Monday, September 17, 2012

The Magic of Time (more specifically: Two Years)

Two years. How have two YEARS gone by so fast?

Something magical must happen to time when the prospect of a new baby looms...
It all starts with the pregnancy test. That's when the "magic" begins.
You pee on THE stick and waiting for a second line to appear takes 3 hours instead of 3 minutes as you pace in the bathroom wondering, hoping, panicking.
9 months feel like 9 years as you take place in a nauseous, gassy, heartburny, uncomfortable, but totally worth it miracle. 9 years waiting for the "glow".
Labor lasts for 389 hours, whether you're a first time mom or a fifth time mom. THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY NINE HOURS.
The first sleepless night is actually 6 nights all wrapped up into one.
The first time he gets sick, it lasts for 26 days and the wait at the pediatrician's office takes 5 days and the line at CVS takes 12 hours.
The first time he rolls over... it literally takes him 2 hours as he slowwwwly pushes himself over onto his back only to start crying because it turns out he actually likes laying on his stomach better. Unfortunately it takes 2 hours and 5 minutes to find the video camera and you miss it. The first roll.

Somewhere in there the "magic" takes an unexpected twist.
Somewhere in there TWO YEARS has magically been squished and packaged up into a tiny, little box labeled "memories".
It's really not fair at all.

In lieu of this awful bit of "magic" that moms must endure, I have some specific memories that I want to delicately place in that little box. Things I don't want to forget, whether 10 days or 10 years pass by. When I get old, and who really knows how long that will take and when it will be, I want to reach into that box and remember some little things about life right now. About Eli being.... deep breath... Two.

Eli, my love, this is you on your first full day of being two:

That's right... you've got your first fat lip. The day after your birthday party you were playing around on the bed after church. I was pretending to be a lion, you were squealing, you turned around to get away from me and SMACK right into the headboard. There was a lot of blood. A lot. Like two gallons. What I want to remember is how you only wanted your mommy. You wanted to cry into my shoulder and you didn't want anyone else to touch you. I rocked you right to sleep and I was the one you called for when you woke up.

Rewind to your birthday party (which although I planned to last 3 hours, it only lasted 3 minutes), we had a "Two at the Zoo" party because you love animals THAT much.

You were in heaven. Not a day goes by that we don't talk about animals or pretend to be animals (usually gators or lions) or watch some animals on TV or play with your animal figures or practice our animal sounds (low/loud "daddy" animal noises and high-pitched/quiet "baby" animal noises). You are all about animals.

What else do you love? Let's see.... rocks, bugs, sticks, dirt, swimming, and water. You don't love posing for pictures though... and we are still working on your "cheese" face (see below):

I don't mind too much though because the candid, real smiles are my favorites and luckily we get lots of those every day (see below):

You also love to color. Lately it has become a daily activity. It's so funny to watch your two year old self with pencil in hand because you concentrate so hard and try to be so precise, which results in your tongue slowing poking it's way out between your lips.

Your drawings are tiny precisely drawn scribbles and you tell me what each one is whether it be a "scary" snake, a "yucky" bug, a "daddy" boat, or some other item that you describe in detail.

Lately you've been all about coloring "Kaysi". Oh and it never fails that you want me to color with you, always offering me a pencil and usually proclaiming that it is "green" even when I correct you and say it's yellow.... "Nope... it's GREEN!" I love that I can drop my chores and sit by your side to draw those spiders and stars and cows.

Some of my favorite moments with you at this age are the ones right before you fall asleep. You have so many precious quirks in that time between growing exhaustion and your dreamland.

I love the way you rub your hair when you begin to get tired. The way that you insist you don't want to take a nap as you relax into my arms. The way you try to bargain for extra kisses just to stay awake longer, reaching for the sides of my face and pulling me to you. The way you reach for the mole on my cheek when your eyes begin to glaze over. The way you sleepily mutter, "I love you, mom" without me even prompting you. Even the drool I find on my shoulder after I tuck you into your bed. I wish those moments could last years and years.

I could go on and on about the things I want to remember.
How you love to dance and make up your own songs ("Mom, I'm singing!")
How you pretend to have "boo-boos" just so I will kiss them and you can say, "It's all better mom!"
How you very adamantly yell "NO SNIR!" to me when you want me to stop doing something
How you've made up your own word that embarrasses me because you use it so often (hoppeeze, which started out as "help please!")
How every time you hear a motorcycle you ask if it's Grandpas (more accurately, "Papaw")
How lately the first thing I hear over the baby monitor in the morning is "Mommy! Wanna watch Diego??"

There are too many memories I want to keep close to my heart. And after just two years.
I just can't imagine how I am going to fit SO many more into that tiny little box over the years... or should I say weeks? Days? Hours? Minutes?

I love you my sweet, little boy and I can't wait (though I probably won't have to wait long) for the memories to come.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Two at the Zoo

I am happy to report that Eli's birthday party was a success and we are now the proud owners of a wildly handsome two year old little boy!

I've had this party in the planning stages for a while now and have been so excited about bringing it to life! I picked a "theme" that I knew would thrill him and have been more than a little anxious about seeing his little face light up - I mean who wouldn't want to be the zookeeper at their own imaginary zoo?!

It's been a little challenging planning from a distance, since the party was at my parent's house in Georgia, and what with our whirlwind of a move... but we were determined to pull it off and have a HUGE celebration of our little guy's life! A big thanks to Nana and Grandpa for all of their help, including letting us host at their house!

Here are some pictures of Eli's big day!

The invitation

A note we included with the invite

Setting up the backyard! Kaysi and her best friend, Jordan, painted the pallet animals for us!

More set up - Daniel and Chris hung streamers for our "Monkey House"

Kaysi's chalk message

Entrance to Eli's Zoo - I painted a bunch of fun signs for the backyard

Party favors and a table for the stuffed animals we collected

Sign for the food table

The weekend was also a best friend reunion - Lindsay is BACK from Africa!

Eli's zookeeper vest

Eli and Mommy

We lucked out with a beautiful day!

Another sign and the elephant pool

Eli's favorite inflatable

Some of the sandwiches we made for the kids to eat

Having fun!

They loved running in and out of the streamers

Just like last year he ate one little lick at a time

Our best friends there to celebrate with us

Too much fun! He did NOT want to take a nap!

Our little zookeeper ready for a birthday dinner of Partner's

Playing with uncle Sean before opening presents

Opening his presents!

Some new clothes

He had the sweetest reactions! He would gasp and bring both hands up to his face - this is the best shot I had of it!

So excited about his big present from mommy and daddy

Big hugs for daddy!

These are all of the stuffed animals we received from our guests

Kissing the last stuffed animal as he places it in the bag to send off to a Children's hospital in Atlanta

One of our wishes for Eli's birthday was to get a donation of stuffed animals, in lieu of gifts, for the Children's Hospital in Atlanta. I was really hoping to be able to deliver the stuffed animals with Eli and spend some time with the sick kiddos, but hospital policy was working against us there. Luckily we have a close family friend who works in the Cardiac Step-Down unit who was a big help to us in getting these stuffed animals to the kids - I wish we could have seen their faces.

We have been so blessed by two healthy years of life for our son that it had been weighing on my heart - those who have been less fortunate than us. I hope that as Eli grows older we can have part in raising him to be someone who truly understands the gift of giving, not simply JUST to give, but to give with a pure heart to those who are truly in need.

Thank you Lord for blessing us with two amazing years of life, love, laughter and fortune. Our hearts are full because of this little boy you gave to us! We pray for many more years with our precious son! Happy, Happy Birthday Eli Grey!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Exploring Knoxville

If you know me well, you know that I love to get out and do new things; go on adventures, if you will. I don't waste much time figuring out fun things to do when we move to a new place or go on a trip. It makes sense, since my primary "love language" is spending quality time with the ones that I love; there is nothing that fills my heart more!

Although we've barely been in Knoxville for three weeks, we've already had lots of fun exploring the city and getting comfortable in our new surroundings! Even if that means walking up and down three flights of stairs just to leave the apartment (Eli is becoming a pro!).

The first weekend we were here Daniel took us on a tour of the city! We drove around downtown Knoxville, saw the river, and then headed up north of Knoxville to see where Daniel grew up. As soon as we got off of the highway and pulled into his hometown he exclaimed, "WOW! They built a Walmart!" Haha! My country boy!
We were able to see the house he grew up in, where he learned to drive, the infamous Raptor Center where he became a world renown expert on birds of prey, the HUGE (not really) hill he had to walk up to get home after school, and lots more! We also took a detour to Norris Dam and hung out by the river, which Eli loved!


Almost every day since moving in Eli and I have been taking advantage of our new pool during the last hot days of summer, which has been amazing! Nothing like playing in the pool with the hot sun beating down! Our pool has a wade in entrance, like a beach, and a rock waterfall... so many cool features for a little boy to be fascinated by!

We've been to the Knoxville Zoo twice already! Eli LOVES animals, so he is all about the zoo! It's a lot bigger than Birmingham's zoo and there are a lot of fun areas for kids! I see us spending a lot of weekends there. Each time we've gone it's all Eli talks about for the next couple of days. They even have an indoor activity center for kids to play at... Daniel and I may or may not have fully taken advantage of the foam blocks (see picture below!):

And of course, Eli and I have been checking out all of the local parks! Including the awesome play place in the mall for those really hot days! Our favorite so far is the World's Fair Park downtown. They have an awesome playground, plus a huge "splash pad" and a green lawn for running around on. The first time we went was kind of spontaneous, but luckily I had a swim diaper in my trunk - Eli was soaked afterward! We've gone back several times a little bit better prepared!

We are loving Knoxville so far!