Thursday, July 31, 2008

Daddy's home

Until last night, I hadn't seen my husband for three days. He was taking this little test called the "Bar Exam", which was being held in Arlington, TX, about twenty miles and forty minutes from Dallas. The three day exam process started on Tuesday morning, so Monday night around 6, Tim and his pals Talley and Dougherty escaped to a secluded and undisclosed location adjacent to the test site, where they would be in solitary - er, tri...itary confinement for the duration of the test-taking period. In other words, they were staying at a hotel near the convention center so they wouldn't have to drive from Dallas to Arlington every morning, and in the evenings, they would be able to study for the next day's exams without any distractions.

When he first mentioned his plan to abandon us for three whole days and nights, I pretty much thought that he was serving me a big ol' heaping pile of baloney, and I was none to pleased that I'd have to take on Alex and Murph all by myself. Although in reality, I had been basically single-parenting the two of them for the previous month, and these three days alone wouldn't really be a huge departure from what I had been used to.

Nonetheless, it took some convincing to get me on board with his plans, but my soon-to-be-attorney husband used sound logic and well-formed arguments in an attempt to win me over. I think he might've even cited a couple of cases. Anyway, it worked, and I had more confidence in him than ever that he would blow his test out of the water.

We didn't talk much over the course of the three days because, before he left, I had been given a strict set of rules regarding communication during exam time. Most importantly, I was not allowed to say anything that might possibly be considered "exam-related". That excluded a lot of conversation. So we talked a little about Alex, chatted about the warm weather we have been having, and then briefly discussed the meaning of life.

By last night, Alex and I were soooo ready for him to be back. Alex had been quite the hellion over the last few days, including his worst public appearance since birth when we had dinner with Leah and Chris at California Pizza Kitchen Wednesday night. Yes, I fear that we are on the verge of a new and dreaded phase, one characterized by hissyfits and squealing and many more instances of public embarrassment.

But before I jump the gun, I will also say that I think Tim being gone really started to take a toll on Alex. When he saw his daddy come through the door, his expression was one of pure jubilation. And his giddiness continued for the rest of the evening, especially when I recounted the story of Alex busting his head, yet again, when he fell out of our office chair (which he climbed into by himself). As usual, the experience was much more traumatic for me than it was for him.

So it's over. Tim is back, we all survived the bar exam, and now we just have to hold out 'til November for the verdict. Sigh.


Of course, Alex was a perfect angel for Grammy while I was at Six Flags because that's what kids do - save their very best behavior for people who already think they are perfect, thus making their mothers look like big ol' whiny crybabies when they claim to be exhausted and stressed as a result of fulfilling their motherly duties. That's how they rope those poor, unsuspecting grandparents in, by acting all sweet and all innocent and all, "Who, me?" Mmmhmm, they may fall for it, but I'm so on to you, little man...

Anyway, Alex and Grammy had a great time playing, and Grammy soon found out that Alex and Murphy are a package deal when it comes to babysitting. However, her methods for managing both at once are much more effective than mine. For example, when Murph needed to go out, she skipped the five flights of stairs altogether and hit the elevator instead. They made it downstairs and outside without incident - just proving that dogs are also on their best behavior for their Grammys. But how did she avoid the Murphy-pooping-in-the-hallway situation on the way back, you ask?

Apparently my lazy dog was so tired from the long walk down the air-conditioned hallway, the exhausting ride in the elevator, and the effort required to lift his leg and pee on every bush, tree, and fire hydrant in sight that he was willing to risk the hair loss, ear pain, and severe bruising that often follows a close encounter with Alex just to hitch a ride back to the apartment.

When the two of them cruised in the door, Timothy immediately grabbed the camera (good boy!) and tried to snap a few shots before Murph realized he was home. Turns out he got more than a few because Murphy was oddly at ease on Alex's lap and was in no hurry to go anywhere else.

Apparently Murphy eventually jumped down and resumed his usual position, no closer than ten feet away from Alex at all times. Unless he is eating, of course.

As Bill and I were on our way back from Six Flags around 7:20, exhausted as I was, I was really hoping that Alex would still be up when I got back so I could say goodnight. I definitely missed him and thought about him all day, wondering when he might be old enough to experience Six Flags himself. Luckily, Grammy read my mind and he greeted us when we walked in the door around 7:45. Grammy recounted the story of their wonderful day, she and Poppa left for home soon after, and then I got to put my baby to bed. A fun day was had by all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sick Flags

Vicki and Bill and Leah and Chris and half of El Dorado came up this past weekend to go to Six Flags Over Texas. Vicki and Bill were kind enough to buy me a ticket, and Vicki volunteered to watch Alex at the apartment all day so Tim could study and I could go with the rest of the gang to the park.

A whole day without my baby!? I had mixed emotions. I knew I would miss him desperately and would probably spend the entire day wondering what he was doing. I mean, I haven't even been separated from him for
half a day since he was born, let alone a whole one. But I was also excited and knew that I could really use the break. Because, for the love, I haven't been separated from him for half a day since he was born. And these were ideal conditions. My biggest concern (my only concern, really) is that he gets good naps, and since he is not the most laid back sleeper, him being able to sleep at home in his own bed totally eases my mind. Plus, with Grammy doting on him all day, I had zero worries about anything else.

So when they arrived in Dallas Saturday afternoon, the entire entourage stopped at our apartment to see Alex and check out our crib. Alex was pleasantly surprised at the sight of so many pretty girls and was even more so when he noticed that the pretty girls had brought the rest of his birthday gifts that we had sent to Eldo with Grammy and Poppa.

Sunday morning around 8:30, Bill swapped Vicki for me (a downgrade, for sure) and we left her with Alex and headed to the hotel to meet up with everyone else before heading to Six Flags.

As a kid, we used to go to Six Flags in St. Louis or Great America outside of Chicago at least once a summer, and I never met a ride that I didn't love. Then, when I was about thirteen, I barfed all over the guy next to me on the Buccaneer ride at the local fair. From that point on, I couldn't even ride the Monorail without wanting to blow chunks.

So I went to the park armed with a vial of Dramamine and a prayer. We decided to start of the day with a bang and hit the first roller coaster we saw, which we subsequently rode three times in a row. Immediately after, I developed a strategy I called "Ride & Recoup", meaning I would ride one and then skip the next, giving my stomach a chance to recover. It seemed to work out pretty well. I got to enjoy lots of rides and only threw up four or five times. No, not really. But I did feel like throwing up four or five times. Why, motion sickness?? WHY??

Of course, it didn't help that it was about six hundred degrees in the shade. But we slathered on the sunblock, stayed hydrated, and luckily, we found some great water rides that helped cool things off.

Bill and I left around 7 while the rest of the gang stayed to close the park down. I was utterly exhausted as we headed back home, thanks to the Dramamine, the heat, and more exercise than I had gotten in a year. I didn't think a day of kid-free fun could be more tiring than wrangling Alex away from no-no's all day, but I was wrong. In the end, it was a great day of fun and I certainly appreciated not having to change any poopy diapers or pull mashed bananas out of anyone's hair.

Friday, July 25, 2008

At a standstill

Well, he seems to have standing under control. It's that whole forward movement thing he's still not so sure about...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Making Grandpa proud

We were in desperate need of a new dresser because we sold our one and only clothing-storage-apparatus in our garage sale in Fayetteville. IKEA is sort of a haul and I was basically too lazy to pack Alex and all of his paraphernalia up and make the long trip for a single piece of furniture. So I hit the local Big Lots instead, looking for a cheap, assembly-required dresser that would fit into the Altima.

And eww, I've just got to say, I am
so not a fan of the "Big Lots Experience", with its dirty floors, its questionable food products and its general ickiness, not to mention the fact that Alex and I made friends with the entire squad of police officers that had been hired to target shoplifters and other such criminals who apparently frequent the establishment. But shoot, the place does have some not-so-hideous cheap crap that prevents me from having to drive to IKEA. So anyway, I found a decent dresser at a decent price, stuffed the box into the front passenger seat, and brought it home.

I could've used Timothy's help to put it together, but he was otherwise occupied. Something about an exam or something. Anyway, Alex was more than willing to help, which this time, was slightly less unhelpful than usual. He would pick through the screws and hand me one when I asked, he would pick up tools and hand them to me - whether I needed them or not - and he would take a tool that I wasn't using and try to emulate what I was doing.

I'd say it was a pretty successful first step towards grooming Alex into a real handyman, or maybe a carpenter like his G-pa. He didn't try to eat any of the small pieces (that I was aware of) or bash himself in the head with the hammer or gouge his eye out with the screwdriver, so I'd say that's a good sign. And, we eventually got the whole thing put together and the drawers fit in fine and it didn't collapse when we put the TV on it. Success! Our underwear is happy to have a home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Boys & Bubbles

Ah, the long lost bath pictures. My computer geek - I mean, computer genius of a husband managed to recover these pics of Alex and O in their first shared bath after I carelessly deleted them off of my camera, a boo-boo which was twice as heart-breaking because Timothy was the one who took them, and he was pretty excited to see his handiwork. Of course, these are just a choice few from the entire collection because many featured cameos from certain boy-parts and yeah, that's just t.m.i. for the public eye.

Tim did a pretty god job, eh? Things like this always make us more excited about our little guys having little brothers someday. Of course, Oliver will be getting one in the very near future. For now, Alex has to settle for sharing the tub with Murphy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fair Warning

Because I tend to be a bit OCD about most things (except for cleaning - go figure), I've put tremendous pressure on myself when it comes to blogging. I tend to get anxious if I let even the tiniest detail of Alex's life go undocumented, as if the end of the world as we know it is soon approaching, and the only evidence of human existence that will survive the apocalypse will be the contents of this blog. As a result, it has turned into more of a chore than the enjoyable pastime and creative outlet that it once was. Don't get me wrong - it's totally worth it to keep all of our far-away friends and family in the loop and to document the ins-and-outs of Alex's babyhood. I will always treasure the memories I've created by keeping such a thorough record of our lives during this time.

That said, I think it's time to reinvent myself. It's been nineteen months and 387 posts since I started this blog back in December of '06, and twelve of those months have been wholly dedicated to Alex's every move. Not to fear, I would never consider doing anything as drastic or cruel or traumatic as depriving my loyal readers of their Alex fix. I do, however, intend to slow the pace a bit, to lower the unreasonably high expectations I've created by being such a diligent blogger thus far.

Whether I will really follow through with my plan to slow down remains to be seen. But now that Alex is a year old, I have made the resolution to get back to some of the things that I used to enjoy before I started spending every second of my life doting on him.

To that end, I have launched a new blog at that will feature a melange of design-related stuff that I feel is worth mention. Most of the people who visit Baby Evans know me personally in some capacity, but I think this site may provide a little more insight into who I am and what inspires me (other than Alex, of course). So if you ever get sick of "Sarah the Mom" and have any interest in "Sarah the Designer" - or if you just plain ol' like cool stuff - stop in at Chachke and let me know what you think.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Baby Daddy

Yesterday was Timothy's birthday. We had pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast, and then we gave him his presents. First, Alex gave him a card and the new One Republic CD. Then, after a little prompting...

...Alex also gave him this:

Yeah, we don't have an excess of money right now, and kisses are free. But Timothy was more than happy with that gift, which made Alex happy, too.

In case you were wondering, Tim turned twenty-one plus eight years old. You see, if he saw the words "He turned twenty-nine years old" in print, I'm afraid he'd have an anxiety attack that would require hours of consoling and soothing, and I just don't have time for that.

And neither does he, for that matter. With the Bar Exam less than two weeks away, he has been in lock-down mode and hasn't left the house since Thursday night. In fact, he's barely left the bedroom since Thursday night. He has a card table set up in the bedroom because Alex and I are just too darn entertaining, so if he tries to study anywhere else, he tends to get distracted.

But he made a teeny tiny exception for his birthday, and last night, we met up with a couple of his school pals that are going to be working here in Dallas for dinner. We ended up at Hook, Line, & Sinker again, and this time, we discovered that they had corn on the cob. So A ate his corn and watched Sportscenter while the rest of us celebrated Tim's b-day with Po' Boys and oysters and hush puppies.

After dinner, the birthday boy insisted on stopping for ice cream, so we took the scenic route home and ended up at the Marble Slab Creamery. It was okay - not nearly as good as Cold Stone, but then what is? Then we headed home and put A to bed because it was already verging on 8.

So it wasn't the most exciting birthday ever, but that's the way it goes sometimes. We'll just have to make up for it next year, when he turns the Big Three-Oh. OOPS! I mean the Big Twenty-One plus Nine...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The End of An Era

This is it, folks, the last can of Parent's Choice Milk-Based Formula that Alex will ever have the pleasure of emptying. He had his last sippy of formula and his first sippy of whole cow's milk on Tuesday. His formula is the one and only thing he's ever formed an attachment to in his whole entire year of life, and I wasn't sure how he would handle the switch. So when he was throwing an impatience-prompted hissyfit Tuesday morning as I filled his sippy cup with milk, I thought, yeeaaaahhhh, this'll be interesting...He was a little unsure at first, and he didn't suck the whole thing down right away like he usually does with his formula. He would drink a little and then look at me and whine, like, ummm, 'scuse me, I think you've made a mistake here. Eventually he drank it all, and he's been pretty good about drinking it since.

The thing I've been dreading even more than the big switch was dropping his bedtime sippy. Ooh boy, I was not looking forward to that dreaded night when the clock struck seven and I had to just put him in the bed without first letting him have his precious nigh-night drink. Turns out I was more attached to it than he was.

I had planned on waiting until we had switched him to milk to drop it, so Tuesday night was the big night. After I gave him a bath, brushed his teeth, and got his jammies on, I let him drink some water out of his sippy while I read him some books. Then into the bed he went. He went right to sleep with no problems!! I was so relieved.

For me, that is a HUGE milestone. It's so bizarre to put him to bed without such a big part of what has been a year long routine, and kind of sad, too. Okay, really sad. But it's gotta happen at some point, I suppose. You can't exactly send a twelve year old to a sleepover armed with a warm bottle of milk in case he can't fall asleep...or can you...?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Way Things Were

I think it's safe to say that Alex has changed quite a bit over the past year. It's so funny how you can look back at each previous month and see such huge differences, but you can't recognize those changes as they're happening. It's like you look back over the months and think, yeah, that was Alex all right, but Alex from some sort of distant past life that only exists in pictures. Fortunately, we at least have those pictures to refer to so that we can remember "the way things were".

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How big is he?

Before we left for Dallas on Monday morning, we had (what we thought was) Alex's last well-child visit at the NWA Pediatric Clinic. Before we met with the doc, a new nurse got his measurements. To put it kindly, the girl had the personality of a doorknob, and Alex shot her "The Look" when she scolded him for pressing buttons on the scale as she was trying to weigh him. She must've entered the measurements incorrectly because when the doc came in to go over his stats, he noticed that the height measurements were obviously off from what they should be. So the nurse came back to measure him again and blamed the doctor for screwing things up. Classic.

Anyway, after much ado, the nurse finally got accurate numbers, and we were finally able to find out how big our chunky monkey really is. Turns out, he's not that chunky. He currently weighs 23 lbs. 1 1/2 ozs. (in the 60th percentile), is 32 inches tall (over the 95th percentile), and has a head circumference of 18 3/4 inches (75th percentile).

He is very healthy and the doc wasn't at all concerned about his...lack of upright mobility because it is clearly an issue of motivation and not of physical ability. In other words, our little booger could walk but he simply chooses not to. He also got four shots, one in each arm and one in each thigh, which he didn't seem to enjoy very much. Our regular sweet and helpful nurses also got a good ol' dose of "The Look", although they didn't blame Alex one bit.

We thought that visit was going to be his last one before we found a new pediatrician in Dallas, but it turns out that they need to do one final blood draw for the immunization study within the next 4 to 6 weeks. That really puts a kink in our plans because we did not plan on going back to NWA in the next two months because Timothy has the bar exam at the end of July, then just two weeks of freedom before he starts working. We're going to see whether we can get his blood drawn here and shipped to AR, but we're kind of doubtful. So we'll see. I guess any excuse to get back to NWA is a good one, so maybe it was just meant to be...

The BIG Day

Finally, it was the day of Alex's big party. The morning was a little hectic and Alex woke up from his afternoon nap just in time to make us five minutes late to the Fayetteville Athletic Club. We only had thirty minutes to get everything set up in the first place, so that five minutes was sorely missed. I ended up having to delegate tasks and run myself ragged, along with all the other unsuspecting friends and relatives who happened to be early to the party.

Somehow we got most of the decorations up before most of the guests arrived. We were expecting about forty adults and fifteen kids, so we had four large tables with chairs and two kiddie tables with chairs to decorate. We had cowhide-printed balloons anchored by real horseshoes on each large table, with burlap placemats and bandannas full of trail mix as grown up party favors. The kiddie tables had hobby horses, hats, and personalized deputy badges for each cowpoke to take home. Our soundtrack featured a variety of traditional cowboy favorites, including "Home on the Range", "Back in the Saddle", and "I've Got Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle", and the cake table featured a selection of framed pictures from another of Aunt Rachel's awesome photo shoots.

I had also commissioned my mom and dad to build some simple sawhorses that we were going to fit with some youth saddles that Tim's parents were bringing up, including Timothy's saddle from when he was little. Of course, in typical Boettcher fashion, they went completely over-the-top and arrived with these awesome saw "horses", complete with realistic heads and faces and curly hair and a tail. The idea was that the all the little cowpokes would don their hats and badges and would be able to "ride" these wooden horses like real cowboys.

When most of the guests had arrived and were standing around the room waiting to be told what to do, I panicked a little, thinking, now what? I had kind of planned on things happening sort of organically, so I didn't really have a "game plan" per se. The FAC had a large maze and a bounce around gym, so we basically told everybody to mill around, check things out, and do whatever they and/or their kids felt like doing. Most of the guests ended up down in the gymnasium, where the smaller kids jumped in the bounce around and the older kids shot hoops or played on the big foam shapes that were scattered around the floor.

We managed to get one big group picture, which I plan on doing every year. Thirty years from now, I imagine Alex would love to see a picture of all the people who were present at his first birthday party.

After the picture, we led everyone back upstairs to the party room for cake. In order to feed fifty+ guests without breaking the bank, we decided to get a large sheet cake with red stars and simple rope trim and writing, and then splurged on Alex's "smash cake", which was airbrushed blue with bandanna details.

Before his birthday, during yet another photo shoot with Aunt Rach, we practiced with a cupcake so he'd know what to do when we put that cake in front of him. It seems that strategy worked because A dove right in like he's been doing it for years, and that cake didn't know what hit it.

Sometime during the cake-cutting process, I looked up to witness Grammy and Cousin Ashley trotting out of the bathroom in inflated horse costumes, handing out plastic horses that my mom had bought as party favors for the kids. Say WHAT??!! It took me a second to figure out what was going on because I seriously had no idea that they were planning this. Apparently, my mom was suppose to have been horse #2, but I was pressed for time and had "roped" her into helping me cut the cake, and she couldn't very well tell me no. Luckily, Ashley was willing to take her place.

I think everyone enjoyed the spectacle, although I was so preoccupied with cake-cutting and distribution that I didn't really get to see everyone's reactions. Alex, however, seemed just as stunned as I was. That Grammy - what a hoot!!

By the time we dove into the cake, we were really crunching for time. It was 5:20, which left about ten minutes for Alex to open a giant pile of presents, and at that time, Alex was still covered head-to-toe in frosting. So we had to improvise, and instead of letting him open his own gifts and going six hours past our allotted party time, we decided to go "shower-style" and open his presents for him. I am such a traditionalist and was kind of sad that Alex didn't open his own presents, but it just wasn't practical. So we tore through those puppies and tried to show Alex each gift as we opened them. He got loads of great stuff, too many things to mention here without forgetting some and then feeling bad about it. I'm sure most of the items will appear in future posts, so I will do my best to "shout out" to the gift-givers as the do.

After all the fretting over Alex's outfit, I don't know that I got a single picture of him dressed for his party. Pretty much the second that he started getting passed around, his hat came off, his boots came off, is bandanna came off, and his adorable leather belt and buckle disappeared under his t-shirt. Most of the guests arrived after he was already discombobulated, so all that work to make him look super cute and cowboy-like was completely in vain. I'm pretty bummed about it to tell you the truth. Luckily, Leah and Ashley snapped a few pictures of him before things got crazy, so there are a couple of good ones of him in his cowboy gear, including this one of him and his Auntie L...

...and this one of him riding a horsie.

We've already decided that from now on, we will be flying Rachel in for every big event that we have to ensure that we take advantage of each and every photo opp. The whole thing was pretty much a whirlwind for me, so the pictures are the only memories I have. It's amazing how reminiscent this one year old's birthday party was to our wedding. It was extremely tedious to plan and execute, it took forever for the day to finally arrive, and then before we knew it, it was over.

When our entourage of helpers were carrying our abundance of decorations upstairs before the party, Timothy overheard an FAC employee say, "Man, that must be one special kid." Yeah, I think that'd be a fair assessment. And as we were cleaning up afterwards, our party attendant said, "If this was just his first birthday, I can't imagine what his sixteenth will be like." I pondered that notion for about a second, then hightailed it out of there to start planning. One can never start too early...