Whirlwind Days

It has been a few days since I’ve written in here, so I want to remedy that.  We try to do something every day, even if it is as simple as go to the grocery store or to Walmart.  The pictures above show an iteration of: being awake but not wanting a picture, dressed to go to Walmart (we needed formula — FYI, if you’re child can tolerate regular milk based formula, we’ve found the Walmart brand to be the best value, well, until BJ’s has a coupon for theirs, then it is the best value), chewing on my RedBull at Walmart (apparently it’s a good teething ring — hello molars!), playing in the kitchen, dressed for the beach, at the beach, a bath after the beach, then dressed to go to the MOCA for the evening.

When Joya woke up the other day, she did not want her picture taken.  The picture with her sitting in front of the baby gate is probably picture 75 out of a series of 200 trying to get a picture (yes, I exaggerate, it’s called hyperbole).  She finally sat there and I got one good picture.  One.  I finally got her dressed so we could go to Walmart to get more formula.  I was looking for something that looked nice to dress her in and when I found the red shirt with ruffles I couldn’t resist.  When I put it on her, I have to say that she looks very good in red!  I’ll have to dress her in it more.  We got out the door, went to Walmart and ended up wandering around the aisles aimlessly vice just picking up formula.  We left with a bag of Halos, formula, a bottle of wine to cook the beef spare ribs in, a RedBull and a bag of Reese’s Minis.  As you can see in the picture, the cold RedBull can obviously makes a good teething ring.  She was chewing on it and drooling all over it and the front of her shirt while I was getting a movie from Redbox (Storks — if you haven’t seen it, it’s a funny movie).  When we got to the car, I took the RedBull can away from her so I could put her in the carseat and she went batsh*t crazy.  Literally.  She screamed at the top of her lungs as though she were being physically abused.  Several people in the parking lot turned around and stared at me.  And she kept screaming the entire time I was putting her in the carseat. I handed her the RedBull as soon as I got her in the carseat.  She stopped crying and screaming but I had to fight her to get her buckled in around the can.  Suffice it to say that I was NOT a happy camper.  I’m just glad no one called child services on me the way she screamed.  I’m willing to bet they were all mothers and they were secretly laughing on the inside that daddy was receiving the brunt of child insanity vice mommy.  Regardless, I’m just glad we made it home in one piece (by one piece I mean with my sanity intact).  When we got home, I was chopping carrots and onions to make short ribs for dinner (beef back ribs, dredged lightly in seasoned flour, seared until brown on all sides, then remove from the pot, add carrots and onions, cook until lightly browned, add a bottle of red wine, some chicken stock, a can of whole plum tomatoes, put the ribs back in, bring to a boil, put a lid on it and put it in a 400F oven for 1 hr; reduce to 350F cook for another hour).  As I was getting stuff ready, she pulled every skillet out of the cupboard and was playing with them.  I couldn’t get a picture of it but she put her green and yellow sippy cup in one of the skillets and was moving it back and forth as though she were sautéing it.  It was the cutest thing to see, even better knowing that she’s been watching me cook and that is how she picked it up.  It was a short lived pleasure, though, because once she realized I was doing stuff on the stove, I had to hold her so she could see what I was doing.  When I needed two hands, I tried to put her down, to no avail.  I was trying to have dinner ready by 1800, but with holding Joya and only having one hand, dinner wasn’t ready until 1900.  It’s a small price to pay dinnerwise, but daddy sure needed a glass of wine after he finally got dinner in the oven!  After I got dinner in the oven, she did redeem herself by helping me load the dishwasher.  Though ‘help’ in this context is a stretch of the word — I think I put the same spatula in the dishwasher five times.  These are all the things I’ll look back on one day and laugh.  One day.  I do love you, Joya; and when you’re old enough to read this you will understand.  In the end, the spare ribs were really good (we had mashed potatoes with them — and Joya fingerpainted the tray of her high chair with them).

Yesterday I woke up and was trying to decide where we were going to go for the day.  I had originally thought about going to the library for story time and then to the beach.  I remembered that we were going to the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) for a talk on the Hans Hoffman exhibit and that I needed a haircut, so I decided we would go to Mayport, get a haircut, eat lunch with mommy and then go to the beach.  The haircut went well, lunch went well, and then we went to the beach.

Conni told me before we left that it was windy at Mayport so bring jackets.  When we got to the beach I was thinking she was out of her mind, it should be warm enough.  Then I opened the car door and stepped out.  Yep, I put my jacket on and put Joya’s jacket on her.  I carried her to the boardwalk to cross the dunes to the beach, then let her walk across the boardwalk.  She was very, very, very, very slow going up the incline.  Once she reached the level area, she took off and I had to run after her.  She stopped a couple of times, stuck her head under the rail and I had to caution her that it was a long way down to the dune.  She pulled her head back out, looked at me, smiled, giggle, then took off running again.  When she reached the stairs on the beach side she stopped, pointed at the beach and then reached up for me.  Obviously I was supposed to carry her down the stairs.  At the bottom, she didn’t know what to make of the sand at first.  She has been to the beach before, but we usually carry her to the hard pack sand.  This time I set her down in the soft sand and it took her a couple of minutes to realize that her feet would sink into it as she walked.  It didn’t stop her from going, especially when a very large seagull plonked down on the sand beside her.  I think I bolted towards the seagull before my brain could even process and spit out the words,”you better get away from her you little bastard!”  He jumped and started flying, Joya laughed and took off after him.  And that was pretty much the rest of our time on the beach: Joya chasing every seagull she saw.  She chased them all the way down to the water.  I told her to watch out for the water from the crashing waves.  Several times she saw it and ran away from it.  Then she got so focused on chasing the seagulls she forgot the water was crashing in.  A few times I picked her up and saved her from the water, but decided she needed to learn the hard way.  She ran after the seagulls, a whole flock of them, and they took off in a pattern similar to the waves crashing on the beach.  Then the wave crashed on the beach and washed up over Joya’s feet, soaking through her shoes and her socks.  That made for a very unhappy baby for a few seconds.  Until she saw the seagulls again and took off after them, wet shoes and all.  She discovered a sand dollar on that run for the seagulls.  I tucked it into my jacket and kept it as she kept running after the seagulls.  After I don’t know how many failed attempts to catch a seagull, she tripped over some ripples in the sand and landed on her but in wet sand.  That was the straw that broke the camels back for her.  I guess she could handle the wet feet, but wet sand on her hands and pants?! No way! We headed back towards the car.  She walked part of the way then demanded I pick her up and carry her.  I guess she was not having the wet pants.  When we got back to the car, I changed her diaper, gave her a bottle and then we went home.

Joya fell asleep on the way home.  I put her in her crib and got ready to take a shower to wash all the hair from my haircut off.  I was walking into the bathroom with my towel as she screamed.  I got redressed then grabbed her from her crib.  I decided if I couldn’t get a shower, at least she could get a bath.  She needed one after plopping down in the wet sand at the beach — and it would hurt for her to be clean for the event at the MOCA.  In case I haven’t said it in here yet, Joya LOVES baths.  I mean LOVES them.  If I’m washing a bottle in the sink or rinsing out a bowl or anything that turns water on in the sink she thinks she is getting a bath and gets all excited — and then disappointed when I turn of the water and she doesn’t go into it.  Her baths usually last about 30-45 minutes.  I bathe her in the sink because I manage to get less drenched than I do when she’s in the tub.  As she gets older we’ll shift to the tub, but for now the sink works just fine.  Besides, she has these little bath toys shaped like a whale, dolphin, star and crab that she likes to throw across the kitchen counter and send me scrambling after.  Her favorite toy in the bath, by far, is the 1/4 cup measuring cup.  I left it sitting on the counter one day while she was in the bath and she grabbed it.  Now, no bath is complete without the measuring cup.  It serves multiple purposes, though.  She has a toy to play with and I have a cup to pour water over her head.  Both of us win!

I dressed her after her bath and got her all ready to go to the MOCA.  We ate dinner at the Nola Cafe in the MOCA, then went to the talk on Hans Hoffman.  It was a fascinating talk that I got to listen to after Joya decided she didn’t want to sit still and mommy took her to the play area on the fifth floor.  After the talk, we walked through the exhibit again, then went home.

It has been an interesting couple of days, to say the least.  Today is going to be a trip to the grocery store and then tonight to Sublime Original Gallery’s Debut of “Abstraction”the inspired work of acclaimed artists:  Fran O’Neill | Susan McAlister | Rae Broyles | Page Davis.  We’re going specifically to meet Fran O’Neill and see more of her work.

Anne Frank: A History for Today

We finally managed to get to the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) to see the Anne Frank exhibit called, “Anne Frank: A History for Today“.  I didn’t take pictures at the exhibit, other than the picture and it’s placard you see above, because I didn’t feel it was right to take pictures.  That and with all the people there, Joya didn’t want to walk, so I had to carry her around the entire exhibit.  The picture I did take was not in the Anne Frank exhibit proper, it was another exhibit of Holocaust art from a family that survived.

Sadly, I have to admit that the Holocaust art exhibit was much better than the actual Anne Frank exhibit.  Probably because I was expecting something much different, and also because it was more participatory than I had expected.  The exhibit was a timeline of the rise of Naziism in Germany and Anne Frank’s life, where they overlapped and how and on to her eventual arrest and interment in a concentration camp.  Essentially it was large placards that had this timeline drawn on them with docents to explain.  Perhaps I would’ve liked it more had I actually talked to the docents at each placard.  Joya didn’t seem too thrilled about that, though, she was being anti-social today.  I don’t think she would have let me stand there and talk to them.  I was already getting tired because she insisted that I carry her throughout the exhibit (the anti-socialism).  The timeline was a very good timeline though it didn’t cover as much detail as I would have liked.  The only artifact was a reproduction of some pages of Anne Frank’s diary.  The highlight was a movie they were showing in the exhibit.  I briefly considered sitting and watching it but it was completely packed with a school group and Joya didn’t seem to keen on sitting in one spot for any period of time.  I think I would’ve like it better had we watched the video and talked to the docents.  Perhaps we’ll go back another day and hope for fewer people — but we have to before it closes on February 12.  I think this exhibit would be something great for Joya when she gets older and can understand the ideas and concepts behind the exhibit a little better.

The Holocaust art exhibit was fascinating and remarkable.  I walked through it twice — and could probably walk through it a few more times.  To me, art seems to encapsulate the emotion — raw and untainted — of what it is trying to represent.  The artists in this exhibit did an absolutely amazing job.  So amazing that the art evoked the same feelings I experienced when I toured Dachau while in Germany.  I hope the art moves and other people get to experience it, too.  I do plan to take Joya to Germany when she’s older and we will definitely tour Dachau.  I’d like to get to Auschwitz, but I don’t know if I could handle that much of an assault on my emotions, let alone how Joya would do.  We’ll see after Dachau.

MOSH is located near Friendship Fountain in downtown Jax, so we went for a walk around the fountain while we were out.  I let Joya run around on her own and she almost took out a couple that was walking around the fountain when she almost instantaneously veered in front of them.  I apologized profusely and they said don’t worry about it.  I still felt bad about it.

I took several pictures of Joya as she ran around the fountain.  No matter how hard I tried, she wouldn’t look at me so I couldn’t get her face in the pictures.  At one point there were a flock of seagulls that grabbed her attention.  No matter how hard I tried, she just kept watching them and tried to run off after them.  And she tried to run off after a group of school kids who were in the park around the fountain after their tour of the MOSH.  I finally corralled her and headed back to the car and home.

Timucuan Preserve

Joya woke up at 0645 this morning and woke me up, too.  I grabbed her out of her crib and made her a bottle and a cup of coffee for me.  While we were having our respective morning drinks, I turned on EWTN to see what was on.  It was the Chaplet of Saint Michael.  We listened to the prayers as we finished our drinks, then Joya jumped down and started running around the house.  The Chaplet went off and a commercial came on of all the different hosts on EWTN saying “thank you” for contributing to keeping them on the air.  We taught Joya how to sign “thank you”.  Each time one of the hosts would say “thank you,” she would sign “thank you” back to them.  It was very heartening to see.

It was beautiful outside so we had to get out of the house.  You have to take advantage of the weather before it gets unbearably hot.  I wanted to go to a park with enough room for Joya to run around to her hearts content.  We had taken her to Timucuan Preserve before, when she was two weeks old, so I thought it would be a great place to go back to.  There are a couple of trails and Fort Caroline is there.

We started out at the Ribault Monument.  Joya attempted to walk up the stairs, but there were far too many of them — well, she could’ve done it I just didn’t want to wait the hour it would’ve taken.  Instead we walked over to the wheelchair ramp and she walked all the way up to the monument.  There were a couple of people already at the monument and Joya ducked around a tree first, peeking around it at them.  When the saw her and said “hi”, she shrieked and ran out from behind the tree to the monument.  I did the best I could to get pictures of her on the monument, but she didn’t want to look at the camera.  We left the monument and went to the preserve and walked down to the Fort.  Joya didn’t want to walk down the trail to the Fort, so I had to carry her.  Once in the Fort, she got down and ran around — I mean ran around.  There was a guy there walking his dog and she kept pointing at the dog and ran over towards her.  I told her to be careful and the guy told me that his dog was friendly.  I held out my hand, the dog sniffed my hand and I scritched her ears.  Joya got close to the dog, but wouldn’t touch her.  She just kept pointing and smiling, but never pet her.  When the dog left, Joya took off and climbed up the stairs to the rampart.  I managed to get a couple of pictures of her on the stairs and sitting on a rampart.  Joya kept trying to walk down the hill, but I held her back so she wouldn’t go tumbling down (if you look at the pictures of the Fort on its website, you’ll understand).  When we left, she walked about halfway back up the trail then I had to carry her the rest of the way.

When we got home, she ran around, drank two sippie cups of water, and climbed up on my lap like she was trying to get something off the back of the couch.  She lay her head on my shoulder and within two minutes she was asleep.  I put her in her crib and she slept for over three hours.

I had originally planned to grill a steak for Conni and a salmon steak for me and make some green beans.  Sitting here waiting on Conni to get home and Joya to wake up, I decided I didn’t want to cook.  When Conni got home, I proposed that we go to Whataburger for dinner.  Conni was more than happy to take me up on that.  Unfortunately, Joya was still asleep and we eventually had to wake her up at about 6:30pm to go to dinner.  Joya ate french fries and part of my cheeseburger.  We order her some chicken bites, but she didn’t like them as much as McDonalds’ Chicken McNuggets.  We finally got her to drink some of her milk, but she was ready for a bottle when we got back to the car.

We stopped by Publix on the way home to pick up some milk and halos.  The bakery gives kids cookies and Joya got a sugar cookie.  When the bakery worker handed her the cookie, Joya leaned down and looked through the bakery case at her.  They played peekaboo that way for several minutes with Joya laughing the whole time.When I gave her a bite of her cookie, she was done with the game.  It didn’t take her long to eat the cookie (if only she would eat regular food with that same gusto).  When we went through check out, the cashier, Brandon, got her a pink helium balloon and tied it to her wrist.  She started screaming and crying and Brandon felt awful.  I hit the balloon and it hit her face and she let out a scream of happiness that everyone in the store heard.  She was in high heaven playing with the balloon, and Brandon was relieved that he didn’t make her keep crying.

Joya loves baths, would take one twice a day if we would let her.  I promised her a bath today after we went to the park.  She went to sleep so I couldn’t give her a bath, so when we got back from dinner and Publix, I gave her a bath.  She played in the bath for about half an hour before she got out and got dressed for bed.

Today ended up being a great day.  It was beautiful outside and Joya loved playing at the Fort.  She loved the trip to Whataburger and she always likes going to the store (all of the cashiers know her).  We are going to the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) tomorrow to see the exhibit on Anne Frank.  We’re looking forward to The Next Great Adventure!

A Thursday with Joya

I thought I’d talk about a typical day with Joya.  We had to wait on the Terminix guy to come and do an inspection because they thought they saw some type of rodent activity when they came for the regular quarterly bug treatment.  So, we stayed home and did home stuff.

Our typical morning involves watching the morning Mass at Our Lady of Angels Monastery on EWTN.  The first five pictures are from watching the morning Mass.  “Cheesy Poofs!” I’m sure that’s what she’d be saying if she were talking.  Yeah, they aren’t really cheesy poofs, per se, they are Gerber cheddar puffs for toddlers.  She loves them and I’ll admit that they are pretty good.  They’re whole grain, so no complaints there — even though typically I do complain about whole grain stuff.  Brown rice — yuck.  Whole wheat pasta — yuck.  It’s too chewy and doesn’t taste like pasta or rice.  But these puffs are actually pretty good.  I probably eat one for every five Joya eats.  After eating her cheesy poofs, she grabbed one of her toys and stood in front of the TV and danced to the organ music from the Mass.  I think we’re going to have to talk about that as she gets older — it might be frowned upon if she goes dancing down the aisle of Church during Mass.  Not to mention I’m pretty sure dancing during the Mass is illicit.

Joya was taken with the Terminix guy.  He started his inspection outside, so Joya and I had lunch first — couscous and chicken.  The last picture is Joya having spread the couscous all over her tray.  I’m not sure how much she ate, how much ended up in the floor and how much went down the drain when I washed off her tray.  It doesn’t matter so long as she ate something.  She typically eats a little bit of whatever is put in front of her, and really likes spaghetti (thank God, so do I!), she really liked the quiche we had yesterday (again, thank God! I love quiche and pesto), and, sadly (not because it’s necessarily bad but because my waistline won’t like it) she loves chicken McNuggets from McDonalds.  Yep, chicken McNuggets.  She devours them.  I like them, too.  But my cholesterol and my waist don’t.  But I’m still going to eat them, especially if Joya does.  Damn the luck, she does.  I’m going to get fat. Oh, well, it’s worth it so long as she eats.  That notwithstanding, I was doing laundry while lunch was cooking and I went out to the laundry room and Joya stepped out with me just as the Terminix guy walked through the gate of the fence in coveralls, a respirator and was putting on gloves getting ready to go under the house.  Joya stopped and stared.  I tried to explain respirators to her, and the PPE (personal protective equipment) but she didn’t care.  It was something new and fascinating to her so she just stared.  And stared.  And stared.  I had to pick her up and put her back in the door to get her in the house for lunch.  Then we had the couscous explosion.  But that’s a different story (or at least a story that is waiting until tomorrow when the couscous is sufficiently dried out so I can sweep it up).

Shortly after we finished lunch, the Terminix guy came in to inspect the attic.  I was folding laundry — a task that normally involves folding two items, chasing Joya down the hallway to get them back, folding them again then chasing Joya down the hallway to get the four other pieces of laundry she pulled out of the laundry basket back.  Suffice it to say, folding laundry is definitely one step forward, five steps back with Joya.  However, with the Terminix guy here, her infatuation with him actually worked in my favor for folding laundry.  We normally have the above described fight when folding laundry but today, with the Terminix guy inspecting the house and going up into the attic, she spend the entire time watching him.  She watched him bring in his ladder, climb in one access port, then the other access port, then kept staring.  I managed to get all of the laundry folded while she watched the Terminix guy do his inspection.  It was refreshing to not spend over an hour folding laundry.  I’m sure the Terminix guy didn’t understand why I was so happy, but I’m sure, had he been in my shoes, he would’ve felt the same way.

Joya refused to take a nap while the Terminix guy was here, she was too busy trying to figure out what he was doing.  But when he left, she wanted a bottle and promptly fell asleep.  After her nap, we went to Walmart.  I wish I had taken pictures, but the way she contorted herself in the cart had me laughing.  She was leaning against the side of the cart, had one leg up against the back of the cart, and the one that went out of the leg hole of the cart, the foot came in through the other leg hole.  I probably didn’t explain that effectively enough, but if you had seen it, you would laugh, too.

Dinner tonight consisted of pork chops and roasted acorn squash with butter and brown sugar. Joya chowed down on several pieces of pork chop, but she really wasn’t feeling the acorn squash.  Well, she felt it, she smeared it all over the tray of her high chair.  And threw part of it in the floor.  And some in her hair.  Thank God for wet wipes!

After dinner we went for a walk around the block.  I have taken Joya out for walks in the arboretum and in the Lake Kissimmee State Park and have had discussions about ensuring that she walks on the trail.  When we went for a walk tonight, as we walked along the sidewalk around the block, Joya kept straying off of the sidewalk into people’s lawns.  I referred to the sidewalk as the trail and reminded her that we have to walk on the trail, it is what protects nature.  Joya, for the most part, kept to the trail — sidewalk.  I hope that sense of understanding continues throughout her childhood and into her adult life. I don’t want to burden her with unnecessary rules and regulations, but I want her to understand that there are reasons for rules — and some of those reasons are admirable, but others, well, not quite so much.  I want her to understand that we have to have something we believe in and sometimes it means standing up for our moral beliefs.  I want to impart on her libertarian ideals, the very ideals that define what our founders — and what humanity — strive for as independent beings with free will.

All of that notwithstanding, this was a standard day with Joya.  I’m looking forward to many more just like it.

Cummer Museum and Gardens

It was a beautiful day in Jacksonville today so I decided we needed to get out of the house.  We are members of the Cummer Museum and Gardens so I thought that would be a great place for us to go and get out of the house.  They have beautiful gardens and sit right on the St. John River, and they have a very nice collection.  We did a quick tour through the exhibits — seems there were several elementary school classes there and we didn’t want to compete with them to see the art.  We spent out time in the gardens instead, and then had lunch at the Museum Cafe.

It was 58F when I woke up this morning.  Siri told me the high was going to be 74F with clear skies.  What better way to spend the day than in gardens?  The Cummer has three gardens (not counting the sculpture garden):  the English Garden, the Italian Garden, and the Olmstead Garden.

The English Garden was being worked on today.  It looked like they were repairing some sidewalks and planting some new plants.  We only took a cursory tour, though I explained to Joya that in a couple of months the Wisteria vines would bloom and I’d take her back to see the beautiful blow flowers that would be hanging from the terrace.

The Italian Garden, while very beautiful, isn’t very stroller friendly. You can see everything, but I couldn’t run the stroller around the plants and ponds, nor could I take Joya out and let her run free.

The Olmstead Garden is where we spent most of our time.  There is a very well laid out rose garden that has brick paths running through it and a sculpture of Mercury in the middle.  that opens up to another wide open area that is surrounded by plants and trees with a view of the St. Johns River.  I parked the stroller under a terrace, took Joya out and let her run around.  She wandered through the roses, mostly ignoring them.  She ran all the way down to the fence on the river and began playing with the fence and looking at the river.  She ran around the rose garden and into the wide open area where she took off!  She spent about twenty minutes running around through the grass.  She fell several times but, amazingly, didn’t ask me to clean her hands off.  The grass was still wet from the dew but she didn’t seem to mind.  We finally worked our way back around to the rose garden and I got a few pictures of her with a rose.  Which, I have to confess, she ended up destroying.  She tripped over a brick and tried to catch herself with the rose.  It didn’t survive.  I’m just glad she didn’t grab a thorn.

She got tired in the gardens, so we went back in to the museum hoping to see the exhibit.  We made another cursory run through the new exhibit, again, there were still so many school children there we didn’t feel like competing (ok, ok, I didn’t feel like competing).  I will say that the exhibit looked like something I want to spend more time in, so we will go back.


“Green eggs and ham” quiche, side salad and bacon — and kids cheddar puffs (thank you Gerber).

We left the exhibit and stopped at the Museum Cafe.  I decided we might as well eat while we were there.  Today’s quiche was green eggs and ham — a ham quiche with a layer of pesto in it — and today’s soup was eggplant with roasted garlic.  I almost went for the soup but decided Joya probably wouldn’t like it.  So I settled on the quiche and a side of bacon.  I didn’t know how Joya would respond to the quiche with pesto and was a bit worried I was going to have to feed her something else when we got home.  She took a bite and shortly demanded another. And another. And another.  She  had about seven or eight large bites of the quiche and she ate a bite of bacon.  Suffice it to say I didn’t have to feed her anything else for lunch when we got home.