On Friday I loaded up the car and made my first "real" road trip by myself with Graham to visit my college roommates. Our destination was Atlanta. Graham slept for 2hours and woke up just before I pulled off the exit for Chick-fil-A. It was perfect timing. I felt like the Queen of Sheba at Chick-fil-A. One of the workers just kept walking around to see if I needed any help. She knew I had my hands full trying to feed both myself and Graham. I don't know what I would have done without her. She got me a high chair, a place mat, and refills. I should have left her a tip!
When we got to Atlanta I finally gave CJ her birthday present...the long awaited pink Snuggie. I have to admit, I was a little embarrassed when I had to ask an employee at Target where the Snuggies were located. But, CJ was dying to have it, so I sacrificed my rosy cheeks. CJ adored her gift and said, "My life is going to be awesome now that I have a Snuggie!" I wish a Snuggie did it for me like it does it for her. The next day we went to Jason's water polo game at Dynamo. It was quite eventful getting there, which resulted in screeching tires, slamming brakes, and waking up my precious sleeping baby, but we finally made it safely to the pool. Again I was embarrassed or perhaps it was just the overwhelming feeling of AKWARDNESS! I was attempting to steer a huge stroller around the pool while trying to dodge the officials and swarms of men in speedos. I don't know what it is about a speedo, but it just makes me feel super awkward. It just doesn't seem right, you know? And here we were surrounded by speedos. At the beach, speedo wearers are in the minority so you can point fingers, laugh, or say, "They must be European" in an attempt to hide the awkwardness. But what are you going to do at a water polo competition? Those boys could easily beat me up. I just looked down most of the time, and CJ and I tried to conceal our uncomfortable smiles. I felt a little relieved once we left that place and I started seeing men in shorts again. As CJ would say, we made "precious memories with precious friends," and I am so glad that CJ and Jenna got to spend a little time with Graham. Graham was just about perfect on our little weekend getaway, and I am no longer terrified to travel alone! To be honest, I am now more scared of speedos than traveling with a baby.
"I'd like to thank Ruby for teaching me that tummy time is fun. I'd like to thank my Dad for giving me crawling lessons when I was just a youngster. I would have never figured it out without you. I'd like to thank my Mom for believing in me and demonstrating the correct way to crawl around the room. To this day, I'm striving to emulate you. And I would also like to thank God for two hands and two legs and the strength to move."
Graham recited this victory speech to me this morning, so I have translated it in order for all to understand. Our baby is on the move! Right now it is a belly flop/crawl combo, but he gets where he wants to! He is starting to do a little less of the seal-like belly flop and more of the crawl, so I'm anxious to see when the full fledged crawl will begin. My life won't be the same!
I was singing this rather morbid song while Graham was napping a few days ago. Yes, kids' songs are so ingrained in my brain that I often sing them even when Graham is not around! While I was singing the song, memories came back of one summer in France.
During high school and college, I spent 3 years at Camp of the Peaks in the French Alps. One summer we took a trip to the city of Briançon (The highest town in Europe). After spending the day shopping, we made our way to a bridge where people were repelling down to the river bank. I was obviously not the worrier that I am now, because I thought nothing of letting a couple of guys lower me to the river bank. They weren't with a company; they just set up shop on the bridge and let everyone daring repel for free. Suspicious, you might think, but I naively joined everyone else and made my way down. No falls, no scrapes, and no hidden fees. Thank goodness they didn't go on strike during my repel! Once all of our group reached the bottom, we realized we were quite far from where the last bus of the day departed. In a panic, we started sprinting. Suddenly, I felt a burning in my nostrils and the back of my throat. I was breathing clean mountain air, so what could cause this sensation? Then, I felt a cough come on. I covered my mouth, let out a good cough, and looked down to see a saliva coated fly in my hands. I couldn't believe it. I had actually inhaled a fly through my nose and coughed it out of my mouth! It was gross, it was hysterical, but I didn't have time to recuperate or to tell anyone. We just kept treking until we finally made it to the bus station. I was going to tell Graham this story, but I think I will refrain for now. I don't want him living life terrified that his mother swallowed a fly and perhaps she'll die.
Tuesday nights = Chick-fil-a = no cooking for me! Yes, every Tuesday night we get together with some of our friends and attend Kids' Night at Chick-fil-a. It's been a tradition for nearly a year because the kids' meals are only $1.74. It's expensive, I know, but you are really paying for the ambiance. Nothing can beat people dressed up as cows and the romantic serenades with the kazoo. Yes, we all get kids' meals even though we don't have a single kid with us who eats a kids' meal. Oh well. Chick-fil-a hasn't kicked us out yet!
Well, tonight was quite eventful at Chick-fil-a. Graham started getting fussy, so I decided to forsake my delicious chicken nuggets and feed my baby. Graham was eating so contently when all of a sudden, his super suctioning powers sucked the nipple right out of the bottle, and he ended up with half of the bottle on his Covenant College Baby onesie. If it had been an MTSU onesie, I wouldn't have been so upset, but it was his one and only Covenant College onesie! I was trying to figure out how I was going to clean the two of us up and fix the nipple in the bottle when Graham suddenly struck my cup, spilling coke all over the table and on top of Daniel. While Daniel rushed to get napkins, Beth offered to hold Graham while I finished my nuggets. And while Beth was holding Graham, he again suddenly reached across the table sending Beth's ice cream flying into the air and all over the seat and floor. Brad then exclaimed, "Don't you know that baby has arms," as if we intentionally let Graham cause all the food disasters! :) If Graham was older, this would have been one of those "Let's go out to the car, son" instances where a spanking would be awaiting him in the back seat. But what are you going to do to an almost 7 month old? I couldn't think of any other option but to laugh. Maybe it was inappropriate laughter, but I think laughing is often the only thing that keeps a mother sane in a chaotic situation. It is now more clear than ever that I am suffering from the Crazy Mom Syndrome.
Yes, I'm afraid it's true. Jeff and I actually resorted to using the Wheel of Responsibility. We were having a debate as to who had to change the next poopy diaper. We had each changed one that day. I told Jeff that I knew how we could settle the dilemma. I then pulled out the Wheel of Responsibility and laid down the ground rules. No best out of 3. Just one spin. Plain and simple. And of course I won the battle. I have to say, the Wheel of Responsibility was quite a handy baby gift from my cousin. Changing a dirty diaper isn't really that big of a deal, but for some reason Jeff and I like to turn it into an ordeal. Oh well. That's fine with me as long as the arrow keeps landing on Dad!
So you may be wondering how baby food is going since I was totally stressing out about the whole thing. I guess you can say it's going pretty well, despite the fact that Graham is the messiest eater I have ever seen in my entire life. I mean, I knew it would be a little messy, but I didn't expect it to be THIS messy. I fed a baby in the nursery at church a few weeks ago, and he had baby food all around his mouth, but not on every other part of his body! Graham ends up with it on it his eyelashes, eyelids, hands, feet, chest, and even the back of his head. And he just loves to save his food in those adorable rolls! We like to say Graham takes after my dad, Tsunami Ronnie. Tsunami Ronnie got his nickname because he spilled soy sauce on himself every time he ate sushi. Unfortunately, the mess didn't stop at sushi, so now he pretty much gets food on his shirt every time he eats! I can't say that I am much better. When I was a kid, I was banned from getting a chocolate dipped cone when we went out for ice cream. No one else in my family was banned, just me. And it had to be my favorite ice cream treat! My mom said that I just ended up with chocolate all over my outfitevery time I ate, so it became the forbidden food.
Okay, well back to the baby food. So far Graham has had avocados, sweat potatoes, carrots, squash, bananas, oatmeal, and rice cereal. He is usually a good eater, but when he needs a little persuasion, I have found a new trick. First, get the spoon ready with food on it. Then, begin doing the Electric Slide. Do the grapevine to the left and to the right, and as you are going forward, and just before making the turn, you make your move with the spoon. You just electric slide those carrots, squash, or peas right into your baby's mouth. I promise that your baby will be so fixated on your dance and how ridiculous you look, that he won't even know that he's eating something disgusting. I tried it again tonight, and Graham was dying laughing and never even knew he swallowed 5 more spoonfuls of carrots. If you don't know how to do the electric slide, it is pretty simple:
Do a right grapevine.( step right , behind, right step) Do a left grapevine. (step left , behind left step) Take 3 steps backwards.( back two three four) Reach from back foot to front foot.(step on back foot, kick front knee up) Reach from front foot to back foot. (step on front foot , tap back toe) Take a step to the right and while doing so, turn to face the left. Repeat all steps
And if you can figure out how to do the electric slide by these instructions, please, please, show me! I seriously found these instructions on the Internet. I do, however, think you might be able to learn it from this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAwpTva9ERk. If you live in the South, you have to know how to do the Electric Slide. I don't care if you hate country music....you just need to learn it. You can do it to almost any song. In fact, I was even sliding to Ice Ice Baby (which was playing in my head, not on the radio) while feeding Graham today. The Electric Slide is just a staple (If you can call a dance that) for wedding receptions, girls night out at The Wild Horse Saloon, and of course baby feeding!
I absolutely love appliqued clothing. A plain little onesie can look so adorable once you applique a cute design on it. Even though I have no experience sewing, I thought I would take on the project of appliqueing a onesie for G. This is my first one, and it is my first attempt at using a sewing machine all by myself, so please don't laugh. I think with a little bit of practice, I'm going to make some pretty cute clothes for Graham and for babies to come. I had a little bit of difficulty sewing with the zigzag stitch, but it came out okay, I guess. The other problem is that the G is huge, and it is sitting down on his stomach which makes it look like it stands more for gastrointestinal than for Graham. I've gotta work on positioning, I guess!
Since I've been at home with Graham, I've seen a lot more of my neighbors. I watch what they are doing through our big picture window. I run into them while I'm on walks with Graham. I see them when Graham and I run errands. So, I've just been contemplating our neighborhood and trying to decide how to characterize it. Quirky, I think, is the best word. We live in one of those neighborhoods that only has 5 trick -or -treaters every year because most people on the block are old. I'm not talking 60 old, I'm talking like 80 old. One of those old people is "The Mayor." Now let me assure you that she is not really the mayor of our small town. I got excited when someone first told me that the mayor lived on the street behind me. I know it's bad, I still don't know who the real mayor is, but this lady is the neighborhood mayor. She told me that some people call her The Mayor, and some people call her something else (I'll refrain from using the word). I told her I was going to stick with calling her The Mayor, but I do see where the others are coming from! She knows the "going ons" of just about everyone. One day I looked out the window and saw an old lady picking weeds in my flower bed. I was freaking out. I've had some crazy weeds in the flower bed, but nothing as scary as an unfamiliar elderly lady.Thankfully, after a few minutes of trying to figure out if I should hide or go talk to her, I saw Jeff standing next to her. It was The Mayor. Apparently she was giving him a quick lesson in Weeding 101. Are you serious? You are going to come and pull weeds in my yard? She stopped by again yesterday, and while Jeff was mowing, she said, "The yard looks good. You just need to trim back the crepe myrtles, or they will overtake your entire drive." Translation: "It's about dang time that you cut that grass, and if you don't trim those bushes, I'll level them in the morning." Oh well. We probably won't hear from her again until it's time to cut back the monkey grass. But I still like her even though she might not like our yard.
Yesterday, I looked out the window, and the neighbor across the street was brushing his teeth while watering his plants. I mean, really? Did you not have time to do it at the sink? It only takes like 2 minutes (or less) to brush your teeth, unless you have one of those timer tooth brushes. He brushes, spits, and then washes his tooth brush out with the water hose. You gotta love it.
And then there is the lady who stopped me at the park (which isn't exactly in my neighborhood)when Graham was a few months old. She pulled her car up to mine as I was loading up the stroller after a nice walk. "I saw you exercising out there with your baby. I thought you might be interested in this support lingerie I'm selling." No I wasn't interested, but I looked at her brochure anyway. She told me it could make me look like 20 pounds lighter. She was having a meeting to showcase her product in a few days, and she said, "You could even be one of the models to show the before and after." Hmmm....let me think about that one. You stalk me while I'm walking in the park, basically tell me that I'm fat and have a tummy that needs to be shrunken, you then invite me to a party where you want people to glare at my post-preggo belly and then let them stare at me in support lingerie. No thanks. I know you really built up my self esteem by asking me to "model," but I'm not feeling so confident sporting the pudgy belly these days. Whew....just had to vent for a minute!
But there are things I love about our town and little neighborhood. I love how Jeff and I watch people as they go on their evening walks and comment on their lives even though we don't know them. "We'll looks like he got a haircut today." "Have you ever seen him walking with that girl?" "Do you think they are sisters or partners?" I love how one day we saw a pregnant mom, a 2 year old girl in a stroller, and the dad walking down the street. And the next week we saw the mom, the dad, and two strollers. It's sweet to think how life goes on. And I do love how people are friendly and willing to help despite their inclination to pry. Our neighborhood is quirky at times, but it keeps life interesting and gives me something to blog about!
I spent 3 1/2 years at an amazing church while I was at Covenant College. This was written by an amazing cook, but more importantly an honest, sincere, down to earth, godly woman. I miss my sweet church up on the mountain, and I miss dear Jane Henegar. This writing quite often leaves me speechless. I long to adopt this attitude towards cooking!
I cook because I was cooked for by a woman, to the last days of her seventh decade propped her elbow on the kitchen counter and leaned into her craft--divinity, say, that was almost divine.
I cook because the kitchen table was the center of the house--the place where my friends solved their problems with my mother's help while enjoying her cooking, where the aroma of fried chicken and hot biscuits and mint tea and peach cobbler and, of course, Kool cigarettes, announced the woman who welcomed you within.
I cook because, for good or for ill, I learned by example that if you love somebody, you fill them up. I cook because I love somebody...many bodies. I cook some more because some of those I love say "that was delicious" often enough to spur me on.
I cook because I married a man whose mother had the same culinary stature as mine...a woman who loved to quote this familial proverb: "I have often regretted my economies, but never my extravagances," and who served halves of honeydew, bacon, eggs, and oatmeal with whipping cream every morning.
But I cook my own way because I wouldn't dare attempt their ways: only a magician attempts such magic.
If I had my 34 years of womanning a kitchen to do over again, I would serve more sandwiches and fewer food groups. There would be plenteous soup and real homemade bread--like our daughter Emily makes--and more salads and nuts and just plain fruit. There would be more shared dishwashing. There would me more salt and lemon juice--the non-negotiables that elevate any dish--and olive oil and garlic and meatless meals.
I would spend less time over the stove and more time sitting down, not talking but listening to those for whom I want to care. When company came, it would be oftener for small groups and simpler meals; I would not cook to startle or amaze them, but mainly to enjoy their company.
I would treat my family more like company and my company more like family.
I would continue to delight in counting the place mats and beholding the prepared table when homecomings were imminent. And when the place mats were sauced-spattered and the table was groaning, I would delight some more.
I would cook food that linked us to each of those we had loved and lost, and around the table we would talk about those people, and remember, and laugh, and give thanks.
I would long to be remembered, in days long past my own, by those who once ate at our table, for growing simpler and more generous...more Godward...as the days increased.
If I had to do it over again, I would remember that grace is the best part of every meal, that grace is the best part of every life, and that it is no accident that the followers of the risen Jesus finally recognizedHim "in the breaking of the bread"...and that all of human history will be culminated with a marriage feast. I would look forward to being not the hostess, but the guest, and in never having to say good-bye to those with whom I shared the ultimate feast.
Here are a few things a guy just might not want to do or say to his wife/lady friend (as Jeff likes to call them). I'm not speaking from experience, of course. "You're so beautiful, you could be a part time model." Apparently this is from a song, but how was I supposed to know? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYcDhG3kNq8 "I love you just as much as I love Steve (the dog), just in different ways. I love you as much as I can love you, and I love Steve as much as I can love Steve." Saying "you look cute" on a night that your wife is feeling drop dead gorgeous. When you ask him if something is cute, he just says, "Sure." "Why don't you make pancakes like your mom?" "Maybe you could get some recipes from my mom?" Because you forgot to get anything for your wife for Valentine's Day, you go and find a card she once gave you, cross out her name, and insert your own, and say "Happy Valentine's Day," as if everything is okay. It's really not funny until a few months down the road. These are just a few. I'm sure I could add more if I thought really hard. Anyone else have some great lines? By the way, I'm not bashing men. I love my husband and in a sense, I even love his verbal mishaps!
Yesterday I spent the day shopping in downtown Franklin, TN with my mom, my sister, and of course Graham! The downtown area is filled with boutique stores and quaint cafes. As we were about to step foot in The Iron Gate, out walks Vern Yip. We were stunned. Abbey and I looked at each other and said,"Uh...that's Vern Yip!" About as soon as we finished the sentence, he hopped into his bimmer and drove off (I just learned that it's bimmer, not beamer). Abbey got a little over excited. She was trying to talk to a friend on the phone, trying to deal with the fact that she had just seen Vern Yip, and trying to open the door to the Iron Gate. It was inevitable that something would go wrong, and she suddenly slung the door open, pounding it against my mom's hand. My mom yelps and starts shaking her hand frantically while telling Abbey she has done permanent nerve damage to her hand. By the way, no one in my family ever exaggerates. We enter the store with my injured mom and Abbey and I kicking ourselves for not saying hi to Vern. (Don't you love it when people only use the first name of a famous person. It's like they're best friends, huh?) I then go up to one of the employees and ask if Vern Yip just bought something.
"Uhh...who's Vern Yip?"
"You know, Vern Yip from HGTV. He used to do Trading Spaces and now does Deserving Design. Vern Yip, the designer, he was just in here!"
"Oh...well that's cool. I still don't know who he is, but that's cool."
Come on! I mean I know I watched HGTV all day long for the 6 weeks I was in the hospital, but I still knew who Vern Yip was before that. Even my husband, who is the last person in the world to know about designers, recognized the name and knew who he was after I told him, "the guy on HGTV." Oh well. The rest of the afternoon was fun, but not nearly as exciting as our encounter with Vern. We went to a beautiful stationery store and bought pretty sheets of paper to frame as artwork. We had lunch at the Franklin Mercantile and went to Ivey Cakes for one of the most delicious cupcakes in Nashville. We also browsed a few antique shops. For dinner, we went to my parents' place and had grilled lamb chops, pyramid potatoes, and asparagus sauteed in a butter/balsamic vinegar sauce. Yum! For dessert we got popsicles from LasPaletas. How fun is that! The locals tell us that this little popsicle shop is a secret. They have amazing flavors. These are some of the ones we got: chocolate chili pepper, pistachio, and blueberry chocolate chip. I bet Vern would have loved them.
I was thinking that I may send Vern this letter. What do you think?
I think that my mother would be an excellent candidate for the show Deserving Design. On a hot summer's day in Franklin, Tennessee, my mother, sister and I were running some errands. We were about to go into a store when we suddenly saw you exiting the store. My sister got so excited about seeing the great Vern Yip, that she threw the door open causing it to slam against two left metacarpals on my mother's hand. There has been permanent nerve damage and my mother is no longer able to decorate her house. Since you, in a sense, caused this great injury to her hand, I think it would be a great injustice if you did not choose her for a Deserving Design Episode.
I know. I know. You probably thought the baby police outlawed Johnny Jump Ups. You may have had one when you were a kid, so you thought they surely were being sold in antique stores by now. Well, I'm here to prove to you that Johnny Jump Ups are alive and strong. My sister and mom did some research and told me that they are in fact still producing Johnny Jump Ups. So....a couple of weeks ago I discovered consignment sales. I had heard of them, but had never been to one before. Let me just tell you that when I have another kid, I am definitely taking advantage of the consignment sales. I have been to 4 of them in the past two weeks. You can find cribs, strollers, clothes, books, and toys galore. One of the sales I went to just so happened to have Johnny Jump Ups. It was $4.00 so I quickly snatched it up. It's probably the best $4.00 I have ever spent. Graham loves that thing! I set it up in the kitchen so I can cook or clean while still interacting with Graham. And for those of you wondering....yes, it is very safe and secure where I have it positioned. Graham jumps up and down in it. He swings around from the kitchen to the den, and then, he bounces to the side of the doorway and tries to scale the side of the door as if he were a logger climbing a tree. (Again, don't worry. He doesn't actually succeed at scaling the wall.) And he does all of this with the most adorable grin and sometimes even lets out a deep belly laugh! While Graham jumps, I sing, "Johnny Jump Up. Johnny Jump Up. Johnny Jump Up up up up!" I know. It's creative. If you have a little one, you should definitely try it out. The Johnny Jump Up, that is. Not the song. I think it gives the little fellow confidence that he can move around on his feet even though we're months away from walking. Oh, and for any of you interested, you can find a consignment sale in your area by visiting http://www.kidsconsignmentsales.com/. Some consignment sales have previews for new moms, so be on the lookout for an opportunity to view and purchase the for sale items a little early. Also, if you are a consignor, you get first dibs on the items for sale. I have a feeling that some of the best items get swiped during the preview days. At the end of the sale, there is usually a half off day, so if you find something you just don't want to pay the price for, you can hope it’s around in a few days. Happy Johnny Jump Up Days and Happy Consigning!