Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ten Months Old

Dear Larkin,

Yesterday, you turned ten months old. It’s so hard to believe that we’re working on planning your first birthday party. I’m constantly wondering how on Earth you’ve grown up so fast. You are a dervish, a whirlwind, a tiny, handsome tornado, leaving fun and exhaustion and destruction in your wake.

And really, you are so handsome. You just keep getting cuter and cuter all the time. Your hair has grown so long in the back and on the sides (although you’re still rocking the receding hairline up top!) and looks so grown up when I can tame it down. Your eyes change colors all the time, just like mine, although they mostly go just from blue to grey. You’re tall and lean and you have the most amazing smile I’ve ever seen. I know you would say that I’m biased, but it’s true. Total strangers stop me all the time to remark on what a gorgeous baby you are. You love to hear these compliments, and never fail to greet one with a big grin. 

Not that you’re ALWAYS happy, of course. In fact, you’ve turned into quite the little drama king. You have started defaulting to your “it’s the end of the world” cry for everything. So basically, I never know if you are crying because your diaper is wet or if a wild boar has snuck in and is chewing your leg off.

As you can tell from the above clip, you’ve started saying “mama”. It typically only comes out while you’re crying or whining, but you’ve said it while happy once or twice. I love it. I love it I love it I love it. I eat it up! And it’s about time too, since you’ve been saying “dada” quite expertly for awhile now. In fact, you’ve been making some great verbal leaps. Besides starting to talk, you also have started understanding us very well. If I ask you where daddy is, you look around in his usual places. When we were going home today from an afternoon out, I told you we were going to see Gaunie and Nana. Your eyes lit up and you asked, “Dada?” “Yes,” I said. “Dada will be there too.” You started clapping happily.

This new understanding has led us to your new favorite game:

You could do this for hours!

You’ve also started finger foods this month. Once you allowed me to give you table food, it’s like a light bulb went off – “Oh THIS is what you guys have been trying to convince me is so awesome!” Suddenly, you love food! Just last night, you gobbled up a meal of rice and spinach, some Greek yogurt with mango, two Mum Mum crackers with apple butter, and a fourth of my chicken breast. Then you immediately nursed for a long time! I was super impressed. You love meat, especially chicken and fish, and I still haven’t found much of anything you won’t eat.

You learned to wave this month, and you do so by putting your thumb and forefinger together, then waving from the wrist. It’s adorable, especially when you do it all through the grocery store from your perch in the cart – you look like a beauty queen on a parade float! You also do it in restaurants, waving frantically to everyone who passes, just waiting on a response.

You got to meet your other great grandmother a few weeks ago (Grandpa’s mom). You are such a lucky boy to have THREE great grandmothers who adore you.

This month, I got my first lesson today in the school of "If it's too quiet, they're probably doing something they shouldn't" when I went to throw a load of laundry in, and came back to find you had opened the jar of coconut oil (that I had closed tightly so you could play with it) and was finger painting the wood floor with it. You really are just into EVERYTHING! You’re also very mischievous. I’ve been working hard to lose weight. One day, I went to weigh myself on Gaunie’s large doctor's office-type scale. I set you down on the floor while I climbed on. I pushed the numbers to the area I expected them to stop - but they kept going. Eight, nine pounds past what I weighed last week, and they still did not balance. I started to tear up, and then looked down to check on you – only to find you sitting on the back of the scale. Not cool, little man!

We’ve had an amazing month together. It’s been full of summer time joys, like swimming and hiding out in the cool library. We keep our days full of fun – play dates and story times and visiting with friends. You’ve enjoyed splashing in the pool with your aunt and uncle and cousins, and love that we converted G&G’s game room into a giant play room for you to crawl around and spread your toys around.

This is how you get around with your toys - like a cute little puppy dog!

We call this "getting the spirit". You do it frequently.
Apparently, Marvin the Martian is DELICIOUS
This is pretty much the extent of the cuddles I get. Just a quick love, before you pop back up, ready to play more.
I love you so very much, little one. Its late now, and you’re cuddled up in bed, just waiting for me to join you. I think I will right now. 

Mischief managed!

I love you so very much, sweet boy. You are my shining star.

To the moon… and back,


PS - Just a few more photos, because you're so cute!

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Baby is a Jedi

My baby is a Jedi.

No, he isn’t all-wise, can’t swing around a light saber, or fight the dark side.
When 9 months old you reach, look as good, you will not.
But he is an expert at using THE FORCE.

Think I’m exaggerating? Consider this:

I tuck him in for a nap, and he’s sleeping soundly. I serve up a delicious, warm meal – and WAAAH! He’s awake.

I tell someone that, yes, I would like to have another baby one day – and BOOM! He starts acting like a wild animal.

It’s late at night, and mama needs a glass of wine. I pour a lovely glass – and he is immediately up and fussing for a marathon nursing session.

I brag to someone about how smart he is or how dexterous he has become – and he crawls straight into a wall.

I close my eyes to finally get some rest, go to kiss on my husband, or put in a movie I’ve been longing to see – you guessed it. AWAKE.

Now, it’s possible that those are all easily explained. Perhaps he smells the food and it rouses him from sleep. Maybe the pop of the wine bottle wakes him. It could be that the movement of me getting into bed, or the sound of a kiss, or his fear of potential future siblings pushing him from his only child status, or the noises from the TV create disturbances.

(One particularly annoying behavior is that the second I post a favorable Facebook comment or blog entry about a new skill or sleeping schedule, the happy behavior disappears. Although unlikely, I suppose it is possible he has an iPhone hidden in his diaper and just dislikes the pressure of me bragging on the internet.)

But what convinces me the most of his Jedi status – he can READ MY MIND.

The second I settle in for the evening, and allow myself to think “Oh, thank God he’s down for the night” – he’s up. IMMEDIATELY. The instant I think, “What a sweet baby” - suddenly, he ISN’T.  The minute I dwell on what a lovely bond we have, the stinker slams his head into my wind pipe and jams a finger up my nose.

My friends assure me that I’m not alone. They tell me their babies do the same to them. This does not reassure me in the slightest.

That just tells me there is an entire force of Jedi babies preparing to dominate the world.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Adoption Day

28 years ago today, at 9 am, my parent’s phone rang and they got the call they’d been waiting for. That afternoon, they loaded up my dad’s infamous Blazer and drove to Depelchin Children’s Center to pick me up – their adopted daughter. I was added to my brother (then 11) and my immediate family was completed.

It’s amazing to me how God work His master plan. Even without blood ties, my family and I are perfectly connected. I’ve always been a daddy’s girl and my mom has always been one of my best friends. In fact, my parents have walked that line between friend and parent better than anyone else I know.

My dad is the brilliant and surprisingly hilarious. He can crack a joke without cracking a smile that will slay an entire room. He taught me to drive when I was 11, out on the back roads by my grandmother’s farm. Have you ever been passed by a tractor? I have – and my dad was STILL telling me to slow down. He introduced me to Get Smart, and set me on a track that has developed into my sophisticated, finer sense of humor that we still share today. 

This is the man who helped me build an oil rig out of popsicle sticks and taught me to never throw anything away. No matter how far across the world he traveled for work, he always made it back for my dance recitals and birthdays. He was never able to teach me math, but he did teach me to honor the gifts that God gave me.  And he made certain that every guy who picked me up at his door for a date was going to treat me with the upmost respect. Because of my dad’s strength, I always readily accepted God as a father figure. 

This video is SO my dad. In fact, minus the sleeveless shirt, he basically owns all of these guy's wardrobe - including that exact Hawaiian shirt and phone belt clip. I couldn't have written this song better myself!

My mom was always my rock. She worked as hard as she could from home so that I never came home to an empty house. She taught me how to be a lady and how to stand my ground. She taught me how to wear makeup, how to walk in heels, and the importance of a signature scent. She was the original Proverbs 31 woman, hard working and full of tenderness towards her family.

I never once had to hesitate to call my mom – no matter the hour of night. Every phone call (even those made collect while I was at camp, when I needed to talk so bad that I couldn’t wait to go back to my room to find a quarter) was readily answered and rewarded by her heavy accent that sounded just like home. It was my mom who taught me to drive at 16 (we decided to preserve my dad’s heart and our relationship), who still does my hair for every special occasion, and who still tolerates my frequent borrowing of jewelry and makeup.

My parents gave me my love of reading. They read me bedtime stories until I knew them well enough to recite them on my own. My favorite was the story of my adoption, and they always told it with the greatest respect towards my biological mother and her sacrifice. Church was never to be missed, even when we were out of town. I have precious memories of hotel room communions and Bible verses.

My abilities were applauded and encouraged (my dad recently revealed a file cabinet drawer that contained every bit of writing I had done since elementary school) and my strength was never questioned. It is due to them that I have reached every success in my life.

And my new favorite part about my parents? Watching them bond with Larkin. 

 He and his grandpa are such good buddies, and he nearly dives out of my arms when dad walks in the door. When dad is in Dallas and calls home, Larkin’s favorite part of the evening is listening to grandpa talk over speaker phone. And sometimes I wonder if my mom isn’t even more proud of the little bit than I am! Gigi is pretty much his favorite person on Earth. They have showered him with love and affection, and are well on their way to spoiling him completely rotten. And they have been invaluable to me – starting with our first day home from the hospital when they rescued us at 4 am by taking Larkin and allowing us a bit of sleep, and a million blessed breaks that have followed.

I wasn’t born to my parents, but I was born for them. I thank God every day that 28 years ago, He paired up a family in want with a baby in need, and formed us.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me (and America)

I have the best birthday on the calendar – July 4th. Think about it. It’s a holiday, so (as long as you’re in America) you are guaranteed to be off work, no matter what day it falls on. BUT it’s not a gift giving holiday, so you never get gypped on gifts. Everyone loves to party on the fourth, everyone loves to barbeque on the fourth and THERE ARE FIREWORKS.

Admit it – it’s awesome.

What’s not so awesome is this slow creep towards 30. Yesterday was my 28th birthday. Not a milestone year, but inching up there. Nevertheless, this birthday was special, because I got to share it with Larkin. Oh, he was “there” last year. I was on bed rest and unable to attend the official fireworks show, but I hefted myself out to the backyard to watch the neighbor’s illegal show. Larkin tossed and turned in my belly, kicking me solidly every time a firework went off.

I remember vividly slapping at mosquitoes and watching my stomach roll, and marinating in the hopes of the forthcoming year. Except for the joy of the baby, though, all the hopes I had for my 27th year were pretty well dashed.

Excepting the birth of Larkin, 27 was not a happy year. It was fraught with financial hardships, professional setbacks (for both Jonathan and I), and rocky relationships. It was a rather boring rollercoaster ride – the highest peak of my life, surrounded by below-sea level nothingness. Nothing truly DRAMATICALLY bad happened (no family or friends passed away unexpectedly, no one became gravely ill, our son has born fit and healthy), but it was a year that I’m rather happy to see in the rear view.

To ring in my new year, we tromped in to town for the local fireworks show. It was not a well thought out plan. Because of the severe droughts we’ve had in Texas this year, most of the local firework shows were banned. So EVERYONE in the area was coming in to the same location. We had to park at one place and be shuttled in to the park. There, thousands and thousands of people had been celebrating for most of the day. It was a mad house.

We quickly backed out of the park after Larkin almost got his head knocked off by a (allegedly) drunk moron within seconds of us walking in. Instead, we parked ourselves in a grassy area outside of the park where a few other families had gathered to watch the show.

Shortly after we got situated, the first fireworks went off. Larkin’s eyes opened hugely and his mouth fell open as he watched the colorful explosions. He looked at me with an “ARE YOU SEEING THIS?!?” expression, then swiveled his head back to the show. He stared at the entire fifteen minute show with absolute awestruck wonder. When the grand finale started exploding across the sky, I found it impossible to look at anything but the huge smile on his face.

The trip home wasn’t pleasant (ever seen humans being herded?), but it was worth every minute of frustration to see that joyous expression on my baby’s face as he discovered something amazing and new. So, in other words, it was a very fitting ending to the year.

Happy Fourth of July, baby. Happy birthday, me.  

I think this year will be our year!

Gluten free red velvet cupcake... yum!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wake Up Call

This morning, I woke up to Larkin's tiny hand tapping my arm. I judged the amount of light shining through my eyelids, and mentally sighed. Early, but not early enough to try to pretend it was still night time. I cracked open my eyes.

His face lit up, and he smiled as wide as his chubby cheeks would allow. He had rolled onto his belly and propped himself on his elbows, the better to await my awakening. As soon as I returned his smile, he flipped over and sat up, his posture straight as a ballerina. He clapped his hands, celebrating the morning.

With sheer excitement on his face, he lunged at me and slapped his hands on my cheeks, leaned in and gave me a big kiss. He sat back up and clapped again, applauding his own adorableness this time.

I may never be a morning person, but this kid makes mornings worth getting up for.