Saturday, May 29, 2010

Makin' Copies

I guess this week got away from me, huh? The only way I know to put it is: the final few days of school before summer are jam-packed: showy celebrations wherein the joy and recollection of the year's accomplishments are whipped into a frenzy, and when it's all over you feel, somehow, that it didn't last long enough. Yet, oddly, you're exhausted and can't really figure out why.

I am, invariably, a basket-case of emotions the last day, willing myself not to tear up afresh with every teacher, consoling myself in the carpool line as I marvel at how everyone's grown, wondering why my children have to grow at all? It's so unfair. But seriously--closing events, or more accurately, transitions are often difficult for me, and I tend to overthink them (surprise!) to the degree that I almost always neglect some technical responsibility related to the children's education. Can I write a heartfelt letter to a tutor? Absolutely. Can I find my child's bookbag the last day? Or remember to send the $10 donation in for the class gift? Um, usually not.

This year, it was the library fine. Two dollars and fifty cents was all we owed, but you know the school librarian is not playing when she sends home those highlighted reminder notes! Seriously, y'all, those gentle reminders are one thing, but once the slips start coming home with hand-written addendums, it's business time, believe you me.  Donna Jo* is not afraid to regulate, and in first grade, this is accomplished by the withholding of the delinquent student's report card. Now, to be clear, I wasn't withholding the book for kicks, I was simply allowing it a few days to dry following its anti-bacterial-wipes sponge bath, which followed the orange juice spill.  But then I realized, DJ doesn't need my reasons. She just wants to close the books on the books, and the year...and get her summer vacation on. And that's cool. So-we (meaning Joshua) paid up, got it in right under the wire. And to be honest, it felt kind of noble, like donating to public radio in the final moments of the pledge drive. Only instead of a hand-crank radio or reuseable shopping tote screen-printed with my local member station's call letters, our thank-you gift is getting to see our child's grades. Lovely. Does that come in celadon?

 Oh, but listen to this-after picking up the kids, we'd planned to head straight to the toy store for the end-of-year tradition we like to call Getting A New Toy. Since we don't do Getting A New Toy very often, it's kind of a big deal. Like, a three-times-a-year deal. But somewhere between dropping off teacher gifts, sobbing, and heroically paying our fine, we'd arranged to meet some friends at a local vegetarian restaurant to toast the upcoming break. Neither of us are vegetarian, but my husband likes to pretend he is sometimes and the food at this place is amazing. As we sat in a line of cars being loaded with gangly, overexcited children, our own children standing on the elbow rests of our seats and peering out the sunroof, alternately air-guitaring and mock-sparring their classmates, we started to fret. People-hungry people most likely- were waiting on us at the cafe and here we were, stuck. But then again, should we really be dragging our own Greedy Greenies to a semi-elegant restaurant, when they only had eyes for Playmobil and Diaper-Wetting Dollbabies? Moral Dilemma.

Then came this scale-tipping text:

Friend: Dude. Rob Schneider is totally at the restaurant. Two tables away.

Joshua: You mean Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigalo? DON'T LET HIM LEAVE.

And suddenly we were all, "What are we waiting for? The kids LOVE soyburgers! We can't let them miss out on a end-of-school tempeh wrap!" Then we jumped lanes and high-tailed it to lunch, all in effort to feast our eyes upon The Richmeister. It was really insane-the magnet of celebrity. Especially when one of the children said, "Mommy, is someone chasing us?"

We missed him by less than five minutes. But it got us moving, right? Out of the mini-van gridlock, into the cool of the restaurant and tall glasses of Red Zinger tea. And soy-burgers. And, really, I don't even know what we would have said to the guy. It was just..a novelty, like a doll that can drink a bottle AND "go" on her pink plastic potty, simultaneously. Oh, well. Incidentally, the doll has been named Sunflower Libby. And she has lots of accidents. I'm assuming Mr. Schneider is sufficiently trained.

So-I'm back, I hope. Day One of Summer went well, with just about every seasonally-appropriate activity finding a place on the itinerary. Corn-on-the-cob, swimming, homemade popsicles, hide-and-seek, and a four-square tournament. Even a late-afternoon pop-up thunderstorm. Although-nobody claimed to be "bored", so I guess it's not official...yet. Good thing we have three months.


xoxo

*The librarian, who is awesome.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

If the spirit moves you:



My Saturday evening can be best described by the following exchange Joshua and I shared on the way home from the night's festivities.

Me: That woman you were dancing with who was really a man seemed kinda possessive. I mean, when I tried to cut in, he/she gave me a NASTY glare. 


Him: Yeah. I don't think she was there for just, you know, "fun".  She, I mean, he, was in it for the long haul, if you know what I'm sayin'. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is really all that needs to be said about Johnny's Hideaway. However, for the uninitiated, the short story on Johnny's is this-about thirty years ago, Johnny's opened up in an Atlanta strip mall, and with its parquet dance floor, disco ball, and lounge lizard lighting, quickly became known among a certain crowd as one of the city's best places to dance. And by "certain crowd", what I really mean is: a group of Johnny's fans so motley you would most definitely not be able to pick them out of a police line-up. Except for the really tan 70-something with the home-permed hairpiece. You'd know that guy was a Johnny's regular.

But first, a couple of things to get out of the way: Johnny's is not cool in the way that Halo is cool, or the way that it's cool to have drinks with the fancy people at the St. Regis Hotel. I know this, so don't feel like you have to tell me. Those places are so cool that by the time I finish this entry, they probably won't be cool anymore. Not so with Johnny's, a destination whose appeal seems predicated on its not  trying to win you over. Johnny's doesn't need your validation. It doesn't bend to the hipsters and their cruel cultural whims. Leave the facelifts to the clientele; Johnny's is just pleased to offer you a hamburger steak and vodka tonic served with a nice mixed grill of Shania Twain/Bon Jovi/Blondie/Show Tunes. Really-the music selection is random, but so right--in fact, there was only one song I couldn't dance to, not because it wasn't a good song, but because it represented an event so infuriating that I have vowed to never enjoy said song again. And I'm not saying what it is, because I wouldn't want to ruin that song for you. Yes, I am a giver. My point is, though, in Nightclub Land, where most establishments peter out and die in three years, Johnny's Hideaway stands alone. It hasn't even changed loafers.

How did we end up there, you ask? Well, I guess you could say we needed to blow off some steam; throw cool and caution to the wind, stay out all night, etcetera.  I mean, with the year we've had, we needed a grand gesture. A nice big Barbara Streisand-life's-juicy-and-the-sun's-a-ball-of-butter moment. Our fun crisis could not be solved with the usual dinner and a movie. It required a greater level of recklessness, even, than a major thrift store shopping event wherein we purchase our weight in polyester and polish off a dozen donuts. We needed a melody. We needed to shake our groove thangs to the tune of Not Giving Up. And, dear readers, what better place to shake it than Johnny's Hideaway, a refuge for the longing souls out there who still, after all these years and botched plastic surgeries, not only still believe in love, but believe they'll find it at the Hideaway?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Joy and Daisies




Wednesday was a slow-cooker kind of day. Meaning, I put all my ingredients in the pot: coffee, shower, to-do list, desire, and deadline--but it took about four hours for things to heat up in there, so much so that it was about 1:00 pm before I really got anything done. It didn't feel good to fritter that many child-free hours away on so little, but I was feeling a teeny bit blue, and when this sort of thing comes over me I have just a few options, tools I find can help bridge the gap between Hope and No-Man's Land.

One of my tricks is to go outside, sit with the sun on my face and peruse the day's mail- but since we've moved so much, and basically stopped receiving correspondence, all I had was this really random catalog called Body Central, a mail-order boutique featuring an impressive selection of come-hither tops and Daisy Duke shorts, all for dirt-cheap. It's pretty fascinating the kind of profile one can put together, just from reading someone else's deliveries. For instance, the former occupant of this house liked synthetic fabrics, permanent wedgies...and the number $19.99.

So-what do you think? Could I find work based on my ability to see into the minds of individuals committing style crimes? Who knows, though-maybe the homeowner was just as perplexed as I was by that offering. Maybe she, too, kept her fingers crossed for a Garnet Hill circular, a wayward New Yorker from next door, perhaps even an overdue birthday card with scratch-off lotto ticket tucked inside? I don't mind belated wishes, if you don't. And, to that end, I'll go on record to say that, in my opinion, it's perfectly acceptable to read your neighbor's magazines if they're delivered to you, as long as you put them in the right box eventually. Once, I got a People, Us Weekly, and OK! by mistake; it took me two days to get through them, but better late than never, I say.

Another thing that sometime works is this: call my husband and fish for compliments, and then pretend I don't hear his response. So he has to repeat the sweet nothing, and I get to feel twice as pretty/witty/that I'm a good dancer.  Except-lately, he's getting more hip to my jive in this department and is far less apt to take the bait.  Also of note: his i-phone Sudoku addiction, which, who am I kidding, is basically like competing with another woman, only she's good at math. One way I work this angle is to say, innocently, "Oh there you go, playing Bejeweled Blitz again", because everyone knows B-Squared is a game for the ladies! So far, this hasn't worked in causing him to question his manliness like I thought it would.

So yesterday I was striking out on lots of fronts, when I just decided to nap for twenty minutes in hopes I'd wake up a different person. Or- that I would wake up, and this strange period in our lives would have passed. And, forgive me if this is all getting rather old, my stories of tribulation and woe. It's just...some days are harder than others. Some days I feel sick with not knowing where we're going or what's next on the radar. Some days I could write about it for hours, and some days I don't even want to give it a moment's thought. I want to pretend that everything is as it was, that we don't have to move, or look for a new job, or make a decision about the business. That I could just be a normal person instead of someone cursed to a life of passing through. My heart doesn't feel like it's passing through. There are people I really love here. And my children love their school..oh, man.

So. I sat on the edge of my bed, and cried kind of pitifully. Then I slept, but only halfway, with the music on. And now I'll pause for a moment to say that some artists are flat-out NOT HELPFUL in moving a person through the grief process. For instance, this song by Maria Taylor. Or,  this little number from The Cinematic Orchestra, aptly titled, To Build a Home. Whenever I find Joshua in his office, logged on to the custom-made Pandora Station on which both of these artists can be found, I have to get out right away because, man, that place is a tomb. 

And yet, somewhere in the mix of despair and questions...amid my rest and wakefulness yesterday, there was joy, in the purest sense. Not happiness, but something deeper...which abides. In between the depressing music and my mix-tape of anxiety was an emerging thought: The remedy, when it all becomes too much, is not always distraction. When I allow myself to wallow for a little while, to just swim around in the big old mud puddle of it all, I find I come out of the mess with more than a healthy mineral glow. I lose some of the pressure of having to hold it all together, and I remember that even though everything is completely whacked out right now, there's a subterranean layer in me that is untouchable. This is true: I have a lovely life. Even though I might not always see it, I know it.


***Look what I found? Evidence of some Daisy Days Gone By. I guess I was a fan of the Dukes once, too, as was my bestestestest friend in the world, Jami. I'd like everyone to note the sensible sun hat she's toting on our way to the beach, whereas I've donned movie star shades and some chandelier ear-bobs for the occasion, along with inexplicably curly hair. It's pretty safe to say that as far as rear-views are concerned, this was the top of our game.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I couldn't resist...The Swagger Wagon



Okay, so maybe it's lame to jump on the swagger band-wagon, but I love this video. Probably because I'm the proud owner of a Toyota Sienna...but let's just keep it real: everybody knows I have a thing for wannabe gangstas. I mean, just look at my husband. What?! I thought trucker caps were dope...Actually, we took these photos in the hat section of a general store last summer. And he happily posed in about eight different styles, facial expressions adjusted accordingly. What a man! A pictorial post of that evening may be in the works...

And now, for your Tuesday afternoon enjoyment, I present the Sienna Family, in all their suburban glory. My favorite part is when they break it down on"Farmer in the Dell". Peace out!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dialing it Back

On the way home from the grocery store today, my four-year-old piped up with a question from the backseat.

"Hey, Mama, have you ever played spin the bottle?"

Then what happened was: my eyes popped out of their sockets and an old-fashioned Ahooga horn materialized above my head and, well...ahooga-ed.

I mean, COME ON! I knew I shouldn't have canceled our subscription to Noggin. And for the record, The Disney Channel is NOT child-friendly after a certain hour, because even though I'm pretty sure that little tart Selena Gomez is G-rated, there's clearly more to Wizards of Waverly Place than just run-of-the-mill spell-casting (honey, begin tearing hair out now).  We've been allowing  big brother to watch the show occasionally, after Winnie's bedtime--but I guess we haven't been careful enough.

And come to think of it, even he's been referring to some adolescent rites of passage that I'd have guessed were still be over-his-head. Swirlies, atomic wedgies, etc. Basically harmless, but are we really there, so soon?

I paused for a second, and then answered. "No." Which is true.

She went on. "Well, do you know how to play?"
And again, I said no, a lie that seemed justified.
Then I asked HER: "Do you know how to play?"

She told me yes. "You take a bottle. A wine bottle, and you make sure it has nuffing in it. Then you put it on the ground and spin it. And that's how you play."

"What do you do when the bottle stops spinning?" I asked.

"You pick it up, put it in the cupboard, and go play somefing else."

"Good girl." I said. "Here, have another Tootsie Pop."

Then we went home and read a board book about Jesus.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Smitten



Gardenias are the kind of flower that can make a person think: well, maybe God really does love me after all! I didn't grow up with this variety of shrub, as Ohio winters are generally too jarring for the gardenia's delicate, southern constitution--and I really don't even think I smelled a gardenia, fresh, until a few years ago. It was the night we moved into the split-level we'd decided to rent from a former work acquaintance. We'd spent all day unpacking, and thanks to my friend Carmen, who in matters of relocation/deep cleaning is extremely helpful to the point of becoming militant, and her husband, Joe, who is very good at rearranging the furniture in a room a couple dozen times before you figure out where you really want it to go, we were completely moved in. Really, every box was unpacked and put away; the bed made up with clean sheets.

So we were standing there, the four of us-exhausted, like maybe we ALL wanted to hop in and call it a night, when I noticed that there were screens in the windows on either side of our bed. Screens! I was of the impression that homes in Atlanta didn't come with screens, since we'd never lived in a place that had them. I'd developed a theory as to why this was, probably something about the pollen, I thought. Or the humidity, or mosquitoes, perhaps the need to prove one's wealth and power by bucking fresh air in favor or centralized climate control? Whatever it is/was didn't matter, I was just happy to be in a "normal" house.  I remembered seeing the switch in the hallway for the attic fan, and had someone turn it on as I threw open the windows. And, in that moment, I became my mother. She loves her some attic fan, as well as unlimited access to fresh air. As a little girl, I'd lay in bed and listen to the quiet roar coming from the hallway, and life was the best kind of normal. That night, in our new home, it was just like I'd remembered: the motor vibration, shutter rattle, the first blast of air drawn in through the screens. It was lovely --calming, cooling--a real throwback to the white noise of my childhood. But there was something else, too. Another surprise, something I hadn't yet experienced. Underneath our bedroom window, on a sliver of no-man's land between our yard and the neighbor's, was an overgrown gardenia, blooming its brains out. Oh my goodness, guys! I yelled. We have the perfect house! Of course, it wasn't perfect-I think I mentioned the dining-room-with-an-identity-crisis in an earlier post--but I sure did love basking in the breeze of that flower.

When we moved again, I took a cutting from the shrub with me in the van, and smelled it a hundred times on the interstate as our old life got smaller and smaller. I think I actually wore it out, like a scratch-and-sniff smelly sticker, and when it finally wilted down to nothing, I cried. I'd wanted it to last forever, wanted to be able to take something with me to the New Life-even though it was never meant to last up there in any form. A Zone 7 plant making it in Zone 5? Maybe in a pot, indoors. Not the same. I didn't want to believe it, but at the same time knew there was no sense crying over starcrossed plant hardiness zones. I moved on to my mother's peonies, and that was that.  I've since come to understand that it was never about the gardenia. But what, then? I wasn't ready to say goodbye.

That was a year ago. We're in Atlanta again, in another rental house, smack dab in another transition. And there's another gardenia--this one much less unruly, and so heavy with flowers that I almost can't stand it. I know it might seem strange, me having a crush on a flowering shrub, but I'm in love, and I don't care who knows it. The captivating fragrance, the waxy white flowers that look like they were fashioned out of fondant, the way it always knows just what to say when I've had a hard day. I'm driving the children crazy with gardenia arrangements in every room, not to mention my theatrical proclamations each time we leave the house. BEAUTIFUL! I yell as we pass the shrub each morning on our way out the door, sometimes forcing them to stop and inhale. I feel so lucky, and yet-it's only for a while. We're not always going to live here, that's for darn sure. In this house, this city....on earth. And I don't want to miss a thing, not anymore, so I'm going to savor it all. Right down to the gardenias.


p.s. If you think you don't like gardenias, I just have one thing to say: don't be a hater. But seriously, I want to suggest that the scent of a real-life gardenia is not the same as your Aunt Ethel's cloying gardenia perfume from the drugstore. It is downright intoxicating-so much so, that since our gardenia started blooming, I've been uncharacteristically game for trash duty, because on my way out to the curb, I pass you-know-what and its glorious heaven-scent. Yes ma'am, I'm a regular junkie. My variety of choice: Kleim's Hardy.

To Whom It May Concern:



There are times when I wish my blog wasn't so personal; or at least that it didn't reveal so much about me, personally. I recently found, for the first time, the website of a close friend who has managed the writing and upkeep of a blog wherein the details of his life are kept very ambiguous, where names are changed, exact locations omitted--but the truth, the story, is told. With no sugar-coating, and perhaps even a couple extra dashes (handfuls) of spice. When I revealed to this person, privately, that I had super-sleuthed my way to the elusive URL, I immediately regretted my smug "A-Ha!" proclamation. I mean, did I just blow a cover? The cover between him and me? The writing is superlative --smart, witty...but it might make some people squirm. The word "underbelly" does come to mind, but then again, it's an outlet, and dare I say...art? How freeing, to have a separate space to air your joys and grievances-other than your one blog; your one blog that is frequented, largely, by people you see at the grocery store.  High school friends, relatives, your husband's co-workers. Human beings that you see in 3-D, and not to mention, carpool. Lately, I'm thinking I would love some anonymity of expression; but --and get this--my friend has a whole other social circle born out of the project. I don't know if I want that, necessarily; mostly because I'm lazy, but also because I want the people already in my life to love me no matter if what I say makes them uncomfortable. I want my friends-in-low-places without having to go to the trouble of changing everybody's names in my story, remembering who's who, etc.  So, come on, guys--can you head on down to the oasis with me? Probably not.

So, yes, we've been riding out some storms lately, and I can't honey-up the truth that we have been hurt, in a really big way, by people we believed knew who we are. And we feel alone--only, no one is really talking about it, including me, because....well, I don't think it's right. For me. I don't want to contribute to the mess of words and confusion, or I should say MY HUSBAND doesn't want US to. He is Good. Really-a much better man than I am woman. He can weather, whereas I am blown around, flabbergasted at the nerve and injustice and nonsense. I don't like tea and conversation. If something's not right, I want to blow the lid off it. I believe I get this trait directly from my mother, who, when it came time for our town's elementary school fundraiser, refused to let me sell Nestle candy bars door-to-door with all the other children.  Now, I don't know the whole story, all I remember is it had something to do with the Big Baby Formula Company pushing their products on impoverished mothers in developing nations, mothers who were not only ill-equipped to read the formula's mixing directions, but in most cases, had no clean water with which to mix the product. Of course, I was only in second grade when she bestowed upon me this lesson in corporate watchdogging (awkward!), but I got the message. If it's not right, stand up. Or sit down, walk out, sit in, stay home--whatever speaks the truth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Under The Wire


Well, I didn't get the memo about yesterday being "Hat Day" at Winnie's preschool, so I guess it was just a stroke of luck that she chose to make the much-adored, beaded, gold Cleopatra headdress part of her Thursday enemble- along with leg warmers, Sleeping Beauty Slippers, and the kind of hand-smocked sundress most little southern girls wear with spotless white tennis shoes and a coordinating headband.

I am probably the least-informed parent ever when it comes to special occasion days-and these last few weeks before summer are chock-full of them. But seriously- regular, anticipated events like school pictures somehow slip past me. I can't decide if it's my fault or if I'm really not getting all the information, but on Picture Day, after Winnie was already dressed and at school and I saw the "reminder" email that had just then arrived in my inbox, I pretty much gave up for the year. It just so happened that "Picture Day" coincided with Winnie's big brother wanting to choose her outfit and do her hair, by himself. You can imagine the Extreme Makeover that took place in our bathroom that morning: She looked like a tiny Cyndi Lauper crossed with Nellie Olsen and a side ponytail. But the good news is, there were retakes! Only, we missed them because we were out of town. Oh, well.

I suppose my saving grace is that I am generally pretty good at launching last-minute creative endeavors, like the one above, which commenced approximately 14 minutes before we left the house this morning-and I owe a big thank you to my friend Katherine who tipped me off on the day's theme.   I will say, in designing costumes, that it's good to have certain things on hand, like a glue gun, duct tape, and a box of....well, junk. It's also good to let your four-year-old choose the base of the outfit, because chances are, that layer alone will be costume enough. For Outer Space Day, another helpful hint is to stick with the alien/robot theme because the astronaut route is just too small a box to fit in. I mean, once you go all NASA on people's A's, the next thing you know, they're going to expect you to be some Nobel-winning scientist or something. But if you wear a colander and some googly eyes on your head, the pressure's off: you are an artist, and the world? Your oyster. Interpretive dancer, television jingle-composer, namer of nail polish colors=no box, or at least not a square one. Don't you agree?

Maybe the ninth-hour approach is my style, after all. If I had all the time in the world, or as some people call it, advance notice, to plan these costumes and parties and whatnot, I'd drive myself crazy, dwelling in possibility. It's kind of like our approach to Lauren becoming a big brother: We didn't tell him I was pregnant until we left for the hospital. I just said, "Mommy's bringing back a baby, and I'm really going to need your help when I get home. See ya!" And I'm telling you, it was an absolutely flawless transition. No sibling rivalry, no hair pulling, no Big Brother trying to set the house afire while I nursed the baby--and I really think it's because we didn't give him time to over-think it. He didn't laze around for nine months imagining all the ways life as he knew it was about to end. He just played trains, ate Pirate's Booty, and wondered, occasionally, why Mommy was as big as a house.

Likewise, I didn't tell Winnie about the components of this costume until we put them on, in the parking lot. Yes, she rode to school in her underwear; I was waiting for the glue to dry on the dress. But with the costume on, walking up the sidewalk to enter the building, she began to adopt the quirks of a true interloper. The "crazy lady glasses" (that's what they're actually called at the party store) kept falling off, and we had to rig the colander on with a headband, but by the time we crossed the threshold of her classroom, she was popping and beeping like a regular Martian. And as I watched, while her friends surrounded her and marveled at the strangeness and fun of it all, I saw that she wasn't self-conscious, or proud. She was just happy. No matter what she's got on, that kid is always in her own skin. Sometimes, spur-of-the-moment, if you can swing it--is perfection.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Busy-ness


Hello, again. I am going to try for a quick update even though I'm so supremely caffeinated I can barely type. I don't know what it is, but even though I like to brag sometimes about being immune to the effects of coffee, there are days it really does a number on me. I guess it could have been the Dexadrine omelet I had this morning. Kidding! There I go, making inappropriate jokes again. I hope I'm not offending anyone, especially not any of you new readers who moseyed on over here from Design Mom. I would hate to lose you so soon, before you've learned to love me in spite of all my annoying habits, like hiding in the bathroom while you push your baby out.


So anyway, we made it back from our trip-and I am sorry about the hiatus in posting. I'd planned to update frequently, even urgently, something akin to Christiane Amanpour, but from Amish Country--however, the greenhouse has a way of consuming not just my time, but the part of my brain that thinks in complete sentences; therefore, I mostly just worked all weekend. Watering, trimming, transplanting, sweeping, grunting like a cavewoman in order to communicate. The world outside our seven acres could become over-run with Smurfs and I would have absolutely no idea it had happened. Isn't it strange how some tasks, or maybe it's certain environments, buffer us from the rest of civilization, if only for a while?

It's actually pretty wonderful in some ways-but I don't know if I want to be engrossed in anything to that degree-at least not right now. My children are still so young that they need the lion's share of my time and attention and brain cells, and they need it in ways that are, often, unpredictable. The thing about being a grower is, the plants can't wait. It's not like a sewing project you can put down, or a blog post that can be finished once everyone's asleep. Flowers wilt, and can't be sold, and there goes Junior's college education. Or, in all seriousness, our dinner.


On the flip side, though, there's so much beauty, so many ways to create in that world-which I love. I suppose it would be easier if there were a way to pause the business needs-because heaven knows I can't stave off the little people for very long. And why would I want to? Having my mother ever-present in all my growing-up moments was comfort indescribable. I realize not everyone experienced childhood in this way, but when I was sick, she was by my side in an instant. Instead of rushing off to trim some geraniums, she was there to tuck me in tight. Now, the more cynical among will probably think that the previous sentence explains why I missed something like 47 days of school in second grade, but there were other factors in play, I assure you, which will be covered in another post. Maybe.

All this to say-boy, was I busy this weekend. And we still don't know what our next move is-career, housing, it's all up in the air. Joshua suggested that we take a year off and travel with the children, to which I replied, rather dramatically: isn't that what we've BEEN doing?! I mean, if I can get a renovated Airstream out of it, fine, but I'm not going to just keep living like this and call it VACATION! Where are the tiny bottles of shampoo? The fresh stack of magazines to read in the car? That's what I thought.

But-more will be revealed. We did what we had to do up north, and now we're back in the city for the next little while. Finishing out school, packing up-because hey, the family that owns the house we're living in has decided to come back from Dubai in a few weeks. On the road again...it's not forever, I keep telling myself.  Forget, repeat, forget, repeat.

When we do land, somewhere, for good, I am going to dec that place out like nobody's business. I'm serious. You'll call me on the phone to have breakfast, to go thrift-store shopping or see a movie or visit the farmer's market, and I will have become a bona fide hermit, reunited at last with all my stuff, in a home that's mine. Of course, if I'm living in the Airstream, we can just hook it up to your car and haul around, you holding things up for me to look at through the window. I may even open it up a crack to pass you some money if I see something I really like. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Well, if I had known you were coming over, I'd have baked a bundt cake.


That seemed like the right thing to say.

Yes, I knew there was a chance my story would get posted on Design Mom, I mean, after all-I submitted it myself.  But- I thought there might be some sort of advance notice, or official invitation/letter of acceptance.  Like maybe a little bird would show up on my windowsill with a teeny-tiny letter rolled up like a scroll in its beak. Or, you know, an email. With a confirmation number.

But then I would have been anxious, and spent all day cleaning, trying to make my blog look all cute and stuff. So, here we are, me and my stories-and you've shown up... and even though I am actually wildly self-conscious, I am throwing my arms into the air and welcoming you in a big, booming, BIENVENIDOS kind of way, despite the fact that I feel quite unkempt and in no state to take on houseguests. Certainly not on Cinco de Mayo. Can I offer you a half-eaten cannoli?

Still: don't chance gatherings make the nicest sort of parties? Nobody's had time yet to overthink their tablescape or agonize over the seating arrangements. You just let the chips and dips fall where they may, and it's all just sort of randomly beautiful-- and awkward, too. Sometimes.

So this is my blog. It started as a way for me to chronicle how my husband and I had this wild and crazy idea to move our family to another state, buy a greenhouse and farmhouse on seven acres, and basically just start from scratch in a completely new career: growing flowers. And I suppose it still is that, because we still have that life, the country life, but we've held on to our old life, too, in the city, and even as I'm writing this, I don't know which is my old life and which is my new life-just that everything is changing and writing is the only way for me to keep from being overwhelmed by emotional whiplash. And, I'm also much better at being funny on paper than I am in person. Whenever I attempt a joke at a party, some people get up to refill their drinks, others throw themselves off the nearest fire escape. When I write, though, there's no punchline to screw up. There's just a story. Here is what happened, and what it felt like. Sometimes it's funny. Often, it's sad. The thing about writing is, there's always an emotional vein open, I think.

And that's pretty much what I do. I just write. Sometimes, I try to take pictures and post them in all their artistic glory, but mostly I am a horrible photographer and can't tear myself away from the moment to capture it on film for all eternity. I'm lucky I have a good memory, because  someday, my children will want me to describe what they looked like as...children.

And one more thing-that post about my sister's baby. I really love him. I had never been present for a birth before-other than those of my own two children-and being there for his grand entrance really sealed the deal on him being one of my all-time favorite people in the world. And I'm so glad my sister is able to accept me and all my wacky, hiding-in-the-bathroom-during-her-labor schemes. She is 100% awesome.

So, thank you for stopping by. Hopefully, next time you come over I won't talk about myself so much. xoxo

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Immediate Action Req'd

Apparently, my child does not know her letters and numbers yet. Which is not that big of a deal, of course, except that she's like, the ONLY one behind.
When we found out, last week, that there might be a problem, I didn't react defensively. I mean, the logical explanation for her lack of academic progress can be found in these photos:


We've spent an entire year playing waitress, which works out great, because that might be the only job she'll be able to obtain.


Joshua thinks the problem lies in her not being able to memorize. Fine, I say. She just won't be one of those waitresses who can keep everybody's order straight in her head. She'll have to write it down.


The strange thing is, other than being the only child in her class who can't correctly identify the letters in the alphabet, she is, I've been told, "off the charts" in verbal communication. Like, heads and shoulders above everyone else. Great, I say. So she'll have to rely on her notepad to remember what the special of the day is-who cares? She's going to sell the pants off that soup du jour - what with all her fancy communication skills and everything.


Even so, we knew we had to take immediate action. It was difficult, but nobody ever said parenting was going to be a walk in the park. So, we spent the weekend binging on one final round of restaurant. And let me tell you, the place was packed. We could barely get a table. Afterward, though, we sat our sweet girl down on the couch and gave her a good old-fashioned talking-to.

Winnie, we said, you're four years old. It's time to get serious.


 I don't know about you, but I think we dodged a serious bullet.
Doesn't she look happy?

Monday, May 3, 2010

This Is a Post About Happiness



I know I said a while back I'd spend more time writing about unicorns, but this collection of happy moments-though extremely random--will have to do. Before you think I've gotten off scott-free, however, I'll relay a little tale of what I thought was going to go down this week; i.e. more tears/bloodshed/overeating:

It was mostly things taking place in/pertaining to my car, starting with Monday morning when I took the kids to school in the Swagger Wagon. We stopped at the end of our street, which faces the entrance to an elementary school and also intersects with another, fairly busy road on which people like to pretend they're super-cool and drive like maniacs. Of course, this (maniacal driving) bothers me to such a degree that the only way I think I'd be able to ride bikes with the children on said road (which has sidewalks) is if I was fully anesthetized and instead of riding my bike,  Joshua was pushing me on a stretcher. And the kids were on the moon.

It's really quite awful.

Anyway, so I see these two cuties, obviously brother and sister-approaching the intersection to first cross in front of me, then cross the big scary street. I smiled, then put my hand up as if to say, "wait", and they waited while I checked each direction to make sure they were safe from all sides. Then I put my car in park in case my body became inhabited by aliens who made me step on the gas at the wrong time, then I waved them on to cross in front of me. AND THEN. Then, a really humongous silver SUV came barreling down the pike and made a right-hand turn onto my street, which meant I had to fully extend my arm out of the car to implore these sweet children to abort their street-crossing mission lest they be pulverized by Gas Guzzler. I also may have yelled, "No." I'm not sure; it all happened very fast. The important part is, they stepped back onto the curb and were safe. The driver of the monster-truck, however, was so mad at me he actually came to a near-stop alongside the Swagger Wagon to give me a look I'm sure he thought was withering. It was one of those "how dare you even exist" looks. But listen. Clearly I exist to keep people like him out of jail for committing vehicular homicide, where I'm quite certain he would have died a broken man. I get no respect, I tell you.

But anyway, what happened next was this: on the way home from drop-off, my turn signals stopped working. And then my hazards. Next was my horn. And then, and I swear this is 100% true, a spider dropped down, from the interior ceiling of the car, right onto my steering wheel. And then I screamed because I thought my car was going to eat me. But that's where the trouble ends, peeps, because my adoring/adorable husband took it to the shop to be repaired, and things started looking up.

 The next day, I got a world-class email from my father that was so full of encouragement I'm considering having the contents tattooed on so I don't forget. Then, a random phone call from a person who shared amazing perspective and hope in the midst of our weird life, and THEN, a real letter in the mail, for Joshua, that I may be wallpapering our bathroom with. You know, the bathroom-isn't that where you do your deep thinking/self-evaluating? This last letter even had a little compliment for me slipped in there, but I was so happy for my husband that I didn't even notice it. Until he pointed it out, then of course I made him read it to me three times while I sat on the couch smiling like a fat cat.

In Other Happy Events, the following items occurred: We went to a crawfish boil where we danced in our bare feet, and I was only a little bit afraid that my whole shirt would fly up/I would fall down and break all the nails on my left hand like I did on our honeymoon. Also, there was a really amazing thunderstorm which was awesome, yet didn't flood our basement. Next, we took the children to a French restaurant for brunch and we didn't get kicked out. And, we scored the mother lode of hand-me-downs from some friends...clothes and things for Winnie...including a pink alarm-clock in the shape of a castle that plays princess music and projects twinkly stars onto the ceiling. So now, every morning, we get to wake up to the sweet sounds of Cinderella and her Woodland Friends reminding us that our rainbow will indeed come smiling through. And now that I think about it, that's the closest I've got to a post about unicorns. Cheers!