Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Family Reunion

Saturday, July 5th, we drove down to Quitman, MS for the reunion. Every time Genius (aka My Husband) and I go to the McLeod Family Reunion, I am blessed. It was a little smaller this year. About 50 people came instead of the usual 100, so it seemed pretty bare. Now that we have a baby, we got to sleep in a nice, cool part of the house instead of the South Room which reaches about 100 degrees during the day and a cool 90 at night. (I don't know the exact temperatures, but all I know is that it was stinkin' hot even when I wasn't 6 month pregnant.) We got to ride down with Genius's sister and brother-in-law...and Baby Bear (due in January) and it was really fun. Ham did great! She either slept or played peek-a-boo behind her poodle lovey (it was the first time she initiated the game by herself).

Also, anytime my SIL's MP3 played The Cure, Ham would start 'singing.' It was so cute. I am obsessed love The Cure and for her to like it too, was just icing on the cake of this already delicious child. We didn't have much time to see everyone because we then left on Sunday, but it was relaxing and fun. Ham got to see more fireworks and she did good. These were a LOT louder than Anthony's, so we just covered Ham's ears. She didn't really react at all. I think she was too tired to think much of anything. She was still up at 10PM at that point, only having napped once for about an hour since 8AM.

The hardest part of the trip, for any of us, was that Ham bawled manipulatively every chance she got slept in a crib in our room. It was the first time she had slept in the same room with us. Even after she was born, she went straight to her crib. No bassinet, no co-sleeping, just bundled like a burrito in her own bed. Since, she's had a hard time sleeping anywhere else. (With the next kid, I think we'll try letting them sleep in different places and in the pack-n-play so they can be more adjusted to sleeping outside of their crib.)

So this scenario made it interesting for all three of us. She cried for over an hour that night until she just passed out. I also nursed her in our bed until she drifted off (something I have never condoned because I don't want it to be a habit). She needed her sleep, though, and I knew it would work. Though, once her head hit the crib mattress, she was up again, crying.

However, Genius and I took it well. We knew it was going to be hard, so we were mentally prepared. We were hiding our faces behind our pillows to muffle the laughter and pretending to be asleep as she kept hanging on to the side of the crib, crying pitifully, and trying to stay awake as long as possible. I felt so bad for the other people in the house.

Please don't think we're terrible parents for laughing, but we knew she was OK. She would lose her grip on the railing, fall down, and then we'd see this little hand come up the side and hear her grunting and huffing, exhausted as ever, trying to get back on her feet to see us and make sure we saw her. Then she would start crying again. OH, OH, at one point, she was crying uncontrollably and her flailing hand caught her attention. So she stopped crying and started looking at her fingers move around, then realized she had gotten distracted from her real goal, and began crying again. It really was funny. We LOST it.

The scariest part of the night was when I heard Ham smacking her lips and almost left it alone. However, Mommy instinct told me not to go back to sleep, and when I went over to her, she had a cotton ball-sized piece of batting hanging out of her mouth. There was a hole in the bumper pad and she had worked her fingers into it and pulled out the stuffing. It's one of those moments that, as a mom, you envision what could have happened if you didn't intercede. I don't like to think about it, but it's a reality. Of course, I took the bumper pad out...quite angrily. But, I was happy to hear her crying off and on the rest of the night. At least I knew she was OK. Her position of choice for sleeping? In the corner of the crib, in a sitting position, bent over double with her head on her feet. At one point, she grabbed her Bunny Bear and used it as a pillow. This was so she could get back into a standing position a little easier. Pitiful.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Festivus...for the rest of us (aka July 4th)

Ok, my husband's uncle Anthony is a little nuts. He's also really cool. When it comes to parties, he knows how to throw a HUGE one. It's all for the kids (yeah, right).

Well, a few years ago, Anthony (we don't call him 'uncle' because he is only a few years older than us) made July 4th, Festivus For the Rest of Us. His kids actually have shirts that say, Festivus. We're big Seinfield fans...and big dorks. It started out fairly tame with pretty good fireworks, great food, pool activities, Anthony's Cosmos, and all around good fun.

This year, he had a 17' blow-up water slide and one of those Test Your Strength thingys in the driveway, a popcorn, snow cone, and cotton candy machine, beanbag toss, horseshoes, lawn darts, badminton, volleyball, pool floats galore, and general debauchery...oh and fireworks a few things that popped and sparkled (including a $0.67 hen that shot tiny sparks out it' know). It was in-sane. And so much fun! (BTW, no one got drunk off their gourd or anything. No one there really finds that fun.)

Ham was...a mess. She slept for about 30 minutes the entire day. No, it didn't have anything to do with the cotton candy, brownie, or massive amounts of watermelon. She only got a little piece of cotton candy and got to lick the cone when I ate the rest (Haha! I love the stuff.), but I'm sure that didn't help. Bad mom, right, right.

I should have known it was going to be an off day. My sister just says to plan for the worse on days I know naps are going to be hard and then I'll be pleasantly surprised if things go better than expected. She's full of good advice like that.

Ham woke up at the ungodly hour of 6AM. Do kids know when we are going to be out all day and need to sleep and then just plan this stuff? She usually sleeps until 8:30-9, God bless her. I put her down for her nap at 11AM and 15 minutes into her nap, the lawnmower woke her. Hubby felt awful. I'm sure it didn't help that I came out on the porch with my hands waving over my head, sweetly asking yelling like a mad woman, asking if he was crazy to mow right near her room while she was napping. By then, however, she was screaming and I knew it was over.

Then, the only way I could get her to nap at Festivus was to put her in the car and drive around for a bit...all the while grumbling about gas prices. She was quietly napping with the air conditioning full blast and I had made my brilliant exit from the car without waking her up. Nonetheless, my genius (and often right) husband comes over and says that the car engine might blow if it's left running in the heat for too long. I was ticked. I began arguing with him beside the car and out of pure frustration stupidity, I said, "Fine! I'll just go drive around again!" and opened the door, only to see my precious lamb jump at the sound of the automatic seat belt. And instead of waiting to see if she was really awake, I quickly slammed the door back and said, "Great, now she's awake!" (As if it was husband's fault.) By then, Ham really was awake...she probably would have gone back to sleep if I had not slammed the door...and that was that. She didn't sleep again until 10PM that night. Bad mom. For real. Amazingly, she was OK and slept great that night. Thank God kids are resilient.

One of the best parts of Festivus is that my mom, sister, her husband and her kids all came over to the dark side Anthony's house. They had a blast. My nephew hardly spoke two words, he was so mezmorized with everything and my two-year-old neice developed a crush on hubby's four-year-old cousin. It was adorable. It was so great to have them there.

HAPPY 4th OF JULY...I mean, Festivus For the Rest of Us!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ham's Amazing!

Ok, so Ham has been trying to sit up on her own more and more. She gets on her tummy and then pushing up with her arms, she gets up on her hands and knees and goes back into a sitting position. It kinda looks like she is going to crawl backwards. I'd only seen it a few times before today, and mostly in her crib.

Today she has not only been getting into the sitting position, she has been 'crawling' like crazy. She gets into the sitting position, then gets up on her hands and knees, rocks back and forth a little, and then takes a few steps.

I'm so proud of her. I'll upload a video in a little while.

Also, for the first time today, she signed 'more.' It was because I gave her a tiny sip of my Grapico and she went nuts! She started signing 'more' and then lost it when I wouldn't give her more. However, never despair, I gave her a bottle of cold water and she was happy with that.

Entering into a new world

I am not an exhibitionist. That may sound weird, but I mean it. I am a pretty closed off person. I can play the extrovert, but inside, I'm usually dying. Slowly crumbling and wanting to run. I used to not even be able to look people in the eye.

So why am I putting my artwork, my very soul, out there for others to see? Well, because I love art and my passion has always been to be a part of an art community.

I began thinking about starting an art circle about two months ago. I saw a group called Greyhaven play at Work Play and their idea really took root. To check them out, go to Greyhaven to see more about them. It's a group of bands that meet, write songs, and play together. Very cool.

I thought that getting together about 15-20 close friends that love to draw, paint, sculpt, doodle, write, scrapbook, etc. would be a great experience. I wanted to learn from other artists and also be able to sit down and create with others. I thought that once a year, we could put on a show and sell our art for a good cause.

While expressing this to my husband, he reminded me that his sister (belongs to Greyhaven) is also a part of The Birmingham Art Collective. This is a group for any Birmingham artist who wants to get together with other it photographers, writers, fine arts, designers, etc. I had forgotten about this group!

So, long story short, on July 3rd, my work will be put up for exhibition at The Bottle Tree for one month. I am one of 30 artists being featured. The show starts at 7PM with DJ Coco and bands will begin playing at 9PM. My sister-in-law and her husband will be performing at 10PM in their band called Handwritten Letters.

Here is the piece chosen to be put on exhibit. All art is for sale and there is a $5 cover charge at the door which will wholly go to Greencup Books.

"Still Shy" Oil Pastel on Canvas

This was not their (or my) first choice, but it turns out it is perfect for my first art show in 16 years. I am 'still shy' in some respects and it pangs me to think this art will be criticized critiqued (as artists so deceptively put it).

The first choice was this pencil drawing. And although I do like the way it turned out, I put a bid in for a more colorful piece so that it would show up better. I think this would have gotten lost among the other stimuli.

It's called "Still Thinking."

The piece that I originally wanted to display was "Sisters." It is oil pastel on paper. I did this in 1997 for my sister's birthday. She has always championed my artwork and has gone so far as to confiscate artwork of mine and frame it for her own home.

Her house holds several pieces, including five plates that I painted with her children's favorite book covers on them. Here is "Sisters."

So, as I jump on this bandwagon, I am excited and scared. I know this is what my heart desires. However, I am a little overwhelmed. With a psychotically active busy baby and no organization skills, I wonder if this will be feasible. I guess it's time to grow up. I've read that those who say they "can't," never will. I won't say I can't. I will just say, Lord help me.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A place to learn and grow

So, this is a place I can call my nuthouse home. I seriously need a way to get out what I am thinking and also to make fun of myself. Blogging isn't new to me...well, I did a LiveJournal about 10 years ago and have misplaced what the name of it was. However, as I write this, I have the website open to help me along. (Hence the ability to cross things out. Woo-hoo.)

I am excited. This is a time of my life where I have about three hours during the day in which to relax do laundry, cook, clean, run errands, use the bathroom, shower, and if I am feeling really adventurous lazy, I can paint, draw, and!

The other hours of the day are mostly spent taking care of and playing with my sweet baby Ham. If you haven't understood where the three hours 'down time' come from, that is when Ham is sleeping.

I am 32 years old, a wife of almost 5 years, and a mother to a 9 month old little girl. I am also an artist and a writer, but those things have taken the backburner for years until recently. I am in the process of bringing those things back to life. It's very fun.

I love my family, I love my kid, I love nature, beauty, helping other people out, and my God. I am not very good at loving any of these things. I have trouble remembering to call my family, I get irritated at Ham's whining, I don't recycle, I eat too much junk food, read those dumb gossip rags, I don't help other's out enough, and some days I forget to talk to God all-together. I don't know why I use the word 'love' if I can't prove I love all these things.

I just know that I do and that I would be nowhere without any of these things...except the beauty part. However, I find beauty to be everywhere, not just in the conventional things like tan gams, rock-hard abs, celebriosity, and flowers. I think the homeless man is touching and beautiful. I find beauty in helping an elderly lady find Depends on aisle 3 of CVS so that she doesn't have to be embarressed about asking an 18-year-old male clerk, and there is something about my nephew coming inside smelling like a 5-year-old should and covered in sweat and dirt.

So, come join me on my jour....oh, Ham just woke up. Gotta go!