Monday, January 23, 2012

Permission to Play

One of the best parts about being a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) is that we get to go with the flow most days. It's incredibly freeing to not have a rigid schedule. It has allowed me to transition from what seemed like all-work-and-no-play to mostly-play-and-work-when-I-can.

One of the biggest lessons I have had to learn (and am still learning) is how to feel accomplished at the end of a day. Initially, this was really something I struggled with. I felt like I needed to be working non-stop, the same way I would if I were at my former job. I had tangible things that I did at work that were gratifying, such as completing an audit or reaching sales goals. And at the end of a work day, I could say "I completed this, this, this, and this." And well, being a SAHM isn't exactly that way every day.

I felt really awkward at first, like I needed to "report" what I had done to someone at the end of a day. Matt would come home from work and I'd say "Well, I vacuumed everything, did 2 loads of laundry, washed the dishes, and cleaned the bathroom mirrors." Or, if Molly had been more needy than usual and I didn't get much housework done, I felt the need to say "I know it looks like I only unloaded the dishwasher all day, but I've been busy with Molly..." I felt like I needed to apologize for not being a super duper amazing homemaker and mother.

But I didn't have an infant who depended on me every minute of every day when I was at the bank. I didn't change diapers while I was opening accounts or sing the ABCs in between having a conversation about bank fees with a customer. There's a reason why bankers don't also offer daycare services. And there's a reason why insurance agents don't watch children while they are writing policies. And why policemen don't have toddlers running around screaming at the station while they're trying to detain criminals. Because taking great care of a child is a full time job in itself. HELLO? LIGHTBULB! There is a very necessary reason why daycares exist. And why many parents may make the decision to stay at home and work with their children all day.

Watching Molly Ruth is incredibly gratifying and insanely fun. Don't get me wrong. But she demands my attention all of the time at this point in her life and that's ok. She's supposed to. If my only accomplishments in a particular day are that Molly Ruth laughed and played the entire day, made new babble sounds, and tried a new food, then that's a productive day. The laundry will be there tomorrow. I can dust night stands after she goes to bed. But I can't make her 10 months old again. This is what I'm learning.

So, in the spirit of embracing the day, we headed over to The Wenzler Household to have a play day one day last week. We spent all afternoon with "Aunt" Tiff, Etta, and baby Daniel. Etta tried to teach Molly how to high five:

Did anyone happen to notice my resemblance to Lieutenant Dan in those photos? As in, I look like a floating torso. I was squatting like a frog and you can barely see the edge of my legs. Pretty awkward.

Crawling over to Daniel...


Hi Daniel!

Showing her brother how much she loves him. Sweet!

Molly turned the baby stroller over and was banging on it and sort of just holding onto it. Etta patiently watched her and waited until Molly let go of the stroller to turn it right side up, as if to say "See? This is how it goes!"

Molly: "Wow Etta. You sure do know a lot of things."

After a half an hour or so, it was time for Etta's nap. So, Tiff was kind enough to pull out this awesome keyboard thing that MR really loved!

We had a great time and I look forward to many more play dates in the future.

I'm going to close with this little tidbit I saw the other day...

I hope my children
look back on today

And see a mother
who had time to play.

There will be years ahead
for cleaning and cooking

For children grow up
while we're not looking.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just for the record

Molly was 10 months old on January 7th and let me tell you, this girl is growing and changing by leaps and bounds right now. She is such a little sponge and constantly tries to mimic sounds, movements, etc. Just for the record, I'm going to post about some milestones Miss Molly has reached in the past several months because I will surely forget if I don't do it now.

Her new favorite thing to say is "Uh ohhhh" when she drops something. Or she says it when she doesn't drop something. And when she touches something. And when she looks at something. Well, you get the idea. She says it a lot and it's pretty darn cute. The sounds and words she says so far are (in order that she has said them):

1. Baba- We call bottles "babas" so I have a feeling that's why this was her first word.
2. Mama- She started saying (which was really more like crying) mama when she was upset. And that's the only time she would say mama at first, when she wasn't happy.
3. Dada- She loves her dada and she started saying dada very , very softly and sweetly at first, almost like a whisper. Be still my heart.
4.Uh oh- I'll give grandma Marsh credit for teaching her this one.
5. Dog- We like to say "Frankie's our d o g" and really sound it out. We have been saying it A LOT to her and she finally said it yesterday for the first time! It comes out "Dooo...GG!" With a really hard G sound. So funny.

Above is the "Uh oh!" face.

Below is MR petting the Duh-ah-guh.

And, of course, there are many other babble sounds she makes but these are the main words thus far.

What, might you ask, is Molly wearing on her face? Why, those are Mira-flex glasses made for babies. And yes, they're real. Many people have quizzically asked "How in the world do you know if an infant needs glasses?" So here's the backstory on how she ended up with little pink spectacles.

At around 5 or 6 months, we noticed her left eye turning inward a little more than the right one. We didn't think too much of it at first since babies are still learning how to focus at that age and can appear cross eyed at times. However, by month 7 it hadn't gotten any better. So, we went to the pediatrician who referred us to a pediatric opthamologist at Vanderbilt.

You can see her left eye turning inward in that picture at around 5 or 6 months of age. And also in this one (can you guess what month it was?):

Many people thought that I was overreacting and making something out of nothing. Her eyes looked normal most of the time. Even the pediatrician felt like nothing was too out of the norm and referred us "just to be safe" and ease our minds. However, it is my belief that a parent's intuition is usually right and I was prepared to insist on seeing an opthamologist no matter what.

When we went to her first eye exam in December, she was a perfect angel. Really. She laughed and smiled during the entire first part of the exam. There were stuffed animals that lit up and made noise on the other side of the room instead of an eye chart (Molly can't exactly recite the alphabet yet).

Then, they dilated her eyes and we waited to see the doctor. Bottle time just so happened to fall while we were waiting so she fell fast asleep a few minutes before they called us back. It actually worked out well because the docotor said she could still open her eyes and see everything she needed to with her asleep! And we didn't have to worry about her wiggling all over the place. Then, after some examining, the doctor said she did, indeed, need glasses.

The good news is that she is far sited and it can correct itself with time (hopefully). She has been straining to see which caused her eye to overcorrect and turn inward. And, thankfully, she has done wonderfully with the glasses and does not pull at them or bother them at all, which tells me that they must really be helping her. I chose classic pink but ordered a second pair in an aqua color last week so she could have some accessory options. Hey, if you gotta wear them every day, you might as well make a statement!

MR gets LOTS of extra attention now when we are out in public because of her little glasses. Many people have never seen glasses on an infant before I suppose. But I don't think she minds the extra smiles, compliments, and adoration.

Lastly, the other big news around our house is that MR finally, officially started crawling in her ninth month. She has been rocking on all fours and pulling up since 8 months but didn't master the crawl until recently. And master she has.

She can crawl and climb and go wherever her little heart desires at a moment's notice. Baby proofing, consequently, is our new hobby. ;)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Doumo Arigatou

So sorry for the blip in blogging since the New Year, but I decided to ring the New Year in with a big, fat cold that lasted for well over a week. It was your typical sinus infection stuff and it completely zapped my energy. However, I am finally feeling better and almost back to my normal self. Almost.

The first week of the year also happened to be a vacation week for Matt. We hadn't planned too much other than to do some small things around the house and mostly enjoy a quiet staycation. So, it kind of worked out that I chose that particular week to get sick since I had daddy as back up to wrangle Miss Molly and keep her occupied.

One thing we did have planned that week was a (non-refundable) Viking Cooking School class on Sushi Making. It was a Christmas gift from my grandma Marsh and was a 3 hour class which taught the basics of sushi making. Thank the Lord for steroid shots, Z packs, and cough syrup because they enabled me to drag my self to the class and still enjoy it. It was also a gorgeous, sunny day which made for a perfect date day!

I used a photo editor on that last picture and it turned out pretty well. Maybe I'll use it more often. It's called Camera+ and you can download it in the app store.

When we arrived at Viking, we browsed around in the retail store while we waited for the chef and her assistants to finish prepping the kitchen. They had all kinds of fancy, shiny things in the store but, alas, we weren't in the market for a $3000 custom wok or $6000 custom fridge. But it was fun to dream! Here is a view of the kitchen where our class was held:

Our class ended up being very small with only 8 students total, including Matt and myself. They had ice water, hot green tea, salt and pepper edamame, and piping hot miso soup waiting on us when we walked in!

After a brief introduction and some sushi history, we were ready to start our adventure. Each of us had our own individual station set up with the basics including the items below:

We rolled a couple basic rolls together as a class, including a cucumber roll and a vegetable roll. Then, once we were comfortable with the basic techniques, we were all able to free style and get as creative as we wanted for the remainder of the class! It was really fun. And delicious!

The above is what an inside out roll (where the rice is on the outside) looks like while you're making it. I liked the inside out style the best because it's easier to stick things on the outside, like smelt roe (fish eggs) and sesame seeds (the black ones are my favorite!)

The "crunch" is one of my favorite ingredients in rolls. It's made with tempura batter and is basically fried, crunchy breading pieces. You can also deep dry any roll by dipping the whole thing in the batter and then frying it up. I mean, what's not better when it's fried?! Paula Deen would be proud. The deep fried crab and avocado roll I made was my favorite.

I should note that frying the rolls and the rolls in general are not traditional Japanese sushi. Most of the rolls you see in restaurants, i.e. Dream Roll, Rock 'N Roll, Crazy Roll, etc. are all different and made up by each individual sushi chef. They are Americanized and what most of us think of when we think of sushi.

Lastly, we made a spicy salmon hand roll which was so unbelievably scrumptious. And, it's basically what it sounds like, a roll you fold up in your hand which makes a sort of funnel shape.

By the end of our 3 hour class, we had each eaten 4 or 5 rolls and were stuffed. The classes are a little pricey, starting at around $79 per person, but I felt like we got our money's worth in both the quality of food/ instruction and the quantity of food that we actually consumed. If you have a chance, take a class! I know we will again. It's fun, different, and an experience you won't soon forget.

And I can't post without a few shots of preshy.

PS The blog title is "thank you" in Japanese. I think.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Whole Foods, Empty Cart

Happy New Year e'rbody! We had a quiet New Year's Eve at home. New Year's Day (today) was sunny and nice so we took a ride through the country and ended up at Whole Foods before heading home. I have always thought Whole Foods was pretty cool (I've been in the Green Hills location once or twice to grab a bottle of water or something) and knew it was filled with all sorts of rare, organic, pricey treasures. So, I thought it might be fun to peruse the aisles, oooh and aaah at the weird, worldly items, and perhaps pick up something unique for supper.

Matt humored me and we ventured into Whole Foods, but the result wasn't what I had anticipated.

You know Whole Foods and its patrons are striving to be progressive and green when the premium parking spots are reserved for hybrids and electric cars (and yes, there are charging stations). Well, we were in our gas guzzling Pathfinder so we parked further back in the parking lot, where all the other environmentally inconsiderte people were parked. Then, as we walked past cars the size of match boxes with bumper stickers that said things like "Obama 2008" and "Revolution" (now now don't get your panties in a wad, you gotta read this with a grain of salt), I couldn't help but think "One of these things is not like the other..."

But we marched on and got a cart to put Molly in and, oddly, there was no room for anything else. Usually at Kroger or Publix, I can put her down in the cart and still use the front part and underneath for groceries. But, the carts at Whole Foods are smaller because a) The people who shop there are much thinner than the average American and don't need to buy as many groceries or b) everything is so dang expensive you can only afford to buy a small amount of stuff. Or maybe it's a combination of both of these. So, Matt grabbed a basket in case something struck our fancy.

But nothing really did. Sure, the 216 different types of couscous and grains were interesting. And the petite frenched rack of lamb (for only $18.99) was a pretty little bargain. Oh, and we were tempted to buy the single baby plate with dividers since it was a steal of a deal at $17.99. But, call me crazy, we just couldn't do it.

Matt's commentary through the store went something like this:

Me: Look at those pretty double chocolate cupcakes!
Matt: They've probably got tofu in them.

Me: I wonder where the bathroom is in this place...
Matt: You have to use a hole in the ground.

Me: Everything looks so fresh and nice.
Matt: You think they have anything with additives? 'Cause that's what I want.

Matt: "There are too many rich hippies in here for me."

And there sort of were. I mean, wearing Tom's and a Louis Vuitton speedy bag is, um, a statement I suppose. It says "I have a handbag that costs an entire month's salary for most people but I care enough to pay $53.99 (that's how much they were there) for some simple cloth shoes because it's philanthropic (and trendy)". Is it trendy to be philanthropic? Food for thought, no pun intended. Which brings me to Matt's next opinion:

Matt: "Any grocery store that has an entire aisle just for Tom's shoes and yoga mats isn't for me."

So, we said goodbye to the hipsters and the wealthy, returned our empty basket back to its stack, and drove ourselves home where we enjoyed some leftover Hamburger Helper. And it was deeeelish.