Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dear Julie Andrews,

For the past 18 months you've been my parenting mentor. Whenever I find myself in a tricky situation with my daughter, I ask myself WWMPD? What Would Mary Poppins Do? Usually, the answer is "sing a song!" I have solved many parenting dilemmas with random singing. And, just like Mary Poppins, I carry 8 tons of handy equipment in my bag.

It doesn't stop there. Like Fraulein Maria, I have tried to be "firm, but kind" in disciplining my daughter. Like Maria and M. Poppins, I find that the answer to many parenting issues is an "outing" to play (and sing) in the fresh air. I have tried to be "practically perfect in every way."

But recently I realized something. My parenting mentors are not parents! They are nannies! Sure, they can be perfect because they have the benefit of constructing a relationship with their charges before they come to love them. They can be perky and practical because they aren't emotionally invested in everything the children do and say. They love their charges, but not too much, not like a mother does. Now I realize why my mothering has been mostly imperfect in many ways. I have had impractical mentors.

I am at a loss. I need you to make a new movie in which you play the role of a stay-at-home mother. Until it is released, I'll be fumbling through motherhood without a compass. Rescue me from all of this uncertainty, please.


Monday, March 22, 2010

New Directions

Almost exactly a year ago I posted that I was "bankrupt" and taking a break from blogging. At the time, I felt as though there wasn't enough of me to go around and I needed to re-prioritize my life and see where blogging fell on the list. Obviously, the blog made the cut.

This past weekend I started feeling the same way, that I have too many irons in the fire and I need to simplify. I was minutes away from writing a post entitled "Goodbye" or something like that, and then I realized that this overwhelmed feeling is seasonal. It has to do with coming out of winter hibernation, finding the renewed energy of spring, and having too many outlets for that energy.

I am confident that my freak out will pass, and that blogging will once again make the cut; I've always enjoyed writing and I need the creative outlet.

But, I am interested in writing some off-topic posts (e.g. posts that aren't about Evie's latest activities).

So, one of my projects this spring and summer is to re-claim our yard. We bought our house 8 years ago from its original owners, who built it in the mid-1960's. By the time they sold it to us, they were elderly and retired. Elderly, retired and gardeners. They had time to putter in the yard and prune bushes and weed flower beds.

Then we moved in, a couple in our 20's, both with full-time jobs and hobbies other than gardening. We managed to maintain the lawn, but we pretty much let the beds and bushes "return to nature."

For the past few years, I've resolved each spring to get out in the garden and take it back from the weeds, but grading finals and parenting an infant have gotten in the way of those plans. Until now. Until this spring. This spring I will conquer the rampant entropy that is our back yard!

This past Friday, before we were hit with a spring snow storm, J and I filled our yard waste bin with fallen twigs, prunings and other yard waste. It was our first stab at this year's gardening project. Then, before the snow began falling, I took a few pictures of our yard. They aren't truly "before" pictures because, as I said, we had already done a couple of hours of work. But they are close enough. Behold the chaos. I hope I have some impressive "after" photos to offer you in the fall.

Here is where our sump pump empties into the side yard. We have a natural spring on our street, so the sump pump works year-round. I am plotting to turn this into a little rock pond with lily pads:
This is where the pleasant creeping ivy that the house's previous owners planted has threatened to consume our home:
This was a sweet little rock garden with succulents when we moved in. Now it just looks abandoned:
This weedy plant is a rose bush. We have ignored it for years and yet it still produces a few roses every year. Imagine what will happen when I take an interest!
This is the back border of our yard. In summer it resembles the deepest, darkest jungle of the Amazon. I have always been afraid to weed it in the summer, for fear of being strangled by a python or bitten by a tarantula. It looks much less threatening in March, before it becomes dense and green.
Today most of our snow melted, and tomorrow should be pleasant. I'll be back outside, filling up the yard waste bin again. If I have any gardeners reading, feel free to advise me; I'm all ears.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sad News, Eighteen Months Old and my Second Blogoversary

Sorry to combine so many things into one post.

First, sad news to report. J's Grandfather, and Evie's last surviving Great Grandpa, passed away today. His death was sudden, but not completely unexpected because his beloved wife passed away about six months ago and ever since that his grief has been palpable. I know I'm not the only family member who saw that he literally couldn't live without his wife. We are all bereft, and also happy for him that he is reunited with his soul-mate in heaven.

Although we saw him a couple of weeks ago, during our trip to Florida, we unfortunately failed to take any pictures of him with Evie. But I do have a short video from Christmas, and watching it tonight made the tears start up again. Both he and J's Grandma were devoted to family and delighted in having great grandchildren. One of our last pictures of Great Grandma is of her on the floor with Evie, blowing bubbles:

And one of our last memories of Great Grandpa is that he made a point of getting down onto the floor with Evie at Christmas:

This photo and video illustrate so much about who Evie's Great Grandparents were: active, loving, joyful, and devoted to family. I am blessed to have known them for eleven years and I grieve for Evie that she only had a few opportunities to meet them during her first eighteen months.

Switching gears...

Happy Blogoversary to me! Two years ago I started this blog on J's laptop from our room in this hotel, in New Orleans' French Quarter. I wrote my first posts while lounging in the courtyard, sipping gin & tonic. Two years later, I am pondering whether or not Evie is ready to taste her first Guinness. Kidding.

But seriously, I can still taste the excitement of those days in the Big Easy. We got "the call" the day before leaving (it was my spring break) and had a full, lovely week to luxuriate in our prospective parenthood and enjoy St. Patrick's day in style.

My life today is everything I thought it would be two years ago. Absolutely everything. I'm so blessed to be writing a mommy blog these days!

Speaking of mommy blogging, Evie is about to turn 18 months old. (Let's just ignore that I didn't manage to write a 17 month old post last month. Ahem.) I am in complete denial that Evie is on her way to her second birthday, so if you know me in real life, please don't speak of it. I'm just not ready.

Because this has already become a lengthy blog post, I'll be brief.

Vital Stats on Evie at 18 months:
weight: 24.5 pounds
height: 32 inches
percentiles: around 50th
clothing size: 18 month
favorite food: raisins
favorite song: Baby Beluga by Raffi
favorite animal: cat (or as she calls it, meow)
favorite book: Night Night Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton
favorite activity: sliding
favorite person: Mama
scared of: strange men
hates: brushing her teeth
latest accomplishment: two and three word sentences (Mama night night, Dada bye bye, more rice, light on) and jumping (she gets about 3/4 inch of air)
cutest behavior: holding her hand to her ear and saying "hallo?" when she hears a phone ring
teeth: 12 with 4 more on the way (canines)

I'll finish with pictures.

Dinner at Red Robin (she loved the mascot and gave him a couple of hugs):
After a bath, with Mama:
Just like her favorite animal:
Checking her stocks:
Rocking at Grandma and Grandpa's house:
Reading with Grandma:
On the grounds of the University of Virginia, where her Grandma, Grandpa, Daddy and Mama all went to college and graduate school (Me for my B.A in English and Psychology., J for Engineering B.S. and M.A., Grandma for B.S. in Education and Grandpa for his B.S. and M.D.):
Wahoowa! While we were there, I bought her a t-shirt that says "Born to be a Wahoo." I guarantee I'll post a picture at some point.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Zoo

Because I'm a member of our local zoo, we got 1/2 off admission to the Tampa zoo, which was a great deal. Although the weather was cool on the beach, in the heart of Tampa it was warmer and a beautiful, sunny day for the zoo. We all had a great time and Evie stayed awake long enough for us to see almost everything. Evie's favorite was the primate section. She particularly enjoyed watching a family of gibbons at play and cracked us up by scratching her armpits and saying "ooh ooh" as she watched them. This was our first trip to the zoo since she's started recognizing animals and knowing their sounds or movements, so it was a lot of fun. We can't wait until it's warm enough here to start going to our local zoo again. Here is a short video recap of our zoo day in Tampa:

My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog