Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Of all the things to be concerned about with my new job, my biggest concern right now is the toilets. Yes, that's right. Toilets. I can't figure them out. There is a sensor at the back of the stalls, and the light flashes when I stand up. But the toilet never flushes. I have no idea if they are automatic or not, and I don't want to be that person who leaves an unflushed toilet. Today I did the "ultimate" toilet test. I was in a single restroom and washed my hands while waiting to see if it would flush. You know how sometimes there's a time delay? That's what I was waiting to have kick in.

Except it didn't. So, I pushed the button next to the sensor, like I've been doing for the past week. I'm still confused, though. Why bother to put the sensors in if the toilets require me to push a button? This is the trouble with these automatic things; you never know quite how they work. I'm thirty years old and still can't figure out the automatic faucet. Forget about the soap. I have the towel dispenser pretty well figured out, but those aren't consistent across the board either. How in the world am I supposed to make sure Robbie knows how to use a variety of toilets? God help me if he starts thinking everything should be automatic and stops flushing at home... Oh, the perils of an automated society.

On a lighter, and more fragrant, note... Robbie and I walked to the florist around the corner today. That's right! We both walked! Robbie held my finger, but he walked the whole way, and he walked all the way back! He's so ready to let go, but I'm enjoying that he still needs me for walking (err... running) right now. He saw Justin crossing the street on our way home and a huge smile spread across his face. He leaned his head back to look at me, so excited to see Justin. And then he broke into a Frankenstein-esque run to get to his daddy.

I apologize for what I feel like is a pretty lame blog entry... My students always complain that it's hard to write in their journals every day, and I told them they just weren't being creative enough. Of course, I hadn't tried to write every day for an audience. So please bear with me on the less-than-exciting days. After all, I can't run a crazy obstacle course or find out I have seven cavities every day!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Last Day of Summer

Today was my last "real" day of summer home with Robbie. I have Friday off, but Justin and I are going to send the bambino to daycare and enjoy a day together. So, this was it. The day kind of snuck up on me. I guess I knew it was coming, but I didn't want to think about it. And now that it's over, I wish I had.

The first half of the day was actually a lot of fun. Robbie and I went for a walk with my friend Jane and her daughter Lily. We hadn't gotten to see each other for the past month, so it was nice to catch up. I'd forgotten how nice it was to have girlfriends. Don't get me wrong, I have some fantastic friends. But there's something about having mom girlfriends. They just get you. They've been exactly where you are and find their husbands infuriating for the same reasons. And we all need time to gripe about men and children.

It was the afternoon of my last day of summer that really disappointed me. Robbie and I took Barkley to the vet, where we found out that all the things I thought were problems really were problems. I hate that. I went three for three this time... Barkley's ear was cut when he got groomed a week ago, and it got infected. Then when Barkley was trying to scratch it, he cut the inside of his ear, which also got infected... Second problem? Brace yourself. Full anal glands. Lovely. But definitely worth $15 to have someone else fix them. Third problem? This is actually what's been irritating me for months. Barkley chews on his paws. All. The. Time. The other night I noticed that the fur around his paws had changed color. Today I found out why: Barkley has chewed them raw. There are scabs everywhere. The poor puppy has a bacterial infection. So, $95,26 later, we have oral antibiotics for the ear, wipes for the paws, and clean glands. And a very relieved Barkley.

Then came the bad appointment. That's right, it got worse than the vet. Keep in mind that poor Robbie has been toted along to all of this fun. And he's really been good. The dentist nearly yanked him out of my arms, explaining that she has baby fever and it just wouldn't be safe for Robbie to be in the same room while I had x-rays taken. Did I mention I had never met this dentist before? I do have to admit, though, that I think she's fantastic. When the dentist looked at my teeth, her only concern was that I've been grinding them. She didn't see any areas of concern (I was worried a filling had fallen out but didn't know if it was real or a dream). And then she saw the x-rays.

There was decay everywhere. Under fillings. Between teeth. Near the nerve. SEVEN cavities. Five of them under current fillings. I was devastated. I didn't have a cavity until I was twenty-six. Are you kidding me? In the past four years, I've had SEVENTEEN cavities. I brush religiously. I don't floss like I should. But, I take better care of my teeth than a lot of people. And this is the thanks I get? On the last day of summer, no less?

So, my punishment for missing my dental appointment last October and failing to reschedule is two more appointments where they have to drill my teeth. Two of them almost to the nerve and then try to patch and rebuild. And this is where I urge you to do several things. First, floss. I know, it's a pain. Second, rebook that dental appointment you canceled and never got around to. Trust me. You'd rather take care of this now. Third, get your dental insurance! This will still be a staggering $700. WIthout insurance? We'd be looking at over $1500. What are you waiting for? Go!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Family Fun Day

Today was the first weekend day Justin, Robbie, and I have had at home without any plans (or obstacle courses) in almost a month. We didn't do anything too terribly exciting... I walked to Bagels By Us to get breakfast, only to find out when I took the first bite of my bacon, egg, and cheese croissant that it lacked bacon (the key ingredient in my opinion). While we were eating, Justin and I made a list of everything we had to do.

Laundry took up most of the day, since we hadn't really done it in three weeks. Not that we've been wearing dirty clothes for three weeks; I did laundry while I was in Kentucky, and Justin did enough to get by. But sheets and towels and the laundry we didn't take with us and the laundry that we accumulated over the past week... Well, it's twelve hours later, and we're still doing laundry. I think there's one load left. Surprisingly, it's also all put away.

It's nice to have someone to clean the house with, even though it's the most ordinary thing to do. It's a chance for us to turn up the music, get organized, and then enjoy the clean later. I'm currently sitting on a de-fuzzed couch with a twice Swiffered floor. I know the calm in the living room won't last longer than five minutes once Robbie is up in the morning, but it's nice to enjoy it while I can.

In the middle of our cleaning spree, we took a family trip to the mall. Poor Robbie. He looked at pots and pans (we finally settled on low-end Calphalon; much nicer than our Ikea pots and pans...). He toured the linens and pulled a bunch of napkins of the shelf while I looked at placemats. He got his animal cracker fingers on new clothes in the men's department. He patiently went into and out of waiting rooms. He picked out Halloween pajamas. And he (not-so-patiently) browsed through purses.

And then we came home. And the dog pulled the chicken off the counter and to the floor. Twice. And Robbie screamed his head off, hitting several new octaves. And I got frustrated. And Justin came to the rescue. And our family fun day became not so fun. But, eventually, I got the chicken cleaned up (and spitefully decided to throw it away instead of give it to the dog), Robbie stopped crying, and the laundry dwindled. Order has temporarily been restored. It's amazing how quickly that happens after Robbie falls asleep.

And so tomorrow I begin my last day of summer... Here's hoping there are no tantrums or ruined chickens to taint it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spartan Warrior?

Yes, I am! That's right, ladies and gentlemen. Today I "ran" the Spartan Race (www.spartanrace.com in case you're interested). I hadn't planned on participating, but a friend of a friend got injured, and I would have hated to see a registration go to waste. Plus, I didn't want to sit and watch everyone else finish and then listen to how the whole race was. I wanted to be a part of the conversation! After all, that's why I started running in the first place.

My good friend Tara roped me into this. She told me that I made it through a marathon labor, so I could do this. When I figured that the race would take me an hour, or 1/47 of the time I was in labor, I figured I could do it. How hard could a 5K with twelve obstacles be? I could run a quarter of a mile between obstacles and take the time at the obstacles to catch my breath. Right? Wrong. So very, very wrong.

We got to the race for our 11:00 heat at 10:49 and still had to sign waivers (I may owe the Spartans my first born; I have no idea what I signed), get our registration packets, pin bib numbers, attach ankle timing chips, and go to the bathroom. We entered the race area as our heat was taking off and didn't even have time to think about what we were doing. Thank God. If we had, I don't know that I would have gone through with it.

Let me walk you through this "race". It started with running up a ski slope. Since it was summer, the snow makers were blowing ice cold water. I haven't run up a ski slope ever. Winter. Summer. Dry weather. Muddy hills. Not in any condition. But, somehow, I made it up that damn hill. With Justin. Let me just say right here that my husband didn't leave my side for the entire event. And he never once told me that I shouldn't have signed up (which is what I was thinking the entire time). He just pushed me on, telling me that I could do it. Amazing man, that Justin Manna.

OK. Enough mushy stuff; I'm a Spartan. Back to the race. At the top of the hill was a fire pit for us to jump over. And I was ready to give up 100 yards in. I'm sure part of my soles are melted because I was so slow going over. After that was a lovely run through the brush. We went down a hill. And up a hill. And up another hill. And down a little. And up a hill. To the cargo net. Which I had to flip myself over to get to the other side. I am not very flipable. But I did it!

After the cargo net was the path of mud. We faced about thirty yards of straight mud. I made my way past abandoned shoes (my friend Craig, whose wife talked us into this adventure, lost both shoes here and ran the last 2.5 miles barefoot). People in front of us ran into a bee hive and got stung dozens of time. Fortunately, I was so slow that the bees were all gone by the time we got there. And then we were on a run through the woods. Over fallen trees and exposed roots. Through more mud.

And then we go to another mountain. Seriously. I'm sure it wasn't straight up, but it sure felt like it. I've never climbe up such a steep hill in my life. Ever. It was horrible. Painful. Humiliating. But I made it to the top. Only to face two four foot walls that had to be climbed. I made it over the first one. Justin helped me with the second one, and I fell on top of him. And then we ran (I did actually run this part because they were yelling at us to run) to a tall cargo net with a wall for us to climb down on the other side.

Disaster struck at the cargo net. I tried to get my leg over the top of the obstacle and fell backwards. Luckily, I caught myself on the rope, with a leg on either side. Horribly uncomfortable but better than hitting the ground. The lovely man working the obstacle got underneath and told me to stand on him to get my footing. Then he had me stand on his shoulder to get myself over the top. He had footprints all over his shirt from me. We hit one more wall to climb: an eight-footer. I have never been so happy to be a girl, as we got the "easy" wall with a few boards to help us out. One lady stayed to help me pull myself over, so we didn't have a repeat of the cargo net disaster.

We ran downhill through the woods and through a field that seemed to stretch on forever to another two back-to-back obstacles. I crawled under a tent through a mud pit for ten yards and attempted to get myself across a wall stepping on and grabbing small blocks. I was not successful. I did a few push-ups and moved on. At this point, people from the 11:30 heat were passing us. (Remember my amazing husband? Still with me!). They encouraged me to keep going, which I really appreciated.

Finally, after another jaunt through the woods, I could hear the music and announcers indicating that we were finally getting close. And then I saw it. The mud pit. The barbed wired. The men in uniform barking at us to run. Justin dove in. I took a slower approach. "Why are you taking so long getting through my obstacle? Get down! Get your face in the mud!" There was gravel at the bottom of the mud pit, and I couldn't seem to get myself through it fast enough.

From there it was down the ski hill for the last three obstacles. Yes, three. The spear throw, which I failed and had to jump on a huge tire fifteen times (don't tell, but I only did seven). The wall climb with a rope, which I tried and opted for twenty pushups. While I was on the ground, I noticed at least ten empty dish soap bottles. No wonder I couldn't make it up the wall! It was covered in soap!

Finally, I was within twenty yards of the finish line. There were just four problems: the six-foot ledge I had to drop off and the three Spartan warriors with padded sticks (what's the official name?). I scooted my way off the ledge the same time as one of those fast 11:30 racers. He paused to size up the warriors, and I decided I wasn't waiting. I hoped they'd just go for him. And they did. The one warrior who "got me" told me to finish strong and lightly jabbed me.

I crossed the finish line with a time of an hour and ten minutes. And I got my medal - I've never earned one more! I'm still not sure how (or why) I did it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with a husband urging me to keep going when I just wanted to sit down.

As I sit here typing, I am covered in scrapes and bruises. My entire body aches. But I've never felt better.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Every afternoon, I pick Robbie up from daycare, and he is always thrilled to see me. Until today. Usually, Robbie is in the front room with Zhining and very excited to see me. Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems like he tries to jump out of Zhining's arms and into mine.

I walked in, and Zhining told me she was taking pictures of the boys playing. Robbie's good friend Pete was at daycare with him for the past two days, and they were playing with KanKan, a nine-month-old. My dear, sweet little boy didn't even look up. It took a full minute for him to realize I was even there, and even then he just held up a toy, imparted a few words of wisdom about what he had been doing, and went right back to play.

My friend Rebecca came in about three minutes after I did, and her son dutifully squealed with delight and ran (yes, he's polite to his mother and a walker!) over to give her legs a full body hug. And Robbie continued to dig in the toy box looking for more Happy Meal treasures. It was only when I picked him up to go that he realized I was there. And he started to scream.

I was conflicted about how to feel. Should I be happy that he is so independent or mildly heart broken that he isn't thrilled to see me the minute I walk in the door? In a rational mom mindset, I know that he'll probably be thrilled at the sight of me the next time I come to pick him up. And I know there are going to be far more offensive things that Robbie will say or do to me as he grows up. But boy to those first steps of independence sting a little.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Strawberries and Hot Dogs

So... Remember how I was complaining about Robbie puking up pretzels and apple juice all over me on the plane? I didn't know how good I had it! Last night, as I was coming in from letting Barkley out, I heard Robbie crying upstairs. Justin, who was already upstairs, got to Robbie before I did.

I could smell them before I got there. I walked through the door and saw Robbie in Justin's arms, both covered in bright red vomit. Robbie was crying, and Justin, perhaps more covered than Robbie, was comforting him, totally at ease covered in vomit.

It's times like these that I fall even more in love with Justin than I already was. It sounds silly, and perhaps a little disturbing. But until we had a baby, I never had an opportunity to see Justin in this light, so devoted to someone that he isn't concerned about anything happening to him. He and I talked a few months after Robbie was born, and we had a surprising revelation: we loved each other more than we ever had before. It occurred to us that we had never seen each other as parents, and it opened up a whole new side of our relationship.

Eventually, Robbie went back to bed. We gave him some water, a few animal crackers, and a book. I left the light on, since this tends to work better than trying to make Robbie think he is going back to bed. We thought he had gone to sleep an hour later and were ready to go to bed when we heard a laugh from Robbie's room. Justin went in to peek at him through the door and found Robbie flipping through a book and talking to Buzz Lightyear. I couldn't have told you who I loved more at that point: Robbie for entertaining himself with a book or Justin for peeking in at him like a kid trying spy Santa by the tree on Christmas.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Sense of Humor

I know I've probably said this before, but where did my baby go? He doesn't seem to be anywhere in my house! Much to Robbie's delight, I keep looking for him. Usually with Robbie thrown over my shoulder. He squeals with delight when I turn around looking for him, tickled that he really is hiding from me. But, when Robbie decides it's time for me to "find" him, he taps me. It's like he's saying, "Mom! I'm right here! See?"

Tonight I had Robbie playing in his room while I put away his laundry. I thought everything was going well. Until I heard the gate click. I turned around to see Robbie standing on the other side of the gate in his bedroom door, laughing. He had locked me in his room! And thought it was hysterical. As soon as he saw me turn around, Robbie dropped to the ground and started to crawl away frantically. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry myself. It was, quite possibly, the funniest thing I have ever seen him do, but I don't feel like he should be big enough to be playing jokes like that on me.

Robbie crawls around the floor with a phone held to his ear. He stands by himself, eating animal crackers and watching TV. He knows what he wants and how to get it. Robbie has conversations with us and laughs at the right time when someone tells a joke. We don't know what he's saying, and he doesn't have any idea what he's laughing about. But, I guess that's how most of us get through life at one point or another. We just laugh at the right time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Day Back

A funny thing happened between my first new teacher orientation in Fayette County in 2002 and the new teacher orientation I attended today. I got old. My first year teaching, I was the youngest teacher in the school. When I taught in Georgia, I was the second youngest teacher in the school. At Willow Hill, I was the youngest teacher for the first six months and the second youngest for the past two-and-a-half years. In Lawrence? I was one of the three or four OLDEST new teachers. How in the world did that happen?

But, despite being one of the oldest new hires (how did I wind up in my thirties?), I know I made the right decision to make the move to Lawrence. I got the statistics about the town during a presentation today (90.4% of the students are on free and reduced lunch, over 30% of them live below the poverty line, and 62.3% of them are from single-family homes). I know this is exactly where I am meant to be. I think there is an amazing opportunity to make a difference in so many lives, and I can't wait to be a part of that.

My classroom is amazing. I think I'm still in awe at the size of it. For the past three years, I've had a room big enough for eight students. This one is big enough for a gazillion! Or thirty... I have a flat screen TV, with a DVD/VCR player and a computer hook-up. I also met up with a returning teacher who helped me claim an LCD projector and document projector (I'm sure there's an official name for it). I have four student computers in my classroom, ample storage, two teacher desks. It seems silly to be so excited about a classroom, but it's been five years since I've had my own public high school classroom. Those blank walls are ripe with possibility!

My first day of work meant Robbie's first day back at daycare. He and Zhining were so happy to see each other, and, at the end of the day, Robbie and I were so happy to see each other. I feel like we had some really good play time when we got home, and it was so nice to enjoy all the time I had with him. I'm definitely not meant to be a stay-at-home mom. At first I felt bad about that, like there was something wrong with me as a mother for not being able to enjoy day after day after day home with Robbie. Don't get me wrong; I loved having my summer with Robbie. We went swimming and on long walks and on road trips. And it was amazing. For three months. But now? I'm excited to have the time to be me again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Baby on a Plane

Over-weight luggage? Check. I went down to Lexington with forty pounds of luggage and left with fifty-one. And a purse filled to the brim. And a boy's backpack that barely closed. I have no idea how I accumulated so much stuff. Well, yes. I do. I bought new work clothes. And a pair of shoes. And baby clothes. And shorts for Justin. And it weighed about fourteen pounds. But now it's all home, sitting in the hall outside my bedroom. Totally worth the drama.

Guy who shouldn't be sitting next to a baby sitting next to a baby? Check. On our first flight, a lovely gentleman in a very nice suit was seated next to us. He wound up holding Robbie for a minute when the flight attendant had concerns about my carry-ons not fitting under the seat. I purposely didn't have Robbie eat the snack I had brought for him because I could just see cheesy residue on this man's suit and business papers. I was even more happy when I found out that he was on his way to a job interview.

Puking child? Check. Yes, I kept the cheesy fingers off the man's suit. I also managed to keep an apple juice/pretzel puke combination off his suit. Unfortunately, that meant that it was all over me. Shirt. Pants. Hands. This gentleman was willing to hold a plastic bag for me while I mopped to vomit off with paper towels.

Nowhere to buy a new pair of pants in the Atlanta airport? Check. I looked all over Terminal B for a pair of souvenir pants. They didn't have any. So, I continued to travel in puke-stained pants. But, I did get a pretty fancy $9.99 Atlanta, Georgia shirt.

Bathroom drama? Check. Some woman burst past me in line for the bathroom, shouting that her son had to go to the bathroom. She went into the open handicap stall. So, Robbie and I wound up in a small stall that, for future reference, does not fit a stroller. While I changed shirts, Robbie tried to play in the toilet. And then he threw my old shirt in the toilet. And then I couldn't get the door open, so I had to put the stroller on top of the toilet to get out. I have to be honest; I loudly complained about the other woman and how she could have used a regular stall. I told Robbie that I hoped he would be polite to people with strollers and use the appropriate sized bathroom stall. But I don't think the other lady spoke enough English to understand.

Delayed flight? Check. Our flight from Atlanta to Boston was delayed 67 minutes. And then we got on the plane, and it was delayed another twenty minutes. The good news about the initial delay was that it gave me time to find a new shirt, fish my old shirt out of the toilet, have a bad chicken salad sandwich, and determine that there are no pants for sale (other than Lacoste and Sean Jean) at the Atlanta airport.

Screaming child? Check. Check. Check. That's right. We were "those" people on Delta flight 1400. The people other passengers are probably still bitching about. "Can you believe that child screamed for at least half the flight?" Yes, I can believe it. "That" child didn't have a nap. He hadn't been able to play and crawl around all day. And when he gets to that screeching and howling stage, there is no consoling him. But I did the best I could. Robbie finally fell asleep after screaming at the top of his lungs for twenty-five minutes. It was almost worth it because he fell asleep in my arms - something he never does. But then he woke up screaming again. For another twenty-five minutes or so. At the top of his lungs.

Survival? Check. Robbie and I made it. Micah and Allie were there to get us at the airport. And we made it. Alive. We weren't kicked off the plane mid-flight. I've decided that Robbie and I were kind of partners in crime. Granted, I don't ever want to relive this day. But, if I had to, there's no one I'd rather do it with than Robbie.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saying Good Bye

I've extended our trip home as long as I could, and tomorrow Robbie and I fly home. I don't know that I expected good bye to be so hard, but it's been so nice being home. So easy. I don't care how old you are; when you go to your parents' house, you don't have to be in charge. I had forgotten how nice it was to not be in charge for a little while.

Robbie and I have seen all of our friends in Lexington, except for one. We have spent countless hours with family, banking up as much quality time as we could until the next visit. Hilary and I have watched six episodes of Big Brother together, and I'm not sure I'll survive the rest of the season without her on the couch next to me. I have eaten at all of my favorite Lexington restarants and visited some places I had forgotten about. It is the first time that I don't feel like I had to rush through a trip to get to everything and everyone. And I don't feel exhausted going home - although the idea of Robbie on a three hour flight from Atlanta to Boston does make me tired...

And you know what else? I miss my husband. And it's kind of a nice feeling. We haven't been apart for two weeks in close to two years. Sure, he traveled a lot when Robbie was really little, but he was never gone more than a week without coming home for a day or two. I cannot wait to see him Tuesday night when he gets in from Texas. For the first time in a while, we have so much to catch up on!

It's hard tearing yourself away from family when you come visit (unless it's been a terrible trip, and you just can't get to the airport fast enough!). I must have hugged Hilary six times before I left her house tonight (the poor cat got two!), but I only got teary once. I know I'll be a mess when Mom drops me off at the airport tomorrow morning. But, you know what? There's always Thanksgiving! I hear we'll be home for Thanksgiving for the first time in six years...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Exhausted from Nothing

Ever have one of those days when you're so exhausted you can barely stand at the sink long enough to brush your teeth? Me, too. Every day of my life. And I have no idea why I am so tired. I'm lucky enough to get about seven hours of sleep a night; perhaps my body just craves eight. I don't feel like I'm doing anything so extraordinary that my body can't stay awake. Am I just old?

I nearly went to bed without writing tonight. It didn't even occur to me until I was halfway down the stairs. And then I thought about ignoring it because I was too tired to even think of anything to write about. But what did I do today to make me so tired?

I slep until 8:40. Maybe that's where the problem started - eight hours of sleep. It's too much now; my body can't handle it? We spent two hours at a craft fair, but Robbie only got fussy at the end. Surely that isn't it. We spent forty minutes at the pool. I could understand tired from the pool, but forty minutes shouldn't qualify. I diverted full cups of water that were being poured onto the floor from the bathtub - mostly unsuccessfully - and wrestled with a thirteen-month-old boy as I tried to wash his face and hair. I drank a few beers, had pizza, and caught up on all the latest Teen Mom drama. And almost fell asleep during Date Night.

Are mothers just this tired because we bear the emotional responsibility for everyone else in the family? Is it their way of beating us into submission? I don't know. I'll have to sleep on it...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trusting My Gut

I don't know that I've ever been one to trust my gut, but, as a mother, I'm learning it is something I need to do. Robbie has had diarrhea since we arrived in Lexington nine days ago. I didn't actually think there was anything wrong with him. He plays, laughs, dive in train-shaped ball pits in my mom' house, climbs stairs in record speed, generally drives me crazy. He doesn't have a fever; he isn't pulling at his ear. The only symptom the kid has is explosive diarrhea. Three times a day.

It's been so bad on occassion that Hilary has had to yell for me to come as back-up. She stripped Robbie down, and I held him Superman-style in the shower in an attempt to not use every baby wipe in the county to get him clean. Tonight, Mom pulled his shirt over his head, not realizing he had pooped up his back. We change his sheets and pajamas every morning. It's been a long week, fecally speaking.

I finally decided to take him to the doctor this morning (mostly to quell Justin's concerns that he could have salmonella poisoning from eating dog food or the egg recall, since we often give our baby uncooked eggs). Robbie and I waited over thirty minutes to be seen at The Little Clinic in Kroger. Keep in mind that my son does not like to be held and did not want to walk. I wasn't going to let him crawl all over Kroger, although I was tempted around minute nine but too many people were watching.

The lovely nurse practitioner called us in and was perplexed by Robbie's lack of symptoms (not a good sign in my maternal opinion). She told me the only variable in Robbie's life seemed to be his location and deemed the culprit allergies. Seriously? Diarrhea-inducing allergies? I knew pollen was bad this year, but that just seems ridiculous. The nurse decided to "phone a friend" (yes, those were her actual words), and the third friend finally picked up. This friend said she certainly did not think it was allergies and recommended that I take Robbie off dairy for several days (please note that I suggested this before it was recommended to me).

So, we can rule out throat and ear infections. We can rule out the flu. And, by the skin of our teeth, we can rule out the dreaded salmonella poisoning (thank God Justin had me ask about that!)... But I still have a kid with explosive diarrhea who hates Gatorade and Pedialyte equally. Oh, and I'm out twenty bucks.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Change is scary. I think it gets scarier as I get older because the change is more defining. Today, I took a big leap into change. For the first time in my professional career, I have resigned a job because I found one better suited for me. Not because I was moving or bumped. And it's one of the most terrifying things I have done in a long time.

In my heart, I know this is the right thing to do. I am ready for a new challenge. This will help me grow professionally and get me on a better path to administration. But, my heart is conflicted because I love the students at Willow Hill. I love the staff. I love what the school stands for and the changes I have seen in the students over the three years I have been there. I am so proud of them and everything they accomplished. I cried like baby at graduation this year; those were students from my first year.

I will be teaching at Lawrence High School's International School this year, leaving the small confines of Willow Hill's population of sixty students. I am still not sure exactly what I will be teaching: "The American Dream" in a regular education classroom or several English and academic support classes in a special education classroom. I figure I'll just let life take me on this journey and see where I end up. Either place is fine by me.

I cried this morning as my letter of resignation was faxed off. It felt more permanent than I was prepared for. It might have been easier if I was leaving because I did not like my job, but that is not the case. Sometimes doing the right thing for yourself doesn't feel good in the beginning. But, I have confidence that it will feel good once I get into school and in the swing of things.

I am not the same teacher or person who entered Willow Hill three years ago. I am more patient and tolerant of the differences in others. I am more willing to find the way a student learns best and tailor assingments. I am a mother who understands why parents are so protective of their children. I have a new Master's Degree. And I can't wait to see what changes lie in store for me with this next adventure.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Extended Stay

Robbie and I have extended our stay in Kentucky by five days! I don't know the last time I spent a full twelve days at home... Probably not since I moved to Georgia over seven years ago. Granted, we were home in July for eleven days, but two of those were mostly spent driving and I was gone to Cincinatti for two overnights.

This has been a real trip home. It's strange, isn't it? When we're in high school and college, we are in such a rush to leave home and be on our own? I don't know about you, but now that I'm in my thirties, there's nowhere else I'd rather be. But maybe that's because I've spent the summer being a stay-at-home mom and have run out of entertaining activities to keep Robbie occupied until bedtime. It's nice having people around who want to play with Robbie when I grow weary of proclaiming, "Yay, Robbie," and clapping everytime he says, "Light!" and points to one. Of course, Robbie and I are also finding new ways to keep ourselves entertained while the rest of the family is at work.

Today, he was given a balloon at Kroger. That poor balloon. It went all over Hilary's house, up the stairs, down the stairs, around the kitchen, through the ball pit (it didn't easily fit through the opening when Robbie took it through with him), and to the bathtub. Robbie has also learned the beauty of climbing the stairs while we've been home. I find that if I turn around - even just long enough to sneeze - he's halfway up the stairs before I turn back around.

We've also started going to the local public pool,which opens at 4:00 during the week. Normally Robbie loves it. But, buddy, not today! Let me preface this by saying that it was cloudy and cool (yes, I know it's August in Kentucky, but it was cool!). And we were the only people there, except for the older women finishing water aerobics and the people in the lap lanes. And young Robert screamed the entire time we were there. The entire time. The life guards loved us.

I think he has freaked himself out about this whole walking thing, and he started doing it at the pool. He seems to know that he's done something big, but I don't think he's quite sure how to feel about it. So he screams. It probably didn't help that he'd only taken an hour nap this afternoon. But, did I take him home after he'd cried for five minutes? Nope. I figured there wasn't anyone there that we were really disturbing except for the life guards. And, let's face it, they always look like they're bothered when people get in the water. So he fussed for an hour before I finally decided to pack it in. I didn't spend all that time wresltling him into his swim diaper and trunks for five minutes of aquatic fun.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Walking on Water

Today, Robbie walked! I mean, he really, really walked! At the pool. In the water. But, still... He walked! Robbie's taken a few steps here and there, both in and out of water. Today was different, though.

Robbie and I practiced blowing bubbles at the pool. Really, Robbie just stuck his face in the water, pulled it out, and clapped for himself. While we were doing this, he watched other kids playing in the pool. Without holding on to their moms.

He started taking more steps toward me as I moved further from the wall where he was standing. Then, all of a sudden, he took off through the middle of the pool! I was sitting down, and totally unprepared for this. It was all I could do to get to him before he tripped. He went under a few times, but was undaunted. Until he suddenly realized what incredible feat he had accomplished. And then he screamed and refused to go back in the water. Of course, it probably didn't help that he was hungry and hadn't napped all day.

I apologize for the short blog, but it's been a long day. And I've had a lot of wine. Robbie is spending the night with Justin's mom, and I relished the experience a little too much!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mother Knows Best

When I moved to Georgia seven years ago (has it really been that long?), I came home to visit much more often than I do now. For several months, I just did the family thing, neglecting friends I had left. After watching this for several visits, Mom sat me down for a little talk. She let me know that one of her biggest regrets was not seeing friends when she went back to Cincinnti to visit. She told me she understood that it was difficult to fit everything in, but down the road I would be happy to still have these friendships.

Now, I haven't always listened to Mom's advice. In fact, at that point in my life, I rarely did. But that bit of sage wisdom? It has stuck with me over the past seven years, and I have a core group of friends I see every visit. We don't always get to spend a lot of time together, but we get a few minutes to catch up in person and share a few hugs. And these friends understand when I have to leave after an hour or can't come back until the next visit. It also doesn't seem like any time has passed between visits, either. Over the past few years, I've added a few more friends in the mix. Sure, it makes coming home a litte more hectic, but these are people I shared so much with in the past.

Take Lindsay, for instance. She and I went to school together until second grade and didn't meet back up until our junior year in college. She moved into my old apartment when I moved across the hall and spent nights walking to Kroger for delicious chocolate chip cookies and watching The Bachelor. I had just left her house the night Justin called me to set up our first date. Every time I come home, we go to Pazzo's to order pretzels and cider. Sure, we're probably too old to really go there. But we do; it's tradition.

Then there's Jill, my R.A. from my freshman year. We lost touch after college until we ran into each other at the mall in 2003 after both having car wrecks. Then we wound up with the same doctor and physical therapists. We'd been so close in college that it seemed like time had never passed. We got married a week apart and have children close in age, although her oldest is much older than Robbie. We get the boys together to play and try to catch up while urging the children to "Pleas share."

And where would I be without Jamie? The friend I didn't get to see one trip until she called while I was on the way to the airport. Mom sped to Kroger in Beaumont Center, where Jamie was finishing a mural, just so we could get in a quick hug and Jamie could marvel at my massive belly. It's a special kind of friendship that can sustain itself on a two-minute hug.

And Hilary. My favorite Hilary. Home wouldn't be home without her - my sister and my best friend. We go to dinner, play with Robbie, watch TV shows that drive Mom crazy, remember stories from when we were little. When I was youger, Mom promised that one day we would be best friends. I was sure she was wrong. But, Hilary is my blood sister, my sorority sister, and my best friend.

And then there are the friends I've reconnected with recently: Louisa, Adele, Lisa, and Jonathan. They are there for dinners and birthday parties and the occassional trip to Kings Island in the middle of the summer. They are excited to hear I'm coming to town and can't wait to see me (and I can't wait to see them!).

Of course, some of my friends have dropped off... And that's bound to happen as life and circumstances change. It's hard, though, to realize that life at home happens without you. People don't just sit on the couch, waiting for you to return. And sometimes friends outgrow each other.

I like knowing that a part of my life is still in Lexington. I love that Robbie has friends he visits here, too. It's nice to have a little part of my past to show to Robbie. So, Mom? The best advice I ever received? It came from you.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Perfect Days

Do you ever sit down at the end of a day and realize that it was a perfect day? And then, when you try to pinpoint exactly what made it perfect, there is no one thing that comes to mind? That was today. It was a bunch of little things that, alone, would have made a huge impression. But together? The perfect storm.

Perhaps the day was destined to go well because I slept until 8:30 and only got up when I heard my mom in the kitchen giving Robbie his breakfast. We had a family breakfast, that I cooked: blackberry chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, and bacon. We watched a litte TV while Robbie played downstairs, tearing through the ball pit and Sunday paper.

Mom and I went clothes shopping - probably for the first time since early middle school. After that, she just gave us a clothing allowance and let us make our own fashion decisions. Oh, those trips to Fashion Bug in Lexington Mall... Only the best for our money! I am a terrible clothes shopper; I always feel I'm in some hodgepodge ridiculous outfit. Even at thirty, I needed my mom's eye. The best part? We were successful! It was the first time I haven't cried in a dressing room; I was wearing a size I was comfortable (but not ultimately satisfied) with. And I feel like I can face the impending school year with confidence. Plus, it was nice to have Mom all to myself; that happens so rarely.

Hilary and I took Robbie swimming. Kind of. As soon as we walked into the pool, they closed it for thunder. Not to be foiled, we went to my mother-in-law's pool. Don't worry; I'm not that bad of a mom! It wasn't thundering over there. Yet. I think we got in nine or ten good minutes before the storm clouds approached. But we still did it!

Then it was time for a nursing home visit. Hilary, Robbie, and I took Graeter's to an old friend. And I mean old in all senses of the word. We've known her for 28 years, and she's 103 years old. We also visited a former neighbor with Alzheimer's, and she knew exactly who we were and played with Robbie. It's amazing to have a glimpse into someone's moment of clarity. It gives you hope.

I finished the day at Hilary's house. We didn't really do anything. We watched Big Brother, and Hilary paid bills. It was so nice just to be together, hanging out. It was the perfect end to the perfect day. Silly, isn't it? None of these events will probably stand out in my mind in a week (three days if we're being honest). But today? Today they were perfect.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Let me warn you from the beginning: this is a bragging post. I am going to talk about how amazing things were today. So, if you don't particularly care that I had a phenomenal day or your day was horrible and you just aren't in the mood to hear anything good, please skip this post. My feelings won't be hurt; there have been many days when I would have skipped this post, too.

OK. Are we don't to the people who care? Or are at least curious? Then let me begin! Several months ago, Robbie made an appearance on Good Morning America's "Week in Three Words" Segment. Well, today he made his second cameo! That's right, I'm obnoxious enough that I sent my son's "My First Birthday" video to see if he could get on again. And he did. Now, I have to be honest, it isn't nearly as exciting the second time. Probably because Justin saw it first and called me to tell me it had been on. I didn't get the thrill of just seeing Robbie's face on TV without being prepared for it. But, it was still pretty damn thrilling. I have a video of Robbie and his three friends to send it. If that one makes it, that will probably be the most exciting one because my friends will get to experience the "celebrity for a day" feeling.

There was another part of my day that was fabulous, but I can't go public with it yet. Not to be all mysterious... It will come in good time. And, no. I'm not pregnant. In time that would be fabulous new. Right now it would just be exhausting.

I got to catch up with Louisa, my best friend from high school today. She and I had lost touch for seven years, and I am so lucky to have her back in my life. I don't know that we realized how much we missed each other until we were back in each other's life. So, any day that involves Louisa registers pretty high on the amazing chart. It might border on amah-zing. Much like the following event...

Tonight I ran A Midsummer Night's Run in Lexington. And I actually ran it. The whole thing. All 3.125 miles of it. Without stopping or walking. I. Did. It. Now, I've done three 5K's before, but I've always walked. Tonight, I had something to prove to myself. I didn't care about my time (unofficially, 45 minutes), even though my goal was 38-42 minutes (I'll find out tomorrow). I care that I ran the whole thing. I never thought I could run a whole mile. And I did -- THREE times!

Mom drove me down to the race. I have to be honest; I didn't really want to go. There were torrential downpours and horrible thunder and lightning. But I wanted to go to prove myself. Mom was there, at the finsh line, snapping pictures of me as I ran by. And, I'll be honest here, I cried when I finished. Tears. Not sobbing, but there was a good amount of cryig. I ever thought I could do it. And I did.

So, thank you for letting me talk about how awesome Robbie and I are (Justin's pretty fabulous, too!). Sometimes you just need to revel in everything that is fabulous abut your life. It's too easy to get caught up in all the negativity. Do me a favor. After you read this, make it about you. What are three amah-zing things that happened to you today? If you can't think of any, start with this: "I woke up this morning." Now, get started with your positivity!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Tonight Gramp would have been 101. We celebrated and toasted his memory at dinner tonight, although that was not the original purpose of the meal. However, it made for the perfect opportunity to tell our favorite Gramp stories, some of which I hadn't thought of in years.

Gramp was my "adopted" grandfather who lived next door to us growing up. Hilary, Hunter, and I may have spent more time there than at our own house. Hours were spent lying on our backs on the floor with our feet in Gramp's lap. He donned a paint brush dipped in water and tickled our feet while we watched cartoons. I can remember beging him to please paint my feet. We played the drums on his belly while he sat in his red leather recliner.

There were always cookies in the cookie jar - Oreos and Chips Ahoy - and ginger ale in the basement. Gramp put salt on his watermelon and never spilled a drop of juice from his grapefruit. I can remember watching him, fascinated, as he got the last bits of juice into his spoon. And, as I was reminded tonight, knew exactly how long it took to grill a hamburger - two whiskey sours.

Gramp "taught" me how to play the piano, which I thought I knew well enough to accompany myself as I sang "I Believe" in the school talent show when I was in the 4th grade. And he let me give pretend concerts on his old violin, even though I had no idea what a violin was.

Gramp was there for every birthday and holiday. Gramp was the grandfather I never had and the best example of one I can think of. I wish Robbie had been able to know him, to climb up on his lap and play the drums. Perhaps we'll just have to settle for me painting Robbie's feet while he watches cartoons. It's the best tradition I can think of to pass on.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Before Robbie was born, I went home maybe twice a year. My family came up to visit once or twice a year. And I was fine with that. I pitied people who felt the need to move back to Kentucky. I would never leave Boston to come back. And then I had a baby. And all I want is to move back home.

It has been so nice to have family around for the past two days. There are people to run errands with. There is someone to take Robbie when I need to spend an hour at Verizon and don't want to entertain him. There are dinners to linger over, telling stories from when we were little.

I know the grass is always greener, but... It drives me bonkers to listen to moms complain about how smothering their families can be. I'm sure that can be frustrating, but imagine all of the things you take for granted with your family close by. I bet your kids sometimes spend the night over there, and you can relish the quiet in your house. I bet your parents or siblings or in-laws babysit occassionally, saving you hundreds of dollars a year and allowing you to run errands or have dinner or go to that one really important social event.

Now, I can't imagine how frustrating it is if relatives dropped by unannounced. Or if they want your kids every weekend (be honest, do you really mind?). But imagine a life with your child every day. Particularly if your husband travels. And you have summers off. For me, I think it just might be worth the trade-off of unannounced visits. At least I would have incentive to keep my house clean!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Flying the Friendly Skies

Robbie and I left for Lexington this morning. The four hours it took to get to Lexington from Boston were among the longest of my life. And I've had some pretty long four-hour stretches.

Our flight to Detroit was packed. And it started off so nicely, with a man saying, "You sure are cute, but I hope you aren't sitting anywhere near me on the plane." Thanks, buddy. Really. Can you not see that I am embarking on this adventure by myself with a child who does not want to be held? I'm bagged down with a stroller that I'm trying to fold with one hand while carrying a Toy Story 3 backpack, my purse, and said child. And now you want me to worry that you actually are going to be near us as I follow you down the aisle and you keep getting closer and closer to the back -- where we're sitting?

Luckily, the family in front of us was wonderful. The lady, Debra, turned around to see who was kicking her seat, and I promised I would try to keep it to a minimum. She told me not to worry about it; she'd been kicked hard by her own children when they were little and knew what I was going through. That same woman kept me company back in the flight attendants' galley, where I escaped to during a particularly emphatic power struggle.

It was when I was standing in the aisle, waiting to deplane, that a man behind me brought the whole idea of flying to a new level. "Soldiers and babies: that's who needs to be in first class." I'm not sure if he meant babies should be in first class to give the mothers a little more room and understood what I was going through or to give the rest of the plane a break. Either way, I second the motion.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stroller Code of Conduct

Let's talk about the stroller code of conduct. It's generally unspoken, but we all know what it is. There are rules of politeness that one expects when walking with a stroller. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is not privy to them. Perhaps we should stand on street corners, strollers blocking the way, passing out pamphlets with the stroller code of conduct printed on them. Until we have time in our busy schedules to do this, though, I suppose the following list will just have to be passed electronically.

1. When you see me walking down the street with a stroller, please move to the right. I will also move to the right. This way we can pass each other without the stroller, the child, and myself wrecking some elderly lady's hostas or, worse, taking to the street to convenience the pedestrian without someone in tow. This rule has a subsection, applying to people walking down the street in general. Let me just say that I am easy to hear: I have a loud child who shouts, "Hi!" at any person (or dog or shrub or utility pole) he sees; I am talking to Robbie; there is music playing from my stroller to keep me entertained on these "adventures." So, move to one side. Today I spent a block behind a woman who kept weaving from one side to the other. Every time I said, "Excuse me", and tried to pass her, she went right back to the middle. When I blew past her as the sidewalk widened, she got all huffy. People, please. This is an elementary school rule: walk to the right!

2. If you see a person with a stroller trying to get into a building, please help him or her with the door. Granted, I have a system down for getting into buildings, as I live in Massachusetts and people are rarely interested in helping anyone they don't know (and sometimes not even those they know!). I face the stroller away from the door, pull open the door, back in with the stroller, and try to make it before the door shuts on me. Don't even get me started on those buildings with the two sets of doors to keep the heat or cold or rain or whatever out of the main building. My favorite experience with this happened at Bank of America. A lady came out of the building, thought about holding the door for me, and then dropped it. Today at CVS, the cashier, who had been on a break, took an extra loop around the front to avoid helping me get in the door.

3. If someone with a stroller is trying to cross a street (particularly at a crosswalk), stop and let them cross. It does no one any good for me to start part way into the road with the stroller and have cars continue to whiz by. I don't know about the rest of the country, but in Massachusetts it is the law to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. I find they used to stop more often when I was just by myself, a little less often when I was ginormously pregnant, and hardly at all now that I have a baby. Could someone please explain this phenomenon to me? So, let's all take a vow right now to stop for those pedestrians (yes, even the ones without strollers). It will take a lot less time than getting pulled over by the cops for not doing it, and it's just polite.

4. This last item on the Stroller Code of Conduct deals with people stupid enough to try to walk a dog and push a baby in a stroller (me). Please give these people extra wide berth. They are trying to make everyone in the house happy and not go crazy themselves. Furthermore, it is fairly obvious when someone has a dog with them. Don't make the situation worse by suddenly acting surprised that there is a dog and try to find a way to escape the dog but have no where to go. The dog is on a leash. You probably had a good 25 yards to prepare for the encounter. If you really don't want to deal with the dog, the stroller, or the crazed looking mother, just cross the street. At a crosswalk. Surely someone will stop for a sourpuss like you.

I'm sure I am missing many elements of the code of conduct. If there's one you would like to see included, please add it in the comments. Just start with number five and continue on. Unfortunately, I only have time for four tonight... Robbie and I are flying to Lexington tomorrow. I have to pack for the two of us and prepare a to do list for Justin. And leave it in three different places. Curious about what a to do list looks like for an intelligent man who used to exist independently?

Wednesday Night
Trash and recycling out front
Recycling is in the pantry – both bins go out
Trash is by the back porch – both cans go out
Yard waste bag is just outside the gate – please put out
Pack for your trip
Your shoes are in one of two places: previously missing leather shoes are in the entry on the shoe rack, other leather shoes
and running shoes are in your closet on top of the pile of clothes on the floor.
If you can’t find it, it’s probably in the laundry basket in the guest room
The only tie I know of is on my dresser
If you still can’t find it, check the basement
If you still can’t find it, buy a new one
Park one of the cars in the back yard
I realize this sounds strange -- we only have one parking spot in front of the fence and usually park at the grocery store
across the street. However, we cannot do this for five days straight.
Feed Barkley
Let Barkley out

Thursday Morning
Let Barkley out
Feed Barkley
Take Barkley to PetSmart
Take his bed and several toys. You wouldn’t want to sleep on a concrete slab with nothing to entertain you. Neither does
Check catties food and water – FILL BOTH!
Leave a/c in Robbie’s room on and open gate
Catties have a place where it is cool if major heat wave
Turn off all lights
Take your phone charger!!
Lock the front door

Amazing, isn't it? And to think, at one point they were able to exist entirely without us. Frightening.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Shoveling Sand

This afternoon Robbie and I took a walk to the reservoir, where he spent a great deal of time shoveling sand. And, for the first time, I am proud to announce that he did not shovel sand into his mouth! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Robbie has figured out how to use a shovel! I wish I'd had a camera with me. Watching Robbie figure out how to dig the sand and put it in his bucket was priceless. He sat there, putting small bits of sand into his bucket, for at least twenty minutes. This lasted so long because he cued me to clap every time he put something in the bucket. I could have watched him do this for hours. To think he used to just lie there and do nothing. And now he can use a shovel? Are you kidding me?

Robbie has started to realize when he learns new things, which is almost as fun to watch as the new things he's doing. When he takes a few steps to me in the water, he screams with glee. Like he's done something no other kid has ever done. It's probably a good thing he doesn't know his buddy Pete is running laps around his house. That might do something to deflate him. He's also started to realize items that are off-limits for him, particularly coins and rocks. I rarely have to grab these from his mouth anymore; instead, he brings them to me like they are treasures. Any man who wants to bring me money, even pennies, ranks high on my list!

I think I've found the key to surviving summer days with Robbie: walking. We've started walking everywhere. It started ten days ago with a 3.5 mile walk to and from a yard sale (remember that incredible pleather recliner purchase?). I've found that I like this better than going to the gym where I can't really interact with him, even though we're in the same room. On walks, I get to tell Robbie the name of everything that he points to, and he gets to see trucks, buses, and emergency vehicles with sirens and lights. I do not, however, really enjoy walking for the sake of walking. That's why we went to the yard sale; I needed a destination.

Today, Roberto and I logged 6.2 miles on the stroller - my first 10k! We first walked 1.8 miles to the reservoir, where we "swam" for an hour and a half. After Robbie tired of shoveling sand and stirring the water, it was time to move on. We walked 1.3 miles to Wilson Farm to pick up our favorite summer dinner, chicken salad and Caesar salad, and then headed the 3.1 miles home. My entire body is killing me. I had no idea the amount of abdominal strength it took to push a stroller with a 22.5 pound child in it. Incidentally, Robbie slept for 2 of the miles and arrived home raring to go...

For those who have known me a while, you understand that walking 6.2 miles is a feat for me. For those of you who don't, let me explain. Since Robbie was born, I have lost 65 pounds (or, for those of us who need more concrete examples, nearly three Robbies). Only 35 of that was baby weight! Sadly, my pregnancy weight was only five pounds more than my all-time high. So, these 65 pounds are very significant for me. It's amazing what they've done for my self-esteem. I don't cringe when I walk past those huge store windows -- you know, the ones that emphasize every flaw? I don't really mind trying on clothes. And, the biggest change? I wear shorts now.

I still have a ways (weighs!) to go... Another 35 pounds will put me at losing an even 100. Then I'll really feel like I've accomplished something. And so I'll keep finding destinations for Robbie and myself. And stroll myself right out of those last 35 pounds.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Say "Cheese!"

Although we're a little late, Justin and I took Robbie to get his one-year pictures made this afternoon. We are exhausted! We might have fared better if Robbie had slept last night, but he was up at 1:00 and needed a bottle and a half of milk to go back to sleep. Maybe that's what I should have had, too, because I tossed and turned until Robbie woke up again at 7:00. Luckily, my kind and loving husband took Robbie downstairs for some man time and let me get an extra hour and a half of sleep. Even so, I'm finding that taking on a full day of everything Robbie has to offer requires a solid night's sleep.

Even though I awoke to some sort of screaming (how else would I hear it through a closed door and noisy air conditioner), Justin assured me everything had been fine while I was asleep. Judging by how fast Robbie leapt into my arms (while Justin was still holding him), I'm not so sure that the boys' definitions of "fine" are the same. But, both were in one piece, and I'll take that for an extra ninety minutes of sleep. Don't judge; you know you feel the same way!


After Robbie's nap it was time to head to the Everett Target and the mass of humanity that had taken over the parking lot. We managed to survive crazy drivers and stupid pedestrians to get to the photo studio. Incidentally, who stops in a lane of traffic in front of a busy Target on a Sunday afternoon to rifle through their bags? We were quite a site struggling through the parking lot, wriggling baby and photo props in tow. We figured Robbie needed something to keep him occupied for the pictures and brought his rocket, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and some books. I've never actually taken toys into a Target; it feels wrong somehow.

Robbie was a totally different kid for this photo session... A mobile one. Thank goodness we had the toys; I think those are the only reason we survived. Robbie was all over the place! Crawling to get behind the backdrop, grabbing for the camera that we couldn't replace if he broke it, making a dash for the door to escape the camera. It was a rough day of being adorable. I stood near Robbie to catch him before he tried to jet, and Justin positioned himself behind the photographer, doing a monkey dance and making sounds I never want to try to duplicate. But, at the end of it all, we had some priceless pictures.

Robbie broke down as we left the store, and Justin lamented about how exhausted he was. I asked if he still thought I didn't work during the summer, and the defeated man just shook his head, muttering, "I don't know how you do it. I just don't know." Finally! Vindication! And, I have to be honest, I don't know how all the stay at home moms do it. You have my total respect. I get to go back to work in three weeks, and, to be totally honest, I'm so relieved!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Birthday Bash

Tonight we hosted a first birthday party for four very special young men. Remember those close friends I couldn't have survived without over the past year? We pretended the party was for our boys, but really it was a celebration of us (and our marriages!) surviving the past year. After exchanging presents for the boys, we all wondered why we hadn't just exchanged presents with each other. After all, we did most of the work over the past year!

Growing up, I shared a birthday with a good childhood friend, Helen. We used to have our birthday parties together - I can remember one at the Living Arts and Science Center. I always thought it was special to have someone to share my parties with, and I love that Robbie has the same thing. Pete was born on the 21st, Max on the 27th, Robbie on the 28th, and Noah on the 29th. Even though they may not have the same birthday, we love that they are all in order (except for Pete who didn't get the memo that he needed to be born the 26th, but he leads the way with having the wisdom of living an extra week).

The first time we got the boys together they were five or six weeks old and didn't do much other than nurse and poop. They were just babies, after all. Today? They were all in little boy mode. The crawled around, picking up pine cones and sticks. They rolled toys on the driveway. And they were filthy. They squirmed and talked and grabbed and ate. It was everything a birthday party should have been. Right down to the tears. Robbie melted down at 6:00, his normal bath time. Ever the perfect host, right?

We did force the boys to make a video for Good Morning America's "Week in Three Words" segment. We lined them up in chairs and had the husbands hold up the words behind them. I'll post the video when I upload it. "Friends turning one!" was the sign (including a separate sign for the exclamation mark). Hopefully, our boys will get their fifteen minutes of fame on a future episode. Keep your eyes peeled!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Date Night

Justin and I took a much needed date night tonight. We left Robbie, Barkley, and the catties in the hands of a reliable babysitter (and former student of mine) and went out on the town. Justin and I met for dinner at Za, a great place for pizza and salad (that's actually all they serve).

The place was packed, and about a quarter of the tables had children. Loud children. The booth next to our small, romantic table had a three-year-old who wanted to be a part of our date and kept peering over at us from the top of the booth. The child at the table across from us was eating a Crayon. Across the restaurant was a screaming child. And Justin and me? We were in heaven because none of it was coming from our table. There was no food to cut up, items to keep out of reach, cups to pick up off the floor, or crisis to avert. It was the epitome of romance.

It's funny how date night changes after you have a baby. First, you don't take it for granted anymore. You don't know when your next meal alone will be, so the one at hand must be savored. Second, you try to fit in as much as possible. Take tonight for instance. Justin and I went to dinner, walked to the movies, saw a movie, and went for ice cream. Which leads to the third difference. You find yourself rushing through parts of your date to get home early enough to not have to take out a second mortgage to pay the babysitter. You also find yourself going to less expensive places because you have to factor in the cost of said babysitter to your meal.

But, from one parent to another, these nights are priceless. They are marriage saving. For me, they remind me that Justin and I are a married couple, not just co-parents who exist in the same house. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Remembering that we're in love? I'm glad I got the reminder tonight. Now, go make plans for your date. And leave the kids at home!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Staying Busy

I never realized how hard it was to fill an entire day with a one-year-old. And a rainy day? Forget about it. It's a lost cause. Take full advantage of nap time because that's the only bit of sanity you're going to have. I was at such a loss for what to do today that I took Robbie for a walk in the rain. Twice.

Now, in all fairness, I didn't mean to take him for a walk in the rain - either time. This morning I just didn't have it in me to go to the gym. I couldn't face forty minutes on the treadmill. Instead, Robbie watched me attempt to get through a Jillian Michaels workout on On-Demand. My compassionate son laughed the entire time. Still not feeling like I'd quite earned my breakfast, I decided to take Barkley and Robbie for a walk. When I do this, I've found that it's easiest to put Robbie in the Jeep baby carrier (similar to the Baby Bjorn, but Justin's all about Jeep...) and have Barkley on a leash. It's do-able with a stroller but much more difficult to maneuver. It still took a good five minutes (and a full body sweat) to get the child strapped to my chest and the dog on his leash. When we got outside and felt the raindrops, I couldn't bear to let myself admit defeat. So, although it was a short walk, we took one. Around the block. Once.

By this time, Robbie was ready for yogurt and a nap. He helped me get caught up on So You Think You Can Dance, rocking his head in time to the music (this makes for difficult yogurt-feeding). By the time he was down, I was ready for a nap myself. But, there was a house to clean, friends to chat with... You know, all the tough stuff. Plus, I knew I had to gear myself up for the afternoon, which was full of emptiness. And, as we all know, an empty afternoon is a dangerous afternoon.

Robbie took a generous three-and-a-half-hour nap and was raring to go by 1:40. Since it looked like the sky had cleared a little, I figured we would walk to The Meat House to get steaks for dinner. It was a mile and a half each way, which would make out for missing my run in the morning. We loaded Robbie in the stroller, bounced him down the stairs, and off we went, rocking to the music on the iPod. And the clouds rolled in. I kept expecting to see lightning bolts a few blocks over. Not that it would have kept me from my walk. There was no way I was sitting in the house with Robbie all afternoon. Especially since he's discovered drawers and pulling everything out of them. It's absolutely maddening.

We got the meat, stopped for a little iced coffee, and headed home. Incidentally, Robbie enjoys iced coffee. He kept watching me drink it, and I kept promising him that he wouldn't like it. Except he did. A lot. Ever since he figured out how to use a straw, he's been unstoppable. Now, don't go panicking on me. He didn't drink too much. But I was surprised that he drank any of it.

It started raining when we were a block or so from home, so we ducked into our local florist. Really, we probably could have made it home (the downpour didn't start until we'd been there for five minutes), but I knew it would still be two hours until Justin was home. Instead, Meg chatted with us, showed Robbie all the toys she had (I may be back for that puppet!), and made a gorgeous arrangement of flowers for our dining room table (I can't just stop in to talk all the time!).

Robbie and I survived today. And we have plans tomorrow afternoon, rain or shine! I think we'll be filling the rest of the summer with lots of fun mother-son activities.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Barkley wasn't too sure about Robbie when we first brought the baby home. He was nervous about the little alien creature who made funny noises and got more attention. It's been interesting to watch their relationship evolve over the course of the year. Barkley still runs away from Robbie when he sees Robbie crawling towards him. I think he had just gotten used to having the extra "pet" in the house when Robbie was suddenly able to chase him. But Robbie has learned how to keep Barkley as his best friend. Food. Strategically placed food.

On Sunday, I made a huge yard sale purchase: a red, pleather, child-sized recliner. It was the best $2 I ever spent. The recliner clashes horribly with our living room furniture. And, as anyone who knows my husband will attest, Justin would never allow such a thing to enter our house, much less remain a permanent fixture in a main room. No one was more surprised than me that it has become his new favorite piece of furniture. Apparently it's a guy thing because Robbie loves the recliner just a little more than his dad. And it has become the centerpiece for forging an even stronger friendship with Barkley.

Robbie enjoys sitting in his recliner, watching his Baby Wildcat video (yes, propaganda...), eating some chicken and bananas. Barkley enjoys this as well because Robbie is excellent at sharing. I'm not quite sure where Robbie picked up the whole sharing thing, but he has it down pat. He takes a bite of food and hands over the second half of the bite to the dog, who is strategically placed at the arm of the recliner. Sometimes, Robbie forgets to save Barkley half of his bite, so he kindly removes the food from his mouth and Barkley gingerly takes it from his hands. Tonight, however, Robbie discovered a whole new level of fun in sharing with his best friend.

Young Robert discovered that if he puts food on the seat of the recliner next to him, Barkley will lean his furry little head over the arm of the chair to get even the smallest morsel of food. This puts the poor dog in an excellent position to be grabbed by the sticky hands of an ebulient one-year-old. And the poor dog was remarkably tolerant of this as Robbie pulled at his ears, looked at me, and grinned from ear to ear.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Scheduled Chaos

Robbie has always been a pretty reliable guy, especially since he started daycare at nine weeks old. Within a week of starting, he took a bottle at 9:00 and 1:30 and slept from 10:00 to 1:00. And he translated this schedule to the weekends, much to the delight of Justin and myself. He goes to sleep at 6:30 every night and politely entertains himself until between 6:30 and 7:00 every morning. I rely on this schedule. I live for this schedule. It defines my day and gives me time to recharge.

Today, for the first time I can remember, Robert Gaetano Manna refused to take his nap, and my entire day was turned upside down. Robbie went down at the usual time and cried for an hour. Since we had a lunch/play date scheduled for early afternoon, I decided it wasn't worth the effort to keep trying to get him down. So, at 11:00, our scheduled chaos began.

Robbie (and I) survived lunch out with Robbie's best friend Pete and his dad without incident. Robbie was even fun at the playground, although he was a little fussier than normal on the swings. We played on the jungle gym and tore up grass, throwing it in the air. Robbie held himself together with more class and style than I would have expected. I, however, was another story.

Robbie finally went down for a nap around 3:00, and I was spent. It was all I could do to make it up the stairs to put the cherub down in his crib, where he cried for about ten minutes before finally crashing. I had no idea how much I relished those three hours every day when he naps. It's my "me" time. The time that I should use to clean the house (and usually do just a little) and write overdue thank you notes for end-of-the-year student gifts and Robbie's birthday. In all reality, it's the time I use to catch up on shows on my DVR and, if I'm really lucky, take a little nap. It's the time I waste on Facebook, catching up with friends who live too far away to see for lunch.

Tomorrow's a daycare day, and, if I know Zhining, Robbie will be back on schedule by 10:00 tomorrow morning. And, as I lay on the couch Thursday afternoon, I'll be grateful for the period of calm during our day of scheduled chaos.

Monday, August 2, 2010


We know all of the big milestones babies make and furiously write them down in baby books. Or promise ourselves that we'll remember to write them in baby books - and then forget. The first time he slept through the night. The first time he smiled (of course that wasn't gas!). The first time he rolled over. The first time he held his own bottle and slept on his belly (these happened to fall on the same cold, February day in Kentucky). His first tooth and first word. The first time he crawled. The first time he pulled up. The first time he stood on his own. You see where I'm going with this...

But what about the less important accomplishments? Tonight I marveled at Robbie as he sucked his water through a straw. Can you believe it? My genius child figured out how to get the water to his mouth from a straw! And he looked like a pro. Like he'd been doing it for weeks. But there isn't anywhere in Robbie's baby book to write about that (well, from what I can remember when I looked through it before Robbie was born). In a few months, I'll take this new skill for granted and it will no longer be a magical feat.

Robbie has also figured out how to sit in a mini-recliner. That was our big yard sale purchase yesterday (a very well-spent $2 if you ask me, although Justin has yet to see the red pleather chair in our living room). I looked over and he was sitting cross-legged, arms resting on the chair, staring off at the TV. He looked like this cool guy hanging out watching football. Except he was watching Baby Wildcat, propaganda we're using to brainwash Robbie into attending UK. Soon, he'll be throwing himself onto regular-sized furniture, and I'll be irritated at how he does it. But for today, I'll marvel at the fact that he figured out how to sit in his own chair. Granted, learning how wasn't a smooth trip. It involved climbing from the chair onto the coffee table. And there was the sitting-backwards-in-the-chair-and-falling-off incident... But he's finally hit the half-milestone of sitting in his own recliner. I think I'll be adding a page to that elusive baby book. Now if only I could find it...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Good Friends

There are few things as important to a mom as a good friend, particularly a good friend with a child close in age. She can fully appreciate your child's tantrums (and your sure-to-be-rational responses to them) and your husband's stupidity. She is savvy enough to never mention any of your husband's shortcomings in front of him. She is up at 7:00 in the morning when you need to vent about your hellish night, and she's willing to take your kid so you can get a night out. She comes over to keep you company and run errands with you when your husband has been out of town for four days and you're dying for adult company. And, most importantly, she still likes you after all of this.

I wasn't sure that I needed "mom" friends when Robbie was first born; I already had a nice selection of friends. Surely they could understand when Robbie had an explosive diaper or threw up in the middle of the mall. And I'm sure they do understand, but it's on a different level. A mom friend not only understands but is equipped to deal with these potential disasters. She has extra wipes and doesn't squirm when she gets covered in poop or vomit while trying to help. She has food and toys in her bag when you run out of the house without anything. And she doesn't judge you when that happens more than once.

Find these friends and hold on to them! When I think about the past year with Rebecca, Anne, and Cathy, I'm not sure how I would have survived without them. We took our kids to see Santa together, and they were prepared when Robbie vomited an entire bottle all over the mall sitting area. They invited Robbie and me over for meals when Justin was out of town, and I was at my wit's end. They volunteered to come sit with me when Robbie was sick and Justin was in class. Most importantly, they've kept me laughing at all the mishaps along the way.

We're having a joint birthday party for our boys next weekend (they all have close birthdays: 21, 27, 28, and 29 July). While I'm sure the boys will enjoy digging into yet another piece of cake (or pie for Pete, since he doesn't like cake...), the celebration will really be for us. We'll celebrate finding each other and surviving our first year. And we'll celebrate the future -- together.