Thursday, November 27, 2008

5 months


Dear Noah bear,

It’s Thanksgiving Day and you turned 5 months old yesterday. You have become so active this past month-- rolling easily and covering lots of ground, sitting up completely on your own, reaching for things and people, finding your voice, and learning to really jump around on your chubby little legs... I’ll lay you down on your new grammie blanket in the middle of the floor, look away for a minute and then find you 6 feet away, trying to chew on the shoe bin, the front door curtain or the couch cover. I can sit you up with a little padding underneath you and know you’re pretty steady there-- you stay sitting for 5 minutes or more. I love hearing you burble and coo and giggle and squeal. You have so much to say, and so many people around you ready to listen. We’re still together pretty constantly. You come to work with me on Monday mornings, Tuesday afternoons, and Wednesday mornings, we spend Thursdays with Mariah, and you spend Fridays with Grammie. She LOVES her time with you. I often come in to find you asleep on her chest, sitting in the rocker in the front room (that’s where I am now, you’re cuddled up with Daddy, Mariah and Levi in bed). You interact with us and the world in new and different ways now-- I’ve watched as you have reached for Bayli and Jay and given them your first pets, sat in your carseat and noticed the rain coming down on the window, reached out to touch my face while you nursed, and started leaning away from us and reaching for someone else (me, Daddy or Grammie) to hold you. You’re starting to have your own opinions about things and learning to express it. It’s absolutely fascinating to see you making these discoveries.

This was a very big month in the history of the world we live in. On November 4th, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. It was a long and difficult election, and we were so elated to see such an inspiring, intelligent, and passionate man chosen to lead our nation. It’s been a tough few years for America for a lot of reasons, and we really need someone with the vision and power to turn things around so that you can grow up in a safe, secure, and abundant world. While you were in my belly the economy began to take a dive. Daddy had to change jobs more than once and our income took a huge hit. Grammie’s old house had been sitting on the market for months. I had been reading about the candidates and very interested in this election for many years now. I first heard of Barack Obama from your Grandad right before he died back in 2006. He was in the hospital and we were having one of our last real conversations. Your Grandad loved watching all the news shows and was always well informed. I asked him who he’d like to see win the 2008 election, and he whispered and joked... “A really good democrat, if I could only find one. But I can’t find one anywhere!” (he was a republican, but was fed up with GW Bush). But he went on to say that I should Obama was one to watch-- Grandad was impressed by Obama’s speech at the 2004 DNC and thought he would become a major political figure. I hoped Hillary Clinton would run, and she did. I like her, and would have liked to see a woman elected president (I hope that by the time you are my age there will have been at least one!). But there is something really special about Obama. A certain spark inside of him that has ignited a powerful movement in our country. He has brought together people from all different backgrounds and united us in a common goal. I saw this video in the spring of this year, and then read up on his positions, and made my decision. Grammie was a Hillary supporter. We all watched closely through the primary battle. In May, Obama came to Portland the day after Amanda and her kids arrived. It was over 90 degrees, and I got Levi, Mariah, Amanda, Forest, Markayla and Eme all to go downtown to see him. We took the bus and the MAX train. Amanda and I were both 9 months pregnant and had 5 kids running around-- what a sight we were! It was an amazing day. We didn’t actually see him, but we did get close enough to hear his voice and see the crowd. You can see the video of that day here. I think that was his largest crowd to date-- he called it his “most spectacular” crowd! Right before you born, I read this article about how “everything is seemingly spinning out of control” and I feared for the world that my baby was about to enter. I donated to the Obama campaign and did what I could to support the movement. It was a long wait-- but election day finally came and we went into it looking good. It was a beautiful autumn day. We drove down Ainsworth Street, lined with brilliantly changing trees-- the sun was illuminating the varigated leaves against the backdrop of rain clouds-- and I couldn’t help thinking, “Change is in the air”. I was overjoyed when they called the election for him and Daddy, Levi, Mariah, you and I all cuddled together on the couch and watched his acceptance speech. Wow. What an awesome time you chose to come into the world!

The weekend after the election you and I took off on our first real road trip. We went down to Bend to visit Auntie Chelle and baby Ruby. It was fabulous! You were amazingly content in the car and slept most of the way. It was so fun seeing my friend of over 30 years (!) and getting to share mamahood with her. We built a fire, ate lots of chinese food and chocolate, cuddled and nursed the two of you, and chatted about everything under the sun. And, as you might imagine, there were lots and lots of photos taken!

We also had a weekend getaway to Seattle with Grammie to visit our Aunt Kay and cousins Cara and Renee. Cara lives there with her husband Ash, and they just found out they are having a baby in June (due the day before your birthday!). Kay was married to Grammie’s older brother Clayton who was a wonderful man that I wish I had known better, and wish you had gotten to meet. He died way too soon, when I was 10 years old. Aunt Kay lives in Michigan with our cousin Troy and his family. Renee lives in Las Vegas and is a craps dealer. I hadn’t seen her since I was 11! They all loved getting to meet you. We took the bus down to Pike Place and explored. You rode facing out in my wrap and took in all the sights, sounds and smells-- then I turned you around (facing in) and you fell asleep instantly. Back at the apartment you kept us all entertained with your new sounds and antics.

At home, we’ve been busy moving the house around-- L&M’s room has become my office/studio, the “green” (guest) room upstairs is becoming L’s room, and my “old” studio is becoming M’s room. Matt and Eric from Confluence Design/Build are helping us renovate the stairway and hall and making it safer for you guys to be up there. The house is in shambles at the moment! But it will all be worth it. I have a lot of stuff to go through and “decluttering” to do.

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving at Grammie’s house with Steve, Julianne, Ariadne, Ian, and Phaedra. We have so much to be thankful for . I can’t tell you enough what a blessing you have been in our lives. In some ways, at the time you were conceived, my life felt like it was “spinning out of control” and I couldn’t imagine having another baby to take care of in addition to all my other responsibilities. But, though I didn’t know it, you were exactly what I needed to turn things around and remind me what’s really important. Simply holding you is all I need to center myself again. I still don’t feel like I’m finding the words to explain this to you-- this buddha-ness of you-- but I don’t know how else to say it. I love you “after infinity” (as Mariah likes to say these days) and am so glad you’re here.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

My dad died two years, one month, and two days ago after fighting multiple myeloma for over four years. They believe his cancer was due to agent orange exposure in Vietnam, before I was born. Three years ago tonight, he sent out this email to his family and close friends:

Veteran's Day issues will always be troubling for me, I guess. The letter I've attached gets it right.

It's a letter that Amy sent to the editor of our local newspaper, THE OREGONIAN.

I wanted to share it with you because of I'm so proud of her.

Attitude is everything!

Eric Hooker

Here is the letter I had written:


When I was a child, the significance of Veteran’s Day was that there was no school—a happy day for kids. As the years passed, I began to think more about those veterans that had lost their lives in service and began to take it more seriously, though I didn’t really know how to acknowledge its importance. My great grandfather fought in WWI. His first son, my Grandpa, fought in WWII, and his son, my Pop, fought in Vietnam. Thankfully, they each came home from their respective wars. It is only because of this fact that I am here today. I am grateful for their lives, my own, and the lives of everyone else they have touched. Still, I was never quite sure how to “celebrate” Veteran’s Day. A couple of years ago, I finally asked my dad, “So, what should I say? ‘Happy Veteran’s Day’ just doesn’t sound right.” He told me that the best thing to say was simply, “Thank you.”

This Veteran’s Day, my Pop is preparing to have a stem cell transplant. He has Multiple Myeloma, a particularly nasty blood-related cancer. It is now known that this and other forms of cancer are most likely related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. He has not been responding to chemotherapy, and this procedure is his last hope for remission. It is also very dangerous and has a high mortality rate. I admire his courage and determination in the face of this, and wish that I shared his faith that everything is going to be okay. To me, it feels like a game of Russian Roulette that he is being forced to play, and I am terrified. His conviction is “Attitude is everything”, and I pray that he is right.

So, in honor of Veteran’s Day, I thank him for his selfless service. While my grandpa was celebrated as a hero when he returned home, my dad was ridiculed. The war in Vietnam took many American lives, and continues to today. I write this in hopes that those reading will remember to say “Thank you” to all the veterans you know, and to send all of your prayers, good thoughts, and healing energy to my Pop, and all of the other Vietnam vets who continue to fight for their lives.

Amy Watson
Portland, OR

Right now, my Gramma, his dad, is nearing his 89th birthday and already planning his 90th birthday party. He is madly in love with a fantastic woman he had been married to for the past 6 years. He was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer and is going to radiation 5 days a week for the next 7 weeks. He served his country with pride, and knows that he was a good soldier. One of the defining times of his life was having his outfit chosen to land on Utah Beach on D-Day and going on to liberate Paris. Tonight I called him simply to say, "Thank you."

Monday, November 3, 2008

four months

Sweet, sweet dumplin’ boy-

You are now 4 months and 8 days old-- once again I’m a bit behind; it’s been an extra crazy week around here. Where do I begin? You continue to amaze us with your newfound skills every single day, and I simply can’t believe how quickly you are growing and changing. This past month you have rolled over, both front to back and back to front, and have started sitting well with support. You can now really reach for things purposely and maneuver them with your hands... what a huge change! Now I have to be careful where I’m standing when I hold you and pay attention to what might be within your reach. You are quite pleased with this new, awesome power you have. We had a wonderful trip to the coast again, for Daddy’s birthday this time, just you, me and him. You wore your fuzzy blue, purple and green fleece that used to be Levi’s for the first time, sat in the sand and ran your fingers through it. You went for your first of many rides on your daddy’s shoulders. You got your first cold and I sat up with you until after 4 am more than once-- first when your cough got croupy and the second time when you got your first fever. The fever lasted from Saturday night through until Tuesday morning and got up to 103.5. I blogged about it here. You have doubled your birth weight already-- you weighed 18#7.5 at Korin’s last Monday (with a thin sleeper and dipe on). You had your first Halloween. I’m sorry to say that your ridiculously expense designer monkey costume did not arrive on time because Mama didn’t notice that they said “1-7 business days” on the shipping option I chose, so you got a consigned bernese mountian puppy costume for the actual Halloween shots. I dressed you up before we picked up L & M, put you in the ergo, asleep on my chest, and told them we got a puppy-- they thought it was hilarious when they realized it was really you. We got photos done at Campbell Salgado, then went to Grammie’s for soup and to meet up with JASIP. You still come to work with me on Mondays and Wednesdays and I love that I get to cuddle and kiss you in between patients. Your yumminess simply cannot be described in words-- the silky skin, chunky rolls, sweet, milky smell... but most of all your heart-melting smiles, and exuberant coos and giggles. It’s really just all too much. I mean really, look at that photo. Could you be any sweeter?Sometimes it seems you will burst with glee, you are so happy to be with us-- and sometimes I feel like my heart may burst the same way. I never knew I could love another child the way I love you. I can’t tell you what a blessing you are in our lives. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again for joining us.

Your ever-lovin’,