Thursday, July 21, 2011

Life with Jack

Jack keeps us busier than we ever thought possible. People frequently tell me when the baby sequel arrives that I'll be busy. I'm sure life will reach a new level of craziness, but until then we're busy enough running after a 16-month-old who never fails to make us laugh.

Due to his penchant for throwing food, I have to mop the floor a few times a week. At least. We try to vacuum at least once a week too, but sometimes even that gets tough. I sometimes think I'm raising a hoarder. When I'm running late getting ready for work, I'll give him dry Cheerios and turn on Sesame Street while I dash around. The Cheerios inevitably wind up all over the living room. Then, he'll move them around. He'll stash them under his car. He'll stash them in the bookshelf. He'll put a few in his toy box. Then, Jack treats the entire living room like a cruise ship buffet that he can snack on whenever he wants. He'll start nibbling and I'll have to look around to discover where it's coming from this time.

Jack is a waver. Whether walking through daycare, an airplane, or the grocery store, he greets his adoring public like a consummate politician. It's always interesting to see who waves back. Sometimes the most intimidating people break character and coo. Sometimes people look the other way. I thought my Aunt was going to take out someone's jugular for not waving back at Jack while we were visiting Duluth.

We've currently been trying to explain to Jack how he will be a big brother soon. We point to my belly and say "baby." He sometimes says "no" which his one of his favorite words. I honestly thought he somewhat understood the concept when he pointed to my belly one day at dinner and said unprompted "baby." But then, he pointed to his belly and said "baby." When I said no, he pouted.

Daycare has recently been very challenging. Jack moved up to the Toddler room which thrilled his parents because it was a nearly $400 price break a month. But Jack has recently started the separation anxiety business and crying like a banshee when we leave. Dave usually makes the drop, but one morning he just couldn't go through the flailing and whaling again, so I went. We talked about daycare and our friends all the way there and as Jack walked to the door he seemed excited. Then the door opened. Jack looked around and immediately started backing up, reaching for me, and letting out a blood curdling scream. It's one of those things that's just so hard. I can hear him yelling down the hall and when I exit the front door. But, when I go to pick him up, he's happy and content and playing and he always runs with a smile to see me. That's the best.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Georgia on my Mind

What does one do at a sorority's national convention?

I heard this question quite frequently before I attended my first national convention, and I really didn't know how to answer. After attending Alpha Xi Delta's convention in Atlanta at the beginning of July, I think I know.

You hang out. With people you know and some you meet for the first time. And you laugh. A lot. We stayed up each night laughing and telling stories and getting up early the next day to do it all again.

Going in, I knew I was attending with a phenomenal group of women who all met (and mostly live) in Minneapolis-St Paul. We are quite a mix. We are from five states and attended five different colleges (more if you count graduate degrees). No shop talk here... we represent a variety of careers--a cancer research doctor at St Jude, a teacher on her way to being a school administrator, a marketing and business guru, a news reporter, and an events planner at what could arguably be the most upscale hotel in the Twin Cities.

But, we are all sorority sisters who have connected in the alumnae world. We pledged to uphold the same ideals back in college and we now volunteer to help women and give back to our fraternity. Throughout the convention, we heard updates of what the national organization is doing and we attended other meetings on how to better network and help our collegiate chapters. Aside from meetings, there were plenty of networking opportunities--I met a variety of people from a pageant queen to a girl who just shaved her head and donated all of her hair to Locks of Love.

I also met a few girls from southwest Arkansas, who are from my collegiate chapter. Upon meeting me, one said, 'of course you are from Delight, you have blond hair." I'm not sure what to think about that, but together we did make up a blond tri-fecta...apparently they have blonds (or at least blond hair dye) in Hot Springs and Nashville too.
There were plenty of opportunities to sight-see Atlanta. I have to say I'm not impressed with the city. It was dirty with plenty of panhandlers around. I wouldn't have gone walking downtown--even through the tourist areas--alone. Not to mention it being unbearably hot, but it's July so we expected it.
Centennial Park which commemorates the Olympics was a hot and disappointing venue. It was a large park with fountains for the kids. A few signs mentioned the Olympic games. The Olympic flag flew.

We skipped CNN and Coca-cola and I wouldn't have minded seeing those...but we did see the Georgia Aquarium, which was extremely impressive. It's the largest in North America and it has WHALES inside. You know a whale is the largest mammal in the world and I've seen them in the ocean, but there's something special about seeing them up close. The Aquarium is spectacular and worth a visit should you go to Atlanta.

And if you do, I wouldn't recommend going in July. Have I mentioned it's really hot?

Out of curiosity we visited Georgia State and the chapter houses there. They were small townhouses housing about 15 women, but together they made up their own Greek community. My campus didn't have chapter houses, but a concept like this would work well there.

We have a sister in Minneapolis who routinely attends convention to catch up with women she knows in the Maryland-Chesapeake Alumnae Association. She couldn't attend, but we met these women to swap "Pam" stories and they are a hoot--someday I hope I can be just like them. They road-trip to convention and back and you can tell they have a great time with plenty of laughter around. It was a picture of how sisterhood doesn't end w/college, but how it can continue to grow.

There's something special about sorority and sisterhood and I've experienced that on a whole new level in Minneapolis. Not only through the alumnae, but through the collegiates. I'm involved with the chapter at the Univ of Wisconsin Eau Claire and I am constantly impressed by their commitment. Together they raise a substantial amount of money for our philanthropic partner, Autism Speaks, and collectively, they have a very high campus GPA. On awards night, they were absolutely dejected not to win the highest honor in the fraternity, but instead settle for the second highest....and a renewed commitment to win the big award next year. Here we are with our group of overachievers and the new national president:

To sum it convention, I could see all ages of women each interacting and working together in a way I've never really seen anywhere else. We're committed to the same ideals and committed to helping women reach their potential, no matter the phase of life. That's a nice place to be.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Great Race

I don't have any pictures of Jack in the grocery store because we don't sit still in the store long enough to get one. We move with a mission, not unlike the contestants on those old shopping spree shows on Nickelodeon.

This is because now that Jack is on the move, a store isn't a fun or safe place to be.

A few weeks ago, I was shopping for a dress and made the very seldom-done shopping stop for a few minutes. Jack wandered the aisles contentedly for a few minutes. Then, he started walking toward the door saying "All done! All done!" When I didn't comply, he came up to me and yelled "All done!" with his eyebrows raised along with the accompanying sign, since apparently mama didn't get it.

Last week at the grocery store, I snagged one of those great shopping carts with a car in front of it. Even though you practically have to have a CDL to drive it, those are generally good for 10 or so minutes. We made it though produce, meat, and to the canned goods before Jack yelled "all done" and proceeded to get out of the buckled safety belt. So, I moved him to the top of the cart and started feeding him Cheerios. That lasted through the middle aisles and paper products to the dairy section. "All done!" Then, he tried to stand up in the cart. So, I took him out and let him wander around me while I quickly made it through the cheese and frozen foods...past the balls, which are an object of fascination right now and require pointing and identification..."ball. ball."

Then, the checkout line. On double coupon days, the grocery store is chaotic and the long lines make you think the checkers are giving something away instead of taking your money. By the time Jack and I got closer to the front of the line, I coulda stuck a fork in him because Jack was truly "all done." The Woman of Disdain ahead of us in line kept frowning at us. Jack was thrashing and screaming. Jack was pulling magazines out of the rack. As I tried to put him in the buggy again, I accidentally bumped the Woman of Disdain again with my extra long kiddie cart. Jack was hitting me and yelling "all done." I put Jack in the big part of the cart with the groceries and hoped he didn't throw out the eggs like he was trying to do everything else. It was not fun.

By the time the cashier went through my coupons, she quickly gave me credit for everything--even those pesky coupons that require a beep and a double check, "do you have this item?" Yes, lady. "All done! Waaaah!" Sure thing. "All done!" Despite the fact people were backed all the way into aisles, checkers and even a few shoppers gathered round to help me bag groceries in an effort to get this kid outta here. "All done!"

I have plenty of excuses for my 15-month-old. It was an hour before bedtime. We grocery-shopped right after daycare, through his regular dinnertime and all he got was Cheerios. Shortly after we get home, he's happy, fed, and giving me the sleep sign while sitting at the bottom of the stairs, holding his worn dog pillow pet, and pointing upwards to his bed.

In the future, I'm going to try being at the store when doors open at 6am to grab groceries, when Jack is asleep at home with his father. Other than after work, I really don't have another time to go and I'm not sure the great race is worth it. Maybe we'll just do take-out from now on.