Friday, June 29, 2012

What We Learned: 20 Months

The best smiles always come with the most drool.

At twenty months, my son is hilarious.  My son is smart.  Bennett is headstrong, stubborn and knows what he wants. Ironically, in the past month he has also started mimicking.  I'd like to think the two things are not related.  The foot stomping is not a good reflection on me or his father. 

Bennett learned to count to two.

We learned that mimicking loses its appeal somewhere between two and three.

Bennett knows what sound most animals make, can correctly identify body parts, and say "cheese."

We learned to finally disregard milestone charts.

Bennett learned to speak in full sentences.

We learned about hiding bunnies.

Bennett learned that "woah" is an appropriate response in 90% of situations.

We learned that Atticus can in fact pop a rubber ball.

Bennett learned that telling a good story never gets old.

We learned that perhaps you can show too much enthusiasm.

Bennett learned to say his name.

We learned that claiming you  need to use the potty is a fabulous bedtime stall tactic. 

Bennett learned a fabulous fake laugh.

We learned that he takes after both his parents more than we like to think.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

B is for BIG

A Bennett anecdote while you wait patiently for house pictures...

Bennett found a pair of tractor pajamas I bought for him to grow into.  They were a size or two too big, but he dragged them out to show me and I had to explain to him they were not his size, he'd have to grow big to wear them.  Last night he pulled them out again and pointed to the tractors and pretended to count them all.  I asked if we should try them on, knowing full well they would be ridiculous since they are a 3T.  He nodded his head yes.

I put them on, and Bennett exclaimed, "I'm Big."  Yes, Bennett, yes you are so big!

But your waist is still tiny!

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Go Back

To say I had a whirlwind weekend would be an understatement.  I had a wild and crazy 36 hours.  Where do I begin...
I had a 6:15 AM flight to Minnesota Friday morning.  Rocky rolled over at 5:35, looked at the clock and said, what time is your flight?  We live 20 minutes from the airport...
Ole Valet!
Thanks to the Valet, and no thanks to the American Airlines ticket counter, I made it to my gate where I was greeted with a "You must be Allison."  Thank you to the travel gods that this was the only hiccup of my exhausting trip.

If only this had armholes like a snuggie, I'd be in blogging business.
 I remembered I forgot my book as I was running out the door, so the Skymall catalog was my only in-flight entertainment on my BNA-ORD flight.  Good thing it's entertaining...
For the record, I did not order the Johnson.
I had a lovely breakfast for lunch with Gramma June.  She did a fantastic job finding the most Minnesota establishment in Nordeast.  We enjoyed a cup of joe with an order of eggs, chicken decor and a side of uff da.
The heaviest wedding gift in the history of wedding gifts.
I raced to the mall so Anne and I could procure a present for the bride.  It was practical, thoughtful, and required a small forklift to deliver.

I made a small detour to visit my childhood home.  If the changes they made from the exterior are any indication, I don't think they kept the butter yellow walls and the ballerina posters from my room.  Obviously, they don't know a thing about home decor.
Sold Out Jill and Mike!
The real reason for my trip back, a very Jill wedding.  Creative, personal, and lots of pasta.  Not unlike the worlds heaviest wedding present.

Three Amigas
We may grow up, get married and have babies, but I'll always be an amazon compared to my Minnesota friends. 
Note the strangers up ahead.
On the fourth and final flight of my 24 hour adventure, I finally was able to close my eyes and catch up on my sleep.  I woke up approximately twenty minutes later to a plane full of applause.  Apparently, a couple a few rows ahead of me got engaged in seat 6B.  Thank goodness I do not know the happy couple because I cannot handle another four flights in 24 hours anytime soon.
Ground Control to Major Bennett
I made it home just in time to hear Bennett exclaim, "I pooped."  Thanks hun, I missed you too.  We got to play at home for the first time in our new home without having to take "blow our nose breaks."  Being a mom can be so glamorous. 
Yeah, the sun was bright, but it was HOT!
As if I hadn't packed in enough into a 36 hour period, Rocky and I made it to the Kenny Chesney-Tim McGraw concert in 90 something degree heat.  While the Minnesotans last night were complaining about the balmy 70 something temperatures, Tennesseans took it in stride.  Tim wore the tightest white jeans I've ever seen a man wear, even Faith couldn't help but say something nice. 

While an extra day home with Major Bennett, and an evening with Tim, Kenny, Faith, and the Brentwood Marching Band were pretty darn good excuses for an abbreviated trip, I can't help but feel a wee bit (or a lot bit) guilty for not stretching my trip back into a longer vacation.  That's why the Bennett-Allison show will be doing an extended tour this September.  So, my adoring Minnesota fan base, fear not, we'll be back in your neck of the woods just in time for the mosquitoes to start dissipating, green lakes to appear, and sadly, just after everything on a stick season.  Minnesota misses me, and I miss it.  Back where I come from!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Flashback Friday: 10!

Ten years years.  Ten years!  That is a whole lot of years folks.  Ten years is a respectable amount of time no matter how you look at it.  Ten years of friendship?  A lot of years.  Ten years since graduation?  A lot of years.  Ten years in the clink?  A lot of years.  More than ten years of the same hair cut?  A lot of years.

Ten years ago today Rocky and I went on our very first date.  Ten years ago, I told my roommate I was going on a pity date with that annoying kid from down the hall.  Ten years ago I didn't want our new group of snarky friends to give us a hard time.  It was a summer fling, why bother getting into details?  I was secretly thrilled.  He was funny, opened doors, and obviously was going to pick up the check.  How could I say no?

We ventured to Georgetown for Italian and then met up with said group of snarky friends for a bad movie. I enjoyed hearing about the farm where he grew up, stories about Senator Thompson, and his other summer gig, driving golf carts.  The conversation was easy and I even got to introduce him to something exotic, caesar salad.  Thanks to an audience, I didn't have to worry about awkward good night kisses.  I didn't have to worry if he would call me or not because we'd most likely bump into each other on the hallway back from brushing our teeth, shower caddies in hand.  Rocky was only in D.C. one more week and there was no pressure, we just had such a good time.

Here we are a decade later.  We just celebrated our five year wedding anniversary a few weeks ago.  We've had a baby, bought two houses, moved half-way across the country, graduated from law school, undergrad, started new careers, made new friends, traveled, ate, laughed and cried. 

Some people say that young relationships are doomed because you grow old and grow apart.  I believe we have simply grown up together.  We've helped shape each other as the adults we've become. He's more liberal and I'm more conservative.  His southern ways have become mine.  We have learned to love fine wine and fine chocolate together.  We have grown from those young naive teenagers that were afraid of what our friends thought.  I look forward to growing old together for another ten years, and many, many more.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Dad's Day

I feel so happy that I'm sharing the job of parenting with Rocky.  He steps right in with even the tough stuff, the boring stuff, the mundane stuff.  He helps me laugh, helps me cry and helps with the cleanup on aisle seven.  Bennett is such a lucky little boy to have a dad to play golf with, hang around with, read good books, watch bad television, and take in the great outdoors.  We love you Rocky!

We also love our Bompa and Poppa Rock who taught us to be kind, patient, and hardworking.  Happy dad's day to all the fathers!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


One of our first home improvement projects will be painting the exterior.  I really love the navy. Or, rather, I thought I loved the navy until I knew I had a choice.  Now, my mind is spinning with choices.  To refresh your memory, the Kings' Castle.

The tan dormer will stay because it's some kind of fancy siding. We'll keep the columns and trim white.  But from there, I'm at a loss. 

Stick with Navy?



The painter said we should probably limit it to the paint chips he provided.  Too bad he's being so limiting!  We have a few more days to decide and I'd appreciate any advice!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Urban Chicken Movement

Back in January, the Nashville City Council passed an ordinance officially allowing homeowners to raise chickens in metro backyards. Six hens are allowed per owner. Roosters are prohibited. Owners are required to maintain predator-proof coops. They must abide by noise and nuisance rules and pay a fee.

Nashville hipsters rejoiced, local, sustainable agriculture in their own backyard! I couldn't help but think this was a major step backward in shedding our backwoods hillbilly reputation, but if we can get some fresh eggs out of the deal, maybe I won't complain. Then, we bought a house in hipster central.  Meet our new neighbors.

There are six of them.  Apparently, they do not always stay in their predator-proof coops.  Bennett of course loves them.  We've met a few times already but I'm not sure I'm a fan.  I do like me some fried chicken though.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Post About Leaving Babies with the Bompa's

When I travel for work I always feel awful leaving Bennett behind, even if it's just for a night or two.  Even if I'm just leaving him with his dad. I check home often, begging for pictures, apologizing for my absence, promising to make up for the extra work, the tears, the tantrums.  Leaving him with his grandparents didn't leave me with the same guilt, at least not at first.

Maybe it's because I so desperately needed a break from the daily routine.  Maybe I needed the extra sleep.  Maybe I needed the time alone with my husband.  Maybe it's because I caught the first glimpse of the terrible twos.  While it was sad leaving him, I must admit I appreciated the thought that I'd have a few days off of bedtime duties, a few days off of packing lunches, a few days off of the diaper changing.  I might be a bad mom for admitting a sense of relief, but I had five days of distractions that kept me from being too sad or guilty.

I spent three days drafting notes for my parents. I included routines, menus, rainy day activities, emergency contacts.  I shopped for his favorite foods in case he went on a macaroni only diet while I was away.  I made a goody bag of new toys, art supplies and even a movie in case things got desperate.  There was a bottle of wine in the fridge because I knew there would be some desperate times.

The first day went well.  I got a good report from the night before.  Bennett slept in, something he doesn't do when we're on duty.  He ate pancakes and they were headed to the mall for some summer pajamas since it was already 80 degrees at 10 am.  It was all rainbows and sunshine.  I was thrilled.

Approximately 24 hours later, I made another call.  The conversation included some lovely soundbites: "This is a side of Bennett we've never seen before."  and "We'll be glad when you get home."  We wouldn't be home for another three days.  Apparently, the guilt took a late flight out to follow me to California. It wasn't invited.

But I got some happier texts later on the weekend.  Pants-less pictures.  Smiling pictures.  Bubbles pictures.  Eating a hot dog pictures.  It made me feel slightly less awful.  When I got home I was tickled when he came running to me.  I was also happy to hear he got a new tooth.  It's good to have something else to blame the toddler-ness on besides missing mommy.  I wouldn't be able to leave my child ever again.  It's also good to know that we agreed we wouldn't be traveling sans bebe for a long time, teething or otherwise.  We're not just a couple anymore.  We're a family and while absence does make the heart grow fonder, there isn't enough wine in the world to show our true appreciation.  We know what a tough job it is parenting our little stinker/barnacle/angel.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Left Coast

We left the left coast six days ago, but I've barely had a chance to sit down since.  We had an amazing five days in California and it would truly be a great American tragedy if I didn't share a recap. 

We arrived Friday afternoon  and were whisked away down The 10 to Venice.  My high school and life bff, Annie, and her husband were wonderful hosts as they showed us around their neighborhood and Santa Monica.  They gave us a three hour tour that made us feel like we'd seen it all and could head back home; where Kardashians dine, a tribe of Hari Krishnas, and $7 lattes.
Anne: I don't want to take a picture, I'm not dressed.
Allison: I have a blog to write, SMILE!

Since we got the grand tour of LA in one afternoon, we hopped in the car and headed south to San Diego.  We quickly realized we hadn't gotten the full California experience, yet so we were happy to round out our must do's with a dose of LA traffic.  Since we were arriving in San Diego later than we anticipated, we had to squeeze in our margarita tasting to Old Town.  It was worth the visit, even if it felt about as authentic as Epcot.

The majority of the weekend was spent at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spaaa.  It was lovely.  I highly recommend it if you are traveling with someone who would prefer to be within walking distance of Legoland rather than views of the Pacific Ocean.  I also recommend conning the front desk staff into getting you a room on the preferred guest floor.  One word, toiletries.

There were lots of photos such as the one seen above.  While we all have taken photography classes and could buy a liver or two on the black market with the amount of money we've spent on cameras and lenses, none of us thought to pack anything beyond an iPhone.  Cheese!

Between wedding parties, we drove to Coronado Island.  Anne's husband Pete has some baller friends that invited us for a little afternoon adventure.  We lounged around the pool drinking mimosas, playing games and cuddling with strangers' babies. It was my kind of afternoon.  But then someone suggested a bike ride.  Other than seeing old friends, watching another get married, spending some quality R&R with my husband, and tasting some fine wines, pedaling around may have been the highlight of my trip.  Oh, except the restaurant that Kim K. ate at once on that show I've only seen once.  That too. 

When we ate our last plate of curry and said our last goodbyes, we were on our way to the romantical part of our trip.  Two days in Santa Barbara were just what the (love) doctor ordered.  It was so nice to pop into an antique shop and investigate the compact discs on display (Back in my day, we called them c.d.'s, donchaknow).  We sipped wine on patios and took our time in bakeries before selecting the perfect eclairs.

On Tuesday, we hopped in the car and drove up the coast once again, this time to Los Olivos.  The landscape on its own would have been worth the trip, water as far as the eye could see to west, rocky cliffs to the east.  We started the wine tour at the larger commercial establishments, Foxen, Firestone and Curtis.  It was hard to compare the experience to what we knew in Virginia, still knowledgeable, charming staff, but this time they didn't have to grimace as they described the wine's smoky notes or sweet nose. 

Each restaurant, each hotel, each conversation and sip deserve a post of their own.  It was most certainly a vacation worthy of a five year anniversary.  Thankfully, the trip couldn't have happened at a better time.  We were tired, cranky and stressed.  California was a perfect distraction.  We are so grateful to our friends, and parents that made the trip possible.  And, I'm sure you're wondering, what did they do with that kid of theirs?  More on that next!

Friday, June 1, 2012

In my next life, I want to come back an Indian Bride

I'm not sure words can even express my experience last weekend at the wedding of my dear childhood friend, Ami.  First, it was my first actual Indian wedding.  The colors, the sounds, the tastes, the dancing, the emotion, was nothing what Baliwood movies portray.  I tried foods I can't spell.  We made friends with cousins from across the country and across the globe.  I laughed at the speeches and cried when my friend walked down the aisle with her brothers.  From start to finish, the weekend surpassed every expectation, and was truly, madly, deeply worth the wait from those days we spent dreaming about Ami's future groom and fantasizing about the wedding itself. 

When you've built up a vacation, a trip, or even a day at the beach, it's hard not to be disappointed.  But as I have learned, western weddings with white dresses and bouquet toss rarely live up to their cinematic expectations.  Seriously, I have never been to a wedding with swans, fireworks or a Franc. 

Perhaps the weekend left such an impression simply because two incredibly popular, fabulous people were married surrounded by friends and family that loved them.  Every guest seemed to feel special just to be in attendance.  I truly felt lucky to be a guest of such an awesome celebration.  And celebrate we did!