January 26, 2009



January 24, 2009


I like to consider myself a person who is good at figuring thing out.  Good at navigating, good at puzzles, good at fixing broken crib mobiles.  My brain likes the challenge of trying to solve problems, and so far, it has a decent track record, which leaves me fairly confident when it comes to new challenges.  Maybe overly confident.  Fortunately, this bravado has only endangered our lives once, when we found ourselves driving in circles around Florence, Italy, right about the time our departing plane was set to board, and I was pretty sure Papa J was going to kill me, or at least call me a moron, which at that point in my relationship with his son might have been even worse.

But we made the flight and Papa has only called me a moron a handful of times, so I've continued to swagger through life without asking for directions.

Until now.

On Monday, we got a new computer (eep!) and a printer (yee!) and Creative Suite 4:  Design Premium, which is the mac-daddy of design software (great googly-moogly!).  On Wednesday, I happily uploaded the software and readied my mouse for an afternoon of "messing around" with Photoshop and InDesign and Illustrator, and realized that I have NO IDEA what I'm doing. Not only that, but I also have no idea how to even BEGIN to figure it out.  This is a very strange feeling, this helpless feeling, and I am not quite sure how to handle it.

For the time being, I'm going to choose to ignore these snazzy programs with their fancy elemental icons and sophisticated terminology and wait until a Mac Genius appears to me in a vision.

All is not lost, though.  I have downloaded a set of Photoshop "actions" (read:  CHEAT SHEET) from thepioneerwoman.com and managed to alter a few photos this morning.  Do not be fooled.  I promise you, I am a Photoshop moron.

Dad and Zoë, before

Dad and Zoë, after.  Okay, yes, I am a little proud of the orange logo.  That took some figuring out.

Profiles, before

Profiles, after

Now you see the fan accessory on Z's head...

Now you don't!

January 20, 2009

snow day!

We're all home today; school has been cancelled due to "inclement weather."

I love the South.

January 17, 2009

three is the magic number

Little Zoë,

You are three months old today. According to veteran moms and baby books, this is a major milestone - the moment you transition from blobby infant into bubbly baby. There's some legitimacy to this. Just this week, you rolled over and giggled! Way to tackle your to-do list, baby.

I'm not so sure about the whole milestone concept, though. At three months, you have transitioned from a blobby infant into a bubbly baby. But it didn't happen today. It happened every moment of every day since you first came to be. You are changing constantly, and what I'm now realizing is that you will always be changing, unfolding slowly, one day at a time, for the rest of your life.

For now, you've grown increasingly aware of your surroundings and the curious beings which inhabit them (your dad and I included). Now, you follow us with your eyes and are quick to offer a dimpled grin when we talk to you. Yesterday saw our first ever game of peek-a-boo. Hard to know who enjoyed it more.

You have discovered your hands and use them to swat and grab the dangling elephants on your bouncy seat. You also pull your fists towards your mouth and slurp, slurp slurp until a) a digit finds its way in or b) you get frustrated and let out an exasperated cry. You're pretty obsessed with this, much to your dad's chagrin. He thinks it's unbecoming of you. Of course, he also refers to you affectionately as either "Stinky" or "Toaster," so what kind of refined lady could he possibly expect you to be?

When we put you down under your mobile or the crazy disco sunshine, your face lights up. You really get going, legs churning, arms punching, cooing and smiling. Then you give yourself the hiccups and we have to remove the source of overstimulation, pronto.

You're an easy baby. You eat well and sleep well. You love to be changed, to be upright, to fall asleep with your pacifier. You also love to watch television. We are trying to limit this, but it's tough these days, what with college hoops and NFL playoffs and your mom's recent discovery of The Food Network. Right at this very moment, you are sitting on your dad's lap, watching the Wildcats destroy Georgia Southern and chomping on your fists. Your dad is shaking his head, but I'm not sure if it's because of your fist-eating or because Steph is 1-11 from behind the arc.

I write all this because it's what I know about you. And in truth, it's not much.

Because while we know what you do, we don't really know who you are. Not yet, at least. This is one of the many beautiful things about parenthood, I think: Every day, as you discover your world, we discover you.

The other night, the three of us were in the kitchen just before dinner. I was holding you, and your dad was laughing. Suddenly, you laughed back, which made us laugh, which made you laugh again. We went back and forth, laughing at each other. It didn't last long, this little exchange, and ended with us in tears and you with the hiccups. But it was, for us, a magical moment. Just the three of us, laughing ourselves silly.

I have so many questions about who you are and who you'll become. A small part of me wants you to hurry and grow up, already, so I can know your favorite color and what words you'll mispronounce and how fast you can run. But the rest of me knows to sit, patiently, and watch you unfold, one day at a time, for the rest of my life.

I think I can handle that.


January 9, 2009


Zoë is twelve weeks old today, and in honor of this milestone, I cooked up something extra special for all you dedicated blog readers: An interview with her Uncle Curtis!

Now, humor me and kindly ignore the fact that this is only my second post and I'm already turning elsewhere for material - not to mention the fact that I am blatantly copying my favorite cousin-by-marriage-whom-I've-never-met, Erin, who frequently interviews family members and who is much better at this than I. I humbly bow at your feet, MO Mommy blog-master.

Good. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, there are a few things you need to know about Curtis. First, he is one of Zoë's eight uncles. Eight. And while she loves each of them dearly, Curtis has a special place in her heart because he comes to see her daily. Rather, Curtis has a special place in my heart because he comes to see us daily. And he brings me coffee. And the three of us watch "The Price is Right" together.

Lucky for us, Curtis lives nearby these days, thanks to a variety of weird circumstances I like to refer to collectively as FATE. He was at the hospital when Zoë was born and waltzed into the delivery room to meet his little niece bearing a six-pack and three chicken sandwiches for the new dad and mom, respectively. We love Curtis.

Curtis was a German major at Duke, then an English teacher in Japan. Now he is taking courses to prepare for physical therapy school, volunteering with the homeless soccer team at Urban Ministry Center, and working with stroke patients as a rehab technician at a hospital downtown. Oh yes, and he just adopted a little gimpy kitten named Kevin Bacon.

This kid has a heart of gold.

Here's what he had to say today.

Okay. This is a very serious interview. I expect honest answers. What is your favorite thing about Zoë?
Her cheeks.

Good answer.
And her butt.

What, specifically, about her butt do you most like?
It's quite large and round, and, uh, that's about it, specifically. I don't know her butt too well besides that.

*Editor's Note: Keep in mind that enormous cloth diapers cause Zoë's butt to appear much larger than it actually is.*

And, speaking of, why haven't you changed a diaper yet?
I blame Granci.

Can you elaborate?
She likes to do it more than I do.

Fair enough. Okay. How has Zoë changed over the last twelve weeks?
Her eyelashes are longer. (Pause) She is smiling and laughing more. Um, she - she is playing with her toys. She experienced a Davidson/Duke game.

And who do you think she was cheering for?

Davidson. I know she was cheering for Davidson.

Thanks for the segue into basketball, which doesn't really relate to Zoë but is something I wanted to talk to you about.


When you were a Cameron Crazy, what was your favorite cheer?

My favorite cheer (pause) would have to be (long pause)... hmm, that's a good question. I think - there's two that come to mind. The first one is at the tip-off, when you jump - everybody jumps up and down in rhythm, to the beat of a bass drum, until the ball is tipped. And then, as soon as the tip is made, they start with a "Let's Go Duke" chant, the standard. Then my other favorite one is when everybody yells, "Bounce!" when there's a dribble, "Pass!" when there's a pass, and "Shoot!" when they shoot it.

Yeah, that is a good one.

And then my other favorite one is when they start counting down too early on the shot clock and they make the team shoot before the shot clock's out.

The opposing team.

Yes, the opposing team.

Did you like me as a child?
Yes. I liked you a lot, Beth.

Okay. Good. What sport do you think I could beat you in? Be honest.

Umm... any sport that involves dancing? Probably figure skating. Gymnastics. There's (looong pause) I know there's something else. You used to be able to beat me in soccer, when we were young.

When I had, like, two feet on you?

When you were bigger and stronger than me.

That didn't last long, that time. What's your favorite ice cream?

That would have to be lemon ice cream from Carolina Cones.

And when are we going to go get some?

Probably tomorrow.

Okay. What do you like most about your new job?

I like - I like when a patient has a request, like "I would like some orange juice," or, "Can you bring me the TV remote?" and I'm able to do it very easily.

Would you like me to make those requests of you more often?

(Laughs) Yes! But I would not like for you to have a stroke.

That's good clarification. What's your favorite game on "The Price is Right"?
Hmm. Another good question. (Pause) What is my favorite game on "The Price is Right"?

Take your time.

There's one - I'm not even sure what the game is - there's a little, I guess there's like a little set of a mountain climber -

Oh, yeah, the mountain climber game!

The mountain climber game, where the mountain climber goes up the thing, and it's playing this yodeling music, and if the mountain climber goes too far and falls off the mountain then you lose. I always liked that one. But I also like your standard Plinko.

What was the one we watched today that was really cool? Bop - Bonk It?

Half Off?

No, the one with the Army guy running around trying to do it? What was that called?

Not Flip-Flop. I don't know what that one was called.

That was a new one. Bonk It, or something.

Bonk It.

When do you think you'll get to go on "The Price is Right"?

Hopefully as soon as possible. I'd like to go on - maybe that's a good thing I should do this year.

Seems like a good goal for '09.

(Laughs) Yeah. Maybe that's my New Year's Resolution.

Any other goals for the coming year?

Goals for the coming year... Yeah, I've got lots of goals for the coming year. I'd like to get good grades in my classes. I would like to complete a half-Iron Man. I would like to go to the U.S. Homeless World Cup. Well, I guess it's not really a World Cup if it's U.S. The U.S. Cup in Washington, DC, over the summer. I would like to... be on "The Price is Right"!

(Giggles) Who's the better pool player, you or Tim?

(Very long pause)


That's not a good question. That's a little obvious. All you have to do is look on the chalkboard at Mom's house.

Alright. Moving on. What are you most looking forward to doing with Zoë this year?

I am looking forward to - maybe some words, maybe some walking and talking. Maybe swimming in the pool with Zoë. Maybe changing a diaper or two.

Great. Do you think your new role as a father of a young cat is going to make you a better or more negligent uncle?

I'll be a better uncle. There's no doubt about that.

What's been your biggest parenting challenge so far?

How to deal with biting.

Ooh. That's tough.

I think the best way is - you stick a finger down their throat when they bite your hand, so they gag.

Should I try that when Zoë starts teething?

Mmhmm. Just gag her.

"Just gag her." Nice. Alright, is there anything else you'd like to share with our millions of blog readers out there?
You know, I'm very happy and privileged to be the first person interviewed for the blog, and I see nothing but good entries for the future.

Well, you've really set the bar high, Curtis. I appreciate it.

My pleasure.

January 4, 2009


Welcome, 2009! Glad you're here. 2008 will be tough to beat, what with the birth of our daughter and the Olympics and all, but we have high hopes for you, oh-nine. We think you have great potential as a year of firsts.

In fact, 2009 may be the first year I actually keep a New Year's resolution. I've never been all that good at the whole resolution thing. This is due in part to the fact that I'm generally happy with myself and my life. But mostly it's due to excessive laziness.

And now I have this to distract me, to boot.

That being said, Tim and I were discussing our hopes for 2009 and we came up with the following goals:

Tim: Make our home all that it can be. Cook new dishes. Keep things clean. Complete a half-Iron Man in September. Keep baby alive.

Beth: Finally give in to intense pressure coming from dear mother-in-law and create a blog. Learn to use all of the sweet programs that come with Creative Suite and create sweet stuff. Complete a half-marathon in September. Keep baby alive.

We were feeling pretty good about ourselves until we thought about Zoë's goals for the year.

She's an overachiever.

Zoë: Giggle. Master thumb-sucking. Discover my toes. Discover my dog. Take my boat out in the pool. Double my body weight. Take longer naps. Gain another cousin. Ride in the jogging stroller. Roll from front to back. Roll from back to front. Go hiking. Sit up. Crawl. Grow teeth. Grow hair. Speak. See the ocean. Stand. Eat solid foods. Walk. Stay consistently cute enough while doing all of the above so mom will continue to update her new blog in order to show me off to friends and family.

I'm pretty sure she's going to bat a thousand.

All in all, 2009 should be a good one around here. I'll try my best to keep up.