Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas in photos

We spent the holiday on Long Island with Matt's aunt and uncle.
It's beautiful there and here we are walking on the beach at Sagamore Hill National Park, aka Teddy Roosevelt's former digs.  The walk was lovely except I had to go to the bathroom (but what else is new?). 

Here is Matt's uncle Joel with Annie.
Joel looks lovely, although Annie is showing some major 'tude.
(Also displayed in the first photo.)
(To her credit it was quite chilly.)

Annie was obsessed with poor Penelope, and often tugged at her tail and ears.

Here's Granny Nanny (Matt's mom) showing her how to pet her gently.
Annie is all, "What?  Me pull the cat's ears?!  It's insulting you would even think that!"
Then she pulled them anyway. (of course)

Here is Matt and Annie on Christmas Eve as we're about to go into our hotel for the night.
It started flurrying, which I thought was magical.  Annie was over it, though.
Snow smow, she seemed to say.  It's late and I want my bottle, people!

One of the few photos I got of Annie in her Christmas morning ensemble.  We got everything from Goodwill/on consignment, which is good, as she wore it for about two hours tops.  Poor thing looks somber as can be, but I can assure you she had a really fun holiday and was active and giddy most of the time.

"Why is everyone so excited?!"
From the left: Matt's Aunt Debbie, cousin Julia, Uncle and Aunt Dave and Cyndy, and poor Laura,
who is cut off (sorry Laura!)

We had our big Christmas dinner on Sunday evening, as the whole gang was there, and then on Christmas Day went into Manhattan.  Here is Annie bundled up in her stroller.

And some of the gang at the tree in Rockefeller Plaza.

With dad and Poppy Hoppy on a carousel in Bryant Park.

Matt: "Wave, Annie!"
Annie: No.

City girl.

Matt and Annie.

Such is the life:
girl woke up one block away from the Chinese place where we ate dinner.
Obviously, she knows what is important in life.

"Now, let's see what the specials are today."

"I'd like some tea, too.  You can put it in the sippy cup, Poppy Hoppy."

After-dinner aperitif.

Us at Rockefeller Plaza's Christmas tree.   I love this shot.

My father got Annie a rocking horse, much like the ponies we see while vacationing in Chincoteague.
She's still a bit scared of it.  Here she is looking...uh... ambivalent.  

Today it started snowing, and we took to the neighborhood for a little walk.  Here is Matt and Annie in front of the house.  (Four hours later it's still coming down!)

And me.

And our doggie daughter, Penny.
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, friends!  I'm writing this is a dark hotel room on the North shore of Long Island as Annie naps.  She's a good traveler and has taken to her Pack 'n' Play like a champ.  In a bit we're heading over to Matt's aunt and uncle's with the rest of his family for lunch and a mid-day hike.  

Speaking of Christmas, a large package (which I believe Matt had shipped to his work) showed up in our car among the wrapped presents the other day as we headed up to my parents' place.  It's addressed to Annie and upon asking him about it, he said, "Oh yeah, I got Annie something," with no further explanation, although adding, "Don't worry; I'll say it's from both of us."    Um, thanks.  Boyfriend went out and bought his little girl a gift and refuses to tell me what it is!  Suck up.  I find this whole thing very suspicious.  And irksome.  Particularly because I didn't really get the kid anything - she's a year old!  Girl doesn't know Santa from the Easter Bunny.

Anyway, at the hotel's continental breakfast this morning Matt and I met a man who lost much of his home to Hurricane Sandy and FEMA has put him up in these temp digs since then.  Describing the mountains of paperwork, red tape and formalities to get his house back in order (fortunately their home wasn't condemned, but the first floor had to be entirely gutted) made me - even further - realize how fortunate I am.  Cheesy, I know.  But it was a beautiful little reminder from a stranger on Christmas Eve.

Much love to you and yours this holiday season,
Kathryn, Matt, Annie, and Penny (who I'm sure is enjoying a swanky doggie spa-like day at my parents, complete with gourmet food, lots of doggie treats, and river walks)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Meaningful action

There’s nothing more to write on Newtown that others haven’t already (and so beautifully, too) said – like these words and thisI will say we live very near to an expo center in the Philadelphia area – and drive by it regularly to go to Target, or the grocery store, or wherever – and they had a gun show this past weekend.   They have shows for everything: Western pottery, quilts, outlet sales for Lilly Pulitzer or Boden, reptile shows, the national dog show films there, and so on and so on.  I actually go twice a year to a children’s consignment sale where I purchase the bulk of Annie’s clothes.  So having a gun show was nothing new – we’ve seen the signs for them in the past – but the lines, the gridlock to get in, the sheer volume of men – was very real, and very unnerving.  I have never – in the five years I’ve lived here – seen crowds like that.   Our gun culture is very real and also very frightening.  

As a mother – and like any parent, or any American, or, really, anyone – I feel like I have been punched in the gut and have yet to exhale.  I’m sure you feel it too.

I couldn’t get an early train out of the city on Friday and when I finally picked Annie up, I drove home with mascara tears, saying, “I’m crying because I love you.  I’m crying because I’m so happy to see you.  Please don’t be scared, I’m sorry, your mommy is just sad.  Something very bad happened today but you are OK and I am OK and daddy is OK too,” and then, a peppy squeak of, “Now, what do you want for dinner!?”  Annie may have been asleep, or just tired, or just a quiet almost 13-month-old who can only say “dog”, “hi”, and “bye”, but of course she was silent as we drove through Valley Forge Park on our way home.

So, here we are.  It’s Tuesday and it was a fine day: I just finished a big sweet potato pound cake cupcake (heavenly) left from a lunch I threw for our interns.  Workloads are winding down in anticipation of the holidays.  I took next week off.  Matt and I carpooled today so I’m getting picked-up at the train by him and Annie – my Corolla chariot.  But I can’t quite reconcile this ordinary day and feeling so very helpless.  And hopeless.

I suppose I wrote a lot for not wanting to write about what happened this past Friday.  But that horror is deep in my veins.  I am not a religious person – but I want to have faith – so I whispered my meager thoughts of hope and healing and wished them to the heavens.  Then I looked at my little girl – my shimmering star burst, my light – and said we need to do better.  We need to do right by them.


To add your name urging Congress to introduce gun control legislation, please visit the White House’s “We the People” site.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Unspeakable acts

I’m writing this at my desk at work.  I am a 40-minute train ride away from Annie and it’s too much.  Like everyone else I just learned about the elementary school shooting in Connecticut, and like everyone else I’m sitting at my desk finding it hard to breathe, think, move.

Perhaps today is not the time, but tomorrow?  Tomorrow we need to finally start a vigorous discussion of mental healthcare reform and, above all, gun control.  When is it enough?  Those children deserve at least that.

My deepest, deepest sympathies, thoughts, and prayers to all the families.  How horribly unspeakable.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Baby cashmere and other ridiculous thoughts

Some thoughts:

1)      “Baby’s first cashmere!”  This was the subject line of an email I received from the Gap.  I have a soft-spot for Baby Gap, lord help me.  Their clothes are sweet but never too cutesy, girly but never too babyish, and just all-around covetable, but you know Mama K isn’t about to lay down $35 on a baby sweater (those are the cotton ones).  Oh hells no!  And now this – cashmere?!?!  I don’t even own cashmere.  Look, if they don’t sell it at Target I probably don’t own it.

A baby primer of sorts (for babies of a certain echelon only, of course):
Isn't this J.Crew baby sweater just darling?
By the way, it's cashmere.
Oh, and $145.
And your baby will get spaghetti all over it and outgrow it within six months.
But first-world problems, right?!
Ok, ok, let's do something a bit we say..."for the masses":

That's better.
This is from the Gap.  This sweet number is indeed cashmere.
All babies need cashmere for their baby-soft skin, silly.
(That goes without saying.)
It's 88 bucks.
I get a little tense even typing that.  $88 and "baby sweater" do not belong together.

2)      Speaking of fancy sweaters, Matt has been prancing around saying, “You know, I wear things from Neiman Marcus...basically I wear that stuff when I can’t get to Bergdorf.”  He knows nothing about these stores, but the other week a friend and I gave him the run-down on the department store hierarchy.  So now he thinks he’s very hoity-toity, because the boy found a Neiman Marcus sweater at the Goodwill and plans on tailoring it.  It’s his new thing; finding ill-fitting clothing and making them his own.  It could be worse, I suppose, but he is still eyeing up my clothes and you know I’m not pleased.

3)      He also decided he wants to knit.  So he bought knitting supplies at Michael’s and now knits watching TV.  He is making a burnt orange scarf.  I feel like I’m married to a granny: he’s either at the sewing machine or knitting.  Come to think of it, he was complaining of impending “arthritis” when he was giving me a back rub the other day, too.

4)      Annie has ringworm.  People freak out when I say that, but what can you do.  She’s on oral meds and a topical treatment and she does not care one iota.  Just give me my scrambled eggs and bread and I’m happy, she says.

5)      Which brings us to the fact that she NEVER EATS HER VEGETABLES ANYMORE.  She only wants bread, eggs, some fruit, occasionally some meat, cheese, sometimes yogurt or cottage cheese, and that’s it.  Oh, and graham crackers (it was a mistake to introduce her to those.)  If she spots a box of graham crackers her eyebrows raise and screeching begins.  Babies.

6)      So I’ve been hearing sounds from the wall between our kitchen and living room for weeks now.  I didn’t even really realize this until I heard it the other day and it finally clicked and Matt heard it this time and I screeched, “THERE IS A RAT IN OUR WALL!”  But every time we go to the store we forget to get bait or traps or whatever it is you get, so the rodent-thing is still there, which is lovely.

Happy Wednesday, all!  Now go out and treat yourself to a baby sweater.  Or, better yet, this luxurious baby blanket (in cashmere of course...ALWAYS in cashmere, you fools):

I'd like to add that although it's $228, it automatically comes with free shipping.
It goes without saying what a bargain that is.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A whole year old

Hey baby girl!  You turned a year old this week.   I think you're technically a toddler now, but when I ruffle your peach fuzzy hair and kiss those full cheeks, you are and forever will be my little baby.

I’m starting to see flashes of the little toddler you’re becoming: serious but charming, a girl who knows what she wants (and often how to get it, uh oh), friendly and curious and getting into everything, and a kiddo who loves dissecting how things work.  You can be very deliberate and intense fiddling with your toys: your father thinks you’re a little engineer in the making and he couldn’t be more proud.

Nothing has changed between you and your dad: you're two peas in a pod and he is, without a doubt, the fun parent and you guys are always getting into mischief together.  He’ll say things like, “Mommy can be such a drag, don’t you think Annie?!” and you both will look at me and you’re grinning your wide-mouthed two-teeth little smile and I say, “You can’t say things like that!  She’s going to understand you sooner than later!”  And then your dad laughs and then you squeal and then I sigh and the whole charade begins again.  It’s you two against the world and you are a Daddy's girl through and through.   It's such a privilege to see the two people I love most in cahoots together.  

You’ve been our health champion but man oh man, it’s been a trying couple of weeks.  Two weeks ago I got a call that your temp was nearing 104 and I took you to the doc: you had your first ear infection!  You've never been a big cuddler - you always must be seeing, doing - but that day you just snuggled up against me, your hot head and crimson cheeks on my chest.  A week later you were covered in hives.  And this week, lord almighty, you might just have ringworm (pending the lab results).  Forever our trooper, you took it in stride.  You are often so very even-keeled!  When you had your ear infection, you were a bit more fussy but also quieter, more serious.  Your dad and I think you'll be an introvert like your two parents: I can't imagine you hamming it up and putting on a shtick for the crowds.  Perhaps this is just your ol' parents projecting and we can't wait for all the surprises as you grow and blossom.

You’re getting pickier when it comes to food.  Oatmeal is out and cantaloupe is in. Today.  You still have a healthy appetite and have been given me these fuming little looks when I’m chomping on something delectable and you have a very mushy entrĂ©e.  You’re just not buying it anymore and damnit, you want salad and whole fruits too!  You recently discovered graham crackers and you went bonkers.  It was love at first bite and you snarl and fake cry when I cut you off.

I’m making you sound like my little tormentor!  But the truth is, we love your willful side and it cracks us up.  We just hope you use your powers for good.  Take physical therapy: you can be very obstinate when it comes to your exercises and crawling: you know exactly what we want you to do (and you can do it), but you often out-and-out refuse.  We're supposed to dissuade scooting and encourage crawling to develop those weaker arms, and when I spot a tell-tale scoot, I shuffle over to put you in the crawling stance, but by that time you're already in a sitting position looking at me innocently.  "What, me scoot?" you seem to say.  "I was just playing with this here block, jeez."  I sit back on the couch you and you commence scooting again, sometimes even looking over your shoulder to see my reaction!  Some babies might just oblige  but we can do this back-and-forth exercise, well, forever.  Lately, your father and I just don't have the energy and we let you do your half-gorilla, half-crab scoot all over the place.  You, dear, will not be deterred.  And lordy if it just doesn't make my heart soar to see you beamin' and scootin' your little heart away.

And, on a very positive note, your torticollis (your weak neck muscles that made your head favor one side) is almost gone and you have much better alignment.  I am so grateful.  I pictured you, walking around as an adult, with your head tilted to the one side, cursing Matt and me for not getting this corrected when you were a kid!  And the whole image would spiral downwards: you would often be homeless and warming yourself by a burning trashcan ranting about your upbringing.  I'm not sure how a slight tilt to your head equates to homelessness  but I guess this is just what mothers do.

Your father and I haven't been encouraging "mama" and "dada" too much, but "dog" (strangely enough).  So I guess Penny wins.  You say "daw" when you see Penny and often a muffled "hi" after we say hello, so I'm not sure if we count these as your first words.  Does the dog need the G sound for it to count?  Sometimes you mimic our sounds if I say mama, but I know you don't equate it with me, so Matt says that doesn't count, either.  (I think he's just bitter.)

Your now cruise along furniture and often scoot over to us and pull yourself up on our pant legs.  It's very sweet and you just love standing tall.  It's also annoying when you cruise around the ottoman knocking things off, or shuffle over to where our laptops are sitting and begin pounding on the keys.  You are out-and-out obsessed with our laptops!  I got you a baby laptop for your birthday and I honestly think you find this childish gimmick of a toy insulting.  "I have a lot of work to do and don't throw that juvenile toy in front of me, I need Daddy's Mac Book NOW!"  One time you erased lots of your father's work (jibberjab to me, code to him) and I found it hilarious.  So that's a win.

And last week we celebrated your birthday: the party was a success but your dad and I decided next year it's a pizza or Chinese take-out type of gig.  Sorry, kid: your parents were exhausted and we got everything on the table just in the nick of time!  It was a fall spread: pumpkin soup, lots of bread from the bakery, braised brussel sprouts with bacon, a pecan and pear salad, a pomegranate champagne punch, hot cider, and lots of other nibbles.  It was wonderful to spend the day with the people who love you most - and who knew intimately of our struggles to get you here.  You are one lucky little girl to have so much love surround you.

Which brings us to today.  I'm writing this post - uninterrupted - because you spent the night with your Granny Nanny and Poppy Hoppy.  Your dad and I went hog wild with our free night.  First, your father called around to get quotes on a new hot water heater as ours is leaking.  (Like I said, it was wild.)  Then we saw Lincoln (I know, you're in a tizzy, like, "How could they do all of this stuff without me?!").  Then we picked-up some Chinese takeout and went home and I watched Nightline.  Seriously.

Your dad and I are excited to pick you up in a couple hours.  Even when you're not here, you're on our lips and in our thoughts.  When I had you I won the lottery.  It was a windfall that just keeps on giving and giving.    Eternal dividends.

Happy birthday, my darling girl.  My serious scientist.  My charming child.  Your father and I love you so very much.

And now, onto the photos of the bash!

The gang, from L to R:
Cliff and Lorene (Annie's paternal great-grandmother), Danita (my dear friend who is the "Ebony Aunt" to Annie's "Alabaster Niece"), Annie's paternal grandparents in the foreground - Poppy Hoppy and Granny Nanny, Annie's maternal grandparents in the background - Mimi and Grandpa, Me, Matt and the birthday girl, my sister Kristen and her boyfriend Chris in the background, then Matt's brother Joe and his girlfriend Kristen in the foreground, Matt's aunt Cindy, then his sister Priscilla and her boyfriend Royce, and Matt's cousin Laura.  Whew!  A lovely group.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy birthday, Annie girl.

Today was Annie's first birthday and it was lovely.  Matt and I worked from home and attended a little "Thanksgiving Feast" at day care.  Her teacher asked, "So at what time was she born?" and I looked at my watch and screeched, "In five minutes!"  We spent the hour talking to her teacher and another mom and feeding the babies mashed sweet potatoes and green been casserole, and then Matt and I took her to physical therapy.  We came home and ate the last of her birthday cookies (buttery little pumpkins with her name adorned on them made by a very talented former co-worker) - all of us on the floor (dog included) scrambling for the last bite.

I'll write more - and include photos from her first birthday party - very soon, but for now I just want to say thank you to that little girl for making this the sweetest year of my life.  (Even without those fabulous birthday cookies.)

Annie, on her birthday, in her birthday suit.
She humored me and wore the hat for all my annoying photos.
Here she is with George (he's got a thing for her), enjoying their Thanksgiving meals.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Random thoughts on a Sunday morning

1)  The other week Matt and I did some shopping at Whole Foods.  You know us foolios don’t shop at da Whole Paycheck, but it was all very surreal and Stars Hollow-esque (Gilmore Girls allusion there) because everyone there was skinny and beautiful and there were musicians playing outside the store and it was so quaint and so dang pretty and THEY DO YOGA ON THE ROOF!  Walking past all the Lexuses and Volvos I thought, “This is it. The liberal elite.  We finally made it!”  Then we got into our Corolla (still package-taped up!) and I thought, “Nevermind.”
2)  Matt found groats at Whole Paycheck and is in love with them (or, the idea of them).  They are like oatmeal, but on steroids.  Or something.  Athletes eat them and the groats (too close to “groin” for my liking) fuel them for hours.  So Matt brought them into work, planning on making them, but they’re like steel-cut oats where you gotta cook ‘em for a long while, and you know that boy only has a microwave.  Fail.
3)  I’ve been reminded lately that it’s up to us to make our own happiness, and I’m trying to be very deliberate in this, particularly regarding work.  (It’s always work, isn’t it?)  My wallpaper now says “My To-Do List: Count my blessings.  Practice kindness.  Let go of what I can’t control.  Listen to my heart.  Be productive yet calm.  Just breathe.”  I stole it off someone’s Facebook profile, and I know it’s hokey, but it really is quite good in its own way.  I read it every time my work computer boots up.
4)  Annie is almost a year old.  Every time I look at her, or Matt, I realize this right here is where I’m meant to be.  What a beautiful year.
5)  Driving late the other night I plowed into a fox.  At least I think it was a fox.  My worst fear was that it was someone’s dog.  It was really upsetting at the time and came out of nowhere, and there was on-coming traffic, so I couldn’t swerve.  It happened so quickly there was no avoiding it.  Matt and I were stunned and saddened, but what can you do?  Which brings us to topic number six.
      6)  I really want a Subaru.  My front bumper – due to the poor fox – is now severed in
          several areas and there’s only so much packaging tape can do…
7)  And duct tape is just really trashy.  I mean…I’m a lady.
8)  Back to the Subaru (Outback or Forester).  I love the cars aesthetically and I think it’ll be the perfect family car.  Oh, oh, and the advertising.  The advertising gets me every time.  Oh, I just cry and cry.  Who doesn't adore all the dog ads?  (There's so many more on YouTube  too.)  But the ad that most recently gets me is this one (I cry to Matt and say, "We just have to get a Subaru   It reminds me of us and it's so beautiful and fdklaj;dkf " (that's when I start crying, all snotty and perusing the Subaru website):

9)  When I hit the fox, we were coming home from a Halloween party at Matt’s parents’ place.  Matt and I were trees and Annie was an owl.
10) Which brings me back to why I love Matt.  He made that owl costume.  Like, boy borrowed a sewing machine and made it.  Here’s photographic evidence:
The artist hard at work.

11)   But – on the other hand – he’s now obsessed with sewing and tailoring.  He lost some weight in the last year and, I cannot make this up, took in his sweaters.  He watched a YouTube tutorial and did it.  This morning he said to me, “Those jeans of yours are a little stretched out; do you want me to take them in for you?”  He got a raised eyebrow.
12)  I prefer to shrink my jeans in the washer and dryer, thank you very much.
13)  It’s the weekend.  Happy Sunday all!  I leave you with a terrific Sunday morning song to dance/clean/make breakfast to: 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

11 Months


Guess where I am?!  Over 10,000 feet in the air on my way to Arizona for work.  I suspect right now you’re beginning your morning at daycare, yogurt in your tummy and playing alongside Thomas, Abigail and the other babies.

Your dad and I are having the time of our lives with you: every week you dazzle us with something new.  You absolutely adore music.  We signed you up for a music class at daycare every Tuesday, and your teachers are tickled by how much you dance!  You sway and bob your head to the beat and bat your arms: you shake maracas and bells and twirl scarves.  You love anything with a strong beat and constantly shake your head to the jazzy scat that plays from your Leapfrog toy table.  The other night we put on house music – a nice club mix – and we had a dance party in the living room.  Well, after all of this dad ordered a whole set of baby instruments from Amazon (I think for him as much as for you), which I believe you’re receiving in the mail today!  Can’t wait to see the concert when I get home.

Your therapy is going well, and you are making small (but marked!) improvements.  We try to work with you every evening on tummy time and your transitions (you still don’t quite know how to get from laying to sitting, from laying to rolling, and from sitting to crawling).  You still refuse to crawl and scoot everywhere now; we’re supposed to dissuade this – and most of the time we do, putting you once again in the crawling stance to develop your stomach and arm muscles – but sometimes you’re beaming as you scoot from one toy to the next and we don’t have the heart to fight you.  Some days your head tilt is quite noticeable, and then I won’t notice anything for days on end.  Your neck range of motion is good as you’re building those neck muscles slowly but surely. 

What I love most about going to therapy is watching you in the waiting room.  I’ve noticed this too at daycare when you’re in the “drop off” room with older toddlers: you lock your eyes on those older kids and are positively enraptured by what they do.  It’s almost as if we can see your little mind working overtime figuring out what these “cool” older kids are all about.  In the waiting room you whip your head from left to right so you don’t miss any of their antics.  Many of the kids in the waiting room are very curious and outgoing and come up to you and ask your name.  We tell them “Annie” and one boy said, “You don’t look like an Annie!”  You just continued to stare at him in wonderment, watching as he jumped around the room and hung on to his mother’s legs.

Daddy loves walking with you: he holds your hands and you take wobbly steps.  Our therapist chastised him, though!  She said you need to learn your basics, first, and to concentrate on building those stomach and arm muscles!  Of course, your father didn’t listen and still continues walking around the living room with you.  You love it, too, and you both mimic each other’s grins as you put one foot in front of the next.  You’re also “cruising” around our new square ottoman; you love the thrill and the challenge of rounding those corners.

I’ve noticed you’re more vocal with your displeasure.  You do a particularly loud shriek when your diaper desperately needs to be changed (the last time in Wegman’s when I needed to finish shopping, and girl, you were not pleased!), and another shriek when you are dissatisfied.  Although you’re willful (which we love), we are still constantly impressed on how you take your colds in stride.  You sure have a lot of poise for someone with snot running down her little nose; I think you get that from your father who refuses to admit he’s sick unless he’s absolutely bedridden. (I’m a different story!)

We’re trying to transition you to more finger foods and two nights ago I made you a big plate of little cut-up carrots, string beans and shredded chicken.  You tried it but weren’t impressed and then swept the contents of the plate onto the floor for Penny.  Well – we tried.  Sometimes you love finger foods, but it’s touch and go.  We’re trying to introduce more as we heard you’re picking up and stealing food from the other babies at daycare!  The other day I was sitting on the floor with you and Penny and you both stopped what you were doing because I had a banana in hand – both you and the dog go bananas for bananas!  So we all sat there – the three of us – and shared the fruit.

You still adore Penny, and although she’s such a sweet and gentle dog, she’s not one for playing.  You scoot over to her and she promptly gets up and moves to the other side of the room.  You frown and I think she just doesn’t know what to make of you, but she always bounds out of the house excited to greet you at the end of the day, showing her love by jumping up and licking your little toes.

My little work trips, and daycare drop offs, are getting harder as your personality blossoms.  I think your father said it best with, “She’s just the coolest person I know.”  We can hardly believe your big one-year bash is less than a month away.  Happy 11 months, Annie – we love all of you: your shrieks, your (almost) toothless grins, and your ceaseless wonderment as you begin to explore this big, wide world in front of you.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Staying in the picture

Some things on my mind: 

Have you seen this? The Mom Stays in the Picture 
It's gone viral and the sentiment is a beautiful one: Moms, hand the camera to your spouse, your friend…a complete stranger and join that photo with your little one. Your hair/weight/nose (insert any other physical neurosis) is fine. Be with your son/daughter. Stop being the invisible hand that's raising them. I read this and the very next morning asked Matt to take a photo of me breastfeeding Annie. I had just gotten out of the shower - hair still wet, no make-up - and the photo is nothing special. Our bedroom is messy (as it always is), and the angle, and the lighting, or any of it, isn't particularly touching. But now (two weeks later), only in retrospect, did I realize that that morning was the last time Annie breastfed. I knew it was any day and the next morning - a Monday - we were rushing out the door so I asked Matt is give her a bottle. And the same thing happened on Tuesday, and then Wednesday through Friday. I am not a crunchy, earth mama, and I never thought breastfeeding took me to a higher plane or any of that self-righteous hooey, but…with all sweet things that end, there is touch of sadness. A little emptiness in our rituals. I loved breastfeeding, and now our little girl is growing up. 

This essay also made me think long and hard about the heaviness of raising a daughter: about body image, about acceptance, about lambasting against everything pop culture implores you to pluck and tuck. Like many women, I've walked a curvy road toward acceptance of how I look, particularly when it comes to weight. Many times I'm fine with how I look, and then a see a recent photograph. And I sit there and think, dear god, is this how I look? I've married a man who tells me I'm beautiful almost every single day, and on most days I brush it off. What a thankless job Matt has. Having a baby has shed me of many of my insecurities.  Also turning 30.  I'm so very happy to be in my thirties.  Mainly, I know myself better and I've liked what I've built.

Take last week for example: I turned down a job offer.  This is not something I do often.  Lordy, I am NOT the girl who has job offers.  It was closer to home.  It was more responsibility.  It came with an office (that's huge, right there, as my career trajectory - as of now - is strikingly lateral).  It was more money.  But...there was a "but".  It never felt right and I had the nagging suspicion I'd be stressed out.  Turning that down was the most adult thing I have ever done.  Realizing I don't have to always clamor for the next best thing, and I don't have to define success on anyone else's timeline.  Right now I need to be treading water right here.  It doesn't mean I don't want to make a move.  Maybe something else will come along.  Perhaps not.  We'll make do.  Coming home to Annie solidified that decision for me.   Which takes us back to the whole thing of having a little girl, and the baggage that accompanies being female in our society.

I always told myself I would never let Annie see me frowning in a mirror, or muttering, "God, I look awful in this."  None of that would touch her in our house.  None of that would be a part of our lexicon, because lord knows, she'll get enough of that at school, on television, and everywhere else.  

I picked up More magazine before boarding a work flight two weeks ago to Michigan.  I know, I know: the magazine for women "of a certain age".  Ha.  My friend Danita - who has impeccable taste - said it's really not all that bad and she enjoyed it, so there I was, devouring it (another thing about being in my thirties - Glamour is way too young for me now).  More is composed of essay after essay and the magazine - for being a glossy one - has meat.  One of the essays that made me stare out that plane window long and hard was about a mom, who, ruminating on this very thing - having a daughter and the navigating the aches and pains of acceptance - decided it wasn't a black and white issue, and she would let her daughter see that.  She'd sit her daughter down and say she has good days, she has bad ones, and many days are in between, and you may not always feel beautiful, but you are.  And I held onto that message: the authenticity of it, and the acknowledgement that this is a much deeper issue that a Dove "Love your body" campaign can deliver.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, other than like any other parent, I want so very much for Annie.  I'm finishing this post on her 11-month birthday, and as she rounds the corner to one, nothing seems impossible as I breathe her in and watch her beginning to navigate the crooks and corners or our home.  She scoots around the house exploring drawers and dust bunnies, shoes and books.  If only it could always be this simple. 

Below are some photos from a morning at the pumpkin patch last week.  Can a baby be obstinate and stubborn?  Because this child refused to smile the entire morning and let us know - very openly - she was not a fan of pickin' pumpkins.  (Nevermind she was all giggles later when we went out for lunch.)  I tell ya!  

Annie is willful and doesn't shy away from sharing her opinion...we see this face a lot!  (And I love it.)

A very kind guy took about 10 family portraits.  Sadly, this was the best one.