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Happy Autumn!

28 Oct

Dear Little Man,

It’s fall in the beautiful North Carolina mountains, and there’s probably nothing prettier than fall colors in the Blue Ridge. Autumn in WNC means a lot of things: crisp air, cooler temperatures, pumpkins, apple cider, scarves, leaf piles, cold noses, reds, oranges, yellows, browns, cuddles under the blankets and so many other wonderful things. Fall festivals  and country fairs are another autumnal hallmark, and we got to go to one a little over a week ago in Valle Crusis. You came down (or up, technically) with The B’s and we festival’d together near my lovely graduate school. You all slept over and we had a dance party in the A.M. (to One Republic only, per your request) then went for breakfast and a trip through Blowing Rock.

And I rented a camera and became a classic “Facebook mom” — taking hundreds of pictures and posting…like…all of them. Not ashamed. But you probably will be when I pull them out to show to your dates in another decade or so.

*insert evil Halloween-appropriate laugh here*

I love you, kiddo. I can’t wait to see you for trick-or-treating in a few days. You’re coming to my {Grandma M’s and Pop Pop 3’s} house in beautiful Asheville while your parents go to a concert and we get to walk through the neighborhood I trick-or-treated in when I was a kid. It feels very “circle of life” to me…maybe if we have time, you can dress up like Simba and I’ll paint myself purple, learn Swahili and paint shapes on your forehead. Hopefully that reference will make sense to you someday. The Lion King better not be that out of date by the time you’re old enough to read these…

Moral of the story, I am yet again thankful for the beauty of the true openness of our open adoption. Hopefully it’ll catch on so that other families get the extraordinary chance to have a relationship like we all have together.

I love you, to infinity and beyond.

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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 :)

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? :)

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 :)

Beef Burgers and First Words

18 Jan

Dear Little Man,

Since it’s Friday — and let’s face it, everyone’s brain is a giant bowl of jelly by Friday — I wanted to write you a short and sweet letter about something fun.

Today, it’s about your first word.

I’m sure your first word was something like “mama” or “dada.” Almost every baby’s first word is one of those two. But the first word I ever heard you say was different from either of those. In all honesty, you probably didn’t mean to say it and I probably heard you wrong. But I found it funny, so I think I’ll keep living in my fantasy world where you really did say it and I really did hear it.

The first word I heard you say was “burger.”

You were a little over eight months old, you were sick and I was playing with you on the floor in between the naps you took in front of the humidifier. You were rolling on the floor (your go-to method when you got tired of crawling), you grabbed red plastic toy that looked like a doughnut and you said, “burger.” I’m sure I heard it. Like, 75-80% sure.

After all, I love burgers. Like true, unconditional, never-ending love. Thanks to my New Year’s resolution, I’m a vegetarian right now. That makes today my 18th day without a burger, and it’s the hardest break-up I think I’ve ever been through. I’m consoling myself with black bean substitutes. And as with any true rebound, they’re great, but not the same. Sigh.

Anyhow, I was proud of that word, and of you for choosing it to be the first one you spoke to me. It was such a special bonding experience. I will forever treasure our special moment and when the day comes…you and I are going out to big, juicy, burger-and-fries dinner, and the black beans can kiss my booty as I go.

Partners in crime forever, right Little Man? ;)

What’s In Your Mouth?

9 Jan

You go through constant “That-Was-Hilarious-What-a-Goofball” phases. This means that every time you learn to do something new, you do it over and over again for a while until you learn something else. Over Christmas, you sang “Ice, Ice Baby” repeatedly (the Jim Carey version) and did all of the dance moves. Before that you would lift your arms up like you were flexing your muscles and say, “Strong!” because you saw it on a Wiggles video.

The other night at dinner, The B’s showed me your newest one. It goes, “Liam, do have a bird in your mouth?” (Why a bird? I have no clue whatsoever). Whenever someone asks you that, you stick your tongue out. Then we all laugh and someone says, “That was hilarious! What a goofball…”

So naturally, when things get goofy, I have to join in. :)

Bird Mouth!

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.

Christmas Card Worthy

23 Dec

Christmas Photo Shoot

I took a little photo shoot during our Christmas visit the other day. If I sent out Christmas cards, these are the photos I would choose. I think we’re awfully good looking, don’t you?

I love you, my little partner in crime. There’s nothing quite as fun as being goofy with you :)

Thanksgiving and Morning Sickness

29 Nov

Dear Little Man,

Thanksgiving was last week, but for the past three thanksgivings I enjoy my turkey, stuffing and apple pie with a little bit of reminiscence on Thanksgiving 2009.

I was in Alabama that year visiting my sister, your Aunt B. We always went to her place for Thanksgiving back then. She has two girls — my nieces — and I would hang out with them and relax as much as I could. We’d all spend the holidays sleeping in, reading books, watching movies, and occasionally walking to the local coffee shop for a caffeine jolt. Mostly, it was just enjoyable because we got to visit family and your Aunt B and her girls are as close as I get to family biologically.

On Thanksgiving Thursday 2009, we had finished our meal around mid-afternoon. It was delicious as always and we had spent the rest of the evening recovering from the food binge. However, it was nighttime now and we were all settling in to watch the Polar Express (one of my FAVORITE Christmas movies. I will make you watch it someday). I had worked up enough of an appetite to go in for seconds before we all settled in to turn on the TV. I got some leftovers out of the fridge, scooped them on to a plate and put them in the microwave to heat up.

I distinctly remember pulling myself up to sit on the counter as I waited for my food. As it heated, the smell of our Thanksgiving dinner filled the kitchen and inevitably reached my nose.

I thought I was going to vomit right there on the kitchen floor.

I pushed off the counter and headed for the bathroom that was just around the corner from the kitchen, if not to throw up then to get away from the smell at least. My first thought was that apparently, I wasn’t as hungry as I thought. I must have still been full from dinner because mere hours earlier, that same smell had smelt heavenly.

But the nausea didn’t let up. For the rest of the trip, the smell of food grossed me out. I think I ate a little more turkey, but I didn’t heat anything up in the microwave anymore. I distinctly remember talking to Grandma M about it. I remember telling her how it was so weird how all of a sudden, I just couldn’t stand the smell of food.

A little less than a month later after a particularly life changing doctor’s appointment, everything made sense. After I found out about you (and recovered from the shock of it) I thought back to those microwaved leftovers and practically felt the light bulb clicking on in my head. It was one of those “ah-ha” moments that you never really forget.

And I haven’t forgotten it. One year later, I was spending Thanksgiving 2010 with my four-month-old and The B’s at their house in NC (and my definition of “visiting family” had extended quite a bit!). Last year, The B’s came down the weekend after Thanksgiving and we went to see gingerbread houses together. And this Thanksgiving, of course, you spent with me, my family and The B’s at The Boyfriend’s (totally gorgeous) farm house. It seems to be quite the holiday for you and me :)

And even though I think about you every single day, I always think about that “first” Thanksgiving with you when the end of November rolls around.

Especially when I’m getting leftovers and I realize that this time, I can actually eat them.

Thanksgiving 2010. The first one we spent together when you were on the outside of my body and not preventing me from getting leftovers ;)

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.

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