Monday, September 29, 2008

Puttin it down for Californ-i-a

Throw it up y'all, throw it up, Throw it up
Let's show these fools
how we do this on that west side

Cause you and I know it's tha best side

Tupac, I'm not as you undoubtedly already know. So my pictures of LA are a little tamer than what the above song lyrics might suggest, but I couldn't resist a little throw back to California Love--especially since the band at Sara's wedding did a rather odd cover of it at the reception. Anyway, please enjoy these debauchery-lacking pictures that I do have to offer.

This is the hotel that we stayed at in Beverly Hills. The top picture is the plaque that is by the entrance on the side facing Rodeo Drive. The other one is by the gate where you drive up. We had a rental car, so we always used entrance B as opposed to entrance A. Better for our financial stability if I stay off of Rodeo Drive especially because California has a ridiculously high sales tax. Not that I let that stop me from shopping completely or anything; I am still a woman after all.

Friday night was the rehearsal dinner at a little place on Olvera Street. " Olvera Street is the birthplace of the City of Los Angeles, otherwise known as El Pueblo Historic Monument. The colorful village features 27 historic buildings with a traditional Mexican style plaza area." I obtained that little blurb from this site in case you're interested in learning more. I want you to know that the two photos below were taken after the consumption of a few glasses of sangria. This will be as scandalous as the trip gets.

There are a couple of girls I know that are going to be very jealous that I was at Rory Gilmore's alma mater of Chilton...

Andy was at Greystone Mansion too, but he found the large koi to be more exciting than reliving Rory's high school years. You can read more about Greystone here.

The fam standing outside of the Natural History Museum before the wedding ceremony. Don't we look spiffy? Too bad you can't see my sexy Jessica Simpson 3 inch black heels, but if you look real closely, you might see the slight grimace on my face from the pain that those damn shoes were causing.

Dum, dum da dum. Beautiful, smiling bride.

This is why you don't leave your husband in charge of the camera at a wedding.

But I think he made amends with this one.

After the ceremony, we headed inside the museum for cocktails and the reception. Ramin is Persian, so the wedding had Mediterranean food and cultural touches that celebrated that ancestry. So, imagine a combination Jewish/Persian reception set in a museum with moose and caribou staring at you from behind their glass enclosures. It was definitely the most unique wedding I've ever attended. I'm so happy that we got to share in what must have been the happiest day for Sara and Ramin-and not just because it was an excuse to spend a day driving up Pacific Coast Highway either.

Run! you silly girl, there's an elephant behind you! Oh wait, you can't run because right now your fancy stilettos are cutting off all circulation to your toes. Well, at the very least you should try to limp on out of its way or something.

And, there you have it--one weekend of sun and love all wrapped up in 11 half decent photographs. Now I'm just going to need you all to:

Shake it shake it baby
Shake it shake it baby
Shake it shake it mama
Shake it Cali
Shake it shake it baby
Shake it shake it shake it shake it...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Return of the surfer dude

Chase was back in his element last weekend at the shore. Little monkey loves to run away from the incoming waves and dig in the sand. By the end of our visit to the beach, he was completely soaked from head to foot and covered in sand. Wasn't anything a quick bath couldn't fix though.
We also got to visit with MomMom, PopPop Morty, and Aunt Jann. It's obvious that my two children just bask in all of that extra attention.

Drew and I are headed to Los Angeles this weekend for cousin Sara's wedding. Don't feel bad that Chase and Amaya don't get to journey across country since they'll be staying with Grandma and Grandpa instead. Who needs Beverly Hills when you have the constant entertainment of grandparents from the hills of West Virginia?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Swimmin Pools, Movie Stars

Looks like someone thinks she's going to Los Angeles with us next week.

Think again, cupcake.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Not the Mama

Chase has taken to calling me "Mom" now. Not Mama so much anymore, but Mom. The child uses this new term of endearment when he wants to engage in a bit of a pre-adolescent attitude sharing. Let me share with you just one example of this new sassiness. This morning I asked him--quite nicely I thought--whether he was going to come downstairs and eat some bananas and waffles. His reply, "Mom....No, I'm not" followed by the slamming of his bedroom door. I stood there thinking, "Hello! You're 2! And you're a boy. This is behavior I might expect from your sister when she's 13, not from you at 2. I mean give me a break kid!" Sadly, "No, I'm not" has now become one of his most oft repeated phrases. I certainly do miss the easy going "OK" days of yore.

Besides the new 'tude that has come into play, there's another reason being called Mom really bums me out. Remember how Boyz II Men had a ballad on the Soul Food soundtrack called "A Song for Mama"? Maybe you need a little's the chorus:

Mama, mama you know I love you
Oh you know I love you
Mama, mama you're the queen of my heart
Your love is like
Tears from the stars
Mama, I just want you to know
Lovin you is like food to my soul

Is it all coming back to you now? Anyway, I always kind of thought that one day Chase would become a multi-platinum recording artist, and he would cover that song and sing it for me live at Madison Square Garden. This was, of course, a perfectly realistic future scenario until Monkey's new parental nomenclature emerged. Sadly, I just don't think, "Mom, Mom you know I love you" has the same appeal. But fear not, for the Chase as a future professional baseball player dream is still alive.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hold still? No comprendo

There's my mama with that camera again. Why does she keep saying, "Hold still? What's that mean anyway?"

Does it look like this?

No? Well how about when I kick my legs this way--is that what you want?

Listen, I've tried to smile pretty for you and I know that I look awfully cute in my dress, but I'm starting to get grumpy here. What exactly do you want me to do lady?

Ohhh, now I get it.

Let's do this again real soon, ok?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And then there were six

Weeks that is. Didn't I just write about her being one month old? From the pictures, I am sure that you are able to tell that the little Gremlin is continuing to grow at an astounding rate. At her last doctor's visit, she was 9 pounds and some change and in the 75th percentile for height. I'm sure she's put on a few more ounces since then--she'd have to considering the amount of formula this child can knock back. Our next order of Enfamil will be in the 6 oz bottles since the little one is frequently needing a second 3 oz bottle in order to completely curb her appetite these days. All that extra formula means that she has been able to share more spit up episodes with us. (please see the lovely liquid bubble oozing from her mouth in the picture below)

Little lady is beginning to show signs of her own unique personality. She loves to have her cheeks kissed and will reward your efforts with a big, open mouthed smile. It could break your heart it's so cute. What isn't so cute is the sound of her screams when she thinks she isn't yet ready for a nap. Feisty, this one.

She is still a swaddle and pacifier girl. I highly recommend the Kiddopotamus wraps for those of us who are swaddlingly challenged. Bean stays in her nursery at night although she still sleeps in the bassinet. And she does sleep at night, just not all night. Most nights will find her up only briefly around 12 and 3 for feedings and changings, but she has also been known to scream from 3 until 6 if the mood strikes her as such. At least this is what Drew tells me as you know that my spoiled self is fast asleep at the time.

Despite keeping him awake during the night, the girl has her daddy tightly wrapped around her exceedingly long fingers. Just yesterday, Drew came home with Baby Juicy wear for the little princess. It's pretty sad when a six week old is more chic than her mother. Of course, he also brought me a new diaper bag, so I suppose I shouldn't be lodging my complaints quite so loudly.

Amaya being 6 weeks means that I have also reached the 6 weeks postpartum benchmark. This is a most magical number for a new mama. It's the point at which my body is supposed to be well on its way back to a state of normalcy. I am now able to safely do such dangerous things as taking a soak in a nice warm bath. Unfortunately it is also the time when I can once again engage in my exercise program. That's right folks, the party is over. Time to start sweating through my training again. Time to shape up the diet. Goodbye sloth and tasty treats. Hello pain and suffering--I haven't missed you a bit.

But wait, let's think about this for a minute. When I got pregnant with Amaya, I was 10 pounds above what I was with Chase. I gained 40 pounds with her and 50 with Chase, so my final weight was the same for both of them. Now, at 6 weeks pp, I am 10 pounds below what I was at the same point in my last child birth recovery arc. And, I'm even able to wear the jeans I wore last fall before the little legume was conceived. So, here's my theory. It would seem that my current diet plan of eating what I want when I want and getting little to no exercise is working just fine. Therefore, I don't really need to start training and eating healthy stuff right now, do I? I can spend another week or two or three reveling in my indulgent lifestyle of couches and bonbons, right?!? Are you with me?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Got tips?

While I was pregnant with the bean, I would often lurk on the August pregnancy board at Baby Center. This was done mainly to convince myself that I wasn't the only crazy, hormonal pregnant lady in the world. I'd commiserate with the ladies' and their stories of morning sickness and heartburn and moodiness and nesting urges, but I didn't go there with the expectation of expanding my knowledge base. It was mainly just an entertaining outlet for when I was too lazy to get off of the couch which, come to think of it, happened more and more often the bigger my belly grew.

Then one day shortly before the arrival of my little cupcake, I came across a ranting post by a young mom to be. Ranting posts are my favorite as I can relate very well to the urge to just flip out over the many annoyances that life can bring. Anyway, this woman was a waitress who at the time was about 8 months pregnant. She was angry because a couple left her a measly $2 tip on a $150 check after they had commandeered a table for the entire evening and kept her running back and forth with their various demands.

Now, it doesn't take an economist to know that a 1.3% tip is woefully inadequate for a server to survive on, but what I didn't know was that she actually lost money on the table. You see, I wasn't aware that some restaurants require that their serving staff contribute a set percentage of their total sales to the hostesses and busboys. I think she said it was 2% but details are not my finer point, so it's very likely that I'm wrong on the exact figure. If it was 2%, that means she had to put $3 into the kitty for support staff when she had only gotten $2 from the customer. Now, my stellar math skills come into play as I realize that she had to pay $1.00 for her time and the pleasure of waiting on that party. And this doesn't even factor in the taxes that she'll have to pay on the gratuity, or the fact that her hourly wage is well below the national minimum.

In this particular situation, the low ball tip stung even more as the waitress only had three tables in her section that evening, so the difference was not as easily made up by customers who tip appropriate amounts. I knew about lousy tippers, table turnover, taxes and having to share tips; but I never considered all of the myriad of ways that those things could impact the server and her ability to earn a living.

As someone who spends a lot of time eating out in restaurants, I was quite perturbed by this new knowledge. I've seen how hard many waitresses work, and to think that they would do so without proper compensation made me feel enraged for them. I was still riding this wave of ire when I happened upon this book while browsing in Barnes and Noble:

Of course I had to purchase it. But being pregnant at the time, I quickly forgot it until I found it the other day. I put it in my suitcase this past weekend and proceeded to devour it at the lake. The author started out as a 30 something blogger who wrote about being a waiter in an upscale restaurant in NYC. This behind-the-scenes peek into the restaurant business developed a huge, devoted following that lead to the writing of this book. The blog's address is, but I have to warn you that his recent entries are mostly self-promoting plugs for his book and media appearances. It seems that he may be a bit consumed by his own success at the moment. I recommend going back and reading the archives for the good stuff.

In the book, The Waiter writes as though he his speaking to you in a way similar to how a father would sit his son down to be regaled by the older man's hard earned words of wisdom. This relaxed prose made for an easy read. I enjoyed his distinctive, dry wit and his sprinkling of illuminating metaphors as he exposes the existence of a culture within the food industry that I am sure most diners are completely unaware. I know that I'll never look at my server the same, and I will most certainly be on the lookout for some of the extreme customer personalities that were so humorously brought to life in the book. Having learned from a firsthand source the many ways a wronged server can enact revenge upon his charges, I'll be sure to be on my best behavior when eating out. I certainly don't wish to become the star of another waiter's war story filled memoir especially since I no longer have pregnancy hormones to blame for all of my poor behaviors.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sun is shining...I'm a rainbow too

We enjoyed a lovely couple of days at the lake this past weekend. Our moods took a slight dive on Saturday while we witnessed the beat down that ECU gave my beloved Mountaineers, but soon the calming lake water restored our good cheer. The last time we were there was right after my emergency room ordeal, so as one can imagine, I wasn't in the relaxing at the lake frame of mind at the time. It was thus part of my master plan to have this trip in early September to redeem myself a bit before the cold sets in.

This weekend reminded us how thrilled we our with our new house's lake frontage. We have our own private dock which lends itself to peaceful afternoons spent soaking one's feet while gazing off into the distance. The water at the new place is deeper than our old one so it provides for great swimming opportunities. Accordingly, I did at last get into the lake this year which was a miracle considering the weather was supposed to be rainy from remnants of tropical storm Hannah. Luckily, it turned out to be a beautiful weekend.

Chase enjoys throwing rock after rock into the lake from the pebbled shoreline. If he keeps up at this pace, we'll have to bring in a truckload of the stuff before next summer. Although, he can't take all of the blame, as I too, threw a few stones into the lake in the hopes that they'd skip for me.

Even Amaya got into vacation mode. She seems destined to be a lake baby just like her brother. Which is good because it's not like we're going to give her much choice in the matter.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

4 captions for 4 pictures and that's all she wrote

Friend Aiden showed me the wonders of the fan and hand holding. He might have a bit of a crush on me, but who wouldn't.

Big brother Chase wants to be in the picture, too. I'll let him, but not until after I fuss a bit first--can't make life too easy for him you know.

Just one more good wail...

There, now I feel better.