Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Busy Boy

Connor came up with a list of things to do yesterday. Here's the report on how things went down.

1. Took a pencil and pad of paper with him to the can, wrote his last name eight times.
2. This lesson started out rough, but very quickly Connor was tying shoes. I predict he'll be tying his own without help in no time!
3. Since he was conquering new territory left and right, he figured the time had come for his debut as lead singer. He got 100% on Eye of the Tiger, then called Uncle Shannon and sang the song on his voicemail.
4. Progress on this was seriously impeded by #3. I managed to get dinner on the table by myself though, so things worked out just fine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Down With the Sickness

On Valentine's Day, I started noticing a ringing in my ears. It didn't bother me too much Sunday, but on Monday I had coworkers pulling me aside to ask if things were alright with me. By Tuesday night I felt like someone was stabbing me in my left ear. I spent the night tossing and turning and crying and waking Chip up to ask things like, "Has anyone's head ever exploded while they slept?" and "Do you think I should go to the ER?"

Wednesday the doctor confirmed that I had a textbook ear infection and prescribed Amoxicillin and Lortab (and Diflucan, because you know I'll need it). I took both and went to sleep. I slept through the rest of Wednesday, all of Thursday, and all of Friday. I did my best to keep up with Chip and the kids over the weekend, but it took everything out of me to spend more time awake than asleep. Saturday Chloe put me down for a nap in her bed and made sure I had every doll in the bed with me, along with a blanket for the dolls, two blankets for me, as well as a tiara and a gold bead necklace. It made me feel a little better, but not as good as an actual nap might have.

Monday I emailed the doctor to ask for help. They discontinued the Amoxicillin and put me on the much more expensive Levaquin as well as more Mucinex. I left work at 2:00 and went home to sleep until Chip and the kids got home. Then I went back to sleep around 9:30- a late night for me these days.

Today my ear feels about the same, but I find myself with a lot more energy. Hopefully that means the new meds are working. I am definitely sick and tired of being sick and tired. I'm bored, I long for some type of physical activity (Friday I spent part of the day watching Gilad on FitTV, trying to live vicariously), I hate that things are piling up on me at work, and I miss playing Rock Band with the kids. I finally feel that I've turned a corner, though, so keep your fingers crossed that I'm back to normal soon.

Confidential to Chloe and Connor: I am really sorry if I ever laid you down flat in your crib while you had an ear infection. Why didn't you tell me how bad it sucked?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Go Fly A Kite

I'm too sick to write anything (why won't the doctor call me back!) so I'll give you some pics instead. Happy Hump Day!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our Very Own Harper

We have a new addition to the family! Other pictures from Chip's first photo session with Harper can be seen here.

Valentine's Meal

The Waiter explained it very well-- Valentine's Day is the worst possible day of the year to eat out. The food you get is never what the restaurant is truly capable of. It is instead whatever has the best profit margin, and what can be turned out quickly, in large quantities.

So, of course, the Chockleys had Valentine's Dinner at home.

We decided to do "small plates" this year-- smaller portions of more dishes, so that the cooking, eating, and photographing would last just that much longer. Steph said that it "felt too much like eating hors d'oeuvres at a party," but I loved it. I thought it was all excellent. I know I've said it before, but my wife is a genius. The time and thought that she puts into planning, shopping, and cooking all of this is really impressive.

So here we go. (I used some new lighting techniques, for you photography geeks out there.)

Prosciutto di Parma with Pecorino Romano Crackers
Goat cheese with pesto and cracked black pepper and sea salt crackers

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Mushroom pesto and parmigiano bruschetta

Wine with those courses: Chateau Senejac Haut Medoc 2004.
This had lots of smoke and herb notes with restrained fruit. A very subtle wine compared to our usual.

Smoked trout ravioli with tarragon butter

Bosc pear, walnut and pecorino romano pizza

2005 Johannishof Riesling Kabinett "G" 2005
Amazing Riesling. Intense orange and mineral flavors, with strong acidity.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

First Valentine

In February of 1994, Chip and I were roommates and best friends. We were also both single, as were our friends Lori and Curt, so we decided to go on a double "date" on Valentine's Day to keep us from thinking about how lonely we were. Since Chip and I generally spent all our time together, we thought it would be fun if he were Lori's date for the night and I was Curt's. The four of us set off to the Red Lobster on Summer where we exchanged cards with our respective Valentines and enjoyed a meal that I'm sure included plenty of popcorn shrimp and pink zinfandel.

But Chip surprised me by getting a Valentine's Day card for me, too. Not long after that, we finally confessed our mutual attraction. And not long after that, we find ourselves in February of 2009, still roommates and best friends.

I love you too, Chip!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do Me Tonight!

Bedtime at our house has never been a problem. In the early days, Chip would bathe Connor and get him ready for bed while I cooked dinner. Then we'd kiss him goodnight, put him in the crib to fall asleep on his own, and enjoy a child-free meal and a relaxing evening.

By the time Chloe came along, we had implemented a family dinner routine, with bath/bed coming soon after. Chip had a good thing going with Connor, so they kept that up while I took care of the baby. We were a well-oiled machine. Chloe quickly learned to put herself to sleep, just like her brother, and by 8:00 Chip and I were ready to enjoy the rest of the evening without children underfoot. (What can I say? There's one thing our family is good at, and it's sleeping.)

Once Chloe was big enough to bathe without being propped up, we started putting the kids in the bath together. Chip could get them clean while I spent 20 minutes alone. (In those days, Chip had the house to himself after the kids and I left in the mornings. So this wasn't entirely unfair.) Aahhh, what a glorious, but brief, era. I could wash the dishes from dinner with no interruptions. Or I could watch this week's episode of Medium while sipping a glass of wine. It was my time, with no kids or spouse needing anything from me. And it didn't last long.

Somewhere in the past few months, things have gone off the rails. The kids still bathe and go to bed easily, but they won't do it without my involvement. After bathtime is over, one parent takes one kid and one parent takes the other. We read books, get tucked in, etc. I guess I can understand this- the kids had gotten used to having a couple of books worth of one-on-one time with a parent. Sharing this time didn't sit well with them, and the least I can do for my children is read them a book.

The part of this that is notable, however (only took four paragraphs to get to it!) is that I am the only person the kids feel is qualified to do bedtime. As a result, every day of my life I hear the "Mom's doing me tonight!" argument from the kids. It's like they're calling shotgun or something, even though we have a strict alternating night policy in place. And they have no problems having this argument in front of Chip, who looks on with a tear in his lonely, unwanted eye.

Here are some variations of the "Mommy's gonna do me tonight!" conversations:
CB: Mommy do me d'night!
CS: I know.
CB: Mommy do ME d'night!

CS: Mom, you're doing me tonight, right? Because last night I was at Grammy's but it would have been Dad's turn because the night before that you did me so that means you do me tonight.

CB: Mommy do me d'night!!!
CS: Nuh uh! No wait. Yeah, Mom did me last night so that means she does you tonight. But she gets to do me tomorrow night.

Every day of my life, I'm doing somebody that night. I guess it's nice to be wanted, but it would be a lot more fun if it were Chip and Brad Pitt having these discussions. Oh well- I'll take what I can get.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Partly Sunny and 68

This weekend Memphis has seen a lovely break from winter weather, with temperatures in the mid to high 60s for three days in a row. This is wonderful news, as the city was collectively suffering from cabin fever. We have all spent the weekend outside and our attitudes have improved as a result.

The only problem with this unexpected reprieve is that suddenly way too much skin is on display. In early February, we are just not ready to unleash the doughiness that has been hiding underneath those sweaters and jeans. This is the time of year when I haven't been as active as normal, because it's too cold outside, or too dark, or I've been sick, etc. So things are just. . . softer. And on top of that, my skin hasn't seen the light of day in months. Some of you might maintain a nice color year-round, but not me. My skin is practically translucent this time of year.

I bravely planned to possibly wear shorts at some point this weekend, so I decided I might need to shave my legs. Like a 12-yr-old girl shaving for the first time, I sliced my shins open in several different places. This at least gave my legs some color, but I decided to go to Plan B- long pants and short sleeves. Now, my arms are the same shade of blue-ish pale that my legs are, but at least there isn't as much of them. However, it's become very clear that I haven't been doing push-ups as dilligently as I did this summer. To finish getting dressed, I pulled out a pair of open-toed shoes. Uh, no. I've been without a pedicure for months now, and my toes are a hot mess. I need to save up for some professional care before unleashing the dogs on an unsuspecting public.

Although I was reluctant to let my pale softness show this weekend, I could not have been happier that the kids were displaying theirs. I put Chloe in short-sleeves, and absolutely salivated over the sight of her Pillsbury Dough Boy arms. I couldn't decide if I should go get some butter and a fork, or just grab them and eat them up as is. And then Connor put on shorts to sleep in. Those legs! Miles and miles of lily-white goodness. I envy the kids and their doughy perfection. I might not yet be ready to show any skin of my own, but I think I need to turn the heat up and keep the kids in short-sleeves year round. And maybe start a regular exercise program.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Today my brother sent me a link to the funniest job posting ever! I can't decide if this is the most or least PC thing I've ever seen. In either case, I laughed every time I thought about it today. A bright spot in an otherwise crappy work day! I told him I wanted to put it on my blog, but he put it on his instead. Check it out here- you can thank me later.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Dinnertime Sucks*

Dinner goes through phases at our house, and right now is a bad one.

On the adult side of things, I'm on Weight Watchers because of all the holiday weight I gained. So everything I make has to be measured and prepared very carefully, and then I have to find something to add to it to make it a worthwhile meal for Chip. (Like, say, cheesy Mexican rice to go with the fat-free spinach quesadillas that I painstakingly made from a WW recipe, despite the fact that I know how to make spinach quesadillas without a freaking recipe.)

As for the kids- well, they just don't want anything. They might ask for chicken nuggets and macaroni & cheese, but then they sit and stare at these items and complain about how they are too hot or too cheesy or not cheesy enough and then blood starts coming out of my ears because I have only been home for 45 minutes and that entire time has been spent listening to you whine about being hungry while I'm trying trying to cook something that everyone will be happy with and while Chloe is "helping" me which really just means sprinkling shredded cheese all over the kitchen and eating butter with a fork.

I think the kids are struggling with the fact that they find chicken nuggets and pizza boring, yet they refuse to try anything else. It would be funny if it weren't excruciating. I've always wanted them to eat what we are eating (and I still offer it every night), but as time goes by I find that I just want them to eat anything at all. Even though I pretend to be at peace with the fact that they get a separate meal, each night I go back over all the food decisions I've made in Connor's lifetime and try to pinpoint when, exactly, things went so horribly wrong.

I am someone who truly loves food and cooking (and my kids!), so I find it unbearable that each dinnertime is such a disaster. Truth be told, it's my lack of patience with the whole situation that is the real problem. I start each meal with a good attitude, but I just immediately turn into Mommy Dearest when a kid dares to groan about what's on the plate, or when the food goes untouched, when a child takes one bite and has the audacity to ask, "Can I have candy?" I need to lower my expectations, but I just can't. Maybe the best I can do is try to hold my tongue as I wait for this phase to pass.

*If published in the Commercial Appeal, this would be titled, "Despite long-held beliefs, Mom becomes short-order cook"

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Baby Shower

Saturday morning we headed to Babies R Us to get a shower gift for Gina and Cullen. A lot of time had passed since our last visit to this store, and walking in brought back a flood of memories. We spent quite a bit of time there during our first pregnancy and first years of parenthood. We didn't know what we were doing yet, but we always felt like we'd find an answer if we just ran over to the baby store.

It was interesting to be there with the kids. They ran through the aisles of diapers and bibs, admiring the nursery bedding and joking about how fun it would be to put a baby in one of these cribs. I announced the "C" names I had picked out for our imaginary third child (Cortland Monroe or Clementine Bell) and laughed that with my extra holiday weight, other people probably thought I looked pregnant. More than anything, we were all relaxed. So different from how Gina and Cullen, who we bumped into there, must feel, just three weeks away from the due date of their first child.

The shower that night was at the Dyers'. I commented to Chip that I had never been to this house, but I had spent a Thanksgiving at Allyson's previous home. The Morgans are family, and as such this really is my first time to be an aunt. Even though Cullen and Gina have their own sisters to guide them through this time, I hope that as their other "sister" I can be of some help too.

It was a fun party. I was tickled to find that Allyson worried I would write a scathing party review on my blog. As if! It was wonderful. Her house is lovely, her daughter completely charming, and her food was delicious. What could I possibly complain about? I appreciate being included in the celebration.

While there, I talked briefly to Gina about how that first month might go, and was chided by Jay for "freaking Gina out." That certainly wasn't my intention. But you veterans out there- can you remember that first time? Weren't you just out of your mind that last month before the due date? I remember being terrified, and having no idea what to expect. So I had to break it to Jay- I think it's too late. Gina is probably already a little freaked out. I just felt like she should know- it's not all awesome, and it's okay to feel frustrated or scared or unhappy about the whole thing.

I got lots of parenting advice before I got started, from friends and books and family, and I appreciated all of it. More than anything, hearing all the different opinions made me feel confident that using some common sense, and just doing what "felt" right, was the way to parent. Not every decision is going to be a winner, but as long as you are feeding and diapering and loving that baby, she's going to be fine. And more importantly, so are you, the parents.

As I wandered through the aisles of Babies R Us, laughing about how I once agonized over things like which type of sippy cup to buy, I wished I could wrap up the little bit of confidence I now have as a parent to give to Cullen and Gina. But the only way to get that sense of comfort is to earn it in the trenches, so I ended up just buying a sleep sack and some burp cloths. Anything else you might need, feel free to ask- I am at your service. I can't wait to welcome Miss Harper to our family!