Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My $5 Find

In anticipation of the coming fall season, I find myself dreaming of the crisp autumn day when Jack will kick through the fallen leaves in these little darlings.  I can picture him so clearly, kicking his feet the way he often does when he is excited, crushing the leaves in his chubby little hands, maybe even wearing these tiny moccasins at our Thanksgiving dinner, stuffing turkey and stuffing into his face like there is no tomorrow.

Oh yes, Fall is coming little shoes...just you wait!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Numbers

6 - The number of teeth that make up Jack's smile.

2 - The number of teeth trying to work their way through his little swollen gums.

11 - The number of times Jack woke up last night.

3 - The number of Orajel tubes scattered strategically throughout the house.

2 - The number of frozen washcloths in the freezer for chewing.

3 - The number of onesies he has soaked with drool this morning.

Poor little dude is miserable!  Which, you know, makes for a really fun Monday.

Anyone out there have any more teething advice?  What works for you?  How do you help your little one get some relief?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another Summer Ends

I know technically we still have a few more weeks of 'summer', but here at Country Mouse Headquarters, our first family summer is officially over.
While it is nice to return to routine and days spent with just my little guy, I miss my big guy too.  I don't say it enough, but that man is such a blessing.  He is an integral part of this family, not just a figurehead.  He is a loving husband, and a devoted father in every way.
Today is the first full day of school for Matt, and it would be a lie to say I am not sad to see our first summer as family of three draw to a close.  I have drawn immense enjoyment from our months of family time.  We have splashed, swum, played, and learned together, and I can't believe it went so fast.

Sure, there were times that it was stressful to spend all day everyday together.  Sure, he leaves his boxers on the floor and forgets to put the milk away, but all that fades when he would bend down, give me a kiss, and utter those sweet, sweet words in my ear...

"Honey, you can go back to bed, I got him this morning."

That's romance, people!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Please Don't Touch My Baby

Now, I know Jack happens to be kinda cute, he also happens to have his Dad's personality, and is extremely outgoing. 

He giggles and he smiles and he screeches at just about everyone he sees.  The kid is irresistible, I know this, and I have made my peace with everything taking a extra 30 minutes because he wants to stop and babble-talk to everyone, and everyone typically wants to talk to him as well.

But here is the thing I have NOT made my peace with, and probably never will.  Touching. 

Yesterday Jack and I went grocery shopping, he happily sat in my cart as he always does, and waved and made faces to the other shoppers.  I turned to the side and picked up a box of the cookies Matt likes, and when I turned around there was an elderly gentleman standing there RUBBING JACK'S HEAD. 

'Umm...Hi" I squeaked.  He said nothing, just kept rubbing Jack's head.  Not 'hello', not ' how old is he?' Not a word.  After a few seconds he said 'bye-bye' to Jack and walked away. 

This happens on a regular basis.  Usually people touch his foot, or his hand, which while somewhat disconcerting, I am okay with, but it is not uncommon to see a complete stranger stroke his cheek.  I even had one lady kiss the top of his head! 

I have no problem with people I know (even if I only know them vaguely) touching Jack.  In fact, if I ever met any of you in real life, I would probably be fine handing Jack over to you.  But complete strangers?  It is inappropriate. 

But I can't, for the life of me, figure out a way to ask people not to touch him without actually saying "Don't touch my baby!"  I don't want to be mean to people, because I believe that for the most part, people in general are good.  I believe that nothing brings happiness to people more than the smile of a baby, but I also don't want strangers rubbing their hands all over my son. 

Is there a nice way to say this?  Does this happen to you too?  What do you do?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Great Snail Invasion of 2010

(I like calling things 'The Great  blah blah blah of blah blah', as evidenced by The Great Carbon Monoxide Scare of 2008, and The Great American Road trip of 2010)

When we returned home from the Aquarium, I noticed that our front path looked as if it had some sort of seeds scattered across it, which is weird 'cause...well, because it's weird. 


Upon closer inspection I noticed that the 'seeds' were um...well...they were moving!

It was teeny tiny snails! Just making their (very slow) way across our sidewalk.  They continued on their strange little journey throughout the next day as well.  We had a heck of a time navigating the walkway, hoping on the snail-free spots so as not to crush the little dudes. I'm pretty sure that if my neighbors didn't already think I was crazy, the baby-juggling, cellphone-dropping, curse-muttering, dog-walking, snail-hopping probably did me in.
The snail invasion leaves me with so many questions, and no answers. 

That's not normal snail behavior right?  I mean, should I prepare for this mass migration once a year?  Will they be coming back in the spring?  How does one make escargot?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dolphins and Turtles and Sharks, Oh My!

Since Matt starts teaching again next week, we decided to have one last weekday outing before the school year officially began, and where better to go for the day than the Baltimore Aquarium?  We were lucky enough to be joined by Mike and Melissa, Matt's brother and his girlfriend.  (Incidentally, they are both teachers as well, as is my OTHER sister-in-law Liz.  Some people marry into money, some into fame, me? I married into Education).

If you are within driving distance of Inner Harbor, I highly recommend getting to the aquarium at least once, and I am including a few pieces of advice for those of you who may go in the future.  Tickets can be a pretty steep, but there is nothing like coming face to face with the underwater creatures you can typically see only on National Geographic.  

Instead of trying to drive into Baltimore, find an over-priced parking garage, and go through the hassle of inevitably losing the car, we decided to stop and take the Light Rail to the Harbor, which put us about four blocks from the Aquarium itself.  For a round trip fare of only $3 this is the best way to get to the Harbor for those of us in PA.  I highly recommend it!
Jack was so excited to be on a train, he had no idea what was going on, but he loved it! 

Rain seems to be the backdrop for most of our family outings lately, and while it wasn't ideal, we made do!

Once we got to the Aquarium I was surprised to learn that strollers were not permitted, and had to be checked.  Had I known that in advance I would have brought my sling to carry him, so word to the wise -- No Strollers! Bring an alternate carrying device or be prepared to hoist your squirming, excited, 25 pounder around the exhibits.  (It can get pretty crowded, so while this rule was inconvenient for us, I totally understand why they have it!)

Don't forget to get your picture taken with the Megalodon jaws!  Who wouldn't want to memorialize getting eaten alive?

We were excited to see the Jellyfish Invasion, it's not often that you can really SEE a jellyfish, you know?  Typically I either see a blob of goo on the beach, or a red welt from the sting, but it was really cool to see them swimming at eye level.  They are mesmerizing to watch, just beautiful.  Strange, but beautiful.
This exhibit was extremely crowded, so while it was really incredible to see, it was hard to navigate. 

We also enjoyed the sharks and rays.  There was a huge tank with a myriad of sea life swimming about, and walkways you could walk on to cross the tank in order to look down on these huge animals.  They even had a three finned sea turtle, who was found in New York.  He lost his fin from the cold and now makes his permanent home at the aquarium, since he can't really return the wild missing the fin.

I was so excited to see Jack reacting to all of the animals that I really didn't take too many photos.  I know...WHAT???  

By the time we made it to the Dolphin show, Jack was pooped!
Next we hit up the dolphin show.  While the dolphins were spectacular as always, as a whole the show was mediocre. The narrators were terrible, it was almost painful to listen to as Mr. Roboto explained why we should not throw garbage in the rivers, and it was so crowded that I started feeling claustrophobic by the end of the 20 minute show.
 Nonetheless, the dolphins were cute!

By that time, we were ready to eat, and since we hadn't planned on staying at the aquarium we headed out into the Harbor to find a place to eat.  Being a Spanish teacher, Matt has a thing for Spanish culture, so it was no surprise to end up at a tapas restaurant called La Tasca.  The great thing about tapas is that they are almost like appetizers.  The best way to eat them is to each order a few, and share.  It's almost a communal dining experience, and it lends itself really well to conversation...even if that just means trying to figure out what the heck you are eating! 

 Jack did start to get a little cranky here(maybe it was because of the lemon incident?), so Uncle Mike stepped in and saved the day with a well fought sword fight!
Thank goodness for goofy uncles!
Here is to a great day! With good food, good friends, and good fish!
 CHEERS!         (Don't forget the Sangria!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jack Versus the Lemon

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that making your child suck on a lemon is an integral part of their development.  That if you don't allow them to pucker from the juice of this tart fruit they may have issues further down the road (also, I'm pretty sure I made that up).

Enter my sweet baby boy.  We went out for tapas with friends yesterday, and I couldn't deny the siren call of the lemon in my water. 

I know, I know.  I'm cruel.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Camping Weekend

A.K.A: The Picture Heavy Post

In an effort to wring every last drop of fun out of this golden, slowly fading August, last Thursday we packed up and took a long weekend for a family camping trip. 

Let me tell you, there is nothing like camping with my family.  We laugh, we cry, we eat, we drink, we tease, but mostly we just love.  I hope this is how all families are, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I am blessed with a rare thing when it comes to my family.  All of my siblings and their other halves get together for one of the most outrageous groups I have ever had the privilege to be a part of, and they way they love on my baby makes my heart sing. 

We camped near Knoebels, a small family amusement park about two and half hours north of us, and although the rain threatened to dampen our spirits (HA! get it?  rain? dampen?? haha...sigh.) we had a blast.

We all gathered 'round to witness my nephew Emerson have his first big boy ride all by himself on the firetrucks.

Can't say that it went all that well. 

I am a mean Aunt for taking pictures of this aren't I? He was a disaster, but he was quickly mollified by an ice cream cone. 

Jack was happy to help out.  Baby likey.
Unfortunately, I forgot my camera battery for the second day at the park, so I am hoping my sister snagged a few pics of my boy enjoying his first big theme park. 

I did get some fun snap-shots of the weekend though. 

Matt and Jack with our nephew, Emerson.  This picture kinda, sorta, really makes me want to start thinking about another baby.  Maybe.  Kind of. 

I happen to think he is laughing about the warning sign directly underneath him.  The women in my family have a weird compulsion to put babies in places that they shouldn't necessarily be, like a bucket for instance.  We can't help it, it's genetic.

And now...for my favorite part of the weekend...
Jack and Daddy, doing their thing.  Those two absolutely light up around each other.  Best buds.

As I learned from Jack's hat...


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nursery: Take Two

As I said before, I really struggled with the knowledge that Jack would never really get to live in the nursery that Matt and I prepared for him in the months before he was born. 

When we were looking at places to live, his room was a big factor in choosing the right one.  I really wanted to create a place for him, a special place that was his, and his alone.  We are renting, and as with most rentals, we can't paint the walls of his room, so I had to find an alternative way to personalize his room.  I wanted to stick with the Dr. Suess theme we had done in the old room, so where did I look for inspiration?

His crib sheet!

I went to the craft store to pick up some canvasses, and away we went!

First I tackled Yertle the Turtle...

...and from there it was a piece of cake! 

So without further ado...I give you Jack's (new) nursery.

(Don't mind the double humidifiers by the crib...we have been battling croup.  We are winning by the way)
I love the feeling of making something personal for his room.  Of being able to point out where I accidentally dragged my hand through the paint, the feeling of knowing that, although they aren't retail quality, Jack will be able to keep these and know they are a gift from me. 
The rest of his room is still a work in progress, but the time I have spent on these paintings has been such a balm to the sting of having to leave our old house.  It has healed a lot of the hurt that was still there. 

Obviously the illustrations aren't my own, but each one says "To Jack, Love Mommy" on the back. Maybe I am romanticizing this a little, but I keep picturing dropping Jack off at his dorm room freshman year and hanging these on the wall. (I know, I know, VERY unlikely, but a girl can dream right?)


Despite the turbulence of the last few weeks, don't think there haven't been moments sprinkled here and there that make me thank God for this life.  Sometimes I need to reflect back and think about the little moments that make up each day.

Moments like this.
When he crawls through the grass like a big cat stalking his prey, but this big cat?  He mostly stalks crayons.  They are the current favorite.  Our couch now proudly bears the blue and pink marks to prove it.

Like this, when he got a clover stuck between his toes, then promptly tried to eat said clover. Since he is now crawling everywhere, the tops of his feet are constantly filthy.  I do love those filthy, chubby feet.  Those are the same feet that danced the soft shoe on my rib cage in the wee hours of the morning last year.  I am still in awe of that.
Moments like this, when Jack got his first puppy kiss from a precious chocolate lab named Daisy.  His face was priceless, all squinty eyed like his daddy when he smiles. 
Or this, when he and Daddy picked a pretty flower for Mommy.  And you better believe I have that flower pressed in wax paper in his baby book.
As these moments make up our days, our weeks, our months, I try to hold on to and savor each one.  Because the last nine months have been a complete blur.  Yeah, nine months already.  He is a crawling, talking, waving, clapping, high-fiving big boy.  The summer is drawing to a close, which means only a few more weeks with Daddy home, so we will be trying even harder to hang onto these special moments with our little family.
What a blessed life.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


A little over a week ago, I read this article about a recent door-to-door scam going on around the Maryland area.  Because we don't live all that far from Maryland, and people frequently travel to and from York from Baltimore, I thought it could possible be relevant.  I sent my mom a link asking her to please make sure to warn my grandmother that people were going door to door, pretending to sell magazines, then making off with the checks. 

Two nights ago my moms doorbell rang.  Standing at the door was a young man, in his twenties.  He asked if he could talk to them about a fundraiser he was doing, through KLMN Readers Services (go ahead and Google that business).  They gave him a drink, and listened to his story.  They said he was so sweet, and so sincere.  And when he showed them the photocopies of the magazine subscriptions he could sell to them, they couldn't resist buying a wildlife magazine for their grandbabies (my son and nephews).

They wrote him a check, and off he went.  They watched him stand around on the sidewalk for a few minutes on his cellphone, then saw a white van with Maryland tags come and pick him up. 

After second guessing themselves all evening, they put a stop-payment on the check, because you know what?

This dude was a scammer. They even knew about the scam, he was THAT good you guys. 

So take this little bit of knowledge, and add it to the giant knowledge of the Internet, and warn the people you are close to.  Tell your mom, tell your grandparents, tell your sweet neighbor.  It is a sad fact that there are people in this world who will gladly take advantage of a kind and giving heart.

Be aware.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


My computer has recently been hit with a virus of apocalyptic proportions, and I am only hoping that I can save all the pictures of Jack that I have stored there and not yet backed up on our external hard-drive.  If not, we are looking at 5 months of baby photos down the crapper.

But aside from that, do you ever feel like your life has suddenly been hit with a virus?  One minute you are coasting along all fine and dandy, dancing it up at your sisters wedding, and the next thing you know things start to unravel?

That's where I am right now.  This week has been tough. 

Matt's brother John was scheduled to have a root canal, and the next thing we know we are getting a phone call that he was taken to the ER where emergency surgery was performed on his throat and his airway was in danger of collapse.  There are a whole lot more technical terms to describe that, I'm sure, but all I know is that he spent a few days in the ICU because of a dental procedure went awry.  He is home recovering now, and thankfully he seems to be doing great.

Tuesday was the funeral of my dear Uncle Dennis, whose death was not unexpected but still a sad event.  

Thursday brought news that sent our community reeling, when we learned that a high school alumni of my sister and I was shot in the back and killed by a 15 year old in York.  For his cell phone.

Then on Friday, Jack woke with a cough.  When he started wheezing I took him to the doctor, who once again diagnosed him with Croup, and prescribed an oral steroid to keep swelling down in his throat, thereby keeping his airway open.
Next on the life virus schedule was my brother.  Saturday, He and my cousin James went to visit a friend and on their way home they hit a curve too fast.  When he tried to get back onto the road he must have over-corrected then spun across the road into a tree. 

After climbing out of the wreck, both boys had only cuts and some wicked bruises, and possibly one broken finger  (The blond guy by the car is my brother Everett).

Viruses suck.

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