The last time I saw my brother and his family was in June, when Brody was just about four months old. I've been saying I wanted to go down and see them and chill out in Tennessee (which I love), but I let work get in the way for the last several months.
Finally, completely burned out from my job and really missing my brother, I pulled the trigger on a long weekend trip.
I got into town late Thursday, and on Friday was given the honor of taking care of baby Brody all day while Jenny and Nolan went to work.
I was ecstatic at the idea that I got to spend so much uninterrupted time getting to know my nephew.
But I'm not sure Brody was entirely on board with this plan:
"Hey Brody, this is your aunt Megan."
"And she's going to take care of you today."
We made the best of it though. We ate some Goldfish, we had some milkies, we tried to change a diaper. But when he wouldn't lay still for me to get the saturated diaper off, I was sort of stumped.
So I gave him a bath.
In the middle of the day.
I guess this is sort of weird thing to do, but hey - he didn't seem to mind. Well, at least until he wanted out, and then screamed because I think he was cold.
But we got him dressed - a small miracle on my end, because I can barely manage to get out of my pjs each day and most days don't bother until I go to the gym at the end of the day. Don't hate though - that little benefit of my job is balanced out by the body-beating stress and emotional exhaustion of my line of work.
After a nap for Brody and shower time for me, we hit the local social scene.
I really just wanted to get out of the house, and didn't know where the nearest park was, so I opted for the next closest form of amusement we Chicagoans aren't normally privy to - fantastic savings at Wal-Mart.
And in true Megan's-an-Idiot form, I couldn't get his other shoe on so I was like, "Eff it, let's go."
And no, there is absolutely NOTHING weird about walking around Wal-Mart in Tennessee.
With beer in the cart.
And a one-shoed baby.
On a weekday.
(seriously though - the beer was for beer bread I was going to make - I swear.)
Check out the pimp lean - "Heeeeey girl! Love the playa, hate the game!"
I am also mildly ashamed that I was 20 minutes into our 30 minute shopping expedition when I noticed Brody tugging on the strap - only to realize I needed to actually strap him in. I guess that explains the forward lean he had going on. I thought he was just really intrigued by the pattern of floor tile.
But of course, it wasn't all fun and Wal-Mart games. Someone took a header into the fireplace and landed himself a black eye.
My brother and I were on our way home from hunting when Jenny called to tell us about the eye. Shit, I fet horrible. I told them both when they got home from work that he had fallen, but I didn't see a scratch at the time so I thought maybe he had just scared himself - turns out, he was actually hurt. Talk about feeling like an asshat. All these hours of childcare under my belt and Brody has to get the first injury on my watch.
And yeah - you read the first sentence of that last paragraph right - Nolan took me HUNTING.
Nolan started hunting last year, but he bow-and-arrow hunts. I actually think this is pretty cool, because I think that take a lot of skill and seems like a bit of a fairer fight.
But he also uses a gun, which he was using on this particular outing. He was really excited to bring this once-vegan city girl into the thicket to catch herself some deer.
In the end, I was more or less the "company." We didn't get a deer that morning, but I did learn a ton about hunting, things to look for, migration factors, and all sorts of odds and ends when one is out catching deer. I am not sure how I would have handled it if I was actually confronted with taking down my would-be-dinner, but I never had to find out.
Me having a Sarah Palin moment (cue the eye rolling and judgment of my liberal friends and family - hey, unless your vegan, the meat you eat comes from somewhere)
But seriously though - I think the pink really softens things up, yeah?
The rest of the weekend was spent more or less lolly-gagging around, eating bad food and doing no physical activity at all (which I paid for when I can home and tried to do a semi-long run on Monday - gawd, I felt like I had four butt cheeks jumping up and down and trying to escape my tights).
But overall I really had a blast. I love getting out of Chicago, spending time in Tennessee, and letting Brody get to know his Chicago kin. It sometimes makes me sad that he may never know us as well as my sweet nephews Nolan and Aiden, or precious baby Ford, but I hope that in the coming years, there will be more than twice-yearly visits.
I really enjoyed my new experiences with my brother as well. I have never really had a chance to spend time with him in the absence of all the other family, so that was cool. I am grateful that he introduced me to something I knew nothing about, as I really value the learning aspect of "living off the land." I'm proud of him and the life he has he established down there.
And just in case you aren't totally convinced of the cuteness of sweet face Brody, I will leave you with some more delicious evidence.
Yes. Yes you are.
Our attempt at Christmas card photo. Don't worry - no babies were harmed in the process.
See? He loved it. Well, until he didn't.
Santa's little helper and his momma.
Love you guys - counting down the days until I get to smooch on the face again.