Friday, December 20, 2013

Tail Feather, Shaken

Gatsbyish themed Xmas party with our buddies!
God help you if you follow me here, facebook, instagram, and twitter. If I go to a party, you have to hear about it for days on all channels. Probably eventually you'll see a picture of the mints in the bathroom, as soon as I can figure out what filter to use.

LOL jk but probably!

Matt's company had a nice party the other night. One thing I enjoy about the video game biz--or probably this is true of any creative field--they love to throw costume/theme parties and everybody always gets into it. Or there was one guy in an argyle sweater, but maybe he was dressed as an old-timey caddy! I find that having a theme helps focus one's dressing up, you know? I love going to parties with my fella. When I got the invitation and saw that it was a 1920's theme, I knew exactly what kind of dress I wanted, beads 'n' feathers. I had seen Sue Wong dresses at Saks. But I needed to find one for a non-Saks price, and I did on ebay. Late on in the evening, this artsy girl in the lobby said to me, "I've always loved Sue Wong, it's fun to see that dress being worn." And Reader, how I did glow with pleasure! Anway, feathers. Check into them.

And since we're still talking about clothes, I can't say enough to recommend a pair of nude platform heels. Where have these been all my life? I paid a full $22 for them but I think I'm going to wear them with everything. Except not everything because they are so uncomfortable. But no matter.

The face I make when I roll a 7, below-right.
Another highlight was when the DJ crossed the room to where I was standing at the craps table. He said, "I just wanted to thank you. Everything I play a new song, you start dancing in place, and I know I've made a good choice." You're welcome sir? He was having a hard time getting anyone to dance, because there was gambling.

I am one of those people who thinks she could be really good at blackjack. But, you know, I'm not at all.

Another thing that happened was my strap broke. That dress is heavy, with all the beads, and it's held up by two tiny spaghetti straps. After I didn't win a prize for my gambling prowess, several people were consoling me with hugs. I hugged back and felt my strap give way. Thank the Lord I was wearing my special bra that has its own infrastructure and public works department, so I just tucked the broken strap into the top of my bra and put my hair over it.

Usually when your dress breaks, it's time to head to the house. But I partied on a while longer. Charleston!

Oh, and a hair note. Both Kelly Ham and I wanted to have a sleek short flapper hairstyle, but we both came to the same conclusion: We couldn't achieve sleek and short, so we went with big and voluminous. And thank goodness, because I needed it for cover. Kelly's dress was 360 degrees of sequins--very pretty and sparkly. She had on the Bra of Amazement too. Is this too much information?

Anyway, now you're caught up. In the next post I'll cover the rest of the weekend's festivities and that should bring us almost up to date.

Y'all going to any parties? Tis the season to spill all the beans about them. xoxo


Friday, December 13, 2013

OMG Again With the Balls

Facts that condition the current playing of the tennis in my sphere of operations:

1) I has rained for most days in December.
2) When it isn't raining, it is freezing.
3) Everyone has other things to do this time of year.
4) We have barely enough girls on our winter team to actually have a team.

So the tennis has been tough to make happen. Lots of makeup matches and then makeups for the makeups. It's my turn to be captain of this winter team, and it's been challenging to deal with these four facts.

Anway. This week we've had dry, though cold weather, and we got back out there. Yesterday we started at 9:15 in the morning. I am not kidding you in saying that it was 31 degrees when we started. There was no breeze, but the courts we were on were in deep shade. Oh, and, I didn't get to start playing right away, I sat and watched for over an hour, thinking, most of that time, "We are nuts." I got a new puffy throw blanket from Lands End so I was wrapped in that. I had all kinds of different performance layers on so it was tolerable.

I said, "When I'm old, I'm not playing winter tennis." Pretty Neighbor goes, "Old? I'm not playing next year."

It was cold.

Finally, when I took the court with my buddy J, it was a balmy 35 degrees. I started playing in gloves. That doesn't really work. This was J's third match ever and we did well, but we got beat. It was okay. Then, after we shook hands with our opponents, one of them offered me the match balls. I said, "That's okay, you keep them." And she goes, "But we're getting the new can of balls."

And I was like, oh for the love. That arcane and difficult ball exchange rule that I wrote about here does not apply to USTA league play, only to the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association.


So I said, "Oh, do we do the ball exchange in USTA? I thought that was only ALTA." Knowing full well it was only ALTA. But she was all, "Uh huh, yes we do." This girl had been playing for four years and should know better. So I took a new can of balls out of my bag and handed them to her and was pleasant. All GRACIOUS-LIKE. And my friend was like, you didn't have to do that, you could have cited the rules, etc. And I was all, I'm not gonna pull out the rules over a can of balls. But one day she'll realize her mistake and if there is a loving God, she'll feel like an ass.


Actually it was pure fun. And later, J and I sat watching our teammates play, and Pretty Neighbor and Peg were playing against these girls who had to have a conference between every single point. We could all feel our blood freezing while we watched and waited. And at one point one girl walked off the court in the middle of a game, I never did figure out why. And J goes, "Look at Pretty Neighbor." And I said, "Oh, yeah, that's Pretty Neighbor's WTF face." And one of the girls on the other team heard me and turned around and looked at me and I was like, OH IT IS ON BIDGES! Or what I actually said was, "That chicken soup is delicious!"

Oh tennis.

Then, THEN, today my teammate V and I were playing a makeup match against these girls from Fancy Land. V was back by the baseline and I was up by the net. The ball was coming toward her and somehow, I'm not really sure, I fell down. Maybe I was scooting out of the way or I was changing positions, but my heels caught and I went down on my booty and then all the way onto my back. Whoa, I never fall down on the court. And I was worried that I wouldn't be able to scramble up in time, or that V would stop playing.

I needn't have worried. V yelled, "GET UP!" And then she hit a winner to end the point. I cracked up laughing. She said, "I just wanted you to know the ball was still in play!" And I said, "Thank you! I was so worried you'd stop playing and come see about me!" If I could have communicated with her as I was going down, I would have said, "Watch that baaaallll...." But I didn't need to. She was on it! It was one of my favorite tennis moments of 2013.

There's a video of Rafael Nadal falling down, and in slow motion you can see that during every instant of his falling to the ground, he's watching the ball and planning to hit it. I totally get it.


And we won. It was one of those matches where all your stuff just goes in, and even the dumb crap you try just works. LOVE IT.

Okay. I just needed to talk about it?

All week I have been a bit snippy and emotional. I think I haven't been sleeping enough. Or that's what my new fitness/sleep tracker tells me. But today was a good day and I think I can hit the reset button over the weekend.

You have my love.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mother-in-Law's Pot Roast, Also Her Dog

Monday afternoon after I took Erika to the MARTA station to go back to California, I stopped and bought a roast. Matt's mom Betty made this roast in my crock pot one time, and I came here to tell you about it.

It has magic powers, e.g., the power to make my child eat onions and the power to make my husband leave the office early.

You need:

a chuck roast, I got a 3lb one
a large onion or two smaller ones
sliced mushrooms
red wine
packet of powdered blue cheese dressing mix
a stick of butter

Cut up the onion into chunks, like little wedges, and put them with the roast into the crock pot. Sprinkle the packet of blue cheese dressing mix onto the meat and onions. Unwrap an entire stick of butter. I mean it, just do it. Unwrap the butter and set it on top of the meat. Put the lid on and turn on the crock pot. I did "high" for six hours. After a couple of hours, when things have settled in a bit, open the lid really quick and pour in about half a cup of red wine. You don't need any other liquid. Go amuse yourself for another couple of hours. Then open the lid one more time and dump in the mushrooms. When the time has elapsed, the roast should be nice and tender and the broth--man--it'll make you want to hit your granny. As the old-timers say.

I served this with baked sweet potatoes. Normally I am all in favor of putting the potatoes or carrots into the crock pot and crocking it with the rest, but you don't want to put in stuff that will soak up too much liquid, Betty says.

Buddy the dog.
Betty came to my house yesterday to fly out of ATL on a trip, and she left her springer spaniel here to stay with us for a week or so. I had told her it was way too long to board him at the kennel, as he is a sensitive soul and it would be too much for him.

It's possible that I am projecting some of my own inner life onto this dog.

So there are the two dogs here. As Matt has remarked, having Buddy around is like having a dog, which is not quite how I'd characterize Percy the Beagle, Moody Daughter of Time. Percy is in a slow boil that Buddy is here. And Buddy is upset that Betty is gone. He's droopy and he definitely has looked around the house for her.

Today he tried to get in my van. He didn't even know where it was going. Just away from here.

So there are a lot of emotional creatures in this house tonight. We get our feelings hurt, then we eat some chow, then we watch a ball roll and find a soft place to lie down. Then we feel better.

That's the scene by me. xo

Monday, December 9, 2013

Prime of My Life

 Every dang year with the birthdays, that's me. I'm really getting up there.

Sometimes I feel like my life is one big party, like the universe is arranged for my delight, and this weekend was one of those times. My friend Erika came and visited from LA, and our grad school friend Dan was in town for a conference, so we took this opportunity to get all up in each other's business.

We didn't really do that much. When I go visit Erika, we undertake all kinds of LA things and see lots of people and go to complicated yoga classes and get professionally groomed and all that jazz. When she comes to visit me, we sit around my house and sip coffee, we talk, we sleep eight hours a night. We decorated the Christmas tree, we had random margaritas in the middle of the day, we Christmas-shopped.

With Dan, we ate downtown at one of those places where they fold your napkin for you every time you leave the table. Everything on the menu was a Southern classic that, through a minor tweak or two, had been rendered really expensive. Highlights were: The waiter trying to convince Erika that the cracked peppercorns floating in her very complex drink were a good thing; Dan explaining his tickbite-induced mammal allergy to the waiter; Being served moonshine in a mason jar and recalling that the last time someone handed me a jar of moonshine, I was standing in the middle of an actual dirt road, and it was free; Getting the waiter to fold the napkin into a paper airplane; The waiter getting sick of our shit, probably. Also there was when we parked the car in a little hole-in-the-wall downtown lot, and I said, "Are we going to get murdered in this lot?" And Erika goes, "Well we're not going to get murdered right now."

Which struck me as funny.

Then we had dinner and cake at home one night, and Hank gave me a card that said, "Since it's your big day, I'm giving you this present! PS: Dad paid for it." And Laura gave me some makeup and a Christmas ornament that looks like a pretzel, which she said was the "most you" of all the ornaments. I don't know but I do love it. I said, "Because I love Bavarian snacks so much?" And she pointed out that we do have a pickle ornament so okay. And Matt got me a fitbit wristband, possibly to offset all the Bavarian snacking.

It rained the whole whole weekend, and it was lovely to sit inside and look at the gray outside. It was a wonderful birthday, and if I have to get older, this was a fine way to do it. Today all the friends are back in their places and it's just the four of us, and we are heading into another busy, chilly December week. I am just hoping to to be able to give everyone what they need and to keep the good times rolling.

I wish the same for you. xoxo

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Learning and Growing, I Guess

I put colored lights on the tree. I know, I don't recognize myself. I mean what? I am a white-lighter all the way. You?

I mean, there are teams for this, right? Is it like how there are Elvis people and Beatles people? Or am I overthinking it? If I'm overthinking it only a little, that's probably the right amount for me.

Somewhere along the way, the last few years, there started being all these different whites at the store. There's warm and cool and LED and bluish and faceted and free-range, probably. I mean which white is white? And so it's like my signifier has lost its referent. Which is a painful condition, but let's not detour into Post-Structuralism this close to Christmas.

So today I was down in the basement finding Hank's fat Santa pillow guys and I saw this big coil of multi-colored lights, like the heavy duty kind that you're really supposed to use outside. And they're on this big reel and I could just picture myself so easily unwinding that baby around and around the tree. So I brought it upstairs and just like that, we stepped boldly away from the land we have known.

Not to overstate the importance of this choice even one tiny bit.

I mean, what will it look like with our ornaments on it? I will be sure to keep you posted during this adventure of my sensibilities.

In other news, it rained a ton all over the Hundred Acre Wood. And no tennis was played.

During a brief let-up, Hank ran outside to see what the foster daughters were up to. He came back inside and told me the girls were burying a snail they had got at the beach. A snail that was dead, he clarified. I nodded or made some noise of acknowledgment, I'm not sure, I was doing something else.

"Mom, I'm sorry if I crushed your happy mood," he said. I tuned back in and assured him that he had not crushed my mood and that while it was a shame the snail was dead, it was not an unnatural thing or surprising thing, etcetera.

And he said, "I just really wish I could have met that snail while he was alive."

And I had to lurch back through the kitchen doorway so I could silently laugh without him seeing me, but it was a laugh that was almost a sob.



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Or A Tablecloth from A Pizzeria

The other day I got a new blouse, and Matt goes, "It's like I am married to a picnic blanket."


This morning, after I got the kids up, fed them breakfast, made their lunches, and got them onto the school bus, I crawled back into bed for a few minutes, and then Matt was stirring around the room getting ready for work. He asked me, as he does many mornings, "Do you know where there are some clean socks for me?"

"At the store," I said.

I mean honestly! It's like he wants to wear a clean pair of socks every single day, and that is just not sustainable for me at this point in my life.

Then I went ahead and got up. I drank coffee and looked at the rain, the rain that caused all kinds of tennis to be canceled and rescheduled today. The tennis matches are piling up out there like jumbo jets that can't get clearance to land. Sometimes I feel like an air-traffic controller. An air-traffic controller at the lowest-stress airport in the world.

I sat in my quiet house, and the instinct towards sloth threatened to overtake me. With the last shred of will I possessed, I texted Pretty Neighbor and asked if she wanted to work out in her basement. She agreed and so I was committed. This is how I get around myself.

By then Matt showed back up at the house for a lunch visit. We chatted for a bit and I said, "Goodbye, I'm going to work out with Pretty Neighbor," and he was all, "Can I come watch?" and I was like, LOL, and he was like, j/k, no really, and I was all, "I know baby."

So we did work out, for the first time in a while. We return to the Jillian Michael's workout DVDs again and again. Those plus tennis keep things on the up; tennis alone won't do it. Then I left PN's house and arrived back on my street in time to meet the elementary school bus, and my new neighbor, the one that moved into Frenemy's house, saw me and said, "Hey, where do you work out? I need to go with you sometime." And I was like, yeah! But honestly, now that PN has turned her basement space into more of a media room, there isn't really a place for a third friend to work out. Though I know the thought would put a smile on Matt's face.

This was my day.

It is truly a blog about nothing.

How are you?

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I have a wintry, holidayish Christmas playlist that I've been nurturing along in Spotify for over two years. I've held off listening to it until today so it would be fresh. I wanted to share it with y'all if you are into Spotify.

Bruce Cockburn's version of "Mary Had A Baby" came on just now, and I had a vision of myself sitting in our little apartment in San Jose, the winter I was pregnant with Laura, listening to that song on Napster (yes children!) and rocking in my rocking chair. I remember that particular season, my applications were in for doctoral programs, though I hadn't started yet, and of course I didn't have a baby yet, and we were new in town. I had truly nothing to do. I taught an SAT prep course around the corner. I read a lot, I think. And I don't know what else. I would meet Matt for dinner at the Valley Fair mall. Or I would go there and walk around.

 I wrote about that apartment before, God, that place was a disaster. But we were happy there, it's a good memory. The people keep a comin' but the train done gone.

Anyway, the list has about 4 hours of music on it, which should see you through lots and lots of wassailing.

Really the song that would be most appropriate for memories of that apartment would be James Brown's "Santa Claus, Go Straight To The Ghetto." Also on the list!

Enjoy with love from me!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shovel All the Coal In, Gotta Keep it Rollin'

Chattanooga, there you are!
Today was another sleep-until-11 situation at my mother-in-law's. There is just nothing that's not great about that.

Then we went downtown and went to a lunch place on the riverfront that serves only hot dogs. But, you know, all fancy! Like, they do things to hot dogs you never saw. I had a dog with bacon, pimento cheese, and arugula.

Hank ordered a bowl of granola with milk. And a side of fries.

Then we strolled around downtown--if you've never been to Chattanooga, I do recommend--and took the kids to see Frozen. We bought tickets online ahead of time because I was thinking, Saturday after Thanksgiving, the place is going to be mobbed with families out on the town. But the theater was nearly empty, and then I remembered: SEC football. Georgia played Tech today AND Auburn v. Alabama. Everyone on my facebook feed was in spasms.

We really enjoyed the movie. I had zero expectations for it, but it was adorable. If you need to take the fam to the show sometime during the holidays, it's a good choice. Then we went back to Betty's and collected our stuff and the dog, and headed back down the highway to the ATL.

And now we're home, and I'm sitting here watching Magic Mike with Matt and Lincoln. Another adorable movie. But different.

I have really liked the daily writing this month. I think I will commit to blogging alternate days in December. Every day is, like, too much me?  Thank you for coming along and reading! I mean, looking back, nothing happened. But it was the kind of nothing I like. I hope and pray for a lot more of it.

If you'll indulge me, I think my favorites were my posts involving Matt, maybe this one and this one.

I still didn't even get to cover all the stuff that happened this summer, or even all of my neighbors, but we'll take it up in December.

Smooch to the nooch.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Helpful Taxonomy

I drink your milkshake.
At Betty's house Matt and I are sleeping in a queen-sized bed instead of the king we have at home. Today I said, "Maybe we should go back to a queen bed, I like the extra cuddling." And Matt was like, we don't need a smaller bed, we could just turn down our thermostat. It is chilly down there in the basement guest room, and all night long we are plastered together like climbers caught in a storm on Everest.

I lay awake late into the night last night, reading my book and listening to the dog snore. Then I didn't get out of bed until in the elevens. I'm not even kidding and I am not ashamed. Then, a brunch of leftovers, some sitting around, a photo session for our Xmas cards (anybody know how to do a head swap?), then a singles tennis match with my friend the other Becky. Matt and the kids went and got a tree for Betty's front room, and then Matt and I went downtown to dinner with our friends.

These are our Four Loko friends. If you haven't read that post, I can't recommend my own work highly enough. LOL jk but really. 

The other three of the party all went to high school together, and talk between Matt and Sloan turned to the topic of Who Was An Asshole. The game went that one of them would say, "You know who was an asshole? [Name.]" And then the discussion would proceed and the exact nature of the assholery would be decided, illustrated, and amplified by the company. I was very absorbed in their recollections, and I gathered that there are the following types:

Secret Asshole
Funny Asshole
Asshole but he was okay
An Asshole to me
Surprisingly, an Asshole
An Asshole but he came by it honestly
A Certified, Card-Carrying, Dues-Paying American Asshole

I was like, you guys have already named more people who were assholes than all the people I remember from my high school class.

Then we asked the waiter to get the bartender to make a White Russian milkshake, and the waiter was like, that's not on the menu but it sounds like a really good idea. And we were like, go see what you can do. And it was delicious. Unsurprisingly.

I've got to get home because I can't go on eating like this. I haven't even told you about the ham tacos.

Anyway, I hope there was a treat of some kind and/or some useful analysis in your day. xoxo

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Past is Prologue

Hank maintaining a state of readiness.
Tonight at 8pm, Betty loaded the last dishes into the dishwasher as I swept the kitchen. She said, "Well, that's done." I said, "And it only took you all day!" She confirmed that she'd been working in the kitchen since 8am and had only sat down to eat. I slept until ten and had, I will confess, sat periodically throughout the day. But the food was delicious and nicely presented and everyone was happy, and I think, grateful.

Here is the sweet potato and cauliflower au gratin recipe. Although where they say one cup of water and one cup of milk in the sauce, I do two cups of milk. That link goes to the now defunct Whole Living magazine, and they used to try to make everything healthy, so some reverse engineering is required. It was good and it got eaten.

I ate one plateful and had some prosecco and then after dessert, it was like I was struck by lightning. I didn't even think I ate that much, but I had to get horizontal. I went and fell across Betty's bed for an unspecified period of time. Then, because I had read this article yesterday about how a bout of exercise mitigates the effects of overeating and sitting around, Matt and the kids and I went for a brisk walk in the dusk.

As we walked to a nearby playground, I told the kids how, when we were first married, we used to walk along that same street and daydream about having one of the little cottages. We were living in a succession of newlywed apartments in those days, and for us to have a tidy little house together was all I wished for. It's so strange to be taking the same walk with our two huge, very real children. And to realize that those cute bungalows would not fit us these days. Matt remarked how small the houses seem, that he'd never noticed before, and we agreed that we have different eyes now. But how gradual the change! Life, man, the way it just takes you along and over and through things and it just keeps going around and around, and you just never know.

At the park, Matt talked about how much time he'd spent in the field there as a kid, kicking a ball or running around or just doing nothing. Then a barred owl flew over us and sat on a low branch. He looked at us and we looked back. And the sun went down with a bang. Boom, dark.

Then we walked home and settled in for a quiet evening and that's where we are now.

Except now the dog is growling at the cat and Matt is fake cursing at her, like the dad in A Christmas Story.

Good night.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Interstate Cornbread Trafficking

Greetings from Chattanooga! Matt's mom Betty and our kids all went to bed before 8pm. So this crew up here is what I'm working with. Percy the dog is her normal self. There is a cat in this house, and after a few bouts of hysterical barking when we arrived, now when she sees the cat, Percy just looks at us like, "So you guys know this thing is in here with us? And you're okay with this? SMH."

We got out of Atlanta without major delays, but I bet we were among the last people to do so. We left home at 1:30, and as we drove up I-75, I felt like a door was swinging shut behind us. Matt went to the office for a bit this morning while I got us packed up and made cornbread. I'm doing the dressing tomorrow and I thought that was a good make-ahead. I'm also making a sweet potato and cauliflower au gratin dish I've made the last couple of years. Betty has a fried turkey and a honeybaked ham, and another family is bringing desserts. Hank has called dibs on the drumsticks, and I'm fine with that because I only have eyes for ham.

So we got up here in the afternoon and puttered around. We had a chili supper in the TV room. Matt burned his hands on a pan of party mix. Man down! He has a pretty good blister but I think he'll be okay. I helped him put a square of gauze over it, but he said that actually made it hurt more and he wants to leave it uncovered.

I read the December Living magazine with great attention and enjoyment. I don't routinely look at that mag but this is a good issue. Several things I want to cook and make. I don't know of many other magazines that still try to teach. Most of the other mags are more like Country Living, which I enjoy but which is really just trying to get you to feel okay about yourself and your efforts, you know? Put a bird on it! But MS Living and maybe Southern Living are the only ones I can think of that are like, "You are ignorant about maple trees, let us help," or such.

It is cold on Signal Mountain, below freezing, and as we drove up the road, the kids were excited to see long icicles hanging off the bluffs and boulders. I could stay gone for a month, I packed so much. I mean, I only packed the big Vera tote that I bring everywhere, but somehow I am prepared for any eventuality. I have snow boots, I have tennis clothes, I have an eyelash curler, I have apple cider and fresh sage.

What are y'all doing? Sheltering in place? You cooking? Render over the deets. xo

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Could Go On Busting You Up All Night

So last night we get into bed, and Matt is talking about how he's reading one of those Roger Zelazny Amber Chronicles books, and how, as he put it, he really wants to have read it, but he doesn't want to actually do the actual reading of it, because it is tedious. I remarked that I was having the opposite experience with Wolf Hall. I've been reading it forever and I don't want it to be over, or really it's that I don't think about the story in terms of an endpoint, each part is so good. I read each paragraph about two to three times.

I said, "Yeah, that Amber book. I read a page of it while I was in the bathroom, and I thought it might be a joke, it was so bad. So mannered in an icky way."

He said, "Well, yeah, mannered, but there's something about them. I thought they'd be fun to pick back up; I read all eight or nine of the books in the series one time." I went, "When did you do that?" He goes, "Like fifteen years ago."

"No you didn't," I said. He gawped at me. Then he protested.

"Listen, miss! I've read and done lots of things that you may not be aware of," he said.

"Maybe you don't realize how closely I pay attention," I rejoined.

I mean, I don't know why I feel so confident in this area. Maybe it's the same way I can remember what I was wearing at every significant and many insignificant occasions in my life. Or maybe it's that he's my husband and I really do pay attention to everything about him. And my interest in him is not casual. I just know.

"Fine," he said. "I'll name a book and you tell me whether I've read it or not."

"All right, go," I said. He paused, seeming at a loss.

"Okay," I prompted. "First you just have to think of a book that you either have OR have not read."

Then he started laughing and pummeled me with blows. But, you know, lovingly.

"So," he said, "On Stranger Tides."

"You have not."

"Correct." he said. "How about Shogun."

"You have," I said. "This isn't even hard. I could do this forever."

"Okay," he said. "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell."

"You did not read that," I said.

"Aha!" he cried, "That's a trick question, because I read half of it!" This pleased him so much he started giggling. If you have never heard Matt giggle, and so few people have, it is really something. I rolled my eyes while he chortled at the notion that he was getting half-credit.

"Okay," he said. "Huckleberry Finn as an adult." I asked what we were calling adulthood, and he said anytime after high school. This was a tough one. I thought. I went into my mind palace and surveyed the landscape. Matt had a pretty serious Mark Twain phase about five years ago. I could remember that Roughing It and Life on the Mississippi figured prominently. He would crank up the audiobooks while he cleaned the kitchen at night, and he would laugh and repeat bits of dialogue.

"You didn't read it," I said.

"I did." he said, so satisfied. "Okay," I said, "You got me on that one. You get ONE."

We called a truce.

But I still think he was confusing it with Puddinhead Wilson. 

File under: Pillowtalk.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Shopping Coup

Someone got taken to see Thor tonight, and got a slushie. It was thor excthiting! 
Y'all! I have to tell you about my shopping caper. OMG. So if you have a little boy, you have probably heard of Skylanders Swap Force. It is the latest iteration of the Skylanders game, and it's coming to rule us all. For those not in the know, Skylanders is a game that comes with a little portal that plugs into your xbox or whatever, and you put real actual toy Skylanders guys on the portal, and then they appear in your game and you can run them around the virtual world. The people behind this are evil geniuses, because they get you to buy the game and the portal, and then they get you to buy all the different guys. Which causes me to become best friends with the twenty year-old down at Game Stop, because only he can get me the Super Rare and Unobtainable Eye Brawl guy. Thanks Josh.

Whatever. Bear with me.

Okay, so Swap Force necessitates a whole new portal set up. Of course it does. So the "starter kit," which comes with the game, the portal, and a few guys, is $65 or $70 on Amazon. Only lately did Hank start talking about wanting it, and I thought I'd keep an eye out for a deal sometime in December. Then today I was perusing Want Not, and she mentioned that the Starter Kit is $37 on Target's website. They were sold out on there, but I checked store inventory and thought, okay, maybe my local store will price match the website. I left the kids to watch each other and went up there.

The kit was $49.99 on the store shelf. Which if I hadn't known better, I would have thought was a great deal. The kid working in the electronics section seemed frightened to be spoken to. So I carried the box with me up to customer service. Will you price match your website? Sure Ma'am! Oh, but wait...this item is out of stock on the website so we won't price match.

Did you get that? They will match a price only if the item you're holding is still available on I said, "But, I could go into Walmart and THEY would match the price on, in stock or not. Why don't you sell it to me here?" I mean, these people don't know that I don't shop at Walmart.

I thought this was so strange and annoying. It's that weird thing where you're holding out money to someone and they can't figure out how to take it. But a manager came over and confirmed, no, the kit is $49.99 because it's sold out online. I thanked them and walked away, but then realized that with my Target debit card, which gives 5% off every purchase, and the little extra 5% off coupon I got from the pharmacy rewards program, the thing would be $40, so okay. Not $37 but close. I went through the checkout and bought it.

Then, THEN, I was home and had stashed the Skylanders in the gift closet. (God forbid the kids ever figure out I don't just keep birthday gifts for other kids in there.) So I'm doing my thing at home, and Hank, who is a natural-born fixer, comes to me with this coupon he has unearthed. It's a coupon for $10 off the very starter kit I'd just bought. He goes, "Hey mom, maybe we can use this!" Then he nudged it onto the edge of the dining room table and backed out of the room. Let me underline: He had no idea I had just made that purchase. It was a total coincidence, or else part of the weird matrix of synchronicity that conditions all of our actions. I vaguely remembered seeing this coupon come out of the multipack of chips I bought for school lunches. Hank probably had it in his tickler file. I swear.

So I thought, "Yes, I would absolutely drive up there and return the kit I just bought and re-buy it with this coupon." I would still have my ten percent off that I'd used earlier, so by the power of Maths I figured the kit would be $32. Then I got busy and made dinner and stuff, and then Hank reminded me that I'd said we could go to a movie, so off we went. Matt met us at Thor, and took Hank away afterwards, so I could do my errand.

Oh my lord, you're not still reading this!

So I roll back into Target at 9:30. I get another starter kit off the shelf and take both up to customer service. I tell the now-different clerk what I'm doing. She says she can take care of it all in one go. So she returns the one I bought. Then she looks it up online, for some reason, and she goes, "Look, it's $37!" I'm like, "Ah KNOW! OMG!" Actually I said, "That's even better!" So she rung it up for $37 and then scanned my $10-off coupon, and then I had my little percentage-off cards, and with tax and junk that thing was $26. When there was a good chance I would have eventually paid $65 for it. An absolute HEIST.

I didn't even ask her to match the online price, she did that all herself. And a woman behind me was there to pull some maneuver involving the same game--I think she was there to see if they would match the online price, and she goes, "I wish I hadn't met you, because then I wouldn't know there was a coupon!" And I was like, "It's from a bag of chips."

Then I went to the back of the store to get some beer and as I walked back by, that woman was kneeling down rifling the chips. So I strolled over to her and pointed her to the right ones. And I considered that a good night's work. Sisterhood is powerful.

Then I came home and explained it all to Matt in a hushed voice, and I said, "Give me the highest of fives!" And we very solemnly clasped hands over our heads.

And, scene.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I had our cable tv turned back on around the time of the US Open in September. We had been streaming-only for years.

So now the kids see some commercials.

So last night we're in Target shopping for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. And the kids are having fun thinking, selecting, comparing, and fitting different combos of items, Tetris-style, into the boxes.

Then we were finishing those up and Hank goes, "Oh, Mom, can we get just one thing for me?" I gave him a wary, mother look, with my eyebrows slightly raised and a "go on" face. You parents are familiar with this face.

He goes, "Can we get Febreze Tranquility? Because I've been having a hard time going to sleep. And if we can get it, I'd like the 'quiet jasmine' one."

So this is some kind of room freshener/oil diffuser that touts its aromatherapeutic properties on some commercial that I haven't even seen. And it's not the kind of thing that I'd ever even be aware of, much less buy. Just not a part of my world.

But y'all. The way he said it! So sweetly and earnestly somehow, with an air of, "Well here's a product that will solve a problem, we should give it a try." And he enunciated each word so carefully. I had the debunking and dismissal right on the tip of my tongue. I've issued similar dismissals a thousand times in my parenting career.

So what I said was, "Okay, I think that would be down that aisle." And we went and he knelt down and picked out the 'quiet jasmine' scent and we bought it.

I think I knew that I could say, "Buddy, that stuff doesn't work like that, we don't need it," or similar, and he would accept it instantly. But I thought he would feel a bit foolish to have asked for it so credulously? I don't know. Now we own some quiet jasmine. It does not smell actually bad.

Tonight Laura was away at a sleepover, and after dinner out, Hank and I wrapped up on the couch and watched Monsters University. Then, at bedtime, he asked me to help him activate the little fragrance thingie, which I did. As he carried it upstairs, he goes, "I feel sleepier already."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Social Death And/Or Dismemberment

Laura likes to make little comics, and this one made me laugh. This is another one of those social discomforts--there seem to be so many these days--that would of course be very difficult to explain to our ancestors. But it cracked me up that Laura recognized the potential for such a precise brand of angst in a particular intersection of technology and social life. But now I risk doing that thing where you explain the joke.

Just lately, a widely-read blogger, the Uppercase Woman, apparently accidentally followed a certain twitter account, and then unfollowed it. The account she followed/unfollowed is a so-called parody account that exists only to imitate and make fun of Uppercase Woman's tweets. So whoever runs that account got an email notification that the very object of her parody had followed her, however briefly, which showed that she is aware of the parody account and may even read it. That must have been very gratifying to the parodist, because she wasted no time in crowing about it to the community that has assembled for the purpose of dissecting and criticizing this blogger's posts.

This was all kind of gross to me. Yes, "gross," that's a advanced critical term. Look for my forthcoming book on media, affect, and the technological deformations of empathy in our modern age.

Further, in discussing some other situation on the interwebs, Elle remarked that, just as Michael Pollan in his Food Rules instructs us to avoid any "food" that your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize, we should eschew social kerfuffles that would be nonsense to that dear old soul. So anytime someone is attempting to score points and their demonstration involves the panoptical following/unfollowing/liking/poking of someone/something on a social media platform, let us gracefully sidestep if we can. Perhaps a good time to visit the punch bowl.

We were out late seeing the Hunger Games movie tonight, so I wanted to post briefly. I thought the movie was fine. I don't know what I would have made of it if I hadn't read the book. Anyone in that category?

Here's another one from Laura:
Sorry to ramble, but I swear there is a method in it somewhere. Chime in if you feel moved.


Friday, November 22, 2013

A Hair Do And An Elbow Don't

Laura's elbow in a happier time.
Wednesday night at swim practice, Laura had her arm fully extended on a stroke and the kid in the next lane ran into her hand, jamming her outstretched arm. She says she saw her elbow bend way the wrong direction. She says it was sickening, and I can well believe it. It hurt a lot and she got out of the pool. But she was moving it and didn't seem to be too distressed. We just had her ice it and I told her she'd rest it the next day. She skipped swimming last night, but her arm wasn't feeling any better, even with rest and ibuprofen. She took to wearing one of her circle scarves as a sling.

So, like any concerned mother, I went to get my hair done this morning. I told Laura she could sleep in and skip school, but I needed to get in for my foil and cut, because that appointment was hard to get, and with the holidays upon us, the other matrons were gonna be all up in there, taking all the morning time slots and drinking all the cucumber water.

So my lady did her thing, which takes about three hours, and then asked if she could hot roll me and take some pics for her Pinterest board, so I was like, okay, so she put a bunch of rollers in my hair and when she was finished, I looked like a Judd cousin. I have some curls, but they're not big blousy curls like she produced. And I resolved that I needed a date night, because that hair needed to be out and about.

Then I went home and Laura's elbow was not really in any better shape than before, so we got Hank and went to the children's urgent care and were seen quickly. They xrayed her and said that nothing is broken, it's probably just sprained, and it's hard to determine the extent of soft tissue damage with xray, but nothing is swollen. They gave her a sling and told her no sports for a week.

As he was ushering us into the first room, the male nurse nodded towards me and said to Laura, "Is this your sister?" I was like, oh please, and Laura explains, "No, she's my mom." And he chuckled and I kind of rolled my eyes, but, you know, appreciatively. It was the power of the hair!

And as we were wrapping up, I got a text from my friend. She was like, "How did Laura turn out? We are heading there because Harrison's cousin hit him in the head with a hoe."


So we go out into the waiting room and there is Hank's buddy Harrison, looking a bit wan and clutching a paper towel to the back of his head. It was clear there had been a lot of blood. My friend looked a bit wan herself. So by then Matt was there and the other dad was there and we had a pleasant little neighborly catch-up around our injured children. The intake nurse was reassuring them that even minor head wounds bleed profusely, and the dad was like, "Yep, it's not our first time at this rodeo."

Harrison got five staples in his head and is okay.

Then we went back home, and Matt went back to work, and I was still planning to go out when he got home tonight. Then something got in my eye that I was super allergic to. I have no idea what it was; I don't really have a lot of problems with allergies. But it itched and then swelled up, and I took a benadryl, which made me feel instantly drowsy.

So Matt came home and I'm like this weepy, puffy-eyed, sleepy Judd cousin with fantastic CMA hair, and I was like, "Let's just eat this pizza you got for the kids and stay home." Done. 

Now I'm stretched out on the couch and this hair is like the desert rose in the poem, born to blush unseen. And that's a Friday for you.

Around here, people are starting their vacations tonight, because the kids are out of school all next week. Y'all?

Edited to add: OMG, remember when I was bald? That was a thing that happened. Anyway.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bring A Blanket And Look out for Old Ladies

Halloween '12 is still a fave.
Today was a good day at the tennis office. My winter USTA team had an away match at 9:30 this morning. Unfortunately it was in just a regular neighborhood, not a Super Fancy Lugzhurious place like the other day. These ladies must not have pros drilling them 24/7, because we took all five lines from them. (That means we played five individual matches against their girls and won. If you win three, you've won the day.)

Just drilling them!

So we arrived at the non-fancy neighborhood and the regular, non-fancy outdoor courts had big puddles on them, and the host team was walking around squeegeeing and drying them with towels. It was gray and cold. I don't think the temp was below the mid or low 40's, but the wind was absolutely biting. I thought, "Winter tennis can go suck an egg. What are we doing out here? I'm not doing this next year."

But I probably will.

One thing I noticed about this team right away was that it was mostly older ladies. Like, it's hard to tell, but maybe 60ish? Which means one thing: Look out. When I was a newbie, I would sometimes make assumptions about someone's playing ability based on how they looked. Young and fit? I would expect a tough match. Older? Out of shape? I would think, "Oh this will be a snap!"

O ho! That was folly. I can tell you, these days the opponent who strikes the most fear into my heart, just by stepping onto the court, is a heavyset, white-haired lady with two knee-braces. God, I quake just thinking of it. When you see her coming, you're about to get your ass kicked. You better dig deep and have your best game, but it probably won't be enough. An old lady who is still out there playing? It does not even matter that she has bad joints and is wearing a medical alarm button. She will stand her ground right on the service line and stick her racquet up in the air and absolutely punish you. You better love to run, because she's going to jerk you from side to side like you're on a string. And she can hit the ball like a laser. She can hit it where you can't get it.

She will probably do all this while wearing earmuffs. And possibly a knitted shrug.

I wouldn't kid you about the accessories.

After one such match, my partner summed up our opponent, "She had all the old lady tricks." Incredibly patient and consistent lobbing, crazy backspin that she can apply to seemingly any ball, sharp angles, and down-the-line winners. We played this lady one time--she was probably over 70--she hit her serves as slice drop shots. Her serves! They sneaked over the net, hit the ground, and died without bouncing. We were like, what just happened? How do you even hit that shot from behind the baseline? Is she some kind of wizard?

Today after Peg and I finished our match (winning!), I sat and watched Pretty Neighbor and her partner battle some old ladies. Our coach was sitting with me. She goes, "This is going to be tough. You watch." But our girls found the Little Old Lady Achilles Heel. The little old lady does not like to run forward. If you can manage to hit the balls short enough, you'll usually win the point. Unless you make her mad and she runs up and fires the ball straight at your throat.

Be careful out there.

So I was watching the rest of our team play, and my body cooled down, and my sweat wicked away, and I was sitting on a stone wall, and it was so cold that before long, I was wrapped in a blanket that came from PN's car. Truth be told, it was an entire bedspread. I had it over my head and I was peering out with just my visor bill.

Seeking an "atta girl" for the match I'd played, I turned to our coach and said, "Did you see that moment up at the net when I LEAPED LIKE A CAT?"

She goes, "I saw a leap."


Then--you didn't think we were done?--tonight, I went out in the chill again and played a flex league match with Kelly Ham. We drove over the literal river and through the actual woods to get to where this neighborhood is supposed to be, and then I'm driving and it's pitch black and I pass a rusted out RV and then I'm driving through an honest-to-god graveyard. Like, there are gravestones. And then we arrived at a tennis court. Very odd.

Then we double-bageled those girls! That means that we beat them 6-0 6-0, so their score looks like two bagels. I don't know who dreamed up that terminology. But that doesn't happen very often. It sure feels like hell to get beat like that. But they didn't even seem to mind that much. And of course, the farther up in the score we got, the more lovely and gracious we became, until we were ready to be crowned joint Homecoming Queens. Then we shook hands with them and exchanged gossip and drove ourselves back home in the mist.

Now you know basically everything about my day. It's a panoply! Mostly I wanted to warn you about the old ladies. God I hope to be one of them some day. xo

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's Come To Color Coding

Two weeks into the future is as far as the human mind can apprehend.
For a long time, I kept our affairs straight using my brain and the little calendar on my iphone. I still use both those things, but now I have these two whiteboard planners that I write on. One for this week and one for next week. Each member of the family has a different colored marker. We're in a pretty light period right now--there's not much ink on this week--but back in September/October, gah. At about 7:05 every morning, I would come stand over the whiteboards, scanning them and then visualizing the rest of the day in my head. In the dawn light, I would root out and resolve instances of magical thinking, impossible geographies, and optimistic double booking. It was cray.

Visualization is the key to success in all our endeavors.

And when I get through the week and we all did our activities and nothing is forgotten, y'all, I feel a sense of satisfaction. Like I've put a puzzle together.

Then, on Sunday night when I wipe the whiteboard for the previous week clean, I record in my paper planner what actually DID happen, i.e., how we deviated from the schedule and what other details I want to include. Things that would actually jog my memory about the actual living of those days.

When I first started this system, one night before I wiped the board off, I carried it to Matt and said, "Before I erase this, I just want you to appreciate it."

I'm crazy, I do know.

But he took it from me and said, "Let me see." Then he made a very good show of studying it, and then he said, "Nicely done. Good job."

Reader, that is all I need to hear. RIGHT?

What is your system? Have you gone to color coding? Do you need an audience for it?

PS: One day Hank wrote one of his appointments on the whiteboard, but he used a sharpie. So, permanent. But I found out you can just write over the sharpie in dry-erase marker, and it renders the sharpie dry-erase. And thus the cause of human knowledge advances.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Boy in Digest Form

At Sliding Rock near Brevard, NC

The other day, I looked at the shaggy, sheepdog-headed Hank and said, "Do you want to get a haircut today?"

"No," he said.

"Well when do you want to?"

"The last day," he said.

"The last day of what?" I asked.

"The Last Day," he said.

Oh. Well, I am not dumb, I know that when the actual Last Day comes, it's going to be tough to get anything done, right? You show up somewhere and people are like, you just had to wait until the Last Day? Also, as a facebook friend pointed out, currency will be worthless on the Last Day. So I waited until the Last Day I could stand his hair, which was Sunday, and then we got it cut and it was fine. Turns out it didn't steal his essence or whatever the hecks. And then I got him a double cheeseburger.


This afternoon, Hank came in from the school bus and brought his buddy in to play. Before they ran off, he came through the kitchen and said, "Mom, I wanted to say thank you for all the work you do for us around the house."


I said, "You are very welcome, bud. I love taking care of you." He nodded, like this answer did not surprise him. I wanted so badly to ask him, "Who or what put it into your head to say thanks to me?!?" But I did not want to invalidate or dishonor his impulse, you know? I wouldn't have asked another adult where he got the idea to say something nice. I wanted to give him full credit. So I did and I do.


 Just now, at bedtime, I lay down in his bed for a minute and we had our hugging ritual. The ritual is called Hugging Time, and we hug while we sing "hugging time" to the tune of "Stepping Time" from Mary Poppins. I don't know, it's our thing. We sing one chorus that way and then he turns over and goes to sleep.

But tonight, after hugging, he said, with a sudden note of distress, "Mom, I'm afraid to go to school tomorrow. I did something really bad!"

Whoa. I didn't think it could be anything really bad, or I would have heard about it at least three ways before bedtime. But I said, "Well what was it?" He wouldn't tell me. He goes, "It's embarrassing! And I did it in front of fifth graders!"  Okay, so then I'm like, did you fall down or something? And I'm imagining some farcical scene of slapstick mortification. But then he came out with it.

"I accidentally said who I have a crush on in front of the fifth graders! On the bus!"

"Okay," I said. "Well let me tell you a secret. Fifth graders are not interested in first graders or first grade things. They are only interested in fifth graders. They will not remember."

"How do you know?" he asked. "Because," I said, "I remember being a fifth grader and that's exactly how I felt."

"But," he probed further, skeptical. "When you were in fifth grade, did you ever hear any really good first-grade information?"

Like, this is premium intel, Mom. Really good first-grade information. Nobody could fail to take an interest in a tidbit of this significance.

So I said I would drive him to school in the morning.

The End.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What I Deal With

This is my text exchange with my husband from this afternoon. What this screenshot doesn't reveal is the large span of time that elapsed between the first four blue messages I sent, time that elapsed with no response even after I said "Please acknowledge," which is as naggy as I get. It also doesn't reveal that I had emailed him MUCH earlier in the day about our plans to transfer Hank from my care to his at Hank's basketball practice. I took his lack of response to that as acquiescence, but then as I headed out on my rounds, I started texting to be sure. But Matt often doesn't have his phone anywhere on his person. Or it's face down on his desk and silenced. Or a condor has secreted it in a high mountain aerie.

So then, after more Matt silence, I did what I sometimes have to do and texted Lincoln, Matt's partner. That's phase 2. Lincoln usually has the eyes-on, and can tell me if Matt is in a meeting or has been hit by a meteor, because those are the only two reasons I can think of for his not spending the one instant it would take to text me one time and thereby stop me from unleashing hell.

Can I get a witness?

Usually Matt makes instant contact with me after I've texted Lincoln. Which is why I do it, even though I'm sure Lincoln just adores being a part of our little tableau.

So after "Please acknowledge," I had a brief exchange with Lincoln and then I got Matt's "I'll be there." Now, the rookie wife would have been more admonitory or expressed her displeasure in some more overt way and it would have turned into a snippy exchange. But I've been to that puppet show and here's what I know. Fussing at Matt for anything never did anybody ANY DAMN GOOD.

Do you know this joke?

A man says to his wife, "Honey, if I were to die, would you ever remarry?" She looks somber, but says, "Well, dear, as unthinkable as that prospect is, yes, I can't think you would want me to live out my life alone." The husband says, "No indeed! Tell me though, do you think you would continue to live in this house together?" The wife thinks. "Yes, I suppose I wouldn't want to leave this place of so many great memories. It's a good house, and we would stay here." The husband nods, "Yes, that makes good sense. And tell me, would you keep my things for your new husband, like, would you give him my golf clubs?" And she goes, "Nah, he's left-handed."

That's what I was referencing in my last message, by way of telling Matt, if I could change one thing about him, this would be it, and I don't want to nag, but I swear to the living God. It seems like a small thing, and it is, and I don't know why it gets all over me, but SWEET MARY DOES IT.

And his "ack" for "acknowledge" is his declining to be admonished, even in jest.

They say--and I believe--that when you marry someone, you are marrying some number of problems that will never go away. You will work around them and through them and build Rube Goldberg-type contraptions to compensate for them, and your patience and ingenuity in building these workarounds together is what gets you down the road. You know what I mean. After some years, you don't have to have the fight anymore. You can just gesture to the file folder where the fight is stored. You get me?

And then I think of the whole package that is that guy, and how my relationship with him is my experience of grace on this earth.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

How I Spend One Hundred Percent of My Time: Sunday

We also went to church and the pastor remarked that the book of Judges begins like the last night of church camp: Everyone is crying and promising to go home and quit pretty much everything. The rest of the message didn't really connect with me, but I liked that part.

What's on your plate?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I Just Like What I Like

Bird by bird.
Today I put away my Halloween decorations. I know. They weren't still, like, on display, but they were heaped in my dining room, the spider lights, the skull pillow, the feather wreath, the little witches, Lord, I don't know what all. And my terra cotta jack o' lantern was still sitting in the middle of the table. So I moved all that back to the basement.

Do you remember when I made that runner out of tea towels? That was a weird time for me. Anyway, I pulled that out and put it on the table, because I hadn't seen that in a while, then I put my Red Wing Bobwhite birds on there. The little ones are S&P shakers, of course, but do you know what that big one is? It's an hors d'oeuvre holder. Or that's that they used to call it. It is pierced all over its back with little holes that you stick toothpicks in. What would you serve on those toothpicks? I guess like cheese and olives? Adorable!

Speaking of my weird knick knacks, my mom reminded me of how I found that stuffed swan at a flea market last year. It is almost time to bring that baby out again. But I was trying to carve out a little space for general autumnal decorating, distinct from Halloween and Christmas. So, bobwhites. I have a whole set of those dishes--I think I have service for ten--that I collected off ebay several years ago. All of that old Red Wing stuff is cool and it's not very expensive. Or it wasn't then.

That is all. Did you have a good day? We didn't do much. We did play tennis with the neighbors though, and on the way home, Matt goes, "Okay, tomorrow I'm going to do even MORE nothing."

It was too much something.

Or something. Goodnight! I think we are going to watch a movie.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Never Enough Time To Do All The Nothing You Want

No post without a picture. So, Percy.
This morning I asked Matt, "This weekend, what do you not want to do?" He said, "There is so much I don't want to do. Everything, actually."  So we have no real plans.

We're a family who needs regular downtime.

There was a fair amount of downtime for me today. In fact, one reason I started blogging again was because of days like this, days where nothing big happens and I know that in three weeks I will not remember it at all, and it's one more day of my precious life gone. Cheery, right? Teach me to know my days are numbered and all. That's what I'm trying for.

This morning I got up at 7:00 and got Hank up. That's too late for the bus but in plenty of time to drive him to school, which I did. But when I got there the car line was so long that I parked and circumvented the line by walking him to the door, walked him to the door wearing my literal pajama pants. I am not abashed.

Then I returned home where Laura had arisen and gotten dressed and was working on a model of a cell wall for science. The last I'd heard, this was going to involve shaving cream or something, but then I turned my back for five minutes and during that time she found an old Whitman's sampler box, punched holes in the sides to represent the plasmodesmata, put a piece of craft foam on the bottom, lined the perimeter with cotton balls, and then filled the box with a half inch of shampoo. Cytoplasm? Fruity, delicious-smelling cytoplasm. I pulled off the lid and was like, whoa...hmmm...okay, done!

I was troubled by the fact that the cell was rectangular and not some more organic shape, and she was all, "Mom, it's just like a schematic." And then she pointed to the holes in the side of the candy box and talked about ion transfer, and I was all, okay Marie Curie.

Later I told Matt that she had filled a cardboard box with shampoo, and he allowed as how that sounded like an absolutely terrible idea.

This all took until about 8:15.

Then I remembered that it is Staff Appreciation Day and I owed a cafeteria worker breakfast at 9:00. The room mom had sent me her breakfast order: Chicken biscuit and tea. I texted the room mom and said, "I'm gonna assume this is sweet tea," and she was like, "Uh, YEAH." 

So I got back in the car and went to Chick-fil-A for chicken biscuits and tea. Then I drove back to the school, this time wearing legit pants. Right in the foyer, they had a drop station set up to receive all the incoming meals, and I stayed to see the breakfast labeled with my lunchlady's name and then I was off again.

By now it was raining lightly and I texted my tennis friend. We agreed to push our singles match back a bit in hopes that it would dry up. Fabienne was coming to clean, so I decided to go home and clear away some clutter. I ran around like a dervish and put sheets out, etc. When she came in, I greeted her, but I don't really like to hang around while she works. I think everyone basically feels that way? Usually I either have something to do at the elementary school and then have lunch out, or I have tennis and then lunch out, and by the time I've done all that she's finished and gone.

So I cleared out of there again and my friend and I met at the tennis court. We played exactly one game--I'm talking maybe two minutes of tennis, and it started to rain in earnest. We surrendered and climbed back in our cars.

Let the record show that I won that one game.

I went to TJ Maxx and returned a pair of pants for Hank. I did not buy anything else, so that was a revenue-neutral situation. I tried on a few dresses though, and fingered lots of the merch, but I was kind of over all of it. It's good to go and remind myself of all the stuff I don't need though.

Then I went to Panera and sat by their little gas fireplace and ate lunch by myself. Matt is my preferred lunch partner, but he was busy today--his exact words were, "I have to get some work done before the company goes to play whirlyball," so I was on my own. Panera is the kind of place where you're quite comfortable being by yourself, so I eavesdropped a lot and I read Wolf Hall.

It's a lot better now, but I remember that Panera during the worst of the recession was a anxious place. Lots of tense, hopeful little meetings and interviews going on at all those little tables. Anyway.

Then I went to the store and bought apples. Then it was time to meet Hank's bus. Fabienne had gone, leaving a clean house, or, you know, clean enough. Hank brought his buddy home and they jumped on the wet leafy trampoline and whacked each other with nerf swords at the same time. When they wanted to come inside, I made them stand on a beach towel while I removed the leaf litter from their clothing.

There was a letter in Hank's folder that informed me he's going to be given a thirty-minute "creativity test" next week. I pondered that in my heart. I really have no idea what that would look like at all.

Then Laura came home, and her afternoon tennis was also rained out, so we found ourselves with hours of afternoon at home, and that almost never happens. Laura told me her box of shampoo went over just fine, and that there is a new girl in school and she's the prettiest girl she's ever seen and they are already friends. Then I made some beans and rice with andouille sausage and we piddled around. Then Matt came home. The End.

It's just a blog about nothing.

Thank you for reading; I hope your eyeballs still point the right way. xoxo

Thursday, November 14, 2013

And The Living Was Easy

group 2 wide
June 2013
The main thing that happened this summer, in the time of No Blogging, was that my sister and her family came to the US from Australia and stayed for six glorious weeks. We hadn't been together in a year and a half. Which is a long time in the lives of some of these people. Here's the before shot:

October 2011
This was the picture I described taking in this post. Which also has a ripping yarn about a pair of nightstands. Look at the kids! And look at Dad--so much less of him. And more of baby Gabriel. And of Laura, who is now taller than her Aunt Amy.

And the Nike pullover being worn by Matt in the top picture was also worn by Jason in the bottom picture. That's mountain house style for you.

It was a relatively last-minute thing that they could come. From late June until they left the first week of August, we made it our main priority to spend time with them, here in the ATL and up at the mountain house. They also squeezed in trips to see Dave and Katie on their forty haunted acres, and a trip to Florida as well. Y'all, it was so nice. The kids were perfect ages to disappear for long periods of time. And we talked and talked and talked. Nobody ate a cricket this time either.

Then, THEN, we all went to Disney World. In August. Of our own free will. When this idea was first broached, Matt and I were like, NOOOOOooooo....But Amy usually gets us to do what she wants and that's what she did and we were glad we did. I'll save that for its own post. Too much magic! The story about the corndogs alone needs its own post.

Here are a few more snaps from our time together. Summah flashback!

A happy Fourth of July

This is how tired I like children to be.

Nate and Hank!
Ava and Laura
Thank you for indulging me in this summer throwback. Basically, besides kid activities and lots of sweating and mediocre tennis, the salient fact of the summer was the Australian clan visiting us. Now it's like you were there! Go get some rest for that scrolling finger! xoxox

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Just Wanna Know You Better

Camp Papa and LJ
Yesterday my tennis coach said to me, "Becky, all I'm gonna say is, enjoy your kids while they're young." She had been regaling me with stories of how her college-age children were driving her crazy. They actually sound like delightful people, but her family is adjusting to their new life stages.

This morning, Laura wanted to get to school early for a science review session, so we pulled up in the drop-off lane at 7:45, right after we got Hank to school. Kids aren't allowed in the building before 8, so we sat together in our heated seats while Taylor Swift sang on the radio. Laura was tired and not animated. She'd been home late from swimming and then had studying to do. In the mornings--some mornings--I bear the brunt of all of Laura's annoyance with the universe. The angle of the sun, the air temperature, the sogginess of a cheerio, these things are probably my fault. It's okay, I am maddeningly unfazed by her moods. Some days she saves all her charm and her stories, all her sparkly cheer, for her daddy, which I get. I totally get it.

She sat there and woke up a bit and then kids started to pop out of cars and go into the building. A male teacher I didn't recognize walked by the car and smiled in at us through the window. I said, "Who is that?" Laura opened the door and slid down from the seat. As she did, she turned back and said, "He's one of the vice principals. He's in charge of discipline."

She said "discipline" so archly! How does she know to do that? And she raised an eyebrow and half smiled. In that moment it was like she was twenty years old. I felt like I was looking at myself. Her whole expression just nailed this humorous, like, skepticism about the whole enterprise of, I don't know, discipline? The institution of school? It made me laugh, and she walked away, and her long blond hair was behind her like a flag.

For some reason, out of a whole day, that was a moment I wanted to tell you about.

(Because I also napped, had lunch with Matt, and played tennis, we could talk about those but the shadows grow long.)

I hope you had a moment you liked.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We Sipped and Shopped

Tonight one of our tennis friends had a little party at her garden shop. She and her mother make wreaths and decorations and such, and she let everyone know she was having a Sip 'n' Shop to kick off the holidays.

Sidebar: Back when I used to watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta, I remember that one of the wives had a baby and then invited her friends and neighbors to an open house that she called a Sip 'n' See. I remember that the whole internet exploded in derision. Like, "Sip 'n' See, is that a thing? What IS that?" I was like, it is right there in the name. You sip and you see, it is not that difficult. So uppity, the internets!

Okay, so the Sip 'n' Shop. I had not yet visited her garden nursery. Pretty Neighbor and I wanted to show our support, so off we went. The place looked like a little marzipan cottage. Everything was very cute, and there was wine and cheese. We chatted with some of our buddies and made our way around to look at everything. One older lady had on a full-length mink coat. You don't often see that in these parts, because it's not cold enough. But tonight it was. It's in the teens with the windchill. She also had on a striking red hat and pearls.

Whereas I had texted the hostess to make sure this wasn't a dressy affair and that leggings are still pants, because I would be in my tennis clothes. Or I didn't check with her about the leggings, I've made my mind up about that.

I had planned to buy a wreath there, because I'd heard that they were so pretty. I was even prepared to spend some money on it, even though wreaths, like bows and throw pillows, fall into that category of things that Matt doesn't imagine actually costing money.

(My friend Veronica and I used to have a policy. When your husband asks you how much a jacket or a purse cost, take the first digit off the price and tell him the remaining numbers, and that will sound like a reasonable amount to him. "This purse honey? A splurge at $79." Like that. Anyway.)

So Pretty Neighbor and I closed in on a pretty wreath that was festooned with owls and feathers. I turned over the price tag. "Uh oh," I said, "It has a 'one' in front of it." I scooted over and picked up a bow instead. I had a wreath already that needed bedazzling. But then somehow on the way to the cash register, I wound up holding a centerpiece with greenery and bows and two little reindeer.

Pretty Neighbor goes, "You put that on your dining room table, it's gonna Christmas that shit right up!"



Then we made our way back to our neighborhood, and I went around and collected the kids, and I thought about what pleasure there is in bustling through the early dark, with agreeable children, and a warm house waiting.

Here's to sipping and/or shopping for all of us. Put a bow on something maybe.