Out of the mouths of babes…

Heath and I talk all the time about how crazy/hilarious/amazing/humbling it is to teach Frank the English language.  It’s something I never ever thought about before Frank started talking, and I truly believe the phenomenon can only be understood by those who have raised children themselves.  For instance, Heath and I have four nieces and nephews that have all learned to talk, but we didn’t see any of them often enough to really see the daily language progression.

Going through the process with Frank now makes me wish I had studied linguistics in school.  I studied foreign language and even wrote a law review article requiring research into the way non-native speakers learn English as a second language.  I know from personal experience that you are not truly fluent in a language until you stop translating everything you say from your native tongue and actually start thinking in the new language.

Learning a first language, however, is nothing like that.  For one thing, you get a lot more encouragement.  The first time you point to a ball and grunt, “bah,” people will throw you a ticker tape parade.  Pretty soon, your language evolves from a series of caveman type gestures and single-word vocabulary to parroting three and four-word phrases.  This is the most humorous stage.  Some of Frank’s favorites were “There you go”, “thank you welcome”, “it be fun,” and of course “watch-y wiggles.”  Before we knew it, he was speaking in sentences that were more or less complete.  Plus, he understands a lot more than he lets on!

The best part of being his English teacher is that you hear your own voice coming out of your mini-me’s mouth.  Every time Frank drops something he says “oopsie.”  Apparently I say this approximately 97 times per day.  I now catch myself saying it and think how stupid it sounds coming from a grown adult.  The other day, he described his new school shoes as “pretty cute!” and his friend Liam’s birthday present as “very cool.”  He can have entire conversations with his trains and does not care that he has to carry both sides of the dialogue.

Even as I type, Frank is foregoing his nap (more and more common these days) in favor of directing a series of one-act plays starring Potty Time Elmo  and a certain prima donna Blue Dog.  From what I can tell from this side of the theater door, his productions fall on the spectrum somewhere between Billy Elliot and Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk.

Well, time to go back to my crazy life.  I really do intend to blog soon about our summer full of visitors and post some pics of the kids enjoying the beautiful Seattle weather.  However, that would require me to blog from the desktop computer where our pictures are housed, which means I would have to get my still-overgrown rump off the couch during naptime.  And that ain’t happenin’ today.

Hugs to all.  Enjoy the holiday weekend.  Go Frogs!  Go Hogs!  Go Huskies?  Welcome Fall!!

TWO YEARS OLD!

I haven’t had too much time to blog lately, what with the baby and all the visitors we’ve had, but I wanted to post a few pics and say a few words about our baby boy turning 2. 

On a warm Wednesday morning back in late July 2008, our lives changed forever when this crazy little munchkin was born:

 

Before we knew it, he turned our world upside down.  Instead of happy hour, it was colic hour(s).  Instead of sushi, it was Goldfish crackers.  Instead of the symphony, it was the Wiggles.

But Frank was unlike any person we had ever known.  We watched him grow quite literally in front of our eyes.  We saw him learn, first to laugh, then to sign, then to talk, and then to reason.  We witnessed his first roll, scoot, crawl, and steps, and then we saw him run, jump, climb, swing, and slide.  He is ours, but he is his own person.  He is amazing.  He is Frank!

Baby Eleanor

Well, I have been meaning to write this post for two and a half weeks now, but as I’m sure you can imagine, things have been a bit busy around here!

Eleanor Grace Dixon was born on Sunday, June 20, 2010 (Father’s Day!) at 4:07 am.  She was three plus weeks early (surprise!), but she weighed a healthy 6 lbs 4.9 oz and measured 19.5 inches long.  Here are a few pics of the blessed event!

Smiling after the drugs (finally) kicked in!

Getting my first peek at her!

This is one of my favorites. It looks like she's wearing a turban.

We got to snuggle with her for a few minutes after she was born, which was so amazing.  Those of you who know the story of Frank’s scary birth will know how special these moments were for us.  Unfortunately, the nurses couldn’t get Eleanor to breathe and suck at the same time (her lungs were full of fluid from the early and SHORT labor), so she was taken to the NICU for observation.  Again, thanks to Frank’s situation, we were no strangers to the NICU and did not freak out.  In fact, the timing of her birth allowed Heath to run home and shower, relieve the babysitting neighbors (a god-send!), and wake Frank before he even had a chance to know we had left him!  Heath’s mom had flown in on the first flight out of DFW and was in Seattle by 9:30 am.  By the time they all descended upon the hospital, I had been assured by the NICU staff that Eleanor would be just fine.  They kept her in the NICU to make sure that she was feeding well and keeping her blood sugars up.  They let me start breastfeeding her that afternoon, but she remained on an IV as well through the following day.  I was discharged from my room on Monday, but Eleanor was going to have to stay another day to wean off the IV.  Luckily, the hospital has several parent sleeper rooms associated with the NICU and we were able to reserve one for Monday night.  With Mimi at home with Frank, Heath stayed with me at the hospital (although he did not volunteer to wake up every three hours and walk with me to the NICU to feed her…).

We were very lucky that Eleanor and I found a good rhythm early with the nursing.  Despite being a preemie (barely), her latch was great from the first feeding, and she did a great job maintaining weight and blood sugars.  She was discharged from the hospital mid-morning on Tuesday, June 22nd.  We were all so excited to have her home!  The past two weeks have been really great — mostly thanks to my mother-in-law (babysitter and laundress extraordinaire!) , who was able to stay until yesterday.  Eleanor has been an easy baby so far — she’s having to be much more easy-going than Frank was, because I can’t always attend to her every need right away.  For better or worse, Frank still takes more of my attention, because I am always so nervous he’s going to hit, kick, scream at, or try to lodge goldfish crackers in the mouth of Eleanor (all of which he has been caught doing, btw).  I guess he’s behaving exactly as I should have expected!

Here are some more pictures from the past couple of weeks:

First kiss for baby sister!

Mimi and the kids

We got this HUGE burrito for free just for bringing in our own "burrito"!

I'm trying to get some exercise!

Relaxing after the first bath!

Frank getting ready for first swim lesson (outfit of his own choosing!)

He loved it! Just like last year!

Eleanor went back to the doctor for her two week check-up on Tuesday, and she is up to 7lbs, 4 oz and 20.5 inches long!  She is doing amazingly well, especially considering my due date is still a week away!  Next week, my dad will be here visiting (Emmitt is beside himself!), and then Heath’s parents will be here the following week.  My mom will be here after that for about 10 days (including Frank’s 2nd birthday!).  We are so excited to have so many visitors lined up!  The weather has finally turned, and it’s absolutely gorgeous here!  More updates soon, I promise.  Take care, everyone!

Little Beach Outing

Yesterday, Frank and I were feeling better and wanted to get outside to enjoy the nice day (good thing, btw, as it is currently 58 degrees and raining sideways).  We decided to venture across to West Seattle’s Alki Beach for a little sand and surf.  It was really lovely and not crowded (it being 10 am on a Tuesday).  Frank played several rounds of “dump and fill” with his bucket and shovel, we blew bubbles, and mostly just took in the scenery.  Sometimes I can’t believe I live here:

Summer of Frank!

With the due date fast approaching (only 5 more weeks to go!), it hit me recently that these are the last few weeks I have to devote 100% of my attention to Frank.  I honestly don’t know how that Duggar woman does it, because I just love being a mom of one and am a little more than apprehensive about having two!  Probably should have thought about that before I got myself knocked up again, I know.  Bygones.

And so in the grand tradition of Costanza’s infamous “Summer of George!”, I have decided to declare the rest of the time before Beans’ arrival “Summer of Frank!”  Said declaration only slightly marred by the fact that it is not actually “summer” in Seattle, but rather a very rainy and unseasonably cold “spring.”  No matter; Supermom doesn’t need 90 degree weather to make fun!  On the days we are able to get outside, we do so.  On the other days, we improvise!  We’ve been exploring the many options for rainy day fun in Seattle, and we really like our local community center (about 4 blocks from home).  Twice a week, they open the gym for toddlers only and set up two bounce houses and about 10-12 Big Wheel/tricycle/pink jeep-type vehicles for the kiddos to drive.  You just pay $2 and you can stay for hours!  Another of our newly-discovered favorite activities is going to the mall and renting one of those strollers that looks like a racecar or firetruck.  Who knew this would keep the kid entertained for hours of shopping?!  I even tried to get him to exit the vehicle and play in the playspace, but he just kept walking out of the area and getting back in the racecar!  And, of course, he sang “Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car” (a Wiggles hit) for the duration of the ride.  Frank is officially obsessed with the Wiggles.  Which I wouldn’t mind, except that we only have three of their videos and I have them MEMORIZED!  I dream of Wiggles songs and ridiculous pirates and dancing dinosaurs.  AAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!

Anyhoo, on our few warmer and sunnier days, Frank and I have taken to the outdoors!  As I’ve probably mentioned in a prior post, Frank loves the buses in Seattle.  Living so close to downtown, we see them all the time.  Plus, our house is on a fairly busy street where the buses pass several times a day.  I know he would love to ride the bus somewhere, but I haven’t done it yet ((a)because I’m chicken that I’ll do something wrong, having never really used public transportation much, and (2) because I am still highly dependent on my car, esp. being so pregnant and not wanting to be stuck at the mercy of the bus schedule).  I thought a good compromise would be to take a bus tour of the city, and to make it fun for a 22-month-old, I went with the Ride the Ducks tour!  I’m pretty sure they have these in a bunch of places, but it is a big bus that is also a boat that is also shaped like a duck.  Or, in Frank’s world: HEAVEN.  So we went!  And it was great.

Of course, I bought a $3 duck quacker so Frank could quack his way along the route.  Loved it.  The tour took us downtown through the market, down to the ferry terminals, over to Safeco Field, up through the eclectic Fremont neighborhood, and finally onto Lake Union.  I think Frank liked the water part the best.  Indeed, I thought he might jump overboard at one point!  It was so nice to be out on the water and to see all the beautiful water houses (learned the difference between water houses and house boats, btw — it’s actually fairly basic-you have to drive the house boats around the lake once or twice a year to prove that they really are boats).  The coolest part for me was seeing the water house used in the movie Sleepless in Seattle!  Check it out:

Can’t you just see Jonah running around the deck and hopping in the boat with his little kite??  The house is currently on the market for $2.2 million if anyone is interested.

Last week, the Summer of Frank tour landed us at the Ballard Locks and the famous Smolt Slides!  The Locks are the part of the shipping channel where boats pass between Lake Washington and Puget Sound (the salt-water bay eventually leading to the Pacific).  The Locks also house a gorgeous botanical gardens and some original shipping buildings built in the early 1900’s.  In the spring and summer, one of the bridges over the channel offers a great vantage point to the baby salmon (smolts) migrating from the lake to the bay.  They’ve set up these high-tech slides to control the number of smolts going through at any one time, and so you can watch the slides and see all the little fishies flying out into the bay!  They’re so cute!  And they looked like they were on a super cool water slide at Wet ‘N Wild!  Unfortunately, we just kinda happened upon this activity and I didn’t have my camera.  But, I’m sure we’ll be back many times this summer.

This past weekend and at least the early part of this week, the Summer of Frank is taking a hiatus.  All three of us have come down with a nasty cold and are trying to take it easy for a few days.  In other words, I’m watching more of those blasted Wiggles than I’d like to be.  But that’s okay.  I’ve discovered that the only time Frank stops long enough to snuggle with Mommy anymore is when he’s under the weather.  So, I’m soaking it up!

Momfest

When I was in college, my roomie Amy told me about her family’s tradition of celebrating her mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day every year.  Her mom’s birthday is May 13, which always falls within a few days of Mother’s Day, so her family celebrates the entire “Season of Patfest.”  I was lucky enough to participate in the Patfest festivities the year I bunked on Amy’s couch while working as a summer associate for Hughes & Luce.  Ever since then, I have looked forward to being a mom and having a whole Season of ME!  Plus, with my birthday falling on May 15, there is no chance for Mother’s Day to be on the same day, so I will always get a multi-day celebration!  Ha!

Well, this year, the festival of ME lasted an entire week, and I milked it.  We started on Mother’s Day with a family walk to Top Pot Doughnuts (as if we need an excuse), where I had my usual (decaf mocha and a bullseye with strawberry filling) and the boys split a couple of old fashioneds and a cinnamon sugar cake.  Mmmmmm.  I’m so serious when I say that you could come visit us in Seattle for no other reason than the doughnuts and be quite satisfied.

Later that evening, Heath and I went on a date and left Frank with a babysitter for the first time since the move!  Several months ago, when we lived downtown near the Seattle Center, I would see the Key Arena digital marquee nearly everyday.  In between the announcements for Sesame Street Live and WNBA games, I noticed that James Taylor and Carole King were coming to town on May 9.  I hinted around to Heath about wanting to go for Momfest, and he joked that I must be turning 66 instead of 33.  Not amused, I held my ground and even suggested he might enjoy the concert as well.  Fast forward to early May, and I find out my in-laws had secured us a couple of tickets to the show through their connections at the Cowboys.  I knew I always liked Heath’s parents better than him anyway!  Needless to say, the concert was great…especially from the FIRST ROW!  JT sounds just as good as he does on the old records from the ’70’s, but in addition to the great performance, I was really blown away by the sign language interpreters who were stationed right in front of us.  Those ladies were amazing, and the hearing impaired couple sitting next to us enjoyed the show as much as we did!  Oh, and if you are wondering whether Heath was miserable, worry not.  If you had seen him belting out “You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)” with Carole, you’d have thought they were the only two people in the room.

The celebration continued all the way through the next weekend.  On Friday night, the boys took me to dinner at Tenoch, the new Mexican restaurant in our neighborhood.  Congratulations, Seattle — there is finally some decent Mexican food in your town!  The food was great and we were able to sit outside on the patio.  If only I could have thrown back a couple of margaritas, it would have been a perfect evening!  Saturday was my actual birthday, and my only request was that I be allowed to shirk my responsibilities to home and family for a few hours.  So, I went and got my hair did!  That afternoon, I wanted to go to the beach.  Unfortunately, in the rare instance that the temperature reaches 70 degrees in May, I learned that the public beaches turn into Spring Break in Daytona or something.  Made a U-turn in the parking lot and decided to return to real life.  We hit an Italian restaurant in the Ballard neighborhood for dinner, which was forgettable, but I did partake in a small glass of wine to toast the occasion.  Two years ago, I tried to have a glass of wine on my birthday when I was pregnant with Frank, but the heartburn made it more painful than pleasurable.  I’m happy to report that my heartburn has subsided a bit this time around, and the glass of Santa Margherita did not disappoint.

My main present from the boys was a spa day, complete with pregnancy massage and mani/pedi!  They made my appointment for Sunday morning, so I got to blow this popsicle stand for the second day in a row!  Upon my return home, feeling somewhat like a noodle, I was able to reclaim my position as SuperMom and tackle the next week with renewed energy (well, as much energy as a 32-week-pregnant lady can have…).  Not that I’m complaining, but sometimes it is nice to get a few hours to myself!  Thanks, Heath and Frank, for making my second MOMFEST the best ever!  And, btw, if you’re feeling sorry for Heath, don’t.  His birthday is June 16, so he gets his own DADFEST in just a few short weeks!  Yay!

April Wrap-Up

Hello friends!  Well, the bad news is that I have not posted anything on the blog since Easter and now I have a lot to catch up on!  The good news is I probably saw most of you sometime in the last two weeks on the “Ashley and Frank Southern Tour 2010”.  We had a great time visiting all of our family and friends in Dallas and Little Rock.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  And so, in the timeless words of Fraulein Maria, “Let’s start at the very beginning…a very good place to start…”

When I last wrote, it was Easter Sunday and my mommy was en route to Seattle.  The next few days after that are a total blur of moving, unpacking, organizing, stressing out, and dealing with the rain.  Yup, after having been here for three months and not seeing much of the wet stuff, April really made up for it in the downpour department.  (And May hasn’t been much better, btw).  We were so thankful to have my mom here to entertain Frank while we tried to make the house more livable, but we certainly could have used her here for three weeks instead of three days!  Not only did she play with Frank and take him on long walks everyday, but she also washed all of our china and crystal, polished the silver, organized the built-ins in the kitchen, and worked her magic arranging the china cabinet.  Most of these things were finished before I even got out of bed in the morning!   Her energy really puts me to shame.

We were also glad Gammie had already visited in March, because we didn’t have any time during this trip to do anything fun.  Plus, and I know you’re going to have a hard time believing this, but I was just a tad bitchy that week due to the stress and the crappy weather and the whole “pregnancy preventing me from drinking heavily” thing.  Needless to say, we didn’t take many pictures during the first few days in the house.  When my mom left, we had exactly one week to make some more progress on the house before Frank and I left for our trip.  We used that time to get the playroom unpacked and the bedrooms in functional order.

We also had a couple of pretty days to get better acquainted with the neighborhood and the park.  We discovered the best time to hit the park is around 4:00 when all the big kids are out in the fields practicing baseball (“beezball”) and soccer (“ocka”).  Frank is a big fan.  Another fun thing we did that week was have an ultrasound to get a better look at Baby Beans.  My 18-week ultrasound had indicated a potential previa issue, and the doctor didn’t want me to travel if it hadn’t remedied itself by 28 weeks.  Thankfully, the ultrasound showed no sign of a problem, and I was given the green light to travel.  We also learned that she weighed 2lb. 8oz., which is right on track, and she is super active (like I needed video evidence of this).  After we saw her looking so much like a real baby, we decided it was high time we gave her a real name.  Even though I still intend to call her Beans until she is 35, her given name will be Eleanor Grace Dixon.  And, no, we didn’t make the Roosevelt connection until it was already decided.  If we have another, we’ll have to call him Teddy, I guess!  As I told my parents — at least they’re Democrats!

Okay, on to the trip!  The plane ride to DFW (and back, for that matter) was forgettable, and because I’ve almost done so, I will not blog about it.  We started out our tour in Dallas/Plano on Thursday, April 15, which happened to be one of our good friends’ (and Frank’s godfather) 40th birthday!  Because my in-laws are awesome and babysat for me every night I was in Plano, I was able to attend the 40th b-day dinner at Central 214!  Yummers!  It was so much fun to hang out with all of our friends and pretend, if just for one night, that I’d never left!  We had to get a girls pic, of course:

Oh man, looking at this picture makes me miss these girls even more…sniff, sniff.  It’s really tough to imagine how I am going to make friends out here, especially since I met every single one of these girls through work.  Ugh, pity party…

Enough of that!  The next day was action-packed and included a super fun lunch at Chuy’s (mmmmmm!) with some more law firm pals.  After lunch, Frank and I headed down to the West End to pick up my cousin, Johnelle, and her husband, Corey, who were in Dallas for a nerd convention of some sort.  J/K, they are both Ph.D.’s and professors at UT San Antonio.  Little smarties!  We were so glad they were in town and had the afternoon and evening free to hang with us.  Frank loved playing with them and entertaining them at dinner.  We can’t wait for them to visit in August!!

The next morning, we flew to Little Rock.  The 45-minute flight was much more do-able for this pregnant lady and her antsy toddler.  We were very anxious to see Gammie, Papa, and the rest of the family, but everyone knows we were just thrilled to be reunited with the family dog Emmitt!!  He had quite a fun three months at Chateau Vaught, where my health-conscious parents took him for 3 and 4 walks per day, let him sit atop their white sofa, and treated him like a veritable king.  I’m not so sure he wanted to come back with us.  But he had no choice!

Our time in Little Rock was pretty laid-back.  We saw a lot of family, had some good home-cooked meals, and saw lots of friends at the baby shower for Eleanor.  The fun part about having a shower for a second baby is that no one gets you boring stuff like pacifiers and breast shields.  Instead, we got a boat-load of ruffly, girly, adorable clothes!  Here are a few examples:

First Leotard!

Adorbs!

Practicing!

Btw, this is my niece Lenzy.  She’s a young lady!  How did this happen?!?!

As you can see, we have some very generous friends and family in Arkansas!  Such a fun time.  Our Little Rock leg of the trip ended on Thursday, when we all (Mom, Dad, Me, Frank, and Emmitt) loaded up the old family wagon (er, Lexus SUV) and drove back to Texas.  We drove straight to DFW airport and dropped Emmitt at the AA Cargo building for his flight back to Seattle.  He (and I) were a little apprehensive, but he did great and was overjoyed to see Heath waiting for him as he deplaned!

We stayed one night in Arlington and hung out with our good friends, the Crumbys, to discuss their son Michael’s upcoming nuptials.  My mom will always find a way to expense a trip!  I kid, I kid.

The next day, we were back in Plano with the Dixons, and my parents drove back to Little Rock.  This trip to Plano was a lot less hectic than the week before, and Frank had a ball hanging out with his Mimi, Poppy, and Granny (Heath’s grandmother), who came down from El Dorado, AR, to see us.

Counting rocks with Poppy

Showing Poppy how he has mastered stairs (now that we have three stories!)

We also got to spend some quality time with cousins Audrey, Tanner, Dakota, McKinley, and Sailor at the Furrey household.  Poppy and his construction crew had some time off after completing Cowboys Stadium and built Audrey and Tanner the most awesome playhouse in their backyard.

Watching Audrey slide down the fire pole

Acting as sheriff, trying to determine if McKinley is worthy of entry.

The other wonderful thing I was able to do while in the metroplex is attend my sorority’s 20th Anniversary of being on the TCU campus!  I am so glad I was able to make it to the festivities.  Loved catching up with even more of my girlfriends, some of whom I hadn’t seen since graduation!  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera and don’t have any pictures to post as of now.  However, I’m probably going to break down and order some from FLASH, which I will scan and post at a later date.  For those of you unfamiliar, FLASH is the official photographer of all Greek Life functions at TCU.  These nerdy guys in red polos walk around your parties all night long, and you yell out “FLASH” to get him to take a picture of you and your drunk friends making ridiculous faces.  You then walk up to the FLASH store a couple of days later and scan thousands of tiny images hanging from clothesline to find your pictures.  You then order them and keep them for 15 years.  Case in point:

Anyhoo, now FLASH is all online, so it’s not nearly as fun.  But I’m still gonna order some.  ‘Cause that’s what you do!

Well, I hope you didn’t fall asleep reading this extra-long entry.  All in all, April was a pretty fun month for the Dixons!  I’ll try to be more prompt in the updates now that we are here for a while.  Take care, everyone!

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