Thursday, December 20, 2007

Charlie at the Museum



A few weeks ago, the Professor and I took Charlie to the Dixon Gallery to see the Babar exhibit, Babar’s Museum of Art. When I saw the advertisement in our zoo newsletter this summer, I immediately marked the dates on my calendar. I have always loved Babar and I wanted to share the joy of this debonair French elephant (and his family and friends) with Charlie.

When we arrived at the museum, I was at first a little disappointed. I don’t really know what I expected but I did not expect the exhibit to be such a small show in a single room. After we began viewing the paintings, though, my opinion completely turned around. The exhibit was wonderful.

They paintings tell the story of Babar and Celeste converting a train station into a museum so that they can share their art with the city. I was surprised at how beautifully de Brunhoff painted masterpieces into the Babar scenes. They included Seurat, Botticelli, Munch, Mary Cassatt, Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh and others. It was a beautiful collection and so much fun to view. There is also a book of Babar’s Museum of Art. It is on my Christmas list if anyone is having trouble deciding what to get me!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bow Down to the Smoothie

This morning at precisely 5:47 a.m., Charlie woke up in a fit. For the longest time now, he has actually been sleeping through to a reasonable hour. But today, I guess he had just had enough of sleeping soundly and cozily in his crib. So, I did what the Professor and I agreed NOT to do on mornings like this. I went into his room, scooped him up, and put him in bed next to me. He instantly went back to sleep. About an hour later when it was officially time to get up and get the day going, he, of course, was sound asleep. The Professor had to leave early, so we were in a bit of a hurry. So, I nudged to the little guy to get him to wake up. Bad move. Isn’t there wise old saying, “never wake a sleeping baby?”

From the moment that he opened his, Charlie’s morning was awful, making the rest of the house a little frantic and unpleasant. He cried when we got him dressed. He cried when we gave him milk. He screamed when we tried to feed him a yummy, sugary muffin. He cried and cried and cried. After the Professor finally got out the door about 10 minutes later than planned, I decided to make a smoothie for breakfast instead of trying to hold and calm Charlie. I pulled the blender out, dumped in some frozen fruit, soymilk, and juice, and began whirring the mix until smooth and creamy. And you know what? Charlie was so interested in what was going on, he stopped crying. He even begged for me to share my “smoo.” And hey, guess what? He liked it! He drank two entire cups of smoothie, all the while grinning, laughing, and narrating the experience with lots of “mmmms.” As of today, I am a convert to the smoothie god.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Holiday Season Can Officially Start Now

Last night I finished my last exam for school and I am so relieved. Even though total elation with having my weekends and evenings back to do whatever I want to do (or what Charlie commands me to do) has not yet set in, I am beginning to feel the stress of school melt away. If you hear a loud celebratory Woo Hoo! echoing through Memphis on Saturday morning, it’s probably me finally realizing that I do not have to spend ANY time over Saturday and Sunday reading textbooks, writing papers, or even thinking. Yea! I am also excited that I get to spend an entire weekend with Charlie. Since September, he has spent most of one of our precious weekend days at a grandparent’s house. I love that they are happy and willing to watch him, but I miss not seeing him as much as possible. And don’t worry Gammy and Nana, I’ll still let you hang out with him. You just may have to hang out with me, too.

Even though it has been stressful and tiring, I am really happy with my decision to go back to school. I really enjoyed my classes this semester and am looking forward to putting what I am learning into practice. I am definitely having one of those antsy moments when I wish I could just get on with it already. But, I guess I can be patient. And, I still have lots to learn. Three classes’ worth of stuff to learn, in fact.

So, now that classes have wrapped up and my exams are complete, I am finally looking forward to Christmas. We decorated our tree last night and drank a little soy nog to put us in the holiday spirit. More holiday decorations will go up throughout the week, and I plan to brave the stores in hopes to get some shopping completed this weekend. I have plans to bake cookies and treats for our guests in a few weeks, and I have loads of holiday television specials saved on the DVR to watch during my FREE TIME! I don’t know if I have ever been more excited about the holidays.

Zoo Pics

I am finally getting around to posting some shots from our trip to the zoo about three weeks ago. We had a wonderful time with friends and their families on that warm November day. Connor was especially fun and sweet. While at the playground, he spent much of his time entertaining Charlie and helping him down the slide. Thanks, Connor!



Later in the day, we got a surprise! Our friend, Kayla, let us in on a special tour of the giraffe quarters (Her sister-in-law used to work at the zoo and has connections). We were allowed to go behind the scenes and pet and feed the giraffes. It was so thrilling to stand next to these gorgeous animals.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I Am Thankful

Even though it has been a while since Thanksgiving and most are busy putting up Christmas decorations and have probably already finished their holiday shopping, I thought I would go ahead and post the much belated Thanksgiving post. Think of it as my way of making one of my favorite holidays stretch on as long as possible. To quote Stephanie, Thanksgiving is really my favorite holiday because it revolves around “fancy food, comfort food, fattening food.” It is all about enjoying time with friends and family and one of my favorite activities – eating. I love Thanksgiving because it also kicks off the holiday season and it usually means that the long awaited fall is here. It also doesn’t hurt that most of us get to take a little time away from work as well.

I decided to take an additional day off work, the Wednesday prior to the big feast, at the last minute. I decided I would spend the day working on a presentation for school and cooking. That was one of the most glorious days I have had in a long time because 1) I was in my house completely alone (except for two mammoth dogs) and 2) I got to spend the day doing something that I love – cooking. I don’t really cook that much anymore since Charlie came into our lives. We still cook fresh foods for dinner but nothing elaborate. Most evenings include a pan-grilled/baked/sautéed protein and some kind of vegetable. Done. It’s nothing like the long slow roasting of a turkey, baking a pie from scratch, or the two day process of preparing stuffing from my mother-in-law’s recipe.

We spent Thanksgiving day with the Professor’s family. Several relatives came in town for the holiday and we enjoyed spending time with everyone and introducing Charlie to his extended family. For the first time ever, though, Charlie was clingy. Usually, I am trying not to get my feelings bruised because he tends to want the affections of anyone but me. But on this day, moments after we walked in the door, I sat him on the sofa and he immediately reached out for me and whimpered. My heart melted. I know that I might be cursing this kind of behavior in a couple of months because I won’t be able to get out of his strangling need to be in my arms, but for now, I will relish it. My baby finally wants his mommy.

He also loves his Gammy…

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sing, Sing A Song

This past weekend was busy as usual, but it went by way too fast. After last week’s 5 day hiatus for the Thanksgiving holiday, I feel like I got gypped this weekend. I am feeling the pressure of the holidays and final exams and am spending too much of the weekend hours trying to get everything done so I can be a blob as much as possible during the workweek. A few things occurred this weekend, however, that begged me to stop and take notice.

Charlie is walking. He has been making attempts for the past month now, but late last week, he just took off. His steps are still tentative and wobbly, but he has so much more confidence now and loves to show off. I am so proud and happy for him and clap and ooooh and ahhh with every attempt. One night last week, he had a grand time walking back and forth between the Professor and me. He probably walked the equivalent of a mile going back and for between us.

Now that he is walking, going to the grocery store is an entirely different experience. He’s not completely into everything on the shelves yet, but he is obsessed with pushing the shopping cart. And he can move fast! It is so hilarious to watch his cute little body drive the mammoth cart up and down the isles, into displays, and into other carts. Sometimes, he gets going with such speed that he is forced to fall to his knees because his quick little steps just can’t keep up.
Another source of entertainment from Charlie this weekend is his singing. On Saturday morning, he sang a song over and over again. After finishing each time, he gave himself his own standing ovation with claps, smiles and cheers. The Professor and I were stumped because we could not figure out what song he was singing. I was dying to sing along with him and help him practice but there was just no way in the world we could unravel the mystery. There were no actual words, no familiar tune. Nothing gave us a clue. He repeated the singing again on Sunday morning. Again, it was adorable and he was extremely pleased his performance.

I decided to ask his teacher on Monday about the song. She told me that the class sings a good morning song every morning after all the children arrive. She started to sing the song to let me know the words and tune. Charlie instantly lit up, and all of the other kids in the class quickly moved to their positions on the rug where they sit and sing together each morning. They were ready to sing!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Throwing in the towel

NaBloPoMo 2007 has beaten me. I just can’t keep up. I love posting every day, and I especially love reading other’s daily posts. But once I got behind, I just kept slipping and fell even further and further behind. My apologies to all 3 of my readers out there. I will try to be a more frequent poster from here on out. A daily poster, I am not.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Frenzied Frantic Frazzled

Today has been one of those days. You know, one of THOSE days. It all started with feeling almost incapable of even lifting my head off the pillow this morning. I think it has something to do with the weather. I love that the weather is finally cool and has some sort of semblance of fall, but this kind of weather always makes me want to lounge around in my pajamas in bed all day. Oh, if only!

Getting to work on time was difficult because of my sloth-like movement around the house this morning. Fortunately, the Professor took charge of dealing with Charlie. After I arrived to work, there was no room for laziness. It was a very busy day and I am wiped out. I had meeting after meeting and project after project. My bosses seem to forget sometimes that they have asked me to take on some serious responsibilities, which makes it difficult for me when they ask me to, I don’t know, be a secretary. Their insignificant requests late this afternoon made me late for a work event (I hate being late!). That event started late, which made me late picking up Charlie from daycare. So now I am out an additional $14 that I have to pay to the daycare for being late. They charge $5 dollars for the first minute late and then $1/minute thereafter. So, I was 10 minutes late.

Did I mention that I hate being late? It aggravates me so much, and I hate the chaotic feeling that comes with it. I grew up in a house where everyone was always late. Always. Always! We spent most mornings rushing out the door, my mom speeding down Poplar to get to school on time. Even with all that rushing, I was still late. I probably had cafeteria duty more than anyone else in my school. I got sent to the office so many times for being late that I think Mr. Champion, the vice principal, felt a little sorry for me. I even took licks (slaps on the palms of the hands with a paddle) once for being late. It was either that or 3 days of detention.

Sunday mornings were no different. They were spent in a mad dash to make it to Sunday school/church on time. It rarely happened. I barely recall ever getting there in time for Sunday school. Instead of leisurely Sunday mornings with pancakes and the newspaper, my family spent time arguing about being late. There was always tension on Sunday mornings. My sister inevitably was much of the root of the problem. She was definitely a girly teenager and could not leave the house without full make-up and coifed hair. And then she had to decide what to wear. And then she had to dig it out of the piles of clothes on the floor. Sometimes it was my dad’s fault because he would take his time getting ready – he believed he had plenty of time because no one else would be ready on time. Other times, it was my mother. She tended to have last minute wardrobe changes (that of course required ironing). And many times, our tardiness was my fault. I had difficult waking up so early on Sunday mornings (it was the weekend!) and I did not like going to church. Especially, our church (that’s another post altogether).

What I hated most about the tardiness of our family, besides the frantic rushing to get somewhere all the time, was the waiting. If I needed to go somewhere, I often had to wait and wait and wait for something to take me. If I needed to be picked up, I usually had to wait and wait and wait for someone to show up. On days that I didn’t take the bus home, I had to wait and wait and wait on my mom. I spent a lot of time waiting in my early teen years and it really messed with me. I’m not talking about a mere 5 minutes here or 10 minutes there. The waiting periods were more like 20, 30, and even 45 minutes. And I’m not trying to imply that I expected my family to jump when I needed or wanted to go somewhere. Most of these instances were timed appointments: school, doctors’ appointments, getting picked up at a certain time from a friend’s house, etc.

When I got my own wheels, I vowed that I would work on my tardiness habit. It was hard pattern of life to shake, and I still am not completely past it. It’s almost as if it is engrained in my DNA or something. I really try, but sometimes I just lose my mind and tell myself that I have more time than I actually have. That’s how the cycle begins.

So, when I found myself late picking Charlie up last night from daycare, I was frantic and rushed. I didn’t care about the fact that they would charge me for the extra minutes. What I cared about was the pattern of tardiness that I was practicing and teaching Charlie. I hated that I was making him wait, wondering if anybody was coming to pick him up. I hated that I knew he was hungry and needed dinner. I hated that I usually pick him up at 5:15 and it was now 6:10 - almost an entire hour of waiting. I hate that I did that to him because I know what it feels like.

I know these things are impossible to avoid sometimes. I know that it is probably good to teach him that things don’t always work out the way you want or expect them to. But, I hope to never make him wait for me again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Potty for Christmas

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about potty training and how much I DON’T know about it. I’ve looked on line and read things here and there and have heard others stories about the ins and outs of this milestone of their children’s lives. Most of the advice I get has at its core the notion that “when they’re ready to do it, they are ready.” Cool. I can live with that.

In my potty training research, I have read several stories about kids potty training at ages as young as 16 months. Wow! I had no idea it could happen that early! And these stories weren’t necessarily about those who decide to notice the rhythms of their child’s body and then holding them over the toilet when the think they need to go. You’ve heard of those people, the ones who apparently have all the time in the world to watch when their kid flinches in just that way and then rushes them to the toilet. I’m all for having fewer diapers in the world, but I just cannot ever imagine a time when I would be available enough to do this.

I guess I’ve just been a little obsessed with this topic lately because I’m feeling a bit guilty about using disposable diapers. I went on the gDiapers website and saw the horrifying evidence that disposables really are that bad for the environment. I could make myself feel better and just start using the gDiapers but they are so expensive, too expensive. I even toyed with the idea of switching to cloth diapers but fear that the experiment would backfire because Charlie is so accustomed to disposables. And I am not even sure my daycare is willing to accommodate the change either.

Thus, the potty. I plan to get Charlie a training toilet soon. I don’t plan to begin the actual training right away, but I want him to have the opportunity to explore the option as soon as possible. I thought about getting him one as one of his Christmas presents, but the Professor won’t let me. In his mind, a potty is not an appropriate gift. In my mind, giving it as a gift might give Charlie a reason to love it more.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

When I say blue, yell blue!

I’ve failed. I missed a post yesterday. I had full intentions of logging on to the computer and whipping out something witty and quick. But it never happened. What with all the business of the day, I just could not find the energy to pull my self off the couch last night to write something. It doesn’t help that I fell asleep on said sofa before 10:00 p.m. To make up for it, I’ll try to do a double post today (or sometime this week). Posting every day is difficult, especially on the weekends.

Yesterday, I went to my nieces’ cheerleading competition. M (5) and T (7) are both cheerleaders this year, and their teams participated in the competition called Cheer Off. M is on the Flag team and T is on the Pee Wee team. They were anxious, nervous and excited and both did very well. I was so proud of them, and of course they were adorable.

When my sister signed them up for cheerleading, at first I was a little apprehensive. I guess I reverted back to my high school days and the stereotype that cheerleaders are just a bunch of bubbly back-stabbing-bitches. But then I thought more about it and dug deep into my memory. And really, I don’t remember cheerleaders at my school being this way at all. In fact, some of them were my friends, and most of them were pretty cool. For example, Leigh Hood was a cheerleader. For those of you that remember her, you know what I’m talking about. One of my close friends Stephanie was also a cheerleader, and she’s not like that either. She is one of the kindest people who will go out of her way to do something for a friend. Now that’s rare.

So, I thought and thought about why I had this nagging uneasiness about cheerleading. And then it dawned on me. In 4th grade, I was a cheerleader. At the time, I was going to a private school but I was somehow able to cheer for the neighborhood public school. I think I was eligible because I had gone to that school in previous years. At the same time, I was taking violin lessons twice a week. The expensive private violin lessons that my parents could not afford made me about 15 minutes late for cheerleading practice. And I always got chewed out for it by our sponsor, Mrs. Shipp. It always made me feel wretched.

I really liked cheerleading for a while. My best friend was on the team and we had fun practicing together. I was into gymnastics so I liked the tumbling aspect of it as well. But digging through the dark cave of my cheerleading memories, I found that I probably disliked it more than I liked it. Here’s why:

1. Getting chewed out for being late to practice because my mom was also making me take violin lessons. I guess she thought that violin and cheerleading would be a good balance. Come to think of it, Leigh Hood played the violin and was a cheerleader. Again, she was cool. Maybe I should have stuck with both?

2. Having to put on a fake smile all the time and pretend I was having the time of my life when in reality, I was trying to keep count to the routine in my head and not screw up.

3. Some of the other girls on the team actually were bubbly back-stabbing bitches. Mrs. Shipp’s daughter was on the team, and she was one of them. I didn’t go to school with any of them either, which made my sense of belonging that much more difficult.

4. Homecoming. A boy had to escort me on the football field. I hated that moment. I was in 4th grade and did not know the guy, and I simply found this experience to be horrifying.

5. Competitions. Boy, were these girls serious about the competitions. They made me so nervous and sick. I always did my job and never screwed up, but we never won. This made some of those bubbly back-stabbing bitches even bitchier. I remember one competition where half of our pyramid fell down. It was unavoidable because the girl on top lost her footing which led to a fall which left the spotter unable to keep another girl from falling off the side – it was an honest mistake. Before we even made it back to the stands after our routine, there was already some serious blame being thrown around. Tears were shed, feelings were hurt, and it was an altogether unpleasant experience that is burned into my memory. In another competition, our girls were confident. We did our routine perfectly and everyone was sure we would win. We didn’t. We didn’t even place. The other teams were just better. But gosh, you would have thought someone died there were so many tears that day. The disappointment was just brutal.

This is why I do not like cheerleading.

BUT, I do think that there are good things that can come from it. I’m not that much of a pessimist. First of all, I think it is good for building strong, confident women. The health aspects are great and the sense of teamwork is like none other in the world of athletics. The girls get to be with their friends, dance, tumble, and scream their heads off, all the while having people cheer for them. They have to work hard, discipline themselves, and learn about the value of practice and having a focus. Now who couldn’t use a little more of that in their lives?

My nieces did a great job yesterday, and I was happy that I was there to cheer them on in support. I think they had a great time, which is all that matters anyway. And if I have anything to do with it, they will never become my stereotype of a cheerleader. Instead, they’ll be strong, confident, and happy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Not that I'm trying to tell you what to do but...

This morning, the Professor and I headed to Easy Way to begin our regular weekend shopping. I love that store. I especially love that we leave with an overflowing cart and have only spent $20. What I don't love is the tight quarters of the place, and that shopping there early on a Saturday morning means vying for cart space with some of our fair city's older population. Usually, I am appreciative of the adoring comments these ladies lay on Charlie, but on this particular day, I got very annoyed.

A woman (probably in her mid to late 70s) made the usual Oh, he's so cute comment about Charlie. I smiled and said thanks and prepared to move on. [I failed to mention that at this time, Charlie is busy sucking on one of the plastic produce bags. We gave him this to avert his attention from throwing the contents of our shopping cart across the store.] Here is how the conversation went.

Her: You shouldn't let him play with that bag. They're dangerous.

Me: Yes, I know. But I am keeping a very close eye on him. As long as I keep watching him, I'm sure nothing will happen. He's happy and he's fine.

Her: Well, you shouldn't let him play with it. He could put it over his head and suffocate.

Me: Thanks, but he won't do that because I am watching him.

Her: You shouldn't let him play with it. He could suffocate.

Me: (BIG sigh) Okay, thanks (with gritted teeth).

Did she really think I would let my kid, the love of my life, put a plastic bag OVER his head?

Charlie and I walked back over to the Professor while he was trying to pick out the freshest head of romaine. He could tell I was annoyed and asked me what happened. I gave him the run-down of the conversation, let him know I was fine, but that I really did not want unsolicited (and stupid) advice from a perfect stranger.

His response: You should have just said, "how about I put this plastic bag over your head? What do you think would happen then?"

While I don't agree with harming others to get them to back off, I did get a good chuckle from this.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Random and uninspired

I’m feeling good today because last night was my final event for The Big Read. We held an event at Theatre Memphis and it was totally awesome. Lots of students showed up, the acting was superb, and the discussion was enlightening. This was a great way to end this program. Now I just have to write the report for the grant. Wretch.
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I’ve been curious about Google Ads on blogs. I am not necessarily for it or opposed to it. I wonder if any money can actually be made, especially for a blog that is not widely read. The Professor and I had a discussion last night about credit card debt. We have a 5-year plan to pay it off, but the 5-year plan has been in existence for 5 years already, and we still have 5 years to go. Maybe Google Ads could help whittle those bills down?
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My baby will be walking any day now! For the longest time, he would only walk if someone held both of his hands. But yesterday when I picked him up from school, he walked all the way from his classroom to the water fountain and then from the water fountain to the car, the whole time only holding one of my hands. In the other hand, he held his cup. He was so proud of himself! I was proud of him, too. Unfortunatley, learning to walk also comes with a multitude of bumps and bruises. He now has a bruise on his forehead, a bruise on his temple, a cut on that place between the top lip and the nose, and several bruises on his legs. Let’s hope no one mistakenly calls Child Protective Services on me! But, with all the falls, missed steps, bumps, cuts and bruises, my little man persists and gets right back up to getting from point A to B. So, I guess that is inspiring.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Stinky Cheese Contest

Tuesday, the French Club at the college where I work, announced that they would hold a stinky cheese contest. When I found out about it, I immediately emailed Stephanie informing her that we were participating. Of course, she was game. The following day, we headed to the contest full of anticipation. I was little nervous since I had been stricken with a stomach bug recently, fearful that the stinky cheese that I usually love so dearly, would leave a bad taste in my mouth. It did leave a bad taste in my mouth, but in a good way. All signs were good that the bug had finally and literally left my system. Oh, I just adore you stinky cheese!

The cheese featured were some of the staple French chesses (and one that is Danish): Brie, Camembert, Havarti, Gruyere, and Chévre. They were tasty but they probably were not the best quality French cheeses one can find. But who’s complaining? Steph and I particularly like the Chévre and the Havarti. The Havarti had a whopping punch of garlic in it that made us both wish we were sipping on a fine bottle or two of wine.

Nibbling on the stinky cheese reminded me of the glorious cheese plate at Dish. They serve a huge portion of various cheeses (Manchego, St. Andres, Cabrales, Goat, Reggiaanitto, Halloumi, Grand Padano, Fresh Mozzerella, Petite Basque, and Feta). Also included are olives and giant crackers cut the richness of the cheeses. All this costs only about $16. I ordered this with 2 other people once, and we had a hard time finishing it. Yum-my.

Thinking about all this cheese makes my head spin with other tasty delectables I have and have not yet had while eating out in Memphis. While the Memphis restaurant industry has not always been on par with other cities of its size, it is finally starting to catch up. I frequently hear about new and unique restaurants popping up, especially those downtown.

Unfortunately, being a mother of an 18 month old makes it difficult to eat out often. Dining out these days usually does not consist of lingering over a glass of wine or, god forbid, actually tasting the food. Dining out most often requires at least 2 things: fast service (and fast cook times) and low, low, low prices. That way, if Charlie manages to smash his little chubby fingers into my plate and hurl my food across the restaurant (or stuff it in his mouth only to spit it out while making retching noises), all is not lost. If he suddenly decides that he is miserable while the server sets our food on the table, we can easily pack it to go and run.

Recently I’ve been dreaming of lingering over a glass of wine and savoring a nice meal. Hopefully, when Charlie is a little older and when our budget will allow, the Professor and I can venture out for more frequent dinners. And in case anyone wants to offer free babysitting and finance the rendezvous, below are some new places (and old) I want to try (or revisit).

Bari - I am particularly in love with the Frutti di Mare Fritti, the Polpette and the Zaccagnini Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Riserva. And the cheese!

Circa

Stella

Felicia Suzanne’s

McEwen’s – Banana cream pie anyone?

EP Delta Kitchen

Bluefin – I’ve heard good things about the Tuna Tataki Pizza.

Umai – I have eaten there once and thought it was really special. I really enjoyed an appetizer that consisted of black seaweed (I think?). Regardless, it was tasty and I hope to go back.

Grill 83 – If you plan to finance this one for us, be sure to include a night at the Madison Hotel, as well, preferably the presidential suite.

Encore

Any others that you might recommend? I mean, I am dreaming here. Might as well make it count.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Black taffeta with a balloon skirt

In response to yesterday’s post, the fabulous Spiffy Tiffy (a.k.a. Hyena) sent these beauties to me this morning. Thanks to her, I don’t have to attempt to verbally describe the black taffeta chaos (with ruching, a balloon skirt, and a demure sweetheart neckline) that I described yesterday as a dress. You can see it for yourself.

First, a photo of Tiffy and me. Who knows what we were doing or where we were. Judging by the hair, it was at least 10th or 11th grade. I know this for sure because if it was any earlier than that, you would have jumped back from the page a bit by Tiffany’s exploding bangs and curly/fried permed hair.


Next, is a photo of that dreadful prom night. Notice the dress? I like the way the camera and the light worked together to pick up the swirls in the taffeta. The camera did not, however, do the balloon skirt justice. That skirt was full and bulbous and absolutely huge. Maybe it was the dress that led me to my cruel and heartless breakup?


My mom pulled out all of my and my sister’s old dance dresses from the attic a couple of years ago. I tried this one on (it was the only one with elastic – camouflaged by the ruching, of course). It did not fit. Man, I was skinny back then!

And finally, a photograph of me and Chip on prom night 1990. This was a pretty interesting evening/weekend. First of all, Chip had already moved to Nashville. We had been having a long distance relationship for about a year (we hadn’t quite hit the 1 year/5 month mark – that happens when he actually comes back to Memphis for college the next fall). So, Chip is living in Nashville and it is prom season. Because we have a long distance relationship, somehow, Chip needed to get to Memphis for my prom. This led Tiffany and I to the following brilliant idea: Road trip!
We decided to drive to Nashville on Friday after school and pick him up and return to Memphis in time to get ready for prom (I can’t remember if we drove back immediately on Friday or if we waited until Saturday morning). Because our plan was so last minute, Chip and I had no plans for any of the prom madness. All of our friends were busy getting drunk in their hotel rooms, while Chip and I were stuck way out in Germantown at my parents’ house trying to figure out where to go out to eat while I curled my hair. We decided on Grisanti’s and I think I ate lasagna. This was before I trained my palette to have a little adventure. That night it also poured rain, so my dyed to match red shoes were bleeding all over my cream stockings, and my curling iron curled hair was flat before we got to the restaurant. We had fun though. I recall stopping by Tiffany’s hotel room, but being the only sober ones in the room was not so fun. And I’m pretty sure we had a pretty early night. Gosh, my memory is killing me!

The funniest part of the story occurred on Sunday. We were leisurely hanging around my parents’ house and having a relaxing day when my father asked how Chip planned to get home. Ummm, wha? How is he getting home? I don’t know. We, being the responsible and genius teenagers that we were had not thought about the fact that Chip actually had to get home. It was a school night, so my parents would not let me drive him. My parents would not drive him because they had to work the next day. Chip’s parents would not come pick him up for the same reason. So what brilliant plan did my oh so practical father devise? Greyhound bus, baby. That’s right. I had to drop my boyfriend off at the then scary Greyhound bus station on a Sunday afternoon. I think it was some kind of punishment for us being so stupid. Of course my father drove to the station because, you know, it was in downtown Memphis. Danger! Danger! It wouldn’t be smart to let his 16 year old daughter drive down there in the middle of the day. Of course not. So I watched Chip board the bus, and what normally would have been a less than 3 hour trip by car, took about 20 hours or something like that. I think his bus stopped at every little Podunk town in the 210 mile stretch between Memphis and Nashville. Poor Chip.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

So what is a C-dog Mama?

Many, many years ago, waaaay back in high school, I liked a boy named Chip. Chip liked me, too. So, we kissed a lot. We tried to keep our affair somewhat hidden because Chip was living with my ex-boyfriend’s family at the time. You see, it all started when RT and I broke up. RT and I had dated for over a year. A year and 5 months to be exact (this duration turned out to be my limit for any relationship until I met the Professor. Until then, at approximately 1 year and 3 months, I would start to get that feeling. Panic would set it; I would lose my breath, sweat, and seriously analyze the relationship, always ultimately determining that I needed to be single again and live freely. I think this is due to my prowess at keeping my guard and various emotional walls up for a very long time. At about a year and 2 months, the person near and dear to me is always able to begin cracking away at the shell, forcing me to be myself, and that person finally gets to know me for me. And this is what always sent alarm bells through me, insisting that the relationship needed to end.)

*Now, I can’t say that at the ripe old age of 17 that I was really capable of understanding all of my emotional baggage. RT and I had dated for over a year, and it was time to end it. It was prom night, 1989. We went to prom with my best friend Tiffany and her date (GH) in his ancient 1970 something Volvo. We had a nice dinner at Captain Bilbo’s, and then we went to the dance at the Peabody. I wore a black strapless taffeta dress with a balloon skirt that I don’t think I could ever describe on paper. It was truly hideous. RT and I fought for a good part of the evening. On our way home, we decided to stop by Audubon Park to, I don’t know, “talk.” At least that’s what Tiffany called it. That’s when RT and I broke up. It was miserable and painful and when I look back on it, I am ashamed that I instigated it – ON PROM NIGHT. Just call me cruel. It also didn’t help matters that the Volvo broke down on the way home, so RT and I were stuck in the car with Tiffany while GH went to call his mom. Fun! I really think I need to apologize to RT for that horrible night. I mean, what kind of person does that? A really emotionally screwed up person, that’s who.

Earlier that year, Chip’s family moved to Nashville, but because it was mid-year, they decided to let Chip stay in Memphis until the summer. Chip and RT had always been good friends, so he temporarily lived with RT and his family. Chip and I had equally been good friends. We were all the kind of friends that went out in large groups of people: me, Chip, Tiffany, RT, BT, BH, AN, etc. We didn’t go on real dates. We all just went out together. Before the end of the school year, Chip and I decided we liked each other. But, you understand, it was really difficult because he lived with my recent ex-boyfriend.

So, fast forward a couple of weeks. The annual Memphis in May festivities of 1989 saluted Africa. Tiffany and I were always excited about going to Sunset Symphony, and this particular year was not any different. We decided to secretly go with GH and Chip, and just not tell RT. I don’t remember what kind of immature lie we concocted, but we somehow ended up at Sunset Symphony – just the 4 of us. We had fun, but I’m sure we all felt a bit of the weight of that lie on our shoulders. RT eventually found out, and it was not pretty. It turns out, though, that he was much more mature than I was because he did not act like a complete shameful lying jerk about the whole thing like I did.*

So, C-Dog Mama? Well, at that particular Sunset Symphony, we listened to a band performing traditional African music. Throughout their set, the singer kept yelling out, “Jambo!” Our group of friends had previously thought it fun to give each other random nicknames, and “Jambo” became my newest nickname that day. Or was it Chip's nickname? I don't remember. Other nicknames we had were: Jasmine, BBB, other forgotten names that began with “J”, Cat, and C-dog (coined by none other than Spiffy Tiffy). Is there any meaning whatsoever to the name C-Dog? No. It’s totally random. It is just a name Tiff gave me a very long time ago. When I became a mama, it seemed only logical to add “mama” to the end of it. Thus, C-Dog Mama.

*[All dates and events are represented purely by my aging memory. There are probably several inconsistencies. The Professor and I have been married for over 8 years and have been together for over 11, but I do remember at 1 year and 5 months considering a break-up. I think I even tried but he wouldn’t let me. I am eternally grateful for his persistence.]

Monday, November 5, 2007

What's for Dinner?



...certainly not anything I want to eat. We are still battling the icky illness. The Professor came down with it last night and spent most of the evening in the bathroom. I stayed home from work today and spent the majority of the day sweating, asleep on the couch. Charlie, fortunately, only had a mild version of this last weekend; and he certainly handled it much better than the Professor or I have. So, Charlie went to school today and I got to rest. I am feeling better but I am not really looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.

While at home today, I had visions of being the stay at home mom that I long to be. I dreamt about how I would spend my mornings on long walks with Charlie, come home and have a story and a snack, and then whisk him off to a long nap while I dust, vacuum, scrub the bathroom and do laundry. He would then wake and we would head out to have a late lunch or coffee with my mom or sister. We would finally come home in time to make a nice, healthy, and complicated meal for dinner. I know, I know, this vision is so far from the reality of most stay at home moms. But it's my dream, damn it.

I am definitely coming to terms with accepting the fact that stay at home mom-ness is just not in the cards for me. For the longest time, I've wished and hoped (and blamed) that there could somehow be a way. But there just isn't. So, I am trying to accept this completely and move on.

When I really think about it, I don't even know if I truly want to stay home all day. In fact, I'm not sure I would even be all that happy doing it. I'd probably get fat and lazy and know WAY too much about daytime television. My main frustration with the whole notion is that I don't even have the choice to give it a try. Our finances just don't have any wiggle room to try to "cut back" to make it happen. We're already cutting back, and we both work full time. So, I guess I'll just have to save making complicated dinners for the weekends and look on the bright side. At least I won't have to clean the bathroom - I'll save that for the Professor. I hate cleaning bathrooms.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hair!


Charlie has never gotten a haircut. I have long had a firm desire to let his hair grow long "just to see." This is the one time in his life that he doesn't have to worry about standards and norms for sex and gender. So, let him have long hair. Let him play with princess toys! He doesn't know the difference! That, and his shaggy curly hair looks really cute in pictures. I recall seeing a picture of my brother-in-law as a young child with long and curly hair. At the time I thought, "I want to have a picture of Charlie like this."

Last night, while bathing Charlie, I decided that he needed a haircut. You see, Charlie has this wild and crazy curly hair that makes him look like he has bed head most of the time. I have cut his bangs once before to get it out of his eyes. But when I cut it then, his hair was dry and I was able to give him a whispy, natural looking trim. Last night, though, well, he was in the tub. I had just washed his hair, and someone should have just stopped me before I took the scissors to his hair.


I have straight hair. REALLy straight hair. When you cut it, nothing happens. It just gets shorter. Little did I know that when you cut short or wavy hair, there is actual science involved! Cutting curly hair involves precision and skill and the ability to understand that when wet, the curls are weighted down. When dry, the hair bounces up. So, in my misunderstood and ignorant state, I cut the hair above his brow and the hair at the nape of his neck. When it dried, it reminded me of the time I cut my sister's Barbie's hair. I laid the Barbie down, let her hair fall back (that's what they do in the salon when they wash it!), and I cut off all of Kissing Barbie's hair in one chop. All I wanted to do was give her a trim, but when I sat her back up, her hair looked like it had been run through the Cuisinart.


Fortunately, Charlie's hair does not look nearly as rough as Kissing Barbie's did 20 years (okay 30 years) ago. He just has some seriously straight across bangs and a big divot at the nape of his neck. All of this is surrounded by whispy bed-head curls that need to be neatened up a bit. I just can't bring myself to take the scissors to him again for fear of destroying all of his cute little boy tousled-hair look. I think I"ll take him to a salon and let a professional do it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sleepless Again

Yesterday evening I planned to go to bed early. Who cares that it was Friday night, the official start of the weekend? I was exhausted from the week and the lack of sleep the week brought. I wanted to nurse the hint of the cold that was coming on. I wanted to get lots of sleep to ensure a fun and grump-free weekend. I was so looking forward to waking up refreshed and ready to take on my Saturday. Well, I'm sure you can guess where this is going.

Yesterday, I felt a little more exhausted than usual. When I got home from work, the Professor and I ate pizza for dinner, and ever since that meal, I just did not feel quite right. I felt disgustingly full even though I hadn't eaten more than I normally would. I decided to go to bed around 10:30 in hopes of feeling better by morning. At 3:00 a.m. I woke with heartburn and horrible stomach problems. It was awful. So awful that I couldn't sleep. After 2 or 3 trips to the bathroom, I decided to spare the Professor from my getting up and down and my tossing and turning, and I decided to make a night of it on the sofa.

By 5:30 a.m., after watching terrible late night television, I had finally downed enough Pepto Bismal to go back to sleep. I woke again at 7:00 to Charlie enjoying his breakfast; at that time, I reclaimed the bed. At 9:45, I got up for the day and have tenderly wandered my way through it in a daze. I attempted to keep up with our original plans of errands and a football game, but I just found myself feeling like a big disgusting lump that did not want to move. I am feeling better now and am hoping that tomorrow morning will bring complete relief. OH PLEASE let this be gone by tomorrow.

What a way to spend the weekend.

I HATE getting sick.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween

Last weekend, we took Charlie on our second annual pumpkin search/photo shoot. Last year, we just happened upon a local church “pumpkin patch” and decided to go back to the same location this year. They won us over with the abundance of props for photographs and their impeccable service. The youngsters at the patch are more than willing to help with selecting the best pumpkin, with prices, and toting your load to the car.
So, Sunday afternoon, we donned Charlie in his costume and headed for the pumpkin patch. [We had originally planned to attend a Halloween party at Aunt D’s house immediately after selecting pumpkins, but the party had to be cancelled at the last minute; thus, the costume on a day other than Halloween.] Charlie had a blast checking out all of the pumpkins.

Saturday night, we dressed Charlie again in his cowboy ensemble and headed to the Zoo Boo with some of the Professor’s co-workers and their families. We were hopeful about the evening but worried that we might have a similar experience to last year’s Zoo Boo experience. I happily report, however, that Charlie had a fantastic time. He gawked in amazement at all of the kids dressed in costumes, rode the Zoo’s train for the first time, and devoured his first candy (jelly beans and Raisonettes). He also got to eat a free mini ice cream sandwich from the nice people at Blue Bell. We hit most of the attractions and even though the event is geared more toward kids who are a little older, I am glad that we are introducing to some of our fun traditions early in life. His jelly bean buzz did not wear off until after 10:00 p.m., though.


Sunday night was pumpkin carving night. Charlie did not participate much. I think he is a little dainty when it comes to getting slimy stuff on his hands. He did NOT like the pumpkin guts. (For some reason, though, that does not prevent him from smearing oatmeal all over his face.) He was so appalled by the pumpkin guts that he threw up all over himself halfway through the carving! (No seriously, the barfing was just left over from a mild illness that struck him earlier that day).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaBloPoMo

Ok, so I decided to do it. I had planned to do it earlier last month, but as October dwindled away, November got even closer. I began to have doubts. I begin to worry that just one more thing would be enough pressure to make me crack. But, my good friend Stephanie convinced me this afternoon that it would be fun just to see if I can do it. So, I’ve joined. I am committed. I will post each day for the month of November. I hope that this experience will help me bring more clarity into my life, vent more of my frustrations and perhaps help make me a better writer. So, bear with me as I will probably have to dig deep on some occasions just to get more words out than “this is my post for the day.”

NaBloPoMo is a challenge to bloggers to post every day for the month of November.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I wrote this post in my head at 5:17 a.m. this morning…

Charlie woke up crying again early this morning. He has been doing this almost daily for the past few weeks. He wakes up in the dark wee hours of the morning, cries for about 15 minutes until one of us decides to crawl out of bed and retrieve him. We bring him back in the bed with us in hopes that he will please, please, please go back to sleep. Sometimes he does, but most often, he just tosses, turns, grunts, and flops with accidental head-butting and kicking. A few days ago, the Professor and I made a pact that we would weed out this habit of our child. We decided that we would NOT put him in the bed with us anymore and just let him cry. After a few mornings of early morning crying, he would be cured, and all will be well with the Palmer world of sleeping.

For the first few mornings, things went well. He cried, but only for 15-20 minutes. And the crying was mild enough that he didn’t put himself into an inconsolable fit. So, relief washed over the house and the grumpies were moving their way out. We were sleeping through the night (and morning) again!

This morning, I woke to the sounds of Charlie crying again. I looked at the clock. It was 5:17. I was exhausted from my late night of watching reruns of Frasier Halloween episodes. I was totally prepared to ignore the cries and let Charlie lull himself back to sleep, but something was totally off. Something just felt COMPLETELY wrong. Once I was able to pull myself a little further out of my deep sleep, I realized that I was completely burning up. I was sweating profusely, I had kicked off the covers, and everything felt so incredibly hot. I have been feeling a cold coming on for the past few days, so I immediately thought that I was dying from some horrible fever that I picked up at day care.

I sat up and took a look around. I noticed that the Professor had kicked off the covers on his side of the bed, too. I even noticed the dogs panting a little. That’s when it hit me. I heard the heat blowing through the vents and could physically feel the dry heat sucking the moisture out of my skin. I got up to check the thermostat, which read 85 DEGREES.

“So, is your thermostat broken?” you make ask. No. Nope. Sure isn’t. Last night before bed, the Professor complained of being cold. He wanted to turn on the heat. I, of course, voiced that I didn’t think turning on the heat was necessary, what with the flannel sheets on our bed and the fact that the temperatures were in the 50s and all. But he insisted. He convinced me that Charlie may kick off his blanket and get cold in the night. Boy, was I duped. Instead, Charlie was woken by the sheer torture of the blazing heat this morning.

So, I got up, got Charlie, opened a few windows, got back into bed with the covers officially kicked off for the duration of the morning, and wrote this post in my head. Charlie, of course, head-butted me in the process of trying to flip over backwards in an effort to get comfortable.

[After a confrontation about the heat later this morning, the Professor informed me that he simply forgot to check the temperature before turning on the heat. Go figure.]

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I can only hold out so long…

A few weeks ago, I received a call from a middle school in Memphis requesting an interview for a job. This middle school has a pretty solid reputation, so I jumped at the opportunity and scheduled the interview for the following day. The person who spoke to me did not give me much information about the position except that it was for grades 6-8. This created a mild sense of anxiety because I was not sure if the position was for an English teacher or an ESL teacher, and I was too excited to even think to ask that question when scheduling the interview. I was not worried, though. Mostly just curious.

The next morning, I donned my interview suit and an extra layer of adrenaline and headed to the school. When the interview began, I asked the vice principal conducting the interview if the position was for English or ESL. She said neither. Wha? She asked me if I spoke Spanish? Um, no. German? Aha! Yes! She proceeded to tell me about the position for a German World Languages teacher and that she has had an extremely difficult time finding a German teacher. In a nutshell, the course would be on German culture and language to prepare students for actual German language courses in high school. She informed me that the class should be fun and excite the students. There was to be no homework. No tests. No aligning with standards. NO pressure. The point is to get students to WANT to come to class and participate. Throughout this conversation, my mind was reeling. Thoughts of Lederhosen, Spätzle, Sauerbraten, Bier, the Berlin Wall, and Schlager Musik spun in my head. Was this woman serious? Could this be true?

The only problem was certification. I am not certified in the State of TN to teach German. But, getting the certification would be no problem. I even checked it out after the interview and emailed the vice principal letting her know how easy it would be and that I would do whatever it takes to get the certification. I was enthusiastic, excited, and serious about this job. I left the interview thinking that this could be the best job in the world for me. I was already envisioning doing Internet projects in the library, cooking in the teen living (home economics) kitchen, and working with art, social studies, and music teachers. I was on the verge of asking my German brother-in-law for some advice. I had already started developing lesson plans in my head.

Now, almost 3 weeks later, I still have not heard a thing. I left her a voice mail asking her to please let me know either way (which she informed me she would do on the day of the interview). Still nothing. I want to believe that they have just not yet made a decision. Or that they got busy and filling this position got moved down on the priority list. I want to believe something other than the fact that they probably hired someone else for this job. Probably someone who teaches Spanish. I’ll probably send one last email to her as a follow up, but essentially, I’ve already given up. Could it be that this job is just not meant for me? Will I find out down the road that I, in fact, will be happier doing something else? Who knows? But, damn, I think that could have been a really fun job.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hug It Out

Next week, Charlie will be 18 months old. I can’t believe he has already been with us for a year and a half. I was perusing through old photos the other day and looked in awe as I saw my scrawny baby in the NICU. My, has he thrived over the year! He’s growing up so quickly, it almost scares me. At times, I find myself wishing he could talk and be more independent to make things easier on me, but then I immediately switch to wishing he was still a tiny 4 month old baby. But most of the time, I am just amazed with who he is at this very second.

At this point in his life, he’s not yet a toddler but certainly no longer a baby. He is not yet walking, but he is well on his way (he is still a little behind because of his pre-maturity). He enjoys hoisting himself up to a standing position and counting the seconds until his little booty hits the floor. Most often, he is so proud of his stance that he claps, knocking him off balance, sending him immediately to the ground. I absolutely adore watching his pride spread across his face. His eyes light up as if to say, “Do you see what I, Charlie of only 17 ½ months, am capable of doing? Can you believe it?” He bears his teeth in a proud grin and giggles with pleasure at himself.

With his communication skills, Charlie is moving along at rapid speeds. He is learning and using new words every day. Most recently are hi, bye, and yes (stated with a giant head nod, “yesssssss”). He is beginning to understand the power of words and, in my opinion, is on the brink of having full multi-sentence conversations with us.

All of these new developments are great. But lately, I feel like he gets a little overloaded sometimes, especially after school. After he spends a full day actively playing and learning, he’s completely spent. When I pick him up from school, he peers at me happily through the door. He smiles and scoots over to me and gives me a giant bear hug. We say goodbye to his classmates and teacher and head for the car. Somewhere between stepping out of the building and getting secured in his car seat, he loses it. The drive home is usually spent trying to soothe him. This is most often done by tossing Teddy Grahams back to him from the driver’s seat, hoping that a few will land in his lap. Then, the snacks run out and I make a mad dash down curvy Quince to get home before my nerves explode.

We get home and he his happy to see the dogs and sighs in satisfaction as we take his shoes off. And then, the screaming begins. We race to get him something to eat, hoping to sate his hungry little belly. But over the past few weeks, food has not been the thing to calm and distract him - even if he is hungry. In fact, everything pisses him off. We put milk in front of him. He throws the cup. We try crackers. He screams and shakes his head no. We try to hold him, and he does the baby stiff body with arched back thing that makes me almost drop him on his head. We try to give him his blanket and he throws it on the floor and kicks it. We try to distract him with a book or a toy that inevitably gets thrown across the room and whacks one of the dogs in the head.

Finally, succumbing to the fact that he is just overcome by evil spirits in a fit of rage, we decide to ignore him and let him get it out of his system. During this time, he scoots from me, to Maggie, to Daddy, to Roxie and back again, kicking each of us on the ankles in frustration, all the while screaming and crying with his little face swelling up and burning red. I can’t help but laugh during this time because

1) The whole situation is so ridiculous and I’m trying not to let it get to me (although sometimes I want to run out of the house screaming myself because it is JUST SO HARD to endure this kind of thing sometimes), and

2) When he is making his rounds trying to kick each of the people/dogs who love him most dearly in the world, he is just so cute. I honestly don’t believe that he is trying to be aggressive; he’s just working out his frustrations. The funniest part about it is that his kicks are so light and soft, they feel almost endearing, like a whisper-soft brush of the hand. They make me want to scoop him up and smother him with kisses.

Eventually, after letting him work it out, Charlie calms down and returns to being the sweet, bright-eyed boy that we know. The metamorphosis is almost frightening because I can visibly see the tantrum drain from his face and limbs and then seconds later, he will look up at one of us with a giggly smile. Relief that the episode has passed washes over the entire house, and I no longer feel the prickly nervous sensation throughout my body.

At that very moment, he scoots over to my feet and pulls himself up to standing, reaching for me to pick him up. I raise him up; he looks me in the eyes and leans in for a giant hug.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Slacker

I realize that I have been a complete slacker about posting lately. Let's just chalk it up to having less time these days. I work full time, Charlie has decided to throw his awsome sleeping schedule out the window, I'm taking two classes, AND my job is requiring me to go above and beyond the typical workday becuase of The Big Read. Whew! I'm busy. Notice that the book in the "What I'm Reading" graphic to the right has not changed in months. And that's no mistake; I'm still reading it. I figure I'll finish it in time to start a new book around Christmas.

So, on with the update.

Germantown Festival
Sometime way back in early September when it was still excruciatingly hot, I took Charlie to the Germantown Festival with Nana and his cousins. It was fun and relaxing. And even though it was all the way out in Germantown, I really liked the atmosphere because most of the booths were draped by the pine trees in the park. Instead of walking down a paved street with the sun beating down on our necks, we cruised around in the shade with the cushion of pine needles under our feet.


Cooper Young
The following weekend, we hit the Cooper Young festival. Cooper Young, a much hipper festival, was okay. I used to love to go and check out all the booths, listen to music and enjoy the day. This year, I felt like I had seen it all before. In fact, it seems as if they same vendors are in the exact same booth location every year, which makes the festival a little mundane. Year after year, I get a déjà vu feeling once I step into the First Congo parking lot. That said, we had a good time, listened to some good music, bought a cute wooden toy for Charlie, ate ice cream and fretted while we watched Charlie attempt to “play” with his first balloon. Little did we know when the nice people from the Central Animal Clinic gave us the balloon that he would immediately try to bite into it! It was not a pleasant experience trying to take it away from him. After that debacle and finishing off the ice cream, it all went downhill. Charlie cracked and the screaming commenced. Who knows how many people we ran over trying to get to our car before the full on meltdown began? So, if you were at Cooper Young and were trampled by a woman with a screaming toddler with a face smeared with ice cream and green balloon bits in his hair, sorry!


U of M game
After the festival (and a nice long nap), we went to the University of Memphis football game. It was Charlie’s first. He was more in awe of all the cheering people than the game, but I think he had good time. We made a timely exit at halftime and thus avoided any further meltdowns for the day.


Oatmeal
Charlie has moved way beyond being spoon-fed. In fact, I don’t think he will let anyone feed him ever again. He wants to be in control, and I’m cool with that. He is so proud of himself when he gets even the tiniest morel from his spoon to his mouth. Most of the time, though, it all just ends up on his chin. Recently, he discovered a way around the messy spoon to mouth thing. He just drinks all of his food. Here, he demonstrates the proper way to drink oatmeal.


Climbing
Last week, one of Charlie’s teachers asked if he does a lot of climbing at home. At the time, I had not seen him do much of anything except scoot his way across the room and pull him self up with the assistance of the coffee table. So, no, I told her, I haven’t noticed him climbing lately. The weekend following, I saw evidence confirming her inquiry. Does attempting to scale the ladder into the attic constitute climbing?


Vacuum
Recently, I wrote a post about Charlie’s affection for the vacuum. At the time, we had a 1999 Hoover that did not do much hoovering. Not that we didn’t put forth the effort. The thing was just too old and could not contend with all the dog hair. And then, one bright and sparkly day, we headed to Target for a little light shopping. We walked by the vacuum cleaner displays and drooled over the Dyson. We noticed the $100 off advertisement and could not control ourselves. Before either one of us could say no, the box was in our cart and we were heading toward the register. And now, we have the most perfect fur sucking machine ever invented. This thing is crazy good. One even more crazy thing is being able to see just how much dirt and dog hair builds up on our floor in just a matter of days. Ick. But, the Dyson faithfully sucks it up, and we can rest easy that Charlie isn’t going to cough up a fur ball any time soon.

Trash Day
Tuesday’s in our neighbor are trash days. Each Tuesday around 7:45 a.m., we hear the squeaky brakes and the loading of garbage and recycling into the sanitation trucks. The new element of trash day is Charlie’s insistence that someone hold him up to the window so he can watch the trucks and the workers do their jobs. It is very cute and always calms him if he’s having a bad moment. Now that’s just one more reason to thank our sanitation workers for the job that they do!


Zoo
Last weekend, we made another trip to the zoo. We have a membership, so it makes going to the zoo a lot more enjoyable. Since we can go any time, we don’t have to worry about seeing everything all in one day. On this trip, we went to the Once Upon a Farm exhibit. Now that was fun! In all the times we have been to the zoo over the past year, we have not once gone anywhere close to the farm exhibit. I didn’t even know it was there! We saw goats, chickens, horses, pigs, and cows. Charlie even got to pet a cow, who smiled for the camera as the Professor snapped the photo. If you haven’t been to that particular exhibit, I highly recommend it.

Charlie also rode the carousel for the first time. He was visibly excited and even grooved a little to the music.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Go Al!

I only recently watched An Inconvenient Truth. I was really impressed with Al Gore's ability to discuss environmental issues in such a meaningful and truthful way. If you have not yet seen it, I suggest you do. Since watching the film, we have made a few small changes at our house (in addition to the Professor and I carpooling each day, starting about 2 months ago). It's really EASY to be a friend to the environment! I decided that the next house we buy (because hopefully we'll be in it longer that 3-5 years), I want to use and organic soybean based foam insulation. I saw it on Living With Ed, one of my new favorite shows.

Congrats, Al on winning the Nobel Peace Prize!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Never again

Yes, we have all said it before, but I am dead serious this time. Never Again. I am never drinking again.

Friday night, the Professor and I went to an all-adult dinner at a friend's house. All week we looked forward to a night out sans kid. We had plans! And they didn't include being home by an 8:00 p.m. bedtime!

Well, the dinner was great and we had a fun evening with Tiff, Mark, and the Chockley's. We had some great food, played a little Taboo, and drank some wine. I mean, I drank lots of wine. Too much wine. So much wine that the weekend was ruined.

I had a mean hangover on Saturday, and all of my big plans to get lots of homework completed were foiled. We also had plans to go to the fair, but having gotten little work done (and the headache) made us change our minds. And the cold that was on it's way out (the one that I had planned to kick completely over the weekend)? Well, that cold came on in an even fuller force on Sunday, leaving me with clogged ears and nightmare congestion. That made for a nice Sunday evening of childcare, laundry, and homework.

So, I am never drinking again. At least not until this weekend. But this time, I think I'll stop at two. Two glasses, that is.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

TBR

The pink eye is behind me after a week of dousing my eyes, yes, both of them, with antibiotic eye drops. Fortunately, Charlie’s pediatrician gave us several refills during our last bout of pink eye, stating that Charlie’s parents could use them, too, when we inevitably contracted the nastiness of conjunctivitis. There was no “if” involved in that conversation. Dr. Y. knew it was just a matter of time. You see, that is why I love our pediatrician. He cares about the sanity of the whole family and not just the kid.

And now, with the stress of icky gooey red eyes behind me (and the embarrassment and need for explanation for why I look like I have been crying all night), I have a new stress in my life. And, as usual, this stress involves work.

As I have stated before, I work at a college as an administrative assistant. Actually, I am an administrative assistant II, which in essence means I am more than a secretary. In addition to typical office duties, I help to coordinate grant programs. Our newest adventure is a grant the college received this summer for The Big Read. This is a really exciting program (you can read more about it here and here), but it is so totally far removed from what I typically like to do. Why, you might ask? Because I find event planning of all sorts to be extremely difficult and ridden with anxiety. I am just not the kind of person who thinks about the behind the scenes details of special events, like making sure a panelist has a bottle of water, or making sure an esteemed speaker has a parking spot reserved, or making sure I have ordered enough cloths AND skirts for the tables. Ick! It is just is not fun for me. In fact, when planning my own wedding, I took an “I don’t really care” kind of approach mostly because I did not want to have to worry about the details that could possibly go wrong. The fewer details (like an ice sculpture, or the perfect flowers, or the release of butterflies at “I do” – all that extra stuff), the less I had to worry. And, my wedding was perfect because all I cared about was getting married and having a fun night for our guests.

So, The Big Read is forcing me to step outside of my comfort zone, and at times, I’m okay with it and at others, I just want to run away and hide out in a cabin in Wyoming somewhere. It is a lot of hard work and oftentimes, I feel like I am dangling off the side of a mountain on my own, guessing what I should do next. The Professor says that he is sure something good will come from all of this hard work. Surely, it won’t be some kind of lateral promotion for a job in event planning. That would really put me over the edge.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Photos that do not display any battle scars

It's been a while since I posted any pictures. Here is what Charlie looks like now. He has recently begun to attempt to stand up on his own and will soon be brave and confident enough to take his first steps. Look out world! But...he also has the battle scars to prove his new found skill - a bruise on the forehead, a small cut under his chin, and a puncture wound (a small cut from his tooth, actually) on his tongue. I don't have any pictures of them, so the ones below will have to suffice.








Tickled Pink

Lately, Charlie has been suffering from the pain that accompanies monstrous molars forcing their way through his gums. And let me tell you, it’s been fun! Not only does my poor baby cry in pain and agony, he also has difficulty sleeping because of these beasty teeth. For the past few weeks, he has cried in his sleep because of the pain, and frequently, he wakes up completely, forcing the Professor or me to pick him up and cuddle him. Usually, a little dab of Orajel or a few teething tablets do the trick and he is back to sleep in minutes. But on a few recent nights, he has been almost inconsolable, forcing us to put him in the bed with us in hopes of getting a little sleep. When we do this, he usually falls asleep fairly quickly, but the night ahead for us is miserable.

Last night, it happened. He woke around 11:00 p.m. It started with a little whining and grew to full on screams. I picked him up, cuddled him, rocked to him, and sang to him. Fifteen minutes later, he fell asleep. I slowly and carefully put him back in his crib, but the moment his head hit the mattress, he was awake again and crying. Next, I tried to put him in the bed with me. He seemed to be comfortable for a moment, but then started screaming. Again. It is now almost midnight.

Finally, the Professor woke, scooped Charlie up and sat with him in the den. Within 10 minutes, he was asleep (Daddy’s cuddles must be better). He brought him back to bed with us where he slept soundly for most of the night. Occasionally, he woke with a start, but when he woke up this morning, he sat up and smiled a big toothy grin at the Professor and me.

The Professor and I, on the other hand, had a night of fitful sleep with little Charlie feet in our faces and ribs, a few whacks in the face with his chubby little hands, and a couple of times, I woke to find that I was mere centimeters away from being shoved out of the bed. I am hoping that tonight will be much more peaceful. Please! Let tonight be full of sleep at our house.

To add to the discomfort of a sleepless evening, at 5:00 a.m. I woke to turn over (I woke up because I am deathly afraid of flopping on top of Charlie and smothering him). When I tried to open my eyes, I couldn’t get them to open. They were glued shut. “Were you just that tired” you may ask? Nope. I wish. They were glued shut because I somehow got pink eye in both eyes. Charlie had a mild case of it a week ago, and I guess with all of the nose wiping and smooching on my baby, I contracted that lovely infection. Ick! So if you see me out this week and feel the need to ask me what’s wrong because I look like I’ve been crying for three days straight, don’t worry. It’s just pinkeye.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Back to School Part II

I started school last Monday. I am taking two graduate classes – one is on-line and one meets one evening a week. So far, so good.

I really enjoy the classes and I feel great about getting back into the educator mindset, especially in the realm of teaching foreign language. Sometimes when reading or working on an assignment, I wonder why I never took this route before. It just seems like the perfect fit for me. My only concern is getting all of the work done. These classes are demanding, and I am finding it difficult to find time to focus on them for any long stretch of time. With work, Charlie, dogs, and life, it will be a struggle. But, it’s a struggle I am willing to work with because I know (hope) that in the end, it will be worth it.

Thanks to Gammie and Nana for helping take care of Charlie on the weekends so the Professor and I can study!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

More Words

Tiger

Moo (every time he sees a picture of a cow or something that looks remotely like a cow) Another funny Charlie-ism lately is his ability to pant like a dog. I am proud to say that I taught him this one. We have a little dog book (thanks Aunt Tiffany!) and on the very first page is a dog named Missy. Missy is an English Bulldog with a huge wide open mouth and is panting. Her smile is contagious, making Charlie smile and yes, pant. It's the cutest thing I think he's done so far in his life. Well, the cutest next to giving Mommy hugs and kisses.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Some of the words thus far…

Daddy

Mama (finally!)

Uh-oh (He tried to say this word during his very first attempts at speech)

Maggie (pronounced Aggie - this was is first official word and "Daddy" was second)

Roxy (pronounced Oghy with a short "0" like ox)

Doggie

Car (this is usually the word for anything with wheels: a car, a truck, a wagon, etc.)

Cookie (pronounced co-ka with a long “o”)

Cracker (pronounced ka-ka)

Truck (on occasion)

Mmmmm (when eating something yummy of course!)

Ball

Cat

Sock

Cup

Belly (pronounced beh and stated only in combination with patting himself on the belly)

Ahh? (as a question as if to ask, “what is that?” or “can I have that?”)

Ahhhhhh…(in combination with a smiles and a razz sound with his tongue on his teeth – this is usually a sound of mild laughter or being pleased with himself)

AHHHHH!!! (screamed in a moment of slight rage when wanting something that is out of reach)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back to School

It’s back to school time in Memphis. The Professor heads back to work this week. Charlie went back to school on last week. And me, too…I’m headed back to school as well.

Over the past months I have been struggling with Project What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up. I have considered many things from careers in healthcare for humans to healthcare for animals to more grant-writing/grant management possibilities, and I have even toyed with the idea of going to back to what I was trained to do – teach high school English. I have spent hours upon hours researching different career possibilities, determining what kind of education I might need for the different options. I have considered quitting my job to go back to school and go back to the life of living on student loans, digging my family into an even deeper financial debt. If I had a real passion to drive me back to that lifestyle, I would probably do it. But, since I do not have an intense passion toward any of these choices, another bout at long-term full-time school is not a viable option. It just isn’t worth the risk to me. And since I already live in extreme panic about the debt my finally already lives with, I really cannot fathom what acquiring more debt would do to my psyche.

Several months ago, while agonizing over my career (or lack thereof), I made the leap to apply with the Memphis City and Shelby County school systems. At the time, I truly felt like teaching was the choice for me, as long as I was in an okay school. See, the school systems in Memphis, particularly the Memphis City School (MCS) system, are not the most respected or supported school systems in the country. MCS’s system is struggling. Many of its schools are in urban environments with high poverty levels and the problems that come from high poverty levels. These tend to equal to difficult experiences for teachers. It is not an ideal situation to want to be a teacher in the city of Memphis. And since I moved back to this city (my hometown) five years ago, I have been hesitant about even applying for a job in our schools.

Since I applied for a teaching position last spring, I have gone back and forth and ‘round and ‘round about this whole teaching thing. I know that I want my career to be meaningful. I know that I want to be involved in the community and do something for the greater whole. I love English: reading, writing, studying language, etc. I even attempt to be a grammar snob. I remember diagramming sentences in elementary school and loving it. But (here’s the big BUT), I don’t know if I can handle or even want to deal with the stress of being a teacher because let me tell you, it’s a hard job.

A couple of weeks ago, a thought crossed my mind that I had visited about a year ago. ESL. English as a Second Language. I remembered talking to a neighbor who is an ESL teacher in the Memphis City Schools. At the time, he said that ESL is the best kept secret for teachers. He had nothing but positive things to say about it and he intrigued me enough to seek out more information. I went to an ESL informational session and learned that there is a high need for ESL teachers in our city, and with my background in foreign language and with my current teaching license, I was a perfect candidate. I only had to take a handful of classes to get the certification, but at the time, I was not willing to even consider any more school. But now, well, now I think I may have figured it out! It seems to be just what I needed. I only have to take 5 courses to get the add-on certification, and I get to take them ALL on-line if I choose to do so. Wow!

So, for the moment, I am energized about this opportunity. I have registered for classes which begin next week. And hopefully, by this time next year, I’ll be in one of Memphis’ struggling schools helping kids who don’t speak English as their primary language. I am excited to see my future in this career. Just keep your fingers crossed that I don’t hesitate and change my mind by Christmas!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Say Cheese

Charlie has always been one to humor his camera happy mother. He knows just how to turn on the charm when he sees then lens appear before his face. He often gets that look. You know, the look where he points his head slightly down and he raises his eyes as if to say, “I’m not sure I can trust you.” Well, he’s right. He can’t trust me with the camera because I am constantly snapping pictures of him and them on the Internet. What will he think of me when he’s 15 years old and knows that I’ve posted pictures of him for all the world to see? Pictures of him naked in the bathtub, photos with snot streaming down his nose, and heaven forbid a picture of him having a complete meltdown (such as the one below).


I guess I’ll just have to deal with that wrath later. Lately, Charlie has begun to modify his red carpet pose. Before, it seemed as if he would never smile for the camera. I would snap away to get the perfect shot of him and he wouldn’t smile until after I gave up and put the camera to rest. Now, he’s all smiles. Maybe it’s all those new teeth? Maybe he’s just trying to get me to put the camera away already! Who knows? Regardless of the reason, this boy is more than ready to hand out grins for the Nikon flashing in his face.



Self-feeding and happy feet

Pulling up (he can do it by himself now!)
Charlie and Maggie – his VERY best friend (although she doesn’t know it)

Charlie's first piece of intentional art