October 26, 2010

Two Silly Peas in a Pod

"Mom says cheese, Mac!"

"Okay, now you try."

"Hey, Dad, will you give me this pen?"

"You think my super cool 'engineer' pocket pen is a toy, son?"

"All right, fine. I'll just grab it myself!"

October 25, 2010

A Picture Perfect Royal Pair

Little-known fact about me: I was born in England the week of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding. When I was a child, this made me believe I was unequivocally linked to the royal family.

I was eleven months old when Charles and Diana's first son, Prince William, was born. (Evidently they take this "heir and a spare" thing quite seriously in England. Eleven months!)

By the age of thirteen, I was entirely convinced William was meant to be my future husband. I was a dual citizen, after all, and therefore clearly in the pool of eligible ladies he was mulling over.

Alas, our paths were not meant to cross. This is particularly shocking given that I signed the official condolence book from the city of Columbia to the royal family after Diana was killed. I didn't include my phone number, but I was tempted.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I think the future Mrs. Prince William (surely that would be her official title) should be virtuous, beautiful, discreet and well-dressed: the picture of a queen.


If this pair, the prince and his long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton, doesn't scream "future King and Queen of England," I don't know who does. Wills (I feel I can address you as such based on our near-kinship), please propose to this girl already. And also, please bring your dapper style Stateside.

Can we discuss how much pressure you would feel planning your wedding when you knew the future King of England (and paparazzi) would be in attendance? What about the pressure of being a prince's girlfriend? Talk about a fear of bad hair days! Good thing British wedding-goers love to sport hats!

On the plus side, I'm sure designers are lining up to dress her! Whatever she's doing, it's working. I hope her next ensemble is a breathtaking white dress to rival Diana's. We'll see!

Still Newlyweds

I saw these Newlyweds-style questions on someone’s blog and thought it would be fun to ask Bradley and see how many he got right.

Let's see how B's answers and mine matched up...

1. She’s in front of the TV; what is on the screen?

B: Gossip Girl

A: Guilty as charged.

2. You’re out to eat. What kind of salad dressing does she request?

B: None

A: True. I never order salad because my requests (no cheese, onion, croutons or dressing) are so bizarre. I eat steamed veggies instead!

3. What’s one food she doesn’t like?

B: Cheese

A: There are many, but cheese tops the list.

4. You go out to eat and have a drink. What does she order?

B: White wine

A: I usually have water or tea, but if I order a "grown up" beverage, I do go for white wine.

5. What shirt size does she wear?

B: Medium

A: Patently untrue. I'm an XXS. (Ha.)

6. What shoe size?

B: Nine

A: This reminds me of Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias: "In a good shoe I wear a size 6, but a 7 feels so good, I buy an 8." I like to think my size 9 feet suit my tall frame.

7. What’s her favorite type of sandwich?

B: Plain turkey

A: Turkey on sourdough. They were hard to give up when I was pregnant!

8. What would she eat everyday if she could?

B: Mashed potatoes

A: Creamy, carb-y comfort food all the way.

9. What is her favorite cereal?

B: Cinnamon Toast Crunch

A: I buy "healthy" cereals, but if CTC is on big sale, I buy six to ten boxes, then eat them in a day. Mmmm.

10. What would she never wear?

B: Maybe a denim dress?

A: Or acid-washed jeans. Solid guess.

11. What is her favorite sports team?

B: Tigers

A: Yes, sir!

12. What is something she does that you wish she wouldn’t do?

B: Leave hunks of peanut butter on a knife in the sink.

A: I thought he was going to say "leave cabinet doors open!" This peanut butter knife incident happened once, in his old house, circa 2005. Mind like a steel trap!

13. What is her heritage?

B: German/Native American

A: True. German explains my first name, an ounce of Native American justifies my dark hair and the remaining mix of Irish/Scottish/British provides my uber-pale complexion.

14. You bake her a cake - what kind?

B: Funfetti

A: Trick question; B would never bake. But he picked the right kind! I also love German chocolate cake. (In truth, I've never met a cake I didn't like.)

15. Did she play sports in high school?

B: No

A: To be fair, I had the hours to letter in student council. Does that step up my cool quotient?

16. What could she spend hours doing?

B: "Looking on the internet"

A: Man, I've got no secrets!

17. What is the unique talent that she has?

B: Public speaking

A: I'd say my talent is chatting in general, but B is sweet to put a finer point on it.

18. What is her type of coffee?

B: None

A: Diet Dr Pepper is my coffee.

October 22, 2010

Sweet Valley Flashbacks

Adolescent fiction must be totally different now than when I was reading it almost (eep!) two decades ago. When I dug into Ramona, the Babysitters' Club, Sweet Valley High and the like, there were no digital cameras, cord-free cell phones, Facebook or blogs. It was a different world, and our fiction reflected that.

Slambooks were like Facebook, only on paper. Mark Zuckerberg, you weren't that creative!

Nonetheless, I was oddly excited last year to hear that Sweet Valley High was being updated and re-released for a new generation. (Annoyed at the "perfect size four" change, but moving on...)


In the early 90s I was a Sweet Valley addict, reading about our favorite blonde twins, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, from their grade-school days, through the Unicorns club phase and all the way to college. I loved reading all their backstories and find out what happened to the twins, their friends Lila and Enid, dream guy Todd and the rest of the gang.

If you're a SV lover like me and have ever wondered what happened to the Wakefield girls after their stories ended, you're not alone. And you're in luck!

Coming in the spring of 2011:

According to People, the novel picks up with the twenty-six-year old twins estranged and living on opposite coasts: Elizabeth in NYC and Jessica in their California home town. What could have caused such a rift?

If you need a Sweet Valley fix before March, take a walk back through time by revisiting every last book on Wikipedia. A very devoted fan spent quite a bit of time putting this together, y'all.

As I scrolled through the hundreds of titles, I realized how very much money one Ms. Francine Pascal must have; I've heard she lives on the coast of France and I can see why! She took a great idea, franchised it, delegated to a troupe of ghost writers and retired. Not a bad gig! Almost 30 years after the first book was published, Jessica and Elizabeth live on.

Is anyone else excited to find out what comes next for the Wakefield sisters?

What a One Year Old Looks Like


I'm woefully late posting Mac's twelve month update, but since I've come to rely on these looks back to remember the details of each stage, I'm posting anyhow.

In September and October Mac grew by leaps and bounds. He's almost 22 pounds now (25%) and over 31 inches long (90%). Our long and lean man still has chubby, kissable cheeks and more than a few rolls, though, with an appetite to match!

This is his "are we done with the pictures now?" look.

In his twelfth month, Mac became even more social and curious. His waves and "heys" have become even bigger and more aggressive enthusiastic. Last week he nearly assaulted a woman in the produce section with his huge, full-body wave and squeal of "Hey!!" Paired with an excited, repeated point directly at her, this poor lady looked like a deer in headlights.

Mac gets smarter and more talkative by the day, too. The apple doesn't fall from from the chatty tree, and Mac gestures and jibber-jabbers all the livelong day. It's a delight!

He isn't walking yet, but Mac is "cruising," pulling up, standing to play with his toys, crawling up stairs (thanks to Bradley), moving with lightning speed and getting his hands on whatever his little heart desires. I just can't imagine how he'll be any faster when it comes time to take those first steps! Whew.


Lately he has begun to pick up a few more signs, which is helpful when he gets frustrated at his inability to communicate. He has "more" down pat and uses "please" and "thank you" as well.

Mac is affectionate when he's in the mood, sharing sloppy kisses and blowing kisses a plenty to those he loves. (And to pretty girls in the supermarket, too. Hmm.)


He's still sleeping twelve hours a night and napping twice (sometimes only once) a day. He's a big, busy boy these days and we love keeping up with him.

My fears about whole milk in the sippy cup turned out to be for naught, as he is a milk-drinking machine. Weaning was a cinch - almost a non-event. We're both doing wonderfully and he never missed a beat with the transition.


He's become much more willful with food, though, spitting out chunks of things he enjoyed the day before or turning his head. I worry that he doesn't chew enough food and will be stuck eating the same meals over and over, but I remind myself that he'll eat when he's hungry and he tends to regulate himself well.


For now, I'm busy kissing our growing toddler and watching each new development with wonder. A year ago I was excited when he first made eye contact with me; now I expect him to stand up and run any moment now. What a miracle his little life is!

We love you, Mac-Man. Thank you for another fantastic month, and for proving to your mom that not being a "baby" isn't the worst thing in the world - it's actually pretty wonderful!

October 18, 2010

One-derful

Last weekend we celebrated Mac's first birthday with a sweet little gathering of our families and a few close friends.

It was a perfect day! Our monkey woke up from his nap to see both sets of grandparents, plus my grandmother and her husband, waiting to greet the birthday boy.


We took a quick shot of the before our guests arrived.


Mac's Nana made him a monkey cake too cute to cut!


Mac couldn't tear his eyes off of Brantley to smile!


Bayne, Liz and little Reagan came to celebrate, too!


Mac was more interested in his adoring audience than his cake.


Reagan and Mac played "climb the couch."


Between the icing, excitement and attention, Mac was giddy.


When it was all over, he put on new monkey pj's for some sweet one-year-old dreams.


It's just now sinking in that my Mac is one! The best part? His mom didn't shed a single tear. What a wonderful day for all of us!

October 14, 2010

Toms vs. Bobs: Copying for a Good Cause?

From the looks of other gals' blogs (and feet!), I may be the only girl who doesn't love TOMS shoes. I don't love their style or shape; I don't even love their "must have" sequined edition.
I do, however, adore TOMS' one-for-one business model, which donates a new pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair purchased. It's an ingenious mix of fashion, corporate responsibility and philanthropy.

(Side note: TOMS' founder and chief shoe giver, Blake Mycoskie, is a debonair young entrepreneur who was scheduled to speak at a conference I helped promote. Sadly, he backed out rather late due to his commitment to sail a plastic boat to Australia. Seriously, that's what I was told.)

I'd rather donate the purchase price of a pair of TOMS than wear them, as they just aren't my style. That said, I'm impressed by how many people have bought into (no pun intended) TOMS' vision and allowed the company to become a success.
It seems Skechers is equally impressed, as they have come out with a BOBS line of shoes. Similar look and identical business model: buying a pair of BOBS will also enable a child in need to own a pair.

I can't decide if this is distasteful, my gut reaction, being an exact copy of TOMS down to the name. On the other hand, more shoes for underprivileged children can't be a bad thing, can it?

What do you think? Do you own/love/support TOMS? Would you buy a pair of BOBS, even if they seem like a knock-off, to support the cause?

October 7, 2010

A (Flu) Bug in Our Plans


Bradley is never ill. He has gotten sick (as in "stay home from work" sick) just twice since we started dating. In a favorite family story, he came down with the flu the week we found out we were expecting. It was awful.

Have I told you that story? It's one for the ages; it involves a feverish Bradley, a concerned pharmacist, a surprised Anne and a teeny-tiny McBaby making his presence known.

It was a lot of big news and scary germs to squeeze into one week. Picture face masks, excessive use of Lysol, sleeping in separate bedrooms and being unable to hug or even high five over our happy news.

Not
a fun week, but itty-bitty Mac and I made it through unscathed - and Bradley lived to tell the tale.

Today B's immune system of steel has crumbled for a second time. We just got back from the doctor's office; they are treating him for strep throat and the flu.

Mac's (small, sweet, practically family-only) birthday party is 48 hours away. Would you say a prayer that Bradley's fever breaks quickly and we can still celebrate Mac with our families? And, most importantly, that our tough little man can avoid the flu germs.

Once this bug is gone, we'll have lots of reasons to dig into some cake. I'm rewatching Mac's video for pointers.

October 6, 2010

More Birthday Sweetness

If yesterday's pictures weren't proof enough, this video should convince you that Mac's a big fan of cupcakes. He took to it like he'd been stuffing his face with them for a whole year now!

Have you ever seen anyone lift up their clothes to lap up every last crumb? Mac's eating (and crumb-shaking) strategy made it hard for B and me to keep quiet for this little clip.

Around the 1:00 and 3:00 marks, Mac is especially enthusiastic, but I love when he squeals "Dad!" and points at Bradley towards the end.

I could watch this a thousand times; a boy's first taste of cake is something to remember forever!

October 5, 2010

A Boy and His Cupcake


Mac has had a wonderful first birthday! This time last year I was moments away from meeting our sweet boy; right now he's cozy in his crib with a cupcake in his tummy.

Thought you might enjoy this shot of Mac's first taste of cupcake. (Full cake to come this weekend with our families.) That face is absolutely priceless!

Thank you for your sweet wishes as our boy turned one today. I anticipated a bittersweet day, but today's been nothing but happy. I couldn't be more thankful for the blessing of our one-year-old son!


Can't wait to share more later about Mac's first birthday and our plans to celebrate. For now, I'm off to have supper with his dad! xoxo

October 1, 2010

An Unexpectedly Fond Farewell

This is only slightly relevant, but it does make me laugh!

In the Smith house, October 5th means more than just birthday cake. It means a transition to whole milk and sippy cups. It means Mac's bottles are put away and my trusty Medela pump, and all of the delightful gear that goes with it, is packed up. It means I have accomplished even more than I set out to do: I breastfed my son for a year.

I don't speak publicly about nursing often, as it's a pretty personal topic and I don't want to be found by keywords that bring out the crazies. (Remember when boys typed 58008 in their calculators and giggled while reading it upside down? Some haven't outgrown that instinct.)

That said, I remember googling "breastfeeding encouragement" at 4am last October. I recall reading and rereading a list of 101 reasons to nurse - it was all that got me through a particularly trying day. I slept with ice packs and heating pads and Advil by my side, scrounging the internet looking for ways to make a go of this nursing thing. I'd love to encourage even one woman who comes across this blog.

Late last summer, when asked, I said I'd try breastfeeding and see how it went - no pressure. If it worked, great. If it didn't, we'd try formula. (But, and I remember this so clearly, I'd never breastfeed "for a full year" or anything. I knew so few women who had done that; it almost seemed odd.)

What I didn't account for in my lackadaisical "we'll see how this goes" attitude is myself; I'm far from laidback when it comes to even the most vague commitments. I put tremendous pressure on myself to make it work in the early weeks, when I hit almost every bump in the book. I couldn't quit unless it was on my terms; I knew my problems were only superficial, not the "my baby isn't getting enough food" or "my body physically can't do this" kind. I felt bound to make this work until I really knew I couldn't anymore.

My first goal was two weeks, which I considered a legitimate try, but I really wanted to make it to six. For a hundred reasons, exhaustion not the least of which, those were some of the most challenging weeks I've ever lived through - but I did survive, and even enjoy the overall experience. Just not every last moment.

There were nights when Mac and I both cried out of frustration. There were prayers said about my inability to do anything right and about, shall we say, my 58008. I laughed with a neighbor that I hadn't prayed about my bust for 15 years, since I wanted desperately just to have one. My neighbor was right - those moments are humbling in the extreme, but they serve to give us perspective, to make us entirely reliant on the Lord and thankful for those who support us.

The early weeks of breastfeeding felt harder than labor because they were a choice. Labor was definite; it was going to happen whether I got on board or not. Breastfeeding was a choice I made eight times a day; it was taxing physically and emotionally.

After I made it to six weeks, a weight lifted and things got much, much easier. I wanted to nurse for the remainder of my maternity leave (12 weeks) and see how things went when I was back in the office.

Had I remained at my full time job, I would not have been able to continue breastfeeding. I was fortunate to have a "mothers' room" on site, but pumping four times a day was not working out well for me; I dipped into my frozen stash more than I liked. I might have made it to my (big, shiny, overall, please let me get there!) six month goal if I'd stayed at my job, but it would have been a stretch.

After reaching that "far off but finally here" six month mark in April, I really did commit to see how it goes. We'd stop nursing when it stopped working for us. It never did, especially when I thought of the money I was saving, of the ease, benefits and convenience for both me and Mac.

Being home with Mac more made breastfeeding much easier than the ordeal it felt like at the start. The irony is that once you're more rested, once the baby sleeps longer and you know him more and understand more about nursing, he starts eating less often. And you start feeling more sane, a funny side effect of longer stretches of sleep.

Once those stars align, it's all downhill. Meals take less time. You fumble less and succeed without nearly as much effort. You feel more confident and prepared and know what to expect. The beginning is a perfect storm of exhaustion, hormones, ignorance, confusion and panic. Once I pushed through the rough start we had, though, things got easier. Enjoyable, even.

Many react with surprise when they find out Mac has nursed this first year of his life. Truth be told, I'm surprised, too. Surprised that our difficulties last fall went away. Surprised that I chose to do something for a full year that caused me moments of heartache and discomfort early on; I'm a person who tends to run from such things. Most of all, I'm surprised at how sad I am to see this part of my life come to a close.

We're phasing out nursing times and praying that Mac learns to drink from, not just chew on, sippy cups. By his first birthday, we will be done with breastfeeding.

Mac nurses less in a week now than he did each day of his early months. (Eight times a day x mom and baby who are new at breast feeding = a lot of time getting the hang of things. In his twelfth month, Mac's three mom-based meals a day totaled less than 30 minutes daily.)

Many days, mealtimes are the only moments I get to hold a still, silent Mac, when he's not pushing off to get something he wants. They're fleeting, sweet times - and they're almost over.

I know some women choose to nurse past twelve months, but for us now is the time to wean. It's the start of a new chapter and the end of a bittersweet one.

It's another milestone in a wonderful year. Eleven months ago you could have knocked me over with a feather to hear that I'd be sad to give up what was such a difficult part of motherhood. And yet I am.

If Bradley and I are blessed with another baby one day, my goal (again) would be to nurse for six months. In the beginning, this goal will seem impossible, but I'm armed with experience and hopeful that I can be successful again. I hope I can start with small mini-goals and give myself the time and freedom to truly see what works for us. I know every situation must be different.

For now, I'm trying not to feel nuts for wistfully ending something that has had its ups and downs. How can I miss what was once so hard for me? Maybe that's the magic of motherhood - it's hard to explain, but even the tough stuff can be sweet.

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