Nora was born on September 2, 2003, in my parents' spare bedroom in the beautiful lake community, Sunrise Beach, TX. It might well be the biggest event that ever took place in that little town! A midwife came to assist, my sister Christine caught the sweet little thing, as Philip and the big kids were enroute to the first day of school in NJ. My parents' church friends came out and prayed for days for a safe delivery. The newspaper came out after the fact and took pictures and wrote story.
It was a happy day when we got to meet Nora, but we all wished she would have come a couple of days earlier! I remember trying all the old wives tales that would supposedly bring on labor. Walked miles. Ate more jalapenos than you can count. Didn't bring on labor, but brought on the most horrid case of acid reflux I have ever experienced in my life. Sure enough, when the time was right, she made her entry. It was hard work, but not impossibly difficult. What a cutie-pie.
Five years ago seems like another world. We lived in a cute, northern NJ suburban town, in a cute little house, walked the kids a mile or so to public school and back, gardened in the little yard. When Nora was born, I had never canned a vegetable or made jam or killed a chicken (or any other animal for that matter), milked a cow or made cheese. I had used cloth diapers for 4 other kids, but didn't with her.
I remember walking past the bike store with Nora in a baby sling, toddler Rose in the flimsy stroller. We test drove the fancy over $500 double stroller. I wanted that stroller. We walked miles every week and that stroller was a dream. It had big wheels, perfect for walking, jogging, handling the ups and downs for racing with the kids. No way was I going to fork over $500 for a stroller so I decided to "let my requests be known to God." I try to take the big things and the small to my creator, and decided that we could afford around a hundred dollars. I called all the consignment stores and they assured me that they never had such a stroller for that price. I kept on walking with the little stroller and the sling and the backache, and every once in a while offered up a little prayer. One day I was in town with my mom who was visiting. Some little nudge made me decide to run over to the little shop by the train station. Right in front was the stroller of my dreams! For a hundred dollars!
Nora and I spent many hours of her baby life walking with that stroller. We would walk with Rose cuddled next to her, accompanying kids to the elementary school. We would go to the bagel shop, to the church, to the park, round the block. Later on we would drop Rose off at the little community preschool for a couple of hours. We would walk, sing and pray. Nora would sit in the stroller and gurgle and coo as I worked in the little garden in our yard, planting herbs and berries and peppers and tomatoes.
Nora spent the rest of her little baby years attached to my hip. She would nurse and cuddle on my lap during the Tuesday night ladies prayer time at our house. She would be passed around the room and cuddled by all the other ladies at our women's retreats. Thomas and Patrick, Maggie and Rose would get great joy out of making her laugh! And trying to translate her little baby noises into modern standard English.
Nora turned 2 when we moved to the farm. She really doesn't remember walks in the stroller. She hasn't cared to nurse for several years now, but she does like to cuddle on my lap. She can speak English really well, when she chooses. Nora is a little reserved, but warms up and becomes a very loyal friend. Even when she was a very little thing she liked playing with the doll house and the little toys. She makes up beautiful songs when she is all by herself. I think she will be a gifted singer. She has also been quite melodic as she plays on the piano. No lessons yet, but she will in time. She is creative and imaginative. Loves to color and draw. Her sisters taught her how to write her name and how to count this past year. She is still a bit young for kindergarten, but I think she is so clever, there is no telling what she will be learning this year.
Nora has a grateful heart. Last night we cuddled and read a story book given to her by her friends, Sophie, Boone and Meck. We talked about what fun we had at her party yesterday afternoon. Three other homeschooling friends and their families came. We ate homemade cake and icecream. We tasted several kinds of homemade pickles and salsas. The kids ran round and round, playing non-organized games while the parents chatted. Her only request was a pinata (Nora does have a sweet tooth!) The children took turns hitting it till Maggie burst it open. They ran to collect the candy and all made sure that the shy little ones got their share, too. Then off to run and play some more.
Nora told me how happy she is with our family. She loves her friends, her Dad, her Mom, her biggest brother Thomas, her big brother Patrick, her biggest sister Maggie, her big sister and roomie Rose. She told me she thinks our family is great. That was a real gift to me. I cannot imagine our life without Nora. She was a bit of a surprise. I remember being uncertain about telling Philip's mom the big news when we found out a new baby was in the picture. I guess I feared she would disapprove. On the contrary, she gave me a big smile and a blessing, saying that we were just the people she would choose to have another baby. How excited she was, and so was Philip's dad. Two months after we found out I was pregnant, they died. Nora was a wonderful gift to us. Unexpected, but ever so welcomed. We are so happy she is in our family.
Honora, named after Philip's Irish great-grandmother who came to America. Kathleen after my second mother, my mom's best friend, and now my dear friend as well. Nice long hair, happy smile, getting tall, loves to drink cow's milk and eat lots of homemade toast and jam. Happy Birthday, Nora. You are now 5. Your Jersey Mama always used to say that year 5 was the very sweetest of years. I hope that this is a very sweet year for you. We are so very glad you were born.