Pause, please

Every morning I have thought I should post something (other than Cooper acting crazy on video), and then the day is gone and I’ve not updated our blog again.  The past few weeks have flown by in a blur of sunny days, fun with Coops, preparation for him to begin his summer school in a few short weeks, time with family and friends and yard work.

Usually over Memorial weekend we spend the three days at my parent’s cabin.  Unfortunately, being in northern Minnesota, the weather is usually cold and windy, and the usual 3 hour drive turns into sometimes 5 or 6 hours due to the traffic from the city with everyone rushing to get to their vacation spots.  This year we decided to skip it and stay home to work around the yard, get ourselves steadied for the busy summer we are anticipating, and spend some quiet family time.

My parents and my sister went up, though, and of course they had some weather that was so beautiful that it resulted in a nice sunburn for my sis.  Of course.  Oh well…we got a ton accomplished.

We enjoyed some gorgeous outdoor dining at some of our favorite resstaurants as they opened their patios for the summer season.  Doug and Coops did some lawn work.

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I took on a front yard project of starting my own perennial garden.  I usually plant some flower planters that sit by the front door and around the back deck, but D.Jones has a new aversion to purchasing flowers that only last one season, so in response….to prove to him that I do listen to his weird eccentricities, I created a perennial garden.  Now, I have attempted some basic landscaping and other various projects in the past, and though I finish them, they are not always the result I desire.  This one isn’t perfect, but I’m happy with it.  In fact, I’m pretty proud of it and I can’t wait for everything to start blooming!

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It did, unfortunately, take me all of 2 1/2 days, 2 smashed fingers, lots of repetitive trips to a local garden center, and some swearing…but it’s done and I love it.

Doug’s cousin and his wife were in town from Madison over the weekend for a wedding, so Sunday morning we were able to meet them at Pracna’s on Main downtown on the river for a waterfront brunch.  I had my first bloody mary of the summer, and then took Cooper for a walk along the river so the group could catch up without all of his truck noises as a backdrop for their conversation.  A few other wedding goers had joined us and I thought they’d like some quiet time.  Plus, the river walk along Riverplace is one of my favorite areas and I was excited to go for a walk with Buddha.  We had so much fun that we were gone for a long time and by the time we returned, D.Jones was a little concerned.  We walked out on bridges, talked about paddleboats, saw some great views of the city skyline from the far side of the river, visited the pavillion that was the start of last summer’s 5k that I participated in, and then found a stage that looks over the river that Cooper loved because he was “higher than the trees!” 

Afterwards, Doug’s cousin Mike returned to our house while Joanna hung with her family and got ready for the wedding.  I put Doug and Mike to work replacing our storm windows with screens.  Perfect!

This week I have tried to jam in some fun stuff for Cooper and I.  Each day I feel like I am counting down to his first day of summer school and I already miss him.  Plus, I know that once his school starts, I will be not only attending class myself and needing to study, but I will be putting in my volunteer hours at the Bridge…all which will take away from our time together.  It’s a sad but exciting turning point for us.

So, this week we went to the zoo, we have put in many hours of play time in the backyard, we have gone on many walks, and shared some popsicles on the front steps.  I have so much fun just being around this child.  Two years ago, or even one year ago, I didn’t realize it would be like this.  Don’t get me wrong…I loved being around my child, but he was still in a place where he couldn’t do much for himself.  I spent lots of time marveling at how fast he was learning things and how cute he was, but he wasn’t exactly great company.  Now, he makes me laugh all of the time, we have actual conversations, make up games, and get completely crazy together.  He is more than I ever imagined…

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Amidst all of this fun, I am also trying to complete some final paperwork for his Fall preschool entrance.  Some of which includes not only driving all the way to his Ped’s office to get some forms filled out, but also bringing it to a notary public.  Seriously!?  Do that many folks lie about the health of their child and the immunization record?  I mean really.  I called them because Cooper’s Pediatrician first gave me a printout directly from his files and said that should be good enough, but no.  They need him to fill something out, sign it, and then have me sign it in front of a notary public.  Good Lord people.  So, I’ll be running more needless errands next week…but I won’t complain too much because it’s the program we really wanted for him, so a few hoops will be alright I suppose.

Lastly, I’ve also been taking bids on the removal of a huge spruce tree that sits right off of the front of our house.  All I’ve got to say about that is:

A.  I can’t wait for it to be gone

B.  Tree people are insane

C.  D.Jones shows a preference for tree guys who have tats of playing cards on their throats 

D.  I can’t wait for that damn thing to be gone, so it’s all worth it

It’s been a crazy ride meeting with these guys and choosing one.  Boy oh boy are they interesting people.  Whoa.

Tonight Papa Jones is coming to visit and bringing with him a gift for Cooper, which is a yard-sized digger.  I mean, it’s crazy big.   I won’t be around much for the visit though because tonight I am attending my niece’s birthday party downtown with my parents, tomorrow I have a full day of training at the Bridge for Youth, and Sunday I need to write my first paper for class. 

If someone could please just press ‘pause’ for me once in a while so I can spend a few fun, sunshiney moments with my boys, I’d appreciate it….

When Impromptu Lessons Go Wrong

Cooper and I have been spending our last week or two working on a couple of new things.  One is coins.  Since he is known to make off with any loose change in the house, I decided at least we could learn something while he’s at it, and I don’t mean how to be a sneakier thief.  I try to track him down in the act, and as he feeds the “found” change into his piggy bank, we discuss the size of the coins and what they are called.  He’s gotten quite good at it.  Clearly money is a subject that holds his attention.  Once again…very much like his father.

The other thing we’ve been working on is left and right.  When we are driving or walking or riding in the stroller, I try to have him tell me if we need to take a right or a left and also incorporate it into when he’s putting his shoes on, putting his hands in his sleeves, etc.  Like every thing else I’ve learned over the past couple of years with him, it’s ridiculous amounts of repetition that get it to stick, so I feel sort of annoying, but he’s getting it and as always, it’s so exciting to see him grasp new concepts and run with them.

In a lapse of reason, I thought that we would “show off” his new skills on video yesterday, but decided that coming home from the zoo was a good time to do it.  Pffft.  Surely you’d think I’d know better after mothering this child for three years, but I’m a slower learner than my child.

So, rather than showing off his newly acquired knowledge, I got squirrely boy.  Crazy kid…  

Back in the Saddle Again…

Or classroom, I guess. 

Last night was my first night of class toward my Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.  Yesterday morning the nerves started.  Was I going to be older and more out of touch than the other grad students?  Would I get lost going to class and walk in late and embarassed?  Would I bring only one pen to class, just to find out that it’s out of ink?  Seriously.  I thought that, and it prompted a very last minute stop at a corner store to buy an additional pen on the way.

Turns out some of my fears were not just silly scenarios.  I left early, got to the campus in an appropriate amount of time, and hoofed it to class.  I knew the campus was quite “urban”, and by urban I mean, you take your life in your hands walking on those streets, so I was happy to see campus security guards with walkies on just about every corner.  I walked past one right after I parked, and he was a hulking, huge man who made me think he may have been one of those boxing coaches for inner city boys at one time.  Or have kicked someone’s ass in an alley last night.  Something like that.  But as I walked past him and smiled he smiled a broad friendly smile back.  Yep.  I’d want him on my side if there were ever any issue.

I ran into the first building and checked one of the class locator signs on the wall.  Crappola!  Wrong building, wrong block.  Shiiiit!  I turned around and speed walked back toward my car, thinking it would be faster than jogging down three blocks and looking like I was being mugged.  Or really getting mugged.  As I speed walked past Mr. Security, this time his smile broadened further and  with a little chuckle he said ‘wrong building, huh?”  I said “yeah, and now I’m going to be late!”  He waved an index finger at me and said “not to worry, girl…it’s okay on the first day.”   Something about the brief interaction actually lessened my stress considerably and I smiled all the way to the Jeep.

I got to the right building and of course, walked into the classroom late and was the last one.  I hate that.  I’m always the nerd who is way early for class and is sitting in front reading the text as people arrive.  Ugh.  Oh well.  Like the street corner counselor offered “it’s okay on the first day.”

As I sat and listened to the first lecture I’ve heard in a long time, I remembered how much I love being in the classroom.  I seriously just take it all in like a sponge.  I love the experience of it.  I love learning.  I love taking notes.  I love being a student.  Well, for the most part.  I don’t love APA format or typing papers, and, though this is weird for someone who made her living speaking in front of groups, I hate those first day introductions that some instructors in small classrooms insist on doing.  And this one was the worst!

As part of our introductions we were to offer an example of recent text we’ve read on Personality Theory and/or a theorist we enjoy or don’t enjoy and why.  Oh boy.  Seriously!?  The only “text” I’ve read in recent years includes singsong rhymes like “hop, hop, hop on pop”, not behaviorism and existentialism.  Yikes.  I was horrified.  My palms were sweaty as the first few folks took their turns.  One, a woman who already holds a doctorate in theology and offered no less than six examples, also citing author’s names.  Great.  What the!?  When it came to my turn, I introduced myself, offered the other information requested of me, and skipped that part.  Oh, that was smooth, right?  When the professor asked if I had anything else, I responded honestly and said “for the past three years, my authors have been quite limited and include folks not like Dr. Freud, more like Dr. Seuss.  I have a three year old.”  It got some chuckles from the class and thankfully, about five more people after me admitted they were in the same or similar boat.  I also noticed that about ten people just said they couldn’t think of anyone off the cuff.  Whew!  At least I wasn’t totally alone.

All in all, I am just plain excited to be in school, but this was only day 1 and I have some big assignments coming up.  I’m scared about juggling it all, but being in there and listening to this Doctor share his knowledge with me and feeling my mind unfold to new ideas and thought processes truly feeds my soul.  I am excited for what is to come, though I admit, I could feel the difference between my undergrad Psych classes and the Master’s level lecture.  Whoa.  There were times during my note taking that I held my pen poised as I replayed his last sentence over and over in my mind trying to break it down and comprehend it.  It is more difficult to be sure, but that is how we learn, right?  It scares me, yet leaves me longing for more, and just the thought of sitting down in a group and having a debate about whether Freud was correct in thinking that the first 5 years forms all personality, or Ericskson was correct when he thought that each life stage included traumas that continued to form personality makes me giddy….and nerdy, right?

And the Wind Comes Whipping Down the Plains…

While D.Jones and I were out on the town on Thursday night, we picked up a flier from one of our favorite restaurants, that described an art fair, plant sale, “green” celebration and farm animals…all in one place.  We thought it would be the perfect thing to do with Coops over the weekend and penciled it in for Saturday.

Saturday morning came around, though, and it felt more like Fall in Minneapolis than Spring.  It was crazy cold, hoving around the mid 40’s and the wind was screaming.  We discussed throwing in the towel on the trip to this farm but then decided we were more hardy than that wimpiness!  We threw on some sweatshirts and jackets, grabbed a blanket in case we decided to have a picnic and hit the road.

It was about a half hour drive out to this place, which is a privately owned farm.  On a nicer day, this place would be a little slice of heaven on earth.  Breathtaking gardens and flowers, with winding paths through it all, following the bends of a creek.  It was like something out of a movie.  I was in awe.  Well, what I could see of it through my stinging tears from the driving 50 degree gales.  In fact, I really wanted some good pictures, but I didn’t want to take my hands out of my pockets to get my stinkin’ camera out.  Seriously.  It was c-o-l-d out there, even for us “hardy” Minnesotans!  I managed a couple, though.  One shot of one of the gardens, and then Cooper Jones making friends with some chickens and baby goats….which, by the way, are just about the cutest animals on earth.

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Of course, this was Cooper’s favorite part.  Throughout the farm, as we wandered past artists displaying their work, and food vendors selling locally grown and or produced goods, we found some old tractors from varous eras…..

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And my favorite part….  I smelled these beauties about a mile away.  Cinnamon and sugar almonds roasting away just waiting for our approach.  Is there anything better on a freezing walk through gardens?  Yum.  They tasted almost as good as they smelled. 

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They also had a bluegrass band playing that we were excited to check out.  Until we stood out on that farm in the whipping winds.   Then they were seriously less interesting.  The funniest part is that we drove slightly over half an hour each way to get to the place, and we lasted barely that long at the farm. 

Our total trip involved freezing fingers, one entire pack of travel kleenex, one $6 bag of roasted cinnamon almonds, the petting of 2 baby goats, saying hello to various chickens, waving at a pony, posing by 2 John Deere tractors, and marveling at the beauty of where these people live during one very quick walk back to the car.

Anniversary Celebrations (and Libations)

Our actual anniversary was Thursday.  On Tuesday I came down with a really bad cold, so D.Jones and I had discussed putting any real anniversary celebrations on hold until the weekend and just perhaps going out for dinner with Cooper if I felt up to it.

Thursday morning my mom called to ask if I wanted her to take Coops off my hands for a little while, and I decided I was going to try to buck up and get out and get some fresh air instead of moping around the house for another day.  She said she’d come along and we hoofed it off for about an hour and a half walk in search of a neighborhood bakery that someone suggested I try.

I did seem to feel better, and since my parents had extended a prior offer to babysit for our anniversary, I asked if I could still take them up on it and actually surprise D.Jones with a night out.  They agreed, so it was decided.  My mom would run home to pick up my dad and they would return in time for me to meet Doug out.  I called Doug and told him that Cooper and I were running errands and would just meet him at a local restaurant we frequent.

I arrived at the restaurant solo to which Doug said “where’s Cooper?”  I told him “Well, he’s still sleeping so I thought I’d just take off for a little while”…  I explained that my parents were with him and we could go out for dinner or whatever and we enjoyed a glass of wine at the bar while we tried to decide what to do with our free time.

D.Jones immediately mentioned “let’s do something different.  Honestly, I’m tired of pretentious, spendy restaurants…let’s do something else.”  For some reason, the first thing that came to my mind was to go back to one of the places where we went on our first dates.  I mean, it was our anniversary afterall…why not go back to our roots?

Turns out, going back to our roots can be a painful trip down memory lane…and not due to the memories.

We started out at a place that was “ours” for a number of years.  Leaning Tower of Pizza is a sort of divey pizza place-slash-bar that was a block from our first apartment together.  We first went there on our second date, where we spent time at the end of the bar chatting for hours and getting to know each other better.  It was on that date that we first tried their margarita on the rocks and decided we were both big fans.  On later trips, we would walk over with a group of our neighbors that we used to hang out with, where we would push a bunch of round tables together in the back, clearly claiming our space, and we would spend hours there with friendly faces coming and going.  Later, I would get a job working a late shift at the Minneapolis Police Department, and after I returned home on most nights, D.Jones and I would walk over to Leaning Tower and share a basket of fries (ordered extra crispy) and 2 margaritas on the rocks…the dinner of champions.  And poor college students.

We began our trip down memory lane at exactly the right spot on Thursday night where we raised our glasses for our first toast…remembering times from 10 years ago or so.  Good old Leaning Tower welcomed us like an old friend, and the margaritas flowed as easily as they once had.  The bartender was even the same!  We also shared an order of fries, though they no longer tasted like the gourmet treat they once were.  I fondly remembered the hours spent at the black and sparkly bar, sitting under the very interesting fresco above my head where there appears to be a Greek or Roman god slinging pizza by the slice? 

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Next we bid a fond farewell to Leaning Tower and wandered down the street to the site of the diviest bar in our old ‘hood…and also the site of our very first real “date”…the C.C. Club.   The C.C. is known for attracting the local music crowd, as well as visiting celebrities who are into a less…um…upscale environment (read; clean).   On the same corner since 1935, you could regularly see members of Soul Asylum hanging at the C.C., and the Replacements.  You also find folks like our friend on Thursday….a drunk dude sipping on pitcher after pitcher by himself at the bar and having a very animated discussion with no one.  Gotta love the C.C.  The first time D.Jones called me up to ask me to do something, it was kind of last minute and he said, do you want to just meet halfway (he lived a few blocks from me) and we’ll walk over to the C.C. together?  An interesting start to a relationship, no?  Anyway, we shared a tiny little red vinyl half-circle booth, and a pint or two, as we discussed what had led us both to our apartments in Uptown, etc.  I thought he was so handsome, even through the smoky haze of the good old C.C., and no one had ever taken me to a dive bar on a first date.    This time, though, we reminisced about times spent with friends there, and my first time meeting Doug’s cousin Mike.  It was at one of the same vinyl booths and as I started to slide in beside him, he announced that he was on a water strike and that I might not want to sit too close.  Ahh yes…the memories of our youth and the times spent at the C.C.  Always interesting.

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Next we discussed heading across the street to the spot that used to be a vegetarian restaurant we’d walk to, called the Mud Pie.  It’s no longer there, though, and has been replaced by a bar which is not the same at all, so we skipped that part and instead stopped into one of our favorite new restaurants to grab a bite to eat.  Since I frequently sing the praises of Common Roots, I’ll skip that part of our evening, other than to say, turns out we should have eaten more than an order of nachos, and move right to our walk back up Lyndale to a corner store that D.Jones and I would walk to all the time.  D.Jones found his first favorite energy drink there, called XTZ Tea and he was obsessed with the stuff.  He really wanted to swing in for old times sake and see if they still sold it, so we strolled over.  The place used to be called Circus in the City and was painted with freakish circus-like murals.  It’s now called the Loon grocery, but I still found evidence of our old place…still freaky.  And I’m wondering who actually enjoys a gyro or worse…a shrimp basket there!?  

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We decided we had toured enough of the old neighborhood and better start heading for home, when we remembered a house that we were interested in that was only a few blocks away, and then only a few more blocks to home, so we headed for the house to check it out.  Afterwards, we were so close to our of our current neighborhood spots that we couldn’t help but just stop in for one glass of wine before home, so Gigi’s it was…  We sat outside and shared our final nightcap while we laughed at how our discussions at our prior stops had changed over the years from what band we were going to go see or what party to attend, and instead we had spent our time discussing child-rearing and Cooper Jones.  We realized that we still love spending time together, and we still make each other laugh as much as we once did, but we are more than happy with the way things are now, as opposed to then.  Other things change too, like how we used to pop right up at the break of dawn, grab a Snapple Iced tea and be back to 100% by 9 a.m. after a night like we’d just had.  Um.  Not so much for both of us on Friday.  The recovery time takes much longer and is much more painful while entertaining a 3 year old.  Ah well…  It was fun while it lasted, and we also owe a huge “thank you” to my parents for providing us with the alone-time, and also for listening to our nonsensical conversation upon our return.  I did mention we should have eaten more than just nachos, right? 

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Let the Games Begin

Cooper has begun a new “thing” where, after we put him to bed for either nap or bedtime, he simply gets back out of bed and starts playing with his cars and trucks on the floor.  He tries to be very quiet, but, you know..he’s three.  He’s not quiet at all.

The first few times, I walked down the hall and opened the door and there he sat, so I simply ushered him back into his bed, reprimanded him for not going to bed as I told him to, and then left again.

One weekend night, Doug returned to his room after we heard a crash, to find him again sitting on the floor playing, but that time, he tried to sound annoyed with Doug for busting him.  D.Jones ushered him back to bed.

Now the sneaky little bedtime avoider has gotten smarter.  He listens for our approach on the hardwood floors in the hallway and then lunges for his bed, which then makes a noise as it bumps the wall, and plus, he’s never under the actual covers.  Busted, my boy!

In response, last Friday night, D.Jones mastered this crazy duck-walk that avoids all the noisy floor boards, and allowed him to bust the boy in action again…this time, with me laughing up a storm (quietly) in the living room.  Funny how we find things to amuse ourselves on a Friday night, no?

Now I think we are winning, as the boy’s resolve is faultering.  When he used to fling himself across the room to try to hit the bed before I opened the door, he would immediately deny doing anything.  With his best serious face, he would assure me “I didn’t do nothing, Mommy” but today was different.  I see a turning point here and I think D.Jones and I will be victorious soon.  Today, I made my usual noisy approach.  After witnessing Doug’s duck-walk, I just can’t bring myself to do it…not even when no one else is home.  So, I made my approach, I hear the lunge and the bed hit the wall.  I open the door.  There he lays with eyes closed, one leg hanging off the bed and no covers on.

I say “Cooper, you are not supposed to be playing when it’s nap time.”  He responds first with the usual denial.  “I didn’t do nothing Mommy.  Nothing.”  I take the opportunity to correct him, of course, with a “You didn’t do anything, baby…we say anything….but I know you did.  I heard you jump for the bed.”

He looks me up and down for a minute, gauging if I can easily be swayed.  He must have determined I could not because this time he chose the honest route.  “Oh.  (long pause)  Okay Mommy.  But I won’t do it again.  Promise.”

I think we are making a very strange form of progress here…  D.Jones and I will wave our victory flag soon.  Mark my words.  And Doug’s duck-walk.

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