Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Birthday Boy Miles

Miles is two.
Even as I write those words it is hard to believe how quickly the last two years have flown by, and how much life has changed by becoming a parent. I have never been more amazed by the world we live in, or more aware of the miracle that is this life we share than I have been in the last two years. In some ways parenting has made life more focused, as I am much more conscious of the things that are relevant only to our immediate family. While at the same time it has broadened my perspective and helped me begin to discern our universal roles. Then there has also been the realization that we have been gifted with this beautiful soul whose life we have been granted the opportunity to guide, and as a bonus he makes us laugh and smile all the time!

One of the most amazing changes over the past year, in my opinion, has been the incredible growth we have watched Miles achieve! Since his last birthday not only has he learned how to walk, he has also made leaps and bounds in his ability to communicate. He has quickly advanced from simple signing, to sentences of three or four words, to literally narrating our lives for us as we experience them. Lately he likes to refer to himself in third person and asks constantly, "What is Miles doing?", "Where is Miles going?", or relays important information like, "Miles has a dirty diaper!" I think one reason he is so vocal is because he loves to read. Each night we pile into bed and read the stack of books he has selected. The most recent cult favorites have been: Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now by Dr. Suess, The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton, and Fed Up!: A Feast of Frazzled Foods by Rex Barron, to name a few. What I love is that we have read all of them so many times that he literally reads along, and can often fill in the blank if you leave out a word. I know that Michael and I are also thrilled that we have moved on from "Go, Dog. Go!" (I think we've read that book over ten thousand times :-)

So ~ about his birthday. To celebrate his big day we invited all of our family over to share in the joy! Miles and I started the day by baking carrot cake cupcakes - with carrots that were saved from Paw Paw's garden for just the occasion.

Miles loved making the cream cheese frosting!

He tasted it every step of the way until we got it just right.

We topped each cupcake with a pecan ~ and his was designated with his birthday candle decoration that was a gift from Yia Yia Liz.

Family members began to arrive from near and far, and a special highlight to the day was that some of them were meeting Ruben for the first time!

Papou instantly bonded with Ruben and proceeded to rock him to sleep.

Uncle Matt and Aunt Jessica made this their first stop after they arrived from Portland! It was so wonderful to have them here to share Miles' special day and finally get to hold Ruben in their arms.

At one point Miles put on his crown, that was now his "birthday crown," and he shared a special moment with GG.

This year he sang along with his birthday song and blew out his own candles. As we opened his gifts he would squeal with delight, and then wanted to stop and play with each one. He even recruited Paw Paw to begin opening them for him! He was showered with thoughtful gifts for which he (and we) are truly grateful! We are so thankful for all the people in his life that love him (and both our boys) and appreciate their presence in our lives everyday!

We saved our gift for last. It was exciting because we have been hiding it for months now, and waiting with anticipation to see his reaction! Well - he surpassed even our expectation. This child LOVES music! When we listen to a song on the radio he loves to point out a guitar or piano solo. He actually wakes up singing each morning! Usually a version of Old Mac-Donald's Farm or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - with his own words ad-libbed. So needless to say - Michael was so excited when he found the perfect little guitar for Miles to start with. It was especially sentimental because he bought it for Miles from the same store where he purchased his own first guitar years ago! I know - it seems a little big for a two year old, and an awfully fragile gift for such young hands, but Miles' reaction showed us he was ready for such a gift.

When it was handed to him he proceeded to begin strumming and serenading his captive audience! Aunt Jessica caught it all on video - it was remarkable! I think we were all a bit stunned. So Miles, we look forward to your future musical accomplishments... no pressure :-) Really though - it will be so special to see him play along with Michael and learn about his instrument.

Ruben slept through the whole display, comfortable in his Yia Yia's arms.

Other favorite gifts were the harmonica from Aunt Sarah & Uncle David, and the wooden turtle from Aunt Jessica & Uncle Matt. Both had to go to bed with him for the night. The next morning we woke up to him playing a song instead of singing one.

Ruben enjoyed the music too -
maybe one day soon he will be playing along!

We look forward to another amazing year - with two boys in our life now - where we continue to learn from each other and grow. Many thanks again to all of our family members who gave such thoughtful gifts, and most importantly continue to give all their love and support for Miles. Both of our boys have an amazing foundation of family and friends to support them as they begin their lives. We are so incredibly blessed!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Week of Greats

One of my absolute favorite things about having a new baby is the moment when each family member gets to meet him! Last week G.G. met Ruben. I allowed them a few moments to stare into each others eyes and say hello - then I pulled out the camera to capture the moment! We feel so especially blessed that Miles and Ruben know their Great Grandmothers from both sides of the family. I can only imagine what it must feel like from their perspective. I truly hope that one day I get to know what it is like to hold the child of my child's child.

Four generations in one room! (I'm behind the camera :-)

This week we were given two great hats as gifts for Ruben. One was from a long lost friend from high school who "re-appeared" this summer in a chance encounter. It just so happens she is an incredibly talented artist and has her own business { Lylah G } to sell her wares. You can check out more of her work on Etsy too! Ruben is modeling his new blue hat during one of his alert moments from the past week. We are loving spending more and more "awake" time with him these days as he just looks around and takes it all in!

This hat was a gift from a teacher friend ~ she said she picked it up at the local farmer's market and thought of us. I think Ruben looks like a precious little elf in it! So cute. Such thoughtful gifts from our friends both near and far - many thanks!

Then we packed up our family of four - something we are still learning how to do - and headed over to Great Auntie Ei's house for a birthday celebration!

The dinner table was stunning - and the food was delicious too! It was a beautiful gathering to celebrate the birthdays of two wonderful women in our lives.

Yia Yia Liz and Michelle share the same special day!

Theo Dan with his new nephew!

Miles helped Yia Yia Liz blow out her candles on her birthday cake, a tradition he started during her surprise birthday bash last year.

Family Photo ~ As Miles would say, "We are all together."

It was a wonderful week together with family - made especially great by the great grandmothers in our lives!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Solo Saturday

Uncharacteristically Papa had to work early this Saturday morning. We woke up as a family as usual, and then he headed out into the cold. As the pre-dawn sun painted the sky a shade of winter lilac I started my day with the boys. Miles and I peered out at the setting moon hoping to catch the briefest glimpse of the penumbra phase of the eclipse, but it was falling below the treeline as the sun rose. As we watched we heard Ruben begin to fuss... and fuss... and fuss.

For some reason there seemed to be no consoling him this morning. Perhaps it was the fact that Papa had to leave, or that Mama was so preoccupied with the moon that she had not started breakfast, but he erupted into a crying fit that lasted for what felt like forever!

Miles, still a little hazy from sleep himself just looked at me dazed as I worked to console Ruben, and asked if he could go downstairs. (Probably to get away from the raucous soundtrack of our morning, and truthfully I wanted to go with him.)

I worked quickly - too quickly - to get breakfast made and I destroyed the first batch of pancakes! For a moment it seemed the day would be ruined before it even began. I was at a loss trying to fly solo and parent two kids on my own!

Then, the sun came up and painted the sky filled with beautiful wintry clouds.

Ruben decided to take a brief respite from his angst and slept peacefully for awhile.

My helper came back to mix the batter.

And he approved of the morning's batch of pancakes. The secret ingredient today was a blend of Marie Catrib's granola and frozen Michigan blueberries - the result was pure yum!

Our breakfast fortified us and we made the best of the day all the while missing Michael.

Then after nap time we headed over to Nonna & Paw Paw's to help decorate the Christmas tree. Last week Miles went with them to cut the tree down. He went last year, but I carried him and he certainly did not have as much to say about it! This year I stayed home with Ruben, and Miles felt really special going on his own adventure. When he got home he told me how Paw Paw cut down the tree and we have talked about it endlessly. He was thrilled at the prospect of going to visit the tree at their house. Once we got there he seemed a touch confused that the said tree was now covered in lights and decorations.

It did not take him long to get into the spirit and start putting some ornaments on himself. He would pick them up and ask "What is it?" for each one. They thoughtfully placed all the glass ornaments above four feet high, and left a box of ornaments suitable for a toddler to play with for the lower portion. Miles was mesmerized.

Uncle David came over and hung out with his nephews. (Incidentally the blue sweater Miles is wearing is one that GG knit for my brothers when they were little. It was kind of fun to be wearing such a sentimental hand me down as we decorated the tree with family.)

Ruben was passed from arm to arm as we each took turns decorating a little. Next year I imagine he will be in the middle of it too!

Later Miles put on his pajamas and planned to stay for an overnight! As darkness settled the tree lit up the room and the reflections in the window made it truly awe inspiring. Miles was speechless - at least momentarily - before he began to demand that Paw Paw get a ladder and take down the angel to play with! I adore this picture of him looking up at the tree!

Here is is with Paw Paw trying to reach up to the angel and say goodnight!

Ruben and I made it home safely and Michael eventually got home after an epic workday. It was not impossible to parent solo - but it is not something I would choose to do. I feel so blessed that it is not something we have to do often at our house. Days like this make me truly appreciate how lucky I am to have family nearby, especially during this special time of year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Week Two with Two Boys!

Ruben met Carson - the striped outfits were not planned. As you can see they had some very interesting conversations.

Ruben met Aunt Sarah & Uncle David. He also seems to be making the "Hook 'em Horns" sign - a tribute to "Unc. D's" heritage I assume.

Some close-ups of Ruben.

We have been cutting Miles' hair and lately it has been getting a touch out of control... so we decided to try a real haircut this time. We went and we were shocked with how well he handled it - another of his big brother accomplishments in the last few weeks! Now suddenly compared to an infant he looks like a teenager to me, or at least a four year old.

Big Boy Miles!

Two Weeks Old.