arlo redding

text ✉ Red King ⇄ Arlo Striker
  • Red: hey.
  • Red: so. I've been thinking
  • Red: and I'm not even sure if this is the right thing but having someone who has seen me naked suddenly become a stranger isn't alright with me. It used to be but now it's not.
  • Red: besides I saw you the other day and I'm tired of the awkwardly avoiding you thing.
And Then He Was One.

Arlo was born a year ago today, at 3:59am. His birth will forever be one of my bravest, most powerful accomplishments. Last night I found myself retracing the places I was last year. 9:30pm - thinking I’d be pregnant forever. Midnight - my first contraction 12:30am- my water broke. 1:00am calling Kate to meet us at the birth center. I never made it to 3:59am but I woke up this morning to the most beautiful child grinning at me  and I held him close thinking of all this year has taught me.

I feel like I’ve shared a lot in the past few weeks about the relationship I have with my son and how he has dramatically and wonderfully impacted my life. Instead of writing a post today from my point of view on his birthday, I asked some very important people in his life to share a few words, a favorite memory, or a story about him on his first birthday. As you can imagine, they had a lot to say - so much, in fact, that they would fill this blog for several pages if I posted them all in full. So instead, I’m printing them out and putting them away for him to read when he gets older. I’ve pulled a favorite line or two from each of their letters to share here today:

You are THE Jordan man… live wide open, laugh out loud, love with abandon and prosper. ~ Papa Allen

I adore your happy “out loud” laughter and watching you swing your legs on the swing. We can not wait to watch you grow and climb the fort at the park. ~Mimi Mary & Gigi Peg

We cannot wait to show you and Everly the farm. We cannot wait to show you how to milk a cow and collect the chickens’ eggs and plant crooked rows of carrots and make up for a whole year apart. ~Nick & Kate


There is something about you, Arlo that is special. It is something more than your loving and happy nature. It is undefinable, and yet I know in my heart you are destined for great things! ~ BopBop Rick


My favorite moments are when I am holding you right after you give into sleep. Before I lay you down I hold you just a little longer to take in your sweet spirit and enjoy those few extra moments with you. ~Grammy Cathy

As a mother, I never thought that you could love anyone else more than your own children… Nana was wrong.  I thank God every night for the unconditional love and the new life that He has given me through all of you. ~Nana Debbie
Papa Wayne thinks you are the most awesome thing ever.  Being a physician, he smiles and says, “Arlo & I have a medical connection and I think that he feels a safeness with me” ~shared by Nana about your relationship with Papa Wayne. 

We were on a vacation in Mexico - sitting in a cyber cafe and a gchat from your mommy popped up on my screen…with news that she couldn’t hold in, of YOU! From then, to the first moment I saw your white peach fuzz covered little head, and saw that HUGE smile and those amazingly bright eyes and through the future days were we will watch you, EV, Mylah, and Benji go off to schools, jobs, loves - you’ll always be a part of our family too. You are so strong and you’ve reminded us all how precious life is. You are a magic boy, and you sir, will rule the world! All our unconditional love to you, perfect boy. ~The Gainers  
Arlo, my little magic man, i love to watch you unravel this world with excitement and wonder. i had no idea how much i desperately needed you in my life before you were born…you are every bit as full and bright in spirit as that great big moon was on that blessed night one year ago today… Im so proud of you.
~Daddy 


Happy First Birthday to our Arlo Redding! You are SO loved!

~M


'Ello Arlo!

 Arlo Redding Jordan born May 17, 2011 at 3:59am 8lbs, 5 ounces 20.5 inches long

Our divine little man decided to join us early on Tuesday morning. He came fast (I was only in active labor for about 3 hours) and on a night with the most beautiful full moon.

We’re so in love with him we hardly know what to do with ourselves. More details and photos to come but I just wanted to share our beautiful boy with you!

Love,

M

TEXT ✉ RED ⇄ ARLO
  • Red: hey
  • Red: so I just wanted to say sorry for the other night. I didn't mean to complicate things but I just wanted to say that again even if I said it while I was there.
  • Red: and I wanted to say that I have this memory of a bunny and I don't know what it's about.

Yesterday afternoon, Arlo had his first cardiologist appointment since his surgery on March 1st. We had grown accustomed to going every 6 weeks since he was born, so I knew the drill well. I strapped Arlo into the Ergo carrier, positioned his little sunglasses on his nose (he has photophobia so we are very cautious to protect his eyes from the sun) and we made our way inside.

They weighed and measured him and I was thrilled to hear that he had gained over 2 pounds since his surgery. Then we were taken to a room so that they could do an echocardiogram on his heart. Afterwards we waited for Arlo’s cardiologist to review all of the new info and come speak with us.

I already knew what this surgery had done for my son. How it had an immediate impact on his overall health. He was more active, gained weight quickly and generally just seemed to feel better since the placed a small device in his heart to plug his Patent Ductus Arteriosis, but I wasn’t prepared for how it would effect me to hear his doctor tell me the same.

“Melissa” he said. “Arlo’s heart is perfect now. Everything looks beautiful.” He told me that Arlo would require no additional monitoring except for a protocol visit once a year for the next few years. He said that as Arlo grew and took interest in sports or other physical activities, we could rest assured that his heart held no additional risks or concerns from his heart defect. My eyes filled with tears as we stood to leave. “Thank you for taking such good care of my son,” I said, “You have impacted his life in a huge way. I know he’ll never remember you or this experience, but I will never forget it.” We shook hands and said, “See you next year!”

I made it all the way to the car before I broke down. Before I could even get Arlo out of the Ergo carrier, I was sobbing. I called Brent. “Baby, what’s wrong?” he asked, his voice full of concern. “Nothing in the world.” I said through my tears “He said his heart was perfect, Brent. Perfect. We don’t have to worry about it anymore.” We both had known in our hearts that the surgery and his recovery had been picture perfect but to hear his doctor confirm it- To hear him say that the procedure had completely healed him, felt incredible.

Arlo will never remember this part of his story but he will have these blog posts to come back to and read about. So should you find this entry one day, my sweet boy - my precious Arlo, know that it was momentous day for us. Yesterday we gratefully closed a chapter on a challenge in your young life and now we turn the page to a new one:

Chapter 2: The Brave Little Boy With A Perfect Heart.

Here’s to wide open boyhood, my darling!

Love,

M

vimeo

They warm my heart through and through.

Song: Households by Sleeping At Last

Love,

M

Final Countdown: 0 weeks to Arlo

FORTY WEEKS-WHAT THE HECK?!?!?  I really did think our little fella would be here by now - but I’ve also felt like he’s done a ton of growing this week. Clearly he’s taking full advantage of this extra baking time to pack on some good baby chub before he makes his way into the world.

I fluctuate between feeling really wonderful, completely content and totally happy to wait as long as he wants - and being miserably uncomfortable, frustrated and willing to do anything to get him out RIGHT.THIS.MINUTE. Remember when I said I’d learned patience with parenthood? Apparently I haven’t learned enough.

At my appointment yesterday, I’d gained 3 pounds since last week. My midwife also asked to check to see if I was dilated based on the fact that I was completely full term and had a fairly quick labor with Everly. She wanted to know if my body was making progress - and sure enough - I’m already walking around 3 and half centimeters dilated right now! She also said she felt his head (SHE FELT HIS HEAD, PEOPLE!) I’m not having a ton of braxton hicks contractions like I did with Everly but I feel loads and loads of pressure (something I never really felt with her). What does this all mean?!?! Will I go into labor tonight? Next week? WILL I BE PREGNANT FOREVER?

On another note - I have no interest in even hearing the words “induction” until I’m staring 42 weeks in the face. Unfortunately, there are no natural guaranteed ways to start labor and breaking my water or using chemicals to induce labor will just put me at a greater risk for requiring more interventions and lessens my chance of having then natural birth experience that I want. So, we wait. and walk. and bounce on a birth ball. and eat spicy food. and try every other non-invasive way you could think to induce labor including playing soccer, doing lunges in my living room and eating 4 whole pineapples (may I never have to eat another pineapple in my life!)

Lace shrug: Vintage

Tank: Forever21

Skirt: Urban Outfitters

Love,

Melissa

Louder than a lion

I’ve been bragging on my boy all weekend. After many months of weekly sessions, Arlo’s speech therapist said on Friday that she’s going to recommend discontinuing all services after the holidays. She feels that he is completely caught up and on par with his peers.

Our experience with early intervention services has been so wonderful. We’ve had the great fortune of getting to know and saying goodbye to both a vision and speech therapist over the past two years. There is nothing quite as wonderful as hearing them say, “Your son no longer needs us.”

Now excuse me, while I pick this boy up and do a celebratory dance around our living room to Katie Perry’s “Roar”.

Love,

M

Hi there.

I feel as if I should write something as I’ve been quiet the past few days. Arlo is still savoring his time in my belly and truthfully, we’ve all been a bit stir crazy waiting for him. I haven’t felt much inspiration to write and I’ve been trying to make the most of these days by spending them with my little family.

We’ve walked our neighborhood over a dozen times and worn a new path to the greenway and park across the street. At this point, I’m making up completely frivalous things to put on my pre baby to-do list like:

45. Must paint toe nails bright red.

46. Organize closet and bring down summer shoes from the attic.

And then I convince myself that he’s not here yet because I haven’t done these things. Then I do them, and there’s still no sign of labor starting any time soon and I have to create number 47 and 48 on my list.

I am going to do my best to blog as usual this coming week but if I go quiet and you’re wondering just what might be going on, feel free to visit me over on twitter. The pressure to write is much less when you’ve only got 140 characters to fill.

Thank you all so much for the comments, advice and sharing your own stories with me. I’ve found so much encouragement in your words. It’s a pretty incredible feeling to know that so many of you are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our little boy too.

Perhaps tomorrow is our big day. and if not, I’m pretty sure it’s because I haven’t accomplished number 47 on my list, vacuum out the floorboards of my car.

That surely must be the thing he’s waiting on.

With love,

M

Something to Celebrate

This morning in our kitchen, taking his last dose and “pounding it” with daddy

For the past 602 days, my son has required some form of oral medication. It started when he was ten days old and was diagnosed with a pretty severe case of reflux. Because he was losing weight and unable to keep breast milk down, his pediatrician prescribed his first medication. I remember it feeling so incredibly wrong to be giving my tiny, infant son a chemical substance. I hated the way the smell of it interfered with his delicious, natural, new smell - but it was necessary and we would have done anything to keep him comfortable and growing. We tried dozens of other suggestions and I cut out many foods from my diet, but nothing but the medicine seemed to have any real impact.

At six months old, he was put on medication to try to control the extra fluid caused by the hole in his heart. His cardiologist prescribed it in an effort to hopefully help his heart work more efficiently, help him gain weight and try to give him a little extra energy.  There were a few times when he had an ear infection that it felt like we were squirting a syringe full of some substance in his mouth every few hours for weeks at a time. 

His catheterization procedure allowed us to immediately end his heart meds and I remember how happy I was to hand the remaining dosage over to the nurse before we checked out of the hospital last February. But every few months, he would outgrow his reflux dosage and we’d have to up it and give him more and more. Eventually the reflux meds stopped working all together and we had to switch to a different one that required constant refrigeration and a drive to a pharmacy on the other side of town who could fill a compounded prescription. We never went anywhere overnight without our trusty cooler packed with ice, a couple syringes and his prescription bottle.

Most babies outgrow their reflux by the time they begin to sit up on their own and start solids, but every time we tried to wean Arlo off of his, his reflux would cause him to cough for hours and cry and arch his body in pain. He was eighteen months old before we were able to get him down to one dose a day and then slowly over the past few months we have given him less and less, watching him closely for any signs of discomfort. A week and a half ago, he took his last dose and has not had any reflux symptoms. We have rejoiced at this accomplishment! Finally!  But an overlapping ear infection has meant that he has still had to take amoxicillin every day since that final dose. 

Arlo does not think twice about taking medicine. It’s just part of his life experience. He never protests or refuses, but today we gave him his last dose of amoxicillin. Tomorrow, when he wakes up, there will be no syringe to fill.  At bedtime, no check and double check between Brent and I that one of us has given him his dose. 

This is a day of celebration for our son. Another step towards total health. We know that he will surely have to take medicine for one reason another as he grows, but the daily task of it is over for us now.  We are so thankful to find ourselves here. I will always be grateful for the roles these medicines have played in aiding our son as he has had health challenges, but we are happy to see them go. 

Love,

M

Oh, for the love of this little boy. With blonde curls that render my heart useless. Whose best friends are a stuffed monkey, a yellow dump truck and his big sister.  Who lives life to his own tune both literally and figuratively. Who possesses a natural affection for animals. Who thinks nothing of scraped knees and bug bites. Who can go from serious to hysterically laughing with only a few well timed, funny noises made by his mother.

Arlo, you are my skinny legged, blue eyed, happiness.

Love,

M

A story (as told by Brent)

“I forgot to tell you! Arlo loves Seinfeld! I was flipping through the channels and Arlo comes in and I stop on Seinfeld for a minute then start channel surfing and he says "Go back! Go back!” And so I go back to Seinfeld and it’s the episode where Kramer is obsessed with the chicken at Kenny Roger’s Roasters. You know that episode? Anyway Arlo is watching intently and I tried to change the channel again and he starts yelling, “Go back to the chicken show!” He loved it! He loves Seinfeld! He watched the whole thing!“

I think I laughed for a solid minute. Also, further proof my son is an old soul.

Five Awesome Things...

Five Awesome Things About Arlo at 2 years, 11 months. 

1. You are the most affectionate kid. Over and over all day long you love to say, “Mommy, I love you” or “You the best mommy!” and you tell daddy and Everly the same thing too. You will stop playing, run over and hug us, and then hurry back to whatever you were doing. 

2. You have become completely obsessed with super heroes. After a solid year of a cars and trucks love affair, you’ve traded them all for action figures.  You love Iron Man the most, followed by Spider Man, The Incredible Hulk and Bat Man. You just discovered Captain America so there has been a lot of talk about him lately too. You can’t get enough and love watching the young superheros shows on Netflix or running around our house in a cape, fighting crime and saving us all from bad guys. Daddy reads you superhero comics from the library and you sit there, enthralled with all of the details of each character. 

3. I find this hilarious, but you can not stand for your hands to be dirty. Your face can be covered in food but you will ask for a napkin almost immediately when we start eating and insist on wiping your hands whenever you get anything on them. I find you in the bathroom all of the time, standing on the toilet lid, playing in the water. You will often look up when caught and say, “I washin’ my hands!”. You literally could be covered head to toe in mud, but as long as your hands are clean, you are good to go. 

4. You are really into singing Old MacDonald right now. Except you like to freestyle and come up with new lyrics. According to you, Old MacDonald had some friend, had to poop, and ate a chicken on his farm recently. You love to laugh hysterically at your silly lyrics. 

5. A few months ago, you went through a stage where you were stuttering a lot. You would get really frustrated when you were hung up on the first word in a sentence. I called your pediatrician and she suspected that you were just working through a big verbal milestone. Sure enough, a few weeks later your stuttering lessened significantly and you started using bigger words and sharing more complex ideas with us. I have really loved watching you develop your language skills, Arlo. It hasn’t always come easy to you but you work so hard and always wow us with your determination.

 5 Awesome Things about Everly at 4 years, 3 months

1. You are the best dancer ever. I am not saying that because I am your mother, even though I fully admit to being biased. You just move in this incredibly weird, amazing, soulful way. I could sit and watch you move to music for hours and I often do. We have you in ballet right now, but I don’t care if you ever decide you want to go the classically trained route. I just hope you never ever stop listening to whatever it is inside you that takes over when you are dancing. It is so pure and true and wonderful. 

2. You are growing into such a wonderful companion. We spend a lot of time together each week just running errands and bopping around town. You are so easy to be with and I love having you along because you listen well and behave yourself. You are four years old and to this day, I can say that you have never had a public tantrum. Never once. You’ve definitely had some monster meltdowns in the car or at home, but bless your heart, you’ve spared me in public. I never hesitate to bring you along because I always enjoy having you there with me. 

3. You are really absorbing so much around you. We have intentionally waited to start any kind of formal education with you and have focused on exposing you to creative, free play as long as possible. Despite that, you’ve learned to write your name, your brothers name, and many letters and words on your own. You love to use words like “similar” and “hilarious” when you describe things. Last week you asked me a question and I answered with “potentially”. You asked what that meant and I explained. That night I asked you to please join us for dinner and you responded, “I will potentially be there after I’m done playing with my babies.” I had a good laugh, even if I didn’t like your answer. 

4. You are obsessed with your birthday. It’s a joke between your father and I now, because you bring it up several times a day. Usually you like to tell us what your next birthday party is going to be like, but sometimes you tell us who you want us to invite or what kind of cake you plan to have. You always know whose birthday is coming next in our family and you remind them for weeks leading up to it. 

5. You are still my fierce and fiery girl, but as you have transitioned into four, that crazy emotion of three feels like it is lessening with each passing day. Good gracious three was crazy! But I can really see you maturing emotionally and you’re ability to recognize your feelings and express yourself continues to grow. It’s hard sometimes, when it feels like you are running head first into the boundaries we set - but you make choices and do little things all of the time that remind us that you are growing up to be a phenomenal girl. 

The Impact of His Existence.

(Arlo, in a little romper our friend Lia brought him from Spain last year. I’ve run my hands over it a dozen times as it hung in his closet, eagerly awaiting the day it would fit.)

I’m having a really hard time with getting my head around the fact that Arlo turns a year old next month. I have a lot to say about his milestone of turning one, but have yet to give myself the opportunity to sit down and let the force that comes with releasing the emotional dam overtake me. I knew my life would never be the same after the birth of Everly, my firstborn.  I assumed a second baby would just build on what I had already learned.

I never anticipated that this sweet, blue eyed, little boy would knock me back down to my foundation. That I would have to learn everything differently and all over again. That parenting him would force me to re-evaluate and redefine everything I thought I knew about love and patience and being a mother. Everything about him has been unexpected and wondrous.

Less than one month is left until the anniversary of our first meeting. A few fleeting weeks of textbook babyhood remain and I find myself digging my heels into the core of this experience-  Trying to slow the train before we head into our next adventure. Arlo has proven to be one of God’s most impactful tools for learning in my life. His lessons unavoidable and shockingly beautiful.

Love,

M

Final Countdown: 5 weeks to Arlo

I am officially uncomfortable. It seems this little mister has decided to settle down further in my hips and back and all of a sudden POW! I feel like a legit pregnant woman. It came on so suddenly this week but I can’t get comfortable, my hips and pelvis feel so ache-y and sore all of the time now.  I’m also having fairly regular braxton hicks contractions and overall I can just feel my body really starting to loosen and prepare for the fact that this little boy will be making his entrance into the world soon.

I had a fantastic midwife appointment yesterday - everytime I leave I have the biggest smile plastered across my face. The midwives at my practice are so informed, so encouraging, so patient - I feel like it’s a medical appointment and a therapy session all in one. As of yesterday, I’ve actually LOST a pound - that makes my total weight gain 22 pounds. My belly is also measuring two weeks smaller again. Both of those factors combined are concerning to me but they assure me that some women just fluctuate in weight and that Arlo’s position in my belly could be to blame for why I’m measuring small. I’ve got weekly appointments from here until my due date so that we can monitor things closely.

Brent and I have been given homework to sit down and map out our birth plan this week. Because the birth center already follows most of my most important birthing wishes as standard protocol I sort of felt like one wasn’t necessary this go round - but they’ve asked us to think about the fact that we’ll be having a water birth this time - Does Brent want to catch Arlo when he is born? Would he rather be behind me in the tub supporting me while I push? We’ve got some decisions to make!

Dress: Vintage, ebay find.

Love,

M

vimeo

Bubble Wrap.

A large box arrived yesterday and wrapped around my purchase was a ton of bubble wrap. Brent was off picking Everly up from preschool, so I got the idea to set her up a little surprise when she came home.

When she walked through the door, I told her we were going to do something fun and instructed her to put on her cowboy boots (which she adorably put on the wrong feet), then we let her loose! Daddy and Arlo joined in on the fun too. It was over as quickly as it had started, but there is nothing like introducing your kids to a little free fun!

Happy Friday.

Love,

M

Song: An Animal A Natural by Bella Ruse

The Art of Eating Cheerios.

It sounds silly, I know, but I love to watch my son eat cereal in the morning. I am amused by the way he carefully pulls the bowl full of milk and cheerios close to his body, lowers his spoon gently, and brings it to his mouth. He is measured, taking care not to spill a drop.

I think about his sister at this age, how I could never leave her alone with a meal such as this as it surely would have ended up across her tray and lap. But my Arlo, he is a conscientious little eater. He revels in the task of stabbing chicken with a fork or scooping yogurt onto his spoon. It is a process. Meal time is a pleasing ritual for him.

He will sit happily with a bowl of cereal in front of him for almost thirty minutes, chasing each little O around the bowl with his plastic utensil. And then, the grande finale… with eyes that flicker with anticipation, he will lift the bowl carefully to his lips and drink the remaining milk.

Lowering the bowl again, and milk dribbling from his chin, he never fails to smack his lips and let out an “Ahhhhh!"  (His father taught him this)

It’s a small, seemingly trivial event in the goings on of our day but it brings me so much joy to watch the care and attention he puts into savouring and enjoying a meal. If this was (and I suppose it is) an entry in his baby book, I would write

Arlo

You are 18 months old.  I sat backwards in a chair in our living room on Sunday morning and watched you eat your cereal for twenty minutes with such enjoyment. You savoured every bite, careful not to waste any of it. You have discovered how to find pleasure in the ordinary and in those moments, you are teaching me to do the same. I love these lessons and I love you. Milk mustaches forever.

Love,

Mama