Monday, February 28, 2011

For This Child We Prayed

I’ve choked up at each and every baptism my church has performed since I started attending St. John’s six years ago. There is just something about the sense of community and purpose I feel as my priest pours water over a babe’s little head. As a parish, we pray for the child and then the priest or celebrant walk the aisles as the congregation sings. It is simply a beautiful service.

Six months ago, my priest leaned over to Rocky and I and said, “this will be you soon.” Like the cheese ball I am, tears spilled down my cheeks. The thought had crossed my mind too.

It was finally our turn. I was crossing my fingers that the Rector, and not one of the second string celebrants, would be the one to carry Bennett through the church. I was doing the math with the other babies, wondering if we’d be the lucky ones. I have to admit, it wasn’t exactly my finest Christian hour.

Sunday morning, Rocky, Mary, and Cousin Jeremy stood before our congregation and presented Bennett for the sacrament of baptism. As I teared up yet again, I had to pretend to be very intent on the choir so not every communicant would know what a sap I really am. It was reassuring that I come by it honestly, as my mom was choking up in the audience too.

Bennett was the last baby blessed, and Father Luis started the baby parade with my chubby-legged, agreeable baby in his arms. I could hardly believe it, but the child who cannot sit through a meal in a restaurant hardly made a peep throughout the hour-plus service. At least my angel has good timing.

We had a little shindig for B. at the house afterward. I felt so blessed to be surrounded by our Tennessee family and our D.C. family as we celebrated our greatest gift. Asking for more than what we have already been given would be more than greedy, so I just helped myself to another slice of cake.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Flashback Friday: Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

It’s another big weekend in the King household. We’re celebrating Bennett’s baptism on Sunday and we have family and friends traveling to town to mark the occasion.

We chose Rocky’s cousin, Jeremy, to be Bennett’s godfather. Jeremy is a few year’s older, few year’s wiser, but not much taller. I had been hearing stories for years about their shenanigans on the farm, building forts, riding bikes and roughhousing in barns.

One weekend in college, Rocky told me I could finally meet this Jeremy character at his band gig in Nashville. When I got there, I could hardly believe Rocky’s cousin would have a room full of women screaming his name. So, I figured if anyone could grow up to be so smart, so charming and even get women to fall for a fiddle player, he’d be a great role model for my son.

It was a year ago this weekend that changed Jeremy’s life and ours forever. Jeremy married a lovely lady named Katie and Rocky and I found out we were having a baby.

I was thrilled to have such a wonderful excuse to travel to Nashville and get a couple of days with both sets of our parents. The weather was beautiful. The ceremony was held at the church I attended when I was a student at Vanderbilt. I even had another reason to wear my favorite dress.

It was a beautiful wedding followed by the most amazing cocktail hour I have ever been a party to. In true Nashville fashion, the guests congregated at the hotel bar for sort of an open mic night. Jeremy’s friends are all insanely talented and performed a wide range of southern rock and country. After quite some goading, even Jeremy got up there with that fiddle.

Monday morning after we got back, I went to the doctor for a little blood test. The nurse left a voice mail on my phone and I patiently waited eight hours for Rocky and I to be together before getting the results. Rocky paced the dining room until we heard, “Congratulations girl! You’re pregnant.” My face hurt from smiling. Rocky's big goofy grin got even bigger.

It was rather unfortunate that we didn’t learn the news before we left for Tennessee. We would have been able to spill the beans in person. But I think getting to tell Big Rock over the phone might have been just as good. “Whooee!” emanated from the phone in his East Tennessee twang. Then we had to call back an hour later for Linda and pretend that Rock hadn’t heard the news yet. My good Midwestern parents just sat in silence and gratitude when they learned they’d be getting a grandbaby.

Here we are fifty-two weeks later with a precious baby boy and distracting from Jeremy and Katie’s first anniversary with another church service. I’m sure for the next fifty-two weeks and the next fifty-two years we’ll be reminiscing on how we all spent the last weekend of February 2010.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Date Day

Rocky imported a top-of-the-line pair of babysitters last weekend so we could celebrate Valentine’s Day in style. They came all the way from New York City (New York City!?!). It was the first time we’ve gone on a proper date without the barnacle err, baby, since I don’t know, September? [I have chosen to ignore the fact that Rocky and I went to his company Christmas party in September sans Bennett for three reasons. First, he was left in the capable hands of my sister, both family and a professional. Second, I was way too nervous to be able to relax and enjoy myself. Finally, since I was way too nervous to relax and enjoy myself, Rocky decided to stay out way past my bedtime and I went home alone. That my friends, does not a date make.]

In our attempt to “do it up,” we traveled a whole seven minutes from our house, for a fancy… lunch. But I got dressed up in pants without an elastic waistband, and Rocky did open the door for me, TWICE! That hasn’t happened since we got married.

In our exhaustive search to observe the most sacred of all Hallmark Holidays at noon on a Saturday, we found ourselves at Lyon Hall in Arlington. We figured the French menu would remind us of our carefree childless days, or more specifically our first afternoon in Paris. It was a delightful day worth recreating. We had ducked into a quiet little bistro on a rainy day and enjoyed a meat and cheese platter with a fine French Bordeaux. Fine holiday fun!
Despite the fact that we would beat an ambulance home should the need arise, we resolved not to mention the barnacle. Yet, as luck would have it, there was a wee bébé at a table across the room. There was also a six year old seated at the table next to me reading a Star Wars picture book, kicking my seat. And at one point there was a giant screaming raucous. Huzzah! The woman at the bar announced her pregnancy. I suppose you can take the mom and dad off the quickly sinking ship of fun, but you’re still likely to find your life preserver stuck with plenty of barnacles.
Making merry at lunchtime rather than bedtime had a few more drawbacks. Both the charcuterie and dessert menus were not available at brunch. The audacity! Hearts were broken, barnacles were cursed. We decided to drown our sorrows in other calorie-heavy delights. Rocky ordered a flight of Belgian beer and I enjoyed a nice Kir Royale. The Rocky I knew when we first met would have been hugely impressed (and demanded an introduction) by the Rocky sitting across from me. The man ordered oysters. Maybe they reminded him of the barnacle at home?
Wishing I could be similarly adventurous, I played it safe and ordered the French Onion Soup with Short Ribs. It was like slurping beef gravy with some cheese on top. Rocky frowns upon this sort of behavior at home, so it felt like I was breaking all the rules.
The rest of meal was lovely. We discussed politics, purses and Paris over frites and frisée. We settled for the profiteroles while wishing we were splitting an almond pot du crème or a fig claufouti. Settling the bill and wishing we could come back, we plotted how to hoodwink another set of imported babysitters.

In real living on the edge fashion, we ended our hot date by making a trip to the grocery store. Shopping without a baby felt almost as decadent as the noontime champagne. We came home to a still breathing Bennett and the babysitters were close enough to still standing. I’d have to call it a success!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flashback Friday: Vandy Vandy All Hail Y'all!

The days are slowly getting longer, the temperatures are rising and the sun is shining. It may be a premature showing of spring, but I’ll take what I can get. After all, it is days like this that remind me of my first visit to Vanderbilt as a prospective student.

My junior year of high school, my friends left me behind for spring break all thanks to a band trip to Italy. (When I chose not to pick up an instrument in the fifth grade, I wish they had done a better job explaining the perks.) My father must have been feeling sorry for me because he offered to take a college tour to Vanderbilt for spring break. I was disappointed to learn it was in Nashville because at the time, I hated Country music. (My excuse for that faulty opinion was my only exposure to Country was my Uncle Kevin’s penchant for playing Dwight Yoakam.)

Honestly, I didn’t know much about the school and didn’t think I had much interest, but getting out of Minnesota in March definitely sounded like a good idea. I am so glad I did. I fell in love with Vanderbilt the minute I stepped foot on campus. It had everything going for it. Vandy was a mid-sized school, a little green oasis in the middle of a decent-sized city. I liked the idea that most students lived on campus. I even liked the tour guide, the Admissions office presentation, and the fellow-prospective students in my group. As fate would have it, when I matriculated as a student almost two years later, I found myself making friends with one of the other girls in my tour group.
Thankfully, my dad was extroverted enough for both of us, asking students questions about classes, professors, dorms and meal plans. We stopped by the mail room, bookstore, even the medical school. But at some point, I looked around and realized these co-eds were not wearing sweats and pajama pants like the people I knew at the U of M, they were wearing sundresses, khaki pants, and sweater vests (It was 1999 after all). But to my sixteen year-old self, it was my Shangri-La.

Getting that thick envelope nine months later made my day, my year, my life. I had worked hard in high school to get into a good college. When my parents dropped me off, it felt like I had reached my final destination and I just knew I’d be happy. However, Vanderbilt was harder than I ever imagined, academically, socially and every other way a school can test a person. There were plenty of all-nighters and heartbreaks. It may be a real cliché, but there is no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t be who I am today without the disappointments, challenges, triumphs and people I met along the way.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Goodbye Restaurant

In the life of a new parent
there is but one escape
And it used to be fun
And a bit of a break

Dining out.

There were three social Kings, sitting on chairs

and two little plates and a pair of glasses

and a little leather booth and a posse of youth

and a menu and a wine list and chalkboard of specials

and a bitty baby who was screaming his wails.

Goodbye restaurant

Goodbye waiter

goodbye Italian, Mexican and American fare

goodbye appetizers and entrees

goodbye social Kings, goodbye chairs

goodbye plates, goodbye glasses

goodbye booth and goodbye youth

goodbye menu and goodbye wine list

goodbye busboy, goodbye specials

and good riddance to the bitty baby screaming his wails

goodbye friends, goodbye fresh air

goodbye restaurants everywhere.

Monday, February 14, 2011

King of Hearts

Happy Valentine's Day Y'all!
And for the grandparents, three minutes of nonsense.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flashback Friday: Just a Small Town Girl

Just a small town girl, living in a Minneota world
Took a walk through a cornfield, not going anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in Northeast Minneapolis
Took to a cornfield to a pheasant hunt...

Not long after, that city boy, Master Sergeant Bob O’Rourke, asked my Grandma Birdie June for her hand in marriage. She happily said yes and began planning for her Catholic wedding. Grandpa Bob knew there was a good possibility the Air Force might be shipping him to Europe soon, but he had no idea they’d have just two weeks.

Birdie bought a new suit for her special day, a brown checked blazer and brown wool skirt. She found the perfect matching hat and coordinating brown suede shoes. Her no fuss outfit makes me wonder what she must have thought of my own white cupcake dress.

The ceremony was held in the parish house since my grandmother hadn’t been able to finish her classes for Catholic preparation. They had a small ceremony, only twenty guests. Her future sister-in-law, Aunt Dodo, stood by her side as she said her vows in a speedy, especially for Catholic standards, five minute service. To this day, she worries the priest presumed it was a shotgun wedding. But within weeks, the Minneota, Minnesota girl was following her new husband across the ocean.

In honor of the candy heart, box of chocolate, inflated rose price holiday, it’s nice to flashback to an easier journey down the aisle, in the days of long walks and matchmaking in the cornfields.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Superbowl!

Growing up in Minnesota, it pains me to share...

Go Packers!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Flashback Friday: Inaugural

My mom is coming back to town to check on me, umm, I mean Bennett. She scheduled her travel long before he fell to the evil RSV, it’s just a lucky coincidence that it happens to fall on a weekend when Rocky is out celebrating a dear friend’s bachelorhood. Now, he has no guilt gallivanting around town while his poor son wheezes his way back to good health.

Six years ago, my mom was in town for another reason, celebrating George W.’s second inaugural. Being the low-woman on the totem pole meant I was responsible for dispersing the Congressman’s ticket allotment to the inaugural address. Since it was 2004, and not 2008, there were copious amounts of leftover tickets. It appears that few Minnesotans were willing to travel to the nation’s capital to watch Bushy, umm, I mean the President take the oath. My mom and I had prime seats. If only I had the Republican Facebook, I’m sure I could have done a better job identifying the who’s who in their mink and diamonds as we sat in our seventh-row seats. I certainly wasn't catching anyone's attention in my fun fur.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Poor BB has RSV

Welcome to the life of a working mother! Bennett was at daycare for a week before getting his first illness. RSV is a common virus with cold-like symptoms of coughing, congestion, and general lethargy. It can be more serious in young babies, like Bennett.
Over the weekend, he had a stuffy nose, but acted like his regular young self. When I picked him up on Monday at the sitter's, he had that crackly cough that I had heard the first day when I dropped him off. Tuesday night, he woke up a couple of hours after going to bed hacking. It was awful. He had this sad little wail, struggling to breathe through the cough and stuffy nose. It was so scary. The on-call doctor gave us predictable tips, steamy shower, elevate his head when he sleeps. There were no magic pills or potions. Miraculously, he's in a very good mood, all things considered. He's napping great, sleeping through the coughs, and more smiley than ever.
Healthy, three month old Bennett seems so big and strong. Yet, sitting in the steamy bathroom with my limp baby I was reminded by how dependent and fragile he really is. He was so sweet and smushy sitting on my lap as I pounded on his tiny back. In just three months, I have managed to take for granted that he needs me for food, shelter and a clean butt. Caring for a sick kid has turned into a bonding experience. It makes me feel like a real mother. I'm good at getting those coughs broken up, wiping his nose, and making funny noises to distract him from the evil bulb syringe.
I've stayed home with Bennett for two days and it's only my second week back to work. I feel guilty for missing the hours at the office. I feel guilty for feeling guilty because I know I am where I need to be. I feel guilty for not walking right back out of the babysitter's when I first heard that cough. When I mentioned that last part to the doctor, he told me I wouldn't have been back until April. Knowing we have months of doctor's appointments, sick days, and the ick still ahead is overwhelming. I just want to wrap little Bennett in a hypoallergenic bubble.