Life as MommyMo

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Creative Team

Meredith Cardall, a scrapper turned designer that I have admired for a long time put out a call a couple of weeks ago for some new creative team members. I was thrilled that she asked me to join her team! They're such a nice, fun group...and we get to play with super cute scrap stuff. A perfect deal all around. You can check out her shop here.

I'm totally excited, too, today to watch all of the Inaugural festivities. I am camped out at the downstairs desk so I can watch everything while I catch up on email and some writing projects. I am sure I will blog later with my thoughts from the day. I already got chills once when I saw the first shots of the people gathered on The Mall in DC. This seems like a day that, no matter what your political bent is, we will be telling our children and grandchildren about for years to come.

One of my first thoughts today was that Sam doesn't really realize how important today is, but he knows we're excited. In some respects, I think it's great that he will grow up never knowing that the color of your skin can be a barrier to certain jobs. I didn't choose a name for him that easily follows the title "Senator" for no reason!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I'm quickly figuring out that doing the preparation required to welcome a young child into your home is harder when you already have another young child in your house. Duh.

As it turns out, Sam isn't really that interested in crib bedding or any of the other stuff that's needed to get Max's room ready. Why that surprises me is beyond me. Understandably, the only part of this particular phase of preparation that captures Sam's attention is the one in which he gets a new big boy bed that doubles as a fort.

I wish there were a simpler way to make all this happen. When Sam came home, not only did we not have another kid to entertain, we also didn't have all that much stuff living in the room that was to be his. In this case, we have stuff to shift around in three different rooms. Considering one is currently my office, it's no small undertaking. I shudder to think of the hassle that will begin once I need to get MCI and Verizon both out to rewire my new office all while the final phase of the kitchen remodel is taking place.


On a more serious note, I'm just plain sad today. A friend of our dear friends Kim and Ted has been fighting cancer for over a year. He has had numerous complications, but I have prayed for so long that a miracle would come their way. Sadly, J passed away last night. If you could, please pray that his family can find some comfort and healing right now. He has two young children and a wife, in addition to numerous friends and USAF collegues, who will miss him terribly.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dining ala NOLA

See that lovely photo? That's pretty much what I saw when I entered a famed New Orleans eating establishment last night for dinner. I'm pretty sure I'm scarred for life.

I was in New Orleans for work this week. Since my friend and coworker Jeff hails from the city, he was nice enough to make sure I got the full experience while there. No touristy restaurants for us. Nope, we planned to eat REAL NOLA food this week.

First stop? Some place right outside of downtown that was supposed to be famous for barbecued shrimp. Sounded yummy to me. I love shrimp and, being from Kansas City, I was sure I knew what the word barbecued meant.

Not so much. As it turns out, New Orleanians somehow think sticking shrimp in a pan, covering it with STICKS of butter and tons of garlic and then roasting it in the oven somehow qualifies as barbecue. Far be it for me to judge, though, so I adjusted my expectations and waited for the dish to be served. I was a bit surprised that our waiter tied a paper bib around my neck before the shrimp arrived. I eat shrimp pretty regularly and have never felt the need for that level of wardrobe protection.

I quickly figured out the reason for the bib when two bowls of fully intact shrimp came to the table. Now, I've seen shrimp with the legs and shells still on. I know all about peel-and-eat shrimp and always manage to avoid eating it. The closest I come to needing to remove my meal from it's original habitat is cracking an egg for breakfast.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the bowl contained shrimp with not just legs and shells, but also heads and eyeballs. And whiskers that were so long they draped over the side of the bowl. I stared at my dish and quickly decided I had enough extra meat on my body to make it till morning without eating.

Jeff, gentleman that he is, rolled up his sleeves and took care of the peeling for both of us. It was nice. He would do all the yucky stuff (laughing at my prissiness the whole time) and deposit completely peeled shrimp on my plate. I noticed a dark line down the back of my shrimp and was afraid that it might be shrimp poo, so I took care of removing that. Jeff found it hysterical that I would assume shrimp came with poop on their backs, but it turns out I was RIGHT. Ew. Word to the wise: deveining shrimp is a fancy way of saying you're taking off the shrimp's intestines that still are filled with fishy fecal matter.

So... after this little experience, I was all too happy to eat hotel food for the next 36 hours or so. Well, last night, my boss was with Jeff and I and decides that we should go out in search of good jambalaya. Jeff proceeds to pile us into his car and take us deep into the French Quarter to a local spot that was supposed to have the best jambalaya in the city.

We checked out the menu, then stepped inside to eat. I was the first one through the door and exclaimed, "Look at the cute little dog" as we walked in. It was rather dim in the restaurant, and I thought that I was looking at a small terrier dog. I realized a second later that it was actually a kitten that lived there.

Weird, I thought. I also wondered aloud (as did Marty and Jeff) how a restaurant manages to pass health inspection when a feline takes up residence in the front window. Well... that should have been the least of my concerns.

I thought this cat was a dog because it appeared to have whiskers that were all fluffy on it's face. Jeff looked more closely and realized the whiskers were actually the front and back end of a mouse sticking out of the cat's mouth.


I am pretty sure I became nothing but a blur as I exited the restaurant as fast as my legs could carry me. Now, the whole place was about as big as my living room. It did not go unnoticed that I was not happy to have encountered a rodent on my way into dinner. Jeff grabbed me and drug me back in, saying "it's fine.. .they ran off." Well, by the time I got back inside (and I'm still not sure why I agreed to go back in in the first place) the cat and mouse were back, and the cat dropped the mouse at my feet. I completely freaked and went outside again.

As chivalrous as Jeff's shrimp cleaning gesture was, he and Marty decided this mouse was no big deal, and stayed inside. Seeing as I don't know this city well, I pretty much had to suck it up and go back inside. I sat there like a grumpy little girl, refusing to open my menu and keeping my feet propped up under the table lest the little critters decide to play near me again. I did end up eating the best shrimp creole I've ever had, but I am sure I will never forget that experience.

I'm pretty sure Jeff and Marty realize in retrospect that I will also never let them forget that they made me stay.

And, to mark the occasion, I'll also note here that today is four weeks since we were matched with Max. One month down, two or more to go. I had a feeling the first month would pass quickly and it actually has. I think it will only get harder from here.

Max's new crib bedding arrived today and it's cuter than the picture on the Pottery Barn Kids website would have you know. I am even more pleased now than I was last week when I found an amazingly cheap deal on Ebay to buy it!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Word

Your Word is "Peace"

You see life as precious, and you wish everyone was safe, happy, and taken care of.

Social justice, human rights, and peace for all nations are all important to you.

While you can't stop war, you try to be as calm and compassionate as possible in your everyday life.

You promote harmony and cooperation. You're always willing to meet someone a little more than halfway.

According to the online version of a Magic-8 ball (aka blogthings) I have apparently chosen the wrong word for 2009. Not that I don't enjoy peace any way I can get it, but I think I'm going to stick with "focus" this year. Not to get too deep into a silly internet quiz, but I think trying to stay focused is what will bring me peace.

The kitchen saga continues. I'm viewing every inevitable delay and drama as the silver lining to the maddening wait to bring Max home. It's hard to know he's living with someone else and nothing but red tape stands between us. Well, red tape and a huge ocean and maybe a continent or two. I digress...

The kitchen. It's still a big, ugly hole. The very first "uh oh" moment came when we discovered the wall that was meant to be removed, thereby giving us enough space to entertain more than one guest at a time, was home to the HVAC ducts that go to our room and the nursery. Lots and lots of discussion and math (and you can imagine how well I did with that one) and we ended up routing one duct through the floor and are leaving one where it is. As it turns out, there was an error on the CAD drawing of the kitchen, and we never could have taken the wall back as far as we thought we could. At least not without having a giant black refrigerator sticking out, making it the first thing you'd see when you entered our house. Not exactly the aesthetic we were going for.

So... imagine this. Now we wait some more. What a novel concept for the Becker family.

There is still work being done, but the cabinets that were ordered in early October and should have arrived by Thanksgiving are now not coming until January 23rd. Nice, huh? Luckily, the nice guys working in our house are continuing to do everything that can be done and have simply decided to finish everything else, and hang the cabinets as the final touches. I guess the real finishing touch will be the backsplash, which clearly can't be done until the cabinets are in.

On a more somber, personal note, I've spent a great deal of time lately reflecting on how fragile life is. While we are feeling over the moon at the impending arrival of our son, I feel like I am almost constantly hearing of bad news from people I know. It's sobering to feel almost giddy with excitement one minute, only to recall the numerous others that we know (not to mention so many we obviously don't) who need miracles right now.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Life in a Construction Zone

The day finally arrived when Rob and I had to completely dismantle our kitchen and prepare to live like scavengers for a few weeks while our shiny new kitchen is built. It was not a fun way to end our vacation... We've spent hours going through everything we've ever put in our kitchen this weekend and figuring out how to safely stow it and/or move it to be used while the dust flies. Suffice it to say that I'm already not loving the microwave being a fixture in my living room.

A few lessons I've learned thus far:

1. It is possible to be too organized. I learned this when I came downstairs to make coffee yesterday morning at 6:30 a.m. We have a "brew station," which means no carafe with which to pour water into the tank of the coffee pot. Normally we use the sprayer from the sink. Clearly that's not an option in the living room, next to the fish bowl. No problem. I'll just use a pitcher. EXCEPT every pitcher or other fluid-holding device I own is neatly boxed up and stored in the dining room now. And of course, the boxes are practically hermetically sealed, lest my husband face one extra speck of dust whilst the house is renovated.

2. Starbucks thermal travel mugs are taller than your average coffee cup. The brew station is very convenient. No carafe to break (when you're not ticked off that you also don't have it for pouring.) No burnt coffee. You can just position your coffee mug right under the spout and within seconds have a freshly brewed cup-of-awakeness. EXCEPT when the two handy travel mugs you've kept out to use as your sole coffee drinking devices for approximately six weeks are about two inches too tall to fit under the spout. Again, no problem. I'll just use another mug or measuring cup to dispense my coffee. Wait. That's right. Those are packed away, too. (This is WAY annoying on a Sunday morning when you're up early with a child and can also smell the caffeinated goodness, but can't have any till you find a container for it.)

3. You can't dry your hair and brew coffee when the coffee pot is plugged into the dangerous outlet in the living room. (Do you notice that all of my crises thus far deal with coffee? Hmm. Perhaps I should reassess my New Year's resolution. Yeah, no.) I blew a circuit twice this morning while drying my hair. I dry my hair here every day. That doesn't normally happen. It's only happened when my sister is here and spends longer than usual drying her very long hair. My short hair is usually done in under three minutes. Not too much stress on the circuits. Apparently, though, it is stressful for those circuits to brew a measly six cups of coffee while I'm drying my hair. Note to self: get up even earlier now so that hair can be dried before Rob needs coffee. Or go buy Rob extra Dunkin' Donuts cards and send him on his way about six minutes earlier each morning.

4. The inconveniences of a major renovation are more interesting to a scrapbooker than to a fantasy football nut. See, my major hobby allows me to find the fun in all of this (when I'm properly caffeinated, that is) and snap dozens of photos of all of the mayhem that has become our home life. I can think of fun scrapbook pages to design (and kits to buy!) all based on the noise and dust that come with a new kitchen. If your hobby is fantasy football, you're hard pressed to find such a correlation and simply find all of this ridiculously stressful. See, Rob? Scrapbooking is good for my health.

And finally...

5. Soup is a great meal to keep on hand when you have nothing but a microwave and TV trays to support your dinner-eating habit. The trick is remembering that you will most likely need a bowl. And a spoon. Preferably NOT packed into the boxes in the dining room. And it's best if you figure this fact out before you've heated your dinner.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

This is the year...

Of course I've already realized that 2009 promises to be a big year for our family, but it dawned on me today how significant some of the changes are bound to be in ways that I hadn't thought about yet...

I think that I've been so focused on getting matched that I haven't pondered some of the details until the news really began to sink in. I've also been mentally geared toward a forever family that included a girl. For the record... that really does not mean either Rob or I had a preference about the gender of our child. It just appeared after years of watching the Holt referrals that #2 was a girl at least 75%. While I must admit that I'd come to like the notion of shopping for girly clothes, my daydreaming pretty much ended there. Ten years or so ago, I would never have dreamed how our family has turned out... I've learned so many lessons about what you CAN'T plan on or control, and I am absolutely convinced that God has blessed me with exactly the family I was meant to have.

All of that is to say that I've started to ponder the finer points of the new journey that's ahead now that we know Max is our son. Some of those details are big -- like how life will be for Sam with a little brother to influence and enjoy. Some of the details are small -- like our wonder about whether or not Sam's clothes will fit his little brother.

The biggest detail that is really starting to settle in is that our family will be complete in 2009. I always knew we would have two kids. I was even more sure of that fact as it became clear that we weren't getting any younger as the process evolved along the way. But, now that I really think about it, there's something profound in just knowing that your family is complete. When I look back, at least fifteen years of my life (if not more) have been somehow affected by the creation of our family. Rob and I knew we'd get married and had the usual conversations about all of the "what ifs" from an early point in our relationship. Then we got married and the conversation turned to when we'd start having kids (we were always a year away in our minds!) Most of the rest of the story is history by now. The first pregnancy was a surprise in more ways than I like to recall... From there, we learned many difficult lessons, but we also found the true strength in our relationship with one another and the faith that maybe God had another plan for us.

That's my deep thought to begin 2009! It sounds simple to say that Max completes us, but I'm happily discovering what it really means to say that. The best part of it is feeling like we're finally switching gears from spending so much of our lives waiting to spending our time fully focused on each other.

That brings me to a random point that fellow die-hard scrappers/crafters will understand. I wasn't originally all that interested in the whole "word of the year" conversation, but the more I read about the concept, the more I decided having a word to guide my year might be more significant than planning yet another New Year's resolution. Not that you're waiting with breath held, but the word I decided fits for this year is FOCUS.

I want to focus on simplifying my life so that I can focus on what really matters. I want to focus on the priorities that make my life meaningful, and stop worrying about finding time to do things that aren't enhancing my life or someone else's. Luckily, I still think scrapping fits squarely into this category. More importantly, I hope it will belp guide my decisions when I find myself running in too many directions when all I really want is to be home with my boys, and giving Sam (and soon Max) as much attention as I can while they're still little enough to want to soak it up.

That said, Sam's just emerged from his own person Geotown (aka the new basement playroom) and requested some "cuddle time." I can't say no to that.