Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Guess what I've been doing besides not blogging? Picking my body weight in ornamental gourds, that's what. I bet I'm the only person you know who can say that with a straight face.

Yes, spring flower season is over....but the Mr. and I decided, in our infinite wisdom the spirit of adventure (and bank accounts), that we'd open our doors again in the fall for a little harvest halloween to-do.

We'll set up shop this weekend with all that we raised on our own land---first time pumpkin growers that we are--and hope we sell enough to pay a mortgage or two. Hot cider, anyone?

I still remember June, sitting at the baseball diamond--dusty and parched, when he called to say he was putting the pumpkins in our two bottom fields. So much of farming is now-or-never; he wouldn't make it to the game. That night, while I watched little boys kick up clouds of dirt chasing bases, he made hills in the clay with our old Ford Tractor and a borrowed seeder. At the time October seemed forever away, as far-off as Christmas, or the moon. In the months since, I've stood and stared as the fields went from tidy to overgrown, as the rows he planted by hand disappeared in the green and the wooden stakes differentiating Jarradales from Jacks became dwarfed in our down-home jungle.

In between, I've cussed out a couple hundred cucumber beetles and watched the clouds like tea leaves. Will it rain, will it be too much, will my brow ever not be furrowed? I am smack in the middle of a season in life called Wait. Wait is like autumn, fraught with possibility but lacking the newly-sharpened-pencil smell and paper-bag book covers. We might land on our feet, but then again, we could come down hard--and wrong.

We are doing things we never dreamed we would do in this life, which is beautiful. All this chance and emotion, the flying blind. It takes moxie, am I right?

Speaking of moxie, my dad is riding his bicycle across the state today. Width-wise. I felt I had to clarify that. Joshua dropped them off this morning near the Indiana line. It was cold, he said, but there they went-- off like a couple of teenagers. We talked later about how they might now have enough socks, or the right socks. How Joshua waited near the launching point for a little bit, just in case.

Maybe waiting is always in season. And moxie is knowing the risks, but doing it anyway.  Diving in...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life with Bob

First, thank you all for your lovely comments welcoming me back to the Internet. You all are like the USO, only you don't have to wait around the airport waving miniature flags looking for me to show up in camo. I am glad to be back, and it feels good to know you haven't written me off, deadbeat blogger that I am.

I am working hard to guard the solitude, which here on day two is proving difficult, mainly because of my distractibility, which I wrote about here, but also because I am sharing a space with a husband who is Trying To Be Quiet. Nothing's louder, I'm certain. Presently, he is Quietly Emptying the dishwasher in the style of someone slowly unwrapping her Starlight Mint in the middle of the staff meeting. Sigh.

I suppose I should be grateful I have a friend and partner who is so efficient, whose strengths balance my shortcomings. Sometimes, though, during this, the off-season, I long for him to have a little army of his own to manage-a project requiring his absence, but only during certain hours. Of course, I would choose and sign off on those hours, and this schedule would be completely malleable to my every whim. Selfish, right? I'm mostly joking.  I love my husband with the breath, smiles, and tears of my life--but am just as fierce in my independence. I also know my limits. In the last few hours, while trying to write this post, I have googled garden gnome costumes, warmed up some leftover rice for breakfast, stared at myself in the mirror trying to ascertain the likelihood that I have some irreversible ocular disease, and finally, taken a shower in effort to literally wash the preoccupation away. Surprisingly, this last maneuver will occasionally do the trick. A therapist once told me that this made sense, water being a conductor. I thought that sounded a little new age-y for me but find myself believing it, just a little. Today it seemed to work out okay for a while, but I will eventually either have to relocate, or find a way to manage my proclivities. Earplugs? A white noise machine?

This time at home is a gift, I know. I want to be productive, and ever-grateful. I have a lovely life, distractions and all. There must be a balance between indulging my weaknesses, my need for stillness--and my love for the one-man-band that is my spouse. Who else in my life can lead us all in an impromptu tap lesson? Can your husband buck and wing? Still-when he came in a few moments ago to inquire about my "plans", I couldn't help but feel a little bothered.  

Do you think you should take a few minutes to jot down your supply list for the children's garden? he asked.

No, I said, tartly.

Man. And I was just getting somewhere, too. Children's garden? My mind took off down a rabbit hole to elsewhere, so I shook my head to bring back focus. The opposite of what happens with a snowglobe. I turned back to my computer to indicate my level of busy-ness, my dedication to my craft. I was hoping he'd get the idea. Then, out of nowhere, he's posing. Hands clasped together, bending at the waist, then straightening, now a lunge.

What's happening? I said Why is there now yoga?

Come on, honey. he said. Let's salute the cow. Don't we have a DVD somewhere?

This is my office, I whispered in a very small voice. And right now it's starting to look more like jazz hands. This was louder, and made him smile. He switched abruptly to something more Fosse-esque.

I waved. See you later, Big Spender.

He's left me alone now for thirty minutes. I'm starting to hope he comes back soon. Just a little.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Many years ago, I had a job in a hospital-sponsored Alzheimer's day-program providing care and facilitating activities for patients with varying levels of dementia. It was funny and sad and beautiful and there was more than enough humanity to go around, which was one reason I don't do that kind of work any more. Imagine someone clutching their forehead and, with one fist thrust heavenward, shouting Oh the humanity!, and you will have a picture of my daily emotional response to my job. Nice, right? I left, and it was the right thing to do, but I still remember with much fondness the men and women I cared for, a few in particular.

Sam was a runner--a wanderer. His wife dropped him off in the morning at eight and picked him up each day around three-a schedule that no doubt improved the quality of her life (and in turn, his) tremendously. The problem is, because of Sam's disease, the routine was meaningless--he had no day-to-day memory of it. He'd walk out of the building and down the street in search of her, which was dangerous, as well as a liability. We placed an alarm-sensor on a lanyard around his neck that helped monitor his whereabouts, but ultimately, his anxiety went unchecked--new anxiety, fresh fear, several times a day. Can you even imagine?

This is when his wife came through in a moment of genius: a simple note, tucked in his shirt pocket.  

Dear Sam, it read.
I will pick you up today at 3:00. I promise.
Love, Dottie

The humanity! Of course we had to remind him the note was there, but the relief he felt unfolding the worn slip of paper was palpable. It was something he could hold on to, and it worked.

As for me, here: It is now or never, writing this blog post. How I can explain a nearly-five month absence is the hardest part and what's been waking me up at night with the rattles. You know, when you're awake in bed, your thoughts rattling around making their distracting sounds while you roll over and fret and toss in covers so unruly they had to have been raised by wolves. What can I say? I got busy? My fingers fell off. Someone stole my computer. I fell down a hole inside myself. Hmmm. We're getting close.

On the morning of my last entry, we were days from opening our greenhouse and I was managing a mental to-do list a mile long. The thing about what I do is, once the gun fires and we're off, there's no time for lovely photos or a witty aside. It is intense, sticky, and all-consuming. I worked every single day in May and almost every one in June and July until we closed. I rarely had time for myself and when I say "time" I don't mean an afternoon of shopping or lattes, I mean time in solitude. I am someone who needs this, second to food and sleep and fresh air and maybe more than coffee. I am learning how to guard these moments and it's a struggle when the work I do, when I'm doing it, leaves little time to tend to even basic needs like the big three above. If I don't protect the quiet, or seek it out, it is nearly impossible to write what I feel, or for that matter, feel at all. The upside of all this is I can honestly say I relate to the time-to-make-the-donuts man in a way that I never could before. Somebody give that guy a hug. If I would have only had a note--one like Dottie wrote, but from myself. Don't worry, it would have said. I won't leave you in this place, this hurried, stilted state. I'll pick you up in five months; maybe I'll bring a donut.

These last few weeks have been a flurry of back-to-school festivities and travel...and today it is raining and grey, and yes there is time for glorious quiet.  Introspection and laundry: a winning combination. I'm hoping, yes--intending, to create a rhythm of words and solitude for myself here at my little yellow table, and I'm thankful to any of you out there who might still be reading. Your sweet nudges for a word from me mean so much. I promise I'll be back in a day or two.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

To-Do List: Tuesday, April 12th

Move all perennials to correct benches and set up galvanized sign thingys

Talk Winnie out of wearing queen outfit to school

Clean up potting bench i.e., get rid of all the childrens' sweatshirts, shoes and silly bands that have inexplicably communed there

Catch up on...oh, around 17 loads of laundry

Finish ginormous custom order for which I have run out of inspiration 
(7 HUGE shade containers, anyone?)

Meet new client at noon (more inspiration will surely come)

Remember leftovers since there won't be time for lunch

Do NOT forget to pick up either of my children from school

Place order for organic fertilizers 

Price pottery

Church Committee meeting tonight, after which  I will drag my sister to the greenhouse to continue setting up our new garden store, after which she will seek therapy for having been subjected to several hours of my un-medicated A.D.D.

Remove braces from newly-poured concrete counter-top

Design artwork (maybe hanging bud vases?) for behind check-out

Try not to slit my wrists after learning it might snow Sunday

Water all seven greenhouses, but not too much since it's cloudy

Call Doctor about A.D.D
The End.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31st

We've arrived at the season of the year where we get crazy swamped with the actual tasks involved in running a greenhouse-meaning, despite what it may look like from the outside, it's not all romping through fields of flowers over here. There's also a hefty amount of stuff we have to do every day that can't be neglected. Because we hope to be selling live plant material instead of dead, we have to watch the weather, decide when to water, fertilize, trim, and prune; inspect our seedlings, check our propane levels, maintain good air quality, --every day--along with all the marketing/design stuff that there never seems to be enough time for.  And then there's the children, and taxes, and getting dinner on the table, which has happened maybe thrice in the last two weeks.

A few days ago, I guess it all got to be a little overwhelming.
Or, as we say in our house, the S hit the F.

I'd been up all night with my thinky head, too hopped up on anxiety for the sleep I so desperately needed. I'd flipped my pillow to the cool side, removed some of my pajama layers, fetched a drink of water, fired off a few silent screams, when I suppose my worry became audible. I know this because he said, all sassy-like:

What is your problem?

Now, typically, I like to reserve my cat-like reflexes and witty rebuttals for daylight hours, but for all I knew it was practically morning anyway. This might come as a surprise to some of you, but I don't actually own a bedside clock. I'm currently using a broken one from Restoration Hardware-- for aesthetic purposes only, of course. I suppose you could call it a prop in the epic drama that is my life, but just know that it has done nothing to move the plot forward. I have--almost exclusively--relied on the kindness of strangers to tell me what time it is at any hour, a quirk I feel is greatly under-appreciated.

Thus, I initiated the snappy-retort body-language sequence, which is difficult when prone, but includes lots of neck action and eye squinting and usually some gestures. He cut me off at the pass.

It's four in the morning.

I deflated, mostly because it was pathetic to be awake and popping like a Real Housewife. Four am is prime for sleeping and there I was squandering it on attitude.

I whispered. I just can't do everything. I listed all the large and small cares, each one like its own lead apron on my chest, all the things I had to do and couldn't do alone, keeping me awake at night and crazy all day long. I mentioned that we needed to prioritize our projects--for instance, it might be fun trying to relocate the chicken coop using a forklift and duct tape, but was it really moving the plot forward?

When I was done, I felt instantly better, and drowsy--finally. My husband, on the other hand, was in a dither. He got up, pulled on some pants, and left for the greenhouse. I tried to stop him, but I was calling out from underwater; an ocean of relief. Did I say come back, or was it a dream? I was blissfully unaware for the next four hours.

For me, keeping all my cares in order is like herding cats in my mind. I can't do it, they're running everywhere, knocking things over and pawing at me when I want to rest. Opening the door to let them out is about the smartest thing I can do.

And added bonus is a husband who relieves the stress of unfinished projects by actually doing them. I showed up much later that morning to find many of the things I'd been stewing over--completed. Of course, he was exhausted--but we both slept great that night.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Headless Chicken

Well, obviously, I've been a little busy. And I'm sorry. But in between watering 10,000 tomato plants and contemplating my first haircut in eleven months, I've managed to conjure up some imaginary blog posts that, given the right audience, could wind up being downright genius. Or at least remotely interesting, if you're into things like goats, mothers-in-law, people snoring, and leprechauns. So please, everybody, keep your pants on--it won't be too much longer 'till my midnight internal monologue finds its way out my fingertips. Pinkie swear!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

To Market

If you read my last blog entry, it will probably come as no surprise that when my mother called a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to attend an event known as "Crazy Charlie's Meat Sale", that my response went a little bit like this: hell to the yes. My apologies to my Christian brothers and sisters, some words cannot be confined by an asterisk.

This is how the story goes: I was in bed, pondering my fate on one of those rare Saturday mornings I'd wound up alone in the house. Seriously, there was no bait-and-switch or false witness involved, still I'd managed, somehow, to bow out of our weekly trip to the lumber/hardware/tractor/dirt store, which although often includes a doughnut course, almost always comes with a generous helping  of tears (the children despise farm-related errands)--and, all in all, is not that great of a time compared to lying in bed in delicious silence. As in, no little person appearing at your bedside to request you immediately turn on PBS, and when you say in a minute, they start counting.

So my mom rang, and even though it was her birthday, she plowed right on through my heartfelt felicitations to the true nature of her call: The meat sale and was I going or not? I'm usually game (ha!) for most bargains, but to be certain, I'm no Mrs. All-American Meat-Lover. I prefer my Pad Thai with tofu, close-ups of sausage pizza make me nauseated. And while I did spend a couple of years in an identity-crisis-related/doomed-relationship-induced state of vegetarianism (translated: my boyfriend was one), on a random Sunday afternoon, home from college, I consumed three servings of meatloaf out of nowhere. And that was the end of that. Still, I do care about things like standards: what did this thing eat before it died, how many times was it washed with bleach before it was labeled safe enough for my consumption, etc. You know, questions one doesn't necessarily consider whilst mowing down one's neighbors in a race for the cheapest styro-pack of chicken thighs.

I said yes anyway. On the basis of the following: quality time and that she was buying. You really shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, should you? Grass-fed diets and ethical treatment aside, we still have to eat, I rationed. Besides, I like a Saturday morning bargain hunt. It was just like old times--almost.

As I stood in the driveway waiting, I thought, once again, how different my life is now. One of my last forays into the world of big-city bargain scavenging was Kim Zolciak's garage sale. I didn't go, but her realtor and I have a mutual friend who tried to talk me into it. I declined, but mostly because I knew they'd be filming and the last thing I wanted to worry about was being caught on camera with my wig on crooked. Just kidding, I don't wear a wig. But I do like to roll out of bed on the weekend and not wear makeup or comb my hair and let's get real, Ms. Kim does not rock that romantic prairie aesthetic. She is gilded bedposts and silicone and I am Earl Grey Tea and moccasins. Time was running out by then anyway-if I was to score any more deals in Atlanta there'd be no time for circus sideshows.

Speaking of sideshows, it must be said that within 25 minutes of our arrival at the local supermarket, the atmosphere around the meat counter had reached such a frenzy that at one point, I looked over at my mother and she was holding an enormous cut of beef, unwrapped, in her bare hands. It had apparently loosed itself free of the plastic wrap and while she was undisturbed by this development, I found it both profoundly hilarious and frightening and had to excuse myself to laugh in private. And douse myself in hand sanitizer.

After we'd checked out, I got in the van and realized this really wasn't that different from Kim's sale.  After all, her sale was a meat market in its own right. Everyone's just trying to move the merchandise, I suppose. And I would go anywhere with my mother, really-- in the last ten years, there were more days that I can count that I longed for her to be with me on my weekend treasure-hunts. And I, for the most part, like to be alone. The best part of the whole morning? After we got home, surrounded by meat, my mom sighing over the fact that she hadn't gotten anything to make for dinner. And I am not kidding you, she went right back to that grocery store for a pound of ground beef.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Good Will Hunting

  (The last time we were all clean at one time)
A few weeks back, before the spring growing season got underway, a friend (best) of mine commented on how she envied my stay-at-home mom lifestyle. I think I'd been waxing poetic about one recent Salvation Army find or another, perhaps mention of a trip to Whole Foods snuck its way into the conversation, and before you know it, to the average working woman, those kinds of mid-week activities can sound suspiciously like Saturday. The fact that I get to pencil these kinds of week-day errands into my invisible calendar whilst my children learn the pledge, etc. under the supervision of capable others does seem rather luxurious and first-worldly, I suppose. What I told her, though was this: Well then you shoulda seen me last year. 

When we lived in the city, apart from domestic upkeep and meals, if I wasn't freelancing, I was basically wandering the various neighborhoods betwixt the hours of 9:00 and 2:00, mostly for my own pleasure. I did my fair share of volunteering at the childrens' school, but for the most part, I was alone. And it was grand. The world, for many years, was most certainly my oyster, if by oyster you mean a Goodwill store stacked with the discarded spoils of the 9th wealthiest neighborhood in the U.S.  I'm talking tags-still-on stuff from Neiman's. Take one daily stop at the GW, add in a grocery run and a couple loads of laundry, tack on carpool at either end, and you've got yourself a day. It was blissful, but I managed, still, to become inexplicably angst-ridden, even in the midst of all that delicious alone-time.

My life is vastly different now. First of all, the thrift stores around here are just...bad. Thrift stores that were raised by wolves. This has been a grave disappointment to me, it must be said, and one can only assume that the wealthy mid-westerners are also compulsive hoarders with really big closets. GIVE IT UP ALREADY, I implore you. Those too-small Jimmy Choos are not getting any bigger just sitting in your closet. And also-my children's frocks are looking more and more tattered by the day: please, I ask you--think of them. Over-order from Mini-Boden, and instead of returning the rejects, just put them in a garbage bag and drop them off at your local donation center. You won't even have to leave your car, and in exchange you'll get a lovely receipt your accountant can use in preparing your 2011 tax return.

I suppose, though, I should let it go: after all, it will be months before I see the inside of any retail establishment besides my own. Tonight, Joshua and I were lamenting our financial state--in an "it's always darkest before the dawn" sort of way. I spoke of my sister, who has so kindly offered to take me for a haircut, and how nice a gesture that was, and he said he hoped that people (our families) didn't think we'd squandered our money foolishly. As in, on ourselves.

I was quiet--kind of amused at the obvious, because I knew it was coming when he exclaimed, emphatically, "I mean, look at us!"

We're bedraggled. Shades of gray, hooded sweatshirts, brown stripes underneath our fingernails.

It could have something to do with our days spent, literally, in the dirt. Planting, working in the sun. Which, when I think about it, affords its own luxury, right? As I walked out of the house this morning, I thought to myself-I can't wait to get out there today, in the warmth. There are days I emerge covered in potting soil, with an almost-literal bird's nest atop my head--and the most beautiful thing about me...is that I have just spent an entire day blissfully unaware. This treasure, for a song.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In case you thought I was kidding

I told you I had some work to do. The good news is, the first wave of hanging baskets is planted and growing along nicely. It would help if we had some more sunshine--apparently, though, the universe is intent on continuing this little experiment called: How Pasty Can Y'all Get?, keeping all its golden glow for the beautiful people on the coasts. This is Middle America, and we here are resigned to suffer, ever stoic. And pasty.

This shot was taken on a rare, cloudless afternoon, though, and I confess, for a while there it became so warm I had to go all Scarlett O'Hara on everybody's A's, removing all superfluous clothing and fanning myself for dramatic effect. This strategy (I employ it often) also involves panting whenever my husband is within earshot in the hopes that he might send me home, ever-concerned for my physical state. Oddly, this did not go as well as I'd thought it might, even with my feigned fainting dead away on the stacks of packaged potting soil.

For a theatre director, there are times when he is utterly unappreciative of my stagecraft. 

He is a good delegator, though, a quality I do not take for granted. Ever. His solution to my faux-heat-stroke? Cool off in the plastic-washing tank--perfect! We recycle a good bit of our used plastic containers by rinsing them in a very diluted disinfectant, then reusing them for this-year's plants. There are two "wet" cycles in this process; the wash and the rinse. And boy, did it ever feel nice to stick my entire arms in the wash tank. Sort of like running your wrists under water on a summer day, have you ever done that? Except I went in up to the shoulder and would have stuck in my whole head were it not for the flotilla of soil particles ready to attack at a moment's notice. 

For a couple minutes during my "dip", I started to think that what if, during the retrieval of plastic containers from the tank, I encountered a non-plastic object, say, something furry? It was one of those times when you know you must, for everyone's well-being, strike the thought from your head and meditate on lollipops or Care Bears or something, lest you flat out lose your mind, but for the life of me,  I was stricken. The only thing that distracted me even a little bit were daydreams of this hat, which I've tried on twice at Nordstrom but can't justify buying. I need it, though, don't you think? To keep the wrinkles and cancer-causing UV-rays at bay? Well, unless it goes on sale or somebody (anyone?) buys me a birthday present, I will have to settle for conjugal tryings-on whenever I'm in the Nordy's (a.k.a. Hat Prison) neighborhood. Maybe next time I'm there I'll wear a dress I've made from curtains, and see if I can get the hat to loan me some money. Ha!

**This might be the third or fourth Gone With The Wind reference in my blog history. What does it mean? I offer no explanations other than this: the first time I watched the movie, my mother was giving me a home-perm while I sat on a kitchen stool with my eyes glued to the television, in awe of the epic romance between Rhett and Scarlett. And, Oh, Ashley! I wonder if the chemicals played some role in permanently embedding GWTW references in the part of my brain that stores long-term memory? Do you think this theory could this be proven with a simple CT-Scan? Hmmm.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

About a bird

I've decided to start twittering. Or is it tweeting? Using twitter? Whatever. Mostly it's because I want to work on being more succinctly witty, but really so I can round out my calendar, which between me and my husband includes directing a middle-school production of Willy Wonka and creating 900 hanging baskets next week. Spotty, right? Like, maybe it's time to re-up your candystriping contract, log some more volunteer hours or something is what you're saying? I hear you. Enter Twitter; you can follow me here and feel better about my schedule in the process: I am now spread sufficiently thin.

Speaking of little blue birds, there's a little something I've been over-thinking lately. It's my go-to, dead-of-night piece of anxiety rawhide. The worry chew-toy I refuse to put down, no matter how many sheep I count or to what great lengths I extend the fantasy that if I move a single muscle the Gestapo will find me in my hiding place. Please tell me that you use this technique in battling your own insomnia? Holding as still as humanly possible under threat of being discovered in your annex? No? Well fine, then. You all just go on being normal while I admit my idiosyncrasies in embarrassing detail on the internet.

This is important, though--a couple of moves back, while all our worldly goods were in storage and we were in that awful limbo, I started to get really anxious about some of the more precious things I either a) hadn't packed myself, b) didn't remember packing at all, or c) knew I had packed but forgotten where, etc. You know, the kind of questions that cannot be resolved across 500 miles. I'd lie awake pondering their whereabouts, then in the morning poll my husband. Did he think they were still there? Of course he did. Did he think that I'd be able to find them again someday or were they gone forever? Of course you'll find them, he said. I suffered quietly through my uncertainty, trusting eventually that when things were shaken out and sifted, I'd find what I was looking for. It was a blind faith, really, based on no solid evidence whatsoever. Just hope: there could be no other possible outcome.

Of course, I didn't know that my belongings were being plundered by mice this entire time, did I?

Still, even after I found out about the raping and pillaging at the hands of angry rodents,  I somehow thought there were things of mine that wouldn't be touched, among them:

my Allison Krauss cd
my vintage opal cocktail ring
and, mostly:
my tiny ceramic bird. It was speckled, and blue, and had been broken in every single move, no matter how well-wrapped. I can't remember where I got it, just that it sat on the window-sill of every house we've lived in, having been glued together-what, like...four times? Maybe five? In the words of that darling childrens'-book character Eloise, it was my mostly companion.

See, when you move so much, there is so much re-imagining of your life that takes place. You are always packing or unpacking, whether in your mind or in the light of day, trying to make where you are feel like home. And sometimes it doesn't. For me, it often didn't-that's why I loved this bird. In the first few days of settling in to any new space, Joshua would present it, freshly repaired, to me, and we would place it in a spot where we could see it daily.  It was familiar; constant. It sounds cliche: pieced-together bluebird as metaphor for what...my life? My heart?

Is it lost forever? We've been in our latest place now since July, and I've just about given up. There is nowhere left to look, and a million places to look. I hate to think it got thrown out by mistake in all the post-mouse cleanup, and I'm not spiritually elevated enough to get any joy from imagining one of my grandchildren finding it in the dump someday in a my-heart-will-go-on sort-of scenario. I want it now. After all the ground we've covered---literal and figurative--it seems absurd that we'd lose something so essential, especially when you consider how many worthless trinkets survived the passage with nary a scratch.  Take, for instance, my collection of paper cocktail umbrellas. They're just fine.

This whole situation makes me feel just like a kid. Maybe I should make a lost poster like my son once did for a wayward stuffed animal and hang it up in the unlikely event of a sighting? Bluebird, I am sending out an S.O.S right now. Won't you come home?

*I wrote this a week ago-and so far, I've tweeted once, but the plays were performed and the first round of flowers is almost completely planted. My bird is still out there somewhere.  For now, I am only mildly appeased by this other bird, which is sweet but also slightly taxiderm-ish due to its real feathers. Ew?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't Misunderestimate* me....

When I say there was a mess up in here. 

'Cause I was more than serious. Why, I ask you, did I think the days of sinus infection/Snowpocalypse would be perfect for doing some light "organizing"? Yeah, there wasn't a whole lot of follow-through on that project, hence the Rubbermaid bins strewn hither and yon. I call fever-induced over-confidence.

Thankfully, yesterday, I was able to get things under control. Question: do you think we could all four of us survive in this one room? This way, it would feel like our house was REALLY clean and sanctuary-like. I suppose we could munch on that overgrown jade plant that needs repotting anyway. Kind of a two-birds-with-one-stone thing. You think?

On second thought, I think I'll do my best to keep everyone out. 
Except the hubs, of course; he is kind of cute.

And now, on to the rest of the house. See you in a couple of years!

*Not a word, George.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Today a madman came to my door. I wasn't sure what he wanted and was hesitant to open it-I do so loathe solicitors, but what could he be peddling, I thought? Sunglasses designed to wear over one's hat? Spray-on beard snow? Was he only pretending to sell fancy track suits in order to get a glimpse of my Goodwill nightgown? Only a certifiably insane person would dare to commit such heinous acts in the dead of winter. It reminded me of someone I know....oh yes, my husband, whose claim to fame in certain Atlanta circles is having been seen running in a hurricane.

Speaking of hurricanes, what the h happened to my house while we were busy being sick and having snow days? I can't believe it had the nerve to get messy again. I turn my back for two weeks, and just like that, what do you know, I have to dust again. Can't a girl catch a break?

As soon as I've finished picking up the pieces from this latest calamity, I'll be back with some juicy bits of prose for your reading pleasure, all of them mostly true. Until then, I encourage you all to be vigilant: you never know who's going to show up at your door, wanting to be let in.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's like Buttah

I'll begin with this: I know that for many of you out there, when I say "Justin", you say "Timberlake", which makes perfect sense, given the teen dream-turned-leading-man's chops. He's funny, he can sing, and--let's face it, he's a dish. But pretend for a moment that 'N Sync never happened. Imagine, if you dare, that Sexy never got brought back-could there be room for another Justin in your life?

I think yes. Enter Justin's Nut Butter. Have you tried it? You can get it lots of places, and you should because it's exquisite. Plain and simple. Think small-batch peanut, almond, and hazelnut butters made with the highest quality natural and organic ingredients. Available in individual "squeeze" packets, and in jars so you can go to town on your favorite flavor with a spoon, or, I suppose, spread on a sandwich if you've any self-control.

In our house, we fancy Justin's Maple Almond most of all--it is perfectly (not too) sweet, with a luxurious texture, and bits of sea salt throughout. I started with squeeze-packs but moved on to buying jars-which, it should be said, are not in the price range of conventional peanut butters--in fact, the average cost of a jar of Justin's is around $9.95. But before y'all go running for the familiar hills of Jif and Skippy, let me ask you something: aren't some products worth more? Especially one that is so thoughtfully prepared and delicious? Buy a squeeze pack if you need proof-but trust me: it won't be long before you're kneading and squeezing your way to the full-size version.

Last Monday was National Peanut Butter Day, and to celebrate, the people of Justin's posted a contest on their Official Facebook Page, inviting fans to describe "the most creative way they've eaten Justin's this week". Well, naturally, I entered, and......guess what? I won! My prize was a 4-pack of Justin's and it was truly like a little Fed-Exed manna from heaven. Not only was I able to try a new flavor or two, but my pantry was fortified for the re-creation of the sandwich I'd made that was, apparently, the most creative use of Justin's.

Isn't it fun to be rewarded for really loving something? Thanks, Justin's! I pinky swear you're the only Justin in my life. So what if you can't rock a denim tuxedo/raging falsetto like that other guy--you make a mean nut butter and have yet to cause a wardrobe malfunction--unless you count having to loosen my belt after tossing back too many of these bad boys:

New Wave Fluffernutter
Take two slices homemade challah
Spread one side with Justin's
On the other side a schmear of honey and fig goat cheese (or Marshmallow Fluff if you're a purist) 
Add thinly-sliced banana
Drizzle with honey
Put the halves together
Toast in a buttery skillet
Sprinkle with sea salt and demerara sugar
Totally Elvis-worthy, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Guess what? 
Chicken Butt. 
Sorry, it's just that I am really bored. Stuck in the middle of the Snowpocalypse/Ice Infestation and with some sort of horrific illness to boot. The kind of sick where nothing sounds appealing except the delivery of a Craftmatic Adjustable bed with a side of trashy magazines, which I'd only barely read in a semi-conscious stupor. The gossip, the fashion don'ts, the little snippets of non-useful information...they're so delicious in times like these. And a remote-control bed is always in fashion, right? Especially when there's a hot broad in it who hasn't brushed her teeth in a few days.

Last night, during the second round of freezing rain was when we lost this whole gigantic part of our tree. I was languishing in my non-adjustable bed when I heard things sliding and popping and cracking and having watched just a wee bit of the movie Signs in the afternoon, I was fairly certain the aliens were coming. I had to put my pillow over my head to wait it out till morning. Quite fitfully, I might add.

Well, shoot. Boo on this whole week that was sposed (I'm sick, just let me spell it like that) to be uber-productive. I only have another 10 days or so before I'm in the greenhouse planting every day, and I had some big things I wanted to accomplish, including lose 10 pounds. Now how can I be expected to accomplish any of this in the face of inclement weather and illness? I guess the one good thing to come out of these recent events is how easy it is to moonwalk on one's driveway, what with all the ice,  and if you're into that sort of thing. Which--who wouldn't be?

I've just received word from the family room that the littlest of us is sick, too. She is now prostrate on the mid-century Naugahyde mewing for new episodes of Max and Ruby, so thank you Jesus that the power did not go out. Because Lord knows I am not even remotely up to any style of parenting today other than 100% passive. Please tell me y'all have been there.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I took this photo out the window of the car as we drove through Amish country over the holidays. I was a little nervous when we stopped for the shot; I suppose it felt strange to infiltrate their simplicity armed with a laptop and smartphone. I'm glad I did, though. It is so beautiful out there, with the bank barns and twisty roads and clotheslines taller than roofs. Seriously-what is up with this? My guess--when a family lives without electricity, getting their clothes dry is less about that fresh-as-a-breeze smell, than say, the reason I hang clothes on the line. These people are not messing around--they just go ahead and crank those plain-colored, non-vainglorious clothes right on up to the heavens because that's where the warm air is. I, on the other hand, own an electric dryer, but choose to pin up a rainbow of happy garments because, a.) it saves money, and b.) it looks, to the average passerby, like I'm meeting/exceeding domestic expectations instead of standing in front of the fridge eating ice cream. 

A little further on we stopped again, this time turning down an unmarked road that led us along a partially frozen stream to a middle-of-nowhere greenhouse. This time we lingered, admiring the arborvitae from the car and making plans to come back when the shop was open--if we could ever find it again, that is. As we idled there, I saw in the corner of the landscape, a little girl standing on the porch of the adjacent homestead. The house sat back far from the road, and almost didn't notice her--and I guess that's the point--but there she was, in the sub-forty degree weather, whipping the wet out of clothes, getting them ready for the cranked-up clothesline. No, they don't even dry them a little bit in the dryer to get the wrinkles out; this is serious stuff. She was dressed all in black, or maybe it was navy, I couldn't tell--but boy, when she saw us did she take off running for the barn. 

It didn't surprised me, really-a little girl just fetching her dad to say: somebody's here. That struck me as fairly universal. My own children have done it a hundred times, so the act itself wasn't unusual in my sight. It was the way she ran: like someone who had never seen herself running, or considered how ridiculous she would look. Arms and legs flailing, no grace, style, or self-consciousness. She ran to get the job done. Utterly utilitarian. It made me laugh out loud, then just like that, we drove off for home. But the whole way I was thinking how nice it would be to experience life without such painful self-awareness. To not always be thinking of myself. To run like a schizophrenic gazelle and not care. New Year's resolution, maybe?

So, what are yours? Does it include tackling more laundry, complete with a mile-high clothesline? My only  resolute to-do for 2011 is this: quit using my children as my alarm-clock. In our house, we don't wake up to buzzers or radio newscasts--and never have. Joshua is programmed to arise at a time he predetermines the night before, sans electronic assistance. It's absolutely nuts, and I'm telling you I don't know how he does it. But if he needs to get up at six, he gets up at six, unaided. You may have seen this on an episode of Seinfeld. I on the other hand, have been cranking up at the bedside rooster crow of my children, who come in when they feel like it, to introduce the morning. Sometimes, this includes crawling in bed with me, other times the greeting is a bit more jarring. In either case, I'll say this: waking up to a four-year-old's predawn bedside rendition of Take Me Out To the Ballgame does not exactly make a person feel they've got the upper hand. So, my goal: to be up and around before the kids, to at least give the impression I'm one step ahead of them. And to start the coffee. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2010 Holiday Wrap-Up: Christmas Photo Post

A pink tree for a pink lady.

The countdown chalkboard featuring a garland of all the ornaments the children have made, ever, plus thirty pounds of glitter on the floor underneath.
Christmas Eve: I lit all the candles and glitteredmy whole house. Good thing I don't own a bedazzler.

I don't know what the big deal is with fake snow. I think it's a holiday must, but some people, who will remain nameless, had to stop mid-Christmas-morning and vacuum. But, like I've said, crazy doesn't take a holiday, now, does it?

Does anyone in my family even appreciate my wrapping job? I was happy to be able to use some old wallpaper, so I made Joshua hold it up for a glamour shot. 
 Tutu alert.
A bench built by my hubs. Old window wells plus wood from my grandfather's office. 

It was merry and bright, but now we're done, right? You may all now officially begin your New Year by kissing your neighbor. Don't be surprised if he/she responds with alarm.

I will commence by resuming my regularly-scheduled progamming, except more often, k?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2010 Holiday Wrap-Up: A Tale of Two Advent Calendars

I promise on a big stack of chocolate candy this evidence has not  been tampered with.
It's obvious, of course, that these holiday calendars belong to two very different animals children.
We got started a little late--four, maybe five days into the month? 
No big deal, we thought. 
In these situations, a catch-up strategy is employed until one becomes "current". 
Then, each square is opened on its corresponding night.
These photos were taken on night one. 
The child represented by the photo on the left is a planner.
He enjoyed the extra candy, then quietly placed the calendar in his or her room,
and went about his business.
Child number two was found sometime later, in the basement, attempting to stash the evidence of an unforeseen hyena attack on her advent calendar. 
I'm fairly certain the culprits didn't care that it was organic.
It's a shame how hyenas have infiltrated small towns in America, don't you think?
They just have no appreciation for Free Trade Chocolate.

Friday, January 21, 2011

2010 Holiday Wrap-Up: The Royal Tannenbaum

It's funny--when I tell the story of how our Christmas Tree came to be, I almost always forget to mention the part about how I was involved in a minor auto collision en route to the tree lot. I'm not trying to cover it up, there were just so many other things that went wrong post-accident that make what happened seem irrelevant. Either that, or the PTSD I encountered as a result of getting my tree caused me to block out entire chunks of my Before-Tree existence And I'll never get those hours back, will I? Except, why would I want to when they included both a rear-ending and a really bad sandwich?

Because I was right beside a Lowe's when the incident occurred, and since the entire situation had really ended up in a way that can only be described as a Christmas Miracle, I felt it only fitting to march right in that big old home improvement mega-store and get my yule on. And so that's what I did, my beeline interrupted with just one detour to the Indoor Decor department, where I preceded to push the "Try Me" button on every piece of animated holiday trim and then laugh maniacally. Which was not at all creepy.

Outside, though, where the trees were, was a little strange. There were plenty of them, all lined up in rows, and all I had to do was choose--but where was the help? Where were the piped-in carols, the twinkly lights and free hot chocolate? It was a ghost-town. It was also the middle of a weekday, a time when most normal people were doing laundry or crunching numbers or watching All My Children, not trying to resuscitate their Christmas spirit. I decided to go inside and fetch myself a helper, someone to help me choose and drag and bag the beast--and eventually, tie it on my car.

I could tell Employee Number One was a little miffed about having to remove himself out from under the Customer Service heatlamp, but I made nice by selecting the first tree he laid his hands on, which I know he appreciated--in the same way my mother appreciated when I, after trying on just one wedding dress, looked at myself in the mirror and said "You know, I think I like it." He perked up slightly, wrapped it in plastic webbing, and deposited it up front for checkout.

This is where the story starts to get a little complicated. It seems there are some people out there who just don't like their jobs! Or Christmas! Or being cold! Imagine!

Okay, listen, I totally get being in a bad mood. But I am also a super-stickler when it comes to service, and cannot fathom being rude to a customer, no matter how Cold/Hung-over/Tired/Emo I was. I also know more than a handful of people who are without jobs; people who would be delighted to work, in sub-freezing temperatures, hitching a tree atop some stranger's minivan while she asked them why they hated Christmas so much.

They were the ones who brought it up--Christmas. Although, I admit, my timing isn't always the best. But it's not often I experience retaliation for getting up on my ethical high horse; I can usually escape unscathed.

This time was different.

I drove out of the parking lot, picked up my little girl at preschool, who thought that having a tree on our car was beyond wonderful-and it was. For the first few minutes of our drive home, the two of us were giddy with talk of ornaments, lights, and maybe, would it snow on Christmas? We'd passed the church, the market, out of the school zone and onto the highway...when suddenly:

Why are all these people flashing their lights and honking at me? Why is that woman pointing frantically at the heavens? Why is that man motioning for me to pull over? And Dear God, why does it feel like there's a sail attached to my luggage rack?

The tree!

I pulled off the road, thinking it best to gather my thoughts before proceeding. Winnie, I said, the number one thing is that we are not going to panic. We have a bit of a situation on our hands, but Mommy is ON TOP OF IT! I then called my sister, in a complete panic, to let her know that my tree was literally dangling off the side of my car and what exactly did she think I was supposed to do about it?

I pulled back into the stream of 55-MPH traffic, doing maybe 25, hoping to make it to the next exit without further incident-which, thankfully, I did. I parked outside a gas station and walked inside, the damsel in distress, and asked if anyone could help. The station was TEEMING with able-bodied individuals, some of them wearing tool belts, even, but when the universe wants to have a chuckle, there's just nothing a girl can do about it, is there? Out of all these rugged Old Spicers, the only guy that even halfway raised his hands was wearing Jams. Literally. And boy, was he a complainer. First it was the cold, then he wasn't sure if he had time to help because he really did have to make it to his doctor's appointment about four towns over, until suddenly I'm convincing him why he shouldn't help me. No, really, don't worry about it, I said. You go on.

Well, I guess I've got some bungee cords in my truck you can have, he said, with which he hitched the wannabe kite, with my help, back in position, with only a few more exclamations of how late he was going to be. And how cold he was. And how he didn't have a coat on. Note to mankind: It's  DECEMBER/NOT the year 1986. Jams are no longer in session.

All complaints aside (his and mine), I was very grateful for the help and thanked him from the bottom of my heart about 57 times. He said you're welcome and that he hoped he wasn't going to be late (!), and we were all on our way.

We drove home like this: with our Christmas spirit on sideways. As we barreled down the road that cut through the cornfields, there wasn't a moment when I didn't think the thing was going to fly off altogether. There are places where the wind can be so strong and sudden that the farmers had already put their snow-fences up, just in case. If it blew away, would I go after it? I imagined the tree rolling through the dirt like a tumbleweed, me chasing it like a lover. Don't leave me. I may have said this out loud.

When we crossed the bridge into town, I let out my breath. I'd made it. I guess the tree could still fall into the creek, but it didn't seem likely. I slowed down, nearing home, and could see my dad, in plaid, putting up wreaths on his windows. I parked and got out.

Dad, I called out. You'll never believe what just happened to me. 

I got my Christmas spirit back.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2010 Holiday Wrap-Up: Christmas Part I

And so it was Christmas. With the smell of smoked pork shoulder all but gone from our humble abode, I decided we were ripe for a tree-a tree with its own perfume to fill up the corners where the aura of charred meat still lingered, an excuse to hang sparkly things and whatever mismatched strands of lights we could get our hands on.

There's something poetic about trees, right? And Christmas, obviously. It makes me lapse, ever-so-slightly, into a cartoonish, quasi-Victorian vernacular. I can't help myself, but somewhere in the next few paragraphs, I just know I'll bust out with the phrase "And Lo".

It took me a few days to work up my Christmas nerve. This was to be our first at-home holiday. No ten-hour car-rides on the horizon, no myriad shopping trips or late-night wrapping excursions in order to complete our preparations just in time to leave town. Of course we'd had a tree before, but it was always a little bit of an afterthought. We'd decorate it, but since it wasn't the tree we'd be gathered around on Christmas morning, how special was it required to be? Our usual M.O. was to throw some ornaments up at the last minute and return from a two-week vacation to find the tree had celebrated the blessed day by promptly dropping all its needles on the wood floor. Fun!

Not this time, I told my husband. This is going to be a big old tree, with personality. This tree will have something to say. It will not be taken for granted. Wait-am I still talking about the tree?  I imagined a flocked tree, puffy and white. Or a shiny gold disco tree with a glitter-ball topper. In the end, scent reigned supreme and we decided that a traditional Fraser Fir would smell most divine on Christmas morning. Especially, I added, when mingling with the scent of a new handbag, and p.s. I could also use some pajamas.

I believed it was in everyone's best interest for this "tree-getting"to be a Designated Family Outing, during which we all wore plaid and were photographed looking at once charming, a little self-deprecating, and deeply in love. Except, everybody was in a mood that week. Sometimes collectively, sometimes individually, but in every case, me especially.

Fine, I said. I decided I'd had it-I'd just do all my Christmas shopping from home in order to avoid interacting with humankind.  I would sit at my desk, drink hot chocolate, and listen to the George Winston Winter Album until they pried my cold dead hands from the keyboard. After a while, this began to sound less like Bing Crosby and more like Seasonal Affective Disorder, so I put my coat on and hit the city--which involves driving through the barren fields to civilization; can you understand now why it's so hard?

I bought myself a sandwich that was not as good as I expected, but with Mariah Carey jingling on the FM, and a few flurries in the air, I was going to get Christmasy, come hell or bad music.

Then I rear-ended the guy in front of me.

Which didn't help my mood. Of course, I told everyone it happened when my boot slipped off the brake at an intersection, but what really happened was I looked down to pick a roasted vegetable out of my good-for-nothing sandwich and pop it in my mouth, when suddenly (at an intersection), my feet got confused and I was accelerating in a moment of temporary insanity. Brought on my gluttony.

Lucky for me I am used to these kinds of episodes. The guy got out of his car, just loaded for bear, to find lil' old me, looking unkempt and terrified but somehow benevolent in that harried housewife sort of way. I asked if he was hurt and he said yes he was; I then apologized and led him to the back of his car which was perfect on account of the caked-on-snow-buffer that had undoubtedly saved his bumper. He decided right then and there that his aforementioned pains were of no consequence, waved goodbye, and drove off with me yelling Merry Christmas after him like I was Tiny Tim.

And Lo, the hour of tree-buying was upon me. Just like that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thanksgiving, Part II

 I didn't even know this animal was there until someone caught it on camera. See?

Since my last post, my husband has expressed some concern over the fact that I characterized his people as "knowing how to eat". He said something along the lines of: It makes us seem like bunch of fat a's. Except he, of course, would only say "a's", not the unedited version of the word. That's the difference between he and I. And I'm pretty sure he's wincing right now, or at least executing a gigantic, "honey, why do you always have to go there" eye roll. Sorry, babe! I Yam what I Yam!

But, just to be clear, allow me to take this opportunity to say that in my untrained medical opinion, they are all of an average weight/height ratio. I would post a photograph, but I don't think it's healthy to to indulge these insecurities. Plus, the only photo I have on hand is one from last Thanksgiving, right after they've all eaten and look like a bunch of stuffed ticks. Ha!

So, anyway: The Relatives came. And my hopes of a paper-lantern feast were dashed, but my parents were so kind to open their hearts and home for our holiday table that I could have just bursted (word?) with actual thanksgiving. Plus, we still all got to be tangled together for late-night talks and breakfasts and sleeping, but since my dad was doing most of the cooking, I didn't even have to stick my unsuspecting hands inside the nether-regions of a turkey...bonus!

Right around the time I'd started to feel really chillaxed about the whole week, however; Joshua had this idea. That we wouldn't have enough food. (IRONY alert! Man with body-image issues fears meal-time deprivation!) He began throwing the names of random animals and their parts around in conversation. Pheasant, goose, duck breast. And then: PORK SHOULDER.

Excuse me? Since when do pigs have shoulders? His plan: to smoke said shoulder (there were actually two, I'm assuming a right and a left) and serve alongside the bird. I laughed him off-he couldn't be serious-until the Monday before Thanksgiving, when two gigantic paper-wrapped hunks and an economy-sized container of chili powder from the restaurant supply store showed up in my kitchen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Holiday Wrap-Up Part II: Thanksgiving, Part I

 the autumnal mayhem I thought would be thanksgiving

Have you read the book The Relatives Came? It is one of my kids' favorites, I think because it reminds them of their own extended family, of the once-a-year visits where everyone piles in the car and ventures either this way or that, of the hugging and feasting that ensues once the travelers arrive, but mostly...the sleeping. The way the author, Cynthia Rylant, describes the nighttime--the tangle of arms and legs, a house filled with the strange sounds of unfamiliar breathing--is so spot-on that I think the children must all secretly believe it was written just for us.

 three cousins in a double bed, one hidden

This Thanksgiving it was our turn to host the Relatives-not that we take turns, really, it's more just what results from a slew of phone calls back and forth- a so, what are you guys doing this year?-sort of thing. When I found out my husband had invited a whopping 17 extra bodies for the week, my first thought was this: after 10 years of houses, apartments, and duplexes, he picks this year, when we don't have a guestroom, to host the Relatives?

Go figure.

Then I remembered that extra house we own, the one we're not living in. Perfect! I hired a lovely woman to clean it to perfection (something I would have done myself had I not been on red-alert getting my own digs in order), then I filled it with comfy linens, toiletries, and a coffee-maker, all of which I hoped would distract from the fact that there isn't a stick of furniture in the place. I have to say, it's amazing how the combination of caffeine and Egyptian cotton sheets can make you feel like you're sitting on a sofa! Really! We stacked 11 people in the place, and the rest we scattered between here and my parents' house across the street.

I had hoped to serve the big meal in the greenhouse, drawing inspiration from the bevy of photos I'd found online documenting the recent trend of hosting one's nuptials in a greenhouse. Of course paper lanterns were a no-brainer, and I figured I'd borrow a half dozen tables from church, throw down some brown kraft paper, gourds-you know, unleash my inner Martha. I was certain the seven acres could contain whatever pre-dinner restlessness the little ones might experience, and maybe once we'd eaten, there'd be room enough for games, dancing, and the general mayhem that follows 15 cousins convening in one place.

I am such a romantic in these situations. Can you blame me?

What I didn't count on: a near-freezing weather forecast, featuring rain of biblical proportions. Epic rain. Rain that never had the decency to turn into snow. Playing outside was not an option. My father, as I mention here, follows the radar, so he had the 411 on climate control--and managed to steer me away from my ill-fated idea of a hothouse Turkey fest by offering up his own home as a sort of meal-time ground zero.

Because I have a brain in my head, I graciously accepted. Clean, dry, and-let's face it, my dad is an amazing cook.* In the span of a few minutes, I went from hosting to.....producing? Instead of being responsible for the bird and 18 sides, my job was to show up with stuffing, sweet potatoes, and 18 of my relatives. And let's be clear, these are not my parents' relatives. These people came with my husband, and they know how to eat.

*as is my mother, of course. No one beats her creamed chipped beef on toast! My birthday meal for years!

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Holiday Wrap-Up

In the interest of being thorough, and to prove just how much I've missed you, dear readers, during this Winter Blogging Sabbatical (I made that up myself) I'm going to start my 2010 Holiday Wrap-up with....drumroll, please: Halloween! Doesn't Winnie look super-cute in her Temple Grandin Jessie-From Toy-Story costume? I've said it before, but it bears repeating: give a girl a glue gun, and watch as the miracles unfold before your very eyes. Yes, I'll always lament the fact that I can't sew (yet), but to the untrained eye, those red ribbon doo-dads on her shirt could be real embroidery. Look beyond the globs of dried glue; ignore the burn marks on my hands-as far as I can see, this costume was a rootin'-tootin' success. Yeehaw! 

Sorry, I had to go there. This is what happens when I've been locked up with children for two weeks straight and all I've had to eat is candy canes and bacon.* Stay tuned for more holiday action and tales from the front lines of festive! Happy New Year everybody!

*Not. I've really eaten everything in sight and am rocking the leggings like it's 1989. "Rocking" might be a bit of an exaggeration. Time to put away the elastic-waist pants, I know.