Monday, May 24, 2010

Silly, Parents. Car Trips are for...Three-Year-Olds?

I suspect that this won't be the first time that we make a dumb decision, and I pray that our other dumb decisions are as relatively harmless. Here's what happened: Jason's cousin Andrew got engaged to a great woman named Tracy. Andrew and Tracy invited us to their wedding outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. We decided to go. We decided to drive. With Hadley. 500 miles.

It sounds foolish now, I know. But when we decided to go--via car--we thought, "Well, Hadley will have her new forward-facing car seat by then. She'll dig it. We'll stop every so often. She'll probably sleep most of the way. She'll love it!"

So there you go. Dumb decision supported by the most ridiculous reasoning (or non-reasoning, as it is more aptly called) we could have dreamt up.

Here's what happened next: As Friday, our day of departure, drew nearer, I began to worry a bit. Could Hadley really make it 500 miles strapped into the car? Did we have the energy to entertain her for, oh, eight hours? What would we do if she had a breakdown mid-way?

But for each of these misgivings, I had a response: Hadley is a great traveler (on the airplane). She plays well by herself. Breakdown? My child doesn't have breakdowns.

So we packed half of what we own (or rather, half of what Hadley owns) into Jason's car and headed out on Friday morning. We felt so brave, so familial, so...National Lampoon's Baby Vacation. Hadley was great for an hour. She looked at her books, looked out the window, ate a snack, blabbered her super-cute baby talk. Then I turned around to check on her, and she grabbed the straps on her car seat and scrinched up her nose, as only Hadley can do. Then she gave me the "all done" sign. Clear. As. Day.

Oh, crap. Oh-crap-oh-crap-oh-crap. One hour? We had made it to Ft. Morgan. So we got off at an exit, parked in the McDonald's lot and proceeded to try to help Hadley fall asleep. Let's just say that episode lasted 45 minutes and involved Jason rocking Hadley in his arms in a nearby Baptist church sanctuary. We must have looked a bit distraught because after we gave up trying to get Hadley to fall asleep, the pastor came out and asked if he could pray for us before we went on our way. Um, yes. Remember when God put Adam to sleep while He created Eve? We wanted THAT kind of sleep for Hadley, please.

We didn't get it.

Instead, we got grumpiness. We got fidgeting. And then I looked at Jason in the rearview mirror (I was driving and he was taking a turn entertaining Hadley), and said, "Do you think we can make it?" And he said, "Nope, I don't think we can." At this point, we had gone 100 miles...and we'd been gone from home for two-and-a-half hours. At that rate, our trip would take 12 hours, not the eight or so we had planned.

After hemming and hawing for another 15 minutes, we finally decided to turn around. We stopped in Ft. Morgan again and ate lunch, and then Hadley fell asleep and slept the last 90 minutes home.

We were disappointed--and mad at ourselves. We would miss the wedding and a visit with Hadley's Grandma, Grandpa and Auntie Crystal, not to mention a swath of extended family she's never even met. Why didn't we think to buy plane tickets? Why did we think that driving 500 miles with a very busy, very active one-year-old would be a good idea? Are we crazy?

Nope, not crazy, we decided after we beat ourselves up for a few hours. Just first-time parents. Rookies with a quixotic notion of road-tripping with our baby girl.

Friday evening, we unpacked the car and laughed when we thought about how Hadley viewed our day. "Mom? Dad? That Subway in Ft. Morgan was a nice place, but there's a Subway--and about six other places to get a sandwich--three miles from our house. No need to drive quite so far next time."

We spent our long weekend together, planting our garden (lettuce, bell peppers, tomatoes, basil, rosemary--oh, I can't wait!) and playing. We were disappointed to miss the wedding, but there was something very sweet about having time together that we hadn't expected to have. Hadley played outside a lot. We took her to the children's museum, out to breakfast (twice), on walks to the park, to the grocery store (which she loves). We played a lot of peek-a-boo and read a lot of books. ("Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me.")

And I think we forgave ourselves for our ridiculous notion. Jason kept saying, "Nobody died. Nobody's hurt." And it's true. It would have been great to celebrate with Andrew and Tracy, but in the grand scheme, we have to see this mishap as a tiny mark on our parenting record. We'll make more mistakes, bigger mistakes, but I hope that we find grace even in those bigger mistakes like we found it this weekend.

Now, because no post is complete with a few photos of Hadley, here are some photos from her birthday celebration. More to come, I promise.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

And Then She Turned One

Our baby is a year old. A year and a day, really, because I spent yesterday celebrating and not blogging--as it should be. How is Hadley, little baby Hadley with the spiky black hair and impish grin, already a one-year-old? Here she was a year ago:

And here she is today:

And I tell you the truth: I could not have imagined how much my love for her would grow in one year. Oh, I loved her the first minute I saw her, but the more I get to know her and the more she reveals herself to us, the more in love I fall.

I can hardly remember what it felt like to be pregnant and wonder about who she was. Now, all I can think is, "Of course the baby inside me was Hadley. Of course the baby inside me was this spark of a child, whose happiness is matched only by her willfulness. Of course the baby inside me was this beautiful girl with grey-green eyes and a smile that makes her whole face beam. Of course." She is just who she is supposed to be, just who we were supposed to have.

She is growing into quite a little girl. She has ideas of her own--where she wants to go, what she wants to eat (I swear she would survive on pears, cheese and O's if we let her), what she wants to play. She knows how to be silly, how to make us laugh, how to press our buttons. She gives hugs and the occasional kiss, which she bestows in one of two ways: a smooch so quick we don't know we've received it until it's over, or a big, wet, mushy, open-mouthed slobber that leaves the recipient's face rather sticky for a long while. No middle ground.

She understands so much. Tonight, I asked if she was ready for a bath. She laughed and walked (holding on to my fingers, as I trailed, doubled-over, behind her) directly to the bathtub. She plays music on her little musical table and dances. She looks for people when we ask where they are. She knows her tummy, the light, her nose, her shoes and socks, and probably a dozen things she's keeping secret for now.

I love her. Wildly, deeply. And even though she gets presents on her birthday, I will forever feel that on May 4, 2009, Jason and I got the biggest, most wonderful gift of all when the doctor put Hadley in our arms.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Home Again

We are home. Last night, we walked in after spending nine days in Florida, visiting Jason's family and our childhood friends, and I thought, "Ahh, this feels good." And Hadley, who was a trooper and a happy kid in her Grandma and Grandpa's house, lunged for Lucy Lamb on her bedroom floor, as if to say, "Ah, Lucy. I've missed you!"

We had a wonderful time in Naples, sharing our baby with lots of people who have loved her from afar for almost a year. Hadley laughed at the waves at the beach--truly, laughed out loud--and I think she would have bobbed in the water forever, she and I, letting the surf push us gently with the tide. That feeling will always remind me of my childhood. When we had to get out (to get our picture taken with some of our old high school friends and their kids), Hadley was not so happy. So that photo is rather funny.

After a couple of days, she warmed right up to Jason's parents, his grandma and sister, Crystal. In fact, after the third or fourth day, Hadley and her grandma took a walk every morning and then "played" basketball in the neighbor's driveway. It is no surprise, perhaps, that Hadley began saying "ball" while we were away. And every time she entered a room and saw Granny Myrt (her great-grandma), she would smile and wave. They are good buddies, those two.

We visited my best friend, Andrea, and her hubby, Steve. We played with our friends and their kids in the pool. We had a fabulous driveway grill-out at the home of one of our oldest friends. (Jason and Dustin have been friends since they were 18 months, and Dustin and I were kindergarten sweethearts.) We spent hours playing with Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Crystal and Granny Myrt. Hadley ate like a champ. (She liked sitting on the patio and looking at the pool while she ate.) We visited my cousin Tad and his wife, Pat. (Hadley loved their dog's toys.) We strolled through some of our old favorite spots and ate at one of our favorite restaurants--twice! We had an Oswald family photo shoot. (You can see a sneak peak here, if you scroll to the end of the most recent post.) We celebrated Hadley's first birthday with Jason's family. And we didn't get to see all of the people we wanted to see, but I suppose there's goodness in that fact: Our lives are so full of people we love, we needed four weeks to be able to see them all.

But all in all, we had a marvelous trip. We're all a little worn out, but I loved taking a break from the crazy schedules we normally keep to be together and visit with people we love. Tomorrow it's back to the insanity, but for now, I'm happy to look through these pictures and relish the time we got to spend together.