Our Noble Pursuits

Living the good life. And writing about it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thankful, Part 2 - The Attitude Adjustment

When I was a kid and behaving a little, um, badly, my mom would tell me to straighten up or she would give me an "attitude adjustment."  As in, I had a bad attitude and that needed to be fixed.  As it turns out, even though I am now an adult, I still need an attitude adjustment every now and then, and this last week or so has really exposed that truth.

Fact #1: I am not a very flexible person.  It always surprises me when people tell me that I am laid back.  I guess in some situations I must come off that way, but let me tell you, that is not my true personality.  Instead of being go-with-the-flow, I am one of those people who has in mind exactly what the boat I'm sailing is supposed to look like, knows exactly which way the current is supposed to be going, and is not at all good at adjusting to changing water flow.  This leads to some issues with stress and contentment and patience - when I have in my mind how a scenario is supposed to play out and it doesn't, I'm not so good at repositioning my expectations.  At least not immediately.  I get there, but it takes some time.

Fact #2: The type of person I described in the preceding paragraph is not the type of person who handles major life disturbances very well.  What do I mean by "major life disturbances?"  Oh, you know, something like remodeling a large part of your home.  You know, like a kitchen remodel or something.

Did I mention that we are currently remodeling our kitchen?

So here's the thing, I knew going into the Great Kitchen Renovation of 2013 that it was going to be hard for me to be okay with the upheaval a big project like that brings to the home.  I knew I wasn't going to approach such circumstances as a refrigerator in the living room or doing dishes in the basement with a breezy, "oh whatever" attitude.  I knew that.  David knew that, bless his heart.  And there have actually been moments when I have surprised myself with my ability to say "oh well" when the toaster and the coffee pot going at the same time in our makeshift "triage" kitchen (as David calls it) cause the fuse to blow.  Every morning.  (We won't talk about why I always forget that and keep trying to work everything at the same time)  However, I have also been rather astonished by the emotional reaction I have had to things like the toilet seat lid breaking amidst the chaos, the piano being housed in the middle of the living room (right next to the refrigerator), and the sink ending up in Annie's bedroom.   Like, silent tears in the car kind of emotional reaction - or unreasonable lashing out at my husband who is working his tail off creating a masterpiece in our own home.

And that, my friends, is where the attitude adjustment comes in.  This season of physical clutter in our home has really given me a reality check.  One I think I desparately needed.  There is nothing like finding yourself standing in the corner of your basement, muttering to yourself, because at least it feels normal to have a mess there, to make you realize how out of whack your idea of a "problem" is.

You see, I am a tremendously lucky woman.  I have a talented, hard-working husband who is dedicating hours, days, weeks, and months to giving me the kitchen I have always wanted.  A husband who is so skillful at what he does that he is truly an artist of his craft.  I live in a sweet little home that is warm and safe and inviting, in a neighborhood that offers us everything we could ever want.  And I share that home with the previously mentioned amazing husband and the sweetest, funniest, smartest, most beautiful little girl I could have ever dreamed of having.  We have family who love us and support us at every turn - who pitch in with the work and clean up the mess and take care of yard work we don't have the time or energy for and take us in when this momma can't take the disorder another day.  And we have amazing friends who share their homes and their dinners and their encouraging words with us when the projects seem overwhelming. 

And when I think of it all that way, I am honestly ashamed of how inflexible I can be.  How ungrateful I am to get so tied up in the process and how it might inconvenience me a little that I completely lose sight of what a real problem is.  Although we didn't plan in the beginning to be in the middle of a construction project during Thanksgiving, the time of year certainly is helping me change my attitude to see the gift that this renovation is, instead of the stress it may bring.

The early days of the project...

Of course, I will still have my inflexible moments - my freak outs and fits of selfish whining.  That's really why I am writing this post...as a reminder to myself that eating dinner at your coffee table off of paper plates with the refrigerator literally an arm's length away really isn't the end of the world.  Writing this helps me see that.

And you know what else helps?  Pictures like these, that enable me see the beautiful room that will very soon be ours.  And the people I will share it with.

The results so far...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thankful - Part 1 (Back in Action)

Well, I've given blog neglect a whole new meaning in recent weeks/months, haven't I?  I'll spare you the explanation of how busy we have been, blah blah blah, and cut right to a new blog post.  You don't want to hear excuses anyway, I'm sure.  But for anyone reading this, thanks for sticking with me.

November ranks right up there as one of my all time favorite months.  I'm going to go on record right now and admit that I am one of those people who can't get enough holiday spirit.  I don't put up a tree in September or anything, but I get a kick out of the local 24/7 Christmas radio station and I wander around aimlessly in Target, staring at trees and lights and wreaths and ornaments.  Annie has already picked out her first Christmas tree ornament for this year - a very classy white knitted owl (girl has good taste), and even in the cluttered midst of our kitchen renovation project (more on that below) I have managed to find a few of the Christmas scented candles I bought on sale last year and have them ready for lighting at a moment's notice.

But the biggest reason November ranks so high in my list of favorite months is the spirit it naturally inspires to think about blessings instead of wants, to focus on what I have instead of what I think I need.  And so in the spirit of November and Thanksgiving, I am going to try (and try really hard) to have a few blog posts about the little things I am thankful for.   Here's my first batch...

I am thankful for fall holidays spent with my sweet little family and enjoyed with our friends.  Here are a few pictures from Halloween 2013, with Annie sporting her "baa baa" costume.

I am thankful for a husband who has the skill - and the patience! - to do a complete kitchen renovation essentially on his own.  I now know what gutting a kitchen looks, and feels, like.

I am thankful for Annie's bathtime selfies.
You know, cause they're cute.

And her recently found love of smiling for the camera. (I may not be so thankful for this later on, but for now it sure does make taking her picture easier).

And that's just a start.  We have lots to be thankful for in this house of ours.  I plan to do my best to remind myself of those things.  Daily.  So here's to being thankful...and to blogging again!

Sunday, September 8, 2013


It's been a little while since I have written anything for this little blog - well, since I've written anything I felt compelled to actually post (I have a folder of unpublished posts just sitting there, waiting for inspiration to finish them or for the right moment to share them).  And in this entry, I'm likely to go a little stream of consciousness, but I'll try to make it all connect.  So I hope you'll stick with me.

A couple of nights ago, Annie, David, and I were at one of our favorite local establishments.  It is a great place to take a toddler because she can run around when she gets tired of sitting at one of the picnic-style tables, without anyone really caring or looking at us like we are negligent parents.  At one particular point in the evening, David was outside with Annie, entertaining her, and I was alone at our table, left with my thoughts and my observations of those around us.  At a nearby table, there was a group of four young adults - early to mid-twenties, I'm guessing.  I watched them for a moment, as they talked about something other than daycare and how to get a kid to eat vegetables. Although I couldn't really hear what they were saying, I imagined they were talking about politics and religion and the controversial issues of the day.  They may have been talking about what some girl they didn't care for was wearing at a party, but in my head they were concerned about their world and working to solve its problems.

And I found myself mentally telling them, "Enjoy these days.  It won't be this way forever."  Before too long, at least a couple of them are likely to get married, and probably one of those, if not more, will have children.  Life won't always be about having the time to sit at a table, drink a beer, and just talk about thoughts and dreams and ideas.  Someday they will have someone else to be responsible to - and maybe even someone else to be responsible for.

As I sat there, watching them, I very distinctly remembered being one of them.  Sitting at a table with my friends, talking about life as I knew it then.  And you know what I remember most?  I remember how I used to sit at that table, eyeing the young couple with the cute little two-year-old daughter, wishing that was me.  I remember longing to find the one person I was supposed to walk through the rest of my life with - and wondering how that would ever happen.  I remember hoping for a child, wanting to be someone's mom.  And in my late twenties, especially, I remember sitting in restaurants and bars with friends and wondering when my life was going to change - change into that young family, running after their toddler.

And as I sat there and thought about those young people, I realized, in a couple years time, give or take, I will look back at the days I'm living right now - I will see someone mirroring the walk David and I take each day - and I will hope they are cherishing it for what it is.  I will hope they aren't getting caught up in the challenge and denying themselves the joy of just living the moment.  I will do to that future young couple what I was doing the other night to the group of singles.  I will wish them to know what I know now - I will hope they aren't wishing away their days, waiting for the next stage to hit.

Of course, I realize the implication for me for today.  I need to stop wondering what our next phase will be like - stop thinking about how things might be different when Annie is five or ten or (gasp) sixteen.  I need to just enjoy being that young couple I always wanted to be.  The couple with the cute little two-year-old daughter that they chase after and tease and who's laughter is, undeniably, the best sound in the whole world.

And now, a few pictures of this current stage of life:

Break time at the Farmer's Market.
Seriously, best thing ever.

Rocking a look.

She loves playing with Daddy.
It's breathtaking to watch your heart walk a few steps ahead of you.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

24 Months!

There are moments when I look at her...

And I honestly can't believe David and I are lucky enough for her to be ours.

When she is smiling her coy little smile, or intentionally trying to make us laugh, and then saying, "Annie silly."  Or when she sees me walk back in her bedroom after one of her not-as-effective-as-I-would-like time outs, and she smiles at me, seeming delighted to tell me the required, "I'm sorry" before she can get back up and play.  Or when I see her flirt with her daddy, pretending to run from him so that he will chase her, catch her, and tickle her, before the series starts all over again.

Two years ago, in the very first moment I saw her, I felt like she had always been with me.  And I knew that I loved her with every single thing I have in me.  But wow, I had no idea how it would feel to do just that every day from that precious moment forward.  Oh, the privilege.  Nothing in my life has ever been so monumental.  And I don't say that lightly, because finding David was a pretty life-changing experience! 

At 24 months old, Annie is sweet and sensitive and funny and empathetic.  She is smart and clever and, well, beautiful.  She gets girlier every day, as she develops a love of bracelets and purses and swirly dresses.  But she gets a little tougher every day too, crying less when she falls, and getting up a little faster every time.  She loves dirt and puddles and getting messy...she just asks to be cleaned up right away when that happens.

Having fun playing dress up at her friend, Audrey's, party.
She sings and she looks at books and she mothers her baby dolls and makes us all meals in her play kitchen.  She uses our phones or the remote control to have telephone conversations with Gaga or Nana and Papa  or with her friends that are always some version of: "Hello, Gaga! (pause) Talk to you later. (pause) Bye!"  She loves to paint and do art projects, occupying herself for a long time with a creative burst of color.  She remains just as busy as she ever has been, running from one project to the next, always eager to find something new to do.  And the bubbles, oh her love affair with bubbles right now.  She's obsessed.

At her 2-year doctor's appointment, she weighed in at 29.4 pounds (76%) and was 35 inches tall (also 76%).  So she continues to be a tall girl, which I suspected by the rate at which she is outgrowing her clothes...not that I mind the excuse to buy her more.

Simply put, she continues to make me feel so incredibly blessed.  Even on the days when she is grumpy or whiney (and yes, there are those days...I don't want to paint a picture that denies that), she still makes me one lucky momma.  And I adore her even more today than I did on the afternoon of June 29, 2011, when I met her for the first time.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


On Saturday, we celebrated two special years with our little girl.  I've given a lot of thought over the last few days as to the best way to commemorate that day on this blog.  And I'm not quite sure I have reached a decision.  But every time I think about what to write about what having Annie in our family has meant to me and to David, the words of Annie's current favorite song come to mind.  I think because in their simplicity, these words capture the very essence of what she brings to our lives.  I know it sounds sappy.  I know it sounds cheesy.  I know it sounds very rainbows and unicorns and fairy dust.  But it's true.  Annie is our sunshine...and there's no better time to say it out loud then on a special occasion like a birthday. 

"You Are My Sunshine"

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.

You make me happy
When skies are gray.

You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.

Please don't take
My sunshine away.

We love you, sunshine...our sweet Annie Cakes.  We can't wait to continue this family journey with you.

All photos courtesy of my very talented husband and father-in-law.  A huge thanks to them for capturing the spirit of our little girl.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thoughts on Two Years

I'm writing tonight because I'm afraid I will get overwhelmed with second birthday party prep tomorrow and run out of time to sit, and think, and write, about what it means to sit on the verge of celebrating 24 months with our baby girl.  Birthdays really have a way of making me nostalgic...and sappy...and yes, maybe a little emotional.  And tonight, I keep finding myself thinking about how much different things are than I imagined they would be two years ago tonight, as I anxiously and completely impatiently waited for Annie's arrival into our lives.  But also about how very much they are exactly how I imagined they would be.

I've written on here before about how much I wanted to be a mother, how long it took for David and I to achieve success in our mission to grow our family.  And I've also written about how unprepared I was for what being a parent is really like, how much I have struggled at times with the balancing act and the mommy guilt and the loss of identity that motherhood can bring.  Two years ago tonight, I understood that things were going to change once Annie arrived...but I had no idea how much I would change.  I find myself looking at life now in a completely different way than I did prior to June 29, 2011.  I see challenge and risk where I would have overlooked it before.  It takes much less to scare me.  I take far fewer things for granted.  But I also see joy where I didn't see it before.  And I find myself reflecting an awful lot these days on how the most simple moments with my little girl and my husband can be the most beautiful.  I cry much more easily (and that's saying something!), but I also laugh a lot more often too.  I just feel things bigger.  And I think that's, in part, because having a child's spirit as a constant presence in my life makes me see some things the way she does.  And sometimes see them as if for the first time.

Over the last few weeks, Annie has on occassion woken up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.  This is pretty unusual for her and something she hasn't done with any regularity for a very long time.  She has also been taking longer to fall asleep at night, sometimes requiring an extra visit from Mommy before she settles down completely and drifts off.  And, while a year ago, I might have been anxious about that or frustrated by it, these last couple of weeks, I have found myself relishing the extra time with her...this time when she needs me to snuggle her and rub her back and calm her.  Granted, I'm sure this is much more charming than it used to be because it doesn't happen often, but it is charming nonetheless.  It has given me the chance to have my little baby for a while longer, and it has been a reminder that even though she has somehow managed to become a little girl, a 2-year-old, a full blown toddler before my eyes, she still needs Mommy, and she still wants me there.

I'm sure it surprises no one to hear me say that I can't believe two years have already passed.  If there has been a theme thus far on this blog, it is that I am continuously amazed by how quickly time is flying now that Annie has joined our family.  But never has it been quite so evident to me as tonight, two days before our girl's birthday.  Never have I felt so blessed to have been chosen to be her mother.  Never have I felt more strongly the desire to cherish every minute - even the hard, frustrating, and trying ones.  Because I just know in the blink of an eye, these moments of quickly changing toddler emotions will be memories that I long to relive.  Just as I sat tonight, rocking my baby, whose body now fits much less easily into my arms, recalling with a smile the many nights I did that when she was tiny in the wee hours...in a year or two or three, I will remember my on-the-verge-of-two-year-old Annie and have to wipe away a nostalgic tear.

These last two years she has taught me much.  And she will teach me much more.  I am blessed to be her momma.  And I look so forward to another year being just that.

Monday, June 3, 2013

23 Months!

The countdown has begun.  In less than one month, Annie will turn the big 0-2.  Yes, I'm amazed by how quickly another year has come and gone.  Yes, there is a part of me that feels like my child is growing up overnight.  Yes, every day she continues to lose her baby-ness and turn more and more into a little girl. 

This age she is in right now...well, it is so fun.  Sure there are the crying spells for no reason, there is the blink-of-an-eye mind and/or attitude change that creates a challenge or two, and there is the slight acting out that comes with trying so darn hard to be independent.  But it is also so much fun to watch her personality continue to develop, to see the pride she has when she climbs to the top of the playground equipment or puts her sandals on by herself.  And there are the hugs and the kisses and the hand-holding and the "I wuv you"'s that pretty much top anything else in the world.  David and I frequently find ourselves looking at each other at night after she has gone to bed and just saying how much fun it is to watch her grow.  Because she really is something.
The pigtails are every bit as fun for Mommy as they are for Annie.
In the her 23rd month, Annie's speech has continued to grow and grow.  There isn't much she can't communicate to us, and many times she is able to use multiple word sentences to do just that.  She is really big on repeating what we say to her, so the time for watching what we say is upon us!  Not that David or I would ever say anything questionable. :-)  Along with her speech, Annie also continues to develop in her coordination and agility.  She loves to climb and jump and spin.  She is cautious for the most part, but far more adventurous than I ever thought about being.  I think she got the perfect blend of David's enthusiasm for the outdoors and adventure and my pragmatic evaluation of a situation.  Fortunately, that blend results in her seeming to know how to have a lot of fun.

Annie has also learned her numbers between 1 and 10.  I would say that she can count, but she doesn't actually get the numbers in the right order most of the time.  She seems particularly partial to the number "7," and likes to throw that one in at random times in the counting process.  She also knows some of her colors, but declines to choose a favorite just yet.  I can't say I blame her...there are a lot of good colors out there.

Our little girl continues to love to sing and look at books and play with her dolls.  She also loves to color and paint and draw.  But I think her favorite activities are those that take place outside - she loves to swing on our porch and go down the slide in the backyard, and anything involving water, such as pools and waterslides and water tables, really makes her day. 
This girl loves to "ping!"
This month, we unfortunately had to say goodbye to one of our kitties, Cooper.  Our cats are fairly aloof and neither one of them has ever really paid much attention to Annie.  So her interaction with them has been much less upclose and personal than her daily loving harassment of our dog, Jackson.  So I wondered if she would say anything about Cooper not being around.  Sure enough, immediately she walked around the kitchen, where he usually hung out, and then looked at me and asked, "Tooper?"  I explained to her that Cooper was gone and he wouldn't be staying with us anymore.  She sort of let it go at that and went off and played with something else, so I thought we were done with the topic.  But then the next day, she saw a cat in the neighborhood, looked up at me and said, "Tooper gone?  Tooper no home?"  Clearly, she got it.  She understood that our situation where Cooper was concerned had changed.  And she continues to tell me at random moments that Cooper isn't home anymore.  Amazing, I think.

Finally, with her 23 month birthday came a move to a new room at daycare.  Annie went from being a Butterfly to a Ladybug.  She has been trying to move herself into that class for the last several weeks because she has some good little friends who had already moved into that room.  But now it is official.  And as happy as I am for her to be in a new class with even more structure and activities, I will miss her teacher Miss Sally terribly.  And so will she.  But she is in such a wonderful place, I know she will have new, great teachers and continue to thrive.
Headed to school...and looking like a Kindergartener to me.
So that's where we are, one month from being two years old.  And with new changes happening every day, I'm sure there will be more fun to report in her 24 month post.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Our Memorial Day weekend was busy, busy, busy.  But so much fun.  Despite David not feeling the greatest, we managed to pack a lot of activity into our three day weekend together.  Annie thrives on activity, it seems, so she takes busy weekends completely in stride.  She got to see lots of friends, spent a lot of time outside, and took more walks and wagon rides than we usually have time for.  Plus, I like to think she actually enjoys hanging out with us, so she got lots of time for that over the weekend too!  And a little visit from Gaga never hurts either.

We got the hammock out for an inagural rocking of this season, and Annie quickly decided she liked pushing it almost as much as she enjoyed sitting in it.

We had a tea party with her two favorite stuffed animals, Zebra and Hop (the bunny).  I hadn't seen her pretend to feed and give a drink to her animal friends much before, so I for one was highly entertained by the tea party in general.

We went to three birthday parties, and even got to paint some pottery at one of them!  She picked out a ceramic dog to paint and was more meticulous than her almost two years would make you assume.  She was the last one to finish her piece, and was very diligent in what she was doing.

Annie loves loves loves the playground, and she was happy to have a couple of trips there over the holiday weekend.  She enjoyed the swings and the bridges and the slides, just like she always does. Have I mentioned lately how lucky we are to have her daycare right around the corner with a great playground we can use?  And how fun it is to have neighborhood friends show up while we are there?

And finally, she donned her first bathing suit of the season for our third birthday party of the weekend, and insisted on pigtails for the occassion.  I swear, she kills me sometimes with these things.  As soon as my mom and I got the pigtails completed, she pranced around the house and looked at herself in the mirror.  I'm afraid we've got a real girly girl on our hands here...and you know, I'm secretly okay with that, because I've got a whole lot of girly girl in me too!

We are right at one month out from our big second birthday celebration.  I will postpone saying anything about how completely amazed I am that two years have gone by already.  But we look forward to celebrating our sweet girl with family and friends in just a few short weeks!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Mothers' Day Post

Warning: Highly sentimental Mothers’ Day post ahead.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I have very distinct memories of times with my mom when I was a kid.  I remember sitting at her make up table, pretending to apply blush and lipstick.  I remember loving to have my hair brushed by her and trying to be very still while she did it, hopeful that she wouldn’t stop.  I remember putting on a pair of what I believed to be the most beautiful red high heel shoes from her closet and shuffling across her bedroom floor to the drawer where she kept her special jewelry – a collection that included a gold bracelet from my own babyhood and a tiny ring someone had given me when I was born.

Now that I am older, I recognize how very blessed I was to have a childhood full of comfort and nurturing and love.  The youngest of four children and the only girl, I was also the recipient of a lot of one on one time with both of my parents, but especially with my mother.  And that remains true to this day.  My mom and I have enjoyed many many years of shared moments.  She has been a confidant, a friend, a role model.  And I think I have always had a sense that our relationship was special.  I’ve always known I got really amazingly lucky in the mom department.  But when I became a momma myself I understood things about my relationship with my own mother that I didn’t really comprehend before.

I have always known my mother loves me, but I had no idea how much until I had a child of my own.  And now that I know what it feels like to love a child with my entire being, to desire more than anything else that child’s happiness and health and peace, I understood so much more of what my mom feels for me and for my brothers.  There are moments when I find myself looking into Annie’s eyes with such joy and such pride and I realize my mom must have done that with me when I was coming up on two years old.  When Annie was an infant, I remember studying her face, memorizing every tiny detail as she slept, and thinking my mom must have done that with me.  And those realizations have even further enhanced the relationship I have with my mom.

Not a Mothers Day picture, but a cute one from the weekend, nonetheless.
Over the weekend, I was able to celebrate Mothers’ Day with my mom and my little girl (and David too, of course!).  And what a special day it was.  All day I kept thinking how fortunate I am.  How lucky I am to be a mom and to have a mom who has given me such a shining example of what a mother-daughter relationship should be.  How special that relationship can be.  And I can only hope I will be as influential in Annie’s life as my mom has been in mine.