Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Anna: 7 Months

I know, you think I'm joking, don't you?  But seriously, our little girl is already SEVEN months old. SEVEN.  Seven.  (I'm shaking my head in disbelief as I type this...)

Babies remain a mystery as one day Anna seems fantastic and the next it's like we are just meeting her.  But for the most part, we've settled into a pretty comfortable little routine and things are going swimmingly.  Anna has adjusted to daycare very well and according to Nicole, she is a happy little girl during her time there.  I love Nicole's daycare setting-- it's small and homey and during the school year there are only two other little ones sharing time there.  Anna loves watching the activity and the other littles are crazy about her.

At home, Anna's been up to so much.  She's a busy baby-- and seems much more active than Charlie was at this phase (but maybe I just don't remember it accurately).  Here's what's been going on:

* Anna is sleeping through the night!!  (Not every night, but she'll have a stretch of a couple nights in a row and has pretty much stopped nursing during the night-- which I'm surprisingly okay with.)
*  Anna's newest trick this past month was learning to "go-upside-down".  She will turn her head almost all the way to the side-- as if to test out a new viewpoint.  Then she'll bob her head back up and giggle.
*  Her other big trick is "bobbing"-- sitting and leaning forward and bobbing her head to music or the tv or a book.  It's pretty stinking adorable.
*  She's getting close to crawling and has ZERO fear.  She'll sit and reach forward until her head is on the ground and then pull her knees slowly underneath her.  So far, this always ends in a face plant but she's ready to try again as soon as we prop her back up.
* Amidst Anna's thousand toys, she favors about three: empty containers, individual socks, and tags.
*  Charlie is still the only person who is usually guaranteed to get a smile from her.  All the rest of us have to work for the tiniest little smirk-- which we gladly spend plenty of time doing.
*  Anna's a great eater.  She has tried several foods and doesn't turn much down.  Come to think of it, I can't recall her turning down anything-- except that one time we tried to feed her cold carrots.  Do you really blame her?
*  She's a super traveler---so far.  We headed to Dubuque last weekend for a few hours and she was held and passed and in and out of the stroller, all after riding in the car for two hours and she never once fussed.  Instead, she stayed busy looking at all the people and the new environment.
*  Anna can say "da-da" and we're convinced she says "Hi Dad" when Mase walks by.  Recently she started babbling "Ma Ma Ma Mom"!!!  YIPPPIE!!  Of course, this is her favorite word ever!!
* She's had her first ride in the bike carrier and LOVES it.  The weather is just starting to get nice enough to take more and more rides.
*  Anna also experienced her first 5K!  I don't think she gave a shit about it, but it's fun to say that she's already participated in a 5K.
*  We're still smitten with our baby girl, who is turning into such a sweet thing right before our eyes.  It's increasingly fun to see her personality emerge, little by little, as she experiences new things.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Easter 2015 Recap

Imagine chocolate bunnies and plastic grass and colorful eggs sitting in the fridge for the next two weeks.... yes, we're talking Easter talk.  For me, Easter is less about "He is Risen!" and more about the beauty of the spring season-- and the renewal of the Earth.  It's a time when Persephone returns from the under-world to breathe life back into our days.  The grass is greening, the trees are budding, the birds are singing, and plants that seemed dead and lifeless are surprising us as they peek through the soil, letting us know that they've been alive and well all winter long.  Even the sun seems to want a piece of the action as it has begun to rise earlier and set later-- as if she too, is trying to savor every minute of the next six months.  (I love Earth-based spirituality, can't you tell?)

Although Easter seemed early this year, it fell on the most beautiful spring weekend, and we had a lovely time in Spahnville.  We hosted my parents and aunt on Saturday evening-- as we played and ate and chatted and held the baby and drank wine and watched the basketball games.  We all slept soundly that night (even Baby Sister) and discovered Easter baskets waiting for us the next morning. After digging through our loot, we headed to the Easter service at the CVUU.  It's always fun for me to bring guests to church and while UU Easter is different from a Catholic service, I think everyone enjoyed it (for the most part).

After church, we headed out to Dike for what has become our traditional brunch and golf cart ride. As always, the food was delicious (the pies are always my favorite) and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day.  Easter always makes me feel alive and happy-- it's such a great season.  I feel like spring is now officially here, and I'm ready to embrace every part of it!

After our company had packed up and taken off, we hung out enjoying the sunshine and this sweet smile.  Happy Spring, friends!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Happy Easter, UU Style

I know Easter has come and gone, but I came across the following story and debated between posting it and keeping it private.  I'm choosing to post it because I think it's beautiful.  Perhaps my favorite thing about belonging to the UU church is the freedom to explore ideas, challenge beliefs, and draw your own conclusions.  I love this story because it focuses on what people believe, not on what people insist is true.  [Disclaimer: Of course, I understand that not all Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics, Unitarian Universalists, (or members of any group for that matter) always agree with their particular denomination, so no one is to be pigeon-holed in their thinking.]

 The following is extracted from a 2001 Easter sermon by the Reverend Michael McGee adapted from a story by Jim Wallace.

A group of friends of various religious denominations were seated in fellowship discussing the true meaning of Easter one Sunday when the Baptist said: “I believe we place too much emphasis on chocolate bunnies, colored rabbits and Easter eggs instead of the spiritual aspects, which is the real meaning of Easter. That’s what I believe,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Catholic. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.

“I believe the real meaning of Easter is that Christ died on the Cross for our sins,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.
“I believe the real meaning of Easter is the triumph of Jesus over the Grave,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Catholic. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Methodist. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.

“I believe the real meaning of Easter is not only what each of you have said, but also that all people who believe in the sacrifice and Resurrection of Jesus are cleansed of original sin through baptism and are restored to the favor of God and many share in His eternal Life,” said the Catholic. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.

“I believe the real meaning of Easter, in addition to what has already been said, symbolizes that the bodies of all people will be resurrected and joined to their souls to share their final fate,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Catholic. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.
The group then turned to their Unitarian Universalist friend, whom they all recognized as a little strange, and said, “Your silence is a mystery to us. Just what do you believe as a Unitarian Universalist is the real meaning of Easter?”

The Unitarian Universalist … said: “I believe the real meaning of Easter is the appreciation of life’s renewing cycles and, that for all things there is a season. I believe the real meaning of Easter is the acknowledgment, with its accompanying sadness, of a very human Jesus who was forced to die on the Cross because of his liberal religious views and beliefs. But most important of all, I believe the real meaning of Easter is the Celebration of Thanksgiving for the presence of the sacred in each and every living person and thing; for the presence of the sacred in the birds that sing; for the presence of the sacred in the flowers which sway and the grasses which rustle in the gentle breezes of spring. This is what I believe is the real meaning of Easter,” said the Unitarian Universalist.  “Me too,” sang the birds. “Me too,” waved the flowers. “Me too,” rustled the grasses. “Me too,” sighed the wind. — And all the rest were silent.

Who is this Five Year Old?

I realized that I hadn't yet written a little recap on who Charlie really is, right at this moment, as he enters his SIXTH year here on Earth.  As I've mentioned before, I'm equal parts amazed by the fact that he is already five years old, and dumbfounded that I've only known him for five years!  How can that be possible?

Sometimes, I get all tilted and off-kilter in my head when I think about my life pre-Charlie.  How did I even exist?  How did I navigate my day?  How did I have any direction?  And where on EARTH did I spend my free time?!?  It's kind of the same way when I look at our vacation pictures from last summer and automatically look for Anna-- and think to myself, we didn't even know her then!  It's all weird and confusing and time-warpy.  Anyway,  back to the birthday boy.

Charlie.  Sweet Charlie.  Sweet, amazing, dear, caring, doting, energetic, determined, curious, frustrating, intelligent, and loving loving loving boy of mine.  How have you turned from that fussy little baby with the adorable gummy smile into such a big boy right before my eyes? The change has been steady, like the second hand on a clock--gently ticking away.  Each day, each moment, you grow and change just bit by bit.  I hardly notice it and then you go and say something or do something that shocks me into realizing that yes, you're growing up!  Like the other day, when you opened up our front door and stood staring out at the drizzly, gray sky and said, (in the most perfect sarcastic voice) "Well this is a lovely day."

You make us laugh as you're pretty witty with words.  ("Hey Mom, guess what bears eat in the morning?  Breakfish!")  And you make us cringe with your ability to argue your way out of situations. ("Mom, I wasn't hitting, I was bonking."  "Dad, I didn't jump, I tripped!")

You have so much energy-- and love to use it to climb on the furniture or play sports.  Of course, your favorite way to release energy is to run.  And run. And run.  It still happens each and every night, usually after supper and for a good 30 minutes.  Back and forth and forth and back.  And again and again.  And repeat.

You're still crazy about books and have most recently become interested in chapter books.  I've dreamt of reading chapter books to you from the time I learned I was pregnant and now, those days are here!  Last week, I found a bunch of old "Boxcar Children" books and we cruised through the first one in two nights.  Now, you're begging for more stories about those adventurous little kids...and I've got a slew of others (Stuart Little, Ramona Quimby, Little House in the Big Woods, Harry Potter) in mind for the future.

Speaking of books, the other day you read a book!  You called your grandparents and shared the news with them and were so proud of the way you read the little Bob book.  Houston, I think we have a reader!

You love vehicles and recently learned that each Make has a specific logo.  Walking through parking lots can be hilarious because you'll point out every kind of car.  "There's a Toyota! There's a Nissan! Hey look, it's a Jeep!  I see a Ford!"

You get really "into" things for long periods of time.  Last year, you got "really into" dinosaurs and knew everything about all-of-them.  You amazed us with your knowledge of each historical period and information of specific dinosaurs, and you were quick to correct us.  ("Mom, it's a Quetzalcoatlus, not a Pterodactyl!")  But toward the end of last year, we heard less about dinosaurs and more about football.....

Which brings me to the fact that you are a SPORTS NUT.  I'm not sure how this happened but it did and in a major way.  I feel like I tried to expose you to art and music and things of that nature but you just naturally gravitate toward any kind of sport.  You LOVE LOVE LOVE pro-football, which is funny to us because well, Daddy and I don't.  But last fall, I watched more NFL football that I ever have in all of my 37 years.  You know the names and logos of all-the-teams and your US geography is excellent because you know where each stadium is located.  You also love watching basketball on tv and had so much fun staying up late during March to watch the tournament.  I think you're a lucky little boy because Daddy spends a good hour each night playing football or soccer or basketball with you--and even though you seem to cry at some point every time... I think you guys are having a blast.  Sometimes, I make supper upstairs and just listen to the two of you playing downstairs... and I try with all my might to record that sound to my permanent memory.

Clothing still continues to be problematic.  As soon as you get home from school, the shirt and pants come off and you run around the house in undies and your little black socks.  When getting dressed, anything with tags or seams or buttons or collars or pockets is O.U.T.  We are thinking about buying stock in the Gap because everything you wear is comfy and casual and easy like Sunday morning.

Perhaps most importantly, you were born to be a big brother.  We could not ask for a better sibling for Anna, and watching you love her is one of the best parts of parenting to date.  After six months, we have yet to see you be mean or hostile or angry with her.  You tell us (often) that she is your favorite and that you love her the most in this family (I still think Mommy should be your favorite but usually I hover between your #2 and #3 spot).  If you are angry for any reason, you'll ask to see Anna because she makes you happy.  You help us out by entertaining her-- sometimes cuddling her or reading to her or playing with her toes.  I've caught you in her crib numerous times-- singing to her or reading to her or just playing peek-a-boo with her and a blanket.  You make her giggle and laugh and always try to help when she cries.  People tell us "just wait until she starts getting into his things...." and "just wait until she's bigger...." but I am holding firm in the belief that you'll be crazy about her no matter what.

Other random things about you right now:

* You have the. biggest. sweet. tooth. ever.  Period.
*  You are the only five year old I know who struggles with eating go-gurt.  Seriously.
*  Favorite toy at this moment: Ninja Turtles.
*  Most requested supper item: Taco Salad or Nachos
*  You are still a stuffed animal lover. Current bedtime loves: Puppy, Bunny, Fezzy (the pheasant), Pom Pom (the panda bear), Little Pengwee (the tiny penguin), and Shamu.
*  You're still as cautious as can be... but we're not complaining.
*  After taking a year hiatus from your bike (for no apparent reason other than you were terrified of it), you hopped on and started riding it again just like that.  ???
*  Favorite color: Black.
*  You LOVE playing the ipad-- mostly a NFL game, but you're only allowed to play on weekends.  (I know, we're the meanest)
*  Favorite people: #1 Anna. #2 Anna.  #3 Mommy.  #4 Daddy.  (#3 and #4 change depending on who denied you something sugary most recently)
*  You love school and have done such a great job in preschool.  It's been good for you as you're more confident and outgoing around peers.

Happy (belated) birthday, you crazy kid.  As I say often, "I love you more than you'll ever know." And when you tell me, "I love you more than you love me"  you know that my answer is always going to be, "Not possible."  Here's to another amazing trip around the sun.  xoxoxo