Monday, June 29, 2009

The Bumbo Revisited

I'm off to the park this fine morning to spend time with an old friend who is actually young in years, just has been a friend a long time. She and I go back to our Rutgers days and though multiple offspring and, at times, thousands of miles have separated us, our friendship has remained rock solid. I love friends like that. Here's to you, Char!

Anybody who's read this blog for any length of time knows I'm a big fan of topics revisited. (Go ahead. Type that word into the search line at the top left of this screen and see what comes up.) It's a way for me to reconnect with the past. So in another effort to provide historical continuity, I give you "The Bumbo Revisited". Remember my first post on the topic? It's one of those baby contraptions that changed my life. OK, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but still close.

Evie is no clone of her brothers although she is possibly a physical clone of Addison -- if you were to create a skinny and feminine-looking version. (I'll have to dig up a good photo to show you what I mean.) To clarify, my children's personalities are all so unique despite the family resemblance, and Evie is no exception. Although so far the most petite of my children, she is by far the strongest. Her neck and back strength and control were remarkable in one so young. She could hold her head steady almost from the day she was born. Lately she's been entering a new developmental phase. You know, where they start noticing things and grabbing for them. This prompted me to hit up Babies'R'Us for a play gym (which much to my great delight required no batteries and consequently made no sounds) and to consider whether she were ready for her Bumbo. We had to say goodbye to Davis's blue one when we left Aberdeen, but aforementioned friend gifted us with one at my baby shower back in the winter. All so serendipitous.

Indeed, she was ready. I plopped her little body in it and it fit like a glove. Now she has a whole new perspective on the world, can sit with us at the table, play with toys upright, and generally rule from her very pink throne.

Bumbo, I am definitely still in love.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sun Hat

By now my battle with the sun is well-documented. Oh, it's true that at one time, I, too, was a sun worshipper, baking in its rays whenever possible and even tanning in beds during the winter. No more, and I am on a mission to make sure that as long as my children are under my roof, they are protected. This always includes hats, and when my favorite local knit shop, Knitty Knotty, had its closeout sale many weeks ago, I stumbled upon a Debbie Bliss book with the most adorable knit sun hat in it.

The original pattern was sized for a 1-2 year old. Evie, by Holloway standards, has a fairly small head, so I set about the task of sizing it down, which turned out fairly successfully.

The yarn is called Cathay by Debbie Bliss, a super soft blend of silk, rayon, and cotton (the exact same I used in the Upside-Down Daisy Hat). The heavier weight of the cotton makes it perfect for a hat intended to hang over the neck and shield the eyes.

The color here is more accurate than in the beach photos where it appears bluer. It's actually a deep Concord grape color.

My favorite part is the lacy edge. Now onto a secret project for another pregnant friend of mine. I can't wait to show you this one when it's all done!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gone Too Soon

Michael Jackson
August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009

This title to one of Michael Jackson's dozens and dozens of songs rings altogether ironic the day following his unexpected death. Love him or loathe him, he touched the music world irrevocably. As rumors swirl about the cause of his death, one thing remains undisputed. He was a tragic character for whom fame and fortune proved no escape from life's harshest realities. From his young days in the Jackson Five to the brilliance of his Thriller album, the best-selling of all time, he remains one of the most talented entertainers the world has ever known, and though he is gone, his music will live on.

Beach Bums

Yesterday, my sister and I took the three children to Cape May for our first proper beach day. We've had a string of lousy weather. In fact, but for the warmer temperatures, I might think we were back in Aberdeen. Lots of cloud cover and rain. I've been hard-pressed to remember the last time I've seen the sun and not a glaring white sky.

The day began without promise, heavy cloud cover and an unexpected 40 minute delay in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Apparently workmen were repairing a telephone pole and brilliantly decided to reduce all traffic, north and southbound, into one single lane which was painfully alternated. We'd start to move and then sit completely still for five minutes, eeking our way to freedom. At one point Addison asked, "Why am I going to spend my whole life in traffic?" But God had mercy and when we finally arrived at the beach we were greeted with the most beautiful sight of all. The clouds parted and the sun came out. In fact, we enjoyed one of the most beautiful beach days I can ever remember. A perfect, gentle sea breeze, warm temperatures, refreshing water in the 70s (low 20s C).

I was ever vigilant about the children's sun protection. I would not have considered it a completely successful trip to the beach unless we all returned without a drop of sun to show for it. This included liberal and frequent application of 85+ UVA/UVB sunscreen, shirts for the boys, hats for all three children, and umbrella cover when possible. I am pleased to say that my efforts were a smashing success. Make fun of me if you will, but skin cancer, which runs in my family, is no laughing matter, and when all the sun worshippers years down the road have leathery skin and age spots, I plan to keep my youthful complexion.

See the hat? My latest knitting creation, which I will showcase more fully in a subsequent post.

I made a little tent for Evie out of beach bags and my sister's sarong. Who needs a pricey pop-up tent when you can concoct one for free? She needs a tent as well as umbrella cover? Yes, she does. I didn't want her to get any indirect beach glare since she's too young to wear sunscreen.

Addison's first love at the beach was building and digging, and then, of course, racing the boats we brought along the sand. Hey, what else are you going to do in the absence of your usual entourage of cars and trains?

Making dribble castles.

The swimsuit, diaper peeking out beneath.

Two of my three babies.

Davis gave me about two seconds grief when I put this hat on him. I looked him right in the eye and said, "You HAVE to wear this." End of discussion. He knew I meant business. Don't mess with a mama on a mission.

I have to laugh because Addison wore this beach shirt the summer he was 16 months. Here it fits Davis at 28 months. That's the difference in their sizes.

Just another one of Evie. I took about a million. I'm so in love with her sweetness.

And her drooly mouth.

OK, I should have smiled. Self-portraits are never that successful for me.

More digging.

The boys enjoying the water with Auntie Sarah. Yes, she's holding Addison who is still getting comfortable with the water. Davis, on the other hand, two words...NO FEAR. Long after we got home he was still talking about it, "I like water at beach!"

Footprints in the sand.

Addison climbing the rocks.

The kids sitting in the shallow water with Auntie Sarah. As it would swirl away from them Addison would say, "Where are we going? Where are we going?" I love how kids view the world. It does, indeed, feel like you're floating away.

The beautiful surf.

Evie nestled in the sling. She mostly slept in the car to and from the beach, but took a little cat nap in her favorite cocoon.


Sweet baby girl.

The rest of the photos are now in the Beach 2009 album.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Famous Last Words

This morning over breakfast and much-needed coffee I read an article which made me come alive. It was in WORLD Magazine, entitled "The best of the last," and you can find the full text here. After sifting through some 400 entries for the "best last lines of a book," the panel of WORLD judges whittled it down to a mere 80, and as I read through the lines, I found emotion welling up in my throat. Great books are like true friends. Time does not diminish the love. I felt reconnected to volumes I'd read ages ago and was introduced to some new ones that now I just have to read. Words have that kind of power. They suck you in, move you, change you forever. After reading through the list, I want to share with you here a few of my favorites from the article and my all-time favorite, which wasn't included.

"It's not often someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

"But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before."
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

"From all who think that I have said either too little or too much, I beg pardon; and those who are satisfied I ask, not to thank me, but to join me in rejoicing and in thanking God. Amen."
Augustine, The City of God

"He turned out the light, and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning."
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

"So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."
A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

"Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way."
John Milton, Paradise Lost

"And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course . . . all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be."
Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I was reminded of what an amazing book A Tale of Two Cities is. It opens with arguably the twelve most famous words since Genesis 1.1 ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...") and then ends so beautifully, directing our gaze heavenward. Before I share my own pick, I wanted to leave you with this anecdote from the article:

"And a special honorable mention to a young reader who recommended our most-nominated ending, the conclusion to C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle. The reader also provided an excellent plot summary and concluded, 'I really like when Aslan tells them, "The term has now ended and the holiday has begun." That is the best ending to any story. (Signed) Aslan Anthony, age 9 (that really is my name).'"

Wow. And I thought we were hardcore C.S. Lewis/Narnia fans growing up. That's really putting it out there, naming your kid Aslan.

And now for my last line. It comes from my favorite book of all time, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: "The broken flower drooped over Ben's fist and his eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and facade flowed smoothly once more from left to right; post and tree, window and doorway, and signboard, each in its ordered place."

Please share yours with me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dear City of Philadelphia

Dear City of Philadelphia,

I want to thank you for holding me accountable the other day for being five minutes late to my meter after paying an improptu visit to my children's grandmother at her place of employ. I'm so glad you're not swayed by such mitigating circumstances as tiny and multiple offspring, double buggies, slow elevators, and milling tourists. I really appreciate that you stand watch to see if I return at the stroke of the clock and that you're there, fulfilling your duty, citing my violation, and charging me the reasonable sum of $36.

Furthermore, thank you for making it so easy and convenient to pay the bill online. What a great idea to add an additional $2.50 processing fee to a paperless payment method. It's an excellent way to encourage people to stick to the old-fashioned method of mailing a check. It reminded me of that almost-forgotten artform, check writing. I honestly can't remember the last time I wrote one.

You'll be pleased to know that my check is, indeed, in the mail and on the outside of the envelope is the also reasonably priced Forever stamp, which bears the image of our reknowned city's ensign of freedom, the Liberty Bell. How altogether fitting since I violated in Old City.

Yours truly,
Jersey Mom

Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny-Weeny, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini

That may be a bit of a stretch. More like itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, pink and blue flowered one-piece. Doesn't have quite the same zip to it though. Bikinis on pre-adolescent children, kind of silly if you ask me. Nothing there to hold the top in place.

Yesterday, I went to Babies'R'Us for a couple of items, including a baby girl bathing suit. Evidently, girl bathing suits size 0-3 or 3-6 months do not exist. I've been to Walmart, Target, and now the infant Mecca Babies'R'Us. Do they think that children of this age don't go to the beach or the pool? Or do they stock so few that they've all been purchased? When I asked the lady at the registry desk, who couldn't have been more bored with my question, I was told that whatever summer items they have are all out on the floor. Halloween costumes are, apparently, waiting in the rear. Oh, goody. I've always wanted to buy a Halloween costume in July.

In the end, I purchased this smallish Carter's suit, size 6-9 months. I'm sure it will be baggy, but we'll make do because we're off to the beach on Thursday. The forecast is perfect. Auntie Sarah is now on summer break and can join us, and I have an umbrella that will defy even the most fearsome solar rays.

And this little morsel will just love the sand and surf because she's her mama's girl. I can feel it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Will Write for Food

Now for the announcement. I have a job. A job? you say. Yes, my first paid writing job. I've done lots of copy writing before as part of other jobs I've had, but this is the first time I'm a paid writer all by itself. I've been trolling Craigslist recently looking for freelance writing opportunities, and with this one everything just fell into place. I've been hired by the President of a company in Brooklyn to write for an engagement ring website. I know! Interesting, right? I love fashion, and diamonds are a girl's best friend after all.

So far I've written two articles. Waiting to hear back on the second one. The first was received with great enthusiasm, which was a tremendous boost since I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. The owner of the website is well-situated within the jewelry industry and is hoping to position his site as one of the top informational web resources for people buying engagement rings. I am very excited to be a part of this project and chuffed *winking at all my friends in Scotland* to be a paid author.

Now I just have to figure out how to balance it all.

Welcome to the World

This announcement is sorely overdue, partly on account of the wedding and partly because of an announcement I have yet to make, which will be revealed in the next blog. (No, I'm not pregnant.) In the wee hours of Friday, June 12th, the very same day Nate and Joanna tied the knot, Trey's sister Christy, gave birth to their third child, Charlotte Coates. She is the first baby girl for them. They, like us, have two boys almost identical ages to Addison and Davis and have now added some pink to the mix. I unabashedly admit to cheering from under my covers when Trey received the early morning call from his mom announcing a new baby girl. (Isn't her name just beautiful?) I am recently a great fan of little girls, and it made me very happy to know that Evie will now grow up with a girl cousin exactly 3 months younger. Couldn't have planned it better myself.

Once I found out that they had a girl (they wanted the gender to be a surprise), I added the finishing touches on a little stuffed bunny I'd made in honor of the birth. Instead of a bow arond the neck, I added little bows to the ears for a more feminine touch. The bunny is off to the post office today along with a little outfit we got down in Cape May.

Welcome to the world, baby Charlotte! We can't wait to meet you in person!