Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wonderful Reptition

How can you tell who your best friends are?

When pictures of your children together repeat themselves.

December 2008

July 2009

I hope we add to this series every 6 months.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fondness of Feathers

With the dawning of new days, the sleep problems seem to have dissolved away. Sure, we went through the one night of crazy, but at the end of that night Matt did something brilliant. Something we should have thought of sooner, because after all, Gracie is my daughter.

He gave her a pillow.

We found a nice, old, flat one that had most of the life beaten out of it years ago, but is a thickness perfect for a little head. I'm not sure if it is the creature comfort of the pillow (I need at least two, preferably three to be able to fall asleep) or the fact that it smells like 20 years of Matt's head, but it is an endeared object to her now. When I put Gracie in her crib last night, she landed firmly in the middle of the pillow. This morning, she was in the exact same spot.

We've developed morning and night routines; after bath we say night night to the wooden fish in the bathroom and in the mornings we say goodbye and see ya to musical lamb in her crib. This morning, the pillow was also added to the list.

Bye-bye ammey! Bye-bye piwo! See ya soon piwo!

Maybe in a display of appreciation to the smelly pillow I will wash the case on it this weekend. Although, why mess with a good thing?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gargantuan Veg

Last night I went outside to collect tomatoes for my all time favorite summertime recipe, Pasta With Fresh Tomato, Roasted Garlic and Brie. Yum. We will eat this a million times before the summer is over.
Anyway, so I'm out collecting ripe tomatoes when I start poking at my zucchini plants to see if anything has grown, you know, since I've put zero effort into them since planting. And OH. MY. GOD.

To give some perspective on the size of this sucker...

Using some highly scientific standards, I weighed myself on the Wii (yes, it has in fact turned into a glorified scale), and then weighed again with the zucchini. Officially it said 1.8 pounds, but I think it is over 2.

Now, what the heck do I do with it? Maybe this...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday Morning Blues

So you know back here, when I talked about Gracie not sleeping (and Matt yelled at me for making public threats against our daughter on my blog, not that anyone else would know about that... and besides, I was only kind of serious.)

Well, she's still not sleeping. It's only been a week, but it has been a hellish week. I take that back, it's been on and off for more than a month, but it's only been every night for the hellish week.

At first we kept chalking up the sleeplessness to teething. Remember this chart? I actually refer back to it often and it is probable that she's getting her back molars, which by all accounts, is painful. Shouldn't they have already come in though? How long can you blame bad sleep on teeth?

So last night we drew our line in the sand. Back to basics. We cannot be a co-sleeping family. I take up 2/3 of the bed and Matt is a very, very light sleeper. Every movement, every noise wakes him up and Gracie makes circles like Curley from the Three Stooges when she sleeps. We had to put an end to this, so we decided it's time for Night One of Operation Cry It Out.

According to Matt, the initial screaming only lasted 25 minutes. It makes sense, that is how long Gracie always took as an infant. Even then it was gut wrenching, but we knew at exactly minute 25 the exhaustion would give out. It did this time too, but there is a major difference between the screams of a pissed off 11 month old and a pissed offer 21 month old.

At 11 months old you are filled with self doubt. As a parent you question whether your doing the right thing. The cries are shrill and wild and a little bit fearful. At 21 months, we are confident that we are dong the right thing and Gracie knows exactly what she is doing too. We had previously stopped letting her cry it out because it would inevitably lead to barf. There was no vomit last night, just anger and confusion and all the air in the room being redirected through her lungs.

After awhile Matt went into her room, but following the guidelines never took her out of the crib. After the initial bellow, they came like reverse contractions. 30 seconds of screaming - pause for 2 minutes - 30 seconds of screaming - pause for 4 minutes - 30 seconds of screaming - pause for 6 minutes....

He laid on the floor near her until she finally fell asleep. He is a much stronger parent than I am. I would have cracked in the initial 25 if I had gotten out of bed. It is said that it takes 5 to 7 days to change sleep patterns. One down, hopefully not many more to go.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Play Ball

Yesterday was Gracie’s first baseball game. Despite only managing a 50 minute nap and literally walking a mile all by herself she was wonderful. Splendid.
It also helped that the Cubbie Bears swept the Nationals in an action packed 11 to 3 victory with Cubs fans out numbering Nats fans in the stadium.

For the first two innings of the game she sat still, enthralled with the special of the crowd and Matt's explanations of the game.
When the smell of hot dogs in the air and the knowledge of the Ben's Chili Bowl Half Smokes mere steps away was too much to stand anymore, we made our way down from the grandstands and into the concessions. Better than hot dogs though? The view of the crowds from the 300 level.
Washington baseball has few traditions, but the Presidents Run is always a winner. For our folks back home, picture the Milwaukee Brewers Sausage Run, but with president heads. Gracie loved it.

Her favorite, and always the fan favorite, was Teddy Roosevelt. Poor Teddy, try as he might he never wins the race. Yet, he is the only president head that is smiling so I guess winning doesn't matter all that much.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I need to update my lists of noises and words and even sentences and songs now that Gracie can run though, but the solid favorite is face. Face.

In an intelligent, no longer a baby and just staring but a toddler taking every detail in sort of way, she is fascinated with faces. Particularly mine and Matt's. Last summer she screamed when either of us would put on sunglasses. It makes sense, a huge chunk of your face disappears in the dim of tint. Matt and I also both wear glasses, but those are an institution on our face. Face. Part of us. So as soon as she could grab, glasses were target #1.

Needless to say, the stems of my glasses had been snapped off several times and then meticulous glued back on. Two weeks ago, the glasses met their final match and lost. There was way to much superglue build up on the connection points to function any more. It just wouldn't adhere no matter how many times I tried. I wore my contacts to work for a week, but was miserable in the dry, dusty air. Then I switched back to the broken glasses, with a very Urkel like amount of black electrical tape on the left stem as it was the only thing that would both adhere and bend.

New glasses is a big deal. Face man, face. Glasses become a part of you, like skin and hair. They make or break you face. After a long arduous journey and the sampling of hundreds of styles, these are my picks.
OK, these look brown in the photo, but are actually a purple/reddish/brown, like red wine. Oh, fittingly that is the color name. Red wine.
These, are my beloved nerdy, tortoise shell glasses. When the salesman told me I looked like a librarian in them (in an attempt to talk me out of them I think) I was sold.

I just hope Gracie approves of my selections.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Now & Forever

I am so upset by this.

Daley fine with changing Sears to Willis Tower

I get the economics behind it. I get that times are tough and things change and nothing lasts forever. Come on though. This is the Sears Tower.

Until the early 90’s my Uncle Barry was an engineer at the tower. I remember him sneaking us up to the very tippy top of the tower via work elevators. Above the sky decks. Above the commoners. Above the clouds. Sure, there we no actual windows up in the very tippy top. It smelled like heat and steam and oil and sweat, but we knew where we were. We were up where even birds didn’t dare go. I’ve always held onto that memory.

From the hilltops of my home town, you could make out the city lights and the blinking of the tower on a clear night, full of dreams and promise. When we fly back into Midway, I always try to sit on the right side of the plane in hopes that the tower will be there to greet us on decent. When we leave I sit on the left to once again say goodbye.

There is so much in a name. I know this isn’t uncommon. I probably felt this way when Comisky Park was changed to U.S. Cellular Field too, despite my allegiance to the Cubbies and Wrigley Field at that point. And you know what, I still call Comisky just that. Comisky. That is it’s name. Just as you will never hear Sears Tower be called Willis by anyone who grew up with the city and the name.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Gracie is on a sleep strike, by which, we become her cohorts. By WE I totally mean Matt, but I am getting dragged into this too. Not a fan.

I think Grace really was listening when I told her she could have anything she wanted during my pangs of bad parenting guilt. She’s 21 months old. She has no use for designer jeans or access to the car, so has decided to reap her reward in the form of all night parties where if she is not touching one of us, flesh to flesh, she instantly awakens.

Last night was day two of this. I, for the most part, slept through day one. Matt however got maybe three hours of sleep Monday night. Last night, the games started at 10:30 pm. My shift lasted until 1am, and then Matt took over. Again. I knew it wasn’t fair. I knew I should have insisted that he go back to bed, but I was so bleary eyed. He took her into the spare room for four hours of kicks to the chest and I barely made it back to our bed.

While four hours of sleep sounds OK to most people, for me it’s not. I need eight. NEED. And Matt was withered after Monday’s go-round; I can’t imagine how his brain is functioning right now on day two. After a year of knowing your kid can sleep though the night, the fact that you did this and more during the newborn stages no longer matters. She needed us then. She couldn’t make it though the night, so it was alright.

Now, these games are no longer acceptable. This is me putting you on notice Gracie. You will sleep though the night tonight. With help from outside sources if that’s what it takes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Parenting 101

A lovely picture, isn't it?

The boy's mother must be so proud. The boy must be so proud. Look at that use of Crayola! I mean, come on, in the first grade and already have a framed piece of art in a public building for folks to cast their eyes on. Art aimed to bring comfort to small children, art to give their parents something to stare and talk about while the minutes tick away.

Have you figured out where we are yet? Let's try the freaking PEDIATRIC EMERGENCY ROOM WARD.

Yeah, I failed. Don't worry, everything is 95% fine, but I still failed. I broke a cardinal rule of parenting. "Thou shall not leave thine child unattended on thine bed."

We had a full day yesterday.
-A walk around the neighborhood at 8am, where Grace woke most of our neighbors with shrieks of "Bug! Bug Mama! Ant! Aaaannnnnttttt!"
-At 10am we went swimming.
-At 12pm it was naps all around.
-3pm saw a trip to Rita's for custard and then a park. Sides. Sides! Sides!!!! (Read: Slides)
- And 6pm we were brought back to reality by the large amount of laundry piled on my bed.

Grace was a wonderful helper. As I folded boxer shorts and hung shirts on hangers before they could wrinkle any further, Gracie reigned over the sock pile. She sat in the middle of our bed surrounded by her subjects. She matched them in glory and then flung them into the dungeon. She was enthralled and hadn't moved in about 10 minutes.

So I sinned. I grabbed the massive pile of clothes on hangers and dashed to the next room to deposit them in the closet. They never actually made it into the closet.

THUNK...... followed by cries.

The hair on the back of my neck stood at attention. Grace was on the floor.

She was quickly calmed, but wouldn't put any weight on her left leg. We quickly located the source of pain, the instep of her left foot. Flooded with memories of past childhood injuries, we quickly loaded Gracie up to have it checked out.

By the time the x-rays had been taken and the overly compassionate pediatric doctor came into our little room to give the final report, Gracie was walking like nothing had ever happened. Squatting down on little kiddie hams in an attempt to find further imaginary ants at 9pm in the emergency room.

Rest assured, the doctor told us, there is no breaks or fractures. You were absolutely right to bring her in though, you can never tell with a two year old. If she is still walking funny in a day or two bring her to her regular pediatrician. Otherwise, she is just fine.

This morning, we still have a limp. I am glad we took her last night, because I wold have wanted to go this morning, just to be sure. Bruises still hurt though. Especially ones that take all the pressure of your body weight. Hopefully we will be able to speed up the healing process with all the extra love and ice cream that will be coming in the next few days though.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Taking It Back

Growing up, it was rare to see my dad enjoying himself. It was always an odd moment when we all laughed together as a family. Except, EXCEPT when he would turn on the radio. Then he was usually all smiles. Huh, now I'm wondering why music wasn't ALWAYS on...

Anyway, the best? When Alicia Bridges "I Love the Night Life" came on. He would jump out of the kitchen chair and wiggle his butt back and forth with index fingers pointing in the direction of his motion. Very much like Steve Martin in the SNL Czech Brothers bits. Except I don't think Dad was performing a comedic routine. That is just the way he danced. That's still the way he dances.

Different bloodlines, but the tradition is now being passed down to Gracie. Minus the unhappy father who drinks nasty Busch beer part. Matt is always full of love, smiles and laughter and mainly sticks to mellow red wine. (Trust me, HUGE difference.)

Matt's song? Justin Timberlake "SexyBack". Yeah, I know.

So what do you do when you have a ramped up one year old who is half naked and doesn't want to go to bed? How about a dance fest?

It's a beautiful thing to have and hold memories of dancing with your daddy. Mine are clouded. Grace's will be surrounded with sunshine ray and radiant memories of dips, twirls, foot stomping, laughter and love.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happies to Me

Today is my 1 year blogoversary. 365 days and something to say 198 of those days. Go figure. I wasn't even sure I'd make it through the first month.

Sure, most of the stories revolve around the minutia of Grace learning to walk or going pee, but these ARE the stories I want to remember. I fully embrace the fact that I am anonymous. All stray hits on this site come from people searching for "Syllables in a Word" and "Free Corgi's" and a few pervs that have questions about '"Making Mature Love" that I'm not quite sure I really want to know about.

I love this place non-the-less. As I said, way, way back when, I am writing this for me. I am writing this for Grace. I am writing this to remember. Because I am sure that without this diary, I would have forgotten and I want my family to be able to hear my voice in the moment 50 years from now.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


This post is many weeks overdue.

It has been a lot harder than I thought to write though, not because I don't follow a million blogs, but because I'm not sure I deserve the title of A Lovely Blog. I'm not eloquent or shocking. I'm not laugh out loud funny or heartbreakingly sad. It is just me writing my own little journal in the matter of fact way a child does. For myself and my family. And my family doesn't even read it.

Back in May, NES was presented with a ‘Lovely Blog Award’ from Stepford Dreams.

She then returned the favor, being the great friend she is, gave me a nice pat on the back with my own ‘Lovely Blog Award’.

Now I guess it is my turn to select my 15 favorite blogs (in no particular order).....

Hippo Brigade
Sick Days
The Bloggess
Barefoot Foodie
The Little Criminal

Capitol Spice
Lemmonex (formerly Culinary Couture)
Line Cook

Capitol Hill Style
The Sartorialist

The Restaurant Refugee
Diary of Why
Princess Nebraska
Du Wax Loolu

All of the Above:
Not-Ever-Still Life With Girls, (despite knowing selecting her again is against the rules) because without NES as my inspiration I don't think I would have ever typed a single word.

Monday, July 6, 2009


This is what Gracie wore on the 4th of July. The dress just happens to be red, white and blue though. There is no American flag print. She's worn it a few times before today and will wear it again. I think. Maybe.

The last time she wore it though, something funny happened. We were walking out of daycare and two women who are part of the cafeteria facilities staff happened to be walking by too. It is quite common for folks to stop and ogle the children during the day, so the fact that they noticed Grace and threw isn't she beautiful comments my way didn't phase me.

It was what came after. One of the women, dressed in a black tube top and two pounds of makeup said, "Look at that dress. Isn't she sexy!"

I stopped dead in my tracks and pulled Gracie protectively up into my arms. I was so shocked, that I didn't say anything. They kept walking and were out of sight a few moments later.

Sexy? Sexy!? What did that lady just say? Sexy! Oh. My. God. She just called my baby SEXY! Am I a bad mother? Is this dress too revealing? I don't think so, but I guess it does have a thin strap. It is in no way low cut and falls well below her knee though. Sexy? Sexy!??

And so she wore this dress again on the 4th of July. It may be the last time. I need to see if I can get hearing someone call Grace sexy at 20 months old off repeat in my head in the comfort of my own home.

Freedom of Speech. Huh, I'm not so sure I am support of that right now. The lady just yelled 'Fire' in my movie theater.
What do you think? Because I keep going back to the fact that I find this dress adorable.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

All American

In the past, we have always planned grand events for our 4th of July's in Maryland.

We've watched fireworks from the top of the Hotel Washington and the shores of the Annapolis Naval Academy. We've sat close enough to see the players sweat during Nationals ball games. We've drank wine and nibbled cheese aboard the USS Constellation in Baltimore while watching the sparks of the city above and below.

This year though, with a lot less planning we got as All American as you can get. Berry picking, boat rides, water and sun.

Saturday morning we went to a pick your own farm minutes away from our house. Raspberries and their infamous sweet cherries were ripe and ready for collection. We let Gracie roam from raspberry bush to raspberry bush eating her hearts desire, while Matt tried to instill the idea of 'cooked' berries to her.

After Gracie's face was stained a significant shade of purple we went back home for part two of our day, swimming. Nothing says the 4th of July like beer and a belly flop into the water.
On Sunday, we wrapped up Jerry's visit and the weekend with a quick trip to Annapolis for brunch and a boat tour. The city, as always, was gorgeous and charming. Brunch was way to expensive, but delicious.

******* And Gracie, well, Gracie was a toddler with way to much energy and not enough sleep. The initial breeze of the boat pushing off the docks calmed her slightly and cracking her forehead on the metal bench of the boat after running around in manic circles for 15 minutes helped a lot too.

In all, this 4th of July was one for the books.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Please, Applaude Freely

Like I said the other day, Gracie is blossoming. Her understanding of language, emotion and self if developing at a miraculous speed. Tonight we had another milestone.

The potty training seat has been getting a lot of attention lately. In May it was moved into our downstairs bathroom. On quite a few occasions, she has demanded her diaper be removed before sitting on the seat. Nothing has ever happened. Wait, I take that back. The last time I took her diaper off, she immediately peed on the tile floor, sat on the seat for 30 seconds demanding she was all done, then rose and immediately peed on the same tiles again. I was thrilled.

Over the last week, during bath time she would often declare that she had to go pee. Usually though, the declaration was followed immediately by the action. Whatever, bath time was over anyway.

Tonight though, tonight Gracie made the same declaration with a twist. She held it and stared at me for the next course of action. Do you want to use the big potty? I asked. Yes! she responded.

So I hoisted her out of the tub and made a quick transfer to the toilet. My 20 month old little girl sat, balanced carefully on the seat, shivering and dripping water until .... Hallelujah! Can it be? Is that tinkle more than some more wayard droplets of rapidly cooling water? It is! It is! Yea Gracie!

After a round of applause and shouts down to Matt, the final treat and ultimate bit of recognition for her came, the square of toilet paper to wipe with like a big girl.

Gracie fell asleep quickly, soundly and with a smile on her face tonight.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Magic of the Bee Bo

Over the last week, she has taken to once again tormenting the dog. I know she doesn’t mean to hurt him and in the end she only wants to hug him, but right now it is torment.

The new game is to chase Lil’ Rick around in circles while she cackles like a lunatic. When she finally does catch him, (and lets face it Rick is easy to catch, he’s got little legs and is 12 years old) Gracie clutches handfuls of his loose old man skin and pulls out big chucks of hair that are still firmly in place.

Thank God he is the gentlest creature on the planet, because frankly, if I were him I’d bite her.

Grace is very familiar with the phrase ‘not nice’ and uses it willy-nilly when she is mad at us. Like when she shimmies up a chair and onto the kitchen table to dance and we have to forcibly remove her. This, apparently, amid the shrieks and tears qualifies as us being ‘not nice.’ So be it.

So I’ve been working on the expansion of not nice. As in “When you pull on Ricky’s fur like that it is not nice. It hurts him. Hurt. Ouch. Hurt. And that makes him sad.” I must have repeated that phrase 20 times yesterday alone. Grace kept looking at me like I had two heads and then went on to rip some more doggie hair out.

She must have been paying attention though because last night we had a communication break through.

When Matt was putting her to bed, she started crying and fussing which was uncharacteristic. He pulled out the old, 'what is wrong? use your words' on her. And you know what? It worked.

She said ‘bee bo’, which translated from Sandra Boynton, means belly button. So she kept saying ‘bee bo. bee bo hurt. bee bo hurt’ which Matt was able to further translate into ‘my tummy hurts’ and then soothes with belly rubs until she fell asleep.

Now it is never a good think when your kids stomach hurts, but this is the first time she’s been able to tell us. Which (obviously) is a fabulous thing. Now I just need to figure out how to make her understand how much it hurts the dog when she body slams him and pulls hair.