Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Fall Asleep Counting My Blessings

(cheese factor of post title thanks to Bing Crosby)

If you've ever read my blog (which I know you have, mom), then you know that I often will write my posts in my head whilst driving or trying to fall asleep.  Lately, I've been working on a New Year's post that will blow your mind (see, now don't you want to come back and read my New Year's post?  No? Yeah, it probably won't be that great.).  Aaaanyway, I know I won't have the opportunity to post between now and the end of the year what with Christmas festivities both here and yonder.  So, I thought I would post a top 10 blessings list.  There are way more than 10 things for which I have felt blessed this year.  These 10, however, stand out as unique to this year.

10. Sleep. I've discovered how much of a blessing a full night's sleep is.  Being deprived of sleep for an extended period of time makes you value it even more...that and a box fan.  

9. Glee.  High School antics set to a musical  =  genius.  There was one time in college when I tried to sing everything I did.  While I wasn't the most popular person that day, I felt a little better about life at the end of it.  Musicals make everything better, even prime time television.

8. Maternity pants.  I am hoping that some day it will be socially acceptable to wear fashionable pants with a waist that expands with you.  Oh, maternity pants, how I miss you--especially during the holidays. 

7. Caffeine (especially Coke). See number 10.

6. Mom friends (not to be confused with my mom's friends).  I have never been as grateful for the camaraderie of like-minded people than I have been since having Eli.  Spending time with women who have children similar in age to Eli is a breath of fresh air.  While I often feel like I'm in a NuvaRing commercial while hanging out with mom friends, it really is nice to bounce off ideas, frustrations, joys, etc. with women who are going through similar things.  These women are amazing, talented, fun, and just an all around blessing to me.

5. The generosity of our family.  Since I've decided to stay home with Eli, we are without the benefits of a double income lifestyle.  However, the Lord has blessed us with the generosity of our family.  Our parents have paid for necessary baby items, such as a winter coat, a high chair and a convertible carseat (just to name a few).  I am humbled and blessed by their generosity.  

4. Our trip to California.  Again, the generosity of our family made this memorable experience possible.  My grandpa provided the means for us to take Eli out to see him and other family members this summer.  It is a trip I will never forget and am eternally grateful for (sorry for the dangling preposition).

3. A (very) fast delivery.  I am probably the weakest person I know.  I don't handle pain well; my body's initial response to an intense amount of pain (and by intense, I mean when I hit my elbow the wrong way) is to pass out.  So, the prospect of 14 - 16 hours (the average length of a woman's first labor) of feeling like the lower half of my body was trying to break free from the upper half of my body was not something to which I was looking forward.  The Lord knows me well.  My water broke at 7:00 a.m., contractions started at 7:45 and Eli was born at 10:30 a.m.  We didn't even have enough time to get our camera out.  It was so quick.  I must say I am a little worried about my next delivery (if the time should come), because "they" say that each subsequent labor is faster than the previous.  

2. A healthy child.  Eli has probably had 2 colds since his debut, and they really haven't been that bad.  He already sleeps so horribly, I can't imagine how much worse it would be if bad sleeping habits were coupled with illness. 

1. Eli.  Obviously a child is a huge blessing.  It feels like an understatement, though, to simply say Eli is a huge blessing.  Our lives are completely changed with his arrival.  I sit here at a loss because I can't think of an elegant, exact way to describe what he has brought to our lives.  He is definition of blessing.  Go ahead, look it up: blessing - [bles-ing]  (n) - Elijah Steven Parker

The end.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Small Steps for Eli, Big Steps for his Mama (9/10 month edition)

So, Eli, you have been in the world as long (actually longer) than you were in the womb.  Last year at this time I was eating an insane amount of Captain Crunch Berries and walking up and down the halls in Lowell trying to ease my crippling heart burn.  While I still enjoy an occasional bowl of Crunch Berries, I enjoy having you out in the world even more.  When you were first born, I kept thinking that I felt so much more at ease when you were in utero (which is not saying much, because I was pretty much a basket case my entire pregnancy).  I knew that you were getting enough to eat (albeit, nutrients only the Cap'n can provide), you were warm, you didn't need a diaper change, you could sleep without waking up and crying, etc.  While I sometimes yearn for this type of bubble-esque protection for you (especially since you are so much more mobile), I am so happy you're livin' it up here in the Arbor with us.
(fake smile)
So what's new with you?  I'll tell you since your conversational skills are limited.  Well, since we're talking about it, let's talk about your babbles.  I'm convinced you've said 'hi', but it's probably wishful thinking.  You say dada when dad walks in the room and when he leaves, oh, and when you're playing with a ball or eating....sooooo.  You say mama when you're crying or eating or playing.  The most enjoyable verbal activity you've adopted is hitting your lips with your fingers and saying "blb, blb, blb".  And a sound that never fails to be a crowd pleaser: your growl.  You definitely seem to be understanding the conversational aspect of communication.  I will say something and you will respond.  I don't know if this is ground breaking child development, but I think it's interesting.  People in Target probably think I'm crazy, since I walk around having conversations with you, but whatever.

As far as gross motor skills, you have made some big strides (pun intended).  You crawl everywhere.  And you try to crawl through things.  Instead of going around the laundry basket or your exersaucer or the highchair, you crawl through them.  You seem to have an adventurous spirit, which is great because I was pretty much scared of air when I was little.  I'm worried the pediatrician or other concerned citizens are going to call Child Protective Services, because you constantly have bruises on your shins from all your crawling and climbing and falling.  Along with crawling, you like to climb.  A few weeks ago, while I was making you a bottle (in the same room), you had pulled yourself up in your high chair, turned yourself around and were proceeding to climb up onto the counter until I turned around in the nick of time.  You will try to climb out of your crib (awesome), onto the couch or chair, etc.  I have a box of your clothing under our table that I've kept there for you to use as a support for your cruising, but you now climb onto it, sit and then cry because you can't get down.

Speaking of cruising, you are doing it.  You use anything you can to pull yourself up to stand and move, including other small children.  One thing you love to do, which is super fun for me, is pull yourself up using our DVD shelves and pull the DVDs off.  It's super fun to clean up.  Your dad just puts them back on the shelf any which way, even *gasp* backwards.  Your insane Type A mother, however, has to put them back in an orderly fashion

(Can you spot the TWO Earnest movies we own?  That's all Ben.)
You have also begun to stand without support.  I have to admit, it is amazing for me to see.  I know some of you are thinking I should get out more (which is true, but that's another story), but see you, my baby, stand.  Pretty soon you'll be driving and complaining about how we make you drive the's so embarrassing...I mean it looks like you're driving a box, and all the other kids get to drive their own hovercrafts to is so unfair.  And then you'll stomp off to your room, slam your door, and blare Rage Against the Machine.   I digress.

Also, YOU'VE TAKEN STEPS!!!  BIG GIANT STEPS!!! ON YOUR OWN!!! WITHOUT SUPPORT!!!  Okay, so they weren't big, giant steps, but how momentous!!  I'm guessing you'll be walking by the new year.

Other new things you like: books (HOORAY!!), toy cars, balls, clapping, football (watching it on t.v.), spinning the toilet paper off the roll (awesome), banging on pots and pans, prune juice, Ritz crackers (evident by the perpetual trail of crumbs on our carpet), baths in the big boy tub, and pounding on the keyboard (grandpa taught you that).

(Eli and his friend Ben Decker)
Okay, now let's talk about what you don't and won't do.  Sleep.  Sweet, elusive sleep.  Eli doth murder sleep (not in the morbid way Macbeth did, but still).  Your dad and I were talking about when we would want another baby (don't get excited, mom...), and he said that he can't think about having another child until we can get a full night's sleep.  Your dad and I live in a perpetual state of exhaustion.  Things are somewhat better than they were a month ago when you refused to take more than a 20 minute nap.  I was ready to put my head in the oven Sylvia Plath style.  Seriously, I think I was even hallucinating, I was so tired.  One time I pulled into our parking lot and I thought cars were backing up when they really weren't.  Yeah.  You take naps now and are easier to put back to sleep, but you still wake up, on average, 4 times a night.  I love you, my dear, sweet child, but please, learn to like sleep.   

These last two months, you've celebrated (with enthusiasm) Halloween and Thanksgiving.  I was interested to see how you would do with Thanksgiving, because it really is a precursor to Christmas, what with all the family and weird schedules.  I was predicting that you would get so out of whack that fire would shoot from your eyes and the earth's gravitational pull would experience a shift so detrimental that doomsday would be upon us.  However, you rolled with it.  Which I really shouldn't be surprised about, because, apart from the sleep thing, you're a pretty easygoing, fun loving kid.
 Exhibit A:

(Family pic at Thanksgiving)
Okay, so some of you may get uncomfortable with my cheese factor in this next paragraph, so please, stop reading if Hallmark commercials make you want to throw your shoe at the t.v.  I was talking with a friend the other day about how the birth story of Christ takes on a whole new meaning when you become a mother.  This time of year always causes me to become sentimental about my faith.  How humbling it is to think about how God came into this world because he loved his creation so much.  God came to a woman as her child.  And then God sacrificed himself for his creation while his mother stood by.  I look at you, Eli, and wonder where the Lord will take you.  What will you grow up to be?  What does life have in store for you?  What anxieties, joys, fears, tears, hopes will I experience as I watch you become a man and go out into the world?  What must have Mary felt while she watched her child grow up? What went through her mind as she watched his incredible life unfold? Obviously I am not comparing you to the Messiah or myself to the Virgin Mary (I don't want you to have a complex or anything).  But as a mother, I feel that the sacrifice Christ made means even more to me now, and I am so much more thankful and humbled by his life and love.  As with so many things in my life, I am thankful you can show me love in ways I've never thought of.