Sunday, August 2, 2015

neighbor of the year

Maybe you've noticed, but I don't get around to doing weekend recaps (or any sort of recaps, except maybe Millie's monthly updates, really) much anymore. Thus is the plight of the strapped-for-time-and-energy working mom, I suppose. But here it is on Sunday night and I have an hour and I just finished a book and haven't started my next book and what the heck, why not share a few of the more memorable highlights of the last few days?

Please note: "memorable" does not necessarily mean "good." You have been warned.

Since it's summer in Georgia and approximately 3,478 degrees outside for most of the day, I try to go outside with Millie in the mornings and the evenings, when it is perhaps only in the mid-90s and therefore somewhat bearable.

These lantana are delicious, Mom. I love second breakfast!
 We don't have a lot of fun outdoor toys yet, but Millie finds grass and flowers to be pretty amusing, so throw in a few sand toys from the beach and she's a happy camper. 

THIS GRASS!! Seriously, Mom, what kind of seasoning are you using? It's perfection.

The problem with being this adorable is that people never stop kissing you...
She's a really happy camper, though, when the two-year-old from next door sees us outside playing and comes running over. This is also one of my favorite things. I have long entertained visions of my children playing in the yard on long summer evenings with the neighbor kids, the way I played with my neighbors growing was blissful. So when Wyatt recently started noticing Millie walking around and looking generally more interesting than the lumpy baby she used to be, he started yelling across the yards at us: Miiiiwwwwwwiiieeeee!!! Can I pway wif Miwwie?? Miwwie's ball? I can play wif Miwwie's ball? And he comes over and they play and the parents chat and it's really like a dream come true.

Most of the time.

Except for Thursday night. Because on Thursday night, something went terribly awry in our idyllic little summer neighborhood scene.

Wyatt and Miwwie were playing with her ball, and since Millie's defense skills are currently rather lacking, the ball went right past her and rolled into the garage and under our car. Uh oh!!! I get it!!!! Wyatt tells us, running to the garage. His dad follows him and lays down to reach under the car for the bouncy ball. I'm chatting with Wyatt's mom and not paying much attention to either of them as they retrieve the ball, but we both look over when Wyatt walks up to us holding something thin in his hand. I can get the ball with this? he asks, extending his arm towards his mom and me. 

Our garage floor is scattered with the random dried grass and sticks that falls off the bottom of the lawn mower when we drive it back in. So I assumed that what Wyatt had picked up off the floor was some dried up vine or something. As his mom and I moved in closer to look, she shrieked. IS THAT A SNAKE???!

I was about a foot away from my two-year-old neighbor, and as soon as she said it, I knew it was true. It was definitely not a weed wrapped around Wyatt's arm. It was a SNAKE. A very thin black snake. WRAPPED AROUND HIS ARM.

I was the closest adult to Wyatt by about two feet. Therefore I did what the Closest Adult was duty-bound to do.

Stare in shock and horror. A snake. Wrapped around his arm. OH MY GOSH. A snake!! In MY garage!! It's on his arm! Oh, wow! I wonder how it got in here? I wonder what my cat does all day...why didn't it kill it? Is there a mommy snake somewhere? There's a snake on his arm! Ahhh!

Obviously I was far too consumed with my own thoughts to do anything useful, like say GET THE SNAKE OFF HIS ARM.

Yes, I am ready to receive my Most Worthless Adult of the Year award.

Luckily, Wyatt's mom has better Mom Reflexes than I do, and she bravely slapped the snake off his arm. About one second after it bit him.

A SNAKE BIT A TODDLER IN MY GARAGE. It was the worst Thursday night ever. Ugh.

The weird thing is that although four out of four adults were freaking out about the whole Snake Biting Toddler situation, the toddler and the almost-toddler couldn't have been less interested or alarmed. Approximately the same second that the snake bit him and his mom frantically slapped it off his arm, Wyatt noticed my old bike sitting on the driveway (I had pulled it out to clean it off) and walked over to it. Ooohh, a bike!!! Can I touch it?

We spent the next few minutes trying to identify the snake and monitor Wyatt's arm. Thankfully, the snake ended up being a non-poisonous Southern Ringneck, and his arm showed no sign of trauma. They erred on the side of safety and called the after-hours nurse line (they said just to clean with soap and water and watch for signs of infection, but were otherwise unconcerned) and took him over to the fire station to have an EMT look at it (same story). By the following morning, they couldn't even see where the bite was, and so luckily this story has an uneventful ending. He's doing just fine, and they even came back over to play on Friday evening, so I guess they have forgiven me for being the most useless human being on earth ever.

You should probably all stop and say a prayer of thanks that I don't work in any kind of environment that requires the ability to make split-second life-saving decisions and actions. The world would be a scary place. Ugh. I really had no idea I was this bad in a I've spent the weekend coming to terms with this new facet of my personality. Ha.

Luckily, Snakegate was pretty much the low point of the week...the rest of the weekend was much less eventful.

 On Friday night, Matt was hanging out with some guys, so Millie and I went on a mommy-daughter date to eat Mexican food. As you can see, it was probably the greatest night of her life. Ha. Actually, we had a lot of fun...this is just what her post-Mexican food coma looks like. She does me proud the way she inhales Mexican food.

On Saturday night Matt and I attended the wedding of a dear friend slash (now-former, waaaahhh) coworker. I had way too much fun getting dolled up (and attempting a fancy braided updo in my hair that you cannot see at ALL in this picture...the only picture I took all night...of course), and the wedding and reception were beautiful (and delicious). I got a new dress for the occasion and I loved it- so much that I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing it again next month for another wedding, ha, so pretend you've never seen it when I show pictures from that wedding, okay? Thanks. 

Oh hey, Mom. I'm cuter than all get out, right?
Four hours of being away from my girl last night was too much, so I've been happy to make up for the lost time today. It's been an uneventful (and snake-free, I might add) day of church and toys and chores and wagons and errands. We introduced good ol' whole milk to Millie's diet today, a few days shy of her first birthday, and so far she's a pretty big fan. She's moved to the one-year-old class at school, and they can't have bottles or formula in there (although they'll give us a little grace period to get her changed over), so I'm glad that she seems to be transitioning fine and not missing her bottles at all. And I'm REALLY excited at the prospect of perhaps never having to buy formula again (for Millie)!! Cha-CHING!$!$!$!

And with that, we head into another week. Birthday week. I have only two days left with a child whose age is measured in months instead of years. It's a little sad, but I can't help but remember how fortunate I am to have a healthy child privileged to celebrate her first birthday. I am currently mourning with my best friend, who will give birth next week to her son who has Trisomy 13. He is not expected to live for more than a few minutes to hours past birth, if he survives childbirth at all. I have mourned and wept with my friends over the past seven months of waiting for this tragedy (while desperately hoping and praying for a miracle) while simultaneously experiencing the joy of watching my own child grow up healthy and strong, and the juxtaposition is just too much sometimes. At any rate, I would appreciate it if you would keep Kristina, James, and their sweet baby Ezekiel in your thoughts and prayers this week. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

this time last year

I've found myself thinking a lot lately about what life was like a year ago at this time. 

To be honest, it sucked.

I don't know if there are adequate words in the English language to describe the particular feeling of hope and overwhelming fear that surrounds someone who is days away from their maybe-baby's due date. I remember, though. I remember feeling like I was going to throw up every single waking minute of every day. I've never experienced morning sickness, but maybe it's something like that- only this nausea is from panic and fear, not hormones. I remember just wanting to be able to turn off my brain. To relax for just FIVE MINUTES. To not be frantically wondering what was going to happen in an hour, a day, or a week. To just KNOW whether we were going to leave the hospital with a baby this time, and if we did, then would we make it through the ten days and still have a baby in our arms. Last year at this time, we were celebrating last everythings...and trying desperately to believe that they were truly our lasts. To be honest, I can barely even stomach reading my own posts from a year ago. I remember so vividly how terrified I just kinda makes me feel sick all over again. Even though I know how the story ends...I will never, ever forget what it felt like in the days before redemption came.

Yo, Mom. Enough talk about redemption- how about a cold beverage while I get my relaxation on?
Life isn't stress-free now, but praise Jesus, all my current stressors are so gloriously mundane they're nearly laughable.

Work. It's been really stressful the last few months. It gets me down sometimes. But you wanna know what's awesome about work stress? EVERYONE IN THE WORLD UNDERSTANDS IT. Practically everyone has experienced it personally at some time or another. When you want to complain to someone- a friend, a parent, a random checker at the grocery store- about how work has been overwhelming lately, THEY GET IT. And they don't try to offer ridiculous platitudes and "promises" with no legitimate basis (I'm looking at you, "God won't give you more than you can handle"...). 

And although Millie is truly one of the easiest and most un-stress-inducing babies I've ever known or heard of, even parenthood isn't entirely stress-free. But you wanna know what is the most awesome stress ever? Parenthood stress. Because it means I am a parent. So it makes it pretty easy to keep things in perspective. 

Still, Millie's health has kinda sucked the past few months (in a really, really non-serious way...not at all trying to compare her to kids with SERIOUS medical issues and conditions). She got tubes in her ears last week, and although it's probably the simplest surgery in the world, it was still a little stressful knowing that she would be under general anesthesia and signing the paperwork that says you understand that surgery could result in loss of limbs and/or death...which seems a little unlikely, but still. 

But I like my limbs, Mommy.

What's going on? Why are we awake so early? WHERE IS MY FOOD?

Another picture, Mama? On an empty tummy? Really? I can't even.
And so the bottom line is this: if I even start to mentally complain about stress these days, I can cut myself off pretty quickly by thinking back to last year at this time. Then I just have to laugh at my present-day self. And when I laugh, Millie laughs, because she thinks laughing is great. And then everything is better, because there is nothing better than a happy, laughing baby.

A happy, laughing baby calls me Mama, yall. Everything was worth it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

much sickness. very fun.

So remember how Matt was sick during our vacation and it was super lame? Yeah, well. What I didn't mention is that he'd also been sick (although not THAT sick) the week-ish before vacation. And then we came home and he was just progressively sicker. And so it turns out he has mono. Yep! MONO! Like a high schooler! And I am also sick, although hopefully not with mono. But let me tell you, we were one heck of a household last week. Sick Erika. Sicker Mattie. 
Did someone say something about "in sickness and in health"? Okay, got it.
Poor Millie was trying to raise was pathetic. It's convenient that she can walk now, though. Millie, go get Mommy some tea. Good girl...

Just kidding. Maybe.

Maybe I'll get your tea if you get yourself together and PUT SOME CLOTHES ON ME, WOMAN!
Fortunately, we're both feeling a good bit better so far this week. Tired, but functioning. And even MORE fortunately, Millie seems to have escaped our House o' Germs unscathed this time. Miracle of miracles. Despite our under-the-weatherness, we still managed to get Millie to the ENT last week so that we could schedule her surgery for tubes for THIS week! I am seriously so excited. I am so incredibly tired of the poor thing's constant ear infections. I can't wait for her to feel (and hear) better!

So between sickness and trying to take care of Mattie and Millie and still go to work on occasion, too...there hasn't been a whole lot of excitement in the last week. Except for Millie. She's always exciting. Since her parents have been total duds, she's taken a renewed interest in befriending animals.

Heeeeere kitty kitty!!! Come be my friend!
Lolas are a girl's best friend.
And this has nothing to do with anything, but one day I went to pick her up at school and she was napping like Spiderman. It was basically the greatest thing ever.

Even sick mommies can manage to pull out the baby pool for hours of saying "SIT, Millie! Sit on your bottom! NO, Millie, no jumping. SIT, Millie!" fun.

But what kind of chump would sit when they know how to JUMP? "Sit" is for dogs, I tell ya.
Um, is anyone going to pull these weeds? Seriously, this is humiliating.
Between traveling and being sick, I've managed to do a lot of reading the last weeks. Since it's been awhile since I've done a good 'book report,' here are a few of my recent favorites (and not-so-favorites).

We Were Liars (E.Lockhart): LOVED it. Ten out of five stars. I mean, maybe I'm exaggerating, but I knew basically nothing about this book and it was just awesome. Easy, quick, well-written.

The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins): Enjoyed it. Four out of five stars. I think this one was just overhyped for me. It was a good read, but I just didn't feel like it was anywhere near the caliber of Gone Girl, which is what most folks seemed to compare it to. Decent mystery, good character development, but the end of the day, it really wasn't anything super special, I felt like.

Dark Places (Gillian Flynn): Awesome. Seven out of ten stars. (Note: there may be something flawed with my rating system; I can't seem to stay within my own parameters...) This was a much more satisfying mystery than Girl on the Train- nearly up to Gone Girl level, if slightly less twisted. It was definitely still dark and probably disturbing to some, but I really enjoyed it.

The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah): Captivating. I'm running out of adjectives, I think. ;) Five out of five stars. But to be honest, I didn't finish the last third of the book. HA. This was my book club book for this month and my reserve copy didn't come in until late and so I just wasn't able to finish it before we met last week. I LOOOOVED every single minute of it up until I had to stop reading, and then at our meeting, the other girls filled me in on how everything wrapped up. Annnnd I cried (along with the girls describing it) the whole time that they told me what happened, and now I a) know how it ends and b) can't bring myself to suffer through actually READING it, so I'm not sure if I will. But still, this is an amazing historical fiction about two sisters living in German-occupied France during WWII. Read it.

Matched trilogy (Ally Condie): I should probably rate these separately. Book 1: 5/5 for YA Dystopian. Extremely similar to Hunger Games and The Giver, with a few new elements thrown in for variety. Very enjoyable and left me wanting more. Book 2: 2/5 for anything. Seriously almost gave up. The pace crashed to a halt and this book was trying WAY too hard to be deep. Teenage melodrama, blah. Probably wouldn't have pressed on to Book 3 except that I already had it sitting on my table...Book 3 (50% through): 4/5 for YA Dystopian. So far I'm loving it. The pace has picked way back up and we're getting to some good action and not just love-conflicted soliloquies. So although I haven't finished, I think I will overall end up liking the series. You can skip book 2, though. I can just summarize what happens in about 3 minutes and you can save yourself a lot of eye rolling.

So anyway, now I'm all accounted for. No time for blogging thanks to household sickness, the ridiculously cute baby, and a whole lotta "summer reading" (ha, although I read this much all the time, but it sounds peppier if I call it "summer reading," right?). My "to read" list is getting low, though, so let me know what I need to get to next!

PS. If you have a few minutes, would you pray for Katie Hall and her two boys? They are friends of my friend Colleen, and they lost their husband and daddy unexpectedly earlier this month, three weeks after the birth of their second son. I can't imagine that kind of loss at a time like that (or any time, really), but I know that the prayers and support even of strangers can be a comfort during painful seasons. You can visit Colleen's post for more information about David's life and how to pray and support his family in this difficult time. Thanks, friends.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

millie takes florida

Last week was our long-awaited First Beach Trip with Millie!! Going to the beach with my baby was always near the top of my list of things I daydreamed about when I was still waiting for my baby to no pressure, Millie, but there were a lot of years of dreaming going into this trip.

Betcha didn't daydream about the eight hours in the car it would take to GET to the beach, didja?
We joined my parents at their timeshare in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and it was truly a fantastic week. My only complaints are a) the long drive there. This baby ain't cut out for long car rides...and b) Matt was sick the whole trip. A few days he was still able to get out and do fun things, but much of the time he spent in bed or at the doctor's that was a huge bummer.

Those two bummers aside, though, it was perfect! I won't torture you with a lengthy've been to the beach, you can imagine what was happening here. 

Millie was initially a little hesitant to embrace the sand and the surf, but after she realized that we weren't going to just toss her out there and abandon her, she warmed up to the idea of enjoying it.

It's just like a really really REALLY big bathtub, Daddy? You promise?

Oh, this stuff is delicious!! I do love it here!

You parents with your lame smiles...a smoldering stare is what it's all about.

WHOA NOW, BATH. Watch yourself.
I'mma take a nap real quick while the Big Bath gets itself under control.
We also spent a lot of time at the pool, because we're equal opportunity like that.

My cuteness causes a riot every time I go to the pool.
 It's true, though. I have gone to this resort almost every summer since 1999 and can confidently say I have NEVER actually gotten to know other people there. I'm just not the girl that makes friends on vacation. I'm the girl with her nose stuck in a book.

But Millie? Oh, she's there to make friends. We made friends with Gideon and his parents and grandparents...we shared toys, swapped stories, chatted it up. We made friends with Catalina and her parents. They gave us tips about how to teach Millie to swim. We made friends with about 20 other families whose names I don't remember. I mean, it was pretty insane. Millie is apparently a people-person. I guess I'm going to have to learn to be one, too!

When I could tear her away from her admirers, though, Millie settled down to focus on the things I excel having a nice drink by the pool.

 And eating seafood by the river (while watching for manatees, of course).

Hey wait, Mom, your drink looks way better than mine...
Matt's sickness meant that we had to cancel our kayaking with the manatees reservation (BIGGEST SAD FACE EVER), but my parents tried to cheer me up by joining Millie and me for a more low-key manatee hunt at a local manatee preserve.

My dad and Millie scoping out the scene.

I know you're jealous of my (dad's) sweet binocs...
We didn't have any super close encounters, but we did see several from a distance...and with binoculars, that's almost like seeing them up close. We saw a lot of dolphins, too, so that was good. It definitely wasn't my most fruitful manatee hunt ever, but it was better than nothing.

At least there was this statue, so Millie would know what to look for. 
For our last afternoon of vacation, we returned to what we do best: hanging out by the pool.

Millie observed that all the grown-ups wear their sunglasses up on their heads...she was super excited when my dad helped her wear hers like that, too!

Finally, after all of that relaxation, fun, and undivided adult attention, Millie decided she may as well learn to walk. So we went to the beach with a crawler...and came home with a walker. YIKES!!!!

For the record, now she is up to about 12 steps at a time. In other words, the 2016 Summer Olympics better watch out.