Sunday, June 30, 2013

What We Learned: 32 Months

Bennett at 32 months is at the crossroads of toddler and little boy. This was never more obvious than our recent preschool conundrum. Many of his friends at school were recently promoted to a primary class. Since he is six months younger than them, we opted to keep him in his toddler room. A few days later, he was telling me at bedtime that it wasn't his turn to go to the little house. He explained that he needed to grow and get older. My heart hurt for my baby. He felt left behind. Shortly after, he started saying he didn't want to go to school and crying at drop-off. It was obvious to me and his teachers that holding him back wasn't the right decision and it was time to promote him after all. He would be in a class with kids who know how to tie their own shoes, count to 100, make their beds, and even read. As much as I want that for my child one day, it seemed too soon. I totally cried on the drive to work.

But this sweet in-between stage also forces me to make him walk because he's getting too heavy. Then, he will look up at me and say, "I not growing, I smaller." I just love this growing, learning boy.

Bennett learned that his classmates use the toilet.

We learned that we have entered the phase of parenthood where all conversations morph into tales of potty training.

Bennett learned that mom and dad are good at nagging.

We learned that B is not "ready for big boy underpants." (at the top of his lungs!)

Bennett learned the power of indecision, "maybe yes, maybe no."

We learned to be more specific with our questions.

Bennett learned he does like a green vegetable.

We learned that our child prefers his swiss chard straight off the plant.

Bennett learned not to be scared of the ocean.

We learned to give up on the beach.

Bennett learned that he is a good car driver, but a fast motor cycle driver.

We learned that its ok if our favorite part of a vacation is your child's ridiculous grin go around and around.

Bennett learned that road trips are for junk food.

We learned the key to survival in the car is a dvd player and hugs.

Bennett learned its a good thing to have the cows, the grandparents and the farm all to yourself once in a while.

We learned that its a good thing to have generous in-laws.

Bennett learned to believe in magic.

"I said, 'how you do that.'"

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me

So I have fallen for peaches. Glorious glorious peaches from a local vendor that sells their wares out of the back of a woody, The Peach Truck. They are handpicked Georgia peaches that make their way to Nashville two days after they are plucked from the tree. They sell at the farmers market, but also make appearances in our 'hood. 
They ain't cheap, but they are little slices of summer. We eat them in cobblers, in cereal, with lunch as a snack, and on toast. But girlfriend, this wasn't just any old toast. You can get the recipe for Peach Ricotta and Proscuitto Bruschetta Here
Chuck Williams and friends call it an appetizer, but we ate this for dinner on giant slices of country bread. It. Was. Awesome. And I had to share.

Rocky's version required a knife and fork. 

Another recipe I recently tried were a hit with the toddler set, but were not my favorite. If you have trouble getting bananas into your child (ahem, cough cough), try these: Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies from Here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beach Boy

Surprise! We were at the beach last week! I didn't want the professional blog stalkers to turn into real life burglars while were gone and steal my cookbook collection.

Rocky's family has been taking trips to Myrtle Beach for years, decades? I think they have dreamed about taking their grandchild to the beach since the moment they learned we were making them grandparents. It only took us three years to find the time to make the trek. Or rather, we thought we found the time. Poor Rocky had to stay behind for an extra day or two to work.

Mimi, Papa Rock, B and I drove the 8 hours to the beach and our little man was a true rock star in the car. He read books, snacked, and didn't rest his eyes once, much to my dismay. I think it may have had to do with a surprise from his daddy.
If he hadn't been such a trooper all trip, I'd be saying we've created a screen monster. I know I shouldn't complain because he called it his compuder and went straight to bed every time we asked. I'm not sure if it was the movies or the salty air, but I'm grateful nonetheless.

First photo from the beach, and the closest we got to a family photo. Such a crime!

Truthfully, we didn't have the greatest weather this trip. Mostly cloudy and highs in the upper 70s. In South Carolina! In June! Crazy talk. But Bennett didn't seem to mind or care. He was too busy.

If you asked me what the highlight of the trip was, I'd have to admit it was our evening at the Boardwalk. It was our first successful carnival ride adventure. My little man took his driving responsibilities incredibly seriously, but every time his car circled back around to his mommy, he got the goofiest grin. He was having the time of his life and my tummy hurt from laughing. 

It was wonderful to take a break from our routines, enjoy some fresh seafood and introduce Bennett to the ocean. If it wasn't for the encouragement and generosity from Mimi and Papa (and the decades old tradition), I'm sure we'd still be fantasizing about our first family vacation instead of reminiscing. Here's to next time!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Mom and Country Music Rocks

A few weeks ago I was having a bad day (or a bad month?) and my mom emailed me to tell me to get a babysitter for June 6 because she won tickets to CMA Fest! I secured a sitter faster than T. Swift can secure a boyfriend. Lucky for me, Taylor was there herself and brought two boyfriends! She shocked the audience with surprise guests Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. It was one of those awesome, "only in Nashville" moments.

Even from great seats, this was my iPhone's view.

Someone else's view. The pants look much tighter this close.

My mom was more than a little turned off by Luke Bryan's dance moves. She thought he danced more like a stripper girl than a country girl.

All in all it was a wonderful Nashville night and I would gladly accept free club level seats again, especially to see Miranda Lambert dressed like a drag queen playing Porter Wagoner. Good thing I love her.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


“There are many different kinds of bravery. There’s the bravery of thinking of others before one’s self. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he has made many sacrifices for his family, and put away many dreams.”
“Where did he put them?”
“He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer… He does. And that is why he is brave.”
Conversation between Mrs. Darling and Michael, from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
I read this somewhere on the internets this week and found it particularly fitting this Father's Day weekend.
I am not sure I can capture anything more eloquent or unique on this day that I haven't already said, but the men in my life have made some incredible sacrifices for me and my family. It's a wonderful reminder that I am so darn lucky to have some incredible men in my life and in Bennett's.

Rocky made a major sacrifice for me and our boy when he left his career in Virginia and took a giant leap of faith to embark on our Tennessee chapter. He left a job and friends he loved for a year of uncertainty and stress, but man has he come out on top. Rocky is the hardest working dad out there. He truly is. He puts in long hours at the office to provide for our family that will eventually open big doors for our son. Then, he rushes home to help tuck that sweet child into bed. When the weekend finally arrives, he sweats in the yard and prays with us on Sunday. He makes lunches, walks the dog, does the grocery shopping, cooks, folds laundry and takes me to the beach. I am grateful he was brave enough to make one giant sacrifice two years ago and thankful for all the little sacrifices he makes for us every single day.

I think Rocky learned this work ethic from the best example a son could witness. Papa Rock was brave enough to want little Rock to have opportunities that extended beyond the farm, beyond the cove and beyond county lines if that's where his dreams would take him. I'm not sure he was willing to sacrifice his son to a Yankee, but that's a sacrifice Papa Rock made for me. He helped pave a path that eventually led his son to law school, but he's showing his grandson a path that could take him one way to the ivy towers of Princeton, Harvard and Yale, but perhaps also the road less traveled, back to farm and whatever it is that makes him happy. I have no doubt he would make any sacrifice for our little boy.

Then there is the man that has been making sacrifices since my beginning. My dad gave up exotic vacations and fancy houses so I could go to a good school. He gave up his Tuesday nights for twelve years to chauffeur me back and forth to dance class. Dad was brave enough to chaperon Girl Scout trips and learn to style a little girl's hair. It's always been the big things and the little things, even today. He rescues me when I get stuck in traffic on my way to daycare. He walks Atticus while I'm at work. He checks my mail and makes friends with my neighbors. He hugs me when I am sad and is my cheerleader when things are tough.

The fathers in my life don't brandish swords or fire pistols, but they fight the bears and stand up to dinosaurs, both real and imaginary. They have all made sacrifices to build this life for me and today I salute them and the many men are doing the same for you. We love you. Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flashbak Friday: I didn't blow out my knee

Saturday I made my triumphant return to Zumba. I haven't been in years, but my manic moves from the back row proved to be as hilarious now as it was five years ago. I probably wouldn't have gone if it weren't for Aubrey. I take that back, I know I wouldn't have gone if it weren't for Aubrey. Apparently, my attendance alone was reason for her to wake up early on a Saturday.

So, yeah. I stood there in the back row "booty popping" to Rhianna and Sean Paul, sweating like a mom in spandex, dancing like a mom in spandex, each move about five seconds behind the instructor. But I felt great. Aubrey danced next to me, enjoying herself as much as I was but with nary a giggle in my direction. That right there folks is a sign of a very good friend.

Aubrey's got talent and not just in a zumba studio. She just graduated with her doctor doctorate, or M.D., Ph.D. if you are keeping tabs. And thanks to her new letters, she's leaving me and Nashville in the dust, off to practice pediatric hematology oncology and save a few lives along the way. It just so happens she can dance. 

I'm not sure there is anything like the high that comes with dancing like an idiot. In fact, that's probably how I met Aubrey. I know for a fact there is at least one incident where I bopped her in the nose with a flying arm because I was feeling the music. She was also there the night I did blow out my knee.

This was not the night I blew out my knee.

Aubrey knows I dance like a maniac. She knows I am high strung and crazy when it comes to dirty dishes in the sink or when I find a rash on Bennett's tummy or a bump on his head. But she loves me anyway. 

I can't help but thank her for dragging me back to zumba. She reminded me of all that fun we had dancing thirteen years ago. She also reminded me I can find that same exhilaration early on a Saturday morning, booty popping in the back row. I'll just be sad she won't be there to not laugh at me.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Welcome To The Family!

My mom's family welcomed a new baby girl to clan on Monday evening. My cousin Casey gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Evangeline Marie. She was a little stinker and decided to wait fourteen days past her scheduled arrival to make her debut. But she's finally here and no doubt going to grace the O'Rourkes with her fair share of shenanigans.

It's an incredible feeling seeing people you've known a lifetime become a parent. This tiny bundle is a monumental reminder of thirty years of shared memories and friendship. Casey was there for sleepovers with Kirsten and Samantha, roughed it on the prairie, tested my first soufflĂ©, hosted my baby shower, said a prayer at our wedding and met the rough end of my snow shovel one fateful Thanksgiving. Now, she get's to join me in the adventures of parenthood.

I am looking forward to the requests for sleep advice, sippy cup recommendations and sympathetic hugs. But she was a smart cookie and found a partner in Nick that will no doubt help with the late nights and the diaper dramas to come. She's also lucky to have one heck of a family here to cheer her on and love her, near and far.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

We Must Be Doing Something Right

My little boy decided to reward me for weeks of crazy bedtime routines. Sunday afternoon at nap time, I asked him if he wanted to thank Jesus for anything special. His response, "Thank you Jesus for bubbles, cookies and cheeseburgers." About what I expected. Then he surprised me, "thank you for my family and my teachers." This kid is two, not seven. Apparently, Elmo and Teddy Grahams are paying off in the church nursery more than I thought.

That same night, I went to tuck him in after attending a bbq where he was the only one under the age of 29. I thanked him for being such a good boy and not poking anyone in the eyeballs with the s'mores sticks. I think he understood the compliment. "Thank you mommy for reading me books." My heart melted a little.

I may let him watch Cars one too many times and I may let him get away with going to bed without brushing his teeth more often than I should. But it's these moments that show what a little miracle I'm raising and he might not turn out half bad.
And I also let him eat chips and guacamole, but at least not when he orders it for breakfast.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Six Years

Today I celebrate the day I married my best friend. Sometimes, it is hard to look at those young kids with the trim waistlines and peppy optimism knowing what we know now. The path we have taken is a far cry from the dreams we made six years ago. I know it isn't all rainbows and sunshine for everyone else, but don't tell a budding bride that. I'm sure glad no one told me..or maybe I'm just glad I ignored them.

I know that despite our bumpy journey, I couldn't have asked for a better partner. Rocky has been my rock, my cheerleader and my companion. God gave me a man who enjoys relaxing on the couch as much as he does exploring new restaurants or watching me try on new shoes. He works hard for me, Bennett and our future. I hope our son will grow to be as good a husband and father. Should we have a daughter one day, may she be as lucky as her momma. Love you Rocky.