Our Noble Pursuits

Living the good life. And writing about it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reflecting on Thankfulness

I know it seems really obvious to write about family at the holidays - but that's what I'm going to do.  Because there's a reason why it's obvious.  There's a reason why people talk family this time of year.  Nothing makes you more aware of the blessings of family like these last months of the year.  Maybe it's because you see family more.  Maybe it's because the absence of those who aren't there is more obvious at the Thanksgiving table.  Maybe it's because sharing a first holiday season with a new addition shows us how special tradition is.  Whatever the reason, Thanksgiving was even more special for me this year.
Loving the Jenny Jump-Up.
I realized this year that I miss my dad a little extra on Thanksgiving.  He was really a Thanksgiving kind of guy and, although he wasn't the type to choose a favorite, if he had I think Thanksgiving may have been his favorite holiday.  Whether it was singing "The Doxology" as a family before the Thanksgiving meal or having us all go around the table and say one thing we were thankful for (this idea was kind of met with grumblings the year he had us do it, but he and I liked it), he really got the spirit of Thanksgiving.  My dad was really good at being thankful.  He would laugh a little harder at my brothers' jokes around the table and seemed to smile a little bigger at his grandchildren.  And I missed that a lot this year.

But once again, I was struck by the perfection of the timing of Annie's arrival into our family.  Last year, just before Thanksgiving - the first one my family would spend without my dad - we announced to my family that she was on her way (except to my mom, I had announced that to her the day after the home pregnancy test came up positive).  Our big news made the holiday a little bit brighter, at least for me.  And this year, Annie's presence at my mom's brought some additional sweetness back to the holiday for me.
Sitting up like a big girl.
Oops!  Maybe we aren't quite there yet...
As much as I wish my dad could have been there to share Annie's first Thanksgiving, I can see that having her there made his absence a little less obvious to us all.  It seems God knew we needed her to fill up a little of the void he left.  And for that, I am abundantly thankful.

I don't mean for this post to be a downer - because it isn't to me.  Missing family doesn't always have to be a sad activity.  Because missing someone just brings to light how much he meant to you to begin with.  My dad meant a lot to me - he meant a lot to my family.  And through missing him this Thanksgiving season, I can see the countless ways he enriched all of our lives...and will continue to enrich my daughter's life as she grows and learns about him.  We have much to be thankful for this year. Oh so much.  And my dad would have been the first to point that out.

The holidays can really wear a girl out.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Christmas Up in Here

Christmas has come to the Noble household.  The tree is up.  The mantle has been decorated.  Annie's new stocking has been hung by the chimney with care.  This is earlier than we usually decorate, but I just couldn't wait any longer to make the house all Christmasified.  Here's how we are celebrating this year...

The pictures are a little grainy because I took them with David's phone.  I can't figure out what's wrong with our actual camera.  We must remedy that before the holidays get in full swing!  (Not that they aren't already...at least from the looks of our place).

On the top of my list of things to be thankful for today is having a husband who puts up with all my holiday excitement, which is in real overdrive this year.  Apparently, it doesn't matter much to me that Annie won't have a clue what's going yet since she's still too young to grasp any of it.  And yet, I'm still excited to share all of this with her for the first time.  She thinks the lights on the tree are pretty interesting.  So that's a start.

Annie gets double holiday points for posing in front of the Christmas tree in her "My First Thanksgiving" onesie.

Happy Thanksgiving week from the Nobles!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giving Thanks

As any of you who have read this blog before already know, I’m kind of a holiday tradition freak this year.  And in my constant awareness of possible new traditions (yes, I know that’s an oxymoron, new tradition), I have found inspiration in some other blogs that I frequently read.  I figure I would be flattered if someone blatantly stole an idea that I wrote about on here, so other bloggers must feel the same way, right?  At any rate, I stumbled across an idea the people over at Young House Love have used the last couple of Thanksgivings (I would put a link to the blog here if I was tech savvy enough to know how to do that.  As it stands, feel free to google it and I’m sure you can get connected to this clever and creative couple’s page).  It’s basically an idea for a “Thanks” jar – a place where your family can drop in daily thoughts of what they are thankful for.  The talented DIY-ers I stole this idea from bought an inexpensive glass jar and used etching cream to make it look all classy and store-bought.  I decided that wasn’t really the look I was going for.  Instead, I wanted to make the Noble family “Thanks” jar a touch on the tacky side…and off I went to the dollar store to make it happen.

I was envisioning some sort of ceramic turkey in jar-type form.  Maybe something like this…

Photo of Weavers Turkey Cookie Jar- Large

I had no idea how hard such a thing is to find.  I’m certain I’ve seen it at least 12 times when I wasn’t looking for it.  But a week before Thanksgiving didn’t turn out to be the best time to search for turkey-themed pottery.

My first stop was Dollar King, a store I had never actually set foot in before.  I love the concept of these types of stores – I mean why wouldn’t you want to be able to pick up both Homer Simpson stickers and a 1960s-era plastic rain bonnet all in one stop – and for $0.99 each?  But alas, Dollar King did not have a single Thanksgiving-themed item, much less a turkey jar.

So I headed next door to Gabriel Brothers, a cross between TJ Maxx and, well, Dollar King.  Gabriel Brothers also failed to deliver in the ceramic turkey department, but I did happen upon this little gem…

Yes, that’s right.  It’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle nutcracker.  Just what every holiday mantle needs.  If it wasn’t for his missing hand (or whatever it is you call turtle appendages), he just may have found a new home at our place.

But no turkey.  So I gathered all of my hopes of a tacky “Thanks” jar and headed to Walmart.  Surely Walmart would have what I was looking for, right?  Wrong!  There was not a single piece of poultry pottery in the place!  But my trip to Walmart did lead me to two important conclusions: 1) Thanksgiving useless stuff is eclipsed entirely by Christmas useless stuff.  If I had been looking for a Santa head or snowman or gingerbread house to drop my “I’m thankful for…” cards into I would have been swimming in options.  But turkeys, cornucopia, and the like really get the short end of the gaudy trinket stick.  And 2) If you want me to buy a candle, any candy, just slap a $1.00 price sticker on it and add the word “holiday” to whatever scent it is and we have a deal.  While I would not have batted an eye at a cinnamon or cookie-scented candle today, thanks to the clever marketers who decided to sell “holiday cinnamon” and “holiday vanilla cookie” scented items for one dollar a piece, I am now the proud owner of two more candles I don’t really need.

Anyway, to make what should have been a short story even longer, when it became clear to me that a rational woman doesn’t really go to more than three stores to find an ironic holiday item, I decided I would have to improvise for our “Thanks” jar.  So one glass jar, a packet of stickers, and two placecard packets later, here is the Noble Family Thanks Jar, ready to be filled with proclamations of our thankfulness…
I figured it would kind of holiday things up to write what we are thankful for on Thanksgiving-themed paper.

And while I made a bigger production than necessary out of finding the item that would hold our documented blessings, I think the idea is such a worthy one.  Some days it is much easier to be thankful than others and some seasons of our lives make our blessings far more obvious than they might be at other times.  And some times thankfulness is more of a choice than a natural response to our circumstances.  But if there’s ever a time to pause for just a few seconds each day and actually think of one thing to be thankful for, it is now.  So that’s what we will do, David and I.  From now until the end of the month, I hope we will write down one thing each day that we give thanks about.  And then at the end of the experiment we can take out all those individual pieces of paper and read them and see just how many ways we are blessed.

This one’s an obvious blessing…
Her "I just woke up and you're taking my picture" face.

Enjoying her first rice cereal experience.

I’m excited to see what else we can come up with.

Friday, November 11, 2011

We've Come a Long Way, Baby!

The little ticker in the right-hand corner of this page tells me that Annie is 4 months, 1 week, and 6 days old today.  It’s funny how the last 19 weeks have seemed like both a hundred years and about two seconds all at the same time.  And by the way, when will I stop measuring time in weeks?  That was a habit I picked up while pregnant and I can't seem to break myself of it when it comes to talking about baby age.

A dear friend of mine had a baby on Tuesday (if you are reading this Melissa, which I’m sure you are not because you do, in fact, have a newborn to care for - Congratulations again!) and that happening has made me all sorts of nostalgic.  So nostalgic, in fact, that I almost decided to finally type out Annie’s birth story for today’s post.  But then I decided that kind of thing is probably best left for some sort of milestone – like her first birthday or my first Mothers’ Day or something.  Or at least a time more than 4 ½ months after it happened.  I have a feeling perspective is going to make that story even sweeter.

And what a sweet story it is.

Anyway, Melissa’s new addition has really made me think a lot about our newest family member and how fast the time is going.  I know I’ve written about this before and just be prepared, I will undoubtedly write about it again, because there’s just nothing like watching this little person change literally every single day.  Just a few weeks ago, it seems, she was sleeping relatively motionless in a tiny bassinet at the foot of our bed (a short-lived arrangement), and now I go into her room in the mornings to find that she has wedged herself against the slats of her crib in her sleep.  Just a few weeks ago (at least in my mind) she could barely focus her eyes and I would kind of freak out about how they looked sort of crossed a lot of the time.  Now she makes eye contact with me from across the room almost the second I walk into daycare to pick her up and gives me a big old smile, waving her arms and squealing.  Do you know how good it feels to see someone get THAT excited to see you?  There’s nothing like it.  But she used to be too little to do that.  Not anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the changes.  In fact, if I were to be truly honest I would have to admit that the newborn stage was really pretty hard for me.  This 4 month and beyond business is lots more fun.  But there’s still nothing like a tiny person being nestled against you.  As tiring as it was, I already look back on those stretches of time at night when Annie simply wouldn’t sleep unless one of us was holding her with fondness.  I can only imagine how many more moments like that I will get nostalgic and sappy about by the time she’s a year old.
That ceiling fan is still so interesting.
Yesterday, as I put a box of rice cereal in my basket at Target (yes, we are starting down the road to solid foods this weekend), I was struck once again by how crazy time is.  Just over 4 months ago I barely knew where the baby aisle was in Target and now I’m quite the efficient shopping mama.  And I actually caught myself smiling at the boxes of newborn Pampers, as if to say, “I remember when.”  Is that silly or what?  Of course I remember it because it was only a few months ago that I was standing in that very spot on my hour out of the house while David watched Annie, wearing the same capri yoga pants that I wore every day during my maternity leave and one of about four shirts I had in a rotation, frantically deciding between Pampers and Luvs and feeling a little overwhelmed by that simple decision.  But oh how it feels like a lifetime ago some moments.  And then the next moment it doesn’t.
Celebrating LJS Day 2011 - the one day of the year we allow ourselves to eat Long John Silver's

I guess all of that is a big part of why I am doing this blog thing.  As I chronicle the bigger and the tinier moments of our first year with baby girl I am able to reflect on what makes each stage special and look back just a month or two later to see how far we have come.  And in these last 4 months, 1 week, and 6 days, we’ve come a long way, baby!

From here…

… to here, in fact.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meeting Milestones (and I don't just mean Annie)

Our girl had her second round of vaccinations on Friday.  I know those are far harder on me than they are on Annie.  She cried very briefly and kind of gave the nurse the stink eye, but by the time we got back out to the reception area she had regained her composure for the most part.   We don’t tend to care so much about where Annie rates on those percentile charts (I care a little, but David doesn’t see the point in comparisons like that so long as she’s healthy – and he’s right on that score), but just for the purposes of posterity, here are Annie’s 4 month stats:
·         Height – 24 ¾ inches
·         Weight – 13 pounds, 14 ounces
·         Head circumference – 41 cm

So we have a healthy, happy (now that those shots are over!) baby girl on our hands.  And I continue to be so thankful for that.
Hey, that bunny keeps getting smaller!
Annie likes tummy time a little more these days…which means she will stay on her tummy for about 5 minutes before letting me know she is unimpressed, instead of the 30 seconds it used to be.  And about once or twice a day she shows us she can roll over from tummy to back.  I’m still not sure she realizes she’s the one making that happen, but she likes the cheers she gets when she accomplishes it.

Annie has also found her feet…which is adorable, but makes diaper and clothing changes a bit more of a challenge. As does her new-found super human strength.
She'll love me for posting this semi-nudey pic some day.
And her voice!  She has definitely found her voice.  She loves to make noise – really loves it.  It cracks me up when she starts in with her squeaks and squeals and vowel sounds when the adults in the room are talking – as if she has something to contribute and you best be listening to what she has to say.  And she is reportedly one of the biggest “talkers” in her daycare class.  Hopefully that doesn’t mean she will someday be one of those kids who has to sit in a desk right by the teacher so as to avoid disrupting the other students…I don’t think we have to worry about that just yet.  

Many of you have asked me how my mom is doing with the whole Annie going to daycare thing, since she was handling childcare duties for me when I first went back to work.  She is doing great, probably secretly kind of enjoying having her days free again…although I know she loved taking care of baby girl for those 4 weeks.  And she still gets her Annie fix about once a week when she comes over to do some housecleaning for us (God bless her.  And yes, I realize that I am completely spoiled.) and picks up Annie from “school” a little early to spend some quality time with her.  Annie loves hanging out with Grandma, that’s for sure.  And I love that she loves that.  I am so excited that Annie has such a great relationship with her all three of her grandparents.  Those are relationships I know she will treasure as she grows and I can’t say enough about how thankful I am that she has them.

Speaking of grandparents, Annie got a little visit from her Papa and Nana (David’s parents) Friday night and Saturday.  Not only are they loving, devoted members of the family, but they can also do quite the musical number too. 

And finally, as an update to my last blog entry, I am happy to report that I actually ran this morning.  Yep, I laced up the old running shoes, turned on the old I-pod, snapped on the sports watch (and actually got a few feet from the house before realizing the old sports watch needed a new battery, at which point I had to go back inside to get a backup), and I was off.  This was all helped in large part by the fact that Annie didn’t really get the daylight savings time memo and woke up at 5:00 a.m. for a little snack before falling back asleep for a little while.  But whatever, I’ll take it.  As I was feeding her and deciding that I now had no excuse to not run, I realized that this little person who I thought was holding me back from exercising again (and I mean that in the best way possible) ended up being the one to give me the jump start I needed to make it happen again.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gettin' Back on the Horse (Metaphorically, of Course)

The time has come.  I have to just do it.  No more excuses.  I have to get back on the exercise wagon.  Have to.  Not because I still haven’t lost a few pounds of baby weight (although I haven’t) and not because my clothes aren’t fitting quite like they used to pre-pregnancy (although they don’t).  I have to get back to an exercise routine because I need it.  I need to feel healthy.  I need to feel strong.  I need to feel like I’m doing something for myself.  And if you had told me a few years ago that I was going to make this statement I would have looked at you like you had three heads, but I need to do it because I actually miss running.  I miss how it clears my mind.  I miss how it makes me focus on how my body is working.  I miss how it gives me time to think, to make mental lists, to size up where I am and what I’m doing.
See, I used to do this thing.

And David and I would sometimes train and run together.
Photo: Just before the Columbus Half-Marathon/Marathon, October 2009

I actually hesitated to write about this in a blog post.  Writing about it somehow makes me feel accountable to actually do something about this, to actually lace up the old running shoes and get out there again.  It makes me feel like I have to pack the gym bag and hit the treadmill on my lunch hour because someone who read this might ask me if I have done that.  But maybe that’s what I need – accountability.  Lord knows not feeling accountable to anyone hasn’t helped my motivation thus far.

But now that Annie is here there is a whole other complication to exercise.  Getting up in the morning to run isn’t hard just because I’m tired or it’s cold outside or I’d just plain old rather stay in bed.  It’s hard now because (confession time) I love to be the one to see Annie’s smile when she wakes up in the morning and the thought of not being there for that makes me sad.  It’s hard because I already only see her for about an hour in the morning before one of us has to take her to daycare and the thought of having that time cut in half by an outdoor run or trip to the gym is kind of difficult to handle.  There is mommy guilty, yes.  But more than that, there is just the desire to spend as much time with her as possible since I can’t be with her most of the day.
Ladybugs have to eat too, you know.

A friend of mine told me early in Annie’s life something that I think of often in times like this.  Something I have kind of made my mantra.  Something that I need to internalize in this specific situation.  Happy mama equals happy baby.  I know that the happier I am, the more “normal” I feel, the better equipped I am to be a good mom to Annie.  I know that she needs me to be my own person apart from who I am to her because that’s the only way I will have the energy, inspiration, and motivation to be the best mama I can be for her.  And if being my own person means going for a run three days a week, the small amount of time I sacrifice to do that will be well worth it in the end.  I know that intellectually.  I believe that philosophically.  But I haven’t been able to make myself actually do it…yet.
That's a pretty happy baby right there.
So here I am, publicly vowing to TRY to make this whole exercise thing happen in the coming days.  (I just forced myself not to hit the backspace key several times and change that “days” into “weeks.”)  Hold me accountable, blog-reading friends!  Remind me that I am right when I say that having my own interests will benefit my daughter in the end, even if it means Daddy is the one who picks her up out of her crib some mornings.  Remind me that it is good for Daddy and Annie that I stop being sort of selfish about those kinds of things, because Daddy really wants to see that smile all by himself sometimes.  Remind me that all we are really talking about here is about 45 minutes of “me” time…because sometimes perspective is something I am lacking when it comes to my baby girl.  And in return, I will consider myself accountable.