Friday, July 29, 2011

Flashback Friday: High on the Hog

My mom and I travelled to Knoxville a good fifteen months before my wedding to start planning.  It was going to be a quick trip and our agenda was packed with dress shopping, visits to churches and a wide range of reception locations.  With my limited knowledge of Knoxville, I had narrowed our focus to a hotel ballroom, historic home overlooking the Smoky Mountains, a catering hall with character and a barbecue joint.

The day was long and I was getting discouraged with prices and logistics.  I knew I was going to have to make some sacrifices from my Father of the Bride fantasies, but I didn't think I'd have to settle on a reception with one bathroom or a walk along the train tracks.  So, when I entered the event space above the barbecue joint, I knew I had found a winner.  There were floor to ceiling windows on three walls with views overlooking the Tennessee River.  I wouldn't have to rent tents and there were enough bathrooms to accomodate my 100+ guest list, not to mention the amazing menu.  It was almost perfect.

I could only identify one major problem.  The hostess stand proudly sold pig hats.  Sure, I wanted my guests from California, Washington and Minnesota to get a taste of Tennessee culture, but I didn't think their first impression should be of Porky the Pig.  I let my snobby side take a backseat to the practical and signed the contracts.  When I got back to DC, Any Tom, Dick or Bobby that asked about our wedding plans would get an earnest warning and an earful of the pig hats.  I did not want anyone to think I had fooled myself into believing I had secured the Taj Mahal for the festivities.

I should have known I was asking for it. At the end of the night, our best man gave me a pig hat to celebrate. But at that point in the evening, the dj had already played Cotton Eyed Joe and Rocky Top not once, but twice. There were no airs left to be had. Four years later, I can finally repay him for his generosity.

What We Learned: Nine Months

This past month has served up plenty of change.  While Bennett got off to a rough start, he learned to roll with the punches and adapt to the new people, new places, new sounds and new schedules.  I think all of this newness has led Bennett to cling to the old and familiar, mainly mom.  I certainly don't mind.  He's learned to show his old lady lots of love.

Bennett learned to reach his arms out for me.

We learned that a two bedroom condo is a tight fit for four adults, a baby and a dog.

Bennett learned to clap.

We learned how to harmonize to "yay Bennett."

Bennett learned that mobility is a good thing.

We learned to live with a month's worth of clutter in one bedroom.

Bennett learned that you can get from one point to another rolling.

We learned that we have too much stuff.

Bennett learned to wiggle his butt.

We learned that we couldn't have done this without the grandparents and the world's greatest aunt.

Bennett learned to give kisses, just in time to show his appreciation.

You'd think with all this stuff, we'd have thought to pack the camera chords.  Yay Bennett and Yay for iPhones!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Flashback Friday: Bar Boy

Three and a half years ago, we gathered to celebrate our friends Chris and Katie's wedding.  When two former school classmates walk down the aisle, it's a good excuse for a reunion and another opportunity to reminisce.  But, you would think that with a table of reasonably intelligent lawyers, they'd pick up on a subtle detail.  We were seated at "October 17, 2007."  It took appetizers, the salad course and a story from the bride for us to realize October 17 was also Pass Day.  You would think passing the bar is an unforgettable event, no?

I left Rocky home with Bennett the week before the bar exam.  The last time around, I distracted Rocky from studying with a move, a wedding and a honeymoon.  I hope a few nights apart and a few night shifts with the baby don't change the outcome.  Send the boy lots of positive thoughts and a few prayers this week!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Big Fish in a Small Pond

When I interviewed for my job, a member of the board asked me if I thought this position was perhaps a step backward on my career path.  Since I was well on my way to being Supreme Ruler of the Universe, I had to be honest.  I was looking forward to being a big fish in a small pond.  But in the past three weeks, I've learned I am more a guppy, and less baracuda.  At least I have learned that my pond most closely resembles a fish bowl.  

To prove my point and ruffle my feathers (or bloat my gils?):
  • The news of my hire made the front page of the Nashville newspaper's real estate section.  Above the fold.  Color picture.  Thankfully, not google-able. 
  • Every meeting from Chamber of Commerce to the County Commission begins with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance.  Welcome to the buckle of the bible belt!
  • My second week of work, I worked a twelve hour day.  That never once happened in my seven years in Washington.
  • Following my first committee meeting, I received a round of applause.  I wish I could take more credit for a job well done, but I think they were just grateful I am of the bashful guppy type and not a long-winded, blow-hard politico. 
But being a big fish in a small pond has also led to swimming in the deep end.  I'm in Memphis for a conference.  I thought my Washington expertise prepared me for leading a small association's political efforts.  Wrong.  I have so much to learn.  I am filling my days with break-out sessions on coalition building, fundraising and ethics and filling my belly with lots of barbecue. 

It's also the longest I've been away from Bennett and I miss him terribly.  Irony of ironies, I missed Bennett's first time in the pool.  Like his momma, he took to it like a fish to water.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jump for Joy

It's hard to tell what might have made this three year old girl jump for joy.  Perhaps I was being lured with promises of Cheez Its or greeted by Rainbow Bright herself. Maybe I just liked those fuzzy pink ribbons in my pigtails.

Today, it's no secret what is making me jump for joy.  Yesterday, the final papers were signed on the sale of our house.  We signed on the dotted line.  The funds were transferred.  The keys were handed over to the new owners.  It's a wonderful exclamation point on the end of our time in Arlington.  Sold!

Yet, it's still hard to close that chapter.  I loved our little house.Everyone always remarked how much they liked our little porthole window, painted shut.  Folks wondered what was behind that little door on the stairs,72 year old plumbing.

I'll never forget when Atticus jumped into the window seat, only to find the door open and he fell inside.  We realized he had gotten stuck inside 10 minutes later, all alone.
Our fabulous kitchen.  It wasn't our blood sweat and tears that went into the remodel, but we did have to survive eight weeks of construction and subsisted on pizzas during a blizzard. 
The original tile floors in the bathroom.  The original windows that depending on the day, wouldn't open.  The fireplace with the flue that we could never quite figure out.
Goodbye little house!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Week In Pictures and a Return to Normalcy

We're still bunking with the grandparents.  With Rocky's arrival, Bennett seems to be back to his normal, smiley self.  This also allows for extra cuddle time and lounging until noon in our jammies.
Deep Thoughts
When Grandma Babysits, Forget About Bedtime
Captain Peg Leg's Pirate School -- Learn to Say Argh!
Gimme Your Booty and No One Gets Hurt

Friday, July 8, 2011

Flashback Friday: Tooth Fairy

I remember the day I lost my first tooth like it was yesterday.  Being one of the youngest students in my class growing up, I was always behind on the developmental milestone curve compared to my peers.  That poor six year old was just devastated that she had yet to lose a tooth!

I was totally delighted to learn that bottom tooth was finally beginning to budge.  I worked on that little tooth for days and days.  It eventually popped out and I ran around the house showing it off to my disgusted parents and jealous baby sister.  Victory and bloody gums were mine!

Perhaps I got a bit too excited because in all of my celebrating, that baby tooth went flying into the air and disappeared.  I cried buckets knowing that I had lost my chance of a big tooth fairy payout.  My parents tried to console me and promised that the tooth fairy would undoubtedly make an exception for losing my first tooth twice in one day.  I wasn't going to give up and I found that tooth miraculously before bedtime to tuck it safely under my pillow.

When I called my sister to give her the big news that Bennett's top teeth were coming in, I worried that they were a little, shall we say, big for baby teeth?  She told me not to worry, he'd lose them one day.  I had to remind poor Mary that they would just come in even bigger!  At least with teeth that size, I don't have to worry about losing them in the couch cushions.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Where in the world is Shrimp and Kings?

BB King at a Burger King in Somewheresville, VA
Bennett and I left Rocky behind in Virginia and have landed safely in Nashville.  At least we are safe in the physical sense.  We had a smooth, uneventful ride down here, in large (or whole) part, thanks to my sister.  She was able to keep that little boy entertained and content for all but a wee bit of the drive.  She’s nothing short of a miracle worker.

I’m just not so sure about the emotional sense.  Bennett has been, shall we say, challenging?  He goes to bed on the central time zone, but wakes up on the EST.  Besides poor night sleeping, he skips naps.  He gnaws on a finger as if he’s teething, but I don’t see any buds.  He’s hungry all the time.  He is happy and content playing on the floor with cups and spoons, but the minute he sees me, he fusses.  I can’t decide if it’s general, “mom where have you taken me and why have you passed on your fear of change gene” or, perhaps, I’m just a reminder that dad is nowhere to be found.  It breaks my heart.

I can’t decide if I broke Rocky’s heart too.  He loves his job and the fear of the unknown is scary, even for people who welcome change.  His coworkers have offered free legal advice in the form of divorce papers.   Hardy har har.

Maybe it is the temporary state of things that has us all in a dither.  We are bunking with my parents until we can move into semi-permanent digs in August.  From there, we’ll be renting a townhouse on a short-term lease so we can take our time to find the perfect house and answer the eternal to ‘burb or not to ’burb question.  

I have to remind myself of just how lucky I am that our dream of moving to Nashville finally came true, speed bumps and all. My job is going to be a great challenge and I'm fortunate to have great coworkers.  My sister happened to have almost two weeks off from work so I didn't have to make any rash childcare decisions.  Our house sold in six days.  My friend bought us a house and in turn, provided us with the perfect rental solution.  These things don't just happen unless they are supposed to.  I guess I am just surprised that despite how easily the logistics of this move seemed to fall into place, my head and heart can't keep up. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Flashback Friday: Seven Year Itch

Jefferson, Cherry Blossoms and Awkward Poses
After living here for seven years, this move is a bit bittersweet.  When I get emotional about the change, I have to remind myself of those things I will not miss.

Traffic.  It can be 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon and it will take you an hour to get home from the grocery store.  I could wax poetic about this gripe for years.  I have wasted entirely too much time sitting on the beltway, GW parkway, 66, 395, Glebe and Columbia Pike.  It’ll be so nice to be stuck in traffic in a new city, West End, 440, Hillsboro.
Memorial Day 2002
Parking.  Can you believe I have to pay to park at the shopping mall?  Worse, there are meters at the freaking grocery store.  I can’t wait to sneak my mommy car between the SUVs, and pick-up trucks in spots that don’t cost a penny. 
High cost of living.  Babysitters can make $20 an hour.  When you’re dining out you can spend $16 for a side of macaroni and cheese and $10 for a glass of house cabernet.  Gas costs an extra quarter when you cross the Potomac.  A half a million dollars will get you a quaint cottage in a transitional neighborhood in the ‘burbs. 
My First DC Roomie and My First Internship
Security scares.  Snipers, bomb threats, planes entering no fly zones, every siren makes you wonder if there isn’t something extra serious and extra scary heading our way.
Tourists.  They clog the streets.  They walk slow.  They get lost and stand at the top of the escalator, causing pedestrian-jams.  They stop in rush hour traffic to take a picture of the White House from their car window.  It’s hard to believe the next time I’m here, I’ll be one of them.
My Arlington Roomie--2004
Transients.  I can’t tell you how many friends I have had in the seven years I’ve been a resident up and move away.  They go back to school.  They get married.  They get a new job.  They move closer to family.  Oh wait…

And then there are those things we will miss.
Congressman Martin Olav Sabo and his Infamous Green Blazer--2007
Museums.  Restaurants.  Delivery.  Fresh seafood.  Direct flights.  Public Transportation.  Passing the White House on my way to work.  Guapos.  Our Church.  The Babysitter.  Our neighbors.  Afternoons at the vineyards.  Friends.  Friends who fix things.  Cupcakes with Amber.  Bobby.  Seven years of memories. 

I met Rocky here.  I started my career here.  We got engaged here.  We brought our first house here.  Bennett was born here.  I can't believe today I say goodbye.  It's sometimes been a love-hate relationship with this town.  I know that this place will always have a very special place in my heart and who knows, maybe one day we'll be back.  Maybe you'll be posing with your camera on my front lawn.