Monday, November 27, 2006

On Sunday we became official Austin-ites again, driving to Gary's cousin Rhonda's house to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Am Rhein clan. As always it was a fun time and they made sure that Emmylou followed in a family tradition: getting her hands on a turkey leg for her very first Thanksgiving! Of course, it was the first time (ever) that she didn't immediately put whatever was in front of her in her mouth-- she just kind of looked at it, then up at the 20+ pairs of eyes staring at her, and then decided to give a little fuss.

"Hmmm, I like how it feels a little squishy..."

"Tastes like chicken!"

"Spencer, do you really like this stuff?"

She took a little nap earlier in the afternoon and when I went to check on her, I found this cute sign on her door made by the kids:

So sweet! Anyway, now we're in Austin for good in our little hotel for the next 2 weeks until we close on the house. It's not too bad of a place, just a little small. I'm almost grateful, though, because when we get to move into our little house, it's going to feel huge in comparison!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Now that we're bona fide Texans, Emmylou can really play the part! Here she is on her horsey about to ride into the sunset wearing the horsey dress her Grammie got her a few months ago in anticipation of our move back:

And here's a close-up of her outfit in case you can't see the details: horses and their names, silver star buttons, and fringe around the hem with her Lone Star shoes!

By the way, at the request of some friends and family, I've changed the settings for this blog to allow anyone to leave comments. Let me just apologize in advance for any offensive spam that might be left as well...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Emmylou and I arrived in San Antonio on Tuesday and Gary finally made it in yesterday around 8 pm after two days of driving down from Baltimore with Lola. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday with a delicious meal and, of course, plenty of things to be thankful for.

This afternoon we went over to Lynn's house with Mimi and Granny to decorate cookies for her Christmas tree. Even Emmylou got to make some! Here are some photos of her patting out the dough, decorating her cookie with candy and then eating her masterpiece. She thoroughly enjoyed every step!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This move is starting to feel real now! We spent the day getting things together that we'll move down to Texas ourselves and then getting everything else ready to be packed by the moving company tomorrow. Last night we went to the Barnes' house for a farewell dinner. They really outdid themselves with a delicious bacon-themed dinner (uh, yum) and parting gifts for all of us! Eric made the coolest toy chest for Emmylou that has an inlaid checkerboard on top and slide-out drawer to hold the checkers, not to mention an automatic slow-hinged top so she'll never accidentally smush a finger! We'll be sure to show you all a picture of it once we get it into Emmylou's new room (I can't wait!). They gave Gary the new 2007 Tiger Woods Playstation game, which means I'll see him about 25% less a week now than usual, and as for me, I am SO excited-- they gave me something I will get hours and hours of enjoyment from:

Could that BE any better? [Chandler's voice] It's already in my suitcase to take down to Texas so it doesn't have to go into storage while we live in the hotel.

Here is a pic of Emmylou with Aaron and Alyssa and one with them and Bella:

Thanks for everything, you guys-- we love you and will miss you so, so much!

Now, back to the move...

Several people have asked us how we feel about leaving Baltimore and what we'll miss most about living here. While we've had a lot of good times, I have to admit that I haven't written much on this blog about the negatives of the city itself and what makes it rather easy to leave. For example, I don't think I've mentioned to y'all that Baltimore's crime rate just happens to be 6 times that of New York City's-- the reason I haven't been outside after dark in almost 2 years-- nor the fact that "Charm City," as it's so called, is actually the Syphillis and heroin capitals of the world. Charming! Gary and I have to stifle a little laugh every time we pass the benches at bus stops because they all have "Baltimore: The Greatest American City" painted across them. We have a theory that it's an inside joke among the natives, but no one ever let us in on it while we were here. Hmmm. But really, regardless, even with all of those things to deal with, living in downtown Baltimore was an incredibly interesting experience and one I don't think we'd trade for anything. We knew when moving here that this was the only time in our lives we could do something like this so we went for it, got the complete urban experience, and don't have any regrets.

Here are a few things I'll really miss:
- The four seasons: more than just a band from the 50's (who knew?!),
- Food: Lamb chops and baklava from Samos, crabcakes from just about anywhere that really are THAT much better than the ones down south, the specials at La Scala in Little Italy, burgers from Five Guys, and getting everything from Indian food to a $15.95 lobster delivered to our front door,
- Living in a BLUE state and, as an added bonus, in a city with a mayor who's in an Irish rock band,
- Yuengling beer and getting a wink from Natty Boh at night out on the deck,
- Orioles games at Camden Yards,
- Radiators and wearing sweaters more than twice a year,
- Going to the drive-in, the American Visionary Art Museum and the aquarium,
- Feeling close (or at least some connection) to New York City and DC,
- Patterson Park and the Patterson Perk for walks and coffee,
- My jobs at Sheppard Pratt Hospital and Towson University and the people I met there, and
- I'd say Ikea and Anthropologie but both moved into Austin this month!

Other things I won't miss so much:
- Ghetto birds with spotlights over our house at least 5 nights a week,
- Living in a house that leaks in at least 3 places every time it rains,
- Living blocks from a bay so polluted that 70% of Maryland's most famous commodity, the blue crab, is actually imported from the Gulf of Mexico,
- Hearing generators used for rowhouse renovations starting at 7 am and lasting the entire day, every single day of the week (I'm wondering how Emmylou will ever be able to nap in silence considering what she's used to now),
- A hefty 5.5% state income tax (still trying to figure out where all that goes),
- People who don't wave when you let them in when you're driving,
- Shoveling snow on a sidewalk as long as half of a city block (okay, Gary mostly did that),
- Wearing out the RatZapper (we just zapped mouse #18),
- Having to keep the Mini Cooper- not exactly the ideal car for transporting an infant around town- because it's the only car that will fit into the 1890 carriage-sized garage and we don't want to get into any fistfights over street parking,
- Taking Lola to the park to pee three times a day since we don't have a backyard, and
- Living with people who've never heard of breakfast tacos.

Still deliberating on:
- Listening to karaoke from the lesbian bar across the street until 2 am: sometimes annoying but other times tempting us to jump out of bed and belt out a little Fleetwood Mac and Def Leppard ourselves. Hmm.

Anyway, we really will take fond memories of Baltimore back with us to Texas. It was the adventure we were hoping for and it will always be extremely special to us because it was where Emmylou came into our lives. Can't wait to come back to visit. Yeehaw for Texas!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Um, have you guys seen what Gwen Stefani's baby has been roaming around in lately? Was she afraid the paparazzi would overlook him because I'm pretty sure this stroller is visible from outer space. Wow, it kind of makes Lulu's fancy Bugaboo look pretty plain but as you can see, she's more into that laid-back lifestyle than all of that bling.

Yesterday Hope and I took Emmylou and John to Five Guys for our last meal together (at least for a while) and then to the park for a walk and to swing. We've had so much fun hanging out with them that it was hard to say goodbye, but I know we'll be seeing them again in a few months in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. In fact, yesterday we showed them how to put their hands up and say "throw me something, mister!" so they'll be prepared when they're perched together in a ladder for a parade.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

As we are wrapping things up here before we move, we're having to say goodbye to some very good friends. Here is Emmylou with two people we'll miss very much, Rena and Wolfgang. I've been working with Wolfgang for over a year on his speech and language, and once Emmylou arrived, Rena began playing with her and taking her for walks while Wolf and I worked together. Rena just happens to be an expert on child development so it's been fun getting her advice and seeing her reaction when Emmylou does something new. She has certainly kept her supplied with books she picks up for Emmylou here and there. I know we'll keep in touch and we'll always look forward to hearing about their own adventures!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On Sunday in Austin, we all went to Starlite for brunch with our friend, Alex, who's a big fan of Emmylou's and this blog. We were slightly worried about bringing Lulu there, but it seemed like there were babies and kids at every table! It was both fun and extremely scrumptious. Thanks, Alex, for always leaving us such nice comments on the blog! We can't wait to see more of you when we move back!

Dear Emmylou,

Today you turned 8 months old! You are a mess, but I mean that in a good way. You're starting to get into everything and this past month you've really found your voice. To my horror, these days you're all about shrieking and squealing in public. You don't do it because you're mad, but rather as if to say, "hey, lookie what I can do now." Apparently, you want to show everyone. But how can I get too upset about that? I mean, it's a little embarrassing, but as a speech therapist, I should be embracing all of that "vocal play," right? I just keep trying to remember that one day the word "mama" is going to come out of that mouth!

Today I saw you pull yourself up to standing in your crib for the first time. Usually you sit in my lap facing me and grab my collar to pull yourself up. I didn't realize you could do it all by yourself! I know that crawling is just around the corner-- you like to sit on the floor and rock back and forth, inching your way towards whatever shiny silver item is in sight. Sometimes you fall on your face but after a quick cry you're back to your happy self. Soon you'll be taking your first steps, and I can't tell you how excited Daddy is that those will be on Texas soil! We are both so happy that we'll be taking you home in a matter of days. We picked out a pretty good house for you, so I hope it all works out and we end up there. It has a nice, big backyard and the perfect tree in the front yard for a swing just for you! There's also a library down the street where I know we'll spend lots of time listening to stories.

Things are going to be pretty crazy over this next month, so bear with us and we'll get you settled soon. Whenever it gets to be too much, don't hesitate to burrow that little head of yours into my shoulder for a little hug. I'll never be too busy to give you one and chances are I'll need one too.

I couldn't love you more,

Sunday, November 12, 2006

We are back in Austin after a day in San Antonio where Emmylou got to play on the playground across the street from Grammie's house and eat the very best tortillas from Alamo Cafe! Here are photos of both:

(Emily thinks that last photo looks like one of Us Weekly's "Stars They're Just Like Us" profiles [nevermind the fact that I'm not a celebrity]: They push their kids in swings!-- maybe next week you'll get to see me taking our clothes to the cleaners or [gasp!] putting my car in reverse.)

Last night Emily, Lizzie and I went to the Stitch Craft Bazaar and fashion show at the Austin Music Hall. They had some really great jewelry there and the fashion show was fun to watch. One designer that we really liked was one of Emily's friends, Jesse. Emily did the photography for her website which you can view here. It kind of felt like we were watching Project Runway in person and I kept hearing the voices of Michael Kors and Nina Garcia in my head saying things like "that looks like an old Halloween costume" and "could that be any more booooring?!" There were definitely a few designers who should have been auf-ed but some were actually very good. I was slightly inspired and bought a book on how to make my own patterns since we will soon have a house with it's very own workshop where I can dust off my sewing machine and 'make it work.'

Friday, November 10, 2006

We're in Austin and having a very successful trip! Yesterday while I went house hunting, Emmylou stayed with her Papaw and Nana. They sent over these photos from the day-- it looks like they had lots of fun! They spoiled her, of course, even buying her her very own *real* remote control! Papaw is convinced that Emmylou is brilliant because he pointed the remote at the TV twice and both times Lulu looked from him right over to the TV to see what was going to happen. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure this just means she and I watch way too much TV around the house.

As for the house hunting, we are under contract for a house we absolutely love! It came on the market just yesterday so I think it was destined to be ours. We are scheduled to close on Dec. 15th, so once we move here in the next couple of weeks the company will put us up in an apartment or something until we can get into the house. Here are a few pictures of it:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It’s official! We’re moving back to Austin, and we’re moving back soon! Lulu is wearing her special t-shirt with the picture of Austin’s famous mural on Guadalupe Street to celebrate the occasion. She and I are heading to Austin tonight to start house-hunting because Gary thinks we’ll be leaving Baltimore for good around the 17th. Just to clarify things from yesterday’s post, I will not be looking for a house that can accommodate a pony. But, yay! Back home in time for Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Isn't this shirt hilarious? My friend Allison gave it to us at my shower in Austin and I am so happy Emmylou can finally wear it! The scary thing is that when Gary saw it, he said something like, "that's not really out of the question." Oh. My. God. He is going to be such a sucker!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I think it's safe to say that Grammie spoiled Emmylou while she was here-- not one, but two cuddly naps on her during her visit!

Also, here's Lola ever-so-enthusiastically trying to get into the action...

Grammie had to go back home yesterday but hopefully we'll see her and the rest of the fam soon for the holidays!

By the way, I think Emmylou's turn as Suri Cruise for Halloween has gotten to her a little bit. Today we were at Whole Foods and she was acting like the biggest celebrity, flashing smiles and flirting with everyone in there. In fact, I don't think we passed a single person who didn't say something to her or tell her she was adorable. Let's just hope the scientology doesn't come next.