Monday, December 31, 2007

Three Things

My children won't quit (literally) fighting each other for a spot in my lap long enough for me to write something substantial, but here are three things you need to know:

I am the fantasy football champion of the Jackson Recreation League.

I am officially tired of preparing food.

I am really going to miss my brother when he goes back to A2.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Hip Hip Hooray It's Christmas Vacation

As much as I love being off work for over a week, it is always humbling to have that much time at home with my children- humbling as I realize what a crappy stay-at-home mom I would make. I used to think staying at home with the kids was my dream job, and maybe a part of me still longs for it, but most of me is counting the minutes until our next opportunity to leave the house.

My mother astutely pointed out that if I'd always stayed at home with my kids, they would be used to the routine around the house, and would have learned by now how to play by themselves (without the aid of the TV). As things are, they are used to constant companionship from peers and teachers and have been rendered unable to spend more than three minutes playing alone. And that three minutes is filled with "Come plaaay with meeeeee!" until either I give in and start playing or they give up on playing and come to physically hang on my leg.

Fortunately, when we were at Kroger earlier they had a Cars car that we had never seen, so I bought it to use as "motivation" for good behavior. Although Connor temporarily lost his mind at a birthday party earlier in the day, right now he is playing quietly in his room while Chloe naps, so he just might earn Bob Cutlass after all. Keep your fingers crossed. For both of us.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Big Day

One of the most intimidating things about being a parent is handling Christmas. First of all, there's the whole Santa thing. I want my children to believe in Santa, but at the same time I have trouble just flat-out lying to them. I got over my initial guilt pretty quickly, but sometimes it still seems a little weird.

It was also overwhelming to realize that suddenly it was up to ME to create holiday traditions. Chip and I had created our own holiday traditions over the years, but those went out the window once we had kids. (An adults-only party on Christmas night? Not gonna happen.) We both had our own memories of Christmases past, but we had to figure out which traditions would make the cut for our new family. Will Santa wrap presents or assemble them? Will there be stockings for everyone or just the kids? Will there be a big meal or not?

It didn't take long to realize that the only thing that matters about Christmas is that we are together with our family and friends. This year, as in the past few, all the grandparents, aunts and uncles came over on Christmas Eve to eat, drink, and help Santa assemble the gifts. And they were all on hand at the crack of dawn on the 25th to see the kids react to our hard work from the night before. It was perfect, and I hope it is the tradition that endures.

I'll keep posting Christmas pictures and stories for the next few days, because I'm not ready to close the book on my holiday just yet. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another Middle Tennesse Christmas

We spent the weekend with Chip's extended family. About thirty people gathered to exchange gifts and kiss babies.

We had awesome party supplies, thanks to Sherri and her impeccable taste.

Connor ignored the actual present in favor of pointing out other things he'd like to have.

There was an unfortunate baby doll massacre.

Chloe got new shoes and immediately ditched the old ones, then got a new dress and immediately dropped trou. The resulting outfit hurt to look at.

About twenty minutes after all the Taylors left, the Millfills arrived. Just in time for our eleventh bottle of wine.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Week That Was

I had many grand ideas this week about topics that should be covered on the blog, but sadly I just did not have the time to share these things with my adoring public. Sorry. Here's a little sampling, so that you don't feel ignored.

I'm excited to announce that my baby brother has FINALLY started his own blog. If you've ever wondered what a conversation with him is like, go visit the Millfills and find out. I really wanted to write a long essay about his best and worst Christmas songs, but the best I could do was a long-ish comment on one of the posts. And this next comment:

But seriously- it's not Gene Autry's fault that Santa Claus is Coming to Town has mixed imagery! That's in every version! It just really cracks me up: "Santa knows that we're God's children, that makes everything right." Phew! I thought worshipping the false idol of Santa Claus might get me in trouble, but that carol just told me everything is okay. Sweet! But I like that song, despite the multiple "Santa and God are in this together!" references.

When Chloe walks into a room full of people, she says, "Hey guys!" I laugh every time.

Connor might spontaneously combust before Tuesday morning. Sample quotes from under the tree:
(After digging through a present ill-advisedly wrapped in a gift bag) Mom, if you put that Cars present back under the tree, I promise I won't look in it again!
(After a box came from Amazon) Mom, why don't you just give me whatever is in there?
When stuff comes in the mail we don't have to make it into a gift.
Mom, did you get me lots of stuff?
If I don't open that present, I'm going to go blind!!!!!!!! (ed note: WTF?)

I forgot to mention the most important fact about Chip- if you give him anything bite-sized, he takes at least two if not three bites to finish it. He can take one Hersey's kiss and make a full dessert out of it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why he has weighed 145 pounds as long as I've known him.

We had a fun get-together on Sunday, but it's too late to post about it now. These pictures will have to do!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jingle Bell Rock

Chip and I (and Tiff and Mom) spent our anniversary at the kids' Christmas program. In the past it has been in a room with a stage, but this year they decided to do it in the sanctuary in order to have more room for seating. However, this meant the kids weren't on stage so they would be harder to see. As a result, we all fought for seating up front or stood along the sides. We took the risk of sitting in the front, knowing Chloe might freak out once she saw us. The program started, and the Unicorns walked up to the front. And Chloe freaked out once she saw us. Ha! They put her in position with her other classmates, but being in front of all those people only made it worse, so they handed her off to us. After I had her in my lap she sobbed for a good little bit- she was just totally overwhelmed. To be honest, I figured she'd be that way even if she didn't see us before the show, so I wasn't disappointed. It was still fun.

Connor's class, the Penguins, performed last. They sang two songs and then were joined by the Koalas for the "grand finale," which consisted of half the kids singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas while the other half (Connor's half!) sang the song they had just sung. That was hilarious. They were all so proud of themselves though! And we were proud of them too.

After the show, we went to Huey's to eat with Max and his family. To say Max brings out the worst in Connor is an understatement. Add to that the fact that Chloe never recovered from her initial freak out, and you can surmise that our hour at Huey's was pretty bad. Connor and Max argued the entire time we were there. I wasn't surprised by this, because that's all they ever do. I probably would have been tense just from that, even if Chloe hadn't been exceptionally bitchy and difficult the whole time we were there. It wasn't her fault, though, that she and I were sitting in a pool of lemonade. That was a result of a dramatic spill that took place when I jumped up to stop Connor and Max from running across the restaurant at top speed to greet another friend. By the time Chloe emptied most of Mom's glass of tea on me (handful by handful as she reached in to grab ice) I didn't even care, since my pants were already mostly wet anyway. The highlight of the meal came when we paid the bill and left. That was awesome!

Huey's aside, the annual Christmas program is always fun. Connor had a great time being on stage, being with his friends, and especially belting out a few songs. I look forward to the many school programs to come!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

8 Years Ago Today...

At this time exactly 8 years ago, I was rushing around trying to remember all the things I was supposed to gather and organize. We were to get married at 7:30 p.m., have the reception, go straight to the super-swanky French Quarter Inn (heh!), and then from there to the airport bound for San Francisco and Sonoma for a week. Once the vows were spoken, there would be no chance to return home again before the honeymoon. There was LOTS to remember, and memory is not a strong point of mine. It is a strong point of Steph's, and we agreed to not see each other until the actual ceremony. I think I had a written list, and I STILL had to make several trips home after arriving at the wedding place. It was frantic, but once I saw her walk down the aisle, it all started to melt away. I knew everything would work out just fine-- for that night, for the honeymoon, and for the rest of my life.

I don't want to bore/disgust everyone with more gushing about Stephanie, but I am certain I found and married the right woman. Everything else in life certainly falls into place when you get that right. Thanks for making me a happy guy, Steph.

On to more negative things. If you know us, you've no doubt heard a rant or two about our dissatisfaction with our wedding pics. We skimped on the photographer (along with everything else) and now have virtually NO acceptable pictures from the most important day of our lives.

Having said that, I'll share some anyway:

Whatta Man

The other day I told Chip I was thinking about finally doing a "100 Things" list for the blog. "I already did that for you!" was his response. "You should do one for me!" Since Chip isn't one to beg for attention (that one was free, to whet your appetite) I took him seriously. So here, in honor of our wedding anniversary, is a quick list of 20 things* you might not know about Chip.

*I stopped at 20 because I found it hard to stick to facts rather than to just start gushing about his awesomeness. (See #21)

1. Chip has all kinds of skills and knowledge you don’t know about. For one, he can build computers. He used to do this all the time for friends and family members, but then he realized that while building the computer might be fun, being the only person on the tech support staff is not. So now he is more like our personal IT consultant rather than a full-time employee.
2. When you are trying to buy a car, Chip is the guy to call. He reads Automobile magazine and Consumer Reports and is always ready to recommend the right car for your lifestyle and budget at the drop of a hat.
3. (And he’s amazing at negotiating a price at the car dealer.)
4. Chip is also the guy to call when you need advice about which piece of home theater technology to buy. He subscribes to home theater magazines and just generally keeps up with what technology is most current and is the best priced.
5. I trust his opinion on the above matters completely. This is mainly because he’s enough like his father that you can be sure he has thoroughly researched the topic and will only make a recommendation that he is 100% sure about.
6. The reason that you don’t know how much he knows about these topics is that he’s enough like his mother that he won’t tell you about it unless you ask.
7. Chip has a degree in philosophy with a minor in music. He studied classical guitar with Lily Afshar while at Memphis State.
8. He is a gifted musician. He played the tuba in the marching band in high school (ha!) and in the youth symphony and also played guitar and bass in school-sponsored groups as well as in cover bands and original bands.
9. He is an excellent songwriter, but not much of a lyricist.
10. Chip is not a fan of classic rock.
11. His favorite sport to watch is professional basketball. His favorite sports to play are basketball and racquetball.
12. Chip never watched the NFL until living with me made it unavoidable. Then last year he won a fantasy football league! I’m so proud.
13. Every Sunday, Chip does all of the family’s laundry. He says it’s because otherwise I would leave all the clean clothes in a pile on the floor, but I think it’s really because he knows I find it sexy.
14. He totally kicked ass on his LSAT and got a full scholarship to the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
15. I use Chip as my own personal spell check- he can spell pretty much any word off the top of his head, without writing it down! (I can’t spell my own name without writing it down first, so this totally amazes me.)
16. Chip is 6’1’’. He seems much taller because he’s so thin.
17. He’s been slowly going gray for the last eight years, which coincides suspiciously with how long we’ve been married.
18. Chip is a great teacher who has tons of patience with those learning from him. In fact, he has tons of patience in general. This is one of the many reasons he’s a great father and husband.
19. When he is interested, Chip is a good, active listener. You never get the sense that he is ignoring you and thinking ahead to the next thing he’s going to say.
20. No, when he’s ignoring me it’s because I’ve said too many things and he’s gone away to his happy place. But he’s definitely not thinking ahead to the next thing he’s going to say.

21. The most important thing to me about Chip is that he makes me a better person. He is a wonderful husband and father and I'm thankful every day that I was lucky enough to snatch him up eight years ago. Happy Anniversary Chip! I love you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bo Boey

Just because I miss how beautiful my daughter USED to be, here are some pics from a couple of weeks ago. (I'm kidding. Chloe is much better now. The swelling is going down rapidly. Apparently a random mosquito bite or two on the eyelid caused the weirdly hideous reaction. Thanks to all who have inquired.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cut Me, Mick!

Yesterday Chloe woke up with her eye swollen shut. We immediately looked at Connor suspiciously, trying to figure out how he managed to sneak into her room and punch her in the middle of the night without waking anyone up. We decided to let him off the hook, mainly because her eyeball wasn't red at all, only her lid. (Coincidentally, that's also why we let pinkeye off the hook.) After careful consideration we went ahead and sent her to school despite her newfound deformity. Our hope was that another kid would catch her strange eye disease and then we'd be able to ask that kid's parent what treatment was needed, after they went to the doctor.

By the end of the day, she looked much worse and despite our best efforts to avoid a co-pay we found ourselves making an appointment at the night clinic. We were told that she most likely had periocular edema. Whew! Glad to have a diagnosis. Hey wait- peri means "around," ocular means "eye," and edema means "swelling". . .did the doctor just tell me she has swelling around her eye? No shit. I already told you that when I called to make the appointment! When we pressed the doctor for a diagnosis that was worth the $25 we paid to keep our possibly sick child up past her bedtime, we were told that we should watch for flu-like symptoms that would indicate ocular cellulitis. In fact, the doctor had sent a patient to the hospital with that very affliction earlier in the day. We breathed a sigh of relief at that news, because now we had something interesting to tell people the next day. "It's probably periocular edema, but we're watching closely to make sure she doesn't develop ocular cellulitis. I'd hate to check her into the hospital this close to Christmas!" So we brought her home and put her to bed, secure in the knowledge that people would feel adequately sorry for us when they heard the story. Just in case seeing her hideously deformed face didn't do the trick on its own.

*Title courtesy of the Italian Stallion. No, not Rocky- that's just what I'm calling RJA from now on.

Scenes from the Brooks Museum Festival of Lights

The snow shown below is not real, in case you're wondering. It was 75 degrees this past Sunday.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Behold the Power of Cheese

When Chloe and I were at the grocery store Sunday, we saw something that moved me to use the camera on my phone for the first time ever.

I believe next year I'll leave the usual ornaments in the attic and go a different route with my decorating.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

O Tannenbaum

Several years ago, I discovered the optimal position on that day at the end of November, the day we go pick out a Christmas tree. That position is, of course, on the couch, watching while Steph does all the decorating. In the early days of our relationship, I was right there with her, arranging all the ornaments and lights. Slowly, I started realizing that my contributions were always removed and re-done as soon as I turned my back. I think we're both much happier now. I get the tree in the house and on the stand, and then I step aside.

Here's the process. She gets this spooky possessed look in her eye, like that painter guy on Heroes:

It's all a crazy blur:

And then it ends up looking like this:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

All the Balls

Recently, while eating at Mariscos Mazatlan, Connor was overwhelmed with desire for one of the little bouncy balls found in the standard array of ball/candy/Bubba Teeth dipensers required in all Mexican restaurants. The last time we indulged this desire we had to avoid Mexican restaurants for almost a year until Connor had matured just a bit, enough that he could stare longingly at the balls from his seat rather than while seated in the floor in front of the dispensers. As a result, I always give a firm "no" to the ball requests.

Connor knows that, so he waited to ask until I was outside, on the south side of Winchester Road, risking my life walking my restless 20-month-old daughter back and forth in front of the pawn shop located next door to Mariscos Mazatlan in the strip mall that contains both of these fine establishments. By timing his question just right, he was able to elicit a response of "Maybe if you eat all your food," instead of the usual, "No," which I think is just a cruel way of postponing the inevitable since you and I both know Connor has never, ever eaten all his food.

By the time I got involved in the ball discussion, our meal was over and Connor had eaten exactly three French fries and one bite of chicken nugget. I said, "No you can not have a ball! You have 48 million quadrillion balls at home already, and you can play with one of those when you get home!" Connor pouted and said, "I do not have 48 balls!" Of course, neither of us could wait to go home and count. We rounded up just the balls we could find downstairs at our house, lined them up in our special OCD way, and counted all 72 of them.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Yeah You Told Me 'Bout the Time!

Today is our last NaBloPoMo post. Lo hicimos! Instead of writing about what an amazing, challenging, friend-making, soul-searching, blah blah blah experience this has been, I'm going to briefly share the topics and pictures I didn't have time to elaborate on during the month of November. Because the couple of times I didn't have a good, fleshed out post? It wasn't because I had nothing to say, it's because I didn't have the time to type it. I always have something to say.

Chloe (like her mother) has SO MUCH to say these days. I'm acutely aware of how communication at this stage has as much to do with her learning our language as it does us learning hers. I find myself surprised when other people don't understand her. It's so clear to me!

She also reads books to us all the time. She happily flips through the pages, telling us words from each one, then tosses the book aside with a casual "theeee in!" ("The end." Obviously.)

There were 72 balls! That will still probably get its own post.

Connor's best friend had his last day at Idlewild today. I am not ready to start thinking about the breaking up of old and forming of new friendships that will accompany the transition to kindergarden next year, so this really caught me off guard. Connor hasn't really reacted yet- we'll see how it goes next week.

This week at work has been awful. Ask Andria- she heard all about it, and listened politely even though her week was worse.

Those zoo pictures Chip posted a couple of weeks ago- there are stories to tell! But mainly I never got a chance to say Happy Birthday to my November girls, Delaney (age 3) and her beautiful mother Beth (born in the 1960s!)

Last night was Nickel Creek's last show probably ever, and Chip went to Nashville to see it. He took Connor and left him there (in Nashville, not at the concert), although I've been promised that he will be returned to me on Sunday.

My Thanksgiving cooking was fun, but a bit hindered by the fact that both kids stayed home that day. Chloe had been fighting a random fever all week, and stayed home all week. Connor thought spending the day at home watching TV sounded pretty bitchin', so he spent the week coming up with creative and heartfelt reasons why he needed to stay home as well, finally breaking me on a cold, rainy Wednesday.

I am not doing a Christmas countdown calendar this year. That is too much structure, even for me. Plus Connor's not going to be here on December First, and my OCD won't let me come to terms with that. (I had a hard enough time doing this for only 24 days instead of a whole month!)We're still making sugar cookie ornaments, though.

I hope everyone who participated in NaBloPoMo had a great month. Those of you who participated by reading my blog regularly- well, bless your hearts. I promise to leave you alone at least until Monday.

Theeee in!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pick Your Battles

Not Worth the Trouble:
Socks that match the rest of your outfit
Running in the halls at school
Tasting new foods
Watching too much TV
Meticulous hand-washing
Biting your fingernails
Playing video games

You'll Never Get Away With:
Interrupting when someone else is talking
Eating dessert if you didn’t have most of your dinner
Not saying thank you when something is handed to you/done for you
Demanding something rather than asking for it
Picking your nose
Saying no to/flat-out ignoring a parent's request

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Homestretch

Steph deserves a round of applause for the amazing amount of posting this month-- I think it actually averages slightly more than once a day at this point. I'm sorry I've left so much of this burden to her. In "real life" the ratio of my words to Steph's is about 1:100, and I guess this is true online too. I'm a complex man, see-- my pithiness makes me more mysterious. Right?

Anyhoo, more pics of pretty kids, some of them Chockleys, and some not: