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The Boyfriend, The Baby and Being In Love

8 Jan

Dear Little Man,

I got this picture during our giant family Thanksgiving get together a couple months ago. The Boyfriend was carrying you to the dirt flats (you can see them off to the left) and there was no way I was going to miss that. Dirt + Toddler = Super Cute (Messy) Photo Shoot.

It didn’t get too messy (aside from the one time you pitched a handful of dirt at me, and yes, I forgive you) but I can’t tell you how gooey and melty I get on the inside when I see you with The Boyfriend. I love how the two of you get along — you always have fun together and he always makes you smile.

You and The Boyfriend get along on that “boy level” that I — with my two X chromosomes — will never be able to understand intuitively. Playing in dirt? Not the first idea any girl is going to come up with when taking care of a toddler. But The Boyfriend? He just knows things like that. He knows what you’ll have fun doing and he doesn’t care if he’s going to get dirty (or soaked or cold or uncomfortable) in the process.

He is great with you. He makes time for you when you come into town and he always offers to drive with me when I mention going to visit you. If we have a road trip planned, he suggests swinging by to say hello to The B’s and he reads your letters whenever I write one. He cares about you, and for that, I love him even more that I already do.

Falling in love was always something to look forward to when I was younger. Then it was exciting when it first happened. Then it was devastating when it ended. Then it was a non-issue for a while. Then, after enough time, the hope sparked again and it started all over. None of us can give up for long.

The Boyfriend is the first man I have been in love with since your dad. I don’t take love lightly — I never have. It’s not a word I throw around. I don’t think it should be used when you want something from someone or when you’re simply having fun with someone. To me, loving someone means for better or for worse. It means no matter what. It means when you’re mad at me and when you’re more successful than me and when you disappoint me. It’s not “for now” or “until you make me angry.” It’s for good.

I’ve been called naïve for thinking of love that way. I’ve been proved naïve for thinking that way. Not because my thinking was faulty, but because I failed to realize that not everyone you fall in love with is going to see love the way you do. You may think it means “no matter what” but if they think if means “for now,” you’re out of luck. It was a clarification I failed to make the first time. And I don’t make the same mistakes twice.

I wasn’t looking for love when I found The Boyfriend. I’ve always been a very happy single woman — “looking for love” is not my thing. When I met The Boyfriend in our university library, he was just a new friend of a friend. I think I jokingly challenged him to a fight, though I forget why. But I like that it started out that way. I feel like the best love stories are always the unexpected, almost accidental kind.

Even after the L-word was said (and felt) I think it was a while before either of us let go of the fear and dared to believe it was true. I remember giving him my speech on what love meant to me. I told him what mistake I would never make again. I gave him the do-you-know-what-you’re-getting-yourself-into speech and the don’t-say-it-if-you-don’t-mean-it speech. As brave as I like to think I am, I was scared. I wrote this letter to you when I realized how fearful I really was of the L-word. But as the trust grew, the fear diminished. The feelings grew deeper and our relationship became stronger than any other one I’d ever had.

But most importantly, The Boyfriend is the first guy I have ever introduced to you. He is the first guy I ever brought over to meet The B’s. You and your family are the most important part of my life and though I am not raising you, who I bring into your life…well, they aren’t just “anybody.” Neither is The Boyfriend — he drove up to meet you on your second birthday.

In a few days, I will have been with The Boyfriend longer than I’ve ever been with anyone else. Our relationship is solid — “No matter what” is my saying with him, just like “You are not alone” is my saying with J. And we live by it, he and I. We love each other no matter how frustrated or aggravated or angry or sad or upset we make one another (which isn’t very often, don’t worry). Our friends and family think we’re nauseating because we’re so in love. One of the The Boyfriend’s brothers told me that we act like we’re still in our first week of dating. I don’t mind. I hope we’re still that nauseating years from now.

Out of the many, many reasons why I love The Boyfriend, the fact that he loves you ranks at the top. And oh, how I love him. For so many reasons, in so many different ways, for as long as I can…and he feels the same. It’s incredible. He makes me happy, and someday, I hope that will make you happy.

And just like Dirt + Toddler = Super Cute (Messy) Photo Shoot…

Your Love + The Boyfriend’s Love = The Luckiest Girl in the Whole World.

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Dirt for Dinner?

26 Nov

Dear Little Man,

I hope you had a wonderful holiday! This past Thursday was Thanksgiving, and on that lovely holiday I reminisced on how thankful I was for you. Your existence was and always will be my own little miracle. Though I’m thankful for you every day I was reallllly thankful this past Friday because I got to see you!

You and The B’s came down to The Boyfriend’s farm in North Carolina and our families spent the day together. There was a tractor so you were all set for most of the visit, but I was able to tear you away to play catch with one of the dogs when you first got there. You actually spent most of the day with Pop Pop, and if you weren’t with him, you were asking for him. He was definitely the favorite on this trip. You wanted him around for everything. It was actually pretty adorable.

However, during the few minutes I was able to get you off the tractor, The Boyfriend and I took you to play in some dirt flats out by their driveway. You had a ball — you were picking up the dirt and watching it sift through your fingers, totally fascinated by how it felt, your little face screwed up in concentration as you tried to figure out why you couldn’t keep a hold of it. It was one of those “little kid moments” that adults witness and it makes them pause for a minute. And as we watch how filled with wonder our children are at the small things in life, we smile and realize how the small things really are what matter the most sometimes and how the world is filled with magic in places that we’ve forgotten to look as we’ve aged. I was having one of those moments as I wanted you dig your little hands into the dirt.

And then you ate it.

The magic was pretty much gone after that, but it was replaced by laughter and a familiar fondness that I’ve always had for your adorable quirks. You seemed pretty surprised that the dirt tasted bad…or maybe it tasted great and it was just the texture that threw you off. Either way, you made one of your ever entertaining funny faces and The Boyfriend helped you get the dirt out of your mouth.

I fed you some ham later. You had a better reaction to eating that.

But I just wanted to remind you that I am always, always, always thankful for you and your existence. You are the smile on my face and the warmth in my heart and I am thankful every day that I get to write letters to someone I love as much as you.

xoxoxo

Little Man and Michael Jackson

15 Nov

When J and I first met, we clicked on a lot of things:

– We both love Jane Austen and LOVE the movie Pride and Prejudice (yes, we’re girls. Indulge us.)

– We both use Jergens Healthy Glow tanning lotion in the summer because J burns and I just like to tell people I spent the summer in Aruba or somewhere exotic

–  We were both pregnancy book nerds — she read What To Expect When You’re Expecting from cover to cover when she was carrying Sports Man, and I hit Barnes and Noble less than a week after I found out about you.

However, one of the other things we discovered we had in common was dance. I played tons of sports in elementary school, but once I got older (and got braces…and terrified Pop Pop by getting hit in the mouth one too many times…), I took up modern dance and ballet instead. I danced all through middle school into high school and once I hit college I took up ballroom dancing and a teeeeny bit of contra dancing. I was never quite as flexible as I wanted to be, but oh it was fun! It was nice to find out that J and I shared such a passion.

But do you know what’s better than finding out we shared that passion? Discovering that we both passed that passion to youAnd thanks to J’s lighting fast iPhone filming skills, we have proof that you will probably hate us for in 10-12 or so years. And may I just say, you have incredible, prodigious skill. It’s overwhelming. You even pose like Michael Jackson. Next time we’ll get you gloves and you can do the moon dance.

But for now, it’s just another thing that J and I can commiserate over :) P.S. — The thing you do with your legs at the end is my favorite.

It’s Just You & Me, Kid

14 Nov

Dear Little Man,

Now quite obviously, it’s not just you and me. Even when I was pregnant and it really was just you and me, it was also you, me and my gynecologist. Then it was you, me and the ultrasound tech (who got to know me realllly well). Then it was you, me and an entire medical team on the maternity ward.

Then it was you, me and The B’s, and the rest is history!

However, a few days ago I was revamping my Letters to Little Man site. There were places where it still said I was 20 and I was boasting about how you could recite the ABC’s. I turned 21 in May and you can practically read now, so yes…updating was needed. So I changed some descriptions, added a few things here and there and lastly, I changed the pictures. You especially have a tendency to change rapidly as you grow, but luckily, J is on top of taking pictures as always, so there’s no excuse to have a photo of you that is a year old.

I went to change my photo too. Though I don’t change as much or as frequently as you do (wait, that’s a lie. I just got bangs for the first time in 3 years), I figured it couldn’t hurt to update my photo as well. So off I went, hunting through my most recent Facebook pictures for one that would be suitable for the blogosphere.

Though I wanted one of just me for the “Meet Renee” section, I also thought it would be super neat to have a few pictures of us together. I began the Facebook hunt again. Only this time, I found photo and photo after photo of you and I together. I’m generally so preoccupied with getting great shots of just you, that I truly failed to realize that there are a lot of pictures of us.

So alllll of those photos, paired with my natural inability to make decisions, has resulted in way too many pictures to post in the Meet Renee section. However, there is no such thing as too many photos for a letter to my Little Man :)

Technically one of our first pictures together. Technically.

Definitely our first picture together. You look so happy…

One of my favorite hospital shots!

A little over a week old. This was at Bethany during the interim period.

Exactly one month old! Oh, I miss your itsy bitsy days…

This was on a trip we took to an apple orchard with The B’s when you were 2 months old. Hey there, chunky legs ;)

At Sports Man’s 7th birthday party. You fell asleep in my arms. Then, you started falling OUT of my arms.

And so the hilarity of your expressions begins…

I could never resist giving you kisses. It’s a good thing too because now you’re moving too fast for me to even catch you to give you one!

You and I around your six-month birthday!

A Valentine’s Day visit at Grandma M and Pop-Pop’s house!

This was around the time you discovered you had a tongue. Apparently it was fascinating.

You were suuuper sick this day, but we still smiled together :)

Smoochin’ on you before our first Mother’s Day!

A perfect display of how happy you make me :) This photo is in your nursery!

This was the morning of our first Mother’s Day! J and I went to a “girls” luncheon to celebrate together. I’ll remember that day forever.

A month or so before your first birthday. This was probably the last time you ever sat still for a picture ;)

Little Man turns ONE! This was taken at your “little man themed” party. I got to celebrate the whole weekend with you!

This probably won’t be the last time you get exasperated with me. It also probably won’t be the last time I find it funny.

I would follow you anywhere :)

This past March, right after St. Patrick’s Day. J brought her camera on a visit and we had a little photo shoot! I think we’re applauding your cuteness ;)

You + Me + The B’s + Grandma M + Pop Pop + Aunt S = BEACH TRIP! We went to the Isle of Palms and hung out together for a few days. We even spent a day in Charleston which was funny because the last time I had been there, I was pregnant with you :)

At your second birthday party (time flies!!). Your hand was alllll the way in that cow’s mouth. All. The. Way. Giving mommy a heart attack? Yes.

The same weekend as you second birthday. You and I played in the hose for a while. We got soaked and it was lovely :)

I love every single photo we get together, but not just because you’re incredibly photogenic. I love our photos for the simple reason that we get to take them together. Adoption didn’t split us up, it didn’t cause me to miss out, it hasn’t separated us in any way except literal distance. The fact that I got to be around for all of this stuff — holding you at Sports Man’s party, spending Mother’s Day with you, giving you kisses and spending birthdays playing with you — it’s the part of adoption that I love the most. It’s part of the reason why I will love and owe The B’s forever, and it’s definitely the reason we will grow up knowing one another.

I cherish these photos. The silly, the blurry, the candid, the posed, the goofy the smiley, the serious and the fun. We’re creating a history together, you and me. And I hope that one day, you cherish them as much as I do.

Name That Look!

4 Nov

Dear Little Man,

As you may have been able to tell throughout your letters, your facial expressions are famous. And since I post about them regularly, The B’s know that I love your funny faces.

So the other day when E sent me a picture of you, we didn’t just laugh about another famous Little Man face. We turned it into a game :) Check out this conversation…

 

 

E: Can you tell me what this face says?

Me: Haha! It either says “Check out THIS cool kid driving the tractor” or “Excuuuse me, Dad. No taking pictures while I’m operating heavy machinery.”

E: I think more of the latter…”I’m going to be doing this for the next hour at least, so you should find yourself something else to do and leave me alone.”

Me: Haha yes! Well he is awfully busy and important in the tractor world after all…

 

We love you :) so very,very much.

30 Days, 30 Ways

20 Jun

I have down time at my internship for the first time since…ever (it turns out digital media is rather hectic. Who woulda thought?). And since I think about you the whole time I’m here – partly because I have pictures of you hung above my desk and partly because I read about babies and kids all day – I just wanted to use my free time to tell you some really exciting news…

I get to see you in exactly one month! Eee!

Just thirty days and you’re all mine for the weekend. So I thought that – in honor of those (hopefully) super short 30 days – I would do one of my favorite things: think about the many, many reasons you light up my life. So here it goes: 30 reasons I love you in honor of the 30 days until you’re in my arms. I can’t wait!

I love…

– How you call me “Nay-Nay”

– Your smile

– How photogenic you are

– That your eyes look like mine

– Your little “toddler walk”

– That you’ll still let me carry you every now and then

– What a kick you get out of climbing up and down the stairs

– How every time someone claps, you say, “Yay!”

– How intensely you focus on the toys you play with

– How you like to play the same games over and over, and they never get old

– How much you love tractors

– The dimple in your chin

– How I can only make out two or three words when you talk to me, but you keep babbling. It’s adorable.

– How you’ll eat anything

– The face you make when you eat lemons

– How you always seem excited to see me

– How smart you are

– How much you’ve grown

– Seeing pictures of you and I together

– When you blow kisses

– How you always give me a good-bye kiss when I leave at the end of a trip

– How you brought me to The B’s

– Your laugh. It’s the best sound in the world.

– How easily entertained you are

– How just thinking about you can turn my day around

– Your beautiful blonde hair

– How peaceful you look when you fall asleep

– How fearless you are

– How curious you are

– How no matter what, I’ll always be your mom and you’ll always be my Little Man

I have a million more – no exaggeration. Luckily for me, I get to spend the rest of my life telling you every single one.

I miss you and The B’s like crazy. See you soon, handsome. I’m counting down :)

All of the reasons wrapped into one :) I love you.

If You’re Happy and You Know It…

1 Jun

Reason I Love You #28: You have the best smile in the whole wide world. I remember when you started to smile all the time, I couldn’t take enough pictures of you. This is one J sent to me. The two bottom teeth just kill me. I absolutely love it. It’s impossible to look at this picture – and your adorable, smiling face – and not feel happy.

Of course, when you started to laugh, my new goal in life was to do whatever it took to make you giggle, since I’ve already told you that your laugh is one of my favorite things ever – and I do mean one of my favorite things ever. But even when you just smiled and made gurgling noises, I was in love.

You still smile all the time. You laugh at silly things. And I’ve gotten pretty good at making you giggle, so I feel accomplished in life. But the reason I love your beautiful smile and your wonderful laugh is because it means you’re happy. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted for you – to be happy. So every time you give me or J anyone else a huge grin like that one, I truly feel accomplished, like I’ve finally done what I set out to do. That’s one of the reasons why I chose adoption in the first place – so that you would never have to worry or struggle, so that smiles and laughter were all you knew of life for as long as possible. And with a family like The B’s, it’s impossible not to be that way. They are the best thing that’s ever happened to me (aside from you) and they’ve helped to make you into the happy baby you are and for that I’m eternally grateful.

I hope you keep on smiling. Even into your “terrible twos.” But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it…

The Sheep-Horse Dance

25 May

Reason I love you #216: Your dance moves. They speak for themselves.

I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun listening to a kid’s toy jingle over and over again. Watching you do things like this makes me so deliriously happy, I almost don’t know what to do with myself. You are much too endearing for your own good, Little Man. And I absolutely love it.

Mi Hijo, Te Quiero

30 Apr

At the end of last week, I had a final in my Spanish class. Now I have always loved Spanish. Loved it. I took it for years in elementary school and then a few semesters in high school. At one point I actually considered minoring in it once I got to college.

Until this semester.

The spanish class that I took this semester (as an elective…I didn’t even need it) has been the most difficult, frustrating class I’ve ever taken in my life. It is the one and only time that hard work has never paid off for me. Actually, the harder I studied, the worse I seemed to do, especially when it came to tests. With every bad grade, I would study more or study harder or longer and the grade that came back as a result was always worse. See? Frustrating. I know hate is a strong word and you will be taught not to use it, so I just want to say that I strongly, strongly disliked this class.

Anyhow, I took the final on Friday. It was horrible. My heart sank with every question I answered, knowing that I was probably getting at least every other one wrong somehow. What’s worse is that it was an online test – with written tests, at least professors can give you partial credit if you miss an accent mark or something. Not online. Miss a letter or an accent and the whole question is wrong. I have never left a test feeling worse that I did leaving this one on Friday. Needless to say, I will never, ever take another Spanish class. All of my Spanish from here on out will be self-taught (because I still love the language and professor with his frustrating class will NOT ruin it for me).

I posted on Facebook about how horribly bad I felt after that test, and J happened to see it. Next thing I know, I get this on my phone:

I laughed so hard. The glasses killed me! J captioned it with a whole bunch of spanish (most of which I understood, so at least I’m not a total loss) that basically said, “Hello, I’m Professor Liam and I would have given you an A!” That picture is the new background to my phone now. I smile every time I look at it. I think that is a special power you will never lose – the ability to make me happy no matter what is going wrong. You make my life better in the smallest of ways but they make the biggest difference. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you to that, or even for silly things like this. You can truly make my day.

I have no idea what I got on that final. I’ll find out later this week, but I won’t look until Saturday or Sunday because this week, I’m going to the beach with my beautiful extended family and my amazing son whom I love more than anything else in the whole wide world. I get to see you tomorrow and I don’t have to let go for four whole days. I hope you’re ready to be smothered with love, because I’m definitely bringing it.

Thank you for being you. That’s all it really takes to make me happy. See you tomorrow, mi hijo. Te quiero (my son, I love you) :)

Little Man, Chubby Cheeks

10 Apr

Everybody has their favorite thing that they love about babies: their tiny hands, how soft they are, the chubby legs. Grandma M has a thing for baby feet. I just like how miniature everything is – a teeny, tiny version of everything that I’ve become used to. It’s no secret that I love how small you are, and that you getting bigger is incredibly fun, but always just a little bit sad. One day I’ll probably seem miniature to you (the men on C’s side of the family are ridiculously tall).

Of course, I think every part of you is adorable. Everyone may have their favorite thing they love about babies, but I love everything about you. It comes with the mom territory. I remember after you were born, when everyone called or texted and asked me how you were, and every time I replied, “He’s perfect.” Because to me, you are. That has yet to change, and frankly, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Or ever.

But I will tell you something I extra love when it comes to you besides your adorable – albeit temporary – miniature size: your cheeks! I know, baby cheeks are popular with a lot of people so I’m not exactly being original, but you have some of the best chubby cheeks I’ve ever seen. Sports Man did too actually. Of course, I didn’t know him when he was in the “chubby baby cheeks” phase, but I’ve definitely seen the pictures and he had some great ones too.

Your baby cheeks were very kissable. These days, you are an expert at blowing kisses, but unless I’m playing a game with you where I make kissing you part of the game (sneaky, right?), giving you a big kiss will set you squirming or running in the other direction. Luckily for me though, I got in tons of cheek kissing when you were itty bitty a.k.a before you could crawl or walk. You’re still relatively itty bitty, and I sneak some kisses in whenever I can.

The other day, I ran across the picture I had saved on my computer which started this whole thought process about your (incredibly adorable) baby cheeks. Your cheeks are still super cute in their mini perfection, but you’ve got more of a little boy look than a baby look going on these days. And even though I miss your super tiny, itty bitty days, do you know what the cool thing is?

I still think you’re absolutely perfect.

Matching brothers :) Gotta love those cheeks!

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