Sunday, October 31, 2010

From our house to yours

Friday, October 29, 2010

Inception

I love traditions.  That being said, I had to have a few up my sleeve for Leah's very first Halloween.  Which is why we made these:




We do this every year at Christmas, but we decided that Leah's first Halloween deserved the creation of a new family tradition. 

Of course, new family traditions require a few things:

 Decorations...



Cookie cutters...
More cookie cutters...

and of course...

an audience!

I wasn't entirely sure how the cookies were going to turn out, but in the end, I was pretty pleased.  Of course, we're not exactly what you would call "talented" in the cookie painting department, but Casey and I had fun decorating - not to mention eating - our "masterpieces," and that's the most important thing!



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Today

Today, I saw one. 

I've worried about it ever since this sign went up. 




But, I've run the path in the open space literally hundreds of times in the four years we've lived here, but I've never, ever seen one.

Today, I saw a coyote.  From a great distance, thankfully.  The timing of our afternoon walk was just perfect.  If I hadn't stopped to watch Oprah, Leah and I would have run right into it. 

After watching it walk by and go the exact opposite direction of where I wanted to be, I plucked up all my courage, sang songs from The Sound of Music as loud as I could (it must have been in my head since the cast was on Oprah today) - just in case there were any more around - and Leah and I went on our afternoon walk, regardless of the coyotes.

Leah wasn't perturbed by the possible presence of coyotes, or perhaps she just thought my singing was funny.

I'm a little proud of myself - I've come a long way in the past 6 months.  I'm a LOT braver than I was in April! 

...That being said, I don't know that I'll venture into the open space by myself much more.

Nostalgia

One year ago.  It was one of the most significant days of my entire life! 

Obviously, the day she was born takes the cake, followed immediately by the day we found out we were pregnant in terms of the sheer enormity of the day.  But this one is a close third:

video

I know that everyone has their own preference, but I was *SO* glad we found out the gender of our baby.  I can't help but smile at what an amazing connection it helped me have to our little daughter.  I didn't know that I could have felt any closer to her, and then - completely unexpectedly - it became instantly clear that knowing her gender absolutely changed my pregnancy.

I know the classic argument is that it's the last big surprise in life - but I couldn't have been more surprised.  I thought for SURE we were having a boy.  And although I was secretly hoping for a girl, there was no way I could be disappointed.  More than anything else, I just wanted a healthy baby. 

Except for one thing: I had this dream one night before we knew the gender.   A vivid dream that seemed so real, I literally woke up with a smile on my face. A dream in which we had a beautiful baby girl.  I had such longing for that baby girl... when I woke up, I felt horribly guilty!  I didn't want to feel disappointed if we found out that it was a boy!  That same night, Jessica also had a dream that we had a baby girl.


 
Of course, in the end, I obviously wound up with my wish.  No way would I change a thing.

And, I have to gloat the teensiest little bit.  The cake was a wicked clever idea.  Not that it was originally my idea (I stole it from a friend of mine who stole it from someone else), but boy did it turn out to be an amazing experience and memory!!!

How we loved you, pink cake!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bed Head

Learning to crawl sucks. 

Once upon a time I thought it was awesome.  But that was back before I was a horrible mother.  Before I mentally calculated the future therapy bills Leah will inevitably accrue.  Back when I trusted in the pillow obstacle course I set up to protect my baby from harm. 

Back before Leah crawled off our bed while she was supposed to be sleeping. 

Yes, I win the worst mother of the year award. 

No damage appeared to be done, aside from the years it took off my life when I discovered she was on the floor instead of the bed.  She cried, but stopped crying literally a few seconds after I picked her up.  I cried a LOT longer than that.  I checked for bumps or bruises, and she had none.  Not so much as a red spot. 

She was back to her usual smiley self moments later.

I, on the other hand, will be recovering for days.

Both Casey and my mom took exactly the same line about the whole thing (so much so that I'm convinced they must have been in cahoots with each other): Babies are made to bounce, and every single parent has done it. 

And now, so have I.  Poor, sweet baby Leah.  Our mistakes are part of our journey...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Grateful

Sometimes it hits me more powerfully than others.  Just out of the blue, for no particular reason.  I hope I never, ever take it for granted:


Grateful for our happy, healthy baby!!! 



**But I still can't post these silly pictures the right way!  Even when they're rotated correctly, when I upload them, they turn themselves!  GRRRRR.....  

Monday, October 18, 2010

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

In about 7 months, Leah is going to have a friend!!!

No, not a sibling; I am not - and do not intend to be - pregnant.  I'm definitely enjoying my baby's babyhood.

But I am ridiculously excited to get to share the incredible experience of motherhood with my best friend, Jessica, who is expecting in May.


Auntie Jessica,

You are on the most incredible adventure of your life!  Your caring and compassion, your generosity, selflessness, humor, and above all, your great capacity to love make you an amazing mother to your little gummy bear already.


Thank you for the many ways in which you have supported and loved me.


Thank you for the laughter and wonderful memories. 


Thank you for listening to me cry, for sharing my joys, for our many work out and coffee Thursdays.  Thank you for dying your hair with me just because we could. 


Thank you for being a wonderful Auntie!  Thank you for visiting us when we didn't really want to leave the house.  Thank you for understanding when we were too tired to visit.  Thank you for loving our little girl to pieces.


Above all, thank you for being my friend.  My life has been so blessed to have you in it, and I cannot wait to watch you take on this wonderful new role in your own life.  You will be an absolutely amazing mommy!!!!!!!

We love you, Andrew, and Baby too!

We've come a long way together, my friend!  Here's to many, many more!!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An ordinary miracle

No doubt about it, we are blessed.

I had Friday off, and we used the day to drive to Breckenridge in the beautiful Colorado  mountains.  Better, in the beautiful Colorado mountains which were absolutely aglow with gorgeous fall color.

It was an absolutely wonderful day!

We started with a delicious breakfast at a local cafe.  Even Leah enjoyed her breakfast!





Then, we took a walk along the river and enjoyed some of the fun Breckenridge has to offer.





And, of course, we couldn't resist a few choice pictures in the beautiful fall scenery...






We ended the day with a walk around the lake.  It was picturesque, and such a peaceful moment with my two favorite people!





It was a much needed family getaway, even if it was only for a few hours.  I love spending time with those two cuties, and I always regret that we don't seem to get as much family time as I desire. 

By the end of it, we were all pretty tired and ready to head home.  But we took home many happy memories of Colorado in the fall! 



**Sidenote: does anyone know how to get my portrait pictures to post properly?  No amount of tinkering on my end will let me fix it...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Make 'em laugh

Talk about moments of perfection. 
One of the many things I love about having a 7 month old is that Leah is developing a real, bonafide, big-girl sense of humor.

Including the realization that the things she does make me laugh.


Tonight, for whatever reason, she was making a goofy face and attacking the couch cushions.  The expression on her face made me crack up, and as a result, she did it again and again, looking up at me each time with the biggest, most pleased-with-herself little grin, just to see if I was watching.  When I would laugh, she would break into her sweet little giggles. 

It was too hillarious!

She also likes to play a game we like to call You Fell Down.  The premise is this:  I pull Leah up to a sitting position.  She sits on her own for a second or two, and then launches herself backward into me or a pile of pillows.  Then I laugh and yell, "You fell down!"  and she giggles endlessly. 

Okay, so I didn't say her sense of humor was sophisticated.  It's the simple things in life that make us very happy!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Let's address the current state of my crazy

Joy (!!!!!!!). 

That's the emotion that comes to mind when I think about Leah's first few months of life.  Followed rather immediately by this one:

Terror.

It has been nearly four months since I wrote about my anxiety as a new mother.  It's funny how time is the great distiller of memories, sometimes revealing things that you didn't necessarily know at the time.

I didn't know how great my anxiety was when I was going through it.  I didn't know that I would come to associate such horrible unease with my baby's early months.  I didn't know that my joy would be equaled only by my panic and desperate desire for everything to just be okay.

The good news?

I won't say I'm over it.  But I am dealing with it, and I think that the desperate edge of my crazy has worn off.  I no longer feel the need to obsessively check on Leah every 15 minutes.  She has been sleeping in her own bed for nearly three months, thank you very much, and I have even been known - on occassion - to sleep through the night myself.  I don't wake up in the middle of the night, paniced because she hasn't. 

I have to tell and re-tell myself every day: Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinth. 10:5).

I had to practice literally every day in the beginning.  Every single nap.  Those visions of what I would do if I walked into her room to find her blue and unresponsive?   Take captive every thought.  The choking scream that would wrack my body?  Take captive every thought.  How would I survive it if something were to happen to her?  Who would I be?  How would I go on?  Take captive every thought. 

The turning point? 

I think watching her get older.  Knowing that she is strong.  Knowing that she is healthy.  Knowing that if she gets herself crammed against the side of the crib, she is not going to suffocate, because she is strong enough to get herself out.  It fills me with a sense of peace I simply didn't have before.

Perhaps the fact that "terror" is the second adjective I would use to describe Leah's first months violates that unspoken "Mommy" code we all have to appear to adhere to.  Although there are moments of absolute, astounding perfection, navigating motherhood can be difficult, particularly if we're going to sugarcoat it and pretend that it is not also devastating, exhausting and terrifying at times.  Reality is rarely sugarcoated.

This place - far from perfection - is one I'm pretty comfortable with. 


And, that sweet girl?  Totally worth worrying over.  I'll take every sleepless night thrown at me if it means I get to be her mom.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

27/Seven



Today is a very special day!  Not only is my baby turning seven months, but her daddy is turning 27! 


 10-10-10
Look what 7 months brings!




We certainly are lucky around our house!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Princess and the Frog


I was raised on a healthy diet of Disney movies and a big box of dress up items. 

Being girls, my sister and I used to parade around the house wearing a random assortment of treasures my mom found a garage sales and repurposed into costumes.  An old prom dress.  Someone's red high heels.  A turquoise, sequened dress from who the heck knows what.

We pretended to be various Disney princesses (the turquoise dress, it turns out, was perfect for playing Ariel... if you put it on as a long skirt, it was a perfect mermaid's tail!), dreaming of our someday-prince.

While Casey was gone last night and after Leah had gone to bed, I got to watch a Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog.  It was a sweet story, and I loved the "old school" animation and music - so reminiscent of the Disney movies I adored growing up. 

It was an odd thing.

One minute, I was watching this sweet story.  The next, I was crying my eyes out. 

It dawned on me that my role in the story has shifted. 

No longer am I the Princess.  No longer is the story about me finding myself, my true love and my place in the world.  I've been there, done that, and now I've been recast into a supporting role.  While I couldn't be more thrilled to yield the spotlight to my daughter, it was a little disturbing to me to watch what happened to the mother in the movie.

She was in the first scene.  She was in it for a few minutes after the daughter had grown up.  And then... ???

What happened to her?!  Where did the mother go for the remaining hour and twenty minutes of the movie?

It hit a little too close to home, reminding me that, for a few precious years, I get to be the center of my daughter's world.  Right now, and for a while, she can't do very much without me.  After that... well... I suppose I go the way mothers go when the story ceases to be about them.

So tonight, as I put Leah down for bed, I rocked her a little longer than I might have otherwise.  I kissed her forehead an extra time or two.  I felt the weight of her in my arms and delighted at the way her tiny hand rested on my chest.  I let her fall asleep and I snuggled and held her.  Because I can, and because I won't always be able to.

And I took a moment to be thankful that - at least for today - my baby is exactly that: my baby. 

Seen and Unseen

As a mother, my greatest mystery and delight is imagining who our baby will grow up to be. 

One of my favorite parts of having  a 6 month old is seeing Leah's personality emerge more and more everyday.  She is curious, inventive, determined, funny, and above all, happy. 

Some things about her personality are, of course, her very own. 

For example, her crazy ability and desire to move.  Anywhere, everywhere.  It's been with her since the day she was born, that strong baby who lifted up her head 20 minutes after being welcomed into the world, and who rolled over at 9 days old.  That's just an intrinsic part of who she is. 
 
Or the love and comfort she receives from sucking.  She took to nursing right away, which makes sense, seeing as she'd been practicing in the womb since at least 12 weeks... pretty much as soon as she had thumbs!  We're no nearer giving up her paci now than we were when she was born.  It's just a part of her, as natural as the fact that she *still* has no hair. 


Or the fact that she's still not all that thrilled with being held by strangers, or even not-so-strangers.  I remember telling people in the hospital on the day she was born that Leah didn't like the transfer between on person to another.  She would cry when she was handed off, and then as soon as it was over, she got comfy and quieted down.  Although she will go to the people who know her best, it's more like she tolerates it, but doesn't particularly enjoy being held by anyone but Mom and Dad. 



The older she gets, though, the more I begin to see little hints that Casey and I may actually have had something to do with shaping her personality.  It's amazing to watch!  All those little things we did when she was tiny and couldn't react to what I was doing... I'm discovering that they have affected her, too!

She loves music!  When I was pregnant, I played Carrie Underwood's "American Girl" in the car on the way to work nearly every day.  I noticed when Leah was little and absolutely hated the car that if I played anything by Carrie Underwood, it would often help soothe her.  While I was on maternity leave, we turned on music and danced around the living room almost every day.  And now, at 6 months, she smiles and giggles when I sing "If you're happy and you know it," the alphabet song, and practically anything from The Wiggles... she loves it!  I even catch her "singing along," in her little way. 



She is a good self-soother.  I hear her in her crib at night talking to herself, playing by herself and contenting herself with herself until she falls asleep, which is a really big deal!  Especially because...


...She's a total Momma's girl.  I think, in part, she was always going to be a momma's girl.  Truth be told, though, I've probably helped it along.  Never intentionally.  At first, it was just that I was the one who was best able to comfort her.  As time went on, it became routine for me to soothe her - in fact, we had a difficult time for a while because she relied entirely too much on me to soothe her.  Now, we've reached a very happy medium, but she is still my little buddy.  And I sure do love that girl!


More than anything else, she is a sweet, happy and mello baby.  And, while I thank God for giving us a baby who is naturally that way, I also begin to see the ways in which Casey and I have contributed to helping her personality develop in that way. 

People always say that babies are like little spunges who absorb everything around them.  For the first several months of her life, it was difficult to tell what she was absorbing and what she wasn't.  It is such an amazing gift to see that she has been listening, watching and learning all this time, and is whole and healthy and happy as a result. 

It is such a stark reminder to me that I have to watch what I say, how I act and how I respond regardless of how much sleep I've had or what kind of a day it has been, because although in some ways she is who she is, her personality is developing every moment.   

So far, I'd say we're all doing okay...


I changed my font at thecutestblogontheblock.com