Tuesday, May 31, 2011

She loves it...

fresh fruit... strawberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas... chopped small.
Mix in any flavor of yogurt... and... are you ready... rice krispies. Stir, listen to the sizzle & let 'em eat.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

I've said it before & I'll say it again... I've done some dumb things. No denying this fact, we all have- some more dumb than others. Most were probably done between the ages of 13 and, oh, I don't know, 26? Yeah, we'll go with that.

Husband, Wife, & Child went to the beach this past weekend for a glorious sun kissed three days getting sunburned, sand in our hair, and salt on our lips. What we had no idea about was what this beach was like. Well, three fun days later- I can tell you what the beach is like.

There are a bunch of dumb people. Dumber than the dumbest thing Husband and I have ever done.

I mean, really dumb.

Let me give you a for instance... [I have paused trying to think about a dumb thing that I have done... that is not so dumb I am not too embarrassed to share it] ... [I am continuing to pause]

Okay, well, let's just say I've done some dumb stuff. But, nothing and I mean it, NOTHING that I have done was half as dumb as these college kids we kept running into.

Did you know that it is smart to take tequila shots with your waffles at breakfast? Did you know that it is even smarter to sell waffles at the bar? Or sell alcohol at a breakfast joint? Well, in OCMD (that would be Ocean City, MD for all y'all who have not ventured this way), it is commonplace & encouraged.

Did you know that it is smart to throw up out the side of the parked car at 4:30 in the afternoon? Or hang your head over the trashcan at 10:30 on the beach? Or walk into a car, trip, fall, and pass out on the way down?

Did you know that it is freaking brilliant, and I mean this, to drop the hammer and race your crotch rocket of a motorcycle down the Coastal Highway at 3AM? I thought those geniuses were of a particularly fabulous variety.

Did you know that the neighbors who have the two year old and went to sleep around 11 will be thrilled when y'all roll up wasted, easting pizza, and singing "Livin' on a Prayer"? So thrilled, in fact, that the mother might, just might, come out and tell you to "Get inside & go to sleep." (I sounded so much like a mom, even Husband agreed). The only thing that made it even more motherly was when they did two things:

(1) "yes m'am"
(2) they went inside... and went to bed.

I felt old & also responsible, all at once.

But, other than the antics of idiotic twenty-somethings, we had a wonderful time and Eileen had a great birthday. She iced her own gluten-free cupcakes and devoured them in about eighteen seconds. She hopped everywhere and eventually found her way off the towel and onto the sand, though never making it as far as the water.

It was a great time & a great memory.

Unplanned Moments

I am a planner. I love to plan. I think about what I want to accomplish, envision a way to get there, think of a better way, write it down, rethink, and maybe revise a third time. When I can’t sleep at night, I plan.
Today, our sweet daughter turned two. We spent the morning driving to Maryland so we could spend memorial day weekend together, as a family. While one Cagle thinks that this is the girl’s birthday present, the other, sappier &; of the more masculine persuasion begs to differ and, secretly, I’m okay with that. 
Eileen & I arrived to an unknown beach, staying at an unknown condo, and being with each other in this unknown place. I had spent many a nap hours in the afternoons of February and March researching, planning, charting, making notes and phone calls, and  preparing for this three day weekend that we would spend together as a family.
Two years ago, we were sleep deprived, fresh from surgery, and had this tiny human in our care. She would not eat, was losing weight, I had just had major surgery, and Wife said to Husband, as often as Husband said to Wife, how deep love runs. “I love you the same, but I love you so much more-- it’s softer. I feel more tied to you than I ever have,” I remember saying during one 3am feeding where Husband was helping Eileen. “I agree,”  he responded, suppressing a yawn & the knowledge that he had to be working two floors down in about an hour.
But, we planned for this life. We prepared. We were, despite our best efforts, ready.
Today, I had a monogrammed picnic basket in one hand and a baby’s hand in the other. Eileen was jumping from here to there and found herself more impressed with the rocks in the parking lot than what lay ahead of her. “Come on, Eileen. Those rocks are nothing compared to what you are about to see. Let’s GO!”
No.
Scooping her up, we made our way through new sand; it’s browner here than what I am used to. And annoyingly thicker. Difficult in flip flops. But, those are the breaks. Eileen started to pitch a fit and I said, “OH! Hear that? That’s the water!” An “Ohhhhh” came out of nowhere and she started wiggling to get down. 
The sand was hot. The water was cold and it scared her. She found no comfort other than in my arms. As she started to warm up and begin to inch across the towel away from my loving grasp there was a moment, merely a flicker, where my pink toenails were splashed with sand and her little pink toes were next to mine. As I reached for my camera to capture this perfect, unplanned, moment, it was gone. 
She never left the towel, but worked towards playing with the sand. Just as she really started warming up to it, a large clump landed smack in her eye. She screamed. She cried. She howled. She wiped her sandy eye with her sandy hand and made it much, much worse. All I could do was hold her as I looked around trying to remember how to get sand out of the most painful place sand can go. As the sand came out with the tears, her sandy hands found their way to her eyes, starting the cycle over again. Finally, after holding her hands, rinsing her eyes with water from our water bottle, she started to cool down and climbed into my lap, into my arms, and nuzzled into my neck. 
These moments that I don’t plan for are the best ones. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Creativity wins every time

Pixie and Woo came to visit for a few days. The first day they were gone, Eileen woke up wondering where her playmates were. Distraction!

It was time to make our first batch of play-dough.


Apparently, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 1 cup of water does not taste half bad.


She made the dough, and the mess, all by herself.


Pouring the flour first, teaspoon by spilled teaspoon


Next, the salt. Unfortunate for her, the salt looks an awful lot like the sugar she tried as we baked cookies the other day.


Finally came the arduous task of the water. The messy, messy water.
Once, I was being silly with Husband and threw a little flour at him. It landed in his eyes, with his contacts. FYI: flour + water = paste.  FYIx2: flour+water+contacts+eyes= emergency room. Kidding; however his eyes were pasted shut for longer than I care to admit to & were red for days. I don't throw flour anymore.


Husband walked in the door to see the mess his daughter was making as, "I DO IT! I DO IT!" was the response received when an offer to help was extended.


Everything mixing, Eileen tries to use her toes to bring the dough together. No dice.


Apparently, no idea why, but apparently Eileen was not the very best measurer, so our dough was a little watery. Dumped out on the counter with more flour, she sets to work.


Finally, it comes together with a, "LOOK! Ma-MEE! I deeed it!"


"What do you want to make, Eileen?"
"An-Ew"
An-Ew always has a big smile and wild hair... so, greetings, An-Ew.


An exuberant "Hi, An-Ew" made me know that we were successful with our An-Ew.


Can you give him a kiss, Eileen?


The next day, Eileen wanted to "Hep! Ma-Mee! Hep!" (meaning, I am going to help you make a big mess in the kitchen, mom. Just an FYI) Washing knives probably was not going to be the best place for her, so I set back out her dough from yesterday and she got to work... eating it. We decided to forego the dough and just go for flour.


She discovered that a mountain could be made into a volcano with just a pat from her nose.


And then the flour gets stuck on her nose if it is wet from playing with the "lodder" in the sink.


Seconds, mere seconds, before she discovered how to throw the flour to the front of the counter and the back of the counter, simultaneously. Thus began our lesson on vacuuming, which succinctly led to a time out or two.


Please do not think that this will teach me a lesson with her and the flour. We need rainy day activities that involve easy clean up!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A good two days

Eileen has learned to jump and it is, quite possibly, the cutest thing ever. Cuter than talking to Ford Merry last night as we were making cookies and he asked me to bring him two- one for him and one for Tellis. That is love and you cannot teach that kind of love. Digress... Eileen jumps. Everywhere. 
With Monday upon us, rain in the air, and no car- we sat and stared at each other for about 3 minutes as the clock ticked from 3:38am to 3:41am. A nightmare brought LMC to the safest place- her parents bed. No sleep and a husband gone later, we have walked, we have talked, and we have played. We played puzzles, we played chase, we did everything together. She made a carrot souffle for lunch and we told BeBe, Teddie, and Woof “night night” as she headed off for lunch. After almost falling asleep in her chair, she joined her Fabulous Three for a three hour siesta.
“Ma-Mee! Ma-Mee! An-Ew!” came from behind the double doors around four. She leapt up, rocket arms in the air. “Bye BeBe!” and she was gone. The rain had ceased and we were out the door to the courtyard for some energy burning. Running up and down the brick walkway until she discovered a puddle and that she could jump in with splashes as a reward.
“LODDER! LODDER Ma-MEE!” and a ripple of the sweetest laugh ensues. Up and down, sitting in the water to splash with her hands and rising again to splash with her feet. I sat and watched. No cell phone playing, no talking to anyone else, just me and my girl enjoying each other.
“Okay, tell the lodder good-bye.”
NO!
“We’ll see it again, say ‘bye bye’”
Bye-Bye Lodder. With a wave over her shoulder, she was gone.
A thirty minute bath where she played in an inch and a half of water while I cleaned the bathroom later, she looked at me and simply said, “love.” My heart melted all over again.
She awoke the next day with her favorite two men on her lips.
“Da-Dee? An-Ew? Da-Dee? An-Ew?”
Not quite as pleasant as hearing Ma-Mee as a wakeup chirp, but I’ll take it.
“Honey, Da-Dee & An-Ew aren’t here. Da-Dee’s at the hospital taking care of sick babies & An-Ew is with his Pixie & Woo.”
“WOOOOO? Pixie? Cook-a? Dude?”
“Yep- those are yours. Let’s call Pixie on our phones, okay?”
“Kay.”
After a pretend phone call, breakfast, organizing, running, and nap, she awoke and we made [gluten free] cookies for Julie (now, if the cookies actually make it off the cooling racks, in the package, to the mail, DOWN to Georgia-- it’ll be a minor miracle). I blew up a tadpole baby pool, filled it with water and stripped her down. We sat on the balcony as the sun started to set & she played with the “lodder” until she could not play anymore- mostly because it had all made its way out the the pool.
A short walk, quick dinner, and it is time to have a conclusion for a great two days just the two of us.
When it is time for Eileen to go to bed, we have a routine for just the two of us. BeBe, Teddie, and Woof are tucked in, the lights are switched off, and the two of us hold each other while we say our prayers. I pay her a compliment about the day- no matter what kind of day we have had, as having a temper is a good thing... as long as it can be managed. As she is being lifted over the rail and snuggled into her buddies she hears, “I love you, Eileen. You were a wonderful addition to my day. Tomorrow I will try and be a better mother.”
Who tells their kid that they were less than perfect? I do.
For the past two days, she has only heard the first two sentences because this is me patting myself on the back.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hurry home, Elizabeth & An-Ew

The weather has been just shy of the border of being able to have fun outside and NOT being able to have fun outside. After  laundry, chores, breakfast, and Mickey Mouse it was a very early 8:15. What are we going to do for the rest of the day into the evening as Husband is on call?

We are going to organize under the kitchen sink and the tool cabinet... On one hand I wish I had taken before shots of the disaster, but am secretly glad that I did not, as they would have been obligated to be on this blog and you 200 who check in on us daily would know what a true disaster looks like.

Tool cabinet let to the sink, which led to the spice cabinet... which led to the junk drawer... There is not much left to organize... hurry home, An-Ew! We'll even give you the bigger ballon & shower you with kisses by the "lodder."

(and yes, you see TONS of baby food jars- they are going to good use. and cords were tagged with ribbon. Hooks in the cabinet walls- hammer and nails are so last month.)







Friday, May 13, 2011

Drawing.

Eileen, do you want to color?

YOU!

What would you like me to color?

Ernie!

....

What else? 

Aero-plane!

....

How about I color Ma-Me, Da-De, and Eileen?

YEAH!

.....

What else?

AN-EW!

....

What else?

MOON!

Okay, but don't tell An-Ew, your balloon is going to be bigger than his balloon.





Sweet Husband: Da-De in green, Ma-Me in blue and green, Eileen- shorter than An-Ew, and An-Ew- with a smaller balloon.

He's the best.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Speaking of busy...

Eileen has on a red polo dress and red monogrammed bloomers. There should not be anymore to this statement, but there is. Might the time be noted at 7:56.

She ran into my (our) closet, where my UGA visor was on the ground. Now, it's on her head. Running into the kitchen, wanting to be frat-tastic, newbies and socks in place, the visor is gone. She is off again. Purple fleece hat with dueling pom poms on. A rubber band as a bracelet and jumping up and down for my heavy silver necklace that she thinks is hers (and why not? Every 2 year old should have a Tiffany necklace. Hello, gypsy! We are Catholic, after all). The gift of the necklace is replied with a gift of a rubber band bracelet for mom. Fair trade? Sure.

Off again. A bucket for a purse as she lounges on water (baby drool) spotted silk pillows by the window on the floor. Necklace shucked, la-la-las coming from the sweet girl, I head into the kitchen to check on our concoction that she cooked... ALL BY HERSELF (one egg, mozzarella cheese, milk, lots of onion powder, Tony Cachere's, parsley, crackers, and pepper... it's all her.).

"Eileen, come on! Let's check to see if there are any bubbles!"

A very slow walk from the bedroom to the kitchen. Not seeing her feet, I could clearly see the look of pride spread across her face. She turns the corner. Electing to rip off both her socks and her newbies, she has replaced said accessory with Husband's aviation transport gloves... on her feet.

It's 8:14.

Monday, May 9, 2011

For Sale...

One almost two year old. Answers to the name, Eileen. Father is unresponsive behind the hospital walls.

Has taken to whining, throwing rice krispies, eating nothing but goldfish, and getting stuck in chairs. Fortunately, while getting stuck in chairs is easy... detangling out of the stroller straps and easing out so discreetly that the driver runs over her, yep- she's good at that one, too.

Lucky for the owner of said two year old, she is just tall enough to push buttons on elevators, open doors that have been closed, and knows how to arch her back in such a way so as not be strapped into her chair or carseat. Her ability to stash snacks, juice cups (for the Apocalypse & we need penicillin), mom's headbands and sunglasses, as well as remote controls and credit cards will be an asset to anyone who is worried of burglaries. 

This two year old is smart, too. Scissors, no matter where they are placed in the kitchen, can be found by her two little hands fumbling around in any number of drawers found, literally, over her head. Scissors are recommended to be relocated to behind a closed door... that you have a key to. She is excellent at helping cut flowers, as she will hold your keys and phone, before tossing them into the thick flowerbed of wildflowers where they cannot be seen without an application of scissors. Eileen is also fond of opening the heavy drawers in her bedroom, only to remove every article of clothing in the two lone drawers, before gleefully acknowledging her hard work with an "I DEED IT!" clapping and running off to the kitchen like a dowel rod to water, or like an Eileen to scissors.

She naps really well, though. So, there is some saving grace. And, while her shoe fashion lacks, and she can pull any bow out of her curly hair, she gives the best kisses.

So, there must be some saving grace, right? It is a good thing that she is a patience taker, because I am a mountain maker.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Here's Hoping.

Eileen has FINALLY outgrown her twelve month clothes. It's about time, considering she turns two in a few weeks. Husband gave wife his debit card this morning and said, "Go buy our baby some summer clothes, a bathing suit, and some muscles so she can swim. She's a big girl!" So, off we went to Target.

THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS AND AN HOUR LATER.... we walk out.

Eileen now has four bathing suits, some summer play clothes, and two bathing suit coverups. She has muscles & a ducky to help her swim. She's ready.

Mom? Oh, mom braved the bathing suit section as well. Mom now has three bathing suits (as my old ones are years old... like purchased before I was pregnant. yeah....) and a cover up. But, I did something that might be perceived as a little foolish.

I bought a bikini.

Who does that? I am 30. I have gray hair. I have a baby. I'm overweight. And I did it. I bought a bikini.

In the last 13 days, I have lost 8 pounds & am all kinds of impressed with myself. Gluten be damned! There is a suntan to be had on this pale, pale body. Hopefully in another two weeks, I will have shed another 5. And maybe, just maybe, by the end of the summer I will be able to pull on the two pieces and actually make it out of the bathroom.

Here's hoping. If not, I will just have some really unusual underroos for the winter.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm letting God do the judging.

That day was awful.

A long distance phone call to Augusta after an exhausting day brought more painful news of loss. A different long distance phone call, brought reassurance and a friend. Ten years have passed; ten quick, quick years between what felt like yesterday and today.

Last night, Helen slept on our floor, on the way home from home. After much talking, pizza, and laughing, it was bedtime. In a second, life changes. Husband called from the bedroom, "Osama's dead." I wanted to cry, but had no idea why. The relief was overwhelming and instant, remembering that fear I felt that night in the sorority house at 440 S. Milledge. Miranda slept next to me, for comfort as I mourned the loss of my uncle and of so many others. Our foundation was rocked to its very core.

On FoxNews, drunk college students were outside the White House screaming "USA! USA! USA!" Fireworks were going off in a distance outside of our window and I imagine that this evening was very different in this city back on that Tuesday. Would more be coming? How would we move forward? What would change? Those college kids were ten when the towers fell. Ten. At ten, do you really understand? I went over to Stacy's house to help her with the kids as much as I went so as not to be alone. She was always good about that. I remember her kids were more excited about having a school day off and understanding little about what happened. The innocence of youth is one of God's greatest blessings.

In his death, I want to say things like "rot in hell, you son of a bitch" and other obscenities. But, that is not my job to judge. That burden is for Someone Else. There is a Kipling poem that my grandfather often quoted and found solace in. September 12, I called him & recited it for him (from my memory, as that was the way I learned it), because I was finding solace in it.

When Earth's Last Picture is Painted
When Earth's last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried, 
When the oldest colors have faded, and the youngest critic has died, 
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it -- lie down for an aeon or two, 
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall put us to work anew. 
And those that were good shall be happy; they shall sit in a golden chair; 
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets' hair. 
They shall find real saints to draw from -- Magdalene, Peter, and Paul; 
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all.

And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame; 
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame, 
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star, 
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They are.


We move forward. I am moving forward. But, I do wonder what my children's history books will say about these past few days.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Game Tape

Not too long ago someone, from the outside looking in, told me that I was a “crappy girlfriend.” Not the man I was dating, who would become my husband, but someone on the outside of our relationship, looking in. I took great offense, but kept my trap shut. Days later, this conversation was relayed to my dad.
He must not have had any time to think, because the words were barely out of my mouth before he said, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. If you were such an awful girlfriend, then you would have never become a wife.” It was all I needed for perspective, because Woody was right. If I was that awful, than why did he want to marry me? Because I was not [that awful]. Being awful was not the kind I wanted to be.
In thinking back when I was girlfriend, there was a lot of time spent “playing the game tape” as Husband calls it. When the dust settled, what we did wrong- whoever that couple was, what we did right, how we could be better, what worked, what didn’t, what I liked about other couples, what I didn’t like, etc. After each boyfriend, there was a real “CtJ” (come to Jesus) meeting with myself, as I knew that I was not always the sole problem, nor was I always blameless. Each time, I learned and improved, each time getting better and better- as a girlfriend and as a friend.
No longer a girlfriend, I became Will’s wife. We were married less than two weeks when we had our first fight. Actually, we were married about 18 hours. We had not packed before the wedding for our honeymoon- stupid, I know, but no one told us. So, we had to go Brad’s to borrow luggage, to my house to get clothes, to Will’s house to get clothes, to my parents to say goodbye, get a hotel in ATL, drive to ATL, and be on a plane Monday morning. It was too much on too little sleep and I snapped at Husband, immediately regretting it. This was not the way I wanted to spend my life interacting with my husband. It was dumb, really. So dumb, I can’t even remember more than the immense feeling of sorrow I had that before the honeymoon had started, it was already over. 
Game tape. What went wrong? I was tired. What went right? Next time there is a big event, we need to plan for the after-part, too. Lesson learned and not forgotten.
I apologized, Husband said no big deal- we’re both tired. I was shocked, no argument, no nothing. Not that we always fought, I just knew that if he had snapped at me the way I snapped at him, I would not have responded like that. Second lesson learned. The kind of husband Will was, was the kind of wife I wanted to be. 
My game tape continued as I saw other wives and how they interacted with their husbands, more importantly, how they communicated. Communication, finances, and sex- if you can’t work out those three, then you aren’t going to make it, go ahead and cut your losses. When sleep escaped me, I would roll through relationships I was witness to, but not a part of, that I perceived to ‘work.’ These things were remembered, probably written down in one of about a dozen notebooks, and tried to be enforced. Improvement starts from within.
We had a baby. Well, we have a baby, but we had a baby. Game tape. Who has good children and what do they do? What do we take from our own family and what do we want to take from others?
When I was pregnant, Husband kept encouraging me with my diabetes by reminding me two things: (1) It was not just me anymore that I was caring for and (2) WE can do this. WE. Not me, we. I wanted to take that with me into parenthood-- I wanted to be supportive like Husband was with me. 
All this leads me to last night. The weather was windy and wonderful, Husband had the weekend off and we were delighted to be together as a family. Upstairs we went, with wine, Cheerios, and a ball. Walking around the corner, a bunch of PCKs (post college kids) were setting up beer pong tables and we got to talking to them as fellow UGA grads. We were invited, more than once, to sit in on a few games of beer pong. I’m 30. I’m married. I have gray hair and a baby. Seriously? You’re 22 and have no idea. We politely declined, poured our wine, and started batting the ball around with Eileen. She gleefully ran up and down the roof, to Ma-Mee, fro Ma-Mee, to Da-Dee, fro Da-Dee. For hours, we sipped, we played, and interacted with our precious daughter. Downstairs for supper, bath, and bed by 10. Eileen did not tip our life upside down, she stepped into our lives and we adapted. We’re still us, but she makes us too. 
That’s the kind of parent I want to be.