Sunday, January 30, 2011

Marry Me

I don't know about you, but this makes me want to do it all over again. With the hubs, of course. And in the way we were always meant too but didn't find the courage to take the chance.

That doesn't, however, change the fact that I'd marry him again today and everyday. In an instant. A heartbeat.

Because I love him. And I'm so glad he chose to marry me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Making the Cut

“We’re not going…he’s just a baby. You’re trying to make him grow up too fast,” Mike said, his arms crossed over his chest like a shied of armor worn when going into battle. Which, let’s face it, can tend to be the case when he’s fighting against something I’m convinced should happen…

In this case, it was Lawson’s first haircut.

And as you can imagine…

I won.

Between the peer pressure of hearing “wow, his hair’s really grown” or people stroking it into a wispy ponytail, then agreeing with me it’s a bit of a mullet, plus the fact we hadn’t had too tragic of a milestone lately, I decided to succumb and just go for it. So off to Sheer Madness we went.

This wasn’t the best plan as the stakes were already high given he’d been battling a fever and sinus infection over the past week, growing a pair of bottom teeth and needing more sleep than a bear in winter. But given all this, we too had caught a case of cabin fever and figured a quick trip to the kiddy barber wouldn’t be the end of the world. And in fact, it wasn’t!

We entered the door, the chill of winter quickly snapping it shut behind us and took in the sights and smells of a salon designed solely with children in mind. Fire engine, castles and animal chairs lines the walls, while toys marked with prices crowded every corner. On the east side, a pair of pink curtains separated the small area from the rest, designated for princesses looking for a pamper party on one of their birthday soirees. Screams of unhappy children filled the background, while some sat quietly and a myriad of Disney movies echoed in between. To us, this seemed to make sense. And for the most part, it did for little guy too…at first.

Slightly hesitant but not too far from willing, he climbed into the red car seat as Sherrie made arrangements for his favorite movie as an appetizer to his snip snip. Rigid as a board, he sat with his back straight, only his eyes darting back and forth as he took in what was around him. A “before” picture was snapped (for that extra 10 bucks we were spending for them to slap a bad digital photo with a lock of his hair to a piece of cardboard), and the cutting began.

Still sitting as if he were waiting for a colonoscopy, his jaw was slack, his eyes darkening with concern. The three of us talked in idle chatter, complimenting him on his ways and preparing him for each step as she went along. As she pushed his neck down, that familiar face that still feels so real when I’m trying not to lose it in a business meeting started to creep in, and I felt his anxiety and tension so deeply it was if I had swallowed a brick of emotion. The tears fell gently at first, not accompanied by a frown or sound, but that seemed to say “ok, I’ve had enough of whatever we have going on here now!” Soon, they became higher pitched wails that would make any Mama Bear want to whisk him out of the seat, but luckily we were on the last of the electric razor over the ears.

And just like that, it was over. So the “after” photo was taken, the ball kicked around the salon, a car discovered that just couldn’t be taken home with us (that's where the next set of tears came from) and the cut had been made.

Charming. Adorable. And complete with a Mohawk per Mom’s request and much to Dad’s dismay.

So gold stars to all who survived.

And please don’t tell a soul that although I wouldn’t trade this clean cut adorable little face for anything…I sometimes, just sometimes miss that mullet.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Don't Get It

Suddenly, I have this bizarre attraction to this man:

Wait. What? No. Really?

I’m not into rock, though sure, a few Aerosmith songs of course take me back to slow dancing in the junior high gym. I don’t dig skinny dudes with rear-hugging jeans (ok Kel, Kenny excluded). I generally don’t go for the men with long locks (though you have to admit, his waves and highlights are fabu). I’m usually not going for the “men of a certain age” (read: over 45). And it’s highly questionable that I’d end up with someone who wears more jewels than me.

But between the eccentricity, his complete and total confidence in who he is, his kindness in delivering feedback to hopeful souls, just-right fake tan, a scarf collection to die for, a wailing voice and telling facial expressions…I think I’m falling.

Ok, not like the kind that can’t get up, but falling nonetheless…

I don’t get it…but maybe there is a bit of groupie in all of us?

Top 10 Things the Little Man is Doing These Days

The January Edition

1. Waving like Miss America: to strangers, loved ones and even those who aren’t looking. It’s social. It’s precious. I give it an A+ on the wrist curve.
2. Saying “I love you”: enough said.
3. “Raking”: a newfound love of brooms and swiffers means spiffier wood floors for our home
4. Mopping: with Kleenex and wet wipes, any surface that looks questionable
Wait, am I starting to sound like someone who employs children for labor? It’s really his Zodiac sign that’s the issue here…
5. Bus watching: we spend our 8-minute drive to day care delighting in all the yellow vehicles that pass us along the way. So much so that I find myself continuing to point them out and shout “BUS! BUS!” on my way to work, despite that no toddler is sitting in the car seat in back.
6. Spiking: his hair, soccer balls, basketballs and balloons. He’s even created a game where he spikes a toddler ball against the headrest of the car over and over again to protest that no DVD machine yet lives there.
7. Solo reading: he’ll sit for literally 12 minutes (a toddler miracle) in a private corner to carefully explore pages of the soft cover, paper lined books.
8. Bossing: the dog, Daddy, me, the cat…really anyone he feels he just may be able to push around after a tough day on the playyard. “GO Ellie…NO Ellie…Sully eat…Mommy stay home…Daddy wear hat…”
9. “Walk”: a hand tug, a curious glance up and the sweetest, most innocent face that says “come with me…I’ll show you the world.”
10. Matching: finding so much pleasure in waiting, just waiting, for his teacher to hold up the same item he has in his hand, so he can prove that yes, he has one too. Game of Memory, here we come!

And apparently, impersonating the legendary Michael Jackson...

You know what? I'm loving every minute of every one of them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In Boiling Water

“Oh girl, you don’t have a nickel allergy…THIS is a nickel allergy,” she said, revealing her upper arm, the skin lined with light purple marks as if Picasso himself had taken to her skin. “Oh my!” I replied, uncertain as to how to react when a person reveals a glaring body part in a fine jewelry store…

I had wandered into one of Kansas City’s upscale retailers in a quest to discover my options for a recurring reaction I’d been having to my wedding rings. Not my fabulous antique ring, the cheapy stuff I sling on everyday or my “Lawson” necklace, but just my three left finger haunts. Which was an uber bummer as a) I was potentially allergic to the hubs and this thing called marriage b) sparkles are my thing…I can’t go tromping around without them c) Beyonce may suggest to put a ring on it, but we can’t afford to put on a platinum one. So you see, a girl just can’t win. And call me old-fashioned, but I still feel just the teensiest bit unsettled when I walk around with a toddler on my hip without one. Because people judge and dangit, I’m exhausted with that plenty throughout the day, I don’t need to add this to the list.

Then, the magic piece of advice was swapped: just boil it. Take the rings, throw them on the stove, and boil them like a pot of spaghetti. Then, when the water cools (she must’ve had a client in the past who went for the deep dive while still hot)…grab them out and try sporting them around again. Given that your skin is healed when you attempt this, the chemical-burn type reaction should no longer be a literal pain in your finger.

And you know what? It worked!

So thank you, dear jewelry sales expert. Perhaps I should send you monetary compensation equivalent to what I’ve now paid my dermatologist and local Targets for creams, cleaners and more. Because I owe ya one, I really do. Though now I must admit I’m a bit bummed that this little dreamer will no longer be mine…

Sunday, January 23, 2011

7:30, Really?!?

Hibernation – maybe. SAD – potentially. PMS – definitely at certain times. Aging – could be. Mommydom – perhaps. Preggers – NO.

No matter what the reason…I’ve got the symptoms. The “I’m so exhausted I’m going to pass out on the couch at 7:08 p.m., pretend it’s a nap, then wake at 9:30 to finally trudge up to bed” disease.

Sure, last week I could blame it on the sinus infection, but there was absolutely no excuse this Saturday evening as I pulled this stunt for what was the fourth time this week. Despite waking at 6:40 a.m., our first round of swim lessons, baking for the watch party and making our way to Lawrence, I had no reason to be yearning for Zzzzs. I mean, these are activities I can do in my sleep and have for years and years and years, so what gives? And to catch the hubs’ face as I make the walk of shame is well, just that: shameful.

I suppose I could give the tried and true a shot: “little” things like eating healthy, doing some physical activity, meditating, finding work/life balance, etc., but really, who has time for that? I think given these options, I’d rather just sleep…

Any cures up your sleeve you can share? Cause I’d sure appreciate you passing them along…but for now, I’ll catch you in the morning because as you’ll see, it’s well past my bedtime…

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'll See You in the Morning

Nighttime has quickly become my favorite time of day.

This is not because it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to remember what my name is, to accomplish something non-work related, to chat with my husband or catch up on life, to pat the dog’s head, curl up with the Kindle, write to you all or catch my favorite show, but because it’s bedtime. Not for me. Not for the hubs, the dog or obnoxious cat. But for our remarkable son.

And no, it’s not because it’s gratifying for the silence to fill the house and peace descend upon us, the patter of small feet no longer hitting the wood floors, Baby Einstein no longer playing in the background, balls being thrown against the fireplace, markers used as magical wands, trucks banging into the floorboards, new words being repeated one after another in a chorus of beautiful strings and strands, forks and plates being tossed to the floor, quickly followed by “uh oh,” dance parties to toddler tunes or the running of bath water. It’s more about…

His breaths – deep, innocent sighs following one another as he drifts into slumber. The weight of his small body falling partially across my shoulder, while the other half sprawls across my lap. The tucking of his “ba bas,” one under my chin, the other pressed carefully between his pointer and thumb fingers, his other one loosely linked to his mouth. The sense that all of his toddler energy is leaving his body as he sinks deeper and deeper into my arms, the smell of his freshly cleaned hair lingering just as when he was a newborn, his small feet wedged between my knees. It’s the darkness that surrounds us and the indescribable feeling that suddenly, nothing matters at all. Nothing but this moment. This sensation. This remarkable, undeniable, unconditional love that exists between a mother and a child.

So yes, once the teeth are brushed, the jammies are on, the songs are sang, the choo choo is discussed, the books are read, the milk is drank, and our dreams for one another swapped, we both fall into a drunken stupor of love and slumber that result in a high that no drug could ever replace. And here, we cite from memory precious lines such as “Don’t be afraid of darkness, don’t be afraid my sweet…the night is just a blanket, to help the world to sleep….; I’ll be here if you need me, I’m only steps away, so close your eyes and dream a dream of tomorrow’s brand new day.” Lines stolen from “I’ll See You in the Morning”, a darling child’s book that for some reason, has stolen both of our hearts.

And all I can think of as I creep out of his room, carefully avoiding that one sneaky area that creaks, is:

I’ll see you in the morning.

In fact, I can’t wait to see you in the morning…

And then, just like that, morning quickly becomes my favorite time of day.

Right in Front of Me

Lately, life has been a bit out of balance. Like in a way that when you take a look at that pretty little wheel your career/life coach gave you, the work portion would be filled with black, ominous swirls, with tints of blue in the Mom section and a whole lot of nothing in the rest. In a way that dishes sit countertop from four days ago, calls from best friends enter a mean game of tag for over two weeks and you can’t remember the last time you had a real conversation with your husband that didn’t involve how to discipline a toddler who throws food or coordinating car pools and oil changes. This…

is not.good.

So, in my quest to restore some Zen-like tendencies back into the Team Choate household, I’m reverting back to some old rules:

1. No chatting on the phone, checking FB, texting or answering calls when baby is awake
2. Family eats at the dinner table. All together. And no throwing food.
3. Yoga and deep breathing (because really, meditation is truly pushing it)
4. Pausing on the walk out to the car in the morning to take in the silence and watch my baby’s eyes fill with wonder at the outdoors
5. Hitting the sack when hubby does so that real conversation can actually occur (that is in the 30 seconds we have before face hitting pillow and passing out from the day)
6. Working at home in the evenings no more than three nights per week (after bedtime of course)
7. TV off (unless the classical music station is on; ok, and Glee, Brothers and Sisters and The Bachelor…oh, and now American Idol)
8. Daily meditative reading before launching out of bed
9. Walking the dog in the silence of the snow (at least to the mailbox)
10. Consumption of wine. Or beer. Or whatever’s in the house.

This last one is a given, and one I’d completely forgotten about it in the past year. But when the hubs saw me go right for the wine rack when I hit the door today, he knew it was bad. Then, one glass in, it was good. So there you go - #10 is the answer to creating a more balanced, Zen-like state.

And to think it was right in front of me this whole time, patiently awaiting for a human touch from the past season’s parties, purchased for their labels and just waiting to be loved.

Cheers – to a more balanced life, one filled with love, laugh lines, small moments….and a whole lot of spirit(s).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The New 102

Ok, so the truth is, I’m a sucker for soft rock (who doesn’t have a warm spot in their heart for Deliliah, John Tesh and all those other dudes that played a role in your high school sweetheart apologizing to you and asking you to prom?!). Needless to say, I was secretly a little bummed when 102.1 started to advertise they were re-branding, leaving me with (gulp) only one option for my night cruises when I had a few seconds to myself and wanted to relive the “good ol’ days.” I mean, what was I supposed to do when 98.1 went to commercial? Sit through it?! This is the era of technology my friends…no need for marketing to suck the life out of us when we’re doing 80 and trying to bring back that “wind through the hair meeting at Albertsons in Omaha” kind of moments. Not havin’ it…

But the good news is: the new 102 rocks. It’s a lot like 99.7 but with less likelihood you’ll flip the station. Seriously – you can stay on it for the entire drive home from work and jam out to Marley one minute, Cee Lo the next, then on to Edie Brickell, etc. This is perfect for those of us not investing in XM radio or too lazy to plug in and update their iPods. I’m not sure how they’re coining their brand other than “it’s all about the music,” but I’m sold. It’s officially moved to number four on the dashboard.

So hop on over there and try the new 102. It might just suite you…

Friday, January 14, 2011

Catching the Wave

There aren’t that many fabulous things that happen to a woman’s body after birthin’ those babies (ahem, stretch marks, an extra tummy, tube sock tatas and another whole list of unmentionables…but hey, they’re totally worth it). But, there is one one side effect that I can agree with:

Waves. In my hair. Sprouting in all the right places and giving me a little something my ‘do never had before.

But here’s the thing – I don’t know what to do with them, particularly to make them look like any of these fabulous chics:

What tips do you have, dear readers, for a gal that has a hair-preparation tolerance of five minutes, whose line of product consists only of Shaper hair spray and one, lonely pink hair dryer? Help me embrace this, would ya? Help me catch the wave…

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Girl Next Door

Not all of us have the luxury of actually enjoying our neighbors…you know, ones you borrow eggs from, swap kids’ stories with, exchange books and invite to sit out on the lawn.

But lucky for me…I do.

My neighbor is kind enough to invite me into her home – to let my toddler perch on her Santa’s lap, to purchase super-cool toys her kiddos have outgrown from her basement and to be available when I walk over in the wee hours of the night to ask what exactly I do with my newborn who won’t sleep. And tonight, she hosted a ThirtyOne party which was touted as a girls’ night out and it did, indeed live up to it’s name.

Normally, these parties aren’t my thing because they always happen to fall when Mike has a death threat over my head if I spend a dime. But I’ll always go because hey, I gotta support my girls and there’s never a bad time to indulge in light apps and wine. And in this case, I’m a sucker with anything with a monogram, paisleys or ribbons on it…so sign me up.

So although nothing became mine overnight, a wish list I did create and will manage to slip to Mike before my next birthday. Because a sassy little item at a totally reasonable price (ok, or maybe the robot toddler backpack with L’s name on it) from My Thirty One is the perfect gift for turning 31, don’t ya think?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shockingly, this post isn’t about my attempt to squeeze into some once-fitting jeans, but rather my ongoing addiction to the trash entitled “The Bachelor.” I just.can’t.stop. But hey, it counts as productivity if you sorted laundry, answered some emails and cleaned the bathroom on commercial breaks, right?!

You know how I feel about lists, so here goes…

Top 10 Observations on This Evening’s Show:

1. Girls fall madly in love with drama. Boys, on the other hand, don’t fall madly for those that do. No more drama mamas for him – go Brad!
2. Melissa is crazytown. Desperation, tears and pulling of the tube top dress does not for a good wife make. I’m all for this when you need to pull the stops out down the line, but not on day two. Come on, girlfriend.
3. Emily is someone I would even date (ok, marry) for her flawless looks, southern bell charm, sincerity, class and mommydom. Plus, I totally get her missing her child and feel her pain in her big, gorgeous tears. Here’s hoping she goes far.
4. Ashley, first-first impression rose girl Smile! He’ll notice you more. The world is not ending…yet.
5. Keltie, though she won’t join JayZ’s ranks anytime soon seemed like a lot of fun. Plus, she wears cute fedoras and jewels. I will miss her.
6. Michelle Money will cause women around the world to sleep with one eye open…as they should. Plus, her last name seems to sum up her priorities, besides herself. And btw Michelle, we know it’s your freaking birthday. You know what I was doing on my 30th? Leaving my 4 month old for the first time, pumping breast milk in a foreign city and leading a meeting for 50 people on my own in my very new job role on a day that my husband completely forgot.…
7. Brad…is such.a.dude. And if he mentions his three years of therapy again and the fact he’s a changed man…I’ll scream into a pillow. Because I can’t shout at the TV because little man is already asleep during air time.
8. Jackie went on the Start with a spa day, choose your coutoure, wine and dancing? Yes please. Even if it was Train…
9. When do we get to see more of the KS chic?
10. Then again, when do we get to see how the vampire chic uses her fangs?

I apologize for my out of character cattiness. What can I say…I too, get sucked in.

I'm With Her...

With her witty words and life experience, she makes me giggle, cry, understand, identify, find release, entertainment and pure joy. It's like we've been besties for centuries. And today, like all days, her post speaks to me in immeasurable ways on a topic I've been lamenting about since the tragedies of a rival high school just miles from my own and the happenings which took place in AZ - all in the past week.

So although my resolution in 2011 is to focus on simplifying my being, my "stuff" and in life to reach authenticity, I'll never know how to make simpler my fears, worries and all-around emotions that surround this.

So I'm with her...I just don't know what to do. And when it comes to your children, you'll never worry less. No Mama Bear in her right mind really does...even after a few margaritas.

And like her, I'll show my support today, try to worry less and help where I can, hope for the best and give lots and lots and lots of hugs.

Because like her, I don't know what else to do...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Clean Bill of Health

“Yah, he eats A.LOT!” Mike says to the nurse as Lawson plays nearby, his healthy frame bouncing up and down as he examines the mechanics of the rotating chair. “Well, you’d never know it,” she says, giggling as he did a little jig in the corner then shared an “hola” with a gorgeous model on the cover of a patient room magazine. “In fact, he’s long and lean: 30th percentile for weight and 90th for height.”

And though I was thrilled for the little man…I gotta admit I got a little jealous at this point. Long and lean was never a term quite used to describe my obtuse body…even at 15 months…

His stats: 32 ½” tall, 23 lbs and 2 oz with a “good sized brain,” meaning a 193/8” measure around of the cranium. What can we say? He’s a Choate/Esslinger combo…

The whole visit was a blast, from watching him trot around, comfortable in his pale skin, using a slew of new vocabulary, skimming every surface and hugging Dr. D., who by the way described him as “unusually social.” Um, that may be a little bit my fault…

For days, we had been preparing him about how “it’s going to hurt a little bit” and initiating ice cream visits after immunizations. In fact, we were even a bit nervous as we’d read the 15-month visit was one of the toughest given the amount of immunizations and where they were stuck. And the little man’s take on it all?

He didn’t even cry.

Ok, he shot the nurse one nasty look that said “WTF are you doing to my leg?!” but that was it. There was even a moment where I wondered if ice cream was even going to be necessary. But then I remembered that I wanted it too…

This experience was remarkable, magical and uplifting, just as all have been with this amazing boy we get to call a son who has been in our life nearly 16 months. And the best part of it all was how differently it looked from nearly a year ago when we were crouched in the corners of Children’s Mercy, testing, testing, testing to find answers. And the outcome:

A perfectly delightful, amazingly remarkable, healthy little boy.

Here’s to a clean bill of health to you and yours. May all of us be this lucky in this lifetime…

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Merry, He Goes Round

“It’s too crazy in there, he’ll get mauled…” Mike said under his breath as he watched me study the kids climbing within the play area, all around the age of three, stomping, jumping, yelling and rolling as if there were a fire nearby. This made sense of course, as most of them had been cooped up for days over winter break, their parents at their wit’s end, leaving the mall as the last resort on this 15-degree day.

“You’re right, carousal it is,” I said, assessing the money situation (two bucks for the thing to spin around a few times – robbery! But again…the whole stir-crazy situation makes this a priceless excursion).

So we wait in line, his little body perched on my left hip and I giggle as I watch his face glow in delight, asking him which horsey he’d like to ride and sharing with him what to expect. Because honestly, he understands every word I say these days…it’s scary…

The young gentleman (ok, yes, he was a bit creepy; it’s the eyes), takes our golden token and I catch a glimpse of a sign out of the corner of my eye that indicates kiddos his size must ride on a bench. Convincing myself to fall out of love with the chocolate and blue horsey we had our eye on, we perched on bench on the lowest level and braced ourselves for fun.

And fun we did have, whirring about at just the right speed, waving at Daddy at each smooth turn. Lifting his pudgy little cheeks up and down, simulating the experience as if he were horseback, he squealed with delight, then took in all that was happening around him, from children laughing (ok, and crying), to the bounce of the elephants and other animals around him, to the level above us and of course the smiles outside that circulated round, and round and round…

That’s when I think we both turned a bit green. This round and round business is not for the weak. Or the 15-month olds. Or the 30-year olds with heart conditions. I mean, it’s just a carousal, but at that moment, it might as well have been a 400-story roller coaster. As he began to mutter, “all done” about half-way through, I tended to agree and began plotting how much trouble I’d be in if I broke the safety rules and pulled a Bond move to get off this thing. I closed my eyes and tucked him close, praying it would be over soon, yet keeping my voice at “isn’t this so cool and exciting and the best idea Mommy’s had ever?!”

And then, it stopped. And we were both thrilled, rejoining Daddy nearby who laughed at the pallor of my skin and suggested we sit down. Plus, he made it up to me with pretzel bites, a trip to Nordy’s on my own and some train time with the little guy.

When it’s all said and done, each time we pass that gorgeous carousal, the little guy says “more, more” and emphatically does the sign language for it. Meaning he really, really, really wants to participate again.

Merry, he goes round…even if he was a little nauseous in the process…

The Great Bra Exchange

Whether you tout your undergarments as “over the shoulder boulder holders” or you’re still waiting for your time to come, or maybe you’re like me and you’re just not sure WHAT happened to yours after that baby came along, there’s never a wrong time to purchase a new bra that makes you feel sassy, lifted and all around bad-ass about yourself. Even if you are the only one seeing it these days…

And now, there’s even a more perfect opportunity for you Kansas Citians to pop into Claire de Lune, a little lingerie boutique that puts up shop over in Hawthorne Place across from Town Center. Specializing in fancy things and all size bras (we’re talking A-K here people), everything is luxurious, pretty and all around guaranteed to give your spirit (and ta tas) a bit of a lift this winter. They even sell “Hot Milk” nursing bras there, along with a collection you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, the most fabulous employee in town is there to help you out, so give Ms. Jennie a shout and plan to get up close and personal with her with a customized fitting. Even better, they are doing “The Great Bra Exchange,” where you receive 15 dollars off your purchase when you bring in a gently used bra, which then goes to a woman in need. And who doesn’t have one of those tucked away in their drawer? All those ones where the wire just doesn’t feel right, that no longer quite fits or just made you grumpy one day so you refuse to wear it now? Pass it on and get yourself a new…all the while helping out a gal that could really use it.

Happy shopping, lifting, nipping and tucking…all without an ounce of surgery. Enjoy!