Our Noble Pursuits

Living the good life. And writing about it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Cuteness

We celebrated Annie’s first ever Halloween tonight.  Before we got her ready, I kept reminding myself to just enjoy the present holiday without looking forward too much to the Halloweens to come.  You see, Halloween doesn’t mean very much to a 4-month old.  Even if she knew what candy was she couldn’t eat it, not having a tooth in her precious little head yet.  And all this dressing up in costume business is more than a little lost on her.  I keep catching myself thinking of how much she’ll love it in a few years.  Of how excited she will be to carry her little black cat-shaped bag and go door to door asking for treats.  Of holding her sweet little hand as we walk down the street and she looks all sassy in whatever costume she decides she wants to wear.  All day I've been finding myself daydreaming of the future.

But today, this Halloween, was full of oh so much fun of its own.  And adorableness.
Annie's day time Halloween attire.

Annie's first art project from "school."  They are ghosts!

Our cute little ladybug!
Although Annie doesn’t know what today is and was probably wondering why she had to put on a puffy suit and tights to get pushed around in the stroller tonight, when generally regular clothes will do, I did love this experience.  I loved the idea of going trick or treating again…of being part of the Halloween action.  And most of all, I loved sharing another first with the littlest Noble.

Happy Halloween from the littlest ladybug and her parents!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The First Four Months: A Retrospective

Despite David's best efforts to talk her out of doing so, our baby girl just keeps growing up on us.  Four months ago today we welcomed Annie into our family, and the ways she has made our lives better just continue to amaze us.  At least three or four times a day David and I ask each other if we have seen how precious she is that day.  And, in our eyes, she seems to get more precious every time we look at her.  Just take a look at these shots and maybe you'll agree...

Brand new.

1 month old

2 months old

3 months old

4 months old
Our big 4 month old girl has her very first Halloween coming up and I am very excited about the photo op the holiday will bring.  Rest assured, many of the shots we take will end up right here for public consumption.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You've Got Mail

Five years ago tomorrow, I received an email.  An email that you could call life changing.  I was sitting in a study carrell on the second floor of the law library, procrastinating instead of reading my Election Law assignment.  This was not an uncommon practice for me.  I checked my email and my Myspace account.  I think this part of the story probably dates me, as Myspace is Facebook's less hip, less cool, less successful cousin.  Anyway, sitting in my Myspace inbox was a message - a short, one sentence email.  An email from a boy I went to college with - a boy I didn't really know, but had maybe spoken to a couple of times.  A boy I hadn't seen in about eight years.  A cute boy, I might add.  A boy who would become my husband.
The early days. 
The email he sent was simple -  basically a "hey, I remember you" type of thing.  But something made me respond to it - to continue a conversation.  And that email was the start of what could pretty accurately be described as a whirlwind courtship.  The cautious, reserved, Type A planner in me completely lost my mind, and for the first (and perhaps only) time in my life, I just let go of my normal reservations and went with it, enjoying the ride.  One email a day led to six emails a day, which led to phone calls, which quickly became weekend trips to see each other (we lived five hours apart at the time).  And remarkably, not only did we not question how fast our relationship was progressing to something "serious," but neither did those close to us.

I'll never forget my mother's response to a phone call I made to her on my drive home from a weekend with David about a month, maybe 5 weeks, after that first email.  I told her that I thought I had found "the one."  Her response was not, "Are you crazy?  You barely know him."  My level-headed, responsible, practical mother's response to my proclamation was, instead, "Sarah, I know."
This is my all-time favorite picture of us.
About five months after that first email, David and I were engaged.  About nine months after that first email, he had picked up his entire life and moved to Kentucky so we would no longer be in a long distance relationship.  And about 13 months after that first email, we were married.  That email started my life down a path that I could not have anticipated.  It was the most important, most impacting, most wonderful email I have ever received.

Before David and I reconnected with each other through the wonders of modern technology, I never understood what people meant when they said you "just know" when something is right.  I have always been a little bit of a sappy romantic, but I'm not sure I really believed that the whole love at first sight thing (or, in our case, love at first sight after almost a decade) would happen to me.  But, you know what?  It totally did.

For years I had watched my friends meet the right guy, and I had celebrated the love stories of others while waiting for one of my own to begin.  I had prayed and waited and watched and worried.  I had been anxious and discouraged, trying to figure out the wheres and hows of meeting the right person.  Never in a million years did I imagine my happy ending would start with a single-sentence email.  An email from a guy I barely knew, that was sitting in my Myspace inbox on that morning five years ago.  Little did I know when I procrastinated with my studies that day that my life was about to change dramatically for the better - the so very much better.

And now, here I sit, with our daughter on my lap, remembering that morning and reflecting on the relationship that started that day.  And I am thankful.  And I am happy.  And I am oh so glad I decided to write that cute boy back.  Because I can't imagine what would have happened to me if I hadn't.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Great Pumpkin

So I don't know what Annie thought about the weekend, but I had great fun being all fall-inspired the last couple of days.  I bought holiday coffee at the grocery store, picked up a holiday-scented candle or two at Target, Annie and I had a date with my friend Rachel for lunch on Saturday (because nothing says cozy feelings like lunches with friends), and then we met some other friends to visit the pumpkin patch.  (Daddy was doing some much-needed work around the apartment above our garage which, praise Jesus, is now rented again).

Annie's excited for lunch with "Aunt" Rachel!

And Some Pictures from the Patch...

Cutest sheep ever.

"I'll take one of each, please."

Annie and her cute friend, Hank.

Annie and Mommy sizing up the assortment.

And In Other News...

We’ve never done cry it out around here (you know, that thing where you let a kid cry herself to sleep).  We’ve never had to.  God blessed us with a great sleeper, so since she was about 5 weeks old, we’ve never had to worry much about getting her to sleep at night.  And while she still goes to sleep without much effort at night, naps have become a bit of a challenge these days.  I don’t know how they do it at daycare, but they must be miracle workers because I know from the little report sheets they give us at the end of each day that Annie does, in fact, nap for them…at least twice a day.  But on the weekends?  Forget about it.  Unless she’s in a moving car.  Then, she’s sleeping beauty.

So yesterday after wrangling with her and knowing that she was fussy and teary because she just needed to sleep already, I tried letting her cry it out.  And it worked  But it was a tense several minutes for Mama, let me tell you.  David was out back helping me by preparing the back yard for my book club tonight (What’s better in October than a fireside book club chat, right?), so he didn’t get the full effect.  But let me just say, Baby Girl can really voice her displeasure when the mood strikes her.

Eventually, she let sweet sleep take over and we could all relax again.  I would have taken a picture, but I was afraid the flash would undue all the work the crying it out did.

Have a great Monday everybody!
Check out these jeans.  Wish I looked this good in denim.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs

I opened up my desk drawer today at work and saw this…

Well, hello there.
Nestled between the office supplies, paycheck stubs, and packets of Splenda for my afternoon hot tea (I’ve been trying to burn the infection out of my throat lately) was this miniature My Little Pony.  Why do I keep tiny toys in my desk, you might ask?  Well, so that I would have a moment like I did today, when I would remember why it is there and it would make me smile.

You see, when I was fairly newly pregnant – less than 20 weeks, because I didn’t know the gender of the baby yet – I went through a McDonald’s drive thru and ordered a cheeseburger, small fries, and a drink.  The helpful McDonald’s employee told me he could save me a little money by kind of working the old register system and when I pulled around to pick up my food I was handed a Happy Meal, complete with a toy inside.  When I opened the box and saw the toy I realized they had given me the meal specifically designed for little girls because it came equipped with a miniature My Little Pony instead of the Transformer or whatever came in the boys’ box.  When I shared this story with the women in my office, we kind of jokingly decided this was an omen that the baby growing inside me was a girl.  I mean, why else would the McDonald’s guy have given me a girl toy?  (If you are tempted to point out that perhaps he gave me the girl toy because I am, in fact, female, please keep that to yourself.  I prefer believing that God somehow clued me in to my baby’s gender through the magic of fast food.)  I kept the toy as a reminder of that first hint of girly things to come, just in case we did end up with a little girl who might someday need something to occupy her attentions while visiting Mommy at work.

So today, when I opened my desk drawer and saw the pink plastic pony looking up at me, I remembered that day before Annie had a name, before we knew she was an Annie instead of a Noah or Jonah (the names occupying the top spots on our Boys Name List), and I smiled.  Because I remembered how excited we were to be pregnant, how anxious we were to know something – anything – about the little person being made inside me.  And it made me thankful once again, for like the millionth time, that our little person is here now, healthy and happy and thriving.  And I look forward to the day when she plays with that My Little Pony I kept for her.
These days, this is how we play...and baby girl is really starting to get good at this tummy time thing.

Wish us luck as we attempt to go swaddle-free tonight here at the old homestead.  For a few nights now Annie has been waking in the middle of the night and when we go in to check on her she is mid-swaddle break, one arm kind of pinned, half in and half out.  Just makes me think she might not wake herself up if her arms are actually free.  We'll see.  Worse case scenario, I'm going to need the extra large pumpkin coffee at Dunkin Donuts tomorrow!
Annie's not so sure about our little experiment.
May we all sleep well...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Finding a Little Balance...

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.
                                                                                                -Thomas Merton
I probably should be sleeping right now, seeing as how I’m laid up with tonsillitis and an ear infection at the moment (yes, the joys of having a child in daycare).  But my mind is racing a little too much for that and it seems like maybe writing is the answer.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about balance and how I hope I get much better at finding it as I get farther down this path of parenthood.  I’m really terrible at it right now. 
I know I need to cut myself a little slack – my baby is only 3 ½ months old after all – but I have a tendency to sort of over-analyze things (I can hear the giggles of my friends and loved ones as I type) and this seems like the perfect topic to obsess over.  You see, I really like the idea of sharing all parenting duties.  In theory, the thought of leaving Annie at home with Daddy while I go get a pedicure or have a drink with a friend or shop for something that isn’t located in the baby department of any given store seems fantastic.  But actually doing it?  That I’m not so good at…yet.  I can’t even explain what my problem is either.  It certainly isn’t that I don’t have a willing participant in David.  Or that Annie is such a complicated baby that no one but Mama will do.  I just have a hard time cutting the cord – even if I’m in the same house or the same room.  I don't have any answers right now - at least not ones that I can put into a coherent sentence or two or three, but I'll keep thinking on it.  And hopefully all that obsessing will help me get better at sharing the load.
Oh, the love.

Speaking of balance and lack of it, I took Annie to my hometown this weekend for her first ever Court Days – an event where high fat food consumption is balanced only by a presence of flea market-type nonsense and fake designer wares.  It’s silly, a little dangerous (people actually walk around with guns slung over their shoulders) and pretty redneck, but it’s a necessary evil if you are from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky.  I couldn’t let my little girl go through her first October without experiencing it!  And I couldn’t let myself go through the whole weekend without a ribeye sandwich and Ale-8 (If you are from Mt. Sterling, you know the joys of which I speak.  If you aren’t, well, no explanation will really do it justice).

My mom and I also took Annie to her first pumpkin patch!  Although these things weren’t as en vogue when I was a kid and I don’t remember actually going to one myself growing up, I was really excited to take baby girl to pick out a tiny little, Annie-sized pumpkin.  The Court Day tomfoolery of earlier in the day and a runny nose (hers, not mine) made Annie a little cranky once we got to the patch, but I did manage to snap one good picture while we were there...and I got some nice fall d├ęcor for our front porch.  Bring it, Halloween!

All these fall activities – Court Days, pumpkin patches, the cooler temperatures, Starbucks bringing out its pumpkin syrup – have made me think a lot about traditions and how much I want my daughter to experience them.  I’m kind of becoming a family tradition freak in my own mind.  David better watch out because as Annie gets old enough to actually understand and remember the experiences we create for her, I’m afraid I’m going to go a little overboard with the celebrating.  I just know how much I enjoyed the hay rides and haunted houses and leaf-raking followed closely by leaf-pile jumping that I did in the fall when I was a kid.  I want her to have pleasant memories every time she smells pumpkin pie or apple cider, just like I do.  And maybe 30 years from now, she can write on whatever the Jetsons-era version of a blog is about how much she loves the memories that David and I are about to make with her.  Maybe she can do that and get one of those ovens that makes your dinner at the touch of a button, like George and Judy Jetson had, because Mama would love to see that.

It was a busy weekend, but we also found time for a little of this...
Baby girl loves her daddy...and those plastic rings.
And, because Annie was feeling a little under the weather, we did a fair amount of this too...

And since this is a post about fall, here's a little preview - a teaser, if you will - of what Annie will be decked out in come Halloween.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This Time Last Year

Disclaimer:  When I started this blog, I knew I had to consider just how personal I wanted it to be.  It is one thing to write about how cute my baby is and know anyone can read it.  It’s another thing to write about personal feelings and experiences that I may not share with just anyone.  That being said, today’s post is a little more on the personal side…and I’m not just saying that to trick you into reading it.

Over the last few months I have frequently caught myself thinking, “This time last year I was...fill in the blank.”  It is fun to me to think back on what I was doing a year ago and how unaware I was of how much life was going to change in a very short time.  And this month, looking back on what was going on a year ago is especially meaningful.
The Nobles all decked out for Halloween 2010, a little less than a year ago.

This time last year, my proverbial biological clock had been ticking rather loudly for almost a year.  David and I were roughly 10 months into the journey toward starting a family.  For 10 months I had taken an at home pregnancy test at least once a month – and for ten months I had been disappointed by the results – the digital reading of Not Pregnant, yelling at me each time .  This time last year, David and I had both undergone testing to find out what was going on and what the hold up could possibly be.  This time last year I spent more moments than I like to think about questioning God’s timing and worrying that we had waited too long to start a family.  This time last year I was, quite frankly, freaking out a little because in my plan we would have already had a baby.  Things weren't going quite the way I had thought they would or should.  They weren't taking shape according to my plan or timing.  But what do I know about timing?

This time last year, David and I were sitting in a fertility specialist’s office, going over our test results and discussing our situation – that being the fact that although it did not appear impossible for us to have children, it certainly didn’t seem that it would be all that easy either.  I don’t want to mischaracterize and say that we were told it was definitely not going to happen, but our chances were questionable enough that it appeared medical intervention was going to be necessary.

This time last year, David and I decided at that meeting with the specialist that we were willing to take the first step with fertility treatments – I was willing to take medication, and we were willing to go through a few procedures.  We decided not to get ahead of ourselves and discuss what we would do if those treatments didn’t work, how far we were willing to go before starting down another path in our family building endeavors.  We began preparing for the possible financial, physical, and emotional drain fertility treatments could bring.  This time last year I was frustrated, a little scared, and a lot impatient.  But this time last year we had no idea what was in store.

You see, this time last year, as we sat in that doctor’s office, unbeknownst to us, I was already pregnant.  Just when I had stopped taking the monthly pregnancy tests and had given up taking and charting my temperature each morning, our “perfect timing” actually arrived.  This time last year a group of cells was already taking shape that would become our beautiful, perfect daughter.  

And this time last year I learned a lesson about planning, a lesson about hope, and a lesson about patience.

I have always been – and probably always will be – a planner.  When it came to starting a family, things were no different.   I had decided when it should happen and I hadn’t stopped to consider that it might not go as I had envisioned.  I had decided what timing would be perfect – when we would have been married just long enough, when we would be financially prepared enough, when we would be ready to embrace a whole new way of being.  But you know what?  My plan didn’t mean diddly.  I’ve heard many times that “we plan and God laughs” and that has always made me a little uncomfortable.  I think it hits a little too close to home or something. But did that phrase ever play out with me in this whole having a baby thing!

And now, as most things do in the end, the timing of Annie’s arrival and what it has meant to me and David and our families could not have been more perfect.  But this time last year I hadn't learned that yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You've Got a Friend...

It's been a busy week around here...but then again, aren't they all in some way or another?  David and I took Annie for her first ever visit to his hometown of Ft. Wayne, Indiana last weekend.  Baby girl handled the trip pretty well.  She slept for half of the ride, both on the way up and on the way back.  And on the trip home, when I had the pleasure of sharing the backseat with her, she spent a good 45 minutes just staring at me.  It might sound creepy, but it was really cool.  Cheesy as it may sound, I felt like we were really having a moment – or 45 of them – there.  I felt like she actually knew I was her mommy…not just some lady who hangs around a lot.
I mean, seriously, look at that face!

While we were in Ft. Wayne, my mother-in-law made a comment that really made me think.  I don't remember what prompted it or the context for the rest of the conversation, but at one point she remarked that I have a really great group of girlfriends.  Now, she lives 300 miles away from us and doesn’t see me interact with my friends all that often.  Yet, she has seen enough and heard enough from me to know that my friends are really pretty spectacular.  So I've been doing a lot of thinking about them ever since.

Love book clubbin' with these girls.
I still have friends in my life today who grew up with me in a small Kentucky town wedged between the mountains and the "bluegrass."  Friends who knew me when I was that little girl who cried every single day in school (those stupid mean boys simply would not leave me alone at recess!) and played with Barbie dolls like it was my job. Friends who caused me pre-teen anxiety with their prank phone calls and Truth or Dare games (yes, even then I was wound a tad bit tight).  Friends who made mix tapes for me and rode with me to Prom.  Dear friends from my hometown who stood up for me through injustices and held my hand through breakups.  Women who were with me when I was starting to learn who I am and who I want to be…and were learning about themselves all the while.  And though the years have changed our circumstances - given us families and careers and ambitions that we may not have anticipated, when we see each other now it is as if we never left that small town where we started dreaming big.
Got to love those bows!
I still have sweet friends in my life from college who wore just as much flannel as I used to, ate just as many personal pan pizzas from the Raven Haven (for those non-AU folks, that was the student center), and made fools out of themselves along with me during Rush week.  Dear, wonderful women who laughed with me in the silliest times and endured challenges with me that weren’t so funny.  And although I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like, I know that if I needed them they would be here for me in a heartbeat.  Nothing proved that to me more than walking into the church for my dad’s funeral service a year and a half ago and seeing the faces of three of my college roommates there – supporting me in a terrible time, loving me despite the time and miles that separate us now.

And I am blessed beyond words by an amazing group of friends here in Lexington.  Friends I made as an "adult."  Relationships that began as work acquaintances or graduate and law school classmates and blossomed into the kind of lifelong connections that book clubs read about.  These women have been there for me in the rough times (for they were at that funeral too) and celebrated my marriage and the birth of my daughter with me.   Some of them are even walking with me through this crazy, emotional, amazing process of parenthood as they, too, start their own families.  They understand me and inspire me to do more, be more.
Love road-trippin' with these girls.
And lawyerin' with this one.
And baby-raisin' with these girls.
I don’t know how I got so lucky.  But I hope Annie knows these same blessings someday.  Because there’s really nothing like a good girlfriend, whether your six, sixteen, or thirty-five (am I really that old?).  And I thank each and every one of mine for the role she has played in making me better, stronger, and wiser over the 20 years or 20 months that we’ve known each other.  For taking trips with me, reading books with me, raising babies with me, and watching trashy reality TV with me.  For supporting me when I came up with the madcap idea to go to law school at the age of 29…because they knew that’s what I was meant for.  For celebrating with me without reservation when I decided to marry a man I had been dating for only a few months…because they knew, like I did, that he was perfect for me.   For being a loving group of honorary aunts to my daughter – and already showing her what beauty, grace, and honor really are.  For being there.  For showing up.  For making a mark.  Because my mother-in-law is right – I really do have a great group of girlfriends.

In other news, it is fall in the Bluegrass!  And I am itching to go to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard.  Something about having a little member of the family now if making me really want to soak up everything the season has to offer.  I realize that Annie is way too young to get much out of apple picking or selecting the perfect jack-o-lantern sized pumpkin, but I want to take her to do those things anyway.  I guess at this point it is more for me than for her, but I get excited thinking about building those kinds of memories for her some day.  And there's no time like the present to start, right?