Friday, April 29, 2011

Flashback Friday: The King Farm

This past weekend we loaded up the car and took Bennett to the King farm. It was his first visit to the farm of what will sure be many. My parents, especially my dad, were so excited to give Bennett an in-depth tour of the farm. Our family has owned the farm since the 1850s. Aaron Burns acquired the property and he along with his family raised livestock, vegetables and even had apple orchards. A few apple trees still remain today.
Aaron’s son, James Burns, was the next owner of the farm. James and his wife Nancy Waters built a log house on the property. The chimney from that quaint home still remains. I grew up with my cousins playing around that chimney. In fact, it has served as the backdrop for many photo ops. Bennett unfortunately had not mastered standing on his own yet and his mother expressed some concern about her son standing on a pile of loosely piled rocks.
Little Rocky 1980 something
I guess we will have to come back soon so Bennett, the seventh generation in our family can proudly climb those rocks much like his dad, granddad, and many others before us did. I am pretty certain my dad won’t object. He just may request that Bennett find some new sunglasses.

What We Learned: 6 Months

Bennett is six months old today, halfway to one year.  He's half baby, half toddler.  His chubby baby legs stand like a toddler.  His baby cheeks make toddler expressions.  He eats baby food but posesses a toddler's appetite.  It's a wake up call to relish these baby moments before he's walking and talking and off picking up chicks on the playground. 

Bennett learned to rollover. Finally!

Bennett learned to sit up.

We learned that that normal is different for every baby. And boys are slow.

Bennett learned to swallow solids.

Bennett learned he loves sweet potatoes.

We learned that once you give a kid food with flavor, don’t expect him to eat the boring stuff, like cereal. He’ll probably bypass the pears and applesauce for curry and wasabi.

Bennett learned to reach.

Bennett learned that coffee is hot.

We learned that nothing is safe from those little hands anymore.

Bennett learned to pass a toy from one hand to another.

Bennett learned to hold a spoon.

We learned Bennett is an adaptable baby but do not mess with this kid’s bedtime!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I would drive 1500 miles

We must have changed our minds a dozen times. Do we fly? Do we drive? Which is worse, a half a dozen popped ear drums? A dozen dollars on plane tickets? A flight with two dozen agitated-to-be-flying-with-a-baby passengers? Or a few dozen hours in the car with almost a half dozen month old?
Hours in the car would let us travel with a dozen outfits, a dozen bibs, a dozen bottles a ton of baby gear and a dog. Geniuses we are not. We are however cheapskates with a penchant for over packing.

Sure, we have a child who can barely make it through an orderly meal in a restaurant. Sure, we have a wee dog with a wee bladder. Sure, we have negative patience and six months without a good night of sleep. Sure, we had ambitious goals and thousands of miles ahead of us. But we were determined to make it over the river and through the woods to both grandparents’ houses. And we did. And we survived. And Bennett surprised everyone with cooperation and silence and smiles.

Some highlights and lowlights of our 1400 miles of traveling?

Introducing Bennett to Great Grandma June.
Making his first trip to the King farm.

A bird pooped on Bennett's head.
Discovering men and old people like to park and pretend not to see the nursing mom crouched in the backseat.
Changing B on the median in a gas station parking lot.
A successful date night does not include the baby waking up to find mom and dad MIA. We’re still paying for it with middle-of-the-night wakings to see if we’re still there.
The sandwich station in Chuckey, Tennessee, complete with cow tails and pickled eggs. Eww.
Babies and parakeets have something in common. Drape a blanket over their perch and they stop the squawking and fall asleep.

Atticus’s wee bladder isn’t so wee anymore.
Bennett was a trooper through church, dining out, strange beds, strange people, hours upon hours in the car and two stressed out parents. I’m still not sure if driving was the best solution but we would probably walk the 1500 miles so we could introduce Bennett to our friends and celebrate his first Easter surrounded by family in Tennessee.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Flashback Friday:Blue Ball

The pinnacle of any eighth grader's middle school career was the winter semi-formal.  Girls started shopping for their dresses months prior, hunting for the perfect find.  My mom took me to the Mall of America for the occassion and we scoured every gown in every store until finding the winner on the clearance rack at Bloomingdale's.  Nothing screams perfection like a good deal.  To complete the look, I found matching blue velvet closed-toe shoes and shiny skin-tone nylons.  I even took the day off from straightening my hair and went au-naturale with a February frizz.

The evening was spectacular.  My girlfriends and I had planned a sleepover and a fancy dinner out at Olive Garden.  We even made our chaperones sit a few tables away because we were almost-grown ups now.  We needed our space to gossip about the other dresses, the music and the couples.   

I made the girls sit and listen to the play by play of my first slow dance over unlimited salad and breadsticks.  While the scene only lasted maybe two minutes, I am sure I made my friends listen to the story for an hour.  The two minute scene led to a two year crush.  Really, why wouldn't the boy be falling over himself when the poodle-haired girl in velvet shoes was trying to tie him down?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

King in Shining Armor

You know you are off to a bad start when the baby needs a nap at 7:00 am. Bennett is on a new sleep schedule, or rather he is on a new awake schedule, up at 5:45 am to babble. He’s chipper, alert and looking for entertainment. The rest of the King household is paying the price, bitter angry and looking for caffeine. The sleep deprivation has finally caught up with me. I got to work this morning and promptly locked my keys in the car.

My phone was locked in the car. I feel naked without my phone. The battery was drained in minutes searching for a signal in the basement parking garage.

My wallet was locked in the car. I couldn’t meet Rocky at the house if I couldn’t pay a cab fare or buy a metro ticket.

My makeup was locked in the car. Babies who wake up before the sun rises do not give you time to put on makeup. I had to sit in a meeting with 5:45 am bags under my eyes.

My pump was locked in the car. Of course this happened the night Bennett didn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Rocky to drop what he was doing and drive home for the spare and drive downtown to rescue me. But he did.

Rocky, thank you for saving the day. You save my day every day. You save me from boredom. You save me from eating cereal three times a day. You save me from leaving the house with my fly undone. You save me from talking to the dog about the Real Housewives franchise. You save me from ironing my own shirts. You save me from learning how to use the new coffee maker. You save me when I lock the keys in the car. You save me from me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flashback Friday: C'est Si Bon

I don’t fancy myself a Francophile. I just had a quiet obsession with all things French, like French toast and shower curtains that said things like “amor” in fancy cursive writing. I started daydreaming about a trip to Paris so I could climb the steps of the Eiffel Tower and wear a beret. Perhaps I would even ride a bicycle with a baguette in the basket.

My dad always wanted to make my dreams come true, so he offered to buy Rocky and I plane tickets to Paris for our honeymoon. I was elated. My new husband and I could take sunset strolls along the Seine, find little cafes to canoodle over café au lait and pain au chocolat. But the bar exam burst my bubble. Rocky had about a month to study and there was no way he could enjoy France with torts, evidence and civil procedure looming on the horizon. Poor me would have to settle for a five star resort in the Caribbean. Paris would have to wait for another day.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long. Less than two years later, all of my pestering and guilt tripping finally wore Rocky down. To ease Rocky into his first trip abroad, we bought plane tickets direct to Charles De Gaulle and stayed at an American chain hotel. Dining at the Dulles Airport waiting for our flight was one of my favorite memories of the trip. We enjoyed a bottle of wine to help us sleep. We were giddy with anticipation. Knowing you are about to embark on a dream trip is some powerful stuff. But it was really only the beginning of a dream week.

We landed in Paris around lunchtime. We rushed to our hotel to check-in and shower. I wasn’t wasting a minute. We spent the afternoon walking the Champs Elysees, filling up on Parisian lifestyle at Nike,Sephora and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
We fit a lot of culture into the week and hit all of the Paris highlights, including Notre Dame, the Louvre, Montmarte, Musee d’Orsay, Arc de Triumph.
To experience la vie de France outside of Paris, we took a day trip to Reims for an afternoon of champagne, champagne caves and champagne tasting. It was educational and decadent and sublime. But one of the best parts was getting out to a bit of the countryside and experience a slower, less congested-with-tourists pace. We stumbled through our only encounter where our lack of French was a problem. We recouperated with more wine, more baguettes and a quick nap in a quiet park.
But those fabulous French and their fabulous food! Every morning, we stopped at Angelina’s for croissants. For lunch we dined on ham and cheese baguettes. At some point in the afternoon we either stopped for some canoodling at a café for a carafe of wine, or opened our hotel room windows for a little wine and cheese. Every dinner was special. One night there were omelets in homage to Julia Child and the next the most amazing haricot verts at a restaurant we tried at the recommendation of the Lewises. One evening we ate at the restaurant featured in Something’s Gotta Give (Truly catering to the stupid Americans, they played the movie in the restroom.) Rocky fell in love with escargot.
We filled ourselves with delicious buttery gluttonous pastries.  We walked romantic stone streets at sunset.  We saw the art and architecture I had studied in school.  We sipped wine in those little cafes and dreamed about coming back.  It filled all of my shower curtain fantasies and then some.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This is your baby on Gerber

Those know-it-all parenting books had lots of markers to look for to help parents identify whether their baby was ready to start solid foods. He had been for weeks, but the know-it-all parenting books like to make you feel guilty for starting anything early. However, the babysitter attempted to give him a banana one day last week on a whim. I was livid. It was one of those firsts that working moms wouldn’t have to miss. She did it without my permission then laughed as she told me about how he spit it all back out.

I decided to hell with those know-it-all parenting books. If I didn’t give him his second taste of solids, he’d be eating cheeseburgers without me there to witness. I mixed a bit of rice cereal with milk. He wanted nothing to do with it.  See the ridiculousness for yourself.

The next day, I decided to try again. He needed to get familiar with the idea of a spoon, the food, the swallowing. Apparently, try, try again works. I put that spoon in his mouth and he wanted to hold the spoon.
He licked his lips.
He swallowed.
Then, he face planted into the bowl.
Give me more.
He may be Daddy's #1 Draft pick, but he really is his mother’s child.  And the kid really needs a haircut.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Enter At Your Own Risk

Saturday night, we had some very special visitors, the Strubs. I had been following my childhood friend, Erica’s blog since her son,Sawyer, was just a baby. It was so crazy to see him in the flesh after reading about him for years. And now, Sawyer is a big brother. I got to watch little Spencer toddling through my house, eating cheerios and playing with my dog. It is hard to believe how much time has passed and how much things have changed since the days of Erica and I played with Amanda and Mikey, our Magic Nursery Babies.

The evening taught me more than how quickly time flies. I learned our house is a death trap. There are scary stairs, all the better for toddlers to climb. There are pointy sticks in the yard, all the better for boys to dismember the dog. There are curtain cords, all the better for swinging, pulling and swallowing. There are hard edged tables and glass front media stands. It would only take one clumsy fall to smash the glass to smithereens and send a baby to the emergency room.

I swear we were holding our breath during their visit, praying that a couple of bruises would be the only lasting evidence of a trip to our danger zone, and not a plaster cast or some stitches. I had been sweating over snacks when I should have been buying outlet covers, gates and padding for the walls.

Sawyer and Spencer taught me that I have a lot to do to prepare for a mobile child. They also taught me we have so much to look forward to, the cartoons, the toy cars, the inquisitive mind, the curious questions and really good hugs. Thank you to the Strubs for making an extra-special side trip. We can’t wait to see you again!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Flashback Friday: Meat Fest!

Every year, about this time, Rocky's circle of friends like to celebrate what they call, Meat Fest.  The gents adorn blazers, the ladies wear lycra and we gorge ourselves at a Brazilian steakhouse in honor of Chris and Tom's birthdays.  Really, what better way is there to recognize the beginning of an era, a turning of a page than with waiters hovering with meat on sticks? 

Rocky and I are truly fortunate to have a good excuse to pork up on protein and even more fortunate to have such good friends stick around through thick and thin.  After all, in just the two years since this picture was taken, there have been three weddings, one baby and one pregnancy announcement.  Happy birthday Tom, Chris and in about five months, little Pickens!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Birthday Cup-cakes

I believe that certain people come into your life to fulfill very specific needs. Amber fills my Couple Cup. Ami fills my Laugh Cup. Anne fills my Soul Cup. Aubrey fills my Let’s Discuss Nonsense Cup. And that’s just the A’s…

I know how lucky I am to have a mother-in-law who fills my adoration cup. Rocky’s mom, Linda, makes me feel like she couldn’t have picked a better daughter-in-law. Even if I disappoint her from time to time, like cheering for UT on occasion, or moving her son to Virginia, she fools me into thinking she couldn’t have gotten luckier to have this Polish-Democrat from Minnesota to call her daughter-in-law. She loves me to pieces and is good at glossing over my rough spots (Not that I have many, of course.)

She loved me before she met me. The first thing she said to me was “How do you like Tennessee?” The lady knew Rocky and I were in it for the long haul even though we’d barely been on two dates.

Her open heart was eager to share that love and adoration with a grandbaby. I made her wait a few years longer than she would have hoped, but I needed to have my adoration cup filled before she moved on to fill little Bennett’s adoration cup. He’s the prettiest, smartest, sweetest baby she’s ever known. She might be biased, but she is that generous with just about every other man, woman and child she’s ever met.

My dear friend, Sarah, my college sister, fills my Peas and Carrots Cup. We lived together for three years and I spent more time in her dorm room my freshman year than I did in my own.  From first glance, we are innately different, but deep down we fill each other with goodness.

Our first weekend on campus, Sarah asked me if I'd like to go with her to open a student checking account.  I couldn't believe my luck.  This nice, pretty girl was inviting me to join her in public.  I tried so hard not to say something stupid like "Don't you just crave cheese curds?"  I'd save those deep thoughts until later in our relationship. 

Sarah was always there for me.  There was only one time in my relationship with Rocky that we came perilously close to breaking up.  Sarah couldn't sit idly by and sent that boy a shape-up-or-ship-out email.  It was a turning point for me, Rocky and Sarah.  Then, when I busted my knee, she drove me to physical therapy and made me believe I wouldn't walk like a gimp forever. 

Like any relationship, closeness ebbs and flows.  These days, we're seperated by a few hundred miles and mounds of dirty diapers.  Just like some days peas or carrots stand better alone, soon you realize they are just better together.

Linda and Sarah both came along at the most impressionable times in my life.  They fill parts of my soul like no one else can.  It makes me so happy to celebrate these two lovely ladies' birthdays this week.   My cup runneth over thanks to them.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend in the Burbs

I remember a time when I did fun things Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were single girl things like brunch with friends. There were couple things like hot dates dining al fresco. There were city things like mustache parties and jazz concerts on The Mall. Now my weekends are consumed with baby and family things like running errands and planning play dates. They make me so happy I feel compelled to go into every little detail with poor, unsuspecting blog readers.

Por ejemplo:
Atticus came between me and my pizza. I pity the fool who comes between me and my pizza.
Rocky finally got to play that game of golf that was postponed because Bennett had the audacity of arriving a few days early. His patience was rewarded with a nice early-April sunburn.

Bennett grew into his 9-month wardrobe. Packing up his tiny pants didn’t break my heart nearly as much as packing up our beloved swing. I am quite convinced we wouldn’t have survived the past five months without it. One colossal piece of plastic baby equipment out just in time to make way for another colossal piece of plastic baby equipment, a high chair. Dun dun dun. 

My day with Bennett tuckered us both out. I was in bed by 9:00 and Bennett slept through the night for the first time in sixty-two days. Unfortunately, it’ll probably be another sixty-two days before that happens again.

So, I’m not exactly the carefree city girl that I pretend I used to be. Now, I clap when I see a baby burp, even if he’s not my own. Now, I rush out of work early not to go to a happy hour, but to pick up Bennett early or take a baby-free trip to Target. Now, I get a sense of accomplishment over putting the laundry away. That city girl and this suburban mom both live for the weekends, just for different reasons. And that’s ok with me, I just hope it’s ok with you, because this is as good as it gets.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Flashback Friday: Her Royal Highness

Once upon a time I was a princess. No, really, I was. I was the 2006 Minnesota Cherry Blossom Princess. It was quite the honor. No, really, it was. I just kept it on the super-secret down-low because what self-respecting 23-year old parades around town in pastels and kitten heels? Maybe a Hill staffer nominated by a Member of Congress? Maybe a lazy dork who got out of work to visit Embassies, take backstage tours of the Kennedy Center, National Cathedral, the FBI and dine on a riverboat cruise?
Princesses wear a sash.  Princesses do not however have an official taste tester to determine the safety of the culinary offerings.  Half of the girls came down with awful food poisoning.  I was one of them. 
Princesses are escorted by motorcade. Being driven around D.C. in a giant tour bus with Metro Police garnered a lot of attention. We were Z-list celebrities for a week and it was awesome.
Princesses are given a clothing allowance. The Minnesota State Society gave me a couple hundred dollars to buy seven days of outfits in any color but black. Princesses were told that black is disrespectful in the Japanese culture. There were 50 angry princesses when we arrived at the Japanese embassy to find that we were the only ones not wearing black…
Princesses are presented at a ball. I was the only engaged princess and had to wear my ring on a necklace because it interfered with my gloves. That’s what happens when you’re betrothed to marry a King!  But the best part of being a princess is the very diplomatic election of our queen, a spin of the wheel!  The lucky girl got to travel to Japan and represent the U.S. during the Japanese festival a few weeks later.  I wonder what kind of clothing allowance she got...