Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Head Hurts

I got a book for Christmas that I have been really looking forward to. Now that I'm over halfway through it, all I can say is...my head hurts. I feel like I'm back in graduate school in the most philosophical class anyone has ever created.

I have no idea why the emergent church has captured my attention so. Sadly, I've never thought so much about exactly what I believe, much less been so intrigued by what someone else believes.

Anyway, I'm going to bed before I completely lose my mind. Chapter 7 tomorrow.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Think it might catch on?

I have a friend who firmly believes that everyone should make up their own holiday--complete with traditions--and celebrate it every year. Hers is summer solstice (and she was incredibly disappointed to learn that it is a national holiday in much of Scandinavia). For the past couple of years, she has thrown a summer solstice party, and the tradition is to stay up and watch the sun set on the longest day of the year.

Bryn always likes an "itinerary check" in the car. We had swim lessons last night, but there is nothing special planned for tonight. Instead, Bryn had a great brainstorm on our way to school.

She offered, "Is this a good idea, Mom? Tonight, we should go knock on doors and ring doorbells, and collect good food."

I'm not at all sure of the audience for her invented holiday tradition, but I like her thinking.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

And baby makes four....

If there were an easy way to blog and nurse at the same time, I'd have already posted this, but alas, it sat in "draft" for a week waiting to see the light of day.

Our blessed bundle arrived on September 15, five days before his due date on record. (or three days after the first one we calculated or two days before the one estimated at the 20 week ultrasound...again, due dates are pretty imprecise. Babies come when they want to come.)

I have a separate post planned to officially chronicle his birth story, but to just hit some high points of the occasion...

1. Went to work
2. Sat through 2 rather brutal meetings.
3. Was invited to lunch with some colleagues around 1:00, but when I stood up to leave...my water broke.
4. Beau came to take me home...wanted to change clothes, gather my things...
5. Went to the hospital around 2:30 and had my arms mutilated trying to get a Heplock in place with my small veins.
6. Following an intense, drug-free labor and delivery, had a healthy baby boy at 7:08 pm.

He was smaller than his sister, by a full pound, but my, what a difference a pound makes. He looked so tiny...Beau and I just kept looking at him in disbelief that we ended up with a pixie child! (He was labeled LGA, "large for gestational age" so we, apparently, are the only ones who think 8 pounds, 15 ounces is pixie sized.)

Welcome, Colt. We're delighted that you're finally here...no one perhaps as much as your sister.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lunchbox drama

Part of me really misses Bryn's former daycare/preschool that fed her a legitimate hot lunch; nonetheless, in exchange for a more sound curriculum, we've taken on the task of packing a lunch for her each day. This change dramatically affects the number of vegetables the poor thing is exposed to in any given week, but we make it work.

A typical lunch is a sandwich (either PB&J or ham/turkey and cheese), some type of fruit, milk, maybe some yogurt and maybe something crunchy like cinnamon granola bites or graham crackers. Raisins are a treat as are Fruitabu (if you don't know Fruitabu...get to know them. They are fruit snacks made up of--get this--just real fruit!)

Apparently some of her little compadres show up with slightly more exotic lunches. Clearly, they compare lunches, and Bryn must be coming to the conclusion that hers are fundamentally flawed. Here's the conversation coming home yesterday.

Bryn: Mom, how about this for my lunch tomorrow? ... apples and PEANUT BUTTER! (she exclaims with such enthusiasm as though she was the first to think of this combination.)

Mom: That sounds good, Bryn. We can do that.

Bryn: And, how about some healthy fruit snacks? (we've distinguished between the gummy junk that has princesses, etc on the packages from some gummy, slightly-less junk ones where the first ingredients aren't sugar followed by high fructose corn syrup. Here's where Fruitabu typically comes in, but we've started to cast a slightly larger net to include some sweetened with applesauce.)

Mom: That would be good in a lunch, too.

Bryn: And....(pausing for effect)...a Lunchable!

Mom: (wondering how she has become conversant in a branded product so dadgum quickly)...we don't have any of those.

Bryn: Well, we'll have to get them at the grocery store. (she offers incredulous that I don't know the simplest solution to our Lunchable-acquisition issues.)

Mom: What is it about Lunchables that you like, Bryn?

Bryn: cheese.

Mom: (thinking "OK, I've got this.") Oh, well... you know what, we do have cheese, and some crackers, and some ham, so we could kind of make your very own special lunchable. How about that?

Bryn: But it wouldn't be all together in a little TRAY! I really need the little tray.

Mom: (Pause)... Sorry, you're going to be disappointed about your lunch tomorrow, Bryn.

As a point of follow up, she got everything on her list--except of course the Lunchable or even the clearly sub-standard homemade version. Unfortunately, there's one little thing about peanut butter that's been refrigerated. Apples don't dip into it quite as well as one would hope. Fortunately, she said she liked her lunch, so maybe the secret is co-creation. We'll give it a whirl tomorrow and see how it turns out.

Not winning any awards

I know, I know...it's been awhile even after I almost, half-way promised that it wouldn't be. I'm deeply ashamed. As a child, all the discipline I really required was a stern look and an accompanying "I'm very disappointed" from my parents. So, I'm self-inflicting an "I'm so disappointed...."

There, I feel appropriately chided. But feel free to leave a comment if you think I'm not appropriately remorseful.

So as to not mix cute daughter stories with such negativity...I shall close this post and IMMEDIATELY open another one to continue on a brighter note.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time Flies...

Apparently, time flies both when you're having fun and when you're desperately trying to keep you head above water. I am completely shocked that it has been nearly two months since I posted anything about what all's going on around here.

Gracious. You'd think I wasn't even trying. :)

Lots of tidbits swirling around in my head...which helps no one until I sit down and write.

So... here's a little of what I've been thinking about lately.

Things I love about being pregnant (in no particular order)
1. Having kind people offer that I seem to be "all baby."
2. Being "all baby" and feeling the little bugger do flips or otherwise shift around in the middle of marathon meetings we've been having at the office.
3. Hearing my husband say that I'm beautiful.
4. Hearing my daughter say that she can't wait to be a big sister. She wants to "pat his back" every night. The other day, she pointed out that she was tired of waiting because it was really taking a long time for him to come out. Indeed, child. Truer words...truer words...
5. Having the baby "measure big" and then my doctor noting that she's not concerned because "we already know that you can push out big babies." (another time, I'll share her previous doubts on the subject...which basically turned into a dare--which I ROCKED! But, seriously, another time.)

Things I most decidedly do NOT love about being pregnant (also in no particular order)
1. Getting worried questions from random strangers about when I'm due, with the subtext screaming "Please, lady, don't have that baby in my checkout line....I'm about to go on break."

2. My wedding rings not fitting...which always makes me self-conscious in public. I technically don't care what people think, but I have a wonderful husband and father of this child, so hate to seemingly misrepresent my situation. Not that I care, of course, I'm just saying.

3. Getting unbelievably inappropriate questions from strangers. I'm immune to the "how much longer?" ones because clearly I'm pregnant and...well... see #1. I think it comes from a place of concern (if you squint). But it was the day that a woman behind the counter followed it with "So, are you getting stretch marks?" that I decided I--in fact--had a limit.

4. Being pregnant during the summer in Texas....and not for the reasons that one might think. I hate the implication that somehow 104 is hotter to me than the rest of the poor people here. That's just plain hot, folks. No matter your girth, it's hot. Let's not dwell on it. OK? Just scoot into the AC, have a tall glass of water, and be thankful that we have such options. Summer was plenty hot in Virginia withOUT central air. I've seen the other side...and I'll take this any day. Plus, I'm married to a blessed man who believes strongly that you should be comfortable in your own home. We keep our house a solid 10 degrees cooler than most people probably do.

5. Seemingly being on the verge of complications at all times. First, it was a "viability" issue because of completely imprecise due date calculation methods. Then, thyroid issues that got "hot-potatoed" for a specialist to deal with. And most recently, borderline high blood pressure. Come ON! I'd love to just ride the wave to the end without all the drama. I'm not into drama.

6. Various people offering that "there's no way you'll make it to your due date." It plants expectations, people. Natural childbirth is all about patience... not rushing things. Now, I have this little seed planted that--somehow--I'm NOT five weeks out. So, now, every week that passes, I grow more impatient when I shouldn't be starting that mess until after the imprecise due date comes and goes.

I'd say, "more later" but I doubt anyone would believe me (and I completely understand). For real, though, Bryn's been very funny lately, so I'll be posting some quotes as soon as I can.

More later...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big Piano Lesson Payoff

74 words

Speed test

My sister essentially threw down this challenge, so I gave it a whirl, too. (OK, technically, it wasn't exactly posed as a dare or anything, but I love tests...so bring it on.)

As a little experiment, I tried the test on a standard keyboard and an ergonomic one to see if it made a difference. I only got 66 words a minute on the standard keyboard. Hmmmm, interesting.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Feats of Strength

As we picked Bryn up from school the other day, Beau saw her through the door playing on the playground with a friend. I couldn't see her yet, so was unable to completely appreciate his observation.

"Why is someone always riding my daughter?" he posed.

Bryn loves to perform feats of strength. It may be because she's big for her age or because she generally has pixie-sized friends or some combination of the two. Suffice it to say, she's a strong girl. So, sometimes, it's a big bear hug in which she lifts her playmate off the floor. Other times, they'll ride her piggy-back. Not that day.....nope. Creativity hit a new high.

Bryn was on her hands and knees with a friend riding her like a horse. This child just had a birthday, so he's a good three and half months older than her. He was so excited that he'd gotten to ride a "horse," and was quite animated to tell us about the game they were playing. Bryn quickly corrected him: "no, I bucked you off. I was a bucking horse." For the record, she had in fact bucked him off. We often play bucking bulls in the living room, so she knows all about how that goes.

I think Bryn inherited the adrenaline gene from her father because as we left the building, she was on quite a high about the whole experience. She was just beaming and asked over and over, "Are you proud of me, Daddy? Aren't you proud of me? That was good, right?"

See what I mean about the power of his words... A million times, I could have said I was proud, but it doesn't officially count until Daddy agrees. But I don't mind.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

As we were warned, our lives haven't been the same since we became parents. I loved our life before Bryn, but can't fathom not having her in our lives. Fairly regularly I wonder, "why did we wait so long again?"

From the moment she was born--technically before that--Beau was completely taken with her. And she is with him--by the way.

So, today, on Father's Day, I want to celebrate some of the many characteristics that make Beau a great dad.

1. He sang to her in utero so that she would know his voice.
2. He rubbed her feet when she learning to walk because he figured that her "dogs were probably barking."
3. He happily paints her fingernails and toenails, and doesn't mind his buddies knowing that he does it.
4. He's great at bath time. I've been told more than once that I don't do it right. He's made sure she's not afraid of water.
5. He dances with her—at bedtime especially. Bryn will even fore go a second book for the chance to dance with her Prince Charming.
6. He reads to her and gets a little jealous when I get requested too often.
7. He tells her that he’s proud of her.
8. He takes time to explain when she is making bad choices rather than just flying off the handle.
9. He realizes the power of his words to her, and is very careful as a result.
10. He loves her mother.

Thanks, Daddy. For all this and more.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Can you say "Mason Dixon"?

Until very recently, I fancied myself a well-traveled,--dare-I-say--nearly cosmopolitan individual. Growing up, my parents were great about taking us places and showing us things. (Although my sister and I got into more than a little trouble for having our noses in books rather than taking in the sights.)

As a geographer, I am fascinated by different places. I love the idea of travel; seeing new people, places, and things; experiencing a new place as though I lived there.

I found this map generator on
a friend's website, and was actually surprised by the pattern it made of my life experiences. Particularly when compared to John's. See what you think.

Very nearly everything above the Mason Dixon line is the result of work travel. Thanks, Job, for exposing me to other "cultures!"

So what can I say? I guess I really am just a Southern girl after all.

If you're interested, create your own visited states map. They have a generator for countries visited, too, but even though I have had a few international experiences, I just couldn't bear the confirmation that there are so many parts of the world that I have no idea about.

**NOTE: We've reached my technological frontier. ("So soon?" you ask, politely.) I couldn't get the map to fit in my old template, so I changed it. This one is clearly less interesting, so I'll eventually change it back or to something else.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mon Cher!

Today is my beloved's birthday.

And, sadly, he's sick. I'm already on notice that he's planning to be extra pitiful about the illness since it's interfering with his enjoyment of his birthday. Makes all kinds of sense to me because, in our family, your birthday is basically your day off. You get to pick what we eat, what we do, what you want to do or not do, etc. He's getting a little gypped on the tradition, so he gets to milk the day for other perks. Bring it on, Honey.

I have a gift in the back of the car that I'm not at all sure will scratch the itch of a man who really only wants cattle, land, and peace and quiet (namely, the demise of the neighbors' yippy dogs), but I hope he likes it. Bryn painted him a picture yesterday (in his presence) and then wanted to hide it until today since it was a surprise for him.

So, Beau, Happy Birthday! I'm so glad that you were born, and I thank God that He saw fit for our paths to cross 16 years ago. (Thanks for helping, Wendy). I love everything about you...even that you get extra pitiful when you're sick. Our lives are enriched daily because you're here.

I love you.

(A Happy Birthday shout-out to GG and Grandpa, too, for having Beau.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lessons of the Night

Bryn is prone to the dramatic. I'm not sure that phrase quite captures the extent of it, but the girl can work up some serious tears at will and just wail at the smallest, and sometimes, strangest things.

This characteristic shows up other times, but it is most striking at bedtime. Last weekend, for instance, she had the kind of meltdown that made me just look at her in amazement because a) I couldn't understand her words very well to decipher what she was sad about, b) the offense changed periodically during her attempts to explain what went wrong, c) there was absolutely no obvious trigger to the meltdown, and d) there was apparently nothing I could do to head it off. All I could muster was, "Wow, Bryn. I don't know what's going on here." The reason ranged from where I put the second bedtime book (which she only noticed after the first one was finished..."But I wanted to HOLD i-i-i-i-t!") to the fact that she wanted to turn the pages ("No, Mommy! Don't finish/start reading until I get my finger on the corner!") to her grave concern that she didn't know how to fall asleep. That was my favorite--and it was accompanied with a confession.

Bryn: "But I don't know HOW to fall asleep!"
Mom: "Honey, your body is very tired. I'm sure that if you lie very still and close your eyes, that your body will know how to fall asleep."
Bryn: "No, it won't. Because I always play too much. I make bad choices and pl-ay-ay-ay-ay."

In an effort to hammer home the point that she's in charge of her behavior, we've really talked to her a lot about choices that she makes. One of the most devastating realizations for her (again with a touch of drama) is to note that she's made a bad choice.

Well, the bad choice of playing when she was supposed to be sleeping came back to bite her tonight.

Because of daylight savings, bedtime may as well be at high noon because her room is still bright when we turn off the lights that we didn't need to read books. She laid in her bed (as far as I know) for about 30 minutes before I heard her call that she needed to use the restroom. By all means...

Here's where "bad choices" and parental assumptions collide in a serious way. I assumed that after I heard the toilet flush that she'd be heading back to bed. Alas...I had forgotten rule number one of Bryn's routine..."playing too much." After about 15 minutes, I hear Bryn calling me saying that her eyes hurt.

Eyes and feet--we take care of eyes and feet--oh, and teeth--in our family, so I ran up the stairs to see what went wrong. Her room smelled very strongly--a familiar and pleasant, but strong scent--but I couldn't identify the source when my baby's eyes were hurting without cause (she thought naively). She was rubbing her eyes, and when I felt her hands they were unbelievably greasy. "Bryn! What is on your hands?!" I ask. She didn't know or at least couldn't tell me through the tears.

I ran to the bathroom to get a rag to clean her hands and face, trying to get the whatever out of her eyes. At this point, Beau came up to help, so we got Bryn to SHOW us what is on her hands. And, who would have thought...

She had smeared ALL of an English Lavender jar candle all over her face and upper body. And it was an awesome candle, too....the kind with lots of essential oils to make it smell awesome (ah, yes, I remember that smell now!).

Bryn was profuse with her apologies. Poor thing, her eyes are burning and yet all she could muster was "sorry, Mommy. I made bad choices and played."

We were way more worried than angry. While Beau gave her a(nother) shower, he quizzed her about the lessons that she learned tonight. Here's her summary.

1) Don't put anything in my eyes.
2) Don't play with anything unless I ask Mom or Dad.
3) Go to sleep when it's bedtime.

We'll be quizzing her from now on.

PS: Her room still smells nice. I hope that the trauma hasn't been forever linked with the smell of lavender.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Adventures with Homophones*

"Mommy, do crowns bite?"

I was sitting in the backseat with Bryn one evening, when this question occurred to the Princess of Random Thoughts.

"What do you mean, honey? Like the sharp points pinch your finger or something?"

"No, crowns. Do they bite?"

"Ummmm. (glancing at Dad in the rear view mirror for some help that was not to come.) I don't understand your question."

"Crowns. Crowns. Can they bite your finger?"

"Are you saying crown like a princess wears?"

"No, Mom. CROWN," she says enunciating the word slowly and with slightly more force.

"Are you saying crayon?" (knowing full-well that, although her pronunciation of crayon sounds a LOT like crown, it made even less sense in this context.)

"I'm saying CROWN. You know, CROWNS?!", growing exasperated by my embarrassingly miserable attempt to communicate on a very simply topic.

---Dad to the rescue.--- "Honey, do you mean clown? Cl-Cl-Clown?"

Bryn throws her hands up and shouts, "YES!"

Me: "Oh, then, no. Clowns usually don't bite."

*I was trying to remember the term for the "they're/there/their" phenomena, and somehow miraculously I came up with homonym. Not wanting to embarrass myself, I googled that to be sure it was correct. The first entry was Alan Cooper's Homonym List. Quite an interesting find. I'll be forever thankful that I also clicked on "About the List" because I learned that what I was talking about wasn't actually a homonym, his title notwithstanding. Thanks, Alan, for illuminating the confusing subtlety of the English language.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Three Random Things

Wendy tagged me with this topic several days ago. If I were in elementary school, I would be "all-time-it" considering my reaction speed, but alas. So, I think the idea is to share three random things about myself....

1. I have an intense, to-my-core-being, dislike for honey. I don't like "mocha" anything either (which some try to convince me is really code for chocolate, when in fact it is code for "still-tastes-like-coffee"), but even that doesn't bring me to literal tears the way honey has in the past. I am a painfully rationale person, and even with Beau's incredibly sound arguments about how local honey would probably help my spring allergies, I would rather take a pill every single morning for the rest of my days than purposefully put a single drop of honey in my mouth. And yes, "honey butter" is no better.

2. I have a secret (can't say that anymore) desire to be a midwife, or at least a doula, at some point in my life. Attending my niece's birth was an incredible experience that so greatly affected my attitudes during Bryn's birth. I would like to contribute to other women having similar experiences. I have absolutely no idea how to become one, so I may as well have said I would love to be a Rockette, but at least now the universe knows.

3. I make killer apple pie and homemade rolls. I think baking suits me because it requires precision. I absolutely can not improvise in the kitchen whatsoever; I work strictly from recipes. Always been a pretty good rule follower. And to set the record straight, the apple pie recipe came from my sister--who can also bust out some serious bread.

How cathartic that turned out to be.

Bonus #4: As I looked around the office, thinking about how to wrap up this post, I glanced over to Beau's aquarium. One of the Oscars was totally staring at me while I typed...just treading water right at my eye level. Kind of freaked me out a little bit, because it was like when someone catches you staring at them (or vice versa) across a restaurant or something and you have to look like you were actually looking just over their shoulder before casually turning away. This fish did that! He didn't jump right away, but eventually, ever so casually turned and swam away.

Back to the catharsis....perhaps I'll write random things about other people in the family from time to time. This was pretty fun.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm back

Sorry for the lengthy absence. I was being a little hopeful a month ago when I bid farewell to the morning sickness that ended up lingering for another 2-3 weeks. I just couldn't muster the desire/energy/motivation/creativity/vocabulary to get on the computer after spending the day on one at work.

But....I have been making mental notes of what I would be writing about "were I to blog today," so have some stored up. Have one started, but need to go wake the family.

Happy Monday everyone....funny stories to come.

Books as Currency

Bryn is a complete delight 90% of the time. With that kind of record, Beau and I are ALWAYS shocked when she has a bonafide three-year-old moment. We regularly forget that she is still learning right from wrong, how to make good decisions, that bad decisions have consequences, that she doesn't always get her way, etc.

To date, all the discipline that she has really required is--what amounts to--a "stern talking to" (in Southern-speak). More recently it has dawned on her that she has to be a willing participant for these little chats to be effective. She has taken to the "courtesy" of announcing when she doesn't plan on being a willing participant (although that typically doesn't go well). The conversation usually goes like this:

Mom/Dad: "Bryn, come here. we need to talk about how you are acting right now."

Bryn: "I don't WANT to talk to you!" (or the nominee for most creative variation: "I don't want to listen to your words!!")

Exasperated parent takes a deep breath--knowing where this is heading--and escalates to "oh, yes, you will" posturing. Then out come the big guns--what will happen if she proceeds on the path she's chosen. And here's where it becomes very clear that she doesn't have a firm grasp on consequences.

We've elected not to spank, so our options are to take away things or opportunities that she holds dear. Sometimes there is an event that she is really looking forward to, but usually our go-to is books. (NOTE: as an educator who firmly believes in the importance of a book-rich environment, this is a constant struggle for me. But you harvest where there's fruit, right?)

Sometimes, I try to ward off a fit by bargaining with bedtime books. Our usual routine is two books before lights out. If she is being uncooperative/defiant, I'll (politely) warn her that if she doesn't pull it together, we'll only have time for one book (or heaven forbid, zero books). The unfortunate part of this strategy is I don't have much wiggle room when I count down from 2 because when we move to only reading 1 book, she keeps up the protests about "But I want TWO books!!!" (Which, for those of you paying attention, is exactly the opposite of the reaction I'm hoping for.) So then, all her arguing about two books (whose ship has sailed) leads me to explicitly state--again--that she now has the choice of one book or zero books, and that she is making the choice by the way she is acting and talking to me. Usually, the continued argument about two books requires that I take away all books. (Which, of course, IMMEDIATELY makes one book the thing she wants more than anything in life....but at that point, even the one book has sailed.) As mentioned earlier, sending a child to bed with no books is bordering on un-American and inhumane, but my thinking is---she had fair warning and continued with poor choices.

Last night she chose so poorly with behavior so unacceptable that we had to skip all bargaining, going straight to zero books. Straight out of the bath, to bed, no books. Oh, my goodness. You would have thought we had cut off a finger or something. She was nearly inconsolable. She tried to say "sorry" to undo her actions, but this was not a "that's okay, honey" situation. We thought it warranted making a more explicit statement about consequences. It's great that you are sorry, but there are always consequences to what you choose to do. That's a good life lesson, right? So, "we love you, but no books."

Instead of books, we just said a prayer. Bryn wanted to do it "allbymyself" (her new favorite phrase), so through the tears about not reading books she offered this gem of a prayer....

"Dear God, Please help me to slow down all the crying. Amen."

And all the people said....Amen to that.

PS: I was in the kitchen when Bryn woke up. She came downstairs with two books and asked sweetly, "Can you read these two books to me now?"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

These Boots are Made for Walkin

Bryn picked out her first pair of cowgirl boots last night. She was SOOOOO excited about them, and they really do suit her perfectly. She wore them to a very eventful trip to the grocery store and got no fewer than five compliments on them--every girl's dream.

Everyone, please take a moment and imagine the perfect pair of boots for the world's girliest girl. Have a mental image?

Now, compare what you were thinking to the real thing.

How close were you?

Give yourself 5 points if you guessed the color.
Give yourself another 5 points if you guessed the toe and heel shape.

Give yourself a bonus 65 points if you could have ever imagined the straps of "bling" draped across each one.

One final question--worth up to an extra 25 points (could bring your total up to 100, for those of you keeping score). Now imagine how happy Bryn looks in them (and how great they are for dancing), and compare to reality.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Maybe it's just me, but I've always lived with the illusion that grocery checkers don't mentally inventory your purchases. Perhaps this self-perpetuating myth was born during my formative years, when some cute boy was checking groceries and I had to buy some unmentionables. I had nearly convinced myself that checkers are WAY too busy to really care or notice what I buy.

My first hint was several years ago, when I was on a very healthy kick, and the checker noted how much fresh produce I was buying. Since I, too, was proud of myself, I didn't think more about it. The myth cracked further a few months back when a very chatty young woman wanted to share parenting tips with me as she scanned the Pull-Ups I was buying. I let it slide, thinking she was just overwhelmed with pride in her accomplishment that--in one weekend--her daughter had learned to stay dry all night because she literally woke her up every 15 minutes to use the bathroom. Technically, I should not know that many details, but I do.

The remains of the illusion crumbled tonight. Fortunately, there was nothing embarrassing or unusual in my basket. But I can no longer tell myself--with any honesty-- that they don't notice. Thanks for busting my bubble, Bradley.

First, it was my chocolate milk. As he scanned it, Bradley noted that Promise Land chocolate milk is REALLY good. (which I politely confirmed...I was--after all--buying it.) He went on to pitch another type of milk that was a little healthier--"well, you know, healthy for chocolate milk"--because it had vitamins added and "some other stuff." Sadly, this endorsement came without vital details like the product name, but no matter. PromiseLand does me right, so I'm set.

Next, he had to comment on how the meat department really made his job difficult as he wrestled with the labels to get them to scan. I felt like an accomplice since I had clearly picked the most difficult sausage to scan. Sorry, dude. I'll look for straighter labels next time.

Finally, as he picked up my graham cracker crust, he offered "mmmm. What kind of pie are you making?" Honestly, man, I'm not inviting you over so what difference does it make? Which, of course, I didn't say. Instead, I said, "a pudding pie. My daughter and husband really like those." (Thinking: didn't you notice the PUDDING I bought?) Bradley: "Yeah, those are really good."

Sorry if all of this is news to you--if you thought that no one noticed if you bought cereal with extra fiber or feminine products or pregnancy tests or six varieties of ice cream or the like.

Because they do.

You say Goodbye and I say Hello

Ah, blessed March. Welcome.

In our house, February is easily the craziest month of the year. It even trumps the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday/birthday season in the fall. Growing up, we called it "busy season" because my father was a CPA--and spring tax time was always nutty for him. I'm fortunate as an adult that our family has limited that to just a month and a half in late January and most of February.

So, farewell Stock Show, farewell week-long EPA training, farewell insane project deadline, farewell pleasure-travel-alone-with-a-three-year-old-and-multiple-airplane-changes-with-only-a-2-hour-battery-life-on-the-DVD-player. It's been fun.

Also...Farewell, Pappa Gallo.

We are extremely excited to announce the sale of the first bull calf born to Rafter W. I'm sure he is going to a good home, but with four more calves coming this spring, I'm technically more interested in not having to feed him anymore. Sounds harsh probably, but we're in the business of raising cows (as Beau regularly reminds me) not bulls. So off with you.

On to the Hello's.

As mentioned. Hello, March. Hello, beautiful weather. Hello, time to work on household projects. Hello, Beau's raise and grade increase.

And hello to our newest addition to Rafter W. Check out the adorable family picture. Daddy (Coat 45) on the left, Momma (Adell) on the right, and the presently unnamed (other than the uninspired "87") heifer in the middle. Ah, aren't little baby things so cute.
And speaking of little baby things....I'm fairly confident that only people who know this already read this blog (assuming that ANYONE still reads it given how sporadically I contribute to it), Beau and I are expecting a little baby thing this fall--mid to late September to be exact. So, farewell slight-but-constant-nausea in the evenings and hello second trimester.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oh the Thinks you can Think

I did it! I held the line on bedtime while Beau was out of town! HOORAY! Each night got progressively easier on both of us, thankfully. Last night, after all the good nights-one last hugs-one more kisses-sweet dreams-etc, I went downstairs and Bryn snuggled in to go to bed without protest.

I had barely gotten settled on the couch when I heard:

"Mommy. Mommmmmmy. Mom. Mommmmmy."

I wend to the bottom of the stairs and asked what she needed. My mother absolutely HATES "hollering" but I didn't want to engage her in person for fear we would start completely over. At first she was quiet, so I asked again: "What do you need, Sweetie?"

"I was just thinking."

"What were you thinking?"

"I was just thinking that I could ask and you could let me get up."

"Oh. No, honey, it's bedtime. Time to stay in bed and go to sleep."

"I was just thinking that."

"I know, but it's really night-night time, so go on to sleep. I love you-love you. Sweet dreams."


"See you in the morning."


and not another peep was heard. Good girl!

UPDATE: As I was writing this, Bryn called. "Mommmmy. Is it time to get up now?" She's getting good at continuing in the morning a thought she has as she's going to bed. Yesterday, it was the apple she wanted to have in her lunch. Today, it was confirmation that she could get up. I just love her.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Two points make a line

That is, two data points make a pattern. (she says hopefully).

Bryn has slept by herself two nights in a row. Technically, she's slept by herself more than that, but not knowingly, and when she would wake to discover it, we would hear considerable commotion.

We were wondering how to turn the corner on this "have-to-lay-with-her-until-she-falls-asleep-and-likely-fall-asleep-myself-in-the-meantime" situation that we had fostered over the years.

One night, Beau just did it. First, a couple of nights he read stories and then said he would come back to check on her in a little while, after needing to clean the kitchen or something. She started to get used to the idea that the day was coming. Then Sunday--it happened--no pretense, only mild protesting--just books, lights off, night-night, love you, sweet dreams. Done. Not a peep afterwards. We laid in bed for about 15 minutes just talking about how proud we were of her.

Beau was out with a friend last night at bedtime, so it was really a big test for me to hold the line. Bryn, rightfully, views me as a bigger pushover, but I was determined. We wouldn't be able to recreate this momentum for awhile, so it was important. (Kind of like the time I rounded up cattle with Beau and his uncle...but the story of that character-testing moment another day.)

As we walked up to bed after dancing the evening away in her Cinderella gown and glass slippers, Bryn gave a casual pitch on arrangements: "Maybe you can sleep with me, Mommy." "Well, Bryn, I'm going to read you stories, but then you're going to sleep by yourself again tonight. You did such a great job last night." "Yeah, Daddy was proud of me," she says. "Yes, we were both very proud of you. I hope you were proud of yourself, too."

So, after two books and lights out and night-night and all that, I went back downstairs and she went to sleep. As I was heading to bed, I checked on her and she was all the way scooted onto "my" spot on the bed with the quilt all catty-wonkus. I tried to straighten it up, but must have disturbed her a little. After standing statue-still for a few minutes, all was well again. Got ready for bed, snuggled in myself, and about 10 minutes later...


Bryn had imaginary-snuggled herself right off the bed. Ouch. Fortunately, she wasn't all the way awake so I rocked her a little bit and then laid her in the MIDDLE of the bed this time.

About 1:30, I hear, "Mommmmmmy. Mama. Mommmy. Mommy, I need to show you something." I try to lay very still through all of the calling, thinking she'll go back to sleep when denied other stimulus. But it was the "I need to show you something" that piqued my curiosity, so I got out of bed to discover that she just wanted to ask again if I wanted to sleep with her. There was really no "showing" involved. Duped.

She woke up again in the 4:00 hour, but I ignored the calling that time.

The lesson here (again based on two data points) is that she sleeps like a rock when Daddy puts her to bed and very restlessly when I do. I think we should continue to test the theory some more to be sure, but Beau may have just inherited the task permanently.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Our Disney trip in 15 pictures or less

The fun really started at the airport...

Polite signage notwithstanding. (Come on, you don't build a bench that allows little girls to sit with Snow White and then not let them climb on it. That just doesn't make sense.)

The weather was slated to turn cold during our trip, so we struck out for the Magic Kingdom the only day that was planned to have reasonable weather. And it was GORGEOUS...not too hot, humid, or sunny. Just absolutely delightful for trekking across the many "lands" and standing in lines to meet and greet characters.

This is literally Bryn's reaction upon seeing Cinderella's castle. It was priceless. I think she even said, "Oh, my gosh!" before covering her mouth in disbelief.

First up was the carousel....good times for Bryn, me, and Beau's mom. Beau sat it out, and his stomach thanked him profusely.

It was lunchtime, following the horsey ride. But..uh-oh.....can you say "happiest place on Earth?"

Bryn was VERY sad because she wanted to ride the elephants. (Dumbo ride) She was outvoted and very sad about that.

Following lunch...as promised she and I rode the pink Dumbo. And all was again right with the world. Fortunately, that was the only melt down of what could be a torturous day for a three-year-old. We didn't get a stroller, so she was on her feet all day. Clearly, with so much to see and do, she didn't get a nap, and don't get me started on lines. By all accounts she was a trooper and I've never experienced Disney as I did through her eyes.

(While we're on the subject of lunch, I've got to give mad props to Disney nutritionists for figuring out how to feed children responsibly. For kids' meals, you had to opt in to french fries and sodas. Bryn had PB&J, grapes, applesauce, and milk. I was eternally grateful that we didn't have to layer crappy food on top of an exhausting day. I believe in my heart that that meal gave her the energy she needed to keep going...and going...and going.)

Following Dumbo, we took off to stake out a location for the afternoon parade. Again, I alternated between pictures of the parade and pictures of Bryn's reactions to seeing her favorite characters. Whenever I was pointing the camera at her, she would just about come unglued trying to get me to focus on the parade. "MOM...Look! Look, Mom. Mommy. Look, it's Cinderella's mice! Look, Mom." I could hear her gears turning while she thought, "geez, woman, you're missing the whole thing. Turn around! It's THAT way! Why do I have to keep telling you that?" Of course, she had a pretty sweet viewing spot...atop Papa's head. So she could see the floats well before any of us could--and let us know that.

Bryn was also pretty excited about the fireworks. (Yes, we stayed until the fireworks. Like I said, she was a total trooper.) Her reaction to the firework display (besides "oh my gosh" and hand-over-mouth) was the very descriptive observation that "they are painting the sky." Indeed, Bryn.

The next night we were fortunate to be able to go to a Character Dinner hosted by Cinderella and Prince Charming. The prime rib wasn't bad, but it was totally awesome to see Bryn interact with the characters. She told Cinderella she was a ballerina, so after she made the rounds of the dining room, Cinderella came back to Bryn to dance with her. Prince Charming (AKA "Cinderella's special boy") was also in attendance and was moving in on Beau's territory a little bit.

One of the other highlights of the trip was a little place called the Bibbiddi-Bobbiddi-Boutique. One of Bryn's requests for Santa was to dress up as Cinderella (her aforementioned favorite princess). Santa didn't bring her a blue dress as she expected, but he (through GG) did line up a makeover fit for a princess.

(A little stage-setting may be in order. We had a 10:10 appointment for which we had to be there by 9:50. We were cutting it close when we pulled out of the driveway. Got about a half mile away and the tire pressure light came on. So we turned around to switch cars, but that also required moving the car seat. The transfer speed would have made any pit crew proud, but we were now on the later side of fashionable. Fast forward about 15 miles, and I look down. Bryn is staring off into space turning an unfortunate shade of green. This isn't my first rodeo with this girl, so I start looking for something to catch the breakfast that was shortly to reappear. As always, my hands seem to be the only tools that present themselves. Maybe fortunately (if you squint enough) Bryn had only had water and juice to drink, so no milk was in there to curdle on the way back up--which if you've not lived it is unpleasant to say the least. So, all that came up was liquid and some poorly chewed blueberries. Beau says I have an iron stomach, and in many respects I must. HOWEVER, my breaking point is when otherwise unoffensive liquid starts overflowing my hands and running down my sleeve. Bryn felt better when we got to the place, but was--shall we say--in need of some freshening up before her princess transformation. Thanks, in part, to a similar scare the night before on the way to the character dinner, I had the foresight to pack a change of clothes in my backpack.)

She had an absolute blast getting her hair done, nails done, makeup done by Nelly, a (I swear this is her title) fairy-godmother-in-training. She had lots of choices--type of hairstyle (fortunately she thought better than to go with the "Punk Princess Diva" 'do), colors of eyeshadow, nail polish, lip gloss, and stick-on face decoration (they must have a name, but can't think of a more sophisticated name at the moment.)

You may wonder how Nelly got Bryn's hair to stay up in a neat Princess bun when she's only in training as a fairy godmother and Bryn has pretty short hair. The answer, my friends, is hair gel and loads of hairspray. Bryn had a hard time figuring out the clever face shield, but when it was all over....her hair was up there to stay, dadgummit. Notice in this picture, the small tiara that hugs the sweet bun Nelly carefully crafted. In the next photo, that adorable (small) one is dwarfed by the Miss Universe crown.

All dressed up and no place to go.

Or so one might think. Turns out that is the perfect ensemble for TGI Friday's for lunch on the way home. (Have to say I offered up many prayers on the way home, that lunch would not be revisited all over the "do not clean" princess gown.) Fortunately, following a day of beauty, Bryn was appropriately tuckered out.

Bryn lost the huge tiara in exchange for Minnie Mouse ears (a nice touch with the princess gown) for our dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. She likes to share.

And if you wonder what hair gel and spray look like the next day on a busy sleeper....wonder no more.