Saturday, January 31, 2009

First Steps

Well, Noelle stepped her first steps today! Real ones, this time. Apparently, her mental steps preceded her physical ones.

I can't tell you how excited we are. I wrote on the last post how proud I was. That is a drop in an ocean to what I am feeling now. I can only describe it as the feeling when a long stretch of storms finally breaks and the sun shines to show all the new greeness pushing through. Noelle has had so much frustration over anything to do with walking. And of course, I feel what Noelle feels. And so I can only imagine that this is what she is feeling too -- elation, relief, wonder, and good old fashioned pride.

Congratulations Noelle! The world is a whole new place now.

Oh, and the above picture is her first pair of shoes. She LOVES them. She handed them to me immediately to put on, and has done that every day since we got them. They are too big for her, but she doesn't seem to notice.

Mind Step

This is Noelle's first construction. She moved the blocks from the foot of the bed (no easy feat) so that she can slide into the bean bag.

When I saw her start moving the blocks, I just figured she was wanting to push them around as usual. She was grunting and seemed a bit frustrated so I thought about helping her, but for some reason I just sat and decided to see what would happen. What happened was that she apparently had a very real idea of what she was going to do with the blocks, and that idea manifested itself.

She moved the block very deliberately to the bean bag and then slid down laughing into it. When I finally saw what she had done, I was actually kind of shocked. Being witness to the growth of the human mind is, well the only word I can think of is awesome.

For me, this seems akin to a mental first step. Soon her little mind will be walking and then running, and then performing all kinds of fun acrobatics.

And maybe one day, when she is old and wise, it will dance.

For now though, the step is everything to this very proud mommy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Noelle has a new toy. Rather, I should say, her mother does. A bit of rose silk. Now I understand why silk is so highly prized.

I love the way it floats down through the air when tossed, blanketing Noelle and I underneath, giggling at the pure pleasure of it landing on our heads.

I love the way it feels against my skin.

I love the way it shines in the sunlight.
I love the way it drapes languidly over whatever it covers.

But most of all, I love the way it caresses my baby's own silk skin.

Silk over silk.

On a side note, Noelle loves to look at herself in the mirror. I find it so amusing. When she sees herself, she always bursts with a smile, sometimes laughing, in sheer joy of seeing herself.
We put various props on her, sunglasses, clothing, the silk cloth, and she delights in seeing herself in each one, going so far as to pose in different directions. I even catch her giving sidelong glances to the mirror while she is playing, I assume to see how she looks in action. Even her dull reflections in windows and glass catch her eye.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Ten days ago Noelle celebrated her 1st birthday. It still sounds so strange when I say she is a year old. It is one of those markers in life that seems too big for its own reality. Like turning 50, or 21 for those of us who were a little wilder in our youth =). I think there was a part of me that just really thought this day would never come, some far off horizon we always think about, aim for, but never quite reach. And yet here we are, at the edge of the world, touching the sun. Like I said...surreal.

Now to the fun stuff. The celebration. What stands out to me about this day is how much we had to be grateful for in Noelle's life. How many gifts she and all of us truly received on her very first birthday. And so, I will share them here, in the order we received them that day:

1) Nana

2) Music -- Her cousin Cole gave her a card that played "I'm so excited" when it opened. She still dances to it every time she opens it.

3) Babies in matching tutus -- is there anything cuter?

4.) Spring warmth in the heart of Winter

5.) Picnics

Gifts Cont

6.) Flying through the air

7.) A handful of Earth (or in this case, a bowlful)

8.) A good climbing tree

9.) Complete abandon

Gifts Cont.

10.) Family

11.) Firelight

12.) Cake

There is a story behind this cake. I found a recipe for this very elegant concoction called a Shadow Cake. It called for baking three layers of devil's chocolate cake, and then making a whipped frosting over which a velvety chocolate melt would be poured. Well, that is what it would have been if I hadn't used regular cocoa powder instead of dutch processed cocoa (who knew?), or could have gotten the egg whites in the whipped frosting to set properly. So, instead Noelle got this lovely Betty Crocker strawberry cake with a sensuous Duncan Hines vanilla frosting.

I did cut the strawberries, however.
I am taking credit for that.

I don't think she minded.

At the end of this day, I felt so full and so grateful for all that we have. But most of all I was grateful for the gift of Noelle, a golden thread woven through her father and I's life.

We love you. Happy Birthday, baby girl.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


If our days were donuts

I believe children would be the sprinkles

They brighten everything they touch.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Do you know that feeling that comes over you when what you knew in mind only you now know in the marrow of your bones?

And then you notice everywhere what before you might have only been able to carry on a discussion about, the meaning going no deeper than words.

This has happened to me with Space.

The presence of physical space often seems to mirror the space in my mind-- how free or guarded I feel at the time. Sometimes it seems it can even be more than just the reflection, but the cause of my state of mind. And so I find myself guarding my space as closely as I guard my time.

I'm not just thinking of physical space, though, but space in time as well. The moments between moments, the transitions. We don't talk about it often in the West, but we feel it.

We feel it when we hear a piece by a great pianist who knows space. He does not rush the notes, but lets each sound hover for a moment, filling the air until it resonates with our very beings, and we feel it. And then he holds that space even a bit longer, until the anticipation of the next note swells. We feel our bodies and our hearts pulse in time to this rhythm. Without the space, there is merely a melody moving along, something we perceive, but it plays across the surface never stirring our depths.

A dancer who holds the pose so achingly still for that moment, to pull you into the dance until you no longer can tell where you end and she begins. She knows the space she leaves is as much the dance as any of the choreography.

The eloquent speaker who delivers his words powerfully and meaningfully, but knows it will be in the silence between words where we will cry with him, laugh with him, believe in him.

Even breathing leaves space. We do not simply inhale or exhale, there is a space between. Without that space breathing becomes labored.

Space allows everything around it to somehow become fuller, allows it to...ripen.

And so it was thinking on space that my day opened itself to show me its space, its moments between moments, those times when nothing is obviously occuring, and nothing is obviously not occuring, but the moment is pregnant with the potential of what can occur, yet still harbors residue of what has occured.

Here is one of those times, the early morning when Noelle's toys are all waiting on their shelves, the first sunlight streaming in the windows across them -- it is looking at this that space opens up inside me, clouds of thought breaking. You can almost feel the play that waits for little hands, and yet there are still the remains of the silence of early morning twilight. A moment between moments.

Space to breathe.

Space to feel.

Space to be.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our Daily Bread

My Christmas present finally came in the mail after much anticipation! Here it is, my very own "Home Supreme Bakery".
This baby can do it all. We made our first loaf and it was oh so mmm mmm good.

Bread really does seem to be at the crux of all nutrition doesn't it?

Of course, there were a few...ahem...setbacks the first time around. For example somebody happened to forget to put the kneading blade on before she put all the ingredients in, causing a loosely held bread to cook itself into the loaf.

A surprise for whoever gets that piece =).

Friday, January 9, 2009

The View From Down There

We went for a visit over to my lil sis's the night before last. The kids were all running about -- well, Noelle was crawling, Emma was toddling, and Cole and Kaylee were doing their "I can't run in the house so I will hop and skip around" dance.

I glanced out the window and saw this:

I ran for my camera and the kids followed with shouts of "Wow" and "It's like fire!". This led to them asking if they could try their hand at the camera, and what resulted was two little ones moving from room to room with the pace of one with a purpose, the pace of one hot with creativity. In other words, all that hop and skip around energy was being channeled through their eyes into the lens of that camera. They needed no direction, no prodding; this was pure unadulterated spur of the moment learning.

Not just for them.

For you see, I got my first glimpse through the eyes of a child, and it occurred to me how truly precious a camera put into those little hands can be. How many times do we yearn to see what our children find interesting, to know what we appear to them as, to be in their world?

Kaylee's Images:

Kaylee came up with this idea and was so excited to pull evey little clay turtle out of its box so she could arrange and shoot them.

Emma's Crib

Mom at the stove

Mom at the Stove

Uncle Stephen and cousin Noelle

Cole's Images:

Baby Emma

Aunt Danielle and Kaylee

Starting Dinner

The sunset

As I looked through the images, what struck me was how all those casual moments we take for granted, the kind we make no memory of because they are the canvas on which the rest of our lives are painted, how utterly beautiful those are when standing only 4 feet tall. Because to them, these moments are it -- the threads they use to weave their own canvas, firm and flexible, on which one day will be painted the masterpiece of their own life.

Moments so warm and cozy and safe.

So wonderfully ordinary.

I suppose, everything childhood should be.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Today was one of those rare days that we have honest to goodness icicles. And if more shocking, they have stayed around the whole day. I feel oh so cozy snuggling with my little heater while she naps and rolls around in the bed playing with her dollies.

This morning, though, was a different story. She used her little pointer finger (her new thing) to ask, no, to command her daddy take her outside. No, she didn't care if it was cold, and no she didn't care if he didn't have a shirt on. So, I took this picture in a moment's haste to pull out and show her one day when she stamps her foot and huffs something along the lines of "You don't love me." This is the proof --
Baby, your daddy sure does love you.

A Visit

The joy of coffee

Cherry Park Sand Box

This weekend Noelle's grandparents, Stephen's parents, came for a visit. It was a perfect time since in Texas we are occasionally graced with summer days in the dead of winter. It is a sight to see, really -- twisted bare branches set against a perfectly baby blue sky that seems to go on forever --a Texas sky as I like to call it -- the sunlight prematurely stirring ground and trees from their winter slumber. We set timid feet out as well, feeling for the coldness, then, upon feeling the warmth, emboldened to once again don short sleeves and open shoes. And so it was that we ended up at the gardens a few blocks from away from our home, so Noelle could show off her Secret Garden to her grandparents.

She fed the Koi. At first she wanted to throw all the fish food the opposite way, but after a few times, she got the picture and had a blast feeding the fish. They are quite stunning orange golds and greys, and one albino white, all with the mustaches that give them that curious look of wise old men.

A treasure.

Taking a quiet moment on the labyrinth, paths set in bricks that wind to a stone bench where one can sit...and listen.

Admiring the sound of a waterfall that falls far enough to cause a roar one has to lift their voice over to be heard.

We also went to the park (picture at top) where Noelle was entranced by what the other kids were doing. I have never seen her so still. At home, she is always so active, so quick to jump into doing. Occasional moments of contemplation, but mainly she is a doer, not a watcher. But at the park, she would sit still as a statue, watching one kid swing, another playing in the sand. And only after a long while would she venture to join in, toppling some little girls sand tower that I would have to pull her back from, muttering apologies. Only to have it happen again, because, well, there is that Capricorn determination to contend with.

And with the post holiday quietness and the presence of only one present, Noelle slowly and methodically unwrapped Christmas gifts. On Christmas, she was at her cousins' house, where she watched them (ages 6 and 7) tear through their gifts with the vigor children have in that magical time when they actually know what Christmas is, but before they know the truth about Santa. And so she had two Christmases this year, one focused on her and her discovery of wrapping paper, and a new doll that she has not put down since she opened it, and one where she witnessed all the fun in store for her in a time not too far off. A pretty good deal, if you ask me.

In the end, looking at all these pictures, I can forget the missed naps and delayed meals that ended in a very fussy little one, the overzealous mother who insisted on taking her out for not one, but two trips to parks because the weather was so beautiful,(which again ended in a very fussy little one), because when you see moments like these... well it just seems a small price to pay.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What Is Gone, What is Yet to Come

Happy 2009!

The New Year Day has such a reflective feel to it, a time when what has been, what is, and what will be melt into each other, making me feel sad and eager all at once. Sad to say goodbye to times that will never be again, except in my heart. Eager to know what lies ahead for me. Content now to fully feel every moment slip by because never is it so apparent as now how fleeting time is. I want to take a few moments to write on 2008, such a special year for us here.

On this day last year I was very pregnant, had just hastily changed my care provider from a doctor to midwife after it became apparent my doctor and I disagreed on how Noelle's birth should go. I assumed she would be coming in less than a week, on her due date. She waited much longer than that.

Noelle was born and everything in me changed forever. I remember thinking to myself that when I was in labor with her and she was moving through me, I could swear I felt God. That was shocking to me since I didn't even know if I believed in God. But there it was, creation occuring through me, the most magical and sacred of all things in this w0rld, the beginning of a life. And I had the honor of bearing witness to it.

The next parts of 2008 are such a jumble of emotions and memories. So much joy. So many tears. So much maturing. I became a mother. Not just in words. My soul became a mother's soul.
Stephen and I married in Clark Gardens on our anniversary of meeting.

Last year I thought I would be living in Dallas for several more years as I completed my medical training. But a mother's soul will not leave her baby. And so I realized my path was to lead elsewhere. And I gladly followed it.

I moved near my family, to a small town that I adore for its quaintness, a town that continually greets us with more and more wonderful surprises and people that make us feel so grateful to be raising our family here.

Stephen got his feet wet in what will hopefully become a flourishing business for him.

The first African American President was elected. Boy does it feel good to write that.

And as the economy fell around us, and the divisiveness of an election reigned this last part of the year, I felt immune to it all as I was surrounded by so many people that I love. Living near my family feels so nice --watching my little one run around with all her cousins, seeing my mother and sister whenever I feel like it.

A person could almost burst from all they have. A beautiful year it was, 2008.

Cheers to the adventures that wait in 2009.