Saturday, August 26, 2006


The big news around here is that Tobin's mom passed the NC Bar. So it's official, I will be a real lawyer quite soon, once all the licensure stuff is complete.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I have very few memories of the dog my parents had before my sister was born. I remember her name was Sasha and that she was enormous. Of course, that memory is from a time when I could barely reach the top of a yardstick. I remember when she died and that my parents were sad. The explanation I remember being given was something along the lines of "A mean man put out poison for her and she ate it." Now that I think of it, I don't even know if that memory is accurate.

Our next dog was named Buttons. I remember holding her in my cupped hands when we still lived in Tennessee, which means she was really small when we got her. After Buttons, we went a while without a dog until we got Roxy, whom I blame in some part for Sarah not liking dogs very much. She (Roxy, not Sarah) was a rambunctious German Shepherd who never . . . quite . . . had it all together. She went away to someone with a big yard because she shredded the wood molding in a bathroom in our house and she knocked Sarah over frequently. In Roxy's defense, it was pretty easy to knock Sarah over back then--she was still hammering out the whole center-of-gravity concept. After Roxy was Spooky: the most reserved, least animated dog the world ever knew. But she would burrow under your back on the couch and snuggle for naps on the sofa.

I was thinking about them because I've been wondering what kinds of memories Tobin will have of Hannah. When I was trying to remember my dogs growing up, one thing that struck me was how short dogs' lifespans are and that losing a dog can be really difficult emotionally for a child. Allison and I talked recently about how that can be a good way to teach important lessons about life and what's really important in life. Allison and I are dog people. Even though some people have made fun of us for the way we treat her, Hannah was (and is) our first baby around the house. It will be really hard for me (hopefully a long time from now) when she dies, but I realize that I especially dread it for Tobin. The balance of that dread is the excitement I have for when he can recognize her and call her name and take her on walks and play with her and love her. She's ready for the play part now, and he's catching up quickly.

I guess the relationship between people and dogs doesn't make any logical sense. We have a four-legged animal living in our house whom we feed without asking any work from in return. She barks at our friends and family, and requires extra time and money from us that we might use elsewhere. But the relationship isn't a logical one. And really, of the things that I count most important in my life, very few would fit into Spock's pragmatic epistemology. Our relationship with Hannah is a snuggly, playful one defined by unconditional love and timely kisses. When my grandfather was ill last winter, I remember one night when I just sat on the couch and cried. Hannah, who normally sits on the other couch, jumped into my lap and licked the tears off my face until I couldn't help but smile and laugh. She didn't make the hurt go away, but I feel like she let me know in the only way she could that she wanted to help. I hope Tobin has similar experiences with his "big sister." If what I've observed so far is a true indication, I think theirs is the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
hey kids

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dad returns to work

Tobin & I are a little sad today, because Matt started work again. His students don't come back until a week from Friday, so he'll have shorter hours until then. But still. It's the start of a transition period for our family. It's the beginning of the end of our wonderful summer of nearly-constant time together. I start work in two & a half weeks (Sept. 5), at which time Tobin will start going to day care.

Although there will be some changes & possibly difficult adjustments, I would be remiss not to mention all the blessings God continues to give us. Matt is starting his fourth year teaching at a school he absolutely loves. He won't be coaching baseball this year, which he will miss but it will allow him to spend more time with Tobin & for Tobin to spend less time in day care. I will be clerking for a justice on the NC Supreme Court, which is a wonderful opportunity (& exactly what I wanted to do right out of school) & will provide more family-friendly hours than most legal jobs. Tobin is enrolling in a our first-choice day care center. That was a huge answered prayer for us, because most of the good centers we had visited had waiting lists to enroll infants. We were not expecting to be able to enroll him in a center we liked, so we had started interviewing nanny candidates. While we liked the idea of a nanny, we were worried about being able to pick the right person for Tobin. Then around the time I was taking the Bar, we got an unexpected call from the center we liked the most, telling us that a spot had opened up. I can't underscore enough how good we feel about this place. It was highly recommeded to us by a person we trust, it's less than 3 miles from our home, & the director & teachers have been nothing but impressive in our interactions with them thus far.

Naturally, neither one of us looks forward to spending so much time away from Tobin but we are thankful that, since we have to work, we both have good jobs & are able to leave Tobin with people we trust. We appreciate your love & prayers which have carried us this far & solicit your continued support as we begin this new leg in our journey as a family.

new family at the table

(I love this picture of us taken a couple of weeks ago in Kentucky. Thanks, Aunt Sarah.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

So much to see

Watching Tobin has given me a real appreciation of how amazing everyday objects can be. I wish I could remember a time when ceiling fans were absolutely the most fascinating object in the room. I can vaguely remember lying on the floor trying to track the blades of a ceiling fan on high speed, but that's a different kind of experience: one that has accepted the premise that fans are more or less everyday objects. To Tobin, the fan is a constant surprise and delight. A rough paraphrase of the look on his face is: "Wow! Look at that; it moves so fast but it stays in one place and no one has to push it and it blows breeze on my face and it's just splendid. Thank you ceiling fan for the air you move and the grace with which you do it."

In addition to the wonder of the fan, Tobin seems to have noticed his feet for the first time in the last couple of days. He has enough involuntary movement that they seem to operate independently of the rest of his body sometimes. This morning, I was holding him in a sitting position when his feet caught his eye. He was tranfixed until he would slightly lose his balance. Then his foot would twitch at the movement he had to make to correct his balance. When his foot moved, he would smile at it and his eyes would get big. Then he would stare so intently that he would lose his balance again, causing him to wobble, causing his foot to move, causing him to smile . . . and so on.

I don't wish that I could be so easily distracted by my own appendages. How would you explain that to the officer after you rear-ended another vehicle? "Sorry sir, but my left foot caught my attention and I stopped looking at the road. LOOK LOOK, it's moving again!" But I do wish that I could see things with new eyes again. There are some pretty magical things around the house that I take for granted: toilets, fans, stereo equipment, television, electric light, the microwave, books, the clothes dryer, running water. The list could go on. I envy Tobin the perspective that everything is full of wonder and new. I really look forward to hearing his explanations of where the water in the faucet comes from or why the sky is blue. I'm sure his answers will be more fun than the real ones.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

12 weeks & 3 days

I missed posting exactly on Tobin's 12-week birthday, which was this past Thursday. Twelve weeks seems a significant milestone. Most working parents are ending their maternity/paternity leave at 12 weeks. Matt & I are so blessed to have more time than that. Matt returns to work next week & I start in a little over 3 weeks. We have had a wonderful summer, NC Bar Exam notwithstanding. The last few post-Bar weeks have been especially fun, since Tobin now has two parents who can give him undivided attention. He loves to interact by cooing, gurgling, and smiling, so it's been so fun.

At 12 weeks, he continues to be very verbal & even more engaged. We were shopping at Target the other day with Tobin strapped to Matt in the BabyBjorn & I looked back at them & Tobin was tracking me. I stepped closer & smiled & his face lit up, making me feel like the MOST important person in the world. I am super lucky to have two men in my life that make me feel so special on a daily basis.

Tobin has also discovered his hands & his tongue, which he tries to get together A LOT. He loves to blow spit bubbles & stick out his toungue & then try to eat his fist. It's beyond cute, even if his dad is a bit put off by the drool. (Kidding, he's not too put off but he does feel the need to wipe it away more than I do.)

Tummy time is still more of a chore than fun. We're supposed to let him play on his tummy to develop his neck & back muscles, since he sleeps on his back. Tobin doesn't much like being on his tummy. He grunts in protest & will often just lay his head down & frown, which of course we cannot tolerate so we turn him over rather quickly. But he has made some progress & can be "tricked" into holding his head up like a little turtle if one of us puts our hands under his chest & then slowly removes them. He doesn't seem to understand that his arms can help him prop his head & chest up. He almost always puts his arms to his side & THEN tries to lift his head, which is hard for most anyone to do. It's all terribly amusing.

People frequently ask me about his schedule. For the most part, I would say it is: wake at 7, eat about every 3 hours, go to bed at 7 with one or two night wakings. But then lately he seems to be changing that. For example, he's napped more than an hour & a half past his 10am feeding. And last night, he was happy & awake until about 8:30pm. He's seemed to want to stay up later the last few nights. This is after weeks of going to bed rather consistently between 6:30 & 7:30, which was really nice because Matt & I could have dinner after he went to sleep. But I'm content to let him tinker with his schedule. He's been so easy that I can't complain. And even though he wakes at night, he's very easy to get back to sleep & is often kind enough to let Mom & Dad sleep in sometimes. It will be interesting to see how his routine goes once we start working . . .

Speaking of Tobin, he is now waking from a gigantic nap (for him, more than 2 hours) & I am sure he is a hungry boy.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Family? Tobin. Nice to Meet You

a warm welcome

You can click on the picture to see a larger version, but for those of you that don't know everyone, I'll attempt a caption:
Front row (couch) left to right: Grandma Yardley (Matt's maternal grandmother), Allison, Tobin, Matt, and Grandmother Smith (Matt's paternal grandmother).
Second row: Becca Stephens, Matt's mom, Vivian Stephens, and Britt Stephens.
Back row: Matt's dad, Ashley Hultman, Bob Hultman, Dan (Sarah's husband), Beckie Hultman, Andrea Hultman, and Sarah.
Vivian and Beckie are Matt's dad's sisters.

It felt like it had been a long time since everyone had been together, so it was fun to catch up. It was especially good to see Dan and Sarah.
We're looking forward to them being within a day's drive again. We were worried about how Tobin would do on the plane and in a new environment, but he did a good job overall, and even felt comfortable enough to express his discomfort or displeasure a couple of times. I'm can't say for sure if he did, but his parents definitely sensed the love and excitement of his extended family.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Terra Firma

We're back home. Tobin slept hard right after we got home from Kentucky on Monday. All of us were a little tired after our weekend, but it was great to see family and introduce Tobin to so many new people. Pictures and more will come soon. Among many other things, this weekend was a wonderful reminder of how blessed our family is. I wish all children were welcomed so warmly and completely into the world.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I suppose this post is a bit overdue . . . Nearly a week ago (last Wednesday), I finished the NC Bar Exam. The best part about it is that it is over. I spent 5 weeks cramming and then 12 hours actually taking the test. Quite an ordeal. Tobin spent the two days with his dad, drinking every drop of each bottle offered to him.

Speaking of Tobin's dad, there are many reasons why I am thankful for my husband. But this summer, he has been exceptionally helpful. He was my nanny/housekeeper/cook/best friend while I studied a riduculous amount of law. I quite simply could not have taken the test without him--much less avoided being miserable while doing it. He allowed me great flexibility in balancing my study time with Tobin time, all while providing constant encouragement.

Tobin and I are so blessed to have Matt.

With the exam behind me, I can spend my time doing more pleasant, more important things. What have I been doing? Mainly, hanging out with Tobin. I've indulged myself by taking a nap with him each day since the test. It's been wonderful. The next few weeks are full of family time as Tobin will take his first two plane trips to Kentucky and Florida and entertain visitors like his Mamaw Walsh (yes, her 3rd visit in as many months!) and Great Aunt Bethany. And there will be a lot of time hanging out with Dad and Mom. Life is good in the Smith home.