Thursday, October 30, 2008

Andi and Kyle Visit

Last weekend, Andi, Kyle and his dog, Charlie, drove down to Nashville for a super-fun weekend! On Saturday, Rob and Kyle -- both Sigma Chi's -- tailgated at Vanderbilt's Homecoming, where Kyle went to school. Meanwhile, Andi and I had lots of girl talk and nail painting at home while Madeline napped; then we all met up at the Franklin Pumpkin Festival. After Madeline's bathtime (and lots of jumping on the air mattress we still haven't deflated since Rob's family visited), we hired a babysitter and went out for sushi. We ended a wonderful weekend the next morning with a meal that is on record as one of my favorites -- true Southern food at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant minutes from our house that's been visited by celebrities, including all of the Judds, Martha Stewart and Vince Gill.

That afternoon, after Andi and Kyle had to leave, Rob, Madeline and I carved pumpkins and baked the seeds (which of course we nibbled and then threw away because they were gross, just like every year).

Madeline's been busy. Earlier this week, she had success on the "Bee - Grrrrr - Paw - Dy" (Translation: Big Girl Potty). I won't elaborate on the actual success, but we jumped and cheered like we just won a trip to Disney World. She's becoming a true toddler: she loves to paint and color and she's repeating everything (I'm realizing how often Rob and I say "Ok-kay" and "I see"). Lately her baby doll likes to do everything Madeline does -- she washes her hands, sits on the potty, drinks milk and eats in the high chair. Madeline's also becoming opinionated about clothes -- she's either stripped down to a diaper (or less!), or she's layering yesterday's spagetti-covered clothes, PJs and random dirty socks (which she pulls out of the hamper) over her cute little outfits.

Today we went to a Halloween party hosted by the Mom's Club I joined here. The constant motion of 20 miniature skunks, ladybugs and turtles is a literal and figurative zoo. The women I'm meeting are fabulous! I'm happy that we're able to attend events now that Madeline's only taking one nap instead of two.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Vlachs Take Nashville

We had a wonderful visit with Rob's parents, grandma and sister this weekend in Nashville! On Friday, we had fun showing them our house and neighborhood. Then we went to the charming downtown Franklin (five minutes away) to window shop and had dinner at Puckett's, a "Meat-and-Three" restaurant (a Southern concept where Mac-n-Cheese counts as a vegetable -- heaven!) -- we were lucky enough to listen to the band warm up. That night we had a belated birthday party for Nicki and Tom, and sat around the fire pit making smores.

On Saturday, we drove to downtown Nashville and went inside the Cat Financial office where Rob works, then had lunch at the well-known Jack's Bar-B-Que in Nashville's "district." That night we had a pizza party at home -- Rob rolled the dough and everyone made their own pie. Sunday was a working day -- with everyone pitching in, we were able to clear most of our garage of boxes (quite an undertaking since it was filled with our entire Peoria basement and attic!). Thank you so much for traveling all that way to see us!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Illinois Homecoming

We had a great time this weekend at the University of Illinois Homecoming game with my girlfriends, Erin, Jamie and Tara and their families. Going back to campus is one of my favorite fall traditions, and it just wouldn't be the same if I wasn't doing it with such incredible friends. And no one more than my best friend, Rob -- we actually met Homecoming 1999! We all tailgated, walked campus and visited the Delta Gamma house and the guys' fraternities. There were lots of logistics and naps with four babies in tow, but we kept things laid back and had a great time!

Yesterday, Madeline and I went to the Nashville Zoo with my neighbor Amy, an emergency room nurse who's becoming a friend, and her three children, Maggie, Matthew and Caroline. I loved seeing the animals just as much as the kids! There's something magical about driving 20 minutes from your suburban driveway and seeing elephants, monkeys and giraffes. But the absolute highlight was an open-air room that is covered (every square inch) with thick padding. Madeline was sweaty and flushed, jumping off benches and crashing into other happy kids.

I'm also so proud of my sister Andrea, who ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday! She pushed through the hard parts in 90 degree weather with her best friend from the University of Iowa, Katie. Their entourage of supporters followed them around the course, cheering them on. We can't wait to run a marathon together one day (Mollie, fair warning: you may get dragged into this too).

We're excited for Rob's family to visit this weekend. They arrive the day after tomorrow!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We're Here!

We're here in Nashville and and we love it!

Two weeks feels like two months -- we've made fast friends and live on an incredibly social cul-de-sac littered with children and friendly dogs that Madeline and Maple follow around happily. Rob loves his new job, and my social calendar already feels so full that some days, I just don't have time to open boxes.

We are enjoying the South. I guess every place has a personality just like people, and Nashville feels warm and inviting. Since we arrived, meals and homemade pound cakes (yes, plural) keep appearing at our door, and living here seems easy -- we've already found babysitters, dog sitters, doctors, restaurant and grocery stores. Rob and I kept asking ourselves if we'd landed in Pleasantville. Everyone here in Middle Tennessee goes by their full name -- two of our neighbors are also named Rob, but they both go by Robert. We hear new names too -- there's a Grayson, a Stader, a Wils and a Drake...all on our street. I can tell we're near the Bible Belt -- the other day I passed a yard sign that screamed "Jesus Loves You!" before I realized it was advertising a window and siding company.

The move itself went as smoothly as we could hope for. We had a motley crew of packers and movers -- tatooed and missing teeth -- but they turned out to be sweet guys, cuddling with Maple, showing us pictures of their kids and belting country music ballads while they packed. Of course even the best move has its curve balls. On our last day in Peoria, I woke up and noticed that my legs were green. Thinking it was related somehow to my pregnancy and circulation, I called my doctor, who promptly told me to go to the emergency room. Everytime I mentioned the color of my legs, I would get the same alarmed expression, and before I knew it, I was carted off in a wheel chair, dressed in a hospital gown and hooked up to sensors. Long story short, my brand new dark wash blue jeans had dyed my legs (the doctor swiped my leg with an alcohol swap, which promptly turned blue, and suddenly it was comedy hour behind our curtain) -- a much less dangerous diagnosis than cyanosis, which often ends in amputation. Besides that adventure, the heartbreaking good-byes (I thought I might die listening to Madeline's forlorn calls for "Papa") and the flu bug Rob got on move in day (thank you to our friends Paige, Jeff and Jackson who came to our rescue), everything went quickly and drama-free.

We're grinding through unpacking the boxes. If unpacking were some sort of tv game show where you have to locate items in five minutes or less, I think I'd do okay. Parts of the process are really exciting -- what isn't fun about putting together a new home? -- but other parts (the ones that require organization, like finally tackling a drawer full of lone socks that may or may not have a match) are beyond boring to me. Feels like being banished to arrange and rearrange the Tupperware drawer.

So don't be shy -- come visit! Rob's family comes next weekend and Andrea and Kyle arrive the weekend after! Tomorrow, we'll drive to Champaign for our annual Illinois football game with my best college girlfriends and their families. We can't wait!