Monday, April 30, 2012

What We Learned: 18 Months

I have heard from other parents repeatedly, this is the best age.  No, really it is.  While I feel that way nearly everyday (except for the teething age), I also feel like I cry "he's so big."  No, really, he is.  He is growing and learning and thriving everyday.  I think because I revel in this, really, this is the best age- age, it is hard to believe that the next one could get any better.  And then it does.  But sadly, the growing doesn't stop.  I love this tiny person age, this tiny person size.  I want him to get bigger, stronger, smarter, but with each new inch, new ounce, new learned skill, we're leaving behind the baby, toddler, and little boy he was just a day ago.  I know I am going to miss this and it's hard not to see the passing of time as the closing of a chapter. 

Bennett learned he can reach things on the kitchen counter.

We learned nothing is safe.

Bennett learned to love sticks.

We learned he doesn't like worms.

Bennett learned he doesn't like to share.

We learned that mine can be a person's favorite word.

Bennett learned to pull hair, earrings, and tails.

We learned that nothing is safe from sticky fingers.

Bennett learned to give hugs when you are sad.

We learned Bennett has a heart of gold.

PS, his monthly photo is coming, but bedtimes and wake up times were not cooperating...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thoughtless Thursday

Do you ever have those days where your brain stops working?  Like maybe you've officially burned all your brain cells watching Bravo?  No, just me?  Ok, well anyway, here is an iPhone photo dump to help you survive the blog post draught. 

Did you know that sippy cups mate and have babies and multiply in odd numbers?  Sadly, they also die in multiples.  Why can't they make a sippy cup that works and keeps on working?

Speaking of sippy cups, look at this big boy.  It looks like he should have something in a beer coozie not a sippy, amiright?  When did he get so old?  I have a small person in my house these days.

I have a small person that likes to go on long walks on the beach, or at least the neighborhood sidewalk.  Knowing his love of sticks and stones, I don't think he could handle the excitement over the sand anyway.  Or at least his taste buds couldn't.
Also in my neighborhood?  Ducks.  They apparently enjoy a swim every now and again, even in chlorine infested waters.  It's proving to be ideal entertainment for dogs, cats and small people alike.

And on an entirely different note...I read this quote recently and think it is so perfect, I had to share, from blogger Rebecca Woolf:

"One of the greatest gifts of parenthood is the act of routinely falling harder and even more in love with one's children. If this comes off as saccharine and totally annoying, I don't care. It's true...there are times when I'll take a look at one of my kids and fall over inside. It's equal parts, who are you and I'm not worthy." 

I see that little boy and his wonder for the ducks and the blocks, and the JUICE JUICE JUICE and I can't help but feel the same way.  When Kenny Chesney asked what is the secret to life, I can't help but feel I've already found it.  So, maybe I am not entirely thoughtless.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dining with Kids, The Restaurant Chronicles Part II

If the number of utensils and the drool are any indication, this kid likes to eat too.
If my mind isn't occupied with houses and real estate, it's distracted with menus and restaurants and chef recommendations. With a toddling little boy in tow, my passion for epicurean endeavors is rarely fulfilled these days. Recent attempts have left Rocky and I tag-teaming the little monster in the parking lot, or leaving Ms. Mimi to chase the kid around bustboys and waitstaff while we shove our holes with piping hot entrees. The screams and the fights weren't worth tasting plates or even a night away from dirty dishes.
Nothing to do with this post, just a pretty face.
Yet, my tastebuds seemed to be pulling be back to give it one more try. And then, we had not one, but two uneventful meals in a restaurant. I don't want to say we're turning a corner or have found the answer to my appetite's prayers. But I think we may have found a few tips that may help other parents that face similar culinary conundrums.
1. Open kitchen. We like places that we can sit at a stool and watch the chef (or pizza flipper) work their magic. It keeps antsy little boys entertained for longer than 2.3 seconds, unlike crayons, straws, matchbox cars or iPhones.

2. Establishments where you place your order and then take a seat. This cuts down on wait time both for drinks, tables, and that pesky preparation time.

3. Dining at 4:30. Perhaps the most obvious, but we have failed at this in the past. The boy's not hungry and if he gets up and walks around or sprays patrons with barbecue sauce, he's only bothering other parents of tender sweet young things.

So, while our options may be more limited than they once were. We seem to be able to get out of the house once in a while and enjoy each other's company, and sometimes even the food!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

I suppose because I can't say y'all without a grimmace on my face, I get asked multiple times a day/week/hour where I am from.  Back in the day, my response was Minnesota.  For a while I said DC, because I had spent the last seven years there building a career, a family and a life.  Then, folks started to wonder what the heck I was doing in Nashville because why would someone from DC or Minnesota find themselves in Tennessee, bless her heart? 

Now, I feel compelled to just say I'm a gypsy and leave it at that.  It feels like I'm not from anywhere.  Grandma is still up North.  My closest friends are not only on opposing coasts, but also other continents.  My parents live in Nashville now, but this isn't where I grew up.  It's just as confusing for strangers as it is confusing to me.

When I was visiting Washington just three months ago, when my plane landed, I felt overcome by melancholy.  As the plane descended, I could see my old church, my old neighborhood, my favorite park.  This was my home, but I wasn't coming back, I was merely visiting.  It hurt. 

When I recently negotiated a trip back, I assumed the same homesickness would hit on the tarmack.  It didn't.  I was busy with work, networking with talented people, and walking the streets of a part of town that wasn't "mine."  I showed my new colleagues my favorite haunts with a bit of nostalgia, but the bartender didn't serve my favorite cocktail anymore.  I squeezed in a quick visit with my old boss, but his office had moved.  Places are changing and lives are moving on.  As the bumps of our move continue to reverberate, at least I know that I don't have that same hole in my heart.  Because it will always be there, just a new place of a new time. 

And then, I'm reminded what a wonderful, beautiful city it is.  I happened to be in a meeting two blocks from the Mall as the space shuttle took its last few laps over the nation's capitol.  I got to be there for that brief moment, in the right place at the right time.  Just like it was meant to be. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

High Five, Low Five

High Five

1. We found a cute house
2. It had a southern front porch
3. It was in my dream neighborhood
4. We won a bidding war
5. Bank quickly approved us for a steal of a deal

Low Five
1. My second favorite governor allowed a bill to become law that would allow creationism to be taught in schools.
2. Bennett fell off a tricycle and got a major booboo owie aw man.
3. We had to call an ambulance for a coworker's health scare.
4.  We learned the house was in a floodplain.
5.  We had to walk away.

It was another one of those kind of days, weeks aw man's.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tisket a Tasket Buckets Make a Good Basket

For a boy who loves to be outside and loves to pick up rocks, sticks, and clean the house, a bucket seemed like a better bunny solution than a basket.  Momma was right.
The weather was beautiful in Walland for a second year in a row.  Mark my words, next year, we'll be forced to wear galoshes and snow pants.
 He did pretty well in church, all things considered.  He made it through his favorite parts of the service, just in time to be excused to go play with the big kids in a game of play laundry.
He knew just what to do when it came time to hunt eggs.  Looks like his school tuition is finally paying off.  That practice round of egg hunting prepared him for selecting just the right egg, shaking the plastic thing to listen for contents and dumping it in his bucket. 

He had a good time with his cousin Harper too.  She gladly traded for the pink ones.  They exchanged hugs, held hands and went on wagon rides.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What I Envisioned

Rocky and I discussed our move to Nashville for years and years.  There were several images I had in mind when I fantasized about our life in Tennessee.

Relaxing on our Front Porch

I would broaden my appreciation for southern literature beyond Pat Conroy, Katherine Stockett and Lee Smith to include Eudora Welty and William Faulkner.

We would perfect our recipes for fried chicken and peach cobbler.

We would subscribe to Southern Living, Garden and Gun and American Rifleman

We would attend the Derby, not just Derby Parties

Our children's wardrobes would be filled with monogrammed couture.

But sometimes our reality is a little different.  Our home resembles more sharecropper shack than southern bungalow.  Our days are filled with near-90 degree temperatures in March, bugs the size of Texas, and burnt chicken.  And then there are those nasty opossums.

  That's what today feels like.  The South is biting back!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

So, you are having a baby?

As I previously mentioned, it's baby season again.  Several dear friends of mine have found themselves knocked-up, with child, and in the family way.  I am elated and excited not only for a new squishy baby but for new opportunities to share my wisdom and know-it-allness.  One lovely mother-to-be recently asked me what she should be doing right now to prepare for her pending arrival.  I figured she couldn't possibly be the only one seeking my sage advice.  Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity and give the future baby mamas a step-by-step guide to this beautiful time of preparation and growth.

Week 5: Pee on a stick.  Hurrah!  You are 1/8th of the way through your pregnancy and you didn't even know it.  Tell your baby daddy.  Tell Allison.  Not only is she an expert at keeping secrets, you will need her knowledge and know-how to make it through the next nine months.  Buy yourself some baby books (May I recommend Your Pregnancy Week by Week).  Read up on the growing and the changing.

Weeks 5-12: Glow.  Sleep.  If you didn't do it the day you pulled the goalie, get on daycare waiting lists.  Draft your Cradle List.

Weeks 5-40: Go out to dinner.  I recommend fancy places with dim lighting.  Other things to keep in mind, very quiet or very loud, preferrably only serving drinks served in martini glasses.  You will forget what they look like if you don't get it out of your system now. 

Week 13: Tell your friends, family, the mailman, the barista.  Announcing my pregnancy was one my favorite parts of being pregnant.  When people get over the shock (or the fear that they'll never see you again), their faces light up, they give you big hugs, and tears may form in their eyes.  Maybe the mailman will fear for the impending barrage of cards and packages, and barista will second guess your decaf or full-caff choices, but most everyone else will rejoice.

Week 14: Buy yourself some extra hair-ties so you can extend your non-maternity wardrobe.

Week 15: Discover that hair-ties are getting you nowhere.  Burn through your child's college fund with an excessive order to 

Week 16: Register for prenatal yoga.  Tell your boss.  Don't tell them too early, because you want them to start to get the hint before you spill the beans.  You don't want to catch them by too much of a surprise, so I recommend wearing tented blouses, orthopedic shoes and announcing that you can't eat unpasteurized cheese.  You also want to tell them early enough so they realize that they cannot live without you and will beg to take you back, reduced schedule, pumping room and all. 

Week 17: Con your doctor into giving you an early ultrasound so you can start envisioning pink or blue.

Week 20: Start asking your friends, neighbors and the barista for pediatrician recommendations.  Sleep.

Week 22: Call your dear friend Allison for baby registry advice. She's killed her registry and she knows what she's talking about.

Week 26: Defend your cankles.  Sleep. Read some books about baby sleep.

Week 28: Register for a childbirth class.  If you're going to try to breastfeed, read some books on that.

Week 30: Sleep.

Week 31: If you haven't already done so, get yourself a maid.

Week 32: Build some sympathy.  Start laying a guilt trip about your aching back, your heartburn, your acne.  Leave earmarked Tiffany's catalog lying on the sofa.

Week 33: Graciously accept a surprise prenatal massage.  Oh honey, you shouldn't have!

Week 36: Install carseat.  Sleep.

Week 37-38: Assemble all that plastic crap people gave you as gifts, pack-and-play, stroller, swing.  pack your hospital bag.

Week 39:  Go out to dinner.  Every night.  Sleep.

Week 40: Tell that baby to get out get out get out.

Welcome Baby.

Call Allison and tell her what a genius she is and you couldn't have done it without her. Invite her over to snuggle with that little baby so you can get yourself some sleep.