Thursday, December 20, 2012

To Feel Yourself Beloved on The Earth

Hank just got home from school, and I surmised that his teachers had hugged him goodbye for the Christmas break, because he smelled deliciously of different, overlapping perfumes. I was snorfling all over him, enjoying them, and I said, "Your teachers must have given you hugs!" And he said, "Yeah, and Mr. Russ did too."

Mr. Russ is the school bus driver. And that's closer than I ever thought I would get to old Russ. But still sweet.

How are y'all? We are still here. The news from Newtown took away my impulse to blog the last few days. I just didn't want to add any words to the situation. And all of the things we had going on this busy, December weekend seemed too light. Trifling. You know. I appreciated this post by Lecia, where she talks about her feeling of reverence in her ordinary days, and also this one by Elle, where she's thinking about bell hooks and MLK and a world perspective. Lots of things to think about. We stayed quiet around here, and I think everyone else did too. Traffic into my inbox all but ceased. We went about our business.

I know we've all read lots of people on our fb feeds and elsewhere talking about hug your children, that they hugged their children extra tight, etc. That's a parent's reaction to this, of course. But it made me realize, you know, I already revel in these kids every day, I truly do. I am drinking them in every minute, and couldn't enjoy them more. I wrote about it one time. I will never fear that I've missed any opportunities to love them, and I know they feel it.

On Monday morning, I walked Hank all the way up to the door of his school, kissed his face, and watched his shaggy head until it bobbed out of sight. I thought how we are all just doing our best, and hoping for the best.

Now the kids are home until January 7. I hope you are well. On Dasher!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Mean, Kids Will Believe Anything: Kindergarten Gingerbread Hunt


Every Friday a different mom comes into Hank's class to do some kind of cooking activity with them. My day was approaching and I was low on ideas. It might have been Bloody Marys if the teacher hadn't come to the rescue. She had it all figured out.

I went to the class in the morning and read that Gingerbread Baby book to them. Then I pulled out the supplies I'd brought, and using a big sheet pan we got from the cafeteria, I shaped a big gingerbread man. The kids loved watching this. We gave him a few rudimentary decorations--eyes, mouth, buttons--nothing too fussy. Then we took the big pan to the cafeteria, where the lunch ladies were already our confederates.

We handed over the big gingerbread man to them, exhorting them, "Please keep a close eye on him! And whatever you do, don't open the oven door too early! These guys are very crafty and quick!" They promised that they would guard him carefully, and then they slid the pan into the big industrial oven. The kids watched this as carefully as if they were UN nuclear facility inspectors.

We went back to the classroom and read the next in the Gingerbread Baby series, Gingerbread Friends. As we finished, one of Hank's teachers came running into the room, the sheepish lunch ladies right behind her. "You guys! You'll never believe what happened! The good news is, your little cookies are ready, but the big one that Hank's mom made got away!" (She had pre-prepared little individual men for them to decorate, and the ladies bore them in on a sheet pan.) "He's running loose in the school, he could be anywhere!" she said.

The kids absolutely erupted. One little boy clapped his hands to his forehead and said, "I knew this would happen!" They were all on their feet and ready for action. A few ran out into the hall and peered in all directions. After a few moments of complete frenzy, the teacher drew their attention to a little card that had been taped outside the door. As you might imagine, it said "Run run run, as fast as you can..." and it had a little rhyme with a clue for them to solve.

The clues were pitched right at their level, and the clues led us from the classroom, to the gym, to the nurse's office, to the library, to the front desk, and finally, right into the very heart of darkness, the principal's office.

The teacher appointed Hank to go up to her desk and politely state our business. The kids all crowded around and he said, "Um, Mrs. B, we are looking all over the school for our gingerbread man who got away, have you seen him? He is brown?"

The principal was actually chewing when the class came in, and the cookie man was lying right there on her desk. She had partly covered it with a piece of paper, but the sharp-eyed kindergarteners spotted him.

It was so hilarious. They were kind of outraged with her! She said, "I wanted to eat him for breakfast!" And one girl goes, "You should eat breakfast at home." Like, please lady.

So maybe now the kids believe that baked goods can become sentient and develop volition, but that it's okay to eat them anyway. I don't know. But it was the cutest dang thing!

I'm off now to eat a special lunch at school with Hank, part of an absolute parade of merriment that is unfolding over the next few days. Are y'all hip-deep in this stuff now? I love it all. xoxo

Friday, December 7, 2012

Everybody Needs A Little Encouragement

Two days ago the kids and I were driving in the car. Laura mentioned that all of the eighth-grade girls are toting around sacks of flour, pretending they're babies, and they have to care for them for a class assignment.

I asked her if the boys were doing that, and she said she hadn't seen any.

I said, "Well that's dumb, I mean, men have to care for children too. It takes two people to make a baby."

From the back, Hank piped up. "No no, the moms can make the babies but the dads have to encourage it."

I carefully and gently reached across to the passenger seat and placed my hand over Laura's mouth, and she slid down in her seat, shaking in silent laughter. I said, "Well that encouragement is very important."


Today is my birthday! It has been going just swell. Matt and I had lunch out. While I was tucking into my pineapple mojito, his conversational opener was, "Here's one way I've become a douchebag."

And then it was something about LinkedIn. But I thought, I will never stop being entertained by the people in this family and the things they think of to say.

We are getting a sitter and heading out tonight, and then next weekend, Matt got us tickets to an Australian Open Wildcard tournament here in town, the finals day. Sweet! We're so very sporty now!

I hope y'all have a good evening planned. xoxo

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let's Oil Up

So, the rubbing of petroleum products on my face.

One effect of living in a suburb, where everything is so conveniently arrayed for my vehicular consumption, is that when I need to go somewhere that's more than five minutes from my driveway, I get kind of huffy. On Sunday I set out to take Laura to her book club meeting, and then realized the little girl's house was like eight miles away and I was all LET THIS CUP PASS FROM ME. I mean, eight whole miles?!? There be dragons.

But I took her down there and then since I was so far, I didn't go home, I went to Trader Joe's, which, Trader Joe's on a Sunday in December, wow, I've never seen that many Obama supporters in one place in metro Atlanta in ever. I went to fetch a bottle of evening primrose oil capsules, as the wise Elle suggested. I have been having dry, irritable skin lately. I can't think what has changed in my personal ecosystem, except that the weather got colder (though then it got drastically warmer). It's like I'm inflamed, but I lead a pretty anti-inflammatory life, I think. With my kale and my sardine-love and all. I'm turning 40 this week; is this what 40 is going to be like?

So there is so much going and coming and wind blowing and working out and sweating and wiping my face that I was just feeling like I wanted some kind of thick protective layer on there. One day last week, in desperation, I rubbed aquaphor on my hands and then put it all over my face.

You see, I come from a long line of southern women for whom Vaseline is like penicillin. It is just a good place to start. You administer the vaseline and then see where you are. "Put some vaseline on it" was a common, common prescription in my grandmother's house. So white petrolatum is like home to me.

And you know, I don't know if that stuff leached into my brain or anything, but it did make my skin feel supple and it gave me a nice shininess. Funny, you spend your teens and twenties not wanting to look shiny, and now, I'll take shiny just great. I think oil is our friend.

So what are you guys using to keep yourselves fully oiled and in smooth working order? I feel I've gone beyond one of those normal lotiony moisturizers. I have one from Origins that I like, but it's the Dr. Weil mushroomy one and Matt calls it "Not Tonight, Honey." Is there some essential oil y'all are smearing on yourselves?

Do tell. xoxo

Friday, November 30, 2012

Nostalgia for The Immediate Past

Well, it didn't turn out to be such a shabby month of blog posts. I tell you though, halfway through the month, I would click back to last November's 30 posts, over there in the left sidebar, and think, "People should just read these again. There were some good ones in there." The time Matt tried to fix the toilets, the time Hank said the f-word, no the other f-word, the time I fixed the garbage disposal, the post about my health insurance, all worth reading again. IN MY HUMBLE OPINION.

But this month was fun too, blog-wise. It had its moments. I don't know, it's too soon. I'm sure in three weeks, I'll be all, remember that stuffed swan I bought in Tennessee! Golden Age! What was it Sir Philip Sidney said in his 1579 Defense of Poesy? Something about how the world is brazen, but bloggers make it golden. That was it, I think.

It is a golden age, truly. And in this particular golden age, Matt and I just ended the day by spending fully twenty minutes discussing how we both, at different times and unbeknownst to each other, heard a woodpecker tapping on our front door frame. It tapped exactly as if it were trying to gain entry into the house, but didn't know quite how knocking or doors work, being a bird. Yes, we had a lot to say about this experience. What we each heard, what we thought when we heard it, what we did next, how we noticed the bird--obviously this was a rich vein that needed mining, and it made excellent pillow talk.

In my recounting of events, I finally opened the door and the bird said, "What the FRACK. I've been knocking for HOURS."

Thank you for reading so diligently these thirty days. Looking forward to more golden times for all of us.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lady Time

Today was a whole, whole lot of lady socializing and a complete disaster eating-wise but at least I managed to not volunteer for anything. As I will explain.

This morning my tennis team had a match at our home court (I brought a mixed baby greens salad with mandarin oranges, goat cheese, and walnuts, which is not exactly cutting edge but it completely disappeared). I was planning on going and having lunch with Matt after, but my partner T and I didn't get to start playing until 11, and then it took us three hours and three sets to finally lose to these tall, friendly women who made very few mistakes. It's kind of surprising that we took one set, actually.

Anyway, so I didn't get to go eat with Matt, and instead spent nearly all darn day with my morning tennis team. Everybody on my team lost their matches. Those girls were just really good. And as we were leaving, their captain said, "Well you guys definitely get the award for the nicest team in the league." I said, "Well, thank you, that might be some consolation." They also praised our hostessing. Sometimes I think we should disband as a tennis team and start a catering business, because our bench is really deep in that area.

Then Hank had his lesson up there after school and so it was lather, rinse, repeat with some of the same characters. By this point we had all half-changed our clothes.

Then, a mere two hours later, I went to a get-together and bunco night for my Sunday tennis team, to celebrate our semi-successful fall season. I took cut up apples and chocolate dip, because I was tired. This was at our captain's house. I like her house, because while her taste is not really the same as mine, she doesn't have a lot of stuff in there. There are empty spaces, and it feels very clean and spacious that way. I could swap out some of her things in a jiff and be happy with 90% of her stuff. (What a nice compliment that would be to give her! "I would be happy with 90% of your stuff!" I can be an ass sometimes, on the inside.)

This, again, was much of the same cast of characters as the morning, with some new additions. By now, everyone was fully showered, blown out, and wearing their boots. There was sangria.

Pretty Neighbor and I recalled that, at our last tennis bunco night, which was in June and therefore fell into the blogging lacuna, I had volunteered the two of us to decorate the club house for the 4th of July and oversee the 4th of July bike parade. Our tennis friend, and the neighborhood social director, was complaining about how her kids aren't even little anymore and she needs someone to take on more of the kid activities in the neighborhood, and somehow it possessed me to gesture toward PN and say, "This seems like something you would be really good at." I know! And then, perhaps because the sangria and my tight jeans were making me dizzy, I didn't see the death glare Pretty Neighbor was giving me and wound up basically committing the two of us.

And THEN, though she did not bring this up tonight because she is too good a friend, I planned an impromptu trip to D.C. for the 4th, leaving Pretty Neighbor to be the master of ceremonies all by herself.

BEST FRIEND EVAR. I apologized profusely when I realized what I was about to do. Or as much as I could apologize through my hysterical laughter of shame. But we did the flags and everything before I left and then PN oversaw the bike parade and all was well. Okay, why am I telling you about something that happened in June? Because tonight, back at the scene of the crime, Pretty Neighbor said, "Just keep your mouth shut." And I did!

So then there was lots of lady hollering and chatting, and Normal Neighbor unveiled this cheese dip she had baked in the middle of a loaf of bread, and I only had eyes for that thing, and then I had a conversation about the fifty shades books, and then I didn't win any prizes, and we were home by 9:30.

Now it is 11:30 and I am IN BED, which, 11:30 in my house is like still the shank of the evening, but I need to sing with the larks. I hope you have enjoyed this impressionistic journey through my lady socializing. You basically now know what it was like to be there. xoxo

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We Builded That

Y'all, today I paused while smearing a thin layer of Aquaphor all over my face to think, "I really need that dang blogroll back." Remember how over on the right I used to have a long list of blogs? Somehow, during the GoDaddy debacle and domain loss, that went away. I have no idea why. Like, a magic donkey stopped turning a wheel and that list vanished into thin air.

As a result, I am a really bad blog friend. If I don't see your link on facebook or twitter, I am missing things. This came home to me tonight when I spied a picture on Beth's instagram feed that said she'd given herself a gel manicure at home and had blogged about it, and I was like, wha? I need this information RIGHT NOW INSTANTLY. Then I went over there and there was stuff all about a cute spider web she made from an embroidery hoop, and I had not noticed it before Halloween because no blog roll! So many missed opportunities.

So, if you used to be listed over there OR if you hang around here and want to be listed over there please let me know in the comments! We can rebuild her! Then I'll go back to being basically on top of everyone's developments and I will be a better blog friend. Okay? And if your blog isn't obvious from your little blogger profile, leave a link! Let's get this barn raised!

And if you see me and I am glistening all over, it is the petroleum products. xoxo

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Probably Not Worth It

The other day, I sorted through a massive amount of Laura's outgrown clothing, and separated them into three piles: Donate, Consign, Ebay. Actually there were two ebay piles, one for spring/summer and one for now. I've kept a lot of this stuff around for too long because I thought I could sell some of her outfits and make more money than I would from consignment, but as you may know, selling clothes on ebay is kind of a pain, because it involves a whole lot of washing and neatening and photographing for pretty small amounts of money. She has some of the cutest things, though, and some still with tags or never worn.

Back in the day--even a few years ago--you could do pretty well with better children's clothes in very good condition. Or "excellent used condition (EUC)," in the ebay lingo. I happily dressed Laura in a lot of of gymbo and Hanna, then resold it, and I remember it seems like you could get up to half of what you'd paid for the things new. It was a nice biz. Dressing her was a hobby, and ebay was too. Then I took a long break from reselling anything. Laura stopped wanting to dress in matching outfits. I started a blog. The world moved along.

So lately I've stuck a toe back into ebay and it looks like that market--children's clothing both new and used--has gotten super saturated. Like, lots of auctions ending without bids or with only an opening bid. I think there's just so many people reselling, and retail stores are basically giving things away in the first place. I did manage to sell a bunch of Hanna thick cotton tights--like seven pairs--for thirty-something bucks, so I thought I would list a few more things, but it's not looking too good.

The other day I sold a Gymboree velour jacket and yoga pants set, size 10. It was barely worn, and it sold for $7.49. I remember selling a similar set for $20 a few years ago, but okay. It's better than the zero dollars it was earning sitting in a basket. So I shipped it out last week. Tonight I got this message from the buyer via the little automated ebay messaging system:
Was a little disappointed to find out the pants are a size 12 and not a size 10 to match the coat, but they both look to be in EUC. Hodge Podge sizes are hard to resale :( 
Okay, whoops! I did sometimes buy L different sizes in bottoms and tops because she's always been so tall. I'd looked at the size tag in the jacket and not thought to check the pants. My fault, but I was a little annoyed by this note, though, because there is no question or request about it, it's just a complaint. It is unclear what would make her happy. And yes I know it is in EUC, I said it was. Also, I was surprised she was buying it to resell again and not for a child to wear. But I dunno. And the little frownie face. Please. So I sent back, "Hi, I'm sorry, my daughter must have worn those at the same time and I forgot there was a size discrepancy. Do you want to return?"

Returning something that you paid seven dollars for is a super duper PITA, so I am guessing she will say no, she'll keep it. Which then, am I supposed to apologize some more? Give her a partial refund? I have always shunned the way of the partial refund, and it's never really been an issue before. But that's what I think her message is angling for. She didn't say, "Your listing was wrong, I'm sending it back." She said she was "disappointed," to which I'm supposed to say...? Gah!

I know it is not cool to sell something as one size and have it turn out to be another, but this is my blog and I'm complaining to you anyway. Argle bargle! Details! I think my lifeforce may be too drained by the whole ebay enterprise, and given that the bottom has fallen out of the market, I'm going to take it all to consignment.

Anyway, 99 problems. Any of y'all still doing the ebay thing?

Monday, November 26, 2012


Hank with Peach
This guy, Hank! 2 years old.
Big bite!



Hank loves fruit. I mean, he loves fruit, he always has. I sometimes find apple cores or banana peels upstairs because he has sneaked up there to eat his fruit in private. Maybe it is tastier if it's clandestine. As though I have ever denied the child fruit.

This afternoon, right after school, he asked for a "regular banana and also a banana cut up with little dabs of peanut butter." I clarifed that he wanted to eat a whole banana, and then have a banana with peanut butter. He means for me to pipe the PB out of a baggie like I do. I said, sure, eat the banana and then you can have one with peanut butter. He protested that he wanted them together, but I was firm. So he ate a banana. Then he said, and I kid you not, "Mom, now let's move on to the little dabs of peanut butter." Oh, indeed. Let's move on. So I cut another banana into little circles and then piped the peanut butter onto them and he will never move out of the house or marry.

A bit later, his little friend from around the corner was visiting. Hank led him into the kitchen and said, "Would you like a tangerine, which is a small orange?"

If facebook hadn't existed it would have sprung fully into being at that moment, that's how fast I updated my status. I had to share my pride in both his politeness and his considerate desire to explain completely. I mean, what if his buddy had been put off by the exotic citrus terminology? "Do not be dismayed, friend, by 'tangerine,' it will be familiar to you as an orange, though somewhat smaller and less acidic."

And for some reason, as I sit to write to you, before I go to bed, that is the moment from the day that I wanted to tell you about.

I hope you found something memorable in your day. xoxo

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Just Try Not To Look Weird

wide shot
Do I not have any puffier clothing in which to be photographed?
We are back home in Atlanta tonight, somewhat grudgingly. It was such a good relaxed time up in the mountains, I kind of didn't want to leave. I mean, it's basically ideal--I'm almost embarrassed--because whenever we're up there with a grandparent, we're minimally responsible for the custodial care of our children. Grandparents are up early, they're making breakfast, they're dispensing pearls of wisdom. Everyone is happy and I can keep to my preferred sleep hours, 2-10am.

6:15 is gonna come early tomorrow morning.

This morning before we all went our separate ways, I herded the family outside for Andy to take our picture. I need something to put on Christmas cards. When we had first awakened this morning, I said to Matt, "I need to get a picture for Christmas cards," and he goes, "We don't have a picture?" And I'm like, no. And he's all, I don't believe you? And I'm like, it's complicated but just put on pants. I mean, Reader, is there anything less rewarding than explaining to a man why you need a certain picture of the family at a certain time in a certain way? But we got some good shots, and then tonight I was messing with different xmas card layouts, and I showed one to Matt, and he goes, "Well I look like a sad troll, but sure." So I picked a different picture even though I looked fractionally hotter in the sad troll one. Compromise!

kids photobombing

Lots going on this week. A couple get-togethers with friends, for which I need to bring food, and a tennis match, for which I need to bring food. And several things I'm forgetting right now. And tomorrow Hank has to bring a Christmas stocking and "24 like items" to school. I think the teacher is giving them little goodies every day in December? I have a bunch of Smencils to send, which used to be cool. In 2011 they were the new silly bandz. Don't know if they still are.

Good luck with your reentry. Right now I must to bed. Sad trombone!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shopping Small

Nichol's House Antiques in Sylva, NC, where more is more.

Betty with wildlife
Today we went in different directions. Matt took the kids to see Wreck-it Ralph, their second viewing, and Betty and I drifted down to Sylva's Main Street to stimulate the local economy. Actually I spent zero dollars, but I offered crucial moral support as Betty navigated through the purchase of a set of coasters, a dish cloth, and a vintage lace tablecloth. We were digging through an entire sideboard full of table linens, with the proprietress helping us, and we kept finding things that were pretty but not quite right. Of one, a little oblong linen piece with french knot embroidery, I said, "Betty, you could put this on your piano." Betty thought and said, "There is a fine line between pretty and little old lady." Then she and the other lady laughed and high fived each other in generational solidarity.

This store is set up in an old house, with each room containing its proper things: bed linens in the bedroom, more masculine stuff in the study, etc. Lots to wander around and look at, and I always appreciate their maximalist approach to Christmas decorating. There is a unified sensibility to the place that makes it feel almost like someone's actual house.

I was sort of looking for things for my nieces, but I don't think that tween girls have the proper appreciation for a punch bowl resting on a pedestal made of antlers.

I blame Taylor Swift?

We remain here in the Thanksgiving mountain citadel. All of the leftovers are almost gone, so we might have to move on soon. You? 


Friday, November 23, 2012


At Deep Creek.

We didn't do much today and we didn't start that until after lunch. It was gray and wintry-looking here, without actually being very chilly. Matt and the kids and I headed to Deep Creek, our favorite summer tubing spot, to walk in the woods. I like this time of year for a hike; with no leaves you can see so far through the woods. You can see the shapes of the ridge tops and hills. When we got down to the river, we kept marveling at how different it all looked with bare trees. Or different-yet-familiar, like it had been remodeled. Let's just open up this space here and get some more light in.

As I snapped this picture, Hank was reaching into his pocket for a little bag of skittles he'd saved from the movie the other day and brought along. We laughed remembering that the last time he'd walked this trail, he was about two-and-a-half, and he'd had candy in his hand then too. It was February, and he'd been given a little Snoopy Valentine that contained exactly three pieces of chocolate. Even though he was a toddler, he made the journey carrying that heart box in his hand, and he rationed the candy as he went. While we all stood around with no snack and no candy, he would pause, sit carefully down on the ground, and have a chocolate. He had one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. I remember that he was so little, he was still wearing a one-piece outfit that snapped up the legs. He was potty-trained then, but just barely, and I remember several breaks to "go pee pee like a bear." Today he said he remembered that day, but I think he just remembers our recitations of it.

As we walked today, the kids wanted to do riddles and puzzles, so we dredged up every one we could think of. Laura solved the Riddle of the Sphinx but was completely stumped by, "What state is tall in the middle and round on both ends?"

Then there was leftover-eating and hot tubbing. Another highlight: I took the pie tin containing the last piece of pumpkin pie into the sun room with Betty, closed the door to children, and and had a long catch-up session on the entire extended family. As we talked, I finished my piece and ate every remaining morsel of pie, mashing the crumbs with my index finger. When I was fully up to speed on all goings-on, the plate was clean. All's right with the world, but we are sad to see that pie go.

What is up in your domestic citadel? Are you still in holiday isolation? I have not even bought anything online. Asceticism! xoxo

Thursday, November 22, 2012

We Really Excel At This

The basically doing nothing, that is. I didn't even put on shoes today. Pretty sure that on the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims had Squanto over to eat party mix and half-watch all the Lord of the Rings movies.

Did you have a nice day? I rolled out of bed about nine. Betty and Andy were on their way. I had no food prepared, but my eleven year-old wanted to be put to work. I lined up all the supplies for her, and she made two pumpkin pies, then an apple pie, then cut up the potatoes for eventual mashing. Then she made the grape salad. I was like, who says holiday cooking is stressful? She was so happy to be in charge of something, and she's gotten pretty capable.

And of course we had this can of cranberry jelly. Our turkey was organically raised on grass and taught to read by nuns, but we also gotta have the Ocean Spray. Hank thought it was a candle. I admit, I love that stuff.

While we were cooking, Hank was out shooting at things with his homemade bow and arrows, happy as the grass is green. He had practically come to my bedside in the morning, brandishing a long stick that needed to be cut into arrows. Then he was after me to find a sharp knife for his daddy to whittle them with. He would be a very good producer or project manager. He figures out who can do what for him and then he makes it happen.

It was sunny and cool up here today, and we read, chatted, and drank a bottle of champagne while we waited for the bird to finish. All the food was good, even if I forgot to put any turkey neck in the gravy. When I pushed my chair back from the table, I was seized by some kind of stupor, lay down, took a two-hour nap, and then roused myself with thoughts of pie.

While I slept, Matt got in the hot tub with the kids and then watched The Rescuers with them. Then we all played Settlers of Catan, and now everyone has gone to bed. Matt is stretched out asleep with his head in my lap, and Aragorn is trying to hold Helm's Deep. I'm blogging on my phone, and I would sit here forever except that I might have to go to the bathroom in a minute. Now you know literally everything.

I hope you're having a good time, wherever you are. You're not out shopping, are you? If so, tell us what you got. xoxo

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why Didn't You List That Among Our Assets in The First Place?

We just got to the mountain house a little bit ago to spend Thanksgiving. My parents aren't here, but Matt's mom and brother Andy will join us tomorrow.

The house has been empty, so earlier today I called Mom to see what pantry staples might be here before I hauled bags of flour, sugar, and cornmeal across state lines. She said that they'd pretty well cleaned everything out before they left for the season. Okay, so I loaded a huge red plastic tub with absolutely everything I need to make two pies, sweet potato au gratin, grape salad, and cornbread dressing. Also: wine, fruit, crackers, milk, etcetera.

I arrived to cupboards that were far from bare. I was pleased to find: Vodka; pie crusts; and five (5) opened boxes of ice cream cones.

And that is how Debbie rolls.

I think it's going to be the best Thanksgiving ever.

I need to go because Percy is barking at something that probably is a bear. Maybe it will eat her. xoxo

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Summer Flashback: Ate at Joe's

During my lengthy summer blog hiatus, we got to go spend a week with Matt's family at his brother and sister-in-law's lake house in Western Mass. Chris and Robin were awesome hosts. This was a week of many new scenes for us, and we loved it all: The lake, the perfect temperatures, and the pretty little towns. One day we went to the Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge, which is well worth seeing for all the Saturday Evening Post covers alone. Then we went to the Joe's Diner that you see in several Rockwell paintings from the 50's. It's in Lee, and if Robin hadn't taken us there, I never would have noticed it. It is a tiny hole-in-the-wall place. But guess who was there? The actual Joe, seen in this painting.

"The Runaway," 1958.
The Runaway
My runaways, 2012. With the authentic Joe!
kids with joe
Joe was quite happy to pose with the kids. Recreating the painting was his suggestion.
Kids Eat at Joe's
Cousins: Laura, Kay, Hank, and Abby

The museum is on a really pretty piece of land, and they've moved Rockwell's studio there from in town. That was my favorite part. It's a cute little house that looks like a barn. This was a great outing to do with kids, because they really get down with the whole illustration thing. The museum had a neat scavenger hunt of stuff for the kids to find in the paintings.

rockwell kids
Outside Stockbridge

Laura in Rockwell's studio
In the studio. L, Abby, and Kay compare two different versions of "Mosaic."
Hank in Norman Rockwell's Studio

In Norman Rockwell's studio

Hank wanted to be sure everybody saw his pirate flag, which was actually from a Howard Pyle exhibit at the museum and had nothing to do with Rockwell. But you know, yarr!

Thank you for indulging me in this nostalgic look back at July. It was just a simpler world then, you know? xoxo

Monday, November 19, 2012

In Which I Win at Flea Markets

swan pillow
Noble. And Dignified. Like Louis!

Yesterday morning at my brother and sister-in-law's place, a movement arose to venture out to a local flea market. This flea market promised many delights. "They have pigs and goats!" Kate said. I was like, "I'm in." And Laura was way in. She loves looking through junk even more than I do. Hank wasn't feeling that great, he had a cold, so I threw Matt a lifeline and asked him if he would mind staying home with him. One thing I've learned about Matt in seventeen years of marriage is that he would rather be kicked straight in the throat than go to a flea market.

So we made our way up and down and looked at everything. Laura was in high spirits, because she knew it was a virtual certainty that money would be spent on her. And after I shook my head to a counterfeit North Face jacket and some disgusting cowboy boots, she lit upon a little doll chest with a cut glass knob. Mom found a Russel Wright cream pitcher for a quarter. It's exactly the same as the cream pitcher I found last year--the kind that's supposed to sit on a matching sugar bowl. WHERE ARE THE SUGAR BOWLS? Katie bought a little piece of needlepoint and some Amish cheese. Dad bought a green army blanket that must be the missing piece in his surely now-complete army blanket collection. I didn't see anything I wanted. I eyed a Frankoma serving tray in the shape of Texas. If it had been in the shape of a state where I'd ever lived, I might have bought it. But nah.

Finally we were on the way out and I saw that stuffed swan guy sitting on the ground. It tinkled some key of memory somewhere--I remember seeing patterns for these animal pillows in the fabric store when I was a kid. I turned this one over and he was clearly home stuffed and sewn. And he has a little label that says, "Wild Swan." I looked at the man in the booth, and he held up one finger. I was like, "Oh for one dollar, this is ALL MINE." Laura cheered me on. When I rejoined the rest of our group with this bird under my arm, I'm sure it was the least surprised they've ever been. I said, "I had to get this, I can't really answer any questions about it." And Kate said, "Yeah, I don't know why, but that's just you all over."

On the way home, we wondered what Matt would say when he saw my special find. Dad went with, "Really?" And I predicted something like, "Well I'm glad we got THAT finally." But when I walked in and placed the swan on the coffee table, what he actually said was, "Oh no, no, no, no, no!" Dad goes, "Nobody had that in the pool." And Matt closed his eyes for a minute. I don't know if he was tired or what. And then when we were packing the car to go, he insisted on calling it a goose. And that's just hurtful! A goose, really.

So I don't know, like my owl lamp, I couldn't just leave it there. I love animal motifs, but I am also trying to rid our house of clutter. Which makes this purchase an odd move. I may decorate it for Christmas and stick it under the tree. Or I may put it under the covers on Matt's side of the bed tonight. Or in the driver's seat of his car. So many fun possibilities!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Group Pics

mom and me
Ma and me. My hair has gotten long all the sudden?
The weekend is demanding enough without having to read a bunch of words. So I will give you a few pictures instead. We had a really good day rambling around my brother's new place, and later I'll have to tell you about how this haunting of the little church across the road and the local Bigfoot is like Totally A Thing all around here. But Saturday night is no time for narrative.

gabe climbing steps
Gabe clambering.
laura in backyard
Laura bouncing.
living room
Kate and Dave have a tall, pretty living room. Love.
Kitchen conversation.
Gorgeous and warm here today.
boys on porch
Dudes al fresco.
Don't know where the baby was for this shot.
My sister-in-law is like a 33rd-level Wizard of Lunch. We came back from a walk and she'd put the baby down for a nap and prepared a huge meal. Which we ate gratefully. The End. I hope you had pleasant and satisfying times today. xoxo

Friday, November 16, 2012

Into Green Acres

Baby Gabe is working hard, but he wants to know, are you?

My brother and sister-in-law, formerly of Capitol Hill, Washington DC, have lit out for the territory, leaving their city life and buying a house on 39 acres in the country outside Huntsville, Alabama. So far outside Huntsville, actually, that they are in Tennessee. The house is a beautiful, barely lived-in cottage that was custom built by two gay guys. Ideal. There is a cave entrance on their property, lots of deer and turkeys, a haunted church across the road, and a legend about a Bigfoot-style monster, the Beast of Bee Spring, who stalks the area. So, basically perfect. This local Bigfoot has a devoted cult following of people who assemble at the church every Halloween to wait for him to manifest, like a redneck Great Pumpkin.

I am very excited to visit.

And we are going over there tonight, just for the weekend. Yay! I haven't seen Gabriel in forever, or not since August anyway.

I am packing our things and we will leave as soon as Matt gets finished playing something called Whirlyball. I don't know, it's a company team-building thing, and it involves bumper cars and lacrosse sticks. And people think computer game development is not a real job.

Leaving town means I had to turn down an invitation from my tennis friend T to go see the new Twilight movie with her. Which I totally would have done, but it will have to wait. Oh Edward!

What are y'all up to? Have a good Friday night and I will check back in with you tomorrow, unless I meet the Beast of Bee Spring first.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


When the weather turns cool, I am very vulnerable to buying things. It is like no other time of year, and I mean, before we even get to Christmas shopping. When it is chilly, that is, when it is actually chilly inside my house, I start to fantasize about things that have magical warming properties. Things made of cashmere, down, fleece, etc. Of course, I have a complete winter wardrobe. I have these things. (Remember our mantra: I already have nice things. I already have nice things.) But around this time of year, I find myself wondering if three pairs of ugg boots are enough, and whether they make sheepskin shorts with the fleece on the inside that I could wear, like lederhosen-meets-Sundance, with a turtleneck over a pair of thick leggings.

Because that would be the most fantastic outfit ever. Truly! No really, I'm serious.

Matt came downstairs the other day to find me still wearing the teeny spandex shorts I had worked out in, with the addition of a pair of fleece legwarmers pulled all the way up to my thighs, leaving my shins bare. He said, "You know, there is another kind of clothing that would cover all these parts of your body." I also had on uggs and a cashmere cardigan, only the cardigan was too big so I'd belted it with the sash to my bathrobe which happened to be in the laundry room. It was a special look, it's a pity I didn't take a dozen self-portraits and put them on instagram.

But also, shopping. Every fall I fight the urge to rebuy things I already have because I like them and they work so well. Do you feel this urge?

Anyway, I found something this season I didn't already own and it is everything I hoped it would be. Fleece-lined leggings. They are only ten bucks and they combine the toastiness of fleece with the not-real-pantsiness of leggings.

I do not seek to relitigate the Are Leggings Pants question. I know there are strong feelings on both sides, but I feel that if you are wearing a longish top, and tallish boots, what happens in the middle is your own private Idaho.

Okay, so I'm loving the leggings, and they are taking the edge off my shopping jones. Other things I do when it's chilly: drink coffee all day long. And the other day I was at Cost Plus for some reason with my parents and my dad made me buy this German spiced wine. I'm having a mug every night. I'm having one now.

Stay warm my friends. xo

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Swim for Your Life, O Human Child!

ursula's lair
Ursula's Lair
Our thoughts and takeaways from watching multiple, multiple middle school performances of Little Mermaid:

Laura is one of the black-clad Poor Unfortunate Souls up there, but it was basically impossible to photograph her because dang Ariel was always standing in the way. And Laura was in the back because she's tall, the light was greenish and dim, and the souls were constantly, like, writhing. After a couple of shows, I was like, "Laura, scoot up front! Elbow some of the other souls out of the way, but subtly!" But she didn't.

laura soul
There she is, the one who's almost in focus.
laura chef 2
Her other incarnation.
There were two casts of lead actors, but Laura and the other members of the corps were in every show. And there was a lot of girl talent in this group! Both Ariels were truly great singers, I couldn't believe they were twelve and thirteen years old.

two ariels

flounder 2
This little girl who played Flounder just totally killed it.
Pretty costumes.
So the girls were awesome, but you know who was not awesome? The boys. All of the boys seemed like maybe they were bribed to be on stage, and maybe they had been. It was hilarious. It was like probably they'd never spoken English sentences before. Or worn clothing, or talked and moved at the same time. Discussing it later, Matt said, "You know, science has yet to devise a use for the middle school boy." And I had to agree. Bless their hearts!


The shining exception was both little boys who played the crab, especially this kid here. He had it together and he even did the Jamaican accent. But observing the general dearth of boy talent, I understood why the high school's production this fall was Little Women.

During the show week, a rumor was circulating that next year's play would be Aladdin. We thought, hmm, that would be fun, but it needs too many strong male leads. Matt was like, they should just do it with all girls, and I was all, is there something that has even more girls than Little Women? Laura mentioned Annie. That might do the trick.

The other thing that cracked me up was the tizzy the entire cast was in because Ariel and Prince Eric actually kiss on stage. Look at this picture and look at the kids in the background. (There's Laura in the back right.) Not a single one of them is in character at this point, they are all reacting to their classmates kissing for real on stage. Six shows, they were like this. And when Laura talked about it, she was like, "OHMIGOD!" Oh man, so funny and kind of sweet.

It was a fun week. Having a teeninsy role to play was just about perfect for Laura. She loved being part of something bigger, but with no actual pressure. She also loved being fussed over and getting into her costumes.

laura big hair
We liked the big Poor Unfortunate Soul hair.
Our final takeaway--Matt's and mine--was that we do not think we are raising an actress. Laura, we feel, only wants to play the role of Laura. Which can be very appealing, and I can imagine other parts in this show she could have done well in. She is not afraid to stand up in front of people and do things. But actually acting like someone else? I can't see it. I suspect that she will find, though, that in many life situations, acting like yourself is enough. Also showing up, being cheerful, and working the hair.

I hope that you have enjoyed this journey under the sea. If for some reason you do not yet feel like YOU sat through five shows of this pageantry, the set of flickr pics is here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Nerd-Shaped Hole in My Heart

The game company boys flew the coop last Tuesday, Election Day. Matt wanted to commemorate the event, so I snapped this picture in front of one of their many acres of white boards.

Incidentally, it was for these white boards that Matt broke my perfect, decade-long record of never, never writing an Amazon review. Suddenly, in my name, there were these detailed, thoughtful comparisons of various white board surfaces being published. But he cannot comment on my blog. (I know, honey, now it's a thing.)

So today was the first day that we had no house guests around and Matt was off working in the new place. It was quiet.

I got up at 6:15, got Hank up and dressed, fed him breakfast, made his lunch, and got him on the bus.

From 7 to 8 I watched the Today Show, chatted with Laura, and made her breakfast.

From 8-10 I lay back down and went back to sleep.

From 10:30-12 I went to tennis practice.  There were only five of us, and the coach introduced us to a one-handed backhand volley.

I came home just after noon, and this was when I felt the lack of Matt in the house. Normally I would come in from my morning activities, and he would be bustling into the kitchen to get lunch, or having a chat with his partner Lincoln somewhere, and I would be all, "Hey, you won't believe what so and so said!" Or, "I just got my butt kicked/kicked some butt," etc. Instead, silence.

In place of that interaction, I stood at the sink and diligently, carefully dissected and ate half of a pomegranate. I looked out my windows at the falling leaves. You cannot eat a pomegranate except somewhat meditatively.

Then I tidied the things. Then I watched the end of Dial M for Murder and folded a lot of laundry. I never can exactly track all the business with the latchkey.

Then at 2:45 I met Hank at the bus stop, and he brought a little buddy home to play. I presided over that business and made a quiche. Hank talked to me about a food drive at his school, then climbed up into the pantry and loaded his backpack with non-perishables.

At 4:45, Laura walked in the door with many things stored up to say, having apparently not gotten the chance to talk enough during her school day. I absorbed her info and redirected her into homework and fed her an emergency cheese quesadilla.

At 5:45, I loaded both children into the car and delivered the quiche to my neighbor. Then I drove Laura to swimming. She has been absent from swimming so long, due to play practice, that she joked that she was going to ask a lifeguard to keep an eye on her.

At 6:15, Hank and I went into Publix for a few things. Then we went home and I made a soup out of some of the things. Hank is still processing the presidential election, and he had to tell me the results of his canvassing of the elementary school teachers. Only one vote for Obama in his exit polling.

At 7, I called Matt and asked him to swing by and pick up Laura when her practice was over, which he did. They got home just after 8. We all ate some more and he watched an Avatar with the kids. Then they read some Hobbit and got into bed, and that brings you almost up to the present moment.

All this is to say, my day was pretty much like it always is, except I never know where the time goes and I felt a little bit more lonely for parts of it, but not in a bad way.

I am sorry that this post is not more exciting. I hope that you too are bearing up under such trials as may come your way. xoxo

Monday, November 12, 2012

Badly Done Indeed

It's been forever since I told you a story about people showing their asses in tennis, so gather 'round. Lest you think that bad behavior is a common problem in recreational tennis, it's really not. I don't report on the majority of cases, in which everyone is lovely, our kids all go the same preschool, and we pour the balm of sisterhood all over the court before enjoying a delicious lunch. I mean who wants to read that.

This was a few weeks back, at the last Fall match for my Sunday team. To review: in Spring and Fall I played on two teams, one with matches on Thursday and one with a Sunday schedule. The two teams include a lot of the same ladies. There are many opinions circulating about the difference between Thursday and Sunday tennis, but in my limited experience, Sunday is when all the bad behavior goes down. Also a lot of husbands come, and most of these women's husbands, I'm like, I don't know, whatever.

So I was playing in line 3 or 4 with S, my Venezuelan sometimes-partner. She was my partner for the last tennis story I told you, where those terrible girls wouldn't hand over the balls. JUST HAND OVER THE BALLS.

S and I played our first set with these two girls and it was fine. They were more interested in chatting with each other than in making small talk with us, but that's okay, doubles is about being united with your partner. They beat us 6-3. In the second set, we sort of figured ourselves out and played better. We were up 5 games to 2, and they hit a shot that S called out on the left sideline. It was right there at her feet, and I was over on the right side of the court. She was in a much better position to see it, and she called it out.

Instantly, both of our opponents were like, "No way! That was on the line! That was in!" etc. Now, Reader, I thought they could have been right. From where I was standing, it looked tight. AND, if I had been the one to make the call, and they both instantly questioned it, I might have backed off on it. If you aren't sure, the call goes in your opponent's favor. So from where I was standing, it looked like a close ball, but I just said, "I couldn't see it." I wasn't about to disagree with my partner unless I was sure and maybe not even then. S stood her ground and said, "It was out. I'm sorry but it was. If you want, we can replay the point." Then I stepped in and said, "No, there's no replaying the point, the call is the call. If you saw it out, the ball is out." S is not an assertive person, and the fact that she was being insistent on this point made me want to back her up.

So there is no court of appeals or higher judge in rec tennis. We called the ball out and it was out, that gave us the second set 6-2, meaning we would play a third deciding set.

OMG they were so mad. They were fuming and fussing, but we took a break before the third set, and I ate a banana with ostentatious cheer and figured it would blow over.

Reader, it did not blow over.

They acted like such total bitches in that third set. With one part of my brain, I noticed this, but it didn't seem like a really serious problem because most of my brain was focused on the game. There was a lot of negative chatter coming from them, but you know what? They were standing kind of far away from me, and when someone on the other end of a tennis court mutters something nasty, you can't hear it. They were like two angry, muttering little raisins way over there. The people watching on the sidelines could hear it though, and there were little snark skirmishes breaking out in the bleachers, but I mostly stayed focused.

Only in retrospect did it even dawn on me how assy they were being. At one point, we hit a shot and I didn't hear their call. I asked, "Was it in?" One of the girls, the angrier one, just flipped the frack out. She started shouting, "Her call is her call! If she calls it out it is out!" and etcetera, in a way that was intended to mock S. As often happens when someone is completely losing her shit, I feel that my body is filling with a cool fluid, time dilates, and I have all the time in the world to respond. I just said, "Thanks for clearing that up." And then when they hit the next ball and it sailed long, I said, "Now THAT was out."

That is my only utterance that I am not 100% proud of, as it could be seen as flame-fanning.

Then I started to get worried, because their anger was making them play better and we got to 6-6 in the third set. As we took a break before the tiebreak game, I was all happy and TAKE NO PRISONERS LET'S DO THIS. My partner was going to serve first, and I walked back to her to give her a quick "Atta girl!" She said, "I can't talk, I'm going to cry." She told me that she was upset by all their negativity. I could feel her turning to jelly right there in front of me. I was honestly surprised and I tried to tell her not to worry about them. I said, like, "Heeey, honey, this is just tennis! Don't let them get to you, I think they're funny! We have them scared, we can win this," etc.

What I wanted to say was, "There is no crying in tennis! Big girl panties, stat!" I mean, come on!

But she served and we played the tiebreak and we won it 7-3. So, like, decisively.

Then, THEN, the angrier one of them refused to shake our hands. That is unheard of in ladies' tennis. My parents were there, they can testify. As soon as we won the last point--they hit a shot long--I retrieved the ball and walked straight to the net. Our opponents scurried to their bags and busied themselves there. I thought, "She's going to have to work harder to snub me." So I went over to them and said, "Great playing ladies, great match. Thank you." And I gave the angry girl's shoulder a friendly pat. She mumbled something and did not turn around. Her partner managed to thrust a hand in my direction. S got the same treatment. Then I turned to the spectators and exchanged 'O' faces with one of my teammates, who had practically popped popcorn for this exchange. My friend T said, "I'm about to come love tackle you."

When we walked off the court we had to make S feel better, because she had been traumatized by their rudeness, but I was all IT MAKES ME STRONGER OOH RAH. And I just couldn't believe how twisted up they got about that call. You do not lose a match because of a call that goes against you.

I'm still kind of in disbelief over it.

Lord, longest story of tennis ever? Blogging every day and all! xoxo

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our Day And A Delicious Stew

I barely left my house on this delightful Sunday, so there is really not that much to tell you, friends. Laura came into my room this morning complaining of a stomach ache, a headache, and sore legs. I said, "Why do you think your legs are sore?" And she said, "Definitely from dancing at the party last night." I diagnosed her with Post-Dramatic Stress Syndrome and prescribed hydration and karaoke. She went off to take my advice, and I dozed off again, but then I had to get out of bed because I heard her and Matt absolutely butchering "In a Big Country." I stalked downstairs in my nightshirt and seized the microphone to sing the chorus, because neither of them could find the harmony given a map and a compass even though it is not that hard.

We just hung out at home the rest of the day. Matt and the kids threw a nerf football in the house while I tore pages out of magazines. Laura created an advertisement for tickets on the Titanic, for school, then walked to her friend's to do some science homework. Matt and Hank played a board game with a million little pieces. Hank watched some Man vs. Wild. I cooked some squash. The thrills do not stop.

All throughout these events, we were made happy by the news that our friends the Hamiltons had birthed their baby boy during the night. All ten pounds, nine ounces of him! As we went about our quiet day, I thought of them in the hospital room, tired and joyful and frazzled, getting to know their new little buddy. And I thought, every kind of day is being had by somebody, somewhere.

I made this stew a few nights ago for us to eat before going to Laura's play. I am fond of one-pot meals, and it is so delicious that if you had been here, I would have force-fed it to you and then stood there saying, "I mean, right???"

Delicious Stew

You need:

two pounds of lean stew meat
an onion of your choice, cut into chunks
garlic, minced up
carrots, 3 or 4, I like even more, cut into pieces
a sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
pint of sliced mushrooms, I used baby bellas
red wine
couple tablespoons of olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron dutch oven and then throw the onions, garlic, and stew meat in. Braise them until the onions have little brown bits. Add in the carrots and sweet potato (not the mushrooms yet). Pour in like half a cup of water and half a cup of wine. Dash of salt. Cover the pot and let that all work for a while. Simmer, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water after a while and another half cup of wine. You want there to be enough liquid to steam/braise the veggies, but you don't want to everything to be covered. There is no need for exactitude here. Cook it over pretty low heat for a long while. Stir in the mushrooms and probably add more salt, and black pepper is good too. Cook longer. When the carrots are really really tender, and the sweet potato has largely disintegrated and joined up with the liquids to make a gravy, it's finished.

Serves 6. Best with sourdough bread and beer.

That is what I have for you today. Rest up my friends, the week is coming. (We don't have a school holiday for Veteran's Day. Frown.) xoxo

Saturday, November 10, 2012

That's A Wrap

Laura, acting!
Laura's show is over. It started Wednesday and ran every night and three shows today. Three! I had to take pictures and had somehow volunteered to cover all three shows today, which brought my attendance to five of the six shows. It was a wonderful experience for her.

Today was a long day though. So much Little Mermaid! Holy Mackerel! I feel like I'm under King Triton's throne. When I staggered home after the last show, it was all I could do to go have a margarita with Matt. And it was all Laura could do to go straight to the cast party and spend two more hours bouncing straight up and down.

Climbing into the van with her friend at the end of the night, she said, "When we got there I went straight for the food. We did Gangnam Style like three times. And I hugged a lot of people." I do not doubt any of that. An enchanted evening.

Matt and I are taking advantage of Betty visiting to sneak out of the house at night. Yesterday, after a bracing evening of Little Mermaid, we went to see Skyfall. Ermagerd, Jerms Bernd! I really enjoyed it. I think I liked it a bit better than Matt, who said, "I liked it okay but I never once found myself wondering what would happen and in fact I was deeply uncurious." I don't know, I think I really like a certain kind of action movie and am ready to embrace them. I had fun at the second Robert Downy Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie after all.

I will have more for you after I climb out from under the sea. What's on for your weekend?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Whoops, Mama Forgot

This morning was grandparent shift change at my house. My parents had come to see the Thursday night Little Mermaid show and were now passing the baton to Matt's mom Betty, who was booked for tonight's show. But this morning they were all here, which meant I did not get up to take Hank to the bus stop, or to feed Laura breakfast and watch the Today Show with her. I slept through all of that and it was delightful. And the thing about having those three grandparents in the house is that when I wake up, the coffee is already made. And it is strong.

So, long about nine I was sitting on the couch working on that first cup of coffee. I opened my email on my phone to see a note from Hank's teacher. It said, "Hi! If you are getting this email, it means your child doesn't have his book report and book character costume on today. If you can get it up to school, he or she will still have a chance to present," etc.

Um, whut? Book character who? CRAP.

Then I remembered, back before Halloween we had gotten a thing sent home about having the kids do little book presentations while dressed as a character. I had put it in a stack of Very Important Papers on my kitchen counter and then highlighted the stack by placing some Target coupons and a gourd on top of it. No chance I could forget to look back through that stack! I mean, the gourd and all!

But then Laura's play started and I sort of haven't retained any other information about this week.

(It's funny, because this kind of little mommy project was one of the things that prompted me to start this blog back in the day. I felt that I was always being called upon to do ridiculous, laborious, or immediately-forgotten tasks related to modern suburban parenting, and I wanted something to serve as a memorial. So here we are!)

Betty and I were planning to go eat lunch with Hank, which he loves, because when someone comes to eat with you, you get to sit up on the stage and lord over all the people down below. So I emailed his teacher back that I would bring his costume and his report up to school at lunch, so sorry, don't know how it could have slipped my mind.

But there was no costume and no book report. I went into my mind palace and surveyed the landscape, and my spirit eye alit upon a book Hank had recently brought home from the book fair. And I thought, "This is a basically perfect thing for that kid. And it will be dead easy."

Capt. Underpants
 I told the assembled grandparents about this problem and about the need to come up with a Captain Underpants costume immediately. I knew that with the combined brainpower and centuries of living in that room, we could crack this case. My father said, "Why, I have several pairs of white underwear within easy reach." He had already packed his things into the car, bless him, but he went out and retrieved his brightest whitest pair. I knew Matt's closet wasn't a good place to look because I've been converting him over to those boxer briefs, in dark colors, but is that more than you wanted to know?

Anyway, Dad handed me the briefs and pronounced them "nearly new." Then I spied a big square of red felt in the toy box, and quick as a flash, I was cutting it into a scalloped facsimile of the Captain's cape.

Then it was just a matter of swinging by the Subway to procure Hank's promised meatball sub and milk. I was feeling a little super-heroic at that point. I had the underwear, and the sub! Handling all the things!

When Betty and I reached the school, we rounded the corner and saw Hank's teachers. They made the rueful face that adults use to communicate to each other that a child is upset. Then, in mouthed whispers, his teacher told me that Hank had been sad when he got to school and realized he was supposed to be in costume. She said he didn't cry but he was on the verge, and that she had tried to reassure him that I would come and fix him up. When we sat down in the lunchroom and I pulled the book, underwear, and cape out of my purse, the poor little guy looked so relieved. He said, "Sweet, Mom!"

Over lunch, we filled in the book report template together. He remembered everything about the story in great detail. Then I helped him into the underpants, using my hair elastic to tighten them in the back, and tied the cape around his neck.

HE LOVED HIMSELF SO MUCH. Y'all, it was just beyond. And then as his class got up to empty their trays, he descended the stage steps in front of them and basked in their attention. It was a hit with the kindergarteners, of course, and all the teachers cracked up. Betty and I left, high-fiving each other. It made me feel good to see him restored to full confidence and cheer.

I was surprised there were no other Captain Underpantses in attendance. I mean, so easy! And big white underwear just gets laughs. I think it's a transcultural phenomenon.

When we met him at the bus stop later that afternoon, I said, "Where are the underpants?" And he goes, "Well, when we went out on the playground for recess, some big kids were laughing, so I took them off and hid them in my pocket." All right, sounds reasonable. You gotta know your audience. What kills in kindergarten might not play with the second graders.

So Mama forgot but she fixed it and it was okay.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Polyamorous Reading

me reading
Ocular proof I started this Harkness book in July, having excitedly preordered it, and I am still damned reading it.
Books I am in the actual middle of reading, a partial list in no particular order:

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness.
If I Am Missing Or Dead: A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation by Janine Latus.
A Wanted Man by Lee Child. (Previous post on my Reacher habit here.)
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.
First Shift by Hugh Howie.
Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James. (Whatever.)

Books I have completed lately:

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson. (OMGZ page turner.)
Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson.  (Darned inspirational, really.)
What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me by Rielle Hunter. (NOT PROUD, OKAY?)

I never used to be like this, but I've kind of become a starter and not a finisher of books. I've never felt qualms about abandoning a book that isn't good, but lately I'm abandoning books that ARE good and that I enjoy. Yet I managed to watch all of season 1 of Homeland in the last two weeks. Hmmm.

Part of the issue is a formatting problem. I can't decide whether I still like reading physical books or prefer the kindle version. I look at this list and see that the three books I finished lately were all ebooks, and of the unfinished list, only one is.

What are you reading, and do you have commitment issues too?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Raccoon Girl Treads The Boards

Smoky Eye!

Tonight was Laura's first Little Mermaid show. She had to show up wearing black eyeliner and mascara for the makeup ladies to start with. She did it herself; this pic is after her first attempt, before I got in there and smudged her up a bit. Then she goes, "I look too goth!" And I'm like, "You're playing a lost soul who has been enslaved by a sea witch. It's not too goth. And how do you know what too goth looks like? Also hush."

So her show was from 7-8:30, then she had to come home and do her homework, which took until after 10. And it was the lamest dumb ass busywork that there could be: Answering 18 questions for a "study guide" in science, and then turning right around and writing definitions to vocabulary words, right out of the same chapter. This was not a high-level learning activity. And I have never complained about a teacher in seven years of Laura's schooling, but I'm going to email the principal and register my discontent. This teacher has a false notion of "rigor" that she seems to be reaching for, but what is revealed in all of her assignments is that she's about one chapter ahead of the students AND she doesn't know what's most important and significant in the material. She was hired to fill in for a teacher who fell ill and had to retire suddenly, and I remember when at curriculum night, she boasted that before she took the job teaching, she was in "private industry." Oh! Oh well my goodness! Tell us a story of the tycoons or magnates you have known! Children, how lucky we are!

Not to be a bitch or anything.

I didn't go to the show tonight, but I'm going to--I kid you not--the next five. My parents are accompanying us tomorrow, then Matt's mom on Friday, and then I'm taking pictures at the Saturday shows. I can't wait to see it all put together with the lights and the costumes. When I picked up L and her friend after the show, they were bubbling with excitement, even after a full school day and then hours at the theater. Youth. I hope by the end of the run, we are still so excited and not collapsed in a little goth puddle.

Anway, that's all from here. xoxox

PS: Weird day, huh? Post-election hangover, only in a good way. Coming down from the nerves? Sleep deprivation? Dunno, something. I tried on a bunch of hats in REI and that soothed me. How are you?