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Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Barrins!

This past weekend I was incredibly honored to take part in the marriage of my good friend Stacey and her rockin' husband, Dan. We took Whitewater, Wisconsin by storm and had an outstanding time. The Cruse family owns Randy's Restaurant and Fun Hunter's Brewery, so we spent lots of time eating great food and good drinks, and enjoying some good old Midwestern hospitality.

Here's to Stacey and Dan and a long, long future together!


Our Little Man is ONE!

We ordered pizza from Marco Roma's, opened the good bottle of wine we've been saving for a special occasion, and planned on Homer's vanilla ice cream for dessert.

I'm not going to get sappy about what I've learned in the last year from William and about myself. I'll save that for another day. But, I did learn one valuable lesson this evening: Even when you think it's a great idea and he's going to love it, don't push the bedtime. This is how William dealt with ice cream at 7:15. The kid who will eat ANYTHING turned away Homer's vanilla ice cream.

Happy Birthday, Stink Face.


One Year Ago: Induction Time

At this moment a year ago I was being induced. Pitocin was pumped into my veins and we were expected to spend the night resting and then would hopefully deliver a baby by mid-morning.
It didn't quite work out that way. Let's just say it was a long labor. We didn't spend much time sleeping and by morning I had not progressed much and was still pretty comfortable. Being comfortable is not a good sign when you're trying to force an overcooked baby into the world.
William was born 22 hours later. For the most part they were a good 22 hours, until the last few. Through the rough times I actually thought to myself: In a year this will be a distant memory. I just have to get through this moment by moment until it's over.
I was right. It's a distant, distant memory today. But, thankfully we have the photos to remind us of the happy labor moments and the fantastic view from Prentice. And for the record, this wasn't even the GOOD view.


Pushing Swings

On weekdays when I stay home with the little man (usually due to someone being ill or some other unforeseen circumstance) I try to run errands or take a trip to the park, which are always more pleasant on weekdays.

Yesterday at the park I put William in the bucket swing next to a sweet red-headed little guy that I guessed was 9 or 10 months. His dad asked me how old William was and I shared that he turns the big UNO this week. "You'll be there before you know it!" I said to his little guy. Oops, he was 13 months old. I learned some rules from this playground trip:

Playground Rule #1: When dealing with other parents don't assume anything. This includes age, because when you underestimate as I did, it's as if you're calling his kid under developed or scrawny. Not a good idea. I tried to explain that William is a beef cake and I have limited contact with kids this age, so it's hard for me to tell. I even threw in a "well, you know I work full time" all in an attempt to overcompensate for calling his kid small. I have no idea what working has to do with this.

Playground Rule #2: When asked if your kid does a certain trick, answer slowly. When the parent stops agreeing with you, simply pretend that is the extent of your child's development in such area. For example, I was asked if William is walking, to which I responded no. The next question was the standard follow-up question: Is he talking? "Oh yeah, he says mama and dada and hi and our dog's name and bottle and boom and shhhh and birdy..." Then I stopped myself, because I realized where this could lead and did the polite request for his child's language development. "No, he's not talking yet. We really hoped he would be by now, but he's just not talking." Head shaking followed and within minutes the child was removed from the swing.

Playground Rule #3: No matter how hard you want to, don't stare. This is extremely difficult for me. I stare. A lot. If someone is yelling at their kid too much, I can't help myself. If grandma calls a boy "stupid," you better believe I'm staring. William has picked up this habit and spends most of his time at the playground staring at the big boys. Not a good way to make friends.

So, that's our lesson for the week. A few rules to help you get by on the playground without getting you and your baby beat up. I have a feeling the list will expand once we learn more about playground politics, and if you have any rules of your own, I'd gladly take them.


I'm No Fool

It's been a week since a photo of the little man, which I know is the reason most of you stop by in the first place. Will this keep you happy?

Music Video Junkie

I did something this morning that I haven't in a while: I turned on VH1. I've avoided watching this channel in the early am, because it brings me back to a place that was lonely, cold, overwhelming, exhausting, and all over a little scary.

You see, last fall I would wake up with William in the early morning, before there was any light, convinced I was the only person awake in the world. There was nothing on tv, so I'd watch music videos on VH1 until the news started and I could move on. Somehow this seemed like the best way to escape, but only served to make me feel more out of touch and alone once "Womanizer" was on for the third time.

I was in the early months of motherhood, dealing with some baby blues, healing from a difficult labor, facing the beginning of dreaded winter, and missing the busiest time at work. I was riddled with anxiety and frustration. Crazy in love with William, but freaked out by the new house, new baby, and new chapter in life. I had more help and support than anyone could imagine, but that didn't make the early morning hours better.

It was with apprehension that I decided to reconnect with VH1 this morning. William loves music and I thought it might be a good test to face my demons and see if I'd get a surge of the feelings I had last fall. We only lasted one video, but in that one video William started dancing and was transfixed by the tv screen, which is why we said bye-bye to the video and moved on to playing with tupperware. (Not because of the dancing, but because we're holding off on tv for him as long as we can.)

I made it, no surge of emotions - Just happiness in seeing the little man kick his feet and pop his chest to the beat. Still exhausted and feeling a little out of touch, but all other things seem to be in place. For now.


Postcard From Teardowns.com

As I was shifting through the mountain of junk mail we received while away last week I came across a personally addressed postcard from Teardowns.com assuring us that we should work with them instead of giving up on selling our home. First off, I didn't know we were selling. Secondly, really, we're a tear down? We actually just bought this house a year ago with hopes of a face lift, not complete demolition.

We know, we know... We bought the most affordable house possible in a very desirable zip code. So what if we have a Magic Chef stove with only two working burners, a basement half the size of our house, a dirt crawlspace, an odd triangle shaped lot, and a garage that probably should be torn down? This is all fixable, right? That's why we bought it. But, now Teardowns.com is making fun of us. Ouch. Our ego just took a hit from a postcard.

Well, listen here, Teardowns.com, we do appreciate the personally addressed postcard, but we're gonna sit tight for now. Well, at least until we can replace the linoleum floor in our kitchen.


Hazmat Suit Recommended

Wanna come visit the Hannemaniacs? Oh, good, we love company. But, I do have s suggestion: Bring some wine and a hazmat suit.

Grandma B, who serves as our very willing, loving, and kind provider of child care has pneumonia. William is still a mess from the croup. Hand, Foot, and Mouth is a recent memory. Oh, are eye ulcers contagious?

Need I say more?

There is not enough Purel to help us. I blame William's daily trips to the park. I heard this is how it goes, I was warned. The kids share their germs with each other and then bring them home to share with the whole family. So very thoughtful.


The Hospital Story

I know, I know... I hooked everyone with the mention of the hospital trip in Michigan with no follow up. I didn't want to get into it until I had the full story. Now I do:

My right eye got crazy bloodshot and irritated while in Michigan and I noticed a little white spot on the brown part of my eyeball. What to do? Call my sister, Nurse Christina. She does some super sleuthing and calls me back to give me her diagnosis with the back-up of a doctor she works with who concurs. They tell me to see a doctor immediately and keep my beloved contacts out of my eyes. Peeerrrrfffeeeccttt.... I have to wear my glasses, which are no less than six years old and have (wait for it...) TRANSITION LENSES. Not kidding. (I used to have really good vision insurance and this was a free upgrade that my optometrist talked me into. I hate them and am absolutely the creepy woman walking into the building with darkening shades.)

The next day I go to the nearest walk-in center and wait for about an hour and a half. When I finally see a PA she tells me she can't see the spot I'm concerned about and then tells me it's a birthmark that I am only now noticing. Being intuitive and having put contacts on my eyeball for the last 15 years, I disagree. She recommends I see an opthamologist. I put my contacts back in so I can enjoy the beach for a couple of days and pretend that nothing is wrong.

Fast forward to yesterday... I see my new friendly eye doctor, have my eyes thoroughly checked, dilated, and numbed. The diagnosis: An ulcer on my eye. Oh yes, it's true. I have an eye ulcer. It's actually on my cornea and is due to my own stupidity, laziness, and stubbornness... Wearing old contacts is serious, people.

So, now I can't wear contacts for about TWO MONTHS. Ugh, the agony! I'm a bridesmaid in a wedding next weekend, so I tried to play to my doctor's emotions and negotiate contacts for one day. He had no sympathy, told me he's heard the story before, and gave me a stern warning that I could lose my eye if I didn't take this seriously. Jeeeez, tough crowd. He did however give me the option of wearing one contact in my left eye. Great. After a couple of cocktails and the vision of only one eye I can imagine how awesome my dance moves are going to be at this wedding. I made a mad dash to Lens Crafters for new specs last night and will pick them up tomorrow, but I do not intend to wear them at the wedding.

In closing, I would like to give props to my sister who correctly diagnosed my problem from the beginning. She's a smart cookie, which is why she was chosen as Nurse of the Year at Northwestern and is one of the top 10% of nurses in the country. (She won't brag, so I will for her.) She's the best.


Home Bodies

We made a rule for this weekend: No Social Plans. In other words, we're grounded.

We've been out of town the last three weekends and will be next weekend as well, so we're sticking around the homestead. The Hannemaniacs need a weekend to get stuff done around the house, do something about our depressing looking yard, and - most importantly - get well. I feel that restricting social obligations is the only way to make sure we get a couple of the things on our ever-expanding to-do list done.

We've tried this before, but it never sticks. I've cleared the calendar and don't intend to pencil anything back in, so please don't tempt us. We easily fall for the "You only live once..." "Just one drink..." lines.


Your Due Date

A year ago today you were due. You were comfortable wrapped up by your mama, stubborn, and hungry enough to stick around as I downed spicy Thai food, eggplant parmesan, fiery chicken wings, anything in an attempt to force you out into the real world. Little did we know, you had no intention of coming out so easy. I love that this was a perfect introduction to your funny little personality.

I could never remember your due date. I would call your dad to double check until Christine made a sign in pink highlighter and put it in her cube, so she could point to it when people asked me. Maybe it's because I already knew that date wouldn't stick.

A year ago today I went to the doctor to check for any progress. She said I was dilated half a centimeter and scheduled an induction for the following week, giving you time to make your way out. I'm still not sure that I was actually dilated or if she was just trying to be kind.

I wanted to move the induction up, get things rolling in there. You weren't coming on your own. I knew it would be another week before you'd arrive.

A year ago today I sat at my desk trying to get everything in order, wanting more time to get work done, but willing for the time to come. My feet were only squeezing into flip flops and I was having trouble reaching my key board.

When I came to work my friendly co-workers had wrapped my chair with a plastic bag in case there was any action. I knew there wouldn't be, but really wish I could have gone into labor right there on the industrial carpeting.

A year ago today I was completely unaware of the changes coming, still shocked that I was going to be a mom, wondering if I was ready, if it would be the first day of my new life.

Campbell Bridges

I wanted to share an e-mail from a friend to encourage you to take action and lend some education to what can be an otherwise mundane Tuesday. While we're sitting at work thinking about what to make for dinner, watch on tv, whether or not to go to the gym or clean the bathroom, there is crisis.

It is instances like that these that remind me of what is really going on out there... And a lot of it is devastating. But, even though we feel worlds away, that is never an excuse to not learn what we can and lend a voice when it comes to justice and safety for all people.

Please read this entire note and take a few minutes to read the BBC coverage and then sign the petition if you'd like:

I'm writing with some sad news. A family friend, Campbell Bridges--who is an internationally renowned geologist--was murdered earlier this week in Kenya. He and his son, an American named Bruce, were ambushed and attacked by people they know. Fortunately, Bruce survived the attack.

It's a complicated story, but to summarize, it appears that Kenyan politicians and police were involved in the attack and, for obvious reasons, they are telling a different story about how Campbell died. Although the international media is covering the story relatively actively, the story is being blocked in Kenya. It looks like it is going to be very difficult for the Bridges to get justice in the country they have lived for much of their lives.

I now have family over there who are helping the Bridges, so the story continues to hit closer to home. While my family has lost a good friend, it's the lack of justice, violence without consequence, and deceit that deserve international attention.

Recently, a petition was started to bring more attention to this event. If you're interested, please feel free to sign it: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/673216474

And here's a good BBC article and interview with Bruce, if you're interested: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8199627.stm

Julia and her family are looking for whatever publicity they can get on the situation, so if the few people who check on us here can see it... Well, that's a few more minds educated and open. Right?

Not So Sweet by Night

OK, scratch that. William is wonderful and smiley during daylight hours. Nights on the other hand... Well, let's just say croup is no fun for those of us looking for a restful night. Thirst, congestion, coughing, and an overall restlessness dominated our night. After he woke up for the first time, we brought William to bed to prop him up on a pillow for easier breathing and hooked up our humidifier, cranking it up to high.

I don't know what it is that makes little ones want to either sweetly lay their face on your face or lovingly touch your face when sleeping, but hot air and drool breathed directly into my face is not my idea of comfort. Nor were his 3 am attempts to exit our room by trying to crawl off the bed, point at the door, and repeat "hi" over and over. And then there was the crying...

Parents, the doc says croup is going around big time and travels fast. Hopefully we'll be done with it by the end of the week.

Hand, Foot, Mouth last month. Croup this month. What's next?


The Croup Cough

Guess who has croup... We thought it was a cold. We thought it was an ear infection. The doctor says it's croup. So, now we know what croup is all about: A barking cough, lots of drooling, runny nose, congestion. But, guess what hasn't changed: His sweet mood and smile.


We're Baaaack

We were in Michigan for a week for our first family vacation. The first straight week the three of us have had together since William was born. I wish I could say we feel rested, but we had friends to cook for; constant cleaning to do; a trip to the South Haven Hospital (more on that later - no worries, not for William); never-ending running around after the little one; late nights with games, books, and wine; early mornings with William and local fresh eggs, blueberries, and peaches; trips to the recycling center and art galleries; sun, sand, and lots of fresh air.

We needed a break and we got it. Sort of. The week felt like two days. We could have used another one. But, man, we're happy to be home. Even if we brought along a cold or ear infection for William. Ugh.

Some moments of our week....


Sweating the Small Stuff

Tomorrow we leave for a week. This is our first extended trip with the boy. Not to mention our first "vacation" in two years. Seriously, how did time slip away?

Anyway, I have been spending days getting prepared for this. Lots of shopping for groceries, sunscreen, bug spray, swim stuff for baby, some much-needed clothes for me including (eek!) a bathing suit, and on and on. I have lists of what I need to buy, lists of what I need for William, lists of what I need for me. I've spent more money on odds and ends than we would have spent on plane tickets at this point.

I pride myself on not sweating the small stuff, on not freaking out, or letting anything get to me. I even went to bikram yoga last night to help get in touch with my non-stress center. And it worked... Until this morning when I realized I have to pack everything tonight and find a way to cram it all into the car.

I guess I'm just missing the days when a trip would mean throwing some clothes into a suitcase at the last minute. I was the person who packed for an international trip the morning of departure without a list, without any forethought of where my passport might be half the time. And here I am today stressing about how we're going to fit a highchair, pack and play, luggage, food, baby gate, and stroller into a sedan. What is happening to me?!?!


Dead Milkmen?

OK, OK, first off, I don't have a milkman, nor do I have a dead one. Apparently this is the name of a band. Am I the only person who has never heard of them? The Dead Milkmen.

Well, I bring this up, because Matt just let me know that they are going to be in Chicago in October and he and a friend are going to go to the show. When I mentioned to Matt that I have no idea who they are, this is his response:

Their biggest hit is a song called "Bitch'n Camero," which you might have heard at some point...maybe. They're sort of punk, but all their songs are an attempt at humor too. The last time XXX saw them, he was in high school. XXX jumped on the stage to steal a guitar pick off of the bass player's stand and was thrown head first into the wall by a bouncer. While XXX was in the first aid area, getting stitches in his head, the chaos he created caused the band to quit the show and walk off the stage.

I'm hoping this time is a bit less eventful.

This is by far the funniest thing I have heard this week. I just had to share the laughter.


Food TV

Today I read that people spend more time watching people cook food on tv than they do cooking themselves. First off, I have to admit that I learned this from a facebook update from a guy who went to my high school, but I absolutely believe it to be true. At first I was a little disappointed that people are spending more time in front of the tv watching people create food, rather than actually doing it. I know I fall into that statistic at times, usually in the winter months when I find watching food on tv to be even more comforting than eating it.

I love food tv shows. I can watch them for hours and am usually excited about what I see, trying to file away that inspiration and motivation for a day that I have the time to plan and cook a real meal with ingredients that I've actually shopped for, rather than a cabinet raid.

I'm a pretty good cook, but something about watching food being made on tv makes me believe that I could be great or at least gives me new ideas to take something from mediocre to pretty good.

I guess in the end I just hope that people in front of the tv are at least being inspired. Inspiration can go a long way. I imagine people spend much more time watching a lot less interesting things on tv.

About This Time Last Year 2

Matt said the last picture didn't do my huge-ness justice.

You're welcome.


About This Time Last Year

August is here. William's birthday month and our opportunity to get nostalgic and cry about how fast this year has passed. So, before the tears, let's start with some laughter.

I look at this picture and wonder how the heck that show about women who have no idea they were pregnant exists. I mean, COME ON! Check out my humongous-ness.

Too bad this photo doesn't capture my cankles.