Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Birthday Bash, part I

Sunday was the first of Aaron's two birthday parties. Thought I'd post a few pics of the celebration...

Mama made special cupcakes for the occasion -
a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting that had almost no sugar and lots of healthy ingredients.

Aaron's buddy, Jakey, got in on the celebrating.

Apple or cake? Aaron couldn't decide! He cried when we took the apple away...

...but the tears didn't last long once he discovered the ooey gooey goodness in front of him. :-)

He dug in without reservation!

It didn't take long to demolish this cake.

Cousins Emma, Ellie, and Edie made special glitter signs with happy wishes.
Lots of presents to open
He's a happy boy!
We feel so blessed to be loved by so many. We had a wonderful day to mark our accomplishments of the past year, and we can't wait to head to Cincinnati next weekend to do it all again. :-)

To my son, on his birthday.

Dear Aaron,

You were born on the last day of summer. It seems so very fitting, now, looking over our first year together. Your arrival announced a change of season, not only in the weather, but also in my heart.

Becoming your mother has been a shift of seismic proportions. Some changes have been difficult to bear: the interrupted sleep, the lack of personal time, your constant need for my attention. I look at myself a year ago and see a woman who was so focused on herself, and often very unaware of the needs of others. I’ve learned that I can go without much more than I thought possible, and that there is joy in giving to others what you yourself feel most in need of.

Many of the changes you’ve brought into my life are so sweet. I love folding your tiny clothes after doing a load of laundry, marveling at their small size and feeling the soft cotton between my fingers. I love the cuddles we share after your naps, when I pick you up out of your crib and you reach around my left ear to hold my hair, your sleepy head resting on my shoulder. I love watching you explore the world one new day at a time. I love being needed so very much.

This is the paradox of parenting: the joy mixed with the heartbreak. I’m a little surprised at myself for feeling so sad about this first birthday of yours. I’m certainly celebrating our survival of this all-changing year, but it’s also one year closer to you being grown, having a life of your own, leaving us behind. It’s my job to prepare you for this reality, and I’m taking that responsibility very seriously, but I dread when the day comes that you’ll walk out into the world on your own, hardly a trace of remembrance that your body had anything to do with mine. Dad and I spoke of this recently as our little car drove us to Sunday church. “I wish we could keep him just like this for a little while,” Dad said. And I agreed, and lamented that broken arms and broken hearts; acne and adolescence would surely come and mark you forever. I wished that I could save you from the world. Your dad reminded me that Jesus is the only one who can do any saving. May it be so.

You mean so much to me, Aaron. I did not realize that love could be so fierce for another human being. And so, to combat this feeling of loss, I can only live fully each moment I have with you, cherishing, remembering, and documenting the things that make you so unique and so special. It seems impossible to me that you are the same tiny creature who was laid on my chest one year ago today. You, who nursed so intently for so long, who would not sleep unless you were in my arms, who’s smallness made me marvel, have grown so big. You’re not a baby anymore, Aaron, you’re a boy. You love balls and balloons. You prefer to feed yourself (bananas and bread are your favorites), and are always asking for “more!” You can’t sleep without your blue blankie. You love to walk all by yourself, and your feet and your mouth seem to be connected, since you “talk” constantly while on the go. You have the biggest feet I’ve ever seen on a boy your age (size 5!), and the biggest heart, too. Your wet kisses on my cheek are my so sweet, and your smile lights up a room. You say Amen (“mmmm-uh”) at the end of our prayers. You amaze me every day with the new things you can do and say, and each day is more fun than the one before.

Keep growing, little one, and learning how the world works. You are a miracle from head to toe, and it is a gift to be your mother. May God bless and protect you in your second year, and keep molding you into a man after his own heart.

With all my love,


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Watch him go!

Unbelievable, isn't it??? This is actually from last week, when he was still a little wobbly. This week, it's full speed ahead. No stopping him now!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Toys, toys, toys

We're thinking a lot about toys lately, largely because we know we're about to receive an onslaught of them for Aaron's first birthday. The following article showed up in my Google Reader this morning, and it's one of the best I've read on non-toxic toy options. I hope it's informative for all you parents out there (and for those who are about to purchase birthday gifts ;-)
Jaque le Snail, as we call him, is one of Aaron's very favorite toys (made by Plan Toys); a gift from Grammy
As a parent your house is filled with them, you are constantly buying or receiving them as gifts and you are likely tripping over them on a daily basis. Toys are a huge part of you and your children’s lives, so it’s a great place to start thinking more green and benefit your families’ health as well as the health of the planet. Here are four quick questions you can ask yourself when considering bringing a toy into your home.

  1. What is it made of? Avoid plastic toys when possible, since they are made from non-renewable fossil fuels. If you are choosing plastic, make sure it is PVC-free. PVC can contain phthalates and heavy metals which are toxic, something you especially don’t want in toys that are going to end up in your child’s mouth. Consider choosing wood or fabric toys. Make sure wood toys are painted in non-toxic paint and preferably from wood that was sustainable harvested. One of my favorite toy companies is Plan Toys. They manufacture their toys in Thailand and have a genuine commitment to the environment. All their toys are made from organic discarded rubber wood trees. They use non-toxic glue, water-based dyes and soy- and water-based ink. Under the Nile is one company that manufactures fabric toys from organic cotton.

  2. Where did it travel from? Although 80-90% of toys in the US are imported from China, it has become much easier to find toys manufactured in the US due to the internet and the recent recalls of Made-in-China toys. Buying a toy made in the U.S. often means fewer carbon emissions, because the toy need not be brought over from a foreign country. (The relative costs of shipping versus the resource-intensive "last mile" of the trucking industry can make this a bit more complicated.) An guaranteed-to-be-greener option is to purchase secondhand toys from consignment stores, garage sales or websites like craigslist or eBay. Giving toys a second life keeps them out of the landfill and your child will have a new toy without any resources used.

  3. How durable is it? Many people hesitate to buy wood toys because of the price tag. Instead of buying many cheap toys, I opt for buying fewer toys, but spending the extra money to buy well-made toys. In the end I find that it is worth it to spend the extra money to buy a toy that will last through multiple children, maybe even multiple generations, instead of landing in the trash after a month’s worth of play.

  4. Does it require batteries? Avoiding toys that need batteries takes away your need to buy and dispose of batteries, which are toxic and need to be disposed of properly. It also takes away the worry that your child might end up handling the batteries.

As you take steps to green your children’s toys, use the opportunity to teach your child about issues about the environment and how even their choice of toys can make a difference for the planet.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Learning, Exploring, Growing

We've been putting it off for a few weeks, but we finally got an opportunity to visit a nearby park to take Aaron's 11 month portraits. It certainly was an ideal evening, weather-wise, but it had been a terrible day for napping. Aaron was in a bad mood. Most of the photos we got looked like this...

or this...

...and I went home frustrated and certain that I didn't have what I wanted. But my little supermodel always pulls through. Here's the final product...

It's been quite a month for Aaron. A few of the highlights:
  • Learning to walk - he's really taking off, now!
  • We haven't pureed his food in some time. He's just more interested in feeding himself, which is fine with me. :-) As I type, he's next to me in the highchair feeding himself carrots. Yum!
  • He's beginning to use sign language consistently (he's now telling me he wants more carrots!). Words he can sign include all done, dog, and more. There are a handful more that he understands, and we're working on expanding his vocabulary.