Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Five Minutes with Hadley

The blog world is enough to make a mommy feel slightly inadequate. There are more than a handful of mommy bloggers who post detailed descriptions of how to sew elaborate Christmas dresses--complete with 100 pleats and silk sashes. (Show offs.) Others share the recipes they just happened to create for wine-poached salmon and spinach souffle. ("Just whipped it up between coaching the soccer team and volunteering in the soup kitchen!")

Not to be left out of this high-performing crowd, I would like to present our own contribution to the creative-mommy realm: the wrapping-paper hat.

The wrapping-paper hat is good for a lot of things, such as entertaining your almost-17-month-old for five minutes. Here is a photographic account of those five minutes:

"YES! My wrapping paper hat rocks. So does my blue crayon. Also, I am making my pirate face because nothing says pirates like Williams-Sonoma wrapping paper."

"Catch me if you can. My hat makes me super-fast. It's magical."

"Wait...What are you looking at?"

"Ah! Are you laughing at ME?"

"I don't care. Now I'm plotting something very fun for my hat and myself."

"But first, I must gather all of my toys into the big chair. Beary and Snail are gonna want front-row seats to whatever happens next."

"This hat makes everything much more fun. Do you see that gleam in my eye? Oh, yea. Big plans. You should be afraid."

"I look rather distinguished with wrapping paper on my head. Don't you think?"

"Hee hee hee...Close your eyes for just one minute. It's party time."

And then, five minutes were over.

Those silk-dress-sewing, flambé-making mommies have nothing on me. Tune in next week for a step-by-step guide to building a fort with pillows. It's very complicated, you know.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Kind of Town

Jason and I went to Chicago for a long weekend, and I thought my heart would explode from the anxiety and sadness I felt about being away from Hadley. Really, I thought that my arrhythmia would come back--since it's been relatively tame since I got pregnant with Hadley--and somewhere in my mind (where reason clearly does not reign), I concluded that having Hadley somehow healed my heart, so being without her for three and a half days would break my heart--literally--again.

It didn't happen.

Here's what did happen: I left Hadley early Thursday in Mumsie's arms. She wouldn't kiss me goodbye. She knew. But I put on my happy face and skipped out the door...and cried in the car on the way to the airport. I feel like I don't get enough time with her as it is, and I couldn't bear the thought of giving up precious days with her. I told Jason, "I'm not going." He said, "Yes, you are." That Jason, he can really be a tough cookie when he wants to be. Everyone thinks he's such an easy-going guy, but try ditching him at DIA when he's about to get a big fancy-pants award from his big fancy-pants Fortune 500 company, and he turns into Mr. Serious. So I went.

As the airplane was racing down the runway, I had two thoughts: 1) I'm literally racing away from Hadley at about 200 miles per hour. 2) Please, God, don't let anything happen to this airplane because Hadley's mommy and daddy are both on it.

The ride was, ahem, bumpy, and all I could think was, "Are you kidding me? You can't cut a sad mama a break? I'm already stressed about leaving my baby girl for days on end, and now, I'm bouncing and pitching my way through 1,000 miles of clouds? Fabulous."

But we arrived safely--and early--and by the time I was cruising in the black Lincoln Towncar toward our five-star hotel on the Gold Coast, I was feeling better. It's amazing how a little pampering can heal a broken heart.

Thursday was the hardest. By Friday morning (after 11 hours of sleep), I felt better. We got ready for the awards ceremony, and cruised down to the fifth floor of the hotel to the banquet room.

It was a wonderful afternoon--sincere, intimate, lovely. Jason's company did an excellent job honoring the award winners with a great combination of humor and sincerity, and I almost cried when the time came for the company's president and COO to talk about Jason. I think Jason is really glad I didn't actually weep because, really, I'm not a very discreet crier.

After the luncheon, several people stopped by our table to congratulate Jason and introduce themselves to me. They all said the same thing: "We love Jason." "Jason is amazing." "What they said today, that barely begins to describe your husband. He's incredible." I was struck by how eager they all were not to talk about Jason's ability to manage his business or drive profitability; they just wanted to talk about what a great man he is. I hope I didn't make weird faces as I fought back my tears--again.

The rest of the weekend was fantastic. I had forgotten how much I love walking in the city at night, watching the El cruise by (so long as I don't have to ride it), smelling the odd chocolate scent that wafts through the air just north of the river, and eating my way through the day. We met Graham and his girlfriend for lunch, trekked down to the Museum of Science and Industry, walked down the Mag Mile after dinner one night, watched movies in our glorious hotel room, perched ourselves in the hotel lounge every night for dessert and entertaining people-watching--and it was good. Even though we missed Hadley like crazy (and spent half of our time talking about her), the freedom not to watch the clock was f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c.

By Sunday, we were ready to see Hadley. I was impatient traveling home, eager to be here and hold Hadley. Do you ever have those dreams when you can't move quickly enough to get away from something that's chasing you? I felt that way, like no matter how much energy I spent, I couldn't make us move any faster. I actually got irritated at DIA while we were walking to the car. "Getting out of this airport takes forever. Whoever designed it (actually, I know who designed it) did a terrible job. Morons." I'm pretty sure I saw Jason stifle a smile.

We got home (finally!) around 2:30, and when I picked up Hadley, she hugged me long and hard...and patted my back. I will remember that hug for the rest of my life. It was like a cool drink of water after a day in the desert.

Mumsie and Granddaddy were tremendous, fielding my (very frequent) calls, taking Hadley on adventures, telling her that we'd be home soon and making her feel loved and secure. She bid them a happy farewell on Sunday afternoon--I think she was glad to have her mama and daddy back--but I was waiting for the backlash, the fussiness or clinginess or general unease. Nothing. She's been her usual happy self.

While we walked around the city, I kept thinking about how Hadley has changed our lives. The last time I was in Chicago was three years ago. I had just finished a post-graduate fellowship. We were living in Evanston, eager to head West, uncertain about how our transition to Denver would go. Most of all, I was tired of the city.

But this time, I saw the city with fresh mama eyes. I imagined Hadley's first visit; I longed for her to see the American Girl store. I dreamed about how she'll react when we take her to the Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock building. I wondered what I'll say when she asks about the homeless people who dot Michigan Avenue.

I remembered why I loved Chicago, and I began to love it for Hadley, too. The next time I go roaring out of town in a plane headed for the Windy City, she'll be along for the ride, too.

[We don't have any photos because we left the camera at home. It's funny. We've taken photos of Hadley's first EVERYTHING, but we don't have a single shot of our first trip away from home. Oh, well. Just imagine us looking fat and happy in front of most of Chicago's famous landmarks.]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Just Can't Get Enough

Early in Hadley's life, there were days when I had had e-n-o-u-g-h. Enough poopy diapers (ah! There! This is an official mommy blog now that I've said "poop."). Enough night wakings. Enough feeling like such a rookie. But I cannot get enough. I cannot get enough of her funny faces, her curiosity about her world, her sweet snuggles, growing vocabulary and her fabulous disposition.

I cannot believe she has only been in the world 16 months and a few days. It would be fantastic if we all grew and learned in 16 months as much as brand-new people do. There are plenty of 16-month increments in my life when I didn't change much, but Hadley, well, Hadley has learned the following:

--How to tickle carrots. Tonight, when I suggested she eat a carrot, she put her hand in the bowl and said, "Tickle, tickle, tickle."

--How to pretend to feed a picture. She likes to have a photo of Grandma and Grandpa in front of her when she eats dinner, and she feeds them. Tonight, it was ketchup. Two nights ago, apples. A well-rounded diet.

--How to dismount. Hadley likes to play in our bed--rolling around on the pillows and pretending to go nigh-night. When she's done, she positions herself near the edge, slides around onto her belly with her legs behind her and slides down.

--How to feed herself ice cream. Her technique: one spoon for each hand.

--How to dance. Very important in our world.

--When to say such things as "oohhh" and "whoa" and "uh-oh" and "ta-da." She identifies a "mess," says "bless" if someone sneezes and is eager to "pray" before dinner. I'm amazed.

This age is my favorite. Even though Hadley is exerting her will and choosing when to obey us, she's so interesting and fun that I just love our time together. Human development is fascinating, isn't it?

Makes me feel like I should adopt a new skill (sewing, I think) or brush up on my French or at least finish a crossword puzzle from time to time--you know, use this brain I've got. Clearly Hadley is using hers (and I'm afraid that before long, she'll be able to outsmart me).

On second thought, I think she already has. Those carrots she tickled? She didn't eat a one, and we were so amused, we didn't think twice about it (until now). Chalk one up for the Hadster.

And now for some photos from our most recent trip to Naples, where we celebrated Auntie Ana's soon-to-arrive baby and spent lots of time with Grandma and Grandpa. We even managed to visit with some of our old friends:

"Do you think Papa will share his toy with me?"

"Get DOWN party people! Why are you all so old?"

"Colton, do you know the cha-cha?"

Hadley: "This is great!" (The other) Colton: "If she moves one centimeter closer, I'm outta here."

"Really? We're STILL taking pictures?"

Just plain happy.

We managed to get a good one!