Little Moments

There are some moments in life that I know will be treasured until my last breath.  Like nap time.   Lately Ava has been having a hard time laying down to take a nap.  Her normal routine is to yawn and rub her eyes; I notice that she’s tired.  Ava is then laid in her crib and she falls right asleep.  Easy.  Everyone tells me I’m lucky.   However, lately, instead of laying down and falling asleep, Ava now stands up and cries… and cries and cries…. until momma goes into her room and picks her up.  Once held, Ava then lays her sweet little head on my shoulder, takes a few sniffled breaths and falls asleep.  And I just stand there and hold her, because I love it.  Her warm little body close against mine, with that little head on my shoulder, is about the sweetest thing in the world to me.  I would probably hold her for hours but 21lbs of Ava deter me from doing so.  After 10 minutes my arms start to burn and I have to lay her down.  But in those ten minutes, I drink in as much of the experience as possible, burning it into my memory to have for all of time.

Maybe I’m creating one of those bad habits that everyone tells you about… just let your baby cry or else you’ll regret it later.  Yes, that’s probably true; perhaps I will regret it later.  But I think what I may regret more is not taking the chance to snuggle as much as possible now while I still have the chance.  I want to hold my baby as much as possible while she’ll still let me, while she still wants me to, because the day is quickly approaching when being held by me will be low on her priority list.

I can’t help but think of my own mother during moments like this.  She once held me close, relished my little body snuggled close to hers and probably felt the same things I feel when I hold Ava.  And now I live 1200 miles away from her.  I don’t call as much as I should, life gets busy and I forget.  But when I put myself in her shoes 30 years from now, I take a different perspective.  I have a better understanding of why she cried driving away after dropping me off at college.  A better understanding of the excitement in her voice when she answers the phone and it’s me on the other end of the line.

So maybe I am creating a bad nap habit in Ava or maybe she just needs to feel secure for the moment, I don’t know.  Either way, I’ll have one more little memory to hold onto when it’s my turn to cry, driving away, one fall day 18 years from now.

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Cheerio’s Anyone?

“Ava!  What the heck are you doing?!!?!” These were my words this morning at breakfast.    Ava, having received half of a banana as part of her meal,  had just managed to shove a 2″ piece into her mouth.  Being of small stature, a 2″ piece of banana is quite a feat for Ava.  She had to work pretty hard to get 2″ of banana in her mouth and it filled up every square inch leaving her unable to chew or swallow, which of course is the point of eating.  Ava is learning to feed herself.  She seems to have gotten the idea that the world is going to end at any second and thus needs to get as much food into her mouth as possible before the moment of implosion happens.  Case in point, take yesterday at snack time:

It’s 3 pm and time for a snack.  I have recently purchased a huge box of Cheerio’s from the grocery store… well, actually, it’s a huge box of “Oat O’s”, because “Oat O’s” were cheaper than Cheerio’s and we all know they are the same thing when you take away the fancy marketing.  I laugh in the face of fancy marketing… hahahahaha.  Anyway, my goal with the Cheerio’s, er, “Oat O’s”, is to help Ava develop her “pincher grasp” which is a fancy term for getting her to get food in her mouth with her pointer finger and thumb… you know, her pincher fingers.  Ava has spent several weeks eating a rice rusk at snack time with great proficiency.  (For those of you who don’t know what a rice rusk is… they’re weird and I don’t quite know the words to describe their strangeness.)  The moment of Cheerio/”Oat O” introduction has come.  I place a small handful of “Oat O’s” on the high chair tray.  Ava has been waiting patiently.  Her eyes light up.  “Oh!  Something new!” she seems to be saying.  Using her pointer finger, she pokes at one of the “O’s”.

At this point, I’m feeling pretty proud of both myself and Ava.  “Oh my child is brilliant!”  I’m thinking.  “Look at that, first introduction and she’s going to have this pincher grasp thing down.”  And then my revelry dissipated.   Ava, having investigated the “O’s” and found them to be interesting enough to continue capturing her attention, pounces.  Immediately, her chubby little hands are filled with small “O’s” and she is shoving as many into her mouth as possible.  She soon looks like an overgrown chipmunk storing up a stash for the long winter ahead.    This is not going the way I had anticipated.  There is no “pincher grasp” being practiced here, let alone any semblance of table manners which I was sure had been inbred in my child.  Ava has so many “Oat O’s” in her mouth I’m forced to make her spit some out.

OK, lets try this again.  “Ava, one at a time.” That will do it.  Obviously I had not explained the process the first time.  More “Oat O’s” are placed in front of Ava.  Again, end-of-the-world mentality takes over and before I know it, her checks are protruding with the little O’s.  At this point I’m beginning to fear for my daughter’s windpipe safety.  The rest of snack time finds mama placing exactly two “Oat O’s” in front of Ava.  Ava manages to get both O’s into her mouth, sogs them up enough to swallow and the process repeats.

We’re still working on the pincher grasp.  I still think Ava is brilliant despite this minor setback.

Our Blood Runs Black and Gold

Have you ever noticed that any movie about football is based in the South?  Think of all great football movies… “Remember the Titans”… “We Are Marshall”… “Friday Night Lights”… “The Blind Side”.  Every single one of those movies is based on towns or teams in the South.  I always thought it was because people liked to hear the Southern accents of the characters.  Having now lived in the South, I realize it’s not the accents… it’s because Southerners truly are fanatical about football.

When we moved to New Orleans, I think I had a vague idea of who their football team was.  The New Orleans… uummm, what was it again?  Oh yeah… the Saints.  (Listen close, you can almost hear a collective gasp of air from the natives as I utter such sacrilegious words).  Truth be told, three years ago I couldn’t have told you who the Saints were, what colors their jerseys were, who played for them or if they were good or bad… well, I could probably guess they weren’t very good as I didn’t know much about them.  Well let me tell you, have I gotten an education.

People of New Orleans LOVE their Saints.  Never before have I witnessed such devotion to a football team.  Denver Bronco fans don’t even come close.  From what I understand, the Saints have been a historically, shall we say, not-so-great team.  And yet, their fans and this city love them.

If you haven’t noticed, and by this point in time I’m sure you already have, this has been quite the year for the Saints.  They started off winning games and just kept winning.  While I had been aware of the devotion that runs deep for the Saints, it was around November that I started to really notice what I would consider fanatical behavior… large blow up Saints players in yards, you know, like the Santas on motorcycles during Christmas only this was a Saints player with a football; banners, flags, and what I consider to be the most intriguing: messages started to show up on people’s cars… 8-0!  9-0!…  12-0!  13-0!  People were putting the teams win/loss record in shoe polish on their car windows.  Now I understand that the Saints have never before had such a record, but I couldn’t believe people would plaster it all over their cars.  Even after the team lost a couple of games, I still saw cars with 13-2 or 13-3 on their windows.  Devotion.

The night the Saints won the NFC championship game, you would have thought they had already won the Super Bowl.  As Jeff and I drove home, fire works are exploding in every direction, people are celebrating in the streets and car horns are blaring.  It was a moment that a city had waited for for 42 years and they were relishing the moment.  It was neat to be a part of it.

I can’t say I’m ever going to be a huge football fan or that I’ve learned everything about every player, but sometime this fall our little family became Saints fans and our blood now runs black and gold.