Tag Archives: Photography

The Weirdest Day of Every Mom’s Life

27 Aug

Dear Little Man,

Yesterday, the best and worst thing that could ever happen, happened.

Ever since I met J, I’ve watched her send Sports Man to school. When I met him, he was about to go into 2nd Grade. She told me about how he didn’t want to go because they had just adopted you a couple weeks beforehand, and he didn’t want to leave you. The year after that, when he started 3rd Grade, I drove down and spent the day with her — partially to see you and partially to hang out with her since she’s not a fan of “the first day of school.” Last year, she posted about how crazy it was that he was getting so big and this year, she told us how she cried driving him to his first day of 5th Grade.

I told her I would drive down to visit next year since I don’t think she could actually drive the car through all of the tears she’ll have going on his first day of (gulp) middle school. To which she responded , “You and I might just need to cry and hold each other for a little while because on Monday, Little Man starts preschool.”

Yesterday, you started preschool.

Okay, so it’s only three days a week for half days, but still…it’s school. It’s a milestone. It’s a big event. And according to J, you were super pumped. You ran right over to the toys and the other kids and you got right down to business. You weren’t the kind of kid who cried when his mom left; you were the kind who cried when he had to leave school. But right now, school mostly consists of toys and play time, so I guess I’m not surprised. Either way, I have to admit, that makes me proud. Plus if I were J, and you did cry when I dropped you off, I might die a little on the inside. And then whisk you home and never let you go ever again. I’m weak that way.

My baby officially goes to school. And before I know it, I’ll be seeing you off to your first day of 5th Grade. But for now, you are three and you are in preschool and you are blissfully unaware of how fast you are growing up. Unfortunately for me and J and parents all over the world with children in school, we are acutely, almost agonizingly aware of how quickly you are speeding away from the infant who used to fit perfectly in our arms.

So even though I didn’t get to be there in person — and even though you loved going — I officially became a mom who cried on her child’s first day of school. The upside of this is that J now has a crying buddy. The downside is that now both of us will be crying too hard to drive either of you anywhere. That’s probably the real reason behind why school buses were invented.

It was a big day for everyone. There was laughter, there were tears, but most importantly…there were pictures :)

Cutest backpack ever? (Nice job, J!)

Cutest backpack ever? (Nice job, J!)

 

You're a big boy like Sports Man now!

You’re a big boy like Sports Man now!

You're already making friends :)

You’re already making friends :)

And playing with trains...look how excited you are! I love it :)

And playing with trains…look how excited you are! I love it :)

Off you go...and so it begins <3

Off you go…and so it begins <3

Thank you for the pictures, J, they were perfect :)

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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 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 :)

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!

Holly Jolly Little Man!

25 Dec

20121225-095721.jpg

Merry Christmas Little Man :) you, my handsome goofball, are the best present I could have ever asked for. I love you very much and I hope you have a wonderful day!

P.S. – I know what Santa brought you today…

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 :)

Beauty in the Breakdown

18 Dec

Dear Little Man,

One thing that you will someday learn — as unfortunate as that may be — is that news of a tragedy spreads like wildfire. With today’s social media craze, it takes milliseconds to share news of any kind. I heard about a recent tragedy around midday last Friday, December 14th. I logged onto Facebook for fun, read a few vague but concerning posts and gathered enough info to learn that it had been a school shooting. A quick Google search told me the rest. Shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Twenty-six dead, twenty of them children. All of those children were younger than Sports Man is now.

And then, I did what every other parent in the country did: I thought of my own child.  The light of my life, the sunshine in my heart, the force behind my continued existence. I thought of you, Liam. Without you, I would have nothing. That’s the magic (and the terror) behind having kids…you’ve lived your entire life without them and as soon as you have one, you’re not sure how you ever functioned before they were around.

There is a quote that I thought of in the aftermath of that sad, sad day. It goes like this:

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Right now, there are 20 sets of parents in Connecticut who have lost their hearts, and the hearts of people around the world break for them. I know mine did. My heart broke for those poor parents because I thought of you, and I wondered how in the world I could be expected to go on living if you couldn’t. In all of the details and press releases I’ve read about the children who died, it’s been mostly aunts or uncles or grandparents who comment. I can’t help but think that’s because the parents just don’t have the words yet. How could they? It can’t seem possible yet.

All of those Connecticut parents — or any parent who has survived the loss of a child — is a miraculous sort of hero to me. I imagine that they possess a type of strength that is simply indescribable in its vastness and its depth.  It must be, to be able to survive something like that.

Without you, my beautiful boy, I would disintegrate, and nothing would console me. Everyone always says, “Our hearts go out to the victims,” but what does that even mean? In all honesty, it probably doesn’t mean much at this point. Those 20 sets of parents, that entire town is so enveloped in grief, it must be hard to see outside of it. But now I know what it means, because if I could give part of my heart to another mother who has lost her own, I would. I wish I could.

But you are my heart. You are walking around outside my body and it has never been scarier than it is right now. I have never imagined losing you and suddenly, that fear is not only haunting my nightmares, but my news-feed as well. That Friday, I read about those poor children and the teachers who died to protect them, and I cried. Being separated from you hadn’t hurt that much since the first few months after you were born. For the first time in a long time, I hated that you were two hours away. It usually seems so short but last Friday, it felt like too much distance to bear.

So I texted J. I texted her and I told her to give you extra kisses and hugs from me, from your Nay-Nay. And then she sent me this:

Sleeping Baby

You were sleeping peacefully in your car seat, tired after a morning of Christmas shopping. I have never been so grateful to see a picture of you. I just needed to see you, to look at your face, and somehow, J knew that. I ended up telling her about the Connecticut tragedy shortly after (she hadn’t heard yet). I have no doubt that her heart was heavy with prayers as she sent Sports Man off to school yesterday morning.

Not truly being able to “raise” you, I’ve never thought of myself as the “traditional parent,” though I certainly think of myself as a mother. But this past Friday, I joined the ranks of parents all over the world, as our thoughts immediately went to our sons and daughters, no matter their age. Last Friday, we cried for our own children, along with the 20 that were lost that day…their light, love and potential taken so much sooner than it should have been.

I know I’ve said it a million times, but I’m going to say it a billion more, including now: I love you, Liam Hudson. I love you with my whole heart, with my whole soul, with everything I have. Your life will forever mean more to me than my own. I could not be more grateful for your existence or for the wonderful family you that surrounds you.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.”

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 ;)

A Monumental Occasion in the Bedroom

28 Nov

Dear Little Man,

As a parent, I’ll be the first to admit that your child’s early life is all about milestones. The first words, the first attempts at crawling, the first steps. I was thrilled at all of your firsts, no matter how small or silly: the first time you tried to roll over. The first time you actually rolled over. The first time you called me Nay Nay. The first time I saw you work an iPad without assistance (I’m still wowed by that…)

This week you hit another first, but I find I’m not so thrilled. And if I’m assuming correctly, neither is J.

Here is this week’s milestone:

 

That, my dear son, is a toddler bed. The crib is no more. Bye bye baby crib, hello huge, blue toddler bed.

Or should I say, hello giant-blinking-neon-sign-screaming-Liam’s-Growing-Up! Again, I am always excited at your constant progress towards actual personhood, but this is just sad. How can I call you a baby when you don’t even have a crib anymore?

Oh wait, I know the answer to that one. I’ll call you my baby forever because I’m your mom and I get to do things like that. So HA.

Enjoy your toddler bed because with the frequency that you get up after you’ve been put to bed (and the lack of bars making it more difficult to climb out), I have a feeling you’ll be the only one in your household enjoying that bed.

I love you. Stop growing up.

-Mama Nay Nay

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