As I write this, we’re finally on the road to Harrisonburg where we’ll sleep tonight surrounded by boxes, but in our own beds, in our new home.

It’s been a long weekend of packing, packing, more packing, loading, unloading, rearranging and more than 6 hours on 64 and 81. We were surrounded by good, kind, strong friends and family who did all the heavy lifting and lugging.* The whole process went so smoothly. We had great weather**and we worked quickly. It took us 3 hours to load the truck, in what may have been the most securely and well-packed truck in recent memory. It was like 3D Tetris and my dad, Matt Purdy and me were all playing at the Expert level. It took one hour to unload the truck with the help of several friends, one of whom would grab something (heavy) off the truck and then run as fast as he could ton the room it was going to and then run right back out to the truck for more. Intense!

Ooh. We jut got flicked off on 64 by an old guy in a gold Oldsmobile. We’ll assume he’s from Richmond and not the Valley.

We came back after setting up Abby’s room on Saturday night to spend the night with A at my parents’ house, go to our church one last time (sniff!), do a walkthrough at our old place with our landlord and then a dim sum lunch with my parents before hitting the road. Abby didn’t make it to Manakin-Sabot before she fell soundly asleep. When she wakes up we’ll be at our new house.

*And I mean ALL of it. Taylor threw out his back early last week. I got a call on Tuesday (my last day at UR) and heard, “I’m on the floor. My back went out.”A visit to the chiropractor on Thursday got him walking upright again, but not enough so he could pick up any of the book boxes I packed!

**Low 80s and overcast and the drizzle held off until we’d unloaded the truck.


The packing is slow-going these days. Between trying to wrap up work (10 workdays left!), spending time with friends and trying to maintain some level of sanity and also sleeping every now and then, not a whole lot is getting done. But we’ve made some headway and expect that the real packing will start once we’re back from the Chan Family Beach Vacation. That’s also when we plan to break the news to Abby B and try to explain what moving means.

In the meantime, I wish someone would explain it to me! I can’t picture what our days will look like when I’m staying at home with her in Harrisonburg. How will we schedule our day? What will be the rhythm of our weeks? Will there be a rhythm or will it look like the generally mashed up chaos of our life here in Richmond (which is more free improvisation these days than a straight 4/4 beat)? Should I start planning around library story times? Part of me wants to put together a weekly calendar of what chores and errands get done on what day — too much and just a setup for failure, or practical and a helpful tool for accomplishing our tasks? People keep telling me that I’ll make mom-friends with Abby and I hope I will, but what about non-mom-friends? I’d like some of those too, please! And will it kind of be like life with a newborn where Taylor will be around for the first week or so to help us figure it all out, but then we’ll be left to our own devices most of the day and will have to figure out how to do it all on my (our) own? Will I remember how to cook? Will my running list of craft projects last us the first full week? Will I get lost going to the grocery store every time? Will our hero ever stop asking questions?

Transition is hard, folks. It’s best not to worry and just keep swimming.

As Abby likes to sing these days: “I may not know the way I go, but oh, I know my Guide!”

*Abby sings hymns, Momma sings The Cranberries. We make it work.

In less than a month, the Chan/Barnett family will be packing up and moving out of Richmond. We’re not going far, just 2 hours west to Harrisonburg. But I am quitting my job, Taylor’s starting a doctorate program at JMU in music, and I am going to stay at home and raise Abby.

There’s a lot to say about all of this: how we came to this point, how we feel about the move, the logistics of moving, my excitement and minor terror at spending alldayeveryday with my adorable, sweet, stubborn and talkative toddler, and how I am going to have to learn how to cook again (Taylor cooks everything! The last time I made dinner was in January!). But there’ll be time to blog about all of that (you know, between my “stories” and my bonbon-eating).

Things are going to change around here (I’ll post, for one thing) and I hope you’ll stick around to check it out.

Here’s what I’m holding on to right now: God is good and He’s got us. We are provided for. Abundantly.

Feel free to remind me of that!

Dear Sweet Bee-bee,

Happy first birthday!  It’s 12:02 a.m. as I write this and I can’t help but think about what I was doing at this time last year  (walking around the maternity ward at the hospital, big as a house, and leaning against the wall each time a contraction hit.)  It would be 7 hours before you’d make your debut, just as the sun rose, and you would make me a mommy.

Sweet girl, this year has been the best year of my life so far.  Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother and God gave you to me.  I thank him every day for the gift that you are.  Your dad and I  believe that God specifically chose us to be your parents and chose you to be our daughter because he knows it’s the best place for all of us.  We think he’s right.

You are such a sweet baby.  Recently, you’ve taken to waving hi and bye to everyone and you try to make friends with everyone you see, especially if they’re under 4 feet tall.  You love to watch the big kids play and you cackle with laughter as if you think they’re running around just to make you laugh.  You love your Poh-poh and Goong-goong and you bring so much joy to them.   You don’t see your Grandma and Grandpa Barnett quite as often, but they love you just as much and treasure every minute with you.

Just last week you finally popped out some real teeth — two of them!  I hope it will open up a whole new world of food for you.  (Right now, you don’t like anything that’s not smoothly pureed or a Cheerio.)  You’ve shown us that you’re definitely not going to crawl, at least not before you walk.  It seems like just this past week, you’ve started to push against us as we hold you because you want to get on the floor and walk while we hold your hands.  I love to see you exerting your independence, even though I know that we’ll be hard-pressed to keep your curious fingers out of trouble soon enough!

You’ve also just started to show us just how much you love books.  A few days ago I caught you pretending to read a book to yourself!  You were pointing at the pictures and just blabbing your little baby syllables to yourself and turning the pages.  It made my heart melt.  You know exactly where your books are on the shelf and point to them several times a day and say “Buh!”    Then we pick you up so you can pick one out and we sit and read.  You love it when your dad reads to you — he does the funniest voices!

Speaking of your dad (Da!), you really are a lucky girl.  He calls you his “second-best-friend” (I’m his first!) and he loves spending each day with you.  One of these days we hope that I’ll be the one to take care of you during the day and he’ll be out pursuing his career, but for now, you’re Daddy’s girl.  You think he is so funny.  Sometimes you’ll just look at him and it’s obvious that you’re just waiting for him to do something silly to make you laugh — and boy do you laugh!  You just crack up laughing at his antics.  And it is the sweetest, most beautiful sound we’ve ever heard.  He takes such good care of you and loves you so much.  Watching him love and care for you makes me love him even more!

You love music too and you love to see your daddy playing on the worship team at church.  You love singing during worship at church and squeal between songs and say “Amen!” at the end of the benediction.  You sing along, dance and wave at everyone around you.  Even more than loving books, loving us or loving music, we pray that you’ll love Jesus the most.

I really can’t believe how much you’ve grown and changed in the last 366 days.  From a sweet, beautiful newborn to a just-as-sweet, just-as-beautiful, smart, funny, loving, curious, talkative little girl who loves books, music and her little pink lovey.

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is that you still don’t sleep through the night.  You go to sleep so easily, at 8 p.m. we just lay you in your crib, you put your lovey on your face and just roll onto your side and fall asleep.  But around midnight, you wake up wanting to be held and fed.  And then you do it again at 4 a.m.  and then when you wake up for the day around 7:30 a.m.    We’d let you cry and learn to put yourself back to sleep without eating or being picked up, but we live in a tiny apartment right now and you sleep in our room at the end of our bed.  So for now, everyone gets more sleep if I just pick you up, put you in our bed, nurse you and then put you back in your crib.  It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes and everyone’s happy.  But we’re moving soon to a little house and you’ll get your own room and we hope you’ll take to sleeping through quickly.

There’s a lot I want to remember about your first year and I hope that my sporadic blogging, picture-taking and letter-writing will prove helpful.  How it felt to hold your tiny little body in my arms, how my heart exploded when you started smiling, how it explodes every morning when I see your face, and again when I hear you laugh, or when you lay your head on my shoulder.  How soft your skin is and how you laugh when I blow rasberries on your belly during a diaper change.  Your knee dimples.  Your toothless grin.  Your tiny hands and feet.  The contented sounds you make when I feed you.

I’m so excited to see what new things you’ll do each day and what a beautiful girl you’ll be — inside and out.  I’m so proud that you’re my daughter and I will love you this much forever.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Pea.  As your daddy likes to say “You’re one-years-old now.”

Lots of love,


Have I mentioned that this child has a fondness for microwaves?

A few months ago, we noticed that she got really excited anytime we used the microwave.  She’d squeak and squawk and kick her legs like she’d never seen something so exciting.

Since then, she’s been in love with any microwave she’s come across.  Her little body perks up at the thrilling sound of its ‘”beep!” and she just can’t get enough of the whirring, the plate spinning and the lights.

She loves them in all shapes and sizes and it doesn’t matter whose kitchen it is.  She even found the one (that wasn’t being used at the time) that’s in my office way up high on a file cabinet — entirely out of context.

I found a toy microwave online for $7 just before Christmas and couldn’t resist buying it for her.  Even though we haven’t taken it out of the package yet (we’re rationing toys out after the giant Christmas harvest), she loves to look at the box and press the buttons.

We’re trying to teach her to say “microwave,” because, really, how cute would it be to have a kid who can say momma, daddy, book, duck and microwave?

It was that kind of day. The kind where tiredness eats away at you, little things get the best of you and mistakes you made a few days ago catch up with you into one big downhill avalanche of frustration.

And it’s the extra-special kind of frustration too! The self-loathing kind.

But once I finally got home, I walked into the comforting arms of my husband who said and didn’t say just the right things.

And then my baby girl woke up from her nap and holding her in my arms just fixed me. (She learned how to say “duck” today.) We ate dinner, we danced, we laughed, we played, we read books and we sang.

I don’t think I could be more thankful for this little family of mine.

Oh, interwebs.  I think about you often. I use you for your informational purposes.  I scour your sales, your giveaways, your coupons.  I laugh at your jokes, at your snark and cry at your sad tales of woe.  But do I contribute?  No.  Do I send you flowers?  No.  I am like the ultimate loser/user boyfriend.

I can change, baby.  Just give me a chance.


The kid is 11 months old now, as of yesterday.  If you can believe it, there’s still no crawling, no walking and no teeth.  Indeed the Mobility/Chompers Watch of 2008 just rolled into M/CW of 2009.  She’s on her way though and I have no doubt she will conquer these milestones in her own time.  I’m just getting a little antsy is all.  I mean, I even bought baby gates! (which are still sitting in their packaging by the front door).   We really thought she had a top tooth going at the beginning of December, but it’s faked us out again.  God knows how many times we’ve given her homeopathic teething tablets or doses of Tylenol b/c we were sure our wee one was suffering teething pains.  It’s possible she’s just a junkie looking for a fix.

In other news, she is communicating!  Signing “all done” and “more,” though we think she’s starting to get confused — that perhaps “more” really means “Cheerios.”  Also, “all done” bears a striking resemblance to “bye bye” which seems identical to “hi” but ain’t no way I’m going to try to train away the adorable two-handed wave.  Also, “more” to the untrained eye might look like she’s clapping, but it’s all about the context, baby.  She also dances when she’s standing, has favorite songs (and knows the difference between them) and matches pitch most of the time.  She growls too.  Plays peek-a-boo, though she doesn’t seem to care about the particulars of actually hiding.  Putting her hands on the sides of her head is, to her, the same as putting them over her face.  So she looks like she’s got a headache this big, but really, it’s peek-a-boo.   Spoken words?  We’ve got ’em.  “What’s that?” is a popular one — she’ll point at things and say “dut dat” and then look at us like we’re making it up.  As if that couldn’t possibly be called a door, what a silly made-up word, dad.  She says “mum-mum” for her favorite baby snack and is working on “book.”

She’s a tiny one still.  In 6-9 month clothes (3-6 month onesies!) and probably weighing in under 18 pounds still.  As big a head as ever and in need of a 2nd haircut.

Enough about the kid.  What about  me?

I got a new job! Really a dream job of sorts, with lots of responsibility, challenges and hours, but with people I enjoy and respect, people who value my opinion and at my lovely alma mater!  Also more $$.  It does take me away from Bee-Bee a little more, which is hard, but we believe this job is what God has for us right now, and while that’s a big downside, it’s the only one so far and that’s pretty darn good.

I’m trying to get a handle on things as a working wife and mother (not that I wasn’t one before this new job, but this job demands much more cognitive and creative brainspace, plus it’s a transition, regardless).  I’ve been at my job just over a week and there’s hardly any food in the house and we’re all almost out of clean laundry.  Bills are stacking up that just need to be paid and baby food needs to be made.  I need to research the next phase of the Bee’s babyhood and start working on our taxes.  And, oh yeah, we’re trying to move closer to my job, so that’s probably happening in 6 weeks.  And I have a 1-year-old birthday party to plan.

Anecdote:  Today, Taylor and baby met me to look at a couple of houses to rent and then we went out to lunch.  The Bee was a hot mess b/c she was hungry and, like her father, goes immediately from content to utter meltdown in the space of 15 seconds and will not stop until she is fed.  So I whipped out my nursing cover and got the kid to stop her public display of attention by feeding her.  (And yes, we are still breastfeeding!)  I hardly ever feel awkward about nursing in public as long as I have my nursing cover, but she had garnered a bit of attention with her screaming, so lots of people looked over as I sat there feeding her.  I don’t look around and I certainly don’t apologize, but just chatted with Taylor.  After she was done eating and was contentedly sitting in her high-chair, she looked around and bowled everyone over with her cuteness and waving.  Still, I was feeling like we’d been branded as “those people with the screamy baby who breastfeed in public and who are those hippies,” though I try regularly to squash that feeling.  It made my day when a nice 50-something lady spent a few minutes cooing over my child and whispered to me “I love it when I see other breastfeeding moms,” and winked at me.  It was kind, it was caring, it was affirming.  And made this still-new-at-this mom feel like she was doing at least something right.

It’s been a while.  Here is the update that’s been on my to-do list for weeks now.

The Pea is 8 months old these days — no crawling, no teeth.  Yet.  She loves to sit and play and bang toys together and play with her BusyBox.  She’s quickly figuring out all of her toys — so much so that I think I need to buy her more so she has something to challenge her more.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

We love to read books and she likes to turn the pages and eat them.   She loves to tear up her magazine — she’s almost torn it entirely to shreds.  We call that doing her “paperwork.”  She’s content to hang out in her pack and play for 20 or 30 minutes on her own — we call that “office hours.”  She does that when Dad needs to work at the computer during the day.  Apparently, we’re grooming her for a career in a cubicle somewhere.  We dream big

Between Taylor’s and my schedule, we’re incredibly busy.  We never have more than one night a week that’s unscheduled (between work, rehearsals, and gigs), and often we don’t get that or it’s spent doing laundry at my parents’ house.  I think we’re going to start scheduling it in though — one night a week where we make dinner and eat it together, play with and read to the Pea, put her to bed and then actually hang out.  Maybe even (gasp) watch a movie.  And then, to be really crazy, we’re going to start scheduling a date night once a month wherein we go out and leave the baby at home.  Wild.  I’ll let you know if when it happens.

Let’s see.  What else.  Oh!  I’m taking the Pea to Austin to visit my sister next Thursday!  I’m really looking forward to hanging out with my sister and getting some good quality Aunt Sabrina time in for Miss Pea.  But I’m totally overwhelmed at the prospect of flying with her by myself.  Layovers, strollers, toy-throwing, what-must-be-an-18-pound-baby, diaper bag, fear of running out of diapers, solid-feeding in an airport, sitting-next-to-someone-that-hates-children fears.  I’m totally dressing her in her cutest outfit so she charms the pants off anyone that dare look at us crossways

So, Team Bug (which is what we sometime refer to our family as*) lost this week to household chores to the tune of $40, a bag of dirty diapers and what will be a month’s worth of recyclables.

Tuesday is Street-Cleaning Day here on our little street.  We forgot to move our car and got a 40 (40!!) dollar ticket in a bright green envelope that just screams “irresponsibility!” (I was hoping it would scream “infant in the house and very tired parents!” but no.)

Wednesday is Recycling Day — well, every other Wednesday, which is why, in 2 weeks when they pick it up again, we’ll be putting a month’s worth of recycling out on the curb.  In the meantime, it accumulates in our kitchen (which doesn’t have room for a month’s worth of recycling).

Thursday is Diaper Day.  Taylor’s mom very graciously gave us 6 months of diaper service when the Pea (the Pee?) was born.  (If you’re following along and doing the math, that means she’s actually given us 7 months and we’re almost out of time, folks!)  It’s like magic:  you put a bag of dirty diapers out on your porch on Thursdays and by the afternoon there’s a neat little bag of clean, folded, white diapers all ready to go.  We still get clean diapers even though we forgot to put out our giant load of icky diapers (and whoowee, has the icky gone up since we started solid foods), but we’re stuck with our giant load of ick until next week when hopefully our heroes remember to put it on the porch.

I mentioned to Taylor how we struck out this week and he graciously recognized that these three chores fall much more onto his side of the division of household labor.  For my part, I only reminded him about the recycling — the other two fell out of my head as well.

All is not lost, though.  We’ve got to get our gear on for another week.  Game on.

*We also refer to us and my side of the family as “Team Bun,” which is derived from the Cantonese term for “dessert” and is another in a long line of bilingual jokes in my arsenal.  I really must get t-shirts and pennants made.

She has the most wonderful wrist pudge, like little bracelets on each arm, sweet and delicate.

From the Field