Friday, August 31, 2007

Not a Baby Anymore

Recently RJA updated us on GK's verbal abilities. Chip and I laughed that we could have copied it over here with a different picture, because it described Chloe exactly. But what a difference a week makes at this age! She has really started communicating, showing that she might be related to me and Connor after all. She gets very excited when she is able to get a point across, and it makes things a little easier for us too. But don't be upset if you try to have a conversation with her and she makes little sense- it takes a trained ear.

She's also a little bit girly, caring tenderly for her "baaybeee," gathering up her classmates to "read" books to them, and wearing any of Mama's clothing or accessories that she can get her hands on.

And in case you haven't noticed, she's also absolutely adorable!

Monday, August 27, 2007

An Island Made of Mud?

One thing that has always excited me about becoming a dad is seeing the "firsts." For example, Connor has never seen an eclipse. He also hasn't been on a boat, seen two drunk bums get into a fight, heard a symphony in person, recorded a song, read a Kafka novel, jumped off a cliff into a lake, experienced a great Shiraz, kissed a girl (unless he and Miss S have been doing things we don't know about), or written an inane blog post. When he does those things, I'll be there. Except for the kissing one. He'll need to be alone for that one.

I'm working on getting those things in front of his little eyes (well, most of those things). But I don't want them to happen too fast-- gotta savor some of the "firsts" and not blow all my dadhood jollies at once.

So this weekend's "first" was riding a monorail. Specifically, to Mud Island, where we went to his friend Jack's birthday party. (Actually, setting foot on Mud Island is another first, but that's not entirely remarkable.) Connor was afraid that he'd get really dirty on "an island made of mud" but he got over it when he realized all of his friends would be on that ball of mud too.

There was lots of cake eating, pinata busting, romping down the model Mississippi river, and frolicking in the "Gulf."

I don't have pics, but another first this weekend was bowling. Connor bowled an amazing 66, with TWO spares, in his first attempt at this honorable sport. Can a kid make his parents rich on the PBA tour?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Livin' Is Easy (But Not the Shopping)

Last year we took a trip to the beach the first week of October. I figured I would wait until the end of the season to buy half-price bathing suits and sale items off the water toys aisle. I bounded into Macy's one lunch hour early in September, sweating through my work attire and glad to hit the AC, only to discover racks and racks of wool coats in the section where I thought the bathing suits should go. "I heard they were on sale!" I whined to the salesperson, who replied that they had been on sale last weekend, but now they were gone. "Summer is over," she explained incredulously. "I don't think any stores have bathing suits anymore." Great. I managed to borrow enough clothing and equipment to make it through our trip, but I vowed to do a better job the following year.

Doing a better job meant paying attention to when the end of the season came to the world of retail. You know when summer is over? Now. Right in the middle of two weeks of temperatures over 100 degrees. School started back, and that's it. Time to scramble for the last few mismatched two-piece toddler suits, the bright orange floaties, and whatever else is left on the dollar aisle at Target. I could understand this if it were just the national chains pushing fall on us. Maybe it's cooling off somewhere else. But there's no reason I should walk into Schnuck's and see harvest-themed flower arrangements at the front door. Even worse than that, the season has changed at Rhodes. Students are back, summer work hours have ceased to exist, and suddenly we're expected to dress up and look professional again. At least as professional as possible while covered in sweat.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Things I Love About My In-Laws' House

It's big enough to drive a car through.


There's a gun hidden in this bathroom.

Stacey and Al would feel at home here.

My mother-in-law's eye for detail makes every inch of the place gorgeous.

But most of all, it's filled with people we love who love us back!

(And wine- it's also filled with wine.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Same As It Ever Was

When I was pregnant with Connor, I spent a lot of time worrying that he would do nothing but cry and I wouldn't know how to comfort him. I had heard that somewhat-regular naps and feedings might give me a place to start guessing when the inevitable crying started, but I knew it was a pipe dream to think any of those things might occur with any type of regularity. At least I thought I knew. Then Connor "popped out of my belly" and handed me a schedule of how his days should go. Some days I was really happy to know exactly what was coming next, but some days I just wanted to do something that might take us out of the house during the pre-appointed nap time. I was no match for Connor's internal clock, however- he was going to sleep when it was time to sleep, or everyone within a five-mile radius would pay dearly for it. Many times I would provide a caretaker with a schedule for Connor's day, and they would smile indulgently and say something along the lines of "We've managed to not kill one yet," and I would shrug and walk away, not able to make them understand that it wasn't Connor I was worried about. He likes things to be the same. And God help you if they're not.

As he's gotten older, he's better able to go with the flow. It's easy for me to take some precautionary measures when moving outside his comfort zone, since at least I know what he is expecting to happen at any given moment- even if it doesn't. Don't get me wrong- his sense of sameness and routine hasn't weakened at all. It's just that he's old enough now to handle things in a different way. Instead of the teeth-gnashing and clothes-rending of days past, I am instead subjected to an endless stream of questions and comments about whatever it is that is different.

For example, Chloe barfed in the car yesterday and I had to remove and clean her car seat. When I picked Connor up from school, here's how that (and other) blows to normalcy were handled.

Mom, why are you picking me up? Where's dad? Where's Chloe?
(He was there when she puked! He knows where they are!)
Where is your car? Why are you parked down there? Why not across the street?
(I had run an errand on the way to his school, so I approached it from a different direction.)
Where is Chloe's car seat? Why did you have to take it out to clean it? Why didn't you leave it in here?
Why are we going this way? Are we going to the Alleys' house?
(This happened earlier in the week. He's still trying to process that it doesn't have to happen every day just because it happened once.)
Mom- if you turn there that's where the Alleys' house is!
(One thing about his attention to detail and love of routine- he is very good with directions. I'm sure he could get home from school without my help.)
Mom- we went straight yesterday right here!
(We did, and I actually would have been disappointed if he hadn't mentioned it.)

But that's just one car ride. Every day is like this, from morning to night:

Why are we having biscuits for breakfast? Yesterday we had cereal bars!
Daddy goes straight here, Mom! Why do you have to turn!?
I can't pee yet- it's only time to brush my teeth! Then I'll kiss Daddy, then I'll pee!
Mom- don't forget to hide under the covers! Don't forget to do what you do!

So consider this fair warning- anything you do or say in front of Connor, even once, is setting a precedent that will be referenced at any and all subsequent meetings. And if you offer to watch Connor, and I mention that he likes to eat chicken nuggets around 6:30 pm, well- just go ahead and fix them. You'll thank me later.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Off My Chest

Dear Diary,

I just haven't been myself for the last week or so, and for that I apologize. While I was having fun each night celebrating Birthday Week, each day I was struggling at work. I think I'm sort of caught up now, though, so maybe my days and nights will be more balanced.

Other things have happened this week that are much more fun than work. I turned 34. So did Tiff! Mark stayed in his twenties, Mom turned, um, older, and RJA turned 37. (Happy Birthday!)

Connor decided he was able to swim underwater- just put his face under and started flailing. Successfully. Well done! He also went down the huge water slide at the JCC. Chip came over and said, "Your son has something to tell you!" So I went over to him and caught the end of, "S, hey S! I just went down the waterslide! It was so cool!" Sigh. Later on Miss S informed me that Connor had showed her how to swim. I am soooo out of the loop.

Chloe now says "Eye!" and "No(se)!" and is obsessed with Mr. Baby in ways even my considerable maternal instincts can't comprehend. She's just as much of a daredevil in the water as her brother is. Remind me to tell them, before our next visit to a pool, that neither of them can actually swim.

I hope your week has been as good as mine. Or, regarding work, has been MUCH better than mine. I'll be in touch.



Put your hands where my eyes can see

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Strong Enough

I recently attended a two-day staff retreat at St. Somethingorother out in Bartlett. Our homework for the retreat was to read the book Now, Discover Your Strengths, take the test, do some discovering, and show up in Bartlett ready to share our strengths with the group. I thought the exercise summed me up pretty well, while not reavealing anything earth-shattering. I'm apparently good at talking, be it in front of a group of people or while making conversation with strangers. I can pick up on the feelings of the people I'm talking to, and I try to make them feel good about themselves. I like to root for people, and will celebrate even the smallest victories. Yeah, that sounds right. No big deal.

When it came time to share with the group, I went second (presumably because I am good at talking, could sense that others were nervous about this exercise and wanted to make the experience more positive for everyone). It went as expected-Stephanie's good at talking, ha ha ha. But as the rest of the staff went after me describing their test results, I was surprised to find that their strengths related to their jobs! They were reliable, they liked to cross things off their lists, they liked to find solutions, blah blah blah. I think that, at least in the workplace, I'm good at that stuff too. But unlike my co-workers, my workplace strengths aren't my overall strengths. No, my overall strengths are all about my social life. So all this time, I wasn't just whining when I complained about having to work for a living. I was following my strengths! Apparently I am most suited for a life as a professional party-goer/small-talk-maker/cheerleader. (And all this time I thought my dream job was to be a part-time professional shopper! I was way off.) I think I could get on board with that, if I could just find someone to pay me for it. Let me know if you hear of any related job openings.

P.S. Don't bother mentioning that my strengths are well-suited for a school teacher. I'm trying super-hard to ignore that.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Happy Birthday, Stephanie!

Today we celebrate the birth of my favorite girl, Stephanie. It's a cool thing to be married to a woman who is this gorgeous:

Being hot is a great thing, of course, but she also brings amazing amounts of intelligence, humor, fun and grace to the table. I'm a lucky man.
And let's not forget-- she's also capable of producing offspring this cute:
Happy Birthday, Mom!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bring on the Birthdays!

Birthday Week 2007 had its unofficial start over the weekend, but today marks the official start in our family- Grammy's birthday.

Grammy got the party started yesterday with a gathering at Huey's midtown to see Jerry Stanfill's band play. They were great, and everyone had a great time. Connor ate a lot and did some dancing, and Chloe charmed everyone who saw her, despite having on the dirtiest shirt I've ever seen.

Last year we had a big 60th party for Grammy. This year's birthday is just as celebration-worthy, but we're going to keep it small with dinner at my house tonight. I hope that for a night she can relax and be waited on rather than being the one taking care of everybody else. She deserves it!

Happy birthday, Grammy!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


On the momentous occasion of our 200th post, I will extol the virtues of our humble blog.

Originally, it was just a way to keep out-of-town family up to date on pics and milestones of Connor. Though it still serves that purpose (and the same for Chloe now), it's expanded to be all sorts of other things to us. At times, it's a soapbox, or a sounding board when either of us is too tired to listen to the other's rantings in person. It's been a way for Steph and I (ok, more Steph than I) to compose our thoughts about parenting and other issues that plague middle-class thirty-somethings. It's a way for Steph to humor herself, which she loves to do. (She's pretty good at it-- I often hear her laughing inexplicably to herself in the next room.) It's also an outlet for me to inflict my new love of photography upon all of you. (For all of the bad pictures I've inflicted upon all of you before I actually started learning about photography, sorry.)

Best of all, it improves our feeling of connectedness-- to our out-of-town family and friends, to our in-town friends, and to some folks we don't see often at all. The social phenomenon of blogging is remarkable to me-- we've made lots of new friends who instantly seemed like old friends because we keep up with their blogs, and they read ours. We also feel closer to old friends--even when we don't see them as often-- since we can pick right up when we do hang out in person.

Of course, I have to credit Stacey with motivating our little community-- berating us to BLOG MORE and especially to write about it when we dine with our monkeys.

So anyway, thanks for reading everyone. Hope we can entertain you, and more importantly, ourselves, enough to churn out another 200 posts.