Thursday, February 4, 2016

BEAUTIFUL DREAMER: A VERY SPECIAL SONG



There's a special song that is very close to my heart.  It's the song my grandpa and I danced to at my wedding, the melody (I incorrectly thought) I listened to when I wound up my music box as a child, and the words I sung over and over to my growing belly at night.  

In my mind, I had heard the tune of "Beautiful Dreamer" play constantly through the music box my grandpa gave me one birthday.  That made it the perfect song for us to waltz to at my wedding.  My grandpa was an exceptional dancer, always going to or coming home from a dance where he wore one of his snazzy bow ties or blazers.  I was all nerves as people watched us on the dance floor that night, but my grandpa made it look like we belonged there.

The music box was lost for many years.  As I got older, I didn't think it was very cool having it on my shelf anymore.  So with the other memories of childhood, it got packed away and moved to the back of a closet.  It suddenly became important again and took on new meaning, though, when I was planning my wedding.  After a search that proved more difficult than we thought, my mom finally found it in a long forgotten hiding place.  The little blue house, with the rooms that moved to the music wouldn't play, though.  It quickly fell off my radar again.

Seven years went by.  Upon learning I was pregnant with a girl, I was brought back to all those nights of winding up my house and watching the little family inside go about their daily activities as I listened to the tink tink tink of the melody.

A few days before my baby shower, my mom gave me a gift.  It was my music box, all cleaned up and ready to play.  Apparently my little hands had over wound it years ago and all my parents had to do was loosen it a bit to get the music playing.  At first they were overjoyed, until they realized the little box was playing a tune other than the expected "Beautiful Dreamer".  And the rooms didn't spin anymore.

When I started the music box, the real melody it played came flooding back to me, as well as the realization that I had heard "Beautiful Dreamer" on my sister's musical unicorn, which I had probably stolen from her room countless times.

Originally wanting to present me with this sweet and sentimental gift from my past for my future baby at my shower, my mom was concerned I would be too disheartened that it didn't play the song that I equated with my grandpa, so she decided to give it to me early.  I was a bit disappointed and do think she made the right choice.  After thinking about it some more, though, I'm glad things played out the way they did.  If I hadn't formed the wrong connection between the music box and song it played, my grandpa and I might have picked another song to dance to that night.  And I can't think of a more perfect song to serenade us during our last dance.

While I was pregnant, I read that singing to your baby in the womb is a wonderful way to interact with her and she may even recognize the song after she's born.  The fact that Everly would associate this song with me and might remember it left me over analyzing what song to sing to my belly.  I sang a handful of songs that meant something to me, but the song I sang the most was "Beautiful Dreamer".

I have so many favorite memories of Everly and me, but the absolute closest to my heart is how she responds when I sing "Beautiful Dreamer".  Since she was born, the second I start singing the song, she quiets down and either stares at me or "sings" along.

She doesn't do this with any other song I sing her.

This one is special.

This one encompasses the memories of the past, the joys of the present, and the promises of the future.  Everly doesn't yet know how much it means to me that she connects with this song.  Sometimes I imagine my grandpa and me twirling around the dance floor as I rock Everly at night, lulling her to sleep with this sweet melody.

For me, it's a way of introducing Everly to her great-grandpa.

This past Christmas, I received another gift.  This time from Wade.  And in it was a musical carousel horse.  Can you guess what it played?

It was one of the most thoughtful gifts Wade has given me, and that's saying a lot since he's a superb gift giver.

Now Everly has two very special music boxes, and I can't wait to tell her the stories around both of them.

Friday, January 29, 2016

EVERLY RAE: THREE MONTHS OLD



Wowza!  This little lady’s happy personality has sure started to surface this month!  Everly is engaging with those around her by smiling, talking, and even giggling if you act ridiculously enough in front of her. 

She has also become increasingly more aware of her surroundings.  Before, Wade and I would be able to squeeze in a movie at night as I nursed her and she snoozed between nursing sessions.  When we sat down to watch Scrooged a week before Christmas, though, she kept crying and wouldn’t latch on.  I was worried that she wasn’t getting enough milk until I took her back to our usual quiet and dark room where she ate like a hungry little hippo.  I guess she’s telling us a. that she doesn’t care for 80s Bill Murray movies (which is a shame and we’ll have to revisit this when she’s older) and b. she enjoys a nice quiet candlelit mood for her meals.  Talk about high maintenanceJ

My mom said she had to stop nursing me at 6 months, because I was just too distracted by everything else going on.  I’m hoping that Everly isn’t trending this way and will still be enticed by her dinner instead of the blank wall across the room.  I know it’s a pretty cool wall, but now she’s just making me feel unwanted.

Let’s see.  What else did she do this month that completely wowed us and made us exclaim we must have the most advanced super baby around?  After checking the little calendar I bought to log all her firsts and swore would be easier than writing in her baby book every time, I’m dismayed to find that it’s looking rather sparse.  Not for lack of Everly’s amazing happenings, but rather for her mom’s forgetfulness. 

A big thing that has been gradual, but more noticeable this month, is that she’s holding her head up so well.  It’s so much easier to carry her now that her head isn’t flopping around.  She wants to be in the mix and see everything around the house.  Even those dust bunnies in the corner of the room seem to impress her.  Oh, to be able to see the wondrous world through the eyes of a babe.

She’s been sleeping well.  I don’t even want to go into specifics here, because I’m sure it will jinx us.  Wade didn’t believe me about how important her little routine is and tried to go back into her room after laying her down for the night.  Boy, was that a mistake.  Let’s just say we don’t question the routine anymore.

We celebrated Everly’s first Christmas during this time, and she loved it!  Incorporating her into the festivities and starting our own traditions with her made this time of year even more magical.  Her cousins were a constant source of entertainment for her as they followed the direction of my brother for this year’s Christmas play, a rendition of The Nutcracker.  The little girls danced around in their tutus and my nephew marched out as the nutcracker in a cardboard costume covered in colored tape.  Just another way my brother added so much whimsy to the holiday.





It seems as though each new day Everly does something new to amaze us.  We told ourselves we wouldn’t turn into that couple who just sits and stares at their kid, but we don’t care anymore!  She’s too fun to watch!  Even though we’ve seen our nieces and nephew do what she’s doing, it’s exciting because she’s doing it.  We ooh when she grabs her foot and sticks it in her mouth, and we ahhh when she gives us that little flirty smile of hers.  

How can you not melt for those chubby little cheeks?  
Geez, Everly, try to pretend you are having a good time:)



Thursday, January 21, 2016

SCATTERED



I’ve been feeling scattered lately.  Like I can’t quite put my thoughts into words, let alone coherent sentences.  Even writing those first two lines took more time than it should have.  I have moments I want to chronicle and ideas I want to write down, but when I find the time to sit at my computer, my mind goes blank. 

I’m often thinking about what Hemingway said about writing—

“There’s nothing to writing.  All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”


Sounds easy enough, but it’s not working like that.  A big part of it has to do with constantly second guessing myself.  Thinking too much into every word and trying to wait for the ultimate inspiration to hit.  Sometimes, though, after wasting 15 minutes thinking about “a hook” you just have to put something down on the page. 

Wasting time.  That’s what it is.  Between spending time with Everly and doing responsible grown up things, my free time has dwindled.  I no longer have the luxury of waiting for my inspiration to strike.  Instead, I have 15 minutes after feeding Everly where she’ll play quietly by herself.  If I can’t accomplish my goal in that time slot, then it may be a few hours before I get another chance.  It’s too much pressure!  There are so many things I want to get done that instead of just doing something…anything…sometimes I squander the time by trying to beat Wade’s high score on Tetris (we are in the midst of a pretty heated battle).  Or I just snuggle Everly, which never feels like a waste of time.

It’s not all lack of time, though.  I’ve reached a kind of paralysis.  It took me two and a half weeks to write my last blog post.  I would sit down to finish it and then just stare blankly into space.  I figured I would find the words I wanted at a later time, but at some point I just had to put down what I could.  Even now I think about what else I wanted to say in that post.  Like how I found out I was pregnant with Everly last New Year’s Eve and how special it was to be cuddling her close only a year later.  You know, all these deep, philosophical thoughts on time and change. 

Last weekend, I put Everly down for a nap and started working on some headbands so I can finally take my new shop off of vacation mode.  It was like my hands didn’t work and nothing was turning out.  I kept thinking she was going to wake up at any moment so I had to complete at least one thing.  It ended up I completed three things that weren’t up to snuff.  Nothing annoys me more than spending an hour on something and having nothing to show for it. 

It reminds me of how I had trouble sleeping after Everly was born.  As she started sleeping longer stretches at night, I stopped sleeping.  It infuriated me that she would sleep 4-5 hours, and I would be awake the entire time.  I kept thinking how it was my only chance to get solid sleep, which made me too anxious so that I couldn’t fall asleep.  It was terrible. 


I know it’s just me adding this pressure to myself, though.  I’ve been trying to change my mindset over the past few weeks.  Even if I have just 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there, I can still chip away at things.  Things are different now.  More wonderful, for sure, but different.  I may not have 45 minutes to clean the bathroom or put all the clothes she’s outgrown into storage bins in her closet, but I can clean the sink one night and pack her newborn clothes away the next night.  Sure, it takes way longer to complete a task, but that’s ok.  (Let's pretend that I'm not admitting here that my bathroom is in a constant state of dirtiness.  Of course there are fresh flowers in there every morning and one of those toilet bowl tablets that turns the water blue:) Because that's how grownups keep their bathrooms, right?)  There’s nothing I really have to do except go to work and come home to snuggle my baby.  Everything else is just awesome if it gets done.  Even finishing this terribly rambling post that seems to have changed focus multiple times makes me feel better.  At least I wrote something and tried to capture my feelings at this point in time.  I'd call that a win for today! Now I just need to post Everly's 3 month photos and take her 4 month pictures before she turns 5 months in a few weeks.  Sounds pretty doable, doesn't it?  Wish me luck:) 



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A MAGICAL LIGHT DISPLAY + RETIREMENT PARTY

We told her that you can't touch baby's head, only baby's feet.  That's what makes this picture even more hilarious:)
And suddenly, there was LIGHT!
I gave my sister this Thoreau onesie when she was pregnant with her first. 


I started writing this post on New Year's Eve, but am just now getting around to finishing it.  Under two weeks to write a post.  A new record:)

I'm sitting here in the comfy armchair at my brother's house next to their beautifully lit tree, complete with hand drawn gingerbread ornaments on brown paper with green jewels for their noses, listening to Everly's cousins playing upstairs.  I can hear the plodding of little feet on the floorboards above  and then a loud thump followed by a piercing cry.  As my sister rushes upstairs, I hold my breath until I hear her console one of the kids and know everything is ok.

With all the noise, I use my free hand to put "earmuffs" over Everly's exposed ear.  She has recently become more aware of her surroundings and is easily distracted while eating. She also demands that I do nothing except stare at her while nursing.  I can't complain, though.  It's our special time, and I take a deep breath before each nursing session, willing her to focus on the task at hand and not get lured away just yet by the amazing world around her.

I can hear my mom and brother having a side conversation as he prepares to head outside to work on his light display. Over the years, he's become the epitome of Clark Griswold.  Lights set to a radio station, life sized Santa dancing in the yard, and a snow machine he made himself.  All to enhance our holiday spirit.  Which it does.  He tirelessly works each holiday season to make it the most memorable event for the kids.  And the adults have the side benefit of enjoying the magic of it all, too.

A mere hour before all this, we were throwing a surprise retirement party for my dad.  Having only started planning it the night before, I think it turned out pretty good.  Before, he had access to a HUGE printer and would make us the coolest posters for our birthdays with our faces on them.  No family gathering was complete without one of these posters.  I found a way to inexpensively print something similar for him from FedEx.  It wasn't in color and didn't have all the fancy detail his did, but it was a nice sentiment.  The poster was surrounded by drawings all the grandkids made for him.  Hiding behind the chairs, they jumped out and yelled "happy retirement" when he walked in.  40+ years at the same company is almost unheard of now.  I think it speaks to our changing society and how loyalty is not being honored the same way it was in the past.  It's sad, but it's what makes his experience that much more admirable.  Growing up, I remember my dad having to leave on work trips.  He'd travel to these faraway places that he had to show me on a globe.  My little mind didn't really think about where he was going.  I just waited eagerly for him to return.  And he never came home empty handed.  There were puzzles from Japan, a box of polished rocks from I don't know where, and then the crown jewels, VHS tapes of my favorite movies.  I still remember begging for Jurassic Park while he was gone and being overjoyed when he came home at the end of the week with a copy for me.  After all these years, though, I finally realize that the real gift was him working so hard in order to provide a happy life for us.  I hope we were able to show him, even if just a smidgen, how much we truly appreciated all the long hours he put in at the office while still managing to make it to cheer us on at every basketball/tennis/baseball/volleyball game.

Everly is snoozing on my shoulder now.  Passed out in a milk coma.  I carry her into the kitchen to get some water.  I can see my brother and nephew in the backyard throwing things into the fire pit in anticipation of the next activity--making a huge fire.  My mom informs me that after the retirement party, light display countdown, and fire watching, we just have to do the parade, open a few other gifts, and then can do the adult gift card exchange.  I start chuckling.  Why don't we tack on a ping pong tournament and pie eating contest to round out the night?  

The fire billows up in the next second and we all ooh and ahh. And as quickly as the fire reached towards the sky, the kids equip themselves with toy instruments. They line up, and we play our parts as either parade follower or picture taker.  As they sing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" at the top of their lungs, I am amazed at how such a simple "parade" can bring us all so much joy.  I imagine Everly traipsing around after them next year and can't fathom her toddling around.

I know why my brother works so hard to create this magical world for the kids.  They're growing up right before our eyes and soon they won't be impressed by my brother dressing up as Olaf or want to parade around the house just because.  It's like he's filling their little heads with dances of sugar plum fairies and lights as far as the eye can see so that these feelings of wonderment stay in their hearts forever.

And I know all his hard work won't be in vain, because these moments have already left a permanent impression on my heart.









Tuesday, January 5, 2016

EVERLY RAE: TWO MONTHS



Well, technically Everly is 3 months old now (almost 4 really), but I think I'll just do these monthly reviews at the end of the month so that I capture everything she did in that monthly window.

Two months was a HUGE month for her!  She grew by leaps and bounds and has really become her own little person.  She is no longer that little newborn blob who just stared at us without much expression.  Now she's able to show us when she's happy with her sweet smile.  Her first real smile emerged when she was about 6 weeks old.  My mom and I had just tried to go to a craft fair, but it was too windy and dusty to take her out, so we went to the next best place....Target!

After feeding her in the car, my mom was burping her and making funny faces.  Her little face just lit up instantly!  It was such a special moment.



After that day, she couldn't help but smile at anyone who would lock eyes with her.  She also started following us around the room with her eyes, almost daring us not to smile back at her,  It really felt like this month she was engaging with us and wanted to be in on the action.



We've also started to be able to discern her different cries and are starting to figure out when she's trying to manipulate us into doing what she wants vs. when she really needs something.   Must be an innate sense in babies to con their parents from birth.

The best part of my day is when I wake her up in the morning.  She sleeps in a sleep sack, so she looks like a little burrito.  When I pull off the velcro, her arms instantly spring up over her head to stretch.  Then she gives me the BIGGEST toothless grin, and I scoop her up because I can't stand not cuddling her for one more instant.



Another big milestone this month is that she started grabbing things.  I first noticed it when she was in her little chair that has rings on the front.  I came to get her and saw that she was holding one of the rings.  Over the weeks, she's gotten increasingly more interested in little toys.

We had our first date night during this time, too!  We were gone for a whopping 2.5 hours.  It was nice to get out, but we couldn't wait to get home to see her.  She didn't give us the time of day when we first walked in the door, but Wade got her giggling a few minutes later.  Her first laughing session!  She hasn't giggled too much since, but I know more is just around the corner.

First Thanksgiving!  Everly was so jazzed up about family being in her house that she didn't take a nap all day.  Even once everyone had left, she couldn't stop "talking" about her day.  I just can't get enough of our little "conversations".