Our Noble Pursuits

Living the good life. And writing about it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seven Months!

Somehow another month has passed and Annie has turned 7 months old.  The days when we put a white onesie on her, stick her “__ months” sticker on the front and take her picture with her stuffed bunny are sneaking up on me faster and faster.  I have been putting together an “Annie’s First Year” photo book on Shutterfly lately (trying to do it a little bit at a time so it isn’t a huge project in June) and looking at pictures of her when she was tiny and new really emphasizes to me what a big girl she is becoming right before our eyes.  Oh Annie, slow down on the growing up already!

New Developments:

Standing on her own two feet - Annie loves to stand.  Sometimes so much that she won’t bend her legs when you try to make her sit.  She’s been kicking her legs for as long as we can remember (even before she was born…my ribs can testify to that), and all of that exercise has made for some really strong legs.  Now she likes to show us just how strong she is with all the standing.  She doesn’t pull up yet, but stand her up in her crib or on the floor, with something for her to hold on to, and she's happy to stay as long as you let her!

Signing - We’ve been teaching Annie some baby sign language during meal time, at our pediatrician’s suggestion.  He says, while she probably won’t use the signs herself anytime soon, it is far better for her to sign “all done” when she’s a year old and finished with a meal instead of just throwing the food off of her high chair tray.  And the foundation for that starts now.  I don’t know how much she is recognizing just yet, but she thinks it’s really funny when I sign “more” and “all done” during meal times.

Food stuff – Speaking of eating, Annie is now having three “meals” a day to supplement her bottles.  Most of her nutrition is still liquid, of course, but she is really enjoying eating oatmeal and baby food fruits and veggies.  And she is also getting the hang of finger foods like Cheerios and puffs.  I cheer every time she picks something up with her thumb and forefinger (the “pincer” grip, for those of you schooled in baby development), which makes her happy.  She will pick up a puff and then immediately look at me for praise, grinning all the while.  Such a little ham!
"Really? I can have this?"

Trying some of Mommy's pizza crust.

Attachment issues – With all of the wonderful developments this last month has brought, we have also had a couple of not-quite-as-fun issues arise.  The dreaded stranger anxiety has kicked in just a little.  I say dreaded only because it makes people feel bad when they try to hold Annie and she starts to cry…which makes me feel bad.  I have discovered that she does fine when she has time to warm up to someone before they try to hold her.  But she doesn’t so much like it when someone gets in her face and then holds her too soon.  And just recently, like in the last couple of days, she hasn’t appreciated it when I have left the room.  While this makes me feel like a rock star in some ways – being so important to someone that she melts down when she can’t see me – it also can be challenging.  I know it’s a phase and is perfectly normal, but I have always loved how laid back and social Annie is and it is hard to see that disappear, even if only for a few weeks.

The Grab – Nothing is safe from Annie’s hands these days.  She grabs everything she sees – glasses, coffee cups, food, and of course, toys and books that she is meant to have.  You have to be a little more alert when she’s around now.  As far as she's concerned, nothing is off limits to her little hands!
So many toys to play with, so little time before bed.

Things We Are Still Working On:
Teeth!  Annie has been teething for months!  And still nothing to show for it.  She drools all over everything and chews on literally anything she can get her hands on.  Every once in a while she gets oddly fussy – chewing on something and then suddenly crying out – and it makes me think she’s got a tooth breaking through.  But then, no dice.  As long as she stays relatively unaffected by her long teething process, I’m fine with it.  I’ve gotten quite attached to her gummy, toothless grin and will be a little sorry to see a tooth break it up.

Rolling over – Our little girl is so very active.  She kicks, she grabs, she stands, she sits, she jumps in her Jenny Jump Up, and she arches her back to make herself scoot all over her crib and the floor.  But rolling over?  “No thanks!” says Annie.  She has never really loved being on her tummy and always sleeps on her back, so her pediatrician says it is not unusual for her to not really have any interest in rolling from her back to her front.  This also means she doesn’t show much interest in crawling yet.  I keep trying to encourage her by forcing her to spend some time tummy-side down and sort of pushing her along when she reaches for things while sprawled out like that, but there's just so much you can do, you know?  I kind of wonder now if she will crawl at all.  Given her strong desire to be on her feet, I wouldn’t be too surprised if she skips crawling all together and just up and walks some day in the next few months. 

Since the day she was born, people have been telling me that the time will fly…and that has proven to be true.  Each month, when it is time to do this blog post, I am amazed by how much she has changed and grown.  So just go ahead and prepare yourself for more of my confessions of amazement when her 8 month birthday rolls around in, oh, 29 days.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Baby's Best Friend...Someday

Before we had Annie, David and I were already parents.  To a furry baby who, best we can tell, is a mix of German Shepherd and Border Collie.  Parents to the sweetest, gentlest, best dog in the whole world, Jackson.  I know everyone says their dog is the best, but for reals people, ours is.  David brought Jackson to our marriage, and my love for this dog was instantaneous.  I had never really been a “dog person,” and had never owned a dog before.  But all that changed when I met sweet Jackson.

While I was pregnant, I had little daydreams of the fun our soon-to-be-born daughter would have with her “brother.”  We talked to Jackson about the baby (this is where you might start to think we are a little crazy, but for those of you who also have a pet that you treat like a real, true member of the family, you get what I’m saying), and prepared him for the fact that he would be sharing the house with a little tiny person.  He seemed okay with that idea.
Last family picture before Annie's arrival.

I feel this is a good place to mention that we also have two cats.  But seeing as how they regard us more as people who share their home and provide them with nourishment and less as parents, we didn’t really spend much time thinking about how they would adapt to the change a baby would bring.  And they have pretty much ignored Annie since we brought her home, so we were right in our assessment of how they would be affected – or, unaffected – by her presence.

Back to my daydreams…I had visions of a toddler Annie trying to ride Jackson like a horse and him good naturedly letting her do it.  I visualized him lying next to her as she played on the floor and her jabbering away at him like he was a person.  I thought about how she would beg us to let her hold his leash when we all went out for a family walk.  Oh, the fun the two of them were going to have!

When we brought Annie home from the hospital, we were mindful of how it would affect Jackson.  We put her receiving blankets around the house for him to sniff and get used to her smell.  We tried to pay special attention to him, although we obviously couldn’t devote the kind of time to him we once had, with a newborn to care for.  And for the most part, he adjusted just fine.  He spent a couple of weeks sleeping right next to me in bed, and I mean, right next to me, as in, with his head on my pillow and his body stretched out the length of mine, as close as he could get to me.  But he didn’t show any other outward signs of attachment issues or anxiety.
Jackson and Annie meet.
And while he seems okay with this new arrangement, I think it is going to take a little longer than I had hoped for him to see Annie as his best buddy.  She hasn’t mastered the art of petting him yet and is more inclined to grab handfuls of his fur and pull it.  He isn’t really a fan of this.  Go figure.  And once, when they were lying near each other on the floor, she reached out and grabbed the fur between his toes (which is, apparently, his biggest doggy pet peeve) and he reacted by snarling a little.  He didn’t even come close to snapping or biting at her, but he let go with this kind of low, quick growl, that was enough to scare this mama (although not the baby) and I kind of yelled at him for it.  Since then, he has been reluctant to be too close to Annie…since he got in trouble the last time he was…so snuggling and cuddling between dog and baby is a little out of the question right about now.

And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed with the state of affairs.  I guess I had perhaps unrealistically hoped that Jackson would love Annie from the beginning.  But I know that kind of thing takes time…and perhaps a little more self-control from Annie in the fur pulling department.

For her part, Annie has completely fulfilled my dreams of the relationship that would form between the two of them.  She LOVES Jackson.  She smiles every single time he comes in the room.  She thinks he is hysterical and laughs at him every chance she gets.  (She is also pretty fond of the cats, so the zoo we have going on in our house provides her with lots of entertainment).  She wants to touch him and pet him and loves it when he edges closer to her blanket when she’s playing with toys on the floor.

And while Jackson may not be ready to snuggle up to her just yet, he is really protective of her.  If she is in her crib and starts to cry, he runs into her room and then comes back out to either me or David as if to say, “Don’t you hear that?  Could you take care of her, please?”  You know, sort of like our own little Lassie.

So I guess I need to give it time.  I am still hopeful that, given some time, the friendship I have been envisioning for months will form between baby girl and puppy.  So long as she learns that toe fur is off limits.  And really, who can blame him for having that boundary?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rainbows and Butterflies

So I have learned recently that there is no more helpless feeling than being a parent to a sick kid.  And all my baby girl seems to have is a cold – a cold that won’t go away and leaves her coughing in the middle of the night, sometimes until she chokes herself a little, which in turn makes her cry out (which in turn makes my heart pound in my ears).  I can’t even imagine the fearful, anxious, helpless feeling the parent of a really sick child must deal with.  And I hope to never know that feeling.

This cold hasn't been getting her down too much.
But even though I don’t know the feeling of having a truly sick baby, being a mother has given me a sense of concern and empathy that I didn’t have before.  I read several blogs these days and frequently I come across posts (or entire blogs) that deal with the difficulty and, yes, joy, of having a child that is somehow different – whether it be due to illness or disability or some other circumstance over which they have no control and for which they weren’t quite prepared.  And reading about these parent’s lives affects me…sometimes very deeply.  I don’t remember doing that before, with any other aspect of my life.  I mean, sure, I felt bad for people who suffered loss or sickness or disappointment or challenge.  But not like I do now.  Now I really feel it. 

And I hope to make something good from this new experience.  Because with feeling comes motivation.  Motivation to do something to make life better for someone who has less than I do or deals with more than I do.  I should let this feeling challenge me to do more than run to squeeze my precious, perfect miracle girl (because it always makes me do that).  Whether it’s giving an hour of my time or $20 from my bank account to a children’s related cause, really, that’s the least I can do.  Because I am so blessed. 

Blessed with a wonderful, caring, husband who is committed to our family and our life together.  Blessed with a healthy, amazing baby girl who keeps my heart full and a smile on my face (most of the time, anyway…).  Blessed in so many ways.  And not that those who experience adversity and challenges with their children aren’t blessed…because I believe they are.  Just as much as I am.  There is blessing in the challenge even.  But why not celebrate my blessings by helping make life a little easy, the future a little brighter, and the load a tiny bit lighter for a family for whom a healthy child isn’t a gift that is taken for granted?
Just stand her up and she stays...for a while anyway! 
All of this may seem a little rainbows and butterflies and warm fuzzies, I know.  You know, let’s all join hands, sing “Kumbaya” and give something of ourselves.  I know it probably comes off sounding like that.  But sometimes rainbows are appropriate.  And a few butterflies never hurt anything.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Four Years

* Warning: This post is sentimental.  Some might call it sappy - especially those who don't enjoy a good romance.  If you aren't into that kind of thing, this might not be the post for you.  But I happen to think you'd be missing out on a good thing if you skip it.  Just sayin'.

I have been intending to write this post for three weeks now.  But, as is true with many things that are about the really important things in life, I haven’t been able to do it justice just yet.  Three weeks ago, David and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary.  On December 29, 2007, I put on a beautiful white dress and he wore a snazzy suit and we stood before our friends and family and vowed to love, support, and be there for each other forever.  It was a wonderful day.

And the anniversary of that day deserves some attention.  But how to express in words how much walking down that aisle in the symbolic moment that joined my life with his means to me?

Well, fortunately the minister who performed our ceremony – who was a friend of ours from college – gave me the perfect way to capture that day in words.  A couple of months before our wedding, he requested that David and I each write a letter to him, without the other reading it, explaining why we wanted to get married.  He told us it was possible he would use a piece or two from each letter in the ceremony.  Instead, he read our full letters, in their entirety, during the service.  With that reading being the first time either of us had heard the other's letter.  And it was so much more than I ever expected.  So today, as I search for a way to document the importance of my wedding day, it seems appropriate – perfect even – to share a portion (okay, almost all) of those letters here.

Due to their length, I will cut out some parts (namely, the ones where David references the fact that I am older than him and can “sneak him into the nursing home” before his time).  Although those parts did get a laugh out of everyone during the ceremony.  Okay, I’ll leave one of those references in just to prove I’m a good sport.

*Initially, I thought it might be a little too personal to publish the letters in such a public forum.  But then I realized that they have already been heard by about 150 people (many of them, no doubt, those of you who read this blog), so there isn’t really much harm in it.  And David gave the all clear on it too, so why not?


David's Letter:

Why am I marrying Sarah?  I’m marrying Sarah because of the way she loves me.  I’ve never been so loved completely.  She loves every part of me, even the bad parts.  Despite my many character flaws she looks at me and sees nothing but pure gold.  I’ve never felt even the least bit self conscious around her.  Even from the first few dates, I knew I could be my goofy self and she would love me more.  Although this is completely inexplicable to me, she loves me more each day.
I’m marrying Sarah because I need her to find my keys, wallet and my phone.  I need her to remind me to take my pills and call my mom.  I don¹t know how I ever went anywhere without her.

I’m marrying Sarah as soon as I can before she realizes she’s out of my league.  Her smile and eyes make me love her new every time I look at her.  She’s so beautiful, I don’t know what I did to deserve her but I’m glad I did.  I’m marrying Sarah because she gets the joke.  She makes me laugh and I make her laugh.  I have to marry her because no one else laughs at my jokes like she does.

I’m marrying Sarah because she knows what’s important.  She doesn’t buy more than she needs.  She shares my values of what’s important.  She wants to spend her time with me. She wants to travel and have a family.  These things are more important than material possessions to us.

I’m marrying Sarah because she makes me happier than I’ve ever been before. For the first time in my life, everything makes sense. I know that God made her just for me.  And two years later he made me just for her.  I’m marrying Sarah because that's what I was born to do.

My Letter:

Why Am I Marrying David?  I am marrying David because, from his very first visit to Kentucky, he swept me off my feet.  He didn’t do this with extravagant gifts or elaborate dates.  Instead, he did it with his gentleness, his sincerity, and his wonderful, charming spirit.  Immediately, I was at ease with David.  And in no moment since our first date have I ever felt self-conscious or insecure in his presence.  It has just always been different with David.  It has always been right, ­ true, genuine, and real.

I am marrying David because he has enabled me to seize the silliness in life.  He has calmed me down and mellowed me.  I have fun with David like I have never had fun with anyone.  He makes me laugh continuously; and his laid back approach to life helps me to relax, go with the flow, and treasure the moment.

I am marrying David because he makes me happier than I’ve ever been. He has this way of knowing what to do or say to give me perspective and lift my spirits.  He always jokes that I’m out of his league, but the truth is that I’m the one who is marrying up.

I am marrying David because I never truly understood what love and commitment were until he came along.  Now I understand why people join their lives together into one family.  I understand what they mean when they say they can’t imagine life without their spouse.  I understand what marriage is supposed to be about ­ what God’s intention was.  I understand it all because of David.  

Why am I marrying David?  Because I love him with all of my heart, I am secure in his love for me, and I feel truly blessed to be the one he has chosen to share a future with.


So the funny thing is, as true as my letter was when I wrote it, more than four years ago, I still mean every single word of it.  I suspect – and hope, of course – that David would say the same thing.  Each year has truly gotten better, and I can’t wait to see what the next year will hold.  There are already paragraphs I could add to my letter relating to how much I love seeing David be a father to Annie.  I’m sure that will only become more intense as we grow as parents. 

I love you, David, and I happen to be a very lucky girl.  (Sigh.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Worry Monster

I have always been a worrier.  Always.  Despite my best efforts, I have never really been able to shake the worry gene.  I know it is not only unproductive, but it is usually counterproductive.  I know it doesn’t help anything.  I know it is useless.  And I know that it isn’t the way God wants me to live life…worrying about everything.  Yet, I can’t make myself completely stop worrying.  Usually, I am able to keep it at bay – I don’t sit around anxious all the time.  In fact, most days the worry monster doesn’t even present itself.  And I can focus on cute things like baby pajamas with cute backsides...

I think the worrying has something to do with my desire to control everything, because the things I worry about are the things I don’t know, the things I can’t control.  And, as you might imagine, motherhood has brought a whole new face to the worry monster.  A face, believe it or not, I don’t see all that often.  But when I do, it isn’t pretty.

I will go weeks without worrying about how baby girl sleeps or eats or plays or develops and then suddenly an idea will plant itself in my head and I will worry.  Without ceasing…until miraculously the idea leaves just as quickly as it came.  For instance, shortly before bed a couple of nights ago I made the tragic mistake of reading something online  about SIDS.  Annie is even past the age where SIDS is most common…and she hates being on her tummy so obeying the “back to sleep” advice of our pediatrician and everyone else has never been an issue and has taken her out of that higher risk category of belly sleepers.  But somehow, reading about that convinced me that something was going to happen while she slept – something bad.  So I checked on her no fewer than three times between the time she went to sleep at 7:30 pm and the time I went to sleep at 10:30 pm.  Then I woke up at 2:00 am, for no real reason, and decided I should check on her again.  Each and every time, she was, of course, sleeping peacefully and (thank goodness) soundly, so she didn’t notice her crazy mama standing next to the crib listening to her breathe.  Useless, useless worry.  

A tote bag big enough for a baby...and, more importantly, big enough for all of her stuff when we travel.

No sooner had I successfully reasoned with myself that my six month old was not, in fact, going to suffocate than Annie came down once again with a runny nose.  This time a barking cough accompanied it, so while she slept in her crib it sounded every once in a while like our dog was announcing visitors from her room.  So I put my worry pants back on and picked up all the “baby’s first year” books I had finally ripped myself away from months ago to look up what this might be.  Any guesses?  Yep, it’s most likely a common cold.  A cold which leaves her looking like this a lot…

But a cold that certainly is far from life-threatening.  Again with the useless, useless worry.

In light of my decades long worry habit I made a resolution this year.  I don’t often do this, and when I do resolve to do something it is usually pretty boring and uncreative, like losing 10 pounds or running more often.  But this year I decided something has to give with the worrying, so I resolved to do something about it.  I decided to live in the moment.  Period.  Because when I’m living in now I can’t worry about the future.  I can’t worry about what I don’t know if I try with all my might to focus on what is real and clear and present.  Or so my thinking goes. 

I realize this whole living in the moment business is not a novel idea.  In fact, I probably stole it from a close friend of mine who I’m pretty sure posted something about that on Facebook recently (my apologies, MB).  But no matter how I arrived at the plan to be more focused on the now, I think it’s a good idea for me.  Not only will it hopefully keep me from heading down unreasonable and unhelpful paths of thinking, it will also help me appreciate what is going on right this second more.

As I think many moms are prone to do, I think a lot about where we will be as a family and where Annie will be in a few weeks, a few months, a few years.  I wonder when she will take her first steps, what her first sentence will be, and how much hair she will have by her first birthday (Mama really wants to be able to put a bow on that blonde head for her party!).  All things I don’t need to think about yet.  I find myself wondering already whether we will try for a baby #2 and, if we do, when said baby may arrive.  I know there is no reason to think about that yet – I know David and I are both 100% content with one baby thank you very much right now.  And maybe we always will be.  So why think about that now?  Well, because I’m not living in the moment; I’m not focusing on the now.

So here I am, resolving to do better.  Resolving not to clutter up this beautiful now I’m living in with nasty, useless thoughts about a future that is uncertain.  Because the future is always uncertain.  That’s just how it is.  And even if I knew what was going to happen to all of us as the years pass, I wouldn’t want to miss any of my now moments.  
Who would want to miss this?  (And please excuse my poor blush application.  Apparently, I went a little overboard that day.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

She Looks Just Like...

I have had several people request that I post some of my baby pictures and David’s on here, so everyone can figure out who baby girl looks like.   Over the past six months we have heard a variety of opinions on the subject – a lot of people think she looks just like David, a smattering of people believe she looks like me, and there are a fair number who split the difference and say she looks like a mixture of both of us.  The latter happens to be where I come down on the subject, by the way.  A handful of you who knew my dad have also noted that she looks a little like him, and over the holidays I noticed how much she and David’s nephews resemble each other.  So really, the options are limitless.  And I suppose that makes sense – I mean, Annie is a mixture of my DNA and David’s, so it stands to reason that she would have attributes of not only the two of us, but others in our families as well.

So here it is, documented evidence of what I looked like as a baby and what David looked like…you’ll have to let me know who wins the “Who does she look like?” competition.

Baby girl at 6 months...

Mommy at 6 months-ish...
Yes, I was a piano prodigy.

  And Daddy's Turn...
Cute kid, right?

And one more...

So what do you think?  Is she a Mini Me or a Mini David?  Or maybe a little of both?  And let me be clear, I am totally okay with my little girl looking just like her daddy.  I mean, I obviously liked what I saw when we met, I did marry him after all.  Plus, looking at these pictures, I am reminded that he was a seriously cute baby.  So really, either way, I'm happy.  And whatever her mix of DNA, the result is pretty darn precious.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dreaming Little Dreams

For whatever reason, I have been thinking a lot lately about what Annie is going to be like as she grows up.  What her personality will be like.  What will interest her and make her smile.  Maybe it's because little snippets of her personality are starting to shine through these days.  Maybe it's because I read too many mommy blogs and read about other people's older children and wonder what my own child will turn out to be.  Or maybe it's a little from column A and a little from column B.  Whatever the reason, I've been kind of fanticizing about how adorable baby Annie will cross over into adorable toddler Annie...and it really is kind of fun.

Now, before you accuse me of setting expectations for my child way too early, please understand that this daydreaming I am doing is completely low key and free of self-imposed wants.  At the end of the day, no matter what, I just want my daughter to be a happy kid, whatever that means for her.  I hope to do all I can to encourage her individual interests, wants, and desires - even if they are different from mine.  If she wants to take dance lessons, hooray!  (this is something I always secretly wanted to do as a child, but never told my parents about it, so how were they to know?)  But if she has no interest in plies and pointe shoes, well that's okay too.  If she wants to pursue something musical - piano, guitar, voice, or (be still my heart) violin, I would love that.  But if she never wants to subject me and her father to a recital in a church sanctuary or fellowship hall, that's okay too.  Seriously, whatever she wants to do is fine by me...even if she becomes obsessed with princesses (much to David's chagrin), I'll support her.  And really, what is the deal with little girls these days and princesses?  I feel like this is a fixation we aren't going to be able to escape and I really don't know how Disney does it.  Well, that was a bit of a tangent, now wasn't it?

Right now, Cheerios are pretty interesting.

Anyway, I have found myself imagining what Annie will be like in 6 months, 2 years, 5 years.  And I fully expect she will be a big personality.  I picture her walking kind of prissy, swishing her little backside from side to side in ruffle-bottomed bloomers (even though she doesn't actually have any of those) and I imagine her being a little bossy with her dolls and stuffed animals and sort of opinionated about lots of things.  The word spunky comes to mind.  But I also picture her being sweet and compassionate.  Friendly and thinking lots of things are funny.  Somehow, these are all characteristics I think I see in her already.  And I guess I just wanted to type them out to see if I turn out to be right...and if I turn out to have it all wrong, that's fine too.  I know that whatever she turns out to be, however she turns out to act and react, she will be her own little perfect being and we will love the person she becomes.  Because we sure do love the baby she is.

These days I some times find myself missing that tiny baby who used to sleep in my arms.  But just as soon as I do, I see so many great developments in our little girl and I get lost once again in the joy of watching her grow.  Of seeing what she is becoming.  And my goodness, is she great.