Georgia Love, gratitude, Norah

truth and beauty

I’m slowly reading Anne Patchett’s Truth and Beauty right now. There’s a line when she explains, “Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.” It made me smile as that’s pretty much a summary of this space for me – all of those things – a job, a talent, and a diary that works like an imaginary friend with a cup of tea. It’s cold and rainy here today, and I am dumping some thoughts in this space to shed a little warmth.

Jude stayed with his father last Thursday and Friday night because of a student holiday on Friday, so I only had Norah for part of this weekend. I decided to indulge us in a visit to a spot that resides deep in my childhood memories.

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UntitledIt’s sometimes disappointing to head back to a place you remember as magical – only to see it as less shimmery as an adult. But to watch your daughter experience it and be enthralled makes up for it. Babyland General is a Georgia staple, but without the nostalgia and place in my own personal history, it might feel more like an overblown gift shop. But last Friday, as we drove northward toward the mountains and found it perched at the end of a long driveway in the Georgia fall sun, it seemed pretty magical.  We crossed the big covered porch to step into the foyer and sign the guest book. Within ten minutes, Norah had locked eyes with one particular doll she chose to name “Molly Lou.” An hour or two later, we left with Molly Lou, her adoption certificate, and one very happy three-year-old.
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On the way back, we stopped at Mountain Fresh Creamery for an ice cream and a place to stretch our legs.  These moments – these little seconds – why do kids give them their proper praise and we neglect to see the magic? Fall air and mountains in the distance and homemade ice cream. For just a minute, I took it all in. We are fools for not seeing the extraordinary sometimes. I’m working hard at this lately, letting my jaded nature fall away a bit to stop thinking ahead to the next thing and just breathe in these simple magic seconds. Tiny pieces of paradise given to me in the real world.

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I’ve babbled on and on before about my love of John Keats, and the Keats poem that Anne Patchett’s title references ends with the famous line “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Keats, of course, was dying of tuberculosis at only 24 and is said to have grown up knowing he’d die young. So much of his poetry is about the role of art and beauty and how they are the only link to immortality, the only real things in this temporary existence.

I think about this a lot lately. What is truth and how my version of “truth” in my story is different from others’ perceptions of me perhaps. We all see the world in our own ways, and none of us wear the same lenses. My kids will see these years with their own eyes, too.

Being human is a weird thing. On the one hand, we are not the same – no two of us alike. In this way, it seems there is no universal truth when it comes to seeing the world around us and living in our own skin. I’m getting better at leaving room for this and exhaling my need for control, knowing that I cannot determine someone else’s perceptions, and they cannot control mine. It’s my own skin I’m living in, my own story I’m writing. And you have yours.

But yet there are some truths that emerge for all of us, I think. The awareness felt in moments of stillness if you’re willing to sit with yourself without distraction. The soft response of your own heart that you sometimes have to strain really hard to hear. The tangible strings between a mother and her kids. The persistent effort life makes to reward you when you embrace the real and the authentic and stop clutching so hard at your identity. It’s all there when I take the time to see it.

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Norah, travel

Mexico: The Remix

Norah has been having fun with my camera phone now that she knows how it works.  I delete approximately 300 photos everyday.  (I’m not exaggerating.)  But I kept a few from our trip that were kind of cute and interesting.  Life through the eyes of a two year old is pretty fascinating!

 

Cancun 2014

Cancun 2014

Cancun 2014

Cancun 2014

Cancun 2014

Life and Randomness, Norah

get ready for too many exclamation points….

I haven’t been able to update much this week other than my birthday letter, but I have so many exciting things to be talking about soon.

Jude had his last day of school for the year on last Thursday. Check out the side-by-side of the pictures I snapped on the first day and last day of the year. So many changes for my boy. **Sniff.

first day, last day.

Oh, and WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!!  The contract was signed two days ago.  We are so relieved and excited.  And also?  We are building a new one!

Norah is happy about the new house!

More details to follow soon, I hope.  On another note, Norah had a Ballerina Birthday Bash today.  I will do a complete post soon with all the party details, but for now here are a few photos of her shining moment.

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birthday letters, Norah

Year One: A Letter

Dear Norah,

If there is one thing I have come to know about motherhood, it’s that characteristic bittersweet feeling.  That moment when my heart can sing and ache at the same time.  It reminds me so much of the hour of birth and all the intense physical pain that accompanies that divine moment when you finally meet a sweet face for the first time.

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It’s that two-sided pleasure and pain principle that shows up again and again.  And now, as I write this and you are at the end of your first year, I feel it all over again.  So much joy and excitement for the person you are becoming, but oh, the ache and nostalgia for your tiny newborn body!  It stings my heart to remember your curled up fists and squinty eyes and the newness of getting to know you in those first weeks and to know that special time has passed.

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I know this is only the beginning of your story, but it already astounds me to see how much you’ve changed.  Last summer you just seemed like an extension of me, but now you hold your own space in the room.  Trying to walk, moving from place to place.  Pointing and laughing and communicating.  I love watching you grow into your own person.

I worry sometimes about the usual second-child mess-ups that happen around here.  I can’t count the number of times you have eaten Cheerios off the floor or crawled your way to the dog bowls as I’m cooking dinner.  Three years ago, I chased your brother around with a dslr camera that weighed more than him, but now it’s all I can do to pull my phone from my back pocket and catch a quick moment in between chasing the two of you.  But we can see a stubbornness in you already, at least ten times stronger than your brother’s.  And although most parents will think I’m crazy for saying this, I love it.  I know you are going to hold your own one day, and there are bright things ahead.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the world is different for women and the lessons that are uniquely ours to learn.  Keep owning your own space and following your own lead, Norah.  There is a big world of possibilities out there, and these choices are yours to make.  

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It’s so strange for me to try to remember our little family without you, and I ask your brother often if he remembers when you were in my belly.  He always casually assures me he doesn’t, so it seems the two of you will never have memories that are not intertwined with the other person, and I love it that way.  He’s taught you a million terrible habits already, as big brothers are expected to do…. how to blow spit out your tiny mouth, or squeal in a way that horrifies my eardrums, or splash far too much water out of the tub … But he’s also taught you to hug like you mean it, and the two of you will throw your arms around each other and squeeze like it’s your job.  He can make you laugh like nobody else, and to see the joy you guys bring each other is such a gift to me.  I have moments of such overwhelming gratitude for these two little souls entrusted to me.

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Fifty-two weeks have passed in a blink, but I can remember the night of your birth so well, Norah.  Always the planner, I’d packed battery-operated votives in my hospital bag, thinking I’d use them as I labored  through the night.  Your swift arrival had other plans though, and we were settled in our postpartum room by 10pm.  Dinner eaten, nurses and family gone, your dad snoozing away on a cot in the corner.  We lined the votives up along the windowsill, and I held you all night long.  It was so quiet in that room and the candles flickered a bit and an entire city was hushed outside the window.

I remember the stillness of that night and the feeling that we were the only people in the world, you and I.  Mother and daughter.  Even then, at something like six hours old, you’d already taught me so much about myself and what I’m capable of, the wonder of my own body and spirit.  I know it won’t always be this easy; mothers and daughters are complicated.  And those adolescent years ahead when we will fight and roll our eyes and have the usual growing pains?  I’ll fall asleep remembering the quiet peace of your first night, what a gift it is to have a daughter, and all the joy and companionship that lies ahead.

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So here you are, my girl.  Your own little mind and soon enough your own big dreams and your own future in front of you.  Magnificent things will happen to you – and scary ones too.  But life is sweet, and one day you will find your way to exactly where you should be.  As Rumi says, “What you seek is seeking you.”  I can’t wait to watch you find it one day.

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Happy birthday, Norah.  My daughter, my heart.  I love you!

Love,

Mama.

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I write letters to my kids on their birthdays, and you can see Jude’s here, here, and here.  Norah’s birth story letter can be found here.

Norah

10 months old

Norah turned ten months old yesterday.  How is that possible?

ten months old

We are nearing the big number one, and it will be here before I know it.  I ordered invitations for her birthday party and ordered an adorable little birthday outfit on Etsy this week.  I hope to set up her one year photos sometime soon.  I can’t believe it.

I am not as sappy or sentimental about it as I thought I’d be though.  She is becoming so much fun with such a little personality, and I think that is overshadowing the fact that she is soon to be a toddler.

This month was full of lots of moving.  Cruising is now her preferred mode of transportation, and she is a fast little crawler, too.  We also got teeth!  Three have broken the surface a bit – one on the bottom and two on the top.  I’m pretty sure that other bottom one is soon to follow, and she is copying big brother’s teething pattern which is to cut a handful of teeth at once.  We are beginning to occasionally hear what sounds like real words, too.  She has been saying “mama” and “dada” for a while now, but she erupted a loud and clear “yay!” in music class last week right after we all sang the same word.  She also lies on our dog and pulls his ears and laughs and repeatedly says “duh-duh” – which I really can’t tell if it’s “dog-dog” or his name “Tucker.”  Either way, it is her name for him and she repeats it often.

She is such a fun little lady who is equal parts curious and laid-back.  It’s been a great few weeks!

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9 months old

Norah has officially been on the outside for as long as she was on the inside.  And just like that tiny bean grows so quickly to a full-grown baby, my tiny newborn has grown to an active little person.

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She crawls.  EVERYWHERE.  Much quicker than I’d like.  She has started pulling up on furniture very efficiently, and she even takes a few steps while holding on to the couch and shimmying her way down from one end to the next.  If she’s awake, she is never still.

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She was honestly never a huge fan of purees to begin with, but I think we have officially left those behind by now.  Pinches of beans or peas or soft bread or sautéed vegetables – she likes to carefully pick each piece and scrutinize it before eating it.  Punctuated with her slow smacking, this always cracks us up.

I’m pretty sure her first teeth are about to break through because she is red-cheeked and clingy and her poor gums look so swollen. She always looks like she is chewing imaginary bubble gum lately. Just chew chew chewing all the time. Poor girl. It made this month’s birthday photos a little difficult.

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How can we be fast approaching a first birthday?  That seems impossible.  But c’est la vie with babies.  These days are gone so fast.