"15 & 16 Month Update" or "Holy Flying Time, Batman! Where Did July Go?"

Ready or not, I'm writing this post before any more time slips away!
We have made it to 16 months!  Wow!

Nora is growing and changing daily in hard-to-describe ways.  Her motor skills and language skills are developing monumentally and she does something to amaze me every day.  She’s kind of a garbage disposal—she’ll eat about anything.  We’re trying some redirection with her recently because she would snack all day if you’d let her and I think sometimes it’s just boredom.  We’re trying to give her interesting things to do instead of snacking (or yelling for a snack).  That’s not a relationship with food I want her to have later in life, so we’re starting early. 
We had some big firsts in the past couple months.  One big one is that we turned her car seat.  No particular reason, just one day it felt right.  I like that I can see her better and now when she drops something, she tends to drop it toward the front of the van instead of the back so I can reach it and give it back to her.  I honestly don't think she'd care if one day I changed my mind and turned her back around, though. 
The other is that she spent her first extended time away from us.  Zach's parents came up for a visit two weekends ago and took her back home with them for a week.  She had a great time and we had a power outage and tree in our yard for several days last week, so it was pretty good timing.  However, six days is most decidedly too long to be away from my baby!  I was so happy to have her home on Saturday!
She blows on her food, uses a fork well (and a spoon not as well), loves to drink out of cups (though she needs some supervision) and anything with a straw.  Her skill in feeding herself grew dramatically in just two months' time!
She is still sleeping well, still usually taking 2 naps a day, loves climbing and carrying "purses". 
She is a swimming machine!  She'll jump off the side of a pool to me and loves to jump in and go under the water.  If I let her dunk under and let go of her she even kicks her legs to get back to me and then grins when she comes back up!  I am amazed at her love of the water!  It's a little scary, though, too.  You have to keep an eagle eye on her anytime there's a body of water around.  She's not afraid to walk right in.  We're working on learning that she is absolutely not allowed around water without Mommy or Daddy.  We even keep the toilet lid down--I'm not paranoid about much, but drowning is one thing I am paranoid about.
She's learning to play with others more each day (though she has a long way to go!).  She has some good friends who are 2 who are teaching her lots about sharing and taking turns.  She can navigate stairs pretty well (if she's not in a hurry).  She talks to Dora the Explorer now--points to things on the screen and answers some of her questions, which just amazes me.
A couple mishaps: she got bitten by a bug and got an infection from it, but it turned out to be much less of a big deal than I feared it might.  She also ate paint (on my watch, Momma fail).  Actually, she didn't swallow enough to hurt her, but it was all over her face and hands--I turned my back on the paint can (that I thought she couldn't reach) for 30 seconds.  This is the theme of our lives right now--she's always into something you didn't think she would/could be.  So goes living with a toddler.
I could say SO MUCH MORE about her.  She's just the best!  I totally underestimated how much fun having a little one would be and had no idea the love I could feel for her--I could burst every day of my life.  My parents come this weekend to visit and I can't wait for them to see her!  Without further ado--pictures!
Eating Watermelon in the back yard

The family on Nora's first boat ride

Trying to feed herself around 15 months

...but it usually deteriorated to this (she's better at it now)

NR and Daddy watching a baseball game at the park

Playing in "her cabinet"

She knows she's cute

In Mommy's hiking boots

Eating a PB sandwich on the couch in the youth room

All the pictures are 15 months and the videos are 16 months.  Can't believe how the time is flying!  Babies don't keep, do they?


The Battle of the Hair.

And then this happened:
Please excuse our delightfully oudated bathroom--it's a rental!

After over a year of pixie and nearly-pixie hair, I put a little twist in the front of my hair.
I had my hair grown out a little longer than it is now until a couple months ago when I went into my hair appointment (the 1st one in our new town) planning to tell her to just stack the back and leave the length everywhere else…and instead told her to “do whatever”.  And she proceeded to give me the exact haircut I had been growing out for 6 months. 
It was OK, I like the haircut, but I was just ready for something new.  So here I am, “growing it out” again (I put that in quotes because I haven’t had my hair longer than my shoulders twice in my life).
I’m ready to have my curly hair back and this was a milestone today!

...But I am already considering going to get the back stacked...I don't think I can survive the mullet stage of growing it out!


Thoughts on Family and Home

The nieces and nephew a couple years ago on family vacation

So there was this one time that I was home alone with NR all week and I was going to do all these things while Zach was at camp.  I was going to do dishes, clean the van, mow the lawn, go to the park, ride bikes, go for a hike, and blog a whole bunch.

Then none of that happened.

NR and I have had a blast just vegging while Daddy has been gone.  We've watched too much TV, ate junk food, stayed up late, fingerpainted, played with friends and just all around spent some good quality time together.  We're both ready for him to come home tomorrow, though.

For the past 12 days my uncle has been in the hospital and then in hospice.  Yesterday evening he passed away after holding on for a long time.  Times like these always make me think about family.  Hearing the pain in my family's voices on the phone and seeing sad posts on facebook make me ache to be there.  I feel separate, less like a member of the family, less vital to the family, like I've forsaken them.  I wish I could drop everything and go there.  To go home.

I always make a concerted effort to call anywhere that Zach and I (and Nora now) are together "home".  Grayson was home when we were in college.  It's where we fell in love, where we got married and where we had our first apartment.  Evansville was home and will hold a place in our hearts as the place we made incredible friends who we became adults with, where we bought our first house and where we brought our first baby home from the hospital.  Wilmington is home now.  It's where we've been called.  It's where we've found ourselves surrounded by the most amazing and supportive people.  People who make it home.  People who are our family when our real families are far.  It's where we're following God.

But the place I grew up will always be home in a different way.  It's the place I come from.  It's where the greatest part of my personality and character were formed.  It's where my family is.  My whole family.  About 90% of my immediate and extended family on both sides lives within a couple of hours of the home I grew up in.  We have a special family.  Big and close.  We celebrated everything.  Birthdays, holidays, special events, sports wins, graduations, summer, Sunday...everything and nothing was a reason to be together.  I've been to Sunday afternoon lunches bigger than our official "family reunion".  It's still that way, only I'm not part of it anymore.  I make it back to my roots about 2 or 3 times a year.

It's times like these that I long to be back there.  I long to see my neices and nephew's band concerts and softball, soccer, football, or basketball games.  I want to visit with aunts and uncles and cousins.  I want to drop in at my sister's house and spend time with my brother, sister and their families.

I went through a time in college and when we first moved to Evansville when I was a bad family member.  I rarely called, I never sent cards.  In the past few years I've been trying to be a better family member.  I try to be in contact more.  Admittedly, I'm still bad at sending cards.  I don't want Nora to grow up and not know her family.  I remember a few cousins that I always had to get used to any time they came to visit when I was little.  I don't want Nora to have to "warm up" to her Grandparents.  And this goes for both sides of the family--Zach's parents and family are several hours away, too.

I don't really know where I'm going with all this, I'm just rambling. 

I think the moral of the story is: be conciously grateful for your family.  It doesn't matter who your family is, they're yours and God gave them to you for a reason.  He picked you all to go together--married in, biological, half, step or otherwise.  If you love someone, say so.  Hug your brother.  Let your sister know how much you think about her.  Call just because.  Let the facebook world wait--tell them your joys and sorrows first.  Let them know they're important and valued to you, no matter the physical distance between you.

I'm feeling a little homesick, I guess. 

God, bless every member of my family.  If they are far from you, draw them to you.  Those who are hurting, comfort them tonight.  Thank you for choosing them for me.  Without them I wouldn't be here with you now and you knew that from the beginning of time.  Help me never forget my roots, either physically or spiritually.