Our Noble Pursuits

Living the good life. And writing about it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


I can't imagine a better age for experiencing Christmas with your little one than when she is one week shy of 18 months.  I say that now, and I'm sure next Christmas I will retract that statement and say 2 1/2 is the best age, and the next year, I'll correct myself yet again...but boy, was it fun to watch Annie this year.  She didn't get the concept of Santa or anything - she does tell you when asked that he says "Oh, oh, oh" (which is close enough, right?) and she points to him in pictures and ornaments and what not - but she liked unwrapping gifts and playing with each thing IMMEDIATELY if not sooner.  She also didn't understand the story of Jesus' birth, but she pointed to him in her Little People Nativity and said, "baby," so I think we at least have the ground work laid. :-)

Here is our Christmas in pictures, because they do a better job showing you how our girl's second Christmas went than I ever could in words.

We had Christmas at my mom's the Friday before the holiday, so Annie got to start her holiday fun early...
Reading Christmas books with Grandma
This girl and her cleaning supplies.  Her Grandma is teaching her well!
The word "love" is not at all too strong to describe Annie's feelings about this slide.

The day after our Christmas celebration at my mom's, when I got out the dollhouse my brother and sister-in-law gave her, it was as if Annie was seeing it for the first time again.

We then traveled to Fort Wayne to spend Christmas with David's family.  Annie got to hang out with her cousins, including sweet cousin Eliot, who is only 3 months older than her.  I'm telling you, we couldn't have planned this any better - these two are such fun to watch as they grow up together!

Building blocks with Eliot.

Helping out Santa with Papa.

It was a fantastic second Christmas with Annie!  We couldn't have asked for a better one.  Happy holidays to all of you - I hope your season has been blessed like ours!

Friday, December 14, 2012


Lots of things changed inside me once Annie joined the family. I have always been emotional and sensitive. I cried every day in first grade, for goodness sake. But when I added “mother” to my list of titles the emotional component of my personality really went into overdrive. And it has never shifted back down. If I had heard about a tragedy like what happened in Connecticut today seven or eight years ago, I would have been saddened. I would have been angered by the senselessness of it all. I would have felt bad for those families who are touched.

But hearing the news today, I was deeply affected. Profoundly.  Like haven't thought about much else kind of affected.  I cried, reading the reports of innocent children who lost their chance at a life of fulfilled dreams. Without really meaning to, I put myself in the place of those parents who are living a nightmare today. I wondered what I would do. I still wonder how they hold anything together.  I managed to convince myself that there was no reason for me to run from my office and drive as fast as possible to Annie’s daycare to pick her up hours early just so I could hold her and know she is okay. But it took some work.

And I am still angered, deeply saddened, and honestly, completely terrified by what happened today. I’m scared of what it means for the world we are raising our daughter in. I am frightened of things getting worse and incidents like these happening elsewhere. But mostly I am sobered by the reality that, no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to insure that my daughter is completely safe from the evil of the world. And in this reality, all I know to do is say yet another prayer, begging for the safety and health of my little girl. Because only God can protect her from a crazy world.

Like so many of you, my thoughts are with those in Connecticut who are living through the unspeakable.  And prayers for peace - both for those families and for a world that seems at times to be in utter chaos.  May a change come soon, for the sake of my little girl and all of those children near and dear to us all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

17 Months!

In this season of festive merriment (sounds like fun, eh?), we celebrated an additional “holiday” in the Noble household – or at least I did.  Annie turned 17 months old and I made my mental list of all of the things her 17th month brought us.  She continues to amaze me with how quickly she is learning new things, and I continue to be so appreciative of her school for the efforts they are making (with such positive results) to teach her, encourage her, and facilitate her development.  Frequently, she starts saying a new word or doing a new thing and I find out a day or so later that she learned it at school.  The fact that she is already learning in a school environment is exciting to me – and gives me something new to admire almost every day.

At 17 months old, our baby girl is…

Talkative – Oh my, is it a vocabulary explosion in our house these days.  Annie’s new favorite word is “no,” which she says in a way that actually sounds like she has given some thought to whatever you are requesting from her.  Sort of like an “I see your point, but no thanks” kind of way.  She has also very recently added “mine” to her vocabulary.  And “ball,” “doggie,” “bubble,” and “all done” continue to be favorites.  She repeats after us upon request sometimes now and says her own name.  I feel like she says a new word almost every day, and that is pretty amazing to me.

Quite the Hand Holder – These last few weeks, Annie has started taking us by the hand and leading us around.  She does this in all places except, of course, when it would actually come in handy to be touching her (like at a crowded and dark Christmas tree lighting or running down the sidewalk).  She likes to show us things – toys she is playing with at school when we pick her up at the end of the day, toys in her room at home, something the dog or cats are doing that she finds amusing or alarming.  Don’t get too comfortable sitting down at our house because, the next thing you know, Annie will be leading you to some other area of greater interest to her.

A Game Player – This month Annie has demonstrated an appreciation for little kid games, chants, and songs.  She loves Ring Around the Rosie (or “Ashy, Ashy” as she calls it…the “All fall down!” part is endlessly entertaining to her), Old MacDonald (we hear “yo-e, yo-e, yo-e,” which I believe to be her version of “E-I-E-I-O” several times a day), and the Itsy Bitsy Spider.  If you haven’t ever seen a just shy of 18-month old do the hand motions to Itsy Bitsy Spider you are missing out on one of the cutest actions known to man.  Let me know and I will attempt to coerce my daughter into performing the next time we see you.

Not a Baby Anymore – I know I have said countless times before on here that I can’t believe how fast Annie went from being a baby to a toddler, but I’m saying it again.  In her 17th month Annie became even more independent and has been demonstrating even more the intricacies of her personality.  She is sensitive and sweet.  She is determined and a little impatient.  She is a charmer, but a little bit shy.  She is a happy girl and loves making us laugh.  She gets frustrated when things don’t go her way.  She loves to dance and clap her hands and interjects at least one “yay!” into every song she hears.  And, of course, she is just as I dreamed she would be.  

We look forward to another Christmas with Annie – one where she understands that something exciting is going on, even if she doesn’t yet understand exactly what it is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


There is a new phase going on in our house.  A phase during which Annie likes to cling to my pants or grab my hand and lead me around.  It’s precious and certainly makes me feel important.  But it makes doing practically anything – making dinner, putting clean clothes away, picking up toys – sort of impossible.  And the part of me that likes order and having things done at certain times honestly gets a little frustrated by the delay.  But I’m trying really hard to take a deep breath, look down at the little blonde head leaning into my knees, and remember that she won’t always want me like this.  

There will come a time before I know it when she will prefer lots of things to taking Mama by the hand and walking anywhere.  There will come a day when she won’t want to be stuck to me like glue – when Dora the Explorer and coloring books and dolls will be far more important ways to spend her time.  And I will think about these exact days I’m living right now with nostalgia.  With tears in my eyes, no doubt, I will miss these moments.  And so, I let her lead me from room to room, pointing out stuffed animals and books and toys she doesn’t want to play with without me.  I make dinner with one hand while all 24 pounds of her perches on my hip with her legs wrapped around me like the sweetest tree frog you’ve ever seen.  I leave the toys in the floor until after bedtime, because really, they can wait to be picked up.  And I try, just as I have for the last 17 months, to treasure the moment.  The moment of her being so happy to just be with me.  Because it’s a fleeting condition, and will be replaced by little girlness in no time.

 And now, some pictures of our Thanksgiving weekend.  We had a wonderful time with my family on Thursday and then David's family the rest of the weekend.  Once again, I am struck by so very much we have to be thankful for.

This just in...Annie sometimes allows clips in her hair now.
Trying on one of Papa's hats.
Taking an important call at Grandma's.
Happy girl.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What's In a Name?

Recently, one of the mommy bloggers I read – Ilana at Mommy Shorts (if you don’t read it, you simply must.  It’s different than most mommy blogs.  It’s really really funny) had her second baby.  And the day after the blessed arrival of daughter #2, she posted an explanation of the baby’s name.  I’ve seen other people do this – have both read naming stories and listened to them from my friends and acquaintances.  And every single time I do it makes me feel like I should have a better naming story for Annie.  Fact is, Annie is Annie because it was basically the only girl’s name David and I could agree on.  It is a name I have loved for years and it was the only name that came up in our baby naming discussions that didn’t get an “Are you kidding?” stare or scrunched up eyebrow from David.  (Mind you, I gave plenty of stares and eyebrow raises to some of his suggestions too – the name “Jazz” comes to mind…thus the even greater miracle that we both liked the name Annie.)

We arrived at her middle name the same way – just because we liked the sound of it.  I came up with a couple of options and then asked David if he thought we should name our child Annie Claire or Annie Kate, and he responded, “Well, one of them sounds like a dessert.”  Not wanting to saddle our baby girl with that, we went with Annie Kate and never turned back.  And she is such an Annie Kate.  Truly, the name we picked just because we liked it suits her perfectly.  I honestly can’t imagine her being anything else.  She isn’t even an Ann or an Anna.  She is an Annie through and through.  I can’t explain to you the difference really, but the more she comes into her own and shows us that spunky, sweet personality of hers, the happier I am that we didn’t name her some other derivative of Ann and just call her Annie.  She is an Annie, and nothing else would have done her justice.
Annie is a Cool Cat, yes she is.
Is this some Fall fun or what?
But I do sort of wish I would have a better explanation one day when she asks why she is named what she is than “Eh, we just liked the sound of it.”  My mom’s middle name is Annette, so the Ann part of Annie’s name is sort of in my mind a way to honor my mother.   And my niece goes by Kate, so technically her middle name is a family name.  But there is no deep tradition or history behind her name.  And I so love the naming stories I hear, I just sort of wish we would have given Annie one of her own.

Before we knew Annie was a girl, we also had a boy’s name picked out.  We actually had two names and decided on one over the other with a naming story of sorts.  Our boy’s names were either Noah or Jonah, with James as the middle name whichever way we went.  James is David’s middle name and both he and I had uncles we never knew who were very important to our families named James.  So right there was some history and tradition.  We really liked Noah James, but Noah is like one of the top 10 baby boy names in the country or something, and we were looking to be a little more unique than that (although honestly, I think it is still my favorite boy’s name ever).  And then I realized that if we went with Jonah, that first part of the name “Jo” would pay tribute to my dad, whose middle name was Joe.  And the decision was made.  Jonah James.  Obviously, we didn’t end up needing the boy’s name, but we had one – and not just any name, a name rich in heritage and honor.

Maybe that is why I would like Annie to have a naming story…because if she was a boy, she would have.  But you know what? Regardless of how we arrived at her name, she is named perfectly.  And no matter whether there is some deep special meaning behind that name or not, there is deep special meaning about her.  Of that I am sure.
Of course, the item she spotted in the Target check out line that she had to have was a Barbie princess doll.  Uh oh, and so it begins.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween 2012

This year, our little ladybug from last year transformed into a little pumpkin for the Halloween festivities of 2012.  Although Annie still isn't old enough to really get the full effect of the holiday, she had fun at our two Halloween activities and made quite the adorable walking, jabbering jack-o-lantern.

Here's our little pumpkin getting ready to take off for some Halloween fun this year...
And, just for the sake of taking a good old trip down memory lane, here's our little ladybug last year...

A few days before Halloween, we sort of crashed the costume parade of the neighborhood next to us, the neighborhood where several of our friends live.  It was fun to have a chance to dress Annie up and let her prance around a little before the big night.  I think you'll agree she seemed to be having lots of fun.

Heading over to the costume parade.

Stella, Audrey, and Annie
Annie and Daddy,sizing up the competition.

Stella and Annie showing how to rock some playground toys.
 Then, on Halloween day, we dressed her up again for school, where they take the kids around the building to "trick or treat" in the other classrooms.  I'm not sure there was much treating, as 16 month olds don't care so much for candy yet and what teacher in her right mind wants a bunch of toddlers hopped up on sugar.  But she once again looked cute as can be.

Halloween night, we loaded up in the stroller and headed over to Annie's friend Audrey's house for dinner with our friends and Annie's.  Once dinner was over, we loaded up and headed over to another friend, Ellie's, house for dessert.  The short walk from one house to the other was pretty much the extent of Annie's trick or treating for the night, and it was unfortunately raining for that.  But we all had a great time and we figure there are plenty of years of real live actual honest to goodness trick or treating ahead.

Annie and Stella catch up on some gossip.

Stella, Ellie, Audrey, and Annie

Our sole family picture from the night...after Annie shed the pumpkin belly.

Hope your Halloween was as fun for you as Annie's was for her!

Monday, November 5, 2012

16 Months

I'm a little behind schedule in posting lately.  I have Halloween to cover still, but even before that, I need to chronicle Annie's 16th month here in her online baby book.  Like all the months that have come before it, Annie's second October was full of activities, new adventures, and lots of learning.  She is settling in to her new classroom at daycare very nicely and is showing us every day what a big girl she is becoming.

Annie started out the month with a week-long bought of the yuckies.  What we initially thought was a reaction to her 15-month shots ended up being roseola - a virus that causes a sudden high fever, irritability, vomiting, and then, as the last symptom, a red, non-itchy rash.  After three visits to our pediatrician and a phone call or two to my brother, it was the rash that finally signified what we were dealing with.  And by that point, it was pretty much over.  It was really, in the grand scheme of things, no big deal, but it gave me the chance to get in a few uncharacteristic cuddles while our girl was (unfortunately) feeling less than her best.

As much as I hated seeing Annie sick, I very much enjoyed being able to have moments like this.

The rest of the month was much better, though.  And as usual, Annie learned some new things in October.  I think the biggest advances for Annie this past month have been in the area of vocabulary.  She has added short phrases (I guess you would call them that) like "all done" (which she pronouces as "ah-doh") and "night night" to her repetoire.  She also does a lot of repeating these days - both words and sounds.  And if she hears you singing, she is pretty likely to join in with her own version of a melody.
Our little Raven.  Go AU!

Trying on Mommy's shoes is, apparently, hilarious.
In addition to showing advances in her ability to communicate verbally, Annie is also demonstrating her understanding of sequences and routines.  If you ask her if she needs her diaper changed, she will often either lay down in the floor for you to change it (you know, just in case you already have a diaper in your back pocket) or go into her bedroom and stand in front of her changing table.  If she hears the word "bath" in the evening, she will run to the bathroom and throw back the shower curtain, sometimes even starting to pull off her clothes in preparation for some tub time.  When she is hungry, she will also sometimes go to the cabinet where she knows some of her snacks are, picks out something, and then stands by the kitchen counter reaching for a spoon.  She's growing more and more independent these days...and with that, she grows more and more opinionated. :-)

Being silly with Mommy.

She exerts her independence every day now by insisting on carrying her own lunch box from the kitchen to the front door before leaving for school.
It's funny how much less I worry about Annie doing the "right" things or developing "on schedule" as she gets older.  In the early months, I consulted my collection of "Your Baby's First Year" type books all the time, to see when she was supposed to roll over or get teeth or eat solid foods.  Now, her development is just a fun and amazing thing to behold.  Kids just grow so darn fast.  I'm growing less and less interested in rushing it.

Just in case it takes me a while to get to a Halloween recap - here's a shot of our little pumpkin.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not Our Normal

I know this post is going to come off sounding completely and totally overly dramatic.  So I write it with the caveat that I KNOW what I’m about to write about isn’t really a big deal.  I KNOW there are worse things than the incident I’m about to recount.  So please don’t think I am unaware and lacking all perspective.  But the thing is, I’ve got a story to tell.  So please bear with me.  (Deep breath). 

I have frequently written about how fortunate we are to have Annie in a daycare that she loves, most extensively writing about that particular blessing here.  Each day when I drop her off she is happy to get out of her car seat, happy to say “Hi” to the ceramic goose just inside the door who is always sporting seasonally-themed attire, happy to walk down the hallway, and happy to get to her classroom and sit down to her breakfast.  Most days, she looks up at me, smiles, waves, and says, “Bye! Bye!” – letting me know it is time for me to go and she has this daycare thing down.  She has never cried.  Has never acted upset.  Has never really seemed the slightest bit apprehensive when I turn to go.  Most days – in fact, almost all days – she is practically pushing me out of the room.  But today was not like the other days.

Because David has most Fridays off and because I had ordered some donuts through a school fundraiser that I thought I could pick up first thing this morning, Annie was ushered to class by both of her parents this morning, instead of just me or just David.  In my head, it seemed like a great idea – we could all walk hand-in-hand down the hallway, pointing at butterflies and flowers on the walls, making our leisurely way to her classroom door, where we would drop her off and receive kisses and hugs and pleasant and confident “Bye, bye!”s .  In my head, it seemed like a great way to start our Friday and end our week.  But that vision in my head?  It was wrong.

Instead, the fact that both of us were involved in drop off – and, more to the point, the fact that this was unusual and not her normal drop off routine – totally freaked Annie out.  At first, things went kind of like I pictured them.  She wanted to be carried down the hall instead of walking down it holding our hands, but that’s no big thing.  She wasn’t as willing to sit in her chair once we got in her classroom and clung to me a little instead, but we handled that by sort of waving her cereal bar at her as an enticement and that seemed to work.  At first.  But just as we turned to walk away, she completely lost it.  She didn’t just cry, she screamed.  And it took everything in me to keep from crying right along with her, right there in the middle of the classroom.  It was like she was being torn away from me (this would be where my overly dramatic storytelling kicks in).  She was acting like she thought we would never see each other again.  She sounded scared and sad and mad and heartbroken all at the same time.  And every fear I ever had before we took her to daycare the first time came flooding back to me.  This thing that was happening – this watching my child go to pieces and knowing it was not in her best interest for me to be the one to comfort her – this was what I had feared would happen every day before we first walked the halls of her daycare.  This was my working mom nightmare.  And it was happening today.
A happier girl.
David and I did turn and leave, at the reassurance of Annie’s very knowledgeable, very sweet, and very capable teacher that she would be okay, and I even managed to make it out of the building before I cried.  And I drove David back to our house and started my drive to work, still in tears, but telling myself I needed to just let it go, she would be fine, she loves it there, and she was just shaken up because we did things differently.  My head told me to drive to work, to get busy doing something, to grow up already and realize that kids cry.  And that worked for a few minutes, before my Mama instinct kicked in again and the next thing I knew I was headed back to her classroom. 

I honestly thought I would walk down the hallway and be able to listen from a safe, out-of-her-eyesight distance to what was going on in her room, find that she was happy and playing, and turn around and go back to my car, undetected and feeling reassured.  Again, that’s how it played out in my head.  But that’s not what happened.  Instead, I walked down the hallway and as I got closer to the corner I would turn down to go to her classroom, I heard crying.  Familiar crying.  My daughter’s crying.  I almost convinced myself to turn back around and leave.  I knew it wouldn’t help her to see me, wouldn’t do any good in making her feel comfortable where she was, would, in fact, only make things worse for her – and for her teacher.  I even knew it wouldn’t help me to see her again so upset, to not be able to calm her completely before leaving again.  But what did I do?  Oh, I walked straight into that classroom, where my baby girl lunged for me from her seat at the tiny table, growing redder-faced upon seeing me there, shrieking her displeasure at me having been gone.  It.  Was.  Heartbreaking.  And I felt like an idiot.  What was I doing there?

Eventually, I knew I had to go.  I had to let her straighten this out on her own.  I had to let her teacher work her magic and distract my daughter…and remind her that every other day over the last year she has loved it there.  There was nothing I could do to help her, short of fleeing from the building with her, which wouldn’t have been the healthiest of options…for anyone.  And it was hard.  So hard to walk away from her while she screamed.  Did I mention she was actually screaming?  Not just crying a little?  But I knew I had to do it.  For her.  And for me.

 As you, of course, probably suspected, when I called her school an hour or so later (which was her teacher’s suggestion) she was completely back to normal.  She was, in fact, participating in her favorite activity these days – pretending to vacuum the classroom floor.  She had sorted things out…and her teachers had undoubtedly helped her.  And I felt a million percent better.  But I also felt silly and ridiculous and overly emotional.  I felt like I had failed in the being a reasonable and responsible mother department.  And I was reminded that, while I no longer worry that I’m doing something wrong in this whole mommy thing, I don’t have it all figured out and I’m not always holding it together either.  But I also know I never really will have all the answers.  I never really will be able to act appropriately and not emotionally at all times.  I won’t always be able to convince the mama instinct to quiet down a little and listen to my brain. 

But that’s okay.  Because days like today – moments when Annie and I are both falling apart – just serve as reminders of how nice it is that this is not our version of normal at daycare.  That nightmare that I feared when I went back to work – that paranoia I had that every day would be like today was – well, it isn’t our reality.  And for that I am once again abundantly grateful.  I had no idea how grateful until today.

I'll close with a couple more pictures from our week...

Baths are still always a big hit.  When I tell her I am going to start her bath, she follows me into the bathroom now.

After a rough morning, she rebounded and had a great day - capped off by a dinner out with Mommy and Daddy.

Friday, October 19, 2012


I realize that I have frequently stated on this blog how quickly time is passing and how ill-prepared I am for Annie to grow up on us. And at the risk of boring you with yet another “how did my baby get so old?” post, I just have to say, “How did my baby get so old here?” This week, Annie officially transitioned into the "Butterfly" (or Toddler 1) room at daycare.
This is the face of a girl very excited to eat breakfast in her new classroom.
This is big kid stuff, people. In her new room, she only takes one nap a day (a transition which she is handling okay, but which leaves her pretty sleepy come early evening), sleeps on a cot for that nap instead of in a crib, eats at a tiny table and chairs instead of in a highchair, and does more focused activities like drawing (or, as you may more commonly refer to it, scribbling) and “playing” with musical instruments. The teacher has an area of the room set up with the books they are using as their theme during that week or month (this week is Clifford). It’s like a real classroom in there! And Annie seems to love it.

Dancing her way down the hallway.

Mama, on the other hand, is having a slightly rougher transition. It’s so weird, this parenting conflict. I obviously want my child to grow and thrive and become more independent. And I love watching her develop her personality and start to show interest in certain things over others. But I simply cannot believe how fast she has gone from a swaddled little baby to a toddler, running around the house, climbing on things, and shouting her small but growing vocabulary at us. After I dropped her off in her new classroom yesterday, I actually cried when I got to the car. I didn’t sob, but I definitely lost a tear or two. I just couldn’t believe she was that big. Big enough to recognize her friends and smile and point at them, big enough to take my hand in the school hallway and walk me to her classroom, big enough to sit down when instructed to do so and stay in the chair for the full extent of her breakfast. I guess it is an emotional time because it is so jolting. It is like this slap in the face that says, “Don’t blink. She will be starting Kindergarten before you know it.” And I already mourn the loss of her baby days, as they get fewer and fewer in number.

But like I said, Annie seems to love her new room. She reportedly spent lots of time her first full day in there just walking around, examining the toys and taking inventory of all the cool stuff she hadn’t been able to play with before. And when I went to the room to pick her up yesterday, she greeted me with a smile and brought over some toys for me to see…but she wasn’t in a hurry to leave. She wanted to keep playing. And I guess that’s the most any parent can ask for in a daycare/school environment. If she’s so happy she doesn’t want to leave, that’s a good place to be.
Being a true Kentucky girl - watching the horses after dinner at Windy Corner Market tonight.

And in the midst of her growing up on us, she has started a new habit. A habit she first demonstrated the last time she was sick. Now, she frequently likes to sit facing me on my lap and for brief moments she will lay her little head on my chest and just rest. Just briefly. Just for a few seconds. But long enough for me to squeeze her tight, rub her sweet baby hair, and tell her I love her. Long enough for me to realize that this sweet, charming little girl she is becoming is every bit as wonderful as the tiny infant she used to be.  Even more wonderful, in fact. And in that moment, I’m not just okay with the fact that she is growing up on me, I actually love it. And that’s a nice feeling to have.