Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Update: Sandy Packs a Mean Punch

Well, if you watched (are watching) the weather as closely as us, you know that Sandy didn't hit us directly here in South Eastern Virginia. Instead she chose to skirt us and make landfall in New Jersey. (Which I can't type without saying "Joisey" to myself...) Thankfully these rough winds we are experiencing now weren't happening at high tide. Instead, we got a much gentler two pronged attack. This is what home looked like this morning:

Not so bad, right? Six inches of water up to the back stairs and some water in your lawn. Whatever, Amy. Easy- peasy.

It could have been worse. The first picture is of our back yard at about 8:30 this morning. About 45 minutes later the water crept in a bit more to look like this:

And see, we don't live on the water. At least not normally.

That water on the other side of the fence is a flooded road. Still before high tide.

It gets a little scarier when we go to the front door.

Notice how the water comes up over the front step. Then, if you look a bit further you can see that there is no delineation from stair to walkway to yard to sidewalk to road. It is all one large lake.

In our intersection alone there were at least two vehicular casualties. (Yes, two people drove through standing water in an intersection they don't know in the hopes of making it through.

They didn't.


Advice: Don't do that.

The poor Caddie in the picture below has temporary -as in this car was just purchased- tags on it. The driver side window was down all night, too. (I imagine because the water fried the circuits before he could get the window up.) I sure do hope he insured his car the day he bought it. Some people forget to do that, you know?

While we are fortunate here in our neck of the woods, I know that much of the rest of the East Coast is bracing for a rough night. The roughest patch of this has passed us here, but the wind is still howling and the rain is still falling. It still sounds scary here and I know it must be much scarier nearer the eye. These pictures and the weather we are experiencing are nothing, and frankly, I know that we are very lucky to just have had to deal with this.

I'm praying for the safety and comfort of those who are being hit now.

How did you manage, dear readers? Please do share.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dear Sandy

Dear Sandy,

Your name makes me want to sing "Sand---y, Sandy baaay-be". But in all honesty, I don't like you. You scare me a little. You've been dubbed "Frankenstorm" and the news outlets have discussed the conditions being perfect for a "perfect storm" situation. I saw that movie and it didn't end well.

We're tracking you.

Ok, yes, that isn't The Weather Channel, it's the stock market. The boys are tracking that, too. Little Man is giving dad advice and it seemed too cute to not include. But I assure you, we're watching you just as closely, Sandy.

We're on alert.

Anyway, I'm usually quite hospitable, but not this week. Find somewhere else to play. See, we flood. (Don't believe me? Here's proof.) This week our neighborhood is having our annual neighborhood Halloween party on our yard and it won't be as fun if it is soggy. Little Man is going to be a lion. A LION. Yes, Sandy, that's going to be amazingly cute. Please let that happen. More importantly, I don't like the idea of  the creepy crawl space being flooded and all of our ductwork being replaced. Again.

(Photos quite obviously stolen from The Weather Channel)

I'm not asking you to hit higher up the coast. That would be mean. We have family from D.C. to Cape Cod, so I'm thinking maybe you could just veer right. Consider it. We'll call you baby and sing you a song...

Thanks for your consideration.

P.S. if you decide to visit, during a full moon, and rendezvous with that arctic blast, then we're ready. I've got cookies, candy corn, and an abundance of wine. No, that's not an invitation, just notice that we are prepped and ready.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Travels with Carter

Thank you, John Steinbeck for giving me a cool title to play with for this post...

Anyway, enough shout-outs to dead authors, lets get to the goods! Over the past two weeks our Little Man has been a traveling fool. He was in three (three!!) different states (not counting home, so I guess technically that's four), flew on an airplane, saw two different sets of grandparents and two aunts, laughed like a fool at his sweet cousin, went to an aquarium, visited an Ivy League school, Dad's alma mater, and hung out at the beach. Whew.

Little Man has had quite a few cool life experiences packed into his almost five short months. (How is he almost five months old?!?)

More in depth posts of our adventures are coming, but here are a few highlights:

While on Cape Cod (Massachusetts= state one), Carter got to spend some time with Beau's family. One crisp morning, Beau, Grammy, Little Man and I walked to the beach. Grammy and I look windblown and happy, and if you can see the little nugget nestled in his sling, you can see he's out for the count. That's a sure sign that he's enjoying himself.

That or his newly found ability to giggle. Adorable.

While in the second state of the fortnight (North Carolina), Little Man stayed at the bottom of the Currituck lighthouse with Grandma, but mom, dad, and Pop Pop climbed up this beast. Can you believe what a spectacular day it was? There is zero photoshopping done to the above photo! And it was taken on an iPhone, not a DSLR! The day was just plain perfect!

Also in North Carolina, Little Man gets his snuggle on with his Pop Pop. They were watching football together. I think getting into the football zone is embedded in the male genetic code. He just stared at the game in awe. It was super cute. (Even if TV before the age of two rots a baby's brain. I figured a few minutes of man time with Pop would be well worth any potential rot.)
Oh, and this blurry fog was also taken on my iPhone, lest Beau think I don't need a new camera because of the lovely lighthouse photo. Ahem. Christmas.

Did you hear something?


Anyway, back to our travels.

While Little Man's arms were too short to reach into the petting pool, he watched these rays and horseshoe crabs intently at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island. I think I overheard him mumble something about marine biology or scuba when we were looking at the shark tank.

While on Roanoke Island, we also visited the Lost Colony.

It is still lost, BTW.

How did we visit it, then?

Trickery on the part of the National Parks System.

There's a park where the Lost Colony might have been. Minor detail. It was an interesting place, and worth the visit even if the settlement really did just seem to vanish.

State three was New Hampshire where we visited a museum, college, state park and ogled the lovely fall foliage. Here, my two guys are at the top of a windy hill looking for raptors.

We didn't see any. I was glad. I had visions of a huge bird swooping down with giant wingspan spread, talons out, snatching my sweet baby.

That look on Beau's face? He's probably realizing he married a complete dork who thinks hawks snatch human babies on a regular basis. Poor guy.

So tell me, what kind of person are you? Beachy or mountainy? Which of our destinations would have floated your boat?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How to Eat a Cupcake

In the chaos of giving birth (and here and here), I completely forgot that I wanted to share the revelations of the cupcake geniuses (my adorable yearbook girls) who threw me a shower the week before-- until I saw this article on Bon Appetit's website.

You know you've always wondered how to eat a cupcake without getting a nose full of frosting, or to ensure a proper cake to frosting ratio?

Here is the genius: tear off the bottom half of the cupcake and squash it into the frosting.

Absolutely life changing.

You think I'm hyperbolizing. Or worse, kidding entirely.

Not at all. Try it. Your life will change. For the better.

And did you know hyperbolizing is a real word?? I didn't have a clue. I thought I was bastardizing the English language again.

I digress. I love the picture up there. If you ignore the cuteness of my yearbook girls loving on Baby "Pedro" and look at the cupcake in the photo, you'll notice the brilliant tactic described above being employed.

Now go back to the cuteness.

I love those girls.

Not only do they know how to eat a cupcake, throw a shower, and make some darn great yearbooks, but they are also fantastic, beautiful, and incredibly intelligent ladies.

What's not to love?

What do you think of the cupcake strategy? Perfection perfected? Go ahead, go get some cakes and give it a whirl.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gratuitous Baby Shot

Hello friends.

Sorry I've been MIA for almost a week. Beau, Little Man and I took a little vacation north. I've got fun things to say about our adventures, but I thought I'd pop in to say hello and show you what the Cutest Baby on Earth wears in New England in October.

Can you even handle all that cuteness? I can't.

Grammy got him a Black Dog fleece for my baby shower and I thought it was cute. Then we put it on him. Cute doesn't even begin to describe it. Ridiculous, really.

I've had two awesome black dogs who look a little like the sweet, protective dog on the fleece in my life and, frankly, there is nothing better than a loving Black Lab in a person's life. (I keep telling Beau we need a dog, but he's wise enough to tell me I'm crazy...) Instead, Little Man gets to cozy up with a graying, docile Black Lab and I don't have to walk him or clean up doggy doo.

Aside from the cuteness factor and warmth, I also love that he's wearing a little piece of Cape Cod. Beau's roots are there (shhh, don't tell anyone) and Little Man has got family that loves him very much in that neck of the woods. It's like he's getting a hug from them every time he wears it. Plus, he's the only baby on the block rockin' the original, regional brand.

See, he's loving this "hug". (He's giggling!!!)

What do you think of gratuitous baby shots? Want more? How about those items/products that you can only get in certain places (ignore online ordering capabilities, obvs.)? What rocks your socks?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Funday

Today my family and I did something that I love to do.

Yep, we went to the winery!

One of my favorite things to do is to go wine tasting, and today Beau, Little Man, my parents and my cousin Natalie took a little drive to Saude Creek Vineyards in Lanexa, Virginia. Then we proceeded to taste. Then do a little more in depth tasting. (Hee hee)

Did you know that Virginia boasts some very nice wineries? (Around 210 of them!) My mom claims that Virginia is the third largest wine producing state. I did some very quick fact checking, and I can't find any support for that particular claim*, but I can find support that it is the fifth largest behind California (obviously), Washington, New York, and Oregon. (Who knew New York produced so much wine?) I found this particular document to be interesting. You know, if you like files.

*In no way am I calling my mom a liar. She's not. I just can't find anywhere that proves she's right. She probably is, though. She's my mom.

Anyway, back to our fantastic Sunday.

Saude Creek is a relatively young winery. The grounds are absolutely stunning, and the wine was pretty dang good. We all agreed on the Vidal Blanc for our afternoon bottle after we completed our tasting of seven wines. I'm not typically a huge fan of white wine, but this Vidal Blanc was a smooth off-dry wine. The cheat sheet said it has grapefruit and peach characteristics, but I've never had a very discerning palate. It can identify good, and that seems to work just fine for me.

Isn't that a lovely building? The porch on the right wraps all the way around and there are all kinds of places for guests to picnic with a bottle or two.
Unfortunately, the weather today was not conducive for outdoor picnics, but since the tasting room is roomy and warm that was fine with us.
I'm loving that fireplace. There were rumors that they were going to light a nice fire in it, but it didn't happen while we were there.

That's my family on the left. Our table was pretty busy. Let's just say we don't mess around when it comes to wine tastings.

I packed my trusty picnic basket with cheese, crackers, pretzels, dipping sauce, and fruit. Mom added veggies and dip, and Natalie stopped at a DC wine and cheese shop on her way down and picked up some cheese and crackers. Beau noticed the BBQ table set up in the corner of the tasting room, so he picked up a plate of pulled pork from The Scottish Pig. (Two thumbs up for the hot vinegar based sauce, btw...)

Even though it was chilly out, I stepped outside for a glimpse of the grounds. They are beautiful! I totally want to come curl up in one of these 15 Adirondack chairs when this fire pit is burning.

From the balcony, over the vineyards and trees you can see the Pamunkey River. It's just a glimpse, but it sure is nice. And imagine how beautiful this view is going to be a little later this month when the trees turn. Isn't fall the best?

The vines at the winery are still pretty young, and I imagine they will fill out a little more in the next few years (and are probably much fuller in the spring and summer...). Thin or lush, I love the sight of rows and rows of vines off in the distance.

I mean, more rows means more wine, right?

Speaking of the wine, I want to give a shout-out to my favorite wine of the day, the Cabernet Franc. Now, nine times out of ten, if there is a Cab. Franc on the tasting menu it's going to be among one of my favorites. At Saude Creek, it was my absolute favorite. My inept palate could even pick up on the slight peppery flavor and maybe a little bit of the black cherries (but totally missed the currents and violet nuances...geesh). I like a bold red that assaults the senses--in a good way--and this one was assaulty and nice. There really is no way to make sense of that. Never should assault (or a made-up form of the word) and nice be in the same sentence, and yet I went there. If you're a red drinker hopefully you get what I mean.
Someone does, right?
Or am I just weird?
Generally speaking, dessert wines are not my bag, baby. I pretty much feel like syrupy sweet should be reserved for the dessert itself. With that said, I am a fan of Chambourcin (and whomever wrote that definition). Saude Creek's Chambourcin was quite lovely paired with the provided M&M. I have to admit, it isn't the best Chambourcin I've had, but that might be because I usually sip it with dark chocolate. Perhaps the M&M didn't do the wine the justice that a nice Ghirardelli Dark 60% Cacao square would have done. (Yummy...)
I guess I know what I'm packing in my trusty picnic basket the next time we venture out that way!
By the way, Little Man was a total trooper. He slept for a good portion of the time, and then hung out with us at the table, being loved on from all directions. Not a tear was shed, and not one moment was spent being crabby. I was impressed that the winery is super kid friendly. Apparently in the summer kids are often playing on the vast lawn. How cool and utterly un-stuffy is that?  
So, after a fantastic day at the winery with my fam, we went back to my parents' house for some dinner. Mom capped an already terrific day off with a twelve (out of four) star dinner.
She totally just whipped together a pot of Cioppino.
How spoiled are we?
How'd you spend your Sunday funday? I hope it was as memorable as mine.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I've mentioned my bucket list before, but haven't really gone into detail about it. I'm not going to do that here either. However, I will tell you that I crossed something off of it today.

Don't I look happy about it??

Once again, I apologize for the quality of my photos. I totally should get a new camera for Christmas. (Ahem, Beau, that's a hint. There might be a camera on my Amazon wish list if you're curious. ) A new camera will not, however, reduce my awkwardness in photos.

Anyway, so, yeah. One day I wrote a list of 50 things that I want to do in my life. Some things, like "laugh daily" (#33) and "read more often" (#29) are hard to actually cross off the list as they are continuous. Others, like "cage dive off the coast of South Africa" (#25) and "travel to Greece" (#28) are not really attainable at this stage in my life. You know, with an infant. I'm hoping for a long life. And a kid who gets a full ride to college so we can blow his college savings traveling to cross a ton of places off my list. Here's hoping. No pressure, kiddo. (But really, you should start studying now...)

Said kiddo was, by the way, on my list. Not him per se, but "become a mom" (#8). Chickety-check!

Look at me. Still not getting to the point of today's success..

 #47 totally happened today.

#47- Grow my hair and donate it.



And my happy before (again):
I have the best hair stylist (Brittany!) who, when I had short, stylish hair, used to love it when I came in and let her do whatever with my hair. I'd just sit down and say "Have fun"--with the one caveat that bangs were a no-no. She's like a hair wizard. Seriously, she's the Hermione Granger of hair. (Even Hermione can't handle humidity, right? My hair totally got flat in the time it took me to get home from the salon.)
I got really boring when I started to grow it out. It was slow and Brittany didn't get to have much fun. Then the prenatal vitamins made my hair go crazy (yay folic acid!). I swear it grew over eight inches in the last five months of my pregnancy. I knew it was long enough, but wasn't sure when I'd make the cut.
Then, the perfect storm hit: tiny infant hands+ post pregnancy shedding= the perfect time to give some love to Locks of Love.
Unfortunately, I was so excited to feel the breeze on my neck that I forgot to photograph the foot-long ponytail Brittany cut off to send in. Picture a long clump of hair tied in a ponytail on a counter top.
Yeah, maybe it's OK I didn't get a shot for posterity. (But that gross idea of a string of hair on a counter will turn into a soft blonde wig for a kid with cancer and that, my friends, is way awesome.)
Oh, and in case you're wondering, what's left is long enough that I can clip the top up and out of my face!
Yes, you're right, that is simply a reason to post a picture of the cutest baby on the planet.

As of today I've crossed twelve items off of my list. I'm 24% done! Fun! Maybe I should go buy a pair of Loubies to cross that off (#45). [Don't judge me. I can have one or two really shallow items if I have benevolent ones like platelet donation (#36), volunteer work at a children's hospital (#13)  and foster parenting(#37).]
Though not planned and kind of coincidental, I'm really glad I donated this month when cancer awareness is heightened. Everyone seems to be thinking pink, so why not do something positive to help someone out there?
What about you, have you donated your hair before? Ever tell your stylist to "have fun"?
p.s. Yes, mom, I know my hair is getting dark. I didn't get to go out in the sun much this summer, OK? It looks positively brunette from the back. I'm not happy about that. I'm a blonde and--fingers crossed-- I will return to my natural state eventually.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Beau

Today my Beau turns 34. I thought to celebrate, I'd talk about some of the things that make me get all weak in the knees over him. My friend and neighbor, Mary, who has a sweet blog (tulips & flight suits) recently wished her husband a happy 27th by discussing 27 reasons she loves him here. I thought I'd modify her thoughtful gesture in my own little roundup of love. (Thanks, Mary!)

Well, I'm wordy, and no one has time to read 34 reasons I love Beau. (See here, here and here for examples of why a simple list of ten can be way too much for this verbose gal). I could easily think of 340 reasons he's the bees knees, but here are 17 instead. One for every two years? Sure. Why not.

1) The dad you are. Seeing you with our Little Man melts my heart. You beat me to the diaper change on our guy's first day of life, and you continue, every day, to be the very best father you can be.

2) You make me laugh. You just get me and my strange sense of humor. I think I laugh with you more than I have with any other person. You're dang witty, mister, and I appreciate that trait so very much. I think laughter is so very healthy and it means so much to me that we can look at serious things like parenting, responsibilities, work, etc. and laugh or fool heads off. (Like in this picture where even during our vows, you made me laugh...)

3) Your brain. Smart is sexy. You are smart. You know what basic logic says about you, then. The conversations we have astound me. I recall I once mentioned I didn't get the difference between a regular engine and a diesel engine. After a lengthy lesson, I can say I now do. You're not just limited to engines. Politics, finance, current events, space exploration, history-- it doesn't matter-- you know what's going on and you never make me feel less for asking.

4) Your red shirt. Yeah, yeah, you know I actually kind of hate that red shirt. But, I love that you don't care what people think about you or that hole filled red shirt. (I typed holy, but I didn't want to give you any ideas on why you should continue to wear the thing.) You are you and you don't really want to be anyone else. I love that. In today's world, that's hard to do. I love that Little Man will get to see that, and hopefully he'll emulate it. He will, though, probably hate the shirt too.

I'm not going to glorify the shirt by including a photo. That, and I don't think I have any...

5) Your job. OK, there are aspects of your job that I really dislike, but I love that you do it without complaint and you provide so willingly for our family. I know that you work hard and you make personal sacrifices for us. They do not go unnoticed, nor are then unappreciated.

6) Your priorities. Little man had a college fund before he was born, we married only after knowing that marriage wouldn't change the "us" we cherish so much, and we live within certain means so that we have the (almost..come on stock market, be good to us...) certainty of a long comfortable life together. Really, I guess what I'm saying is that Little Man and I are your obvious priorities and that's pretty cool.

7) Our adventures. We do some pretty fun things together and it's because you think of the most exciting things to do. Balloon rides in the mountains? (Almost) check. A trip to NYC to see a brand new show? Uh-huh. A babymoon planned three days before departure? Done that. An afternoon at the beach with an infant on a whim? Sure. A hike in flip-flops? Why not? you are fearless and spontaneous and I am neither of those. You're kind of my hero that way. (When I'm not complaining about hiking in flops or how I need more time to pack, plan, etc.)

8) You let me be right...even when I'm not. I'm hard-headed and a little headstrong. You let me be that and don't argue or fight with me when I know I'm right. (In most cases, there is no right.) A lesser man would want to one-up me or prove me wrong. You know that I'm usually mortified when I figure it out on my own. I think you're kind enough to not make it worse. (Thank you.)

9) Your ability to jump in with both feet. Remember when you bought two liters (!!!) of vanilla from Mexico to go with the ice cream maker you thought would be fun to have? (It is!) There was no small step there--we were going to have vanilla enough to make ice cream whenever we wanted (for the rest of our lives, it seems!). Both feet for the plunge. I love that. There's no timidity with you when you want something. That was true when we started dating. You called the next day (no three day rule for you!) and didn't beat around the bush and play dumb dating games. You were upfront, real, and all in.

10) Our conversations. I look forward to our road trips and other extended times together because we always have something to say to each other. Sometimes they are silly conversations, sometimes they are deep, sometimes they are memorable and sometimes not, but they always make me feel engaged in us. Here's hoping we can easily withstand twelve hour car rides to the Cape for the next 50 years without an uncomfortable lull.

11) You read. Lots of people couldn't care an iota about this. I, however, think it is downright sexy. It also contributes handsomely to # 3 and #10. On our first date we talked about books. I read the two you recommended and was impressed that you had read them and enjoyed them. It is so important to me that we bring Little Man up in a house with books so he can foster a love of reading and learning. I'm so glad you're on board with that. It's also way cool that you have good taste in books so we can enjoy #10 about some of the less finance-y ones. (Because no matter how good you say they are, I have zero interest in them.)

12) You nested. Not when we were about to have a baby, but when you realized I was a keeper. All of a sudden you needed to have things to make your house comfortable, a home. I don't think you even realized what you were doing, but I could see it. It's sweet and charming that you wanted to make your home comfortable for me. And when it became our home, you never, ever made me feel like it wasn't mine. In your vocabulary it just stopped being "my" house and became "our" house.

13) You let me be me. I know I'm not perfect. I know I make mistakes. I know I can be difficult. You have never, ever made me feel any of these things. You've never tried to change me or make me feel bad about who I am. When you fell in love with me, you fell in love with my flaws too. More so, you support my big ideas: Hey, Amy, you want to put our lives on the Internet for complete strangers to read? Sure, go for it. You'll do a great job...

I hope that I have been as gracious and loving and let you be you.   I think because of #4 I maybe have. Though, I might not have been as quiet about it as I should have been.

14) The nook where I sleep. When I curl up next to you and nestle my head in that nook between your shoulder and chest, I am home. That is my all time favorite place in the world. I feel safe and loved right there. It is my happy place.

15) Your handsome mug. OK, OK, I had to get a little shallow on you. I think you are one fine man. You're too humble to know how attractive you are, and I won't embarrass you by going on and on about it. With that said, I will spend the rest of this sentence letting you know that if you never want to wear a shirt again, you don't have to. (And that's not a ploy to get rid of the red one, I promise!)


16) You're a chocoholic, too! Aside from your father, I've never met a man who has a bigger sweet tooth than me. If I eat ice cream, you have a bigger scoop. Cake? Yep, you'll have seconds. Not only do I often know dessert will be ordered (yippie!!), I also know that I'll never feel like a fatty for eating it. (Maybe this should have been #1. It's pretty important.)

16) You appreciate me and tell me so. When you are out of town for work and we FaceTime, you always ask me how I'm doing and tell me that what I'm doing--staying at home with our Little Man-- is hard work and is important. You understand. Very few men do. I know that, and I count myself lucky every single time you voice your understanding.

So, Beau. On your birthday that's full of bill paying, dentist appointments, and a screaming reflux-y baby, I want you to know, from the very bottom of my heart, you mean the world to me. I'm pretty dang lucky to have you as my other half.

Happy Birthday, my love.

p.s. I know you probably hate this as much as you love it (and maybe more...). Sorry, but the world deserves to know how awesome you are.