Friday, December 31, 2010

Flashback Friday: National Ski's Christmas Card Flashback

The Ski's are coming to town this weekend to celebrate Christmas and feast on a B.B. In honor of this delayed jubilation, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane through a history of Ski Family Christmas Cards.

Mary and I are wearing complimenting Christmas outfits complete with renessaisance arm sleeves. It is really too bad my hair peaked at six. Mary's hair could really only go up from here.
Or maybe not. That is one hot bowl cut, Mary. Mary is just precious and I am wearing stick on earrings and a headband.
My hair peaked in beauty at six, but did not peak in height. I must have been channeling Little House on the Prairie here. It really complemented my permed bangs. Do you think anyone recognized the background from a few Christmas cards ago?

The lace collars at least distracted you from the giant bow on Mary's head. Or maybe it was the two-dimensional fireplace?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What We Learned: 2 Months

It's hard to admit that everyday isn't rainbows and sunshine and it's hard not to compare one child to the next. But things get better and better each day. Sure, there are days that we take a step or two backward. One night he is a good sleeper and the next night he seems to have forgotten how. One day he naps in the car and the next day just strapping him into his carseat he screams bloody murder. But with each step and each day forward we learn something new.

Bennett learned how to sneeze milk through his nose. I'm sure it'll be a good party trick one day.

We learned that ceiling fans make for good toys.

Bennett learned to sleep through the night. Last night, he went from 8:30 until 4, and slept through til 9. He may not be consistent, but I'll take what I can get.

We learned to eat quick.

Bennett learned that he doesn't have a limited number of smiles to give away each day. He can smile as many times as he deems appropriate, or as many smiles as raspberries on the belly emit.

I learned that cardigans are a new mom's best friend.

Bennett learned to coo.

We learned that parent's don't need to shop for a baby's first Christmas. People love babies.

Bennett learned that laying on his back makes him happy.

Atticus learned to hold it.

Bennett learned to stay quiet through dinner. On occassion.

We learned that attending church with a newborn requires more stand, sit, kneel than a Catholic mass.

I learned Bennett makes me happy even when the skies are grey.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Twas Bennett's First Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when in our little house
Only one creature was stirring, and it wasn't a mouse.

The child was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of Atticus danced in his head.

Bennett was dressed in an outfit from Mella, and socks from June on his foot,
And on Christmas Day his clothes from Ami,
...he was given quite a pile of loot
A baby bundle wrapped in a blanket from Aubrey,
And he looked like an elf in the hat from Amber.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And his first Christmas brought a sprinkling of snow.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!

Our first holiday season as a little family we wish you,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Flashback Friday: My Rock

Poor Rocky has to share his birthday with Christmas and Flashback Friday. If he weren't married to a hot dame like me, he'd think life wasn't fair.

This is our ninth Christmas season together. In 2002, he'd suggested back in October coming to visit me during Christmas break. You knew the kid was serious about me when he volunteered to travel to Minnesota in December. I thought he was joking, but the seven days he spent with me, my friends and my family was when my eyes finally opened wide enough to realize what a lucky girl I was to have him chasing after me.
I think I can pinpoint it to the exact day, January 1, 2003. I had come down with a nasty cold and spent the day napping. Meanwhile, Rocky kept busy helping my sister with her poetry homework and a Seventh Heaven marathon. They had just met and yet it was obvious he fit right in with my family. Or maybe it was just obvious he had bad taste in television.
Chandni made a joke once, "The only thing stable in your life is Rocky." Hardy har har. But oh so true. When I was laid up with a busted knee, stressed about my boss's retirement, missing my family, exhausted from pregnancy, or in need of an honest wardrobe assessment, he's always been there. He tells me I'm good at what I do, even when I know he's nuts or biased, or both.
Now, we're in the thick of the transition to parenthood and I can't imagine a better partner. He changes diapers, takes the morning shift and does the laundry. He's the stable hand when I'm paranoid about a baby's bump. He's the stable support when I fear Bennett will know his babysitter better than he knows me. He's the stable sound of reason when I'm worried my child will be too short or too tall or an axe murderer.

Bennett, Atticus and I are all very lucky to have this Rock around.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flashback Friday: Away in a Manger

...there was an angel with dangly earrings and a halo made of tinsel. You would also find a Mary who had a headwrap conveniently pinned to her blue frock, undoubtedly hiding bad hair and funky footwear.

Every year, my mom brought us to church the Saturday before Christmas for the pagent rehearsal. I had been an angel for six straight Christmases, and I was thrilled to do it again. Apparently, I was the only seventh grader who still wanted to sit on the altar and smile in their halo made of tinsel. I may have felt too cool for Girl Scouts, but I was not too cool for a good Christmas pagent.

The church lady approached me and asked if I was interested in playing the role of Mary. I had been waiting patiently every year and had no idea this would be my big break. Christmas Eve 1995, I sat in front of a couple thousand parishoners and consoled the Cabbage Patch Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. My friend Dan played Joseph and my cousin Sean wore a towel on his head as one of the dozens of shepherd boys.

Of course, the big disappointment of playing the part meant it was time for me to retire from the pagent. You wouldn't know it from the other Mary's big grin, but she was glad this would be her last year too. She knew that no self-respecting fourth grader would want to spend her Saturday morning trying on halos.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Photo Tribute to B.B.'s Hair

Glorious Hair!

How young is too young for a haircut?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep

Those are some beautiful peepers, just not at 4 am.

After several nights of no sleep, I was mentally drafting a post about the frustrations that come with a newborn. Our nerves were frazzled. Our house was a mess. We couldn't remember if we had put soap in the washing machine, fed the dog, or paid the gas bill. Right when I was hitting my tipping point, Bennett gave me a good night.

If I thought I had been given a lot of advice when I was pregnant, being a new mom brought even more insight from friends, family and the lady in the Nordstroms restroom. I had been told that you should start to see improvement in the nighttime feedings at around six weeks. For 40 days I woke up to feed, change and rock baby Bennett to sleep every hour or every other hour. Then, at five weeks and six days he made it through the night only waking up twice. I woke up the next day feeling like a new woman. I had had six hours of sleep! The next night he did it again, even waking up at the same times. It felt like we were finding our new rhythm and perhaps making our new schedule.

Then came four nights of hell. He was up again every hour. He hadn't done that since he was two weeks old. Sometimes he'd wake up, eat and fall right back to sleep. Then, he'd be wide awake at 2, 3, and 4. I was whining to anyone who would listen. Should we feed every hour before bedtime? Should I take him on walks to get afternoon sunshine? Should we swaddle him differently? Should we wake him up from long daytime naps? Should I resort to drastic measures like breaking my addiction to chocolate? If I had to do that at Christmastime, the kid better mention me in his Oscar acceptance speech perhaps or name me an ambassador to a Carribbean island.

If I have learned anything over the past 46 days it is that babies are unpredictable. We did nothing differently last night and guess who only woke up only twice between? He was back on the same schedule he was last week. I would like to think we are turning a corner. Maybe it was a Tuesday night accident. Maybe it won't happen again for weeks. I will just be grateful for those nights when it does. Even when he has had a frustrating wakeful night, he smiles back with that dimpled grin and kicks his feet. It could almost make a woman stop asking strangers for advice.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Flashback Friday: Pretty in Pink

The 1980s were a decade of fashion excess, big hair, big shoulder pads, and lots of fur. Even at the tender age of six, I was onboard with the trend. It may have been the only time in my life I was a fashionista.

It is difficult to tell from the picture, but I am holding the most beautiful faux pink coat that ever never lived. It had a beautiful hood and a matching muff. I was quite the fashion plate when I went to the Plaza for tea, the Waldorf for champagne, and the kitchen counter for some juice. But the excess didn't end there. That same Christmas, I was also given a black fur short zip-up jacket for casual occassions, like sledding with Joan Collins or making snowmen with Big Bird.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sisters, Sisters

Sisters, sisters, sisters. There were never such devoted sisters.

We had such a wonderful week. There was lots of baby time, lots of quality sister time, and lots of 'tis the season time. It was the first time Aunt Mary met baby Bennett. She was in love at first sight. Who could blame her?

Rocky's firm Christmas party happened to fall during Mary's visit. It was a very good opportunity for Rocky and I to try going out, just the two of us. It worked. More or less. Rocky enjoyed a night on the town. Bennett came through with flying colors. Mary survived a few hours of fuss. I checked my phone every ten minutes, living on baby talk the whole time, and I wasn't even the instigator. It was my first time out as a mom, and that is all people cared to know. Good thing I had Mary at home to discuss politics, prose and celebrity gossip.
During her visit, there was lots of celebrating Bennett's first Christmas season, and lots of posing in front of Christmas trees. We braved Arctic temperatures and went to the White House Christmas tree downtown. It was a good thing the hats from Carrie arrived just in time.
Then we set up Bennett's first tree. He may have inherited Rocky's nose, but he inherited my spoiled gene. He already has two very special "First Christmas" ornaments on the tree, including one from London. Let's just hope he doesn't also inherit the inability to choose normal footwear.

It was extra nice to have Mary here to give us an extra set of hands for a very special outing, Bennett's first trip to see Santa. Hopefully, I am not giving every responsible mother a coronary admitting that I took my five week old to see Kris Kringle during cold and flu season. I would like to think I am getting more laid back, but then again, I bought my child a special outfit for a five second photo session. I'd have to say it was a successful visit and Saint Nick even added Bennett to the Nice List.
Despite the decorating, the celebrating, and the Santa-ing, Mary is having trouble getting into the spirit without the snow, snow, snow. It is a good thing she has an extra week to end the Bah Humbug streak since we're celebrating our family Christmas on New Years. Just four weeks until we're all together again. Until then, I'll be dreaming of a very Ski Christmas.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Flashback Friday: Family Friends

Growing up, we spent a lot of time socializing with my parent's friend's children. Our parents worked together, were old classmates and neighbors. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve mundane activities like backyard barbecues, Christmas caroling, Miss America pageants and sleigh rides. Then there are some of the more memorable events, like the 1986 World Series Parade and vacations together to exotic locales in Duluth and Door County.

They were my babysitters and my friends. When I was a sixth grader, I learned Christine made the National Honor Society; I made a mental note to figure out what that was and do it myself. Carrie played the role of Maria in the Sound of Music, and I wanted to be in school plays too. If I knew Elyssa was going to jump off a bridge, I'd do the same. I don't think of myself as a lemming, but I was surrounded by a lot of awesome girls who acted as the perfect role models.

My mom's coworker's daughter eventually became my best friend. The first time I ever met Anne was at the Pizza Factory in New Brighton. I remember being introduced and eyeing the girl and thinking my mom was nuts if I'd walk up to a stranger at our new middle school. It was years later that we became friends without our parents' influence.

We have a pretty great group of close friends here. It is neat to know that our children could eventually become the friends and role models to Bennett that I grew up with. Bennett being one of the first babies will probably also grow into some of their role models too. I just hope he isn't jumping off any bridges.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mama Mia

I stole Mary for Mom's birthday and I stole her for a whole week. My sister and I are both lucky to have a special relationship with our mother. I think it developed out of mom getting stuck with the crappy parenting duties: the science projects, the doctor appointments, the trips to Target, shopping trips for school play costumes and making our lunches. How could you not become friends when you were spending hours upon hours a week doing the dirty work?

Being a mom myself, I wonder if it is possible for a mother to have the same kind of relationship with her son. I suppose I won't be taking Bennett prom dress shopping, to the Nutcracker ballet, or to Walnut Grove for Little House on the Prairie re-enactments. I just have to cram all the motherly bonding into a shorter timeframe while Bennett isn't embarrassed to be with his mom. That's why we dance to Nelly during Ellen. And that's why I am so thankful for Ellen, mother-son bonding led to the discovery of our shared love for Nelly.

Maybe the tough, everyday stuff is what makes a mother in the first place. Maybe it isn't the sentimental, once in a lifetime moments. Maybe it is just the temperature taking, baking of the school treats, checking his homework, and washing the stinky football uniforms. That's ok too because whether my mom knew it or not, that is what she was so very good at. And that's what we remember on mom's birthday. Love you mom!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What we learned: 1 Month

Bennett is one month old today. Not to brag, but I would like to give my family a gold star for surviving this first month of getting to know one another. Running on little sleep, the inability to control limbs, and as ignorant first time parents, I'd have to say we didn't do too bad. In the past 31 days, the three of us have come a long way and we've learned a great deal, not least of which there are a lot of outtakes before you find the right one.

Bennett learned to turn his head.
Rocky learned not to drop the baby.

I learned how to do the laundry, answer emails, make lunch and clean the bathroom one handed.

Bennett learned that it is in fact possible to be awake and not cry.
Rocky learned that Bennett's hunger cry sounds like hung-gee.

I learned how to live on 4 hours of sleep.

Bennett learned how to use a pacifier.
Rocky learned sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

I learned that a successful trip out must include a pacifier, cell phone, keys, and ooh, the baby.

Bennett learned that being naked can be liberating.
Rocky learned to never leave a baby without a diaper for longer than half a second.

I learned that sometimes it is necessary to change your clothes and your baby's clothes twice in an hour.

Bennett learned to make eye contact.
Rocky learned the value of paternity leave. He didn't have to miss a sneeze, a hiccup or a squawk.

I learned that this is hard work. As he outgrows his pj's, his socks, and his diapers that as hard as this is, the good stuff passes just as fast as the hard.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Flashback Friday: Recount

Bennett's Mimi King wants a recount. She disagrees with Grandma Ski that he looks more like me. He has her nose. He has Big Rock's forehead. He has short legs and a long torso like all the King men. According to her, I only passed on recessive traits.

Exhibit A, Baby Rocky at 4 weeks.
Exhibit B, Baby Bennett on his 4 week birfday.
And for a recount in the bonus round, what is a toboggan, a sled or a cap?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am a worry wart. I stress the small stuff. I dwell on the past and wish I could go back and do things differently. This Thanksgiving I have too much to be thankful for to let anything rain on my parade. I have a healthy baby boy and I am one lucky mom. I know too many people want the job of being a mother and there are factors outside of their control that prevent them from doing so. As my baby sleeps by my side, I know that I have more to be thankful for than I could ever express. But it is worth a shot.

I am thankful for the people who read my silly blog. I needed an outlet outside of work and a way to keep in touch with my friends and family. I had no idea other people would find my dribble so entertaining. Thank you.

I am thankful for our neighbors. We have had people bring dinner, offer to walk Atticus, and people just drop in to see how I'm doing while Rocky's at work. In a city full of transplants with busy careers, I am thankful for finding a little slice of normal.

I am thankful for Ellen. At that time of day when I might really get stir crazy, she totally pulls through. However, I am not thankful for the test of the emergency broadcast system or the power company technician with the bad timing.

I am thankful for our friends. I have never felt so loved and cared for as I have over the past month. From bringing dinners, emailing just to check in, flowers, cards and gifts for Bennett. My cup runneth over.

I am thankful for Atticus. He has been so good with Bennett. We'll eventually have to do something to break his obsession with the pacifier, but at least he has been very gentle with the baby. And I think Atticus would say he is grateful for Bennett's very lickable feet.

I am thankful for the hours I get to spend with Bennett in the middle of the night when he is curled up in my neck falling asleep. His skin is so soft and he smells so good.

I am thankful for our parents. Rocky's mom will call just to check in when she gets home from work and my dad will send random texts for baby updates. They may be far away, but we are all compensating for the distance with high cell phone bills.

I am thankful for another of Bennett's nicknames, Benny and the Jets. It proves all systems are a go.

I am thankful for Rocky's new job. He was able to take two weeks off of work to get us all adjusted to being a family of three. He is also home at a reasonable hour, and can take his time getting to the office. It is such a blessing to have him rescue me at the end of a long day.

I am thankful for Rocky. He was always a good husband, but he has been such an amazing partner through these early weeks of parenthood. There is actually an equal division in labor in our house these days, or at least as even steven as they can be. He will wake up with Bennett when he won't go back to sleep after his 5 am feeding, takes over diaper changes when he's home, is so gentle with the baths, the wardrobe changes and giving him that signature come over. I don't know how I got so lucky.

I am so thankful for this feeling of love and good fortune. I have been given this amazing gift that has brought me this moment in my life that feels like things couldn't be any sweeter. I hope I don't take it for granted and wish it away when I am frustrated and tired. I am just thankful that I get to spend this holiday season surrounded by love, hope and sappiness.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: Show and Tell Cowboy

I'm a city girl married to a bonafide country boy. Sure, he may be a litigator in one of the largest legal markets in the country. He might spend his weekends golfing at country clubs. He may like to shop at Brooks Brothers and Nordstroms. But when you bring a cow to "take your pet to school day," you'll never be anything but a country boy.

Rocky had to be the most popular kid at school that day. I almost feel sorry for those other kids who brought their labradors and schnauzers. Maybe Bennett can borrow #459 one day so he won't be embarrassed showing up with Atticus.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Selective Memory

Three weeks ago today I went into labor. It may be a cliche, but it is amazing to me how much he has changed and how much Rocky and I have changed. Somewhere along the line, our memories seem to have changed along with it. You hear that if it were not for selective memories of labor and delivery, women would only have one child. Everyone's experience is different and I am sure many women can't shake the memory, no matter how hard they try.

Just 20 days into parenthood, I'd have to say we already display the symptoms of selective memory. Rocky came in to check on me and the baby and as he turned to leave, he looked at me and said, "we have to do this again." Bennett was only a couple of days old. I was still tired and shaky from the birth, but I have to admit that I agreed with him wholeheartedly. With our sleepy bundle still groggy from the birth, how could we not want another? I think Rocky was even further convinced when I discovered that I could already button my favorite jeans.

We might already be blocking out the icky and painful parts of Bennett's birth, but I really do not want to forget the good stuff.

I learned that Rocky does a mean Ricky Ricardo impersonation. I had a couple contractions just after getting in bed. Rocky had instantly fallen asleep, so when he got up to go to the bathroom an hour later and I told him I thought I was having contractions, he screamed out "contractions?" Apparently in high stress situations, he does a very good Mrs. Lucy. Of course, he went right back to bed and fell back to sleep.

I discovered that we didn't have a bathtub plug at 4 in the morning. I wanted to cry.

I was pacing in the living room waiting for Rocky to take me to the hospital. I about exploded when I heard him MOVING FURNITURE upstairs.

Rocky forgot about the temporary parking for dad's and disappeared for twenty minutes to park while the security guard watched me pace the hall and frantically dial Rocky's cell phone. Guess who is operating better with the lack of sleep?

When we got there, I was convinced they were going to send me home because I wasn't far enough along. Either I am an idiot or have a stronger threshold for pain that I thought because I was already halfway there. They started tagging me and it became pretty clear I was going nowhere.

In Labor and Delivery, my nurses, both my doctors and my anesthesiologist were all women. It was incredible to be surrounded by all those capable, strong women. Even surrounded by iv's, monitors and machines, it felt so natural.
Rocky and I kicked everyone out of the room so we could have a moment before the big show. I hope I remember how special it was knowing it was the last time it would be just the two of us.

I never want to forget hearing my mom cry when he was born.

Bennett was placed on my chest right after delivery, blue and goopy and screaming bloody murder. I was so happy. It makes me laugh knowing my sister told me to wait to take the baby after they cleaned him up because they come out "so disgusting."

Rocky didn't leave his side as he was weighed, measured and given a 9 and another 9 on his apgars.

Our nurse Donna, her patience and persistence as Mr. Bennett learned to eat. Then later, watching Rocky using her techniques to help.

Our hospital gave us a "celebration meal." We got to order a special dinner brought to us on a cart with a white tablecloth. The celebratory root beer really hit the spot. Tre fancy.
When we came home, our neighbor came running across the street to meet Bennett. Seeing how excited a relatively new friend can be just reinforced what a special time this was for our little family and our little world.

As I rock our little boy who doesn't want to sleep, I know I will remember how much I cherished our time together and not the lack of sleep, the frustration of not knowing what causes him such anguish, or the pitch of his cry when we have the audacity to take off his clothes to change his diaper. I know that I will remember the smell of his skin, the feeling of his silky hair, and the look of those very chubby cheeks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's In a Name?

Bennett had the honor of hosting his Grampa John this past weekend. They had a very nice time visiting and getting to know one another. My dad learned that Bennett has a good set of lungs. Bennett learned that his Grampa is going to give him a nickname whether we like it or not.

My sister is cursed with a variety of nicknames from my dad, perhaps the most embarrassing being Rumpkin. I have no idea where he came up with that one, but unfortunately, it has stuck. Maybe because I was always the more serious kid, mine was a little less offensive, The Allison-meier. Don't ask...
My dad was referring to poor little unsuspecting Bennett as...Benny. I unknowingly promoted the nickname by telling my dad how much I hated it. Then, over the weekend it evolved into several other manifestations, Benito, as in Mussolini, and is currently Bennihana. Ahh! If I had known that naming my child Bennett would someday get distorted into Bennihana I'd have given him a name along the lines of Chris or Matt. However, knowing my dad he'd call him Christopherson or Bathmat.

Rocky and I are one of those ridiculous couples that discussed baby names very early in our relationship. I had made it very clear that I would not be supporting an RWK, IV. Thankfully, his parents had no objection. However, both Rocky and I have a lot of family names that have been passed down over generations and I felt both a desire and a need to honor the men in our families. Growing up with a more distinct maiden name than King, I never considered how difficult it might be to find a name that wouldn't lead to him being one of one hundred John Kings or Bathmat Kings.

Bennett had been on our list for years. It wasn't on the Social Security list's top 100 names (or even the top 300 names). We liked the meaning, "Blessed." There may be another Bennett in his class someday, but there most likely will not be another Bennett King.
The name moved up the list as I drove past Bennett Drive on the way to the doctor's office in the early months of my pregnancy. As I've eluded to previously, I was one paranoid and scared pregnant lady. Seeing it each time I went in for an exam or a blood draw made me confident that things were going to work out. It was both literally and figuratively a sign to me that I would have a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. Perhaps it is a little silly, but it meant a lot to me at the time.
We had other names on our list too, Aaron, John, Isaac, and about a dozen others. I really didn't want to commit to anything until I met the kid, but Rocky was sold and wasn't even considering the other names I'd tossed around over the last six months. When the doctor's placed him on my chest, Rocky asked me if I'd like to tell my mom his name. Whatever I spit out, he knew he'd be happy with. The other front runner really didn't fit the smushy red-faced and hairy baby I held in my arms. Bennett it was. NOT Bennihana.