5 Months and Growing!

Dear Carter,

Yesterday, your daddy and I were looking at pictures of you from your first couple of months. We could hardly believe how different you now look and how you have changed!

This month, you progressed in several areas. First of all, you had your first solid food, rice cereal, and loved it. You began taking formula to supplement your meals, and you even held your bottle by yourself for the first time! You are so close to sitting up by yourself, and you have made some elementary efforts to crawl. Sometimes those arms just get stuck underneath you. You have been curious about things around you for a while, but you have just started reaching out and grabbing objects (in addition to toys). And, of course, they go straight into your mouth.We haven't had any accidents yet, but I have decided to no longer drink my coffee when I am holding you or to wear dangling earrings. Once you get a hold, I literally have to pry your fingers off the object. This morning, you reached for me for the first time. I think you saw me and thought "umm...breakfast." But I loved it all the same!

When I pick you up, you have also started giving a laugh of glee or satisfaction with a deep, grunt-like "heh heh." And you still love to open your mouth really wide when you're excited. You are too funny my little man! And maybe even a bit manipulative....one night I thought you were really crying. When I picked you up out of your crib, you gave your deep laugh and smiled as if to say "Gotcha!"

One of your favorite new games is airplane with Daddy. You must have some strong ab muscles because you hold out your legs behind you for a long time!
You are quite a wiggle worm, kicking those strong legs continuously just as you did in the womb. But this last week, much to my delight, you decided that maybe cuddling isn't so bad after all. I sat you in my lap in the big yellow chair in your room and sang some songs. Leaning back in my arm, you just stared up at me (and at times tried to grab my moving lips with your hands), studying my face and listening intently. We cuddled and sang together several times this week. For me, those moments were very special and ones that I hope we can experience over and over.

You have just discovered how to be affectionate, and when you wrap your arms tightly around our necks, we feel like everything is right in the world. You also try to kiss our cheeks (or more like "gum" us). We love it!

You still enjoy putting anything and everything in your mouth. Especially your feet. You have impressed many relatives and friends with your flexibility.
You also like to hear yourself chatter. Your latest game is to see how loud and high you can make your voice go. When we were at the doctor's office last week, you let out a short, shrill scream, causing all of the nurses in the hallway to either jump or spin around. Your big grin showed that you were very proud of yourself!

This month has probably been the most challenging for us. While you took to formula right away, your allergic reaction took a few days to develop. The doctor thought at first that you had a stomach bug. A week and half and four formulas later (not to mention, numerous scary episodes of vomiting up to four times in a minute), it was decided that you were having an allergic reaction to the formulas. We now have you on the gentlest and most basic formula, Similac Alimentum, and you seem to be handling it okay. We are so thankful that the sickness and rashes were not symptoms of a more serious problem.

It sounds cliche, but our love for you grows stronger and deeper with each passing day. The intensity and physical impact of this love can be best described by the following passage out of my favorite book, A Severe Mercy. The author, Sheldon Vanauken, wrote:

"He remembered as though it were but a few days ago that winter night, himself too young even to know the meaning of beauty, when he had looked up at a delicate tracery of bare black branches against the icy glittering stars: suddenly something that was, all at once, pain and longing and adoring had welled up in him, almost choking him. He had wanted to tell someone, but he had no words, inarticulate in the pain and glory. It was long afterwards that he realized that it had been his first aesthetic experience. That nameless something that had stopped his heart was Beauty. Even now, for him, 'bare branches against the stars' was a synonym for beauty." (p.16)

Many beautiful visions have seemingly stopped my heart....a sunset in Key West, the sparkling water at Lake Martin, the snowcapped peaks of the Tetons, the American Ballet Theatre performing Romeo and Juliet, your daddy waiting for me at the altar on our wedding day. You, my dear child, have also stopped my heart on more than one occasion. The beauty of your life arouses such an intense emotion, it sometimes causes my heart to almost physically hurt, as Vanauken so accurately described. A mother's love is powerful indeed, a synonym for beauty. And I feel blessed to have a taste of it.
Happy 5 Months, Carter!


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The Hair Verdict...

scroll down below to the original post for the update

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A Simple Life

It was close to 6 pm. I was working feverishly to get a marketing proposal out to one of my sales reps at Cooking Light magazine, and I was running late for a community volunteer meeting. As I jumped into my car, I looked at my Bible which had not yet been opened that day. Feeling overwhelmed, I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to be a stay-at-home mom and have my life worry-free and under control.”

I am not exactly sure how I conjured up that expectation of motherhood, but I do know it is far removed from my current experiences. I may not have projects weighing on me that could affect a company’s bottom line, but I have a son who depends on me for sustenance and growth. Instead of filling up my calendar with meetings and deadlines, I pencil in lunch dates and playgroups and pediatric visits. Similar to my former daily routine of staying busy and connected through business emails and conference calls, I try to keep family updated on Carter’s progress and find myself feeling “behind” if I am not up to speed on everyone’s blog! And while I do indeed find more sweet moments to spend with the Lord now that I am a mom, I still haven’t quite found that long frame of time that I somehow thought I’d have to do intensive bible studying and praying. I still feel compelled to organize my days through to-do lists so that I can mark things out and feel productive. I often even include “eat lunch” or “shower” just so I can cross it out and feel like I got something accomplished. (Well, let’s be honest...getting a shower in when you have a baby IS an accomplishment!)

The recurring refrain over the last few months has been, “After this week, it will slow down.” I keep anticipating an uneventful, perhaps boring, week. With this prospective existence forever seeming out of reach, I asked myself, what does a simple life look like? What would my days entail? Is it staying home all day with Carter, not having any place to be or any things to do? No family to visit, no friends to fellowship with, no activities to engage in, no challenges to tackle? Will I find perfect time with the Lord then?

Reading a devotional called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, I found this entry for April 1st, and it resonated so deeply that I have to share:

“I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me. Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life. You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with Me can be uninterrupted. But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all.”

Isn’t this true? My idea of a stress-free, uncluttered, completely simple life is a fantasy. And God WANTS me to interact, to fellowship, to encourage, to teach, to share, to learn, to balance. He doesn’t desire for me to find Him in a day characterized by complacency or idleness but through each and every moment, whether rushed or carefree.

Life with children is only going to get busier, but as Young wrote in the voice of Jesus, “A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.”

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"I'm So Vain..."

This entire post is solely about me. I'm so vain...

More specifically, it's about my hair. But I had to play off the song lyrics.

So next Friday is the big day. I have a hair appt (the first in over 7 months), and I have to make a decision about whether to chop off my long locks for a more practical and manageable style. I have been debating this decision for over two months. Scott continues to say that he loves my hair any length. My mom loves my hair long, and my dad liked my style most when I had it really short in grad school. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but with the hormones that accompany the post-partum period, things can seem a bit dramatic. (Me? Dramatic?)

My family and friends know how indecisive I am, so I need your help. Here’s the deal...

I love having long hair because it makes me feel more feminine, and I joke, more glamorous. I suppose that’s because the photos you see of celebs always showcase their long, flowing hair. I have also received more compliments on my hair during the last two years of having it long than I ever had before. However, due to the thickness and strong curl in my hair, it takes me almost 45 minutes to blow dry and flat-iron it! That’s a little high-maintenance for my taste. Granted, I can usually go a couple of days before washing it again. But lately, I wake up with crimped sections of hair and have to flat-iron it again, which can’t be healthy for my already dry hair. (I had chemical straighteners done for many years, but it often leaves my hair too flat and damaged.) I feel like I waste my already-limited free time during Carter’s morning nap to fix my hair which soon ends up in a ponytail either because of the summer heat or Carter’s painful yanks. So what’s wrong with going short? If I don’t have the right cut, my hair volume can create a helmet-like do or a mushroom effect. It’s a dilemma, I know.

So, take a look at the pictures below for examples. And vote on whether I could just get a trim and keep my hair long, or whether I should cut it short.

And for your humor and my entertainment, in addition to voting, I would love to hear your thoughts/comments on the following questions:

What do you think is the age limit for wearing long hair? If 40 is the new 30, how does that affect hairstyles?

If a single woman/married woman w/out kids has a short do, it’s considered young, chic, and fresh. If a woman with children gets a short do, she caved in and got the doomed “mom cut.” What’s up with this double standard?Here's shot of me with short hair about 6 years ago.Whenever I consider chopping my hair, I look back at this photo. I like my hair in this picture. But let's face it, it only looks so good because it was styled by a hairstylist, it's loaded with hairspray, and it's a headshot. My face was airbrushed and touched up, so I don't look like this in person. (I think the photographer might have even smoothed out my crooked nose!) And I really don't want to look like a "pageant patty." But this gives you an idea of the length I am considering. I don't know what style is good for my face shape, so any suggestions are welcome.

I LOVE this hairstyle! This is one of my sorority sisters from Auburn. I scanned it in from The Glom, so the quality may be bad. Anyway, I like the cute layers and side-swept bangs. Isn't that still in? But I probably like this cut because Brooke looks gorgeous, thus making the hairstyle great. Her hair is naturally curly so it's close to the same texture. Not sure if I have the same face shape?
I have been looking at this picture for at least three months now, trying to imagine how this hairdo would look on me. Incidentally, Brooke is on the cover of this month's issue of Birmingham Magazine, as one of the city's 25 most beautiful people. So now, all hope in resembling her in the picture above seems farfetched. :)Okay, this is a good picture showing the layers I had in the fall. But my hair isn't as thick now due to my post-partum hair loss. Not sure it would look the same now that it's thinned.
Look at those gorgeous curls. This is Brooke's hair now, apparently. (I haven't seen her in years. I hope she doesn't care that I am using her as my model.) Why don't I just let my hair go curly you might ask? Well, I do. But my hair doesn't dry like this. It's so thick that it shrinks up several inches and expands like an afro. I end up resembling Shirley Temple but without the dimples and cuteness. Not to mention, I am not four.
So, please vote in the poll on the sidebar to help me make my decision, taking into account what you think looks/would look best. And you mothers out there, factor in whether style outweighs practicality or vice versa. I will appreciate your input greatly. I also am open to any comments with suggestions regarding length, style, face shape, etc. Thanks for indulging me! :)

Update.....THE VERDICT:

I chopped it.
I actually wasn't planning on getting it cut this short, but I made the mistake of saying that I didn't want my hair touching my shoulders. (I was going to compromise and have my hair hit at my collar bone.) Oh well. Fran did a great job with the cut, and it's already much easier to manage. I had no idea I would get such a great response to this post, and while the votes were not very helpful in that they were 24 to 23, practically split, I felt confident that either decision would not be a massive mistake. :) Thanks for all your votes and input!

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What We've Been Up To

4 Month Check up
On June 5th, we visited the pediatrician for Carter's 4 month check up (a week late). He weighed in at 15 lb 15 oz and measured 25 3/4", placing him in the 75th percentile for both. He got four more shots but bounced back quickly. Good thing since we were jumping on the road for a 5 hour drive to Kentucky.
He loves the exersaucer, and it has made a huge difference in his ability to sit up. He progressed from head bobbles to steady stance in just a few days.
Cousins in Kentucky
We had a great visit in Owensboro and Scottsville and loved introducing Carter to his many relatives in the bluegrass state. Carter also saw a baby deer and horses for the first time. Scott's family gets together every June, but we hadn't made it up there since June of 2006. It was wonderful catching up with everyone, and we promised we would be back again soon! Our camera's battery died while we were there, so more pics to come as soon as we get copies. (Hint: email us your pics please!) :)
Carter and Aunt Mildred
Annis, Meyer, and CarterJoan and Mary Jane found this precious little horse for Carter. It's the first stuffed animal he has really paid attention to. He literally drools over "Big Brown."Mike and Carter rocking away.
On Our Own
We got back into town Sunday night. Sadly, Scott flew out to Denver Monday morning for the WHOLE WEEK! Carter and I made it through the week (with the help of family), but not without some lonely moments of missing "Daddy." And it wasn't really taking care of Carter on my own that was difficult. It was taking care of our two dogs along with him. It's honestly like having three children. (two of which are going through a rebellious stage)
First Solid Food!
On Monday the 9th, I fed Carter his first taste of rice cereal. He loved it! He kept sticking his tongue out for more. Because he had started waking up multiple times during the night, his doctor suggested he might not be getting enough calories and to begin gradually feeding him solids. Even more than the tasty rice cereal, Carter loved grabbing the spoon from my hand and gnawing on the rubber tip.
Introducing Formula
On Wednesday, I gave Carter his first bottle of formula. After nursing him that afternoon, he continued to fuss. I could tell he was still hungry and I suspect my milk supply was low from the traveling, lack of sleep, stress, etc. He took the bottle easily and seemed to enjoy it. I felt like I had made a wise and logical decision. However, twenty minutes later I began bawling. I suppose I felt disappointment at not being able to provide for my son. For some strange reason, I had in my head that formula is "bad." I felt like I had failed. But after talking with some of my sweet and encouraging friends, I realized that I made the right decision to meet Carter's needs. Tons of babies thrive on formula, and I certainly do not want to starve my growing boy! Oh, the power of pride and hormones! (Have I mentioned how much hair I keep losing??? It falls out by the handful!)
Father's Day
We spent a leisurely morning in bed playing with Carter. Scott continues to confirm my suspicions that he is the most amazing man I know. He is so tender with Carter and is really attentive to him and his needs. He also seeks to affirm me as a mother. It was a joy to celebrate this day with him and praise him as a father.
After church, we headed to Scott's parents' house for a delicious lunch. Sam, Scott, Carter, and Stuart

Carter wearing Uncle Stu's Boston Red Sox hat to tease Aunt JuJu. (Carter has a Yankees shirt and ballcap from Julie.)Can you see the joy on Sam's face from celebrating his first Father's Day as a grandfather?
Julie reading to Carter. This was the first day he really took notice of the books. He began grabbing the board book pages and scratching them. (He is into textures right now.)A bookworm at 4 1/2 months.

Scott's Birthday
Tomorrow is Scott's 34th birthday! (And Stu's bday too, of course.) But he got an early surprise gift. Scott's plane landed at 12:50 am last Friday night (or Saturday morning, I guess). Here's what he found in the driveway when he came home! Thanks to the family members who helped chip in. I wish I could have been awake to see Scott's face.

Scott shows Carter how to shoot some hoops.

An NBA star on the rise.

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From Zero to Ninety

This past weekend, my grandmother, Mama, turned 90! We all joined her at Lake Martin to celebrate. With 28 people in attendance, she was surrounded by her three children, six grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren, along with the spouses who have joined the family. The crowd ranged in ages from zero (my cousin's 4-year-old, Charlie, asked if Carter was one yet. When I responded that he was only four months, he said, "Oh, so he's zero.") to ninety, and we celebrated a life that we all admire. Mama is an amazing woman, and you would never know she just entered her 10th decade! Check out the pictures from a fun and memorable weekend. (I posted a ton...there were so many great ones!)

Alex, Tate, Mary Katherine, Carter and me... swimming was in full swing when we arrived on Thursday.
Preparing Carter for fun in the sun. This sweet baby's skin had not yet seen the sun, so I slathered half a bottle of sunscreen on him!
We put on Carter's first swimsuit and headed outside.

Graham, Charlie, and Cece were waiting for us in the kiddie pool. Silly Mommy forgot to buy swim diapers, so my cousin Ashley graciously gave us one of Cece's.
Testing out the water
What you can't see in this picture is Carter's death grip on the criss-cross of Cece's swimsuit straps. He was holding on for dear life!
Charlie LOVED Carter! His favorite words to describe him were "cute" and "little." He would say "cute little Carter," "you have cute, little feet," and "you're such a cute little baby." He doesn't quite say his "r's" so you can imagine how cute it sounds when he says "Carter."
Hanging out on the deck with Papa.
Carter loves his Grand Mary.
Carter and Mama. See how agile she is?? Sitting on the floor, playing with her great-grandchildren. It amazes me.
Relaxing in the hammock. This is the life.
With Mama on her actual birthday, May 31st.
We love for Mama to sing us her songs.
Carter and Mommy
Carter and Daddy taking a break in the shade.
Me, Carter, Cece, and Ashley during Mama's birthday lunch. Mmm...did we have some good food! But then, our family get-togethers ALWAYS center around good food.
I was super excited when I found this cute fish jon-jon for the lake. And I was even more excited when it coordinated with Mama's outfit on her bday!
Angie and Carter
Carter giving Daddy a hug
Taking a snooze
Lily, Charlie, Tripp and Carter
Courtney (Aunt Coco) and Carter
Carter and Uncle Ivan having some bonding time.

We actually did a 2nd birthday cake on Sunday since Courtney and Ivan weren't able to get to the lake on Saturday in time for the 1st cake. Hey, if you're turning 90, you deserve an extra cake. :) This is most of the grandkids and great-grandkids: Angie, me, Carter, Leigh Ann, Courtney, Lily, Mary Katherine, Hunter, Charlie and Mama.

Carter's first boat ride. He didn't love the life jacket but he calmed down once we got moving.

Check out my rosy cheeks and base tan.

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