Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hello, Roscoe!

In just a few weeks, Roscoe Village will be the new 'hood for the Darby family! If you know anything about Chicago (which I don't), this area is just west of Lakeview. I had never been here in my life and took a leap of faith that Clint might actually know what he was talking about with choosing this area. We have spent the past few weeks looking on numerous apartment finder websites, sending e-mails back and forth with realtors, and scheduling appointments for viewing these selections, and I was SO anxious to get the ball rolling. So how many apartments did we have to view before picking this little gem? Um, just one. And here she is . . .
We will have the top 2 floors along with a fabulous rooftop deck. You may think we put all our eggs in one basket, but we really did have about 7 apartments scheduled for viewing . . . but after seeing this one we canceled all the others. Just look at the photos. It. Is. Perfect.

Okay, so the pictures are great, but there are a few fancy details I need to brag about:
1.) Garage parking -- great for those snowy, below-freezing winters.
2.) Viking kitchen appliances. Oh yes, Jeri Anne WILL learn how to cook more than the 5 recipes I know.
3.) There are 3 full bathrooms. No further explanation necessary, I'm sure.
4.) The master bath has heated floors. Heated. Floors. I never in my life thought I would live in such luxury.
5.) Directly across the street is a really, really cool park that has a playground, dog park, tennis courts, a couple of baseball fields, a big grassy area for picnics, and, wait for it . . . wait for it . . . a ginormous SWIMMING POOL!! Hooray! I will finally have easy access to the water! And we have a beautiful view of this park right from our deck and balconies.
But what makes this apartment (or is it actually a condo? not sure) even more special is the neighborhood. Oh my goodness, it is exactly what I hoped it would be. You know how you picture yourself in a city before you visit it? The way you'll feel walking down its streets, the types of buildings, homes, and even flowers you'll see? Then most of the time you get there and it's not exactly what you expected . . . but this time it was EXACTLY what I expected. Old homes with front porches, tree-lined streets, parks covered in young children and stay-at-home moms, restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating, fabulous little boutiques and gift shops. It couldn't be any closer to exactly right. We will easily be able to walk to the park and the sprinkler park that's just a block away. Roscoe Street with all its neat restaurants and boutiques is only 2 blocks away.
And everyone was soooo nice. In every store we stopped in, the salespeople were eager to know where we were from and so excited that we are moving to the neighborhood. The children's boutiques (there are at least 3!) try to have little social outings and events for moms and kiddos, and they know all the gossip on the preschools, public schools, music and art classes, and where I can go to get "linked in" to the neighborhood. They all seemed so proud of their little community and tried their best to share a little wisdom with us.
Since my new occupation will be Stay-at-Home Mom, I have been a little nervous about finding places to get out and meet new friends, but something tells me I'll be okay. That something is the overwhelming presence of the Double BOBs and Phil and Teds . . . at every park, on every sidewalk, at every restaurant, in every store, and hanging out on the front porches of homes. It is apparent that is neighborhood is overflowing with young couples who have small children, and they are taking complete advantage of what the neighborhood has to offer. No one seems to have a problem with taking their children everywhere they go . . . and no one else seems to mind that the kiddos are there.
Since everything I've written so far doesn't quite sound "big city-like," you may have forgotten that we are actually moving to Chicago. Here's the latest belly shot (31 weeks) of Mack with the river in the background . . . and a bunch of other people.
Oh, and I had my first doctor's appointment with my new OB office, which went really, really well. The office is in the Neiman Marcus building on Michigan. I mean, really? That seems so fancy and big city and just a little too much for me. But a girl in a shoe store told me her OB office is in the Playboy building -- ha!
I'm trying my best to soak up all the advice possible to make my transition a little easier. So far, this is some of what I've accumulated:
1.) Buy a knee-length North Face quilted coat for the winter. I might feel like a marshmallow, but every Chicago hip mom has one. And of course I will do whatever I can to be a hip mom.
2.) Get a zoo membership for the obvious reason of being able to go to the zoo anytime I want but also for free parking -- that is, parking for the very nearby beach.
3.) Do not carry a heavy purse and do not wear uncomfortable shoes. There is a fantastic little shoe store in Roscoe that only sells really cute shoes that are also comfortable. Why, yes, I did buy a pair while I was there.
4.) Little boys do not wear John-Johns to the playground. Hmm. I might have to give in to Clint's request and not let Mack wear "sissy clothes" after he's 1 -- at least not on a regular Tuesday afternoon. I think before 1 it will be okay, but after 1 it's all knit and Merrills. Maybe we can handle this.
5.) Little girls do not wear smocked outfits to the playground. This rule I do not care about. Mimi will wear smocked clothing until she is 16.
And speaking of little girls' clothing, I have something I need to ask of you. I made a cute little outfit for a sweet friend, but it is a little too small. The top ended up fitting more like a 6 month than a 12 month (oops, that's what I get for trying to be too cool for a pattern), so I am making another and would like to sell this one (see photos below). If you need to buy a gift for a 6 month-old little girl, just let me know!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


This afternoon my sister and I were talking about how some people aren't meant to have dogs . . . in the back of my mind I was thinking that she should have some said those are the people who don't deserve dogs. To dog-lovers I don't have to explain the benefits of having a furry creature to snuggle with and to meet you at the door at the end of a long day. They are our first children and know the meaning of true, unconditional love. I feel sorry for people who have never had a dog because they can't know what they are possibly missing.

Having dogs my entire life has been such a blessing for me, and I feel so lonely if I ever come home and Spike and Ru don't meet me at the door. As a child my father was very against having an "inside dog," which was fine for me since we lived in the country and they had lots of room to roam. Spike was my first real "inside dog," and I can't believe I lived this whole time without one.

I'm not really Spike's mother. I guess I'm more like his "step-mother" since he wasn't originally mine. Clint loves to tell the story about how almost 17 years ago his family moved from the country to the big city of Batesville, so they felt a small dog was a better option than the big Labs and Goldens they had in the country. His dad and Tyler brought Spike home when Clint was in the 9th grade, and it wasn't long before Tyler's dog became Clint's.

Clint would like to think of himself as the dog whisperer. Animals really do take to him because he will get on all fours and wrestle around with them and make them howl. Spike was the perfect dog for him with his terrier spirit and quirkiness, and the family quickly made up their own special language for him. "Wantsompin to eat, Itty Bud?" I've heard so many stories about Spike Darby following Clint to school, breaking in on a church basketball game and running on the court, eating honeybuns from Clint's grandfather's store . . . the more stories I hear, the more I think Willie Morris may have derived Skip from Spike.

When I stayed the night at Clint's parents' home for the first time, I heard a strange scratch at my bedroom door in the middle of the night. I was so relieved to see it was just Spike, the strange little dog that had ignored me all afternoon. I watched as he sniffed around the bed and my things and gasped out of fright when he suddenly pounced on the bed and demanded I lift the covers for him. Clint told me that meant Spike had approved of me, which was a good thing since he usually ignored people unless they gave him treats.

So when Clint and I moved into the little bungalow on Prescott, there was no doubt Spike would be living with us. This is when I became his official step-mother and began looking after his needs. I made the vet appointments and grooming appointments. I bathed him in the shower and fed him every night. I took him on walks and made sure he always had plenty of his favorite treats . . . and in return he made sure he sat right next to me on the couch and snuggled with me during night.

About two years ago, Spike's health quickly diminished. He suddenly stopped jumping on the bed and was having a difficult time walking on the wood floors. We blamed it on the unusually cold weather and expected him to get better in the spring. Spring came and he still didn't want to jump on the bed or couch . . . or even jump off. The vet confirmed that he had arthritis and sadly we found the medication did very little to help. Clint and I had to face the fact that Spike was indeed elderly.

Spike and Ruthie have been passed back and forth between our house and his "grandparents" and Tyler over the past few weeks, and I finally got around to bathing him this morning. I stuck him in the shower with me as always and after a while I noticed rust-colored water dripping off of him. "Spike, what did you get into outside?" When I leaned over closer to him to begin his scrub-down, I noticed that it wasn't dirt -- it was dried blood. Poor Spike was COMPLETELY covered in giant fleas and they had gnawed his poor little neck and booty until his skin had bled. He also had tons of little black specks, which I had thought was just dirt but then realized it was actually flea droppings. OH. MY. GOSH. What have I done? I have completely neglected this poor little creature. Either he has been too stiff to scratch or he's too senile to have noticed. But what is my problem? This didn't just happen over the past couple of days. Fleas take weeks to make this kind of infestation. I looked at the mass of dead fleas falling off of him on the shower floor and wept . . .
I am SO sorry.

The vet was able to fit us in at the end of the day, and I hung my head in shame as we walked back to the exam room. I didn't have to admit the flea problem because they were jumping off of him onto the table and the tech's scrubs. I did have to admit to missing his heartworm meds for the past few months . . . and not trimming his nails often enough . . . and not being consistent about picking up the poop in the back yard. The tech could tell I was about to lose it and told me he'd be okay . . . but I had a hard time believing it.

I spoke with the vet about his eyes, and she confirmed he had cataracts and not much vision. The tech came in to let us know he has some parasites in his fecal test, and I had to also confess to the vet my lack of attention to his heartworm meds. I find out about his bloodwork results tomorrow and am not ready for this. Fleas may not be the worst of his trouble.

Today I am the one who does NOT deserve a dog. I don't care how busy I have been and how much is going on in my life. What about his? He doesn't complain, he doesn't make a mess, and he doesn't ask for anything. All Spike needs is a bed, some treats, and for me to make sure I get his immunizations and give him his meds. The poor guy will be 17 on July 4 but all I can think about is what kind of drapes I'll make for the new apartment. God commands us to take care of our elderly and Spike is my elderly . . . and he deserves better.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

All good thing must come to an end . . .

. . . so maybe something better can begin.

As a child I attended preschool and kindergarten at 1st Pres in Corinth and was so sad to see it end but couldn't have been happier to move to a first grade with a huge playground and new friends. Transitions on to high school and college were met with the same attitude -- appreciative of the good times I had and memories I would take with me but ready for a new challenge. Now I am being faced with the biggest transition ever . . .

Of course change is inevitable. A teacher once told me that as soon as I get comfortable it's time to move on to something greater and make a change. Don't get content because that leads to boredom. So Clint and I are putting on our big girl and boy britches and jumping head-first into a new challenge.

But first there are some goodbyes in order. I quit my job on Friday. I haven't been without a job since I was a teenager, so I must also say goodbye to making money and being an important part of a business. My last day of work for Braintree Labs will be Friday, July 9, and I am trying to make the most of what time I have left. I have LOVED this job. It has been the closest career to perfect for me, and I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity because it fits me -- I haven't had to change my personality or force myself to pretend to like it one bit. I will miss my doctors and nurses and office staff who have become my co-workers, and most importantly many have become my friends. I've already started exchanging e-mails and adding FB friends and promising to stay in touch . . . and giving hugs and hiding tears as I leave the offices for the last time.

I told my manager, Mike, on Friday with a lump in my throat and butterflies in my stomach. He has been an AMAZING teacher, coach, manager, and friend to me over the past few years. He encourages me when I need it and lets me have it when I need that too. He's understanding and compassionate yet very strong and determined to bring out the best in me as a sales rep. Mike believed in me and didn't give up on me when I was struggling so hard a few years ago. I will miss our weekly call-ins to catch up on the latest news and, well, to also catch up on some gossip. Mike, I am so grateful to have worked with you for the past few years.

And I also had to tell my favorite co-workers Amber, Arrah, Leighann, and Brad, who I talk with on almost a daily basis. I love their support and excitement for me and know I will keep in touch with them. I'm sad that we will no longer share the connection that brought us together, but we still have plenty in common to keep us friends.

We will also have to say goodbye to Mimi's school, Roulhac's. They have taught her absolutely everything she knows. I try to take credit for some things, but I really think her teachers' constant attention and exposure to other children has pushed her to learn very quickly. Just to brag on her teachers a little -- they taught her to say her ABC's around 18 months old, she can point out shapes and a few colors, she knows the words to so many songs, and can even point out her eyebrows. I don't even think I knew I had eyebrows until I was at least 7 or 8. She can name so many animals and loves to imitate their sounds and movements (the penguin walk is my fave).

We will be saying goodbye to 2nd Presbyterian soon, also. Finding a church in Memphis wasn't an easy task for Clint and me. He was raised in a Methodist church, and I was Southern Baptist so we already had some disagreements to begin with. We checked out a few places and even joined a church when I was pregnant with Mimi, but we had zero motivation to attend this church. When we finally began visiting 2nd Pres, there was no question that God wanted us there. I suddenly began viewing Christianity, my relationship with God, and my relationships with others in a whole new way after being in this environment. For the first time I finally "got" that God is my Father -- just like my dad. He made me and will do anything for me . . . but it's up to me to accept His love. I'm not obligated and I should never feel forced. When I do decide to accept His love, then a whole lot of worry and anxiety melts away and makes life and all its mess a heck of a lot easier to deal with.

And I don't even want to get started on goodbyes to what is most important to me . . . my family, Clint's family, Kyle and Matt, Libby and Parker, Emeri and Brad, their sweet kiddos, Neal, and our other friends who are within a couple of hours away. Not ready for this yet . . . maybe in another post.

My house . . . my word I don't even know how to deal with leaving this house. The little bungalow on Prescott has witnessed so much in the past five years. Two stupid kids who shouldn't have even been looking to buy a home stumbled across Prescott Street and an open house sign after eating brunch in Midtown one Sunday afternoon in the winter. Dark red brick, a porch swing, a rounded "Hobit" door, French doors in the dining room, an old chandelier, brick around the oven in the kitchen, beautiful wood floors, fat white molding, cozy radiators, glass doorknobs, and a backyard that someone had lovingly planned many years ago. I HAD to have it. Not later. That day. So we made an offer. And got engaged. And got married. And added our first dog daughter, Ruthie. And got new jobs. And had a baby. And are pregnant with another. We've painted and fixed and cleaned and cared for this so important piece of our lives. The rooms are small and cozy and welcoming and I feel so sorry that I ever complained about the tiny closets or the outdated kitchen appliances. I don't want to say goodbye to this house but I knew even when we bought it that it would be inevitable that we couldn't stay here forever.

And finally, I will need to say goodbye to Memphis. I truly love this city and I will defend it until I die. I can't stand to hear people complain about what they read in the headlines and see on the news -- be angry at the reporters but not at the city. Memphis has experienced so much hurt and pain over the years but my word it has so much to offer. I will need to say goodbye to Huey's, the Zoo, Botanical Gardens, Harbor Town stroller walks, driving through Chickasaw and Cherokee Gardens, Beale Street, and Graceland. Brunches at Republic Coffee and Brother Junipers. Dinners in the Cooper Young area. And Drake and Zeke and Pottery Barn Outlet.

So I will say goodbye to all these things . . . but I will be saying hello to so much more. In about three weeks, Clint, Mimi, baby Mack (yes, it's Wilson McLain), and I will pack up the bungalow and move to Chicago, Illinois. I have to catch my breath even as I write this -- not because I'm overwhelmed with all that I'm leaving but that I am so excited about all we will be gaining. A new, big city with new buildings, parks, and restaurants to explore. Clint will walk and ride the train (not drive) to a new office space. We will live in an apartment in the city and will be able to walk to the grocery store. I will deliver my baby in a new hospital with a new doctor. Mimi will play on new swings and slides. I will get to experience my new job as a stay-at-home Mom. I have to no time to look back now because there is so much to look forward to. And the important stuff will still be there: family, friends, Memphis, and Huey's. We will just have to e-mail and call and visit and stream Drake and Zeke on-line.

I know you think I've lost my mind, but just like with my little house my gut tells me this is right. We've been content. We've been comfortable. Now it's time to move . . .

Friday, June 4, 2010


Ah, it was Lauren photo session time once again. Sweet Lauren has been the Darby family photographer since I asked her to take some candids at our wedding. After seeing her little snapshots of our special day, I placed the "real photographer's" wedding album on the shelf and never opened it again. The professional's were so stiff and planned but Lauren's captured what made our day so special -- she caught everyone when they were really living in the moment and not posing and pretending.

So when little Mimi came along I had no doubt in my mind that I had to force her into making my child look beautiful on film, which she has never had a problem doing. Newton's law always makes sure the weather is rainy or freezing, so our last session was a very chilly day in May . . . and Mimi had double ear infections and was cutting 2 teeth. So we got a little of this . . .

. . . but I really love the fussy ones because that's who Mimi is sometimes.

He he he . . .

I wanted to share some purplelicious with you today. Since I planted the hydrangeas I have been so afraid to cut them and bring them inside. This seems silly since it was the entire reason I planted them in the first place, but they look soooo pretty on the bushes. I finally bit the bullet and chop, chop, chop . . . and I couldn't be happier.