Thursday, January 19, 2012

ONEderful you

Oh, Andrew. There you are driving your little tow truck on the window, your first birthday balloons still floating above your head. I am there behind you, desperately trying to capture the sweet little moments of your life in photographs. You are so darned curious. Every time you see the camera, you want to touch it, inspect it, push the buttons and smudge your little fingerprints on the lens. Every once in a while, I manage to sneak up on you and get a picture that forever freezes a moment in time -- like here, when the light from the window fell on your pudgy dimpled hand as you motored that little blue truck along the back of your chair and up and down the window screen.
Your wheels are always turning. You are so incredibly smart. I am sure I'm quite biased. All mothers probably feel this way. Still, you always surprise me with your ability to reason, to imitate, to communicate. You are changing so fast and I am constantly trying to come to terms with the new you. Technically, you aren't a baby anymore, though it is hard for me to think of you as anything else.
At one, you are inquisitive to a point of hilarity. When Aunt Carol isn't wearing earrings, you peek into her ears to see where they are hiding. You  have stuck your fingers up my nose, in my mouth and in my ears as you explore.
You are talkative, you jabber of course, but you also talk -- you say sentences like "I love you, Da," when video chatting with your Dad and "I get that hello" when you reach for my cell phone. You answer questions with a resounding "Yes" or "No." Like this morning when your grandma asked you if you talked with your dad last night and you shook your head and said "No." You call me by name when you are angry or inpatient. Not "mommy" or "mama" as I have always taught you, but "Krista." I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry when you do this. You say words like "tractor" and "cookie" one day and go back to your old standards "Papa, Mama, hello and ball" the next.
You are friendly. When we go shopping, you say "hey" to everyone we pass. Sometimes, the strangers smile and speak. Sometimes they ignore you. You do not like it when they do that.
You giggle when things bring you pleasure. Like when Papa gives you a taste of oatmeal creme pie, or I come home from a long shopping trip, or when Brody licks your fingers or when you see your dad's face on the computer screen.
You are a clown. You delight in making us laugh. If you discover that sticking out your tongue makes everyone giggle you do it repeatedly.
You are a monkey. You climb on EVERYTHING! You love to sit on the coffee table or climb into the toy box. You love to climb onto the window seat at Granny's and fling open the shutters to look outside and call for Dixie.
You are fearless. You will put your face in your bath water, reach out and grab tree branches while riding in your wagon or attempt to fling yourself out of my arms if you don't like being held or I'm impeding you from doing what you want to do.
You are bossy. You want so badly to be independent especially when it comes to feeding yourself. You love to eat. Just this week, you tried my homemade guacamole and you loved it! I adore you for that.
You can't walk yet. Well, I think you could walk but you just haven't got it all figured out yet. Of course, the fact that you don't walk doesn't stop you. You are everywhere at once and you crawl so fast you can disappear in seconds. This morning after snuggling with you in my bed as you drank your morning bottle (the only bottle left), I put you on the floor and I stretched before getting out of bed. A few seconds later, when I sat up and put my feet on the floor you were gone. I called your name and looked down the hall. Nothing. All of a sudden, your little head popped up over the other side of the bed. I called you baby Houdini.
I took you to see the pediatrician for your one-year check up. She confirmed what I have always known. You are "perfect." You weigh 27.7 pounds and are 32 inches long! You are a big healthy boy and are bigger than 99 percent of babies your age. In fact, after you got your shots, we went back to the waiting room to find your Grandma chatting with a mother who had a small baby on her lap. "How old is he?" I asked, expecting her to say he was nine months. But he was the same age as you, just a few days between your birthdays. It looked like you ate that kid for breakfast.
You are one and you are different than you were a few weeks ago. You've started showing signs that the "terrible twos" are just around the next corner. You make a horrible high pitched squealing sound when you don't get your way. You will arch your back and throw your arms back and that makes it almost impossible for me to hold on to you.
You are everything I hoped you would be but you are so much more than I could have ever imagined. Your laugh is the sweetest sound I've ever heard. Your cheek is the softest thing I've ever kissed. Your scent is the sweetest I've ever smelled. You are the sun and moon and stars. You are puffy clouds and sunshine and cool water and warm socks and all the good things in the world all wrapped up in one little human.
Sometimes, I look at you and the very fact that you exist in this real world nearly knocks me down. Here you are -- a dream that became a reality. You grew in me. I gave birth to you. And, I have fed and bathed and clothed you each day. I have held you and rocked you and caressed you and kissed you. And it has been the greatest honor of my life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Big ONE!

We celebrated Andrew's first birthday on Friday. When we made our way over to my parents' house that morning, we were greeted by my parents and my sister Carol wearing party hats, blowing party blowers and singing happy birthday. Grandma had put a iced sugar cookie on Andrew's high chair tray and Carol had hung happy birthday banners all over the kitchen. This is one spoiled rotten one-year old!

Later that day, we picked my mother-in-law Barbara up from the airport. It was wonderful to see her and to see her with Andrew. He was a little unsure of her at first, but by the time we drove to the nearest chic-fil-a, he had warmed up to Grammy and was as happy as could be.
This was the first time Barbara has visited us in North Carolina and met all my family. It was a great visit for all of us, especially Andrew. He loves his Grammy!

I was sure I had ruined Andrew's birthday cake on Friday night by using a new frosting recipe that left his "1" shaped cake looking like it was covered in melted marshmallow.
Saturday was the big day for the party and thank God my mother-in-law was here to take care of Andrew. I really don't know what we would have done without her here. My mom and I spent the morning trying to salvage the world's ugliest birthday cake and it actually came out pretty good.

The party was great. Lots of family and friends came to help us celebrate. The theme of the party was "The Big One" and the main motif for the party was that silly "foam finger" that you see at sporting events. The colors were blue, orange and white. I made most of the decorations and they turned out great.

I also made a slide show with music, but it is indulgent and super long. Only those closest to us would be willing to invest 25 minutes to watch photos of my sweet boy go by so I won't post it here. Needless to say, it left a lot of folks with tears in their eyes.
Greg was able to sort of attend the party by waking up at 2:30 a.m. and Skype in. The connection was bad and the lighting in the room made it hard for Greg to see but it was something at least.

Our Andrew is so quick and though I can anticipate many of his moves, I failed to foresee his immediate and intense attraction to the flame on his lone candle. He grabbed it with his little fingers faster than I could react. Poor guy. I don't really thing he was burned because I couldn't even see a red spot on his hand or fingers, but everyone gasped and some people screamed when those tiny fingers touched that flame and it scared the bejeezus out of him.

After a few minutes outside, he calmed down and returned to delve into his cake, which he enjoyed very much.

I served cake, ice cream, finger sandwiches of PB&J and homemade pimento cheese, blue and orange pretzel M&Ms, an assortment of fruit, Sun Chips and lemonade. Andrew loved hitting the pinata. He laughed every time his little bat made contact. And he loved playing with his friends and cousins.
He was showered with a ton of gifts. We gave him a little chair from PB kids that has his name embroidered on it and he absolutely loves it. My dad made him a toy box, which is so special.

 Everyone was so generous and we felt very loved. All in all, his first birthday was almost perfect. The only thing missing was Daddy.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


We just said goodbye to 2011, the year that I will forever remember as the year that my sweet Andrew was born, I became a mother, Greg became a father and we became a family. There were a lot of changes, a lot of challenges. Even now, we continue to struggle with the separation of this deployment.
Christmas Eve was hard for me. Even though Greg oversaw the assembly of Andrew's Radio Flyer wagon via Skype, it just made me so sad to think of all he was missing. I am hopeful that next year, we will all be together and Greg will be wielding the screwdriver, not me. I can't wait to share that quiet, magical anticipation of being Santa with my husband.
Christmas Day was joyful despite the distance. Andrew saw all the toys Santa left for him and seemed pretty excited about the gifts until he realized his Daddy was on the computer via Skype. He went straight to the desk and started talking to Greg. We have it all captured on video and in photographs. It was one of the sweetest things I've ever seen. We were surrounded by our big, boisterous, loving family that day.
Greg had a pretty uneventful holiday. We tried to send him little pieces of home -- photos, baked goods, candy, gifts. In the end it was Andrew's excitement over seeing him on the computer screen that made his Christmas special.
So here we are in 2012. Only time will tell what challenges, changes and blessings this year will hold. I know that as long as Andrew is healthy and happy, I will be joyful each day. I'm already looking forward to May when Greg will probably come home for R&R.
Andrew turns one this Friday. It feels strange to type that. I've planned his party and I hope it will express the pride and joy that I feel for my sweet son. Greg's mom is actually flying in for the big day and for that I'm so grateful. It will be wonderful for Andrew to have both sides of his family represented at the party. And, I can't wait for my mother-in-law, Barbara, to see Andrew, to experience his personality and all those little things that make him uniquely Andrew.