Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ahhhh, Florida

So we got back from Florida yesterday, forsaking the white sands of Clearwater Beach early in the afternoon for the white out blizzard of Minneapolis later that same day. "Are we crazy, or WHAT?" Jay and I taunted each other as our trusty farm truck made its careful way along I-94 amid the hyperspace-effect snow pummeling the windshield. Seriously.

But even in March the foot of white stuff here has its romantic qualities, and I have to admit that it was so good to see the farm family again; in other words, my homebody nature rendered our three-and-a-half days in paradise just exactly the right amount.

Our motel was fine - small but clean, and definitely of the one-star variety, owned by a bickering Polish couple (as half of that couple, Walter, advised Jay in a thick accent: "Stick with the first wife. No matter how bad it seems, always stick with the first wife"). When we arrived Saturday night we were a bit chagrined to find a mob of very shiny young people in giant sunglasses and stiletto sandals making a big racket yelling and yakking on cell phones and trying to blow out the subwoofers in their SUV stereos with that darned rap music all the kids are listening to these days. Our first foray into the velvet sand that night kept us there.

By Sunday most of the party crowd had vamoosed and things quieted down. Both Sunday and Monday boasted record highs of 85 degrees, and Jay and I ended up walking 10 or 15 miles of beach both days - once to the nearly deserted state park/island to the north and once to the similarly quiet state park to the south, talking and frequently breaking for luscious dips in the gleaming gulf. I ate ice cream every day, burned the shit out of a 3 X 1 inch stip of my arm (the palest, inner fatty part - overlooked by the sunscreen lathering! Drat!) Jay, meanwhile, got a sad little lesson in receding hairline burn. We braved on, however, foregoing the schmaltzy souvenier shops for beach beach beach with a two hour siesta in the motel room during the heat of the day. Brilliant.

Boy, I'll tell you though - if you want to feel like a real meatball, try being a 34 year old pregnant lady from Wisconsin on a Florida beach amid a thousand 18 year old hardbody girls in small bikinis. Oh, and a couple of leathery senior citizens in small bikinis. Really, I discovered that for the most part, Florida beaches are for the young and the old. The other people my age had a few kids in tow and frankly looked a little dazed. Jay and I also spent some time ruminating in our liberal white guilt, feeling bad about being waited on by folks who were most certainly too poor to live there, empathetic to the love/hate they must feel for the endless line of tourists who simultaneously make constant noisy demands and butter their bread (however meagerly).

Enough on that. Highlights included finding a truly marvelous tiny authentic Italian cafe discovered the last night (best tiramisu I've ever tasted - and many of you know I've made it my life's mission to try every version on the planet) and sighting a bunch of dolphins cavorting in the gulf together just before our return home. We had a great time - we're relaxed, my hair is a little blonder, Thelonious is a little bigger and kickier, and Florida is two people emptier.

Love and crabcakes-n-coleslaw to all,


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Finally! The winter we've been waiting for!

As is very typical around these midwestern parts, we're getting a major winter long March! It has been snowing since last night - a heavy, blowing, coating snow that has paralyzed Minneapolis and created a winter wonderland at the farm. I'm actually writing from my office at the museum today, but just received these pictures via email from Chris, who's on farm animal duty while C&J are in sunny Florida. Jay is going to flip when he hears that schools are finally closing because of the snow and he's on vacation!

Work is the usual nonstop craziness, so I will make this short. Happy belated winter to all! Hope those buds on the trees aren't shocked back into the branches!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Thelonius is VEEEEERY busy

So I'm starting to think I have a tiny little Jay in my belly, bicycling manically from one side of the womb to the other. It's gotten so that any time of day can be hammertime for Thelonious, not just morning and night like before. I'm feeling pretty good, other than waking up several times a night to either pee or shift my burgeoning belly from one side to the other. My back is starting to feel the strain, prompting me to buy a gi-normous body pillow ("it's like having a fourth grader in bed with us" Jay said, inappropriately). The body pillow is wonderful in many ways as it supports multiple areas of my swelling bod at once, but it's also a little like wrestling Shamu at night if I ever want to flip sides. I have a feeling the bed is just going to feel smaller and smaller.

I had an appointment with the midwife yesterday and it appears everything is perfectly normal and progressing well, which is great. Paula had trouble locating the baby's heartbeat because (surprise) Thelonious was wiggling around so much. I'm halfway through! Can you believe it? We've got lots of things to research, like finding a family doctor (as a back up), vaccinations, etc. etc. Decisions, decisions. Next week Jay, Bex, Ellis and I are all going to a seminar at the birthing center on co-sleeping.

Right now, Ellis is giving Becca a very enthusiastic face hickey. Just wanted to report the baby news up to the moment, as it happens.

We had a great weekend in Minneapolis, taking my mom out to the dreamiest Thai food ever and Hamlet at the Guthrie (I cried at the end, as I always do - oh the humanity!). Sunday was the Oscars, which I'm a little sad I broke my TV fast (it's been since last May!) to watch, as they were boooooo-ring. I'm not sure why I ever think celebrities are going to have something interesting to say. Oh well. It was great to spend some time with the fam, at any rate.

FLORIDA is a mere three days away, and I can't wait! I'm already getting the sunscreen and shades together, though my goal of painting my toenails for the trip may be a little far-fetched, as my mere attempts to trim them today made me feel like I had done a yoga workout, complete with paralyzing foot cramps. It's hard to give yourself a pedicure when you have to work around a mountain in your middle (in this vein, I have to mention that being pregnant has given me the best skin and most glamourous fingergails - you've never seen the like on a tomboy like me! Unfortunately, being pregnant does NOT keep me from getting mounds of barn dirt under said fingernails).

Jay and I are staying in a little motel on Clearwater Beach, which is about 30 minutes from Tampa. We'll be 120 yards from miles of white sand and turquoise water! It's hard to even imagine! How marvelous to feel the warm sun for a few days and eat some fresh seafood - just the tonic we need, methinks. I just hope I can get Jay on the plane back home!

I think that's it for now. Over and out!

Love and dolphin/manatee sightings to all,

Charis (& Thelonious)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The power of a tooth

It's amazing how a tiny white nub can change our world. Ellis's first tooth broke through on Sunday. While this is very exciting and bittersweet (he's growing up too fast already!), it also creates a whole new dimension of drool, chewing, fussing, gurgling, not to mention fussiness and a new wake up hour of 5 a.m. This morning has been especially trying and Ellis finally surrendered to exhaustion and fell asleep at 11 a.m. On the flip side, when he's awake, he's generally chipper as can be, taking a newfound, giddy interest in Flannery. I wouldn't be surprised if "meow" is his first word. Do you think babies and pets can communicate on a higher level? Hmm...

In other baby news (really, IS there any other kind of news in my life these days?), Ellis also had his first taste of cereal yesterday. He devoured each morsel, whining every second the spoon was out of his mouth. The fact that he gnawed on everything from apple slices to pizza crust was a pretty good indicator that he was ready for table food. It's another big move that makes me sad to see him growing so quickly, but excited for all of the new changes too. Thank goodness we'll be getting another baby around here right about the time that Ellis becomes a toddler!

This weekend, Charis and I head to Minneapolis to whisk mom away on a belated birthday night out. Dinner at Pad Thai restaurant (best spring rolls ever!)and "Hamlet" at the Guthrie Theatre are on the itinerary for Saturday night, followed by a gathering to watch the Oscars on Sunday at mom's. It's been so good to be here at the farm for a full week. Good to be home. Good to get some projects done. And always good to connect at the dinner table with C&J.

I've posted a few more photos - dominated, as usual, by the one-tooth wonder, with an appearance by our napping mother and Flannery - enjoy!