Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Adventures 2009

What a Christmas this was. After a week in Panama, we were home for 4 days before getting in the car to head up to Ohio to see my brother Mark, and then on to Michigan to visit Josh's family. The day we were scheduled to leave my parents (Zibah and Deeda) came over early in the morning, clad in their Christmas PJs to celebrate an early Christmas morning together. We had a wonderful time making sweet rolls, opening presents, and laying around. Zibah and Deeda stayed to watch the Grinch Stole Christmas with Dean and I before heading home.

Our plan was to leave the Friday before Christmas by 4pm and drive to Columbus, OH where Mark and his girlfriend Veronica live. We were going to spend the weekend with them before going up to Michigan for the week. We left right at 4pm, about an hour after the snow began to fall in Raleigh. Being the confident northerners that we were, we tsk-tsked the warnings of others and headed on our way. After an hour the traffic slowed and then thinned. While this normally would have been welcome (the thinning, not the slowing), we quickly discovered why all the hype about snow in the Carolinas. North Carolina has exactly 2 snow plows and both were obviously on vacation in Florida or somewhere equally far away...or at least that's what one would believe if they lived here during a snow storm. The roads went from dusted to impassable by the time we reached Winston-Salem, approximately 2 hours from our front door. We were forced to retreat to a Best Western for the night. Luckily we found a KFC nearby that had made few sandwiches several days before and offered it to us at a bargain price. We hunkered down in our room with our 14 month old son, and enjoyed the sounds of cable TV and a heater. Actually we had a nice night together. Dean was in an amiable mood and had fun flooding the bathroom then snuggling up with us on the bed. After a nice night's rest, we packed up our items and headed back out the the car only to discover that the plows had cleared the roads, but plowed us into the parking lot. Josh's superior skill and my amazing little mazda forced their way through the 6 foot high snow pile and out onto the road as the other lodgers looked on with envy. We were on our way again!

Since the 2 plows made it to NC, but obviously got tired and went back home, only part of the roads were clear, making driving quite slow. The weather was beautiful and we had had plenty of sleep so we trudged on anyway. After 5 hours, we had gone somewhere around 90 miles. Josh decided it must be my driving and took his turn behind the wheel. After a short doze, I awoke to Josh laughing and weaving in the man-made lanes around the pile-ups of cars and ice from the night before. It was like taking a boat around small islands. 2 hours later we were stopped dead in our tracks on I-77. After an hour or so we heard from another driver that the highway (a turnpike at that point) had been closed down and would remain so for the rest of the night. The National guard was said to be coming around with food, water, and gas. Stranded on the highway, in 20 degree weather, with a 1 year old. Oh Boy!

Lucky for us, this Mama was prepared for anything. I had managed to pack just about everything we owned into our station wagon for our trip to MI. We had blankets, pillows, 5 years worth of clothes, bags of food, and a jug of water. Not to mention a full tank of gas (since we hadn't traveled very far that day) and a laptop with car charger. After a lovely dinner of cereal bars, cheese sticks, and crackers we pulled out the bedding and set up our little 2x2 beds for the night. Dean did quite amazingly through all of this. He loves to play in the car and we gave him free reign. He emptied every container and refilled it, crawled from the tailgate to the steering wheel about 500 times, and went on 2 walks with Josh down the highway to watch the dogs and other kids playing in the snow. Right at 7pm though he seemed to know it was time for bed and began his nightly routine. After some struggle and some milk (thank goodness we had that too), he snuggled in the backseat with me to watch Baby Einstein on the laptop.

Around 10:30pm the brakelights suddenly started coming on and cars began to roar to life. After 7 hours of no movement we began to move! Around 2:00am we found a hotel with a room and all fell into bed together. I don't know how some parents do it, but I can not sleep with my son in the bed. Maybe it's that he is a particularly noisy and active sleeper, or maybe it's the fear of crushing him, I don't know. I slept around 1 hour or so when Dean woke right up, ready to start the day. To his defense, he had just gotten a full night's sleep. We gathered our few belongings again and crammed ourselves back into our car, which was beginning to look like a bag lady's cart. My nice order and planning had turned into a trash head and chaos.

At 11am Sunday we pulled into Mark's apartment complex, just in time to have a short lunch with veronica before she headed to her parent's house for Christmas break. So much for our nice long weekend with them. After 3 days in the car, we were ready to be at our end destination and didn't stay long ourselves. We saw the bright light at the end of the tunnel (a.k.a. the babysitters at Grammy's house that would take Dean in the morning and let us sleep in) and made our way to Onsted, MI that night. Our journey was over!

We spent the next week lounging and visiting, playing cards and eating, opening presents and laughing. What an adventure to tell. One for the books! I hope everyone had a memorable Christmas, but maybe not quite as memorable as ours! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Dean's most popular saying right now is "Dis" (This). He uses it as a question ("what is dis"), a statement (when he wants something), and an exclamation (when he's mad). I think I hear it about 500 times a day. He's very into sorting things and emptying containers. He takes each item, one-by-one, and hands them to me saying "dis" with each one.

While we were on our way home from Panama we had a few hours to kill in the Miami airport and the only place to eat with tables was a cuban cafeteria. After standing in line for 20 minutes getting yelled at in Spanish, Josh returned to our table defeated and pissed off with a tray full of god knows what. The receipt said fried liver was one of the items. We proceeded to attempt to swallow some of the food and get Dean to do the same. With each bite he'd take the food out of his mouth, saying "Guck!" (yuck) with disgust. After 5 or 6 bites he leaned across the table, pointed at the tray of "food" and yelled, "Dis Guck!" A GREAT first phrase, if I do say so. Needless to say, don't eat at La Cateretta in the Miami airport. Dean's review was very negative.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gringo in Panama

We went to Panama a week ago to visit my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and 4-week old nephew, Noah. Dean's first international travel and he was the hit of the country - no exaggeration. Every Panamian that we saw was completely taken by him. I think it was his bright white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes...and maybe the fact that he is like half their size already. Every where we went he had a crowd around him.

We had a great trip. It began with our first flight being a 2-hour wrestling match with a one-year old. We were on one of those planes where there are 3 seats in a row, and we had 2 of them, with 3 of us. While it's "free" for a kid under 2 to fly (they sit on their parents laps) we are realizing that we are about at the end of the time where we can take advantage of this -- he is too big and too strong. By the time we got to Miami we were exhausted, bruised, and bleeding...ok, maybe not bleeding. Luckily, he passed out for the majority of the second flight.

We arrived in Panama to find out that 2 of our pieces of luggage were lost, but spent 2 hours waiting in line to report it. We finally got to Zach and Lauren's house at 11:30pm. Noah was kind enough to offer up his bed since our pack-n-play was one of the pieces of luggage lost. He slept in his bouncey seat for 2 nights - what a guy.

Poor Dean got a cold the first day and had ropes of boogers hanging down his face for the first half of the week and then a nasty cough, but through it all he was in a great mood. He seemed so interested in his new cousin, especially his feet. He was fascinated by those tiny little toes. We did get a glimpse into what it will be like when our second comes along. Dean seemed to have a little jealousy. He wanted all the toys, he didn't want Noah to sit in the bouncy seat he wanted to sit in it, he wanted to be held whenever Noah was held...but all in all he was great with him.

Lucky for me, it was Mother's Day while we were there. Zach, Josh, Noah, and Dean took Lauren and I out for a walk in the rainforest and out to lunch on the canal. We tried to get Dean to ride in the backpack so we could go on a real hike, but he was having nothing of it, so we were quite a sight in our skirts with our big Graco strollers hiking through the rain forest. After our hike we went to this great outdoor place on the canal and had a WONDERFUL lunch watching the boats go by. Noah did what he does best...he slept. We called it the Noah Coma while we were there. That kid can sleep!

Josh turned 33 while we were there. We had a day of fun for him. He and Zach went in to Zach's office to meet everyone. Then we all went bowling. Josh was too good so we made him hold Dean the whole time which Dean thought was hilarious. Good fun. That night we got a babysitter and went out for dinner and drinks. We brought Noah with us, but he was almost like a carry-on. He fell asleep before we left and didn't wake up until the way home!

The week seemed to fly by. Noah had some big milestones while we were there. He gained what seemed like 2 pounds, started tracking things with his eyes, smiling even when he didn't have gas, took his first real bath, and took his first bottle. It was fun to relive some of those moments from Dean and think forward to what it will be like with our next kids (not quite yet).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Christmas come early

I've been very slack about blogging lately. Dean is now almost 13 months and I still have nothing up about his first birthday. Before I do that, I have to tell you all about what happened the other night. Every night after his bath we let Dean play in his room while he watches Baby Einstein...naked. We call this naked time and felt like this was an important time of the day, especially for a little boy. It's so fun to see his chubby white butt bopping around the room. We had been lucky with only a few leaks in the 9 months that we've been doing this.

While Dean is enjoying his movie and freedom, I use the time to tidy up upstairs. The other night I went into our bedroom to put away some clothes. When I left the room Dean was standing up in from of his movie talking to the puppets. When I returned to the room one minute late, Dean was in the very same place but seemed to be playing with something. Can you guess what it was? My sweet little boy had defecated on the floor, picked it up, and was playing with it. He had lined it up in a neat little row in front of the TV and was trying to give it to the little doggie on the screen.

I screamed, which of course scared him to death. I scooped him up and threw him on the changing table, trying to wipe down his hands before he could touch anything else. Goodness. Luckily it was a neat little business and there wasn't a huge mess to clean. After the clean up was done and I allowed him (now fully diapered) to return to his movie and play, he frantically searched the floor and table for his new toys and had a bit of a tantrum when he found them gone. C'est la vie Dean.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Come walk with me

I can't tell you how excited I am about this next year. I am just getting a glimpse of it right now with the cruising, standing on tip-toes just to pull that candle down off the table, opening and climbing in every cabinet and drawer that will hold him, back talking (yes, he does), refusing to eat anything green, and the intense desire to be free at all times. I feel like we are actually parenting now. Everything before this was just caretaking. Terrifying. I have a whole new slew of do you get a kid to eat vegetables when he all of a sudden decides that he hates them for no apparent reason? When do you switch them to 1 nap a day? How do you get a toddler to keep their shoes on?

Questions aside, this is really a fun time. I know that I keep saying that with each stage. But it is so much fun to watch him not just learning to do physical things like rolling over, crawling, and standing. But learning to do things like sorting, organizing, recognizing specific toys and colors, arranging by sizes. It blows me away to watch such a tiny person - not even a year yet - learning these things. Wow!

I can't wait for him to start to walk on his own. I know other moms are probably screaming at me right now, but I don't care. I can't wait to see him toddling around!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Visiting Friends

My good friend Ben has a 13-month-old son, Luke. He and his wife, Amy, and 5-year-old step daughter Anna live in Wilmington. This year Ben is a stay-at-home dad while his wife teaches middle school. Last week Dean and I went down to stay with them for a few days and see how other at-home parents do it. We had a really great time just sitting around and watching the boys play, seeing how an older siblings interacts with them, watching another couple tackle the joys and hardships of marriage, one parents staying home, and all that is involved in parenting. Truely a wonderful time.

One thing that surprised and frustrated me was Dean's odd behavior with Luke. Let me set the stage but saying that Luke is an incredibly gentle, quiet baby. He is obviously used to being man-handled and rough-housed with, and can hold his own. He would sit quietly for hours just babbling and playing in his own little world. Dean, on the other hand, was quite disurbed by his presence. But not all the time. That was the weird thing. They would be playing just fine together, Luke would say some nonsense word (notice I said "say" not "shout") and Dean would just start bawling. Then 2 seconds later he'd be back to playing. This was the worst at meal times. We'd strap the two little guys in, and the back and forth babbling then crying would begin. I have no idea what caused this behavior. Dean has been around plenty of kids and never reacted this way. I can understand the crying while playing thing. He's so used to it just being the 2 of us all day and him being the one to make most of the noise. But why so bad during meal time?
Other than that the trip was wonderful. Watching Anna and the boys made me eager to have a second. It was so great to watch how much she loves her brother and how, even though they are more than 4 years apart, she really enjoys playing with him. She pulled the boys around in the walker wagon, picked them up and carried them around like humongous baby dolls, and insisted that the kids all sit on the floor to eat meals together.

Sick Baby

Dean got his first cold this week. I'm not sure if there is anything more pathetic than a sick baby. He had the whole package - constant running nose, sneezing (the kind that shoots boogers across the room), little bit of a cough, fever, diarrhea - so sad. The cold seems to be getting better already, but for 24 hours there I felt like I was the mother of a newborn again. All those feelings of uncertainty, second guessing everything you do...the nonstop holding (I didn't put him down except to change him for a good 15 hours)...the 45-minute bursts of sleep during the night (except when you aren't getting up to nurse your husband can do it too :) )...

One thing that I guess shouldn't surprise me, but did, was that the only thing NOT altered by his illness was his appetite. I'm telling you, if that child was place in his highchair so sick he could barely hold his head up, he'd still eat everything on his plate.

Last night seemed to be a turning point. He slept almost all the way through the night. Awoke to a completely crusted, yet smiling face when I went in to get him. We are just finishing breakfast and although his eyes are still red-rimmed, he's babbling away and throwing food as usual. Say a prayer for full recovery!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mommies of One

I've noticed that while our church seems to have a lot of stay-at-home Mommies (we even have a weekly playgroup), there aren't that many Mommies of one child. I regretfully, haven't taken advantage of the playgroup meetings this summer. It's hard because Dean takes his morning nap during the time that they meet, and also because he is so young that it's hard to find things for him to do at the various places they meet. I know I have this weird fear of trying new things by myself and maybe I'm just making excuses to not go to this playgroup. I know that I am going stir crazy being in this house every day, doing the same thing every day. I can tell that Dean is getting that way too. He gets bored very easily and it's hard to keep him entertained at home all day. I can't help but think that when you have multiple children it's easier for them to stay entertained because they have one another. So as a Mommy of One, what do I do to keep my 10 1/2 month old entertained? I'm not sure that he's ready for a playground, but I'm going to try that this week. It's intimidating to think of taking him to a playground full of other moms and kids that know what they are doing.

If anyone that reads this has suggestions for activities I can do with Dean, please let me know! Until then, I'll keep posting about the new things I'm determined to try with him.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bluegrass Baby

Josh had a teaching appointment this summer at the University of Kentucky with a week long program called College Business Management Institute (CBMI). CBMI paid for all travel, housing, and food costs for the whole week in exchange for the three 4-hour long classes that he taught. Not to mention all the socail gathering, dinners, etc. Since they were paying for everything, Dean and I decided to tag along and see what Lexington, KY is like. The drive there is only about 8 hours, but with a little kid we anticipated it taking more like 10 so we opted to drive halfway, stay in a motel, and finish it out the next day (great choice, by the way).

The week was extremely busy for Josh - preparing for classes, actually teaching classes, trying to get to most of the social/networking events, etc. So Dean and I were on our own. Life in a hotel with a baby is kind of hard. I imagine it's much like being in a studio or one bedroom apartment. I found that he would not put himself to sleep like he'll do at home in his crib. The pack-n-play is still too foreign for him I guess. So I spent many hours trying to "rock" him to sleep, and then trying to get him back to sleep. See, Dean decided that that particular week would be a good one to pop out a new tooth. What fun!

The picture below is of Dean passed out, face down on the bed. Long day of sightseeing in the stroller.

The day we left we went out to a bourbon distillery out of the city about 30 miles. It was beautiful. Really old, historic buildings, long sloping hills with horses, a river running through it...beautiful. It was neat to see how true Kentucky bourbon is made.

We got some lunch and sat out on this big wrap around porch on one of their buildings and just lazed around for a bit. Very cool. Our plan is to hit up a different one every year we go (this teaching gig is a repeating appointment for Josh). We took 2 days to get home even though it's only 8 1/2 hour drive. We stopped around Knoxville at dinner time and got a motel room, went swimming, ate some leftovers we had, and walked down the street for dessert. The next day we detoured to the Blue Ridge Parkway to drive around and hike. We actually did part of the infamous "search party" hike from a few years ago (some of you may remember that story).

Throughout the week we talked of things we'd like to do on future trips, and how fun it will be as Dean ages and more kids come into the picture. Big thanks to Ted Hollingsworth for his recommendation and faith in Josh! Ted, we are so glad to have this opportunity!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


We had Dean baptized on July 5 at Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham. The same church that I was baptized in 28 years ago. We had 3 pews full of family that came in to bear witness to the occasion. We had 2 sets of great grandparents, ALL 4 grandparents, a great aunt, and every aunt and uncle that Dean has. What a great feeling to look out and see all of those people there for our son, to know how loved he is at such a young age. You could feel God in the room encircling our family.
Dean, being the water-lover that he is, thought it was so funny that someone was putting water on his head. While the pastor was giving a prayer after the baptism, Dean was trying to leap out of his arms and into the water basin to get some more. Always the entertainer.

The weekend itself was a celebration. Being July 4th, there was lots going on. Josh rode his motorcycle up to Sparta, NC where our sister-in-law's family lives. Every year for the 4th they have a huge celebration on this beautiful plot of land that they have down by a river. Josh rode up to celebrate and get some much needed mountain relaxation. Dean and I stayed here in Raleigh and hung out with my brothers (who flew in for the baptism). We went to a Durham Bulls game, barbequed with extended family, and lounged around by the pool. We closed out the weekend with a big cookout and celebration of the event. As the adults ate and drank, Dean crawled around our legs picking up any stray bit of food to fall off our plates. My son, the human garbage disposal.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The game of sweeping

Babies are a lot like puppies. Dean is entering into the stage (I think it's a good 15 years) of endless energy and noise. He is all over the place, into everything, grabbing everything he can get his hands on, flailing all appendages in 4 different directions, chasing the dogs all over the house, all while babbling or screaming at the top of his lungs. He follows me from room to room as I do various household chores. His favorite is sweeping. Like a puppy, he loves to chase the broom around the room and thinks the pile at the end is a treasure chest of goodies for him to eat. You would think that I would just do the sweeping when he is sleeping, but that would be far too logical and way less fun. Granted, my floor doesn't ever get all that clean when we play the game of sweeping, but it does poop both Dean and I out. It's been too hot to run with a baby jogger, so I'm improvising.