7 Months and Counting

As I’m sitting here watching my baby girl sleep, I can’t help but wonder where the last 7 months have gone. I mean, I can still remember the first minutes of her life like it was just yesterday.

Then before long, she was holding her head up like a champ at just one month old.

She was such a mellow baby, that two months had passed in no time at all.

Now here’s where it gets weird, I have no recollection at all of month three…

or month four…

Since those two months were my summer vacation, they all blur into one very long day. And then it was time to start my fall semester and my brain started keep track of time again. Shortly after classes started, Lexi was five months old.

And then the weather turned cooler and I reluctantly started feeding her solids because she was ready even though I wasn’t. Here she is at six months.

And now, my little munchkin is eating 3 meals a day. Three large meals a day. This child can put away an entire pureed apple and half a steamed sweet potato in a single sitting. But the good news is, at least she looks well fed.

Before you know it, she’s going to be crawling and walking and talking…but for today, she’s still my little snuggle bug who prefers being in my arms to anywhere else in the world and for that, I am eternally grateful.

 

No Place Like Home for the Holidays…

For the first time in a long time, I spent the last week almost completely unplugged. I was so mentally and physically burned out from my long conference away from home that I just needed to step away for a while and be a hermit.  And by being a hermit, I mean that I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy in 72 hours and minimally interacted with other humans (except for the children of course). It was just the break from socialization that I needed and I’m finally able to rejoin the world of the social networking.

Did you all have a nice holiday? Our Thanksgiving was pretty low key and my parents came into town to celebrate with us. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that we didn’t have to travel at all during the holiday weekend.

Lexi and Pappou

Additionally, I managed to only flip out once or twice as a result of having other people in my kitchen. That’s a new record for me! No matter how hard I aspire to be laid back, it’s simply not in my DNA, so the best I can do is try to control my need to control (try and wrap your brain around that one). That process is aided greatly by a nice Cabernet Shiraz blend. Thanksgiving is the only day that my mom doesn’t give me the stink eye for opening a bottle of wine before 2pm. Trust me, it’s medicinal.

This year, we had some of our friends join us for Thanksgiving dinner (don’t worry, I did my flipping out before they got here). They have a 3-month old baby girl (Lexi’s future BFF) and it’s so easy for us to go to each other’s houses because we both have all of the baby gear already on hand. In fact, their baby girl went to sleep in Lexi’s swing almost as soon as they arrived. And Lexi? Well, she napped in her favorite spot when the time came.

When both girls were up, they had some “play” time. It’s so funny seeing babies together.

Gimme that hand.

 

 You’ll notice that Parker has not been seen up to this point. That’s because we allowed him free reign of the iPad on Thanksgiving (to keep him out of the kitchen) and he roped in one of our friends to assist him in his train track building game. They were outside for well over an hour, but thankfully the weather was nice.

What’s funny is that as I was downloading pictures for this post, I realized that I didn’t take any photos of the food! That’s probably because I was in the kitchen being a freak about getting everything ready, but it goes without saying that we ate well. It also goes without saying that based on the amount of leftovers still in my fridge, I need to start freezing some stuff asap.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be wrapping up my semester and getting ready to fly to Florida (by myself with both kids!) for my holiday break. The Irishman will follow along by car a week later with both dogs. I’ll have almost 3 weeks of fun in the sun before we make our way back to the mountains around New Years Day. While we definitely won’t have a white Christmas this year, I’m willing to trade shoveling snow for dipping my toes in the ocean just this once.

Our Nation’s Capital

Last week, I embarked on my first work trip of Lexi’s life. I’m not going to lie, it was brutal for everyone involved. For obvious reasons, Lexi did not sleep very well, which means that the Irishman didn’t sleep either. Since I was fretting about both of them, I slept horribly and when I did actually manage to fall asleep, my body was urging me awake just a short while later to deal with the fact that I was mother away from my nursling. While I am grateful for the invention of the breast pump, I am eagerly awaiting the day when I can take a sledgehammer to it no longer need it.

Still, I was in one of my favorite cities, so during my free time at the conference, I did my best to uncurl from the fetal position on my hotel room floor and I forced myself to go out and see the sights. We were staying at the Hilton Hotel off of Dupont Circle, which happens to be where Hinkley attempted to assassinate President Reagan. In short, it was the perfect place for a bunch of crime folks to gather.

And here’s Dupont Circle. Look the trees still have leaves! I don’t know why, but Dupont Circle always reminds me of the movie the American President.

The first day we went exploring, our final destination was the Holocaust Museum, which was a moving and harrowing experience. It was a cold, windy and blustery day, but I figured that since we set out to walk 3 miles there, we might as well take some pictures of important places along the way. We walked down Embassy Row and made our way over to the White House.

I’m not sure where the government is going to cut funds from to deal with our financial crisis, but I can tell you that it won’t come from the White House’s landscape budget – as you can see in the above picture, the White House is looking rather colorless and pitiful these days.

Speaking of which, we saw the Occupy DC folks not far from the White House in their tents and makeshift shelters. It was such a chilly day that everyone there must have been inside their tents when we walked by.

Our next stop was the Washington Monument. Alas, it was damaged in the freak earthquake that affected DC a couple of months back so we couldn’t climb it. Oh and in the picture below, I wasn’t posing, I was bracing myself against the wind!

After the Holocaust Museum, which really affected me since it featured so many exhibits on children, we walked back to the hotel to go to that evening’s work events. Upon our return, we realized that in all, we logged more than 7 miles hoofing it around the city. I have to say, that is one of my favorite things about big cities. Who needs the gym when you’re logging 10 miles a day just walking around?

The next day, the day dawned bright…and cold. It wasn’t as cold as my mountains, but it was still pretty brisk. Still, I was eager to see the sun after so many dreary days, so we set off to get a tour of the Capitol Building.

Gosh, what a difference the sun makes! During our tour of the Capitol, we saw the old Supreme Court chamber (which they used before they had their own building).

And we saw the frescoes in both the old Capitol rotunda…

 as well as that of the new (and current) dome.

I don’t know why, but I have such a fascination with taking pictures of ceilings. I swear, half of my pictures from Paris are with my camera pointed up. We also saw a number of wonderful sculptures, like this one of Honest Abe.

Finally, I stood in the center of the crypt, which is not only the center of the Capitol building, but also the exact center of the entire city. Based on the depression left in the marble, I probably wasn’t the first person with this idea.

The last thing we did before leaving the city was to head over to the Supreme Court building.

I must say that this is my absolute favorite place in the city. I am so reverent of our civil liberties. While the courts are not perfect (by a long shot), they have had the courage to remedy a number of wrongs with regard to social inequities and for that, I am grateful.

Even though I barely had any free time to go exploring, I saw enough to reignite my love of the city. Washington D.C. (my place of birth) will always beckon me. I was saying as much to my friend as we were leaving the city and I was questioning my decision to live in a rural part of North Carolina. Was I out of my mind to live in the middle of nowhere? Wouldn’t it be wonderful for Parker and Lexi to be raised with more culture, museums and diversity?  Perhaps I should consider a move down the line?

And then we got stuck in traffic. And it took us almost 3 hours to go 10 miles. And I took back everything I said about questioning my decision to live on the edge of the earth. And 8 hours later as I was about to cross from Tennessee into North Carolina, I saw this glorious sight.

Home. I was almost there. It may not have the Smithsonian, but it has the three precious people who mean the world to me and as long as I have them, what more could I possibly need?

Pardon the Interruption…

Hi folks, I’m leaving on a 4 day trip to Washington D.C. for a work conference this morning. Depending on my Internet connectivity, I may be blogging from my hotel, but in case there’s radio silence on this little blog, it’s because (1) the Internet availability is a no-go, or (2) I’m curled up in a fetal position on my hotel room floor because I’m missing my babies so much I can’t stand it. This is the first time I’m leaving Lexi and since we sill co-sleep, it’s not going to be pretty for any of us. Oi.

A Flippin’ Big Mission Accomplished

So remember about a month ago when I told you all about the Flippin’ Good Deeds Challenge sponsored by flipflop wines? Well, since that time, I have been up to my eyeballs in shoes. In glorious, gently-used, ready-to-go-to-a-good-home shoes. In all, we collected 1167 pairs of them. 1167! It blows my mind to think that almost 12o0 pairs of feet might get protected as a result of the generosity of my town and university through the Soles4Souls shoe charity.

Now, while I was thrilled to receive phone calls on a daily basis telling me that another of our collection boxes was full, I very quickly realized that I needed somewhere to store our bounty until it could be delivered to the warehouse. So, while we were waiting for the shoe drive to end, I decided to store them in an old classroom that currently wasn’t in use. This picture was taken about halfway through the drive and by the end of the drive, 3/4 of the room was covered in black garbage bags. It was impressive!

As the shoes began piling up (literally!), I started to get concerned about how we were going to get them from our storage area to Gaffney, South Carolina, which was the nearest collection warehouse for Soles4Souls.

When I voiced my concern, my campus community once again rallied to my cause and the Police Department graciously allowed me to use a large box truck of theirs to transport the shoes to South Carolina. So, on a chilly morning one week ago, I wrangled a gaggle of students to assist in the loading of the truck and 30 minutes later, we were on our way!

Here I am hanging off of the back of the (very large) truck that housed our precious cargo.

And just like that, we were off! It was quite the bumpy ride and the truck didn’t go faster than 55 MPH, but with each mile, I knew that it was a worthwhile trip. We pulled into Gaffney, South Carolina just under 3 hours later and the nice folks at the warehouse got us in and taken care of in a jiffy. Here’s our truck at the loading dock.

During the drive back, I couldn’t help but reflect on how good it felt to give to those in need, particularly when I feel so blessed with abundance in my own life. I mean, the fact that I have shoes to spare speaks of a comfort and security that other can only wish for.

Photo courtesy of Soles4souls.org

Filled with a hopefulness that my extra stuff could make a world of difference to others, I started sorting and stacking things that I thought could go to those less fortunate as soon as I got home. Clothes, blankets, toiletries, canned goods – it’s all in stacks in my storage room ready to be delivered early next week.

Photo courtesy of Soles4Souls.org

This holiday season, I’d like to encourage all of you to get involved in your communities to see how you can help those in need. We all talk about service, but so often, we get caught up in the daily grind and we often don’t get to contribute as we intend to. So please, host a shoe drive of your own (go to soles4souls.org to find out how), donate your gently used clothes to a domestic violence shelter or contact your local soup kitchen to see if you can help them. It’s amazing how each and every one of us is capable of lessening the suffering or discomfort of others.

Oh and make sure that you stock up on flipflop wines since they donate a pair of shoes to Soles4souls with each bottle purchased. I don’t know about you, but that’s reason enough for me to stock up for the holidays!

Parker’s 5th Birthday Party

A long time ago (yesterday) in a galaxy far, far away (the next town over), Parker had a Star Wars themed birthday party at the jump house. While the jump house itself didn’t play into the Star Wars theme (like, at all), it was necessary for my sanity to have a party at a place where kids could get out their energy.

That’s because I have a deep-seated fear of children’s birthday parties…and of pretty much any event where children congregate in large groups. Noise, chaos and tears are sure to ensue. But, I promised Parker a proper party, so I sucked it up, packed my courage (and some Band-Aids) and we were ready to roll. As soon as the kids got to the party, they had free reign of the bounce houses for the first hour of the party. Here are some pics of the insanity.

Once the kids had gotten their (inital) fill of bouncing, we headed into the party room for the Star Wars portion of events.

A bit of back story: I had the brilliant very stupid idea that it would be cute if all of the children were wearing Jedi tunics. You see, I already owed Parker a Sith Lord cloak (since I talked him out of being the Evil Emperor for Halloween), so I had the thought that if I’m already making one cloak, what’s another 13? That’s right folks, this past week, “crazy” was spelled C-y-n-d-y.

I don’t know what gave me the impression that I could make a pattern for and sew 14 cloaks in a jiffy, but I didn’t even start this project until after dinner the night before his 10am party. Now, I’m certain that you are all more intelligent than I am and would have very quickly realized the futility of starting such a project at such a late hour, but in this (and in all other “bite off more than I can chew” projects), I have an inability to abort the project once I’ve decided to do it. So I started sewing. And I sewed late into the night. And when I could no longer see straight enough to thread the needle on my sewing machine, I went to sleep…and woke up a handful of hours later before the day broke to continue sewing some more. In all, I had to re-thread the bobbin 5 times. I did, however, finish the sewing with 20 minutes to spare. Here is the result of my handiwork.

I couldn’t get Parker to stand still long enough for me to snap a picture of his cloak, but his was longer and had a hood. Here are the kids chowing down on their galaxy fare in their Jedi garb. I love how annoyed they were at my interruptions for pictures.

Lexi even got into the spirit of the party (against her will) as we dressed her in a Yoda costume that we borrowed from her cousin (thanks Sean and Brooke!). At first, she wasn’t crazy about it (check out this expression!)

Parker, however, thought that she looked fabulous and she eventually warmed to the costume.

Back to the galaxy food – you aren’t going to believe this, but I accidentally deleted all of the pictures of the food. That’s definitely a bummer, but I can tell you what I did. Here was our menu (some of which I shamelessly stole from the Internet):

  • Jedi Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches (shaped like the Millennium Falcon courtesy of my Williams Sonoma Star Wars sandwich cutters)
  • Stormtrooper Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (shaped like Tie Fighters)
  • Darth Cheddars (Cheez-Its)
  • Princess Lays (Potato Chips)
  • Obi-Wan Kabob-ies (Fruit kabobs with strawberries, pineapple and grapes)
  • Jedi juice (apple juice boxes)

For the cake, I got a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting at the last minute (since I had to pass on making my own cupcakes courtesy of my sewing insanity) and I called it “Death By Darth Chocolate Cake). Here’s the birthday boy with his cake.

All in all, I think the party was a success. And by success, I mean that Parker didn’t cry, I didn’t have a meltdown and there wasn’t a need for me to bring out my First Aid Kit. Regardless, I’m thrilled that I don’t need to do that again for another 363 days.

Happy birthday Parker! Momma loves you.

Just A Random Thought. Or Three.

I realize that craziness has become par for the course around here, but this week has definitely been crazier than usual. I blame it on the counting, sorting and hauling of 1200 pairs of shoes across state lines. Speaking of which, while I’m gathering my thoughts about the experience of hosting and hauling shoes for the shoe drive, I thought I would post a quick update on other Daily Cynema happenings.

1. Lexi got her first tooth (!!) just a couple of days after her 6 month check-up and then promptly got her first cold, courtesy of having an older brother in preschool. While she’s been wanting to be held more than usual, she’s still her sweet, smiley self. Bless her heart!

Look, a tooth!

As an aside, I can’t tell you how hard it was to get the above picture. Never mind the fact that I was trying to wield a heavy camera with one hand, I also thought that taking the photo while she was in her bouncer was a good idea (hence the blurriness). Clarity of thought has certainly been in short supply these days, that’s for sure.

2. See this outfit? It was the first thing I bought for our baby when I found out that she was in fact a ‘she’ almost exactly a year ago. It remains the only pink thing that I have purchased in all of the months since. That’s probably because everyone else has bought her pink things in spades.

As an aside, you can clearly see that the Irishman is still offending me on a regular basis with his garishly yellow Steelers shirts that show up in 92% of the pictures that I take. If you see a smoke pire coming from our house, you’ll know that I finally lost it and burned those suckers. As an aside to my aside, how well does cotton even burn??

3. Parker and Payton continue to be comrades. In other words, Parker still thinks that Payton just wants to be near him out of kindness while Payton still thinks that I’m going to let Parker feed him yogurt.

Did he drop anything?

It’s a relationship shrouded in both innocence and deceit. The stuff of novels, really. Except that it’s about a boy and a one-eyed cat instead of star-crossed lovers. As an aside, I’m really not making any sense today. Please excuse me while I search for my lost train of thought.