Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Inspiration

It's finally snowing in Cleveland. When the first jumbo flakes started falling on Sunday, Arlo and Hazel set up shop at the big picture window in our living room, alternating between playing with their "too-toos" and being completely enthralled by the snow—staring, open-mouthed, and pressing their little palms against the cold glass in amazement.
For just a second, I stopped thinking about how much it was going to suck to drive in, and joined them in their wonder. Seriously, that fluffy shit really can be pretty, can't it? And the ice that forms on the outside of the window? It looks like feathers and intricate spiderwebs and tiny Christmas trees—and the kids were right to let it stop them in their tracks. Because it's spectacular.
Yesterday, I attended an offsite brainstorm for work, and when the facilitator asked the group, "What inspires you," my eyes filled with tears before the last syllable even left her mouth, because of course the answer is Arlo and Hazel. I immediately thought of how they'd watched the snow, and I'll be damned if I can even think about how awesome they are—and how they inspire me to do better and be better—without crying like a fool.
Nobody told me that'd happen.
But I wouldn't have understood anyway.    

Monday, August 3, 2015

Oh, Hi

Let's pretend I never left, shall we?

Here are a bunch of my favorite photos from Hazel's 9-month photo session with Brittany Graham Photography:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Arlo's First Birthday Party

Arlo's first birthday party was 8 days ago. We had an incredible turnout, and I think our 80 guests enjoyed themselves, despite the guest of honor's grumpy mood. We had visitors before the party, so Arlo didn't get his usual morning nap, and it showed. He did flash a couple of his trademark grins at the beginning of the party, so at least we have photo proof that he was only tired and miserable 99% of the time.

Brittany of Brittany Graham Photography gave us our party photos a few days ago, so here you go—Arlo's first birthday party, in photos:

Brittany took this pretty picture before I was smart enough to trim the extra ribbon on the banner.

All banners, bunting, and confetti by ScoutAndAcadia.

Cupcakes by Nicole of Coley's Cakes:  white cake with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream icing, chocolate cake with ganache filling and chocolate buttercream icing, and red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.

Seriously. Everybody asked where these were from. Unbelievable.

Coloring and bubbles for the kiddos.

Trail mix party favors.

Animal die-cuts by Crafting Crew.

Danny didn't want me to put this photo on a table, but how could I not?

Those monthly photos came in handy.

A little pre-party primping.

Hair's done, tie's on, and he's ready to party. Clearly. Just look at his face.

Maybe a crown (made by our awesome friend Liz Sabo) will help get the party started.

Of course he'd be posing in front of a garbage can for his cutest photos of the day.

Okay, the thrill wore off. How about a balloon?

Guests start to trickle in right on time.

I don't want to post too many photos of our friends, but does this one kinda tell you how hoppin' this shindig was?

Or maybe this one? (I've told several people that this photo is a great representation of the party; Arlo's mad as hell, and I'm sweating like a pig.)

About a quarter of his loot. Dude made out like a bandit.

I love these guys.

Checking out his smash cake. (Curious about the wardrobe change? He diarrhea-ed through his outfit.)

Cake also by Coley's Cakes. / Fox by RutaFelt.

Singing Happy Birthday. Look how much he loves it.

Don't let this photo fool you. He did not enjoy his smash cake and didn't even come close to smashing it.

In fact, he wanted nothing to do with it, which is a shame because the actual cake is turquoise and would have made for some awesome photos. (This picture makes me laugh out loud.)

He's not impressed.

Arlo slept his butt off when we got home. When he woke up, Danny and I opened gifts while he played with a card for a half hour. The party was stressful for me because if I wasn't chasing after my angry, tired child, he was writhing and doing backbends in my arms—so it didn't hit me until then, when we were home and opening gifts, how awesome the party really was, and how incredible it is that so many people love my kid so damn much.

He is pretty lovable.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy 12 Months: A Letter to Arlo

(I kept putting off finishing this letter because nothing I could write could ever capture the true amazingness of Arlo, but I made myself slap a few paragraphs on the end and call it a day.)

April 1, 2014

Dear Arlo,

You turned a year old today! From sun up to sun down, the day was about you. Your daddy and I greeted you with balloons first thing in the morning. You opened presents and ate—played with, rather—your smash cake. We visited the zoo, had family photos taken, and went to what your daddy and I think is your favorite restaurant, Texas Roadhouse (they have rolls and loud music!), for dinner.

As amazing as the day was, I kept finding myself slipping back to April 1st of last year. It’s remarkable how clear my memories are from that day. Their vividness is what makes the day seem like it was just yesterday. (The fact that I can barely remember what life was like before you—haven’t you always been with me?—is what makes the day seem like it was a hundred years ago.)

I remember those final moments of labor—those last few minutes of wondering and imagining who'd been living in my belly for 39 weeks and 6 days—and being more excited to meet you than I’d ever been about anything else in my life. I remember Dr. Ekman saying, "If you give this last push everything you have, you'll be a mommy." Your daddy was obviously able to see you before I was, and I remember the expression on his face as he studied you for the first time. It was an expression that spoke a thousand words—words that certainly aren’t in my vocabulary and may not even exist. It was an expression that conveyed love, pride, relief, triumph, and bliss—an expression that made me fall even more in love with your daddy.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that if I close my eyes and imagine the nurse placing you on my chest for the first time, I can still feel those perfect 7 pounds, 14 ounces of you there. I remember knowing immediately that you were objectively beautiful, and I don’t believe I’ve ever documented this sentiment before, but I remember saying to your daddy, "He looks like an Eskimo!" I can feel newborn-you in my arms now, as I write this, and I'm confident I'll be able to conjure up this feeling for the rest of my days.

I know I’ve said this more than once, but it really is astounding how drastically you’ve changed since that day we met you—and how much we’ve learned about your personality. You couldn’t do much more than look adorable then (which you were a pro at), but now, your skills are infinite—and we’ve learned so much about who you are. You run, clap, kiss, mimic, wave bye-bye and dance. You say "mama," "ba-ba," and "baby." You're breathtakingly handsome and garner stares wherever we go. You’re bright, independent, curious, strong, determined and—my favorite, so happy. You’re always smiling—a smile that lights up your whole face, and consequently, the whole room.

You love blueberries, your pets, music, pillows, and swings. When somebody walks through the door, you greet them with giant smiles and squeals of delight—as if I needed another reason to rush home to you. You're such a joy, and watching you learn and transform from infant to toddler has been an honor—and because of you, your daddy and I have grown and learned, too.

We know how beautiful it is to love somebody more than we love ourselves, what a blessing it is to watch somebody experience something for the first time, and what it's like to spend a year crying more tears of joy than tears of sadness—despite encountering major pitfalls and heartaches. We’re living healthier lives, so we can be with you for years and years and years. We’re kinder, more patient, more thoughtful. We're more optimistic and look forward to the future—and to making a million more memories with you. We love our friends more. We appreciate sunny days. We can only repay you for these gifts by continuing to love you with everything we have.

I don’t subscribe to the theory that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that things have a way of falling into place most of the time, and that it’s possible for really beautiful things to happen as a result of really terrible things. If I wouldn’t have had to work so hard to get you, wouldn’t have had to force myself to carry on when I didn’t know if my heart could take one more blow, I absolutely, beyond a doubt wouldn’t appreciate you the way I do. You're worth every test, every failure, every breakdown and shed tear it took to get you, and as much as it hurt, I’d do it all again a thousand times over. You're that amazing.

I try to avoid speaking in superlatives when I’m talking to you about you because I don’t want to give you a superiority complex, but this one’s the truth: once upon a time, I didn’t know if I’d ever get to have a baby, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t get the best. I can’t imagine a more incredible child, Arlo, and being your mother truly is the greatest privilege I’ve ever known. I am so, so proud of you. You're the sweetest gift the universe has ever given me—and the sweetest gift I'll ever give the universe. I love you beyond comprehension. I love you beyond words. I love you beyond measure.

Happy first birthday, precious boy.


Child, you are gorgeous.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pining for Pumpkin

Here's one more photo from Arlo's one-year session:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

12-Month Photos

I don't know how she did it, but Brittany of Brittany Graham Photography already sent over the photos from Arlo's12-month photo shoot, which took place just yesterday evening—and they took my breath away. I actually teared up as I clicked through them. Brittany expertly captured the joy he radiates. See it?