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It’s Been A While

22 Jun

Dear Little Man,

I haven’t written you in close to a year, give or take a month or two. Luckily, I’ve seen you — many, many more times than I’ve written to you. Up until a few weeks ago, I had four jobs and everything was busy, and I guess life just got in the way. It’s funny how we say that, if you think about it, because life can’t really get in the way of itself. It just is and you just are and things just happen. Anyhow, I’m sorry I’m behind on our documentation. I’ve missed it.

Since my last post (last August…yes I know, I’m bad at keeping up with the times) many things have happened with you.

 

    • You went to pre-school
    • You started to actually understand fantasy football (a little)
    • You taught me about Despicable Me
    • You displayed the best impression of “purple minions” I’ve ever seen
    • You had your first school picture taken (yes, I cried, and yes, it’s still on my fridge)
    • You got a fish…and decided that “feeding it” meant “dumping an entire container of fish food in the tank all at once”
    • We went apple picking together again!
    • You started talking a LOT more and I love hearing absolutely everything you have to say
    • You came over before Christmas and you and I spent 45 minutes on our own, opening up invisible presents and getting really excited about them. I would “unwrap” one and you would ask me what it was. I would say “a soccer ball!” or “a train!” or something else I thought you’d like, and you would get really excited and (coincidentally) open up the exact same invisible present. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun with fake presents as I did that day
    • You got to play in your first big snow, bundled up like an Eskimo
    • You went out West (before me…so jealous). Arizona has never looked cuter ;)
    • We celebrated our 3rd Mother’s Day with J (4th if you count the year you were hanging out in my belly)
    • You graduated pre-school
    • You tried to jump into a pool backwards and missed. You ended up jamming your front tooth into your gums and now you look toothless. Luckily it’s only a baby tooth anyway. But even more luckily,  J called to tell me about it the day after it happened. It made me think of how lucky I was to have found adoptive parents who know how much I care and how much I would have wanted to know something like that
    • You learned how to fish at the Outer Banks
    • You’re about to turn four

 

Lots of things have happened with me, too. They just weren’t as cute, or tiny, or blonde.

 

    • I got my first professional job tutoring children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, even though I only went in to interview for an intern position
    • The Boyfriend became The Ex. It was sad and then it was normal. Then it was freeing and now, I’m happier than ever. So is he, I hope
    • I applied to graduate school
    • My tutoring job earned me a LOT of clients because it turns out, I’m not as bad with kids as I thought I was
    • I got into graduate school everywhere I applied. And subsequently, spent a solid month trying to decide between programs
    • I wrote my first article that went viral on the internet (yay Buzzfeed!)
    • After a year with my tutoring job, I quit because I was working 70 hours a week. This was the year that I realized that no matter what cause you’re working for, there are things in life that are more important than a job
    • I cried on my last day with every client I had, because each and every one of them was incredible, and they all taught me something about life, but also about myself
    • I moved out of the first apartment I ever had on my own. I’m not going to say I teared up on my last day moving out, but I’m not prepared to deny it either
    • I celebrated my one year anniversary of graduating from college
    • I turned 23 and experienced the first surprise party that truly surprised me
    • I chose Appalachian State University for grad school. I start this August!
    • I’ve missed you every day I’m not with you. Although I suppose that’s not a new development

You turn four in a month, exactly. The changes that have occurred in the last year are a little mind blowing, so the changes that have occurred in the past four aren’t even thinkable, so I won’t even start. You are an incredible kid — with your missing teeth and zealous enthusiasm for invisible presents and preschool genius. I am lucky to call you mine. I am lucky to call you ours. And I can’t wait until I see you next.

Thinking about you always.

I love you,
Nay Nay

This past November when you came up after Thanksgiving :)

This past November when you came up after Thanksgiving :)

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The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Learn

26 Aug

Dear Little Man,

This past June I did what every 20-something should do at least once: I backpacked through Europe. Now before we get any grand ideas, by “backpacking” I don’t mean I trekked through the mountains of Europe in hiking boots with just a compass and my sense of adventure. I mean I pre-booked trains and flights and hostels and had a few minor panic attacks when I thought I was going to miss any travel connections. But I did pack a month’s worth of belongings into an over-sized REI backpack…ergo, I backpacked through Europe. Just roll with it.

No matter how you define “backpacking,” I saw some incredible places on my trip. Your Aunt S and I met up in France and traveled to Spain, Germany, and Ireland at which point we parted ways and she flew home as I continued my European exploration in England.

I climbed the Eiffel Tower (despite my paralyzing fear of heights because, um, it’s the Eiffel Tower)…

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel 2

And hung out in the Alcázar Palace in Spain….

Spain

And drank massive beers in Munich…

Giant Beer!

Glug, glug...

And went scuba diving in Nice…

Scuba Diving

And found five-leaf clovers in Galway…

Five-Leaf Clover

And ate and ate and ate some more.

European Food!

It was amazing. The people I met, the cultures I was immersed in, the daily adventures I went on with your Aunt S…it was everything I always thought it would be. I’ve always wanted to travel, especially around Europe, and my month-long excursion was definitely worth how poor I am now. I ate and I laughed and I danced and I could really breathe for the first time in months. It was glorious, and perfectly timed.

But everywhere I went, I thought of you. I wanted to show you the carvings on the underside of the Arc de Triomphe and the view of Paris from the tip top of Montmartre. I wanted you to see just how blue water can be and how fish look when you’re swimming right beside them. I wanted to tell you about the feeling you get when your legs are dangling over the edge of the Cliffs of Mohar (not entirely legal, by the way) and you can’t even breathe because it’s so beautiful and you feel so small.

But since I couldn’t bring the real you with me, I brought our story instead. But the first time I brought you up, I noticed I was a little nervous. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know how adoption translated…literally and metaphorically. How do I say, “I have a son but I don’t have him because I chose other people to raise him and be his family because I thought that’s what was best for him?” That particular sentence is not in any French phrase book. I know, I was surprised too.

The first person I told our story to was our friend and host, François — he was kind enough to let us sleep on his couch during our stay in Paris. I was going through pictures on my phone at dinner one night, and since most of my photos are of you, he glanced over and saw one. He asked me, “Is that your nephew?” I smiled and corrected him and quickly launched into the story of your adoption and The B’s. He looked surprised at first, but just for a second…and then he asked all about you. One of the last things he said to me was before we left for Spain was, “Say hello to your little boy for me. It’s things like him that make life beautiful. That’s what it’s all about.” So, hello from François :)

When I told our story to the woman we stayed with in Provence, Elodie, she started talking about how she couldn’t wait to have children with her soon-to-be husband. She told me the boy and girl names she’d already picked out.

When I told Florian, our German host, he told me he hoped that if he had any kids, he wanted them to have curly blonde hair like yours.

When I told the woman who worked in the coffee shop in Dublin on my last morning there (she stole a glance at a photo of you like François did), she said she’d never heard of anything like our adoption story, but that it was inspiring because she and her husband were trying to adopt in Ireland and they’d been on a waiting list for over a year. She said our story gave her hope and made her smile and she was glad I had walked in that morning.

I learned a lot of things when I was overseas. I learned about cultures and languages and history and methods of travel. I learned what orejas a la plancha means (pigs ears…don’t order it) and how thin hostel mattresses can be. I learned how you can live on zero sleep and still feel more alive than you’ve ever felt. But what surprised me the most was that our story did translate…it didn’t matter that I didn’t speak the language or that some words only elicited confused smiles and shoulder shrugs.

Love is palpable. Especially the love I have for you and The B’s…it doesn’t need to be verbalized to be felt.

All of these people I told our story to, they have dreams of that kind of love too. They hope and they dream of beautiful, curly haired children that they want to love someday. Different people from different countries with different languages, all with the same desires. So different in culture, but so similar in heart. We are not alone. Love…it really is the universal language. That discovery — even if it had been the only thing I learned — would have made the entire trip worth it. I thank you and Europe for teaching me that.

Oh, and just so you know, ‘adoption’ in French is the same as in English. Turns out I didn’t need to worry about translating it after all :)

“The most important thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

12 May

Dear Little Man,

I know it’s been a while, but I could think of no better day than Mother’s Day to reconnect with you and Letters to Little Man. Yesterday, after a crazy busy school year (as you might have noticed due to your lack of letters) I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree and you and The B’s were there to cheer me on (more on that later!). I spent the rest of the day goofing around with you, watching you play, listening to you laugh, feeding you strawberries and giving you hugs and kisses and high fives. Just in time for Mother’s Day :)

I hope you know that nothing has made me happier in life (not even my brand new Bachelor’s Degree) than bringing you into this world. You are and will forever be the best thing I have ever done. It may be Mother’s Day, but you’re the one I’m celebrating. I love you, Liam. You will be my Little Man forever and always.

My Main Man

Laughing!

Goof Ball

Silly Boy, Grad Cap

Cute Couple

Cute couple, huh? :)

A ‘Magical’ Adventure

5 Mar

Dear Little Man,

In the past few weeks, your mama has been busy. Studying for classes, gathering undergraduate research, starting a new job, trying to plan my summer trip to Europe, getting my taxes together, working on a new budget for myself (being an adult sounds fun, huh?) and trying to maintain a semblance of a social life so that I don’t go completely nuts…it’s been hectic.

But there’s good news!

While I have been in the midst of a crazy last semester of college, you have been enjoying a magical adventure with The B’s in one of my favorite places of all time…Disney World!

You’ve only been there for a few days, but you’ve got many more to go and if J’s pictures are any indication, you’re loving it! Not to mention that you’re staying at a sports-themed hotel…which means Sports Man is in heaven. It’s a win-win for everyone!

The first time I went to Disney World, the person I was most excited to see was Minnie Mouse. I was too young to remember but according to your grandparents, when I saw her I ran straight at her. She got down on her knees, opened her arms wide and gave me a big hug. I can only imagine the cuteness :) We went back when I was older and I remember a lot more about that trip. I remember that my favorites were the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain and everything Animal Kingdom. I went back to see Minnie and I remember getting to tour her house and finding it to be insanely cool.

I don’t know what you’re up to tonight or tomorrow, but I know you’re having fun because it’s impossible not to with all of the Disney magic down there. You are certainly making some wonderful memories down there and even if you don’t remember them, J and E will cherish them forever for you. I wish I could be with you, to watch you take it all in. I wish I could share in the magic with you. Maybe someday I will. Or maybe you and I will just make our own magic :)

But until then (if I ever have free time ever again), I’ll be living vicariously through you and The B’s via J’s photos, and like I said before…it seems like a magical adventure!

My beautiful family in the Magic Kingdom!

My beautiful family in the Magic Kingdom!

Disney 2

My popular guys with Chef Pluto!

Disney 3

It’s Mickey! And P.S. I am in LOVE with your fedora.

Disney 4

Little man, biiiiig helmet!

Disney 5

This is the courtyard of the hotel you’re staying at…I think Sports Man is in love

Disney 6

Pop-Pop 3 would be so proud…

Disney 7

My main men with the Toy Boys ;)

Disney 8

There’s a reason we call him “Sports Man”…

Goofy Minds Think Alike

18 Feb

Dear Little Man,

As I told you last week, you are always and forever my Valentine. However, with my schooling and The B’s constant desire to have you around (what’s up with that, right?), getting together on Valentine’s Day can be a little challenging.

But wait!

You see, J and I have honed our method of communication for the days we wish we could spend together but unfortunately can’t. It goes like this:

My Valentines

 

 

Picture swapping! This photo was sent to me Valentine’s Day afternoon. So in my always classy, naturally sophisticated way, I responded like this:

 

Back At Ya

 

 

See? We totally got to hang out on Valentine’s Day! You loved my photo, by the way. Apparently when J showed it to you, you said, “Nay-Nay come to Liam’s house?”

Nay-Nay definitely wants to come to Liam’s house, I can promise you that. You are incredibly photogenic, but this mama loves to see that beautiful face in person too. But thanks to J, you still got to be my Valentine and until I get to hold my Little Man in my arms again (for the 10 seconds that you’ll let me), that is more than enough for me :)

To My Favorite Valentine

14 Feb

Dear Little Man,

Today is Valentine’s Day! I know that doesn’t mean much to you yet, so I’ll tell you a little bit about it.

Today is all about love. Love for your family, for your friends, for someone special. It’s about celebrating the people in your life that cherish you, and that you cherish back. It’s about loving yourself for who you are. It’s about realizing how much love you are surrounded by, period. Again, I know this doesn’t mean much to a two-and-a-half year old, but I find it to be very convenient since I am crazy, madly, head-over-heels in love with you.

When most people think of Valentine’s Day, they think of romantic love (which is definitely lots of fun!). You won’t have to worry about this until you’re at least 45, so don’t worry about it too much yet. But today E and J may have something special planned or they may swap cards and cute little gifts. Somewhere right now, a girl is getting chocolates in a heart-shaped box and a guy is planning a romantic evening. As you get older, things like this are what Valentine’s Day will be about.

I, however, like to think of Valentine’s Day as how I said it earlier: “It’s about celebrating the people in your life that cherish you, and that you cherish back.” I don’t save my all of love for one person (although if there was a list, you’d be at the top!), I like to give it freely to everyone important to me – my mom and dad, my beautiful friends, The Boyfriend, The B’s.

In a way Valentine’s Day is like Thanksgiving for me – it makes me realize how many people love me and care about me. It’s a day when I realize how wide my support system is and how lucky I am to have everyone in it. I have some of the best friends in the world, friends who have known you since you were just an 8-week old ultrasound picture, who love you almost as much as I do. I have a wonderful Boyfriend who makes me feel special, who loves hanging out with you. I have parents who never fail to take care of me when I need it, who want to take care of you too. We have all of this support because we have love.

So on this lovely Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that if you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day the way I do, you are going to have the world’s biggest support system to be thankful for. You will have The B’s who already love you beyond words. You have J and E’s parents who love you to pieces and feel so lucky to have you. You have my parents you brag about you endlessly and have their home wallpapered with photos of you. You have my friends who ask to tag along on every visit I take to see you and swarm my house whenever you come to town. You have your awesome big brother who loves teaching you things and playing with you. You have everyone you’ve touched along the your journey from me to the B’s.

And lastly, you have me – no matter where you go or what you do. I am proud of you and I always will be. It is so important to me that you know how much I love you. Which part of the reason I write you these letters – so I can tell you every day. Not just today, which is dedicated to love, but every day I possibly can, whether I’m with you or not.

So Happy Valentine’s Day, my handsome Little Man. I’m so happy to be yours.

You and I on Our First Valentine's Day :)

You and I on Our First Valentine’s Day :)

Happy One Year Anniversary!

11 Feb

Dear Little Man,

A year ago, I had an idea and I didn’t really know what to do with it. I knew that I wanted to tell you things. I knew I wanted to tell you about yourself and your adoption and your beautiful adoptive family. I wanted to tell you about how we all came together. I wanted to tell you about me and my life. But mostly I knew that I loved you and that I loved to write.

Sometimes I would see things and they would make me think of you. I would see a father playing football with his son at the playground across from my apartment and I would think about how you couldn’t even say your own name but you knew how to say “touchdown.” I would see the scar on my cheek (from an unfortunate incident I had with a wooden bench when I was four) and I would think of you and the time you fell on a toy grocery cart that you got for your first birthday. And when I would think of you, I would want to talk to you. I wanted to be able to tell you all of these stories someday. All of the stories of your incredible life — I didn’t want to leave out a single one.

So I talked to a friend who had a blog. And then I did some research. And then I was buying the name “Letters to Little Man.”

And then I wrote you a letter.

That was February 6th of 2012. That was one year and five days ago. Since then I have written you 142 letters that have been read by over 15,000 people. And one day, I hope they will be read by you.

Happy Anniversary, Little Man. I love writing you letters and even when I’m too busy to get them to you right away, I’m always thinking of you. I’m thinking of things I want to tell you. I’m thinking of things I want you to know. I’m thinking of the dimple in your chin and the sound of your laughter. I’m thinking about the moments we’ve shared and the smiles we’ve exchanged. I’m thinking about all of the adventures we have yet to experience that are going to make wonderful memories. I’m thinking of how connected I feel to you even when I don’t get to see you. Even when I miss you.

But out of everything I’ve written you — out of all 142 letters — I still believe that my first letter carried one of the most important messages I could ever share with you: I love you. Love came to mean something entirely new to me after you arrived — you defined it. You embody it. You are love to me. You are love and as long as I have you, I will always have it. Thank you for that gift. Thank you for being you.

Happy One Year :) Here’s to many more years, many more memories, and many, many more letters…

 

One Year Anniversary

My Friends Are Married

23 Jan

Dear Little Man,

One day you’re going to reach a magical age. It’s not when you turn 16 and get a license. It’s not when you turn 18 and you can vote. It’s not even when you turn 21 and you can drink (if you so choose. And if you do choose, try the Brews Cruise in Asheville — Beer City USA).

No, this magical age is “magical” because it doesn’t just last for one year. It doesn’t even last for two. It’s at least a solid decade of your life. A solid decade of an age I like to call, Everyone I Know Is Getting Married.

Now, I love weddings. I really, truly do. I like being invited to them, I like being in them, I like the dressing up and the celebration of love and the pretty decorations and the vows and the dancing (especially the dancing. Cupid Shuffle!). Weddings are something that I always look forward to, and even though it’s the festivities that bring me out, it’s the declarations of love that make it meaningful.

One of the best weddings I’ve been to was the only wedding I’ve ever been in. Your Aunt C married her Hubby in September 2011. The day of the celebration we ate cheeseburgers while we got ready and I saved the day by running down a grassy hill in heels (harder than it sounds) to retrieve tequila out of the car so the bride could, ahem, calm her nerves before she walked down the aisle. The ceremony (like, the entire ceremony) lasted less than 10 minutes, but the food and celebrating went all night. We set up tents outside and camped at the site once the reception was over. The sun was shining, the decorations were beautiful and all of our friends were there.

I was 20 years old at that wedding. It was the second one I’d been to that year, but I’d been invited to three others. Since the age of 21, twelve of my Facebook friends have gotten engaged. Since the beginning of 2013 (as in 23 days ago), I’ve already received two wedding invitations. The Age of Marriage has begun. It’s really exciting…

…but also not. To be blunt, on Facebook, weddings get pretty annoying. Partly because the repetition gets tiring (12+ Facebook friends posting about the same thing…it’s like the 2012 election all over again). But also because brides-to-be post status after status about caterers and locations and dresses and dates and stress and excitement and…then I’m not sure what they talk about because I’m too busy drooling on myself after falling asleep at my keyboard.

I understand that this will eventually be hypocritical. I know I’ll be excited and I’ll post pictures and maybe even a wedding status or two (or three) when I become a fiancé. But I’m going to do my best to save the Facebook world from my agonizing decision over whether the tablecloths should be cream or off-white.

Aside from the sometimes aggravating social media reminders, weddings themselves are generally great. Free food and cake and a wonderful thing to celebrate — as an attendee, it’s a no-brainer. But I sometimes wonder if people see past that. The ceremonies and receptions have gotten so hyped up in the past several years that, when the question is popped, we immediately think about celebration…and not the actual marriage that follows it.

Though I was never the little girl who planned her whole wedding by age six, I did always think that I’d get engaged at 26. Why 26? At the time I decided that, I had no clue. I think I just wanted to pick a mid-20’s number and 25 seemed too clean cut. But as I (slowly and ever so agelessly) approach my mid-twenties, I realize that I chose my mid-to-late-twenties because by then, I’d be mature enough to see past the wedding.

By then, I would have gone places and done things and had adventures and be ready to quiet down (a little). I would understand that when you’re proposed to, you think about the guy — not the ring, not the color of the bridesmaids dresses, not your next Facebook status…you think about this person asking you to spend the rest of your life with him and you understand that “yes” means for the rest of your natural life. If you’re mature enough to really comprehend that at 21, full steam ahead! But — not to doubt my own age group — I’m not sure if most 21-year-olds can do that, myself included. I’d start thinking about what kind of cake I want and that would be the end of it.

I’ve seen it happen, though. I follow a few high school friends who are not only married, but also have kids, and they remain in very happy marriages. I have close friends who are married or engaged and, though they are all older than me, I feel very confident in the solidarity of their relationships — as do they. I’m definitely not saying it can’t be done. I’m positive it can. I’m just saying that personally, I wouldn’t mind taking the next 5+ years to think about it. Not surprisingly, The Boyfriend is okay with that. We love each other very much. We’re together. We’re happy. We don’t share a bank account. That’s what matters.

I think relationships are all about taking it day-by-day. But just in case you end up with plans, I was wondering if you could block out some time for me between the ages of six and twelve? I may not know what color tablecloths I want, but I’d really like you to be the ring bearer ;)

P.S. — My Friends Are Married is a hilarious tumblr, and I say that as a (relatively) taken woman.

A Legacy of Liams

22 Jan

Dear Little Man,

Currently, I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their name is very aptly given (just Google them and you’ll see) but the mountains aren’t just fantastic scenery (which they so are) — they also make for great hiking!

Yesterday was one of the warmer winter days we’ve had in a while, so I got together with a few friends to hit up the trails. Your Aunt S and I joined your Aunt L, her Hubby and their baby…Liam!

Yep — your Aunt L loved the name Liam — just like me — and when her son was born last February, she and her Hubby bestowed the world’s best boy name to their little man too! A lot of women are possessive about their baby names (our gender can be fiercely competitive about really weird things) but I love sharing mine, especially with a friend that I care about so much. We have fun sharing the namesake…although when we talk about “Liam” with our friends, we have to specify which one we’re referring to :)

I always think of you when I’m around her little guy. He’s such a happy baby — he was all smiles, giggles, and playfulness during the hike…when he wasn’t sleeping — and happy little boys remind me of my own (especially since you have SUCH a great laugh). I hope that I can take you hiking through these beautiful mountains someday. The B’s love ’em so I’m sure it won’t be too tough ;)

And when we go, hopefully Aunt L’s Liam will come with us because I’m loving the alliteration in “Legacy of Liams” and now that I’ve come up with it, I’d like to use it as often as I can.

 

It's Little Liam!!!

It’s Little Liam!!!

photo 3

Aunt L and her Hubby :) Cutest couple EVER. And Little Liam’s arm hanging out of the side of the carrier. He was passed out.

photo 2

Your Aunt S and I :) My best friend!

Aunt S's Dog is really good at Hide N' Seek

Aunt S’s Dog is really good at Hide N’ Seek. Me…not so much. Apparently.

photo 3

Aunt S using the wind to determine our location. Except not really.

photo 2

One of the many beautiful rivers in the mountains :)

Brought Together at the NFL Playoffs

20 Jan

Dear Little Man,

Today, you and I are going to be doing the same thing — just not in the same place. And no, I’m not talking about running around in our underwear.

I’m talking about watching the NFL PLAYOFFS!

At 3 p.m. the San Francisco 49ers are going the beat Atlanta (who I pulled for in their last game…but not now. Sorry Georgia) but at 6:30 p.m, I have a dilemma. I was born in Baltimore, but I was raised a Patriots fan. I had this problem last year — the Ravens played the Pats in the same exact game. Last playoff game. Winner goes to the Super Bowl. What to do?!

Last year, the Ravens kicker screwed up and lost them the game. But this year, Tom Brady’s passes remind me of those “trust exercises” where you blindfold yourself and let other people lead you around. Only they’ve ditched you so you keep walking around in circles and running into things. So we’ll see about Playoff Game 2013.

Either way, I know your brother Sports Man wouldn’t let you miss a big football day like today. You probably won’t watch the game (something about having a 5-second attention span), but you’ll be there while it’s on. To me, it’s kind of like being separated from someone you love, but at night you can look at the moon and be comforted by the fact that they’re looking at the very same one.

Only in this case we’re watching football. And that’s way better :)

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