Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
What I'd Say To You If You Were Standin' Right Here Lookin' Over My Shoulder With Your Eyes Buggin' Out.
Yes... yes, I DID just place the opening bid on 3 lbs. of mother-of-pearl buttons in assorted sizes on eBay. Why-ever do you ask?
WAH WAH WAH WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH WAH WAH WAAAAH WAH WAAH WAH WAH WAH WAH?!
Well, I could POSSIBLY be making a warm winter coat for our 750-foot garden hose and need a sturdy but attractive fastening solution, hmmm?
Or maybe I'd like to replace the marble chess board in the family room with something comparably classy in a Tiddly Winks set?
You've never heard of Tiddly Winks?
Okay. Um, would you believe... BUTTONFETTI?
Er... It's been years since I last resurfaced the mollusk?
WAHWAHWAH WAH WAHWAH?
Yes! Or maybe a lovely mosaic for the powder room? I made an A+ (with a smiley face, thankyouverymuch) on the construction-paper-dots mosaic I made for Latin I in 8th grade. I crave another mosaic success.
Oh yes. And Al needs something to test out his brand new snowblower on, too.
Stay tuned. As the holidays approach, I may let everyone in on the REAL reason I'm buying buttons-by-weight. Or maybe I'll just let y'all squirm!
If you'd like to hear who won, and see some of the recipes from On Mimomsa Boulevard: Memories, Meals and Blessings, click here and visit the homepage of FriedOkra on Saturdays all throughout the month of November.
But Heavens to Betsy there's everything else Southern y'all could ever want or need in MY BLOGGY GIVEAWAY, this DEEEELUXE hard-cover church cookbook, On Mimosa Boulevard: Memories, Meals and Blessings, written and compiled by the women of my church "back home" in drought-stricken Georgia, the Roswell Presbyterian Church.
Just feast your eyes on this tasty sampling:
Shrimp and Okra Gumbo
Country Brunswick Stew
Georgia Cracker Salad
Vidalia Onion Casserole
Cheesy Grits Casserole
Red Beans & Rice
Shrimp & Grits
Prized Peach Cobbler
Wait for it...
Southern Pecan Pie!!!
And along with all that perfectly-assembled authentic Southern Goodness, this beauty of a cookbook also features several recipes contributed by none other than Little Old Me, and by several what I mean is the absolute drop-dead limit of recipes allowable by one Very Enthusiastic Contributor to a single church-lady cookbook, because when you ask Mama to share a few of her favorite recipes, she gleefully thrusts upon you her entire circa 1983 Lucite® card file of lovingly-collected and, well, para-organized index cards, gum wrappers, box tops, check stubs, cocktail napkins and torn-off paper sack corners that bear the knee-weakeningest, tongue-flappingest recipes she's been able to beg off of her Mom, two Grandmamas, big sister, sisters-in-law, sister's sisters-in-law, cousins, Aunts, great aunts, friends, neighbors, co-workers and their spouses, and people-she's-quite-forgotten-but-goodness-didn't-whoever-she-is-make-an-authentic-tasting-Baklava-I-had-to-have-that-one-didn't-I? and says, Oh, Absoluuuuuuutely, I'd love to!
Ahem. When I saw my own name and my cherished recipes IN ACTUAL PRINT and REPRODUCED HUNDREDS, EVEN THOUSANDS OF TIMES, I became very excited. And in my considerable haste to BE SURE I HAD A SPECIAL COOKBOOK FOR ALL THE SPECIAL LADIES IN MY LIFE I may have over-ordered by a just a few. Hundred. Or thereabouts.
But, honey, see I told you I'd find things to do with them! And dear, you do remember we used four of them to prop up the head of our precious child's crib that Christmas when she had her first cold and the new break-thru-technology vaporizer did nothing but dampen the walls and make our whole house smell like a gigantic Vicks® cold lozenge, don't you, sweetheart?
To win your very own copy of On Mimosa Boulevard: Memories, Meals and Blessings, just leave me a comment with a link to your blog or an email address. I'll do the drawing next Saturday, and ship to any US address. (It's HEAVY!)
Thanks to Shannon for hosting a wonderful bloggy giveway bonanza at BloggyGiveAways.com.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
And then, because I'm me, and I always gotta have sump'm' to add, because I'm a joiner, and a bandwagon jumper and all that, as I may have mentioned sometime in the very recent past, I thought up a few of my own.
Here's a list of my mostly glaringly ill-advised, pre-conceived notions about babies, children and parenting that have been not-so-delicately fed back to me in huge, slobbery mouthfuls. And that now make me roll my eyes in jaded disgust at my own, well, jaded digustedness.
1 - If my baby/kid ever cries in a restaurant, I will ALWAYS IMMEDIATELY remove it to the outside so it doesn't disturb other diners, because TSK! How inconsiderate to make other people listen to that! RUDE RUDE RUDE.
2 - Parents who say they need to put the kid in front of the TV so they can take a shower just don't have much control over their kid. Lazy parenting! TSK.
3 - I will always be a soft-spoken and unobtrusive parent in public. Not like the lady yelling, Jeffrey, Jeffrey, don't do that Jeffrey! Don't put that in your mouth, Jeffrey! No Jeffrey. NO JEFFREY! Put it down Jeffrey! PUT IT DOWN I SAID! I SAAAAAAAAAAID PUT! IT! DOWN! Come back now. COME BACK HERE! JEEEEEEEEEEEFFFRRRYYYYYYY! GET BACK HERE NOW! You know that lady? Yeah? Me too. (Points finger at own chest.) Right here.
4 - TSK! BOXED MACARONI AND CHEESE? WITH CUT-UP HOTDOGS? FOR MY CHILD? I would NEVER. (We eat all of our meals together. How did I think I was going to keep Bean from wanting some of mine?)
5 - OH NOOOOO! Listen to that sweet little child crying and crying and CRYING and wailing, all over Target. I just want to help that poor little child, his mother just must be a horrible SHREW for him to be wailing and crying like that. Poor poor little sweet child, I wish I could go scoop him up and comfort him. Sniffle. (MMM HMM. You know who I want to go scoop up and comfort when I hear that NOW, don't you?)
6 - Geez. People and their kids' (airquote)FOOD ALLERGIES(/airquote). So ridiculous! Kid's gonna grow up to be a major sissy!
7 - Oh sure! Use your child as an excuse to cut out early. Like the kid's going to dissolve into a puddle of useless seething goo if you don't get it home for it's little nappy poo. LAME! Whose life is this anyway? If you wanted to stay, you'd stay! TSK!
8 - Do people with kids have NOTHING. ELSE. IN. THE. WORLD. TO. TALK. ABOUT???? For cryin' outloud! And since when was POOP an acceptable topic of conversation?! That's just GROSS!
9 - Oh, he's always saying how (airquote)AMAZING(/airquote) his kid is. How (airquote)life altering(/airquote) being a parent has been for him. GEEZ. How silly! It's just a KID, y'know?
10 - Why do people try to use LOGIC with their kids? Why don't they just say NO and leave it at that? All that blah blah blah blah... just wastes time and the kid doesn't get it anyway! Sheez. I can't wait until I'm a parent, I just think it's going to come so naturally to me. Most people make it look so hard, but it doesn't have to be hard... you just have to know what you're doing!!
Those are the biggest ones on my list? Have any of your own?
Whooohooooooooo! I figured out what to give away tomorrow, too. I can't wait!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Y'all been to BooMama's today?
She's gonna host a holiday tour of homes. Y'all go read about it.
Now, when I read the first (for me) mention of this festive occasion yesterday, I got all excited. Thinking it'd be a bloggy holiday open house she'd hold one Saturday, when we could all hire babysitters and pour ourselves a tall Diet Coke/Starbucks Latte/glass of wine, dress up in our sparkly sweaters and Christmas tree socks, park ourselves in front of our computers and spend the day touring one another's blogs which we'd have decked out fully in magnolia boughs and red velvet bows and homemade manger scenes featuring the baby Jesus with a Brillo™ pad afro.
I immediately planned my quippy email to Jules@EverydayDesign to see if she'd be able to slap a Santa hat on the okra in my header for the big occasion.
Alas, a Santa hat on my okra's not what BooMama's talkin' about.
She's talkin' about a REAL (okay well PICTORIAL) tour. Of our homes. Waitaminute. My home? The one that lo, these 18 months later has not a stick of dining room or office furniture and whose walls all still abashedly sport now-banged-up-all-to-polka-dotted-H-E-doublehockeysticks Builder Grade White paint? That one?
Mama is overwhelmed. Yet Mama is the world's BIGGEST joiner. Non-participation in BooMama's Tour of Homes is simply NOT AN OPTION for me, as I know if I chose to abstain, I would lie in my bed on December 17th and cry fat, sploinking tears of self-inflicted abandonment and ice-cold loneliness. Nossir, I know better. If there's a bandwagon within a 10 mile radius of these newly-Tommy-Hilfiger'd buns, Mama is ON THAT BAD-BOY, in the front seat, next to the driver, offering to hold-the-reins-for-just-a-minute-I'll-be-so-careful-I-promise-can-I-please-huh-can-I?! I WILL. NOT. BE. LEFT. OUT.
You bet I'm in, BooMama.
Are y'all gonna be in? She hasn't officially announced it, I guess. Well, sorta.
I know Nicki will be all over this one. Nicki is the Royal Potentatress of Holiday Decorating. She has a tree in her family room every year that makes the Griswald's tree look like A Charlie Brown Christmas. AND, I heard her hubby Mark mention starting on his outdoor lighting this week, too. So that household is ALL in.
And come to think of it, that doesn't make me feel even a little bit better.
If you are in, but nervous as a cat in a roomfull of rockin' chairs, here are some cool websites I've scoped out with fun ideas for decorating. On a shoestring. Or not.
DoItYourself.com's Easy Christmas Decorating.
FamilyFun.com's A Homemade Christmas.
MarthaStewart.com's Christmas Decorations.
Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Decorating.
about.com's Interior Decorating Holiday Ideas.
HGTV.com's Holiday Decor Ideas.
Gotta run now. Have 4000 green pipecleaners to braid and twist into weatherproof garland! Must get crackin'.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I was supposed to be regaling you with stories about The Wedding today. Only I wasn't supposed to be, I was planning to be, and therein lies the crux of today's post.
When I first posted about The Wedding, it felt all wrong. Honestly! See, I tone myself down for y'all (and for most people that I know), but I have inherited a rapier-sharp tongue and a mind full of bitingly sarcastic, haughty, mean, but generally funny-at-someone-else's-expense "humor."
However, when I started this blog, I vowed to myself I would NOT employ THAT kind of humor, because I feel strongly convicted of the sarcasm and snootiness it belies, AND, in truth, it breaks my heart to think of the people I have hurt and could hurt with such a poor excuse for funny-ness. And all self-congratulation aside, I have held to that vow pretty well except for the original post about the wedding, which I regret ever writing, but I'm leaving up to remind myself that it's so easy (and often so entertaining) to slip back into my old, wrong habit of putting others down to get a "positive" reaction from people.
I sincerely apologize for that lapse in judgment.
On the day of The Wedding, I made a conscious decision to leave my camera at home. At that point I was not PLANNING on blogging about The Wedding, and I even told a couple of people that I just wasn't going to do it. Including Al.
But afterwards the pull to tell y'all about it was so strong. It's awful hard to break the sarcasm habit when you've leaned on it for YEARS to get attention, laughs, and ego-strokes.
I'm a flawed, tacky, tasteless person in many many ways. Aren't we all? So who on Earth am I to whip off a razor-witted tale for you about the very serious marriage ceremony of two good-hearted people who clearly love one another and went to great lengths to share such a special and important occasion with those they count as the special people in their lives, including my own family?
So, The Wedding Post, it is off. And I am spending the time it'd have taken me to tell you all about it instead telling you that I am a big forty-year-old jerk who still has a lot, and I mean A LOT of growing up to do.
Check out this beautiful, heartfelt, wise post from another (less jerky) Megan, at SortaCrunchy.
It is a post that deserves all the attention I can point to it. And one that I will read again and again, filled with remorse but so hopeful that God will continue to coax my tragically unteachable spirit into and up to His beautiful truth.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Contrary to what this picture illustrates, THESE are THE JEANS.
They are Tommy Hilfiger Modern Rise Bootcut jeans, which I located (finally) RIGHT NEXT TO the DKNY jeans at Carson's when I made a second trip through one afternoon when Bean and I were desperate! to! get! outta! the house!
These jeans are a nice soft true blue cotton denim blended with a hint of Spandex®. They're cut low but not too low, and they feature a simple embellishment (featuring a subtle 'H') on each of the back pockets. You know what else I love about these jeans? The zipper and inner seam stitching? Is RED. But only on the inside of the jean, where it can't be seen by anybody but me. And red makes me happy. So each and every time I pull on my new Jeans, I get a shot of happy. And it feels like Secret Happy, too. Who doesn't lurv them some Secret Happy?
But I still say contrary to the above because there are some THINGS reflected in this picture that make these babies seem much less THE JEAN-Y than they were two weeks ago.
Such as the 5 extra pounds I've loaded on scarfing down pizza and birthday cake for a week. (Heaven help me when I'm the mother of the BRIDE, if I can load on this much weight from one measly lil toddler birthday week!)
And. The dirigible-ic bloating I've got goin' on right now. My dear sister sent me some probiotics for my birthday, for me to start taking on accounta she has noted that I GET SICK ALLATIME! So she hooked me up with the good stuff and also recommended that I take FOUR TO SIX GRAMS of Vitamin C a day. Yes. GRAMS. Not milligrams. That, my friends, is equivalent to eating nearly 60 oranges in ONE DAY. See? Gas. (In my somewhat hasty research, I also discovered that an ORGAN has zero mg of Vitamin C per serving. But I bet you'd have bigger problems than gas if you were to eat an organ.) (I'm just sayin'!)
But looky! I'm not sick!
Instead, I am a blowfish. A kindof musical blowfish. And I'm not talking Tra-lala I'm a musical blowfish, either.
(But I'm not giving up on the probiotics or the Vitamin C.)
Anyway, thanks to all the methane, and the birthday shenanigans, and a poorly-timed trip (for the jeans, not me) through the washer and dryer, THE JEANS are not looking their very best. On me. But I still love them very dearly. I have them on right now, in fact.
I don't believe I received a single recommendation for Tommy Hilfiger jeans!
So I'm going to combine the two awards I promised in my original September is New Jeans Month post and divide the total pot in half so I can award (with nothing less than full-gale ALACRITY) each of TWO random commenters on that original post a $20 gift card to the retailer of her choice, provided the purchase and shipment of said gift cards may be perpetrated wholly on-line. Because Mama ain't goin' to the mall again for a very long time. So saith Daddy, anyway. And I am sure Bean will gladly echo-ith the same.
And the two lucky random commenters on September is New Jeans Month are:
(Musical noises resembling drumroll.) (Ahem.) (Or maybe a trumpet fanfare, you be the judge.) (Or not.)
Mari of My Little Corner of the World.
Jenn at Full of Boys.
Congratulations winners and thank you EVERYONE for nearly 60 great suggestions. I have new jeans! And it's still October!
See, Mamabloggin' is so powerful. Together, we can move mountains, y'all.
Or something like that.
Methane fumes, you know.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Y'all have been prolific this weekend to say the very least. And we were very much too busy for the past 48 hours. We went to a little neighborhood Halloween party Friday night, then The Wedding pretty much all day yesterday (oh yes, it was THAT kind of wedding!), and then we hosted Bean's little cake and ice cream party this afternoon for a few close friends.
It was all large fun indeed.
But I didn't get the laundry done.
The residents of FriedOkra Manor will all be starting the new week with our underpants on inside out. RATS!
And I will be doing the laundry tomorrow. And I really, really, like RILLY want to just sit and read blogs and comment away to my heart's content while I launder, even though I have The Wedding to tell you about and the final chapter of THE JEANS saga which I have been promising for two weeks, plus. And there's more, too.
But tomorrow, I just want to catch up on my reading and leave many thoughtful and heartfelt comments hither, thither and yon. And wash the underpants.
Tell me you're okay with that?
Friday, October 19, 2007
I'm starting my own little crusade, and I hope you'll join me.
Months ago, the hard drive of my old computer crashed. I was happy to have my shiny new replacement laptop, and the two of us have logged countless blissful blogging hours together since that day. She's a sweet ride, this fancy little coupe of mine!
But something else, something AWFUL and painful and very sad happened that day too. And there's no perky, quippy, Southern, FriedOkra-style punchline to come, either. This is SEEEEEEEEEERIOUS. I lost nearly all of the data on that old, worn out hard drive, and it hadn't been backed up in over two years.
Y'all. I lost the original files of almost every single picture I'd taken in 30-something months.
Are you soaking that up? Pictures. Of Bean's first three years. Gone. Poof. Her birth, her Christmases, birthdays, baptism, first teeth, first steps, smiles, giggles, everything. Just vanished.
Our dear friend and neighbor, Adem, has worked for nearly two months to retrieve some of the lost files and he's done a fabulous job, but of the nearly 5000 pictures on the drive, even his considerable expertise could only salvage about 500. When Mama crashes a drive, she crashes it hard, people.
The good news in our case is that I've had an online diary since before Bean was born, and have stored most of the very very best pictures at an online photo and video storage site for easy uploading to the diary. Our pictorial history hasn't been entirely destroyed, thanks to that. BUT. I know others who've not been nearly as lucky. In the few conversations I've had with friends since The Big Crash, more people than not have lost some of their own precious memories through computer problems and, more importantly, their own failure to set-aside the short minutes it takes to back up their hard drives regularly.
Hence my crusade.
Go, people. Now. Skip my next several posts (I'll endeavor to avoid writing anything particularly useful or riveting. Just for you! Ahem.) and use that time to take a look at BestBuy.com's offering of file storage options starting at only $25 clams. Skip another post or two each month and use those minutes to grab the digital pictures, videos and other important data off that hard drive and slip it onto a little thumbdrive, burn it to a CD, or at least upload them to an on-line storage site. It's so little to ask, but will save you so much sadness.
I'm going to remind you once a month from now on, by posting the button above. If you'd like to help spread the word, grab the button yourself and post it on your blog to remind your friends, relatives and readers to protect their cherished photos and other memories. I'd really appreciate it, and they will too. You can count on it.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Possibly even a post-grad degree or two.
Yesterday we ran out to the grocery store To Pick Up a Few Things, and The Hair stole the show as usual.
At the photography counter. (Behind/under which are hidden the memory cards for digital cameras. Which makes my method of locating the kind I need - the well-um-NO-I-don't-have-any-idea-what-KIND-it-takes, I'll-just-know-it-when-I-see-it method - impossible to perpetrate without involving and spending an afternoon with a helpful salesperson.)
Salesperson to Bean: Where did you get all that beautiful curly hair?
Bean: I got it from my beautiful Mama's hay-yer!
Salesperson looks directly at my head with bold-faced, 72 pt. Helvetica question mark affixed to her forehead.
NOT! she clearly posits to herself.
Me: She got it from her Daddy. He has very curly hair.
Salesperson: Oh! Well, it MUST BE!
She drags an armload of various memory cards up to the countertop and I dig through them and finally locate the-one-that-looks-like-a-tiny-rectangular-slice-of-cheese-with-a-little-bite-taken-out-of-the-corner and the salesperson begins to ring it up for me. The whole while, the salesperson continues to examine Bean's hair.
Salesperson: Sooooooo... what um... Nationality... is her father?
Me: Oh. He's just a plain old American black guy.
Minutes later, at the FOOD check-out counter:
Salesperson to Bean: MY, you certainly have a lot of pretty curls!
Bean: Thank you.
Packaging Technician at End of Belt, looking directly at my head: Did YOU have pretty hair when you were... younger?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
This is the chronicle of Alex's arrival on October 17, 2004 at 3:06 PM, weighing 6 lbs., 14 oz. and stretching to 20 inches in length.
It all started Thursday, October 14. The day began as usual, and I spent a large portion of late morning and early afternoon out looking at wedding venues with my next door neighbor, Nadine, who was getting married in February or March. We looked at three venues and spoke with the sales people about menus and pricing, and wrapped up the day with a late lunch at The Fickle Pickle in Roswell, where we had some delicious Carribean Clam Chowder, whose recipe I'll be trying to simulate sometime soon. We came home that afternoon and I remember having to go to the bathroom so badly that I could barely say goodbye to Nadine as I jumped out of her car, sprinted to my house and flew to the bathroom. I'd been feeling periody aches in my abdomen and upper thighs for several days prior, and those feelings continued throughout the afternoon and evening. Al came home and we had dinner and watched a little mindless TV, with me on the sofa and Al on the floor, as was our normal pregnancy custom. Then we went to bed.
I awoke shortly after we went to sleep, hot and uncomfortable, with Al snoring (he had a cold), and I moved downstairs to the sofa, where I just lay there, and the periody aches seemed to get worse and worse. They weren't coming and going though, like contractions. This was just constant pain that didn't let up. So, at around 4:00 AM, I got up and went to take some Tylenol, and then stopped off to go to the bathroom, where I noticed that I'd lost at least a little of my mucus plug. The periody pain didn't really let up even after the Tylenol, so I really didn't sleep at all. In the morning, Al got up to get ready for work and I had a little emotional meltdown. Why are you leaving me? ( I had explained about the mucus plug and he had asked questions galore, including, You didn't save it for me to see?) So we had a little emotional chat which concluded when Al decided (ahem) he needed to stay home with me (I did really need him). So, we spent Friday lying around watching TV, and Al ended up going to lunch appointment and back to the office after around noon. I tried to rest, but was just too keyed up to really sleep, and the pain continued. At some point during the day while Al was gone, I lost a considerable second chunk of the mucus plug, again leaving Al dissapointed that he didn't get to see it. I have to laugh thinking about how I actually described it for him in great detail, and he listened, enthralled, and asked tons of very specific questions. He was very INTO the mucus plug!
We went out to dinner that night to a local sports bar where Al had pizza and I had fish and chips and tons of rootbeer. We came home and took some pictures of me (in my pink non-maternity turtleneck) and then of the two of us, cozy and happy, and we made a little video telling Alex we thought she was on her way! Then we went upstairs to go to bed.
At about 1:00 AM I awoke to go to the bathroom, and when I stood up, there was a huge amount of warm fluid that gushed out, so I ran to the bathroom, drippy drip dripping all the way and examined things. The fluid was clear and there was about a half cup of it. So, excited, I woke Al up and said, This is it, honey. It's time! My water just broke! So he got up and we called the doctor's answering service, received our return call from Dr. Smith, who told us to proceed to the hospital, and we methodically got ourselves ready to go. I took a bath, put on my make-up, did my hair, and put on a lovely outfit, finished packing my suitcase, fed the kitty, straightened up the kitchen for Nana, and left for the trip to Northside. I remember that as we left in the car, Stevie Wonder was singing Isn't She Lovely and Al pointed out that it was a nice coincidence, to which I agreed.
We arrived at the hospital all calm and serene, and were checked in and shown to our birthing suite, where we took more pictures (very sunshiney, happy pictures) and shot a little more video. Oh, we were feeling so on top of things and ready to go!
A nurse came in to check me and set about testing for amniotic fluid, which turned out NOT to be present at all. I was neither significantly dilated or effaced. Things were starting to unravel concerning our perfect arrival! No one thought I was in labor! Yet the monitor was showing some mild and evenly spaced contractions (I think they were 10 minutes apart) and they were mildly painful, so I kept taking Tylenol and both Al and I napped off and on - me in the bed, and Al on the windowseat/bed. Dr. Arias arrived in the early morning hours and I went for an ultrasound (just downstairs) to check the levels of amniotic fluid. It was determined that those levels were normal (so still they were convinced I had not broken my water) and the baby was now predicted to be 7 lbs. 12 oz.
Everyone was beginning to speak quite convincedly about our being sent home, and sure enough, we were discharged and sent home around noonish on Saturday, with me very sad, peeved, getting more hurty, and thinking we should not be leaving! We stopped by Steak & Shake on the way home and got burgers and fries, and ate them in our customary positions as we watched football and I stewed and fretted. I was having pretty noticeable contractions about every 15 minutes or so, and I remember going upstairs to bed and napping for a couple of hours at 15 minute intervals. I also spoke with my Mom off and on to keep her posted on developments, and she left the beach and went home to Easley so she'd be closer when the time came.
After lunch and my nap, Al went outside did several hours worth of yard work to prepare for Nana's arrival. I bounced on my birthing ball, talked on the phone to my friend Kim, and watched a little more football. By the time Al came inside, my contractions had started to hurt much more significantly. He left to go pick up Chinese food, and upon his return, I was, I guess, in active, painful, miserable labor. Several times I tried getting into a nice warm tub, thinking that would help, but alas, it didn't. As we attempted to eat Chinese food (I didn't get far. I was just hurting too badly, but I remember wishing I could eat because I knew it might be a very long time before I could again. And it was. Nearly 24 hours, actually.) Al decided to start timing contractions. They started at about 7 minutes apart and about 40 seconds long, and over the course of the next gutwrenching 4 or 5 hours, they finally got to 5 or 6 minutes apart and 60 to 70 seconds in length, as he timed them and I got in and out of the tub, crawled on my hands and knees with my chest and head on the birth ball, moaned, OOOOOOh for crying out loud a lot, said the occasional swear word, cried, worried I'd never make it to the hospital in the CAR (sitting UP and unable to writhe or get on all fours or anything!), told Al I wasn't going to be able to stand this much longer without drugs, and tried my best to just hang in there. Al continued timing and I felt a little confused? wondering? about what exactly his plan was and how he could be so stern about waiting for the contractions to be just perfect before we called the doctor. I was hurting so much, and when each contraction started I would just feel panicky like maybe this one was going to... iI don't know, not kill me but maybe cause me to faint? Finally, once I had accomplished the 5 minutes apart contractions of 60 second duration for a full HOUR, Al called the doctor's answering service and Dr. Arias called back and said we could go to the hospital.
This time things were REALLY different. Forget the hair, forget the makeup. It was all I could do to get dressed (I kept having to stop what I was doing and get down on all fours to breathe and concentrate through contractions, then get back up and finish doing what I was doing.) I remember being completely terrified at this point about how I was going to manage the contractions in the car.
But we got in the car anyway (I think it was 11:30 PM). And lo and behold, Stevie was singing Isn't She Lovely again! So off we went for round two at the hospital, this time not cheerful. AT ALL. We must have gone fast, because I only had three or four contractions in the car and it's about an 18 mile drive. No pictures were taken, no video shot, and clinging to the hope that upon my arrival I would be relieved of the horrible pain. Quite literally like being ripped open, with extra sharp pain in my lower back, yet none ever on the top part of my womb. I remember thinking briefly that labor was not at all what I expected, really.
Upon our arrival at the hospital, the nurse at the greeting/check-in station took one look at me and said, Those are three minutes apart, honey, I can see it in your face. I'll get you in a room now and Dad can come back later and take care of the paperwork. So off we went to our second birthing suite, where, upon our arrival, I fell to my knees to breathe through another contraction, and my nurse, Lilly, said, Yep, you are a keeper! You know when they start with the hands and knees thing that they are well on their way to having babies! (or something like that!) So, she called Dr. Arias immediately, while I was donning my lovely gown in the bathroom between contractions. Lilly came back in and settled me into bed then checked me, finding me ONLY AT A ONE and 70% effaced. Are you kidding me??? I was sure the baby had to be literally hanging out of me by this point! How would i make it thru the rest of this process?) and helped me breathe better through the contractions and look into her eyes and concentrate. She was good at that and very positive and affirming. Shortly thereafter, she administered a dose of fentanyl (IV) and promised I could have two more doses as needed and then I could have my epidural.
So, with the drugs working and me feeling much happier, Al headed off to sleep on his window seat, and I napped briefly, until (waaaaaaaaaay too soon) the drugs ceased to work and the contractions started to hurt horribly again, and I had to breathe through them again and continually go to the bathroom (thanks to all the fluids I was getting IV , which was quite complicated with the IV and monitors, etc. We continued with that pattern (get another dose of pain reliever, rest briefly, start hurting again, get up to go potty, breathe through contractions, ask for more pain relief) as the new shift of nurses came on and the sun slowly rose on another day.
With the new day arrived Dr. Yvette Smith, a doctor from our ob/gyn practice whom we'd never met and were quite surprised by. She was very low key and I liked her immediately. I remember thinking she looked like Shirley from What's Happenin' (I didn't have the presence of mind to take a picture, which I sincerely regret) but didn't have her personality at all (which you'll recognize was a huge blessing if you ever watched What's Happenin') The nurses had been looking at my contractions overnight, and the drugs had slowed them down to 10 minutes or more apart. Several speculated that I was still not in active later and would likely be sent home again. This had left me feeling devastated, hopeless and well, at the end of my rope, and Al was getting madder by the minute (between snoring naps, of course).
But in came Dr. Smith, who checked me and pronounced me 4 cm dilated and fully effaced! THANK YOU GOD! Dr. Smith ruptured my membranes (nice warm clear fluid) and said, Now THAT was a NICE exam! You are doing GREAT! All I could think at that point was, I'm not crazy I'm not crazy this really is labor and I've survived it! and Dr. Smith ordered up my epidural, and I breathed relievedly through a few more contractions, the TALL anesthesiologist arrived and gave me the epidural, which didn't hurt at all, (I suppose if you did one on me NOW, I would think it was painful, but everything is relative), in fact I laughed and joked through the whole thing, and by about 10 or 11 AM, I was lying in bed, pain free, totally happy and at peace, feeling like I had a HEEE-YUGE bottom (sortof like novacaine makes your lips feel), and making a few phone calls.
I called my friend Carole, who planned on coming by later, and then started putting on make-up and fixing my hair. I was supposed to be sleeping, but who could sleep?
Well, Al could.
Later, Carole and Niki arrived and we all sat there talking and laughing after a brief emotional greeting. At this point, Diane had taken over as my nurse, and I loved her. She was also very down to earth and funny, and had been a midwife for 20 years, so she was very calm and seemed to be instinctual about the whole labor/delivery process, which I love, because I'm instinctual too, and her instincts seemed to be in synch with mine.
We did have one slight scare (though it really didn't scare me - I just knew everything was okay for some reason) as the baby's heartrate was not reacting correctly during the contractions and the nurses came in and attached a fetal scalp monitor on the baby's head. I was upset because I didn't want the first time the baby was touched to be painful, and I didn't want her hurt, but they insisted and told me she would hardly feel it (But how would they know?), so I acquiesced. Diane was in and out while Carole, Niki, Al and I chatted away, and at about 2:30 PM, I started noticing rectal pressure and announced that I supposed I would be pushing soon. Diane said, Good. I'm not checking you yet because I don't really want to know how ready you are to push. I want to let the baby come down on her own for awhile. My thoughts exactly! So we kept chatting, and I kept feeling ALL THE PRESSURE DOWN THERE YEEEOWZA but no pain, and for some reason, I just continued to wait like it was no big deal.
Mom (Nana) arrived (all calm but perky!)and we continued laughing and talking and taking video until Diane came in with Dr. Smith who checked me, announced, Baby's right there. There's a lot of molding. She's probably going to have a nice cone, but don't worry, it will smooth out. Alright, let's go! So I tried one push with Nana still in the room. Nana sat through just one push and then headed out the door.
Well, after that one push, Diane got the room all set up for our baby's birth! Meanwhile the epidural stopped working, so that had to be reconnected, and then we got ready for delivery! I was very much in my own head at the time, concentrating on what was to come and gearing myself up for it (It's time now. It's time. Can I do this?) I don't think I was scared, really. I was just VERY excited and focused. Al was beside me, patting my shoulder or arm, and I don't think we talked much if at all as we watched the preparations. We just waited together and got ready!
At the ready command, I assumed the stirrup position, with Diane holding my right leg and Al holding my left leg and me with my hands behind my thighs (Not really as embarrassing as I thought it would be, but definitely a vulnerable feeling). And I pushed. No one counted for me, (if I had a baby again, I would request counting) so I didn't know how long I would be pushing each time. My mind kept racing, Howlonghasitbeenwhencanistopandbreatheheynoone'sstoppingmeiwonderifmyfaceisblue
faceughineedtobreathemylungsareexploding and then I'd accidentally let out my breath because those pushes were loooooooooooong and I couldn't hold my breath anymore, and everyone said, Oh you were doing so well. Next time try to hold your breath until we tell you to stop! I started another push and the same thing happened (it was so loooooong - I thought they were forgetting to tell me to stop!) and still no counting, and al was still patting and looking down there and Dr. Smith was Johnny Bench and Diane was holding my leg and they asked me, Can you feel when the contractions start? No, not really. I said, so we had to watch the monitor to see when it was time to push again, which is still funny to me for some reason, even now. I pushed through another contraction and they watched the baby's heartbeat and started saying she's not liking the pushing and We need to get this baby out soon by whatever means necessary.(After three pushes? Puh-lease!)
So, I thought to myself, NO WAY I'M LETTING MY BABY GET SUCTIONED OUT. I WILL PUSH PUSH PUSH UNTIL I EXPLODE FIRST! so I really pushed and I mean HARD, and my face contorted and felt like my whole body must have turned purple or worse. and I pushed, and pushed and pushed and grunted and concentrated and focused and man oh man it didn't hurt a bit down there but it was WORK. And I think I did that through one more contraction and Dr. Smith said, Okay stop pushing. But I didn't hear her over the frantic pushing and then Diane said, Stop pushing! and Al patted me, Stop pushing honey! and I said, Why stop pushing (pant pant)? and they all said, Because her head is out! So Dr. Smith suctioned her little nose and mouth out as I sat up to look down at my new baby's head and saw that one tiny beautiful ear - Oh it was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen - and squealed, Oooo look at her little ear! (crying) and everyone laughed. Then it was time to push out her shoulders (no problem) and they were all praising me and telling me what a great job I'd done, and Diane told me to put my hands down there and I got to pull my precious, perfect, surprisingly clean, beautiful baby the rest of the way out and lift her up to my chest and hold her there, all warm and safe, as Diane dried her off.
Soon Diane took her over to the warmer and the nursery staff (whose names I can't remember, sadly) assessed her and worked to suction her out as I worried about her (she was fine, of course) and asked questions and was reassured that Sick babies don't cry like this! (she was screaming!!! I couldn't believe that was normal, but it was, particularly for her, come to find out). Al shot some video of Alex being cleaned up. After the nursery staff finished the preliminary assessment, my little daughter came back to me all wrapped up in blankets, and we tried breastfeeding a bit. She was alert and interested in the breast and even mouthed it a little but didn't latch or suck on that attempt.
We just looked at each other and fell in love, and Al recorded it all. Nana was back by then and asked questions and talked to the nurses and exclaimed over how beautiful Alex was. The nursery staff returned for Alex's first bath and more assessments and measurements and then they took Alex up to the nursery to do some further tests on her blood type, etc. (Because I am Rh negative.) I was so sad to have her leave me, but everyone said I'd have her back in a short time and it seemed I didn't have much choice. Then it was my turn to get cleaned up and put on the weird little mesh undies and stuff. I was running a fever, so had IV antibiotics and
tylenol and Percoset for the pain. I also got some crackers and juice which I remember thinking were DELICIOUS because I was SO HUNGRY! I hadn't eaten in 24 hours and my last food had been half of an eggroll.
Then we were moved up to the floor and Alex came to us in our tiny little room, and we were a FAMILY.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Hey, at least they fit her, right? I told you they're good jeans. THAT good!
After all the Birthday Stuff, The Jeans. Promise.
Bear wit' me.
Hello My Beanie Girl!
Happy Birthday! Today you turn TWO years old. Cliche as it sounds, my love, I am absolutely astounded that this day has arrived as quickly has it has. I can STILL remember your precious first days as if they were just last week, and your first birthday must have been this morning! I look at you, though, and there stands a little girl where once lay a tiny fragile newborn, and I know that time has fooled me; you have done so much growing and learning and changing since your birth I can't imagine how you've squeezed it all into just two short years.
You are upstairs right now with Daddy. He is giving you a bath, and you are talking away to him about your cup and your book and your bubbles. I can smell your bath water from where I sit, and I know without seeing you that you are rosy from the warmth of it, and dotted with little blobs of foam from head to toe. Beautiful clean, pink baby... Oh wait! As I typed that, you appeared at the bottom of the steps still damp and sparkling, then streaked into the kitchen wearing absolutely nothing but your way-too-big black rain boots. You posed quite fetchingly for a few pictures and then wanted to see them, proclaiming proudly, That's Bean. With her boots! This is actually quite a comprehensive little portrait of who you have become this year - beautiful, sweet and charming, combined with spontaneous, silly and brilliant. Thanks for writing my second paragraph for me, my little Squirty McGirt!
Anyway, it's birthday #2 today! A year ago, we were at the beach with Nana and Poppa. Since then, we've had a whirlwind of activity! Just a week after you turned one, the same unseasonably chilly day we drove up into the North Georgia mountains to a pumpkin farm and went on a hayride and got pumpkins, you took your first steps. We were watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown when it happened. It was very exciting for all of us. Within a few weeks, you were walking almost exclusively. You even showed off your walking skills to Nathan and Julie, who came to visit us on Halloween Day (Ava was still in Julie's tummy then!).
Daddy got a new job with the bank in October, and began traveling quite a lot to Chicago starting in November while we'd stay home in Alpharetta (Georgia). Some weeks he'd be gone all week and would just come home on the weekends. You and I spent our weeks together and we both missed Daddy a lot. You would ask for him especially at bedtime and first thing in the morning. At that time, you still called him Da-da. I would tell you that Da-da was gone to work, but he would be home soon, and you would usually be okay with that answer.
Your teeth came in quickly over the next few months and you had all of the ones you have now well before you were 18 months old. You were still very small for your age back then, as I suspect you are now. In the 15th percentile for height and weight. A tiny little beautiful faerie, as you were from day one.
In November, for Thanksgiving, we went down to the beach again with Nana and Poppa and GA Joy and her whole family, and Gee Gee and Grandaddy, too. But the best part of the trip was that your Sissy and Buddy came, too! You were walking so well then, and you delighted in following them around at a trot on the beach, on walks around the island, and in our little beach house! They played with your toys with you, pulled you around in a big cardboard box they named The SS Bean, and laughed as you fed yourself finger foods at the table. You had a cold and a stomach bug for part of the trip, so we had some rough nights, but during the days you stayed very active and happy and enjoyed eating turkey and gravy and all of the trimmings on Thanksgiving Day. You had begun talking quite a bit by then, too, and you called Sissy Tissy and Buddy Bubby. They loved you, and you were wild about them.
In December, we took you to a Rotary Christmas party that was supposed to be for adults only. I wasn't ready to leave you with anyone yet, so you went with us, wearing an adorable pink cashmere sweater suit with a gingerbread boy on the front. Everyone admired your outfit and your behavior, and you actually were the life of the party. Daddy and you and I spent Christmas Day just the three of us together. You loved your new wagon, and wooden blocks, dress-up dolly and four little kittens in their pink house. You also enjoyed the raisins in your stocking and the candy canes on the Christmas tree. We took a million pictures of you in a little pink Santa hat you picked out at the dollar store. You wore it with some white pajamas and a little pink and blue sweater, and we completed the ensemble with your little pink slippers. Daddy called you his little elf. You were adorable!
In January, we had your baptism at the Roswell Presbyterian Church. Nana came down and stayed with us, and so many of your friends and family were there with us on that crisp, sunny morning! Aunt Marie came with Topher, and Courtney, and Carole and Susanne and Janet. Eric, Sandra and Annabelle, and Uncle Marquis and his whole family and even Uncle Pete! We all had lunch together at Alpha Soda, and Twylia (our favorite server and a good friend, too) was our server. You were really beginning to bloom socially by then, and you held court at the end of our table as everyone admired you. It was a special day for you, Daddy and me. I was very moved to be able to show God how much I loved you, and how much I want you to be HIS child, too.
March marked the second of nearly three whole months that Daddy went to Chicago every week, leaving you and me at home alone except on the weekends. We did okay! I felt blessed to have you because you were so funny and sweet and easy-going. We continued to explore finger foods and solids, and you and I frequently at the same things at meals, which we both enjoyed. You were a great companion to me during those lonely months apart from Daddy, with your beautiful smile and your silly antics. You are so much like Daddy, you see. I felt like I had a little miniature Daddy with me even though he was far away. Along came spring and we spent afernoons at the little playground in our subdivision, where we met your first little friend, Audrey. You loved Audrey and talked about her at home quite a bit. Even now, when we see a picture of a little girl with dark hair, you say she's Audrey. She is a few months older than you and she was much taller and stronger, too. But you loved to see her coming to the playground with her Mama, and you would run to her saying, Audey! Audey! She loved you back, too!
In April we spent loads of time outside in the sunshine, walking, playing on the school playground or our playground. We also had some playdates with Annabelle and her Mama, Sandra. You started watching Sesame Street regularly and fell in love with Elmo, whom you called La-la. You also discovered BALLOONS, which you called (and still call) loonas. The store personnel at our favorite supermarket always gave you one as we were leaving.
In May, we made our big move to our new home here on the prairie in Illinois. You were so excited when we came for the walk-through in our new house! You scurried around the empty rooms shouting and listening to the echos. We moved in the next day and you were just thrilled with your new bedroom. We also found the local park, less than three blocks away, and you have loved playing there ever since. If we walk even close to the park now on our daily walks, you gleefully ask me, Wanna go paygwown, Mama? Pleeeeeease? You met all of our neighbors and their kids, falling madly in love with Nicki from across the street first. You are slowly adapting to being around many many boisterous children! Mostly even now you prefer to watch their antics from my lap while sucking your fingers. You are so much like Daddy AND like me in that you are shy most of the time, but given the right circumstances, you gladly take the spotlight and put on quite a show, talking and smiling and being charming. People stop us constantly when we are out with you to gush over how beautiful, sweet and well-behaved you are! Everyone notices your wild little curls and your clear, nearly glowing eyes. Bean, you are beautiful. There is no doubt about that. Even now, I still spend looooooong moments just gazing at you and drinking you in as you play or sleep. BUT, what I love more deeply about you is WHO you are! My funny, bright, compassionate, sweet and loving daughter. God gave you pretty wrappings, but it is your insides that are the real treasure, to me.
The summer months FLEW by! We spent our afternoons outside with the neighbors, swimming, eating Pocksiyulls, playing in the Bagg's sandbox, talking long walks and going to the park. Sissy and Buddy came in August and we had a ball with them - we went to the zoo, to several parks, we made icecream and played miniature golf. Several days they played with you in your kiddie water playmat. We watched movies and ate POCKORN galore, and Charlee and AJ and you were inseparable. Their leaving was very sad, but within a few days, you and I hopped on a plane down South to stay with Nana and Poppa for 18 days. We had fun there and stayed busy with Nana, going shopping and walking and to Clemson to play at the Ornamental Gardens and so on. Then we spent a few days in Atlanta visiting Sandra and Eric and Annabelle and had lunches with Courtney, Niki and Carole. It was a wonderful trip, and you were an angel on all of our flights and the whole time we were gone, although there were a few days when you were pretty miserable because you had an ear infection. When we flew home, Daddy met us at the airport, and I have never seen you so happy in your whole life! In fact, still, a couple of months later, whenever you see an airplane you say, An now airpline go down down down and den we get out and we see DADDEEEEEEE! You LOVE your Daddy so so sooooooo much.
This month we've had a lot of fun with fall activities. We found a little playroom set up in a local elementary school, and we go play there once a week, at least. We go to KidRock, too, which is a highlight of your week each week.
The best thing about this year, by far, has been watching you and listening to you as you learn to talk. You seem pretty advanced for your age, in terms of talking and understanding, which doesn't really surprise me. You just seem very capable in that area as you have since you were very young. I often wonder to myself and aloud to Daddy just when every word out of your mouth will cease to be the cutest thing I have ever heard! I just love your sweet voice and the thoughts you express make me smile and laugh inside. You pick up everything so quickly... the good AND the bad: You say, Bye bye, be carefoo, I luhyeeooou, dwive safeweee! every morning as Daddy leaves, which is just precious, but you also say, OH MY GOSH WHAT HAPPENED?! whenever you see anything out of place. I am learning that I have some pretty bad habits in speech and you are actually breaking ME of some of them!
Around your first birthday I was lamenting your growing up so quickly and wishing you could be my little baby for awhile longer. But this amazing year of your life has shown me that watching you grow up makes every single day feel like Christmas to me. Every morning you call to us in your sweet little sleepy voice, Mama? Daddy? and from that moment, nearly every second of the day is filled with the pure joy and magic of you, as you discover your world. Your Daddy told me that this year would be one of the best we'd have with you as parents. Looking back, I am overwhelmed by all of your changes - walking, talking, having your own desires and opinions, meeting new people and making friends - you are a real little person now, and I'd be willing to say that Daddy was 100% right in his predictions, except that knowing you as well as I do, I believe the year to come will be every bit as miraculous and joyful as the one that ends today.
I love you, my sweet two-year-old. I adore you with every part of me - out to the edges of myself - every second of every day, and I will forever. You can count on that, my lovey. You have filled my life and my heart with love and joy that I didn't know a person could feel on earth. I thank God every day for His gift; my tiny, sparkly, precious Carrie Alexis. My Bean.
Monday, October 15, 2007
My hope is to write you a letter for each of your birthdays, to chronicle your year for you - your growth and development, your accomplishments and firsts, special events and holidays, and to tell you about your family and paint a picture of the love and the joy surrounding you as your life unfolds.
Oh, my sweet lovey! My heart just swells with pride and amazement and happiness when I think of your miraculous and beautiful first year with Daddy and me. Actually the amazing part started the day we found out you were on your way to us! Your presence in my body so quickly filled me with such a sense of peace and well-being. As you grew inside of me, I adored our connectedness and felt (and still feel) I knew you very well before you were even born. To me, your rumbly little rollings in my belly bespoke your funny little adventurous spirit. The fact that you were very calm, though, and gentle, told me you would be easy-going and happy. And Mama's instincts were right! You are such a delight to be with...funny, happy, spirited little you. You're just the way I knew you would be.
Your birth on October 17, 2005 at 3:06 p.m. really surprised me. I expected your arrival to be beautiful, but also imagined I'd be frightened and hurting and exhausted by the time I held you in my arms. Yet you arrived so easily and were so beautiful and perfect to me that instead I felt completely invigorated and light as air! I remember that the first time I locked eyes on you, you weren't even all of the way out, and I just saw your little tiny ear - the left one - and it was the most precious and perfect thing I'd ever seen in my life. After your birth, when I held you in my arms that first time, I noticed your pretty little curls and your sweet mouth and nose, both of which I was immediately compelled to kiss with relish. You were like an irresistible delicacy to me then, and you still are! Nana and Daddy and the hospital staff all thought you were very beautiful, as well.
Your first weeks at home we spent nursing and learning how to keep you cozy and happy. You loved snuggling into me so much that it was hard for us to keep you awake long enough to eat! You slept a lot, my Beanie! We took turns holding you as you slept, and you also slept in the cradle that Nana and Poppa made for Aunt Jackie - the same one that all of your cousins on Mama's side slept in after they were born. At night, you slept in your crib in your own little room, with a nightlight casting a safe, soft glow over your sweetly sleeping little self. You were so little! You barely made a little lump in that crib, and you rarely changed positions as you slept, so we'd find you all neatly covered up and peaceful the many times we checked on you each night. Daddy and I loved to just go in and watch you sleep. We would look at you and sigh and hug one another and then leave and say to one another how blessed we were that God gave YOU to us. I confess there are times I still wonder why I got such a beautiful, sweet, perfect child.
By November, we felt you were ready for a little journey, so we took you to visit Nana and Poppa at the Isle of Palms (your first trip to the beach!) in South Carolina. You were still so tiny and needed plenty of sleep, but we still managed to get you out for some walks around the island and on the beach. This was the first time Poppa had seen you. You managed the 5 hour drive down very well, although we drove at night and in a major rainstorm and the going was pretty treacherous. We bundled you up for the island's Thanksgiving parade and put you in your stroller to go see all of the decorated golf carts and Santa in the big white Adirondak chair, but you seemed overwhelmed by the noise and crowd, so I brought you back to the beach house and you went to sleep! We had Thanksgiving dinner at home and I think you were asleep for that, too.
For Christmas, Charlee and AJ came to stay and met you for the first time. You and I waited for them to arrive at our house with Daddy that first night. We lay next to one another on the living room floor and watched cooking shows. When your big sister and brother arrived, they got down on their hands and knees beside you and looked you over carefully. They pronounced you cute! and were very quiet and studious toward you at first. But over the next days, they learned how to hold and cuddle you, and your big sister even changed your diaper and your clothes a few times during that visit! You watched your siblings with wide eyes and loved to be near them in your bouncy chair while they played and sang. Nana and Poppa and Gee Gee and Granddaddy came to visit us all on Christmas Eve. We had a little sandwich lunch and your sister and brother put on a little show for everyone dressed as Santa and an elf. You had your first cold that week and didn't feel well, so you and I spent most of that visit upstairs tucked into our pink rocking chair, just being together.
Months passed and you grew and changed so much! I loved to lay you on your pink Boppy pillow on your tummy, propped up on your elbows. You learned to support your little head and begin exploring toys with your eyes and hands. You also had a little floor gym that your Aunt Jackie gave us, which had Cookie Monster and Big Bird toys that dangled in front of you. You loved to watch them swing and sway and you'd lie in the sunshine on the floor of the living room cooing and smiling as I got a few things done here and there. We took walks around the neighborhood with you in your stroller, all bundled up in sweaters and blankets. And we'd go shopping at the mall or the grocery store, too. You always got loads of attention and compliments when we went out. You were so pretty, even when you were just tiny!
You loved to play with Daddy early on too! Daddy would stack up your cups for you in a big tall tower and you would watch enraptured. When he'd finish the tower, you would kick at it with your tiny little feet and knock Daddy's tower over and he'd pretend to be soooo upset about it! You got very good at that game and you still do it now, although Daddy's towers are much more elaborate and sometimes are guarded on all sides by stuffed animal sentries, and but you knock them all over with your hands with a gleeful shout of attack! You are so silly, Bean! Our little Madame Destructo.
I sang to you a lot this year! My favorite thing to sing to you has always been our song. You will know it yourself before long, I bet. It is Rockabye Sweet Baby James by James Taylor, but I like to sing it to you saying Rockabye Sweet Baby Bean. Our song has a nice soothing effect on both of us when I sing it to you. You also love to hear The Alphabet Song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I recently started singing you a song by Kermit the Frog called The Rainbow Connection which is soft and dreamy, and your new favorite right around birthday time is the song by Alvin and the Chipmunks that goes Ooooh Eeeeh Ooh Ahh Ahh Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang! Yes, that one makes you laugh and then you try to mimic me singing oo... ooo... uuuu..... So cute you are, my little one!
For Easter we dressed you up in a beautiful little blue dress that was your Aunt Jackie's and mine when we were little, and you even had your own little Easter bunny basket made of cloth. I stuffed it with an extra cloth diaper to make it look full! We went to church and you stayed with us and were mesmerized by all of the action in the worship service, the swells on the organ would draw your attention especially, and there was a beautiful handbell anthem that made me cry and made you stand up on my legs to see over the edge of the balcony.
In the spring, we went to visit Nana in Easley and spent a few afternoons in Clemson walking around the campus with you in your stroller, spinning that little head of yours around to look at absolutely everything. You loved the cherry blossoms on the tree behind the Calhoun mansion, and we even took your picture in front of Death Valley so you could show everyone you'd been there so young to get ready to cheer for the Tigers later the same year! We had a wonderful visit and you learned how to suck your own foot while we were at Nana's.
Later that summer your big sister and big brother came to visit for three weeks and had a big surprise in store for them! A crawling, very interactive, very inquisitive, very silly and funny baby sister in place of the tiny newborn they'd seen at Christmas. You adored your big brother's silly antics to make you laugh, and you and your sister bonded as she helped feed, change and carry you. You clearly enjoyed having them with us and grew up so much while they were around! We went to the pool a few times and visited Grandma and Grandpa (Grandpa calls you Bright Eyes!) and met Aunt Laura and Aunt Dot and Uncle Andrew and Aunt Gena. They were so animated and fun with you. You had met your Aunt Selma and Aunt Gloria earlier in the year, when you were still very tiny, and of course we had visited the Daddy's parents, Grandma and Grandpa, several times since you'd been born. Grandma held you and rocked you and you would almost go to sleep in her arms but not quite!
We took you to your first Atlanta Braves game in September and you were just completely agog at all of the people and the lights and music! The day was warm and you wore a little pink gingham romper with your white sunhat and adorable first white lace up shoes. Everyone around us was charmed by your enthusiasm and we were so proud to have you with us to enjoy one of Mama and Daddy's favorite dates. You made it through the sixth inning and drank lots of Daddy's water out of a very big bottle before we decided to get you out of the sun and into the car before rush hour started. You were fast asleep in your carseat before we got out of the stadium parking lot!
You love to play peekaboo. We started to peekaboo with you before you could sit up, and when you started sitting up at about 7 months or so, you played with us so much! Whenever you get a blanket or cloth napkin or even a SOCK in your hands, you immediately put it on top of your head and wait for us to say Wheeeere's Alex? and then you rrrrrrrip the item off of your head and make your little snickery stinky face at us! You love to do this especially at dinner time when we are all eating at the table, you in your highchair at the end, presiding over us with plenty of squeals and banging. You wait for just the right moment and pull the napkin up over your head and wave your arms wildly waiting for us to notice that you are ready to play, and the games begin!
There are so many stories to tell you about this year. I have documented most of your life in my diary along with a zillion pictures and will share that with you too as you get older. I hope this letter will show you what a delightful year we've had together. How proud you make me and how much I adore you from the top of your precious curly little head to the bottoms of your sweet pink piggies. I am in awe of God for choosing you for me, and me for you. He made a perfect match, and He shows me that every single day in your face-splitting smile, your sparkling blue eyes, your great big cheeks, the way you still curl against me when we are alone together in our pink chair, that wonderful rose and honey smell of yours, and the million other ways you light up every single corner of my heart.
Oh my little lovey love... I wish for you the unimaginable joy of your own daughter someday. Not too soon, but someday. That's the only way you'll ever get to feel the glow I feel, and it is just too good for someone as wonderful as you not to experience.
I love you, Beanie.
Birthday Fast Facts: On your first birthday, you had a strawberry iced strawberry cake that Nana and Mama made. You ate it on the back porch at the beach house at Wild Dunes, with Nana, Poppa, Daddy and Mama cheering you on wildly.
You wore pink corduroy pants and a white cotton long-sleeved shirt with a little pink crown on the front.
Your birthday hat was lavender with pink furry trim and purple rhinestones that said 1st.
Your party was on Sunday (the day before your birthday) because the following day we had to drive home to Atlanta. On Monday, we ate lunch at Cracker Barrel in Clemson and called that your birthday lunch. You loved it.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Yesterday I was clicking my heels, today I'm smacking my lips!
Have y'all ever heard of and/or had a Honeycrisp apple?
Now, comin' from the Golden Corner of South Carolina, where apple orchards abounded, I thought I'd probably seen the best fresh, handpicked apples of my lifetime back in college when each year we'd pick an October Saturday and drive across the state line just into North Carolina and the beautiful Smokey Mountains, and wind along the climbing highway, gazing out at valleys full of fiery red, orange and yellow foliage then stop on the roadside to purchase some freshly pressed cider and a little basket of firm, tart apples to savor in the cooling Autumn air.
But I'm here to tell you I was wrong.
When our first October on the prairie dawned extra brisk and even snowy last year, I listened hard and learned, as the corn talk died down and apple talk took its place. My sweet neighbor Katie (who remains stalwart in her cheerfulness and patience with my Southern cluelessness about all things Midwestern) took me aside and explained to me about apples. Her lesson basically concluded with this refrain: It isn't an apple unless it's a Honeycrisp.
I was skeptical. I'd been raised on Galas and Jonagolds and they were both perfect to me in their balance of tart and sweetness. One crunchy bite of a good specimen of either could make me well up with nostalgia for my Southland, no matter where I was. And they made great baking apples, too. Nope, I didn't need to try anything else, I knew where I'd come from and nobody could tell ME anything new about apples. My hackles were up for a good while.
Sadly, I am a woman with a tragically unteachable spirit, y'all.
But one day at my local grocery store I ran across a display of Honeycrisps. They were so shiny and pretty! A little golden, a little green and a little red, all brought together in a marblized effect on one solid, big, firm, lovely piece of fruit. Bean squealed with delight Appoooos Mama! Appooos! and, feeling magnanimous toward Bean and intrigued by Katie's unwavering Honeycrisp loyalty (much as I hated to admit it to myself, being unteachable and all), I picked up a couple of them and put them in our cart. We brought them home and Bean and I cut one up to have with our lunch that day.
Heavens to Betsy!
One bite revealed a crispness I'd normally ascribe to an underripe and therefore extra tart specimen of my beloved Galas. This was the kind of crispness that usually accompanies a dryness that almost seems to suck back at your mouth in bitter search of moisture to quench itself. But the Honeycrisp's crispness isn't dry like that. The peel of this apple is like the taught rubber of an inflated water balloon, and when a Honeycrisp balloon breaks, you do indeed get splashed. With apple juice! The juice experience is actually not applelike at all. It's peachlike. Like it runs down your chin and maybe onto your arms and down to your elbows. Seriously. How many times have you needed more than one napkin when eating even a really GREAT apple?
And the flavor? So very sweet. But balanced with a gentle tartness. The Perfect Marriage of Flavors. Yes, like honey, in that it's a floral sweet, but then ... citrusy, somehow. Yes, a citrusy, honey peach of an apple.
Bean and I each gobbled up our halves that day and wanted more. The next day, I went back to that same store and bought a huge bag, then several more bags before the short season ended. I never convinced Al to try one last season - he's an apple pie man, but not a plain old raw apple eater. But last week I saw the first of the Honeycrisps at the store and seized a huge bagful to bring home. Al grabbed one out of desperation on his way out the door to catch a flight and called me later from his hotel when he got in. The first thing out of his mouth was, "Where did you get those APPLES in the fruitbowl? That was the BEST APPLE I've EVER had in my whole life!" And he continues to rave over them. Now that three of us love to munch away at then any time of the day, I'm finding it hard to keep us stocked up.
So I guess what I'm saying is, if you haven't had a Honeycrisp, see if you can find some. My very limited research online reveals that they are, in fact, now grown in the Golden Corner (although I think the season is all but over down there now). But don't allow yourself to get hooked unless you know you'll have a steady supply, because once you've tried one, you're gonna want to have plenty on hand.
(And yes, they are excellent baking apples, too. It's just that they're never around long enough for that, at my house.)
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
1 - Got my cozy, finally! The high temp today's only in the 50s and it's even BLUSTERY (can you say BONUS COZY?) The low tonight may bottom out near 40. Mmm mmm mmmmmmmmmm... SLEEPITY SLEEP SLEEP!
2 - Guess who I'll be doing all the cozyin' and the sleepyin' next to? Yep, I'm expecting the delivery of one fresh, hot, sweet Honey Bunny at my very doorstep in a matter of hours. Schmoopy snuggle-nirvana, come to Mama!
3 - After weeks and weeks of searching and trying on and stewing and fretting, I've found THE. JEANS. (Sorry, that is not a link to THE. JEANS. I'm not ready to let the cat outta the bag just yet.) Oh yes, I have! Sheer perfection. I will be telling y'all about them and showing you pictures and awarding long overdue gift cards on Friday! And I am seriously looking forward to that.
4 - I also found a lovely coral cashmere sweater with a v-neck and sleeves the perfect length (a rarity, I seem to have short arms?) It fits like a second skin. I totally get the mystique of a good cashmere sweater now. Once I had it on, it was clear we were made for one another.
5 - It was ON SALE!
6 - So I now own ONE Perfect Outfit. Perfect jeans and a perfect cashmere sweater. Stacey and Clinton? Y'all reading this? Please don't surprise me at Bunco night tonight, okay? Because if you put me in that 360 Degree Mirror in this outfit, you'd both be struck mute and quip-less by my brilliant adherence to The Rules and my relentless shopping charisma. And my tushie (snicker). (Come back tomorrow when I'm back wearing my baggy, faded black yoga pants and my lifeless grey t-shirt with a pair of Al's tube socks, okay? Puh-lenty of snarky hilarity to be had there.)
7 - I have a place to WEAR the Perfect Outfit tonight (after modeling it for the Honey Bunny upon his arrival, of course) because it's Bunco night at Nicki's house this evening.
8 - And I know the menu. And it includes chili, cheese, Buffalo chicken dip and pear/gorgonzola thingies. And more. And y'all? SLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURP. I may have to sport a bit of a bib to keep it all off the sweater, though.
9 - I have 100% homegrown, homemade roasted tomato marinara sauce on the stove. Wait, make that 90% homemade because I didn't grow the garlic myself. Sorry! If you could only feast your little nose on this stuff. Thanks Pam (KidsKitchen) for the inspiration!
10 - I got to take a NAP today. Under a QUILT! With the wind howling outside and my house all clean, quiet, peaceful and waiting. Now that's a heel-clicker of an afternoon.
Oh, and don't you love it when your kid calls you from her bed after her nice long 2.5 hour nap and says, Mamaaaaaaaaa? I can't sleep, can I please come outta my woom now? Hee hee hee. Can't sleep, my foot! The COZY crept up and got the best of you, babeeeee.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
On our way to the restaurant, Bean chatted away happily.
Mama, yer my bess frend.
Oh thanks Bean, you're my best friend right back, you and Daddy!
And I haffa take care a you, 'cause I love you.
Yes, and I have to take care of you too because I love YOU!
An' we bofe haffa take care a sweet lil Daddy!
Yes, and it takes both of us, too, doesn't it?
Yes it does! An' we haffa take care of somemuddy ewse, too Mama?
Sweet lil Sissy and Buddy!
Then, at the restaurant, we got halfway into our meal, Bean whispered, Mama, I REALLY haffa go to the baffwoom.
Oh, really? Right NOW?
So we went to the bathroom and she wasn't kidding, either.
Mama, that was a long tee-tee! Like a Daddy-man tee tee!
Yes, it was!
Thank you fer savin' my bummy!
Monday, October 8, 2007
1. Wearing my favorite slimming summer pants and usually-saved-for-special-occasions-only polka top top with the curved side-seams that alternately hug and floof where hugging and floofing are most flattering to my particular shape.
2. Attempting to set up several playdates and outings for the week. Oh yeah, and some stuff for Bean, too.
3. Checking weather.com hourly to assure myself self cooler weather IS ON THE WAY.
4. Strongly suspecting a few more damaters have ripened up beautifully over the hot, sticky weekend and planning drippy, gloppy, delicious home-grown, vine-ripened damater samwich for
5. Listening to Bean singing. Hey! She knows actual words to actual songs from her music class! Who knew?
6. Stealing occasional trips out front door for a critical stare at the pumpkin and haybale display I put together in the front yard, then asking any of you who have talent in this area to tell me what I need to do to fix it. Because it's not quite right, somehow.
7. Trying to decide what do for Bean's birthday, and when. Frantically. Avoiding feeling like a bad mother that I'm just now actively planning 9 days before the big event! Avoiding, I said. Avoidavoidavoid.
8. Downloading, cropping, touching up and resizing adorable and VERY. BRILLIANTLY. SUNNY. AND. ORANGE!!! photos from our trip Saturday to buy pumpkins (in the sweltering heat, of course), which I will post sometime later this week on the blog.
9. Remembering the bag of FROZEN BREADED OKRA in the freezer right this very minute, after having forgotten about it for a week or two, and knowing some fried okra will make a stupendous accompiment for that damater samwich I'm having for dinner.
10. Blatantly publishing this
Sunday, October 7, 2007
In ainser to yer qwestshun as ta why that thar Home-owners Assosheea-shun don't like us ta hang up ar wash outside ta dry, I reckon as how it's cuz summa us Suth-ners, you know, 'em as is also sometime cawled hillbillies? Well, 'em 'ere hillbillies, 'ey don't rightly keer much about what the rest of us might cawl yer "ASSTHETICS." You know, ASSTHETICS: Dem thangs 'at look purty an pleasin'? Well, hillbillies don't keer a fig about what looks purty an pleasin', an' ey'll just hang up 'eir bib overhauls and 'em 'ere ol dropseat long johns out 'n a front yard and leave 'em out 'ere fer a coon's age. Jis a flappin' in the breeze, sun up ta sundown. Yep. Right out 'ere inna front yard, right 'ere nexta 'at old pick-'em up truck on cinderblocks an' a toilet planter. An we cain't have that goin' on in this here high-fallutin' nayberhud, naw we cain't. Nossir. People'd think we wuz white trash. Which you an I know is only half-true, anyway.
Now I m'self personally had m'sheets out at nine ay eeyum, an' 'ey was back inna house an on m'bed again afore noontime. BUT 'ats jis me. Reckon I'm wunna 'em CON-SHEE-ENshus folks.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Oh yes they did!
And clever little boogers that they are, they have me pegged already! After only about 18 months of knowing me. The party had been in the works for several weeks before my actual birthday. I saw a few not-terribly-subtle-to-me (the I-must-know-everything-about-everything sleuth that I am!) signs that Something Was Up here and there. I observed whispered conversations and noted rapid and bizarre subject changes when I appeared on the scene. Alas, I am The Queen of Surprise-Spoilery. The Dutchess of Dumping the Cat Out of the Bag. And even I get annoyed by myself at times, but usually I just can't help it. Do something right under my nose, I may never notice. Try to hide it, and I will never quit until I know every sordid detail. I snooped and I spied. Oh, these people were so easy. So transparent.
My birthday came.
And nothing happened.
The weekend after my birthday came.
Well, I thought, I guess I was imagining all that. Or mebbe they WANTED to do something but it just never came together.
It was all good though, I'd had a perfectly lovely time turning 40, with flowers and cards and a birthday cake made by Nicki and flowers and cards from neighbors and friends PLUS pampering and JEWELRY from Al and Bean. I was completely and fully satisfied with the festivities and had turned the page on my birthday with a happy smile and a contented sigh. Next stop, 41.
I got an emailed invitation to the regularly-scheduled Neighborhood Game Night a few days after the Birthday Dust had settled, and responded with alacrity (that's my new favorite word, alacrity... feel free to adopt) that we'd be in attendance. Organized the babysitter. Put it on the calendar. Planned what appetizer I'd take. Moved on.
Game night rolled around. I prepared my appetizer, got myself all purtied up, greeted the babysitter, and scurried off to Neighbor Christy's house, carrying my little bag of baguette rounds and my duo of dips for munching. We walked to the front door and it was closed. I rang the doorbell. A chorus of voices shouted, COME IN!!!
I opened the door. Nicki was standing right inside the door, staring at me, smiling.
Everyone else was standing in the entry hall and halfway up the stairs in a big bunch. They all shouted SURPRIIIIISE!
Honestly, my first reaction (which thankfully I was able to keep completely inside my own head, which is not common for me) was pretty much WHA? SO CONFUSED! MUST THINK. What's the surprise? It's game night. Why's everyone standing in a clump like that? So far away from the all the food?
I know. Just call me Zippy. Like a finely-tuned, high-speed computer, this brain of mine.
I finally caught on when Neighbor Katie stuck a birthday hat on my head.
It was a hoot of a party. The food, the laughter, the presents, the cake... all of it 100% picture perfect. And we did get down to the games, eventually.
But the best part of it all? My sweet "new" friends (whom I honestly feel I've known for half my life already). That Neighbor Nicki and Neighbor Katie planned this whole thing with Neighbor Christy (the hostess)and Al via whispers and emails, just for little ol' me. And that the rest of the gang (including most of the Bunco gals) were there to celebrate and enjoy and laugh and smile and be happy.
That, ya'll, is the about the best gift a girl could ever get.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Which brings me to today's Big Events. One of which involves a sticky mess and one involves the revelation of one of those bloggy secrets you have to keep even though your very soul cries out to confide it loudly to all of Internetia.
Big Event Number One involves my having gotten a bit of EXTRA SLEEP lately, and having arisen this morning chock full of zee VIM and zee VIGOR and ready to scoop up my favorite diminutive Sous Chef and haul her giggling down to the kitchen to whip up some PAMPAKES! Oh people. I wish you coulda seen the child's face when I asked her over our morning snugglefest, Hey Bean, you wanna go downstairs and help Mama make some PAMPAKES?! And heard her squeal PAMPAKES? FER BREFTIST? YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! It'd have absolutely made your morning, as it surely did my own.
I did NOT get any pictures of the actual creation of the
And I know what you're thinking, by the way. Why is she writing so much about Bean lately? The Fried Okra, she is becoming of one dimension. (You know because I am so wildly multifaceted most of the time. Which, HA!) And in answer to your unspoken question, I shall reveal BIG EVENT Number Two. No, no I don't mean that the way it sounded. I actually mean the Second of Two Big Events, Namely: The Glorious Homecoming of My Weary Business Traveler Who Has Been Absent from the Premise Since A Very Eye-baggily Early Hour Last Monday Morning.
Did y'all even notice he was gone?
Oh we have been rejoicing here at his return. He looks pale and thin, but nothing a good homecooked meal and an evening curled up with his two best girls won't fix up. He actually enjoyed the trip - his first BIG meeting since starting the new job - and was reunited with several old buddies from the Nefarious Firm. He's beside me now, working on a paper for his class. He says Hey Ladies.
Oh? Well, thank you, I'll tell him you said so.
And with that huge secret off my chest, I shall exhale in relief and bid you adieu so I can go enjoy myself a heapin' helpin' of the HoneyBunny.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
OH YIPPITY DOO!
I wonder who's reading
Is it you, you, or YOU?
If you readz and no commentz
(Though that may sound presumptuous)
To meet you down there (↓)
Would simply be scrumptuous!
Write me a note!
C'mon, tell me you're list'nin'.
I'm stuck inside cleaning
Gotta get this place glist'nin.
Haven't cleaned for weeks
And I'll tell you, it shows
Can't even sit down
I'd get ick on my clothes!
And speaking of clothes
It's laundry day too.
I think I've won you!
It's drudgery, people!
Gimme a 'scuse
To put down my duster
And rest my caboose.
Then go back in your shell.
Or stay out. You might like it!
You never can tell.
-- FriedOkra, October 2007
Seriously! Say one little sumpin'! Go on, it feels good!