Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Gift of Joy

Babies, puppies, sunny days...these are a few items on the small list of things that seem to be able to bring joy to everyone. There is a lot of illness in my family right now. I have the great privilege of being able to stay home with Dean. This is a privilege that I do not take lightly. This privilege is not just about being with Dean all day, but that I have the freedom to visit with people, be involved in various groups and activities, and to travel.

Dean is a baby (well, a little boy now), putting him on that short list. He has the amazing gift of bringing unbridled joy to others. I have taken him to Annapolis 3 or 4 times now where my grandparents live. My grandmother, my Mumu, is sick. She has lived a beautiful, vibrant life full of happiness and adventure. I say "has" only because the present isn't always as beautiful or full of happiness. Her sickness can be all too prevalent at times. But, when she is around Dean it is like she is 30 years younger: her face lights up, her eyes grow wide, she has renewed energy even a spring in her step, and she is Mumu again. She picks Dean up, whirls him around the room, touching everything and talking to him in her special Mumu-way. He looks back at her adoringly and smiles a toothless grin, reaching out to touch her face. It's beautiful. He instantly brings joy to my Mumu. My dad has stated beautifully, that although these precious moments will not be clear memories for Mumu (part of her sickness is memory impairment), but they will be crystal clear moments for me and for my father. Moments when we can see Mumu humming and baking in the kitchen, when the vision of her preparing lunch on the sail boat is as if it were yesterday, and when we can smell her signature rose perfume and see her signature "sandy" hair.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Just fun pictures

These are just some fun moments in the last few weeks.

Drinking problem. Dean LOVES to drink from a cup now and goes crazy when he sees us drinking from a cup and not offering him any.

Major drool rope!!!

My days of leaving Dean sitting in the middle of the room are coming to a close. I left him in the middle of the living room for 1 minute while I went across the room to get some juice. I came back to find that he had rolled halfway across the room and was under the coffee table, laughing and having a good time.

Dean has learned that if he sticks out his hand, Cooper will lick it all over, causing fits of giggles.

I got Dean a baby toothbrush for fun. He loves the way it feels. Here he is "brushing" his teeth.

The Traveler

Dean has become quite the little traveler. He has been to the NC mountains (3 weeks old), the DC area 3 times (3 months, 4 months, and 5 months), Statesville NC (4 months and 6 months), and Michigan (4 months). That's a lot of traveling for someone who has only been alive for 6 months. He seems to get better and better each time we go somewhere. In fact, the car is finally a sleeping pill for him. I have to be careful when I take him on an outing because he usually falls asleep within minutes, destroying his nap schedule.

Our upcoming travels include another trip to the DC area in 3 weeks, a trip to the beach in May, and another trip to MI in July.

Growing up, we were 7 hours from the nearest family member, so we spent a lot of holidays and summers in the car. Our normal road trips were to Annapolis to see the Stuntz clan - an 8 hour drive, and to Statesville (or more specifically Troutman) to see the Witherington clan - a 10 hour drive. My parents were so smart about it. They got a big plastic tub, filled it with books and toys, and strapped it in between Mark and I in the back seat. The car ride itself was part of the vacation for us. I loved those trips. Not only did we get to eat fast food for a whole day, but we also got to spend at least one section of the trip in the front seat, a huge luxury when you are used to sitting in the very back of a cramped minivan. I have been thinking about what road trips in my family will be like. Will Josh be like my dad and insist on driving the whole way? Will be drivers or fliers? Will we end up with a minivan or mega SUV? Will our kids try to figure out ways to make it look like they had their seatbelts on when, in fact, they don't? Will a one armed Captain America doll accompany my son (or daughter) on every trip until he's at least 13? And most importantly...where will we go?

Josh and I are big into hiking and backpacking. Our backpacking days have obviously slowed down, but hiking is still an easy outing. Now that Dean is getting a little big for the Snugli, we got out the Kelty Carrier. As you can see, it's a little big for him, but the harness fits, so we're going with it. We took him out for a modest 4 mile hike on Sunday It was so funny to see the top of his head zooming all around trying to look at everything.

We went down by the river and he was mesmerized by the rushing water.

I think the sound of the water put him to sleep because one minute he was wide awake, the next he was passed out in one of those awkward positions that only little kids can sleep in. We decided we are going to start with car camping this summer, and move our way up to backpacking with him in a few years once he's off the bottle and preferably potty trained. I'd rather not have to hike out several days worth of poopy diapers.