Tuesday, October 30, 2012

11 Months: Into everything!!!

Ah, how the Autumn of your first year is upon us, Little One.  Too soon, you will be a year old!  As a Mama, I’m trying to overcome the melancholy of leaving this stage of parenting behind with the joys set before us.  Viewing each day not as a last but as a new beginning.  Yet….yet….with each little outfit and blanket I tuck away…..with each little shoe that no longer fits, I find a moment of pause in reflecting on what that little object has meant, on who has worn it, and it sends me back through Memory Lane.  

I have been struck, as of late, with how quickly the passage of time occurs.  It’s not in the days, but in the months and years that it passes.  Days seem to be about routine occurrences, then before you know it, a month has passed, and twelve into a year. I guess part of our job as parents is to find the joy in the daily routines, because that's the stuff life is made of.

As for you, Gracie Noelle, you are a gem!  What a sparkler you are!  So full of life and exuberance.  Not one to be left behind, you will voice your objection loudly when we leave the room, or call down to us when you are ready to be out of your bed.  We no longer can share snacks or Costco samples without giving them to you as well, or that voice of yours will be heard loud and clear!

Rare is the time when you look at us without your large, dimpled smile immediately following often accompanied by that ever so slight upward twitch of your brows.  You are so hard to resist!  I seem to have a special trigger with you, for if you are at all hungry or tired, seeing me makes your happy countenance turn to a look of angst and panic as you immediately crawl towards me or bounce in your little chair. I think you and I will both have a hard time when it is time to stop nursing.  (Which we have always referred to in our family as "Nursy Nurse"....and you seem to call "Na na".)

You are feeding yourself, grasping your food in between your thumb and forefinger.  If you have control of your bowl and spoon, each of those items goes into your mouth and sometimes some of the food too.  Watching you eat can be comical!

If we come next to you during your food time, you almost always offer us some of what you have, appearing so delighted with yourself.  Sometimes though you will take it back at the last minute and eat it yourself.  :-)  

I had guessed you'd be walking by 11 months.  Well, I was wrong, but you do pull up and stand every chance you get: the dishwasher, bread basket, bed, coffee table, couch.  And once up, you'll walk along things and even sometimes transfer from one to the other.  


In the meantime, I am simply relishing your crawling stage.  I love seeing your little ruffled bottom swing from side to side as your hands and knees slap-slap across the floor.  Now typically, you will be crawling to somewhere you are not supposed to be.  You have a particular affinity for getting into garbage cans and playing in the toilet.  :-/  And, as the wood stove is now a daily part of our home life, we are working to keep you away from the bricks.  Again and again, you will head over towards the wood stove.  Again and again we say "No".  Typically, you will immediately turn and look at us, then swing your arms side to side in your "all finished" sign, sometimes shaking your head no.  Then....you will do it again.  Yikes.  So, looking forward....perhaps respectful, but stubborn?  :-)

Everything within your grasp goes into your mouth, and you have eaten wood chips and little bits a plenty.  Pulling up on the bread basket yields a bunch of bananas, and you have also recently discovered the pantry and emptying cans of baking cocoa and bags of chocolate chips.  Ah yes, a little girl after her Mama's own heart! 

I don't think fear will be what holds you back in life.....you plow forward without fear of consequence.  (But, when you do have a fall or bump, the pathetic little face you make as you cry and look for Mama melts my heart.) Determined is the word that describes you best. 

I commented just tonight at dinner how you now feel so much a part of our family.  As we sit and eat, you interact with us - watching your brothers and sisters, flapping your arms, drinking from your sippy cup, and otherwise enjoying your dinner.  

Playing Pat-a-cake is probably your favorite game to play.  When we start it up, your face instantly lights up and you clap along.  Your siblings love to play with you then excitedly announce that you are clapping along, asking us to watch.  And, in the past few days, Peek-A-Boo has become not only a game you smile and laugh along with, but you have begun hiding behind things and popping out as well. 

When you are happy and feeling silly, you will shake your head from side to side with a big, huge grin on your face.  Then, you stop, and look - waiting for all of us to cheer and laugh.  Hmmm...might you be our family clown?  

You love to sing.  Oh what sweet memories we'll have of you singing along with the family or during night time lullaby's.  Your precious little voice joins in, even if words are not being sung.  Ya ya, Yie Yie, Ahhhh a Nah nah nah nah.   

Though the days of you snuggling on my chest for hours are long gone, when sleepy, and especially when rocking, you will lay your little head on my chest and rest.  Ah, even a moment of this is like food for my very soul. 

Of all the things that describe you right now, Gracie, probably the biggest and best description of you is "Loved".  You are loved, cherished and adored by your family and most of all by the very God who made you....just the way you are.  And what a beautiful creation that is!  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Life Lessons from a Blackberry Bush

The entry into this season of Fall has been an intricate dance between the warmth of late Summer and the chill of early Fall. The further into the season we have traveled, the more we've had the characteristic chilly mornings, but by noon time, the days are warm and sunny August like days.

Yesterday, while on a walk, Emet and Anna Ruth wanted to stop by the "Snake Tree" to search for snakes.  While they did so, I walked over to a blackberry bush and found, to my delight, a juicy ripe berry just waiting to be picked!  How odd, to be picking a blackberry in October, I thought.

My mind went back a few short weeks to the last time I was picking blackberries, out in our yard with Anna Ruth, Emet, and Grandma Marion.....

It was a glorious Summer day, and all of us were thoroughly enjoying the day.  The boys were, if not great contributors to the winter stores, were certainly filling their bellies full in between runs to their secret fortress down by the creek.

Gracie varied between being in the Ergo carrier on my back, and napping in her room.  Sissy mostly stuck by our side, also filling her belly and decorating her face. 

It struck me, at one point how blessed we were to be filling up buckets of berries for free from our own yard.  People actually pay for blackberries, and here we had a treasure trove at our disposal.

The longer we picked, the more I recognized the principal of "the Grass is Greener", for just out of reach were the largest, juiciest looking berries of the whole field.  Always just out of reach!

At one point, I heard a shriek of panic.  I looked down at my side to see Anna Ruth, having continued to move towards the blackberry patch just out of reach, was surrounded by snarly blackberry vines and was seemingly trapped in this new jail of her own making.  "Mama!!  Help me! I'm stuck!" she cried out, tears streaming down her little cheeks.

Within the moment of a glance, I perceived that she was not trapped at all.  Rather, though big, thorny branches surrounded her front and sides, the path behind her was free and clear. The only action she would have to take to escape would be to walk backwards.

In a moment of clarity, I saw such a picture of humanity.  How often we walk forward, focused on something out of our reach, something, perhaps, that is not even intended to be ours.  To the detriment of our own well being we plow forward until one day, we look around to find ourselves surrounded by the thorns of this circumstance of our own design and we feel trapped.  But yet, there is freedom.....freedom that we can't even see or perceive because of our focus on the tangled mess that surrounds us.  Sometimes its as simple as taking a few steps back....just stepping away from the situation to assess.
As I looked down at my little girl, I was inspired by her childlike trust and innocence.  She instinctively knew that I was on her side, and that I would help her.  Thankfully, in this case, it was just reminding her of a simple path backwards.  However, it reminded me that my own Heavenly Father is also on my side, and when the brambles seem as if they will overtake me, He will be there to help me step through the mess, if only I call out. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

10 Months: A picture of determination

Determined.  That's the word that describes you this month, Gracie.  Constantly moving forward....advancing to the next thing.  Everything before you seems to be your next challenge, and if you see it, you go after it.

We took at family trip to Cannon Beach on your 10 month birthday.  I had wanted you to wear this little beach outfit in the sand, and while I had envisioned you sitting in one spot flapping your arms and grinning....instead, you seemed to have the sensory experience of a lifetime.  I couldn't get you to look up and smile once!  You flung, dug, and crawled the entire time....and loved every minute of it!

You're not walking alone yet, but if we hold your hands, you will walk along underneath us, and you do love to walk along the coffee table. In fact, I'd say that is your favorite place to be, as typically it is full of "treasures" left behind by your siblings, Mama, or Papa for you to spill, fling, or eat.

As Fall chills are just around the corner, we're gearing up for wood stove season around here, and thus training you to stay away from the bricks.....a lesson that must be learned in this old farmhouse.

If there was some type of built in volume control on your voice-box before now, it has broken.  Your voice now pierces the air with yells, screeches, and Aaahhhhs.  Voicing your displeasure with your lack of food or patience with staying in your high chair seem to be your most frequent dialogues with the family.  It probably doesn't help that your big brothers play a game with you where they walk away from you until you scream, then they come running back.  Parenting a fourth child does have it's challenges, for sometimes it seems like I'm working backwards!  However, I wouldn't trade a minute of these precious sibling interactions for anything.  You're well loved if nothing else.  Ru Bear loves to sit right next to you, "sharing" your cheerios and blueberries in the morning.  And all of your siblings want to hold you and carry you around, each minute of the day!

Speaking of your voice, you love to sing.  We'll be singing in the car, and you'll join in with "Ahhh ahhh ahhh ahh...".  It always seems to coincide with the music, and it does occasionally make it rough to have a conversation in the car, as you are almost always "singing"!

Your actions are beginning to be much more like a little person, and less like a small baby....less flapping and more clasping and clapping of your hands. You shake your head from side to side and roll around your eye balls....then stop to see if we are watching you.....and of course we are.  Then, you give us your big dimpled grin and do it all over again.

You love to share cheerios with us, sometimes offering....then quickly sticking it in your own mouth with a playful twitch of your eyebrow and a quick smile.  Peek-a-boo remains a favorite as well.

You can hardly be laid in your crib without immediately rolling over and pulling right up on the side.  At nap time, you'll instantly cry the moment your little back hits the mattress, but in more determined times, you simply pop right back up.  You pretty much have to sit yourself down, then eventually tip over with tiredness....alone in your crib.  But, in the meantime, you have your stuffed friends to entertain you, as you examine each part of them.  (Unless, that is, you have pitched them out of your crib.)

I can hardly fathom the amount of food you eat, and you're basically eating everything now.  By the time I walk away to begin fixing the other children their meals, you have finished what I originally gave you....cheerios, oatmeal, yogurt, cheese, egg yolks, avocados, steamed carrots, frozen blueberries, bananas, and little bits of bread and meat comprise most of your meals. And, you have recently added Annie's "Bunny Snackoos" (as your sister calls them) to your list of snacks for a treat during morning walks.  It no longer works for us to not feed you when we eat.  The minute you see food, you start to whine, and a high pitched squeal is to soon follow!

Your thickening hair is a shiny blonde that shimmers in the sun, and now that we're walking most mornings, I have seen the back of your shiny head a lot in the beautiful early Fall weather.  I love to look down and see your shiny head and your little hands clasping the bar in front of you, toes curled...possibly all together.  No, we really haven't moved into sock season yet, and on only one outing have we put you in shoes. I'm eating up all of the baby stage I can in the few short days left of this glorious weather.  By the time we emerge into next Summer, you'll be walking and shoes for an outing will be the norm.  

With the closing of Summer comes the closing of the baby season of this Mama's life.  Yet I know that what lies before us is a great adventure that will be filled with many new and unexpected joys.  I'm trying to have open hands in the process, not clenching hard to what's in my grasp now....but opening my palm for new blessings to be placed there as the old ones pass on.  So for now, this Mama is enjoying those little baby toes spreading and scrunching in the sun, each day more that I can see them!

I love to kiss your puffy cheeks and see your face instantly light up all over, dimples popping in your big, open mouth grin.  Your two front bottom teeth are the only ones to make a showing thus far....so the days of teething are yet ahead.

One of my favorite things is to watch you crawl, your little bottom wagging back and forth as you head with focus and determination to a specified location.  A present favorite for you in the kitchen is the bottom of the stairs.  You've successfully made it up one stair a couple of times, but have fallen both....and while you continue to reach and contemplate, you don't seem eager to repeat the same fall.

We've started to change you out of your 12 month clothes and into 18.  I realize now, as I put away your big sister's clothes that you will likely be in some of them next year.  And then, it will seem but a moment ago that you were in the baby clothes.  And so it goes.

The start of the Fall season is upon us.....my favorite season of all, for it begins with the anticipation of all of my babies birthdays, bringing us into the season of Thanksgiving and then celebrating the birth of our savior, whose birth your name celebrates:  Grace Noelle, meaning "Grace.  Born on Christmas Day."  I look forward to the next months as we enter the crisp air and the fall baking, with you crawling by my feet and pulling up at my leg as I move about the kitchen.

I love you, Little Grace.  Grow on, Baby Girl!