October 29, 2010

fall-ing in love

I couldn't let the month of October go by without sharing a story ...

I met my husband in the spring of my junior year of high school. We hit it off immediately and became very fast friends (something, I told him, that would never change). As the summer came and went, we began spending more time together ... Hanging out on weekends, going to see movies, meeting up during separate vacations at the same place, having dinner with each other's families ... The list could go on and on.

For my birthday in September, he sent flowers and a necklace to me at school. Not only did this make me uncomfortable (I went to an all-girls' school, so gifts like this were cause for LOTS of attention ... Which I didn't want), it served as a huge reminder that this guy whom I merely considered "my friend" wanted to consider me something else entirely. Trying to shake off the strangeness of it all, the rest of September went by without incident.

Then came October.

I should note that both my husband and I have always loved the fall. Everything about it, even the dark and dreary days are met with open arms from both of us. There is no other season that makes us happier.

Maybe that's why I let my guard down ...

As the month began, we would meet up as part of a much larger group, driving out to various haunted attractions on Friday or Saturday nights. Somehow, despite all the different cars and drivers to choose from, we always ended up traveling together. This was fine with us, as barely a moment passed where we weren't joking or laughing about something ... Or singing along to the "Saturday Night 80's" the local radio station played.

By the middle of the month, the large group began to dwindle. A massive caravan of cars became one or two ... But that didn't stop our haunted outings. We kept going. Locating new attractions each weekend and making the trip to visit them, even if they were hours away.

By Halloween night, it was just us and a handful of friends. Although we probably could have fit into one car (or van), we drove separately. We were coming off of a long day together ... A pancake breakfast at church, a scary movie with a friend, a visit to his house, all capped off with one last haunted attraction ... A haunted forest.

To spare you the suspense, I went in holding onto the hood of his sweatshirt, but came out holding his hand ...

And the rest, as they say, is history.

That was Halloween 1999.

This Halloween, then, marks 11 years as an official couple. I say official, because (although, at the time I would certainly deny it) we were most obviously a couple from the very beginning. From that very first moment we spoke and hit it off, there was always something there. It may not have been romance, but it was a true connection.

One that would withstand many different obstacles and bring us all the way up to today...

It's just funny how the sights and sounds and smells of fall bring it all back ...

October 28, 2010

just call me superwoman (or crazy)

While this could be the title of a post about following through on popping out a baby the "natural way," I'm not going to go there ...

Maybe some other time.

Seven months ago, when I signed up for an internet class at Cleveland State University, I thought it would be my big chore of the fall. With daylight hours slipping into darkness, and cool, rainy nights to contend with, I figured I wouldn't mind spending hours each night holed up in the computer room, reading from the glowing screen and responding to the various requirements of the class.

Seven months ago, when I applied (and was hired) at a local tutoring facility, I thought that it would be something "to keep me busy," a mere escape from the house. A moment to myself where I could continue to hone my teaching skills, make a little spending money, and still maintain my role as stay-at-home-mom during the day.

Seven months ago, when I emailed that application to the virtual school, I thought I was only appeasing my husband. He was becoming more and more concerned about us "hitting a wall" as the money I had built up from my time at work slowly dwindled away. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that anything would come of that tiny little email, two page resume attached. I certainly didn't anticipate the whirlwind that would follow about six months later.

Today, I am somehow managing to keep my head above water. I am completing my class assignments on time, working my part-time job in the evenings, and falling into a rhythm with my full-time job(s) during the day ... But the really funny thing about it, is that all these commitments, all the busyness and stress-fueled activities, only serve to remind me of how important the quiet moments can be.

And how much I truly love them.

Of course, I couldn't do any of it without the support of my husband. Without him to watch the boy for a couple hours in the evening, or to feed him dinner, or give him a bath, my whole well-timed, perfectly orchestrated balancing act would cease to exist.

My superhero facade would crumble.

I guess that makes him Robin to my Batman ...

I always did have a little crush on the Boy Wonder.

October 26, 2010

clambake couture

Malcolm represented our entire family as he attended his second-ever clambake over the weekend (his dad and I went to a childhood friend's wedding, instead).

Since many of the people in attendance hadn't seen him in quite a long time (and some, never at all), I knew I had to send him off in style. After all, even though he couldn't partake in the seafood, he could look extra cute.

Here he is posing with the bags used to hold the unfortunate clams prior to their arrangement in the steamer:

Sweater: Wonderkids (thrifted for $2.00)
Jeans: Circo ($4.00)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Stride-Rite (thrifted for $3.00)

October 25, 2010

a year in pictures

Malcolm hit thirteen months over the weekend.

I figured that it was about time I put together a little retrospective video for him ...

October 22, 2010

the frustrated football face

This is the expression that all Cleveland Browns fans wear when their team takes the field ...

As you can see, Malcolm caught on quite early!

October 19, 2010

taking it all in

Sometimes, after being cooped up in the house all day, its nice to sit outside for a while!

Just look at that serene look in Malcolm's eyes ... He is positively enthralled by the smell of the crisp autumn air, the vibrant blue of the fall sky, the fiery leaves dancing on the neighbor's trees ...

Or, maybe he is plotting his escape.

It could easily be that, too.

Hooded sweatshirt: Old Navy ($8.00)
Tee-shirt: Baby Gap (thrifted for $0.50)
Jeans: Circo ($4.00)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)
Shoes: Stride-Rite (thrifted for $3.00)

October 18, 2010

making beautiful music together

Last weekend, Malcolm and I made a "surprise trip" to southern Ohio (with my mom) so that we could see some of our extended family ... But probably, more importantly, so that they could see Malcolm!

(I've come to grips with the fact that I am merely part of the entourage, just another "thing" that accompanies my son.)

As always, he was quite the trooper ... Making the drive with little complaint and being a perfect angel once we arrived. He is still really outgoing and accepting of all new people (no real signs of "stranger anxiety" just yet) so he loved seeing all the new familiar faces. I don't think he minded all of the extra attention, either ... Or the extra hugs and cuddles. He's turning out to be quite the sensitive little fellow.

Although he was a big hit across the board, out of everyone, my grandparents from Pittsburgh (his "Great Gram and Pap") were probably the most excited to see him. Thinking back, the last time that they have seen him "in person" was when he was four months old! Since then, they have really only watched him grow through the photographs I send their way ... Something that, while acceptable, really isn't good enough.

A piece of paper is no substitute for the real thing!

As a kid, I was also lucky enough to have one set of great-grandparents ... Yet I barely remember them. Like Malcolm, they were my mother's grandparents, and they lived out of town, so our visits were few and far between. I don't know if there are even any pictures of us together (if there are, I don't remember seeing them).

The morning we were to leave, I made it a point to have my camera ready. While the sheer quantity of photographs I take has dwindled, I know a precious moment when I see one.

And this was a precious moment:

They sat like that for what probably seemed like hours to a one-year-old, taking turns "playing" the xylophone. I truly hope that Malcolm has the opportunity to make many more moments like these with his "Great Gram."

And I hope that I'm around to capture them with even more pictures!

October 14, 2010

work in progress

When I made the switch from working woman to stay-at-home-mom, it was a little bit too easy. I mean, it took absolutely no time at all to adjust to being at home and caring for a little person full time. It was practically instantaneous ... Like taking a breath, it was something that just happened naturally and effortlessly, and felt for all the world like it was something that I was meant to be doing.

The one job that was literally made for me.

This new transition, from stay-at-home-mom to work-from-home-mom, has (already) proven to be a bit more challenging. Although my day-to-day routine has not yet been completely established, I am beginning to see what a "day in the life" is going to look like ... And it is going to be tricky! If being just a mom is any indication of the juggling act that one must perform, this working-from-home mom stuff is going to add about ten more flaming torches to my repertoire. It is going to be really difficult being torn between the duty I feel for two things at the same time:

My son and my job.

It's too darn bad that I'm so loyal and diligent in my endeavors!

About a week ago, as things were just getting started, Malcolm was crabbing and crying at my ankles as I typed away on my work laptop. Instead of reaching down to comfort him (as would have been the case on a normal day), I forced myself to keep working. It was only tired crabbiness ... He wasn't hurt, hungry, or dirty. He could wait. The tears running down his cheeks were merely of the crocodile variety ...

As I quickly glanced down at him, my heart shattered into a million little pieces.

He looked so sad.

What kind of mother would I be if this became the norm? How could I justify the paycheck, yet neglect the one thing that is worth so much more than money?

Suddenly, I felt as miserable as he looked. Turning away from the laptop, I scooped him up into my arms and sat down with him on the living room floor. As soon as he had my attention again, he was all smiles and giggles, his little nose crinkling up on the left side only.

Such a simple solution.

Like I said, mothering this boy is too easy.

That job was made for me.

So, knowing that I now have two important jobs, I fight to seek the balance between being someone's mother and being someone's employee at the very same time. Things are getting better. This past week, there have been no breakdowns (from Malcolm or myself) and a routine is beginning to establish itself. Naps are happening at more convenient times and "new" toys are being presented to keep someone occupied a little longer.

A transition is in the works.

Although it isn't going to be easy, I have a good feeling that we're going to make it work.

October 12, 2010

sunday best

There's just something about getting all dressed up on a Sunday that makes me happy.

Even if we don't have any big plans for the day, I love to put Malcolm in something that has been buried in the back of his closet because it is "too nice" for normal day wear. I have found (on more than one occasion), that this kid looks like he'll fit into something one day and then is too large for it the next ... So I'm not taking any chances with all of the fall goodness I have accumulated!

As you can see, Malcolm seems to tolerate my choices pretty well. I think he knows that when he looks SUPERcute, he can get away with just about anything!

Onesie: Old Navy (gift)
Sweater vest: KRU little (thrifted for $2.00)
Pants: Faded Glory (thrifted for $1.50)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)
Shoes: Faded Glory (thrifted for $3.00)

October 7, 2010

the one year photo frame

It was a shower gift, something that I hadn't registered for or even expected, but upon bringing it home, I was glad that I received it. Every baby should have a frame with room for twelve little photos, one for each month of that first year of life ...

It wouldn't be so bad for a nostalgic mother to look back at, either.

Once the then unknown baby's room was put together, I placed it on the bookcase, wondering if I'd even keep up with adding the monthly pictures. It seemed like a silly thing to do, at the time. It wouldn't actually be complete and fully presentable until an entire year had passed by! It seemed like it would take forever to fill up!

And now it's full.

Every night as I put Malcolm to bed, I can't help but gaze over at that photo frame. The changes from newborn to one month to two months and so on are staggering ... I can remember looking at that frame when he was only three months old and thinking that we had so far to go before he reached that year mark.

Time flies.

Before too long, we will have a similar frame filled with photos of him from preschool, kindergarten, first grade ...

October 5, 2010

crazy saturday

I used to say that I couldn't wait for Malcolm to start walking.

I think I've change my mind.

What starts out as a calm, peaceful moment of sitting and quietly playing with one toy ...

Quickly turns into a free-for-all of fast crawling and stair-climbing ...

Attacking mom (and her camera) ...

And then pulling up on anything within reach!

Layered shirt: Gymboree (thrifted for $4.00)
Pants: Carter's (thrifted for $1.00)
Socks: Circo (gift)

I'm really in trouble when he figures out that whole "balance" thing!

He's lucky that he is so darn cute!

October 4, 2010


I was so excited over how faithful I had been at updating this blog ... Even in all the hubbub of preparing for Malcolm's birthday party, I managed to get a post up for every single day of his birthday week.

Looking back, it's funny that, as I think things are falling into a nice, predictable rhythm, unforeseen events plant me squarely back at square one.

Within the span of a two weeks I was contacted about, interviewed for, accepted, and then trained for a job in which I will be able to work from home. Without saying too much (and boring you or potentially jeopardizing my new business relationship), I was hired at one of Ohio's largest virtual schools.

Yes, that's right, I will actually be continuing my career as a teacher ... But this time I will get to teach from the comfort of my living room instead of a school building!

While I'm excited at the prospect of starting something new (and I know my husband is excited at the prospect of a second income), part of me wonders if I've made the right decision. To say the whole thing was even a little bit expected would be a total lie. I seriously went from being completely content with my stay-at-home role to figuring out how things would function if I became responsible for working forty hours a week on top of it. In the couple of days that my home and work lives have merged, I can see that I've got my work cut out for me. While Malcolm is often content to "do his own thing," there are equally as many times that he wants to use his mama as a jungle gym.

As I compose this, the quote "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" keeps popping into my mind.

If this whole situation isn't the best example of "life" you've ever heard, I don't know what is!

So often, I find myself thinking (really thinking) that I'm in control of my destiny. That it is up to me to determine what I want to do or who I want to be. While I obviously do have a say, there are so many other things that are completely out of my hands. So many things that happen whether or not I want them to.

I know that as time moves on, I will fall into a new rhythm. One that incorporates the best of both worlds. As I have mentioned before, I never imagined that I'd be a stay-at-home-mom ... Now I can't believe that I'm turning into a work-from-home-mom.

We'll see how this goes!

October 2, 2010

a boy and his dad

Is it just me, or are they already starting to look a heck of a lot like each other?