Our Noble Pursuits

Living the good life. And writing about it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Little Anniversary

I haven’t been able to figure out what to write about lately. And although it has been a couple of weeks since I posted anything, I have written several posts that just never made it to the publish-button-hitting stage. None of them felt right, somehow. After I wrote them, it just didn't seem like a good time to publish them.
I wrote about our house – the process of attempting to sell it, the things I love about it, the things I don’t love about it, the way David and I feel so fortunate to live in the neighborhood where we live, with friends and other babies literally a five-minute walk away (if that). I wrote about the way motherhood has put my emotional/sensitive side on overdrive and how I have turned into an emotional sponge lately, soaking up the emotions of others. And how that sponginess has left me sort of emotionally exhausted, anxious, and worried a lot lately because seeing the hard parts of others’ lives has really emphasized to me how completely out of control we all are when it comes to the goods and the bads that happen. I wrote about my thoughts on whether to have a second baby. I wrote about looking down the road at transitioning Annie out of a crib and into a bed (yeah, a lot early to think about that…I hope!). I wrote an update on the aspects of our lives I don’t often blog about – my work, David’s work, the stuff that doesn’t lend itself to cute pictures of our baby girl. I’ve sort of been all over the map with the blog writing lately. And yet, none of it seemed like the right thing to put out there just yet.

Watching for Daddy.
And in the midst of these posts that still sit in my “blog” folder on the computer, I missed an anniversary. A birthday. The birthday of my little blog. One year ago last Sunday I decided to create this little online chronicle of our lives. It is part baby book for Annie, part creative outlet for me. And it means a lot more to me than I honestly ever thought it would. I started the blog a few days before we took Annie to daycare for the first time, and a few weeks after going back to work after the life-changing experience that is having a baby. I needed a place to sort things out, to write things down, and a spot to deposit pictures of the beautiful, messy, wonderful little creature who was transforming our family. And I am so very glad that I did.
So I say all that to say, rest assured, although I have sort of fallen down on the job when it comes to blogging lately, you haven’t read the last of me. And who knows, maybe some of those posts I mentioned before will make their way from my “blog” folder to this actual blog someday soon. For now, I would just like to celebrate this first year in the life of Our Noble Pursuits. Happy birthday, blog! And thank you all for sharing it with me thus far.

And a couple of photos from our last week...

Bath time fun.

Enjoying the Oktoberfest activities over the weekend.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Annie's Lessons (Part 1)

As it turns out, having a child is a most educational experience for a girl.  Yes, I have learned how to diaper and swaddle and soothe a baby.  Yes, I have learned about bedtime routines and feeding routines and a little about child development.  But the biggest lessons haven't come from any book or expert or pediatrician or other parent.  The biggest lessons have come straight from Annie herself, and I just thought I'd share a few with you.  I'm calling this post "Part 1" because I suspect there will be more lessons passed on from daughter to mother as the months and years roll by.

Lesson 1: Food makes a great styling product.  Annie has alerted me to the fact that nothing really makes her pretty baby hair hold a style like mashed potatoes, pasta sauce, or the cheese part of macaroni and cheese.  Seriously, hair gel needs to take a lesson.  And bows and ribbons?  Please.  Why mess with those pesky things when avocado works just as well? 

Lesson 2: Toddlers are a jealous sort.  Recently, we have noticed that Annie fully believes she is the only one in the family (actually, the only one on the planet) who should get hugs from mommy or daddy. And only one of us can and should hug her at a time, as far as she’s concerned.  If I am holding Annie in the morning, she is sometimes quite obvious in her discontent if David tries to swoop in and make it family bonding time with a group hug.  And whenever Daddy holds another baby – a friend’s child, a niece or nephew – Annie suddenly has never been more interested in sitting in his lap.  Ain’t nobody sitting on Daddy if I’m not sitting on Daddy, says our girl.

Lesson 3: Even though dirt doesn’t taste particularly good, it is still fun to eat.  I don’t know what the deal is lately, but Annie has started to find dirt fascinating.  At first, I thought, “Oh, she’ll put that in her mouth, find out it tastes like, well, dirt, and spit it back out immediately.”  Not so.  While she doesn’t look particularly pleased by the way dirt tastes – or even its texture in her mouth – she still goes back for more.  Looks like we may have to find a different approach to parenting on this one – the learn from your own mistake philosophy doesn’t seem to have worked.

Lesson 4: Baby girls learn to be girly without any intentional help from you.  Before Annie was even born, David and I had discussions about how much princess obsession we were going to be okay with when she got older.  Would we give in and buy the Cinderella tricycle or stand our ground with a good, old fashioned red one?  Well, thankfully, princesses have not entered Annie’s knowledge base yet (at least as far as I know), but other girly things have.  Without a lesson from Mama, I might add.  She knows exactly what to do with a purse.  She walks around with it slung over her arm and her hand in the air like she’s joining her little baby friends for tea and crumpets.  She will throw a string of beads around her neck and look at you with this look that says, “Aren’t you going to tell me how nice this looks?”  Where do they learn these things?  Now, I must add, she will pick up a screwdriver and stick it in her mouth too, but the girl stuff is of special interest to her.  Sorry, David, I don’t like our chances on the whole avoiding the Disney princess enterprise deal.

Lesson 5: Bathwater is a most refreshing beverage.  Give our girl a bathtub and she will find a way to drink the water.  If we put her in the tub while it is still filling, she will put her hand in the stream of water in such a way as to spray it in her mouth.  Once that water source is stopped, she will use an old liquid soap bottle (well cleaned out and thoroughly washed at least) as a cup and drink swig after swig of the water she is sitting in.  There is a lot about this that I don’t like to think about – like the effect the warm bathwater might have had on her undiapered self when she first entered the tub.  But I figure there are bigger things to worry about in parenthood.  And she’s learning to drink from something other than a sippy cup, right?  See, Annie’s always pointing out the positive.

I'm certain I'm not the only one learning these and other equally interesting (and somewhat disgusting, at times) lessons from a kid.  Next time we see each other, maybe we can compare notes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Almost a year ago, I packed a tote bag full of bottles, diapers, wipes, and extra clothes and David and I loaded Annie into her car seat and set off into the unknown…day care.  I worried that she would be unhappy.  I worried that she would get lost in the shuffle of caring for multiple babies at a time.  I worried that she would get sick.  I worried that she would feel abandoned.  And, paradox,ically I worried that none of this would happen and she would love it at “school” so much and grow so attached to the women who cared for her there that she would prefer them to me, that she would cry when I tried to take her home, that she would forget me.

And as is frequently the case, all of my worry – the worry about bad things and the worry about the arguably good thing, that she actually enjoyed it there – was for nothing.  Over the last year, I have marveled at how perfectly she has struck the balance between happiness at school and contendedness at home.  It’s as if Annie understands that school is where she goes during the day to play and learn and be loved on by some really amazing people, and home is where Mama and Daddy are, where she is cozy and comfy and loved on by parents who pretty much think she hung the moon.  And in her spot in this place of balance, baby girl has flourished.

David and I took Annie to daycare back in September 2011, viewing it as sort of a necessary evil.  Financially, it wasn’t really an option for me to stay home with her.  And emotionally, I don’t know that I would have been able to handle it all that well.  I needed to work.  Needed that part of my life.  In order to be the best mama to Annie.  So staying home was never really an option we seriously considered.  And when we found out days before I went back to work that a spot had actually opened up for Annie in our #1 choice day care, it was a glorious day.  So after keeping Annie at our house with my mom for a month while we waited for the space to be fully available, we took Annie to her first day of school pretty much hoping for the best.  Hoping she didn’t get hurt.  Hoping she didn’t get a reputation as the problem baby.  Hoping she was reasonably happy there. 

Wow, did we ever underestimate what would happen.  What we didn’t think about was how awesome it would be to watch other people love our little girl.  How gratifying it would feel to see her smile and wave and blow kisses at her teachers and at the other babies.  How comforted I would be by hearing Annie’s sweet voice reply “Yeah!” to my question in the morning of “Do you want to go see Ms. Kim (her teacher)?”  A friend of mine had told me that the people who care for your child at day care will become like family, but I didn’t really know how true that would be.  I didn’t realize how concerned I would be when one of Annie’s teachers had health problems.  I didn’t anticipate that I would feel genuine sadness when two of Annie’s teachers moved on to other things outside her day care (we miss you, Ms. Desarae and Ms. Chrissy!).  I didn’t realize how proud I would be of her school and how fortunate I would feel to be a part of it.  And, above all, I didn’t realize how reassured I would feel that she was being attended to, being cared for, being loved.
And the other kids?  I had no idea how good it would be for Annie to be with other kids.  I don’t say this to minimize in any way the value of a baby being able to stay home with her mama – because I recognize tremendous value in that – but, as someone who has watched her child develop physically, mentally, and socially alongside other children, I certainly see great benefit to Annie’s circumstances as well.  Yes, she has a runny nose pretty much all the time.  Yes, the potential is there for her to get shoved or pushed or bitten by another kid – or to be the shover, pusher, or biter.  Yes, having her there means she isn’t with me 24-7.  But it also means she learns about sharing with others, she learns about being kind, she learns about being obedient, and she learns that Mama and Daddy will come back for her – always.   

I can not tell you how very blessed I feel with where Annie spends her days during the week.  When she first went to school, David comforted me by reminding me that Annie’s world was just getting a little bigger by spending time away from home, away from us.  And he was so right.  I am excited to see how much bigger it continues to get.

And just to illustrate how much she loves it there, and how much fun she gets to have, here are some pictures taken by Annie's teachers.  These kinds of pictures are so important to me because they show how happy she is while I'm not there.  And unlike what I feared, it gives me great comfort to know that.
Thank you, Desarae, for all of the fantastic pictures!  Serious girls in this one.
Watch it there, Romeo. :-)
Trouble with a capital T.
Sweet girl loves her school. Photo credit: Desarae Anderson

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


A belated Happy Labor Day to everyone.  I hope you enjoyed your escape from laboring.  We did.  The Noble family went to Indiana to visit David’s parents.  It was sort of a special trip for us because it was our first visit there since David’s brother and his family have returned to the area after a dozen or so years living in Massachusetts.  Kind of felt like the holidays.  Except it was hot and muggy.

Annie and her cousin, Eliot, relax at Nana and Papa's
 Our trip up there on Friday was punctuated most profoundly by a throwing up attack that Annie had about halfway there (meaning 2 ½ hours from our destination).  They had called us from daycare that day to come get her because she had a fever, but when she got home she was running and laughing and playing like normal.  So we loaded her up in the car as planned Friday afternoon and headed to Hoosier country.  And all was well for a while…then Annie started to whimper and cry in the backseat and the next thing you know, well, the vomit monster attacked and something not-so-pretty happened.  And that not-so-pretty something covered the car seat and the little girl sitting in it.  She was traumatized, I was traumatized, I’m pretty sure the process of cleaning up the seat and car while I cleaned up the daughter was fairly traumatizing for David as well.  It was one of those stressful moments of parenting.  And I felt harried and frazzled by it.  But I also felt strangely invigorated by it – proud that David and I jumped into action (with me literally jumping out of a still rolling car to get in the backseat with Annie).  Proud that we handled it, that we rose above it, that we bought a strawberry air freshener, gave a baby a sponge bath in a gas station sink, and carried on.

But I also realized that this was no big thing.  Parents everywhere deal with much more on a daily – even hourly  – basis.  This not-so-pretty thing?  Yeah, it was really sort of nothing.  And we are so fortunate for that.  It is a blessing I couldn’t take for granted if I tried – and I certainly don’t plan on trying. But it was a test of sorts.  Anytime we are stretched beyond our comfort zones, beyond the normal day-to-day of raising our girl (is there a normal day-to-day with a toddler?), it is a test.  And I guess I was kind of proud of how David and I came out of it, working together instead of venting frustration on each other.  It was a tiny thing, yes.  But it's so good to know the tiny things don't become big things for us, as parents.

The rest of the weekend was full of playing with cousins and running around being a kid.  It’s so fun to watch Annie play alongside other children (because she doesn't quite play with them that much yet).  I know it happens while she is at school, but not physically being present there, I don’t get to see her in action that much.  So it was fun to watch her play and flirt and charm and just be.  I will let the pictures say the rest…

She won't leave a clip in her hair for 5 seconds, but this satin bow?  Yeah, she loved it.
Bohemian baby - channeling Janis Joplin.
What's more fun than a giant cardboard box?  Not much, says Annie.
Returning to her sport of choice - croquet.
And once we returned home Monday (free of not-so-pretty episodes, I'm happy to report), Annie had a little energy to burn.  The kind of energy only being strapped in a car for 5 hours can bring.  So we hit the playground before ending the weekend hanging out with some friends.

Not sure who was having more fun on this fancy, Jetsons version of a teeter-totter.

All in all, Labor Day Weekend 2012 was a success.  Hope yours was too!

These two.  My heart.  Seriously.