Sunday, January 31, 2010

Babysitting Sunday: Gender Edition

Just got home from a short stint with my occasional kiddos (ages "almost three" and one-and-a-half). So fun! The wee one was under the weather, so he went down around 6:30 but "almost three" and I set up furniture in her dollhouse and made a sticker animal farm for about an hour. All in all a great Sunday night!

Being with kids so much really makes me wonder: is it worth it to fight the gender line? Have one 14-month-old who has a kickin' wooden kitchen and baby dolls, but you can't tear him away from his little McDonald's Happy Meals toy cars. My "almost three" lady? Spending time with her reminds me of what I was like when I was little-- I could decorate my Barbie playhouse for hours and hours on end (furniture in, furniture arranged, furniture out, rinse, repeat). I had zero interest in Nerf toys, especially as I was often on the business end of those bad boys during play fights with Todd.

So what's the deal-- do you give in and go with the gender stereotypes? Firetrucks, police cars, robots; dolls, play houses, and all things pink. I'm sure there's some balance, I'm just thankful I don't have to find it yet.

B's out at the gym playing basketball, quite the accomplishment as we were snowed in only hours ago. Turns out only the third-ary roads are bad (primary and secondary are pretty solid). Here's hoping it doesn't freeze too badly tonight and that B gets home safe soon! PS-- the house smells amazing from the pork fried rice he made tonight. Did I hit the jackpot or what?

Newlywed Moment of the Day

Pharmacist Asst: Did you have any questions about your antibiotic?

Me: One.

PA: What's that?

Me: Word is that these can interfere with birth control, but my Dr says that's not true.

PA: Antibiotics do make some forms of birth control less effective.

Me: Are we talking 99% down to 86% or more like 99% down to 50%?

PA: Let's just say it's not a risk worth taking.

Me: So you're saying you won't sign on for 18 years of child support if the meds to clash?

PA: Exactly. We support back-up methods.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Warmth, Defined

What B Wore to Play in the Snow:tshirt
waterproof gloves
running pants

What I Wore to Play in the Snow:
long sleeve shirt
fleece vest
hooded sweatshirt
B's red windproof fleece jacket
B's hooded sweatshirt
Raincoat shell
yoga pants
sweat pants
fleece socks
two hats
nonwaterproof gloves

And yes, before you ask, we did end up trading gloves. My husband is the best!

Snow Day!

Last night, B & I were suppose to go into Raleigh with a few friends to have dinner at a legendary bbq place. With our end of our time in Durham no longer "next year" or "after the holidays," we're feeling like we need to tick off our to-do list by putting forth some sort of real effort. Enter, bbq.

Alas, the 'cue was not to be. Instead we got seven inches of snow (and counting!). It's amazing and beautiful and wonderful and we relished laying in bed watching it knowing that someday we'll be laying in bed and having to tell lies to the little people stealing our covers that you're not allowed to play in snow until 9am or 32 degrees, whichever comes second.

That said, we're getting bundled to go play. Love it!

I Love My Nieces

I got a chance to hang with the Smith sisters last night for a few hours. We made and decorated sugar cookies for our snack, which turned out to be really tough (Note to Self: Give kids snack before bringing out the cookie dough.).

E&S: Can we have another piece of the dough part?

Me: We don't need to eat anymore or we won't have any cookies to bake.

E: I like the dough better.

S: Can I eat this piece?

Me: Well, too much dough can hurt your tummy.

S: Can I eat this piece?

Me: Yes, but then decorate. Put some sprinkles on! Are you done?

E: No, I'm still working. And I want more of the dough part.

S: Can I eat this piece?

Me: Yes, but let's make that the last piece or we won't be able to eat any cookies.

E: Why?

S: Can I eat this piece?

Me: Fine. Because you won't be hungry for cookies.

E: I'm always hungry for cookies.

S: Can I eat this piece?

Me: Yes, one last bite for everyone. You need to have room for dinner.

S: Can I eat this piece?

Me: Ok! Time to put them in the oven!

Nanny Tidbit of the Day

Me: The only bad part is the dog. He attacks me as soon as I come in and doesn't let go of my leg until the owner leaves.

C: Maybe you should tell the parents that you have a rate for babysitting and that rate doesn't include anything remotely sexual that their dog might be doing to your leg.

Me: Oh that's excellent. A rate scale. It just might work...

Nanny Vs Babysitter

I've been going round and round about the difference in a nanny and a babysitter and, as best I can figure, a babysitter is a random, occasional sitter while a nanny is a routine, scheduled sitter. By this definition, I am both.

That's right friends, when I realized I'd have lots of time on my hands this semester, I knew I'd have to do something. I applied to be a cake decorator (no word yet and, um, no experience to speak of) and I also went back to my old roots from when I lived in Durham before: hanging with the babies. I could've stayed home and simply planned elaborate dinners for B & myself, but then we would've been overweight and Vitamin D deprived, which isn't good for anybody.

I decided to put myself out there and asked my sweet sister to let her friends know. She did me one better, letting her classmates at UNC as well as her parenting group at church know that I was around and available to hang out with the kiddos if anyone needed some help.

Boy, did they.

By the end of the week, I'd booked a few people to meet with. By the end of two weeks, I had a full schedule:
Mondays- 7:30-1:30 (10 month old); 3-5 ( 7 month old)
Tuesdays- 2-6 (4th & 7th grader)
Wednesdays- 7:30-1:30 (10 month old); 3-5 ( 7 month old)
Thursdays- free!
Fridays- 9:45-12:15 (14 month old)

Plus I'm sitting for a family with a 4 month old and another with two kids, ages "almost three" and one-and-a-half. It's nuts! I've told B that, for better or worse, I'm working harder than I have in years. Granted, this is a very very different kind of work. Instead of being creative with my writing and finding fun stories to feature, I'm finding fun books to read, making up stories and dances, making lunches, doing the happy baby bouncing dance, enjoying naps, singing songs, and counting, naming, and identifying color for everything under the moon.

You know what? I love it. I love hanging on the floor with them, building towers, playing cars, decorating doll houses, coloring pictures, and being covered with goldfish dust and puffs.

That said, I'm also thrilled to come home. It's the best job I've had yet. I go on walks (which makes everybody happy), hang with kids, watch bad TV during nap time, then come home with a little extra cash, a little exercise completed, and a true excited happiness to see B.

I'm still getting settled into the new routine (as those of you who know me might imagine-- 7:30 AM!!) and finding the kinks (favorite blankies and insane animals). So far my tips for parents with sitters are few but firm.
1- Tell me if you have pets. I love dogs but was still surprised to find them at two of the houses I visit.
2- Tell me how I can help you. Want texts? Photo texts? Updates? Let me know. I can do them!

It's been fun and I'm learning, and also doing more laundry. "Work clothes" are now clearly defined and relegated to the laundry basket as soon as I get home!

Better Late Than... Really Late?

I'm behind. January has almost come and gone and I've written (almost) nary a word. I blame this on lots of things. Ready? Here we go:

1) Wonderful trips-- Who wants to write about delicious food, beautiful beaches, and amazing times on a sailboat when you're no longer on those crystal clear blue waters? I will write about it, I promise, but it just makes me want to go back!

2) Job transitions-- That's right; I'm no longer with my old job and have moved on to my new job. Or my new jobs, I should say (more on that later). Suffice it to say that I'm no longer at my computer (or home) for long stretches during the day, so while I still have those "I've gotta blog this!" moments, I'm not close enough to a laptop to get it down.

3) The ick-- I got sick, again, after getting home, which sent me on another round of antibiotics and through several more boxes of tissues. B has been a champ through it all, but I've had a harder time with it.

I'm not one of those graciously sick people. For all I know, my Mom has NEVER been sick, not in the 18 years I lived at home and rarely since. I'm sure she's suffered her fair share of flus, bugs, and colds, but you'd never know it. With me? You know it.

So while I'm snuggled and sniffling and trying to decide whether I should go to the doctor, which is problematic because I don't have a doctor here anyway, I'm also on the verge of tears (another "A is sick" indicator) and stubborn about slodding on through whatever I feel needs to be done. Plus, I remember how easy it was to call Mom and tell her how badly I felt and she'd go find Dad and make him call in meds for me. Spoiled, party of one? I have arrived.

But I'm back and determined to blog, mostly because I want to and love to, but also because it's good for me to keep writing. My day gig doesn't provide me with much of a writing-based creative outlet (though I can tell you 100 silly dances that go with any song on the radio), and since I'm not exploring my need to tell you I know all 100 silly dances in therapy, I figure I'll revert to my cheap therapy: A Taste In The Life. That's right. I'm back. I promise.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Can I Go Back Yet?

More Favorites!

We're On a Boat!

Take a peek at a few of my favorite pics from our week. Words to follow!

This Is What Happens When You Wake Your Husband Up to See the Sunrise

Welcome 2010! B's amazing parents planned a fantastic trip to kick off the new year: a week-long trip on a 57' sailboat named Priorities. It's been his Dad's dream for something like 20 years and we were oh-so happy to oblige!
We left on January 2nd and headed to St. Thomas, where B's Mom had (wisely) booked a buffer night. We enjoyed an awesome dinner, fun time in the pool, a nap on the beach, and our own excitement about getting on a boat the next day. (And yes, this song looped for all of us the entire week. FYI--NSFW.)
While St. Thomas was incredible, I'm afraid we all but skipped over it in our excitement about... the boat!

Make Your Own Sushi Night

For Christmas, B & I gave his Dad a set of plates for serving sushi, which launched the beginning of what we hope will become a family tradition: Make your own sushi night! Turns out B's Dad is a natural, so hopefully he'll enjoy it!

Christmas in Atlanta

Christmas this year was such a blast-- we went from a Monkey Christmas (paint! snow! chaos!) to Florence (baking! food! movies!) to Atlanta, where I had my first Christmas with B's family. It was so great!

We started the morning with mimosas and chocolate croissants, a K family tradition (one which I'm happy to adopt, by the way) and a little breakfast casserole (a family tradition of mine) before settling around the tree to open presents.

It was such a nice way to celebrate Christmas morning. We spent an hour or so leisurely opening presents, then B and I enjoyed a nice walk before we started helping with the amazing feast of beef tenderloin and all the trimmings.

All in all, it was an amazing Christmas. I had lots of thoughts of my family (it was my first Christmas away from home!) and, of course, Dad, but B's family was amazing and made everything ok, better than ok. It was wonderful.

Christmas in Florence

B & I left Durham in December and made a bee-line for Florence, where we spent a few days eating ourselves silly, baking, cooking, and generally enjoying a little down time on the lake.

Every year, Mom gets a coconut cake for our family and a few years ago we started making the cake and it's turned into a tradition that we love. Last year was the first year I made it with B in the kitchen and it was a disaster. I forgot to put the egg whites in the cake batter, made the lemon curd filling with egg whites, and somehow messed up the icing. We basically made the cake twice.

This year, the cake went off without a hitch, which left us plenty of time to eat, and eat we did. Fried catfish at Newburns, heaping bowls of pasta at Ricatoni's, and pasta night at Turtle Point.

Besides eating, we managed to get our teeth cleaned (thank goodness!) and help Mom pick out the marker for Dad's grave. That was tough, and weird. I'm so glad she didn't have to do it alone!

We showed up at the place and they were perfectly nice, but it's still just weird. I mean, they put the wife's name on the marker too, plus her date of birth. Weird, party of 1. Then we're trying to pick out all these different elements from these tiny brochures, so we finally go walk around the cemetery looking at different examples. Like window shopping, only with a very different slant. Weird, party of 2.

But we got it done and went out for a big lunch to mark the end of that part of our day. I did get to see Dad's grave, which was ok. I didn't know if it would upset me or bug me, but I didn't really feel anything being there. My family's never been big on visiting the grave sites of loved ones, but still, it's Dad. But maybe that's why it's ok-- I know it's not Dad, and that makes me happy.

We spend the rest of our short visit prepping food, seeing movies (Avatar!), and enjoying some low-key time together following the whirlwind days of Monkey Christmas 2009. I can't believe that was three weeks ago!

Happy Birthday B!

I love love LOVED B's birthday this year. Normally we have to celebrate it early, so he can go back to school, or on a random weeknight, so I could get back to Birmingham for work. Not this year! We relished every minute of his big day, even if we did end up dragging it our for about three weeks! Four if you count the birthday we're having tomorrow night with the Smith clan...

We celebrated early with Mom just before New Year's, enjoying a delicious Italian meal out in Atlanta complete with singing waiters and a sparkler-laden dessert.

On the boat, I woke B up with a few surprise presents (little ones that could go on the boat--and get through security--with us) including a Tech hat (as seen in picture) and a travel book about the Greek Islands (for our post-bar trip, fingers crossed!).

The day got off to a great start. Rich and Lisa, our fabulous captain and crew for our British Virgin Islands sail on the Priorities sailboat, decorated the boat with streamers and confetti and Happy Birthday signs. Love them! We got up early to watch the sunrise, then promptly returned to bed to sleep until a more decent hour.

We got up later to enjoy breakfast and get the Coronas flowing. We enjoyed our day, looking forward to the highlight-- a stop-by at the pirate happy hour bar. Excuse me, Happy Aaaarrrr Bar. B's Mom had trouble admitting that she'd bought her son a (Wii) video game for his birthday; how about throwing him a pirate themed birthday party? Ha!

We loaded ourselves up on mixed drinks, played pirate trivia (I won a rum shot!), and then roasted B, the local "Sea-lebrity" of the day with another shot of birthday run (given out by the distributaaaaarrr), before returning to the boat for an amazing dinner courtesy of Rich and Lisa; they even put a candle on his birthday dessert!

The great night ended about 9:30, when all of us crashed from a full day of sun and sea, plus a few Coronas, run drinks, pina coladas, wine, and rum shots. Happy birthday to B!

Now that you know how our day went, let me tell you how fun it was for me: I LOVED getting to celebrate with B, to truly spend a day acknowledging how wonderful of a man he is. Quite possibly the best day of the trip!

We're not quite done with birthday fun. B's parents gave him their present before we left for Durham, then he and I opened presents back in Durham, and tomorrow we're enjoying a favorite birthday milestone: diving into B's traditional birthday cake with the Smith ladies. Nothing like having two pint-sized helpers ring in your new year!

Nine Months!

I warned you that this post would be late, but I bet you had no idea just HOW late it would end up being. Better late than never!

For our nine month anniversary, B & I celebrated in arguably our most beautiful setting yet: on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands. (More on that later.)

Nine months-- huge milestone! We finished B's second to last semester at Duke Law, acted like real people (finding our own health insurance, etc), enjoyed an early Christmas with my family in Durham, attended a fabulous wedding for our dear friend Emily, succeeded in not fainting during said wedding (a close call, mind you), a whirlwind trip to Florence marked by fun dinners and final estate issues, then celebrated Christmas on the day with B's family in Atlanta.

We exchanged fun Christmas presents (a fabulous Lodge skillet for me-- YEA!!, a Tech jersey for him, to name a few). We rung in 2010 with B's amazing friends from high school then got ready for our first fun trip of 2010: a sailboat trip around the BVIs with B's family.

On the 57' boat, Priorities, we watched the sunrises, sunsets, and blissful afternoons float by as we celebrated our nine-month anniversary and B's 27th bday.

Christmas wasn't as emotionally exhausting as Thanksgiving, probably because I was preoccupied in NOT hitting my toe on anything. On that note, I finally got to wear shoes again this month! I don't know that my toe will ever look the same, but God help me, it feels so much better than I could care less!

All in all, the ninth month was pretty darn amazing. Wait until the 10th, when I can tell you about B getting a new wedding band. :)

So Behind!

I have so much to post. Forgive the flood that's about to overwhelm the blog!

Friday, January 1, 2010

I Love My House

Technically, I suppose, it isn't so much my house as it as Mom's house, the house I grew up in, or the family house, but it still feels like home and it still feels like home and it still feels like mine. I wonder why I love it so much. :)

Year in Review

I'm hopelessly behind! Happy 2010! Merry Christmas! Details to come, but for now, let me quickly recap my 2009 as my husband sits beside me raving about how much he loves the Snuggy he got for Christmas. No, I'm not kidding.

Counted down to New Year's in Atlanta before B headed back to law school. Celebrated the start of our final semester apart!

Visits to law school, adventures in addressing wedding invitations, and lots of on-phone bonding with Mom as we discussed everything from hospitality suites to hotel rooms to floral arrangements. Met with cake decorators, florists, caterers, and more.

Wedding invitations go out! The dress comes in! Wedding planning surges ahead. Enjoyed a weekend with my girls as a bachelorette hoorah, marked with delicious dinners, fun dancing, and a delightfully entertaining lingerie shower. B and his buddies hit the beach in Florida for some charity work, or at least that's what I was told...

Spent a weekend with my Birmingham ladies at the lake, made our wedding favors, and baked for the hotel's welcome bags. Weddingweddingwedddingweddingwedding! Took a weekend off to cheer B's softball team on in the big law school tourney at UVA.

B finished his exams and just days later we enjoyed an amazing four days of wedding parties, celebrations, vows, and more. We took ~3000 pictures, ate probably double that in terms of calories, and danced the night away as man and wife. We honeymooned in Virgin Gorda, our own little glimpse of paradise, then returned to Atlanta. I was in Birmingham with Mom when Dad passed away. We planned a funeral, remembered a loving father, and did our best to keep moving forward.

We survived. Went to Florida for a clerkship interview, spent time at the lake house in Blue Ridge, and tried to work through unfamiliar territory in terms of dealing with loss, love, and whole lot of change.

Move from Atlanta to Birmingham to enjoy a few weeks of Birmingham law firms, in-office work, and catching up with my girlfriends, plus trips home to organize the wedding presents and arrange a few returns.

Moved out of the Birmingham apartment, which had been occupied by someone in my family for over seven years. Farewell 524! On to Durham! Started working long distance again, flying to Birmingham once a month. Baby Carolyn is born!

Turned 26 and celebrated in Hilton Head with a bunch of B's high school friends. Spend the entire month on the road. To Hilton Head! To Charleston! To the beach house!

Carved our first pumpkin. Celebrated Halloween with the monkeys, bowing to their princess beauty. Spent fall break cruising Sonoma, Berkely, and San Fran before returning home to get started on the holidays.

Double Thanksgiving! We cooked in Durham then headed to Atlanta for the official day. Cried in my turkey, tore a ligament in my toe, and spent the next month in a boot to keep it flat. Got our wedding album (love it!) and took my last long-distance work commuting flight from Birmingham.

Decorated (and undecorated!) our first Christmas tree. B finished his 2nd to last semester at law school (yea!) and we celebrated early Christmas in Durham with all seven (and a half!) monkeys. My dear friend Emily from college got married to an Atlanta boy (they do grow them well down there!), and we enjoyed a whirlwind trip from Durham to Florence (movies! catfish!) and back to Atlanta where we enjoyed Christmas dinner and a wonderful New Year's Eve at one of B's high school friend's home.

Now the hard part... what to wish for for the New Year. There are the "knowns" (a new niece or nephew, a few friends that are having babies, B graduating law school, B taking the Bar, us moving once to Atlanta and again to Florida, rental house hunting, a vacation with B's parents starting tomorrow, a vacation with my family in February, losing my job in t-minus 14 days, starting a new job in t-minus 11 days, our first anniversary...) and the "unknowns," or as I like to call them, the specifics. Where does God want us to go this year? Where will be live in Florida? What unexpected emotions will the year bring?

I think 2010 will be the year of trust. Trusting that God will lead us where he desires in Florida, direct us in decisions ranging from health care to jobs to investments, and pat us on the head when we stomp our feet and need to know more or, worse, why.

So I'll resolve to trust. And, of course, to bake more.