Thursday, November 13, 2008

Maternity Leave So Far

Not so great things about this maternity leave so far…

1. Two days after I birthed Henry, my mom was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. She had a super high tech robotic hysterectomy and is recovering very well. Her doctors have given her the all clear, so no more treatment is needed (and no more cancer is lurking inside her).

2. My grandmother had to be moved into a nursing home. She is 92 and is the most stubborn independent person I know. She was moved there because she lives on her own and began having spells of panic and dementia. Once moved, doctors discovered that she had a fracture in her back and in her pelvis. With all that pain, no wonder she was in a state of panic! She is also recovering well but hates being away from her home. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to ever live alone again.

3. I got an abscess in my breast. Apparently, when you have a clogged milk duct, you should never take it lightly. Clogged milk ducts are the one thing I actually did obsess over in the beginning with breast feeding. Two weeks into Henry’s life, I got a breast infection from a clogged milk duct that sent me to bed for a day and a half with body aches and fever. After that, I was in a constant state of worry that it would happen again. And it did. And I did not understand the magnitude of what was about to hit. I went to my post partum visit with my doctor and pointed out the increasing mass in my breast. After a very painful mammogram and less painful ultrasound, doctors determined that I had a large abscess in my breast that needed to be drained immediately. One doctor mentioned the possibility of surgery, which sent me reeling in fear. Oddly enough, I had no other symptoms. The following day, I went to a breast surgeon who said that the abcess was due to a ruptured milk duct that leaked milk into breast tissue. The milk then sat there for over a week and grew a nice nasty infection. The doctor was fortunately able to drain it in his office. It was absolutely disgusting but I am well on the way to recovery with a drainage tube still in my breast and some serious antibiotics pumping through my system.

The best thing about maternity leave so far…

And almost just as wonderful is that he has slept through the night 2 nights this week without any prodding or neglect from me or the Professor.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack-On!

Five times I've cried in the past two days that have little to do with hormones or sleep deprivation...

1. When I cast my ballot for Barack Obama.

2. When Barack Obama won the election.

3. When the administrator at Howard University was speechless and in tears when CNN (or ABC?) tried to ask her how she felt about the election.

4. When the students said the Pledge of Allegiance this morning at the school where I’m doing my ESL practicum. “One nation…indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It had a MUCH nicer ring to it today.

6. When I listened to a voicemail from my very Republican sister who said that she really enjoyed Obama's speech last night and that she is looking forward to having him as our president.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Henry

Wednesday, September 17 (sometime between 1:33 and 2:00 a.m.)
It’s been over 6 weeks since my last post. I haven’t posted for several reasons, the most of important of which is the arrival of our newest family member, Henry. He’ll be six weeks old on Wednesday at 1:33 a.m.
Wednesday, September 17 - Charlie's first cuddle with Henry. When he first saw his baby brother, he yelled with excitment, "He came out!"



Above is Charlie's attempt to "play Elmo" with Henry.

Friday, September 5, 2008

First day

Charlie went back to school on Tuesday. Initially, he was very excited. He talked about the friends he would see and the things he would do during the entire trip to school. When we got close, he said, “I see it! There’s my school!” It made me feel so happy that he was looking forward to it. I, too, was looking forward to him going back and getting back into a routine. Not that spending time with grandmothers was a bad thing during that week where school was closed but Mommy and Daddy had to work. I think, though, like most kids, he just does better when he has a routine and knows what to expect.

When we arrived at the school, his smiles and giggles immediately turned into whimpers and tears. We walked into the building and said hello to his teachers, we put his things away, and walked him to the classroom. My poor baby could not take it. Even though he had been spending his days there only a month before, he was not prepared for this departure. Finally, we tried to shuffle him off into the kitchen where other kids were reading books and playing while waiting for everyone to arrive. He looked at me with a quivering lip and red, red eyes and said with a shaky voice, “Bye, Mommy,” and gave me a great big hug. He held it together long enough for me to kiss him goodbye and make my way toward the door. Not two steps down the hall, I heard him lose it and turned to watch Miss M. scoop up my baby and try to comfort him. He tried so hard to be brave, but he just couldn’t keep it together. I’m glad he tried and at least held on long enough until I walked away. Otherwise, I would have started crying right there with him. I managed to hold back my tears until I got to the car.

When we picked him up at the end of the day, he was a happy boy, full of stories to tell about his adventures at school. I asked him about friends from the previous year and he was so excited to tell me about how he played with D., D., C., and G. He also told us in a sing-song voice about how he got to play “in the saaaaaand, on the swiiiinnng, on the plaaaaygrounnnd.” When I asked if he likes his new teacher, Ms. F., he said, “Yeah. She’s pretty.”

While we have continued to have tears accompanied by lots of sweet goodbye kisses at each morning departure, we also have happy stories at the end of each day. The morning commute is also full of anticipation about going to school, so I’m sure we will soon be mostly rid of the tearful goodbyes. He will probably even forbid us to even walk him into the school. I can just see it now - my 2 year old will give his favorite instructions, “You stay here. I do it myself.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A bit of a rant

I am really getting sick of all the comments that certain people that I spend most of my waking days with continually make about my upcoming maternity leave. It is nice to know that I will be missed, but the underlying guilt trip within these comments is really starting to get on my hormonal nerves. Yes, it’s cute that you think that no one can do my job as well as I can – even though I am an administrative assistant. Hmph! And no, I don’t think I’ll be checking email regularly and checking your calendars daily to make sure you know what you are supposed to be doing on any given day. I also won’t be setting up a nursery in your office so I can be available to you at the drop of the hat during the workday. It’s nice that you offered to decorate and everything, but really, no thanks. And could you please, please, PLEASE! stop making jokes about how you are in denial about the fact that I will be leaving soon to care for my yet to be born child? PLEASE! It is starting to make me angry because I, on the other hand, am not in denial. I am ready, excited, even thrilled about this short and precious time that I will get to spend with my new baby, and the fact that you keep making jokes about how difficult things are going to be for you is beginning to tarnish my positive attitude while I’m still here.

Thanks for hearing me out. I’m done.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are you happy now?

As of late, Charlie is learning the deal about how doing something good makes mommy and daddy happy. Doing something bad does not. So, when he starts acting like a freaky 2-year old and steam starts to burst out of my fiery ears, he understands that he better switch gears fast or he will pay. He will eventually put on his charming face and comply with my request. Next, he will smile sweetly and say, “Are you happy now?” This always makes me giggle.

He doesn’t say it in a sarcastic way, like when, say a certain someone in my house doesn’t listen to my explicit instructions on how to prepare a favorite food and ends up with a gloppy mess. Like, “If you would have listened to me and done what I instructed, then we wouldn’t be in this situation. Are you happy now?” Instead, Charlie truly seems genuinely concerned with my happiness at these particular moments and it often makes me melt.

Last night, when suffering a difficult moment because Daddy would not pick him up because he was graciously making dinner, I put Charlie in my lap to try to comfort him. I held him close while he continuously said, “stop it, mommy!” (another one of his new favorite phrases). He continued to pull away until I decided to reason with the kid. I told him that I just want him to be happy and that it makes me sad when he’s said. After a little coaxing, he finally leaned into me and grabbed my arms to wrap them around him. He nuzzled into my shoulder for a long and cozy hug and asked, “Are you happy now?” And yes, I was very happy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I want to carry you

“I want to carry you.” This is what Charlie says when he wants me or the Professor to pick him up. Every time he says this I’m like, “Okay. PLEASE carry me.” He never gets the joke.

This week, I’m feeling doubly pregnant. My late night Olympic viewing is totally cutting into my valuable sleep time. At a time when I’m supposed to focus on resting, I instead am staying up until midnight to watch Michael Phelps kick everyone’s butt and break world record after world record. The "live" gymnastics competitions are the killer, though. I just can't manage to make myself turn the television off when gymnasts are flying through the air and contorting their bodies is such amazing and often disturbing ways.

Also during this “resting” period, the Professor is working diligently to install our new kitchen countertops and backsplash. We are finally getting rid of the old particle board/laminate gold speckled counters accented with rust stains, wine stains, and cigarette burns from probably about 30 years ago. This, of course, is something I have begged to do for the past 3+ years that we have lived in our home. And we finally decided that it’s time to do it 5 weeks before our second child is due to be born. So, by day, the Professor keeps Charlie entertained and works to finish up last minute work projects during Charlie’s naptime (like getting his dissertation published!). By night, I become Charlie’s playmate/feeder/bather/bedtime reader, and the Professor gets to work on those counters! What should have taken only 2-3 days, though, is now going on 6 days because of lack of time and experience. We hope the project will be 100% complete by Friday. Please let the project be 100% complete by Friday because I want my kitchen sink back and I’m exhausted.

I am 35 weeks pregnant and according to my doctor, I could “go any time now” but also according to my doctor, I’ll probably be asking him why I’m still pregnant at 39 weeks. So, I’m just trying to wait patiently and not let every little ache and pain convince me that I’m going into labor. I am excited and nervous, but mostly I’m tired.

I do wish Charlie could carry me around for a change. At least for a little while.

Monday, August 4, 2008

34 Weeks and Fingers Crossed

Tomorrow I will officially be 34 weeks pregnant. Wednesday will mark the gestational period when I went into the hospital to give birth to Charlie. I went in leaking amniotic fluid at 34 weeks and 1 day and gave birth to him at 34 weeks and 3 days. That day, gestationally, will be this Friday with this pregnancy. Needless to say, I’m freaking out a little bit.

It doesn’t help that I feel much more pregnant this time around at this stage than I did with Charlie. My belly feels bigger and firmer. I am more tired. My body aches in ways I never felt when pregnant with Charlie. It also doesn’t help that I am busy chasing and lifting a 2-year old and it has been consistently 100 degrees outside this week.

I am also freaking out a little bit because we haven’t fully decided on a name, we have not yet completed the little things around the house that we would like to have done before the baby arrives like install new kitchen countertops (are we crazy?!?) and paint Charlie’s room. And we certainly haven’t done things like wash baby clothes or get any of the necessary supplies out of storage and cleaned - things like the car seat. Fortunately, my generous friends and family gave us an enormous stock of disposable chlorine free diapers that I can use until I get around to washing the cloth ones I plan to use most of the time. I am hoping the breast-feeding goes well because my back up bottles and breast pump supplies are not washed and I haven’t even begun studying my breast-feeding guide book. I am definitely ready for this baby to come but time is sneaking away from me. And when I think about how quickly Charlie came into our lives, I get a little nervous about being slapped in the face with that unexpected reality again. My nesting instincts have kicked in, but I just haven’t found the time (or energy) to put them to use.

I do know, however, that I am definitely more prepared this time around. If this little boy decides to make his grand entry into the world sooner than expected, I know I can handle it. He may just have to ride home from the hospital in the nude in a dirty car seat. But in this sweltering Memphis heat, that may not be such a bad thing.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm glad he's looking out for me

As I’m getting out of the car this morning heading in to work:

Me (noticing the goo threatening to escape his nose): Charlie, let’s blow your nose.

He compliantly blows into the tissues. I proceed to wipe his nose.

Me: Charlie, give Mommy a kiss goodbye!

Charlie: Kiss my mouth. Don’t kiss my boogers.

Ewww...!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Pampered Day

On Saturday, I was pampered by friends and family in honor of our yet to be named baby. The day began with a frantic call from Stephanie whose plans to host my first ever baby shower were foiled when her air conditioner kicked it in the middle of the night. I think she hit it on the nose when she said, “I’m just not meant to throw a baby shower for you!” (For Charlie’s baby shower, I went into preterm labor the weekend before the scheduled event.) This time, it was an air conditioner motor.

After establishing a Plan B, the Professor, Charlie and I headed to the pool for a morning swim. Our goal was to exhaust Charlie so he would take a nap before the party. We arrive around 10:00 and it was already scorching outside. Thankfully, the YMCA pool was not yet crowded with rambunctious kids. Most of the families there were like us - families with infants and toddlers who had already been up for several hours and were looking at this as a “mid-day swim.” The pampering came into play when the Professor allowed me to swim off in the deep-end lanes to do some laps while he splashed around with Charlie. It was wonderful. It felt SO good to be doing something active yet not be sweating. At 8 months pregnant in the middle of a Memphis July, sweating has become my middle name.

After about an hour or so at the pool, we headed home in time for me to shower, lunch, and bustle off to my prenatal massage, complements of Tiffany and Mark for my birthday. Pat at Spa De Jour totally pampered me with a full-body, hour-long prenatal massage. It was so relaxing. She massaged me from my scalp to the tips of my toes. The experience was great and I definitely plan to go back to that spa. They were super-friendly and warm; I wish I could do that every day or at least every month. Finally, the massage portion of my pampering ended and I had to rush home to get my boys and head to my first ever baby shower.

When we arrived at my mother’s house (our new party location), I was surprised at how many people were there. Even though I helped with the invitation list, I was still a little taken by the number of people who want to help us celebrate our new baby. It was a bit surreal for me, but I am definitely moved by the joy and celebration a new baby can bring. With Charlie and his preterm delivery, everything just happened all at once and Wham! We had a new baby almost 6 weeks before expected. No one was ready, and I never got to go through that phase of really waiting for him. Sure, I was excited about meeting him and more than curious to find out what he looked like. But I was barely on the verge of feeling really pregnant and ready for him when his birthday arrived. So, with this baby shower, which was intentionally planned early, I have been given more than the wonderful gifts that our friends and family showered us with. I have also been given a gift of greater anticipation for our newest addition to the family. Now, just 8 weeks away from my due date (2 ½ weeks away from the point at which Charlie was born), I am trying to focus more this growing baby inside me, and having friends and family come to help me celebrate our new baby before he is born makes it all the sweeter.

Thanks to everyone who helped make my Saturday special! I especially appreciate Tiffany, Stephanie, and my mom, who went to the trouble of making this party a reality. It means a lot.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A great way to spend my lunch hour on a Friday

This afternoon, I had the great honor of attending a live performance and talk by Mr. Kirk Whalum. He came to campus to give a performance for students working on regional studies projects this summer and I was lucky enough to be invited. He began the show by almost breathlessly playing several songs on his gorgeous saxophone. My, that man has a set of lungs!

He spoke about his life experiences and the boomerang effect Memphis has had on him. A graduate of Melrose High School, he left Memphis for college with no inclination to ever come back. He went to college in Houston and eventually made his way to California working as a musician. He later moved to Paris with his wife and four children where he felt the pull of Memphis calling to him. He said that he realized that Memphis is part of his soul. Sipping coffee in Paris cafes, he heard the sounds of Memphis. He recognized the music Memphis while eating a sandwich in a Parisian bistro. On the Metro, he saw an advertisement for a Rufus Thomas performance. He stated that Memphis was everywhere, and that is when he realized that the sounds and culture of Memphis are part of his soul. After moving back to California from France, he and his wife decided to re-root themselves in Memphis. He said that he was like a boomerang. He was compelled by a force to come back.

Kirk Whalum is one of the coolest people I have ever met. He is a genuinely nice person, he is passionate, he is talented, and he is an inspiration. As he spoke to the students, he reminded them that each one has a gift, that each person has something in the core of his soul that is meant to be shared. He reminded us to take a closer look at the simple things and realize how complex the simple things really are. He reminded me to think about my life in terms of the big picture and not just the day to day routine. I am grateful to people like Kirk Whalum; he is a man who knows what it means to dream and who isn’t afraid to take chances trying to realize his dreams.

He closed the event with a performance of Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, a song dedicated to his wife by the title name. It was beautiful and I can only think how wonderful she must feel to have a husband who can create such moving music, especially a song meant for her.

On a final note, he asked everyone to check out a website for a documentary call Miss HIV. The director of the film is working with him on a documentary. I ask you to check it out as well. It promises to be a very interesting and touching story.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Weekend Rendezvous

Last weekend the Professor took one last hurrah before baby number 2 comes along. He went to a cabin in East Tennessee with some old college friends to do things that old college fraternity brothers do. I guess this means they drank a lot of beer, played poker, went to a bar or two and acted immature. I’m not asking. When he told me about his plans, I was at first a bit peeved that he was willing to leave his 30 week pregnant wife at home with a very frustratingly ornery two-year old. You see, lately, Charlie has become defiant, whiney, and a bit of a handful. It all started on his second birthday. Since then, we have implemented a few discipline techniques, one involving the naughty stool that we learned about from the one episode of the Supernanny I watched a few months ago. It works, but before my solo weekend with Charlie, we hadn’t quite gotten the point across to Charlie that what we say goes. Getting him to go to the toilet was a nightmare laced with screams and crying and “No! I don’t have to!” even when he had consumed an entire cup of water an hour before. Eating at the dinner table was also filled with whining and “I don’t like that!” and “I want graham crackers!”

Now, I’m not one to force food upon my kid, but I am diligently trying to broaden his palate so that he can enjoy the fruits of our cooking and the occasional night out. I am desperately hoping that he will be an adventurous eater, but it’s really, REALLY difficult not to succumb to his cries at dinner when he doesn’t want to try a bite of fish or, God forbid, mashed potatoes. He’s all “Pretzels! Graham crackers! Yogurt! More milk!” I just don’t have the patience to listen to all that whining while I’m trying to eat. Don’t get me wrong. I do not punish him for not eating. I do punish him for throwing a massive fit at the table if I ask him to take one bite of something before I will give him what he adamantly demands.

So, I was dreading a hormonal weekend alone with Charlie. I envisioned a weekend of either Charlie crying about dinner or me just throwing in the towel and letting him dine on pretzels for dinner while watching yet another episode of “Go Diego Go!” I saw myself begging Charlie to go to the bathroom and I was exhausted just thinking about having to hunch my big whale-belly self over to help him change his wet underwear repeatedly throughout the day. I could hear the multiple “I want Daddy” cries coming my way. I was not looking forward to it and I let the Professor know that he had better be grateful and remember what a loving and generous wife I am.

Then Friday came around. The Professor left around 2:00 for his weekend rendezvous. I picked up Charlie from school at 5:00 and braced myself for the weekend of potential hell that was headed my way. When I got to school, his teacher happily informed me that he had been dry all day. Yea! That gave me a little bit of hope. When we got home, we somehow managed to have dinner at the table without any screams. And miraculously, Charlie did not fight me when I suggested he go to the bathroom. Yes, I had to use the threat of the naughty stool, but it only took one mention of that simple form of punishment to send him running to the bathroom. He happily pulled his stool up to the toilet, announced with excitement “I’m dry!” and swiftly took care of business. This happened over and over again throughout the evening.
On Saturday, we had a wonderful morning with Gammy at the Children’s Museum, and nice lunch at home, a long restful nap, and an evening at the Zoo. I decided to be brave and forgo using any diapers or plastic covers and what do you know, he stayed dry all day long. It was awesome! And we had very few tantrums, all of which were fixed with a mild threat of the naughty stool.

When the Professor came home on Sunday, I was exhausted, but not from having to barter and fight with my two-year old. My exhaustion was due to a truly enjoyable and active weekend with him. I loved spending those two short days with him, playing, singing, dancing, and cuddling. He has always been a sweet little boy, but this weekend, I realized just how sweet he is. Thanks to the waning tantrums, a few gentle discipline measures and a genuinely loveable child, I could not have had more fun with Charlie than I did this weekend.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I love the sand between my toes

A couple of weeks ago, we headed south for the sand and sea to enjoy a week of laziness in the sun. We went with my parents, my sister, and her two daughters to Ft. Morgan, Alabama, which is basically Gulf Shores but is fortunately, a little more isolated. Charlie had a blast digging in the sand and playing with his cousins. I didn’t expect him to have so much fun doing things like eating popcorn in bed with them, watching cartoons, jumping on beds, and simply chasing each other around the house. I have never seen that kid so excited. We had a wonderful time lazing in the sun, splashing in the waves, and searching for crabs on the beach at night. There’s nothing better than sleeping past 8:00 every day to wake up to a leisurely breakfast to fuel up for a relaxing day by the shore. If only we could have stayed another week…

I hope this is a family tradition we can continue.









Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Farmer in My Kitchen

On Saturday, we received our first farm share from the CSA Farm that we joined (Ohana Farms in Coldwater, MS). Rather than spending $25 on produce each week from Easy Way (much of which comes from far far away places), we decided to put our funds towards a local farmer and reap the benefits of his family’s hard work. And of course, we want to support local agricultural instead of the giant industrial farms that strip the land and use who know what kinds of chemical on our food.

Our booty this week was, well, somewhat limited. Our famer explained that last year, they were eating ripe tomatoes on June 1. This year, because the weather in our region until recently has been cool and rainy, most farms in the area are suffering a bit. Instead of gorgeous juicy red tomatoes, we got turnips and kale. My 6 year old self is saying, “Ick! Turnips and kale? Gross!” [Note: I really do like turnips and kale, but my excitement over the CSA and its possibilities made me revert to my 6 year-old mindset.]

Initially, I was terribly disappointed and even wanted to get a little annoyed with my decision to join the CSA. We paid good money and this is what I get? But then I realized why I wanted to do it in the first place. I want to support the local guy. I want to eat what’s fresh and available instead of expecting plump juicy peaches to magically appear in my kitchen. I wanted to change my food philosophy and habits in hopes to help the environment and better nurture my family. So, I took sour lemons and made lemonade. Barbara Kingsolver would be so proud.

I decided to pull out an old cookbook I bought several years ago when we were living in Rochester and enjoying the city’s weekly (and wonderful) public market. This book, Local Flavors, is one from which I have never really cooked. Surprisingly, it is also mentioned in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s like I was meant to eat this way. I first looked up turnips and found a delicious recipe for a Turnip Potage. When I told my mother the name of the recipe, she said, “Gross.” But it is actually quite delicious. It’s basically a turnip, potato and leek soup (the potatoes and leeks provided by my local Easy Way). I am pleased to say that even my picky eater, Charlie, enjoyed drinking down a cup.

My next challenge was to find something palatable for the kale. I wanted a meal, not just a side dish, so I opted for a dish of Kale, Beans, Cilantro and Feta (I also threw in the greens from the turnips). When I told my husband the name of the recipe, he said, “Gross.” Again, though, the recipe is really tasty. The cilantro and feta give it a unique twist and after eating a bowl of it last night, I was stuffed. It’s amazing what real food can do for you! Charlie ate a few of the beans but was not too thrilled about the kale. I’ll keep working on him, though!

So here’s to a successful first week of being a part of a CSA. So far, I am pleased with my choice to take part in the partnership, and I especially look forward to seeing what is to come this summer! Now, if I could just break my pregnancy guilty pleasure from the organic ice cream sandwiches that make their way to my freezer all the way from Eugene, Oregon…

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hiking in the Old Forest

Several weekends ago, the Professor and I had big plans to take Charlie on his first camping trip. After some swift planning, we decided on a presumably kid-friendly car camping spot and planned on leaving early on a Saturday. We decided to keep the trip easy (thus, the car camping), down to one night and close enough to home just in case camping became a miserable experience for Charlie. Unfortunately, our trip got cancelled because there were threats of severe weather in the area. We could deal with a little rain, but predictions of high winds and possible tornados convinced us to postpone our trip.

Fortunately, while checking my personal email on that Saturday morning, I found an invitation from Citizens to Preserve Overton Park to participate in a guided hiking tour of the Old Forest at Overton Park. That’s just what we needed to satisfy our (or my) craving for some kind of outdoor experience. Since Charlie was born (or soon after his conception), our adventurous outdoorsy side has all but disappeared. And I have really missed getting out into nature and experiencing the outdoors.

Upon our almost late arrival to the park, Charlie decided to have a 2 year-old meltdown. He was DETERMINED to hold one of our dogs’ leashes without realizing that each dog at least triples his weight and they have no consideration for his compact size. Thus, for Charlie to hold on to a dog leash means that he will more than likely eat pavement (I've watched it happen before). And of course, he will not allow us to simulate a Charlie dog walking experience (i.e. with one of us actually controlling the leash with Charlie's hand on it). Fortunately, I was able to take him aside and help him stop screaming. He finally calmed down just in time for the hike to begin.

I must say that I really enjoyed the hike and was impressed with how easily I slipped into wilderness mode. I have memories of the Old Forest from my high school years. It was definitely deemed a place that “you didn’t go.” I remember the roadway around it always being flanked with cars with strange men hanging out doing things that I am sure my mother did not want me to even know about. I guess you can say it had a bad reputation.

Now, however, it leaves a different impression on me. It is certainly a place I would feel comfortable going on regular hikes with my son. Even though I had to carry him for a major portion of the hike, Charlie definitely had fun. He enjoyed running up and down the trails, spotting wildlife (we saw a turtle!), climbing over downed trees and visiting the base of a huge hollowed out tree. We learned a lot about the vegetation in the forest and the dogs were extremely grateful for the experience. I am sure the more we hike the trails of the Old Forest, the more we will learn about it and appreciate it. We definitely plan to go back for more.

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Sheetz!

Last weekend, we procured a twin bed from Tiffany and Mark, who recently decided to live together in sin (finally!) and are in the process of combing two households. Lucky for us, this means getting rid of several items, two of which the Professor and I have gladly agreed to take off their hands.

On Saturday, the Professor picked up the bed in exchange for helping move some of Tiffany’s furniture to her new residence. After we reconfigured Charlie’s room for a couple of what felt like hours, we decided on the best layout for the furniture, which turned out to be the only way the furniture would fit in his tiny room without blocking any necessary doorways to the closet and um, the rest of the house. We still have the crib in there because a) we are prolonging the time when we will have to move it in our already cramped room when baby #2 arrives, and b) we wanted to give Charlie the opportunity to make an easy transition from crib to bed.

On that first day, we decided to buy some new sheets for his “new” bed (I think Mark actually slept on it as a child). During our shopping excursion to buy the sheet set, he excitedly remarked during the entire trip, “New sheets!” Even when I later asked him if he liked his new bed, he screamed, “new sheets!” and proceeded to do a belly flop on the new bed.

As it turns out, Charlie immediately fell in love with his new bed. From the first night, he has slept mostly peacefully in hit, and the Professor and I enjoy being able to stretch out on it with him and read at night. We also enjoy watching him practice his flying leaps and acrobat skills on the new bed. The crib has instantly become storage and a “bed” for his stuffed animals, Kitty, Tiger, Elmo, Baby Elmo, and Dog. He’s so creative with the names, isn’t he?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Charlie's party





(Photos complements of Chip)

It was so nice having friends and family over to celebrate Charlie’s 2nd birthday. I was totally impressed at how easy it was to entertain 7 children with only a large backyard and a bunch of plastic toys. We set up the tent in hopes of drawing some sort of curiosity, thinking that the kids would at least think it was cool to hang out in a tent for a while. No dice. Most only stepped into the tent to sit for about 3 minutes before fleeing, realizing they might miss their turn with the toy lawn mower or Fred Flintstone car. The best part was watching Charlie lick the icing off of his monkey cupcake. Second to that was spending the afternoon in the backyard and realizing how great our backyard can be when there is a group of people enjoying it together. It was a glorious day and it was especially nice spending it with friends and family in celebration of Charlie.

Thanks to everyone who came by to enjoy the day with us. We are truly privileged to have so many wonderful people in our lives!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Yesterday was Charlie’s second birthday. My baby is growing up. Actually, I hardly feel like he’s a baby anymore. Each and every day I notice how he’s evolving into a little boy, and it breaks my heart just a little. I love watching him grow up but I hold those baby days very close. There’s a certain kind of sadness in this passage of time because I know that one day, I won’t be able to cradle him in my arms and cuddle with him like I can now. The funny thing is that now that he is getting bigger, he’s reverted to a constant desire to be held and cuddled like a baby. When he gets out of the tub and I wrap him in a towel, he crawls in my lap and says, “baby,” letting me know he wants me to baby him a little bit. He also does it in the mornings when I spend 5 minutes cuddling with him before getting up for the day. It is sweet but I hope it doesn’t cause problems when his little brother comes along.

For Charlie’s birthday, we had a short celebration at his school. After Charlie and his schoolmates completed the earth around the sun ceremony, we had cupcakes. The kids were so excited and I was surprised at how sweet the older kids were with Charlie. They gave him hugs and told him “happy birthday.” I think they were all excited to see pictures of him as a newborn.
Next, we were off to the zoo to check out the farm animals. We got a chance to pet the baby lambs. They were so sweet and gentle. I think Charlie could have stayed there all afternoon, but we eventually moved on to the cows, goats, and pigs. After our short trip to the zoo, we had dinner and celebrated again with ice cream and a present.

Happy birthday my sweet boy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Terribly Random

I am bummed about the Tigers losing the game last night. I thought the Professor was going to jump out of his skin during those last minutes of regulation. The OT was just painful to watch. What is it with those free-throws?

My boss just came in to the office fuming because there are 2 students protesting in the library that the college did not do anything to commemorate April 4. I know these students. They are bright, innovative, and have loads of passion. What I don’t understand is why they cannot see that the college does things throughout the entire year to honor Dr. King. And by the way, we did have a huge event on the morning of April 5 that honored Dr. King. Apparently, 10:00 on a Saturday morning is “not conducive to student schedules.” Whatever.

The Professor and I watched “The Mist” this weekend. This is a film based on a Stephen King novella. When the Professor brought it home, I was a little miffed because scary movies scare the hell out of me. I just couldn’t stand the thought of having to get up for my usual 4:00 a.m. pregnancy bathroom break and be confronted with fears of terrifying creatures looming around dark corners. Well, the movie wasn’t really scary at all, but it was very good. It had a lot of underlying themes that shed commentary on our government and society today. The end totally sucked, though. I won’t spoil it for you but after I watched the last 5 minutes, I was in tears of sadness and rage. I was completely dumbfounded and am still highly affected by this ending.

I told my husband yesterday that I was going to try to be careful about gaining weight during this pregnancy. I’m not off to a good start because
I just ate an entire cheese Danish from a vending machine – something I would never ever eat under normal circumstances.

We bought Charlie a pair of fake Crocs this weekend. We thought they might come in handy when he decides to romp in the giant mud puddles in our backyard (pictures to follow). They will definitely be nice when we head to the beach in June. Once we got them out of the bag, he pointed and said “New shoes! New shoes!” He immediately put them on and refused to take them off. He even insisted on sleeping in them. I’m glad he was willing to part with them for his bath.

Lately, Charlie has been calling the Professor and me by our first names. Last weekend at Target, we decided to split up to make the shopping go faster. The Professor and Charlie were off to fetch diapers, me to peruse the maternity section for some very soon to be needed swimwear (bad selection by the way). I went to our designated meeting place and saw my boys waaaay down at the other end of the store. Seconds later, I saw Charlie poking his head up and down every aisle yelling, “Caaathyyy!” It was so cute. My heart swelled up to the size of a beach ball.

I am still pondering the idea of a home birth for this next baby. I’m not sure if I am a viable candidate since I have had a premature baby. But, since my mother’s first born was premature and her mother’s first born was premature (and they, like me, are the second born in the family), and they both had normal pregnancies thereafter, I’m thinking that this one will be okay. If it’s premature, well, I guess I’ll have to go to the hospital. I think the Professor is wary and a little freaked out that I am even considering this, but something feels right about trying to give birth this way. My next step is a consultation to see if the local midwives will even consider working with me.

I am almost finished with school for the semester. It is killing me to always have an assignment looming over my head. After this semester, I only have to take one more class. And it’s in grammar, which makes me drool with happiness. I can’t wait to be finished and I so look forward to working in a job that I can feel good about. I know it will tiring and often grueling, but the more I work on the business side of things, the more I believe that teaching is the career for me.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

If only I could taste the chocolate bunny!

Our Easter weekend was busy and exhausting. The Palmers spent Friday lazing around the house and romping through the dog park with the dogs. Charlie even attempted to take a swim with the dogs and ended up knee-deep in pond water. Fortunately, he was not bothered by his squishy shoes and wet socks. I can’t wait to take him swimming this summer! I know he’ll love splashing around the pool and the ocean (in June).

Saturday was spent at cousin Taylor’s extravagant birthday party at Build-A-Bear at the Collierville mall. There were 15 kids there and all got to build their own bear! They had a blast, but if this is what kid birthday parties are supposed to be like, Charlie will have to start working now in order to fund his own in the future. I mean, what happened to birthday cake and pin the tale on the donkey? He really did enjoy it, though. He selected a tiger striped cat to stuff and dress. And he has barely let it out of his set (let alone his grasp) since Saturday. He hugs Kitty. He kisses Kitty. He cuddles with Kitty. He even let Kitty take a nap with Charlie’s very own blanket (a.k.a. Bette). He is in love with Kitty. If you were to come over to our house tonight, he just might let you pet Kitty. He will certainly show you Kitty with pride. It even meows. I recently found out that his other cousin, Morgan, Taylor’s sister, will also be having a Build-A-Bear party in April. Woohoo! Charlie will be having his party in May. At my house. With a cake and that’s it. If I’m feeling creative, I might come up with a few games for the handful of kids that will be present.

I spent most of the day at Taylor’s party picking Charlie up, carrying him around, putting him down, and then doing it all over again. By the end of the party, I was exhausted. I suspected that most of the fatigue was due to the growing baby in my belly, but when I got home, I fell asleep within seconds of sitting on the sofa. I rarely take naps. I woke up feeling worse than when I put my head down. I knew it right then that a nasty cold was coming on. (While I’m extremely bummed about the cold and the fatigue, this is SO much better than the way I have been feeling up until last weekend. My days have been spent battling nausea and feeling just completely disgusting since about week 7 of this pregnancy. I’ll take a cold any day over this!)

Sunday morning, I woke feeling pretty lousy with a stuffy nose, sore throat, and watery eyes. I spent much of the day as a blob on the sofa until it was time to go to Nana’s for Easter dinner. We had a nice time. The kids played with their new singing bunnies (complements of Nana) that hopped along to the tune, Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail. We had a lovely dinner and it was fun visiting with everyone. The few hours of festivities totally wore me out, though, and I spent the evening in bed. So much for stuffing myself on all that chocolate I put in Charlie’s Easter basket.

Since Sunday, my cold has gone through various stages: major congestion with lots of nose blowing, severe coughing and sneezing, a moment of thinking I was getting better to today. On Tuesday, I tried to eat a chocolate Easter treat and could not taste anything. What a waste. Today, I feel a little better and most of the symptoms have eased but I have no voice. I tried to call someone on the phone this morning and when I spoke, nothing but crackled sounds came out of my mouth. Maybe this is a sign that I should just leave for the day. Nah…

I am hoping to be fully recovered by the time I wake up in the morning. I will be attending a dinner/bachelorette party tomorrow and I want to be able to taste the expensive food I plan to eat. And since I’m pregnant (and won’t be drinking wine) I plan to eat a lot! I’d also like to wish Carrie (the bride) well with a voice that actually has a voice.

(Note: I have been lazy, lazy, lazy about moving photos off of the camera to the computer, so pictures of Charlie gorging himself with chocolate will follow someday.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hallelujah!

Herenton to step down July 31 http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/mar/20/herenton-step-down-july-31/

The news just reported this morning that Herenton ordered the closing of five libraries and four community centers in Memphis. This is the kind of news that makes me happy to see him leave office. Hopefully, our replacement will have the needs of Memphis and its citizens in mind when making decisions like this in the future.

FrankenBaby Part II





Tuesday, March 18, 2008

FrankenBaby

Last night, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Charlie was still running around the house at full speed with no indication that he would be going to bed any time soon. It’s spring break and I think just one day of doing something outside the routine made his wiring go a little berserk. He spent the day at his Nana’s house playing in the yard, riding in a wagon, eating who knows what, and getting completely spoiled. When I brought him home, I thought that he would surely be exhausted from his exciting day and settle down. But no. He was exactly the opposite. He was wired and into everything. For dinner, soup and crackers went flying across the kitchen with most of it landing on Roxy’s back leaving her bewildered about how to get that illegal snack into her mouth. The rest of the evening was spent chasing the dogs around the house, climbing on the furniture, illegally pushing buttons on the television, and giggling at absolutely nothing.

When the Professor got home from teaching his night class, it was almost 9:00. He immediately relieved me of Charlie duty and I plopped my exhausted pregnant body on the couch and put my feet up. I had grand plans of watching something horribly mindless on television and going to bed early. Charlie saw to it that my plans did not get accomplished. Trying to watch TV and relax was impossible because the kid was marching around the house, banging toys on hard surfaces, singing, and climbing. It was terribly cute, but I couldn’t get over how late it was and how exhausted and in need of peace I was.

At approximately 9:20, it all fell a part. Charlie, in yet another attempt to climb on the sofa, did what I have feared for the past 4 months since he has been walking. He hoisted himself up on the sofa (with a little boost from me) and tried to pull himself up even farther. In the split second that my hand was not holding him steady under his tush, he lost his center of gravity and did a back flip off the sofa, smacking his head on the edge of the coffee table with an enormous “SMACK!” and fell swiftly to the ground. He screamed in fear and pain. I scooped him up and held him in my arms trying to calm him. Then, as I always do when he bumps his head, I pulled back his hair to take a look, expecting to find a big red bump. Instead, I found a wide, deep gash on his forehead. It was big. And it was bleeding. Of course, I freaked.

The Professor did what he could to calm both me and Charlie. Once soothed, we wiped the blood from his face and sealed the wound with a band-aid. We decided we definitely needed to go to the ER. The cut was no minor flesh wound but a deep and wide gash. He definitely needed stitches. By 10:00 we were in the car on our way to Baptist East. Charlie was fine but sleepy. Of course, we noticed that the parking lot was full when we got there, meaning that the place would be packed. When we took our seats to wait the several hours we anticipated waiting, Charlie was in a fine mood. I think he enjoyed looking at the population of an ER waiting room on a Monday night. Fortunately, we didn’t have to witness anything too gross or scary. Most people just looked like they felt terrible. In fact, Charlie was the only person I saw with blood. Incredible!

After waiting about 30 minutes, they called us to triage. The triage nurses were in LOVE with Charlie. Their perky personalities even made it possible to take his temperature – rectally. Now that’s something he’s never experienced before! I was amazed at how calm he was.

Next, they took us to the pediatric ER section. Thank the stars for the pediatric ER!!! Because of that, we got a fast forward pass to treatment. They took us to our room which was equipped with fancy animal wall paper, a television airing Noggin, and a wonderful nurse with stickers and the perkiest personality of all. She was great because she did everything in her power to distract Charlie and keep him from freaking out. The doctor soon came in and took a look, measured the wound and took some of his vitals. They then put on numbing liquid and a headband to keep it in place. He looked like a little gangster with that thing on. They took him for a skull X-ray just to be sure, and then stitched him up. That was the hard part. They had to wrap him in a sheet like a burrito. Now, in his younger days, my boy loved the swaddle wrap. But last night, not so much. A tech came in to hold his head steady, the nurse practitioner prepared to stitch his wound, perky nurse showed him Elmo slides through a slide view, and the Professor and I cheered him on. It was a packed house. During the stitching process, he was terribly unhappy, but after it was all over, he was fine. The only way you can tell that anything happened is the big band-aid on his head.

My poor baby’s beautiful perfect faced has been maimed, and I am probably to blame. I was sitting right there on the couch next to him when it happened, after all. I’m hoping the scar will be minimal. But, he wouldn’t be his father’s son if he didn’t have battle scars to give his face, um, character. I guess this experience might toughen him up a little to the pressures of life. At least that’s what I’m telling myself to make it a little better. Pictures to follow...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Peas and Carrots, Sqash and Corn

My recent obsession stems from the book I am currently reading, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. The book chronicles the year that she and her family live on a farm and strictly adhere to local foods and foods grown in their own garden. Throughout the book, there are brief reports (provided by her husband, Stephen Kopp) about the agricultural industry in the U.S. and how our country is basically doing it all wrong. A review at powells.com states, “The typical food in an American supermarket has traveled considerably farther than some people do in a year of vacations. Consider the impact of those miles on fuel consumption, or the effect that chemical preservatives and industrial processing have on our health, not to mention what this long haul paradigm does to local economies and to our grasp of what food really costs, what food is.” Another important factor is the actual taste of food. Kingsolver reminds us of what a tomato should taste like. She also points out the most Americans have never eaten asparagus at its prime, which for Kingsolver is an almost spiritual act.

I am certainly on the bandwagon with this one and am taking it upon myself to find news ways to buy food for my family. Ideally, I would join a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and supplement with items from my own (non-existent) garden. Ideally, I would love to have a garden, but I don’t have the time to commit to it. Sadly, I think that is part of the point. In the United States today, we have so little time and such high expectations for our immediate needs that we don’t have time to stop and smell the roses, if you will. I remember my grandmother’s garden during my childhood. She always had something freshly plucked from her garden to give us when we came over for a visit – green beans, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.) And it was always delightful. I remember going to the Scott Street Market as a kid to supplement our veggies with purple hull peas, plums, and other delectable fruits. I think these experiences gave me a love for vegetables that I otherwise might not know (genetics also play a part, I am sure). That market is long gone but fortunately, other markets have recently popped up all over the area: the Agricenter Famers Market, the Memphis Farmers Market, and the Botanic Garden Farmers Market (opening in April).

I seriously am considering joining a CSA. It’s really not any more expensive than shopping for produce at your local supermarket. I found one in Coldwater, MS called Ohana Farms (only 48 miles from Memphis) and am awaiting information about delivery. Precisely, I am waiting to see if they will 1) deliver to Memphis and 2) if the delivery fee makes it too expensive for me. I like the idea of eating locally and especially knowing where my food comes from. Lately, the Professor and I have been making monthly excursions to Costco to purchase freezable items like meat and fish. More and more, I am disturbed by the mystery about where our food comes from and how it is being produced. I am definitely NOT a vegetarian, but I shudder to think about the chicken that I put on our plates and how the poor bird might have (and probably was) once cooped up neck to neck in a 6-tiered steel cage being fed corn and antibiotics. By the way, I just read the chapter on chickens and turkeys in Kingsolver’s book.

The Professor is not necessarily on board with this new venture of mine. While he’s for the concept, I don’t think he’s so keen on the inconvenience (and the potential added expense). I, however, am all for doing a little more in terms of responsibility, environmentalism, and let’s face it, better tasting food.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Bed on the Floor

Over the weekend, the Professor and I made the leap and converted Charlie’s crib into its next phase, the toddler bed. We had been toying with the idea for a while. The Professor was concerned that he would try to climb out. I was less than enthusiastic about making the switch. My theory was that he hadn’t even come close to trying to climb out, so why change things up? I guess I feel that he is growing up so fast. Things are rapidly changing in his life, so why rush things? But, over the past few weeks, I’ve sensed that he has outgrown the crib and I was getting really tired of having to hoist him over the side of that thing. He’s getting so heavy, that picking him up is often accompanied with a few grunts and cracking bones.

So, Saturday, we made the conversion and celebrated with Charlie and his stuffed animals. Charlie was very proud and loved having the ability to get in and out of bed on his own. He even showed off his “new” bed to anyone who came over.

The first night in the bed went well. He was a little confused at first, but he quickly fell asleep and only woke up a couple of times throughout the night. During one of the wake up sessions, he got out of bed and stood in our doorway. About 30 seconds after I had finally fallen back to sleep, the Professor nudged me and pointed to the door. I jumped because I was so startled to see a person standing in the doorway staring at me. My heart puttered for a few seconds because my initial thought was, “there’s a stranger in my house!” But when I realized it was just Charlie, I relaxed a little. It was just so odd to see him standing there in the middle of the night.

Each night thereafter got easier and easier and by the fourth night, he was an old hat at climbing in his bed and sleeping through the night. In the mornings when he wakes up he waits patiently for one of us to get him, sitting upright in his bed with his feet hanging off the side.

One of the side effects of Charlie having his new bed is the new potential freedom he has. All night long he has the ability to roam the house and get into mischief. This, in turn, has caused the Professor and me to worry about what he might get into should he get up in the night and decide to meander around the house. Did we leave the garbage can out where he can access the last dollops of yogurt in the container we threw away three days ago? Is there a large chef’s knife resting precariously on the edge of the counter? Did we lock the doors? Did we make sure to close up the items in the bathroom including the lid to the toilet? All of these possibilities gave the Professor a few nightmares, so we have implemented a plan of doing a quick run-through of the house before heading off to bed.

Another mishap we planned for was the possibility that he might fall out of his bed. Like many kids, Charlie is a squirmy sleeper, and we knew it was only a matter of time before he rolled right off the edge. We decided to put an old down comforter on the floor below the bed to serve as a cushion in case he falls.

Last night, around 1:30 a.m., the Professor and I woke with a jolt to screams and cries coming from Charlie’s room. The Professor ran into his room and I followed to find him comforting Charlie, who lay sprawled out on the floor. Poor guy. He fell out of his bed. The Professor comforted him a bit and I went back to bed. The Professor spent a little time soothing him, put him back in his bed, and returned to bed. But Charlie just kept crying. And this wasn’t just a whimper indicating that he did not want to go back to bed. It was a pained cry. I decided to go check things out just to be sure. I found him sitting up on his bed, hugging Perry the polar bear and his blue blanket, Bette (as in bet), crying for his mama. I leaned down to give him some comfort and noticed something smudgy on his chin. After further investigation with bleary sleepy eyes in the dim light, I realized it was blood. I turned on the lamp and noticed that Charlie’s lip was the size of a marble; it was bleeding a little and it had a rather large gash in it. I guess he bit it during his fall. He just sat there looking pitiful, all the while licking his lip. It must have felt funny having a fat lip for the first time ever. His sweet little sad eyes convinced me to let him sleep in our bed for the remainder of the night. Big mistake. None of us got any sleep, so in addition to a fat lip, Charlie also has the grumples (make that three of us with the grumples). I guess Charlie won’t be smooching on any of his classmates today.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

An Afternoon at Home

Yesterday at approximately 12:50, Charlie’s school called to tell me that they would be closing early due to the possibility of bad weather and that I needed to come pick him up. Huh? It was almost 80 degrees outside. I knew that there were storms looming in the distance, but really. They closed the schools? And there isn’t even a speck of ice or snow? I went the Memphis City Schools website to find that, indeed, they had closed the schools because vicious thunderstorms were expected to hit Memphis around 3:00, which is right at most schools’ dismissal times. Fine. I got some things squared away at work and went to get my son.

Of course, he was napping when I got there. It sucked having to pry him out of his slumber. He was oh so sleepy, and what was even worse was that I had to take him back to work with me for a little while to finish up a couple of things. So, not only did my kid’s daily routine get derailed, he also had to come to this strange place where every person that came in contact with him had to talk to him, pinch his cheeks or try to make him laugh. Instead, they got a sour-faced response and lots of “no, no, no.” Having missed out on about 2 hours of his nap, he was GROUCHY. We didn’t last long at work. Once the whining and almost screaming began, I knew it was time to leave.

When we got home, I tried to get him to take another nap, but unfortunately, that window had already closed. He was in no mood for sleep even though I could see in his eyes that he needed it. The professor came home and moments later, the sirens began to blow.

I must say that I am not usually one to ride out these kinds of storms in a completely calm manner. Once the newscasters start talking tornado warnings, I immediately make a mental plan of action, put on decent shoes, and think about what I might want to take with me when and if we have to run for cover. #1 is my child, of course. Next is the dogs. I don’t worry about my husband because I am pretty sure he can cover getting himself into the bathroom with the rest of us. I also planned to pack away our wedding photos because they were taken long before the age of digital cameras. I don’t really love our wedding photos so much (we went with a cheap photographer and there are several staged shots that are just way too cheesy. Like the one with my mother “adjusting” my veil or the one with the garter – wretch!). But, these photos mean something to me because they are of our wedding day, and this was one of my most favorite days ever. I may have just been drunk on champagne, but I don’t think I have ever felt so happy and giddy in my life.

But, the professor convinced me that there was no need to start hording valued possessions in the bathroom. I was coaxed into sitting on the couch with the baby while he calmly cooked dinner. The storms eventually passed and all was well with my nerves. Of course, I called my mother about 15 minutes after threats of tornados had already passed through Germantown. She was still holed up in her closet. There’s no question about where I get my tornado anxiety.

Fortunately, Charlie slept right through the storms that passed through later in the evening. He seemed to be unfazed by the whole ordeal (like his father, of course). He spent most of the early evening walking around the house mimicking the sounds of the sirens and ogling over the bright colors on the television radar. It was a bit like a vibrant work of art now that I think about it.

I am hoping that my next afternoon home with Charlie will not be this week. Chances are high that I will get a call from school, though. They are dropping like flies in the primary class at Evergreen. Apparently, a barfing sickness is going around in his class. One little boy left early on Monday. Another child left early on Tuesday. And when we got there this morning, three more kids were reported to have the barfing sickness. Great. As far as I know, Charlie’s class is down to three kids today. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he has a stomach of steel.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kissing

Lately, Charlie has become very affectionate. He loves hugging and kissing on the lips. I don’t mind the kissing part, really, except often times it comes immediately after a quick attempt at a make-out session with one of the dogs. “EEEWWWW!!!” [Note: the word “ew” drawn out for about 5 seconds and voiced very loudly is one of Charlie most favorite expressions as of late.]

In the past week, he has doled out more of his fair share of the loving. On Saturday, I saw him kiss and hug his cousin Drew on more than one occasion (it was Drew’s birthday after all!).

Saturday evening, he spent a great deal of time at my mother’s dinner party kissing the guests, particularly Becky, who received a full on hug and wet kiss smack on the lips when she picked him up to say hello. Did I mention that he hardly knows this woman? Also on Saturday night, he followed Caroline, Becky’s 7 year old daughter, around like a lost puppy. Every time she sat down, he put his head in her lap and hugged her around the knees. When she stood up to possibly get away from the creepy toddler, he held her hand and followed. When it was time for her to go, he flat out tackled her with his hugs and smooched her on the face.

Even last night while we named body parts (chin, nose, wrist, hands, toes, knees, etc.), he kissed each and every one of my named body parts. It was very sweet and sure beats the biting that he was beginning to make a habit of. This new fondness of kissing might explain Charlie’s sudden insistent need to continuously apply my lip balm each morning. He’s got to moisten up and make his lips luscious for a day of smooching!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Things Charlie Is Learning

Wow, this new school thing is really fun. I had no idea Charlie was capable of so much! All this time, I’ve just been holding him back, man. Many of these things can be done by most children of his age, but what’s impressive is that he can do it on command. And being able to tell my child what to do gives me a satisfying sense of pleasure.

1. He can take off the following clothing items: shoes, socks, jacket, hat, and pants (we’re still working on the shirt).
2. He can put on the following clothing items: shoes, hat and pants.
3. He can put his own toys away.
4. He can put items in the trash without taking other disgusting items out of the trash.
5. He runs to the bathroom like a bolt of lightening AFTER he relieves himself in the diaper or training pants. Hopefully, he will soon figure out how to get to the toilet (and get all those pants off) before he actually goes.
6. He can repeat almost any word that I say to him.
7. He has finally coaxed Roxy into letting him pet her from time to time.
8. He can wash his hands.
9. He can fake a sneeze.
10. He can spin around and around until he gets dizzy (and subsequently falls to the floor with a “whoooaa”).
11. He can blow his own nose and wipe his own mouth with a napkin.
12. He can cut a rug better than most.

Next on the list of things to learn:
1. Scratch Mama’s back
2. Massage Mama’s feet
3. Do the laundry
4. Wash the dogs

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New School

Charlie started at his new school on Monday. Since he began going to daycare last January, we pretty much knew that he would not be in that particular establishment long past toddler-hood. It’s not that we did not like the place; we just knew that there were better options out there once he became “of age.” We have had him on a list at the school where the Chockley children attend, but we lost our spot this summer because we decided to keep Charlie at home. In doing a little research at a party (with cocktails), I spoke to the husband of a professor at Memphis College of Art. He told me that his son goes to Evergreen Montessori. He emphatically stated (and this wasn’t the cocktails talking) that his son is always excited to go to school and always happy when he picks him up in the afternoon. I was almost sold on the place just by this conversation alone, but the Professor and I decided to take a tour of the place first.

A couple of weeks later in December, the Professor and I made an appointment at the school. We were given a tour of the facilities and I almost cried because it was such a nice environment. It was nothing like the pale, stale walls of his old daycare. And when we walked in the door, we heard the laughter and voices of children rather than the teachers yelling across the room. In the toddler area, they have a great layout. One room is devoted to a nap area and another is the “work” area. They have miniature everything for the kids to work with. They even have low to the ground toilets where THEY WILL WORK ON TOILET TRAINING. That right there is worth the small increase in tuition. On the grounds they have bunnies and chickens, and the kids raise the money to feed the animals. Charlie is not old enough for this part of the program yet, but just the fact that it’s a part of the program makes me smile. So, after the tour and a talk with one of the teachers, the Professor and I went home to discuss this new possibility. It took us about 10 seconds to decide, and we are so happy that we chose this school.

On Monday, Charlie began his first day. The teachers asked that one of us go with him on the first day and spend only a couple of hours there. While there, we read books, worked on a puzzle, mopped the floor, washed our face, and Charlie spent about an hour washing his hands in the lowered sink. I think he might be spending a lot of time there over the next weeks. I was really impressed at how the teachers communicate and work with the students. Not once did I hear the word “no.” Instead, they remind the child what he/she is supposed to be doing. They look the children directly in the eyes and talk to them in adult voices. At first I was a little concerned that it might be too serious, but after observing the class for a little while, I realized that the teachers are pulling out what these kids are capable of rather than what is expected as the norm in our society. Before we left, the teachers got the kids ready to go for a walk – their daily walk. The one where the kids actually go outside and get some exercise! At his old daycare, I think they may have gone outside about 10 times over the course of a year.

Yesterday and today, he went for short days on his own. When I picked him up yesterday, they were outside playing. It was great to see Charlie running around with kids his age and older. That’s another thing I like about the school. They don’t keep the kids so isolated by age like they did at the old place. He was having a great time trying to do what the big kids were doing, but he was also content to run around like a goofball on his own.

So far, he is doing beautifully, and I am extremely pleased.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Post-holiday post (part II)

The day after Christmas, the Professor, Charlie and I were restless. After spending several days visiting with friends and family, driving back and forth from Germantown and Mississippi, eating, and filling our days with joy and laughter, we found ourselves a little bored with just ourselves. Our holiday hoopla had come to a screeching halt and we didn’t know what to do. So, we headed to the beach!

We had toyed with the idea of going down south sometime over our holiday break but never made official plans. We knew we wanted sand and waves, but other than that, we were open. On Wednesday morning after a mad-dash packing session, we found ourselves in the car, armed with a map and a cooler full of leftovers. We knew we were headed toward the beach but we weren’t sure exactly which beach. Rather than ruin the spontaneity with making set plans, we headed toward I-55 and decided to decide exactly where were going later. We had at least 6 hours at that point.

Somewhere between Memphis and Jackson, MS, we decided on Dauphin Island. I had been there once before for a friend’s wedding and really enjoyed it. It is a sparse little island just south of Mobile, AL. I like it because there are very few hotels on it; its accommodations are mostly houses on the beach or right across the narrow street from the beach. There are few stores and no gaudy souvenir shops, go-cart joints, water parks, or really anything for that matter. Just houses, a few restaurants, a grocery/bait store, and a smattering of hotels. Fortunately, we got a room at one of these hotels because affording a whole house at Christmas was not possible. The downside to all of this isolation is that in winter, only half of the establishments are actually open, and if it rains, there is not much to do.

On Thursday, we woke in our hotel to a chilly morning, but were happy to enjoy warmer weather as the day went on. We spent our day walking on the beach, enjoying a lovely bakery for a late breakfast, napping, reading, and more walking on the beach. Charlie wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself. The sensation of sand between his toes was something that took him a while to get used to. He eventually came around and enjoyed digging in the sand, squishing his toes in the sand, and the following day, he even ventured out and let us put his feet in the chilly gulf water. It only took a few rounds of waves tickling his toes to get him hooked.

Having planned to stay another day, we changed plans and headed home one day early because of predicted storms. Although it was short-lived, we had a wonderful beach trip and definitely have plans to make it back this summer. I can’t wait to see Charlie’s reaction when we dip him up to his belly in the warm ocean water. Leaving early also made it possible to make it to the annual adult Christmas festivities at the Chockley’s. And to those who care, I promise to have it at my house next year (as long as we’re not at the beach!).