Archive | May, 2013

Pool Party!

29 May

On Memorial Day, pools across the country open up for the long, hot summer. We took the lazy Sunday this weekend to enjoy the good weather and swim with Walt for the first time at his grandparents’ house.


Bring it on, pool.


Hmm maybe I don’t like this so much!


Mama makes it all better!



No one is better at playing than daddy!



I sure do love practicing to walk.





Thanks for the workout, Nana!


Reasons I’m excited about California

25 May

In less than a week we leave for California. What was I thinking signing us up for that? Oh right, I’ve been craving adventure in foreign lands.

1. We have a nine month old who likes to crawl. The flight is 5 hours. That’s some good math right there.

2. He sleeps well but according to his schedule he’ll be going to bed at 4pm and waking up at 3am Pacific time.

3. He loves his food but I have yet to figure out how we’re going to feed him across the country without a freezer full of pureed cubes. The only other time we’ve tried canned food he didn’t like it. David says if he gets hungry enough he’ll eat it.

4. I will miss our cloth diapers as we spend money on disposables, those wonderful things filled with chemicals and diaper rash that never leave landfills.

5. Toys? What toys? You have to pay for checked luggage these days (even though California is far enough away it should be considered an international flight).

6. I haven’t shared a room with my angel since he was 2 months old and neither of us slept through the night. I plan on bringing ear plugs.

However, we’re going to have a blast. Even if I come home penniless with a tired, starving child, it’ll be one for the memory books.


Kitchen Shenanigans

24 May

It was a comedy of errors in the kitchen last night.

I was going to make our weekly salmon salad. So easy and delicious. Baked salmon, pears, mangoes, fresh spinach, and balsamic dressing. Yum.

I pull the bag of spinach out of the garage refrigerator where it’s been stored and it’s frozen. Is anything else in the fridge frozen? No. Does spinach fair well once it is frozen? Apparently not. As it unfreezes the leaves look, well, interesting.

OK, Dave and I are grownups. We can eat weird looking spinach.

The pears aren’t ripe yet despite sitting for 5 days on the counter. That’s fine. I can eat crunchy pear slices.

Cut open the mangoes. Very yucky looking inside. The seed is everywhere and the rest is streaked with black stuff.

I decide the salad portion of this meal is not happening. The salmon has finished cooking several minutes ago at this point. Usually we do a nice wasabi marinade but I decided to go easy tonight and just do lemon and butter. It looks good. I sadly set it aside while I start some rice, knowing that won’t be done for 25 minutes.

I am very hungry at this point. I’m a breastfeeding mom; I’m always hungry. I decide to order a pizza from Papa John’s because the Braves scored more than six runs the day before and that means 50% off your order. And their buffalo chicken pizza is delicious. I love the leftovers.

I hurriedly go to pick up the pizza. When I come back the rice still has five minutes left. That means we can eat a slice before our “real” meal.

The pizza doesn’t have the buffalo sauce on it.

Of course not! Why would it?

The rice gets done. Yay! I love spicy yellow saffron rice! However, it is burnt. How is it burnt? I never burn rice! Usually it is too soggy, if anything is wrong with it! It takes me an hour before I realize I cooked the rice on high heat the whole time.

And all this after the baby had a fever all day.

I’m going to bed.

We got a new camera

23 May

On the first day of playing around with it I managed to use half a gig of space. I see an extra hard drive in my future. Good thing Walt and Petra like to take pictures!

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Travel Bug

22 May

In the last month four of my friends have traveled to Istanbul. My next door neighbor, my brother- and sister-in-law, college friends, and a poetry professor I met several years ago. It’s like when you hear a word for the first time and then all of a sudden in the next few days you hear it several more times. Not that I’ve never heard of Istanbul, but I don’t believe anyone I know has gone over there before. This is doing nothing for my travel bug. I’m ready to take on a big adventure. Luckily next weekend we’re headed to California, and then soon after that we’re enjoying the beach in Ponte Vedra.

But still. David has only been overseas as a child and then when he was deployed (and I wouldn’t call Iraq a vacation destination – though it certainly was an adventure). I am very excited to travel with him and possibly Walt as well. We used our honeymoon to rest and enjoy the Caribbean. We’ve traveled the country for wedding weekends. But before our next child joins us I would like to go on an adventure vacation. Somewhere very cool. I’ve traveled a lot to Europe, and I love so many places over there. I would go there again, but I’d also love to branch out. Maybe Manchu Picchu or Kuwait or Dubai.

It strikes me when I think of Atlanta as being a city people travel to for vacation. I can’t imagine they come here for a week to see the sights, but maybe they do. There is a lot here that I could take advantage of more often. I’ve made a list of neat places to go with Walt, but I have yet to cross any off my list (save for the fabric store!). I just hope he won’t get cranky while I enjoy the Civil War history at Cyclorama. Because we all know how history fascinates a 9 month old.

But if you were to travel to Atlanta, or if you live in Atlanta, don’t miss out on The Optimist for dinner. We went there last night for my mother’s birthday, and I’m pretty sure it is the best restaurant in Atlanta. Everything we ordered there was delicious. I could see why people liked the fried oysters (the sauce was delicious). The salads were fresh and the dressing yummy. Between the four of us we got pork shoulder, mahi mahi, red snapper, and redfish. And they were each cooked to perfection. I ate a bit of dessert, even though I haven’t been eating sugary foods since Lent, and I’m glad I splurged because the beignets were good. Very good.

I’m looking forward to eating at the Palm Valley Fish Camp in Ponte Vedra next month. They have the best fried fish in the world. When I think about it, I’ve been to some very good seafood restaurants. One of them was near the catacombs in Rome. Another in Miami on South Beach. Oh, if only there was an easy way to travel. And by easy I mean inexpensive. Without any pesky job in the way. But also I like to stay in nice hotels and travel first class. What’s the likelihood of winning the lotto again?

a beach3
Greece 2004 – most beautiful beaches I have ever been to

the acropolis11
Greece 2004 – View from the Acropolis

marilena and i overlooking voula
View of Voula, Greece – suburb of Athens

view from hadrian's tomb
Rome 2004 – view from Hadrian’s Tomb

the colloseum1
Rome, July 2004

My 20th birthday spent in Rome

Amsterdam 2004

the view
Germany 2003

dave eating a frigidella brotchen, and that pony!
Germany 2005 – I’m pretty sure storybook Christmas originated in Andernach

England 2008

A Baptism and My Sewing Adventures

15 May

Walt was baptized on Sunday with two other babies from the church. It was fun because while the other, younger babies were well behaved, Walt was entirely unhappy being in Baron’s arms and cried during his baptism. A lot! It was funny, though, and the whole congregation laughed with us. The service was beautiful, and my mother-in-law threw a wonderful lunch party for friends and family afterward. The day was gorgeous, perfect temperature, the food delicious, and the company even better. Family drove in from Alabama and friends I don’t get to see very often came to celebrate. It was an absolutely wonderful first Mother’s Day for me!


David let me sleep in by playing with the baby in the morning. Walt has started having trouble going back to bed when he gets up early. He used to get up at 5am, nurse, then go back to bed for a couple more hours. Mama liked that deal. But now he is drowsy while nursing and then wide awake when he’s finished. Even if the birds aren’t up singing yet! The day before they had gone on errands so I could get some work done, and they picked out The Sound of Music on Blu-ray to give to me. Besides being one of my favorite movies, it convinced me to want a beautiful wedding gown as well as four to seven children. If Maria can do it, so can I!

While searching the internet for a perfect baptism outfit, I decided there were none. Most of them were expensive and looked silly, especially the “boy” ones. My own baptism outfit is lost, and the Johnston ones fit smaller babies. I wasn’t quite sure what to do until I decided to make my own outfit for him. Like Maria, I should know how to make clothes too. I looked at dress patterns, but they were all so frilly. So I decided to make him a white linen john john (AKA romper). I found an awesome free tutorial online, and when I emailed the link to myself, I wrote, “Am I really going to be able to do this? We will see.” I apparently have great faith in myself. To be fair, the tutorial seemed very confusing until I started doing each step; then it made more sense.

My initial sewing adventures started with a onesie I shortened into a shirt for Walt. The long onesie fit him weird but it was cute and I had bought it from a thrift store so I thought, if I mess this up I’ll only be wasting a couple dollars. But it turned out OK and he wears that shirt all the time. I did it to another shirt. Then I wanted some napkins sized appropriately for a baby because I felt I was wasting too many paper towels at mealtimes. Thinking it would be easy to do and fun and would save me the hassle of spending lots of money online, I did that too. They even turned out cute!


I’m not really sure what possessed me from going from an easy square project to children’s clothing, but hey, I like a challenge.

I made the pattern:


I worked day and night, and night and day. While it isn’t perfect, it turned out perfectly!


And with a sweet day shirt underneath, it was beautiful on my little boy. He looked like an angel. And we got compliments on the outfit before people even knew I made it!


And that’s why, if you think you’re going to get a present from me in the future, it’ll probably be handmade. Or a used book. Because I love used books!

Our Cotton Anniversary

14 May

Two years ago today David and I were married at Morningside Presbyterian.


Two days ago we baptized our son at Morningside Presbyterian.


And on the day in between we got our first strawberry from the garden! Just the beginning of heaps blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries to come… Life sure is sweet!

The Family Dinner Table

7 May

A few weeks ago we went out to dinner with our good friends. The oldest girls were flower girls in our wedding, and I was their part-time nanny for four years. They have four children and told Dave to beware, it can happen to anyone! I’m looking forward to the future mayhem — and trying to get as much rest as I can before then.

Walt is actually pretty good at going out with us. We can’t sit there indefinitely, but with food, water, toys, and switching between mama and daddy, there is usually enough distraction to last us through the meal. Before we even got pregnant we knew that eating at a family table is important to us, as both of us grew up with family dinners every night. We share at least weekly meals with both sets of our parents. Since birth we have taken every opportunity to introduce this to Walter too. When he was really little he sat in the bouncy seat on the kitchen table, and we held his hands during grace. Now, if he is awake at a meal time, he sits in his chair at the table or in our laps. It’s hard to eat, though, when you have someone grabbing everything in reach and throwing it to the floor. After it spends some time in his mouth, of course.

But as we were enjoying some nice time out with our friends, we noticed another family at a booth nearby. I know most people don’t like to judge other parenting styles, but this was, to put it nicely, ridiculously 21st century. Apparently the only way they could get their kids to stop running wild around the restaurant and eat dinner together was to put up the trusty old iPad and play a movie at the table. Now, I’m not opposed to watching TV occasionally during dinner, but it was a treat at our house. Maybe once a week or every other week we’d get out the tray tables and watch a movie together. It was fun, but it wasn’t every night. We enjoyed the discourse our family created and happily ate together the delicious meals my mother would make us. We’d clean up the kitchen as a family. We would play chess and backgammon afterward. I want that for Walt – and all our future children – to have that special time to get to know each other, despite what I assume will be our hectic daily schedules when they start getting into activities, but to know that every evening your family is waiting for you, waiting to spend time with you.

In the technological age we’re living in, I can only imagine what the future will bring. I was born when there were no cell phones or home computers. Now we carry around tiny computers with infinite information and capabilities. Walt will see goodness knows what in his time on earth. It will either continue to develop, or maybe it will all stop one day. I don’t want to stunt Walt’s exposure to things that are “necessary” in this world. But I certainly don’t want him reliant on the instant gratification that cell phones, computers, and other technology provide. I will not be getting him a phone at 6. He will not have a TV in his room, ever. He won’t be allowed to play video games and watch TV instead of playing outside. I know I need to change my own habits too, because he loves my phone. He sees it and immediately tries to grab it. His favorite game to play is “see if we can break mommy’s phone with my slobber” but someday he’ll be the 2 year old who knows how to play Angry Birds. It makes me want to go backwards to when I survived without a phone at my side.

This kind of stuff gives me a lot to think about. How will I be as Walt grows up? Engrossed in my own world, or present in his? Do I have to choose between the two?



On the day Walt got good at crawling…

4 May

You know you’re having a good Saturday night when you have breakfast for dinner.

My mother gave us several bags of groceries – mostly fruits and vegetables – before she left for Miami to visit my brother and his family (my niece turned one already!). It turns out that a whole sack of Valencia oranges are really only good for juicing. I was talking about doing that all week, but when it came time to make dinner, I was upstairs looking up seam guides so Dave went ahead and juiced them for us. And made bacon, eggs, grits, and blueberry pancakes. With real maple syrup. Which of course is noticeably better tasting than the cheapo Log Cabin syrup. It’s getting harder and harder to not believe that anything real is better tasting and better for you. I also pulled out the cut up pineapple, you know, to make the meal healthy. I had never cut up a pineapple before, so I looked up how to do it, and I’m glad I did before I attempted it. Remind me, what did people do before Google?

I’m not sure it stopped raining today. And it’s not supposed to stop tomorrow either. The hostas that just popped out this week (and already doing better than they did all last year) were swimming as of this afternoon, and I’ve been afraid to check on them since. Dave planted his seedlings last week, so I’m pretty sure everything is just going to float away by the end of the weekend. So much for getting the weeding done that we had planned to do.

Walt definitely sleeps better when it’s a rainy day. We took a nice, long nap with him this morning, and it felt great, especially since we’ve forgotten how to go to bed before midnight. I think that has to do with new hobbies, Braves games, and wine. Walt has started this thing where he falls asleep in my arms but will wake up after a little bit to tell me to put him in his crib. Today was an especially precious day, since he fell asleep nursing several times and just camped out, so I got to watch him sleep, cuddling, listening to the rain fall outside before I moved him.

He’s mobile, folks. Watch out.

Day and night. Repeat.

3 May

Every morning as the house wakes up, I go around opening the shutters, letting in the early light. We let in the day, and at night, we close up again, cozy together against the darkness settling around us. In between we play, we clean, we talk, we leave, we return, we cook, we read… so many things fill up our days.

I have started looking forward to when we add another baby to our family. It shouldn’t happen for a couple years, if all goes as planned, which we know doesn’t always happen, but at least I don’t start hyperventilating when I think about being pregnant and giving birth a second time. We’re used to sleep again (though I wish Walt would get up a little bit later in the mornings), I’m able to leave the house in an efficient manner, and everything on the whole seems like more fun than work. I’m excited about Walt being an older brother one day.

I may open my eyes in the morning happy to be awake, or dreading the long day, but either way, I’ll soon find myself in my pajamas, reading a book, finishing a glass of wine, talking to my husband, and brushing my teeth, another night waiting for me. With another day to follow.

Thank goodness for all the new things life brings me, whether I notice them or not, even if it’s just another day. I’m lucky to have it, so I need to make sure it’s a good one. I can let it surprise me, or I can deny myself the pleasures life wants to bring me.

Like a good sale at the fabric store. Now that I’m teaching myself to sew (I learned how to thread the machine and it was all over from there), it’s like Martha Stewart meets Marge Simpson at our house. But more awesome, cause it’s me. And you know me, you lucky thing.