Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Tribute to Mumsie

I was talking with a colleague-turned-friend of mine this week about how some people just don't know how to argue. There are rules, and if you don't know the rules, then maybe every disagreement seems like an unbearable confrontation. But if you know the rules, disagreeing is far less threatening and becomes a very important tool for working out a problem.

During our conversation, I mentioned that I have a very clear memory of my mom telling me the rules of arguing when I was about four.

I don't remember exactly why I was so mad at her, but I suspect she was drawing boundaries around my world, and I was pushing hard against those boundaries. I said to her, "I hate you." Can you imagine at four-year-old saying that to her mother? But I was a fiesty little person who loved experimenting with the power of words, and I knew even then that "hate" is one of the strongest words a person can use. 

"Hold it," she said to me. I remember being really surprised. I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. Then she told me that we have rules in our house when we argue. They were:

1. We always love each other. No matter what. We do not hate. Ever. 
2. I could dislike what she did or said, and I could even dislike her for right now, but again, we always love each other.

I was interested to learn that there were such rules, even for a thing like arguing. I probably amended my comment to something like, "I don't like you right now." And knowing my mother as I do, I'm very sure she said, "Ok. You don't have to like me right now. But you still have to clean up your toys." I was probably still mad, but having rules gave me tools for expressing my anger and frustration in a safe, healthy way.

As we got older, she added one more rule: Stick to the issue. No addenda, no additions, no "hey-and-while-I'm-mad-at-you-I'd-like-to-mention-that-I-was-really-frustrated-last-week-when-you..."

The day after our initial conversation, my friend at work told me that she and her husband were talking about my mom's rules for arguing, and how brilliant they think such rules are. And then my friend said, "What a great legacy to pass down to Hadley! I feel like you have such great stories to tell about things you've learned from your mom and dad." 

I didn't realize how often I shared stories or lessons from my childhood, but as Jason and I try to figure out how to parent Hadley (and stay one step ahead of her), we look to our own families and childhoods to figure out what we want to emulate and what we'll do differently. I am definitely going to teach Hadley the rules of arguing; they serve me well still--especially when I'm having a contentious conversation at work or taking a call from a grumpy architect who thinks he should be featured in the magazine. (In those cases, the rule about always loving each other gets amended to "We always respect each other.")

So thanks, Mumsie, for having the foresight to teach Graham and me how to disagree. Heaven knows we practiced those skills often enough while we were growing up, but now you have two adult children who understand that disagreement is a part of life, not a threat to our relationships. 

Now if only you could teach the grumpy architects a thing or two...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Meeting Granny Myrt and a Visit from Grandma and Grandpa

Mama is worn out tonight, so I'm going to rely on photos to show how we spent our almost-fall weekend. Hadley met Granny Myrt for the first time, and she got in a good visit with her Grandma and Grandpa. See?...

Four generations! What a blessing...

Hello, cheeks.

She even had a visit from Great-Great Uncle Art and Cousin Diane:

And even Daddy got in on the Hadley snugglin'...

Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Perfect Rainy Day

We have plenty of days that are not perfect, I will admit. The wheels come off the bus with some frequency around here, and then we're missing naps and searching for clean-ish clothes and eating peanut butter and jelly for dinner because nobody went to the grocery store. We have plenty of those days, which I feel obligated to mention because I think lots of moms don't want to admit the truth about those days. Some moms give the false impression that life with children is all about cupcakes and rainbows and chirping birds straight off a Disney World ride. Not so, my friends. Not here, anyway.

But today, today was a glorious day. Perfect in all the ways that count. Hadley slept until 9:00 this morning, and when we woke up, we felt cool fall air wafting softly through the open window. The sky was gray and promised rain. Oh, how I love rain, especially since we get so little here. Jason and Hadley got excited about college football (even though Hadley isn't allowed to watch TV):

Then Jason, Hadley and I headed out to Mumsie and Granddaddy's house for brunch with our friends Tasha and Braxton Hogan (Tasha of the fabulous shoes). Tasha loved on Hadley, and Hadley loved on Tasha, and Jason and I got to eat our brunch without a baby on our laps (because Tasha wouldn't give her up). Hadley napped at Mumsie's house while we all sat around and chatted. Such fun.

Then we did this:

This is her "are you talkin' to me?" face.

How 'bout that drool?

We crack ourselves up.

What's up with my hoodie, Mom?

I just want to squeeze those sweet cheeks.

We came home and Hadley and I took a long, glorious nap together. Jason and I are typically really disciplined about Hadley sleeping in her crib, but cool rainy days are a sign that we need to snuggle. And snuggle we did. She didn't wake up for two-and-a-half hours, and when she did, she was all smiles. Here is her post-nap hairdo:

I have to mention that Jason put Hadley's hands in her pockets, in case anyone is wondering.

Crazy hair!

I have no words for this one.

After her nap, we went to a local Italian restaurant for pizza and salad. Jason and I took turns holding Hadley on our laps, and she was happy to sit and watch us chow down. She's very interested in our food these days, but she's just going to have to wait a couple of more months. I have a hunch that she'll be very happy about solids when they come her way.

Now she's resting peacefully in her crib, and I really hope it stays that way for, oh, the next 10 hours. A good night's rest will be the perfect ending to our perfect day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy Hadley

Last night, our friend and pastor Brian Brown, multi-tasker extraordinaire, came over to take some photos of Hadley with his fancy-pants camera. I was a little worried because sometimes, when we get close to bedtime, Hadley gets grumpy and we have to chant "Big A, Little A. What begins with 'A'? Auntie Allie's Alligator, A, A. A." And so on. (God bless Dr. Suess.) But last night, Hadley was fabulous. She seemed to be thoroughly enjoying her photo shoot, smiling and talking and sucking on her fingers...and then...

...she started laughing. Hysterically. Hilariously. She couldn't stop. I think she thought Brian with the big black apparatus in front of his face was funny, but I could be wrong. Before long, Jason, Brian and I were laughing, too. We must have been quite a sight: Hadley giggling uncontrollably and three adults laughing at Hadley, which only seemed to egg her on...which only seemed to egg us on...You get the picture. It was great fun.

Speaking of pictures, we'll get the results of the photo shoot in a few weeks, but in the meantime, a colleague of mine sent these pictures to me. They're from the Cherry Creek Wine Crawl last month, which the magazine sponsored.

I'm pretty sure Hadley is checking out the cheese tray just off to the left of the photo.

She's contemplating what to do with that drool on her chin. I'm crazy about this picture because it shows her darling little chubby hands.

Guess who looks like her daddy...

Hadley is really a happy little person. She smiles at everyone (though she's not crazy about letting just anyone hold her), and she already seems able to find joy in her day. When we went to Target last week, she was really working the crowd, flashing smiles across aisles at anyone who caught her eye.

Turns out, I gave this blog the right name. Hadley is happy, and we're happily along for the ride.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hadley Bakes...and a Photo Shoot With Mommy

I'm so eager for fall, I can hardly stand it. Football games. Hot cider. The colors of the changing leaves. Cool nights. And my very, very favorite: the smell. I don't know how to describe it, but every year I've lived north of the Mason-Dixon Line, I've smelled fall. It's like the first wafts from a burning fireplace mixed with the scent of mulling spices and the cleanliness of crisp, cool air. It makes me slow down and breathe deeply. Ahhh...

So to get fall jump-started (it's still in the 80s here during the day), Hadley and I decided to bake some banana bread on Tuesday. Well, I decided and Hadley drooled in agreement. I moved her bouncy seat into the kitchen, plopped her into it, and proceeded to narrate my every move. It was like having my very own Food Network show (and we all know that having Hadley as my audience is about as close as I'll ever get to that). "First, Hadley, we peel the very mushy bananas," I said. "See? They're gooey and soft, just how we like them." She watched intently for a good 10 minutes, but I could tell she wanted to be closer to the action. When she voiced her discontent--read: fussed--I stopped my show, grabbed the Baby Bjorn, and stuck her in it. 

Not surprisingly, it is markedly more difficult baking while wearing a baby. Hadley loved it, though. She was mesmerized by the mixer. She watched intently while I measured the flour. She grabbed for everything and seemed especially into the orange baking soda box. I put her down before I put the bread into the oven, but she helped with everything else. She was very proud, I could tell.

One day, she will associate the yummy smell of banana bread with HOME. I always do. I use the same recipe my mom used while we were growing up, and I still think of her when I smell the bread baking. It just feels...cozy. And safe. And autumnal. 

I can't wait until the air cools, and we can hear the leaves rustling on the ground outside. Then I will snuggle Hadley...(see us practicing?)...

...and snuggle...

...and smile... this very good, simple life we lead. Banana bread and baby snuggles and fall on its way. What more could I ask for? Not a thing.