Now that I’m in my thirties and have lived in at least seven different places since moving out of my parents’ house at eighteen, I’ve realized what a gullible little fool I was as a child.  With a baby and a husband to clean up after constantly, I see why my grandparents had nine children.  Because, although more children equals more mess, more children also equals more forced labor without violating child labor laws. 
I actually didn’t think my brother, sister and I had to work that hard when we were kids, but more than once a visiting neighbor kid or friend would comment on how much work we had to do.  Once, a girl questioned if I always had to work so hard after my dad asked me to carry an empty bucket about 200 feet to the barn.  Clearly our worlds were very different as I didn’t even consider that task to be “work.”  We did regularly help clean the house, make dinner, do the dishes, and mow the yard.  In the summers, we helped in the hayfields most days.  And also in the summers, because my mom was a teacher and was home with us the entire break, we were roped into projects like cleaning out the basement or pulling weeds in the garden.  I remember doing a lot of whining and complaining (with the help of my siblings) and that always resulted in my mother’s most infamous words: If we all just work together, we’ll get this done much faster.
To this day, it’s an inside joke with my siblings.  Any time we are all together, you’ll hear one of us ring out at some point, “If we all just work together…” and then laughter ensues.  (The phrase has been shortened to those six words over the years.)  But in reality, I find myself using this mantra in my current life.  It rings true.  Perhaps moms do know best.
As my Mom nears retirement and begins her final school year next week, she has taken on a much more leisurely pace in life.  She spends a large part of her summer break reading and napping now, and much less of it cleaning out the basement or pulling weeds in the garden.   This past weekend, I realized that this change has brought about a new Momism. 
Saturday morning my mom and I got up early, grabbed some coffee, and hit up a few garage sales.  We left the house at 6:30am and returned about 10:30am.  The husband and baby were batting a hundred, and insisted that I return to town with my mom to run errands (in husband speak this means “please go with her now so I don’t have to go with you later.”)  So off we went, with a plan to make three stops.  I should have known better as another thing my mom has become infamous for over the years is reeling you in to run one errand and then dragging you along for five or six instead.  Five hours and six stops later, as we were leaving the last store, my mom—looking truly befuddled—asked, “Where does the time go?”
So, until we reach that golden age of retirement, and can really wonder “Where does the time go?” it will be another great inside joke for my siblings and me. 
And in retrospect, I realize that at about the third hour in, I should have said to my mom, “If we both just work together, we’ll get this done much faster.”

[Also posted at my Moberly Monitor Index blog, Sunny Side Up.]
We took a two week road trip through Texas in March, so it wasn't until half way through July that we realized we didn't have a summer vacation planned.  So we've been trying to make the most of some daycation staycations.
Our son is the first grandchild on both sides of the family. His first word should have been "spoiled." We are so lucky to have all of his grandparents and great-grandparents living within a two hour radius, and the majority of them being within ten minutes of us. I said we're "lucky" not boring and unimaginative--watch it. We use the grandparents as babysitters all the time, but we're always going to the office instead of on dates. So, two weekends ago when my father-in-law called and said they wanted to keep the baby on Sunday, we jumped on it. We went to our first movie in over a year (ah! even a matinee is getting too expensive for my cheapskate self) and had dinner without a highchair and without going by the drive through window to avoid waking up the sleeping child. It was pure bliss.
This past weekend, my parents offered to come to our house and watch the little chunk and put him to bed. They've done the bedtime routine a handful of times since he was born, so again, we jumped on it. This time, we decided to take the boat to the lake for some fishing and to watch the Blue Moon rise. We were both clearly determined to enjoy the evening, because when our boat motor still wouldn't start after messing with it for almost two hours, we were both just laughing and smiling (and sweating, my poor husband was really sweating.) We grabbed a blanket and some lawn chairs out of my Jeep, opened the cooler, soaked ourselves in bug spray and had a blast watching the huge, orange moon come up over the horizon and create a beautiful reflection on the lake.
Sunday was the annual St. Mary's church picnic in Wein. Every year it's so hot you're pretty sure you're going to melt, except for the years when it pours rain. This year, we got the heat. They have a huge, delicious dinner of fried chicken, roast beef, and all the yummy sides and desserts. You sit at long tables in the church hall with all the other guests. Young children fill and re-fill your sweet tea and clear the table when you're done. Or, in our case, the young children keep picking up the silverware your baby repeatedly throws on the floor. Everyone knows everyone and you can't walk but a few steps without stopping to talk to someone. After stuffing yourself, you go outside and either post up at the beer garden or play bingo, the turtle races, the ring toss, the duck pond, or several other infamous picnic games, and then eventually make a sashay through the church's thrift store: Share and Care.The whole thing is so charming, from the napkin holders that adorn the tables every year made by the parishioners many moons ago, to the children's ride that has been going round and round for generations. Seriously, I remember riding it with my sister and cousins over and over and over again. The whole thing is a bit of a marvel--the way hundreds of people turn out, no matter how many buckets you're going to sweat, in the true middle of nowhere (we're talking NO cell phone service), and spend their entire Sunday just enjoying each other's company. And where else can you go to a church event to drink beer and gamble? I've never seen anyone having a bad time. The whole thing has such a sweet, antiquated feel, and that's something an old soul like me truly loves.
[Also posted at my Moberly Monitor Index blog, Sunny Side Up.]
Gossip is at large anywhere, but in small towns it seems to be even more rampant.  I'm sure it's due to the fact that "everyone knows everyone" and you run into people you know everywhere you go.  But no matter what the reason, rumors spread like wildfire here.  And sometimes there's no truth to it.  For example, one of our friends is in the hospital right now and the rumor around town was that he was dead.  It was all over facebook and it even went so far that the tavern regulars took up a collection for flowers!  We got everyone straightened out, luckily, without having to go as far as one of the local doctors did.  Apparently to combat the rumor about himself, Dr. Turnbaugh had to take an ad out in the local newspaper!
So, it turns out I don't think I have the heart to write a negative review.  I'm sure that would baffle Cliff because he knows that I can be a real pro at complaining about things.  So, instead of "reviews" of cool baby items that we come across, I think I'll just post about things that I do have a heart for.

In case you missed it, we love Phil & Ted's Lobster highchair and the Aden + Anais burpy bibs.  We also love Green Toys.  We have several so I'll just tell you about a few of them today.  

My First Green Toys (TM) First Keys was one of Finley's favorite sources of entertainment when he was a wee thing.  He could chew on them and make lots of noise with them, and they were just perfect for him to use to practice mastering everything those cute, pudgy little hands could do because the keys are easy to grasp and lightweight.  These key rings are no new toy to the baby game, but the Green Toys key ring is made without BPA, Phthalates, or PVC.  They're also made of 100% recycled plastic, more specifically, recycled milk jugs.  Even the packaging is made of recycled material.  My personal favorite thing about this key ring though, is that each key has something stamped into it and one of them says "Do Not Duplicate".  Cracks me up every time I see it.  

My First Green Toys (TM) Stacker has been a big hit also.  It's a little different than your usual stacking toy, and I love that.  Again, it's made with no BPA, Phthalates or PVC and is 100% recycled milk jugs.  My favorite thing about this toy is that it doesn't have a center post, which seems so much safer to me.  Also, they stack in any order just like the old school stackers.  And of course, they come in recycled packaging.

The B. Baby Skipping Stones are another stacking toy.  They just have a slight twist on the original stacker in that each ring is a different texture and color.  They have a "pebble" on top that can be screwed on to the stacking post to keep the rings together.  The center post does seem a little dangerous to me, but it's Finley's favorite part of the whole toy, so he ends up getting to play with it anyway.  The rings can stack in any order and this set is also BPA and phthalate-free.  The tags are the cutest and also made of recycled paper and soy inks.  This set is made in China.

We also use the Green Eats (TM) Snack Bowls and Feeding Spoons.  I love the yellow color and they are, yep, you guessed it, made of 100% recycled milk jugs and BPA, phthalate, and melamine-free (which my dad will be very sorry to hear that melamine may not be safe) and come in 100% recycled packaging.  These are also dishwasher safe, and although the spoons seem a little short in the handle for me, they will be great for Finley once he's mastered feeding himself.  

I'm not 100% sure on this one.  These blocks are also made by B. Baby and are advertised as "green", but I question the paint and glossy coating.  We do love them though.  They have numbers, solid colors, patterns, and parts to make lots of fun faces.  It's  a super cute block set and Finn could knock down the towers we build for days on end.  We bought this set at Target.

And last but not least...
Finley loves his Green Toys (TM) Tractor.  It has the cutest fat little wheels, which is Finn's favorite detail.  The wagon is detachable, and of course, it's all made of 100% recycled plastic and is BPA, phthalates, and PVC-free.  I love that there are no metal parts (not even the axles) and that the orange color is made right into the plastic so there is no chipping or peeling of paint, decals, or coatings.  Another great feature for a germophobe like me: it's dishwasher safe.  And yes, it's packaging is 100% recycled and printed with soy ink.

All of the Green Toys (TM) products are made in the USA, which is my absolute favorite thing about them. 

We received the First Keys and Stacker in our monthly Citrus Lane subscription (expect a blog post about that in the future), my aunt gave us the Snack Bowls and Feeding Spoons, and Finley's Grandma and Grandpa Thornburg got him his Tractor during their cross country road trip to Washington state last summer.  So, I'm no expert on where to buy Green Toys (TM) at the best price, but I do know you can order them directly from their website if all else fails.  I did buy the B. Baby Skipping Stones at Target.  I think they were $8 - $10.  

Any of these are inexpensive items to buy for your own kiddos, or they all make great gifts!

You may remember or have heard about the multi-party phone lines from the early to mid part of this century, known as party lines because you could listen in on all the conversations happening on your phone line.  These party lines were especially common in rural areas like the small town where I grew up and now live.  And apparently, when the technology improved and they were phased out, the older generation here just couldn't handle it.  The local radio station still has a daily show called "Party Line".

This show is 30 minutes of pure shoulder-tensing, teeth-clenching, constant-cringing listening.  It's a free for all.  Anyone can call in and say anything.  They can ask for a recipe (for strawberry cake or homemade weed killer).  They can announce an event. Or they can spread a rumor.  It's kind of insane really.  If there is any kind of delay, it is not managed.  Cliff and I play a game to see who can stand to listen to it the longest.  Neither of us has much stamina when it comes to this show because the amount of uncomfortable you feel when an 82 year old is free-wheeling on live air is more than you can imagine.

Last weekend, I took it up a notch.  We were in the car and just happened to catch the live show.  A caller asked, "What is the number to the rock quarry on 3 South and how late is it open on Saturday?"  As luck would have it, we just happened to be driving down Highway 3 South and going right by the rock quarry.  I had the phone dialed and ready to go.  As we whizzed past the quarry, I was disheartened that the sign didn't have the phone number or the hours of business.  I quickly searched the internet for the answers to the caller's questions.  I couldn't wait to call in, and just like the regular callers, give a very long-winded answer about how I was driving past the quarry right at that moment and there were rock trucks going in and out and there seemed to be some new limestone to the south of the pit and that Jim Lathrop's cousin used to work down there...and just as I gathered the number from my Google search, another caller was on the air stealing my thunder.  And then another--because one person calling in with the answer isn't good enough.  A second know-it-all person always has to call in and repeat the previous caller.

So, I guess until I know what that new building structure is on the west side of town, I'm going to have to stay tuned in (for a few uneasy seconds).


We have taken advantage of the weekend--mowed the yard, trimmed some trees, planted some new trees, tilled and planted the rest of the garden, planted flowers and shrubs, recycled all our aluminum cans, cleaned the house, did some shopping and entertained some company.  We just finished mushroom hunting (with no success) and now Finley is out in the shop working on the tractor with his dad, Uncle Jacob, and Grandpa Grotewiel.  In these few minutes of peace that I have to myself I debated taking a bath, reading, watching Netflix, and taking a nap, but instead, I found myself here with a couple of funny parenting stories.

Going In--
Finley was exclusively breastfed until he was six months old.  So, the day he turned six months, I was pretty excited to try out some solid foods.  Those first couple of feedings, Cliff and I handled together.  A few days later, we were each going it alone when it was time for meals.  Cliff wanted to take his turns feeding Finley in the living room while watching tv.  Although the two of us end up eating many meals in front of Royals games on the tube, I told Cliff that I thought where and how we feed him right now is as important as what we feed him.  I explained my theory that this was the prime time to instill the good manners of eating and the proper way to do it.  Besides, he'll have plenty of time to eat in front of the tv when he's older, right?

Cliff agreed, but later when I overheard him in the kitchen I realized he had taken it to the next level. This is what I heard--
Cliff: Really?  I didn't know Betty Jean got divorced.
Cliff:  I agree.  I really liked her third husband best.
Cliff:  Well, if she wants to be that drunk in public, I guess that's their business.
Cliff: No, I haven't seen that movie yet, but I did read the book.  Was the movie any good?
I couldn't help but stand there and keep listening.  Cliff's one-sided conversation was hilarious.  When I finally went into the kitchen, Cliff explained that they were practicing dinner conversation.


And Coming Out-- (I don't usually write about poop, so this is new for me...)
We are extremely lucky that I am able to stay home with Finley.  Without going to a germ laden daycare, Finley stayed healthy all winter.  Last week, he came down with his first cold.  It started with some congestion and coughing.  Not wanting to give him any medicine, we tried a humidifier, saline drops, and Vick's Vaporub for a couple of nights.  He seemed to get better and then suddenly he was much worse.  He had a terrible cough.  He would have a coughing fit and then just scream and cry because it hurt so bad.  I suspicion that he had a sore throat also, but how do you really know?  After sitting up with him for three nights in a row (he would sleep much better if we were sitting up and holding him; us not so much), I finally called the doctor.  We got in that morning and his pediatrician ruled out RSV and ear infection and said it was just a cold virus that was going around.  He suggested we give him some Tylenol.  We had tried liquid Tylenol once before, and Finley would.not.take it.  He would scream, cry, thrash his head around, swat at me with his hands, and refuse to swallow it but instead spit it all back out.  Very frustrating because that stuff is seriously stickier than honey or syrup and every time he spit it out I would think, "There's four dollars running down your cheek."  Oh, and the whole screaming and crying thing was really horrible too.  So, the pediatrician told me about an infant Tylenol suppository.  After the battle with the liquid, a suppository sounded golden.  The pediatrician went on to tell  me that he didn't think they sold it in stores anymore, but the pharmacy there had just ordered some yesterday.  Oh, and Finley is so chunky that he needed a double dose.  
So, Finley and I went down to the pharmacy to get some of this newfound drug that was going to make all of our lives easier and better.  The pharmacy had it, but there were only six suppositories per box.  And these boxes weren't cheap, ya'll.  I knew we might need several though, and didn't want to drive the hour back to the pharmacy for more, so I just bought them out of their supply.  I was so confident in this stuff already.  I bought so many that the pharmacy gave me a discount like they were Costco and I was bulk-buying.  We got home and since Cliff was still in court, I administered the first dose by myself.  The doctor said I just needed to insert the suppository, hold his cute little cheeks together for about a minute, and we'd be good to go.  That rosy little picture was not the case. 
Thirty-five minutes later I had been pooped on four times and peed on twice, but both suppositories were finally in and melted.
Finley didn't cry once though, and to me, that was much better than feeling like I was torturing him with the liquid version.
When it was all said and done, we both just looked at each other and I know our expressions said: We just bought like a five year supply of that stuff...
Today I'm reviewing the aden + anais burpy bib.  I'll tell you up front that we love it.  It's great if you have your own babes or it would make an awesome baby shower or baby arrival gift for anyone.
I happen to love almost all aden + anais products I've tried to date, but these burpy bibs even surpassed their swaddling blankets for me.
 The burpy bib is a bib and a burp cloth.  And anything that serves a dual purpose is a good friend of mine.  I wish we had bought stocks in burp cloths before Finley's arrival.  Little did I know just how often and what large quantities this kid was going to douse us in after every feeding.   I'm talking three or four clothes changes a day...for each of us.  It really made getting dressed going out in public something we dreaded.  Okay, so maybe we actually dreaded getting dressed also.  Anyway, we struggled to find a bib that was comfortable for Finn, but big enough to catch everything that was coming back up to re-join us.  My sister gave us a cute one made by Darling Droolers.  The coverage was good, but we found the furry backing made Finn hot and it was too bulky to use when he was in the carseat.  Also, apparently a gray chevron pattern makes people think your baby boy is a baby girl.  Although we still have people thinking he's a girl (which I'm pretty sure is due to the long, curly locks at this point) so maybe that will be a blog for another day.
At about five months, the spitting up slowed down some, and once we started solid foods a little over a month ago, it has slowed down considerably.   He does still spit up after almost every meal, but it's not in super-soaker amounts anymore.  These burpy bibs would have been great for around the house in those first five months.  However, I think they would have also been too bulky in the carseat, and I'm not sure they would have been a stout enough burp rag. You basically needed a poncho to burp our boy.
Now, with less spit-up, they are perfect though.  I love how it fits just right over the shoulder for burping, and I love the cotton muslin material.  They are very absorbent, which is a must.
They are the best bib we've come across by far.  It gives complete 360 degree coverage, and is a "snap" to snap on.
Even Finn likes them!
(He said he put his little paw out there in case anyone reading this is in search of a baby hand model.)
We got our first burpy bib in our Citrus Lane monthly subscription box (another post on Citrus Lane later).
I ordered our others from Amazon.  Our first pick was the special edition RED set because 10% of the retail price goes to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.  (Side note: I was totally on the (PRODUCT)RED bandwagon fresh out of college--thought it was brilliant marketing--and am still sad that I rarely see any products anymore.)  Purchasing just one set of RED burpy bibs can provide five days of medicine to help prevent a mother living with HIV from passing the virus to her baby.

But beware, apparently red star and circle patterns also make your baby boy look like a girl.  Okay, maybe it's still just that he needs a haircut and we refuse to let him have one.
They come in tons and tons of cute patterns and I have seen them range from $11 to $27 for a two pack.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.
We give the burpy bibs five clean burpy bibs diapers!

You're in for a treat. Cliff wrote about our days in San Antonio and he's a much better and funnier writer than me. 

Excluding the State Fair, there are few activities where one can walk miles and manage to gain weight.   The San Antonio Riverwalk is one of those.  
It is a picturesque walk along a quasi river with shops, restaurants, boat tours, and many opportunities for pictures Winding up, down, and over the San Antonio River.   Just add an abnormally "healthy" baby and enough supplies for any surprise homesteading, and one could be fooled that he/she was actually at the nearby air force base performing drills for a sadistic sergeant.
But all in all it is recommended.

As far as the Alamo, all of those people cooped up in the Texas heat without nary a fan. I don't think Santa Anna should get all the credit.   Those guys were looking for a way out.  Today, Charlton Heston would even be impressed at the amount of guns in the church.   Free admission to the Alamo, so even Derek Grotewiel will be able to enjoy it.  

Last but certainly not least, today we attended the Spurs v. Bulls game.  It was fast paced, energetic, and tons of fun.   After watching Mizzou all season, it was amazing to watch both teams hit shot after shot.   It was very satisfying to see all the disappointed Bulls fans head home.   I guess Derrick Rose is nursing some ailment again since we didn't see him.  I would believe fans who say he is the best around, but actually being able to play the game has to factor in at some point right? 
I could easily watch NBA should Kansas City ever get a team.   

This is Jennifer. See, I didn't lie. He's much more hilarious (and sports oriented) than me. 
We did walk more than eight miles around the Riverwalk area and I do believe we still gained weight with all the delicious food we ate. It was beautiful. And I don't really think about it until Cliff mentions it, but with the baby it is like we are traveling the Oregon Trail or something. 
We just happened to hit the Alamo on its anniversary weekend so it was filled with reenactments and lots of hustle and bustle. 
We ended last night at the market square which was full of food, live music and shops. We, the parents with the baby in the stroller, got escorted out of one establishment for having a beer in our cup holder. Keepin' it classy.  We also landed ourselves on Telemundo, which should be on everyone's bucket list. 
The Spurs game was an impromptu decision and it was a blast. Los Spurs played Los Bulls and we loved the live mariachi band (of all women!), the mariachi cam, and the super funny Spurs-related telenovas. 
After the game, we drove down to Corpus Christi, our final destination. It was rainy, but our hotel is on the sand and we are already having fun. Finley loves the seagulls, but he also bathes with a dozen rubber duckies every night. 
Cliff won husband of the year (again) by suggesting I enjoy the hot tub outside overlooking the Gulf sans baby tonight. 
We're looking forward to just beaching it the next three or four days. 

We watched Oklahoma disappear in the rear view mirror and headed into the Lone Star state. We stopped in Dallas to see my sister and then took off for Houston.
A little over a year ago, Cliff and I were headed back to Missouri from Gulf Shores, Alabama when I kept suggesting that we stop for gas. We didn't, and before long we were rolling down I-70 when our low fuel light came on outside of St. Louis. Cliff was driving and thought it was funny that he was pushing the gas tank to the limit. I did not find it funny. Two exits later, he finally exited off the interstate, only to pull into a gas station with sixteen of their sixteen pumps not working! We luckily made it to another station without hoofing it down the highway, but Cliff was nervous that his teasing had gotten us into a real pickle. Little did I know at the time, no lesson was learned.
Wednesday night we were barreling down I-45 when things got city-ish about two hours north of Houston. Cliff does NOT like to drive in the city. In fact, if he meets more than fifteen cars on a commute to court he comes home reporting the traffic was bad. I don't mind city driving at all, so it all works out well for us on long road trips when it comes to taking turns driving. When I-45 turned from four lanes to six, I offered to drive. When we got to a 1/4 tank of gas, I offered to drive. When six lanes turned to eight, I offered to drive. When eight lanes turned to ten, I offered to drive. And then, the gas light came on. I could not believe we were re-living our past, only this time we were 800 miles from home instead of 150. Cliff finally got off the interstate and to a gas station. We pulled up to the pump and I kid you not, all twenty of the twenty pumps were not working. Cliff didn't drive again until we were half way to San Antonio today. 
We loved Houston. We spent most of Thursday at NASA where Cliff says my "true geek shines through."  We saw the actual Mission Control room from the moon landing, several actual shuttles, rockets, and spacesuits, and a completely unrelated replica of the tallest man ever born. 

That night we enjoyed the weather, palm trees and water along the boardwalk. 

This morning we took a cruise around the port, had a good lunch recommended by Guy Fieri, shopped at the Texas Junk Company, saw a house made entirely of beer cans, and drove down some beautiful tree-lined streets. 

We made it to San Antonio this evening and had the best Tex-Mex of our lives (minus the part where a waitress kept calling herself Finley's grandma {super creepy, right?} and saying she wanted to take him home with her.)
I have two snoring boys in bed with me so until we see what tomorrow brings, good night!
(Again, all on the iPad mini. Seriously.)

There are most definitely bonuses to owning your own business, but owning your own law business--it can be stressful. So because Cliff is really good at marking vacation days on the calendar way in advance, we were able to make a nice getaway on Tuesday. We left Huntsville and blindly took off on a very long road trip with a six month old. The Jeep is packed to the brim, because if I wasn't guilty of overpacking before traveling with a baby...
Finn actually has turned out to be a model traveler. Perhaps better than his mother even. He did great in the car and his naps and feeding times just fell into place perfectly with our schedule. 
We made our first impromptu stop at the Joplin, Missouri sale barn. (Guess whose idea that was.) 

There was no sale on Tuesday, but  they just happened to be hosting a presentation by the USDA on judging cattle. None of it was new to Cliff, but I learned a ton, along with 100 high school FFA students. I even aced most of the live practice rounds!  We got back in the car and dreadfully drove into Oklahoma smelling like cow manure. 
We stopped in Muskogee for the night. Cliff's cousin works for a hotel chain so we use her Friends and Family discount whenever we can. It always makes me laugh when we check in though, because the front desk doesn't know if you're the employee or a friend or family. In Muskogee, they weren't going to risk anything though, and I think this front desk woman imagined that I was the CEO. She was sweet as pie, not just nice like all the others have been, but over-the-top, I-can-not-lose-my-job-nice.  She had our reservation out and ready to go, and it went down like this:
"Hi, we have a reservation."
"Oh, thank goodness!  I was so worried that you weren't going to make it!"
"Really?  Isn't it only 8:30?"
"Well yes, but the weather!"
"Oh, it's 60 degrees out there."
"Oh, but it's coming. There's supposed to be ice and even snow.  And it's so cold!"
"Really?  When is that supposed to start?" (Getting worried about getting out of Muskogee the next morning.)
"Well, I can't tell you that, but I can tell you that the Muskogee public library has already cancelled all of their programs for tomorrow."
"Oh my!  Okay..."
"And the courthouse isn't going to have court."
(You should have led with that one, lady.)
"And Auto Zone isn't going to open!"
(Am I on Candid Camera?)
"So, you better get in your room and bundle up and stay warm!  Oh, you work...oh, don't you just love working for [insert hotel chain name here]. It is just the greatest. I can't think of a better job or place to work."
Then we finished up the paperwork and got into our room expecting to wake up to Snow-M-G. 
After we were in our room about five minutes, the phone rang. I answered and it was the front desk lady. 
"I just wanted to check with you all and make sure you made it in and everything in your room is okay."
When I hung up Cliff and I laughed wishing people thought I was from Corporate everywhere we went. 
In the end, I felt terrible though. We went down to check out the pool and spa only to find two employees in the hot tub and the front desk lady hanging out with them. She whispered quickly and the guys jumped out and they all left hastily with her reminding us again to stay warm...and calling Finley a girl. 
I hated to ruin their fun evening, but no one ever said being top dog was easy. 
And that weather--it was Snow way, Jose--just raining the next morning. In her defense, I think they may have gotten some snow and ice later in the day. I just hope no Muskogians needed new windshield wipers in that rain, because we all know Auto Zone was closed. 
Oh, and before any creepers go trying to break in The Manor while we're gone, both brothers are on a housesitting schedule, which is good for keeping all our belongings, but bad for keeping all our belongings clean and unbroken. *unless we previously discussed which of Cliff's vehicles and a certain smelly pillow to take, and then all systems are go for the staged robbery. 
Also, is there some kind of blogger award for typing on an iPad mini, cause that's what I just did, ya'll.
It really is nice to have a third driver now. 

When preparing for the babes to arrive, we almost decided to skip the highchair completely.  Most of them are ugly.  Most of them are huge.  And most of them are disgusting germ and filth factories.  Then we happened upon Phil and Teds Lobster.

We ended up receiving this as a shower gift, but it sells for around $80 at Target and Amazon.  We absolutely LOVE this high chair.  It clamps (hence the name) on to the table with just a few twists of the handles, but they're out of reach for baby so there's no chance of him loosening them on his own.  It takes up so little room in the kitchen, that we don't even notice it.  It seats Finley right at the table with us, which he loves and which makes feeding time simple while we are eating also.  And as you can see below, the back of the chair comes up so high that he is supported very well.

It comes with a plastic tray that slides right in between the clamps and can just be thrown in the dishwasher after meals.  (And the tray had the cutest lobster coloring sheet in the box.)

But you don't have to use the tray; baby can belly up to the table just like you.

The chair fabric is great quality and can be easily wiped down (like after Finn turns to put his mouth on the side of the chair before swallowing all of his pears and carrots.)  And you can even remove the fabric completely and handwash.  (I'm betting you could even toss it in the washing machine if you wanted, but we haven't tried that yet.)

But our very favorite thing of all, is how portable it is.  The fabric and handles collapse in upon themselves when removed from the table and the whole thing folds up flat and has a little carrying bag. So, we take it with us everywhere--the grandparents' houses, the office, the patio, and best of all, to restaurants.   No more using those germ-ridden, dirt-laden chairs at eateries.  We just bring in the lobster, clamp it on, and we're good to go.  Then we can wipe it down or wash it once we're home.  

I believe it comes in black and red.  And it does have a safety harness....oh, yeah, which we always use...  Of course, you're not supposed to use it on a single center pedestal table, and the book that came with it had a bunch of other precautions about types of tables (like card tables and glass top tables).  It is supposed to accommodate a child up to 3 years or 37 pounds.  We'll does seem like it would be quite a tight fit for a 37 pound three year old, but as of now, our 20 pound six month old has plenty of wiggle room.

If you have questions, leave them in the comments below, but overall we have yet to find a complaint about this chair.  

We give it five clean diapers!

It turns out the third trimester of pregnancy, having a newborn, running a local political campaign, and keeping a law firm up and going takes up any free time for blogging.  It's been awhile.  And since I have a peacefully napping 6 month old beside me, I'm going to skip the "Everything You Need to Know about the Third Trimester" and "Everything You Need to Know about Birth/A Newborn" posts and move right on into the here and now.  For me, there wasn't much to tell about the third trimester anyway, except that you get so huge you can't do much more than flounder around.  (I clearly remember the day I was literally rolling off the couch and my brother said, "Man, you are huge, aren't you?"  Thanks, for that...) We did end up having quite an eventful birth, so maybe on a slow day I'll get around to sharing that story.

I'm finally starting to feel like my head is above water.  The campaign is over, the office is on fire, and every day the babes is giving me more and more time to do something other than nurse, change diapers, and entertain him every second.  So, with this new found time, I'm not cleaning my house or doing laundry, or preparing meals ahead of time, or working more at the office...I'm hoping to blog more.  I will still share funny stories as they happen--like the crazy Friday I had last week that started out as my first innocent outing alone just to get a manicure--but I also plan to change things up a little here too.

By no means am I an expert mama.  I mean, on the scale of mothers, I would have to be in the bottom one percent when it comes to experience.  This is my first baby and he's only been in our nest for 26 weeks.  But, I do spend a lot...maybe too much...time trying to perfect this new full time job of being a parent.  I am constantly trying to do things better, find the right tools, and make everything fun and enjoyable at the same time.  Besides the sheer happiness that our little man brings to us constantly, I really have enjoyed all of the gadgets and gizmos that come with having a baby (except for how much room they take up in our little abode and how many of them we have to drag around with us when we go anywhere).  I am always trying to find the "just right" everything and I thought maybe it would be helpful to share some of that here for others.  I also am thrilled when I learn a good tip from another parent, so I thought I could pay it forward and share anything insightful and helpful that we've come up with here too.

And lastly, when I moved from the city back to my hometown, I wanted to blog more about the things I really appreciate about small town living (of course, there's lots of things I don't appreciate too, like Target being an hour away from me), so I hope to do some of that here also.

But for now, the new boss is starting to stir, so I'm going to go back to nursing, changing diapers, and entertaining--until I have another free minute.
 Hope you'll stick with me, even though I've been so intermittent over the past few years!