head), we had to celebrate a little lady's first Christmas.

The meal was delicious, the company was lovely, and we enjoyed the magic of the season with our baby girl for the first time. 

Oh, and there may have been some last minute present wrapping, cookie eating and holiday special-watching as well... but that was all after everyone left.

We can't wait to see what Santa leaves under our tree this year!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Baby in the manger

I loved the hospital where I delivered Leah. 

Beautiful mountain views; comfortable queen bed so that Casey could stay with me; surprisingly yummy meals brought to me in bed; excellent care by the doctors and nurses - it was all I could have ever asked for. 

I've been thinking a lot about how very different an extra special birth was 2000 years ago. 

How terrified Mary must have been.  To be pregnant generally in a time before hospitals and doctors and anesthetic and sterilization, but how much more so to be pregnant with none other than the son of God.  To find that there was  not even room at the inn; to know that the King of Kings - and her baby boy - would be born in a manger next to donkeys and cattle.

I have always had a hard time conceptualizing God's love for His creation.  It is just so big and so vast - it's like trying to imagine the scope of the universe.  I can't quite wrap my mind around it. 

It is easier for me to imagine and relate to Mary looking down at her baby, and the infinite love she felt for him.  From that perspective, God's love is a lot easier to pin down; the love of a Father who has numbered even the very hairs on my head.  A love that is limitless and unchanging.  A love that desires to watch me grow and flourish and asks very little of me in return.

This year, I can relate to that a little better. 

I feel a great kinship toward Mary.  Not because I experienced hardship in giving birth.  Not because of the world-altering significance of the baby I bore (to anyone besides myself, that is.)  But because I am convinced that the experience of motherhood, and looking into the sweet face of a newborn is as close as we can get on this Earth to looking into the face of God. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Joyful All Ye

Holiday tradition #3:

Christmas Party!

The best part of this tradition might be getting to go back through the years and see the many changes our little circle of friends have gone through. 

Case and point?

The Girls 2007
Married: 1 (Dani, far right)
Guys 2007

Girls 2008
Married: 2
Engaged: 1 

The (very over-exposed) Gang 2008

Girls 2009
Married: 4
Engaged: 1
Pregnant: 1
Guys 2009

The Gang 2010
Married: 4
Engaged: 1
Pregnant: 1
Baby... well, obvious. 
We feel so fortunate to walk through life with this tremendous group of people.  It's been an odd year for Casey and I from a social perspective... having a baby definitely complicates the whole friendship situation. 
Through all of that, though, it is nice to know that we have a set of lifelong friends to share the adventure with. 

Overheard in the Strassner House

Me: "Leah, can you say 'Momma?'"

Leah: (Grinning) "Da-dee"

Me: "Can you say 'Mommy?'"

Leah: "Nah-nah.

Me: (Louder and slower) "Mom - mee"

Leah: (Pauses, thinking)......


We'll get there - there's always next year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh, the places we'll go

Let's face it, Mondays have a bad rep. 

Maybe it's because it takes us two days to decompress after a work week - just long enough to get a few loads of laundry done, a toilet cleaned and a floor or two vacuumed before we roll over and the alarm is blaring away, informing us that Monday has come yet again.

But seriously, you guys - this Monday?  It's the first Monday of Christmas break (that's right, I said it.  For me, it will always be Christmas break, heavy on the Christ).

Which means that this Monday brings infinite possiblities.

Should we go to the mall to start finish the Christmas shopping? 

Should we go to the (indoor) swimming pool to play in the water?

Should we go to the library for story hour, and to check out the book Mommy has been dying to read?

Should we lay on the couch and watch The Wiggles?

Even though I probably won't do all of these things, this Monday means that I could - and that makes all the difference. 

More than anything else, I'm just looking forward to waking up in the morning, making coffee, giving Leah her breakfast and watching that big girl of ours play on the floor.  That's one of my most favorite things in the whole world to do. 

And I get to... even though it's Monday.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sweet Tooth

Item #2 on our holiday checklist?


Every year, we have a ball making my Holiday Eggnog Cookies.

And of course, carefully and painstakingly decorating each cookie...

My favorite this year?  Our little family.  Yep, we're blonde. 

Okay, so we'll never be on any cooking shows on TLC, but Casey and I look forward each year to this tradition. 

This year, we had to do it after Leah had gone to bed.  Next year though, I feel confident she'll be old enough and big enough to make a huge mess partake in this tradition. 

I am both enjoying the moment and looking forward to the future... I see only good things!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Word Wars

Well, it's official: Leah said her first word.

And it wasn't "momma." 

Why is it that God makes the D's easier to say?  What makes those silly D's come out faster? 

Leah's first word?


Only her sweet little voice pronounces it "da-ee." 

I threatened to go on a nursing strike in protest, but who am I kidding?  I can't resist that face. 

Besides, I still get the most kisses...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

3/4 Finished

I'm two days late in writing this post.  Could it be that I'm struggling to accept the fact that our beautiful baby has completed 3/4 of her first year? 

It seems impossible, and yet somehow it's true.  I know because of this:

It has gotten very difficult to take her teddy bear pictures!  Long gone are the days when I could snuggle her up with the teddy and the biggest challenge was getting her to smile.

Long gone are the days when I could put her down and expect to find her in the same position a few moments later.   

Long gone are the days when I could lay her down in her crib for a nap and expect it to happen. 

But, in their place, some new and extremely wonderful qualities have emerged:

Leah crawls everywhere.  You can't keep that girl down!  She is curious, determined and strong.

She also loves to knee-sit.  For whatever reason, she skipped the step where she pulls herself up from a laying to a sitting position.  I don't even know if she can do it... instead, she rolls herself to her side and pushes herself up to her knees, then sits on her hiney. 

I know I probably shouldn't, but I love this picture!

She loves to "walk" (using her walker for help, of course) across the basement.  That girl can really boogie! 

She has crawled a flight of stairs (with some assistance from mommy and daddy to prevent her from flailing back and falling down.  She hasn't quite grasped the concept of what happens if she crawls off edges or falls backward off the stairs...)

She is still a good eater.  Foods tried this month include:
*Mashed potatoes and gravy
*Cranberry sauce
*Pumpkin pie
*Scrambled eggs
*Brown Rice
*Cheese, which she can pick up in her tiny fingers and feed herself

The brief window of time in which she was a good napper - which began in August - has closed again.  It's now waaaaay too much fun to sit, stand, crawl and chuck things out of her crib.  All this prevents nap time from actually taking place.

We are so grateful that she is still such a snuggley baby.  I fear those days may be coming to an end, and I treasure every cuddle moment.

She eats three full meals a day, and still nurses 4 times a day.  I am actually starting to look forward to the days we leave nursing behind us, even though I know I'll miss them when they're gone.

Like a little alarm clock, she wakes up every morning at 4am.  I'd be annoyed, except that we bring her to bed with us where she cuddles up and falls asleep again.  I adore those stolen morning moments, especially before I go to work! 

She still isn't teething (to the best of my knowledge), but she is working on growing some hair!!  I call her my fuzzy old man head, because it's just a little whispy curl, but I LOVE it!

It looks here like she has teeth, but I promise it's just a spit bubble...

I have been reflecting a lot on what it means to be a parent.  It is such an amazing process, to think that we began this journey 18 months ago with little more than a wish and a prayer and a whole 'lotta love.  Here we are today, proud parents of a baby who is well on her way to being a little girl.  We couldn't be more proud or grateful.  

She has changed me in so many wonderful ways.  She has given me more love and joy in these short 9 months than I could have asked for in a lifetime.   She is my hope, my world, my heart.

Leah - Nine months old

Mommy and Daddy love you to infinity, sweet baby!  Happy 9 month birthday!

I changed my font at