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.

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