Friday, July 31, 2009

Freaky Friday

(in all fairness to Middle Child, we were actually working on a tutu for a costume party, and she got inspired for a photo shoot)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday 13, Cousin Pictorial Edition

I'm on a road trip, which means my blog time is limited, which means I'll be posting more photos than words for the next couple of days. Tonight, I'm in Nashville, visiting my sister, and also my cousin, because they live on the same street. My cousin has two little ones, one a year younger than my Small One, and one only eight weeks. My sister has a rather large collection of fur babies.
Therefore, tonight's entry will be 13 shots of my Small and her cousins, human, feline and canine, to either delight or annoy you, depending on your point of view/temperment. I'll try to provide commentary in case you get bored.

  1. Maracas on the road:

  2. Watching the rain with Ringo:

  3. (love during the rain watching)

  4. Resting time with Scout (because, as anyone with a kitten knows, resting time is in the middle of the day- crazy time is between midnight and 5am):

  5. Who is coming upstairs?

  6. Loving up on Shelby
  7. Small One and Cousin Boy dividing up the money for the ice cream man

  8. Hooray for popsicles in summer time!

  9. Evening drive in the Escalade

  10. Driving a car, and eating a popsicle before dinner! Woo hoo! Must be vacation!

  11. Cousin Fun
  12. Big hugs

  13. Enough love for everyone

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Crime and Punishment, Preschool Style

Small One is a feisty, yet agreeable creature. In this, she is different from my other two children- Eldest was feisty and ornery, Middle Child, in her preschool years, was agreeable and complacent. Small One is always on a mission, with things to do, places to go, people to see.

Because she is agreeable, though, she and I rarely collide. Most of the time, I can talk her out of a scheme by re-explaining "the rules", and she changes her course. Very rarely have I ever spanked her. My older two, I spanked, but in retrospect, I don't believe it was the best course of action. Nineteen years into parenting, I have reached new conclusions, and I apply new methods. I don't know if it's an increase in wisdom due to trial and error, or if this most recent child is just easier than the others, but I've found that when explanation fails, time-out works wonders. I absolutely do not believe in spanking her, unless in an extreme situation, where she's endangering herself, or being out-of-control defiant. In her almost three years, I can count on one hand the times I felt that course of action was warranted.

This is why it surprised me yesterday when she spanked her baby doll. She carried the doll rather roughly into the kitchen, where I was working, and said "This baby knocked down my juice!" She proceeded to turn the dolly over and give several pretty firm whacks to her little stuffed backside.

I said "Wow! Don't you think maybe you could just put her in time out?"

She nodded grimly. "Oh, yeah, I'm gonna put her in time out, too!"

She stalked off, sat the doll in her armchair, and came back into the kitchen. After a few minutes, she said, "Mommy, I put that baby in time out!"

I said, "I know you did. Don't you want to go and get her out and tell her you still love her?"

She shook her head, still angry. "No, I cwan NOT do that."

(Small has a weird habit of sticking "w" into certain words, and "ch" on the end of others.)

I said "Don't you want to go check on her, though? Maybe she's sorry."

She replied, a little sadly, "No, she not sorry. She VERY naughty."

Harsh! I didn't know whether to laugh or be disturbed. I will definitely be paying attention to the severity of the time-outs I administer, though.

That dolly sat in time-out ALL night. Such a naughty doll.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Artistic Inspiration

To the ill-informed, I imagine I seem like I sleep quite a bit. I'm forever attempting to take a nap when my Small One does. In reality, though, a)I rarely ever make it as far as the nap, I generally get distracted by some task that needs my attention and b)when I DO get to nap, it's only to make up for being up until three or four in the morning, due to the antics of the dastardly teenaged people who live in my house.

Today, I took a nap, and it was lovely. I dreamed all manner of weird things I can't quite recall.

I've often read of artistic people who have strokes of genius in their sleep, waking with songs or poems or novels in their brains. Paul McCartney reportedly dreamed the tune for "Yesterday", jumped out of bed and pounded it out on the piano. (I've heard he initially used the words "Scrambled eggs, ooh baby how I love your legs", but you can't fault him for that, he was half asleep.)

I used to keep a notepad by my bed in case inspiration struck in the middle of the night. I imagined myself sitting up and pouring genius onto those pages, and in the morning, beginning to write the novel that would make me wealthy beyond my imaginings! Sadly, most of what I wrote down went something like "The people walk snrgle mmm my nrfeksh...aaaaa...hurminur", which may mean I'm dreaming in tongues, or being influenced by aliens, but clearly has no practical application.

Today, though, I woke up with a poem in my head, that I'd apparently come up with mid-dream! Maybe I AM a genius after all! Here it goes:

The raisins, the raisins...

They chew me up,

and swallow me down.

All is darkness.

Hmm... maybe not.

(on a side note, spell check is pretty sure "snrgle mmm" is misspelled, but is fine with both "nrfeksh" and "hurminur")

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ant Kingdom Update

For all those who were concerned... and by this I mean "my mom"... the giant ants have left the building.

I believed they were on the way out, there had been fewer in the past few days. My cousin was here Thursday night and she did not notice them when she was in their bathroom of choice. And as I stated in my previous post, they typically leave in a week or two.

Apparently last night's adventure, which involved The Man carrying out many of the critters with the kitchen garbage while I swept their comrades out the door with vigour and ferocity, convinced them that this is not a comfortable place to hang out. I can only imagine the ones in the garbage bag struggling to climb through the little spaces between where the bag is tied, finally making it to freedom so they can warn their compatriots, "Don't go in there! That bathroom is bad news! She's got a broom!"

Well, maybe that's not exactly how it happened, but I have not seen ants in 24 hours. I think it's safe to declare the former kingdom an ant free zone.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kingdom of the Giant Ants

We have ants in our home. I wouldn't call it an ant problem, exactly, because it's just a periodic invasion that seems to pass quickly. They don't really do anything, either, just hang around and look menacing and icky. We're pretty philosophical about it, simply referring to our home as "Kingdom of the Giant Ants" until they move on. It gives the situation a sort of cool, kitschy, bad horror movie vibe, which makes us feel better.

I'm talking about the gigantic black ants. Seriously huge, and I'm pretty sure I have a childhood memory of one of those suckers chomping onto my toe and holding on even after his body was removed from his head. I could be thinking of a different kind of ant, certainly I grew up in Florida, where the bugs are way more vicious than the ones we have in Georgia, but still, the giant ants make me shudder.

They're primarily focusing on the bathroom, which is their typical m.o., and therefore not unexpected. They come into the bathroom through some crack in this weird old house, a couple of times a year, camp out for a week or two, and then vanish. We've been here long enough for me to observe that any ant reduction measures seem futile, as such measures, (ant traps, borax, what have you), do not seem to shorten the length of their stay. They come, they go, and in the meantime I'm a little paranoid because I'm constantly afraid one of them is going to be in the toilet when I sit down, and chomp a delicate area with the ferocity and tenacity noted in the perhaps imagined childhood toe chomping incident.

I try hard not to pass these fears along to Small One. I act entirely blase about the ants, calmly washing them down the sink and flushing them down the toilet. (Did you know that you have to run the water a LONG time to get an ant down the sink? Just rinsing them down leaves you watching a bedraggled ant climbing from the drain and indignantly drying his antennae.) In any event, Small has expressed concern for the creatures, being careful not to step on them, and looking askance at me when I rinse or flush them away instead of carefully carrying them outside, which is what her Daddy, the bleeding heart insect advocate vegetarian, does.

"Where the ant is going to go, Mommy?" she asked, frowning, after I'd rinsed one down the drain.

"Swimming!" I said, brightly, "Swimming out to sea! Like at the beach!"

I'm not sure if she bought it, she gave me a suspicious look.

Tonight, they've entered a new phase, and invited their buddies in for a kitchen garbage party. This does not thrill me, and when I opened the lid on the garbage can to see zillions of the ugly things munching on debris, I called The Man in for backup. He took out the garbage while I swept the other ones out the back door. I didn't yell "And stay out!", but I thought it. Their stay is seeming longer than usual, despite the ant trap we've put behind the toilet, and I'm hoping they move along soon, because they're making me nervous.

As to Small One, today she told me she was going to the potty all by herself, but then immediately started yelling something I couldn't quite catch. It wasn't a pain yell, or a panic yell, so I finished what I was doing before I went to check on her, and when I got to the bathroom, she was still yelling, but also laughing and doing a little dance, pants around her ankles, staring into her little potty at 4 dead ants floating around.

"I pee peed on the ants!" she was crowing, gleefully, "I pee peed on the ants!!!!"

I think perhaps as their stay lengthens, her concern for them is fading.

Good Guys and Bad Guys

Oldest is going through a bad breakup. And by bad, I mean heart-wrenching, gut-churning, devastatingly bad. It is hard, as the Mama, to see your child in pain and have no band-aid, no quick fix. Barely even any words of wisdom, though I do keep trying.

He dated this girl for four years- that's all of high school, if you're keeping track. Started dating her in December of 2005, and absolutely thought he was going to be one of those guys that marries his high school sweetheart. Chose a college based on its proximity to her college, even. Letting go of all these hopes is proving a daunting task for him, and he's visibly shaken.

It's the middle of the night right now, and everyone's awake. The Man is awake because computer problems have kept him from finishing his work, Middle Child is awake because... well, it's probably a combination of what she claims is true, which is that some mystery bug keeps buzzing her when she dozes and yet she can't find it to dispose of it, and what I believe to be true, which is that she's over excited about her new haircut. Small One is awake because of a bad dream, in which a blue slimy monster with small eyes and big teeth tried to bite her. I am awake because all these other people are awake. Oldest is awake because he's falling apart over the break up.

I was taking Small for a post-nightmare potty trip, when we crossed paths with Oldest in the kitchen. As I tried to reassure him that this too will pass and he'll live through it, she chimed in. "It's going to be ok! You going to be ok! What's the matter? You going to be ok?" She gave him a hug, which really did nothing to help him regain his composure, and I took her to the potty.

As she sat down, she asked me what was the matter with her brother.

I said "Well, Girlfriend is not being very nice to him." (I'm calling her Girlfriend for the sake of preserving her near anonymity. Small One is VERY attached to this girl, and I've been puzzling over how to break this to her, since the complexity of relationships is beyond her realm of understanding.)

Small asked "Is she being very BAD to him?"

"No," I replied, "She's just not really his girlfriend anymore."

"Oh," she nodded, as if she understood completely. "Now she's a bad guy?"

Uh oh. I forget how black and white it all is to a near three-year old. "Not exactly." I responded, trying to figure out how to explain it in a way she'd understand.

She was confused. "She's a good guy?"

I tried a different direction. "He's just sad, that's all. He doesn't get to see her as much. Do you get sad when you don't get to see your friends?"

She nodded very seriously. "Yes, I do. And then I cry." She visibly brightened and said "I cry like this: WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

I'm not sure she's got a grasp on human relations, but she does tell a good story.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Haircut Shmaircut

I just cut Middle Child's hair. She loves it, I hate it. But then, I knew I was going to hate it before I did it, and because I believe that a large part of parenting is choosing your battles, I weighed it out against all the OTHER things she's asked for this summer. There were several skirmishes I've already fought, against things I hate even more...

Like fake red hair...

...and corset tops...

...and piercings...

...and tattoos.

I figured, in the grand scheme of things, that this was not so bad... long as she promises to pin it out of her eyes upon request, on threat of Betty Page bangs.

(She knows I'll do it, too.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Running Away

Small One did not want to get up this morning. For once in her short life, she actually wanted to sleep past eight in the morning! Sadly, we had to give my sister in law a ride to a doctor’s appointment, so I had to break a cardinal rule of mine and wake a sleeping child. She protested adamantly, yelling that she did not need to wake up, she did not need the shades pulled up, she needed it to be dark. I finally cajoled her out of bed by agreeing to let her wear the dress she wants to wear every day- the red one with the Scottie dog and poufy skirt and all the crinolines. Oh yeah, and red rhinestones. Appropriately attired, we headed out.

Because the appointment was going to be lengthy, we decided it was best for me to take Small One elsewhere, and after driving around for a bit, I decided on a playground. Despite her reluctance to be out and about, she was rather delightful at the park, giggling and posing for pictures, enthusiastically climbing, sliding, and jumping, howling with laughter when I grabbed her legs while I pushed her on the swing. It was really a treat for me- lately, the older ones have been an exhausting combination of angst plus need, and I had fun playing with someone who had no agenda or ax to grind.

At one point, though, she announced that she was running away. I said, “Really? You’re running away from me?”

”Yeah!” she announced, but then paused, mid-run. “But you still need to hold my hand.”

I laughed. Really, isn’t that the essence of parenthood?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Only Joking

Last night I was a little harried, trying to get some things done, when Small One decided she needed to go to the bathroom. I let her go ahead by herself, asking her to call me in when she was finished and needed help. A few minutes later, she yelled, "I'm FINISHED!"

I ran in to help, and she said, "Ha ha, I was only joking, Mommy!"

I said, "Not such a funny joke, dear!"

She said, "Well, then, you tell ME a funny joke!"

Now, I don't tell jokes. I don't really have a joke repertoire, I'm more of an anecdote girl, really, and I wasn't sure Small would appreciate one of my amusing stories. I decided to go with a knock knock joke.

"Knock knock!"

"Who's there?"


At this, Small One cracked up. "NO!" she laughed, "You're Mommy!!!"

"No," I said, "You're supposed to say "Olive who?"

"Olive who?"

"Olive you!"

Blank stare from Small. I tried to explain. "Olive you? Ahh-luve you? I love you! Get it?"

She forced a giggle. "Knock knock!"

"Who's there?"


I did not know what that word was supposed to be, so I looked at her questioningly. "Kwado?"

She was exasperated. "No, Mommy, you say 'Kwado who?'!"

"Oh, ok... Kwado who?"

"Kwado I love you!!!!!" (laughs uproariously)

Yeah, I don't think she got my joke OR the concept of knock knock jokes. When I related the story to Oldest, he said "Knock knock joke FAIL."

Sometimes it's fun to have a preschooler and teens.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Culinary Creativity

I don't think I've ever blogged about food, but I'm feeling rather ingenious tonight, so I thought I'd share. We're on an extremely tight budget right now, and I'm constantly looking for ways to stretch the food money, which is not so easy to do with a family of five. To complicate matters, The Man is a vegetarian, so that's always a challenge for me, so when I come up with something cheap, easy, and nutritious that's also a big hit, I feel like I should share.

Tonight, I sauteed half an onion and a sweet potato, both chopped into smallish pieces, in olive oil. I seasoned that with cinnamon, cloves, and salt, while I cooked a pot of brown rice. As soon as the sweet potatoes started to get tender, I took out part of the mixture and stirred it into a bowl full of the rice, adding northern beans, curry powder, 1/4 can of diced tomatoes, and a little extra salt. To the potato mixture that remained, I added sliced kielbasa, stirring until it was slightly browned, and then mixed in the rest of the can of tomatoes. When that was heated through, I added it to the rest of the rice. Voila! A meal for the vegetarian and also the meat eaters.

I'd estimate it cost $6 total to prepare, and I fed the family plus a friend, so I'd say that was pretty cost effective. I served it with a side of spinach salad, tossed with roasted almonds and grapes. Yum!

What about you, readers? Have you come up with any crowd pleasing, budget conscious concoctions you'd like to share?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I had a Dream

This weekend, I'm sick. Horrible cold/flu thing, and last night I decided it was Nyquil worthy. Consequently, I have a major Nyquil hangover, and also I woke up just before noon, and ALSO, I had the strangest dream.

I dreamed I had another child, a little girl, two years younger than Small One. And in my dream, I realized I'd been completely ignoring this child, to the extent that I'd pretty much forgotten she existed. In fact, I'd forgotten her name. I kept looking at her, and she was very cute, and I kept calling her Amelie, but I knew in the back of my head that wasn't it. I was talking to people about how bad I felt for neglecting this child, and meanwhile I was frantically digging around trying to find some place that I'd written down her name, looking through our safe, my files, even looking through old emails and message board posts. I finally found an application for a birth certificate, and it hadn't been filled out, except that, apparently, someone at the hospital had written down her birthday and a name- Venassa.

Now, two things upset me about this. First of all, that's not something I'd name a child-I might name her Vanessa, but probably not. Second, in reading the document, I realized her first birthday had been the day before- May 11th. This was horrifying, because Small One had a first birthday extravaganza, with probably thirty people and a special dress and her christening the same day, etc, etc, etc... I called my sister in law to see if she could bring her kids over for a party on the weekend, and she told me she'd be out of town. I was frantically scrambling around trying to throw together some semblance of a celebration, when I came across a box with a party dress in it. I thought it was the dress Small One has worn for birthday photos two years in a row, and I was talking to someone, asking if it would be terrible to put this other child in the same dress for her birthday, when I realized it was NOT the same dress, but a new one, similar, but in a different color. I was relieved because I thought I'd actually had the presence of mind to buy the child a party dress, but then I realized it was Small One's size.

The whole dream was panicky, and I was wondering if I'd nursed the child, when Small One came up and asked if she could nurse, and I realized I'd neglected the little one in favor of her. Then I realized that little one's birthday was either on or near my grandmother's birthday, and I was trying to figure out whether it was actually the same day. I was frantic the whole time, and woke up still feeling that freaked out panic.

What does it mean? I don't just need comments on this one, I need analysis!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Middle Child recently announced to me that The Man and I fight constantly. This came as rather a shock to me, because I can't actually remember the last time we had what I'd consider a fight! Do we get aggravated with each other? Sure. Yeah, that's par for the course, I think.

I asked Oldest, and he said "Yeah, I used to think you fought all the time, but I started noticing that you just get frustrated for a minute and then it's over."

I said, "Hmm... I don't even notice. Maybe it's because of stress? I mean, we do live with a fair amount of stress."

Oldest said "Are you kidding me? You live under an unbelievable amount of stress! I don't know how you deal with it!"

I'll admit, I felt better. Primarily because he noticed.

I repeated the conversation to a married friend, who said "Yeah, that kind of fighting is called 'marriage'."

It made me think, though, about perceptions. I try really hard not to judge people, to always think about what kind of day that person might be having, or under what kind of stress they live. I always wonder about how people perceive me, and how close to true those perceptions are. I like to think I've got everyone fooled into thinking I'm on top of things.

(That was a joke, I don't really think I've got everyone fooled.)

I wonder, though, about everyone else. So I'll throw this out there for my readers:
  1. Do you think the public perception of you matches up with the "real" you?
  2. Do you think your family's perception of you is accurate?
  3. Do you fight with your significant other? More or less than an observer would perceive?
  4. Are you more or less stressed than people think?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Upper Management

The other night, The Man was working late, and I handled Small One's bedtime routine on my own. This is different, because he is typically the one who handles bath, tooth brushing, and bedtime story telling. My role in bedtime is to a)give kisses and b)be the one who insists she actually sleeps. She hangs out in her crib for a while, singing songs and talking to her stuffed animals, but she's definitely asleep within thirty to forty minutes, and all that really matters to me is that she's "put away" for the night. I love my children, but seriously, sometimes I need to put them away. But...I digress.

Anyway, it went quite well, she was in bed five minutes before her bedtime, but then The Man came home twenty-five minutes later and she was instantly standing up, calling him from the crib. (It doesn't help matters that the dog loses his mind when The Man comes home, whining and shaking all over with the sheer thrill of it.)

She called for her Daddy, and her Daddy obliged her, picking her up from her crib to hug her. I came to the door to be the voice of reason.

"Pardon me," I said, "But you're throwing off the Emperor's groove. Seriously, put her down, she's supposed to be sleeping."

He did, and she got very dramatic about it, throwing an elaborate fit for his benefit. He threatened to shut the door, which is our most effective bedtime threat, and she did not waiver in her drama, so he shut the door. The drama escalated, and he opened the door and told her he'd leave it open if she'd only stop. She stopped.

He came back to our room, and I said "You know, this drama thing doesn't happen when you're not here."

Later that night, she woke up with a nightmare. I went in and comforted her, and she was ok, but then decided she needed to get out of her bed. She began yelling. Not crying, just yelling.

I walked back in and said, very matter of factly, "Here's the deal, kid: you either knock that off and lie your head down and go to sleep, OR I shut the door and walk away. Which choice are you going to make?"

Now, I will skip to the end of the story and tell you that she picked "lie down and go to sleep", but it must be mentioned that she had a very important question to ask before she could make that decision.

She stood in her crib looking at me for a minute, pondering her options. "Um... " she said, "...where's my Daddy?"

(Translation: "I'd like to speak with someone in management, please.")

Thursday Thirteen- Literary Edition

Thirteen Books I Love- off the top of my head, in no particular order. For the purpose of narrowing it down, I decided to eliminate short story collections and series books, (ie, Chronicles of Narnia), not because of lack of love, but because 13 is a small number. It should be noted that this was an INCREDIBLY HARD list to make, because I love so many books.

  1. The Bible- (let's just go ahead and get that out of the way, because, well, duh!), especially the Phillips translation.
  2. The Time Traveler's Wife- fantastically creative science fictiony romance. Can't imagine anyone not liking this book, though it's really complex.
  3. Life of Pi- spiritually seeking boy ends up trapped on a lifeboat with a Tiger. Or does he?'
  4. White Teeth- one of my all time favorites! Another really complicated book to follow, but so funny and creative. About two British families and their interconnections, but not in a quaint sort of way.
  5. With God in the Crucible: Preaching Costly Discipleship- a collection of sermons and lectures given by Peter Storey between 1966 and 1993. Peter Storey was a United Methodist Bishop in South Africa, and this book is incredibly inspirational, interesting and informative.
  6. A Wrinkle in Time- or anything by Madeleine L'Engle. She rocks. Intertwining fantasy and science and spirituality is her particular genius.
  7. Pride and Prejudice- call me a nerd, but I still love it.
  8. Moll Flanders- the first time I read this, I laughed out loud, literally. A cautionary tale by a not too convincingly repentant bad girl.
  9. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy- and the rest of the series! Douglas Adams makes me laugh until I cry.
  10. Cheaper by the Dozen- not the dumb Steve Martin thing, but the true story of an efficiency expert, his brilliant wife, and their 12 children. Gosselins Shmosselins.
  11. Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia- a book I love, and also a shout out here to my darling husband, who reads this for fun almost every night.
  12. My Sister's Keeper- Jodi Picoult is gifted and prolific, and I still like this the best of anything I've read by her. All about a family and the heartbreaking choices they have to make about their seriously ill child.
  13. Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl- LOVE Roald Dahl. Love his whimsical yet twisted sensibilities and vivid imagination. This autobiographical account of his early days explains a LOT.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday Wedding Edition


My Small One had a bad dream tonight. She woke up needing to use the bathroom, but shaky and afraid, and talking about snakes and lions in her room. To make matters worse, as she was getting off her little potty she slipped and hit her head on the bathtub. I was in my room, her Daddy having been the one to tend to her that time, and I heard the impact- it was really loud.

By the time I got to the bathroom, which is not far from my room, she was hysterically crying, despite Daddy holding her. I gave business-like sympathy: "You're ok, you can stop crying, I'll get you an ice pack." The Man argued, he didn't think it warranted ice, but I hold firm to my belief that the best way to make someone feel better is to give them something to do to help themselves, and sure enough, the ice pack calmed her.

I took her into my room for a while, just to make sure she was ok, because bumps on the head freak me out a little bit. While I held her, she told me she'd had a bad dream, in which a bad lady
gave a tiny baby bottle to some guy.

"To you, Small One?"

"No, to the other guy."

Ah, I see. She didn't elaborate on why that was so bad, but it clearly upset her. We snuggled, I checked her pupils, then gave her the two minute "back to your own bed" warning. Two minutes having elapsed, she cheerfully said goodnight to her father, and I carried her back to her own room.

"I'm gonna have good dreams now, Mommy?"

"Yes, sweetie, you're going to have good dreams."

"I need a good dream in my ear. Can you put one in my ear?"

I leaned into her crib and whispered in her ear about soft bunnies and playful kitties, and she smiled, satisfied, thanked me, and went to sleep. I think maybe I need a good dream in my ear, too.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sentimental Journey

I had the occasion to drive from the north of town to the south of town this weekend, and it made me a bit misty and reflective, thinking about all that's changed since I moved here. I was thinking about the days when the Man and I were not yet married, and we used to carpool together from Decatur to Sandy Springs, which seemed, at the time, a crazy commute, but that's just because we had just moved from St. Augustine, Fl, where the biggest impediments to getting to work on time were a)getting stuck behind a horse, and b)the bridge being up. Twelve years later, we're seasoned Atlantans, and a 30 minute commute seems like child's play.

I was thinking about Decatur, and how proud I am of that little town and how far it's come since I moved here, because Decatur is pretty much my center of operations, being the location of my church, bank, and favorite local haunts. (Not to mention it's cool enough to have been referred to as "the intersection of Berkeley and Mayberry".) But then I approached the downtown skyline, and noticed that the Westin building seems to still have some issues with windows. I heard somewhere that the windows had proved difficult to replace after they blew off in a tornado. I, personally, think the building looks charming, like a snaggle-toothed six year old, and adds to the personality of the skyline.

While I was trying to remember when that tornado was, and looking at the skyline, I got this weird flood of memories of downtown...walking briskly uphill from the parking lot to the Fox Theater with friends, laughing because we were out of breath; driving around trying to find restaurants (more than once) where I was supposed to be meeting the owner; going to the Tabernacle/House of Blues for concerts; going to Fairlie Poplar for an arts festival; seeing the Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the High with my mother, driving the wrong way out of a parking lot quite by accident and coming terrifyingly close to a wreck, only to realize that I'd also completely avoided the parking charges that way. Just a bunch of snips and snaps of pictures of times spent down there, over the years, and it occurred to me that this is pretty much my home town now.

It's weird, because my family moved around a lot when I was growing up, and I don't really lay claim to a "home town". I was born in Gainesville, Florida, lived in Jacksonville, but also lived in Massachusetts, and then in Orlando. Orlando is the closest I come to a home town- I was there for all of high school, and lived there for part of my adulthood as well. But by now, I've lived the longest here in Atlanta.

The funny thing is, if you ask me why I live here, I can give you a long list of reasons, many of them cultural. I love the fact that we have a symphony, an opera, a great museum, arts festivals, music festivals... an embarrassment of riches, culturally speaking. The Man and I used to seek out opportunities, but we haven't been to any of those places in a really long time. The closest I've come to culture, recently, is the Center for Puppetry Arts, an abbreviated version of The Nutcracker at the Fox, and an abbreviated version of Suessical the Musical at the Woodruff Arts Center. These excursions were all field trips with the homeschooling group, because, frankly, since the arrival of Small One, we don't get around much anymore.

Funny how a trip from a far north suburb has got me thinking about all I'm missing. I have a renewed determination now to actually take advantage of the wonderful things this city offers, because I truly do love this place.

How about you? Do you love your city? Do you make the most of the opportunities around you, or do you, like me, take them for granted a little bit too much?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Southern Girls 101

My brilliant, beautiful friend Kim recently purchased a shirt that reads:

"Sassy, charming, classy, bright, beautiful, belle of the ball, sundress-wearing, sweet tea drinking Southern Girl... do I look like I drive a pick up truck?"

It made me giggle, because I'm a Southern girl too, and some of the myths about us are downright silly. We don't all like country music, we don't all own confederate flags, most of us don't drive trucks. Especially in the larger cities, many of us are downright metropolitan, though I will admit we do like our grits. But I thought maybe I'd provide a refresher course on a few key points, in case any of y'all are confused, and would like to maybe blend in a little more when you travel down here.

  1. Southern girls (and by girls, I mean any age, of course) wear panty hose to formal events. Now this tradition has loosened up a little bit in my generation, and we no longer are REQUIRED to wear them to church, as long as our legs are shaved and we have good pedicures, but anything more formal than the 11:00 service requires panty hose. Weddings, funerals, baby dedications, you name it. This is a tradition, by the way, that makes no sense at all, because it is hotter than the very hinges of Hell down here, but I would never say that out loud. Going bare legged is something that's just not done.
  2. Southern girls are taught by their mamas that certain things are "just not done". No further explanation is needed, and if you could see the facial expression that goes with the phrase "just not done", you wouldn't ask for an explanation either.
  3. Southern girls are demonstrative. We hug, we kiss on the cheek, we clasp people's hands, we pat shoulders and backs. We touch you when we're talking to you, and we call you things like "sugar" and "darlin'". The only exception to this outpouring of affection is anyone with whom we are romantically linked. If you are involved with someone, any public sign of affection is considered distasteful and trashy. If you're sleeping with him, you'd be advised not even to look in his general direction in public. You can possibly get away with holding your husband's hand in church, but don't make a spectacle of yourself.
  4. Southern girls are empathetic, and by empathetic, I mean we bring casseroles.
  5. Southern girls think hair is very important.
  6. Southern girls bless people's hearts. This is a very useful thing to do, as it allows you to remain kind even when the rest of your statement could be considered questionable. Example: "She went to that new salon, and got a haircut that is just HIDEOUS, bless her heart!" The phrase can also be used to mean "better that person than me", and is useful as a caring conduit for gossip, as in "she's been all alone with those six kids ever since her husband ran off with his secretary, bless her heart". "Bless your heart" is an appropriate response to any tale of angst or woe. It can also be used in cases of genuine empathy, as in "she's been really ill, bless her heart, so I brought her a casserole."
  7. Southern girls sometimes use the term Yankee. Now, there is a misconception that this is an insult, or a Civil War reference, but no, it's actually just a descriptive term for anyone who does not live here and probably does not know which things are just not done. It is an excellent way of excusing bad behavior, because other Southern girls know exactly what you're talking about. Example: "His daughter flew in for the funeral, and she didn't even bring any panty hose!" "I know, darlin', but what do you expect? She's a Yankee, bless her heart!"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Burning Question of the Night

If "salagadoola" means "minchica boola roo" BUT the thingamabob that does the job is "bibbiti bobbiti boo", then why bother with the first two? They are both synonymous AND, apparently, ineffective. Inefficiency, people!

But hold on, now... what's the other part? "Salagadoola, minchica boola, bibbiti bobbiti boo...put them together and what have you got? Bibbiti bobbiti boo." Seriously, if it all comes down to bibbity bobbity boo in the end, why bother with all the extraneous words?

I'm putting that last sentence on a t-shirt, I think.

Or MAYBE I should make it a hard and fast rule that the Man is not to set Small One's night time cd to only repeat just the one song, no matter how many times she insists that the godmother song is the only one she wants to hear, lest I end up in a padded room somewhere.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pursuit of Happiness

Small One was in a grouchy mood tonight, despite a fun day. Truth be told, it was probably because she had such a fun day, she was a bit tired and out of sorts by dinner time.

She had a delicious meal in front of her, lovingly prepared, featuring vegetables and brown rice, mixed berries in yogurt, and turkey meatballs, made by her own mama, with fresh herbs from our own garden. She ate all the fruit and demanded more, and when I suggested she eat the meatballs first, she sulkily picked at the aforementioned fresh herbs. "What's this green stuff?" she asked, scowling.

I was losing patience. I said, "As I already told you, it's the wonderful herbs we grew together in our garden. But should I just let you dip the meatballs in ketchup? Would that make you happy?"

Not too pleased about it, I squirted some ketchup on her plate. She looked up at me, with a huge, radiant, and genuine smile.

"Oh!" she said, "Ketchup! Now I'm happy! The ketchup made me happy!"

Ahhh... if only happiness were always so easily attained.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thursday 13, Happiness Edition

Thirteen things that have made me smile this summer (in no particular order):
  1. My brother's marriage to a lovely girl I've long considered family
  2. Small One's performance at their wedding
  3. Growing my own garden, and eating what I've grown

  4. The return of Middle Child

  5. Oldest's graduation from high school

  6. New friends

  7. Cherries on the back porch of a mountain house

  8. Old friends

  9. Boat rides

  10. Disney World
  11. The Man
  12. Newlyweds

  13. A coop raising party

And I have to say, in coming up with this list, I'm struck by the abundance of my life, because it could've been the Thursday 30, easily.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, High Fashion Bag Edition

In Everything Give Thanks

I think of myself as a thankful person. I try to look on the positive side, and notice that, in the grand scheme of things, I'm a very blessed person. I strive to be a Christ follower, and to remember that, as such, I've been instructed to give thanks in every situation.

But some weeks... well, sometimes it's hard to do. Weeks, like this one, when our financial outlook seems bleak, the ongoing job hunt seems everlastingly unproductive, and the to-do list seems longer than my actual lifespan. On top of it all, this week my Small One is not feeling well. I won't burden you with the gory details, but it hasn't been fun for either of us.

On reflection, though, there's a lot of good here. We have very kind and understanding landlords. We are blessed with health and love and caring friends and family. The most surprising thing I've noticed today, though, is that sometimes even the bad stuff has something good to offer.

Small One is not so small as she was. I delight in her accomplishments, but I also think wistfully of her babyhood, especially when I have the opportunity, as I did last night, to hold a very new baby. In this case, he was 12 hours old:

My little tornado is not so quiet. She is, in fact, sometimes utterly ear-piercing. And independent! Wow, is she independent! She is what one might refer to as a "pistol", if one were being kind. She is constantly telling me what she needs to do next or, more to the point, what I "NOT needa" do... ie, put her in time out, get her to pick up her toys, put her in bed, etc. She's always been an intense little creature, always with a plan, a study in motion.
But not today. Today, she's a baby again, a snuggly lap girl, a "you needa hold me" girl, someone who wants nothing more than to put her head on my chest and let me pet her. I hate that she feels ill (though today I think she's just worn out from yesterday), but the hidden blessing is that I get to love up on her, and she gets to remember that Mommy is a safe and warm place. And I get to notice that as big as she seems sometimes, she's still very small and soft and snuggly.

Life, even with the bad, is good.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Note to Self

Dear Future Me,

From here on out, please refrain from announcing to the world that your week will be peaceful. I know you THINK you're being a positive person, but in reality you are merely ASKING to wake up to a sick child, a broken appliance, a monetary crisis, and some sort of animal waste combo. So, while I appreciate the sentiment, I'd prefer to just take it as it comes, and only make announcements that are truly verifiable, such as "oh, my child is napping at this moment".



ps- At this moment, my Small One is napping, the figurative fires are temporarily out, and there are no actual fires or other catastrophic events occuring in my home. Thus, I think it would be prudent of me to take a nap and try to reboot this day.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Making Sense with a Small One

Middle Child is gone this week. She left this morning, at 6am, headed for Kentucky, to spend the week working with Appalachian Service Project. I am immensely proud of her for this, despite the fact that it meant I had to spend a bunch of money I didn't have on things like work jeans and safety goggles, and I also had to get up at 5am today. "5 in the morning" is a misrepresentation, in my opinion- it should be called "5 in the middle of the night". That being said, I've spent my life studiously avoiding any awareness of that time of day, only occasionally bumping into it from the midnight side. It is proof of my devotion and pride that I roused my carcass at that time today to drive her somewhere, rather than simply kicking my husband until he got up and did it.

In any event, because she's going to be gone for an entire week, I thought I should address the subject with Small One. Small One is crazy about her big sister, and asks me incessantly where she is if she even leaves for a few hours, so I thought maybe I could do some preemptive question answering and save myself some "but where IS she?" time this week. Here's how it went:

Me: Hey, did you know that your sister went on a trip this morning?

Small: She went away? Where did she went away?

Me: Well, she went on a trip with a bunch of other people...

Small: (interrupting) A bunch of people? What's their names?

Me: They have a bunch of different names, but they're from our church.

Small: Where they going?

Me: They're going to Kentucky, to do some work.

Small: They going to work on a ducky?

Me: No, they went to a place called Kentucky.

Small: Kenducky?

Me: Sure. And they're working on houses for people.

Small: They work on the people's houses?

Me: Yes, they work on people's houses to make them safe and warm.

Small: Because the people are sad?

Me: Er... sometimes, sure. But your sister is going to help work on the houses to make them safe and warm. Isn't that nice?

Small: Are they sad because they miss their mommies?

Me: Maybe, but your sister is going to help them with their houses...

Small: And they miss their daddies?

Me: I don't know, sweetie, but isn't it nice of your sister to...

Small: What's their daddies' names?

Yeah, I don't think that went particularly well. Safe travels, Middle Child! I'll be here answering nonsensical questions all week.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Glorious 4th

Ahh, the 4th of July! Parades! Fireworks! Meat on the grill! (Or in the case of the Man, non-meat on the grill. This year we're doing a portabello with provolone.)

It's a funny kind of holiday for me, in many ways. I'm very sentimental about America, and our freedoms, and actually have been since I spent some time in Yugoslavia as a teenager. But the holiday itself is rather a non-event, particularly this year.

My family is all over the country. My sister is a violinist with the Nashville Symphony, and plays a concert every year that is typically televised nationally, but on cable, so we never see it. We used to go to Florida and see my mom sometimes on the 4th, but it's such a brief holiday, it's rather inconvenient to drive twelve hours in one weekend. My husband's family has a mountain house that we sometimes visit, and that's pleasant, but only available if my in-laws are in town. Oldest is at an age that involves a pretty active social life- I'm growing increasingly wistful about how little I see him, and his day will include many activities, but few that will involve us. Middle Child is preparing for a church trip to Appalachia, and will be leaving at 6am on Sunday, so her mind is elsewhere.

Today, we'll have a cookout with the Man's brother and his family, and that will be nice... Small One in particular loves to play with her cousins. Then we'll head to downtown Decatur to watch the parade and fireworks from the lawn of our church, and that'll be nice too. If we're lucky, we'll see my cousin and her family during the Decatur festivities. None of it's terribly exciting, but maybe it's too hot to get all excited, anyway.

The most exciting 4th of July in my memory was in 1997, when my divorce was finalized on the 3rd. I found it extremely apropos to celebrate Independance Day that year, and the fireworks seemed to belong to me, personally.

Nowadays, the most exciting part of the 4th is deciding what Small One wears. I'll admit, she's a clothes horse, though I'm proud to say I never shop retail. My most thrilling hobby is collecting her wardrobe for pennies on the dollar, and it's almost embarrasing to admit, she has 4 outfits from which to choose this year, all equally patriotic.

She could've worn last year's, as she's still a peanut, sizewise. (Though I never realize how much she's changed in the past year until I see the pictures together!):

I got this dress for her to wear to church the day after, but unfortunately, (for her wardrobe, anyway), it's a children's ministry holiday. Oh well, she'll look patriotic another day!

Then there's this one:

But we decided on this, it seemed cookout, parade and fireworks worthy:

I hope all my readers are equally well attired, equally well loved, and have an equally nice Fourth of July, and maybe even an exciting one as well!