Monday, July 18, 2011

Letter: 30 Things in Honor of Turning 30


You don't turn thirty every day, so in honor of your 30th birthday, I thought I would let you know of 30 things I love about you. Some are serious, some are flippant, but all are aspects that make you who you are and make me lucky to be with you. So enjoy (but don't get all big-headed on me). No one else may be interested, but I wanted to share with the world how blessed I am to be with you.
  1. You are well-rounded. Here you are, a graduate student in a very intellectual field, and yet you can geek out on your online forums or play video games. I'm glad you're not all one or the other.
  2. You weren't afraid to leave your career to pursue your passion. I know it was hard to allow yourself to pursue further education when you had a steady, good-paying job, especially with a wife and with the potential for family in the not-too-distant future, but it wasn't what excited you, and I love that you knew that about yourself and pushed onward. I suspect you're more fun to live with because of it, even if you're the one leaving stacks of books around and the one with evening and weekend commitments.
  3. You and I are a team. Be it marriage or parenthood, we're in this together as equals.
  4. You aren't afraid to step in when I'm being irrational. Recently, I've learned I need you to temper me. For some reason, ingrained deep (likely due to our culture), is the duty I feel to handle most things baby-related. But you'll sometimes realize you need to step in and take over in the evenings, especially if the only reason I can give is that I "ought" to be the one to do X.
  5. You value my time. Now that I'm not the one with work that follows me home, I feel like whenever B is awake and we're both around, I should be the one to tend to her, even if you're just relaxing by reading or playing games (see #4). But I love that you'll sometimes tell me to stay put -- or take over for a couple hours during a weeknight or weekend -- so that I can have a choice to do whatever I'd like. It's hard for me to see my time outside of work as important as yours, so I need you to remind me of this.
  6. You change diapers. Before B was born, you'd never touched one, so I think you'll understand my surprise when you declared, "You take care of one end, I'll take care of the other." I thought you might falter on your commitment after a week or two, but now, with our daughter ten months old, you are still going strong. I only change a diaper when you’re not home or the rare occasion where you’re occupied (and those I can maybe count on one hand -- okay, maybe two).
  7. You are an amazing father. I love watching the joy in your eyes as you interact with our daughter. She is lucky to have you in her life. You take such pride in her and I know you will be a constant encourager and positive presence.
  8. You are not afraid to show your emotions. Losing Katherine was devastating for us, and we both shut down from the world for about a year, but I always knew the two of us could share what we were experiencing. I knew I wasn't the only one grieving and it meant a lot to know you didn't keep me at a distance.
  9. You're not afraid of housework. Maybe it’s due to living on your own in college, but I love that you don’t blink an eye at unloading the dishwasher or doing the majority of the laundry. Even (*gasp*) the cloth diapers.
  10. You entertain my hair-brained ideas. I was sure you might think I'd gone a little hippie with wanting to cloth diaper, compost, and make my own baby food, but you're right there alongside me.
  11. You are humble. Here you are, on the home stretch of a PhD, having been a National Merit Scholar, acing your GRE (and I could go on…), yet you don’t even think to lord it over others. You are aware it comes easily to you, and yet you’re quick to realize others’ strengths, especially in areas where you don’t excel.
  12. You are well read. I love that I might have heard something in passing on the radio, or come across a snippet of a story, and if I want to know more, my first stop is often asking you what you know about it.
  13. You're a great companion during car trips. Perhaps it’s due to the lack of internet, TV, and other distractions, but we’ve had some great conversations during long car trips. I even like reading aloud to you (even if it does eliminate any knitting time!), which is a newer pastime.
  14. You celebrate my accomplishments. I like to create things, be it with thread, yarn, or otherwise, and while you don’t have the same desire, you understand what it means to me. Heck, you’ll even humor my questions: “What color combination do you like best?" (although you hate that one), or "Of these two patterns, which is your favorite?”
  15. You can still surprise me. Maybe it means I think too little of you, but I am still surprised you wear the socks I knit you (or, rather, knit for myself, but they ended up too large for my feet and were just perfect for yours). You’re such a creature of habit when it comes to things, and being that they weren’t made of cotton and sold by Hanes, I was sure they’d be unused. I was touched you wore them on wet, cold days after learning how well they kept you warm. I guess you must be knit-worthy, since it warranted a second pair. If only I could get up the courage to knit you a sweater…
  16. We are still best friends. You're the first one I want to share news with or talk to about what's going on. I was a little nervous about this (one of the reasons it took me a while to come around to the idea of dating my best friend), but I needn't have been.
  17. You make me laugh. I'm a tough crowd -- I might be amused at something and crack a smile, but audible laughs aren't a given. But I love that you can surprise me and make me laugh.
  18. You think I'm funny. I love when you nearly hyperventilate after something I've said. Most recently, I remember you dying after I tried to connect the giving of raspberries as being founded in Scripture.
  19. You still think I'm beautiful. No matter my weight or the number of my stretchmarks, you are constantly telling me you find me beautiful.
  20. I love the one-liners we've accrued over the years, little phrases that make us laugh, things often privy to the two of us. "You know, now that you mention it, I had the windows open and I heard Beau on his phone saying something about a place in Indy..." or "I'm NEVER going to fall aslee..." and let's not forget about, "Gosh! How can we be out of glasses!"
  21. You play dirty in an attempt to win our pretend arguments. All this serves to do is make me fuss that you're cheating by using logic or philosophical terms I'm not skilled in understanding.  And if you ever turn serious about "winning" with your philosophy prowess, that fake argument will escalate into me being royally annoyed. You have been warned.
  22. You are quick to serve. You often are the first to ask if there's anything you can get for our guests, thinking of their needs. You'll ask what you can do for me if you're fetching something for yourself. And while I still cringe at allowing myself to be dependent on you, and I wonder if this instance of asking for a favor will be the time you say you aren't willing to help, you haven't let me down yet. This was *awesome* during my pregnancy when I would hit those tired spells.
  23. You have a great relationship with your parents. You show your love and respect for them and what they've done for you. This is a great example for our daughter.
  24. You have great parents. Now I realize this isn't something you had any control over, but they've shaped who you've become, and I am so blessed to have them as in-laws. I like spending time with them, and they've never made me feel like I wasn't good enough for you.
  25. You keep up with the "invisible" chores. These are those things that you regularly do that don't often get noticed: filling the cars up with gas, taking out trash, doing laundry, taking compost and recycling out. These can get thankless quickly - somehow my closet is stocked with clean clothes (or at least the bed is), my car is regularly serviced, the trash can is never overflowing. And I don't always recognize that you're doing these tasks because you're so efficient.
  26. You don't hold my faults against me. Like that time I took over driving to Iowa this summer, and after waking up from a nap, you asked me, "So, just out of curiosity, what's our gas situation like?" Only then did I realize the gas light was on, and I had no clue how long it had been lit. Fortunately, the situation turned out okay (although our nerves were tested when we ran into THREE gas stations in a row that were closed down), but you didn't berate me for not noticing the light. My spirits are pretty tender and are easily wounded by censure, so I appreciate that you're not quick to hold my weaknesses against me.
  27. You are a great steward of our money. We are living on much less now than in Minnesota, but you are diligent about how we save and spend our money. I realize with me working less, things will be even tighter and we may be drawing down our savings, but because you have been faithful with our money, there is savings there to pull from.
  28. You are somewhat willing to introduce your taste buds to new culinary items. When we first met, there were plenty of foods you'd never had given your limited preferences, and I realized when we married this could get tricky if I didn't want to live on bologna and Hamburger Helper. However, you eat more things now than you did then, and you'll still give something a try if I think there's a chance you might like it.
  29. You're taller than I am. What can I say? You may not tower over me, but I love that I have to look up to you.
  30. You are a godly husband. I love how you use your faith to shape what you do and how it influences every facet of your life.

Happy birthday. Thank you for wanting to live life with me.

Your wife

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Letter to My Daughter: Ten Months Old

Ten-month picture
Dear daughter,

You are now ten months.

In the last month, you enjoyed a trip home to see family. There's something about your grandma's house that makes you sleep spectacularly (and we love you for that). We had you sleep upstairs, and Grandma kept the monitor for us, so we slept soundly those days. I would stir sometime after you woke up for the day, once you started to be more vocal in your playing. Maybe when you're having trouble sleeping through the night, it's time to see her again?

You currently wear 12-month clothes, but you also have a fair number of outfits in 18-month (and larger...) sizes in regular rotation. Here's a picture of you in 24-month pajamas. They don't look as baggy as I'd wish.

The one exception is your lucky ISU sleeper.  This past football season, whenever you wore it the day of an ISU game, they won; there were a handful of games that when you wore it, they even won games they shouldn't have. Your uncle, who had given it to you, started texting on game days to make sure you were wearing it. One day you were napping when the game started (this was the Nebraska game). I put it on you when you woke up, and the Cyclones were able to tie up the game. However, we blame their OT loss to the fact that you didn't have it on for the entirety of the game; had you, they might have been able to get a win during regulation. ;)  Anyway, the sleeper is purportedly a 0-3 month size, but seeing as how it still fits you, it either possesses magical growing properties, or it was mislabeled.

At yesterday's appointment, you weighed 20 1/2 pounds and were 29 inches tall. Those were in the 60th percentile or so, but your head, at 18 inches, was the one at the upper end of the charts. This explains why it's suddenly tricky to get t-shirts over that noggin.

You have three teeth now; your first top one started coming in this past month.

Teething on watermelon - I'm not exactly sure what you thought of it

Developmentally, you've mastered a couple new tricks. The first is getting to a seating position on your own (since you were five months, you've been sitting on your own only if we started you in that position). Now, though, you're adept at scooting up to a seated position. The downside of this, however, is that in the early days, you would wake yourself up. It would have been funny if you didn't look quite so pathetic. You'd be sleeping on your tummy and in your sleep push up into a seated position. Doing so would wake you up and you'd start fussing because you were upset to be awake when you were so tired. Naps were shortened and we all slept horribly as you did this for a few days. I've heard it is common for sleep to be disturbed as you learn new skills, so I'm prepared for this same thing to happen as you master crawling and walking.

In the process of pushing yourself up

You still don't crawl, but we see you get to your knees (one leg is still at a weird angle, so until you get it behind you, you're not going anywhere). You can still scoot, but only in reverse, which brings back memories of the stories my parents told about me crawling only in reverse for the first week I was mobile, and how they were constantly having to retrieve me when I'd get stuck under furniture. You can also lunge for things, so between that and scooting, you're somewhat mobile. You LOVE pulling yourself up to a standing position by grabbing our fingers. Fortunately for us you haven't realized that you could substitute chairs and tables for our fingers. Go ahead and take your time figuring that out.

When it comes to feeding habits, there has been a huge transformation. You barely tolerated food before, only eating small portions, but now you're up to three feedings a day (not meals). Breakfast might consist of some rice cereal with a fruit puree, lunch right now is a baby food jar holding an infinitesimal portion of meat disguised with vegetables, and dinner is typically more vegetables. We give you Cheerios, but you treat them as toys (and as cat treats, which Augustine thanks you for). In the last week, though, I've caught you gumming on cheerios, and you actually put a rice wafer in your mouth without my help - I was lucky to catch it on camera. You don't "chew," which is why we're still in the puree stage, but since the interest is there, I can actually see an end in sight. Until then, though, it's been fun making and freezing baby food purees (excluding the "meat" jars). I'm just glad you're catching on; I was half wondering if I'd be packing up pureed food for you to take to college (okay, not seriously to this extreme, but I was concerned this food thing would be slow in taking off). We still need to work more on figuring out the sippy cup, but that should come in time.

Actual food going in the mouth!

You're still the consummate flirt. I cannot believe how much you open up to strangers, and they, in turn, to you.
Your flirty face captured on camera
You love "buzzing" your lips now. It makes me just want to kiss you whenever you do this - I find it so funny and adorable.

This week also brought about your first diaper rash; you were especially miserable for about 24 hours, but it's already nearly gone, so I'm glad we have our happy daughter back.

Typically you still put yourself down for naps (although this is less a given at bedtime). You are typically down to two naps a day; on days where the morning nap is a short 30 - 45 minutes and the afternoon nap is 90 minutes - 2 hours, I can envision the morning nap disappearing before too long. I remember when your naps were all 30 minutes long, so it's nice to see them consolidating into one or two longer naps. Keep it up!

Before my eyes, you're transforming from a baby into a little girl - I'm not quite ready to admit you'll be one year in two short months, but I love watching you grow each day.