Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sunset On The Mississippi

Last Friday night was magical. It was one of those blissful evenings where the light and temperature were just right and the moment too sweet to even think of wishing I were anywhere else. Despite a long week and a concerted effort to get Jon to leave the house again after work, we ventured to Mud Island to go watch the sun set over the Mississippi.




We set down a blanket and let Eli explore the sandy grass around us while we laid back to take it all in. Mac was excitedly bouncing about, chasing his ball and racing to and fro. Eli was squawking at Mac and pointing out the riverboats gliding by. The cottonwoods were letting down their tufts of downy seeds like snow and they were catching the golden evening light like fireflies.

Jon and I looked at each other and just knew that this was a moment we never wanted to forget. These are the times that we cherish. The times we can look back on in times of despair and remember just how rich our life is and how precious time together can be.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

SummerSummerSummer

It is currently 87, sunny, and humid in Memphis. We caved and turned on the air conditioning. It officially feels like summer.

Every year when the heat is still new and novel (not that oppressive, maddening heat of August), I get so excited and filled with a new vigor for life. I want to spend all my time outside and don't even mind that light sheen of sweat coating my arms and legs. The sunshine warms my soul and I can't get the smile off my face. Summer. The end of the school year (more time with Jon!) Longer days. Sunshine. The promise of watermelon, beach days, bare feet, and ice cream. Glorious summertime.



In celebration, I made these roasted strawberry and coconut popsicles today. When the chunky monkey wakes from his nap, I plan on going for a bike ride. Then grilling out for dinner. Probably while wearing sandals and letting the humidity curl my hair.

This time last year, I was superOMGwhoa pregnant. I was not feeling it. This year, it's a different story. I have a nearly one-year-old babe who loves playing in the water and crawling in the grass inspecting bugs. The past few nights, he's needed a bath because he's got dirt on his knees and sweaty curls on his head. Did I mention that he is almost one?!

The summery weather has inspired me to plan a nautical theme for his first birthday. Which falls on Memorial Day. I probably need to invest in a kiddie pool because it's going to be hot. But oh, I'm so excited for this little party! One perk of being a graphic designer is that I was able to make the invites myself. Woo! I can't wait.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Boston

Jon and I both have called many places home, but there is one city that claims our roots: Boston. Both of my parents and Jon's father grew up there, and we have spent countless holidays, summers, and vacations in or around the city. This is a large part of why Jon has been so eager and excited to finally have a shot at running the Boston Marathon. Not only is it a beautiful course, but it is the oldest and arguably most prestigious marathon course. After 7+ years of training, Jon was able to attain his life-goal of running the race last week on Patriot's Day.

The excitement for Jon and chance to celebrate with family brought Tobins and Johnsons together in an unprecedented way. We had a double family reunion! Jon, Eli, and I stayed in a house with Jon's dad and stepmom, Jon's brother and his wife, Jon's sister, and one of Jon's aunts. It was a full house! My family including my dad, mom, and sister stayed with family friends nearby.

Unfortunately, it was a rough time for poor Eli. Not only was he cutting his 4 top teeth during the trip, but also only got about two full-length naps in the whole time. We did our best to help him sleep and definitely broke out the pacifier a bunch (which is normally reserved for just nap and bedtime.) But the kid was a champ and was usually a happy little guy.

Here is the play-by-play of our adventures!

Wednesday:
After two grueling flights with a fussy babe, we arrived in Boston and picked up our rental car. It made some funny noises, but we went on to the house anyways to meet up with Jon's aunt and get a few borrowed items for Eli. When we arrived, a man who spoke zero English was there to greet us. He carried on a conversation to himself is what we presume was Chinese, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we had NO idea what he was saying. Eventually, the airbnb host arrived and sorted things out, but the house was not in the best shape. While it didn't seem off to the best start, we got in and began getting settled. Jon's aunt Barbara arrived soon after. We were able to catch up with her one-on-one and relax a little before venturing out for dinner.

After dinner, despite it being well past Eli's bedtime, we decided to take the car back to the airport and return it for a less broken car. We made the switch and began heading back to the house... then got an angry light at the first toll booth we went through. Ugh. We left the EZpass in the last car. Back to the airport we went. In our exhaustion, we missed the exit and had to circle around twice before finally getting our EZpass, returning to the rental house, and finally crawling into bed. Such a long, long day!

Thursday:
We woke up and took the morning at our leisure, got some breakfast and groceries, and relaxed. After Eli's first nap, we went to Jamaica Plains to visit with our dear friend, Lauren! Lauren and Matt are some of our closest friends and fellow MTR grads who moved from Memphis to Boston last summer. We have missed them dearly, so it was a real joy to see them again! When we arrived, Lauren showed us her place, took us for a yummy lunch, and then we went for a chilly walk around Jamaica Pond. It felt so wonderful to catch up face-to-face and see where she lives.



After Matt came home from work and Lauren left for class, Eli took a nap and Jon went with Matt to go visit 826 Boston. I was able to have some downtime and take a nap as well. Glorious! When Eli awoke, he had the sweetest playtime with the Bigger's dog, Grizz. Then we all shared dinner together before heading back for the night.



Friday:
Friday was a big day. We began with going to the race expo for Jon to get his race bib and other goodies. It was so cool to see all the different vendors and browse the gear. Jon started to get super excited and nervous about the impending race. SO CLOSE!

After the expo, we drove out to visit with my Grandpa. It was Elias's first time meeting his great-grandfather and I was ecstatic. Four generations in one room is a big accomplishment and one worth celebrating! I never got to meet any of my great-grandparents, so it was really special to share the moment. Elias seemed so genuinely interested in his great-grandpa and spent much time studying his face and hands. Both he and grandpa just kept smiling at one another.




My mom, dad, and sister all got to join us and have a grand reunion. It was also a very hard reunion, as it was the first time I had visited without Grandma being there. I so wish she could have met Eli. Some of my aunts and uncles also joined the fun and they all took a walk while Eli napped and I spent time catching up with my mom. Then, we went for some delicious Thai food afterwards.



Saturday:
The rest of Jon's family had arrived in the early morning hours so we all were able to wake up and enjoy a wonderful breakfast together! Then Jon and I took Eli on a short walk through Cambridge for lunch and visited Harvard. After Eli's nap, we then took a tour of Marblehead where Jon's dad grew up. We visited his childhood home and the field he used to play in nearby. We even ran into some old neighbors!




Then, Eli got to see the ocean for the first time. Oh, the ocean air did us so much good. I had almost forgotten how wonderful it is to smell the salt and watch the waves crash over and over. I didn't want to leave! It was incredibly refreshing, even though it was brief.



After Jon (briefly) lost the rental car keys and gave us all a good scare (!!!), we continued on to dinner with Jon's family to celebrate aunt Barbara's birthday! It was a delicious meal and Eli got to meet his second cousin, Max. Elias is finally at an age where he can interact and play with others, so watching him play with Max made me melt a thousand times over. Then, despite it being her birthday, aunt Barbara gifted Eli with a toy and the most beautiful crocheted blanked. After a long evening, we had to skip out a little before everyone else to get Eli to bed. By this point in the trip, he was getting pretty exhausted.



Sunday:
Sunday was yet another family-packed day. We had a large celebration at cousin Michael's house that lasted most all day long. My family joined as well, so it was decidedly the largest family reunion Jon and I have had to date. There was good food, lots of celebrating, a vintage bouncy-horse for Eli to play on, and the best ice cream cake I've ever had. Not to mention that it was the first time I've ever seen "Elias" written on a birthday cake. Tears, definitely tears.



As it was the night before the race, we went out for a big pasta dinner. Getting that many people in one restaurant, with kids, to get food and eat in a timely manner is pretty much impossible. We yet again had to leave early because poor Eli was loosing it. My sister came back with us and slept at the house so she could join me the next day. It was good to have a little more time with her.

Monday:
RACE DAY
Oh, to wake up that morning and feel the excitement! Jon had slept alone to avoid any possibility of a midnight wake-up call from Elias, and then left long before the rest of us awoke. We all loaded up, signs, cowbells, and all then drove out to Framingham. There were so many spectators and cheers! When Jon ran by, we all erupted in excitement for him. He was flying! 



From there, we went back to cousin Michael's house in Newton to see him again. It was a nice little pit-stop before having to walk up and down hills. By this point, it had started to get pretty warm out. More cheers and excitement as he passed us a second time! Still flying and looking to smash his goal of breaking 3 hours.

We rushed on to catch the T and see him one last time before the finish... but the T was moving soooo slowly. We realized as the train moved on that we were not likely going to make it, but still had not received an update on our phones from the runner tracking app. When the update finally arrived, we realized that Jon had slowed way down.

The heat had dehydrated him so badly that, even with the constant water stops at every mile, his legs seized up and started spasming. He finished in 3:08:07. Still a very respectable time, but he didn't qualify to be able to run it again. He was pretty disappointed at first. Yet knew that he had done everything he could have in training and preparation. It was just too warm and looks like many other runners suffered the same fate. He also got a really bad sunburn and is now blistering. :( Still, I'm very proud of him and he said overall he enjoyed the race. He conquered HeartBreak Hill and never stopped running! He even set a personal record for his half marathon pace!



We went back to cousin Michael's house again after the race to relax before heading out for a big post-race burger dinner. The Biggers were able to join and it was wonderful to catch up with them more.

Tuesday:
Tuesday was supposed to be a leisurely day. It was supposed to be recovery for Jon and for me. It ended up being a lot more hectic than we had hoped. But so rewarding.

We had planned to meet up with Jon's mom at a marathon museum/store in the city at 11, but somehow wires got crossed and that didn't happen. Plus, Eli was being a fussy fuss. While frustrated and trying to send her a text, Jon dropped his phone on the sidewalk and the screen shattered on the ground. Right then, all of the emotion from traveling, the race, the overbooked schedule, and now the phone all came spilling out at once. It was a rough moment and a few not-so-nice words were uttered. But we were able to then take a deep breath, pray, then continue on to the next event... The swan boats.

In Boston Common, there's a little pond with these swan paddle boats. The boats have benches and a big fake swan on the back where a guide paddles the boat around the pond. While my family had never been on them, they were an ingrained fixture in Jon's family, almost like a childhood rite of passage. Since Eli, Max, and I had never been on them, we needed our initiation. We were able to meet up with Jon's dad's family, Jon's mom, my parents, and my parent's friend Julie. Nearly all of us climbed aboard and took a swan boat ride. It was a particularly meaningful moment for Jon's dad, and he held Eli with such pride. He showed him all around, pointing out ducks and trees. My mama heart melted watching Eli and his proud Papa.





After swan boats, we stopped to take photos on the Make Way For Ducklings statues. My mama even climbed on the mama duck with Eli. :)



Next, we went to get lunch at this amazing sandwich place called Sam Lagrassa's. When I say this place has the best sandwiches I've had in my life, I am not exaggerating. But by this point, Eli is well past naptime, overtired, and overstimulated. And the meter was about to expire on the car, 20 min away. Eli and I took off on a long walk back to the car.

He fell asleep on the short drive back to the house out of sheer exhaustion, but unfortunately woke up when I took him inside. This is when baby boy totally. lost. it. I have never seen him in such a fit before and it really scared me. He was kicking, biting, smacking, and thrashing in the most intense way. I could not even hold him, let alone comfort him and had to put him down in the pack-n-play to get it all out before he would finally nap. There have been some lows in motherhood, but this was probably my lowest. The depths of guilt and failure I felt in that moment were unreal. Thoughts were swirling in my head about how I didn't do enough to protect him, let him rest more and nap better, how despite my best efforts to slow down, I did not do enough and now he's a wild rabid animal in a complete overtired delirium. It was the naptime from hell and it took a LOT of prayer and Jon's reassuring via text to calm me down. Mama guilt is a tough thing to overcome. Eventually, Eli did indeed sleep long and hard.

That evening, we left Eli with his Gigi to rest and the rest of us went out to Fenway to watch the Red Sox. Being back at that ballpark was SUCH a great feeling. Plus, having a little break from mama duties was a relief after such a challenging day. The Biggers and my family joined as well. Hooray!



Wednesday:
Finally, the time to return home had arrived. We hurriedly packed and said our goodbyes in the morning, then hoped on the first of two flights to Memphis. As we boarded the first plane, Elias lost his cool and started freaking out while in the baby carrier. Then Jon realized he forgot the gate-check tags and had to run back to the counter. If you have never attempted to shuffle down the aisle on a plane with a flailing angry baby attached to you while holding your whole family's bags and two cups of coffee on the verge of spilling, then let me assure you... it's actually worse than it sounds. Tears welled up in my eyes while I tried to calm Elias. Some kind man offered to hold the coffee for me and we finally made it to our seats. Once Eli was out of the carrier and reading his favorite book in my lap, all was well. So many deep breaths, guys. So many. He did terrific the whole first flight and then napped the whole second flight in my arms. Jon and I got to sit close and hold our sleeping boy the whole way on that last flight. It was such relief.



When we got home, our sweet boy was over the moon excited to be in his room. (Amen, child. I feel you.) He excitedly crawled around his room pulling out his toys, waving them in the air, and looking up at us as if to say "Look! They are still here! We are home!" I was gushing. It was the sweetest thing and such a wonderful homecoming.

We had such a wonderful trip and it was a blessing and a joy to see family. It has taken me a full week to recover from the exhaustion of it all, but I'm so glad we went. Boston, we love you. Family, we already miss you.
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