Friday, September 30, 2011

The Twelve Days of Birthday

Today is the last day of September.  It's Friday night and I am more than content with a night in, complete with a Papa Murphy's pizza, an Oktoberfest, and a pair of yoga pants.  It's going to frost tonight, and I'm looking forward to curling up in our nest with lots of blankets and a forgotten alarm clock.  After all, tomorrow is a very big day.  It might as well be Christmas Eve around our house.  
Okay - so tomorrow might not be Cruz's birthday, or even the day of his party for that matter, but it's the eve of the day we prepare for Cruz's party.  The day we gather with family and friends to celebrate all that is Cruz.  The day we gather to remember the day he was born, all eight pounds, 21.5 inches of wonder that he was.  The day we gather to smile and laugh, and maybe even shed a few tears of happiness as we remember the year that changed everything for us.  The year Cruz made us just a little more complete.

So, after months of visualizing and planning this 'simple little get-together,' I'm nearing an end of sock monkey overload.  Tonight, I wrap just one more gift, hot glue one more pom pom on a party hat, and pick up a hundred of tiny pieces of toilet paper Cruz stole from the bathroom and used as confetti in the hallway.  Even he's starting to get the drift of this whole birthday party thing...

Lots to do tomorrow and Sunday.  I can't wait to bring this party to life this weekend and see how Cruz Man reacts to the role of BIRTHDAY BOY!  
(Did I mention that I can't wait to find the floor of one of my guestrooms?)


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cruz Loves Clothespins

The older (and more importantly, mobile) Cruz gets, the harder it is to take pictures of him.  Actually, the older and more importantly, mobile Cruz gets, the harder it is to do anything.  In order to successfully change his diaper, he typically needs to be holding (and chewing) on his toothbrush.  In order to successfully prepare his supper, he typically needs to be munching on Gerber Veggie Sticks from the comfort of his highchair.  And in order to successfully snap a picture of Cruz, he needs clothespins.  Yes, clothespins.  

My jar of clothespins can distract this child more than just about anything.  First he lifts up the entire jar and shakes it a bit, hoping the pins will explode from the top like confetti.  Then, he pounds on the jar lid as if it's his very own snare drum.  Next, he unscrews the top, and pulls out pin after pin after pin.  It's adorable to see how he concentrates on this process, his big, nearly-brown eyes focused on the prize.  And while he plays, I snap away, hoping to stop time one more time from behind my lens.

I love a boy in blue.  I think it's his best color.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Right Way to Watch a Football Game

A few weeks ago, you may have read about our trip to Iowa City for the Iowa Hawkeye's season opener, and Cruz's first time watching a football game beyond our living room.  You may also recall how that day played out, complete with near hurricane conditions, lost (but then found) tickets, and about two minutes of witnessed regulation football.  It was nothing short of a disaster; however, I'm sure the memories will bring smiles to our faces years from now.

Saturday, we attempted another trip to Iowa City, this time without Cruz.  Beau found out on Wednesday that he had won a bonus through work which awarded him two tickets to see the Hawkeyes play from a luxury SUITE on the twenty yard line.  Since we weren't exactly sure what to expect, we decided to leave Cruz with Grandma and maybe have a chance to actually watch the game this time.  So, Saturday morning, under a partly cloudy sixty-degree sky, we drove to Iowa City feeling far less anxious than our last trip.  

We met up with Jillian at her friends' tailgate, the same Jillian who has quite a few connections to some Hawkeye bigwigs thanks to her job with Iowa City-Coralville Visitor's Bureau.  When game time neared, we said goodbye to Jill and entered some elite area of the stadium, complete with carpet, glass cases housing the numerous Hawkeye trophies, and bell boys in ties running the elevator system.  We were escorted to Farm Bureau Suite 103.  To say it was a room with a view is an understatement!

Minutes later, Jillian texted Beau to inform him she would be joining us for the game.  Soon after we left her tailgate, she scored an All-Access pass from her boss, a pass that gave her access to just about every nook and cranny on the premises.  As soon as she arrived, we noticed the suite next to ours was empty.  Eying the front row seats and full buffet of food next door, we casually snuck over to the next room, ignoring the sign plate on the door.

The suites were amazing.  Carpeted rooms with a fully functioning kitchen, bar tables, and three rows of stadium seating, all facing a gorgeous picture window overlooking the stadium.  The windows opened to let in the game day breeze, and the black and gold granite countertops were covered with every football food imaginable.  Chili and cornbread muffins, pepperoni pizza and chocolate chip cookies, fruit plates, cheese plates, and buffalo wings.  Even the popcorn was sprinkled with black and gold M and Ms.  We grabbed a plate and made ourselves comfortable, and were soon made strangers by a parade of 'regulars' in the Carver Suite.  Women adorned in bedazzled Hawks attire with diamond rings that weighed down their hands, men who talked of watching Hawkeye legends play decades before, and their stuck-up children who had clearly never watched a game from the student section below us.  The three of us acted as casually as we could, laughed at their dumb jokes, and played with their grandchildren.  I'm pretty sure our cover was blown by other actions, however, we could have cared less.  Our constant giggles, plates overfilled with food, and my attempts to stick my entire body out the window in order to snag a few pictures definitely made us look like first-timers.  

Trying to look snobbish whilst eating fresh shrimp...

Our star-quality treatment of the day didn't end with the 45-17 win over the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks.  After the game, Jillian's boyfriend, Rob, who works for one of the chief marketing companies of the Hawkeyes, gave us a tour of the press box, and let us sink our feet into the toasty field of Kinnick Stadium following the game.  Beau laid on the 50-yard line, I dreamed of Cruz crawling down the field, and Jillian totally biffed it while attempting to channel her inner-lineman!  While Rob was still on the job, the three of us ran around like little kids.  It was so much fun, and I only hope we can relive the experience someday with our littlest fan in tow.

The day was topped off with an autograph and picture of Ed Podolak, as well as an encounter with Gary Dolphin.  Such a turn of events from our last trip to Kinnick.  I know we won't sit in the Carver family suite every football game, but here's hoping Beau takes future Farm Bureau sales bonuses a little more serious!  It's an awfully great place to watch a game!

Wearing our green in support of Brett Greenwood. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dear You...

Every now and then, I have days where I'm enthralled with your cuteness.  It's like you wake up in the morning and tell yourself you are going to act extra adorable all day to make your mama swoon.  And today, let me tell you, was one of those days.  From the time you blew a kiss to daddy without being prompted on the way out the door, to taking turns with 'so big' through the rear view mirror on the way home from dinner, you've been pouring it on and I've been drinking in every ounce...
...when I dropped you off at daycare this morning, you crawled straight to this big turtle pillow in the middle of the floor and smushed your face in its softness.  Heidi, your lead teacher, said that you love to cuddle up with Mr. Turtle.
...I picked you up during snack time today, and boy was that a sight.  Eight little pre-todds, sitting around a table, munching on their own little piles of snack food.  I was amazed how every little one kept to themselves, working on their own little pile and not stealing from their neighbor.  They all looked up long enough to check me out, then went back to their snack while I stole one of their own from the table. are such a smarty pants, especially when it comes to imitating.  It's obvious you pay attention far more than we give you credit for, as sometimes out of the blue, you'll surprise us with something that we had no idea you knew how to do!  The other night, you blew Grandma a kiss totally out of the blue; now you blow kisses to daddy before we leave for school, to the daycare girls when you leave to go home, and to two random guys playing pool at the Screaming Eagle tonight!  We had dinner at the Eagle, and you were awestruck by the pool table.  You watched intently, smiled your half-smile when one of the guys would make 'guy talk' with you, and even applauded when one of them made a good shot.  While you watched, your dad and I snuck bites of your cheeseburger and rice krispie treat. love music and LOVE to dance.  The minute the radio comes on, or our phone starts ringing, or an episode of The Voice starts, you start swaying back and forth with this sly little grin on your face.  You love to dance, and love it even more when there are people to dance with you.  Kindermusik has been one of the best things for the two of us to do together, and I am starting to think we may have a music man in our presence.

As you inch closer and closer to the one-year mark, you seem to become less 'baby' and more toddler all the time.  In just one week, we will celebrate almost ONE YEAR of YOU, a year that has been the best of all.  This year, I've learned a lot.  I've learned what it feels like to carry another life inside of my own, and what it feels like to form a bond that is so strong, I would die before anything got in its way.  I've learned what it feels like to want to protect, to guide, and to love with every cell in me.  I've learned how to soothe a baby into a sleepy trance with nothing but a hum and a finger to a forehead, and how to steam and puree a butternut squash to baby-food perfection.  I've learned how to balance a full-time job as a full-time mom, and I've learned how to make the absolute most of my hours home with you, whether its singing you songs during bath time, kissing those cheeks on the way in to daycare, or choosing to be five minutes later than I planned in order to read one more touch-and-feel book.  Most of all, I've learned that life is about so much more than money, fame, and so-called success.  It's about the simple pleasures of a baby boy, a sly half-smile, and a face that makes me a little weak in the knees.

I love you, Cruz.  One year here we come ;) 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finding the Positives...

What a week!  Some days, I amaze myself at how well we seem to hold it together.  This crazy attempt to keep the boat afloat with two parents, two full-time jobs, and one baby, along with a house to keep clean, laundry to keep up with, groceries to buy, bills to pay, and birthdays to plan (yes, this is a priority lately).  It seems like when I can convince myself to stay in the present and focus on the NOW, things seem to stay under control.  But the other 29 or so days each month it seems I'm sprinting to keep up with this thing we call life.  

This week was no exception.  In fact, this morning, I felt like life inside our little gingerbread house on Fleur Drive was spinning wildly out of control.  I thought this after I picked up the third half-used roll of toilet paper Cruz had unraveled onto the bathroom floor.  I thought this after I took my trusty toothbrush and scrubbed on the knees of Cruz's new pair of jeans just one more time, hoping to get the stains out.  I thought this after I mopped up day-old banana, Hamburger Helper noodles, and the remains of a homemade apple crisp off the floor FOR THE FOUR HUNDREDTH TIME!  And I thought this as I maneuvered my son, his school bag, and my school bag into the car, only to remember just seconds before backing out of the driveway THAT I FORGOT TO BRUSH MY TEETH.  

Life has been a little less normal than usual lately and although we're blessed beyond words for nothing too traumatic, we are a little off our game this week.  My strong and resilient superwoman Grandma Henrichs fell the other night leaving Bingo and was airlifted to Iowa City Hospitals.  She's recovering (Praise Jesus), but the scare shocked our systems a bit.
Then Sunday, we got hit with another piece of sobering news.  Our cat, Jade, who's been in our lives for more than five years, has been a chain litter boxer user for the last few years.  For some reason, she can't seem to distinguish between her litter box and shag carpet, which has posed a problem when it comes to finishing our basement.  Thanks to a flood, wet carpet, and sadly, our cat, we junked a room full of beautiful, barely used, cream shag carpet two years ago, and as of Sunday, we junked a beautiful, barely used, cream shag area rug.  We've spent hundreds of dollars in vet bills, hoping to find a reason and solution to our cat's issue, but have had no such luck.  Sunday night, we talked about tough decisions and it was hard.  In the hustle and bustle of having a baby, it seems our cat has sometimes taken the brunt of our new lifestyle.  And at times, when my allergies are acting up and I'm going through my twentieth lint roller full of cat hair, I sometimes wish we were a pet-free household.  But actually thinking about life without her made me so sad.  She has been such a part of us, a part of our family for about as long as we've been a family.  Cruz and his high-pitched kitty voice are a pretty telling sign of how much Jadey means to us.

And lastly, the incident report.  Speaking of Cruz, last week at daycare Cruz received three 'incident reports' for biting.  Yes, my sweet, good-natured baby boy bit three friends: one while at chapel (of all places), and two during playtime while vying for a toy.  As a new mom who of course thinks her child can do no wrong, this hit a little hard.  I told Beau that I now know what my students' parents are going through when I email them about their son or daughter's failing grade!  I was disappointed, and immediately wondered what the heck was wrong with our parenting skills.  

So, all in all, our spirits have been sagging in the last week or so.  I don't do well with uncertainty, I guess.  

And I guess experiencing and then writing about these kinds of days motivate you to turn it around and look a little harder for the good in each day.  Because, after all, there is plenty of it.  

Like finding time to make that apple crisp I was craving...

Or hearing a student stay after school to tell you: 'I have to think so much in your class.'

Or getting an email from a former student telling you they just now realized how much they actually learned in your class...

Or baby leggings from Baby Gap...

Or an hour of play with Cruz during his Kindermusik class.  Watching the smile on his face and the way he dances to the music is enough happiness for weeks.  I love the hour of total, uninterrupted play we get to have.  What a perfectly wonderful way to begin my week.

Or the cute DIY fabric banner I'm perfecting for Cruz's first birthday bash.

Staying positive and finding the good in the everyday ordinary!  Also looking for a outside (safe) refuge for a very sweet cat if anyone has ideas!   

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My September

This morning, my bare toes clued me into the temperatures outside much before KWWL did.  A crispy 33 degrees sent chills up my spine as I stepped onto the cold bathroom floor, and sent me hightailing it to Starbucks before I dropped Cruz off at daycare.  

If I had the time, I would make Starbucks a part of every morning.  Nothing says Fall like a pumpkin spice latte, and the green queen logo cup sent me into a happy trance all morning long.  I even talked to my cup on the way to work: 
Hello little latte.  Oh, how I've missed you.  
As it turns out, my liquid pumpkin pie isn't the only thing making me feel like Fall lately.  Simple things, like turning the lamp on in Cruz's room at night, or replacing his Aden and Anais muslin blanket with a thicker chamois one, or lighting a harvest-scented candle in the kitchen after cleaning up supper, offers such a healthy feeling of newness; an opportunity to find happiness in the simple pleasures and traditions that define us.  Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the motions; the mundane details of everyday life that if not careful, allow us to take days and the simple joys that come with it for granted.  New seasons give us an opportunity to stop and get present, to realize and appreciate the simple things: the crispness of a 30-degree morning and comfort of a warm pair of socks, the first burnt orange leaf that sticks out like a sore thumb among its conformist friends, and the taste of that first Honeycrisp apple.  

I'm enjoying the beginning of Fall, and finding some time in the busy days of raising a very active baby boy to take in the simple pleasures of September... an afternoon of playing at the park.  We discovered a park that is ideal for careless and fearless walkers-in-training.  With the rubber mats Cruz is used to, he tore through the tunnels and even contemplated the slide on his own.  It was a beautiful afternoon, and Cruz threw a tantrum when we left. 

...wineritas after school.  A perfect way to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall.  

...a road trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa Jorgensen.  It just so happened to be open house weekend in downtown Hampton, which meant a stroller ride down Main Street, finger foods served at each store, and 20 percent off at my favorite Fall boutique, The Wood Cellar.  We ordered white chocolate frappuccinos at our first shop, tasted and re-tasted a black bean salsa at our next shop, and found a few new 'toys' to add to my existing fall decor at our last shop.  We ended our afternoon with a pizza and a visit to see Great Grandma J at the nursing home.  

The amber floral lights I scored at The Wood Cellar.

...a surprise 30th birthday party for our friend, Julie, complete with a bonfire, birthday cake, and sippy cups!  Cruz and Charly bonding with Beau...

...and the first taste of leaves!  

This weekend, I'm looking forward to more Fall.  The sounds of Friday night football games from our own backyard, some DIY crafting for Cruz Man's first birthday party, and maybe even an apple crisp.  Stay tuned and Happy Weekending (we're almost there).


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