Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Hero in the Making

No, it's not me. It's that handsome devil sitting next to me.
He will without a shadow of a doubt be the hero for two little monkeys I know.

According to said monkeys, he kinda already is.
Before Clint and I were married, he was a little unsure about having children. Let me rephrase that -- he was a little unsure of being a father . . . because he wanted to make sure he could do it right. He knew already the great responsibility that comes with being a dad, and it's not something one should take lightly. But he was the one who came to me first and asked if we wanted to think about starting a family -- two years before we had originally planned. Then along came Mimi. Wowzers. And our life completely flipped upside down . . . thank goodness we love flipping :).
We were both so unsure of what we were doing, but we knew we loved this little wild thing. Clint asks me often, "Am I doing okay as a dad? Do you think she loves me?" I wish I could take a photo of Mimi's reaction every day when Clint arrives home from work just so he could be reminded throughout the day of how happy she is to see him.

But I'm not surprised at all that Mimi is smitten with her father, and I am absolutely in love with the way that Clint is taken with her. As I've written about many times, Mimi has quite a bit of energy. She runs away from us and makes us wrestle her into her shoes . . . she sings to the top of her lungs in restaurants and even told Clint he was a "doo doo head" a few days ago while jumping on the couch and belting it out in a song. Yet Clint tells me often, "She is exactly the way I want her to be." He truly thinks she is the most beautiful and smartest little girl in the world -- sorry if you think your kid is cuter because Clint will be ready to argue. She is totally his partner in crime. After Mack has gone to bed the two of them sit on the couch together and he teaches her really useful things to say such as, "What's that noise? Is that a frog in my pants?" if she happens to accidentally do you know what. Sigh. Potty humor is their fave. So I guess I can get him back with this beautiful photo . . .

I promise that's my hat and not his, but we can pretend he wore it all day just for fun.

I was at a park recently with the kiddos (the story of my life right now), and two boys were in the corner practicing their golf swings. As soon as Mimi spotted them she said, "Oh, Mommy! Let's go play golf balls!!" and she raced across the grass and almost ran into them. Thank goodness they were such sweeties, and they spent at least 30 minutes teaching Mimi how to put the tee in the ground and even let her swing their clubs and practice. Before she left they gave Mimi her own ball and tee, and before she even had them in her hand she yelled, "I can't wait to show these to Daddy!"

And then came our sweet little baby boy.

Sweet, sweet, sweet little thing, and he is crazy about his silly Daddy. Honestly, he's a bit of a
"Momma's Boy," but I can't put a smile on his face as quickly as Clint can. He knows when Daddy's around that he'll get thrown up in the air and on the pillows and tickled until he giggles so hard that he can barely catch his breath.
Clint has a different relationship with Mack already. He tells me that I "baby" him a bit too much -- he needs to be tough. Well, anyone can see how tough the little guy is when his sister pounces on him and he doesn't bat an eye. But Clint feels a special responsibility with his son. Recently Clint commented on how handsome Mack will be (Well, duh. Cutest little boy ever), and because of this he must teach Mack to be really nice to girls.

To be kind and good and smart. Just like his daddy. It's a little late, but Happy Father's Day, Clint.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer in the City

It's about damn time. I never thought it would come. Sixty degrees then forty. Up to seventy then down to fifty. I've learned to sport a spring scarf and wear pastel sweaters with the best of them, but enough's enough. This is the view I've been waiting on.
We moved to Chicago last July when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and leaving 100 degrees with high humidity behind was just fine with me. Summer here is beautiful as was the Fall, and, believe it or not, we really enjoyed experiencing the snow. But spring I do not love. In the South spring means buttercups then blooming dogwoods and cherry trees, teasers of 75 degree days, and warm rains. Then azaleas and pastel dresses and flip flops. In Chicago it means some possible snow and keeping the winter clothes in the closet and tank tops in storage for much longer than I cared to do. BUT June finally arrived and so did the sunshine. My legs are way too white for this time of year, but I'm a 32-year-old mother of two and am just happy to have two legs with which I can chase my wild monkeys.

I finally stuck some dragon-wing begonias (my FAVORITE plant to pot) and sweet potato vine in my two little window baskets. It's nothing compared to my hydrangeas and peonies and gardenias and gigantic George Tabor I left in my yard in Memphis, but it will have to do for now. I'm dying to call our renters and make sure they know to drench the hydrangeas every morning in July, but something tells me I have to let it go . . . sigh.

So summer in Chicago means walks to Scooters for frozen custard and brunch outdoors and running through sprinklers in the park.
Mimi calls these treats "pops-a-cicles"

There are street festivals every weekend and fabulous outdoor concerts. We recently saw Ray Lamontagne at Millenium Park, and ahhhhh . . . I could have cared a less that I could barely see him. Sitting in a lawn chair while drinking a beer and listening to his raspy voice felt like heaven to me.
Summer also means visitors, and I have LOVED opening our home to family and friends. If you're planning a trip to Chi-town, book your reservations ASAP -- the weekends are filling up. The Darby home has become quite popular since the snow has melted :).

Anyway, we've been busy, busy, busy, which is why I've totally let the blog rest for a while. There is lots to to write about, but I've decided to take my new job as mommy very seriously. Okay, I don't really take much seriously, but I've been having a really good time with my little clowns. Mimi is hilarious in her tutus showing me her new ballet moves and singing her beautiful songs. One goes like this, "He's a man, he's a C, he's a B, he's a Lee!" And another is, "Cindarelly, Cindarelly, she's a polka-dot princes, dada, dada, dada, dada." She loves to pretend things are phones -- a banana, a shoe, just whatever's handy -- and she'll have wonderful conversations. "Oh, hi, Poppaw. What you do today? Oh, I see. I just watching TB and doing ballet. I'll see you later!" On that note she did actually have a convo with her sweet Poppaw on the phone today. When he told her she was a sweet girl, she responded with, "No, I not a sweet girl. Mommy put me in time-out for screaming and hurting her ears." Whenever I ask her to do something such as to please stop standing on the back of the couch, she replies with, "I so sorry, Mommy, but I can't get down right now. I trying to jump and it's sooo fun." Or when I ask her to stop pulling poor Ruthie's legs out from under her she'll say, "But it's not hurting her, it's funny!"

Just so I don't forget, Mimi also says, "What dese are?" when she wants to know what something is. She still says, "Hold you" when she wants to be carried because "the stairs are so heaby."

Mack has 3 teeth on top now (5 total), and I am SO thankful that those 3 boogers cut because he has been a fussy little monkey for quite some time. He instantly starts bouncing when he hears music, and has just learned to clap his little hands. He babbles and makes lots of silly noises and sounds and thinks it is absolutely a riot to blow out all of his food (you know, by going "bbbppphhht") on me when I'm feeding him yogurt. He said the sweetest "Mom-ma" on my birthday. His little laugh is infectious. Absolutely the cutest thing I've ever heard and it makes me happier than most anything in this world. Bubby loves to feed sweet potatoes, peas, watermelon, and squash to himself which makes mealtime a little easier. A couple of times a week I cook lots of veggies for Mimi, and now he can eat them too. Meanwhile I'll eat burgers and fries:).

While my time with the little ones is so fun, it's quite a circus around the house. Mack wakes me up at 5:30 but will usually go to bed for another hour or so. And then sometimes he doesn't. Then at breakfast he and Mimi both scream and carry on until I have enough food in front of them to put a fat man in a stupor and sometime in the middle of all this I will usually attempt a shower, clothes, hair in a ponytail, and then the new edited make-up routine of tinted moisturizer, mascara, and lip gloss. If it's a good day I'll throw on some concealer so it appears I'm actually well-rested. But sometimes all of this goes to crap, and I just get them out of the house as quickly as possible to keep us all sane. Thankfully there are several Starbucks in walking distance, so I usually get some sort of nourishment to give me energy to chase the wild blonde-headed girl at the park. Yes, other moms and nannies will actually stop me at the park to comment, "Wow. She sure does have a LOT of energy. How do you keep up?" I smile and tell them that I don't. I just pray that she's lucky. Then back home for lunch and the screaming, starving children, who have probably eaten about a bazillion crackers while we were on our walk, but anyway they are still starving. If I'm lucky I can get them to nap at the same time, and this is when I, well, sometimes nap myself for at least 15 minutes. Then I quickly walk the dog, throw in some laundry, unload the dishwasher, or do some other housewifely thing and attempt to put together a decent meal for dinner -- or order take-out depending on the day. I would love to say that after we get the babies bathed and in bed that Clint and I snuggle up on the couch with wine and a good movie, but the truth is that that rarely happens. Normally whoever puts Mimi to bed falls asleep with her and stumbles up the stairs around 3AM because her bed is soooo stinkin' comfortable, and we're both really exhausted by then anyway. And she is absolutely the sweetest little snuggler I know.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm not complaining about taking care of my little ones. I'm just really surprised at how different my life is than it was just 3 short years ago. They are the most curious creatures who keep me on my toes at all times. Mimi loves to climb on really tall dangerous things such as the back of the couch, and Mack, the fastest crawler this side of the Mississippi, can dive head-first into the empty bathtub before I've even realized he's left the room. I feel like I'm in a serious wrestling match whenever I have to put them into new clothes or change Mack's diaper. I have put Mimi in time-out a couple of times this week because of all the crazy struggling to get away when I made her put on shoes so we could go to the park which has ended up with me getting hurt. She flipped backwards and kicked me in the eye yesterday, which caused some serious cussing and making myself leave the room so I didn't do anything I would regret later. She begs to go to the park but makes me chase her and hold her down kicking and screaming to put on a shirt and God-forbid if I ever try to get her fuzzy hair out of her eyes with a bow or to put it in a ponytail (or a "fairytale" as she likes to call it). And although Mack is little he can put up a fight as well as his big sister. He reminds me a lot of Bam Bam with the way he can easily pick up his Little People farm with one hand and throw it. Any girl who has babysat him always comments on how difficult it was to put on his pj's or change his diaper.

But this little handsome thing can go naked for all I care.

I have a serious addiction to kissing and squeezing him. As Clint's mom told me this weekend, "Do it as much as you can now because there will be a day when he'll ask you to stay in the car." I tear up when I think of that. Just yesterday we were all playing in Mimi's room when Mimi started fussing for no reason. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "Mommy, I pretend to be the baby. Will you pick me up and put me in the crib?" What in the world? But she is still a baby. Wait, no she isn't. She's big and bossy and crazy and not a baby at all.

So enough of that and a complete change of subject. One of my favorite parts of summer is putting Mimi in new brightly-colored clothes. This is one of my faves I scored on Zulily.

I really think I would let Mack crawl around naked all summer, but I'm from Mississippi and I just can't let people think we do that. So I have begun sewing again. While I have a short-all cut out for Mack, all I've had time to make are a couple of pairs of shorts, but they are so stinkin' cute on him. But I don't have a photo of them so you get this one instead.
But he's still cute naked.
Mimi had a fun apron skirt last summer that she outgrew, so I had to make another. And I found an easy way to make a flower for her shirt. I think I need one for myself.
And I totally ripped this from a chick in Jackson, Mississippi, who has Meeny Miny Moe. "Like" her on FB because you will LOVE her stuff. Her things are much cuter than anything I could possibly ever make, and I'm a little obsessed with ties and shorts that she has made for little boys. L-O-V-E them. I'm all about smocked bubbles for babies, but I feel a little sorry for those big rough and tough boys in preschool whose moms still put them in giant lace collars and sissy Peter Pan collars (Kyle, remember that 8-year-old linebacker-looking kid and his brother in the matching giant collars?). There is a time to stop all of that, and these funky ties are just the thing for that next step. They are so, so cool. Mack will HAVE to have one in a couple of years . . . and a Fedora and will need to learn how to spell P-I-M-P. He he.

Once again I've been trying really hard to get M & M to love each other and our photo session this morning ended with this one being the best. The rest were full of pulled hair and screams and knocking each other over, but they were actually laughing in this one. I'll have to say that it's perfect.

And then Mimi screamed, "Ew, yucky, Mack! You need to change a diaper. Gross!"