Last summer, I was at the gym and encountered a woman focused and working hard with her personal trainer. You could see the twinkle in her eye. She was sweating and definitely challenged, but she also had that thrill you get when you realize how strong and capable your body really is. Although I was a stranger, we must have had a moment of camaraderie there in the weight room because at one point she looked up at me and said, “I’ve never been so happy to have been called fat in my entire life.”
It turns out, she fancied a man who did not share her affection. He explained in simple, albeit blunt, terms why.
But she took that moment and used it as motivation. Even though months have passed and our gym is now a whole 17 minutes further away, I still see her occassionally. Still focused, still working hard.
I’m currently pushing 27 weeks with my second pregnancy. The other day I was indulging in a shower (motherhood has definitely increased my appreciation of a good, long shower). As I bathed, I found myself singing a number of 60s tunes that reminded me of my deceased father.
And then I remembered how around this time last pregnancy, there would be mornings where I would go downstairs and he would be in the kitchen cooking sausage or bacon or other red meat temptations. He would look at me and greet me with, “You’re getting faaaat!” I think at the time, I laughed politely, but it’s not exactly what a pregnant girl wants to hear.
But this week, nine months after his death, when I got out of the shower, I noticed my increasing girth in the mirror (it’s kinda hard to miss these days ). I thought of my father getting that infectious smile of his and those mischievous wrinkles around his eyes. I thought about him calling me fat and this time, I could clearly see his underlying excitement of what that actually meant– a new grandson.
And I smiled.
Like that woman at the gym, I too found surprise happiness in being called fat.
A friend of mine told me a story about her 15-year old son. One day she gave him a choice–
- He could take out the trash
- or -
- He could give his mother a hug.
“He chose to take out the trash!” my friend laughed.
I knew it was coming, but I thought with a 20 month old son, I had a good decade or so before I would encounter such a snub. Nope! Last month for my 38th Birthday Hike, our little family drove up to Catocin Mountain Park. We parked at the Visitors Center and hiked 1.4 miles to Cunningham Falls, which at 78-feet is the largest cascading falls in Maryland.
Sagan was patiently indifferent to the first 1.2 miles. He did some walking, but for the most part hitched a ride.
When we reached the final approach to the falls, however, Sagan found his passion. That last 0.2 miles was a boardwalk and he LOVED running back and forth on it.
He loved it so much, in fact, that when I tried to get him to stop for a second to pose for a picture with the falls, he would have none of it! He squirmed, he balked, and then…
He ran away. : )
To be honest, it was rather worth it to see him have so much fun. After some more exploring the boardwalk, we hiked back to the visitors center and indulged in some yummy yummy Cracker Barrell on the way home. All in all, a most excellent day!
|Cunningham Falls via the Falls Nature Trail
14707 Park Central Road
Length: 2.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 40 Feet
Two years in a row, my sister has sent me a link to an Instructables article on how to make homemade Cadbury Cream Eggs.
It’s interesting what a difference a year makes. Last year with an eight month old, I took one look at the images of the egg-shaped chocolate molds and thought, “No way.”
This year, maybe it’s because I’m getting more sleep now… or maybe I have finally learned the necessity of keeping extracurricular endeavors like this simple. Either way, I looked over that article and I thought, “Hey, I can half-ass this! I’ll just dip the eggs in chocolate like we do Oreos or truffles.” (which the Instructables article actually covers on Step 5 – Alternative Method)
So this morning before work, Sagan supervised and did an extensive inspection of the food coloring while I mixed up the filling. We had to improvise some of the ingredients. The biggest thing was we ran out of confectioner’s sugar, so we substituted the last cup of sugar with 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (which considering how sweet our filling turned out to be, I don’t think it really needed that extra cup sugar after all). Also I always double vanilla. I like vanilla. : )
|Original Recipe||Vicky/Sagan Version|
|1/2 cup light corn syrup||1/2 cup light corn syrup|
|1/4 cup butter, room temperature||1/4 cup butter, softened in microwave|
|3 cups confectioner’s powdered sugar (icing sugar)||
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
|1 teaspoon vanilla||2 teaspoons vanilla|
|1/4 teaspoon salt||Whoops forgot this part|
|yellow food coloring||We used neon green and purple food coloring. : )|
|1 (12 ounce) bag milk chocolate chips||Whatever scraps of melting chocolate and chocolate chips my Mom and I were able to scrounge out of the pantry. : )|
The filling got a nice long session with the refrigerator during our work day. After work, as dinner cooked, rolled up our filling into the requisite little balls which got to go back into the fridge while we ate.
Then after supper, we took a bowl, melted up some dipping chocolate and chocolate chips in the microwave, dipped those suckers in, plopped them on wax paper, and threw them back into the fridge.
Roughly ten minutes later, we were enjoying our homemade Cadbury Crème Eggs. Really all and all, it was little effort and the pay off was delicious. My husband used the word “magic” and joked that he expected “Cadbury to bust down the door and arrest us for patent infringement”.
And no one seemed to mind that they weren’t perfectly shaped eggs from chocolate molds… particularly not Sagan. : )
Today was a lovely spring day and with more winter-like temperatures in the forecast for Monday, I decided to take my 20-month old son out for a quick hike this afternoon. I aimed to take him to Leesylvania State Park, but while we were on Neabsco Road, I spied a tell-tale trailhead sign, so I turned around to investigate. It looked like a humble little park, the Julie J. Metz Wetland Bank, but boy, it was just a wonderful hidden gem.
This trail system was absolutely perfect for a toddler! The trails were flat and at the same time, they had numerous bridges and wooden walkways to intrigue your child (and keep you elevated out of the wetlands). We had some rain earlier in the day, so we had a bonus perk– muddy puddles! My son loved splashing in them, stomping in them, and then he leaned down and put his hands in. At that point, he didn’t love muddle puddles so much (he despises dirty hands).
Honestly, I wasn’t paying that much attention to the trees. I did spy some flowering catkins and the tiniest of baby leaves making their first spring appearance. There was plenty of evidence of Sweet Gum, from the ample collection of spikey balls on the ground to the distinctive “alligator-wood” of the branches. I also noted American Sycamore. I don’t recall seeing any Red Maples.
Pawpaw Alert! I did see a sign that indicated there are pawpaws in the park. Translation: This might be a good park to visit in September. : )
Like Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax, Virginia this little park gives you a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to wildlife. So many birds were singing and so loudly that it almost seemed as if we had a radio on. As you can expect, waterfowl were plentiful. As dusk neared, we had a wonderful serenade of spring peepers. It was reminiscent of the Spring Peeper Serenade from my 35th Birthday, though not quite as loud. During our hike we also saw lots of souvenirs left behind by beavers (in the form of gnawed tree stumps) and deer (in the form of many, many, many footprints in the mud).
Julie J. Metz Wetland Bank was an accidental find, but I highly recommend it, particular to families with small children. I don’t think we could have had a more enjoyable afternoon.
|Julie J. Metz Wetland Bank
Elevation Gain: FLAT!
Directions from Occoquan, Virginia
Take Route 1 South
Turn left on Neabsco Road
Trailhead will be on your left in a couple of miles
My son is currently nearing 18 months, so this is a bit of a “flashback post”.
I wanted to talk about Sagan’s 1st Birthday Party. We had a small family dinner at Occoquan’s Bistro L’Hermitage. In my family we call it “The Fancy French Restaurant”. I’m certain there are other families who refer to the restaurant in the exact same manner. It *IS* a fancy French restaurant with expensive décor and exotic, well-cooked entrees. The menu sports appetizers such as “Seared Duck Foie Gras”, “Fricassée d’Escargots”, and “Friture D’Huîtres”. I believe in order that’s duck livers, snails and oysters.
This place just screams 1 Year Old, right?
Well a little bit of a back story. My father and Sagan share a birthday and “The Fancy French Restaurant” was my father’s favorite restaurant for special events. I decided on the actual birthday, we would go take Dad out to a special dinner. We could hike with Sagan the following Saturday.
There are a lot of things I know now, but didn’t know at the time. The first is this– I had no idea that my Dad only have 15 more days with us. No idea. There were many times in the previous months where I thought, “This is it. My Dad is dying.” But not then. Everything seemed stabilized, everything seemed to be looking up.
What I did know was my Dad had an extremely rough year– full of pain and nausea and more pain. I knew my father deserved a great night.
The evening was shaky from the get-go. My father had dialysis that morning, so I knew he was feeling fatigued. But I didn’t know the extent of the pain he was in that day. He had lost a substantial amount of weight in the previous months, so to add to the pain, he found the air conditioning uncomfortably cold as well.
My brother was 20 minutes late. So we all waited, admiring the fresh white linens and the candlelight. This meant we had this poor man — tired, cold, and in pain — waiting.
Then my 1 year old son gagged on a piece of hard crust and vomited…inside “The Fancy French Restaurant”.
And shortly afterwards my father, remember in great pain, started snapping at people in his typical loud voice that tends to carry and echo in small restaurants with decorative stone walls. He was even short with people he normally would not have been– like the innocent wait staff.
I was mortified. I texted my tardy brother. “Get here now. This is a DISASTER!”
My brother showed up, we ate. Although my father did get to devour the duck liver he had been coveting, as soon as he was done he retreated to the car to sleep and get warm. The restaurant brought out two free desserts for the two birthday boys. Only by that time, my poor Dad was long gone. Where my father was concerned, the evening was far from the home run I was hoping for.
And then there was Sagan. This supper that wasn’t intended for him turned out to be a blast for the little guy (besides the whole gagging on bread thing)! He adventurously enjoyed sampling all the various entrees which were mostly seafood. He had a fabulous time giggling at the funny chef statue outside. And then he got not one but two free birthday desserts to sample. He loved, loved, loved both the free crème brulee and the free chocolate mousse. Oh, did I mention he loved the chocolate mousse?
So on the Sagan-side of the things, the evening was a resounding success!
Still, after my little birthday boy fell asleep, I was sad about the older one. I went outside on the balcony, breathed in the summer night air, and failed miserably to purge that huge lump I had in my throat. I was so disappointed. I had so very much wanted to give my father a special evening.
There is one final thing I didn’t know about that night.
As I stood on the balcony, one floor below my father was speaking to his favorite brother on the phone. This brother was my father’s best friend and most trusted confidant. He knew everything and anything about my Dad– including embarrassing anecdotes about his children’s teenage years!!! (as was aptly demonstrated during the eulogy)
That night, my father didn’t tell my uncle about the pain or discomfort. It wasn’t notable. Instead, he talked about his happiness and his gratitude. How he got to be with his wife and all three of his children and how he was able to share in his grandson’s very first birthday.
As I fought off tears upstairs on the balcony, I was oblivious.
My father, surrounded by family, had a most special evening after all.
We do a little bit of sign language with little Sagan. He only knows a
few signs, but even with a limited vocabulary, we found it to be a helpful experience.
Two quick examples:
Sagan uses the sign “More” mostly as “Want”. It doesn’t necessarily mean he covets more of something… it means he wants something…and it can be something entirely new. Luckily, since he mastered pointing as well, he usually signed “More” and then pointed to what he wanted.
“More” (Source: BabySignLanguage.com)
Now he says “Mo” verbally as well. Nonetheless, we still have moments where it takes a little deduction to figure out exactly what he wants.
Sagan:(increasingly frustrated) MO! MO! MO!
[It turned out he wanted to play with a fork... In case you don't know what a fork is-- It is a type of silverware with four sharp prongs that would each be absolutely fabulous for piercing the eyeballs of curious babies.]
We’re working on introducing more signs to alleviate this type of confusion…though considering his recent obsession, I think we are going to abstain from teaching him “fork”. : )
Our biggest success story with the word “More” came in early November. Little Sagan contracted a stomach flu and spend an evening vomiting (mostly on or over Mommy’s shoulder). The next day, he had a lot of clear liquids and as the day progressed we decided to introduce solids back. We decided to go with some noodles from chicken noodle soup.
We gave him a few spoonfuls and all of a sudden Sagan started coughing.
Ryan and I froze. Was this just a “cough” cough? Was this a “something went down the wrong pipe” cough? OR…. was this the dreaded “WATCH OUT– HE’S GONNA BLOW!” cough?
Well as soon as Sagan finished coughing, he couldn’t understand why we were just standing there.
“More!” He signed, “More!”
And just like that, his cough was no longer ambiguous. We knew our little guy was on the mend. Just from a single sign.
“Help” is really new to Sagan’s vocabulary. He literally picked it up a week ago, but I have seen enough of a positive effect to warrant documenting.
“Help” (Source: BabySignLanguage.com)
When I was first dating my husband, my mother-in-law had some preciously embarrassing stories about how baby Ryan would try to do something beyond his means (like picking up his daddy’s heavy barbells). My mother-in-law reported that little Ryan would scream and scream and scream at the exertion and frustration of the task, but wouldn’t give up.
I don’t have the data to determine if that reaction is common among all babies, but I do know little Sagan deals with challenging tasks in a similar manner. Toy out of reach? Grunt / Scream / Cry. This shape doesn’t fit into the hole you think it should? Grunt / Scream / Cry. The truck you are trying to roll is stuck on the area rug? Grunt / Scream / Cry.
Then last week he learned “Help”. Adding one little word to his vocabulary has given Sagan a whole other option to dealing with tough tasks. Instead of getting frustrated to point of screaming and crying, he simply looks over at the nearest adult.
He gestures his hands in his unique rendition of “Help” and sometimes even says, “Hel..pa pa pa”
It’s sweet. But don’t worry– Ryan and I don’t get off that easily! Little Sagan still has plenty of “legitimate” causes to get upset.
All we have to do is confiscate or deprive him of a fork. : )
P.S. If you are interesting in accounts from other parents, Ryan and I found the post “Baby Sign Language as a Window into Comprehension (or lack thereof)” from Kitty’s Heart of Nature to be particularly inspirational.
P.S.S. If you have a sign or word that was particularly helpful with your children, definitely share! We’re still new parents and are always eager to increase our own knowledge!
One night years ago, Ryan and I watched 2007′s Paranormal Activity. At the time, we were living in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. We owned two dogs and three cats, we had a steady influx of neighborhood kids coming in and out of our house, and I was the proprietor of one very unorganized desk.
When I watched Paranormal Activity, I got a huge kick of how easy that demon had it at first. It could instill fear and anxiety simply by moving a set of car keys from the counter to the floor. A demon certainly wouldn’t have been able to get away with such subtly in our house! If I had walked into the kitchen and found my keys on the floor, I had a myriad of culprits to blame before I would ever fret about ire from the underworld.
So flash forward a few years now. Ryan and I now live in a new town. We are (very sadly) no longer frequented by the neighborhood kids (we really miss them). But, we live with my mother and a tenant and are visited regularly by family members and friends. My brother, in particular, lives right across the street and comes over daily. We still have a lot of pets and also there might be a chance that I am possibly, perhaps, still dreadfully unorganized.
This morning Ryan and I loaded Sagan up in the car and we discovered our belongings scattered over the front seats. Our car had gotten broken into the night before. BUT— the thieves didn’t take anything! It’s a serious thing, of course, but Ryan and I couldn’t resist taking some amusement in this.
Now, that said– having the contents of the glove compartments vomited out on to the front seats is a pretty unambiguous sign that something is out of the ordinary. That is exactly the kind of chaos a demon would need to aspire to, right?
As Ryan and I commuted to daycare, my mother called to coordinate chores. She rattled off her plans to get papers notarized and how she was going to stop by Sam’s Club. And then when there was a lull in the conversation that needed to be filled, my mother adopted an annoyed tone (the one usually reserved for critiques about how the dishwasher was loaded) and threw out this little tidbit:
“[Your brother] rummaged through my car last night. He must have been looking for a paper.”
It sounded like a possibility but once she heard our story, she realized her car had been broken into as well.
It only took five hours.
So the take home of this story: If a car break-in could almost go by unnoticed, a demon sure would have to work its supernatural ass off to fluster my family.
Who knows, maybe one has already tried but after a few weeks of our collective obliviousness, it threw up its hands in frustration (or whatever other type of appendage a demon may have) and moved on to a family that could provide an easier return on investment.