Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Old Forest Trail

Sunday morning I woke with big plans to participate in one of Citizens to Preserve Overton Park’s regular nature hikes on the Old Forest Trail. I was itching to get outdoors and to find a way for Charlie to burn of some steam at the same time. We got everyone up, fed, and dressed. And then I checked the website to confirm the time. Oops. Wrong weekend. The hike is scheduled for this Sunday, January 25. I was a week early. We decided to go on our own hike in the park anyway because the weather was just too nice.

It was a cool and sunny day and the trail was nice and dry because unfortunately, we haven’t seen much rain since January 5. The lighting while on the trail was amazing. All the leaves sparkled and the sky was the perfect blue.

Ahhh…I love the great outdoors. Every time I hike on this trail I am inspired to go camping. Maybe I’ll summon up the courage to take an almost 3 year old and an under 1 year old this spring.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Belated December Recap and Happy New Year

I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions. Sure, there’s the usual declaration to be healthier, lose weight, blah, blah, blah. But this year, I decided to forgo any official resolution except for one thing – to try to be a more positive person overall. This spurs from the fact that I have spent much of my life yearning for something that I don’t have, whether it’s my dream job, more time to explore my latent creative side, less debt, etc. Instead of constantly wondering “what if” or thinking about what I don’t have or what I think I need, I plan to focus on those things that I am fortunate enough to have – a wonderful healthy family, a precious yet gargantuan baby, a 2 ½ year old who makes me laugh several times a day, a loving and dedicated husband, a roof over my head, a refrigerator holding food that can feed more than a family of four, a sense of security, a never-ending desire to learn and explore the world, and a little left over for a bottle of wine now and then. And this is the short list. I think I’ve got it pretty good after all.

In honor of my sunnier outlook, I’d like to recap all of the wonderful activities that took place in December.

Charlie attended his first ever parade. We went to the Germantown Holiday Parade and had a fantastic time waving at the floats going by and catching the excessive amounts of candy being thrown from the floats. My favorite part of any parade, though, is the marching bands. I just love to watch these kids play their hearts out and something about the beat of the drums and the sheer volume of it all always give me chills and makes me a little emotional. Weird, but I find marching bands moving. Even at football games, the half-time show always gets me a little choked up. Charlie, on the other hand, got his groove on as the music passed us by.

We also enjoyed a nice – ahem – relaxing day of putting up the Christmas tree. The boys exhausted themselves posing in the Santa hat and trying not to break the glass ornaments. Charlie entertained us with a concert on his “trumpet,” a.k.a. the finial that goes on top of the Christmas tree.

Charlie also performed in his first ever Christmas play. It was absolutely adorable and my thanks go out to Miss Melissa at Evergreen Montessori for putting the whole thing together. I was fortunate enough to be a chauffeur on rehearsal day, and I got to see the pains that go into organizing and managing a production like this. From my perspective, the rehearsal looked like complete chaos and I wondered how they would be able to pull it off on the night of the show. But by the magic dust that I believe Evergreen teachers must have in their arsenals, the production was superb. The kids did a terrific job and I was so proud that Charlie had no qualms about boogying down on the stage. Some of the other kids had a little stage-fright (as would I in that situation), but once Charlie saw me, he started swaying and shaking his booty to the music. He elicited much laughter from the audience, and it made me a little giddy that my kid is such a ham. Where on earth did that gene come from? Unfortunately, that night I came to terms with the fact that my camera is just absolutely useless indoors without extremely bright lights, so none of my pictures are even remotely pleasing.

Charlie was also in awe at the numerous treats he was allowed to ingest during the holiday season. I already mentioned the candy from the parade. He also enjoyed an assortment of Christmas cookies, one of my favorite holiday traditions. This year I made my all-time favorites, bittersweet chocolate cookies with hazelnuts. I also made standard sugar cookies cut into holiday shapes decorated with various shades of sanding sugar. We also enjoyed glittering lemon sandwich cookies from Gourmet Magazine’s annual cookie edition. Y.U.M.M.Y.! Charlie particularly enjoyed daily hot chocolate with a candy cane stirrer. Or, as Charlie pronounces it, “candy can.”

During the month of December, Henry decided to grace us with an abundance of smiles. He has the sweetest little grin that just makes me melt all over.

On Christmas Eve, we went to two separate households – my brother in-law’s and my parents. At my parents’ house, Santa (a.k.a. the neighbor across the street) made an appearance for all of the little ones present. I feared that Charlie might find him a little scary, but he was actually quite happy to sit on Santa’s lap and impress him in hopes of receiving gifts the next day. When I asked Charlie what he thought of Santa’s visit, he said, “He’s soft. And squishy.”

We spent Christmas day at our house with no commitments or plans to go anywhere. That’s just the way we wanted it, and it was lovely. Henry, of course, slept through most of Christmas morning. For Charlie, the experience was entirely different. This was the first year that he understood that Santa would come and bring him presents, so he was very excited.

When he got up on Christmas morning, he tentatively walked into the den. When he saw all of the presents under the tree, he gasped as if he did not believe us all along when we said Santa would bring him presents. Santa wrapped most of the presents, but he left out the super-cool garbage truck (our son has a slight obsession with garbage trucks). When he saw it, Charlie gasped again and said, “He brought me a truck!” And then he meekly asked in a soft scratchy morning voice, “Can I play with it?” Scrumptiously adorable! Henry was, of course, jazzed by all the toys that rattle and that he will eventually be able to chew on.

And finally, my favorite Charlie phrases of the holiday season…

“I think he likes me!”
(Stated after he opened half of his Santa gifts and at various times after Henry has smiled at Charlie)

When asked what Santa was going to bring him for Christmas...
"Santa’s bringing me presidents!”

Indeed he is.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I obviously took a massive break from updating the blog while on maternity leave. It’s amazing how easy it is to ignore the Internet when I don’t have to sit in front of a computer all day. So, here’s the long overdue update and my reluctant step back into the cyber world and work.

I went back to work yesterday after a much too short maternity leave. I can’t say that I am completely heart-broken about leaving my baby and coming back. I am grateful to get back into the real world and out of my baby haze. I am happy to have a reason to get showered and dressed each day, and I am happy to have more routine back in my life. Unfortunately, getting back into that routine means getting back into the daily rush and grind of a working person’s life. I am not happy about that feeling of never having enough time and always having to think three steps ahead of where I am so I don’t completely drop the ball. But, c’est la vie. I’m sure I will get better at it as time goes on. It’s just such a shock to my system right now.

Work is just as I left it. It was nice to learn that I was sorely missed by my bosses, and it was terribly easy to slip back into my desk and my role here in this office. Being back at my desk for only a day, however, is a clear reminder that I need to move on. I need a bit more than what this position offers and I am looking forward to going back to teaching. My biggest fear right now is that the Memphis City Schools might tank and I won’t be able to get a job. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Henry and Charlie are both doing great. Charlie is definitely enjoying being a big brother. He loves to touch Henry and constantly wants to kiss his head. Henry, who would be a perfect baby if he would just sleep through the night, just smiles and giggles at Charlie every time he comes near. And Charlie, of course, gets excited when Henry smiles at him. He says things like, “He’s smiling!” “He likes me!” “He’s happy!” “He’s my best friend!” I just hope this brotherly love continues when Henry wants to play with Charlie’s toys.

Henry, as I’ve said, is an almost perfect baby. When he fusses, he is very easily soothed – unlike Charlie who went through a several week phase of screaming non-stop between the hours of 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. every day. When Henry cries, he almost does it politely. He wails just enough to be heard, but most of the time, when he realizes that you are working toward what he wants (milk, pacifier, sleep, attention), he stops and smiles. The not so perfect part of Henry is his inconsistent sleep pattern. For a long stretch, he slept through the night, allowing the rest of the family to catch up on much needed rest. But for the past week, he has woken up in the wee hours of the morning screaming, jolting everyone else in our small house awake and keeping us that way for almost an hour each time (if not longer). At this point, I refuse to give up hope that he will stop these sporadic awakenings, but the sleep deprivation is starting to get the best of me.

We suffered a nasty cold over the holidays which somehow began with Henry. He slept straight through almost 3 days and then ended up with his first ear infection. Then the cold moved on to Charlie who had a fever and runny nose for two days. And finally, it made its way to me. On Christmas morning, I woke with cold symptoms that continued to get worse and worse over the weekend. I finally went to the doctor when I woke up Monday morning with pain in my cheekbones and teeth. Ahhh…I had a nasty sinus infection. Fortunately, I was over the hump in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve like a 22 year old. Miraculously, Neal was able to dodge the illness altogether.

I think this is the best I can do for the obligatory update post. I hope my next installment will feature Christmas photos and my favorite Charlie phrases about the holidays. After that, I plan to be as random as usual.