November 29, 2010

Our Mac at Thirteen Months


Our Mac is now 13 months old, the picture of toddlerhood. Every last thing about him - his personality, his height, his tummy, his vocabulary, his monkey feet - grows bigger by the minute. He's no longer our baby; Mac is very much the busy little boy.

He spends his days climbing stairs, clapping balls together, reading books, pointing and gesturing, learning new words, opening doors and cabinets, getting into everything. When he's not asleep (and even when he is!), the child is in constant motion.


Mac is also earning his "monkey" nickname by imitating even the tiniest things we do. He hums, whistles, claps, points, pats, smiles, grimaces and pretty much "apes" whatever he sees.

His social personality is getting bigger, too - he blows kisses and waves and says "hey!" to almost anyone he lays eyes on. (Not his mama, though. Hmph.)


Mac still just has the two bottom teeth, but that doesn't stop him from chowing down at all three meals. What a healthy appetite he has! As a result, he's jumped up the growth chart this month and is, as B would lovingly say, "chunking it up big time." Just more for us to squeeze!


He still narrates our daily life, mostly with excited words that sound like a combination of Gaelic and Mandarin. (Genius!) He has a handful of definable words, though, saying hey, Dad, Daddy, Blue, dog and cup most often. I love to hear him chatter!


While Mac pulls up confidently and walks with his toys or holding a hand, he won't go solo. I'd say this concerns me, but the truth is I know he's going to be sprinting through our house in an instant. Is it awful to say I hope he takes his time?

As fast as he crawls (and climbs stairs and gets into toilets and cleaning supplies and Tupperware drawers), I'm going to need a good pair of running shoes to catch up with this boy in the coming months.


He'll be 14 months old in a week, so please forgive the late update, but I consider this a virtual baby book and am essentially writing this update for me and (one day) for Mac.


So Macky, I'm blowing you a kiss and thanking you for another wonderful month as your mom. You just get cuter, baby boy, and we love you to pieces.

Menu Monday

After our delicious Thanksgiving getaway, the Smiths' menu for the week should focus solely on lettuce, water and oxygen. Alas, it's cold outside (South Carolina cold, that is) and I'm craving comfort food in a big way.

I'll get my comfort food fix this week, but only with healthy dose of gym time sprinkled in each day for good measure. All those mashed potatoes added up quickly!

This week's menu:

Monday: Butternut squash soup with cornbread

Tuesday: Pioneer Woman roasted chicken with asparagus

Wednesday: A "brinner" of eggs, grits and turkey bacon

Thursday: Leftover roasted chicken with squash soup

Friday: Roast and potatoes

Saturday: Spaghetti

Sunday: Crockpot beef vegetable soup (with Friday's leftovers)

I'm dying for a few new chicken recipes to try this winter. Any recommendations?

(Side note: I adored the Pioneer Woman's white chili; we tried it the week before Thanksgiving and it was fantastic. Can you tell I have a soup obsession this time of year?)

November 28, 2010

Swiften-who?

As if Taylor Swift wasn't famous enough, pictures of her stepping out with Jake Gyllenhaal of late should guarantee she becomes a household name.

A sure sign that this couple is on the road to tabloid cover status? The creation of their celebrity mash-up nickname: "Swiftenhaal."

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez started the couple naming craze with "Bennifer." Next Britney Spears married Kevin Federline and "Spederline" was born.

While each of those couples has long since parted ways, the two most famous celebrity couple mash-ups were created by the following time-tested formulas:

Brad + Angelina = Brangelina

Tom + Katie = TomKat

And now, with the confirmation of Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal's burgeoning relationship, the press is eager to come up with a similarly catchy nickname.

Sadly, I don't think the "Swiftenhaal" moniker is it. Simple is better, but neither "Take" nor "Jaylor" are as identifiable as their distinctive last names. Any other ideas?

While you're brainstorming, what I'd really like someone to figure out is what Jake's sister and brother-in-law, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Skarsgaard, should be called. Have you ever seen so many vowels in two last names? "Gyllengaard," perhaps?

A Card for the Ages

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is sending and receiving cards. In recent years, as photo cards have become more popular, I've loved this part of the holidays even more. Such a snapshot of our friends' and families' lives!

When I was little, my mom displayed each card we received on our mantel and in a beautiful tree display. It made me sad to take it down after Christmas was over! I loved looking over the pictures and notes that came inside.

As Bradley and I started our own family, I grew to love the updates and cards from our friends even more. It's hard for me to part with our cards each year; I usually save them for a while before I let them go. (That's a euphemism for "throw them away," but I can't even bring myself to say the words. Tossing pretty stationery is pure heartbreak!)

Last year was the first time in a while I haven't sent out a Christmas card. Our hands were a little full and I wasn't able to get my act together in time. Instead, I sent birth announcements just after the New Year and called it an even trade.

This year, Shutterfly is offering bloggers 50 free holiday cards and I'm excited to participate! Now that I know where we'll be getting our cards, the question is which design to pick. My favorites are below and our family photos should be to us tomorrow.

Here are my top contenders so far:





There are a lot more to choose from, so I'm hoping I can find just the right picture to make our Christmas card complete. I'm sure lots of y'all are ahead of me and have your cards stamped, addressed and waiting to mail come December 1st, right?

After last year's card-less debacle, I'm happy to just to be thinking about it before Christmas Eve!

November 24, 2010

Tis the Season to be Thankful

Sorry to be silent! The last week has been a whirlwind of trips to Columbia, Charleston, Connecticut and several places in between. I have a little work to catch up on today before we head into NYC for lunch with B's brother and his adorable wife.

Tomorrow we'll celebrate Mac's second Thanksgiving with the Smith side of our family and next week I promise to be back to catch up on everything! In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving! Hope you have a wonderful holiday - we have so much to be grateful for, now and always!

xoxo,
A.

November 16, 2010

It's Official!!


It's official! Prince William reads my blog. Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged.

Just days after I wrote urging Wills to put a ring on it, he took my advice did! And a gorgeous, meaningful ring at that: his late mother's sapphire and diamond engagement ring.

Side note: Engagement rings are all about symbolism. While I would normally find it off-putting to propose with a ring from a failed marriage, the fact that William's mother has passed away makes it incredibly sweet. Swoon! Not to mention it is such a memorable, beautiful (and sizable!) piece. Well played, William.

Apparently, royal brides also have their wedding bands made from the same nugget of Welsh gold as the late Queen Mother, the Queen, Princess Diana and other princess brides before them. It's all about tradition!


Can we talk about how beautiful Kate looks in her blue (play up that gem, girl!) dress and with those unbelievable locks? I need her stylist's number; it would be worth the trans-Atlantic flight.

Watch BBC footage of the engagement announcement here, but be warned that the flashbulbs and questions are enough to make even a distant onlooker anxious. I hope the royal family coached, counseled and prepared her thoroughly in the two-plus weeks since the proposal.

Evidently "Kate" is now to be known by her given name, Catherine. Perhaps it's more royal? I like Kate, but who am I to question the judgment of Buckingham Palace?


Whatever she goes by, William's future bride handled the press far better than I would at this stage; the couple's answers were rather sweet. I love that William wanted to make his mother a part of the celebration, even though he has spent half of his 28 years now without her. (So, so sad.)

The wedding will take place in spring or summer 2011. If they wait until July, or marry on Friday the 29th of that month, their big day will be thirty years after Charles and Diana's unrivaled ceremony.

So Prince William and Princess "Catherine" will be on hand in 2012 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee, her sixtieth anniversary on the throne. If they follow in Charles and Diana's footsteps, they'll also have a baby on the way.

Let's hope that is the only way their marriage mimics William's parents - this couple is too lovely ever to break up.

This news would have been devastating to me at sixteen, so cheer up, heartbroken potential princesses: Prince Harry is still available!

(Tacky thought: Can you imagine the budget of a royal wedding? Eeep!)

November 14, 2010

Sunday Do-Over

If today were third grade gym class kickball, I would ask for a do over.

The facts:
1. B had to work today, so he left the house at 6:30 am. Not entirely unusual for a weekend, but very rare for a Sunday.
2. Last weekend's cold has become a sinus infection and an upper respiratory infection. Four days of antibiotics mean I'm not contagious but still cough like the Marlboro Man.
3. I patted myself on the back for getting myself and Mac up, dressed, fed and ready for 9:15 service on time. Hair done, make up on, cute outfit and all. Until...
4. Precisely 2 minutes before we needed to be on our merry way, Mac had a mega-meltdown about wearing shoes, then dirtied his diaper. There went my schedule.
5. At 9:20, we arrived at church to find zero available parking spots, especially near the Children's Center. (Baptism Sundays are my favorites; lots of visitors come to celebrate their loved ones. Thus, lots of cars.) We circled, circled, circled, looked at the clock, panicked and parked by a curb.
6. I checked Mac in to find his class was full. The fabulous staff helped me find an open class, but by now I was very late.
7. When I finally got to service, wearing an invisible "I AM REALLY LATE TO CHURCH" sign that made me extra antsy, I couldn't find a seat. Not even in the adorable sit/chat sofa areas in the lobby. I felt so darn awkward that...
8. I headed back to the Children's Center and found a quiet spot (read: empty room for nursing moms) to watch the sermon on closed circuit TV. Two sweet moms eventually came in to nurse but wouldn't have me leave - so they let me coo at their newborns, rock baby-less in a glider and chat with them. Just what I needed.
9. After first service, I headed upstairs to teach our four-year-old Sunday School class solo, as B had done last week when I was sick. Our girls wanted to know where B was, why he wasn't coming, when he would be back, and if we would both be there next week. They understandably looked at me funny when I nearly coughed up a kidney upon arriving, before promising I was well.
10. In the midst of our big group singing and dancing, my sweater dress began riding up and got all kinds of static clingy. I had forgone tights given the warm weather; this left my hemline, shall we say, very questionable during our "shout for joy!" jumps. Not quite a role model for our sweet four-year-olds.
11. We got home, Mac ate his lunch then (hooray!) napped - right through small group. I didn't have the heart to wake him, so I partook of cough syrup and couch time, just what I needed.
12. It's 9:45 and I'm still flying solo, worn out from what was a relatively easy day (can I blame it on the sickies?), under the covers still wearing said sweater dress (and knee-high socks - hot stuff), watching the cutest documentary ever.
13. I just realized I've eaten six saltines (Sunday School snack) and half a PB&J all day. No wonder I'm cranky!
14. I also just realized I misnumbered this list in my first go-round. When you can't count to 13 without assistance, it's time to hit the hay!

While this was nothing near a legitimately bad day, I'm sure I was a sight to see today. I'd like to hug to anyone who dealt with my frazzled, fast-walking, Sudafed-head craziness today.

I'm especially thankful for the shadow who helped in our Sunday School class this morning; without her I might still be looking for the craft supplies that were in my hand as I searched furiously for them.

I rarely say this, but bring on Monday! I'm ready for a fresh start.

Sweet side note: At the start of second service, Mac's regular teachers had him switched back into their class. Evidently they couldn't bear the thought of a Sunday without our Macky. (That could just be my bias talking.) I love that the nursery volunteers give so much of themselves and get to know each baby individually.

And also, they covet the snuggles and kisses he gives each of them, our "don't snuggle me" mover and shaker of a boy. He's quite the ladies man at church, our McNugget. He blew each teacher farewell kisses right in front of me, then refused to give me a smooch all afternoon. The heartbreak!

November 10, 2010

Tag!

Callie tagged me to answer a few questions, so here we go:

1. Where and how did you and your husband meet?

We met at Clemson, though we don't exactly remember when or where specifically. We're not even certain of the year. That's terrible, isn't it? Doesn't make for a compelling story to tell the grandkids.

We were friends for three or four years before we started dating, so for as long as I could remember, Bradley was just around. He thinks I was wearing a white shirt the first time he saw me in the lobby of an engineering building. (I had a statistics class there and he was a civil engineering major, as was my boyfriend at the time.)

I wish I could remember the first time we spoke, but I can't! I do remember setting him up with someone else years later, but that's another story for another day.

Bottom line: The "how did y'all meet" conversation at cocktail parties is a little boring when we're around. The short answer is "at Clemson."

2. What piece(s) of advice would you give your 16 year old self?

1. If you had the good sense to break up, trust your instincts. No use in making the same mistake twice - or three or four times, for that matter.

2. You aren't fat. Seriously. You'll look back at photos and wish you could be "fat" like that again.
3. Plenty of people peak in high school. One day you'll be grateful to have bloomed a little later.
4. Go abroad for a semester. A summer in Paris will only make you wish you'd done the real deal.
5. In two years absolutely no one will care how many honors cords you graduated with, where you ranked in your class, or what you got on your SAT. Stop fretting over the difference between "with high honors" and "with highest honors." This advice applies doubly to college.
6.
Listen to your heart, but only if it's listening to the Lord.

3. What's your most embarrassing moment?
I'm a walking awkward moment, so it's hard to keep track. One especially memorable incident happened my first semester in grad school, when I was desperate to be the straight-A superstar, typing a furiously fast transcript of my professor's every word. (I've alluded to this before.)

Professor: If you really want to succeed in business, and particularly in journalism, you're going to need just two things. Your ears. (continues with lecture as I type)

Me: (puts hand up) Um, you said we needed two things to succeed. Somehow I missed the second one.

Professor: (smiles knowingly)

Class: (stares blankly at me as I realize he meant two ears)

4. What one thing can make you smile, no matter what?
Mac laughing. And B doing anything to make him laugh.

5. If you had $5000 to spend today, what would you buy/spend it on?
If I couldn't invest or save it (I hear you, Dave Ramsey!), I'd buy a DSLR camera, a pair of black boots and a ridiculously unnecessary piece of jewelry.

6. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
Keeping up with faraway friends and making fabulous new ones! I couldn't get by without a lot of the sweet girls I've met through the blogosphere.

November 4, 2010

Things That Make Me Old

1. I started a chore schedule for myself this week.
2. I totally love said chore chart. (My thirteen-year-old self says, "Whaaaa?") It gives my week a rhythm and saves me from a five-hour cleaning binge on weekends.
3. I was excited about the P&G Brand Saver in Sunday's paper.
4. So excited I barely even skimmed the wedding pages.
5. I just realized that people born in 1992 are now old enough to vote. 1992, people.
6. I am fretting about the effects of Daylight Savings Time on the McNugget's bedtime. (Because if he's up late, my old lady bedtime seems even earlier!)
7. I wear a cami under everything.
8. When it's under 70 degrees, I wear a cardigan over everything.
9. I buy the same pair of shoes in two to three colors and rotate.
10. I have a to do list on my refrigerator with daily meals, to do items and appointments listed.
11. I have my insurance company's phone number saved in my phone. And each of our doctors' numbers as well.
12. I keep receipts in my wallet for weeks and yesterday I found a tissue in my pocket. A tissue! Like the ones your mom kept in her pocket when you were six and had a runny nose. Ack!
13. I love coupons but am too scatterbrained to keep the ones I need with me. My solution? I keep BB&B coupons in my glove compartment so I'm always prepared.
14. I never run out of hand sanitizer.
15. I'm too tired to finish this list. (But trust me, this game could go on for hours...)

November 2, 2010

A New Spin on "Following Doctor's Orders"

Everyone has a theory for how to get an all too comfy baby to make his or her debut. Spicy foods, driving over railroad tracks, eggplant parmesan, pedicures (or was that just me?).

We followed our doctor's orders to a "t" with Mac and were happy to meet him at 38 weeks along. Had he been 9 and a half pounds and waited 3 weeks longer to arrive, however, I would have been pulling my hair out to go into labor.

(Seems counter-intuitive, I know, since labor is no walk in the park. But it's preferable to being mega-pregnant for the rest of your life; we must be designed to be so uncomfortable at the end that delivery is preferable to pregnancy. Genius!)

Please watch this video immediately. Here's a woman who is 41 weeks pregnant and has been told by her midwife to "walk it out." I'd have told Bradley to put on his strolling shoes, but this girl had other ideas.



A few things we need to discuss:

1. I have more leg chub than she does and I'm NOT 41 weeks pregnant. Or pregnant at all, for that matter.
2. Maternity jorts? Really, they make those? And Daisy Dukes at that? Is there really a high demand for those amongst pregnant ladies?
3. "Walking it out" is probably a lot more fun when your ankles aren't swollen.
4. I can't decide if I'm horrified, wildly amused, scared for her health or jealous of her moves.
5. Regardless, I can't peel my eyes away and I can't stop laughing!
6. This brings "taking doctor's orders seriously" to a new level.
7. How did her husband keep a straight face and a steady hand?
8. How did she not pee her pants or trip over herself? (Hello, altered center of gravity! I couldn't see my toes, much less bounce up and down on them!)
9. And finally: get it, mama!!

Tell me I'm not the only one simultaneously confused and cracking up about this?

Postscript: My friend Winsy believes this woman is a dancer who is "walking through" a previously choreographed routine. Rewatching it, I agree.

Makes me feel a bit better about her "spontaneous" moves. Wow. Imagine watching your mom dancing like that when she was pregnant with you! Thank goodness you can't get shaken baby syndrome in the womb.

November 1, 2010

I Couldn't Make This Up If I Tried

Let me preface this with a few facts:
1. Six months ago, Mac's first word was "Dada."
2. At seven months, he was saying "Dada" discriminately, using it to indicate Bradley.
3. In the last six months, Mac has expanded his father-related vocabulary to include Dad, Daddy, Dada and Da. It's all daddy all the time around here.
4. In his six months of talking, Mac has never spoken my name. Nor made the "ma" sound for milk, Mac, monkey, anything. That would be too close to "Mama" for his liking.
5. Every so often, we try to see if we can get a "ma" sound out of Mac. We say, "Can you say Mama?" Mac says, "Dada!" Then he laughs. True story.

Late last week Mac was his normal, force-to-be-reckoned-with self. He's a bundle of smiles every morning, and nothing makes him smile more broadly than getting his sweet baby hands on something he shouldn't have. After I hid the remotes and moved the DVD player cord out of his (insanely long, Go Go Gadget Arms-style) reach, he was quiet for a full moment. I peeked over to see him sitting on the floor, beaming at my cell phone, squealing and pressing buttons randomly.

Who, me?

No problem, I thought. I keep my cell phone locked and he's probably had it for ten seconds, max. I swap the cell phone for Mac's favorite Millie Moo book (he's not fooled), hide the phone and move right along.

Not sixty seconds later my cell phone rang. It was the fire department, checking to see if we had an emergency. Mac had somehow unlocked my phone, put it in emergency mode (what is this??), dialed 0, squealed and hung up. As is their policy, the first responding department returned our call to ensure that no one needed help.

Talk about embarrassment - I nearly died. I couldn't find a record of the call in my phone (emergency mode, maybe?) but knew he hadn't dialed 911. I didn't hear a thing and was six feet away the whole 10 seconds he had it. I must have apologized to the fire department half a dozen times in our brief conversation. My child had all but sent a bat signal for the cops! Surely DSS couldn't be far behind?

When I hung up, I gave Mac my serious mom face and said, "McNeal Smith, I cannot believe what you just did!" He looked up, all blue eyes and chubby cheeks, and said as clear as day, "Mama!"

Mama. He saved that magic sound as his "get out of jail free" card. Who knows how long he's been practicing in his crib just waiting for the right moment to bust out that heart-melting word.

I don't know if he's sly or sweet or a combination of the two, but I can tell you he chose just the right moment to say my name.

If only he'd keep saying it... I wonder if he's waiting for another mishap? Mac's lucky he's so cute!

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