Friday, December 31, 2010

Living in the Moment

Last year, on New Year's Eve, I was looking forward to ringing in the new year with good friends, a fancy dress, and a glass of champagne.  I was happily married, happily teaching, and optimistically anticipating a new year of change and growth in my life and for our family. 

It's hard to imagine that last year, as we rang in the new year with a balloon drop at the Bourre` Lounge, I was just a few short weeks of becoming pregnant.  The growth I highly anticipated for my life came in the form of 'Baby J' growing in my belly.  A baby boy that would change my year and my life forever. 

I think I have grown as a person more this year than any other.  It's called motherhood.    
I'm not much for New Year's resolutions, but this year, I want to be present.  2011 means going back to work and beginning to balance life as a mother, a wife, and a teacher.  Life is going to get busy and likely, stressful.  But in the mix of it all, I want to constantly remind myself to stay present, in the moment, and try to ignore the mundane details of life.  In the last three months, I've realized just how fast little babies change.  I want to be more than just there to see it happen.  I want to live in it, bathe in it, soak in it, until my skin wrinkles up like raisins.  It may sound cliche`, but my resolution is to live in the moment, watch my baby grow, and know that every expression, movement, and milestone is changing, shaping, and molding us into better people.     

This year, I'm looking forward to a night out on the town, a night out with good friends and an even better husband.  I'm more than ready to ring in the new year with a fancy dress, a mouth-watering meal, and a glass (or two) of the bubbly stuff.  And what makes this NYE even better than last year, is that I'll have a sweet baby boy sleeping soundly in his crib when we get home. 

The blessings of pictures of course...

January.  The test that started it all.

February.  I became an aunt for the first time.  Charly Grace.  

Warm weather and a growing belly.  March.

News of a baby BOY.  May. 

A Babymoon.  Kansas City.  June.  

A Master's Degree.  June.  

A trip to the Lone Star State.  July. 

A bigger belly.  July.  

A whole lotta this.  Summer.  

A belly ready to pop.  September. 

Hello, birthday month.  We made it to October.  

We made it to this.  October 12.  2010.  

The rest is history.  Hello, baby.  

Here's to much love and happiness in 2011.  It's going to be a great one.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I'm not going to go into a lot of detail when it comes to describing our Christmas this year.  I want to lock it away in this little chest of memories I've been storing in the back of my brain, memories to sit beside the day of our wedding, the beach lounging days of Mexico, and the days of and following Cruz's birth.  This Christmas ranks with the best of days and there just aren't a lot of words to describe it.  I only hope years from now, I look back and remember the love I felt, as well as the smiles plastered on the faces of our family.

Especially the sweet smiles from this little guy.     

Cruz loved Christmas.  The last couple of weeks, he's been so responsive to people, to noise, to lights, and to attention, a perfect combination to come at Christmas time.  His eyes were big as we opened brightly colored packages in front of him, and he smiled when he saw the surprises awaiting inside.  His favorite gifts this year were the books and light-up toys.  It's as if he knew they were especially for him.  Beau and I passed him back and forth all weekend, taking our turns experiencing this with him.  Our gifts, although very much appreciated and enjoyed, didn't compare to the gift of watching Cruz experience his first Christmas.  He was far more alert and into it than I ever pictured.  

What I will always remember about this first Christmas of ours...

...the snow.  The storybook snow that started Christmas Eve and didn't quit.  The big flakes that danced in the air and took their sweet time landing on the cold ground while I got the house ready for Christmas.  The giant icicles that looked better than Christmas lights, and the sparkle on the earth as we left the candlelight service at church.  I've never remembered a Christmas snow more beautiful than this one.  I felt like we were living in a snow globe!

...Orchard.  Our first Christmas Eve candlelight service as a family.  The dimmed lights, the incredible music, the white Chinese lanterns hung from the ceiling, and the Christmas carols sung in the atrium.  I will never forget snuggling with Cruz during the service, holding him tight as the Christmas story was read, and thinking about a cold night in Bethlehem, and a sweet little baby born two thousand years ago. 

Cruz slept through a good part of the service, but loved the candles lit at the end.  The peace and power that resonated in that building was incredible.  At the end of the service, before anyone could leave, Pastor Dave gave the congregation one last assignment.  He said that oftentimes, Christmas comes and goes so fast, and in all of our time with our family, we fail to hold them close and tell them how much we love them.  That was our assignment.  To have one, tiny little moment with our family before leaving to celebrate the holidays.  I witnessed 85 year old couples embrace as if they were 16 again, sons hug fathers for the first time in years, and little girls whisper, 'I love you,' in their grandpas' ears.   

...the way the house smelled when we got home from church.  It is tradition to cook a big, fancy meal for our own little Christmas.  Our Christmas menu this year included stracotta, an Italian pot roast with a red wine and porchini mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, and a salad with cranberries, toasted almonds, and a balsamic vinegarette dressing.  The (four) of us ate dinner at the table.  Our changing table pad has become quite useful and versatile, especially when it comes to meal prep and eating! 

...It's a Wonderful Life on TV, a glass of red wine, and a new pair of pirate pajamas for Cruz.  This was our first Christmas Eve at home, our first one as a family.  We opened presents, read a few books, and did our best to slow down time.  Cruz loved his interactive manger ornament, and plastic camera (go figure).  It was funny to open gifts I had purchased and wrapped just days before, but fulfilling to know it was the start of a new tradition for us.   

...So many cute presents for the Cruz man!  He was spoiled by his family, and since his presents are officially more fun than mine, I feel spoiled too!  I spent two hours yesterday reorganizing his closet and playing with his toys.  He is mesmerized by his laptop from Charly, and thinks his 'pillow pal' blankie is pretty snugly.  He got his first long underwear stocking from his Grandpa Ray and Grandma Mary, lots of Gap clothes and books to add to his collection from Grandma Kelly and Grandpa Curt, and a special rocking horse from Great Grandma and Grandpa Hoodjer.  The only toy he was a little skeptical of was a little drum that plays music.  After a total meltdown with big tears and all, we decided we better put that away for a few months!

...a long, drawn out Christmas at my mom and dad's.  We had to take a break in the middle of presents to let the little ones nap!  It was kind of crazy to think that last Christmas, Charly wasn't even born and I wasn't even pregnant!  I don't know how many times Mom commented that, 'this was the Christmas she always dreamed of!'    

...A weekend of a whole lot of this...

This morning (or afternoon now), as I sit in pajamas amidst boxes, receipts, spit-up stained blankets, and the remnants of all-that-was-Christmas, I know that all too soon, the Christmas tree with the little lights that Cruz has loved for over a month will get stored away, the presents will find a place, and I will be back to work.  And as another year begins and new resolutions are made, I hope I can keep all-that-was-Christmas a part of our family all year long.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Everything

Christmas came and it came big.  And this guy is tired. 

So many blessings this weekend.  So many pictures.  So many presents.  Tonight, my house looks like a disheveled gingerbread house.  But tonight, we light the Christmas tree, draw the blinds, and sit happily amongst the mess.  Jade is sleeping under the now-empty Christmas tree, Beau is curled up with Cruz watching a previously recorded Bear's win, and I am curled up in Cruz's new 'pillow pal' blanket.  Christmas was good to us and we are thankful.   

More to come, but for now, to all a good night!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love...and Be

If I had true superwoman powers and could freeze time, tonight would be the night.  Just like a little music box that plays the same song over and over and over again, but never ever grows old, last night was my music box.  Last night, I lit a single candle and decided to watch Eat Pray Love.  I read the book this summer and although I wasn't an avid fan, I appreciated the beauty of Liz Gilbert's writing, the fluidity of her words, and the images that seemed to jump off the page.  As she recounted her year abroad to Italy, India, and Bali, dreams of traveling the world and igniting my adventurous spirit outnumbered the sugar plum fairies.

Italy has always been on my Bucket List.  Since my first homemade plate of spaghetti marinara and first glass of Merlot, I've had Rome on my mind.  I want to walk the narrow cobblestone streets hand in hand with my husband, order pizza mahgerita in Naples, and try thirty or more gelatos with a tiny plastic spoon the size of my index finger.  I want to experience the romance, the elegance, and il dolce far niente...the art of doing nothing. 

In the book, Luca Spaghetti, an Italian friend of Liz's, goes on a rant about Americans.  He curses our inability to relax, our need for ambition, the guilt we feel when we aren't accompishing.  We are busy and grow unsatisified easy because of.  Most of all, our busyness, ambition, and need for change causes an aching feeling of discontentedness.  A discontentedness that explains why schools are 'failing,' marriages are 'crumbling,' and credit card debt keeps sky-rocketing.   

As I read these words as I waded in my kiddie pool this summer, I've never felt so American in my life.  After all, I am a girl that needs to pencil in, 'relax,' on my to-do list.  I make myself busy in order to feel accomplished, and feel a deep need to work hard in order to achieve time for myself.  I'm accomplished, successful, and in control of my life.  But am I content...that's a question that's often hard for me to answer.

That is until tonight.  Halfway through the movie, I scooped Cruz into my arms, cradled him in his favorite 'sleeper hold,' and laid on the couch.  He fell asleep within minutes, tucked his face deep into the sleeve of my shirt, and breathed deep breaths of contentedness.  He slept until the final 15 minutes of the movie.  And as the final moments of the movie played out, I looked down to see my son smiling at me through his pacifier.  I couldn't stop staring at him.  For the first time, I realized just how special he was to me, just how much he's changed my life.  I couldn't believe he was mine.

For the next several minutes, Cruz sat on my tummy with his back against my legs.  He was so happy, so content.  It was at this moment that I realized what Luca Spaghetti was all about.  The world just stopped for a minute, and I experienced contentment in a way I'm not sure I ever have.  Exactly where I'm supposed to be. 

So I will continue to practice this art of doing nothing, of counting the little lines on Cruz's forehead, or trying to capture the smell of the top of his head forever, or working ever so hard to get that little giggle out.  I will continue to listen to Cruz's little coos, the absolute best sound in the entire world, until contentedness nearly explodes from me - for I'm learning that this 'nothing' is far more fulfilling than my former idea of accomplishment.

This week, Christmas week, we are practicing il dolce far niente as if our lives depended on it. 

I really have nothing else to say about my little gator.  He steals my heart every day.  I'm completely invaghito


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