Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What's Up with Desmond?

I haven't written about Desmond lately because I'm constantly running to keep up with him. He's very mobile now, walking everywhere and even occasionally trying to walk backwards. Recently he's started climbing into kitchen chairs. We have more "bleeding incidents" than ever before. I'm pretty sure it's adding to my gray hairs.

My favorite part of this age is watching Desmond learn to communicate. He gets so excited when he learns and uses a new word. Some of his favorite words are: no, shoe, clock, truck, mailman, mama, dada, vovo, oh-no, uh-oh, and up (which also means "down" sometimes).

He still loves animals. Several neighbors now make a special effort to let their pets out when Desmond is around so he can play with them.

R.I.P. dear Oliver. Desmond will miss trying to ride you.

Desmond loves trucks. I'm pretty sure Christmas is already his favorite holiday only because of all the delivery trucks parading up and down our street. He's made friends with the mailmen and trash men.

"Mom, stop taking pictures and pick out a tree already!"

Helping Dad hang the lights.

At his last check-up a couple of weeks ago, Desmond stood at 35 inches! One inch short of three feet tall.

Recently Desmond started taking one nap a day. That's been another exhausting adventure for me. I'm definitely still adjusting to having him around so much more. And hopefully his molars will be in by the end of the year. That will make all three of us happier.

I wasn't ready to make all these transitions during the Christmas season when there is so much to get done, but we're rolling with the punches.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Choosing Richness

I have confession to make. Before I became a parent, I remember hearing parents gratitude for small things in life and sometimes thinking it was kind of lame...or at least kind of sad.

For instance, was life as a parent really so tough that you were thankful for a trip alone to the grocery store? Or that waking up at 8 o'clock qualified as the luxury of "sleeping in?" I sometimes thought that life as a parent must be so hard and dreary that these people had drastically lowered their standards for happiness so as not to be bummed about their life of restriction.

You could look at it that way, but I think I was missing something beautiful. The blessings children bring into life are sometimes hard to describe, but they have made my life much deeper and richer than I ever would have imagined. I will admit that life with children has many restrictions. Yet for each restriction there are five more blessings, if you choose to see them.

If you choose to see them.

Recently I've been reminded by my friend Kate N. that we must pay attention in order to see the good things of life. This is more than a psychological exercise in happiness. Choosing to see and appreciate the small joys of life is not lame nor is it lowering your standards. I believe it is a more "real" experience of life.

Having a child helped me go deeper into an attitude of gratefulness, but children are not a pre-requisite for this mentality! Any of us can choose to dwell on the easily-overlooked treasures in our lives. They are waiting to be discovered in all sorts of unexpected places.

So this season, I am thankful for sleeping in until 8 or grocery shopping alone. I'm thankful for the privilege of helping Desmond grow and learn about the world. For walking through life as Peter's friend, partner-in-crime and lover. For the richness that comes through sacrifice for others. For the easy and hard life experiences, and the obvious and hidden blessings.

I am working on choosing to see how each one makes me who I am and makes my life more rich.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deceptive Futility

As I cleaned out bits of food from the high chair for the ump-teenth time last week, I was reflecting on how futile it seemed. I would be cleaning out the same high chair again just a few hours later. Why bother?

There are a lot of things in parenting that seem futile. Repeating admonitions. "No touch." "Stay downstairs." Tackling the unending mountain of laundry. And diapers. And dishes. Did I mention the diapers?

Occasionally though, I get a glimpse of the importance of all these things.

Case in point, I get rather angry when Desmond is difficult at mealtime. I've learned to stop and take a deep breath when my frustration gets too high. Recently, I put the spoon down, closed my eyes and took a nice long breath. Feeling calmer, I opened my eyes to see Desmond smiling at me. He proceeded to take a deep breath and imitate me blowing it out slowly. We both cracked up.

I had no clue he notices those kinds of things. I'm glad he's imitating me doing that rather than throwing a spoon down. (He certainly doesn't need encouragement there!)

What else might he pick up from my daily habits? It's a reminder to persevere in tackling the dull, repetitive, "futile" parts of life with an attitude of excellence. And it's an encouragement to see them as a service to God and to little watching eyes.

(P.S. I may try to faithfully wipe down high chairs, but I still think making a bed is futile unless you live in a dorm room!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Playing in the Leaves

This is for those of you who liked the other picture book post.

Who put me in a pile of itchy leaves? This is a terrible idea!

If I keep my hands high enough, maybe I won't have to touch this rotting mess.

Hmmm, the leaves do make a nice crunchy sound...perhaps I should reconsider.

Wait, this is a lot of fun! These people might actually know what they're doing.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

New Frontiers

Desmond took his first few steps on Tuesday. He surprised me by sliding off my lap and stumbling over to his crib to get Thing 2 and then walking back to me. He has also dramatically increased the number of face-plants he does each day. Good for our little adventurer.

Sometimes when it rains it sometimes pours developmentally speaking. As I was making lunch today I turned around and saw this:

He has never successfully climbed on top of the couch before. A whole new world of "no touch" has opened up.

In other news, Peter and I are off to Dallas this weekend to see Sonia and Ian get married. We are going ALONE(!!), while Larry and Stephanie watch Desmond. This week I turned to Peter and excitedly said, "I can't wait for the flight. Four hours of reading when I want to, lingering over my drink, napping or going to the bathroom when I want to! We could even be delayed and it's not that big of a deal." Ah, how parenthood changes your outlook on life.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The World Is Too Much With Us

Something I've been thinking about lately.

The World Is Too Much With Us
by William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. —Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Indecision

Desmond thought about being a lion for Halloween.

Then he considered going as the spawn of Little Red Riding Hood.

Finally he settled on being some cool-cat Leopard.

He practiced sharing candy with Daddy.

Eventually decided that it was time to get his tail in bed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thing One, Thing Two

My dad gave Desmond a stuffed elephant when he was first born. It was originally from my dad and Sandra, but once Dad likened it to the Republican Party mascot, Sandra quickly withdrew her support. :-)

Desmond has become quite attached to the elephant. It's his security toy for sleeping. Every time he sees it, his face lights up and he races to give it a hug or kiss. It's quite cute.

I'm so grateful for something that helps him sleep well, I recently bought a back-up in case tragedy strikes. Desmond took it for a test run and found it acceptable. We may not have our life insurance situation figured out, but at least we've got a back-up elephant.

Until Des gets a competing political mascot, Republicans rule his crib.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Desmond is showing increasing interest in the world around him. He particularly loves animals. It's a lot of fun to watch his face light up when he spots a dog, cat, squirrel, bird, etc.

He's also noticing things on the walls in the house a lot more. It's fun to teach him names of different things in his room. Like fish. Or map. Or fractal.

Oh yeah, did I ever mention we had a fractal blown up into poster size and frames for his room? I think decorating the baby's room is mostly for the parents. So as we prepared for Desmond, I decided that I wanted something that I thought both Desmond and I would find interesting. There's a cool site called Zazzle where you can purchase posters of fractals.

I should probably start working on my explanation of a fractal now...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mini Books

I didn't realize Desmond's birthday cards would be gifts that kept on giving. He "re-reads" them almost every day. He gets so excited about them, I haven't had the heart to pack them away yet. I guess those keepsakes will be a little worse for the wear...but all the more loved!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Happy Thoughts - Part 2

A continuation in the Happy Thoughts series.
  1. Kisses from Desmond
  2. Sharing a good book with a friend
  3. The motion of falling leaves
  4. A good Indigo Girls' song
  5. A yellow sky before a rain
  6. Using local, in-season produce
  7. An unexpected email from a friend
  8. Remembering a dream when you wake up
  9. Freshly scrubbed kitchen floor
  10. Cooking with sharp knives
  11. Sharing beauty of Trig functions
  12. Snuggling with Peter when the weather is cold
  13. Learning about the Church thriving in places of persecution

Monday, September 28, 2009

A few weeks of fun

We've had a fantastic couple of weeks. It's impossible to sum up all the fun moments, so I'll just give you some highlights.

My sister came to visit for a long weekend. We jogged together (with Desmond), watched planes land at Gravelly Point had leisurely talks over tea. Megan and Desmond had ample time to play together.

Meg and Des share a dance.

Peter helps Des not be scared of the landing planes.

Estatic giggles.

The next weekend Molly, Furman and Grant A. came to visit. Grant is three weeks older than Desmond. For some reason, Des seemed to enjoy playing with Grant more than any other kid his age so far. They entertained each other constantly, much to their parents delight. It was fun to hear the pattering of crawling babies around the house and watch them learn new tricks from each other. Molly and I cooked and walked and talked a lot. The guys took apart and reassembled computers. The boys visited a cool playground, Clemyjontri. Other than the fact that the boys exchanged colds, it was a fantastic weekend.
Our bookish boys take a break from wrestling each other.
(I didn't know one year olds would wrestle already.)

Furman, Grant and Molly
The grown-ups pose for a photo. Desmond and Grant took a nice picture, neh?

I wished we lived closer to Megan and Molly/Furman. Distance does make the heart grow fonder, because I cherished every moment with them!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Happy Birthday Desmond

Desmond turns one year old today. We had a wonderful lunch today with some of our friends to celebrate. Jeff E. made yummy cupcakes for Des and the rest of us. Too bad Desmond is still recovering from his cold. I think he couldn't fully taste his first introduction to the amazing world of processed sugar. He seemed to enjoy all the commotion anyway.

Des thanks Jeff with a smile for the cupcake.

We enjoy a hot dog lunch.

Mom and Dad are so proud of their son.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reviewing a Year Through Books

Desmond is almost a year old. Hard to believe. One of the ways I'm remembering his first year is to look over all the books I've read. The first six months of nursing allowed me to read while Des ate. This was quite a luxury to me since I wasn't expecting to read much with a newborn around.

Despite the encouragement of my friend Kate N., I haven't started using Good Reads...yet. Until I do, here's a plain ol' text list of the books I've read in the past year. You'll see I went a bit heavy on the fiction, probably in reaction to all the pregnancy/baby books I read before Desmond arrive.

I didn't enjoy all of these books and I'm not endorsing all of them. I will say my favorites were Liar's Poker and Ender's Game.

The Haj, Leon Uris
Letters to My Younger Self, a collection of essays
The Drunkard's Walk, by Leonard Mlodinow
The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan
Chasing Fireflies, by Charles Martin
Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien
The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch
The Hidden Art of Homemaking, by Edith Schaeffer
Liar's Poker, by Michael Lewis
Foucault's Pendulum, by Umberto Echo
Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Click - What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters, by Bill Tancer
Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Girlfriends' Guide to the First Year, Vicky Iovine
Secret Believers, Brother Andrew
Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Kathleen Norris
Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
When Crickets Cry, Charles Martin
Baby Whisperer, Tracy Hogg
Happiest Baby on the Block, Harvey Karp
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - Marc Weissbluth
Babywise, Gary Ezzo
Life of Pi, Yann Martel
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Ender's Game, Scott Orson Card
Speaker for the Dead, Scott Orson Card
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter (only the first third...it's going to take me forever to finish)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Not a Poser

My friend Holly R. once told me it takes about a year to find your identity after you have your first child. I think she's right.

I love being at home with Desmond. I'm grateful that I have the option to love, teach and grow with him each day. But after some soul searching during our vacation, I realized that I miss the intellectual stimulation from being in the work force. Sparing you my deliberations and brainstorming, it suffices to say that I decided to try tutoring high school students in math. It would allow me to brush up on my math skills, make a little bit of money, and allow me to help others. My high school math teachers changed my life for the better. I would be delighted if I could help someone to like math (or at least hate it less).

So I have my first (and, at the moment, only) student to tutor! She's taking AP Calculus, we've met once, and I'm *really* enjoying myself.

I have to confess that after seven years of not doing real math, I was starting to wonder if I was a bit of a poser. I'm quick to say that I love math, but what if I couldn't do it anymore?

Also, I am notorious for learning something then quickly forgetting the details. I claim that it's my learning style. I retain the big concepts and remember where to reference the details later. But what if I couldn't actually pick up the details of calculus again?

What if I were a big poser?

But, it's coming back to me! Picking up calculus again has been like sliding on your favorite pair of old shoes that you haven't worn in a while. It fits in all the right ways and makes you remember all the places you've been together. In fact, I've had so much fun brushing up on my calculus that it's been hard to make myself do anything productive in my free time this week.

So maybe I'm not a poser after all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Thoughts - Part 1

There are a lot of things that make me happy in life. I'm trying to be more intentional about dwelling on them. As Desmond fights off his first somewhat-serious illness (not counting the NICU), it's especially good to consider the good in life.

  1. Babies or children laughing
  2. A good tickle
  3. Homemade ginger ale
  4. Clean teeth
  5. Anything daffodil
  6. Working up a good sweat
  7. My maiden name - Katharine Nicholette Knight
  8. A skirt rustling in the wind
  9. A good smelling husband (Peter is the least stinky white guy I know!)
  10. Homemade granola
  11. How my ponytail swishes against my back
  12. Fibonacci sequence
  13. Cooking with homegrown herbs

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


After time in the Outer Banks, the three of us flew down to southern Florida to visit my family in West Palm Beach and attend Peter's high school reunion in Miami.

Peter went to PACA in Brazil. I personally think there is some type of common thread that runs through most PACA kids that I've met. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it does make them special. I enjoyed hearing all the Portuguese and putting faces with names.

Everyone went on a bayside boat ride to see the amazing Miami coast and posh houses.

A few of the people at the reunion.

In West Palm Beach, we stayed with my cousin Susanne's family. They have two daughters Alexandra (6) and Julia (2.5). The girls and Desmond wore themselves out playing with each other and us. It was wonderful to see Desmond playing with his cousins, especially since that doesn't happen very often. (We never quite figured out if they are second cousins, second cousins once removed, etc. Who in the world understands all that stuff?!?)

Desmond also got to meet his great grandfather, Tom Knight. I was seriously impressed with my grandfather's ease with the baby. He's obviously practiced. :-)

Peter reads one of many stories to the kids.

Great Grandpa Knight loves on Desmond. Look at all the blue eyes!

Aunt Diane teaches Desmond to play the piano. She's got the magic touch with kids.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sand and Bailes Reunion

We've had a great time traveling on and off for the past six weeks. It's great to be home for a long stretch now!

At the end of July, Katie was in the States for a few weeks for her orientation with CRS before she headed off to East Timor for a year. Peter and I were excited to go on a vacation with her for a week before her training started.

We spent a few days in the Outer Banks before heading to Sanford to attend the 25th Bailes Family Reunion. It was particularly fun for me to share the family reunion with Katie. and see my sister Megan. Unfortunately, we were lazy with the camera at the Reunion and didn't get any photos...

Friends in Town

Last week I had the treat of watching my friend Carrie N.'s daughter Stephanie while she attended USAID training in DC. Stephanie is two months older than Desmond. They had a great time playing together, although each became jealous when I held the other.

Hats off to you moms of multiples. I'm grateful that kids develop gradually. It was quite a handful to immediately go from one toddling baby to two! Thankfully they are both sweet babies, which made things easier.

Although Stephanie is American/Congolese, I think she could pass for a sweet Brazilian baby. I couldn't resist letting her wear the bib.

Stephanie helps Desmond practice heading in case he wants to be a soccer star someday.

"Do you like my reading area Stephanie? It's my favorite spot in the house."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First in Flight

This past week was Desmond's first flight. Desmond and I flew to Charlotte where my dad met us and drove us to Asheville. We all had a blast. Desmond practiced his drunken walking while Grandpa and Gran held his arms.

He also became completely and totally infatuated with the two cats. Des would wake up from his nap babbling "gack, gack, gack" (his way of saying "cat"). Who knows, maybe someday Desmond will convince his mom and dad to get him an indoor pet. That would be a miracle. :-)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Crawling, the Pool and More

Desmond has been changing a lot recently. It's keeping me on my toes! A couple of weeks ago he started crawling. It's been rewarding to watch him exert his new-found independence. It helps us get a better feel for his personality.

We're about to embark on several weeks of travel. We'll be visiting family and friends in Asheville, the Outer Banks with Katie K., Sanford for the Bailes family reunion, and south Florida for Peter's high school reunion and more family. I'm super excited!

Desmond loves the pool. He didn't even cry when we dunked him for the first time.

"Hear me roar!"

Practicing standing.

"Show me where East Timor is again..."

Helping Dad fix the ceiling fan light.

Learning how to shovel and drop into the mouth.