Monthly Archives: July 2012

Snippets & Quips- July 25th

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Snippets & Quips- July 25th

State of the Union:  Hot, hot, hot.  But we are gearing up for a trip to the Rocky Mountains where the lows will be in the mid-forties!  I am digging out the jackets and jeans and looking forward to crisp mountain air.  We will be camping in Rocky Mountain National Park with Ben’s parents and visiting our good friends Brian and Kelli in Denver.  I am very excited for our vacation minus the cross-country car trip with a BUSY toddler.

I am thankful… that we live closer to St. Louis AND that we live in a hip city that people want to visit!  July has brought us many visitors: Ben’s mom and her friend Jane from North Carolina followed by my good friend Lindsay.

I am learning….about Consigment Sales.  Whoa- they are a big deal here in Nashville.  Thanks to my friend, Jess–I was able to experience this explosion of bargain steals on all things kid and baby.  She brought me as her guest for the preview sale last night, so we got first dibs on the best finds.  I spent less than 50 bucks and walked out with an armload of goodies for Everett: an easel, books, a winter coat, rain jacket, leather hiking boots, and at least 10 other fall/winter outfits.  You should have seen this church gymnasium packed with every baby/toddler need (and want) imaginable.  There is no need to ever buy anything new for Everett again now that I know about these things. Pretty fun stuff… I just might be hooked. 🙂

The “new” easel… cost me five bucks!

I wonder… if Everett’s new big boy carseat will make our 18-hour excursion to Colorado any more tolerable.  After much research and debate, we finally purchased a convertible carseat, since his little infant seat was becoming a tight squeeze.  We checked out a half dozen new books from the library for him to “read” on the drive, I’ve got bags of snacks ready for emergencies, and I even borrowed a device that will clip Ben’s iPad on the back of the seat to play videos if we really need to call in all the troops–GASP!  I have not introduced Everett to the TV yet…but I just may need to cave for this trek.  We shall see.

Getting too big for his infant car seat… but he still loves to crawl in it when I bring it inside.

On my mind: What will it take for me to discipline myself enough to write regularly?  I can’t even make weekly blog updates happen!  I am so thankful that Ben is on my case constantly–sending me links for freelance essay requests, pushing me to read his little manual on writing that helped him crank out and publish research articles, and telling me to get my butt in gear and start drafting.  Ready…begin.

On my heart: Last week, we made a quick jaunt to St. Louis to attend my father-in-law’s retirement party.  He had worked at Boeing for 36 years and we are so happy that he is trading in his white collar for grandpa play clothes and taking a much needed break from the office grind.  His company gave him a lovely sendoff, the theme being Dave’s impressive ability to balance work and family life for all those years.  He is a true role model and I am so thankful to have such an amazing father figure in my life.  All of his kids and grandkids were able to be at the party…except for Baby Max–who was at Children’s Hospital with a benign case of viral Meningitis.  He is doing great now, but my heart was heavy for Annie and Joe as they spent long days and nights watching their fragile newborn be hooked up to IV’s.  Being a parent can make you feel so vulnerable sometimes.

Weekly Reader: Still reading “Cutting for Stone”– I am really liking it, but being only 150 pages in to a 667 page novel, I feel like I am still wading through the exposition.  Just starting to get a sense of characters and setting, though many details are still murky.  I’m hoping for more time to dig in during our vacation.  I bought a spelunking light that I can wear around my head for night-reading at the campsite.  Can I get any cooler?  🙂

What’s Cooking: I made Aunt Mary’s plum cake twice for a presentable breakfast for our visitors, Bobby Flay’s pork green chili (delicious!), and Ben whipped up a molten chocolate cake on a whim Sunday evening.  We used this delectable treat as a good excuse to finish off our port from the Mayo Winery–the last bottle standing from the stores we brought back from our honeymoon in Sonoma.  See pictures below– as always we are enjoying life bite by bite around here!

Aunt Mary’s Plum Coffee Cake

Ben’s molten chocolate cake…whipped up on a whim for no special occasion at all. Am I a lucky gal or what?

“Ev”Capades:  Our cutie is still obsessed with the “trash.”  His favorite word has turned into actions–he picks up specks of dirt off the floor, digs bottles out of the recycling, and tries to throw things like the remote control and his sippy cup into the trash can.  I finally bought him his own little trash can that he keeps in his room–a good storage place for shreds of toilet paper, books, and the occasional toy or teddy bear.  Another obsession is Otis’ leash, bed, and food bowls.  He pretty much spends his time inside the house coveting these items and getting Otis riled up as a result.  Who needs a playroom?  Everett loves to read–melting my heart as he climbs into my lap with various books he’s pulled off his shelf–asking me to read.  The favorites right now are “Go, Dog, Go” and “Freight Train.”  Please Everett, be a cuddly reader forever.

Happy Highlights: Not only did my friend Lindsay’s visit give us a great chance to catch up, but it also gave me an excuse to be a Nashville tourist.  We did the Honkytonk bars on Broadway and saw a great show at the Bluebird Cafe.  And Everett and I have had lots of fun with our mom’s group–we visited a fire station and have been to many library story times.  Also- Ben won a grant from Vanderbilt for this really cool medical education project he has been dreaming up for a couples years now.  It involves using iPads to stream educational seminars for residents while they are on night shifts when they miss traditional instructional opportunities.  He is becoming really interested in a medical education emphasis… just can’t contain the teaching bug around here!  I am so proud of him.

First booster seat…. noshing at Urban Grub with Peggy and Jane.

At the Nashville Sounds (minor league baseball) game with Lindsay and Ben’s co-workers.

Little Fireman.

Driving the fire engine.

Looking Ahead: So excited to spend some time with Brian, Kelli, Ali, and Emma in Denver and to camp in the mountains with Ben, Everett, and my in-laws Dave and Peggy.  Summer is flying by, but it has been so good to us.

Waking up from nap HAPPY!

Smooshing cheeks with Mommy

My best buddy.

Summer Color

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A yummy rainbow summer salad I concocted and Ev sporting his colorful gift from Aunt Jules!

Rainbow Summer Slaw

1 raw yellow beet, julienned

1 raw red beet, julienned

2 cups of shredded carrots (I took a shortcut and bought the bag).

1 cup of chopped fresh herbs (I used a combo of Greek Oregano, basil, and parsley b/c that’s what I have growing on my porch!)

4 TBS of lemon juice

4 TBS of olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients together.  Keeps well in the fridge, so it can be made ahead.

 

 

Summer Rainbow Slaw

Feeling groovy in my tee from Aunt Jules!

Snippets & Quips – July 3rd

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State of the Union:  While June was full of adventures, we are happy to greet July.  Ben just finished a month in the Cardiac ICU that involved 14-hour shift work.  It was his last rotation in first year of fellowship, so I guess I should be thankful that we saved one of the busiest for the end. Everett and I spent about 10 days in St. Louis while he was doing the night shifts, which was a win-win situation: Ben got to sleep without distraction during the days and we got the chance to spend quality time with family and friends. Now July is here and things are a little calmer, though temperatures above 100 are turning our upstairs apartment into a convection oven. We are definitely missing Minnesota summertime these days!

I am thankful… for St. Louis.  Everett and I had a great trip to St. Louis last week.  It began with a weekend visit from 2 of my dearest friends from Minnesota–Julie and Stef drove down from Rochester to see us.  My aunt and uncle opened up their home–Hotel Wilhelm- and treated us all to cozy accommodations, delicious meals, and free babysitting so that the three of us could go out on the town.  The weekend left me on a “friendship high”–the sweet reunion was the kind that fills up your heart and reminds you that distance and time are mere abstractions when you are lucky enough to have concrete connections with amazing women.

The rest of our trip was equally as fulfilling: Everett had daily morning adventures to many STL hot-spots with Grandma and his cousins.  We hit up the Butterfly House, the Zoo, Tilles Park, and the Magic House.  I got to meet all the new babes in town–Winnie, Asher, and Max, as well as visit with friends in the evenings (thanks again to free babysitting). All in all, the trip made me fall in love with St. Louis all over again.  It really is a great city and more importantly, it is full of so many wonderful people who adore us.  For a while after my parents passed away, I wasn’t sure that St. Louis would ever truly be “home” for me anymore.  However, I am now feeling so thankful for all my family and friends that remind me that I have a village holding on to my roots.

I am learning… that being a mom is nature/God/a higher power’s way of making sure that we don’t ever get too cocky and believe we have this world all figured out.

I wonder… why Everett would sleep in until 7:00 each morning we were in St. Louis, but despite the two hours I spent hanging room-darkening curtains in his Nashville room upon our return, he still manages to wake up everyday at 5:30 with the sun.  I guess he wants to remind me that “sleeping in” is only for vacation.  See “I am learning…” revelation above.

On my mind: My friend Andy posted this great article from the NY Times Opinionator Blog on his Facebook page. It’s titled “The Busy Trap” and I felt like it was just the gentle scolding I have needed for the past decade.  I was guilty of heralding the busy brag while I was teaching full-time–always burdened by 150 essays that I hadn’t found time to grade– and yet I am still finding ways to keep stuffing my days as a stay-at-home mom. And this article made me realize that I am addicted to this mentality.  The writer argues that we gain a sense of importance from being busy, that our obligations are largely self-imposed, and yet we often sigh and complain about our overcommitted schedules as if they are out of our control.  He says of us busy folk, “They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”  So as I stare at my weekly to-do list neatly scrawled on an index card, each item parceled out with tiny check boxes beside it just begging to be accomplished, I wonder which of those character traits is driving me the most.  Is it my ambition and drive searching for a new outlet that is not related to my college degree or professional career?  Or is it my anxiety–my need to have control over every aspect of my life, my need to keep forging ahead in the face of challenge?  Regardless, this article has me thinking and as I continue to wrestle with my stay-at-home-mom/temporarily-on-a-hiatus-teacher/aspiring-writer-and-seeker-of-new-hobbies identity crisis.  Whew–at least I will be able to check “blog post” off my to-do list this afternoon.

On my heart: My thoughts and prayers are with a friend of mine who just went through a major headache/seizure medical crisis that has turned her world upside down.   Sadly, she can’t even lift her 14-month old son while she recovers.  I am reminded never to take my health for granted and am wishing her lots of support and positive mindsets as she recovers.

Weekly Reader: I finally finished Half Broke Horses– another great read from Jeannette Walls.  Someday I aspire to tell my own family stories with such candor and grace.  I’m currently reading a memoir by Anne Enright called Making Babies for my book club and simultaneously reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  I haven’t been sucked in by Enright yet, but that may be because Verghese keeps winning the contest of which book I pick up for those blinking moments of bedtime reading. Verdicts TBD.

What’s Cooking: Zucchini muffins for Ev to gobble, salmon with warm lentil and arugula salad (one of our favorites), and southwestern barley salad (a concoction I will be throwing together this evening).

“Ev”Capades:  At long last, I think I can safely say that our little dude is officially a walker.  After a week in St. Louis walking all over the city holding Grandma’s finger and watching his older cousins amble about, Ev finally decided to leap over the hurdle.  After a good month of only taking unassisted steps toward coaxing open arms, he is finally setting off on his own and taking the world by storm.  I love the way he holds both arms high in the air when he walks–which is probably for extra balance–but I like to think it’s his way of cheering himself on as he solidifies his new toddler identity.  He has also officially uttered his first real word.  While he has had many inflections of “da” for “dog” and “dad” and even to address me (quite similar to the way “ma” stands for different words in the Chinese language depending on accents and speaking tone), he finally has articulated a word with both a beginning and ending consonant sound.  Any guesses on what it is?  You might guess “car” or “book” or “eat” or simple expressions like “hi” or “bye” or “go.”  But that would just be too mundane and predictable for our little adventurer.  I am a bit saddened to admit that my son’s first real word is: TRASH.  Yep-that’s right. He identifies and expressively labels every wastebasket he encounters, every dirty diaper I tightly wad, every fallen speck of food or paper on the floor.  While it is adorable, I am incredibly jealous that the garbage gets verbal recognition before I do…still waiting to hear “mama”, my sweet boy.  I also can’t help but wonder what it means that he picked “trash” of all the other engaging objects that fill his world–now there’s a way to psychoanalyze my mothering!  I’ll resist for now and just wait in anticipation for word #2.

Happy Highlights: We were welcomed back to Nashville this week by our wonderful neighbors and friends.  We spent yesterday at Monkey Joe’s with Amanda, Ava, and Cole and had a great time at library story time this morning with Band of Mothers.

Looking Ahead: Fourth of July tomorrow and Ben has a day off!  We are psyched!  There’s a children’s wagon/bike parade at the park across the street and a block party in our neighborhood in the afternoon/evening.  Have I mentioned how much I adore our little community here?

We are VERY in to climbing these days! No one warned me that this skill came in conjunction with walking.

Bonding time with cousins!

Checking out The Butterfly House!

Petting a goat with Grandma.

The BBQ potato chip and red wine tradition lives on! With Julie and Stef in St. Louis.