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Carrie Elle

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Conversation With a Two Year Old

It is amazing to me how children develop language.  From first words to first sentences to verbalizing concepts and's just something I marvel at on a daily basis. 

I've noticed that Jack is starting to acknowledge the world outside of his own little personal Toddler World (for those of you without kids - toddlers and babies just assume that you want and need and like the same things that they do because they think, literally, that we are all living in their world and pretty much here to serve them, which is not too far from the truth actually).  But this is fascinating to me.  When I asked Jack, at Christmas time, what he wanted to get Daddy for Christmas he told me "cement truck" and "airplane toy" because, well, that's what Jack wants so why in the world would anyone want anything else, right?

I have lots of conversations with Jack these days - mostly about things like cement trucks and airplanes and fire trucks.  But the other night we had the following conversation:

Jack: Jack loves trucks!
Me: What does Mama love?
Jack: Mama loves....pickles!

Hehehe!!  Why yes, I do love pickles, and this love has intensified as my pregnancy progresses.  In fact I eat about a pickle a day.

Me: That's right! Mama does love pickles.  What does Daddy love?
Jack (after a moment of thoughtful silence): Daddy loves...ummmmmm...Daddy loves...meat!

HAHA!!  We just about died laughing.  Daddy does love meat. 


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dah-ling I love you, but give me Park Avenue!

About four days a week, I walk for an hour or so all by myself in relative peace.  Although these walks are major Restorers of Sanity, the real reason I walk is because I need the exercise.  You would think it would be a nice time to just sort of relax, put the brain on hold, and enjoy the surrounding countryside...but that never happens.  Instead I find myself thinking about Jack, my future daughte (holy cow, I'm having a girl!), the horses, the house, where we are living, why I hate it, why I love it, etc.  The theme I most often find myself coming back to is "Country vs. Suburb - Which is Best?" 

This usually stems from the fact that I rarely see a car on my walks and instead enjoy views of cows laying by a pond and a pasture of llamas (love!) but that I occasionally step on a dead snake I didn't see or get hit in the face by a large grasshopper that jumped up right as I tripped over a rock on our dirt road (hate!).  So in the course of five seconds, I can go from thinking "Wow, I really love it here!" to "OMG I FREAKING HATE IT HERE GET ME THE EFF OUT!!"  Then of course, I start thinking a little deeper - weighing the pros and cons of country life vs. an easy life in the suburbs (it has to be easier, right?  I mean, when the grocery store is closer than 15 minutes away and your plumbing doesn't drain out by the pond and occasionally get backed up so the whole house smells like the sewer and your bathtub fills up with pond dirt and water bugs??). 

So without further ado, here is my list of Pros and Cons of Country Life With a Toddler (because it would be/was way easier and more manageable without a child and if I were still childless I doubt we would move):

1. It's Expensive (con)
You wouldn't think it's expensive.  When we moved out here from California we thought "Wow!!  15 acres for less than we sold our condo for!  We must buy this!"  But we didn't look at the whole picture.  Unexpected expenses of farm life?  Massive homeowners insurance payments (apparently, if you do not live within a mile of a fire hydrant you will pay for it), foundation repairs (appears the soil is not even remotely stable and foundation issues are normal out here, and it also turned out the warranty that came with this house on the last foundation work that was completed wasn't honored), land maintenance (yeah, someone has to MOW that 15 lovely acres and trim those giant trees when they get too big and snakes start falling out of their branches onto your porch and their roots starts wrapping around your plumbing etc. etc.), gas (if you work in Dallas and need to commute 100+ miles each day and also if you want to, you know, eat - nearest grocery store is 15 minutes away).  You get the idea.  It's not like having a little house in the city.

2. It's Remote (pro and con)
I love having our house off the road (you can't see it from the road).  You can walk around naked and no one would ever know (well I hope so, I guess there could be some creepy Forest Creature sitting outside the windows peeking in but I prefer not to entertain that thought), it's peaceful (right now all I can hear are birds chirping), it's safe from Al-Qaeda, it's a place peeople like to visit.

On the con side?  If there's a fire it's going down (remember the whole fire-hydrant-more-than-a-mile-away-thing?), if the Forest Creature snuck in and got me it could be a while before anyone noticed I was missing, it's so far out here that the few friends we do have in Dallas aren't likely to visit without planning a whole weekend around it, we drive - a lot - for work, and it takes an hour to get anywhere!!!!  Do you know what an hour in the car is to a toddler?  A Very. Long. Time. Which means I spend a lot more time staying home than I would like.  In fact, sometimes I go batty because I haven't lef the house in so long...but the alternative is to plan two hours of driving around naptime and my work schedule to go do something in Dallas.

3. Bugs (con)
I don't think I even need to elaborate on this one.

4. It's beautiful (pro)
There is something very soothing for the soul about being out here (when the weather is nice and the bugs are hibernating).  Right now is a prime example.  Everything is turning green again - so green it almost hurts to look at it, if that makes any sense.  Our road is lined with trees that make a giant canopy overhead...I walk down most of the road in complete shade, even when it is sunny outside.  I see cows chillin' in their green pastures, bunnies, sparkly ponds - all on my short walk.  The trees and brush are so dense in parts I can't even see into the pastures I am passing but occasionally I will hear a horse making snuffling noises and see glimpses of him moving through the trees.  And speaking of horses, how awesome is it to look in our own backyard and see my horses grazing or scratching their backs on a low tree branch or cooling their feet in the pond?  Yeah...I will miss all of that.  I hope I will appreciate it even more when we come out to visit, which brings me to my last reason for loving/not loving the country...

5. I have lots of family here (pro and con)
I'm a girl who didn't grow up surrounded by more than my immediate family and who pretty much only saw extended family on holidays and special occasions.  Well, guess what?  I now live on the same road as my in-laws, my mom and her husband, my husband's cousin and her husband, his other cousin and soon-to-be-wife, and his aunt and uncle.  Holy Family Overload, Batman!!!

Now, this is quite a lifestyle change.  On the one hand, there is a whole lot of fabulousness to it.  For instance, both of our moms like to feed us and play with Jack and will help with the animals or things around the house if we are gone.  Sometimes it's just nice to go let Jack play in someone else's house...also, Jack love love LOVES his Grandmas! 

But there is also a downside.  It seems like someone knows what I am doing every second of the day.  I try to go for a walk in peace and the next thing I know someone drives by and sees me and alerts the press and the next time I am at a family dinner everyone is asking me how my walks are going, where I walk, how often, etc.  Even worse, sometimes I am trying to bust my rear and actually exercise and a family member will see me walking and want me to stop and chat (I'm not a chatterer).  We occasionally get unnanounced visits, and everyone reports to each other what is going on so everyone knows everything (seriously).  It's safe to say, this got old fast.


OK, this is getting long so I am going to stop myself.  I didn't have time to include the schools, people, road-that-used-to-be-paved-but-is-now-dirt-and-covered-with-large-rocks, wildlife (umm, buffalos tearing down your fence and running loose in your pasture terrorizing your horses, anyone??), etc.  I will save those for a rainy day. 


Thursday, March 10, 2011


Oh wow, do I miss my friends, family, and old stomping grounds! 

I sometimes wonder how the HECK I ended up in BFE, Texas (usually, I ponder this most intensely after a trip to easy, breezy SoCal).  This trip was no exception.

Sunny weather, laughing with my friends, coastal breezes, a baby shower, Legoland, Jack playing with his California cousins, and...NO BUGS!!!  (OK, kinda lied about the "no bugs" part - there were lots and lots of snails, but snails are A-OK because they stay on the ground and move slowly). 

Of course, my camera spent most of the trip in my purse, but I did manage to capture a few moments with my iPhone.  Here is the quick rundown of our trip.

Jack on the airplane.  This kid loves airplanes.  As you can see, he was dressed appropriately.  I actually flew out two days early (my first time to leave Jack overnight - I was SO looking forward to a full-night's sleep in complete peace, and wouldn't you know - that never happened).  Charles and Jack joined me on Wednesday.  I was very proud of Charles - the thought of flying alone with Jack, who has the lungs of a soprano and isn't afraid to use them in enclosed and public places, was daunting to say the least. 

He actually slept for much of the trip.  The only time he caused any distrubances was before the plane took off (you know, when it's all quiet and no one is talking and the plan is being taxied to the runway).  Jack yelled - repeatedly - "Take off, airplane!!  Hurry up!!  Airplane take off!" 

This is the view from my Dad's house, where I stayed the first couple of nights (where my supposed nights-of-peaceful-sleeping were to occur) and where Jack, Charles and I stayed the first couple of nights when they arrived.  The deck looks out over the beach.  Also wonderful about this location: you can walk to the beach (duh), you can walk to Starbucks (YAY!!  which reminds me - on the last day of our trip Jack actually pleaded with me, "No go in Starbucks, Mama!!"), it's a short drive or medium-length walk to my brother and sister-in-law's house, and there are no bugs (but lots of birds that poop everywhere, to be fair).

Jack got to spend lots of time playing with his California cousins, Max and Hana.  In most cases, he would never wear a mask, but when he saw Max wearing one, he suddenly had to wear one, too.  Here he is as Spiderman.  Very threatening, to be sure!  It's pretty amazing how kids want things that they would normally NEVER. EVER. EVER. want, only because they see another kid enjoying it.  It made for a great photo op though!

It was pretty great to be so close to my brother and sister-in-law and their two kids, as well as my sister and one of my Eternal BFF's - who all live in the same apartment complex.  I mean seriously, I can let Jack play with his cousins and Auntie Polly while I run up and see Sara's new crib (she's due in 6.5 weeks and counting!).  How freaking AWESOME is that??  Jack's most frequently used phrase of the week: "Jack go Max's house!!"

This is at my Dad's house (AKA Papa and Gran's house).  I do not have a kid that sleeps better at night if he is busy during the day.  No.  Not even close.  I do hear these children exist in some alternate universe, but my child's sleep does not seem to be impacted in the slightest by his activities during the day.  Sure, he looks all exhausted and passed-out here, but let me tell you - it took about an hour to get him here, and he was restless all night - and this after a VERY FULL day at Legoland followed by an afternoon of playing with his cousins.  Yeah, that's right...going on rides, running around an amusement park, spening 45 minutes splashing in the splashing park - and he still doesn't sleep.  In fact, I think his adrenaline was so high it actually made sleeping more difficult.  He was talking about riding trains and helicopters and bi-planes for days after his trip to Legoland.

We spent the last few nights in a hotel.  Over the last few weeks, Jack has discovered and developed a very strong passion for Lightning McQueen and Mater (from the movie "Cars").  I was trying to get some stuff organized here and plopped him in front of the TV to watch Cars with a Capri Sun and a bag of Lucky Charms-like cereal.  I admit it.  I was jealous.  This looks like a pretty sweat deal to me.  Surrounded by hotel pillows, watching your favorite movie and stuffing your face full of sugary treats while an ocean breeze blows in...yeah, I'll take it.  Instead I was cleaning.  Because somehow, over the course of a couple of days, we managed to trash our hotel room like a bunch of drunk rock stars.  Minus the alcohol, which makes it even worse.

Oh, yeah.  Me and The Torso.

So the real reason we went out to California this time of year was for Sara's baby shower.  I was technically hosting it with Valerie but being several states away, she did all of the work.  So I was very happy to contribute when she asked me to pick up some balloons on my way out there.  So Jesika and I pulled into Albertson's and saw this monstrosity - a balloon in the shape of a baby torso - and of course, we had to buy it!  Here I am posing with it.  I am very glad I took this picture before the shower because it appears our balloon-guy didn't fill it up correctly or something - it was halfway empty post-shower!  And the shower was a huge success.  I seriously cannot believe that Sara will have baby Ally in her arms in the next couple of months!!  And I also seriously cannot believe that I am having a GIRL!!!!!  Which I know because Sara hooked me up with not one, but TWO ultrasounds.  Woohoo!

So there you have it.  My week in sporadic iPhone pictures taken when I remembered to take pictures. 

And now, I must return to readjusting to Texas life.