milestones

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Bruce Ely Photography | nextlifechapter.com

Photo by Bruce Ely

Tomorrow is our five-year wedding anniversary. Before I sat down to write this post, I reviewed the posts I wrote for our four-year anniversary and three-year anniversary. Man, those were pretty good. I mean, as this blog gets older I realize I’m not going to be able to top the previous year’s post every year. I’m not going to be able to summarize my feelings and say something new about the effects of motherhood every Mother’s Day or recognize my sister’s birthday and show how much she means to me in a new way every year.

I’ve written a few posts that express those feelings pretty well, if I do say so myself.

Tomorrow is our five-year wedding anniversary and tonight I’m thinking about spending this night five years ago at our rehearsal dinner. How I got a flat tire on the way to the airport to pick up my aunt that afternoon. I think about how after dinner a few girlfriends and I set up camp in the hotel bar and used archival glue and a bone folder to attach the hand-letterpressed covers onto the accordion-folded wedding programs.

I think about being exhausted and excited and nervous, but so happy that so many family members and friends had flown in just for us.

In the five years since that day, a lot has happened. Tim and I have moved twice. We adopted our dog Hugo. Adelaide was born. We’ve taken classes, gone on vacation, argued, cried, laughed. It’s been a good five years. It’s gone by fast. I know I don’t have to one-up each and every holiday or anniversary post on this blog. But, I think it’s good to pause and remember, to acknowledge where we are in life’s journey and remember how we got here and why. Trying to define or explain love can be a challenging writing exercise. I know it when I see it. I know it when I feel it. This is love.

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Today is the six-year anniversary of the day Tim proposed. He probably doesn’t even remember the exact date. In fact, he’s probably upstairs right now annoyed that I haven’t yet come up to bed – that I spend too much time on devices and the Internet. Little does he know that I’m writing about an important date in our relationship history and digging through my email archive to find original emails where I gush about the news to my family and friends.  Here’s one I found:

Hi guys,

It’s been a while.  How is everyone?  I just wanted to let you know that Tim and I got engaged!  At the beginning of June, Tim and I made a quick trip to Providence and Boston for a long weekend.  On the last day of our trip, in Boston Public Gardens, Tim proposed!  And I said yes!  Tim and I have been dating for what will be 4 years in September, he’s my best friend and I knew he was the one I wanted to marry.  I guess I thought we would probably get engaged in the next year or so, and I can’t say I wasn’t aware of the fact that our Boston weekend would have been a perfect time.  Still, I really didn’t think it was going to happen right now, and I was genuinely surprised.  We’re thinking a Summer ’08 wedding here in Philly.  I just wanted to share my happy news.

Hope all is well with you.
Love,
Beth

 

After he proposed, I asked a couple walking by if they would take our photo.

the bench couple

I took this image to capture the view from the bench.

the bench view

We sat there for a while enjoying the view of the city where we met. We talked about our future together. Then, as we walked away, I snapped this photo of “our bench.”

the bench

We walked up to Faneuil Hall, sat at the outdoor bar at The Salty Dog (the restaurant where I worked three summers earlier) and toasted ourselves with a celebratory beer.

On the drive home to Philadelphia, we stopped back in Providence at the restaurant where I had worked there. We told the news to several friends who were working and our friend Evan, the bartender, surprised us with complimentary glasses of champaign. Then, we made the drive home and took turns driving and calling our parents and siblings and friends. It was a Tuesday night, so it was knitting night and I knew all my Philly girlfriends would be in one place. I called my friend Amy and she put me on speaker phone. That was the fastest roadtrip. The time in the car just flew by.

And here we are, six years, one marriage and one 22-month-old daughter later. I’d say “yes” all over again, and I do every day.

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One of my favorite mom blogs is Dear Baby by Melissa Jordan. I discovered it before I was pregnant with Adelaide, shortly after Melissa’s daughter Everly was born. I liked it so much that I went back to the beginning and read each entry in chronological order. It took me several weekends, but it was like reading a memoir – a peak into this woman’s most intimate moments of pregnancy and childbirth. The Jordans have two kids now – Everly is three and their son Arlo is almost two. Every so often Melissa will post “Everly Says.” They’re humorous or poignant musings of the child mind, something reminiscent of “kids say the darndest things.”

Although Adelaide is not yet putting together poignant musings, I thought I would follow this practice and start posting things Adelaide says.

Recently, Adelaide has begun to understand a little more about numbers and letters. When you ask her how old she is, she’ll hold up one finger and say “two.” A couple of weeks ago, I was giving Adelaide a bath and she was playing with the foam letters and numbers Aunt Gina gave her for Christmas. They stick to the sides of the tub and the tile on the wall and in combination with the squirt toys Aunt G gave her, it has made bath time much more pleasant.  So, I was playing with Adelaide in the water and she held up the number two and said “two.”

“Yes, that’s the number two,” I said. I was so impressed.

Then, Adelaide held up the letter F and said, “two.”  Ah yes, apparently every number and letter is “two” right now. Oh well, she’ll get it some day. And if she sticks to this convention for another three months, she’ll actually be right when someone asks her how old she is.

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18 months

Two posts in one day? Unthinkable!

I just couldn’t let today pass without noting this sweet lady’s half birthday. I can hardly believe it.

18 months

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“A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.”

-Paul Sweeney

 

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Forty years ago today these two young lovebirds said “I do” and made a promise to each other.

When I look at this photo I can’t help but think how young they look. One day Adelaide will surely look at photos of Tim and me and think the same thing.

Sometimes the passing of time just blows my mind. I clearly remember my parents’ 13th wedding anniversary. I remember it because it was the day of the Challenger explosion. I was in 3rd grade, and I remember thinking it particularly spooky that it was unlucky 13. Really? That was their 13th wedding anniversary? That was 27 years ago?

I’m sure the 40 years have gone by even more quickly for my parents. It hasn’t always been easy, but they’ve made family a top priority and I thank them for everything they’ve sacrificed to give me the life I’ve had. Happy 40th wedding anniversary, Mom and Dad! Congratulations and thanks for everything.

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I decided to spend the last five days of November recapping the highlights of our fall. (Day 1 and Day 2 if you missed them.) Day 3: Adelaide’s 15-month update. I like having a record of her current milestones, so I can reflect on them later.

Today, Adelaide turns 16 months. I remember several years ago thinking it was strange when parents recited their child’s age in months. Why say “16 months” and not just “a year old”?  Well, it’s now clear that this became the standard because so much happens every month at this age.

At Adelaide’s 15-month doctor’s appointment, she weighed in at 23 lbs, 3.2 oz (75-80th percentile) and was 31.25 in tall (50-75th percentile). She has six teeth (four on top, two on bottom), and has been walking since the week before her 13-month birthday.

At 16 months, Adelaide still takes two naps when she’s at home, but only one at school. I think it’s too loud and there’s just too much going on at school, but she does fine with two naps when home with Tim and when home on the weekends. I think she really still needs two naps because she’s always so cranky and tired when we pick her up from daycare.

Adelaide babbles all day. I wish I had a translator because she seems to speak an entire language. I just can’t understand her. Still, Adelaide doesn’t have many actual English words. She’s developing quickly on this front though. She got two new words in the last week and sometimes she’ll say a word, but I’m not so sure if she understands the meaning. Her first word was dog (dig), but she said it for cat too and just about any animal. She knows “Dada” and “Mom” (still not 100% sure about that one). Her new ones this week are “hi” and “Elmo” (melmo). She says “melmo” for pretty much any cartoonish character, and I’m beginning to think she’s just replaced “dig” with “melmo” since she called Hugo “melmo” this morning. (As a side note, Adelaide has seen a few episodes of Sesame Street, but it kind of freaks me out that she knows that word – I swear we don’t let her watch much TV!).

There are many other words I know she understands, but that she doesn’t say yet. Like when we say, “Where’s your ball?” Adelaide will walk across the room and go get it. I love that it seems to be something new almost every day.

Adelaide has an obsession with paper and tissue. And her new thing last week was to walk around with paper and a pen or pencil. It doesn’t matter if the cap is on the pen, she’ll just sit in her little Cookie Monster chair and pretend to scribble. It cracks me up how much she loves holding a writing utensil and playing with paper. With a dad who’s an artist and a mom who’s a writer, it’s almost as if writing and drawing are in her DNA.

Another developmental stage that isn’t quite as exciting is that Adelaide is totally a Mamma’s girl right now. If I’m home, she wants to be near me. While some days her desire to see me and happiness to be in my arms fills me with warm fuzzies, it can also be exhausting. Some mornings Adelaide cries when I go to work, and although I know she’s fine within minutes after I leave, it doesn’t make getting out of the house any easier. I know it’s just a stage and that one day, it will probably be the opposite; she’ll be a Daddy’s girl who wants nothing to do with Mamma.

Still, I miss the days when she could easily be passed to anyone and be perfectly content. I worry that over the holidays her grandparents and aunts and uncles won’t be able to take advantage of her squishability because she won’t let them hold or hug her. On Christmas Adelaide will be nearly 17 months, so who knows what she’ll be doing or saying by then.

Adelaide has been using the sign for “more” for months. Rather than “more” it usually means “I want.”

 

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Last year, when Adelaide was 12 weeks old, I went back to work and Adelaide went to daycare for her first full day of “school.” That was October 20th. Today, just shy of a year later, Adelaide has “graduated” from an infant and moved up to the young toddler room. I knew I had taken a photo on her first day of school last year, so I couldn’t resist recording this year’s milestone as well. She doesn’t look particularly happy in this morning’s photo, but I continue to be blown away by how much she has grown. I see the little girl in her emerging and my little baby fading away.

Adelaide’s first day of school – October 20, 2011

 

First day of school in the young toddler room – October 1, 2012

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I had a great birthday weekend. There wasn’t one big over-the-top event, but lots of little things that added up over the course of three days.

Friday, August 17 was my actual birthday. Someone asked me what Adelaide got me for my birthday, and I said, “She got me up at 6:30am,” which is true.  Not super early or unusual, but earlier than I would’ve liked. I love when she sleeps in until 7:00am.

Anyway, a 6:30am rise meant that I had plenty of time to open presents and birthday cards in bed. Tim got me some cool earrings that I think I’ve worn every day since I received them. I had saved the gift my parents gave me when they were here and the cards I received in the mail and opened them all that morning.

That afternoon Tim met me at work and took me out for lunch. We went to XIX (Nineteen) on the 19th floor of the Bellevue Hotel. They have a lovely prefix lunch where they have a table of salads and antipasto to help yourself for a first course. Then, you choose one of five entrees for a second course. There is another table with mini deserts, cookies and fresh fruit for the third course. I had the XIX steak as my entree and Tim had the fish of the day, a blackened catfish. It was a beautiful view and a lovely meal. Tim told the server it was my birthday, so they surprised me at the end of the meal with a complementary glass of sparkling wine. Happy birthday to me, indeed.

By coincidence, my office closed early that day. A lot of people were out on vacation, so my boss decided we would close up shop at 2:30pm.  I picked Adelaide up from daycare a couple of hours early, and we went back downtown for a play date with my friend Brooke and her son Jack. Brooke was in town for the Livestrong Challenge. Her sister Amy is the inspiring friend I’ve mentioned several times on my blog. Our Livestrong team walked in her memory.

Jack is exactly 1 month younger than Adelaide and Brooke and her husband moved to Pittsburgh just a few months before she became pregnant with Jack. We don’t see each other often, but we’ve been email confidants throughout our pregnancies and through the first year of motherhood. For my birthday, we met in Rittenhouse Square and went to Cosi for dinner. It was great to visit with them in person, and Brooke even picked up a couple of birthday cupcakes from Pamcakes to help me celebrate.

 Saturday morning was the Livestrong Challenge. Despite having poor directions from Google Maps that made me late, I still got there in time to push Adelaide in the stroller for the 5K walk. I walked fast and about halfway through I caught up with the other walkers from our team. Those who ran the 5K were there at the finish line to cheer us on and have breakfast with us.

Saturday night Adelaide’s Uncle Ben and Aunt Adrienne came over to babysit while Tim and I went out to a birthday movie. We saw the new Batman at the IMAX theater. It was both Tim’s and my first IMAX feature film. We liked the movie, and it was fun to see it on such a big screen–the audio was amazing. But to tell you the truth, I left the theater uncomfortable. I had to look up, almost to the ceiling, for most of the movie and the chairs weren’t very comfortable. By the end of the nearly three- hour movie, I had a crick in my neck and my back hurt. Yes, I know, the irony is not lost on the fact that this complaining is stereotypical of someone who is getting older.

Sunday, I had the good fortune to spend the afternoon with another visiting out-of-town friend and her daughter. I know Andie from grad school, and I don’t think I’ve seen her since the summer after we graduated in 2006. Her daughter is two, so it was fun for me to see what I have to look forward to in the upcoming months.  As writers, Andie and I have been in contact periodically over the years, usually touching base to nurture the writers in us.

It was a fantastic birthday weekend surrounded by the love of family and friends. I’m a lucky lady ready to see what this next trip around the sun has in store for me.

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Photo by Bruce Ely

I don’t think I can say it any better than I did last year. Happy 4th wedding anniversary to my dear husband Tim. We celebrated a few days early this year. Thanks to Aunt Adrienne and Uncle Ben, Tim and I went to dinner at Twenty Manning Grill on Saturday night. When we made our reservation on Open Table we mentioned that we would be celebrating our anniversary. We were seated at an intimate table with a curved yellow banquet, and I was convinced it was because I mentioned we were celebrating a special occasion. We enjoyed the heirloom tomato gazpacho with pineapple-basil sorbet and the pork pot-stickers as appetizers. Then, Tim had the charbroiled beef sirloin noodles, and I delighted in the simple pan-seared wild mushroom ravioli.

After they cleared our plates (the service was great and “on top of it,” borderline too on top of it — they seemed to be at our table all the time clearing something or wiping something) the server put spoons down in front of us. He then brought over complimentary glasses of sparkling wine and told us a dessert was on the way. “Happy Anniversary,” he said, “thanks for celebrating with us.”

We thanked the server and while we waited for our half-baked toll house cookie to bake, Tim raised his glass for a toast. “To four years of marriage,” he said lifting his glass to mine, “and to four more years.”

“Four more years?” I laughed. “How about forty more years?”

“Okay, to forty more years!”

 

Louis C.K. does this bit in episode 1 of his second season of Louie where he talks about how much he loves his daughters (and how he hates everything leading up to their existence simultaneously). He’s a divorced single dad and a comedian known for his controversial topics and crude language, so I take his crassness with a grain of salt and watch the show for one reason – it’s amazingly funny. Anyway, in the stand-up routine he goes on about how having a child makes you love them so much, it makes you love other people more, it makes you love life and just everything so much more. It’s true. Having Adelaide has made me love Tim more, if that’s possible. It’s made me love my parents and my sister and all of our family and friends just that much more. I am so filled with love because of the love I witness every day through our daughter. I love you, Tim. Happy Anniversary, and here’s to many, many more years.

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Three years ago today I stood in front of family and friends and made a commitment to my best friend. Happy 3rd Anniversary, Timmy! You changed my life, and it is about to be forever changed once again. I’m so blessed to journey this next life chapter with you by my side.

July 3, 2008

photo by Bruce Ely

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