Waiting and Watching

I had completed all of my errands and found myself sitting in the school parking lot. With not enough time to drive home and be back in time I parked my car and waited.

A parade of little people soon trickled out followed by the soccer coach. My dad, sister, and brother all loved soccer and I so desperately want my son to like it, too, so he’s signed up for the after school session.

I couldn’t place him; he blended in so well with all the other parent hearts disguised in preschoolers.

I watched as he ran and stretched and played what he would later describe to me as the “cape game” which was the soccer coach’s attempt at organized chaos when directing 12 four year olds with soccer balls.

I know it was him, even from far away. I recognized his outfit that we had laid out together so carefully the night before. He was so proud of his new shark shirt that lifted a flap to reveal that shark ate pizza. (It’s actually quite adorable.) I recognized the new blue corduroy pants I just bought for him and his red hair that shines brightly in the sun. I recognized his run and his attention span and his mood.

He would tell me later that he liked soccer but it made him too tired and maybe he shouldn’t go back next week.

He didn’t know I was watching from the car. He didn’t know I saw him follow directions, and run with a grin stretching from ear to ear. He didn’t know that I saw him give the cape to another friend and that I watched him stand close to the coach so he could do his stretch just right.

He didn’t see my smiling from far away as I watched him laugh and play and that watching him made my heart swoon.

I don’t always know every detail of his day, now that he’s older and growing up and has his very own piece of the world. But yesterday I got to glimpse a small part of his life. His life separate from mine; his world that he’s learning to navigate all on his own.

I was watching him and finding myself in awe of this amazing little person I get to call my child.

Memories Captured Spring 2013

Twice a year, we set a date with our favorite photographer.

I try to coordinate outfits and spend a lot longer than I normally do on hair and make up. We leave behind stained shirts and toddler snack crumbs and capture our family as we are in that moment in time.

I thought about skipping the spring session this year, but my husband insisted.

I’m oh-so-glad he did.

 DSC_2853 DSC_2873 DSC_2894 DSC_2895 DSC_2909 DSC_2949 DSC_2969 DSC_2973 DSC_3002 DSC_3005

I love seeing ourselves through someone else’s eyes and capturing these fleeting moments when my son is little and we are young. I love that these pictures capture my son’s defiance and cuteness, because it’s a perfect reflection of who he is at this age; charming and infuriating and adorable all at once. And I realize, with bittersweet certainty, that my sweet little boy is all of a sudden not so little.

Linking up with my absolutely positively very favorite blog link up that only happens twice a year, Memories Captured with Galit Breen of These Little Waves and Alison of Writing Wishing. What beautiful memories have you captured lately?

 

Pictures courtesy of Amy Robinson at Amy Robinson Photography in Richmond, VA.

 

Valentines and Memories

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today, I am linking up with my very favorite link up, Memories Captured, which encourages us each month to capture the moments that catch our hearts and hold our memories. This will be the last Memories Captured link up until June, so instead of sharing just one memory with you, I want to share a few of my recent favorites.

Most of my heart belongs to this sweet little boy who I am honored to make memories with daily. I absolutely adore this most recent picture of him that I just captured Tuesday. At three-and-a-half years old, this little guy is mischievous and sweet all at the same time, and I think this exactly captures his current complexities.

(And the love between a boy and his ice cream.)

A boy and his ice cream

Then there’s this one from January, when just enough snow came to Richmond to build a small snowman and bring this grin to my sweet boy:

playing in the snow

I adore this picture of my son and I riding a children’s train during a weekend afternoon winter visit to an outdoor mall.

Mommy and Noah

And this very rare occasion of a date night at the beginning of January, when my husband and I went to dinner and a movie for the first date we had been on in 6 months.

date night

So this Valentine’s Day, I am cherishing these recent memories and so many memories from the past, and thinking about all of the amazing people that may not be in these pictures, but are always in my heart.

I did something a little crazy for Valentine’s Day this year…I entered a boudoir photography contest and have been selected as a finalist. If you would like to vote for me I can promise I will reward you with a probably hilarious story of how embarrassing it was to take intimate pictures. Voting ends February 14th at 5 pm PST. Thank you!

Update: February 15th: Thank you so much to all of you who voted for me! I did not win, but another one of the deserving finalists did. Thank you again for helping me try to make that silly little idea a reality! Maybe one day…. :)

Suddenly Overnight

It happened subtly and suddenly all the same.

Just as you notice leaves slowly coating the ground in the fall it is still a bit of a shock to notice bare branches out of the blue in the winter, as though it happened overnight.

I see him everyday. I am with him more than I am with anyone. I have an up front seat to his growth and development and changes and yet overnight, he grew up.

I was the mystery reader in my son’s three-year old class Tuesday, which meant I came into the classroom while the students were on the playground so that when they came in I was there as a surprise with a book to read.

I loved seeing my son’s face as he realized I was the mystery reader, and I loved getting to sit in the teacher’s chair with him as we read one of his favorite books, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.”

On Tuesdays, his school offers an after school art class  The art teachers were setting up as I read the story. When it was over, I was expecting to take my son home, but instead, he said he wanted to stay for art class.

“Please Mommy! I want to take art! Will you sign me up for art class? Please?”

We had already missed the first few sessions in December since the holidays were so busy. The art teacher jumped in to say, “We can pro-rate the classes if you would still like to sign up.”

I felt torn and put on the spot, but how could I deny him an art class?

“Please Mommy? I will see you later ok?”

“Are you sure? You don’t want to come home with Mommy?”

“Nope,” he said casually as he took a seat at the art table. “I will see you later Mommy bye-bye.”

“Ok,”, I somewhat reluctantly agreed, “I love you!”

He smiled and blew me a kiss as I walked, dejectedly,  towards the door. His teacher said, “This is so good! This is really what you want! I know that’s not how you expected your afternoon to go.”

“I think I need him now more than he needs me,” I responded, realizing that this now, is the truth.

And so I left a very content and happy little boy at school while I made up something to do to fill another hour with out him.

Just like the leaves on the trees, I have noticed his growth every day. But now I feel bare like the winter branches, and it all happened suddenly overnight.

 

My Husband is Inspirational?

A conversation with my husband yesterday:

Hubs: “Hey babe, did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year?”

Me: “Do you read my blog at all?”

Hubs: “What? Yes.”

Me: “I just posted about that.”

Hubs: “Oh. What did you say?”

Me: “Well there’s this thing going around in the blogging community where you choose a word instead of concrete resolutions, and you kind of use that as a back drop for your year. So I picked the words “let go” and I’m just going to try to let go of some of the negativity in my life.”

Hubs: “Hmm. That’s really cool baby. Well, you would be really proud of me. So far, I am 6 for 6 of meeting my resolution goal.”

Me: “Yeah? What resolution did you make?”

Hubs: “My New Year’s Resolution was… to get out of bed every morning.”

Me: …

Me: “You inspire me daily.”

And that’s my life. I hope you are all having a great start back into the swing of things this week! The hubs is back at work, toddler back at school, and I’m back to writing. As much as I enjoyed a whirlwind Christmas break complete with the toddler and I being sick, a week long trip to GA, and getting to meet my 5 day old niece (squee!), I am glad to be back into the normal routine of things this week.

I Love You Forever

I Love You Forever.

You know this book, right?

(source: amazon.com)

It’s one of my all time favorite children’s books. I remember my parents reading it to me when I was a little girl and I remember them tearing up. I even used an excerpt of this book for part of my graduation speech from high school.  (I was an overachiever and got to make a speech.)

For the longest time, I could not read this book to my son without sobbing. It has been safely hiding in my son’s closet for a while now, awaiting a time when someone could read it without crying.

Recently, my son rediscovered it stacked on the shelf in his closet.

“I want to read this one, Mommy!”

I smiled and was apprehensive; the tears were inevitable.

Except this time, I had the gift of reading to a three year old.

We could not get through a  page without a question.

“Mommy, why is he making such a mess?”

“Mommy, why is he hanging upside down on the couch?”

“Mommy why is that mommy crawling on the floor?”

“Mommy why did he grow up?”

“But why did he move to another house Mommy?”

“Mommy I will live with you when I am a grown up man and when I am a little boy.”

“But Mommy, if I get a grown up house do you want to come to my grown up man house?”

“Yeah! You can come there, Mommy!”

The key to getting through this book, is to read it with a three year old. Talk about the messy house. Talk about the Mommy crawling on the floor. Interrupt the flow of the sentimental book by talking to your child about grown up man houses. Be a little sentimental and honored that you were invited to come over. Avoid getting emotional because there is one part of the story where the mommy drives across town and breaks into her son’s house to cuddle him…when he is an adult. It’s not really as sweet as it is creepy. Focus on the creepy part to avoid the tears.

And then of course, redirect your attention to the most important part of the book,

“Look at the kitty Mommy!”

“Why did that kitty get big?”

“Look another kitty!”

“What’s that kitty doing?”

It’s a very sweet book. And it’s message will always make me cry. But reading it with a 3 year old and realizing that having someone break into your house to cuddle you in the middle of the night is weird, will help you get through it.

You are dying to read it now aren’t you? I would love to hear your take on it.

 

The Purpose of Prayer

I heard it once before, when my son was playing with another boy at a train table. My son, then two, grabbed a train from the other boy, who must have been about four. I immediately rushed over and talked to my son about how we don’t grab, the importance of sharing, and my son handed the train back. The older boy was so mad that he took the train and said, “I will pray for you.” After a quick glance to his mother I realized that this was ok with her…he had been taught to respond this way.

I have seen it more than I can bear on this day after the election, streaming in Facebook feeds and Twitter accounts. I have read so many posts about prayers for this country because now it’s in trouble, how we need to pray harder now than ever before, how now it’s all in God’s hands.

I am a huge believer in prayer. In faith. In believing in something bigger than ourselves.

But I am also a huge believer in kindness.

If prayer is an outreach of ourselves to something greater, than shouldn’t it be kind?

When we find those quiet moments to pray, or meditate, or practice our individual faiths, I believe it should be done in the name of love.

I don’t think it’s loving to use prayer as a consequence or as a condescending remark.

“I will pray for you” holds entirely different meanings when said in the name of love or in the name of hatred.

This election, as are so many other things in our lives, was emotional. It is my greatest hope that as we all reflect and process, whether we are in a state of joy or sadness, that we include prayers of kindness and tolerance for ourselves and others.

Because I believe in the power of prayer. But I also believe in its purpose of kindness.

 

Imperfectly Perfect

I am often guilty of over-praising my son. I tell him he is perfect and that he is wonderful. I tell him how proud I am of him and how much I love him many times a day. I say “good job” to his actions and think he is lovely all of the time…even when he’s not.

There are child experts who tell you not to over-praise with a fear of encouraging mediocrity  There are people who say telling my son is perfect will give him a complex he can never live up to. Perhaps I am doing it all wrong.

The truth is, no one is perfect. No one lives each day with behavior and actions that are always inspirational or well intended or kind. Everyone makes mistakes.

Of course my son’s behavior is not perfect when he colors on the walls or throws temper tantrums or has trouble in school. He doesn’t always do a good job and the way he treats others isn’t always wonderful. I am not blind to the fact that he is, like all of us, not flawless.

But I do, always, always, think the essence of him is perfect.

His deep brown eyes, his small fingers, his sweet toddler feet. The way his eyelashes flutter and the way he smiles with a partly toothless grin. I think it is perfect the way he gives huge, tight hugs and the way he laughs even if I don’t know what’s funny. I think it’s perfect when he dances and runs and says “I love you” and makes up stories. I think it is perfect the way the thinks, the way his mind puts together information, the way he is growing into himself. I think he is perfectly him, and I love him more than words could ever describe.

It may be true that no one is perfect, but shouldn’t we all be lucky enough to have someone in our lives that sees us that way? Someone who, even in the midst of tantrums or bad behavior or our not-our-best moments sees us as pure and good? How wonderful is it to know that you are loved even in the midst of being your imperfectly perfect self?

Being a mother has taught me how to love in a way I never knew before. For no matter what or who he chooses to be, I have been given the gift of being able to love him unconditionally.

So even in the midst of life’s imperfections, I cherish this gift of being able to see and give love in imperfectly perfect way.

 

Noah, October 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 5th

I remember the day vividly. Of course I do.

Over time, its events have transpired into a movie in my mind, playing on a continuous reel that occasionally makes its way to the forefront. In it, I am watching myself as though I wasn’t a part of it, as though it wasn’t me living those moments.

I see myself as I get the news, as I cry, as I process.

I remember all the details; even the blurry ones.

So on the morning of October 5th this year, I was transported back to that day ten years prior, the day my Dad passed away.

There was my mind made movie, playing all morning as I recalled those things that I already know so well; the events of the day that changed everything.

This October 5th, I woke up in sobs and let the tears stain my pillow as the toddler slept peacefully beside me.

The anniversary of this loss is hard every year, but ten years seems so significant. Ten years. A decade. A milestone.

I miss him everyday. I grieve all of the momentous things he has missed in my life. College graduation. My wedding. Meeting my son.

But there is so much I have missed seeing of him. The way he would have loved seeing the Phillies win the World Series in 2008. The way he would have loved the historical election where Obama became President. All of the Christmas presents I missed getting to see him open and Father’s Days we never got to celebrate. Getting to see him be a granddad.

He is forever a part of me. I see it every time I look in the mirror as his eyes stare back at me. I hear him every time the Beatles song “Imagine” is played, even all of the bad cover bands. I feel him every time I say my son’s full name, because we gave our son my Dad’s name, Richard, as a middle name. I smile every time I pass a chess set, or watch my son play soccer, or stare into my son’s eyes, because, luckily, he has those same big eyes, too.

Yes, I remember that day. But I remember so much more of him as my father and I missed so much more of him in these ten years since he has been gone.

So on October 5th, rather than transporting myself back to that day, I let my mind movie play and I let my tears fall. Then I got my little boy dressed and we had a play date at the Botanical Gardens, surrounding ourselves with butterflies and flowers.

And then I think my family gave each other the greatest gift; we gave each other a weekend of each other.

Leaving the husband and toddler at home, my mom, sister, brother and I went away for a weekend to Charlottesville, VA. We immersed ourselves in laughter and conversation, scenery and adventure, and no shortage of extravagant food.

Nothing will change the significance of the loss, the way his presence is missed daily, the way my heart grieves eternally for the man that I was lucky enough to have as my father.

But this year, on this tenth year of the day we lost my father, we celebrated my Dad with love and laughter, just the four of us.

I know for certain that there were still five of us there.

“Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

Spending time with my family, remembering and celebrating my Dad who helped create it.

My Dad

Turning Three: A Birthday Letter

My sweet boy,

The first year of life brings so many changes, but it has been this year between two and three that I have seen the most growth in you.

It has been this year, my sweet boy, that you have stopped nursing, have fully potty trained, and started sleeping in your own bed. (Some nights.)

It has been this year that you have stopped referring to yourself as “baby” and instead say “Noah.” You have even learned how to spell your name and proudly walk around saying “I am N-O-A-H Noah!” You have even learned to write the letters “O” and “H.”  My heart swells every time.

It has been this year you have decided you want to be a “digger man” when you grow up, and in the last few months you have changed your aspiring profession to “actor.” I will be proud of you no matter what you choose.

It has been this year that you have gone to your very first year of preschool, two mornings a week from 9 to 12. It was the very first time that you had ever been away from me, and though it was hard for both of us at first, we have both thrived with the expansion of your world.

It has been this year that I have seen you develop real relationships with your friends as you have moved from parallel play to interactive games.

It has been this year that you have mastered your motor skills. I’ve never been more proud of someone jumping in puddles or riding tricycles.

This year, you have established family roles. “Daddy is the cooker, Mommy is the cleaner, and I am the helper.” ~Noah summer 2012

Though you have always been a strong verbal speaker and communicator, this year your vocabulary has expanded and your thoughts are always expressed in complex sentences. I am often amazed at the way your mind works, and especially at the way you are able to tell me about it.

“Mommy, I have a story. Once upon time, there was a kitty cat and it got up up stuck on the roof. And the helicopter came and got the kitty cat and put it down. And then everybody was happy. The End.” 

“Wow, Noah, that was such a good story! It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. It also had a conflict and a resolution.” 

“Yes, Mommy, it did.” 

~August 2012

I love hearing your stories, your thoughts, and your opinions. I trust your judgement and often include you on family decisions. I want you to know that I value you, always.

It has been this year that I have seen you cross over from baby to boy, and this year that has challenged me the most as a parent. (So far.)

But it has been this year, my sweet boy, that I have delighted in your growth. As you continue to grow and branch out away from me, I want you to always know that I will never be too far away, standing in awe of wonderful YOU.

I love you forever and always, my sweet three-year-old baby boy.

Love,

Mommy

(meant to be published on your 3rd birthday, September 1st, 2012)

My sweet 3 year old boy