Monday, May 26, 2014

Big Girl Bed

Claire enjoyed a fun milestone this weekend when we converted her crib to a toddler bed. Kate never experienced that, because by the time she was at the point of refusing to sleep in her crib we were already pregnant with Claire and preparing to move into our new house. So, we just put the crib mattress on the floor for a month or two until we moved and Kate got a twin bed (which she has slept in maybe 30 times since we moved in three years ago—she prefers the floor).

Unlike Kate, who learned to climb out of the crib at 19 months (the video I took of it is reminiscent of a soldier in basic training), Claire never even tried to climb out; she just told me one night at about 28 months that she wanted to sleep on the floor. So, we laid a blanket out next to her crib, with a little pillow and blanket for cover, and she started sleeping there. After a week or so, the girls realized what Claire's nighttime freedom meant: they could stay up late together! So, Kate has been indoctrinating Claire in her night owl habits of coloring pictures, taping them to the bedroom door, changing clothes, and ultimately falling asleep whenever, wherever. Sometimes together, sometimes apart.

Here's how we found them one night:
 That would be the floor of Kate's closet, on a pile of dirty clothes.
Not wanting to encourage Claire in imitating Kate's random sleep habits, and since it's probably a year or so until we'll be needing the crib again (that's all I'll say here about that!) it seemed fitting to convert the crib. We would have done it earlier, but the so-called 4-in-1 convertible crib actually requires an additional $100 piece to convert (the front legs are attached to the front rail, so you have to buy the toddler rail conversion kit to make it work--what a racket.) So, we bit the bullet, bought the thing, and now Claire has a bed she can get in and out of!

 At bedtime, she demonstrated the use of her bed's "door" over and over...
"I can get in . . . I can get out . . . I can get in . . . I can jump!"

And look, there's even room for a friend!

She's slept in it happily for the last three nights! The novelty may wear off, but so far I'd say she likes it!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Kitchen Table #TBTStories

Throwback Thursday Stories, hosted by The Mom Creative.
Today: 1984. I was turning three.

I recently bought a new kitchen table and chairs. We just got all new kitchen cabinets and countertops too, so I definitely wasn't wanting to spend money on new furniture at the same time, but our old table and chairs were kaput. More accurately, just the chairs, which were falling apart underneath us.

You see, that dining set was my parents' first, purchased when they got married in 1973. It was in my house growing up until I was thirteen, when we moved to a new house and my mom upgraded to a new set. This one sat in the basement for a decade (a well-earned sabbatical after 21 years of service), until I had my first little apartment in grad school. It became mine and has graced Matt's and my kitchens in Nashville, Clarksville, and now back to Nashville.

The table itself and the two chairs in less-bad condition now reside in the playroom, where they will host many hours of puzzles, games, and homework in the years to come. I'm glad not to be tossing the thing entirely, because it has such sentimental value. Forty-one years of family dinners just me and my parents, afternoons of homework throwing my math book across it, and birthday celebrations like the one in the photo above, when I turned three, surrounded by my parents, all four grandparents (such a blessing to have them all live close by), and a great-aunt and -uncle who never had children of their own. This was the crowd that gathered every year on my birthday, and it was always so special.

I chose this photo because you can actually see the style of the chair around my little toddler body. I spotted a similar style when watching the movie American Hustle last night. Such a seventies style, and I won't forget it. We're upgrading and getting with the times now, but the memories made around such a simple thing as the kitchen table will continue to grow with my own kids.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Itchy #TBTStories

This week's Throwback Thursday Story:
Approximately 1987. I was probably six or about to turn six.

This was the kids' musical program at the end of Bible Study Fellowship or Mother's Day Out—something like that, at a Baptist church, I believe. Not our home church. I'm the one in the dress with the red smocking and bow.

Three reasons this picture speaks to me:

1. I'm holding my name tag, rather than wearing it. I've never liked tags, stickers, cause-support ribbons, other things in excess of my clothes being put on me (including bows that were part of my clothes, which is why I disliked this dress, I recall). So I declined to have my little piece of paper (shaped like a sheep, I believe, though I can't quite tell from the picture) pinned to me. That's so me.

2. I'm itching my bottom. I don't believe this dress is particularly scratchy. It's hanging in Kate's closet now, along with several other childhood dresses my mom saved, and I can verify it has no crinoline or other stiff lining. So I don't know what the problem was, but something bugged me. Something other than the name tag I was holding instead of wearing. Maybe it was the bow at my neck, psychosomatically itching my bottom.

3. There are three Jessicas in this picture. Such children of the '80s. The girl at the far left and the girl in the shorts and sneakers two kids to my right also have "Jessica" name tags. Amazingly, I don't see any Jennifers. There were four Jennifers in my fourth grade class. Sarah, Beth, and Brittany (the other girls' names I can make out in the picture) were pretty popular 1980s names as well.

I've always prided myself on having a great memory, and I honestly feel like I can remember this day, wearing the red dress that I liked less than my similarly-styled blue dress (also hanging in Kate's closet), and declining to have the paper pinned to me. Or perhaps it just feels that way because this photo captures such a "me" moment. Love it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Derby Weekend

Growing up in Louisville, the Derby is a major holiday for me. I've had parties some years since moving away, but friends in South Carolina and Tennessee never quite fully grasp the true splendor of the first Saturday in May.

I only went to the Derby once during my growing up years—when I was fifteen, with a friend whose family friend owned or trained a horse running in some race that day (did you know there are twelve other races run on Derby Day, besides the Derby itself?) and so we got to sit in the bleachers on the "back side," across the track from the iconic twin spires, over near the barns. Nonetheless, I've always celebrated Derby. The Kentucky Derby Festival runs two weeks prior to Derby Day, people are off work and school the day before (Oaks Day), and the television coverage runs morning to night on Derby Day. It's a big deal, even if you don't go.

All that said, I was THRILLED to actually go to Derby this year! My parents, aunt and uncle, cousin, and Matt and I had a box in the clubhouse area, donned our hats and had a great day.

One cool thing about working for a Louisville-based company now is that we get Oaks Day off, just like I did growing up in school! And, I took an extra day off to pack and prepare—actually, I spent that day in doctor appointments and therapy with BGC, then surprised the big girls by breaking them out of school early and going to the zoo! An impromptu family fun date was a great way to kick off the "holiday" weekend.

Friday, we headed up to Louisville, and Matt and I took advantage of the grandparent babysitting to go on an all-too-rare date night. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant on the hipster strip, Bardstown Road, then walked off the heavy pasta with a three mile stroll down to the church where we got married, and back! (was wearing the same 3-in. heel wedges I would wear to Derby the next day--good for walking!)

We ended the date with what might seem like an odd excursion (to Kroger!) but I can't believe I'd never made it part of my Derby celebration growing up! The Kroger floral department makes the blanket of roses that is laid on the winning horse, and you can go watch it being made the night before and all through the night!

Race day cometh, and we took the big girls to spend the day with a dear childhood friend and her two kiddos. (BGC stayed with another foster family, back in Nashville.) They wore their own hats for the occasion!

We got to enjoy a nice brunch at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium before walking over to Churchill Downs. (My cousin, aunt, uncle, and mom pictured below.)

We arrived at the Downs just before the fifth race. (The Derby is the eleventh race of the day.) I rushed to place a bet on "Jessica's Star" before even finding our seats, and won a quick ten bucks—almost the price of a mint julep, which ran $11, in the non-optional commemorative glass.

As it turned out, Matt and I were the only members of our party to come out on top in the gambling department. At the end of the day, my family members were quite in the hole, but we'd won $84 on $66 of betting, for $18 net. One-and-a-half juleps, in other words.

Actually, our profit was a total accident. Matt wanted to beat the rush by placing his Derby bet earlier in the day. "Can I bet now for race eleven?" Matt asked the betting window guy just before race seven. "Yes," the guy told him. So Matt shelled out $21 in support of horse #1, Vicar's In Trouble (perfect name for an irreverent pastor, eh?)—or so he thought. Turned out, the guy registered his bet as for race seven, so Matt unwittingly had almost two juleps' worth riding on horse #1 in that race, 20-1 filly Street Girl. Wouldn't you know, Street Girl won and we won $64!

It was a great day to be with family, dress swanky, drink all day long, and participate in a great Kentucky tradition.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Falling Down #TBTStories

Throwback Thursday Stories is a new link-up series being hosted on The Mom Creative.  
This week: Summer 1986. I was five. 
I've got a running theme so far with these Throwback Thursday Stories, as two weeks ago I shared the story of a socially awkward rollerskating party I attended in middle school, and this week I have another rollerskating-related story.

Not quite two weeks ago—two days after sharing that awkward party story, in fact—I took Kate rollerskating. It was her second time skating (fifth or sixth, if you count ice skating), and she still struggled a bit to stay upright. She kept getting frustrated, going so slowly, shuffling along with her little PVC-pipe walker thing the beginners can use, and wanted to sit down for a break after practically every lap.

I could see how discouraged she was getting, despite the fact that there were plenty of big kids, even teens and adults, struggling to keep their balance and falling down. She didn't want to try anymore, because she wasn't succeeding right away.

As she sat on a carpeted bench (not much has changed in roller rinks in 21 years), staring down at her skates, I sat on the floor in front of her and told her a story. It was the story of this picture, in fact.

I got my first pair of roller skates for my fifth birthday. They were the adjustable kind that strapped on right over your shoes. These were metal, though Fisher Price started making those blue plastic ones with the orange wheels around the same time, I believe. I tried them out on the smooth garage floor and my dad took pictures. Somewhere in that first try, I lost my balance. I probably fell down. A few times. I don't know. All I know is Dad caught that blurry photo of me struggling to regain my balance.

I told Kate about that day when I first tried rollerskating, but more importantly, I told her about the day weeks later, when Mom got the photos developed and I saw that picture of me falling down, my blurry hand flailing for balance. I hated that photo so much that I crumpled it up and threw it in the trash can. Then, minutes or hours later, I felt so guilty for having thrown it away that I went and fished it out of the trash, smoothed it out as best I could, and put it back with the other photos from the roll. If you look closely, though the photo has been adhered under a page protector and smashed in a heavy album for 28 years, you can see the creases from that temporary crumpling.

The moral of the story, as I told it to Kate, was that we shouldn't be ashamed of losing our balance and falling down, especially when we're just starting to learn a new skill.

As I flipped through my parents' photo albums last week to find this photo, Mom said it looked like I was just dancing, or waving, not falling. Perhaps that is the case, and my hatred of the photo was based just on its blurriness and the unflattering position the camera caught me in. Shame over falling made it a better story for that moment encouraging Kate to get back on her wheels and try again. But shame over how one looks in a photo—or worse, a mirror—will make that story come in handy again, I'm sure, ten years or so down the road.


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