Thursday, December 23, 2010

Traditions

It's our first Christmas with Picklebug and we are so excited to share some of our favorite family traditions with him.

When I was growing up there were lots of things I looked forward to each year around the holidays.  For example, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas my dad would drag out the plastic light-up nativity scene and arrange it in our front yard.

Like this one - except my Jesus was wrapped in an old towel for added authenticity.




I also knew that about a week before Christmas my mom and dad would hop into my dad's truck and head out to find a Christmas tree.  And forget the traditional Frasier fir - my parents didn't believe in buying a Christmas tree.  Instead they would drive around town until the spotted a suitable bushy cypress tree in someone's cow pasture.  We always breathed a sigh of relief when they got it home without getting caught.

But some of my favorite traditions were the simple things we did each year.

I loved how my Mom always made a little paper chain out of Christmas ribbon for my brother and I to use to count down the days until Christmas.  The chain had 25 links, and every night starting on December 1st we would get to cut a link from the chain before we went to bed.

I also loved how we would always eat dinner and open presents with my Grandma V on Christmas Eve.  And afterwards we would gather in our living room and watch "A Christmas Carol" (ONLY the one with George C. Scott of course) before heading off to bed.





P.S. This particular tradition was so deeply ingrained in me that it presented a major dilemma when my parents separated.  The only way my brother and I could resolve it was by watching the movie twice; once at Mom's house and then again when we got to Dad's house.

P.P.S.  Frank Finlay as the Ghost of Jacob Marley gave me nightmares as a child.






Taking all of these special memories into account and keeping in mind all the special feelings I still feel when I see a bushy Cypress tree growing along highway 18, MG and I knew it would be important to establish some of our own traditions for Picklebug.

One of the things we decided to do was spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning here in VA as a family before packing up and driving south to visit with family.  We didn't want to get lost in all the chaos that typically takes place in my childhood home - especially when all four of my brothers are there.

 Our plan was to do presents with each other on Christmas Eve and then do presents with Picklebug on Christmas morning.

But due to the fact that neither myself nor MG are very good waiting to open gifts - and because we are VERY good at coming up with excuses to do things our way - we've already given PB most of his Christmas presents.

And thank goodness we did.

By giving PB some of his presents early we learned two things:

1.  Always take the gift out of the packaging and assemble it BEFORE you try to get an 11 month old to play with it.  Otherwise he'll think the box is the gift.

2.  With little kids you have to PACE YOURSELF.

We only got Picklebug 6 or 7 gifts - and most of them were "little gifts" like a book and a ball.  But after the rush of ripping paper off of a bright new toy (especially the ones that make noise) PB is NOT interested in opening something else. It's just too much stimulation.  After we gave him his See-N-Say he didn't want to look at anything else for at least 30 minutes!

So we decided to spread out the rest of his gifts over the next two days.   Tonight we let him have his BIG (pre-assembled) present - the LittlePeople Wheelies Stand 'n Play Rampway.



Don't you love the wrapping?  :)




And after all the excitement - he let us know he'd had enough.







Merry Christmas!


...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Evening News

The following conversation happened at 5:23pm on December 11, 2010.


Radio: "... in other news Sister Marie Thornton, was charged with embezzling $850,000 from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. during her time as chief financial officer..."


MG:  "Did they really just say a NUN embezzled $850,000?  Wow.  I wonder what she needed the money for..."


Me: "I don't know... maybe she had a bad habit?"


Bwah hah ha hah ha!


No?




...

Friday, December 10, 2010

What's for dinner?

As far back as I can remember dinner time has always been a time of stressful decision making.  Growing up next door to my Grandma Vivian had lots of perks, including the fact that she would cook dinner for our whole family 3-4 nights a week - but she would always call the night before and ask "what should I make for dinner?"  As a young person I would roll my eyes and wonder why she insisted on calling and demanding our help in planning the menu.  Why couldn't she just make something?

In college dinner time didn't get any easier.  The campus dining hall provided SO MANY options it was hard to decide.  Especially when the options included cheese or frosting. 

Early in my relationship with MG it became clear that dinner time would continue to be an issue.  I can't tell you how many of our evening conversations went around in circles -

Me: What do you want for dinner?
MG: I don't know.  What do you want?
Me: What do we have?
MG: Pickles, bread, raisins, jell-o and sesame seeds
Me:  Well I don't want any of that.
MG: Then what do you want?
Me:  I don't know.  What do you want?

In fact, I blame my weight problem on those many nights of indecision that eventually led to the old standby: Papa Johns.

As if deciding on and making dinner weren't hard enough - we now have the bonus challenge of feeding a baby.  And you can't always fall back on pizza with babies.  They tend to choke on the pepperoni.

It was deceptively easy in the beginning.  I would grab a jar of  orange mush labeled "sweet potatoes and beef" (YUM!), pop the lid and shovel little bite-size blobs into Picklebugs mouth.  But then we made the mistake of letting him taste real food at Thanksgiving - and our laid-back, easy-to-please baby has become a food connoisseur.

Last night I buckled PB into his high chair, snapped on his bib and walked to the pantry to get his dinner.  All the while he's banging his tiny fists on the tray, kicking his feet and smacking his lips in anticipation.  I pop the lid on a fresh jar of vegetable chicken and extended a spoonful of mush - to which Picklebug responded with a loud "BAHP!"  He wrinkled his nose, pursed his lips and defended his little baby mouth with both hands.  When I took the offending glob away from his face he pointed at the fridge with another "BHHAAAP!"



Lucky for me the fridge held more than pickles and raisins.  So Wednesday night's leftover spaghetti allowed me to narrowly escape a food war with a feisty 11 month old. 





But come 6pm tonight I will have to once again come face to face with this hungry little monster - and I'll once again face that ever lingering question: What's for dinner?


...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good Days

[This is a long post but I stuck a cute video at the end to make it worth your while!]


So Picklebug is 10 months old and growing and I realize I've done a poor job of keeping the world outside of Farmville, VA updated on his progress.

And after reading over some old posts, I realize I've done a good job of highlighting the difficulties, frustrations and burdens of motherhood - but maybe not such a good job of filling you in on all the perks, pluses and fantastic moments that I get with him every day!

For example, when I walk into a crowded restaurant full of hungry, anxious people, 9 times out of 10 I know I'm going to quickly get a table in the back away from the crowds.

Why?  Because I have a small (sometimes) fussy baby!  They want to serve me away from other patrons and as quickly as possible so they can get me and my bundle of fuss on our way.

I also get doors held open for me (and my big honkin' stroller) on a regular basis and I've even had people in Wal-Mart let me get in front of them at the check-out counter when PB is crying because they feel sorry for me!

MG gets free coffee at the gas station just about every Sunday when he takes PB to pick up the paper.  And you've heard about the tax credit right?  Babies are awesome!

Free stuff and line-breaking aside - PB is a joy for so many other reasons.

Before PB I never would have imagined that I'd be happy to wake up at 7:00 am.  Except that 7:00 am now comes with giggles and coos of a baby who just recently learned to stand up in his crib.  He thinks its funny to hold on to the rail and bounce up and down and call out to us.  Sometimes MG and I lay in bed for a few minutes with big grins on our faces just listening to the cute little baby noises he makes in the morning.

On the weekends MG and I spend the morning drinking coffee, clipping coupons and watching PB explore the living room.  It's especially fun now that PB is older and more entertaining.  He started "crawling" a week ago and while he looks like a crippled spider - he still manages to get from one location to another pretty quickly.  He hobbles his way around the room reaching out for just about anything he isn't supposed to play with (the ceramic coasters from Mexico, the mug of boiling hot coffee, the tiny nob on the door stop, the pile of shoes next to the door, the wad of cat fur Mr. Goo left on the carpet...).  So we have fun chasing him around and trying and distract him with baby toys.

[Let me take a moment to say that if toy companies were smart they would come out with a line of baby toys that look EXACTLY like real life objects.  It's like baby's see colorful toys and are like, "yeah right!" and then go for the real thing - TV remotes, cell phones, MacBook - they aren't stupid.  They know the difference between a giant rainbow colored squeaking baby toys and a $1200 computer.  So yeah, Fisher Price, get on that would ya?]

PB is also down to nursing only in the evening - which means I've had to learn how to give him a bottle.  And few things compare to lounging on the couch with a 10 month old watching Wild Kingdom while he takes his afternoon bottle.  He basically feeds himself (which, for a mom who's been breast feeding for almost a year is a sight to behold) but he likes to be cuddled while he's doing it.  So he snuggles up in my lap, holds onto his bottle, and watches baby elephants play in the jungle. But every few minutes he stops and looks up at me with a grin.

He can't talk yet - but if he could I think he would say "Hey mom.  I love ya.  Thanks for letting me watch TV.  I'll have a fresh poop for you in 10 minutes."

I've also come to realize that PB is quite smart.  I show him something once and he picks up on it right away.  He has a toy that you put a little ball in a hole at the top and it rolls down a shoot hitting buttons and making noise.  I showed him how to put the ball in the hole at the top ONCE and immediately he started doing it on his own.  Even after three or four days of not playing with it he remembers how to do it!  He can roll a ball back and forth, feed a stuffed animal and will even clap his hands when we sing "B-I-N-G-O"!

Although, we're still working on how to pet Mr. Goo "gently".

And the best part of 10 month old Picklebug?

At 7:45, after his bath and 8 rounds of "Wheels on the Bus", I put him on my lap, nurse him and sing "Away in the Manger" while he reaches up to pat my cheek or stroke my hair.  He doesn't fall asleep but he lays there close to me and makes little "humming" noises.  Then I pick him up, kiss him and lay him down in his crib.  I cover him up with his favorite blanket (thanks Mrs. Wortman!) and I quietly leave the room.

And he goes to sleep.

Night after night.  He never makes a peep.  He just goes to sleep.  No fussing, no crying.  Just sleep.

He sleeps all night until 7:00 am, when he wakes up a happy baby ready for another day of adventure.

And I wake up a happy mommy, ready, and thankful, for another day with my sweet boy.

video


...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Confession

I have two voicemail messages saved on my phone.

Both are from my mom.

One is of her singing Happy Birthday to me for my 26th Birthday.

I listen to it once a week to make sure it's still there.

And also so I don't forget the sound of her voice.




.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eight Months of Memories...


 A few days ago a student asked me, "What was it like being pregnant?"  And I realized that even though it's only been a little while since Picklebug was born, I can hardly remember.


[Jen at 8.5 months pregnant]

What I do remember is that it was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.  My pregnancy was smooth and trouble free.  I didn't have a lot of the complications or complaints that some people have.

I remember smiling every time I felt a little kick.  Or rolling my eyes when Picklebug had the hiccups (again!?).

I remember sneaking into the cabinet when visiting my family in NC to eat Nutella.  

I remember being so full of anticipation near the end I almost went crazy!

And I remember labor...

I remember the doctor telling me that "the bullet is too big for the gun" - which translated into the need to do a c-section.

I remember being really scared and how MG trembled in the seat next to my head as they cut open my belly.

I remember the hot sting of tears when I heard a tiny cry from my newborn son.




I remember the nurse putting his tiny, warm body in my arms and seeing his sweet face for the first time.

I remember breathing in his warm, sweet scent.

I remember thinking he was perfect.




I remember taking him home and feeling more lonely and afraid than I have ever been in my life.

I barely remember how we made it through that first night.

I remember that due to lack of sleep and the sheer panic induced at the sound of a crying baby sent me running home to stay with my family in NC.

I remember thinking my stepmom would make everything better - and I remember being grateful that she would take me in and help me.

I also remember being mad at her when she didn't offer to just take Picklebug and raise him herself. 

I remember being frustrated and frightened when she began pushing me outside my comfort zone.

I remember walking around the mall with a 9 day old baby, and nursing him in the car on a cold January afternoon.  That experience terrified me - but it proved to me that I could survive a crying baby - even in Olive Garden!

I remember being afraid I would never live up to her expectations of me and that I would go down in a fiery ball of failure.

I remember her telling me that she loved me just like I was her own.

I also remember her promising me that I would get better and I would love being a mother.

I remember feeling relieved when I started to realize she was right.

I remember calling her every night when I got back to VA to give her a report that things were going well (He slept 4 straight hours!  woo hoo!).

I remember thanking God for her patience, love and guidance and for her faith in my ability to succeed which was perhaps the single most important factor in my overcoming post-partum depression.



[PB at 1 month!]

I remember he slept A LOT.  And cried A LOT.  Especially between 6-8pm.

I remember him sucking his little fingers and making little frog noises.

I remember how hard it was to continue breast feeding those early weeks.

I remember sitting on the couch with him next to me snuggled in a blanket while I watched CSI marathons thinking, "stay at home mom's have it MADE!!"

I also remember the few occasions when he went on a nap strike and I decided that being a stay at home mom might not be my cup of tea.



[PB at 2 months!]

At two months old Picklebug became a little more interesting.

I remember his first smile and the flip my stomach did when he directed that little smile right at me!

I remember bragging to anyone that would listen how he was such a good sleeper!  SEVEN straight hours a night!

I remember having my first bad dream about losing him - and how I woke up in a cold sweat feeling sick to my stomach.


 
[PB at 3 months!]

When Picklebug was just 10 weeks old I had to go back to work.

I remember being angry that my current situation demanded that I be a working mom.  And I remember how hard it was to walk away from my sweet little guy the first day I dropped him off at daycare.

However, I also remember the ecstatic feeling of freedom I experienced when I sat down behind my desk and realized I wouldn't have to feed, change, rock or entertain a baby for at least seven hours.

It was bittersweet.

I remember that at this point my baby was starting to notice the world around him.

I remember being amazed at how he seemed to study every little thing.  And how he giggled when a kitty walked by and brushed up against him.

I remember holding a flower to his little nose and watching him sniff the sweet smell.

At four months I found I couldn't resist his charm.




[PB at 4 months!]

I remember how people began to notice how outgoing he was.  And how he would smile at anyone or anything for attention.

I remember hearing his deep belly laugh for the first time and how badly I wanted to catch it on video so I could listen to it over and over.

I also remember how at this point he was sleeping a solid 12 hours without waking up.  And I remember getting the evil eye from other moms when I shared this information.



[PB at 5 months!]

I remember trying to give him cereal the first time.  I mixed it with some bananas thinking the sweetness would win him over.

It didn't work.

Two weeks later I tried again and this time he seemed a little more interested.  When we introduced him to sweet potatoes he was hooked!

I remember being so proud of him for eating food.  But I was also a little sad knowing that he was growing up and wouldn't always depend solely on me to feed him.

At six months we were in the heat of the summer.  This is when we discovered Picklebug's love of the water.



[PB at 6 months!]

I remember the excitement of taking him to the beach for the first time.

I remember being sad that I couldn't share this moment with my mother - who always loved going to the beach and who would have surely loved seeing Picklebug's reaction to the waves.

I remember being slightly annoyed at Picklebug's short span of tolerance for sun and sand.  Didn't he know this was MY vacation too?



[PB at 7 months!]

At seven months Picklebug was sitting up completely on his own.  He was also clapping his hands, sitting patiently while we read him stories, saying "ba ba ba" at random, turning off light switches when we held him up to one and even fed himself cheerios.

I was convinced that I had the smartest baby in the world.

I remember one night when I was putting him to bed, he fell asleep in my arms.  So I sat in the rocking chair and stared at his handsome face.  I remember thinking that there is no love that can rival the love a mother has for her baby.  And there is nothing that can top the pride a mother feels for her child's accomplishments - no matter how small they may seem to an outsider.


I remember a deep desire to call my mom and tell her that I now know just how much she must have loved me.


...


Picklebug will be eight months exactly tomorrow.



At one point, near the very beginning of this journey, I remember thinking I would never make it this far.

Now I can't believe how fast the time has passed by.

I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to make all the memories I've shared with you, and I hope you stick around to find out what lies in store for the months ahead.




...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day-Tripping

It's no secret that I had post-partum depression.

Within days of giving birth I was so completely overwhelmed with the responsibility and demand of taking care of an infant I might as well have been stranded on a raft in the middle of the atlantic - in fact, at that point I probably would have preferred it.

I remember sitting paralyzed at the dinner table when Picklebug was just 4 or 5 days old, staring at my chicken and rice and being so nauseous with fear I couldn't even lift my hand to pick up my fork.  The only thought that ran through my mind was "this baby was a mistake."

Now I knew that having a baby would change my life. I knew it would be hard. I wasn't so naive as to think that I would bring home a happy baby that would instantly know how to nurse from my breast, sit happily in a swing while I knitted booties and sleep blissfully through the night.

But NOTHING prepared me for his constant demand of my body, attention and time.  And it didn't take long before I lost my grip on sanity.

I was convinced that my life had changed for the worse.  I believed with all my heart that my days of relaxing on the couch with a good book were gone.  No more afternoon shopping trips or dinners out.  No more movies.  No more sleeping in - no more sleeping period!

At one point, when MG was downstairs with the baby, I snuck upstairs and researched how to put a baby up for adoption.

I knew I had a serious problem and thankfully my family recognized this and reached out to me.  I spent 10 days with my stepmom in NC learning how to manage life with a baby.

I spent 10 weeks building up confidence in my ability to be a mom.

And when my hormones settled down and I finally got 6 consecutive hours of sleep, it took me less 10 seconds to fall madly in love with my son.


...


Since those early weeks I've experienced countless blessings as a mother.  The good Lord heard my cries for help and he answered them generously.  I have a happy, healthy, beautiful baby boy and I struggle to comprehend what my life would be like without him.

Before Picklebug, MG and I went on all kinds of adventures.  In fact, it was MG's spontaneity (along with all his other endearing qualities) that won me over!  Our friends would roll their eyes at our constant day-tripping - but we loved exploring new places!

These adventures were one of the things I was most worried about missing out on when PB came long... but little did I know that our adventures were just beginning!

In fact you can't really call it an adventure WITHOUT bringing a baby along!



Today MG and I took Picklebug to Maymont park in Richmond.  It was a perfect day - and we had a great time.


















As we walked around the park, the children's barn and the nature center I couldn't take my eyes off my sweet little boy.  I loved watching the look of wonder on his face when he reached out to pet a goat.  Or seeing his eyes light up when we showed him the turtles.  Each thing we came across became an exciting opportunity to introduce our baby to the world around us.


















This adventure solidified for me the fact that everything we do is better with Picklebug.  Shopping, dining out, taking walks, vacation - all of it is so much more fun with our baby.  Easier?  No way!  But I love the challenge of figuring out how to make our adventures fun and rewarding.

It might mean packing a few LOTS of extra things (like an extra change of clothes, the portable high chair, snacks, juice, toys, diapers, wipes, blanket, stroller...) and it might take a little LOTS of extra planning (leave just before nap time and hope to drive 2 hours in peace before stopping for lunch, play with PB until he starts rubbing his eyes, then back in the car for nap #2 while we drive 2 more hours and stop for a diaper change and a stroll around the mall then back in the car for a quick cat-nap making sure we arrive at our destination in time to set up the pack-n-play...) but at the end of the day I feel accomplished.

And after all that goes in to pulling off a successful trip to the park - I feel like I deserve an award!


It's been almost eight months now since Picklebug came into my life.  And while the journey hasn't always been easy - it has been worth it.  It didn't take long - thankfully - for me to stop thinking about all the things I thought I had lost and instead start to enjoy all that I have gained.

After all, why wouldn't I trade sleeping in until 10 am for the happy smile I get from Picklebug when I peek over the rail of his crib at 7:30 am?

And who wants to read  Life of Pi when you have Is Your Mama a Llama? sitting on the shelf?

Why choose a quiet dinner-for-two when I have the opportunity to watch my baby figure out how to eat a spaghetti noodle?

And who needs a spotless house when you can have squeals of delight from a baby in a Johnny-Jump-Up?




What on earth could be a better way to spend my "free time" than taking every precious minute I have to show my sweet baby how much I love him?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where is Jen?

I'm in the middle of crazy town.  The new semester is here in full force and it's taking all the free time I have to keep up with it!  I know I haven't posted in 21 days - and for that I'm sorry.  I don't know how you've all been getting through your day without my wit and charm - but somehow I'm sure you are finding other ways to stay busy.

What have I been up to?  Lots of things!

First of all, I've been busy with work.  I'm advising five student groups, organizing four different leadership programs, planning three signature fall events, teaching two classes, and working a new graduate assistant.  So there are lots of syllabi to cover, programs to plan, students to meet with and emails to send.  Which means little to no time to sneak in a good post at work.

Then I come home to feed and clean up after three cats, two adults and one baby.  That's a lot of food and fur.  Not to mention laundry.  So by the time those things are checked off the list I'm ready to check out.  Which isn't exactly conducive to creating good material for your reading pleasure.

But I do have a few good ideas for posts that will hopefully come to fruition over the next week.  There are several aspects of my daily life that I haven't yet shared with you so I'm hoping to find a creative way to introduce some of them here.

In the meantime - feel free to browse some of the other blogs and websites I keep up with in the "Other Stuff I Think is Cool" section - just promise you'll come back and check on me soon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

10 Things I Honestly Couldn't Make It Through My Day Without:

My Zoloft











I said honestly and I meant it.  Jen without Zoloft is like Hannibal Lecter without the face mask.  I may look calm and collected but you never know when I'm going to snap and eat your face off.



My Victoria's Secret Bra














Nothing supports me like my VS Bra.  Seriously.  Try hoisting around two bowling balls strapped to your chest using a $10 Wal-Mart bra and you'll understand my willingness to pay nearly $50 for this essential wardrobe component.



My Morning Coffee - thanks to my Keruig













My morning coffee is almost as important as my Zoloft.  And I have to give props to my Keruig - it can make a DAMN FINE cuppa coffee in under 30 seconds at the push of a button.



My Family










I wouldn't have a reason to get up in the morning if I didn't have MG and Picklebug. 



My Cat










Where would I be without Mr. Goo?  He makes me laugh, he keeps me warm and he reminds me that unconditional love is a real and true thing.  Even if he does hork up hairballs at 3am.



Angie














I'm actually petitioning HR to add her to the list of "benefits" of working at our institution.  Angie keeps me up to date on all the gossip floating around campus and listens to all my dramatic stories.  She always has a crazy (usually animal-related) story to tell and her laugh is absolutely contagious. 



My Rainbows







*I don't have a picture of my Rainbows - so here is another picture of Mr. Goo.



I wear them everywhere and with everything.  Hanging out? Jean skirt, t-shirt & Rainbows.  Going to work? Blue dress, scarf & Rainbows.  Checking the mail?  Yoga pants, tank-top & Rainbows.   I would have worn them at my wedding if my Step mom woulda let me!



My Macbook











My connection to the world around me - best $1500 I ever spent.



Hershey Bars









Does this need an explanation?  I think no.



Bath time









*Even though we bear a striking resemblance - this is actually a picture of Audrey Hepburn - not me - in the bathtub.




The ONLY way to end a long day is a nice hot bath.  With bubbles and a glass of wine.  And maybe a few of Picklebug's bath toys.  It is my little 15 minute gift to myself.

What things do you need in order to make it through your day?

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Ultimate Sacrifice

I sleep with a stuffed animal.


Meet Hippo:
















I bought Hippo at a little souvenir shop in Gatlinburg TN during my first vacation with MG in 2004.  He's been my sleeping next to me longer than my husband.

He fits perfectly in the crook of my arm just under my chin.

I took him with me on my honeymoon and actually cried when MG suggested I give him up.

So yeah, he's pretty special to me.





Now, I know that motherhood is about sacrifice.

I knew I would have to give up a lot of sleep, a lot of free time, peaceful dinners, clean house and nights at the movies.

I was prepared to watch my waistline expand to new and frightening dimensions.

I was even okay with less than perky boobs.





But I wasn't prepared for this:
















Picklebug squeals with delight when MG brings him upstairs in the morning and he spots Hippo hiding in the covers.  He immediately reaches for him and begins to gnaw on Hippo's sweet little ears.
















How can I break up such a cute pair?


















Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 12th Little Fork

MG and I have a great relationship. We've been married for almost four years now and we are still very much in love and very happy together.



















I think we compliment each other very nicely. His calm, cool demeanor is balanced with my hyperactive maniacal anxiety. I have greatly benefited from his diverse knowledge and appreciation of music while I think he would agree that he has benefited from my ability to coordinate his work outfits.

Khaki pants with a khaki shirt? No. White button down shirt with faded blue windbreaker pants? Are you serious?

But like every couple - there are some things we still need to work on.

And with the risk of sounding absolutely crazy (which I admittedly am) let me tell you about one of the "sticky" areas of our marriage.


It has to do with what is allowed to leave the kitchen.


Let's say, for example, you were running late for work, so you decide to pack your cereal and eat it at your desk when you get to your office.

What would you do?

I would throw some cereal in Rubbermaid container, seal it with a lid, pour some milk into one of the 3,472 re-usable water bottles we own and grab a plastic spoon from the drawer.


What would MG do?

He would take the ENTIRE box of cereal, the ENTIRE gallon of milk, one of my precious Fiestaware bowls and one of the nice spoons from our expensive silverware set.


And then he would leave everything at work for 4 months.


So then next morning, when I go downstairs to eat breakfast - there will be no cereal and no milk in the kitchen.

Me: "Honey, where is the cereal and the milk?"

MG: "We ran out."





This has happened several times over the past four years. And list of things he has taken from the kitchen includes an entire NEW bottle of ketchup, a bottle of pancake syrup, a package of cheese, and countless dishes, spoons and forks.

And I don't mean stupid cheap-o plastic dishes. I mean the nice dishes and nice silverware!

Every few weeks, when I go to make a cup of coffee to take to work and complain about the 8 missing travel mugs he will make an effort to round up all of wayward dishes in his office.


Sometimes it takes TWO Wal-Mart bags to carry them all home.


So imagine my frustration when I found the Fiestaware butter spreader in the bag of dirty dishes he brought home a few weeks ago.

I then repeated my rant about not removing special dishes from our house. We have plastic knives that would have worked just as well!

The discovery of the butter spreader also prompted me to count all the cutlery.

There were 12 knives, 12 big spoons, 12 little spoons, 12 big forks and 11 little forks....

11? Uh oh.

I ask MG about the 12th little fork and he swears he doesn't have it. He SWEARS that it isn't in his office. I search the kitchen, the dishwasher, the couch but I cannot find the 12th little fork.

So through gritted teeth I mumble something about how he owes me a new set of silverware and threaten to stab him in the thigh if I DO find that little fork in his office...





Today, as I am running errands around campus I pop in MG's office to say hello. And as we are chatting I absentmindedly begin opening and closing his desk drawers.

What can I say? I'm nosey.

And in the third drawer a glint of silver catches my eye:

















Upon closer inspection I discover...
















the 12th little fork*






Now please excuse me while I drive MG to the Emergency room.**





*The tiny green spoon next to the little fork is one of Picklebug's baby spoons. I noticed this morning that some of the baby spoons seem to be missing. Of course, MG denied having any at work...

What grown man needs a baby spoon at work?





**No thighs were actually stabbed upon the discovery of the 12th little fork.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Update & random thoughts that didn't turn into posts

I've been at a loss in regards to what I could share with you. I know it's been a while since you've heard from me.


Sorry about that.


Besides our fun vacation to Ocean Isle, NC - not a lot has been going on.


MG got not one, but TWO awesome job offers last week. After weighing the pros and cons of each job, he will be starting his new job as an in-home counselor on August 9th. I'm especially excited for him to finally be doing work that he is really passionate about.

Picklebug is now eating all kinds of solid foods and is almost sitting up. He turned 6months old on July 16 and is learning new things every day. He especially loves his glowworm and his books. He sleeps 12 straight hours everyday and is pretty much the best baby ever.

I've taken up knitting once again and have been working hard on a baby blanket for Picklebug. If it turns out okay I hope to make another one for a friend who is expecting her first baby right around Pickle's birthday!

Of course none of this is particularly interesting or exciting - but it's better than some of the other things I wanted to tell you about.

Like how I cleaned my ears last Wednesday and was amazed at the amount of "stuff" that came out. (Seriously. I LOVE cleaning my ears and I was so tempted to take pictures of it and make a whole post out of it. Your welcome.)

Or how tired I am of hearing about who has money and where so-and-so went to school.

Snobs.

Or how I think my milk supply is drying up and I'm worried I'll have to, *gasp!*, switch to formula.

Or what I might consider doing for a tax-free cool million seeing as how I'm so broke right now that I only have $17.23 until my next paycheck.

Or how many times a day I think about calling my mom and telling her about some of these random thoughts.

Or how excited I am to eat pancakes for dinner tonight.











I'll save those post ideas for another day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Confession

Once, in a desperate attempt to acquire the Tim McGraw single Don't Take the Girl, my friend LW and I sat on the ledge of the mall fountain and fished out nickles and dimes until we had enough money to buy it.

Only cool kids pay for country music singles with wet change.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Breasts

Let's talk about breasts.





















Breast. The upper ventral region of an animal’s torso, particularly that of mammals, including human beings. The breasts of a female primate’s body contain the mammary glands, which secrete milk used to feed infants. (Wikipedia)

In January 2010, when I gave birth to my son I decided to breastfeed him. I did this for several reasons.

First, everything I read said it was good for the baby. He would be smarter, sleep better, cry less, have less gas, a stronger immune system and even his poop would be more pleasant.

P.S. There is no such thing as "pleasant" poop.

I also knew that breastfeeding would be good for me. It would help me lose weight (BIG FAT LIE!), it would decrease my chances of developing breast cancer (and with two grandmothers and a mother in heaven because of it - why not?) and of course it would help me bond with Picklebug.

And perhaps the best part was that it would save money. I would buy little to no formula and I wouldn't have to worry about bottles. I did invest in a breast pump for when I am at work - but it paid for itself in the first few months.

In fact, after doing some calculations I have figured out that had I been using formula with Picklebug - I would have already spent about $750.00 on formula alone! Not to mention all the accoutrement's that are necessary when bottle feeding: bottles, bottled water, nipples, ice packs, sterilizers, etc. And who knows how much we saved in doctor visits!

So with all these obvious benefits, I made it my mission to be a breast feeding momma. And while it was really hard those first few months, I'm really glad I stuck with it. Nursing Picklebug makes me pause several times a day to really be with my baby. To snuggle him close, to smell his sweet scent, to kiss his tiny fingers and rub his tiny feet.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I didn't always feel this way about breast feeding.

Let me begin by pointing out the obvious: society has RUINED breasts for everyone that breaths air. I don't have to cite examples or tell tales of how much emphasis the media puts on breasts. Breasts are EVERYWHERE. Every ad, every billboard, every TV show, every movie.

You can't walk through the mall without coming face to face with a busty manikin.


People are so desensitized when it comes to breasts that I fear it won't be long before it's legal for women to walk around topless.

So if breasts are everywhere - why do some people have such a hard time seeing a woman nursing in public?

I'd much rather see a woman nursing a baby than be accosted by the sight of some girl trying to wear a shirt as a dress. (You ain't foolin' no one, honey. It's a long shirt. Not a dress. And the whole world doesn't want to see your hiney.)

Boobs are a functional part of my body. They are a means to provide my sweet baby with nutrition.

Every three to four hours.

Which means that unless I want to become an antisocial hermit-mother who never leaves the house, I'm eventually going to have to feed my baby somewhere other than behind my front door.

And if you know me at all you know I'm no hermit.

I remember being in college and going to the dining hall for dinner. I sat down with my friends and began to enjoy my corn dog and tots when I noticed a professor sitting about 6 tables down from me.

She was breastfeeding her baby, grading papers and eating dinner.

Now, I would love to tell you that the first thing that came to my stupid 20 year old brain was how awesome this woman was for being able to feed her baby, eat, and manage to grade tests.

But instead I immediately thought - UGH! Gross! That woman is flashing the entire D-hall! Go to a bathroom you hippie! No one wants to see that kind of thing in public!

Stupid Jen.

Last week I went to Books-a-million with my step mom and just as we entered the store, Picklebug let me know it was time for a snack by arching his back and making what we like to call "the pterodactyl screech."

Now, I've breastfed in public on numerous occasions - but I always try to do it in the "family room" at the mall or in a non-busy corner of a restaurant.

But Books-a-million didn't provide me that luxury.

So I sat down in the only available seat I could find. A comfy leather chair located near the busy cafe area in the front of the store.

To my left was a big, burly, hairy and very macho looking dude. Probably a linebacker. Or a Biker.

Or both.

To my right was well dressed woman in her mid forties reading the New Yorker. She smelled like vanilla and judgement.

Across from me was an attractive young guy with a MacBook on his lap and beautifully tanned legs.

And then there was me.

With my crying baby.

About to lift my shirt and serve up some lunch.

I could feel their eyes on me. Their uncomfortableness. Their displeasure at my choosing this space to take care of Picklebug's needs.

Mr. Macho mumbled something about the bathroom and left.

Wimp.

Ms. New Yorker pursed her lips and stared at her magazine.

And pretty legs just tried not to give into the temptation to ogle me.

And me?

I just did my best to carry on like it was no big deal. Pickle ate his lunch while I surfed FB on my Blackberry.

I had to decide a long time ago that other peoples comfort be damned! I'm a mom, gosh-darn-it and baby's gotta eat! Would they rather sit next to pterodactyl-baby?

In fact, if I could go back to that day in the D-Hall so many years ago, I would walk up to that multi-tasking momma and pat her on the back and commend her for not letting ignorant people like me stop her from doing the most natural thing in the world.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I've lived a variety of places over the past ten years.

I spent four years living in Boone, North Carolina.

Two in Oxford, Ohio.

And the past four years at my current location in Virginia.

But even though I've been away for almost 10 years now, I still find it hard not to refer to my little brick house in Lawndale NC as home.


Home Sweet Home.



And that's where I've been for the past 10 days.


Lawndale, NC isn't a very large town. And there isn't exactly a lot of recreational opportunities that world travelers might find interesting - but for me it's the perfect escape.

And a great way to reconnect to what is important.

Let me share with you a little of my Home Sweet Home.

First, there are the people who live there. A house is not a home without the warm bodies that inhabit it - something Home Sweet Home does not lack!

There is my dad Tim and my step mom Ronda, and my four brothers Justin, Chalmers, Josh and Micah. (It's especially exciting around the holidays - when including Mike, Owen, me, Grandma Margie and the occasional visiting friend/girlfriend - the number of people sleeping in our house can reach 10 or more!)

Oh, and there is our big, goofy, turtle-chewing, baby-bunny-eating lab - Max (or Maxwell, Maxwellison, Welly, Wellson, Mr. Sass, Paco-Paco, etc...) who might as well be my 5th (and favorite!) brother. He thinks he owns the big couch in the family room.
















There are lots of things to do around the property. And lots of little nooks in which to spend the day relaxing. My personal favorite is by the pool:

















Or in the hammock in the front yard:
















There are four porches around our house - and all of them have little spots that are great for hanging out with my Macbook or a knitting project:






















My visit this year including taking care of Owen and finding things that he enjoyed doing. One of which turned out to be swinging in his new baby swing that Dad bought for him:
















My dad keeps a garden in the summer, so I enjoyed fresh peas, corn, squash, tomatoes and okra with almost every meal:
















In the afternoons, Dad, Ronda, Owen, Mike, Max and I enjoyed hikes on the property behind our house. My Dad has spent countless hours carving various trails that cris-cross little streams and "waterfalls".































In the evenings, the whole family tends to gather in front of the TV for a movie.
















**We used to play Scrabble, but Dad, Micah and I are such sore losers we had to agree not to play games unless it was one where everyone could win.


I typically finished each day with a relaxing bath in my step mom's jacuzzi tub (and take a moment to appreciate how HUGE this bathroom is!)
















Now you can see why I was too busy to blog last week.

Sadly, Home Sweet Home isn't open to the public (although my step mom might disagree with that) but we always welcome visitors.

And I bet that once you visit, you might just begin referring to it as Home too.