Sunday, June 27, 2010

Note to Self: Remember THIS

When we have a really great moment--not necessarily Disney-World great, but just a happy moment of baking or craft-making or laughing uncontrollably--I want to tell Hadley: "Remember this minute. Stop for a second and press this memory into your mind and your heart. Keep it forever."

After all, there's nothing quite like playing old memories in your mind while you lay in bed at night. It's just...good.

And now, for a few snapshots from our time at Zapata Ranch last weekend. I cannot really believe that she won't always be this age. I'm trying hard not to let her suddenly become 10 years old. I'm trying to remember each moment.

Playing at Great Sand Dunes National Park
Can you even stand how cute those glasses are?
Sand! In the middle of the mountains!

The perfect bench
Hello, random piece of old ranch equipment...
Am I really allowed to stand on this thing?

Hello, cute baby tush...

Um, Dad? I don't know how to get down from here...

I love random old ranch equipment!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Daddy Day

Editor's Note: I've been working on this post for a week now, trying to get it just right. I feel like whatever I say, it won't quite capture the goodness and happiness Jason gives to Hadley and me. But what's a baby blog without a Father's Day post? So with this caveat, I'm publishing...

In honor of Daddy Day, I think it's about time we have a post about Jason, who is the rock in our family, the Steady Eddie to my Loopy Lucy. He is the calm and the security and the patience in our home; he's the voice of reason to my occasional freak-out; he's the gentle spirit who loves quietly and deeply. His family and friends know that once Jason loves you, he loves you forever.

And one look at Hadley with Jason, and even the most casual observer would know that these two are hooked on each other. Hadley adores her daddy (whom she calls "Da"); so do I.

Of all the good things in Hadley's life, one of the very, very best is a daddy who loves her deeply. I didn't realize until I was in high school how many girls long for daddies who loom large in their lives, who show love and enforce discipline, who cheer them on and make them feel safe, and who teach them to recognize the good guys and fall for nothing less. I have a daddy like that, and so does Hadley.

Best of all, Jason is an expert at showing love--while I will tell you all day long how much I love you. He loves in action; I love in words. I hope Hadley learns to love both ways, but if she can choose only one, I hope she learns to love in action. Jason serves and gives. He gets up with Hadley most mornings because even though he'd love to sleep, he gives me the gift of rest. (I also think he enjoys having Hadley all to himself for an hour or so.) He makes our dinner most nights because I'm not such a skilled chef; he fixes the swamp cooler so we'll be comfortable at home; plants our vegetable garden because I've been talking about having one for years; remembers to back up my computer because I forget--and he knows that I have plenty of precious writings and photos on this old machine. He's that kind of guy.

Hadley already knows it. Today, as we drove home from an outing, I said to her, "I think Daddy will be home when we get there!" So she grinned and started chanting, "Da! Da! Da!" Babies have great instincts; she knows that her daddy loves her deep and true.

I know it, too. When the enormity of raising a child hits me--when I realize the responsibility and hugeness of it all--I look at Jason and think, "Oh, okay. We can do this." This year has not been easy for us. We both work at least a few hours most weekends and nearly every evening; Jason travels once a month or more; we both wish we could spend more time with Hadley, and each other, and our friends. But when I start to feel overwhelmed by all we're trying to do and be, Jason is calm. He always reminds me to look at Hadley, who is a happy, healthy, secure little girl. He reminds me that we have a warm, cozy home, filled with good food, where people who love us visit often. When he prays, he thanks God first for our blessings, and first among those is Hadley and our family.

How does he know how to do these things, how to be the perfect balance of fun and serious, gentle and stern, patient and silly?

I do not know, but I am thankful down to my soul for him, and for all he is to Hadley.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On Weaning

I'm going to be honest: It often feels as though I have about four readers of this precious blog of mine, and I'm a writer...and writers like an audience. Well, this writer likes an audience. But I persist because 1) I've persuaded myself that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of you out there just dying to hear about Hadley's life and 2) this blog has turned into a great way for me to process motherhood and record some of Hadley's daily life. When she's older, she can moan and tell me to stop sharing her life with the world, but for now, I'm in charge of this space.

But tonight, I'm going to post on a topic that's a bit personal, so if there are only four of you, I'm cool with that.

Hadley is in the amorphous place between babyhood and toddlerhood, and she's running toward toddlerhood faster than I can believe. She's walking all over the place; eating almost everything (last night, at Mumsie and Granddaddy's house, she ate olives and goat cheese, which is proof that she is indeed my child); expressing her opinion (more proof that she's mine); talking ("hat" and "toes" are new words); and looking more and more like a little girl every day.

But one remnant of her babyhood remains: nursing.

When Hadley was born, I was determined to breast feed her for a year. It was difficult and painful at first, but I got through those first weeks knowing that it was best for her. And then, one day, about a month into Hadley's life, it was easy--and wonderful. All that snuggling, all that togetherness, I loved it, and I could tell she did, too. I loved that nursing was convenient and free and formulated perfectly for her.

When I went back to work, I pumped at least three times a day, and in case you faithful readers have never pumped, let me assure you there is nothing glamorous about it. It added at least 15 minutes to my morning routine; it was the last thing I did before bed every night; I squeezed it in between meetings ("squeezed" being the operative word there); and it made me feel like Bessy the Milk Cow. But still, it was worth it.

Those first few weeks, I wondered how I'd make it a whole year. A whole year later, I wonder how I'll give it up.

We're down to two feedings a day: one when she wakes up in the morning, and one before she goes to bed at night. (Now, after we put her pjs on, she looks at Jason, waves and says "bye-bye." It's pretty funny.) My hunch is that she's nearly ready to wean, and I should just do it once and for all. But I keep putting it off. "Just one more week," I tell myself. "Not now, we're getting ready to go out of town. Not next week, Jason will be in Chicago for business." I have a million excuses, but the real reason I haven't done it is that I will miss it.

Her growing independence is such a good and healthy thing, but it means that she's often too busy to be held. One of the greatest joys in life--the best, simple gifts moms get--is the feeling of our babies pressed up against us. I can't let that go just yet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just Plain Fun...

When we took Hadley in for her one-year-old doctor's appointment last month, the doctor (who has grown kids) said, "I loved the summer after my kids turned one. It's such a fun time." And I remember really liking him at that moment because our appointment wasn't just about tongue depressors and stethoscopes; it was about our family, having a good time together in the summer sun (slathered in sunscreen, of course).

And that's what these last few weeks have been: F-U-N. Hadley is walking all over the place, five steps here, 10 steps there. She teeters less, and the classic I'm-learning-to-walk gait has become far more stable in recent days. She understands more; I'm amazed by how often she responds to a random question or suggestion. (Just yesterday, we were reading a book that has an owl on one page, and I said to her, "Hm. Why don't you give that owl a kiss?" She did, and she does--every time we read the book.) And our little girl is so easy to entertain. She likes to go in the backyard, pick up tiny sticks and slide them through the open spaces in our woven wrought-iron furniture. Then she walks up and down the cobblestone path. She teases me by pretending she's going to pluck a leaf from the big potted plant outside--and then she laughs that great belly laugh that is more contagious than the winter flu at an indoor playground.

She's curious and generally up for anything (except the aforementioned car trip, perhaps). And here's the real kicker: She's great company. I love to spend time with her. I've always loved to spend time with her, but now, she's just Interested. Excited. Earnest. (For all of her gumption--and heaven help us, she has plenty--Hadley is a serious observer. When we go to the Children's Museum, for example, she generally sits in the toddlers' play space for a good five minutes, watching the other kids, taking it all in. Then she takes off to play. I hope this habit of hers is a lifelong one. Taking a few minutes to evaluate a situation before jumping right in is generally a good approach, if you ask me.)

So all of this is just to say that we're having a blast. We're looking forward to lazy afternoons in the kiddie pool Mumsie and Granddaddy gave her for her birthday; mornings at the playground, library and museum; and maybe a few special trips to the zoo, aquarium, a petting zoo I discovered online and a restored old-fashioned carousel in Nederland that I can't wait to see.

It hardly seems like there's enough summer for all of our adventures.