Friday, November 1, 2013

7 QTs: It's been a while...

What we've been up to since my last post.

1. Life without a smart device requires more planning, less pictures, and me being less lazy. 

This post will have no cute photos of Caleb in his Halloween costume (my guess is that means most of you will stop reading right now). Why? Because I have to go search the house for our camera, then search the house for the USB cord, then plug it into the computer and then wait for it to upload and then get it on here. I'm way too lazy for that. Remember those times back in the olden days? Instead I'll just try to make my prose extra interesting - and split it up into numbers so it qualifies for that "Quick Take" theme and seems like you're not just reading one. big. stinky. paragraph.

2. On the upside, 

In the half second window where I was doing something like pulling my hair up after coming home from work, Caleb found my phone and threw it 95 percent into the toilet. The phone broke into 3 pieces and was still turned on. I was impressed. Also, he's getting really into putting things into the toilet and even reaching to play in the toilet water.
(I've seen toilet-childproofing devices online that you could buy to prevent situations like these, but I refuse to childproof my toilet.)
Anyway, based on toilet-fascination - if I believed in past lives, I'd say he was a dog.

3. Things that Caleb has been doing since last blog (this one's for the fam we haven't seen in a while!)

- Says "banana" and "more." (His first food is also his first word!)
- Eats anything that isn't a green vegetable (lasagna, butternut squash lasagna, goat cheese, name it) and will only feed himself with his own fingers (no spoons, no more mommy bird-feeding)
-  Imitate several letter sounds like... m p b t r c/k g n v !
-  Blow goodbye kisses, clap hands, pat on head/so big, wave hello/goodbye.
- Walk really well, with shoes, outside, without falling (for a while)
- Drink milk all the time!
- Get dropped off at daycare without crying! (yay!) Makes this easier for mom and dad!

4. All that reading to a 1-2-3 month old baby paid off, maybe?

Caleb suddenly LOVES reading books. He came up to me with a book this evening with a look that said "Mom, please read this to me" and even though we had read "Fifteen Animals" four times already today, something in me felt like I had really succeeded as that mom whose kid likes to read - at least for now (I'm using this space to brag, yes!) But reading has also been our way to spend time together, so maybe that's what he likes. I know, dad spins him in circles and plays chase and I read books to him (lame, right?!) Glad he doesn't think so!

5. Living in suburbia in a big house with dogs while working/living is actually way harder than it looks.
We are currently house sitting for James' parents about 30-40 min North of Baltimore City. It's beautiful here, especially with all the trees changing colors, and Caleb has plenty of space to run and play with dog, Winston. In a way, I love it and it fit in with the dreams of the picket fence/ house/family/dog (there's even sheep here to add to that) But daily life takes a different turn here: we sat in traffic getting to work/daycare this AM, the dogs woke us up at 2am begging to go outside, and the house is so large that I cannot let Caleb play/roam around the house while I do something like make dinner. There's too many places to roam; I would lose him and run through non-childproofed space in a panick with spatula in hand. 

6. Caleb was a puppy for Halloween. 
Photos forthcoming! (Sorry I'm too lazy to upload them right now)

7. Inspiring Quote
An old roommate from a while back posted this quote as her Facebook status this week. I don't talk to her anymore and but the quote inspired me. Funny how Facebook makes things like that possible. Thought I'd share:
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." 
- Maya Angelou


Friday, October 4, 2013

7 QT's: Wine buttons, 20lbs of apples and Funfetti

Happy Friday! This seems to be the only day I blog.  Oh well, here's the quick takes on the rest of our week: 
My one-year-old just may be an artist.

He can hold a marker the right way and draw.

Not sure if this is normal for a 1-year-old, but I have to say, I was impressed. Maybe it's because his mom is an artist : )

He also went to daycare today with orange and yellow marker all over his legs because we made this picture after bath time last night.

Birthday parties for little kids (or maybe just your own kids) are so much fun.

We've had 3 celebrations for Caleb in the past week. More photos coming soon. It was a great chance to see relatives we only see on the holidays. And everyone got to shower Caleb with their love. And he was on pretty good behavior. And I made this cake 3 times:

I love funfetti for kid's birthdays, but this one ended up being more like a cookie cake...which for me, was even better. (Cookies > Cake)

The recipe I used is from a site called Sally's Baking Addiction, so clearly it's fantastic.

Antique roadshow 

James' grandma came to Caleb's party and gave us several pieces of vintage-wear. Since we are true hipstas, we were down.

Among the awesome things were Natty Bo glasses and Natty Bo coasters. (Natty Bo is the Baltimore beer that was once brewed in the building where Caleb is in daycare) .

Also included were these glasses from some company called "Valley Forge Beer" and buttons for what appears to be a 1979 mayoral race and wine. I never knew wine buttons were once a thing.

I'm hoping these are worth lots of money on Ebay or Etsy. Takers?

We have 20 pounds of apples

...from apple picking last Saturday. The price went down if you bought enough! Wholesale produce! Guess who's having a peeling party this weekend and making some applesauce? Any other tried-and-trued suggestions welcome!

Swings are fun.

--- 6 ---

Funny things on the internet make life tolerable, like the "when-you-work-at-a-non-profit" Tumblr (especially when you actually work at a nonprofit.)


Maybe it's because I worked 3 days last week, and now I'm working five and around 1pm each day I look up from my computer screen and realize I haven't eaten anything or gone to the bathroom since I woke up that morning. (How's that for "work is flow", for those of you who attended Mount St. Mary's University with me and read that lovely piece by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - I totally copied and pasted that word from Wikipedia.) But this little website really gets a laugh-out-loud moment from me once in a while.
Fall is here!

Even though it was 88 degrees in Baltimore this week. I got to go to my first pick-your-own pumpkin patch this weekend, which was so much fun! We were in the field for a long time picking out "the perfect one!" Caleb loved the orange colors.

Happy weekend! Thanks for stopping in!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

True Story: Friday Flashback, the Face of God, and helping your neighbor (for real)

You know how we all have moments where something seemingly small touches us in a huge way? I had one of those moments Friday afternoon around 5:30, when I was finally able to leave my office for the weekend.(And here I am writing this on Tuesday and wishing for that moment again!)

Oh, but there's more to the story...

I was speed walking to the parking garage, eyes straight ahead, focus solely on getting out of traffic ASAP so I could hang out with C-man. I admit I was a little angry I was at work kind of late on a Friday, but I guess that's the best you can hope for when you take two sick days in a week.

Let's say first of all, I should have been paying better attention to my surroundings; I work in Baltimore City, the Westside. It's in no way the worst part of the Baltimore, but it isn't the prettiest. On my walk between my office and Starbucks that particular morning, I passed two men who were tripping - at 9am- on whatever drug it is that makes you droop your head and neck down towards the sidewalk as if you were slowly falling into the sidewalk face-first. I did not think anything of this because I see people tripping like this every single day near my office, I kid you not. (BTW anyone know what drug this is? There seems to be a lot of it near my place of employment.)

There are a lot of other things I see during this walk that scare the heck out of me, some that make me cry and some that make me laugh out loud on a street full of strangers and then proceed to take photos/videos with my phone and text them to friends. (Subscribe to my blog and I promise you that one day I'll post a video of the woman that shows up in front of the Rite Aid every single day with a different costume and a boombox blasting Christian music that she dances to beautifully and expressively amongst the mayhem of bad things going on around her; girl is spreading the good news!)

But these things surprise me so because I'm a white girl from Pennsylvania and this Baltimore City stuff is still new to me...

So anyway back to Friday afternoon:  A couple walking towards me stops after we pass each other. They stop because there is a man laying on the sidewalk, eyes closed, right next to the light rail track (train.) He was just a few feet from me, and I had walked right past him! Had I seen him and thought nothing of it because I see people laying on sidewalks on Howard Street fairly often? Or had I actually not seen him? I couldn't remember...How long had he been there? How come no one has stopped except for this couple; it's Friday afternoon and this street is crowded and bustling with people!

The woman bends down to see if he is okay and sort of slaps him on his face.I am shocked because the man is not someone I think I would've bent down for. I hate to write that there like that. But really, I wouldn't have. Everything about him is dirty - his face is dirty, his hair, his clothing is ripped; he has a scent. I would have kicked him with my shoe first because he's probably a drug addict, because he might have gun, because he might snap at me for scaring him or waking him up from his nap, because he looks dazed and there's no telling what he could do...But no, here's this little lady bending down to look in his face and yelling "Sir!" loudly in his ear, addressing him politely like you are supposed to address another human being.

She gives him a shaking to see if he will wake up, and finally he shows one sign of life; he blinks, and then goes back to sleep. I ask her if we should call 9-1-1 and see she already has her phone out.

She shoes me on as if to say "I got this" and I believe her. I get into my car feeling a little bit refreshed, like I just saw God at work right then and there on a Friday afternoon on Howard Street. Maybe I am being emotional and over-interpreting here; maybe I needed to see something like this. But here's this man that is on the margins of society; here's this man who, one could argue, chose to lay on the train tracks in some form or another, through choosing drugs or alcohol or whatever makes people do these things; here's this man who (I know I am assuming here) has received help from someone before and fallen into a pattern of addiction again and again.

And despite assuming all that (I'm guessing you'd assume this too if you saw this guy), this couple stops and helps him. It's helping in a way that is so concrete that I am floored. (Ironic, too that I work at a humanitarian aide agency and we use the phrase "loving our neighbors" on all our fundraising materials when we ask people to "help the poor"?)  I don't suggest that my surprise says a lot about our world at large, but maybe more about my own demeanor as an urbanite who has grown numb to seeing despair and utterly confused about how to address it.

So I get into my car and drive around the block, back towards home and I see an ambulance on the street where the man was and I see the couple still there, waiting on the sidewalk, as if they knew this man and wanted to make sure he was okay. I wondered, who else would this man have waiting for him when he gets better? Maybe nobody. But God would definitely be there...

Yep, I think I just saw Him at work!

What's your seeing-God-or your higher power in real life story?

Don't have one? Find one. I know you can.

And if you have a blog, let's link up sometime and write about it together on a designated day of the week...Wouldn't that be great soul food?

Friday, September 27, 2013

7 QT's for a Cute-E

Here's this week's QT's - thanks again to Jen at Conversion Diary for this great idea to get my posts to be short and sweet (although we're still not quite there yet..)

This week, QT apparently stands for "CUTE-EE". I spent a lot of time with Caleb this week (yay for 2 days off!) so here ya go!

Once upon a time, James and I cooked meals together -  that is at the same time, making the same meal. But these days, we have to take turns; one of us chases C around - or rests from chasing him around all day. One night this week, we decided to do a throw back and tried to make dinner together: breaded chicken (and without eggs in the breading because we all know eggs are a source of protein in themselves and too expensive to waste on breading! recipe coming soon!)

Cute. But how did we entertain C-man? Especially since our hands were all floury- and-raw-chicken-y? Classic: Moved his high chair into the kitchen and poured a bunch of flour on his tray. Truth: He didn't end up letting me get too involved in the meal and James took the lead and did all the cooking...BUT C stayed in his chair much longer than I expected. Plus now we have these funny photos of him.

I love the Baltimore Aquarium.

We have lived about 1.3 miles from this place for over a year and haven't gone until this week. I took off work on Monday for Caleb's birthday and we brought him here because we thought he would enjoy the fish tanks (he saw one at the zoo a few weeks ago and we had to drag him away!)

Prices have been kicked up a lot since I last remember going (high school) But...there's a rainforest inside! And a dolphin show! (Yeah, like Sea World.) And the entire continent of Australia!

There was a time when I thought of aquariums as merely gigantic fish tanks; that time has ended. I walked into a section of this aquarium and a colorful, tropical bird almost hit me in the head! It was about 100 degrees (I had to strip down to my tank top!) and REAL waterfalls were everywhere. Hello, rainforest! I never expected to find you in an aquarium!

The only down side is you can't bring a stroller and have to put your child in this back pack carrier instead. Since all Caleb wants to do these days was walk, we were constantly taking off the carrier for him to get down and stand up at the fish tanks. But he loved all of it! I can't wait to bring him here year after year and introduce him to all these animals!

Apparently I was also walking around the aquarium with a fuzzy green blanket wrapped around my shoulders:

I know many of you may not be reading this to hear me rant...but I have to let you know that we paid $395 for Caleb to go to day care for one day this week. That's just plain silly. (Even if you send your kid part-time, you're charged the full-time rate.) I am starting to feel like we are literally taking our money and throwing it out of the window.
Why aren't there more options for part-time care for infants? What do other people do? Are we the only ones in this situation?
That's it. Done ranting.


I grew up in a meat-and-potato household; my tolerance for spice is LOW. James has gotten my tolerance to go up just a little bit, and so the Mexico taco meat I cooked a few days ago was a happy medium: still on the spicy side for me, but edible.

After C finished his sweet potatoes, bananas and cheerios dinner, I noticed him eying my taco meat. He wanted it so of course I went ahead and gave him a bite. He loved it! So much that he cried when we weren't feeding him constantly.

Another conclusion drawn from featured video: We feed our child like birds; don't judge.

Potential dumb phone
I'm thinking about NOT paying Verizon $1,200 next year for my cell phone service and downgrading to a traditional phone.

The thing is, I never talk on the phone to anyone except Caleb's day care, James and my mom. (You shouldn't be surprised; all of us bloggers are introverts!) And I have a bunch of apps on my phone that I've used maybe once. You'll find me on Facebook, Pinterest, and sometimes, if I remember, Instagram.
You'd probably find me on my blog more often if it didn't require me turning on the dinosaur computer that James built (with his bare hands) IS a well-structured and smart dinosaur that never breaks, just old-school.

So given the problem of dino computer + expensive smart phone, I'm thinking of going the route of non-cell service ipad  (with keypad) that uses WI-FI (we have it here at our house) + basic cell phone. Get it?

Truth: I am nervous that I will fall over in shock if I get rid of iphone that has been attached to me for the past 2.5 years. HELP! Anyone else have experience (or frustration) in this area? Perhaps my biggest concern is losing the Map App!

Uncle Mike rocks. Uncle Mike + Laundry Basket Really Rocks.
Videos say enough. Enjoy!

If you haven't already, read Heather's article: I'm No Theologian.... It made me cry - but in a happy way.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My first 7 Quick Takes (#7QT)

Ok, I' m new here (to the mom-blogging world), so when I kept coming across funny posts titled "7QT's" I was like, "what can that abbreviation stand for because all of these posts are about completely different, random things...hmm..."

7QT is "7 Quick Takes".  They're supposed to happen on Fridays but we've had a busy week(end).
"Quick" implies that your blogs should be short and sweet, which is what blog posts are supposed to be anyway. (One time, when I managed a blog for an organization, my boss told me that you should be able to read a blog post while going #2 on the toilet; I hope that's not true.)

Anyway, it's the weekend and we both need a break from reading things. So I'll shut up now and give you the first 7 QT's because I'm ruining the point of this short list thing:

Pumpkin spice lattes are the bomb diggity.

I've gotten two this week. If you add up all the PSL calories that I've consumed in my lifetime, I'm pretty sure it'd hit the 5 or 6 digit realm.

You can get free money for buying a house in Baltimore City?! What?!!!
We had a health and benefits fair at work this week (yay free flu shot!) where I learned that the City and my employer will help me with a down payment for a house in a certain geographic boundary.
James and I aren't serious about buying a house yet, but I was so excited about this that I took all of their pamphlets and folders because all I kept hearing was "FREE MONEY".


City life = living in close quarters with other people (sharing walls, living in an alley)= certain things that are normally ok to do are inconsiderate because everyone can hear everything.

I know our neighbors have heard Caleb screaming in the middle of the night sometimes ...but we do our best to prevent our noise from reaching these levels.

The other night this guy was knocking (loudly) on our neighbor's door from about 2am to 3:30am. Not only had I never seen him before, but he continued to knock loudly after James and other neighbors told him he was disturbing the peace. Not cool, strange dude. (I know I should be more compassionate here and think about how the Bible tells us to treat our neighbors and even strangers, which means I should've invited him in for food and drink). Instead, I  asked James to tell him something like,

Normally it would be okay to knock on someone's door for as long as you want to, but hey, we all share a wall so when you knock on her door, it sounds like you're knocking on my door and that actually woke up my one-year-old child .....and forced me to get a Venti PSL (Pumpkin Spiced Latte) in order to stay alive at work the next day.

Did I mention this guy was not sober? And that I had also never seen him before? So when he didn't leave and continued knocking, I called 9-1-1.

This may seem like over reacting...but that guy could've been a drug dealer looking for his money, could've followed the girl that lives there home from the bar, who knows.

Note to concerned friends and family members reading this: Our neighborhood is safe; it turns out this guy just moved in and left his keys at the bar.

Caleb can walk - FOR REALS. And he almost ate an ant trap.

Don't worry. It's all okay. He had only licked it really, and thank goodness James was right there to prevent him from doing more. (He's a superb stay-at-home dad!)

But yes, we have called the police and the poison control center in the last 24 hours!
Poison control later explained that the ingredients at 99.9% sugar and peanut butter and 0.1% bad stuff, so it's not as bad as we thought.

The walking has happened within the last 24 hours. I blame it on daycare. I can no longer constrain him.

How to have a 1-year-old's birthday?
I first went to Pinterest with this question and ended up pinning a bunch of themed birthday cake ideas that required me to make a cake in the shape of a dinosaur, with matching themed cake pops, party favors, and invitations for other baby children who can't even read yet. It felt like this party was going to be more for me to exhibit my craftiness than a chance to get together with family and friends who have made this first year so special.

But here I am the night before the party and I'm wondering if I should have done more; I'm asking myself, Wouldn't it be nice to show video clips from Caleb's first year in the background as people are eating? (Maybe I should go make a DVD...) Why don't I have his first year photo album done yet?!
Also, my mom is making all of the food. Which is super sweet. Yay, Baba!
We are so hyped for tomorrow and hoping Caleb gets a nap in before his big day.
Homemade funfetti cake.
Tonight, James and I have a date to make a funfetti cake for Caleb's birthday tomorrow. I found this very thorough recipe, which I plan to use as guidance, but like whenever I cook, I'll probably just make things up as a I go along. *hooray for improvisation* I'll let you know how it turns out!

There are so many amazing bloggers out there.
I keep learning this bloggin' thing from so many eloquent ladies out there and I find myself again and again saying, wow there's actually a lot of good stuff out here on the internet. Your writing is inspiring and hilarious. To capture your thoughts and share them with the world takes bravery AND patience!
On that note, a college roommate of mine has her own funny blog about her experiences working in an all-boys school in Baltimore and even sells beautiful handmade crochet items in her own Etsy shop. Tip: check it out if you know someone with a baby on the way!

What are some of your favorites that I should be reading??
Thanks to Jen from  Conversion Diary! for hosting the 7QT's each Friday! (yay, I'm late!)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Do you clean toys too, or am I crazy?

I will preface the following by saying that here in our house we just got over a bad cold. (We think we got it when we dropped off our registration forms at our day care center - before we were even officially enrolled...ut-oh here we go!)

So after the crib sheets were changed, the bottles and pacifiers sanitized, the blankets and clothing laundered, the high chair cover in the wash, the bathroom cleaned...I turned to the toy box.

And the last half of my evening was spent washing Caleb's toys with soap and boiled water.

Pre-child- like less than 1 year ago -  I never thought toy washing was even...a thing.

I don't remember my own mother (of 5) ever doing it.

And if a mother ever told me she did it, I would probably think she was a crazy germ-o-phobe. (Okay, maybe some of you are thinking that about me...and who knows maybe I am?! But I promise you this cleaning-everything-my child touches thing doesn't happen often.)

Anyway, now my kitchen counter looks like this:

9_18 (1)  

Why do I spend my evenings this way?

Because my child puts everything in his mouth, and then he throws it on the kitchen floor, which I haven't had the chance to mop in days, then he brings it outside while we water the garden together and he puts it in the flower pot full of dirt, and then after all that, he decides to put it in his mouth again - while he eats his dinner.

So, do other moms do this? Or am I insane?

Sept 2013 243

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DIY Toy: Puppy Poster

Our neighbor had her dog on the back patio and it was barking like crazy. I asked Caleb, "What does the doggy say?" And --- do you know he made a "WOOF" noise ?

If I believed in past lives, I would say that Caleb was a dog in his past life. It is his spirit animal. Or maybe his love of dog comes from one in particular;  Winston, James' parents' Westhighland Terrier.


For first handful of times that James' parents babysat Caleb, Winston whined when Caleb cried. It deeply disturbed him. From the very beginning, these two were connected. These days, Winston tries to herd know, because West Highland Terriers used to herd sheep back in the day. It seems like that would be nice - to have a dog that herds an active toddler and directs them to a corner of books, instead of, say, to unroll all the toilet paper from the toilet paper roll?  (I think I have a photo or two to insert here...)

Maybe it's because of the friendship that's blossomed between Caleb and Winston, but my child LOVES dogs. A trip to the park means he gets to see at least a dozen of them. He  sits up eagerly in his stroller as a dog and dog owner walk past. He points at them, wide-eyed, and even  makes a little "d-ahh-gahh" sound.

After so many cute interactions with strangers' dogs at the park, James and I have had the "let's get a puppy" conversation several times. But...he's in school. I'm working. We don't have a yard. Our house is too small.  It just. can't. happen. right. now. So instead, I decided on the next best thing: a dog poster.


I know. Some people would say that it's lame. I mean really, how can this compete with his walker/ push-cart thing that has about 20 buttons and plays about a dozen songs  and even talks to you (it says "hey, let's play!)  AFTER you've left the room  and moved onto another toy... it reminds you that it's there to play with, like it's jealous  of that other toy you're playing with and wants you to come back and push all its 20 buttons again. (Okay, you can make it stop talking by turning it off..)

But really, some of these toys are more like computers...!

8_2013_james camera 273

The dog poster  is a mommy or daddy powered toy. I have to (get to) sit down with him, point to the puppies, make up their names and stories about them, and even let him grab them because they're in Ziploc plastic bags and cannot be damaged (well, theoretically that is...)

Call me old-fashioned but I'm excited to provide Caleb with this alternative to the buzzing/singing/light-up gear that has become our living room furniture...and maybe if he really likes it, we'll have to have another "let's get a puppy" conversation soon.

 On that note, here's a photo of our future puppy:

chocolate lab
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Childcare and Beer?

Okay, I'm not one of those stay-at-home mom (SAHM) bloggers who can tell you about midweek trips to the library or thoughtful meals I cook for my family. Actually, our weeknight meals usually look like this: Sept 2013 135

That's grilled cheese and potato chips. I have mixed feelings about that full-time-working-and-being a mom thing, and I'm sure I'll blab about them in upcoming posts. Or maybe even this one. My reality is like many other moms in our country: I work five days a week, so quality care for my LO (little one) is imperative. What us moms determine to be decent care may vary from mom-to-mom, but one thing's for certain: it's hard to find. Up until today, we've been relying on family members to care for Caleb during the week.  I could gush on about how much I love seeing my son grow close with people so important to both me and James.  We are lucky. But for a variety of reasons, it couldn't last forever. Here's one reason.

Mom struggles her toddler - mom blog

The little baby who, less than one year ago would sit in a swing perfectly content, or lay on a blanket and not move at all, has turned into a toddler - mobile, social, curious, aggressive at times! Grandparents are wiped out. It is time to start paying someone to watch our little explorer.

But who?? Who do I trust. that. much....?!

We set up a phone call with a nanny who James' parent's mechanic used for years. Then we visited a childcare center so polished and clean that they actually made us take off our shoes and put on slipper-like shoes before we entered the infant room. Then we visited a childcare home center near our house in Baltimore City where a woman had a video camera surveillance system  set up so she could see the children in the play room from everywhere in her house. When she saw (on the surveillance screen) that they were doing something wrong, she yelled very loudly for them to stop! Then I called a home center that got good reviews online. The woman who answered talked to me for literally 25 minutes before giving me a chance to speak, taking up my entire lunch break. When I asked her what the children were doing in the time we had been on the phone, we conveniently got disconnected. I know. At this point, you're asking,

"Well, what did you expect? Didn't you read all those parenting magazines and websites that say you need to start looking for good childcare early - when you're pregnant?"

Okay, okay! Yeah, I read all that advice, heard it from my family and friends. I procrastinated because I thought it would break my heart to leave my baby in the care of strangers while I sat in my cubicle. I dreamed of quitting my  job and taking on new income-generating projects  so I could stay home with Caleb during the week. I would become a dog walker. There's lots of dogs in our neighborhood. Plus, Caleb loves dogs. I would start selling something (who knows what) on Etsy. I could have my own  business selling handmade lotions and soaps. I could become one of those coupon-ing moms and watch our every cent. Throughout all of this, James allowed me to dream. Then he met a fellow dad at the park. The dad suggested a day care center located in the old brewery for National Bohemian beers, or "Natty Bo."   James' ears perked up immediately because: 1) Beer was mentioned. 2) Specifically, Natty Bo beer was mentioned. This beer used to be made here in Baltimore, and so it is a source of pride for all Baltimoreans. James grew up in Baltimore and even though Natty Bo doesn't taste good at all, he loves it with his whole heart and soul and drinks it during Ravens games and even makes hats out of 6-pack boxes because apparently that's good

Okay, sometimes I wear Natty Bo hats too. So just to remind people that the beer used to be made here in Baltimore, Natty Bo left his  icon on the old brewery building. The icon even glows neon at night. People call the building the "Natty Bo building".

  9_12_natty bo building 2 9_12_natty bo building

We went to visit the day care center in the Natty Bo building.

The center director promptly invited us to see if Caleb would play in the infant classroom while we chatted business. Caleb fit right in. He happily dove into this awesome ball pit.  It's a miniature version of the ball pits they have at Chuck E. Cheese and McDonald's play places. I don't know about you, but I used to LOVE those when I was a kid! I didn't realize you could buy one of these things (Not like we ever would because the little balls would end up basically all over the world.)

  9_12 ball pit

 We talked to the center director and a few minutes in, I tucked away my four pages of questions (yeah, I'm a first-time-mom); my instincts led me. When we visited a second time, all of the teachers knew his name. They said hello to him before they even looked at James and I. And yeah, leaving him this AM was tough. But I was way more of an emotional wreck than he was. Guess it's time to face it:  My baby's growin' up.
  8_2013_james camera 193

What's your child care experiences/fears/or dreams of owning your own dogwalking business?

First Post: Enter, Mama Blogger

First post: I caught the mom blog bug. I've been following a handful of blogs by creative, eloquent mothers out there. These moms aren't afraid to laugh at themselves - and quite publicly. They go on rants about significant others and overwhelming amounts of stuffed animals their kid never even plays with. They even talk about how teaching their kid about Jesus Christ is the right thing to do. And (gasp) they let anyone who has access to the internet comment on their parenting decisions. They Tweet, Facebook, and Instagram all of this and cute pictures of their kids. Opening up to strangers  about something as important and intimate as your FAMILY is admirable - even if it's on a blog. But  let's face it, opening up to acquaintances and friends is what's really scary here.  Say,  someone you see each day at the water cooler clicks on the link you post on your Facebook Page.  Suddenly he or she knows more about you than how much water you drink when you're supposed to be in your cubicle and they pass by your desk and say something like,

"WHAT - you imagine burning all your son's stuffed animals in your fireplace so your house doesn't look like a zoo each night?! You're the worst mother ever!"

Not like I think that or anything. We don't even have a fireplace. Thanks to these blogger moms, and my own mom for reminding me that motherhood doesn't mean having an image to uphold.  (As I write this, I do have an image of my mother - one of her chasing a diaper-less three year old with poop on his b-hind across the main plaza in our local mall. I was at the ever-humiliated age of 14 at this time, so that experience, let alone having to go to the mall with my mom, has scarred me for life....or, perhaps, prepared me for the road ahead?) Back to what being a mom means (to me)....Being a mom means we live for our children. And in doing this, we lose parts of ourselves - but we also find ourselves through our vocation as moms. (This has been my experience so far, but I've only been a mom for a year.) As we redefine ourselves in this new role, what better way to do it than to write it all down? Why not speak of this time of rapid change, renewal and displacement? Maybe this is why there's so many Mom Blogs out there: women are writing about the process of raising their kid, but also how raising their kid is, in turn, raising them. Yeah, I think that's the main idea I'll be going with here on this blog...maybe not so heavily-laden with philosophies. I'm glad I got it all out of my system. And who knows, this may just turn out to be a house for the trillions of cute photos I took in the last year. But I think I have too much to say to let that happen :)