Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Could it get any better than this?

I asked your father tonight: could our lives get any better than they are right now? He responded: "I sure hope so." Leave it to your pragmatic father to take my comments concretely. Of course, I hope our careers, our family grow and flourish. Of course I hope that our financial future is better than today... but if we were to stagger in every other aspect of our lives, I would still be satisfied with being your mom.

We took a walk down the ally in your radio flyer wagon tonight. Stan and Brandy came too. We enjoyed each other... laughing, chatting, enjoying each other's presence. Even the cat joined us in the ally for some fun. Our family's together. Can it get any better? Know that we are perfectly content with our world as it is right now. We are where we are meant to be. You, me, daddy, Lazer, Brandy, Stan... we make a family. Time spent together, pretending we have a dog sled team is too precious and fleeting not to savor.

(you & daddy did not get very far with a hound and an old pup forging the way)

You provide our family with subsistence. We are full because of the gifts you bring. You, Nora, make up the core of our family. Your dad and I are the foundation on which to build and grow. But right now you are our core. Hopefully that will not turn you into a spoiled brat. We will try and prevent that from happening. But know that you make our lives richer, more fulfilled. You provide our family with nourishment.
Could it get any better than our evening walk tonight? Maybe....

Having a tea party in your princess ball pit castle sure comes close.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Your 1st Party

We hosted your first birthday party on Saturday. It was a grand affair. We decorated with about 60 balloons and streamers and signs that exclaimed, "happy 1st birthday!"

Friends and family all came to visit and play. You did not disappoint and went from group to group smiling and laughing in your pink party dress. We dyed Easter eggs and had an egg hunt.

A good time was had by all. I was so caught up in seeing friends and family that I forgot to take as many pictures as I wanted to. We should have hired a photographer. The day ended as fast as it begun. We did manage to take a few candid shots the day of the party and the morning after.

We are still in the process of opening your presents. We open a few at a time. You get distracted by the toy and want to play. I can't deny you the pleasure of exploring these new toys. One of the first gifts we opened was a Disney Princess ball pit. You love this. You go diving into your "castle" and play. You laugh and laugh and laugh. It makes me so happy. You are so content to play in this ball pit. You take such pleasure in the small things in life.

Tonight we played with bath tub crayons from Aunt Kaarn and Uncle Cliff. You colored the walls of the tub and your father and I enjoyed being in your presence (so did Stan).

Being around you, with you, is so much fun lately. You have such a personality now. You have your likes and dislikes. You are not a baby anymore. You are one. One year old. Compared to some of the other one year olds in play group and at the doctor today, you seem so much wiser, more mature. You walk, you point, you engaged others, your fine motor and gross motor are far beyond the ability of a 12 month old. According to the doctor, you are on an 18 month ability level. Oh geezzzzz Nora, what am I going to do with you? I am barely ready for a one year old and you are already half way to 2!!! We try to give you all the necessary tools and support to be the best Nora-bean you can be. I hope we don't let you down.

Easter is next weekend. You will wear your pretty dress and participate in the town egg hunt. You have to be one to participate and you are one now!!! But there will be lots of older kids there to compete with, I am glad you had some practice this past weekend at your party. You will kick butt this weekend! Look at that focus!

The party and your birthday went by in a flash... the way your first year of life did. I am doing my best to hang on and cherish each moment as it comes. You were pure magic this weekend and I will always treasure those memories. Thank you Nora for giving them to me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's Here

Today is your birthday. We started out the day frosting and putting sprinkles on your cupcakes for Ms. Patti's daycare. You were dressed in a onesie that says "baby's 1st birthday."

When I picked you up from Ms. Patti, she said, "being the birthday girl suits Nora very well." Apparently you just ate up all the attention. Typical NVJ style.
We ordered pizza for dinner. You ate a piece of chocolate cake with white frosting. It got everywhere! It looked like an Oreo cake when you were done with it. You opened some presents. You got the Wonder Pets Fly Boat, a play piano and a glow worm doll. You played with them all.

I almost forgot about the balloons. You. love. balloons. Finally, you have some balloons that are all your own. You played with three balloons I got from the dollar store for a long time. You would laugh and laugh and laugh.

You are so happy. You are so confidant. You are so very beautiful. I hope you hold on to who you are. I hope I can be the mother you deserve.
You are one today. You have been on this earth for one year.

I feel ready for you to be a toddler.
I feel content in the person you are becoming.
I feel grateful for blessings you bring.
I feel humbled by the lessons you teach me.
I feel scared about failing you.
I feel excited about your party on Saturday.
I feel loved by you.

I felt your heart beating in the bath tonight. The hypnotic rhythm that I first heard so long ago. I pray we will be blessed again and again on March 25 to celebrate the day of your birth.
Because, Nora, we have a lot to celebrate!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The night before your birthday

One year ago, I was eating tortellini just back from my last OB appointment before my due date. No progress, the doctor said. Let's schedule an induction. I was taking a John Hopkins class about web 2.0 tools in the classroom. I sat at Panera before the OB appointment and only could drink tea. My stomach hurt all day. I told my doctor I felt weird. I thought you were going to come soon. No progress, she said.
I ate tortellini for dinner and then was still hungry and ate a bowl of cheerios at 10pm. I fell asleep on the couch in the family room of our Towson house. Five hours later, I woke in labor with you.

Tonight, we made cupcakes together for you to share with Ms. Patti's daycare. We will ice them tomorrow morning. I think you will like the sprinkle part. Tonight, you enjoyed 'dipping your hand in the batter and licking it' part.

I don't have a cupcake pan so we just put the cupcake paper with batter on a cookie sheet. I soon learned this was not a good idea as the batter weighted down the paper and they expanded all over the cookie sheet. Note: get a cupcake pan for next year's batch.

I thought I would be really sad tonight. Sad I had to say goodbye to your "babyhood" but giving you bath tonight, I couldn't help but beam with happiness and pride. You were "motoring" your sailboat around the bathtub making sounds to mimic the motor. It was adorable. Sometimes I miss you as a baby. I miss being able to cuddle you and rock you to sleep. But those feelings are always fleeting. I enjoy you even more often. You walk. You smile. You are Nora. It is funny how I think each stage you go through is the BEST! I think you simply can't get better, any cuter... but then you do. I love you, appreciate you more each day. Just when I think my heart can't hold any more love... you wake up and I love you 10x more than I did the night before. It is amazing how it works.

How did a year pass?

You still make my heart swell with love and pride.

One year. Wow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I should be scrapbooking...

I had this hair-brained idea that I would make you a scrapbook for your first birthday. It would chronicle the first 12 months in fun, whimsical pages of pictures and stickers and printed paper. We went to the craft store and bought all the necessary materials. I have done March 09 through October 09 (month 7), I think. Your birthday is the day after tomorrow and your party is Saturday.
I should be scrapbooking right now. But I am watching Lost and writing in this blog instead.

I ponder about whether or not I should be scrapbooking or filling out your baby book. But then I think, that's what I'm doing. I am chronicling your life, your stories, just digitally. Ah Nora. My little digital native. You love to play "office" and type on daddy's computer.

You have your own pretend laptop. You have an entire page of apps on my i-Phone, you love remotes, buttons, flashing lights. You love our laptops. You get this manic look in your face when we actually allow you to touch one, like your addict getting your fix. Technology addict.

Well as Marc Presky calls you: digital native. I am a digital immigrant. The names speak for themselves but you can read his 2001 article all about this.
You know that I am technology teacher. Or you should know that I was during your first year. Who knows what the future holds. Anyway, I understand how 'your people' learn. I have studied how digital natives absorb and process information. Does that mean you won't appreciate my scrapbook? I don't think so, but I also have been processing and recording information differently since my instructional technology grad programs.

I hope you learn to appreciate the act and effort of creation, whether it be of the mind, hands, voice, body. This doesn't mean that creation shouldn't use technology. Look at Jorge Colombo of the New Yorker. He merged the act of creation with technology quite nicely.

Now I am off on a tangent.

Anyway, Nora, you have started creating. Creating with crayons, pens, markers. You love to scribble on paper or the table. You sort of hum or babble as you scribble. It appears you are thinking about what you creating. I treasure this. I like to think about your mind and how you are connecting and learning. I see you concentrate on your i-phone apps. I wonder about your neurons firings and fusing. I find it fascinating to watch you use traditional methods of creation with technological innovations. Many people want to prevent their kids from watching TV or using the computer or having 'technology overload.' I like to believe in exposure. I want you to be familiar with a paint brush and the feel of sticky paint on your fingers and toes, but I want you to be able to draw and create a picture using your finger on the i-phone too. I will take you to the zoo to see and smell the animals, but I want you to be able to ask a question about an animal and be able to find an answer from an expert even if the zookeeper at our zoo isn't working that day. Technology does not take the place of experience, it only enhances it. One day in Paris, you will be lost wandering among the crooked, crowded streets, you will soak in the history and culture and when your memory knowledge of Parisian traditions or French language fails, you pull out your smart phone and access the resources needed to assist you in your experience.

I have to start thinking about what educational philosophy I believe is best for you. My child. Different than my teaching pedagogy. You are practically one and now are forward facing in the car seat!!!! Next stop, Kindergarten!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Busy Busy SPRING!

We have been so busy lately. We always have some thing to do, some where to go, some person to spend time with. Being a social butterfly you have loved our schedule. I am exhausted. Spring has arrived! The weather has been absolutely gorgeous the last few days. We have spent so much time outside, you have been quite the outdoor explorer.

Last spring, you arrived 5 days into the season.Therefore, You missed most of the beauty because you were too busy worrying about eating and sleeping. Me too. It's wondrous to watch you discover the sights and smells of the outdoors now. You think the pond is a bathtub and you insist on putting rocks, leaves and garden tools into the water, the way to put your toys in your bath. Your teeth scrap against rocks. I say "YUKIES!" or "EWWWWWWWWWWW" and you scrunch up your nose and smile. Then I try to take it from you before you stick it back in your mouth and I go, "ah, ah, ah... give it to me." You go into hysterics. You giggle and giggle and giggle. It's the best game to you.

The last three days, you have come into the house filthy. Covered in dirt, your mouth and cheeks caked in mud. You are an expert walker now, inside, that is. Outside, you are discovering some frustrations with the lopsided terrain of the grass and stone walkway. Your determination to master walking in the backyard does not falter because it's difficult. Rather, your desire to belong with all of us, to be proficient at maneuvering the cracks, divots, stones, is so incredibly strong. I am impressed with how determined you are to succeed.

You can do it Nora!!! What a summer this will be.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

God's Plan

One week.

One week until your first birthday.

Did I ever tell you about Hillary? She was a beagle I received for my 12th birthday in 1993. She was my first real love. She saw me through middle school, high school, college, grad school, and my wedding. She was a queen. There is no other way to describe her personality. She was 15 when she passed away.... the day you were conceived. I was not with her, we were in Alaska. It was a clear, sunny day when I cried on the phone and sang "You are my sunshine" to her one last time, 5,000 miles away on the spit in Homer.

Rewind 6 months earlier. December 2007, when your father and I were getting prepared for our wedding on the 30th and New Year's Eve party. We had just had Verna Juska's memorial service in Maryland. I watched the hearse drive away until just out of sight. I was upset; not wanting her to go so soon. The first Verna never got to witness my wedding. I never said goodbye or mailed her the note telling her how much she had influenced the woman I had become. I was devastated. Our whole family was.

Hillary, who was Mrs. Juska's favorite Marcot member, comforted us all. However being 14, her health was failing. Your father promised me, before our wedding, that when Hillary dies, we will take her ashes to Mrs. Juska's grave in Hart, Michigan.

Your father, one way or another, always keeps his promises.

Almost a year to the day that you were conceived and Hillary died, we sat by Mrs. Juska's grave in July 2009. I introduced you to your namesake. I said farewell. I brought Hillary to be with Mrs. Juska. The Garvey Girls (the first Marcot girls) took us around Hart, Michigan, to see Mrs. Juska's farmhouse, her favorite restaurant, shops. Her mid-west life. We traveled to her vacation cottage, went to pottery studio where we bought some pieces. We got to learn all about Mrs. Juska before she moved to Maryland. It was peaceful. I was happy.

You seemed to know the importance of this trip. You absorbed the world around you. You allowed me to grieve, to celebrate, to reminisce. You were an angel during this trip. I believe Mrs. Juska met you in heaven before you came to us. I think she watches over us and knows how much she is missed and how much she shaped our lives. Hospital corners! Chocolate Chip cookies! Neighbors! She taught me well... and I will teach these principles to you.

We then crossed lake Michigan and continued our road trip to great-grandma's farm in Cashton, Wisconsin. But those adventures will be saved for another entry.

Faith is important to us. A serenity with trusting in the plan of God. At our wedding, our siblings carried single roses for deceased members of our family. I carried Mrs. Juska's rose, instead of my bouquet and the note I never mailed. I placed it on the chair, she should have been sitting in.

We had a special bouquet of roses for the dedication to Mary, but when it came time to pick it up during the ceremony, I did not see it but I saw Mrs. Juska's rose sitting on her chair. I picked that up instead and brought the rose over to Mary's statue for our offering. Your father and I knelt down and in a prayer we asked for blessings on our new family. We prayed for our future children. We prayed for you to bless our lives. And you did.

I don't understand the connection between this moment, Hillary, Michigan, and you. But there is one. Somehow, I feel all of it is strangely connected but I can't explain it. I guess its faith... or fate.

But you Nora Verna are forever intertwined with Hillary and Mrs. Juska and I couldn't be more proud.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Little Leprechaun

Last St. Patrick's Day you were all snug inside my belly. I was waddling around waiting for you to signal for your exit. It would come 8 days later.

This St. Patrick's Day, it was "green" day at Ms. Patti's daycare. You were adorable in your green and orange dress from Children's Place with yellow leggings. I placed shamrock ears on your head. You kept them on for .3 seconds. But it was cute while it lasted. St. Patrick's Day 2010 is your last "first holiday experience" come next Thursday, you will be doing everything for a second time.

This reminds me of your first ever holiday experience: Easter 2009.

The first time we left the house together to go out in public was with Jessica. Ashley was still in her belly. We went to Kennilworth mall near our Towson home to take you to see the Easter Bunny. It was the Friday before Easter, I think it was April 8, 2009. You were only two weeks old. I was nervous. I was tired. I was a disheveled mess. Jessica was so calm and helped us through being out in public. We brought the stroller and put you in it. Once we got into the mall the line to get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny was wrapped around the mall. We got in line. We waited. You slept. You slept for a long time. A little boy was running around being a maniac. He was spunky. A little girl was in front of us, cooing and smiling for her parents she was glowing. You slept. People commented on how "new" you were. How fresh from God you were. I left to buy drinks for Jessica and I. When I got back. Jessica grabbed me by the arm, laughing, said, "it was a good thing you weren't here. You would have freaked."
Apparently the over active little boy in line was throwing his baseball cap up in the air over and over. He over threw his hat and it flew. Flew right into your stroller, right onto your head. Covering up your entire face. Everyone gasped as they watched the cap fly right into your stroller. Jessica took it off your face and gave it back to the little boy. You never stirred. The embarrassed father apologized and disciplined his son.

We finally got up to the front of the line. The Easter Bunny held you. We got a picture with your eyes closed but NOT crying. That's all I could really hope for. You were a real trooper.

Weird to think that a year ago you were not in the world yet. I cannot imagine a moment you were not here. When I think of the past, I think of you too. You were always a part of me, always there. That's how our family feels. We always were and we always will be. I am comforted by this, I hope you are too.