Sunday, December 31, 2006


Here we are on the eve of a new year. I look at this as an excuse to make yet another to do list, one you may know better as "New Year's Resolutions."

I know what you're thinking: cliched and pointless. But that's only if you're someone who doesn't thrive on checking things off your list! I have kept many big, life-altering resolutions in my day, and hopefully this year won't be any different. I've got several little things on the agenda, but here are my big two:

A resolution that Chip and I have made together is to get a doctor. We notoriously avoid going to the doctor, which means we don't have a PCP so if we really, truly get sick we have to go spend a day at a minor med. The older we get, the stupider this seems. Plus, shouldn't we be getting checked regularly for things? I don't know what happens to you in your mid-30s, but as quickly as my body has been deteriorating since turning 30 and having kids, I'm sure I need someone to look me over. Chip too. He's about to turn 35! We have someone picked out, and we are going to make introductory appointments so that the next time we're actually sick we can say, "Why yes, my file is at your office!" and possibly get an actual appointment in a timely manner.

The other big thing I plan to do is sleep less. I'm sure most people with young kids wish they could get more sleep, but that isn't a problem at the Chockley household. All four of us are champion sleepers. The problem is that there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to spend eight or more of them in bed- I'm not getting done all the things I need to in the course of a day. Ideally, we would just move to Midtown and I would gain an hour a day by not having a long commute. But since that isn't economically possible, I guess I have to start going to bed later and waking up earlier. So what's the key to staying up later? More coffee? More activity? I know no one out there (other than my in-laws) sleeps as much as I do, so please share your secrets.

Now if you're lucky, maybe I can get Chip to make a resolution to blog more so that occasionally you can read something interesting at

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

First Christmas

Three years ago, Connor celebrated his first Christmas. All the grandparents, aunts and uncles were at our house bright and early to see what Santa had brought for the first member of our family's next generation. Connor was the center of attention, propped up in his bathtub seat in the middle of all the presents. We all ooohed and aaahed over his reaction to each bow, each scrap of wrapping paper, each gift. It was amazing, a special day that I will never forget.

Two days ago, Chloe celebrated her first Christmas. As has quickly become the tradition, all the family members were at the house first thing in the morning to see what Santa had brought. And again, Connor was the center of attention. We delighted in his reaction to all the presents, his wonder as he checked out the empty glass of egg nog that had been left for Santa, his excitement over 24 different colors of Play-Do. After weeks of anticipation, he was beside himself that the day had finally arrived.

After checking out the toys Santa and the elves had made for her, Chloe sat contentedly in my lap, laughing at Connor and clinging to my arm. Presents were passed around, and the stack in front of me and Chloe grew as I alone watched her pull the bow off of her first package and stare at it in wonder. "Can you pull this paper off too? Does it taste good?" I asked as she made her way towards what was inside. Just like Connor on his first Christmas, she enjoyed the packaging as much as the actual gifts. She didn't care if she was opening a book or pajamas or a toy, as long as she was able to get it in her mouth. It was amazing- something I'll never forget.

The rest of the family seemed to forget that a first Christmas has to be savored. "Stephanie, you need to start opening presents! Yours are piling up!" Our little moment was over and I went about the business of tearing open gifts at an acceptable pace. Connor was busy dashing back and forth between people and presents and piles of trash, keeping everyone entertained and truly enjoying the day. Chloe found her own comfort zone, and eventually made her way around the room to check out everyone else's haul and to be adored. I can't remember ever being happier than watching those two experience Christmas while surrounded by extended family. I love this holiday!

Someday I'll tell Chloe the story of her first Christmas, and I'll make sure she knows that her family showered her with love and with presents- and that for a few precious minutes, she had her mother's undivided attention.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Deckin' the Halls and Whatnot

RoboBlogger Stacey asked where we've been the last week or so. I've been getting ready for Santa's visit! This month has flown by. I've been busy at home and work, but a good kind of busy. Since the boys (Chip, Connor and Andy) are giving me the gift of sleeping in, I've got time for a quick visit to blogland before going back to neglecting my duties at
We've done a lot of things that don't photograph well since day eleven, but having "the box" (still no good name!) has definitely been a lot of fun. Connor looks forward to finding out what we're doing each day, and seems happy with it no matter what it is. We've driven to Nashville, wrapped presents, made cards, colored in Christmas coloring books, driven around checking out light displays, and eaten dinner at the dining room table, complete with cloth napkins and lit candles. Connor tried, but did not succeed, at burning down the dining room. (And that's how I spent my 7th wedding anniversary!)
Tuesday was the Christmas program at Connor's school. He had been practicing "I Saw Three Ships," "Happy Holidays" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" for weeks. I'm happy to report he has his mother's aptitude for remembering song lyrics, so he was ready when the big day came. Connor knew Grammy and Tiffany were going to join us, but when he hit the stage and frantically scanned the crowd for familiar faces he was surprised to find Bwana had come all the way from Nashville to see the show! His reaction was wonderful- pointing, screaming, aw-shucks-ing, and repeatedly tapping the head of the kid next to him and declaring, "There's my Bwana!" After the program Connor was bouncing off the walls, introducing his entourage to all his friends and generally doing a lot of yelling. He calmed down a bit when we got to Huey's (Day 19- eat at a restaurant), even though his best bud Max and his family were there. Thankfully we couldn't sit right next to them, but we did sit next to one of the teachers from Connor's school. That definitely had a positive effect on his behavior! Connor ate a whole chicken strip, plenty of fries, and ALL of his ice cream, and managed not to put anyone's eye out blowing toothpicks at the "ceiling." (The wall by my head would be a more accurate description his target.)
Tonight we are reading Christmas stories together (His belly is like a full bowl of jelly!) and tomorrow we are going to church with Grammy, and after that we will go back to our normal, non-box-dictated family activities such as begging Connor to eat something besides Tyson southern-style chicken nuggets or repeatedly picking up whatever Chloe is currently dropping (cause-and-effect is soooo overrated).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Feliz Naviblah

Chip has got the Roller Derby covered, so I'll catch us up on the "Twenty-Four Days of Mom Doing Stuff and Hoping the Others Join In."
Friday I was going to do those name poems for everyone and let Connor color them. He is learning what letter words start with, so I thought this would be good for him. (Plus I wanted to use "ornery" for an "O".) He thought differently, and threw a crayon across the room. So Friday night we had no "family activity."
I called an audible on Saturday. Originally we were going to go to the roller derby as a family, but once I realized it started at 7:30 I knew it wouldn't work to take him. He has been begging me to put up outdoor Christmas lights, so that's what we did. Just garland with lights around the top of the door- I think "modest" is a good word to describe it. Others have chosen "ugly." In true Griswold family form, tonight Connor pointed out that "the lights don't twinkle, Mom. "
Tonight was Make Homemade Ice Cream night. I did all the work as Connor excitedly asked, "Isiticecreamyet? Isiticecreamyet?" until finally it sorta was. When I presented it to him, he refused to eat it, sticking with the Backyardigans candy he had picked out at the grocery store. And then later he cried because he didn't get any ice cream.

At least one of my kids enjoys eating:

Check it out- three teeth!


This post doesn't involve our kids, and it doesn't have any pics of them-- so enjoy the break from our narcissism while you can.

Grammy took care of the kids last night so we could enjoy a night out with Tiffany and her date, Mark. We had the best sushi in Memphis at Sakura, for what I think is about the 9th time in three months. It's funny, Steph and I look forward to having Sakura sushi all week, and we're both giddy on Saturdays because we know it's imminent. It's the little things in life, you know.

We're dorks.

After that, it was on to the second bout of the Memphis Roller Derby, which we were really looking forward to. The Legion of Zoom (Stacey's, I mean, Smashimi's team) was up against the PrissKilla Prezleys, at some skating rink way the hell out in Collierville. There was much pomp as the girls took the rink-- complete with a strip-reveal of the LoZ's super-sweet uniforms. It was very surreal-- there we are-- in person-- to watch a roller derby bout. The girls had awesome names-- Angelina Rolie, Smackie Chan, Steelia Thunder, etc. It took me an hour or so to figure out what I was looking at. At first it looked like a bunch of girls-- well, women actually, skating around in a circle, randomly knocking the hell out of each other. Then I realized that there was a madness to their method, or something like that. Stacey, who is captain of the Legion of Zoom, was simply kicking ass and taking names. It wasn't that different from when I used to watch her do the same thing on the soccer field, in high school. Unfortunately, the LoZ was getting stomped.

Near the end of the bout, late in the 3rd period, things really went downhill for me. Stacey took a really hard, weird fall, and didn't pop right back up. See, one thing that impressed me the about these girls is that they fall very hard and very often, but they spring right up and keep on skating. Especially Stacey-- she's as tough as they come. This time, she stayed on the floor, repeatedly dropping f-bombs and pounding the floor. We knew it wasn't good.

This really hit me in a weird way-- I almost hurled right there. Stacey's injury wasn't Joe-Theisman-gruesome or anything, at least that I could see--but it was obviously devastating. They called Warren (or "Mr. Smashimi" as they called him) to the rink, and the medical folks attended to her. When I say "medical folks," I mean the chick with the quasi-EMT jacket, who very astutely wrapped her ankle when she had obviously broken the holy crap out of her leg.

The teams finished the bout after the delay, but no one was into it. Stacey was obviously upset and in serious pain. We were kind of at a loss for words, and we couldn't get to Stacey, so we said our goodbyes and left. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, the ambulance was pulling in, with sirens blaring.

Derby obviously means a lot to Stacey (see her article about it here), and I think that's why it was so hard to watch that happen, especially on the first bout of the season. It's been a cool outlet for her, and for all of those women-- mommas, young hipsters, career women of all shapes, sizes and ages. The confidence and complete lack of self-consciousness of the girls was remarkable. And Stacey was obviously good-- she was captain of her team, and the team did much better when she was on the floor. I guess the nausea I felt was as much for Stacey's disappointment as for her physical pain.

I got a text from Stacey this morning-- broken tibia AND fibula, surgery this afternoon. Ouch.

Rock on, Smashimi, and I hope you roll again.

Friday, December 08, 2006

His Muse

If you were wondering why Chloe wasn't in that last post, it's because her photo shoot deserves its own mention.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Through the lens

Day seven was "Take pictures of each other." This doesn't seem like a big deal until you learn that this was the first time Connor has been allowed to use the camera. He was beyond thrilled. The following is a small sampling of the artistic wonder that is "Connor the Photographer."

Behold our Christmas tree.


After taking this picture, he hugged and kissed Clark while saying, "Good picture, Clark!"

This looks like a mistake to you, but let me assure you that it was preceded by "Hey Mom, I'm going to take a picture of your shoe!"

Other items he deliberately photographed include:
The wheel of a toy truck
The floor
The carpet
My hip
His dinner (A little too much time spent reading Stacey's blog)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Countdown Calendar

This year I stole an idea I had seen several times online and made a Christmas countdown calendar. Because I'm not what one would call crafty, I decided against sewing stockings or making my own envelopes or putting messages inside of decorated matchboxes. Instead, I cut up card stock and wrote a number on one side and a family activity on the other, then put them all in a box with Santa Claus on the lid. It sounds lamer than it is, I promise- Connor gets a kick out of pulling a card from the box.
My lack of Martha-Stewartness was not the only obstacle to overcome in order to make the Christmas countdown activity calendar work. (Can you tell we don't really have a good name for it? Right now it's just "The Box.") Of all the things that bother Connor, trying something new at which he is not instantaneously proficient is at the top of the list. And that's followed closely by trying something new and having someone dare to explain to him how to do it. So some of my fun ideas become excruciatingly painful within minutes of starting them. If we stick with it, Connor eventually comes around, so I'm hoping that sooner or later I will break him and he will just enjoy something from the outset. Keep your fingers crossed.
I had the idea that I would blog daily about our activities, but clearly that isn't going to happen so here's a recap of the first few days:
Bought and decorated a Christmas tree
This went well! We were off to a good start. Tiff went with us to pick out the tree, and we all ran around in the cold, pausing occasionally to look at a tree and scream, "IT'S HUUUUGE!" I let Connor pick out a lopsided tree and help hang ornaments, which are mostly in clusters around the bottom. Slowly I am getting them spread out, but overall I let go of a lot of my Christmas tree control issues.
Made paper snowflakes and hung them up in Connor's room
Day two did not go as smoothly. Connor is new to the whole scissors thing, and had never tried to make snowflakes before. My quick demonstration was ignored, so I figured I might as well fold a piece of paper and hand it to him. My help was not needed, and he grabbed some paper and tried a few folds before getting frustrated, throwing his paper across the room, folding his arms over his chest and pouting. So I handed him the piece of paper I had folded during this display and tried to explain how he could cut a chunk out of the paper. Fortunately I came away from that with all of my fingers, although it was close. I was worried about the amount of freaking out he would do when he unfolded the paper and saw that his didn't look like mine, but fortunately he was happy to have made any difference in the paper at all. Crisis averted! He conceded the paper folding to me, and we all enjoyed making and hanging snowflakes.
Made chocolate cookies from scratch
I like to cook, but I never bake, so this was totally new to Connor. We donned our aprons and pulled out the ingredients. Of course Connor was supremely confident in his innate ability to make cookies, and scoffed at my suggestion to read the recipe. I had the power of the chocolate chips on my side, however, and he actually followed some of my directions with the promise that we would open the bag of chips once everything else was done. Then we ate a LOT of chips and dough and cookies.
Had an indoor picnic
We've done this one before. Chloe is the only family member who has a problem with the picnic. She'll happily eat dinner from her highchair, but bucks and squirms when held on my lap. But it was nothing a little Shout can't fix.
Took a walk in the dark to see neighborhood Christmas lights
Fortunately the night we did this wasn't too terribly cold, so it was pretty fun. I mean, by the end Connor freaked out and pouted and all, but I'm tired of telling that story.
Made a fort in the den
We pulled a card table out of the attic and fixed it up with blankets and pillows, and ate our dinner under there. Chloe was unsure about it to begin with, but was soon crawling around grabbing food off our plates with glee. The most entertaining part of this was how Connor is physically incapable of saying the word fort. We built a porch in the den, plain and simple. If we look at him and say "fort," he repeats it to us, "porch!"
I hope this becomes a fun tradition that the kids have fond memories of. I'll consider this year a trial run, since only one kid can really participate. Maybe by the time they are both old enough to get into it I'll have figured out a name and presentation that doesn't reek of throwing this together on November 30. I guess I've got until next December to collect and decorate those 24 matchboxes.