Thursday, February 28, 2008

My baby's feet, among other things

My baby's feet, among other things, are incredibly cute. Sometimes I think I don't spend enough time with them. The cute period will only last so long... for they will slowly but surely morph into adult feet, which aren't always so cute. So I have concentrated long and hard on Jackson's feet in recent days. Perhaps I should pick a body part to adore per week. And promise myself, while admiring that particular body part, that I will NEVER forget the size/shape/color/smell/cuteness of it in that very moment, in that very stage.

Perhaps these pics won't stir up the same affection as mine for Jackson's feet. But in the hopes that you will at least get a kick (no pun intended) out of his little pigs, I've included them below.

You may be wondering what the little dude is doing in the way of mobility these days. He's slow to get crawling - but I have a feeling when he receives his Division I Cross Country AND Track scholarships, pace will NOT be an issue (pressure much?). Besides, I'm not gonna complain about the fact that I can make a run for the laundry in the basement and return to his play area to find him in the same relative region of the floor. He's a slipping and a sliding on his belly, but still not the real deal. Makes my life more convenient.
However, as you will see in the below pics, there has been some progress on the all-fours position (as in LAST NIGHT). Daddy and Jackson have spent some diligent quality time in his nursery (Jackson's, not Daddy's) using the advantage of the slipperly-less carpet to obtain this goal: And the other position is also new: "cruising" along surfaces. It's cute.

It's not much, but we about did cartwheels when he performed the all-fours magic. He looks so old :) And so big :) And so about ready to break every sweet little knick-knack in my home :(
I also wanted you to catch a glimpse of the love affair I caught on film. They started off so sweet and innocent... Jackson wrapping his arm around Sophia affectionately yet platonically, like a big brother - then, Sophia returning the same gesture of sisterly love (PICTURES 1 & 2). And here they are just enjoying the appropriate and safe proximity to one another (PICTURE 3). I looked away and when I visually returned to the scene, THIS is what I saw. This progression towards sin... this movement towards the forbidden... an attempt to "lie with" one another (PICTURE 4). I gasped in disbelief. All this time I thought Jackson had a quite convincing childlike innocense about him. I was surely mistaken!!! Ha...

Then, "what have we done?" (PICTURE 5)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

With my own two eyes

With my own two eyes I saw Barack Obama. I hauled my little patootee to St John Arena this morning (Jackson pawned off on Sabrina, the other nanny Sophia gets watched by - it was SO convenient to drop him off just down the street!) and, after waiting 2 hours for his belated bus to arrive from Cleveland (I guess I should give the guy a break - he did just finish a laborous 90 minute debate late last night in a city 2 1/2 hours north of Ohio State's campus), Barack did not fail to impress during the Columbus rally.

Now, it's no secret that I am a Republican. A few of my dear friends would apologize for me here (Bri Elsmore and Rachel Jacobs, to name a couple... In fact, when Bri and I ran together in college, it was commonplace to find ourselves so wound up in heated political debates during distance runs that we'd end up RACING down State St. with our teammates yelling, "STOP it with the politics!!! We can't keep up!"). Or should I say, I am more a Republican than a Democrat. I am fiscally conservative-minded (thanks, Grandad) yet strangely I take a VERY liberal social position... I say "strangely" because I am one of the most straight-laced chicks I know. So why wouldn't I want for others to join the Straight-Laced Party too? I'd love it if they would, I just do not believe the government is the entity to enforce those decisions.

I guess that makes me kinda independent. But more Republican than Democrat.

So... where was I going with all of this... Oh, yes. I am definitely affected and engaged by the Obama message. I have yet to feel this way about McCain's message. But my philosophy of politics and, furthermore, my observation as to how human-kind works tell me the Republican way of doing things (not the George Bush way of doing things, necessarily) is more sensible. The Democrat way of doing things is what I truly want to work. It's just that I don't find it to be as workable... realistic if you will.

Recap: I love the person of Barack. I love his message of change and hope. I love his authenticity and surprising candor about the dysfunction of politics. I believe in the Republican way of doing business, but disagree with the Republican positions socially. I do not believe the current Republican leadership is fairing well.

So, to conclude the recap, I AM TOTALLY UNDECIDED. I cannot figure out what should be the basis of my vote [By "vote" I mean the Big Daddy vote - the November vote - the one in which I assume Barack will have the Democratic nomination.] [I feel I need to explain the absence of Hillary-talk in this entry. Although I have a rather neutral feeling about Hillary Clinton, my gut tells me she will not win the nomination.]. Should I vote for the PERSON alone... his likability and the trust I have in his character? Should I vote for the ISSUES...and shoot for the candidate whose positions I side more with? Should I vote for the international PEACEkeeper... the one who I think will curb this reputation break-down America is experiencing. Or, I feel shameful admitting this might enter the picture for me, do I vote on the basis of cultural CHANGE... by this I mean not only supporting the progress of electing an African American president, but also supporting the idea that "change" from one party to another is in itself a good thing (the reason I feel ashamed to admit this might play in is because it is not a politically intelligent reason at all to vote for's more rallying around the excitement of social progress -what would someone in the day of the Civil War if he/she knew a dude named Barack had a SERIOUS chance at becoming our nation's leader? - and thinking, "why not let 'the other guys' -aka Democrats -have a swing at the ball? I know, real intelligent thinking, heh?)???

I suppose I needed to do some ironing out after today's rally. Thanks for listening to all my babbling. The debates last night, coupled with this Change Movement so completely mesmerizing Barack-supporters around the country, really have me thinking about my measly little vote. Geez, voting takes responsibility.

In closing, I am sure my views run in contrast to more than just friends Bri and Rachel. Please forgive me if you are offended by where I stand on things, or think me stupid for thinking them in the first place. Love me anyway. I'll love you.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Getting Old, Crystal Rain, Water Babe, and Saturday Date

I'm just not the woman I used to be. It took me this whole week to catch up from a weekend with my girlfriends. Three nights of post-midnight bedtimes felt so RIGHT at the time. Two of the nights were 3am nights. Where did I think I was, IN COLLEGE? I was darn near positive I was gonna come down with some sort of bug from how tired I was upon arrival back home. And, don't ya know, Mr. Jackson-man was a PERFECT sleeper while I was away... through the night each of the three nights Daddy was in charge. Scott reported this proudly. Then, when his sleep-deprived mother arrive on the scene, he started up with this 4:00am ish ritual of needing TLC. But, I confess, I was happy to oblige the first night home when I had arrived after his bedtime. Any snuggle time, albeit untimely, was OK with me. The nights thereafter were seriously unnecessary.

I just reread the last paragraph. And I am beginning to think it could be categorized as whiney. How dare I gripe!! I'm disgusted with myself! As a good friend, Holly, from college once wisely stated, "Thirty years from now am I gonna remember great late-night experiences (in this case, genuinely holy talk time with four of my favorite girls on earth and 9-month-old-lying-motionless-on-my-chest moments in a rocking chair)- or am I gonna remember the sleep I got when I forewent those experiences?" I know what my memory will hold more dear. It's my body I'm worried about (haa!).

How bout this fun outdoor sparkling action we've had as of late? I took a couple pictures yesterday during our family walk, but they didn't seem to do the sights justice. It literally felt like the sky was dripping crystals - the frozen rain that had been coating the trees melted down drip by drip. Very beautiful.

So, what have the Arthurs been doing this weekend? Well, Scott had off Friday due to school cancellations - and we decided to gear up for some indoor swimming! Whewee, was that a riot! We decided upon the Dublin Rec Center, mainly because their website boasted about a lazy river. Cool! We're IN!

First off - word to the wise - if you are thinking of introducing a pool to your baby for the first time (well, KIND of for the first time - Florida in Dec constituted his VERY first time, but he wasn't digging it then AT ALL), choose a weekday when every school aged child in the Columbus area ISN'T off of school and swimming at the same time. It really was a blast. We entered the water during the "break time" for the rest of the young whipper snappers. Adults were allowed in then. Jackson was JUST getting his rhythm when the whistle blew and IN THEY CAME! He did alright the rest of the time, but blinked excessively and clinched [onto either Scott's chest hair or my you-know-what's] for dear life whenever a small child with alien-looking goggles threatened to drown his little self with splashes and vigorous ripples in the heavily chlorinated water. Whatever pee Jackson's swollen diaper may have leaked out was instantaneously de-bacterialized with the potency of that water. Scott and I haven't seen straight since, our eyes have been so dried out.

Saturday night was quite the spontaneous evening as well. At about noon, Scott and I looked at each other and said, "Let's get out together alone." So we promptly surveryed our babysitting options and gave Tiff a try. Tiff is Sophia's mom down the street. She agreed to hang with Mr. Arthur Junior at her house. I made sure to remind Tiff to force he and Sophia to sleep in SEPARATE beds. Hee. Tiff was a dear to do this for us. Oh, how we got GIDDY once we secured baby-help. We got our thinking caps on about what the night should entail. We ended up with a movie at Studio 35, "Juno." We couldn't have picked a better setting for that type of movie. LOVED BOTH. Studio 35 is incredibly unique and fun. Apparently, Studio 35 fans are die-hard. They not only order a meal to eat while watching the show on the single screen (there are a few tables in the back of the theater where you can kick back and enjoy that pizza or chicken wing meal you ordered while movie-watching), but also start the beer-drinking then and don't end it until midnight, when the attached bar shuts down. What? Attached bar? How cool is that? You may be thinking this is all too hokey... but my existence in one word is "hokey" so the place fit me well.

Now, on to Juno. It's an independent film that he Scott and I in stitches. The humor is slightly off-beat. But the fact that so much humor can be found from a quite sobering storyline of a teenage pregnancy is even more interesting. We were impressed with and entertained by it.

Then, off to get a couple apps and drinks from a place called EJ's in Grandview, where we met up with friends. It felt good to be out. And, to tell you the truth, I felt semi-hip. Emphasis on the "semi," but it's a start.

Gotta run. The cocomotion I bought Scott for his birthday (and then again for Christmas - long story) is not working right and he's in a panic. It has been used nearly every night in 2008. I must console him. Without the cocomotion, nights in this house won't be the same. (For those of you who are not familiar with a "Cocomotion" - it's a glorified milk-warmer-upper used to prepare hot cocoa. Don't let Scott know I sarcastically described it as "glorified." He believes it is divine).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blast in Round Hill

The Girlfriends always meet up in either Jan or Feb for a weekend of laughter, relaxation, eating, pampering, and loving one another. This year we all headed to Beth's house in Round Hill, VA - just a 30 minute drive away from Washington DC. Not that we left her house much to check out our surroundings. We were too busy being with each other. You'd be surprised at how much a craft, a bunch of candles, and conversation can sustain a group of women through long stretches of day and night. Ahhh, girlfriends. They're the best.

We did venture out once, to do a little clearance shopping and play some laser tag... that's right, I said LASER TAG! An elbow strawberry, a split nose, and lots of endorphins later, we all made it out alive. Who says laser tag isn't violent? Quite the adventure.

Here are some fun shots from the weekend:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentines Day - belated

Shot 1: I admit. I staged this picture. Jackson forgot to remind me to take a picture with his V-Day bib on yesterday so I faked this one this morning... thought that counts!

Shot 2: Geared up and ready to go. This kid was bauling moments before... the initial confined feeling of being stuffed in a glorified body bag and squeezed into the straps of a car seat is not Jackson's favorite (wonder why?), but he always becomes his mellow, joyful self after a couple seconds.

Shot 3: Jackson's favorite toy of all time (at the moment) is this Cavs basketball, given by Grandpa and Grandma Arthur. He is so infatuated with the rolling feature it offers, that he now is overgeneralizing to think that ALL items roll. He tries to roll his stuffed animals, his books, EVERYTHING. It's pretty cute.

Shot 4: I pick out cars based on their asses. Doesn't the Saab have a nice one? It's Sonny's best feature. I'm also a HUGE spoiler fan, which was a surprise offering we didn't know about until we had already paid to have the car transported to Columbus (from NC). We did one of those blind purchases. Kinda like how Scott bought my engagement diamond. But that's another story for another day.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Big Lots and Ironing

Yesterday was a fascinating day...
On top of its signifigance detailed in the lat post, I also did some relatively ordinary tasks. They transformed to extraordinary in unusual ways.

Let me start with ironing. Scott typically gets his dress shirts dry cleaned and pressed professionally. We decided recently to toy with the idea of laundering them on our own - save money, and HEY, that's one of the tasks a stay-at-home-wife/mom can own, right? So there they sat, like 13 shirts on the ironing board... for 2 weeks. The poor guy beat around every last bush to insinuate that IF I DIDN'T QUIT PROCRASTINATING AND IRON THE DARN THINGS HE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO ASK PEOPLE FOR MONEY AT WORK BEAR-CHESTED. He was so cute about it, not wanting to make me feel like his maid.

So yesterday, I finally turned on the iron. Step 1. Then I found a pluthera of other fun chores to assomplish while I waited for it to get hot... painted my toenails, emptied the dish washer, tidied Jackson's toys. Finally, I reentered the basement scene and faced the daunting task of ironing mind-numbingly. After drudging through shirt one, I revamped my thinking...Wait, why is mind-numbing bad? Why does it have to feel confining to stand in one place concentrating all one's efforts on menial labor? Could this be a useful use of my time? And then I started humming. And then I started praying about the people I love who need love right now. And then I started admiring each finished product - sharp, smooth men's shirts all lined up - and I mean to tell you, I wanted MORE. Bring it on, ironing! When else do you have permission to be brainless in one place, where thoughts can come and go as they please? Running on the treadmill at the gym is another example, but there are people in biker's shorts that distract you there. I learned that ironing was great God-time. For all those out there who loathe ironing - just shift your mental goggles. You, like me, might have success in "tricking" yourself into believing it's enjoyable! So, there's one ordinary chore turned extraordinary.

Big Lots. I love that place. I know, I know. It's a big tacky. And even their top-of-the-line featured items are less than quality. But come on, who can beat it for little gag gifts or random treasures or fun surprises? Did I mention I love that place?

Yesterday I was doing a bit of shopping there and, unbeknowst to me, the place was clearing out. So there I am with Jackson in the cart, un-rushedly bee-bopping my way to the cash-register only to discover a police officer hanging out with the sales clerk. In my oblivious fashion, I just assumed it was a security dude Big Lots must've hired. That is, until I heard the cop whisper to the clerk, nodding towards me, "Is she the last one?" Turns out, the place was shutting down after I left. Also turns out, there were three other cops lingering near the doors and several cop cars haphazardly parked up on the sidewalk outside the joint... like they had RUSHED there. And, just moments earlier, I had spent four whole minutes deciding whether to get Lemonade Crystal Light or Raspberry Ice. Who knew they had themselves a little "incident" sometime during my visit, as the clerk informed me? The darndest things can happen in the darndest places. Needless to say, I darted to my car after exiting the place. I still haven't found "the rest of the story" in the newspaper. KK thinks there may have been a drug bust. She clearly never had faith in Big Lots like I did. And now mine is beginning to dwindle. Should I sniff my Crystal Light powder before mixing it up?

Enough of my God-filled ironing and crime-filled errand-running. Don't I live an exciting life?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday one year ago we learned of Duncan's heart problem. We were told by the high risk OB, Dr. Fox, that not only would Duncan not live past the pregnancy, but that his passing in utero would likely endanger the life of "Baby B," Jackson. That evening, Scott and I crumbled. That was the evening it snowed and snowed and snowed - God knew I simply could NOT hold myself together at school the next day. So He obliged and sent inclimate weather. The messy roads and dangerous commute the following morning - one year ago today - also meant that we could slide right into Children's Hospital in the place of a cancelled appointment. We were called by The Heart Center at Children's at 7:45am, asking if we could get there by 8:30. We arrived, shower-less and teeth-not-brushed. After an hour long echo cariogram on my babies' hearts, I remember going to the restroom before the consultation with the cardiologist. I prayed in the bathroom, "If there is any way the news can be different, let that way happen, God.

Can you imagine how much I wanted to pounce on Dr Cua, our quirky, warm-natured little Asian cardiologist, and give him a smooch when he told us there was a way for Duncan to live? After all, it was the day before V-day - a smooch, a hug, and a massage, I would have offered if he hadn't needed to tend to his next appointment. We were so excited about the surgery intervention he described that we slid our VW all the way to Frisch's for a celebratory grease-filled lunch. I remember that day, one year ago, like it was one day ago. Our hope was restored, and our spirits were filled with possibility.

I retell this story because it helps me remember... it helps me to remember the extremes of emotions we went through in a 24 hour period of time. It helps me to know, after another 24 hour turn of events surrounding Oct. 26 - specifically leading up to the moment I swallowed the shattering reality that Duncan would die - that despite wherever I fall on the spectrum of pain. Or on the spectrum of hope. Or on the spectrum of circumstance... I am and always will be OK. Many of you know that this was the theme of our Christmas letter this year. And I cannot seem to get that message out of my head. I think it's there to stay, which isn't a half-bad thing. It is my interpretation of what faith is all about. Sometimes I think God is a manifestation of the reality that time marches on. For me, there's something so beautiful about the fact that it marches on in ways we cannot plan or control, making it very mystical, mysterious, and holy. And more importantly, BIGGER, GREATER, AND ALMIGHTIER (I know, it just fit written than way) THAN US.

On Monday we purchased Duncan's grave marker. We were told at the cemetery that it could be added whenever we wished. So now's the time. It will appropriately describe Duncan as "Our Little Warrior."

All of this makes this week an interesting one... especially given the snowy conditions. Brings a year ago's experiences that much closer to mind.

I journaled a lot in my "Duncan" journal today... it seems I have one for just about EVERY occasion. The neat-o pages have neat-o artwork and neat-o quotes splattered throughout. The two messages sent to me through that journal today were, "Honor yourself - just as you are" (LOVE this one - meditate on that sucker for a few minutes!) and "Why is not doing so hard?" (Wouldn't we all benefit from the exercise of staring in the mirror and repeating that a few times?).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fun Times

Jackson and Daddy - our little boy's fist seems to be permanently fixed in his mouth these days
Oh look, there he is again with fist in mouth - this time with good friend Amy Avery
These two pics are of Jackson learning family names & faces. I still need to get pics of Ricci/Diane, Henry/Lynette and all the Decker families (And also the McClain side). The goal is to have a "My Family" book representing EVERYONE!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Chocolate Party & Official Snobs

I kidnapped two of my moms (the third was unable to make it due to a previous commitment - we'll make up for it, Diane!) and took them to the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland (located smack dab between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Brown's stadium along the lake) for a traveling exhibit called, "Chocolate."

I love kidnappings - being kidnapped, kidnapping others. It's just so fun to be apart of the mystery of a surprise. Lynette and Becky were my victims. They were such good sports - all I let them know beforehand was the time constraints, what to wear, and what to bring. Otherwise, they were clueless. So I unveiled the plan for the day once both of them had been picked up for the morning, hot chocolate and other chocolate goodies in tow.

The exhibit was cool - mainly consisting of the history behind the bean which started it all. Can you believe that hot chocolate, the beverage, became a drink of choice (for the priviledged mainly) long before coffee did? And that the Mayan and Aztec peoples used it as an offering to their Gods (At that time it was a bitter, spicy drink - void of the sweetness those silly Europeans added to it much later. I have them to thank for my obesession)? Well, there you go... my little lesson for the day.

We finished the day with a beautiful conversation flowing from lunch at Mama Santos (best pizza IN THE WORLD) into our 2 hours ride home. Ain't it great to have the undivided attention of women you love? And to be in discussions about things in our hearts - dreams, desires, searching - that's just plain Godly. So I felt so spiritually connected by the end of Saturday night, that I skipped church on Sunday. Ha (it wasn't actually intended, I just got hooked on "The Office : Season 3" which I can watch on my computer, and 8 episodes later I finally came out of my cocoon of laziness yesterday!).

We also obtained the SWEET Saab over the weekend. His name is Sonny. And he looks GOOD. I have yet to get my camera out in that freezing-butt cold to take a shot of it. But he's fun. He is the polar opposite of Tipsy, the Town and Country - thereby making him all the more awesome. I'll get a pic out soon!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Little Man will stand before he crawls

A quick post showing how much Jackson loves to stand upright. He has always had very sturdy legs, just having a tough time getting those legs coordinated enough to crawl. He turned 8 months old Saturday (while his parents were away enjoying their evening away - great Mom I am, ha!), and he has yet to show much mobility. But I refuse to complain. I'll take immobility as long as I can get it!

The three C's of Ohio

A good month January was. We spent a weekend in Cleveland earlier in Jan. Then this past weekend (which technically was Feb), we galovanted away on another overnight to Cinci. One of Scott's buddies, Chike, got married to his beautiful bride, Corinne. Chike is a resident at the Children's Hospital in Cinci (specializing in cardiology, as it so happens) and made himself available when we needed second, third, and fourth opinions about Duncan's care. Chike was well-informed about HLHS. He has truly been a gift to us.

Anyway, the wedding was put together in 3 weeks. 3 WEEKS! I thought my 6 month engagement was impressive. Chike and Corinne got engaged a bit ago and had planned on hosting the wedding for summer/fall of this year. But, they decided right after New Years, WHY THE HECK SHOULD WE WAIT? So, with the help of a very capable wedding planner, they pulled it off in 3 week's time. We were thrilled to be able to make it. KK and Grandma Lynette held down the fort here in Columbus with Jackson.

We had a blast. And, despite the fact that my camera is GLUED to my behind when my child is the star, I failed to bring it along to capture our own fun! Pooh. You'll just have to believe me when I say the exclusive Metropolitan Club where the reception was held made for a VERY EXCUISITE evening. Scott and I even partook in some adult beverages. Yeehaa.

In other news, I heard from Justin yesterday. Which felt VERY good. Given his history with substance abuse and his self-admitted troubles with depression, one cannot help but create really negative storylines when no news is reported on its own. So, not hearing from him directly since early December had my thoughts in a tailspin.

He sounded well. He was honest and authentic, which are qualities very hard to muster when engaged in active addiction. So that is the good news. The shakey news is that he reported not having a plan for what is next - returning to Louisville is not a good idea, he said, since so many of his using buddies would pull him back in, and staying in a state forest with nothing but a tent separating him from the stars is not a long-lived plan. So, he is trying hard to piece together a future for himself. I cannot imagine what that is like, can you? He has strong family roots, but otherwise must feel so homeless. He has an able body to work, but his legal record -less than sparkling white - makes job-hunting a daunting task. He has so many deep, smart, interesting thoughts spewing from that head, but it's the same head that contains bad feelings about himself and dreary thoughts about life. And, lastly, the guy is such a good friend to others (sometimes to his fault), but doesn't believe he is deserving of quality friendships. So while on the one hand he has complete liberty, void of commitments and obligations, to start fresh and new - on the other, he is bound by so much fear and is held captive by his own baggage.

I do not know what that life would feel like. And only those who have been in that same boat can truly reach Justin. That is why I pray for him to reinvolve himself in AA and NA. A recovering addict can smell BS a lot better than someone without that track record. And, furthermore, a recovering addict's bluff-calling holds a lot more water and authority than my bluff-calling. How would I know what it's like to be Justin? I just pray for guidance for him.