Our Noble Pursuits

Living the good life. And writing about it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Dad

You know those people who never meet a stranger?  The kind who walk into a room and immediately seem at ease, never out of place, confident?  My dad was that kind of man.  And you know those people who genuinely like to help people?  The kind who really pray when they say they will?  The kind who truly make others a priority?  My dad was that kind of man too.  And you know those people who brag about their family members...like, a lot?  The kind who love quietly, but unconditionally?  The kind that do everything they can to live the kind of life they can be proud of?  Well, my dad was that kind of man too.

On April 28, 2010, we lost my dad.  Suddenly.  Without warning.  One minute he was mowing the lawn on a clear, beautiful April evening.  And the next, I was getting the kind of phone call you know is inevitable...someday...but can never be ready for.  In some ways it seems like ages since we lost him, but in most ways it seems like yesterday.  Not because there is profound sadness or grief anymore -- not most days -- but because it just doesn't seem possible that our family has been without him for that long.

For months I have known that I would write a post today and that it would be about my dad.  For a while I thought about writing about that day.  Where I was.  The weird details I remember, like the exact outfit I was wearing when I got the news from my sister-in-law.  I thought about writing about what the process of losing a parent has taught me.  What it was like.  How devastated I was and how hard those days were.  But that doesn't seem like the best way to honor him now.  And honor him is what I want to do.

Our dance at my wedding.  The dance no one thought my dad would agree to.  Not only did he agree, but he loved every second of it.

So instead I want to think about some of the great things about my dad.  The things I still think of often and find comforting and uplifting.  The things that make me smile.

I loved the way my dad laughed...and I loved how my brothers were the ones who could really get him going.  When he really thought something was funny, he would smile and look like he was laughing, but no sound would come out.  He would actually shake with laughter, but make absolute no noise.  I have this mental image of him sitting at the head of the dining room table, shaking and turning red over something one of my brothers had just said.  No Sunday or holiday dinner was complete without a soundless laugh from my dad.  Watching him having so much silent fun made us all laugh too. 

I was always amazed by my dad's ability to trace the connections between two people - no matter how intricate.  He would mention someone to me, someone he assumed I knew, and when I pointed out that I didn't actually know who that was, he would first argue with me a little.  As in, "Oh Sarah, you know him. Sure you do."  When I had assured him that I, at the very least, couldn't recall at that second exactly who the person was, he would explain in great detail who that person's parents, grandparents, second cousins, and/or neighbors were.  It was remarkable.  Eventually he could always trace the connection back to someone I actually did know and he could continue with his story, assured that I knew who he was talking about.

My dad and I didn't have a lot of heart-to-heart talks about emotional, "girly" things.  That was more my mom's department.  We are, in fact, talking about the man who used to pick up the phone receiver in another part of the house when I was in high school talking to my boyfriend to tell me I had been on the phone long enough.    But there are some very distinct memories I have of times when he knew exactly what to say.  Like when I was having kind of an emotional time my junior year of college - probably something related to a stressful assignment or something - and I found a letter from my dad, typed on his old school typewriter on his business letterhead, in my mailbox at school.  A letter that reminded me that there are things more important than grades and that school is as much about what happens outside the classroom as it is about lectures and papers.  Or the day I checked my first semester law school grades online at my parents' house and had an absolute go-to-pieces when they were, um, lower than I expected, and my dad drove home from his office to give me a hug and assure me that no one ever asked him what his college or grad school grades were, life moves on, and my worth was not measured on an A to D scale.  He just knew what to say sometimes.

All smiles at my swearing in ceremony with the Kentucky Bar Association.
Of course, my biggest regret is that we lost my dad before we added Annie to our family.  But, while she will never get to meet him, she will know him.  We will make sure of that.  And there are moments when she looks just like him.  She'll know that too.  And not a day goes by that I don't think of how incredibly proud he would be of her.  And how much he would like to hear people say that she favored her grandpa a little.  I don't know all the details of what happens once you leave this earth for a better place, but I'm pretty sure he is looking down on our little girl and smiling.  I think about and miss my dad every day.  But I know he is so pleased with the life we have here.  Pleased with the amazing way my mom has carried on and honored him.  Pleased with the roads we are all traveling now, each of us carrying with us so much of what he taught us.  Because if there was one thing my dad was great at, it was teaching a good lesson.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I’ve mentioned before that I find myself playing the “this time last year…” game a lot (more on that here).  This week, when I look back on what was going on one year ago I recall the weekend my lovely friends celebrated our soon-to-be arriving baby girl with one of the best darn baby showers you have ever seen.  My dear friends Angela, Rachel, and Melanie pulled out all the stops and gave me the kind of shower that brought tears to my eyes the moment I walked in (of course, at 28 weeks pregnant and full of hormones lots of things brought tears to my eyes…but still, I was truly touched by the care and details they put into the day).  Here are some pictures as I take a quick little walk down memory lane.

Onesie making station.  Brilliant!  I'm just now using the biggest of these.

The whole gang. (Note, my mom getting some baby-holding practice with my friend Emily's little boy, Hank.

And as I think about what we were doing one year ago I realize that it won’t be long before the “this time last year” game will call up memories that actually include our baby girl.  As in, “this time last year we were holding her for the very first time,” or “this time last year, Annie was just one month old,” or “this time last year, we were taking Annie to the park for a little impromptu photo shoot.”  It is so incredibly hard to believe how fast this first year with her is going by.  And now she is firmly entrenched in that stage where it seems like she is changing and learning something new every single day.

Starting to "share" with us.
She isn’t the only one learning new things.  One of the many by-products of motherhood is the ability it brings – or forces – to learn about yourself.  I feel like I’ve learned more about myself these last almost ten months than I had for many years prior to that.  I’ve learned about some strengths I didn’t know I had, and some weaknesses too…in equal parts, really.  It’s been an eye-opening year in a lot of ways.

One of the things I have learned about myself is that I really really like routine.  I recognized this in myself before Annie came along, of course, but I didn’t really know the extent of my Type A-ness until the weeks and months following her birth.  I am so Type A I think there may need to be a new category for people like me – maybe Type A-plus?  I really crave order and routine and structure.  Many of you are probably shaking your heads right now, thinking something like, “Well say good-bye to those days, little lady, you’ve got a kid now.”  And you are right.  Having a child really cuts down on the whole ordered household bit.
That being said, however, I feel like we’ve really got a good little routine going in our lives right now.  (I actually had to convince myself after I typed that sentence that I wasn’t superstitious enough to think that the act of saying that out loud would jinx me and bring my presumed structure at home to a crashing halt, and I didn’t need to delete it.  Then I actually did delete it – thinking maybe I was that superstitious after all and I didn’t want to push the issue.  But eventually decided to type it anyway.  So here’s hoping I haven’t upset the balance of things here.)  We have figured out morning routines and bedtime routines.  Annie may be a little like her mama in that she seems to thrive on routine as well.  Let’s just hope she stops at that and doesn’t take it to obsessive levels like me.  We’re figuring out how to have quality time in the mornings and evenings and how to really use the time we all have together on the weekends.
Annie loves playtime with Daddy...

and Target trips with Mommy.
I also feel like I am improving my abilities to take time to be just plain Sarah again and not just Annie’s mom.  I’m running three mornings a week and taking time every morning for some alone time before everyone else wakes up.  I honestly think my career switch has helped immensely.  And Annie’s growing skills and independence are helping as well.  She’s always been a happy baby (bless her heart and thank you Jesus!), but she seems even happier now that she doesn’t have to rely on us to get her from point A to point B and can use her mad crawling skills to do it by herself.  While a mobile baby does keep Mama and Daddy on our toes, the fussy grunting and whining is kept much more to a minimum these days because she isn’t frustrated by being stationary anymore.

And frankly, I think I am much better at this whole older infant baby-raising gig than I was during the newborn stage.  I spent so much time second guessing and freaking out that I had a hard time actually enjoying what was happening.  Or being at all comfortable with myself.  Honestly, it was really really hard for me to give up control of my own schedule and, well, life in general, to focus every waking (even in the middle of the night) second to the desires and needs of a tiny baby.  I don’t think that makes me a bad mom – which is a switch, I kind of used to secretly think it did – I just think it makes me a new mom.  But now that I feel more comfortable in my role and Annie is so interactive and, well, cool, we are really having some fun.  And I feel more confident in my abilities to parent her.

We see this look a fair amount.  It's her "What?  I wasn't doing anything" face.

We see this view a lot too.
David is much better than I am at taking things in stride, so I’m sure if he were writing this blog post the story would be a little different.  But I do think we are both feeling better about the task of raising a child than we did in those early days.  And everything seems a little easier now that Annie is belly laughing at the things we do and waving and high-fiving us and clapping.  Seeing her sweet, funny personality take shape really goes a long way in making us feel like we’re doing something right.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I was all prepared with a different blog post today.  I had actually written something already.  Something about the many things motherhood is teaching me about myself, about my personality, about my strengths and, yes, my weaknesses.  But then I got some news via Facebook that changed my whole focus today and that old post didn't seem quite so important anymore.  

This morning,I learned that a couple I knew in college, now missionaries in Paraguay, were involved in a terrible car accident.  Their family, including their 6-year-old son and 18 month-old daughter, was driving to obtain documents and a passport for the little girl so that she and the rest of the family could travel to the US this summer.  On the way to get these documents, their vehicle was struck from behind by a truck.  The accident claimed the life of the wife Julie and her son, Timmy.

I can’t stop thinking of this family.  The news shook me to the core.  Julie was a friend in college – we were involved in student government together  – and she was among the most genuine people I have ever had the good fortune to meet.  She was gentle and kind and she lived her faith fiercely.  Although we weren't terribly close, I always had great respect for her and recognized that she was exactly the kind of person many of us strive to be.  I also knew her husband, Norberto, though not as well, and the two of them devoted their lives to bettering the lives of others.  I cannot even begin to imagine the grief he must feel tonight.  The questions.  The pain and the loss.

It can all change so quickly, you know?  Literally in seconds our lives can change.  Forever.  I don’t mean to sound gloomy and morose, but today’s news has reminded me how fragile life is.  Too fragile to get caught up in things that don’t matter.   There is part of me that wants to gather my husband and my sweet baby girl and hole up in our house forever, protecting them and the life we enjoy together from the external forces that could rob me of my happiness, of them.  But that is, of course, no way to live.  

So instead of holding on to the fear that news like this inspires – fear of the bad that can happen, fear of the unknown, fear of the happenings that just don’t make sense to us – I want to let this inspire me to live bigger, more authentically, and to love those close to me even better.  That’s how Julie lived, after all.

Tonight, I hugged my baby tighter, kissed the top of her head even more frequently as I sung to her before bed.  After I finish up here, I plan to hold my husband’s hand while we watch t.v. and enjoy every moment I spend with him this evening.  I will treasure what I have...because I am so blessed.  May I never forget that. 

Please keep Julie’s husband, Norberto, their daughter, Anahi, and the rest of Julie's family in your prayers in the coming days, weeks, even months.  The road before them will undoubtedly be hard to travel.  May they find peace.  And may they find comfort in the legacy their loved ones left behind.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I just wanted to do a quick post to share some photos from Annie's first Easter.  We had a great day, highlighted by a trip to Grandma's for church and Easter lunch.  Our little mover and shaker really seemed to enjoy herself.
The Easter Bunny brought some goodies.

As usual, the tag was her favorite.

Sitting still for about 2.5 seconds so Mama can button her dress.


Pretty Baby Girl.
Hope your Easter was fantastic!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Random Things I’m Loving Right Now

I am taking inspiration from some other blogs out there (aka, blatantly stealing an idea I like) and posting about some of the things I am loving right now.  Here are just a few of the tidbits of my day that I am eating up right about now.

I don’t even know if this is an Iphone only thing or if it is an application that is available for all smart phones, but I have been using it like crazy lately.  It is, in a nutshell, an photo editing tool that lets you take or upload pictures, kind of play around them to make them fancier, and then share them with others.   I frequently feel like I am becoming one of those people (i.e., a crazy kid picture poster) on Facebook, so I am loving having another outlet for the multitude of pictures I take of Annie.  I mean, there’s a big part of me that thinks if you don’t like seeing pictures of my baby feel free to de-friend me on Facebook or “hide” me from your Newsfeed.  The tiny part of me that remains, though, thinks it isn’t a bad idea to have another place to fulfill my desire to do something with the adorable pictures I take each day.  The answer?  Instagram!  If you are on it, follow me…senoble!   Here are some examples of what you’ll find…

Morning Coffee:
A couple of weeks ago, I decided I was tired of feeling rushed and hurried in the mornings.  One of the things I loved about my time off of work was the leisurely nature of my mornings with Annie.  I missed that when I went back to work, when my mornings became all about seeing how much I could get done between the moment my alarm went off and the moment Annie woke up, then rushing around with her to get out the door and to daycare.  So for the last two weeks or so I have gotten up a little earlier (or a lot earlier on the mornings I run) to allow myself time to prepare for the day while I have the house all to myself.  I also make the time for a quiet cup of coffee, just me and the dog.  It has been a life saver.  I highly recommend it.

Don't let the light color fool you.  That is actually coffee.  With lots of cream.

Annie’s Independence:
Okay, so truthfully I kind of have a love/hate relationship with this new development.  I love seeing her gaining independence and it truly does make my heart happy to see how much she enjoys being able to get places on her own and do things by herself.  But at the same time, I miss the tiny baby who needed me to meet her every need.  Most of the time the love of seeing her become such a big girl outweighs the other, but I still wrestle with the sentimental side some times.

This Necklace:
David gave me this necklace for my birthday and words can’t express how very much I love it. 

I wanted something I could wear every day, something that represented my special relationship with my baby girl.  And this perfectly fits the bill.  He got it on Etsy and I could not be happier with it. 

Evening Dog Walks:
As those of you who know me can attest, I love my dog.  In the days before Annie we very much treated him like our firstborn.  And one of the things I have truly struggled with these last nine months, as silly as it may sound to some of you, is making time for him in the busy and baby-filled house we now live in.  So on some nights, after the baby is in bed and while David fulfills his new-found love of The Hunger Games book series (shh, don’t tell anyone I told you that), Jackson and I go for a little walk.  He loves being outside, I love seeing the trees in bloom, and we spend a little Doggy-Mommy time.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

Hair Bows:
Okay, so now that Annie has more hair, I can actually put little clips and bows in it…and I have become a little obsessed with it.  As any of you who have had baby girls know, if you don’t dress them in pink, people, for some reason, assume they are boys.  I personally don’t know how anyone could look at my long-eyelashed, bow-lipped baby girl and think she’s a boy, but they do.  And as cute as pink and purple are, I like a slightly more diversified wardrobe.  So now I can put a little bow in that blonde hair and people don’t make the “it’s a boy” mistake.  Plus it looks really cute.  For as long as she will leave it in.  Which is normally not very long – unless she is distracted and doesn’t notice me coming at her with the clip.  If she sees me reaching in to fasten a bow to her head she immediately grabs it.  So long as I use my ninja-like skills, she leaves it in for a few minutes.

These Guys:

I realize many of you are probably tired of hearing about college basketball and the NCAA Championship.  Many of you who aren’t from Kentucky.  For those of you who do live here, you understand the madness.  We Kentuckians take great pride in our team.  I can’t explain why.  And if you live in Lexington, where UK is located, it is nearly impossible to avoid getting swept up in the excitement.  We talk as if we are on the team, with comments such as “We really played well last night,” and we take great ownership over the team’s successes and failures.  So when these guys brought home a national championship, the entire city celebrated.  Some (the minority, I might add!) in stupid, inexplicable ways such as turning over cars and burning couches, but the rest of us by being excited and proud of a job well done.  So, call me silly, but I’m loving these guys right now.

There you have it.  Some random things I'm loving today.  Hope you are finding a few random things of your own to enjoy!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

9 Months!

It’s that time again – time for a monthly Annie update!  Our big girl hit the 9 month mark on Thursday and this month has been full of fun, new, and exciting changes for her (and us).  She is growing and changing so rapidly now that I had to keep an actual list of her accomplishments so I wouldn’t forget any of them when the time came to write this post.

Crawling – As of Thursday, she has officially moved forward on her hands and knees.  Yes, we now have a crawler.  For a few weeks before that, she would hang out on her hands and knees a lot and she had figured out exactly how to use that position to get to toys that have rolled or been thrown (by her, I might add) out of her reach.  She was also sliding around a lot on her tummy and was spinning in circles on her belly quite a bit too. But it looks like we may have finally entered the realm of crawling.  Just over the last few days, she has gotten more and more confident and skilled in her crawling.  I know, I know, we better watch out!  This is very much one of those "be careful what you wish for" situations.  Here's some documented evidence of our girl on the move...

Cruising – I have mentioned on here before how very much Annie LOVES to stand up.  Seriously, if we would hold on to her hands she would stand up all day long, I think.  We got her one of those activity tables that kids can stand up around and sort of cruise along the edge to play with different toys.  It is her new best friend.  And she does just what it is designed to help her do – she holds on and takes little tiny baby steps along the side of it.  She does the same with the coffee table and, well, me.  The only problem is once she’s standing she can’t figure out how to get down when she’s ready.  You can see her little brain working as she looks at the floor, but she can’t quite connect the bend/sit method for getting back on the ground. 

Pulling up – It probably makes sense, with her love for being on her feet, that Annie has started pulling herself up from a sitting position.  She’s especially adept at it when I am sitting on the floor with her and she has my knee/leg as a starting point.

Imitation – It’s the greatest form of flattery, right?  Well, if that is the case, David and I should be feeling awfully good about ourselves right about now because Annie’s favorite pastime is mimicking Mama and Daddy.  Especially in the mouth noise department.  Months ago, we learned that Annie laughed when we made noises like clicking our tongues or making popping sounds with our mouths.  She found them entertaining and, apparently, has been secretly practicing those skills to be pulled out and put on display during her ninth month of life.  She tongue clicking like a champ now, and is starting to make kissy noises too (when she feels like it, of course).  Can you say “melts my heart?”

Talking – Annie is in full on babble mode now.  She says “dada, “mama,” “baba,” "dede" and other similar sounds.  I still don’t think she knows for sure that I am “mama” and David is “dada,” but she will frequently say “Da!” right after David leaves the room, so I think she might be catching on.  She also, on occasion, answers my questions to her with something that sounds an awful lot like “Yeah.”  We’ll work on growing that into “Yes, ma’am” like a good southern lady a little later on. 

Bath time – Annie’s appreciation of bath time grew even more this month when she graduated from the baby bathtub to the big person tub.  Our house is 90-plus years old and our only bathroom (a story for another time…) has an old, hard porcelain (or some other hard surface like that) bathtub.  Not the plastic-type tubs those of you with newer homes probably have.  So I stressed a little about her slipping and hitting her head before we made the switch.  But that was nothing a simple slip guard mat didn’t fix.  Now she has lots of room to move around, play with her bubble books and other toys, and, yes, get on her tummy to drink the bath water.  Yum.

Going from tummy or back to sitting – On the morning of her 9-month birthday, Annie revealed to us that she had perfected another skill.  When I went in to get her out of the crib in the morning, she wasn’t lying on her back or pushing herself up from her stomach like usual, she was sitting up.  Just as straight and tall as you please.  So she has figured out how to get from a horizontal position to a (halfway) vertical one.  I’m afraid this will lead in very short time to pulling up on the crib rails, so I think it’s time we lower the crib mattress before our wild woman figures out how to climb out.

We still don’t have any teeth – we’re starting to think she might be toothless until she’s six years old.  Seriously, she doesn’t act like being devoid of pearly whites is slowing her down at all.  She can mash puffs and table food with her gums like it’s her job.  We do, however, have more hair!  Blonde hair like her daddy’s (and like her mommy had as a little girl).  Enough hair, in fact, to start wearing little clips in it.  At least until she figures out they are there and pulls them out, which, most days, takes about three and a half seconds.
See?  Hair!  And a bow!
Just doing a little light reading.  Oh, did I not mention that?
I know I say this every month, but life with Annie just gets better and better as she grows.  Her personality is really coming out now and it is so fun to see the entertainer in her.  Our little summer baby still loves the warm weather and now that spring has officially arrived we have returned to the past-times she loved as a newborn of swinging on the porch in the evenings and taking walks in the stroller.  The time is really flying and I can’t believe we are only three months away from her first birthday.  It just doesn’t seem possible.

Oh, I almost forget her 9-month stats for the record books:
* Weight - 19 lbs, 4 oz. (58th percentile)
* Height - 28 inches (66th percentile) -- her doctor said her 6-month length of 27 inches was probably off
* Head - 44.5 cm (60th percentile)

Happy Sunday!  And Go Cats!!