Friday, October 25, 2013

This Season

The other day, Bobby remarked a sentiment that echoed a thought I'd recently had. (I love it when that happens!) He mentioned how fun it is this season to be able to remember Emerson at this time last year, and compare those experiences to what we're experiencing now. 

Last fall brought some of the first memories we made together as a family of three, including a trip to the local farm and pumpkin patch. We were becoming more comfortable taking Emerson out of the house, and we were ready to enjoy the cooler weather with our 3-month old baby girl. We had a good time at the farm last year, but I clearly remember watching the families with toddlers and thinking, "that'll be us next year...what fun that will be!

And now, here we are. As we walked around the pumpkin patch last weekend with our toddler, I found myself remembering with a happy heart our time there last October, amazed at how much that baby of ours has grown.

A little look at then (left: October 2012) and now (right: October 2013):




As we approach the holiday season, I suspect I'll be doing quite a bit of this sort of reflecting...cherishing the memories of those early months & new holidays we celebrated with our baby, all the while overwhelmed by the joy that will come from doing this with her all over again.

The fun really has only just begun!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Emerson: 15 Months

October 1, 2013
  • You are primarily wearing 18-month clothing, with a few 12-month tops.
  • Your nighttime sleep has gotten a bit better. You're going to sleep very easily at bedtime, and have slept until the 5 o'clock hour a couple of times. It's progress.
  • You have continued the habit from last month, and lost interest in eating much food at mealtime. You graze and nibble throughout the day, with grapes, animal crackers, peanut butter crackers, and mandarin oranges among your current favorites. Our suspicion is that this is contributing to your lack of sleep at night time...hungry, perhaps? 
  • Nap time has become much more consistent. Around 10:30 a.m., you seem "ready", and when I ask "are you ready for a nap?", you nod your head and move to the couch. We nurse, and you usually fall asleep easily within minutes. Your nap usually ranges from an hour to an hour and a half, and you wake-up refreshed and ready for your lunch.
  • We've gone to story time at the library a few times now, and it's such fun to see you taking it all in. The new surroundings, the other children, the activities.... You seem to prefer to cautiously observe a new experience for a while before jumping right into it, and that's something your mommy can relate to. You seem to enjoy yourself, though, especially at the sand table and the felt board.
  • You read lots and lots of books! "Buh-buh", you say, and then bring one to Mommy's lap. "Turn, and sit", I say...and then you do. I think you would read books with someone all day if you could.
  • You are increasingly expressing your opinions and making your desires clear. What you want (or don't) want to do, or do (or don't) want to eat. You're a communicator, and get such a look of delight when you're being understood.
  • When we read books, it's seems that you're truly understanding certain stories, intentionally choosing specific books, and turning to your favorite pages...and quickly skipping over the ones that aren't.
  • We watch PBS in the morning right after your wake-up and then again in the evening, usually while Mommy gets dinner started in the kitchen. You seem to need that "quiet time" late-afternoon, and you zone out for a bit while you watch "monkey George" (Curious George). 
  • You've tried to play with Royal a couple of times...clearly trying to get his attention by talking to him or batting at this fur. He largely ignores you, which is probably best at this point, but you sure do like your puppy!
  • When you want to go outside, you point to the door, nod your head, and say "ah-gah, ah-gah". Your intentions are quite clear, and you repeat over and over again until we oblige. 
  • Dumping, sorting, & putting away various things (crayons, clothes, blocks, etc.) are some of your favorite hobbies.
  • You loved to be chased by your popcorn popper toy, and you run around the living room as you're followed. Grandma created this game and you love it.
  • Shadows continue to be a fun discovery, and our afternoon and evening walks have given plenty of opportunity to explore them.
  • Your speech sounds more and more like real words, versus baby babble. You have deliberate, meaningful vocabulary, and it's fun to be communicating together and understanding each other.
  • You've moved forward (vs back) on your bike a few're really riding! Such a big girl! 
  • Your hair is so "flowy"...long and blond, with the most beautiful little waves of curl at the ends. 
  • You are a little "parrot" these days, repeating words as you're able and mimicking sounds, words, behaviors and actions. You are so curious and interested in figuring out this world of yours.
  • You're moving more and more quickly and with such confidence...often running!
  • You exert your desire to do things for yourself frequently, but are still so cuddly...navigating between your own need for independence and the comfort of "Mom". 
  • You readily give kisses, especially in the morning, to Mommy and Daddy. And when one of us gets a kiss, the other must, too. You are quite affectionate and we cherish that.
  • When you are ready to go outside or to the car, you often deliver Mommy's shoes and then stand at the garage door. A girl on a mission, who knows the process!
  • Stickers provide all sorts of entertainment! You place them all over yourself, Mommy's legs, Royal's back.... And you do it with such a look of focus and concentration. It's a serious job!
  • Nursing is still a regular habit. We nurse when you wake-up, before nap time, and before bed...and then sometimes when you wake in the middle of the night. Occasionally, it'll happen again during the day, but that's primarily a matter of boredom or needing comfort. You wiggle and squirm, though, and make things interesting. It's still something that you enjoy, and I'm glad to be able to let you slowly wean as you're ready.
  • You are beginning to show interest in cow's milk and at least have a few sips from a cup each day. Baby steps.
  • You have your very own potty chair! It's a bit early for you to seriously use it, and we're not really trying. But, you know exactly what it is and seem proud to have a potty of your own. No success yet, but the day is coming! It's good practice for you to make yourself comfortable there!
  • You love to "creep" and "sneak up" on people. You crouch down, and get this sneaky look in your eyes, and walk slowly up to your target. It's adorable and makes you quite proud.
  • You have lots of cute expressions. One current favorite of Daddy's is what he calls your "ghost face". Your eyes get wide, your mouth opens, and you stretch the skin underneath your nose. Quite appropriate, given the season.
  • Spinning is a new trick of yours. You hold out an arm to your side, using that for balance, and you twirl around and around...often when you're overwhelmed with excitement when Grandpa comes to play.

The Lord gave you such a beautiful spirit, Emerson. Each day, we are shown a little more 
of your blossoming personality that He created, 
and we are grateful.
You are a precious gift, and dearly loved, sweet Emerson Blair.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Highlight Reel

One of the dangers of reading blogs or routinely following social media is the comparisons that can all too frequently result...comparing your life to that of others. (A topic I pondered earlier this year here.) Of course, this isn't social media's just serves as the avenue by which we're able to see so very frequently what everyone else's life looks like.

Or, do we?

A friend shared the following quip with me a few months ago. (I'm not sure who deserves credit for saying it in the first place.)

"Don't compare your everyday life 
to someone else's highlight reel."

The point is, the images and stories shared on blogs or Instagram or Facebook are very often only part of the story, chosen to depict an event or an experience (or an outfit...or a house...or a child...) in the way that the owner wishes for it to be. I suspect that we rarely see the big picture...the entire story.

And I think that leads us to have very, very false impressions of the lives that others lead...believing that they are more glamorous individuals or that their lives are far more idyllic than our own.

I'm not suggesting that every person who posts such things is maliciously trying to deceive others. It's fun to share snippets of our lives with loved ones and frankly, even complete strangers. We're (myself included) intrigued by the lives that others lead, and conversely, others enjoy knowing what goes on in our world. But the reality is that what is shared is not always the whole truth. And, we often only share the best parts of our lives for others to see. I'm guilty of that. And I need to be ever-mindful and very cautious about my intention in sharing bits of my life. Because if my motive simply becomes showing others how great I believe I have it, then I've crossed a line.

With that said, now seems as appropriate a time as any to share the story of our family adventure to the local fair a few months ago...with all the nitty-gritty, entirely unglamorous details.


Bobby and I have fond memories of summer trips to the fair, especially during our dating years, when it was a yearly ritual complete with an annual photo in front on the ferris wheel. (Which I would love to include an example of here, were the photos not stuck on an old hard drive and on DVD's. Ugh. The never-ending challenge of figuring out to effectively store and archive thousands of digital photos.... If you figure it out, let me know.) It had been a couple of years since our last visit, and we were excited to make new memories there...this summer, with our daughter!

As we left the house that evening, I felt a bit queasy, but not so much so that I thought it to be overly concerning. We bought our tickets and made our way in the gates, but no sooner did we step onto the midway that it became abundantly clear to me that I needed to find a bathroom. Quickly. I'll spare you these details, but know that our first 45ish minutes at the fair were spent racing to find a restroom...and then another one. (I told you...glamorous, right?!)

While I dealt with my unhappy digestive system in what were certainly less than pleasant fairground facilities, Bobby was left trying to manage an unhappy one-year old, who was upset by Mommy's sudden disappearances, a looming bedtime hour, and the nearby balloons that she had spotted but could not attain. (To dear Bobby's credit, he did a great job, even succumbing himself to a sales pitch by a life insurance representative in the sea of vendors for the sole purpose of securing a balloon for Emerson. What a guy!) Suffice it to say, none of us were having much fun.

Once I began to feel better, we managed to visit the cows and see the baby chicks, and Emerson had a great time playing in the corn-filled tire. We saw the horses before their show, walked around the midway again to see the ferris wheel and all of the lights, and Emerson got her first little taste of a corn dog. It was a beautiful summer evening and it was special to be out together as a family.

Below is the photo collage I posted to Instagram...which, frankly, suggests an idyllic evening...a happy little family enjoying the fair in all its glory...right? These are the images of the parts of the evening I enjoyed. And, there most definitely were some! I wanted to remember these details of the night, and in my opinion, they were worth sharing.

Regardless, it probably would have been more accurate to show a photo of the inside of a bathroom stall. Or, at the very least, a picture of our family looking as frazzled and underwhelmed by the occasion as we felt.

No one really wants to see that, though. Nor is it any fun to admit "this was not entirely a good experience...things didn't go as planned...I had tummy trouble...our life isn't picture-perfect".

But, all of those things are true.

Between the unplanned bathroom visits, the plumes of cigarette smoke we were repeatedly forced to walk through, a generally "dirty" environment,  and a tired toddler, our trip to the fair was hardly the lovely family experience I'd pictured...though it was memorable, indeed!

(Bobby and I have discussed the possibility that the fair experience itself was always similar to this, minus the bathroom stops. The possibility that we were too distracted by our young love years ago to realize it...or that our perspective of a 'fun' outing changed once we had our baby along with us. It's possible. But, we also really do think that the fair has gone downhill in recent years. Another definite possibility, I think.)

So, case in point. I used Instagram to show a "highlight reel" of the evening. I didn't exactly depict our real life experience. And, that's okay...but perhaps, to some degree, dishonest. I need to be mindful of the "reality" I'm presenting and thus implying to well as maintaining an awareness, for my own sanity, that others may just be showing their "highlight reel", too.