Monday, January 28, 2008

Baby Proofing with Style...

Before I had Madeline, and even now, I sometimes think to myself, "I will never do that" (whatever "that" may be in the specific situation). For example, I have sworn to myself that I will always dress for the day like I'm meeting a friend for lunch. What a slippery slope that could be. How easy, when Madeline and I don't have any appointments, to pretend like every day is Saturday morning. I make a conscious effort not to let my high heels get dusty - I wear them to Target, to meet Rob for lunch and to go to church (but not to the grocery store. Come on, we have to draw the line somewhere). As a mom, I think it's more important than ever to feel fabulous, even if it's for no one other than ourselves. I swear on the Holy Bible, I will never wear Mom Jeans. (Side note: I just read a great interview with Laura Bennett, the super stylish mom with six kids from last year's Project Runway -- enjoy if you have a few minutes.)

So I read about bumpers you can put on coffee tables and thought, Who does that? Who seriously puts a navy blue elasticized ring of foam around their furniture and lives with it day in and day out? To me, that's the equivalent of staying in your PJs until 1 p.m. Why not put plastic runners over the carpet and couch? Then Madeline started crawling and cracking her head on our hardwood coffee table twice a day. That's about 15 times a week -- red welts, crying and mommy guilt. ("Why wasn't I watching more carefully?")

Don't worry -- I didn't buy a bumper. But I do think I've found a stylish alternative that doesn't reveal my ulterior motive. We bought one of those giant leather stuffed ottoman that you can put a tray on and call a coffee table. It's basically a pillow on legs. If any moms are reading this and in the market, Target has great looking, reasonably-priced ones with free shipping. The baby-proofing continues. Now I'm trying to figure out how to keep the dog food out of Madeline's mouth without actually starving Maple...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I forgot my Orthopedic Shoes

Early this morning, I looked at my calendar to see what the day would bring. I was pleased to see that our church scheduled a "Mother's Club" event at 12:30 pm, so I called the church secretary just to make sure I could bring along my daughter. "Yes, of course!" she said brightly. So I packed Madeline up when she awoke from her morning nap and off we went, eager to meet some other young mothers.

When we arrived, the parking lot was completely full. I was expecting to meet maybe five or six moms at the most with their little ones, so I put on some lip gloss and charged forward. When Madeline and I turned to enter the room, I stopped in my tracks. Through the glass doors I could see at least 40 or 50 women....all with white hair wearing flowered purple and yellow skirt suits with their orthopedic shoes and handbags. It was a Mother's Club alright...that got its start about 50 years ago when these women had babies on their hip. It should really be named Great Grandmother's Club, but no one wants to offend all the lovely senior ladies who drive their Cadillacs to the church the fourth Wednesday of the month. 

Madeline and I still had a great afternoon. We spent several hours with the church staff and ended up planning the "Young Mothers Group," a relaxed playgroup that I'm going to help organize. Turns out I'm only the latest casualty of those misleading words -- "Mother's Club" -- in the Sunday bulletin. 

But still.....  This touched on something that has been on my mind a lot lately, which is that I cannot seem to find activities that don't directly conflict with Madeline's naps. Junior League, my grown-up sorority, is fun and important time for me to spend on myself, but all the meetings are in the evenings -- time that I consider precious family time with Rob -- and certainly not kid-friendly. I also paid my $20 and belong to the MOMS Club of Peoria; So, Madeline and I could go meet Laini in our PJs for donuts on Tuesday or Marin for Birthday Club on Wednesday, if only everything didn't begin 20 minutes into Madeline's morning nap. I'm sure Laini and Marin are very nice people, but I won't have the opportunity to find out until Madeline goes down to one nap. And I'm not really sure I want to go anywhere in my PJs. I'm more of a high heels kind of girl.

As a social person by nature, I need and crave these outings, even if it means chatting up the college kid making my latte at Starbucks. Which I do. So I just keep plugging away, seeking out events and packing Madeline up into the car when she happens to be awake, hoping to meet cool people in my stage of life. I know it will happen. It may just take a little time and some accidental senior citizen lunches.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tara!

This weekend, we went to St. Louis for Tara's surprise 30th birthday party with Erin, Erik and their adorable daughter, seven-month-old Cassidy. To break up the drive, Erin and Erik stayed in Peoria with us Friday night and then we caravanned down the next day. What a fun weekend! There was lots of You Tube (Star Wars Kid), Arrested Development (Rob says funnier than Sienfeld and he stands by it), computer tinkering (Erik helped Rob set up our Mac) and baby talk (bibs, diapers, sleep patterns -- okay...that was Erin and me). 

It's wonderful to entertain 1. best friends (they don't care if every thing is perfect and are willing to shower in the basement bathroom...) 2. best friends who also have a baby (and therefore understand nap schedules and nursing) and 3. best friends with a baby who know how quirky and loud our 100-year-old house is. 

Steve, Tara's husband, organized a fabulous party at Cafe Napoli in Clayton -- it was elegant but casual, which makes things easier with the babies. We had so much fun visiting with Tara, Steve and their beautiful daughter, Ella, who is 6 1/2 months old. Of course, all the guests packed into a dark room and yelled surprise when Tara walked in. Besides trying to nurse on a bathroom toilet and Madeline's short-lived melt-down when we walked in the door, it was the perfect night. We got home at 11pm -- it was the first time we've transferred Madeline from the car to her bed, and all things considered, it was pretty easy. This morning, Rob made the most delicious breakfast -- inch-thick banana, pecan and chocolate chip pancake! 

The best part is Rob has Monday off of work for Martin Luther King day. He also came in the door from work Friday night with a dozen gorgeous yellow roses for Madeline and me (he calls us "his girls"). It's the perfect start and end of a great weekend!

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's a Friday Night Smackdown!

Yesterday, Madeline and I met two girlfriends for lunch, and while we were waiting, a nice man came over to chat with Madeline. "You're cute," he said. "What's your name?" Before I could reply on her behalf, Madeline looked the poor guy in the eye and said, "Dada!"

So Madeline has a new move -- it's her World Wrestling Federation Smackdown. She sets her sights on something she wants (whether it be her oinking stuffed pig, her singing ABC dog, or Maple, as it most often is), and then she launches her tiny body forward and pins her target like she's a heavyweight champaign. Her favorite time to do this is during the "Where's Dada" game. Rob hides under a blanket and she hurls herself at his head. I played "Where's Mommy" last night, and climbed into her crib to hide, like I've seen Rob do several times. Unfortunately, when I tried to hop out, I didn't quite clear the rail; it was like falling on the bar of your bike when you were a kid. Ouch.

Madeline's also beginning to stand on her own! No first steps yet though. And, slightly less exciting, she has also discovered that it's fun to bite. Rob and I joked she's like a little wild animal -- so cute and cuddly, but then every once in awhile, she'll sink her new, sharp teeth into your arm. Watch out. She goes for fingers too...

This age is so much fun! Madeline can entertain herself for longer and longer periods of time, and our play is interactive. It's wonderful to be able to buy myself ten extra minutes to make coffee and slurp down my Special K just by opening the Tupperware drawer (by the way, is there some universal law that everyone sticks their Tupperware in the bottom drawer?). Plus, I think I actually enjoy some of her toys just as much as she does. But the most fun part is seeing her personality explode -- Madeline is really a joy to be around! 

Welcome, Kainoa James!

Two of our closest college friends, Jamie and Eric, welcomed a baby boy last night at 9:14pm! Kainoa James was born 8 pounds, 7 ounces and 19 3/4 inches long. Kainoa is Hawaiian, meaning "The Name," capturing the Polynesian influence in Eric's family heritage; James honors Jamie's side of the family. We were so excited to receive pictures of the little guy yesterday (but we already knew Kainoa would be adorable -- his mom and dad are one good-looking couple). Eric sent a text message from the hospital saying that Kainoa has "dark hair and eyes like daddy!" 

Jamie was induced yesterday morning, a week past her December 31 due date. It was so fun talking to her the night before, knowing that the next time we spoke, she would be a mother! They will be wonderful parents.

We love you, Jamie and Eric! Congratulations!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year! We were Command Central for the holiday festivities -- it was fantastic to have both of our families here to celebrate in our home. Rob, Madeline and I lit the advent candles at church on Christmas Eve and then had a feast afterwards at our house with Christmas carols, Beef Wellington, champagne and Gram's homemade rice pudding. Everyone was there -- the Vlachs, the Wiebmers, Mollie's boyfriend, Kenny, and my stepfather, Craig. 

The next day was Christmas. Madeline had a ball peeling paper off her gifts and playing with her new toys. She quickly wore herself out, and during her morning nap, the Vlach adults exchanged our gifts to each other. That evening, the Wiebmer clan came over, including Kyle, for our lobster dinner and raclette, a tradition that started when we lived in Boston and we would ride bikes to the wharf to pick up fresh seafood. We were elbow deep in lobster juice and butter, with napkins tucked into our collars and newspaper spread out on the table. As a special treat, Kyle's parents and brother stopped over before dinner; we enjoyed meeting them very much.

Rob and I went to a black tie event at the Peoria Country Club on New Year's Eve with our good friends, Dan and Claire. It was fun to put on a fancy dress, paint my nails red and glue on false eyelashes (though I did have a "Liza Minnelli moment," as Claire called it, when one corner of my lashes doubled up on itself and stuck to my eyelid). Kinda like when I looked down at Nancy's going away lunch and realized I'd worn tights with runs that had been patched with clear nail polish. My new mantra since I had Madeline is, "We do the best we can." But mirror checks are still a good idea before running out the door. 

My dad and Ning (Nancy's childhood nickname) live in Beijing now! Ning's Beijing blog is a really fun read -- check it out! It's fascinating to hear about the day-to-day situations they find themselves in, like dipping tofu in pig blood dipping sauce (yikes!), dodging Beijing traffic and ordering Starbucks ("He Ka Fe.)" Not only that, but Nancy can't even see her own blog posts because the Internet is heavily regulated by China's communist government. Sadly, she can't see my blog either, but we're working on getting our web cams up-and-running for live chats.

So that brings us up to speed.  Sorry for my blogging hiatus. The holidays were busier than usual, and Madeline's nap scheduled has changed a bit so I now often find myself with just enough time to shower before she's ready to go again! And, I'm learning to use our new computer (a Mac), which is fabulous, by the way. (Special thanks to my sweet husband and his generous family).