Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What We Learned: Eight Months

It has been a crazy eight months.  For the first seven, I thought the moms and dads who said “this is their favorite age” every month were crazy.  Sure, babies get more interesting and more fun with each day.  The crying diminishes.  The smiles increase.  The developmental milestones start piling up.  But here I am, ready to shout from the rooftops that eight months is definitely my favorite age.

Bennett learned to use a sippy cup.

We learned that some milestones come easier than others.

Bennett learned to wave.

We learned that although he might master a skill, his timing is always a little off.

Bennett learned to reach to pull up.

We learned that it’s useless to put this kid on his tummy to practice crawling, he’ll just roll back over.

Bennett learned to stand on his own two feet.

We learned to accept our child might skip crawling and go straight to walking.

Bennett learned babbling is more fun than being well behaved.

We learned eight months of interrupted sleep leads to medical conditions.  See dry eye.

Bennett learned to fall asleep cuddling with his favorite book.

We learned that a straw can keep a baby happy and entertained for hours.

Bennett learned that hanging upside down is so much fun.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Week In Pictures

Happy Saturday and gratuitous posting of pictures.  Of A Kid.  Who. Needs. Another. Haircut. 
First Time With A Sippy Cup
Pajama Day
Proud Rider
Father's Day on the Mini-Links
Helping Dad Put-Put
Future Member of Congress--No Pressure, Kid

Friday, June 24, 2011

Flashback Friday: I Like to Move It Move It

It's hard to believe, but that hoochy mama in the mini-dress is five-year-old Allison on moving day.  I was dressed for the heavy lifting in a blue frock with a catepillar applique, my pearls and my beloved yellow and purple high top converse.  I loved those shoes so much I gave them a nickname, my banana shoes.  My admiration for fugly footwear rubbed off on Mary and she begged me to loan them to her.   But she was only allowed to wear those shoes on special occassions, like when she went ten minutes without hitting me in the face.  I bet there's a companion photograph around here somewhere in a diaper and those shoes.

My family was moving from Brooklyn Park to jolly old New Brighton.  My parents were tired of their long commute and crappy schools.  I'd be moving to a new neighborhood with no friends just in time for my sixth birthday and a couple weeks before the start of a new school year.  I was scared and anxious.  Good thing I had a pair of banana shoes to break the ice.
He's about as helpful as the lady in pearls.  Good thing he's cute.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Major League Bennett

We took Bennett to his first Major League baseball game last week.  We had a stretch of mild weather and a baby who given the right amount of stimulation, would be willing to stay up past his bedtime.  I remember going to games when I was young, armed with coloring books and dolls.  I'm not sure I ever went when I was as young as Bennett.  However, with our days in Washington numbered, it was now or never.
 Allison, Bennett and Mr. Jefferson
The National Anthem
 Top of the Second Inning and a Top Tooth
Enjoying the National Past Time in The Nation's Capital
And like a fat kid in baseball, he's out.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our Best Friend

I hate to admit a part of me was afraid to have a baby because I didn't want to share Rocky.  I knew he would fall in love with our child and I would only get to keep a part of him for myself.  He's so good at supporting, providing and caring, it was hard to believe that it wouldn't all be for just me anymore.  At some point, I came to the realization that I couldn't be selfish anymore because those same things he was so good at would be the same things that would make him a great father.

Sadly, I've learned I have to share Bennett too.  He is so enamored with his father, it seems Bennett already knows he has a best friend for life.  I can be feeding him and he'll hear Rocky's voice two floors away and he'll turn around to look for him.  He will stop crying at the sight of his dad entering the room.  I have to work hard to get the giggles, but Rocky just has to smile.  It is hard knowing that I am the one doing all of the work and Rocky gets to take all of the credit. 

Yet, I know Bennett is so lucky to have him for a dad.  Rocky is good at the baby stuff, the raspberries on the tummy, the bedtime lullabies and the storybook readings.  But Bennett is only going to get luckier as the years go by.  Rocky has a true passion for cartoons and can't wait to share his love with his son.  There will be put put outings and a lifetime of Saturdays watching SEC football.  He'll teach him how to make pancakes and tie a tie. 

Bennett is going to have the best best friend in his father.  I know Rocky to be a good listener, a good adviser, and a strong shoulder to cry on.  I've been lucky enough to have him for a best friend for nine years and Bennett gets him for life. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Flashback Father

I have bragged on my dad in the past for his "hands-on parenting" style.  For my birthday, like any hands-on dad is apt to do, he wore a hat like all of my other tea party guests.  He was also known to play Barbies with me when a friend cancelled at the last minute.  He hated to see me disappointed, so he'd get down on the floor and decorate Barbie's dream home or don a hat to participate in the festivities.  The sentiment continues; I think if he could sell my house for me or evict the renters from the perfect Nashville townhouse, he'd do it. 

It is going to be so wonderful to have him be a hands-on grandparent too.  Being nearby, my dad will still be able to do the big things, the trips to the zoo and the football games but he'll also be able to pick him up from school, take him to the park with Atticus and be present for the boy scout derby races.  My dad has wanted to live close for years and with a grandson in the picture, it has become an even bigger priority.  On Bennett's birthday I don't imagine him wearing a floral hat, but I could definitely see him dressed as the guest of honor in a monkey suit.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Pizza Man

Bennett had his first taste of pizza over the weekend.
I think he liked it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I would love to introduce you to our Frank's room.  What's that you say?  You haven't met Frank?  Frank, our fake kid, came along just in the nick of time to stage the fake third bedroom.

You see, our third bedroom is only accessible through Bennett's room.  Arlington is notorious for older homes with "quirky" layouts.  Frank's room is the third bedroom above the garage.  It has angled ceilings, built-in shelves, and is one of the most charming rooms in the house.  In the two years we've lived here, it's been an office, guest room, and now Frank's room.
It is legally a third bedroom, with closets and a window.  It's just unfortunate that you have to walk through the second bedroom to get there.  We had no intention of living here long enough that you'd have to worry about waking a baby, but we didn't want a buyer to cross our house off the list just because of the wonky egress.  Thank heaven little Frank came along just in the nick of time.
Frank has a thing for Elephants.
One of our lovely neighbors gave Bennett, err Frank, a vintage Babar book.  I wonder what she'll think when she comes to the open house this afternoon.
Grandma Snyder's Rocker
Lions and Legos and Elmo, Oh my!
Hand Me Downs from Baby Clarke, a U of M Jersey, and Size 6 diapers.  If only Frank would finally learn to go on the potty...
Yep, I thought of everything.  Frank even has a Cookie Monster tooth brush in the medicine cabinet and juice boxes in the fridge.  I have a soft spot in my heart for this little boy.  He got to grow up in our little Arlington house, something I dreamed Bennett getting to do.  He had his first birthday party here.  His swing hung from the viney tree.  He chased Atticus in the backyard and played with the kids across the street.  We took pictures of him with his monkey backpack on on our front step.   Little Frank is one lucky boy and I hope the next family sees it too.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Flashback Friday: Welcome to the Jungle

Let’s count the number of things wrong with this picture.

1) Face cutouts are for kids, right? Me, Jane, has a figure that would make Barbie blush.

2) Zoos are for kids, right?  I am not so sure that describing your time as a “swinging good” one is exactly appropriate.

3) I think they copied that monkey from the infamous Grease Monkey beer ad.  Very questionable for age appropriate behavior.

4) You know what they say about a man with big feet.

5) Bennett is looking more and more like Tarzan, or rather Mary, when she was little. Too bad you can only see her from the eyes up. I guess the hair has a resemblance, no?

In the meantime, welcome to the jungle that is my life in the midst of a cross-country relocation disaster. Be prepared for lots of whining about packing, cleaning, showing, juggling dogs and babies and hiding the evidence that either exist. Maybe I just need to take Bennett to Naples until the packing, cleaning and selling is all behind me. Moving, my friends, is not a swinging good time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Biscuits and Patience

Two weekends ago, I started a batch of biscuits. I had made biscuits before of the pop-tube, mix and from scratch variety. I however, had never made an authentic Southern recipe that called for Southern flour. The lovely Virginia Willis waxed poetic about the differences and I bought her argument, and a fourth variety of flour to clutter my pantry.

I read her gluten explanation much more thoroughly than I read the recipe. That Sunday, we were having our friends, the NewlyWeirs for Sunday Supper. Rocky was making fried chicken and corn on the cob. I was responsible for the macaroni and cheese and biscuits. Bennett sat on the floor, and played with a wooden spoon for an hour, while I measured, proofed the yeast, accidentally doubled the sugar, kneaded the dough and consulted the recipe again. “Refrigerate overnight or up to one week.” Hmm, I didn’t think our friends were eager to wait overnight, even if these were the best darned biscuits they’d ever had.
Instead, I’d make them the next day for our impromptu barbecue. I kneaded the dough five more times, then consulted the recipe again, “allow to rest for one hour or overnight.” Well, fiddle dee dee, our guests were set to arrive any minute. Back to the fridge, again.

Tuesday night, the biscuits were finally ready. I let them come to room temperature and put them in the oven. They came out looking perfect. They had risen. They were browned and soft. They tasted great too, if a little sweet.
I had made multiple attempts to finish what seemed like an easy task, sort of like our attempts to relocate to Tennessee.  But, our patience has paid off.  I accepted a public affairs position for a small association in Williamson County.  I start in July.  We never imagined it would be my career to take us back home.

It's a lot to stomach.  We are finally being given the opportunity we've been dreaming of for years, it just isn't happening quite how we envisioned it.  It has been a lot harder to say goodbye and the uncertainty of what lies ahead is daunting.  I just have to hope that the outcome is as perfect as those biscuits, maybe even a little sweet.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Flashback Friday: Decadent Delight!

Four years ago tomorrow someone finally out-did Rocky in the doting department. Too bad I had to travel all the way to Jamaica to find such treatment. The maids, the bartenders, the waiters, the ladies at the spa and the beach boys catered to our every crazy request and the then responded with even more decadent treatment that I could even imagine. Sorry Ritz. The Royal Plantation has you beat.   

When I imagined our Carribbean honeymoon, my dream destination had to include a balcony.  It was the ideal place for a room service delivery of chocolate pancakes overlooking the ocean. Luckily after a really-not-so annoying and very, very minor water leak, we were upgraded to the Prime Minister's Suite, which had TWO balconies - meaning TWICE the pancakes!
 Everyday we relaxed on the beach noshing on the local favorites from the beachside grill and enjoying many, many tropical drinks. On the whole, we likely consumed our daily calorie intake in dirty bananas or classic rum punches.
To place our order, adjust our chair or raise or lower our umbrella, all we had to do was wave our little flag.  Too bad we couldn't wave a little flag to have them reposition my floppy hat or whisper in my ear that my skimpy bikini was a little too skimpy to be photographed. There may have been a few outfit malfunctions. Rocky, however, never alerted me of these issues. So much for his doting.
At 10:00 every day, the beach boys came around and sprayed the guests with rosewater and placed cucumbers on our eyes.  They simply wouldn't allow us to put the cucumbers on our own eyes.  How gauche. All and all, it was by far our most decadent trip ever. A trip that we will always remember. Now, the doting is still there, but not to that level. Rocky simply does not seem to respond when I wave that blue flag.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Four years ago today, I married my best friend.  Thanks to its arrival in accordance to Memorial Day, we're cursed with an anniversary date that will forever be shared with everyone else's wedding and anniversaries and sales on sofabeds and Saturns. 

The holiday shares so many other memories of my past, they're hard to ignore, even during this time of marital reminiscing.  Nine years ago, Rocky and I attended the Memorial Day Concert on the Mall, the first of several incognito dates.  Seven years ago, I moved to Arlington.  Four years ago, Rocky and I merged our things into the world's smallest apartment with the world's largest bathroom.  One year ago, we found out Baby King was a B.B. 

We observed the sacred four year anniversary with a night on the town.  Yep, a date!  At night!  With a babysitter!  We ventured to Old Town Alexandria and enjoyed the four course tasting menu with wine pairings at Vermilion.  Four Courses!  Four Wines!

We started off with a bang, a soft shell crab BLT, with avocado and the tomatoes weren't just any tomatoes, they were fried green tomatoes.  So, really it was a SSCBLAFGT.  I think Rocky liked it, but not only do iPhones have poor resolution in low light, they also have poor smile translation.  That might be a "I can't believe we're that couple, AGAIN, face." 

Then we had two more courses of delicious land and sea, but I didn't want to make Rocky pretend to be having a good time posing for blog pictures.  By the last course, I threw caution to the wind and posed myself.  Let me just say the red that paired with my chocolate tart was well, not yum.  Rocky's however was more my glass of champagne.

Chocolate Tart with Virginia Peanuts and Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
My lands that is a purple shirt and a funny face.
Fourth Course, Obvi aaand I don't get out much
Four years doesn't seem like all that long until you consider how many moves, how many degrees, how many miles, how many jobs, how many dogs and babies, and how many glasses of wine have brought us here.  No matter how far we've come and how far we'll go, I couldn't imagine a better partner.