Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dear Charlie: You are one.

Just typing the title to this post, tears well up in my eyes.

My boy, you are one year old.

Actually, you are 13 months old. I'm late documenting this incredible milestone. That is how we roll these days, though. Always a titch behind on everything. Good thing you're cute.

Dad made you macaroni and cheese for your birthday dinner. From scratch. It was amazing. Then we had chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and homemade peach ice cream (recipe here).

The whole ceremony of the cake dazzled you. I felt like an A+ parent. Thank you for that. Dad did the lighting honors.

What are you doing, son?

Unwrapping the presents. Appears like awesomeness, but is deceptively tricky to master. Spirits were dampened momentarily.

Dad had to get you started.

Behold: Blue's Clues.

Charlie had a special birthday visitor, specifically his Aunt Mary Jane. Who knew how cool Blue's Clues was before she could walk.

We were all really excited about this gift.

Your mouth hung agape the whole time we worked on the presents. You were entranced. We were all delighted that we could impress you.

In addition to your Blue's Clues DVD, we got you one of those popper push toys (which we never got to wrap since you spotted it the day before your birthday and took off with it) and a throwback old-school Fisher Price phone. The phone wasn't as big a hit as I thought it would be. Turns out your idea of "phone" is quite different than my notion when I was your age.

Eventually we got down to the real business. Cake

I also took apart some free cotton knit shirts from our ward's recent Share Fair and made you a shirt with the number 1 appliqued on it. I drafted my own pattern, so it's sort of a favorite finished product of mine.

You are wiggly. Always wiggly.

This shot is blurry but I had to highlight the cool ruler your dad's aunt and uncle made for us. We marked your height. You are a shrimpy little guy. At your 1 year well check you weighed 16 lbs and were 28 1/4" tall. That's, like, not much, kiddo.

We love you, little nugget. Your dad and I reminisced tonight about the day we became parents. How exquisitely perfect and beautiful you were the moment you entered mortality. How awed we are by you and how proud we are of pretty much every little thing you do. Even the naughty stuff.

Thanks for making our first year as parents so fulfilling, exciting, and satisfying. With you, there's never a dull moment.

Much love,

Your Mom

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Flags at the Park

Today Charlie and I met up with some other moms and kids in our ward at a nearby park where a local bank had set up a few hundred American flags to commemorate the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

I don't know why I always get into a funk on September 11. I'm a little touchy about the way the day is remembered, especially since moving away from the greater New York City area. I certainly don't have a monopoly on bad memories of that day. I didn't experience the loss that some of my friends did. But I don't always understand the grief people outwardly demonstrate for September 11. It bothers me when people cry and carry on about a tragedy that happened thousands of miles away from their homes.

They don't really know, you know?

Most of my fears on September 11 were for my father, who was trapped in midtown Manhattan that day. I was with him on the phone for a few seconds before the line cut out. I wondered if I would be the last person in my family to speak to my dad.

I admit, I didn't think much about the first responders that day, but I do now. Giving one's life to save another's is the ultimate test of an emergency worker's commitment to his calling, I think. I also think of the cab and limo drivers who ferried people out of the city sprawl through the night. I'm grateful to them for getting my dad home to us eventually. The city was drawn together in an incredible way in the wake of the attack. And that's something worth remembering, too.

While I was pushing Charlie in a swing, a few moms fell into a conversation about grocery stores, and which were to be avoided because of the race and socioeconomic status of those who chose to shop there.

It was a little shocking to hear these educated, middle class women engage in this sort of talk. Sometimes I wonder how far we've really come in the last hundred or two hundred years.

I thought about the state of our nation. There are countless things I love about the United States, and a number of things about my country--and its people--that I find embarrassing at best, deplorable at worst.

But I'm grateful that I enjoy such a huge measure of freedom. The general absence of fear in my life is a tremendous blessing. I'm grateful to know that I can drive in my car whenever I want. That I can take my baby to a park and socialize with whomever I choose. That I can vote, that I can speak my mind in public forums, that I can blog about whatever I darn well please. For that, I say God bless America, for better or for worse.