October 26, 2011

Grandma is her best friend

I love how perfectly this photo sums up our recent trip to Oklahoma.  Eleanor LOVES her grandma.  She woke up from every nap saying, "Gamma?" and rushed through the house to find her.  They played playdough and blocks, dug in the dirt, watched for birds out the window - really it was a paradise for Ellie.  Pretty nice for me too.  Unlimited naps anytime I wanted.  We had such a fun time in Oklahoma and one of the highlights of the trip was Ellie's first zoo experience. (well, the first one she was actually old enough to care about)
Oh sure, there were lions and monkeys and penguins.  All the usual animals.  But the real show stoppers were the tortoises.  They were huge!  And while they ate lunch, the zookeepers let us pet them!
Ellie couldn't get enough of them and eventually declared herself Lord of the Turtles, vowing to stay forever and be their fearless leader.

I was really excited for Ellie to experience the petting zoo.  I thought she'd be really into it, but she wasn't as stoked as I had hoped.  I blame this guy really.
He was obviously apathetic and his bad attitude rubbed off on Ellie.  She mostly just stood around with the goats.  But she still looked cute.
After all the zoo excitement, Ellie and her best friend needed a little nap on the way home.  I'm telling you, two peas in a pod.  What a fun day and what a great trip!

October 21, 2011

A Marriage that Works

I had spent the last hour sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself.

He was tired and hungry after a long day of work.

Who knows how it started?  A harsh start-up by both of us as soon as he walked in the door and we were on our way to the world's shortest fight.

Three sentences into it I yelled, "Just leave me alone!" and stormed off dramatically only to realize that there really was no where to go in this one bedroom apartment.  So I escaped into the bathroom and drew myself a warm bath.

He found me there, crying my tears of self-pity.  He was sorry and I was sorry.  Then there was nothing to do but laugh.  We laughed because sometimes you just need to let off a little steam.  Sometimes you're just looking for a fight.  Sometimes you are sick and tired of the same old routine and you need an impromptu bath time and Papa John's pizza.

Sometimes marriage isn't as exciting or glamorous as we once thought it would be.  But always we are in this together.
Later that night he brought me a drink of water as we settled into bed. 

There were booger-looking things stuck to the inside of the cup near the rim.  I complained about them (not being one to suffer in silence) and he cheerfully turned the cup around and offered me the other side.

I drank it.

As we got under the covers my first thoughts were, "Why wouldn't he just get me a clean glass?  Or better yet, why doesn't he pay more attention when he does the dishes so we don't have booger-looking things at all?"

The next thoughts were, "I'm so lucky that he brings me drinks of water and that he is so willing to do the dishes each night."

"Good night - I love you."

Maybe one day the nice thoughts will come first.  For now I'm just learning to keep my mouth closed long enough to let them come at all.
It's not a perfect marriage - who could claim to have that?  But it's a marriage that works.  And not in the way that your clunky car works until you can save enough to get a new one.  It's love and tears and arguments and inside jokes.  It's forgiveness and friendship and negotiation.  It's service and learning to be selfless together.  This marriage - it's everything to me.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.  Amen.
                                                             Moroni 7:48
                                                                                                                              The best marriage advice anyone ever gave me

October 20, 2011

Mother of the Year

It's a lot worse in person.  I promise.

Well, she had her first big bump today.  I guess there was that one time she jumped headfirst off our bed onto the hardwood floor.  But for some reason I feel like this is her first big injury.  Maybe because it happened in public, maybe because it was three concrete stairs she somersaulted down, maybe because it's the first time she hurt herself in such a way that it made me cry.  For whatever reason - it was just different this time.

I usually feel pretty proud of my parenting.  I feel good about the choices I make as a mother, otherwise I wouldn't do them.  One thing I've decided is that I don't want to hover.  I try to give Eleanor her space, let her explore and learn on her own.  But oh, when I saw her leaning precariously over the top step I called out to her to be careful.  And when I saw her jump enthusiastically with both feet, I just knew she didn't have the balance yet to land it.  Her feet hit the second stair, her head smashed the first, and she rolled over onto the ground.  My feel couldn't carry me fast enough to get to her and I wished in that moment that I had made an exception to my rule.  I wished that I had been hovering.
"How could I not be there to catch her?"  That of course was my first thought as I scooped her into my arms.  Having seen the fall and quickly assessing her little scrapes, I knew that it was not a serious injury.  She was mostly scared and yes, definitely had a bump coming on.  I didn't freak out, but as I calmed her, I felt my own tears coming on.  Tears of guilt and frustration with myself.  My baby had hurt herself on my watch.  

I am so thankful to the kind woman who sat with us and told me how her 8 year old daughter has had every injury in the book.  She said, "I spent the first 5 years feeling guilty all the time, but now, I'm done with that."  She looked me right in my tearful eyes and said, "It happens to everyone."  Her words helped heal my little wound.  And of course Ellie was back to her smiling self already by this point - easily distracted by a favorite toy.
"I see you," she says.

This whole incident has got me thinking about all the ways in which we try to be the best.  The best mother we can be, the best wife, the best student or employee, or whatever.  And all the many many ways we fall short.  We tumble and we get scraped up.  We feel embarrassed, ashamed, guilty, humbled.  We cry because somehow our efforts just don't measure up.  How thankful I am for the lesson that we have to be PATIENT.  Patient with ourselves.  Kind and forgiving and loving with ourselves and with everyone around us who is also trying to be their best something.  We all get scrapes and bruises of the heart.  Give a hug (to yourself or your neighbor) and just remember that truly "it happens to everyone."
As for Ellie - well, she comforts herself by chewing on the plastic bag full of ice that was meant for her head.  Toddler chewing on plastic bag?  See, I told you I was mother of the year.

October 17, 2011

22 Months - my word!

Ellie in all of her ice-cream-face glory.

This weekend found us wandering a bit on the Upper West Side.  The fall weather was splendid and we enjoyed looking at gaudy crafts, sipping apple cider, and sharing a cone from the Mr. Frosty truck.  Yes, this weekend found us soaking up the best parts of Fall.

This morning found me utterly stunned to realize that my daughter is 22 months old.  22 months!  I knew it was coming.  I've been watching her change from baby to girl, but to think that she will be 2 in 2 short months - well, it kind of takes my breath away.  I'd like to record just a few things about my spunky sweet baby (I can still call her my baby, right?) at this age.
She is a champion airplane/helicopter spotter.  She never lets one pass unnoticed.
Even when we're inside and she can't see the sky.
Her longest sentence is some variation of "Shoes, where are you?"
"Blanky, where are you?"
"Bear, where are you?"
She's pretty sensitive about noises, and still runs to me, climbs up my body, and clings to my neck
when the buzzer rings
when there's a knock at the door
when someone uses a hammer within earshot
when the neighbor wears shoes and we can hear her walking.
Eleanor has some unknown grudge against the number 3 - skips it every time she counts.
She still adores the swings at the park - could ride them all day long.
She also loves to hang from the monkey bars.  It's like a toddler feat of strength.
Says, "Hi" to EVERYONE we pass on the street.
It breaks my heart when they don't say hi back.
She loves babies.  Loves to look at them, sit by them, point to them, stroke them when I'm not looking.
She calls her pacifier "fire" - which I think is too adorable for words.
When you take your shoes off at the door, Ellie will promptly put them on and strut through the living room.
She loves a good race and will gladly run back and forth against you for however long you can go.
She is still a champion eater, champion sleeper, and of course a champion "cheese-er" for the camera.
Oh how I love this girl!

It's been just me and her for the past 22 months.  Best buddies all day (except on those days when we are worst enemies).  I can't imagine how life will change for us both when little sister comes along in a couple short months.  Let's live it up Ellie - our single child days are quickly coming to a close.

October 5, 2011

Medieval Festival at 28 Weeks

Before Conference started last weekend, we took a little stroll in the finally crisp autumn air to check out the Medieval Festival.  We were there early, so there wasn't much going on yet.  Unlike last year, I didn't feel inspired to shoot very much - just a couple photos to even show we went.
I was inspired, however, to dress up and force Joe to take photos of me.  Have to document the growing belly.  Here we are at 28 weeks, happy it's Fall and feeling great!
Oh yeah, I went back to brown.  Blond was fun for the summer, but it just didn't feel like me.  And can we say "high maintenance?"  I could never dream of keeping up with those roots.

What's that?  You can see the line from my special underwear through my shirt?  Oh well.  You win some, you lose some.

October 4, 2011

Making it by Hand

"You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made...it stays with you - always."
- Chef Bugnard

I came across this quote while reading Julia Child's book, My Life in France.  I love the sentiment expressed; that even after you gift it away or pass it on, the beauty of something you made stays with you always.  I'm not an accomplished cook like Julia, but I do like to make things with my hands.  And so I present this new segment, Making it by Hand.  Here for your viewing pleasure is my very first quilt.  I made it for my friend who just had a baby boy.  It's small and very simple, but I'm still immensely proud of it.
Thank heavens that blogs have made crafting cool again.  Otherwise I'd have to be a closeted quilter.

October 3, 2011

Weekend Thoughts and Family Photos

All photographs in this post were taken by Kelli Nicole, who will receive a glowing recommendation at the end.
The editing was done by me.

This weekend we enjoyed watching General Conference (a semi-annual meeting of our church) as a family.  If you're interested, you can watch all the addresses by clicking here.  I came away feeling a renewed desire to develop greater charity and to try harder in all ways to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  The two talks that engaged me the most were given by:

Elder Tad R. Callister - a bold talk about The Book of Mormon
Sister Elaine S. Dalton - a touching and timely address about how fathers can best raise their daughters

Perhaps Sister Dalton's talk touched me so much because we are expecting the arrival of our second daughter in a few short months.  Whatever the reason, I found myself pondering a lot about our little family and how quickly things change and what an exciting time Joe and I have found ourselves in.  General Conference happens every six months, and I remembered that last conference weekend Kelli was in town visiting and took some family photos of us.  I was probably, oh, 2 seconds pregnant at the time.  When I see these pictures now - I can't believe how much we have changed and grown in six short months.  

Prepare yourself for a Hardie Family Photography Session of such immensity that surely only the grandparents will stay tuned until the end.
Let's take a short break to admire the real star of these photographs.  Those BOOTS!  You thought I was going to say Ellie, huh?  Seriously, though, let me tell you about these boots.  If you'll remember, one of the items on our New York Bucket List was to buy something a fancy.  Something we wouldn't normally buy.  The boots are my contribution to crossing off that item.  How frivolous are they exactly?  Enough that I almost backed down and couldn't purchase them.  I kept thinking about widows in South America and wondering how many African children I could send to school with the money I was about to plunk down for some footwear.  I'm still not sure I made the right decision.  And years from now, when I look back on this little boot confession, I'll probably shake my head at the shallowness of my youth.  So there you have it, now the entire internet knows what a terrible person I am.  

Back to the photographs of my adorable family.
How did Ellie know we were awkwardly kissing behind her?
Somehow, she just knew.
The next two photos are included to show you just how talented Kelli really is at capturing great family photos.  You can see how Ellie really felt about having her picture taken.  She was screaming any time we didn't let her run around and explore and climb.  So you know what?  We went with it.  Kelli continued to snap away while Ellie did her own thing, and the results are some of my favorite pictures of the session.
I love my little family!  I'm so happy we're adding another and (as corny as it sounds) I look forward to watching our family grow in photos through the years.

I know some of you are reading from the Houston area.  If you live in Houston, or in any of the places to which Kelli travels frequently, you should definitely hire her to shoot your family pictures.  Check out her work here.