Sunday, May 29, 2011

What We Learned: 7 Months

My little blobby baby is much less blobby these days.  He's always on the move.  Sadly, the only thing not moving was his GI track.  Otherwise, he likes to bounce, jump, roll and sit and sitting in one place never lasts for long.  But when he's sleepy, he has learned to slow down and cuddle again.  When he stops moving and that heavy head leans on my shoulder, it is the best part of my day.

Bennett learned to like prunes.

We learned to put the doctor's office on speed dial.

Bennett learned to say dada.

Rocky learned to control his enthusiasm.

Bennett learned to stick out his tongue.

I learned that making Bennett laugh is as easy as saying "ahhh."

Bennett learned rolling over is an effective way to travel.

We learned he still needs a crash pillow.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bennett Wants You to Know

I heard you were concerned.

Mom took me to the doctor.

Let me just say, you can call off the search party.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Flashback Friday: Dishwasher Darling

My dad is the oldest of nine kids.  My grandparents could have a nice little assembly line going doing yard work, the laundry, housecleaning and in the kitchen.  As the kids grew up and moved out, it was quite the adjustment taking over household responsibilities, or so I imagine.  When I would visit, it was quite the treat; they had fresh bait to take over the chores.  As soon as I was tall enough to see over the kitchen counter while standing on a step stool, I was assigned dishwashing duties. 

That smile is an act.
I loathed doing the dishes.  My grandfather was a professional chef there was never a simple meal at home.  He made homemade barbecue sauce, chow mein, bread, dumplings, you name it.  He used every pot and pan in the kitchen and then served it to at least eight of us on any given night.  Let me just say, there were a lot of dishes.  Good thing Bennett is tall, it won't be long until he gets his turn.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Bennett loved his first taste of solids. The sweet potato goodness got everywhere as he learned to taste, slurp and swallow. We laughed. He smiled. Pears and apples were greeted with the same gluttonous gusto. It was going well.

His first fruits were, gasp, store bought. We were traveling and I was too lazy to pack a steamer, food processor and various accoutrements those yuppie baby cookbooks demand. I rarely let mommy guilt tripping affect me, so I ignored the quip from one particular yuppie baby cookbook “You wouldn’t serve yourself three meals a day from some carcinogenic concoction from a can.” Or something to that effect. Ok, to the kitchen I went.

Bananas were our first foray into homemade baby food. It’s the kind of cooking I can handle, fork, milk, mush, serve. He hated them. He took one bite and spit them back out. I had a feeling it was because they were nowhere near as smooth and pureed as those store bought jars. Then, B woke up in the middle of the night. He’d gotten sick. We got to change the sheets and calm a screaming baby at 2 in the morning. Ok, no more bananas.

The next weekend I was committed to making Bennett wholesome, delicious food, squash, carrots and apples. I spent $2 on a freaking organic zucchini. I spent an afternoon chopping, peeling, steaming, washing, pureeing and measuring out food into little two ounce jars. I put a separate stockpile into the freezer. Bennett hated the squash. He did not approve of the apples and I don’t even want to talk about what happened to the carrots. My kid is going to grow up loving fruit snacks and those frozen pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
Besides hating homemade baby food and getting sick, solids have had another unfortunate effect on my child. Some parents complain of well, umm, solids when baby starts solids.  But for eight days there is no poop coming down his chute.  I'm sorry.  I went there.  But poor B.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Flashback Friday: Boston Baby

My parents wanted to be sure that my sister and I were well-rounded, well-traveled kids. Being exposed to new cities through their parks, museums, landmarks and various McDonald's locations were important to our upbringing. We took weekend trips to Lake Superior, family visits to Florida and educational tours to New York, Arkansas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston. I came out on the other end valuing history, culture art and just exactly how the local water affects the taste of bagels and the McNugget.

Our travel education started young. I was just a few months old when I made my first trip to Florida. Mary was just shy of two when our family went to Massachusetts. We went to Bunker Hill, paacked a caa at Haavad Yaad, and apparently visited the famous Swan Boats. Sadly, I do not recall these things. My one memory of our great family trip to Boston is the day my sister lost it.

Little Mary had a famous case of the terrible twos. We were sitting on a bus, on our way to Salem to learn about the witches when Mary became possessed herself. My sweet, chubby-cheeked sister took off her shoe and threw it out the window. We all had to get off the bus, my very first city-bus experience, mind you and go chase down her errant shoe. My parents were embarrassed. Mary thought it was funny. We never did make it to Salem.

I see a little bit of those chubby cheeks on Bennett's face. I just hope he doesn't also inherit that flair for the dramatic.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Because Washington is Hollywood for Ugly People

You all have heard me whine about working in a male dominated office.  It's conservative and I don't want to prance around the office in a tight-fitting top.  It's dull and I don't want to stand out in a colorful sheath dress. It's old and they don't know the difference between Mossimo and Milly.  Maybe that's why I dress like an administrative professional from Scranton. 

If I had to categorize my style, I would have to point to Pam Beesly. Pam Beesly, not Halpert. When Pam from the Office got married, her wardrobe improved a bit. She wore more figure flattering tops in brighter colors, skirts that fell above the knee, and I don't think I ever saw her wear pants again.
Pretty sure I wore a get-up like this last week.  I know I've even experienced an equally bad hair day.
Pam, nice shirt.  You shop at Banana Republic outlet too?!
So, yeah, my bad taste in fashion goes beyond my bad taste in shoes. My work wardrobe is sad. Pathetic. Regrettable. When I dart out at lunch, I pray I won't bump into someone I know. Most days, I eat at the office, hiding the ill-fitting skirts, baggy blouses and style-less cardigans behind my desk. Last summer, I could use my pregnancy as an excuse. Now, I am back into clothes I haven't worn in almost two years. They were unfortunate then, and they are even worse today.

I'd love to hire a personal shopper or one of those life coach/closet organizer types to do a consult. Sadly, I'm working with a Dunder-Mifflin like budget.  Any more style-savvy readers than I have advice?  How do I fix this?  Where do I begin?  Any must-have recommendations?  I can't hide behind Bennett or my desk forever.  Help!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's My Blog and I can Procrastinate if I Want Too

A Photo Essay and a Typical Week In Review
Last week, I discovered a nest in our holly tree. Sadly, Bennett wasn't as excited as I was.

Saturday, we hosted a Derby party with our friends Tom and Amber.  Tom fancies himself a hobbyist mixologist.  His need to perfect his mint julep recipe coincided nicely with our need to dress Bennett in precious seersucker baby gear.  The ever-talented Miss Whitley made him the most perfect bow-tie outfitted romper.  Even Uncle Bobby had to admit B was adorable. 
Sunday I took a picture.  And, oh yeah, it was my first Mother's Day.  We continued the theme of the weekend playing Southern wannabes.  Rocky made me my favorite fried chicken and baked apples.  It was divine, as was the rest of my "It's your first Mother's Day and you don't have to change diapers" kind of day.  It was the sortof day that you know can never be matched as the years pass. I know the holiday will eventually get muddled with baseball playoffs and dance recitals, but I will always remember just how simply perfect the first one was.
I took a picture of a flower.  I know that's the kind of update you were hoping for.
One day last week Bennett started doing this, for long stretches of time.  He was sitting up unassisted for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes.  Sadly, I think it is the end of my favorite past time.  Bennett invented his own game where I would pull him into sitting, then he'd look at me and hurtle himself back down.  He giggled every time.  I don't think the novelty of falling will be so much fun now that he's mastered the art of sitting. 
The big-boyness kept on coming.  One day he was sitting in his little chair on the table when I noticed him using his legs to scoot around.  The candlesticks and flowers were gonners.  It was time to bust out the big guns and introduce him to the high chair.  Sadly, he doesn't love the homemade squash that I made to break in the new chair.  Typical.

And last week the Shrimp and Kings Turned One.  Happy Birfday to the Blog!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Flashback Friday: Promenade

I lead a semi-charmed kind of life.  However, as a stressed-out, over-achiever with frizzy hair, acne, and a penchant for politics, high school was hardly a walk on the beach.  I saw myself as an ugly duckling with gangly legs, big hair, bad shoes and juggling a pile of books praying I wouldn’t fall down the stairs.  In retrospect, I realize I wasn’t the only one.  The pretty girls wanted to be more athletic, the athletic girls wanted to be smarter, the smart ones wanted to be prettier and we were all praying not to fall down the stairs. 

So, when this boy I had only known for a few weeks asked me to my junior prom, I could hardly believe it.  But then again, he went to a different high school and while he might have known I was the one with gangly legs, big hair and bad shoes, he didn't know if I had ever fallen down the stairs juggling a pile of books.  My mother realized what a miracle this was and made a big deal to find the perfect dress.  Looking back on it, I'd call it darling, but at the time I thought it was stunning.  It was dinner-mint green with a corseted top and a huge princess skirt.  The piece de resistance was the precious rhinestone spaghetti straps. 

Those rhinestone spaghetti straps were no match for the huge skirt.  The first strap bust before even making it to dinner.  Thank goodness, my friend Rosie came to my rescue with a safety pin and I was able to dance the night away before the other popped off during the last song.  My date was mortified.  He could only imagine what my parents would think of this boy who returned their daughter home with a damaged dress.

Much to everyone's surprise, I was still dating that boy a year later.  This time around, I had to attend two proms since our high schools had the decency to plan them for different weekends.  You'd think with two opportunities to get the look just right, I would have had better results. 

For his big night, I chose a lovely sequin number.  Yep, the year was 2000 and I wore head-to-toe aqua blue sequins.  It wasn't a slinky one either, it was big and puffy with tulle layers beneath the skirt. But my Julia Roberts inspired 'do was gorgeous, with the Brenda Walsh curls framing my face.
I should have been all-prommed out, but I had more fashion crimes to commit.  This time around the dress was fine, but oh the hair. I wanted something different, but it really looks like I was done up to play Medusa, the snake twirls up front, the barrel curls pinned up, all topped off with hot pink pearls to draw attention to the hot mess on my head.  Maybe my giant corsage detracted from my hair, but it didn't do much to de-emphasize my gangly arms.
High school can be torture, but for one night a year, I felt beautiful, bad hair, busted straps and all. The best part is, every dress, every hairstyle, I picked out because I thought it was "timeless."  I didn't want something that my kids would look at one day and laugh.  Now, I'm posting it on the internets and it won't just be my kids laughing. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother of My Soul

I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I had heard about the stress, the mess, the anxiety, the sleepless nights and the boogers. But I wanted to wake up on Christmas morning to the squeals of impatient kids. I wanted to take pictures with Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom. I wanted to make school lunches and fill my medicine cabinet with dinosaur band aids.

We have already had our fair share of stress, mess, anxiety, sleepless nights and boogers and with none of the benefits of trips to Disney World or dinosaur band aids. But I love it. I love seeing his proud face when he stands and scans the room from his new view. I love bathing him and wiping between his fat rolls. I love that my laundry is mixed in with his tiny shirts that are covered in milk and pears and poop. I love that my commute includes a stop at the babysitter’s and a conversation about how sweet and smart he has become.

What's better is I think I am doing an ok job at this mothering thing. When he was small and frail and a blob who did nothing, I was overwhelmed at my inability to entertain him and keep him happy. Now that we know each other a little better, it doesn’t seem quite so challenging. We go for walks and I point out flowers. We lay on the grass and look for birds. I repeat funny words to make him giggle. Some day he’ll grow out of these silly things. He’ll recognize the daffodils without me identifying them. He’ll get bored staring at the sky. Avocado and rutabaga won’t be quite as funny as fart jokes and Bart Simpson. He’ll be took cool for his mom. But I know there will be days that he’ll come to me for relationship advice, ask me to quiz him on his state capitals and probably fold his underwear.

These days, watching him study his toes or practice rolling over, I am overwhelmed by how much I love this kid. It’s like a sock to my stomach that I can be so enamored with his ability to play with a belt buckle or suck on a washcloth. It makes me wonder how could anyone love their child as much as I love him. My love feels so special, so unique, so otherworldly. Certainly, there is no one in the world that feels as much love as I do for him.

Yet, I know they must. I have been given a glimpse of how my parents must have felt when I brought home a good grade or learned to ride my bike. That sock to my stomach must have once been a sock in theirs. I knew I was loved but I could have never dreamed how much until I had a child of my own.

I see a mom at the park smiling as she pushes her daughter on the swing and I have a glimpse into her love too. I hope she isn’t distracted by bills and bullies and can feel that love she must have felt when her little girl was Bennett’s age. It is too precious to be overlooked by the mundane and ordinary.

On my first mother’s day, I am bowled over by my love. I am truly blessed and today I can bask in the rose-colored glasses that Bennett and I are not fighting over curfew or his bad taste in women. I know those days are inevitable. But I want to remember this perfect love forever.

I hoped I would love being a mother but I could have never dreamed how much I would love being Bennett’s.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Flashback Friday: The Hopping 1870s

I have a dozen plus years of fabulous Mother’s Day memories, thanks to my Aunt Karen. Every year, she hosted a birthday party for my cousin Colin to coincide with Mother’s Day festivities. It was one of the few times during the year that the entire O’Rourke clan got togethe.  Amazingly, the fire department only had to make an appearance once in all those years. Uncle Kelly learned the hard way that frying a turkey is in fact a dangerous endeavor.

Mother’s Day reminds me of another lovely Mother-Daughter memory that has nothing to do with turkeys but a plague of grasshoppers. Karen, my cousin Casey, Mary, my mom and I drove to Walnut Grove, Minnesota one summer to get our Little House on the Prairie on.

Laura Ingalls Wilder was one of Minnesota’s great citizens. I was obsessed. I wanted to be her. I wanted to teach in a one room school house. I likened my elementary school arch nemesis as Nellie Olson. I wanted to marry my own Almanzo and survive blizzards and draught and life on the great plains before the advent of the deep frier.

During the pageant, we were mesmerized by the real fire that spread through the Walnut Grove stage. But the re-enactment of the grasshoppers’ descent really shocked the audience. Those in the front rows were pummeled by the flying insects. The little blades of grass that flew over the Ingalls’ dugout surprised everyone and we were momentarily fooled into believing Walnut Grove was home not only to one of America’s greatest authors, but also the most well-trained colony of grasshoppers!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rotten Apples

My dear readers know two very important things about me: I have bad taste in footwear and I am spoiled rotten. While it is just another day of shoe-icide, I was going to try to hide this day of spoiling from my adoring fan-base. However, all ten of you have endured months of boogers and diapers. How dare I ignore the first legitimate source excitement in the King house since the epic day of soufflé?

I can no longer keep it to myself, Momma got an iPhone.

Those who know me well know I hate change. New phones=change. Change=bad. My old phone had brick breaker and texting. What more could a girl ask for? A new phone would mean learning how to give up the right click mindset. But when I discovered I could blog from my phone and take pictures, all bets were off. I had to have one.

Rocky rarely pays any mind to my wish lists and hyperlinks to Williams-Sonoma when it comes to gift giving. This is probably a good thing because I am notorious for asking for things like cookbooks and muffin tins. He took the Apple hint and worked very diligently to keep the spoiling a secret until Mother’s Day. Verizon is apparently run by a rag-tag team of incompetent orphans and they managed to disconnect my old phone, spill the beans when I called customer service to inquire and break Rocky’s heart.

I wasn't helping as I whined about having to learn a new operating system.  No more right click.  Texts are in a different place.  My opposable thumbs aren't quite opposable enough for those tiny buttons. 

But I love it. It wasn’t a Navy Seal operation. It wasn’t a royal affair. But it is going to change my life and yours. Now you will get copious amounts of updates that look like this:
You're welcome.