Friday, December 2, 2011

Baby!

Greetings, bloglings.

My maternal grandmother (the real, live Manners Fairy) once told me to never apologize for lateness in a thank-you note. Just write the note, mail it, and count your blessings that you didn't go and forget.

On the one hand, I feel like this advice should carry over to the blogosphere, like, don't apologize for not blogging. Just write the blog, post it, and walk away. For one thing, apologies are boring. For another thing, if you keep a blog like mine, then pretty much all your entries would be apologies and you may as well call it "Bumbling through Remorse: Lessons in Self-Reproach".

All that good advice aside, I would like to offer an explanation. After all, in this case my explanation is kinda fun.

Here's a hint: It's the same excuse I used last time.

Why I can't blog and be 1-3 months pregnant I really couldn't tell ya, but there it is -- we're having another baby!

I'm due the first week of June, in case your wondering and no, we don't know the gender yet but will soonish. I have already gotten my hands on a second crib and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that both babies sleep through the night in the same room like it's their job and don't bother each other at all. Because it's good to stay realistic in these circumstances.

So I'm going to round out this little entry with our first photo of Baby #2. Believe it or not, the baby is facing up and you can see the profile. You know what they say, if you can read a fuzzy sonogram in real life, take a poor quality cell phone picture of it. 


Clears it up every time.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nightly Ritual


My husband P is a writer by trade, and he told me once that he thinks Winnie the Pooh was one of his greatest influences. Given that the nature of his writing ranges from the stock market, to Canadian politics to education reform and beyond, Pooh is not always very obvious.

That said, when A was born (20 years ago!), P wrote a bath song for him. It goes a little something like this:
 


Baby in the bath
causing quite a splash
dee deedle dee dee-dee *
Baby in the bath. 




I don't know about you, but I think that has Pooh all over it.

Eventually, the babies get to the point where all they have to hear is "Baby in the bath..." and they'll take off in the other direction, squealing to get away.

After dinner we initiate the baby bath routine. I say "Okay, Baby. Time to take a bath." F follows me down the hallway as quickly as she can (her legs are only about a foot long) and occasionally gets distracted by the dog or a previously abandoned toy or a sudden thought.

Usually that thought is "Keeeee?" which means "Where's the kitty?" or "WheDa?" accompanied by the sign for Daddy.

Once it has been established that the Kitties are downstairs and the Daddy is in the office, the journey down the long hallway to the bathroom resumes.

In the bathroom, I dangle F over the cd player and she very painstakingly uses her tiny little forefinger to press PLAY. On comes Tchaikovsky's Greatest Hits at a volume of about 1000000 decibels, loud enough to be heard pretty much everywhere in the house. That's how we like our classical music around here, especially when it comes to the 1812 Overture.

F dances with a sort of swaying, squatting motion and conducts the music while I draw the bath water and get her diaper, lotion and pajamas situated. Then, I chase her around for a minute, threatening to "get" her, and then get her undressed. That's when the fun begins.

Perched on the side of the tub, naked, Felicity throws in her rubber duckies one at a time, and we count them as they splash.

ONE!
TWO!
THREE!
FOUR!
FIVE!
SIX!
(pause while Santa duck in inspected and Mama is asked to give him a kiss)
SEVEN!
EIGHT!
(pause while Ulrich von Dog wanders through and F shouts after him "DOG-AY! DOG-AY!")
NINE!
TEN!
ELEVEN!
TWELVE!
THIRTEEN!**

At thirteen the last duck is in, and F follows them into the water. I give her a quick soap and rinse, and then she generally plays until she's all tuckered out.

There are many joys in bathing an adorable baby, from their squeezy little bodies to the little fat hand splashes, to the way their hair plasters down their foreheads, but I have to say this is one of the cutest so far:

The Discovery of the Belly Button


It was a big day. 

What's that beautiful wall decor, you ask? Oh, it's just a mural my Mom painted for me. She's just the most talented and generous Mom ever. No big deal. 




* Correction provided by P. According the author, "Dee deedle dee" was inaccurate. My apologies for misleading anyone.
**Yes, we have thirteen rubber ducks. Go big or go home.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

7 Things I Could Have Done Without, Today.



1. The alarm going off at 5:45 this morning.

2. The goosebumps I got immediately after shaving in the shower.

3.Getting on the road 10 minutes late, only to discover 10 minutes later that I'd left my wallet at home. A U-turn and 20 minute round trip later, I'm a half an hour late.

4. Noticing my speed in the moment that the cop noticed my speed.

5. Noticing the gas light is on as I wait in my car for the cop to return with my license and registration.

6. Receiving a $300 speeding ticket, along with an "I'm cutting you a break" lecture highlighted by the charming phrases "reckless driving" and "arrestable offense" and "handcuffs.".

7. Pulling away from the cop, traveling exactly two miles, and running out of gas on the side of the highway.



Strangely enough, I'm feeling pretty ok. Poorer, yes. But unaccountably cheerful.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Making Paper!

Mom, don't get excited. I just made some money, that's all*. "Making paper" is like "rolling in the dough" in that the reality involved no wood pulp and no dough.

THREE DOLLARS!!!

That's right. Three buckaroonies. Wanna know how?

I went to Goodwill and bought their cutest baby clothes for $.99. Then, I went to Once Upon A Child and sold them for more than that. I sold four articles of clothing for $7.

I'M RICH!

Some of the clothes I took in were rejected because they're summery or they need to be washed. Don't you worry, though. I'm going to introduce the washing machine and an old paper bag storage solution to this little scam. We're gonna keep this baby rolling. In the dough.



*We recycled our own paper one time when I was homeschooled. It was awesome, except that my Mom tried to be all artsy and put dried leaves and flowers in the paper and my little sister felt this was crimping her style which was really more Lisa Frank oriented, and she flounced off in a huff.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Little Advice, or, Some Recipes

Since I have been the hostess with the mostest for the entire summer (which I declare is not over until the temperature drops down to 70, max), I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my recipes.

These definitely fall under the quick-and-easy category, and for a very good reason. It's not that I am afraid of difficult cooking, on the contrary, I love it. What I don't love is difficult cooking and the responsibility of an interesting conversation.

One of the things I've learned this season is that when hosting guests without the aid of servants or live music, the co-critical issues of entertaining the guests and feeding them tend to jumble up in one big trainwreck about, oh, 7 minutes after they walk in the door.

That's just enough time for them to take off their coats, be handed and glass of wine, admire the living room and then attempt to chat with me while I issue the final touches on our meal.

Talking and cooking is a skill I do not posses. Goodbye, Food Network Star fantasy.

This first recipe is great for an appetizer, a sandwich platter or a just quick lunch for yo'self.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla

Ingredients:

  • buffalo chicken lunchmeat (I've used Boar's Head, Stop & Shop and Stew Leonard's brands, all. My favorite is Stew Leonard's because it has more of a kick than the others. You can ask for a sample at the deli counter to compare brands.)
  • blue cheese crumbles

  • tortillas

  • arugula

  • Tabasco, Frank's Red Hot, or other similar pepper sauce

  • butter (optional)
Instructions:

On one tortilla* put 2-3 slices of the lunchmeat, followed by a liberal sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles and an even layer of arugula. I like to make sure it's really consistent across the tortilla so that every bite will yield similar impact. Close it up with a second tortilla on the top.

Now, if you have a panini grill you really don't need the butter. Just put the quesadilla on the hot grill making sure none of the arugula falls out, close the lid and wait a few minutes until you hear sizzling or think it's probably done.

If you don't have a panini grill, you still don't really *need* the butter, but let's be real: it's delicious. Melt a small dab of butter in a hot skillet. Swirl it around to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet and then plop the quesadilla on. Press it as it cooks, to help the blue cheese adhere to the top. When the bottom is golden brown and it seems like it's warm most of the way through, flip and finish cooking.

Serve hot. If you want to get all fancy you can garnish with a salad out of celery leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper.

*Did you know that tortillas have and inside and outside? My Mom told me the most blistery side is the inside. If I'm wrong, blame her.



This second recipes I've used over and over. It's extremely easy, but the Campari provides a POW! of sophistication. It works wonderfully as an appetizer to keep people entertained while you frantically finish icing the 12 layer cake and french braiding your hair at the same time. Alternatively, ditch the cake and serve this as a summery, low-cal dessert.

The only tricky thing about this recipe is decided how to serve it, an issue I address below.

Campari and Watermelon

Ingredients:

  • watermelon
  • campari
  • toothpicks

Basic Instructions:

Cut up the watermelon any way that suits you and yields consistent sized bites. Classic watermelon balls are easy and pretty, but I've also done stacked cubes kinda like a rubik's cube. To do that, cut the watermelon in 3 inch cubes first, then while holding it together, cut the cube in thirds vertically in a cross hatch and horizontally.

Put either one rubik's cube or about a cup of the fruit on a salad plate, along with a tiny bowl or shot glass of Campari. To eat, spear a piece of the fruit with a toothpick, dip it in the Campari and pop it in your mouth.

Serving Variations:

For a centrally located serve-yourself situation, you have three options.

For a big group, either you need a pretty big container to hold the watermelon with the campari poured over it, or you need a whole bunch of little bowls with individual servings meted out, all grouped together for people to grab off the table. Or, you could have the big bowl of watermelon and a little pitcher of the campari next to it, with little bowls for people to serve themselves by pouring a little campari over their own watermelon.

I don't really recommend the large container because all the liquor will settle at the bottom the flavor won't be consistent throughout.

One thing I've done is put individual bites into pretty shot glasses on a big platter. It gave it a more "drink" and less "appetizer" feel, but it still looked cool.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Grand Experiment

My parents provided many luxuries to my siblings and myself during our respective childhoods, but for some reason they rarely involved going to a retail store and making a purchase.

Family vacation to Europe? No problem!

Season tickets to the opera AND the symphony year after year? Sure!

Private education? Of course!

T-shirt from The Gap? Well...I heard there's a really big garage sale over on Kirby Lane. We can see what they have.

HC recently informed me that formless, oversized sweaters decorated with woodland creatures are "hipster" and therefore cool. I think that's just tragic. Why? WHY? Why wasn't it cool when I was wearing it?! Why was I forever traumatized by high-waisted jeans when the world declared that plumber-butt was the new cleavage? Why was the exposed midriff considered sexy when I was too young to wear it, considered outdated when I was old enough, and is coming back only after I've had my first baby? Why is it that when my legs could have been straight off the pages of Holocaust Chic*, JNCO wide leg jeans were *the thing* to wear. I'm not talking about just wide leg jeans here. I'm talking about double-wide. No, forget double-wide, you could fit the whole dang trailer park in one of those legs. Some of them had cuffs with a 26 inch circumference. Then, the year after I get out of college with some jiggle in my wiggle, skinny jeans pop up out of nowhere...and they just won't die.

The point is, I'm proud to say I've fully recovered from my awkward teenage years (well, sometimes), and while I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm well dressed, now it's just because I'm lazy and not because my parents are evil and never want me to have any friends.

One thing that hasn't worn off though, is the thrifting. It won't stop. Garage sales, tag sales, yard sales, thrift stores, second hand, Goodwill, call them what you will, I'm ahead of you. I reached an all new level today when I arrived at a stranger's house to pick up a Craigslist item, only to discover that it was three houses down from another stranger's house where I had picked up a Craigslist item two weeks ago. I'm still not sure if that's cool or creepy.

In my defense, I do try really hard not to purchase things we don't actually need. I've snagged some incredible finds. I'll brag about them some other time, but let me just say it's amazing what's out there for less than a dollar.

Even with the trying really hard though, I've begun to notice a few extra things piling up. I have a weakness for cool stuff from the 1950s and 60s and I just can't help but rationalize my way home with them. A totally awesome retro stroller, some adorable vintage sewing patterns. I'll never use these things. But could I sell them?

Lets. Just. See.

DRUMROLL PLEASE:

I'm opening an etsy shop!

HC has already helped me out by taking some awesome photos and we'll be going live in no time. I bet a wooden nickle** that I have the cutest model in all the land. All I'm waiting for now is an inspired name. Any suggestions are welcome!


*too soon?

**I don't have a wooden nickel, but you won't find a cuter model anyway.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Like That Felicity

...is old enough to get stuck under her crib. Twice. In ten minutes.

...looks like a little T-Rex because she just learned how to walk and holds her arms all curled up for balance.

...now uses "what happens if I sit on it?" as a way to analyze objects old and new. The experiment involves carefully placing [it] on the floor, standing up, turning her back to [it] and then slowly backing up with diaper end out, and collapsing. Alarm clocks, as it turns out, break. Paper doesn't.

...can be distracted from slamming her fat hand on my keyboard by the question, "Where is your otter?!" only if you say it like he might be on fire.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pet Peeve.



Deep in the throes of interior un-decorating, I cast my eye toward the internet for distraction, inspiration, salvation, procrastination.

Then I hit this:

I've seen this over and over. Yeah, I get it. The color palette is chic and peaceful. It gives a vibe of literacy, implies wisdom.

To state the obvious: why would you read the stupid book if you can't even tell what it is?

What does it say that you want the "feel" of books without the...you know...words?

When you walk into this room, you'll think "Oh, this person likes reading".

IT'S A LIE!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grease Redemption

As part of the admissions process for HC's Shakespeare conservatory this summer, HC had to pull off an intense audition at Julliard in NYC. Given that the sum total of my Julliard experience consists of watching Save the Last Dance four times my sophomore year of high school, I was completely ready to help her prep. Just in case though, we brought in a professional. He is a good friend of the family and a talented actor.

Last night, in celebration of HC's successful audition (followed by successful coursework in England), we invited Mr. Actor and his wife over for dinner.

It was a culinary disaster.

I mean, people had fun. There was wine. But in my mind, food is the party and this party was kinda...gross.

One problem was that I tried to go too seasonal and healthy. I know what you're thinking. There's no such thing as "too" seasonal or "too" healthy. WRONG. I made pesto with basil from my garden. I made baba ganoush with eggplant from a local farm and parsley also from my garden. I made a creamy sauce packed full of pureed fresh vegetables generously portioned it over whole wheat pasta. All the propaganda I've soaked in from The Omnivore's Delimma and Top Chef has told me "the ingredients speak for themeselves!"

Well. Ingredients may just speak for themselves with grace and tact when they're being translated by Alice Waters, but mine were a bit mouthy. They were speaking alright, but it was all garlic to me.

Tonight, I sought redemption. I needed something that could reestablish my kitchen zen, center my inner cook and rectify last night's measly meal. I needed something YUMMY.

So, I busted out the Christmas gift that has been haunting me for going on eight months now. Its box has been sitting in my pantry since December, adding a little danger to paltry pantry lineup of dustbunnies, an unusued fondue pot and a cantankerous ice cream maker. Every time my eyes skimmed over the label "CoolTouch Deep Fryer" a little shiver ran up my spine.

I carefully unpacked the box. It had a lithe, brushed chrome exterior with a shapely ergonomic handle and voluptuous time and temp indicator. The circular glass viewing window is reminiscent of a boudoir keyhole, or the business end of a telescope focused on Venus. The insides gleamed with the unadulterated promise of hot, bubbling grease.

I heated the oil. The trimmed chicken was piled carelessly in a red bowl nearby and I waited eagerly for the green "ready" light to turn on. Then, six by six, I fried those wings. Tenderly, I covered them in a chipotle barbecue sauce. Lovingly, I eased them onto a plate.

Eyes closed, I took a bite.

Mmmmmmmmhhmh.

So good.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Trading Up

P and I made the drive down the John F Kennedy International Airport this afternoon to pick up our long lost teenage girl.

I can't say how proud I am of the way HC handled the incredible opportunity she earned, studying Shakespeare for three weeks at Wadham College in Oxford. As she emerged from the crowd of other travelers at the arrivals deck of the British Airways terminal, I couldn't help but notice how confident she looked, how beautiful, how calm.

Our drive home (via a much needed pizza stop) was filled of HC's lively descriptions of the fun and education packed weeks. It sounds like she had a blast. She's really come into her own.

Half an hour before we got home, I turned to look at the back seat. There were my two girl, both slumped toward opposite windows, sound asleep. One, wearing a onesie and pink tutu, holding a puppet in her hand. The other wore her brand new rugby shirt emblazoned with the prestigious Oxford crest, and held a cell phone in her hand.

Not too different, really. Just trading up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In Which I Hit Some Bumps, and a Top 5 List

When we had a sort of surprise guest spend the night a few weeks ago, I threw the guestroom into a temporary state of together. How does one have a "sort of" surprise guest? It goes a little like this:

P: I guess I better get the litter boxes cleaned out.

Me: (not listening) Yeah.

P: Did you put sheets on the bed down there?

Me: (dawning alarm) What?.... Where? Why?

P: My colleague is coming tonight.

Me: WAIT. WHAT? You told me he was coming sometime in the next two weeks!

P: That was a week ago, and he's coming tonight.

Cue panic.

So the poor man got to sleep in a room that has one royal purple wall, one bright turquoise wall, glow-in-the-dark stars stuck on the ceiling and lyrics to pop songs scrawled on the windows in multicolored chalkboard markers.

Today, my intent was to begin the rehabilitation of once-teen, now public, bedroom. Unfortunately, my good intentions were routed by the joint pincer attack of more guest surprises (this time just for the afternoon) and having bought the wrong materials yesterday. In short, my progress was rather pathetic. And I'm starting to feel desperate.

Therefore, I present the following Top 5 List of songs I found through thorough scientific analysis. Of my memory. That I can think of right now. Anyway the point is, they win the award for Most Pathetic and Desperate Songs Ever Made.

5. Don't You Remember, by Adele
What's a song list without Adele, anyway. She's all the way down at number five because it's such a good song that GIRL, I REMEMBER. WHY. I. LOVE. YOoouuuu....so it's less pathetic. Shhhhh, Adele, it'll be ok. Actually, don't shhh. Keep singing.

4. In fact, sing Someone Like You because I didn't want you to hog the Top 5 List but that song is totally pathetic and desperate too. So hog away.

3. Jolene, by (do I even have to say?) Dolly Parton
Parton me, but this might be one of the most humble songs sung by sure-fire diva ever written. Especially when you consider that it is addressed to another woman, not just beggin' to a man. Anyone can beg a man. It takes some desperation to up and beg to another woman.

2. I Who Have Nothing, by Ben E King
I know, the version I linked doesn't look like the tall black man you were expecting, but I just can't help but like this version is all it's pomp and drama. Being from American Idol just makes it that much more desperate and pathetic. Just kidding. Maybe.

1. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, Dusty Springfield.
...just be close at hand. You don't have to stay forever, I will understand. Believe me, believe me, I can't help but love you, but I would never tie you down. Seriously! This has to be the ultimate desperation song. Alright Dusty. You sure can sing, but this is going a bit far. Allow me to introduce you to my good friend, Dignity. You two need to get to know each other a little bitter. I mean better.



Monday, August 15, 2011

A Little Advice, PLEASE, Before I Do-It-Myself...

Before I jump airhead first into this project, I'm going to ask "Teh Interwebs" for some advice.

By interwebs, I pretty much mean the 2 knowledgeable people who read my blog (I'm talking to you, UG).

The deal is, I'm redoing the guest room, and I'd have something flashy in mind for the walls.

I got a really cool fabric from Ikea that I'd like to use as a decor on the walls to give them a neat color pattern and texture. First, I was thinking of building some sort of frame, stapling the fabric to the frame and then hanging the frame on the wall like a piece of art.

Problemo Numero Uno: this isn't one piece of fabric we're talking about here, but nine, and in a pattern that I can't with confidence say will line up properly on the frame. I imagine it gaping open, and that's just not ladylike.

So, I briefly considered trying to make a sort of padded thing akin to an upholstered headboard that would hide any tacs needed to keep the fabric together. Briefly considered, and quickly rejected.

Now, I'm looking at the technique of "starching" a fabric to the wall. Essentially, you get or make liquid starch and use it as glue for adhering the fabric directly to the wall without any frame or anything. Sorta like wallpaper, except that it comes down easily with a little water.

Problemo Numero Dos: Everywhere this technique is described, it is sold as something for people in rental or temporary properties who need to be able to remove it easily. But I want it up for...well, presumably ever. Is that ok?

Secondly, my wall is stupid and textured. It's made of concrete since it's in the basement and I assume it's a valuable part of the foundation? Anyway, it's been painted many times, but the texture is still definetely there.

I've looked in to DIYing wall-texture removal and it doesn't look fun. Or pretty. Or fun.

What I mean is, I don't wanna do it.

Is it expensive to have done by someone else? Can I just ignore it and hang the fabric over the texture? Is butter a carb? Do these jeans make me look fat?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Serious Waffles

My darling HC has been across the pond for two weeks and won't return for another. How I miss my energetic sidekick!

In her honor, I share with you the following story:

Friday afternoon, nearly dinnertime. Sunny day, mid-summer. HC and I venture in to one of our favorite haunts, Goodwill Enterprises in search of a "theater skirt" required for her then forthcoming venture into the wide world of *Will's wit. We wandered distractedly into the housewares section. Both our eyes fall upon a veritable Alladin's lamp of kitchen paraphernalia: a circus shape waffle maker, new in the box.

Me: OHMYGOSH. Should we get this?!

HC: Um, yes! I think so.

Me: Did I tell you my sister was appalled to discover that I didn't own a single waffle iron?

HC: That's true.

*slight pause*

HC: Although... is it wise to have our only household waffle iron be a circus shaped one? You won't be able to use it if you ever need serious waffles.



The last thing we did together before she left for her Shakespeare Conservatory in Oxford, England (sob! she's such a big girl!) was to make circus shaped waffles. She needed a packing break, and we needed some serious waffles.



*Shakespeare, that is.

Post-Party Recap

On this rainy post-party Sunday, I thought I'd post some details of my last party of the summer. Needless to say, I meant to post one of these recaps for each of the parties this year, but typical disorganization got the best of me.

Yesterday we had about 15 people over for "Cocktails al fresco" to raise funds for a local non-profit. I spent the whole week leading up to the party working my tail off with Fred outside, whipping the landscaping and courtyard in order. Believe me when I say it was a serious battle with some hardcore hand-to-weed combat.

Meanwhile, C and I also formulate and executed (sounds so professional, eh?) a stellar menu.

Since it was just an afternoon event didn't have to plan a meal. On the main table we had:

vichyssoise, aka cold potato and leek soup, with white truffle oil and chives,

campari and watermelon tastes,

plus white bean salad, pea and mint salad, and the non-alcoholic drinks (lemonade, iced tea, water).




The centerpiece was made of branches from the broken pear tree that I've been putting to good use before they croak, and some discount plants (creeping jenny and woolly thyme) I picked up that morning that were long and trailing, creating a cool effect. Here are some of the sweets I made -
chocolate dipped apricots in sprinkles and coconut, yummmm.

The main event was the birthday cheesecake that I decorated with fresh fruit. Yes, it says 424. Happy Birthday, Virginia Dare!




On the "coffee table" aka firepit that we cleaned up, brought inside and put a tray on, was the cheese plate. I decorated it by putting a lantern that I bought in Turkey upside down in the middle.


Outside, we had paninis and quesadillas. The bar was outside too, down where there was a pretty view of the river.

Everything looked awesome, I just wish I were a better photographer!


Autumn Falling Already?

Yesterday's fundraiser went off without a hitch, and, if I do say so myself, the house and food were great. C and I pulled it off! Next year we need more women guests, maps in the invitations, and more, more MORE people, but I really have no complaints.

The weather was perfect. After several weeks of hot weather, it was low 80s in the sun and cooler in the shade. People lounged around the patio all afternoon drinking and discussing and generally enjoying each others' company.

Then, this morning, I awoke to clouds and drain. And CHILL. Everyone in church this morning was wearing a sweater! It's only August 14!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Impearment


Almost two years ago, I posted an entry dedicated to two loves of my life: P and my pear tree.

This year, I'm sad to report, one of the two lost a limb.

It's ok, he has three others to spare.




In my grief I've decided to clean out the entire courtyard and start fresh. The last three days have seen much digging and hauling and groaning and straining under the weight of full grown trees being uprooted, moved, and re-rooted.

Believe me when I say, it is hard work...watching them through the window.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Productivity is Dead! Long Live Procrastination!

Hello, everyone.

I can never see that opener (Hello, everyone.) without hearing it in the deep smooth voice of Karl Haas from the old radio show on WRR in Dallas, Adventures In Good Music. It takes me back to Tuesday evenings, an old beat-up beige Volvo station wagon, Sonic burgers and driving to piano lessons. How I wish the powers-that-be would release a compilation of his shows on mp3 or cd or something!

In other news, we're packing up the baby and leaving for Canada tomorrow. With a nine hour drive ahead of us, I've borrowed a copy of Anna Karenina (30 cds...oh yeah!) from the library and find myself sitting here in front of the laptop instead of working through the million-and-one things I should be doing before we go.

In other news, I'm super excited to see Niagara Falls. This is a business trip first and foremost, but on the way home we're spending one night in Niagara because we can. To celebrate, I'm going to share with you a piece called The Niagara River from my most favoritest poetess, Kay Ryan:

The Niagara River
As though
the river were
a floor, we position
our table and chairs
upon it, eat, and
have conversation.
As it moves along,
we notice—as
calmly as though
dining room paintings
were being replaced—
the changing scenes
along the shore. We
do know, we do
know this is the
Niagara River, but
it is hard to remember
what that means.
And here's a little link to Ms. Ryan reading it: tadaaa!

In other news, can you believe F is going to be one year old on Thursday? I can't. And I can. All at the same time. Her new tricks are as follows: climbing up the stairs, giving me a heart attack, making funny faces on purpose, pulling up on everything, giving me a heart attack, wanting to touch everything that's pretty, giving me a heart attack, being obsessed with the cats, learning lots of sign language but only really using the sign "cat" on repeat, and pretending to read books on her own.

On the plus side I guess since she's officially weaned, she's only eating me out of house and home instead of house and body...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Still Breathing

To all you busy people in the world, I salute you.

After a relatively peace-filled life, I was suddenly confronted with an Impossible List of things to do a couple months back. I'm more than half-way through them now, and despite my ever-increasing number of white hairs, I'm still alive. Obviously.

So here's the quick skinny*:

1. The trip to Turkey was beautiful and amazing as always. The extra special part was seeing Istanbul for a totally packed three days. It blew my mind. If it weren't for my sister constantly at my shoulder imitating Iago the parrot from Disney's Aladdin, I might have forgotten for a minute that any place else in the world existed.

2. A week after we returned home from Turkey, I hosted a sweet sixteen (!) party for HC. No, she didn't get any shiny new keys or even her own reality tv show, but we did invite about 50 kids over to view a drive-in style movie on the lawn. With fireworks. And a fire pit. No one died, and we discovered just exactly how useful Ulrich is at teenage parties. There's something wet-blanketish about ninety pounds of enthusiastic German Shepherd body slamming you whenever you try to cozy up to your girlfriend under the stars. Apparently, he confuses Splendor in the Grass with WrestleMania.

3. A week after that, baby F and I descended on my old stomping grounds, Wide Awake Wylie, Texas to host a shindig in honor of my brother's nuptials. If you're wondering what is a good plan for such a party, traveling alone with a squirmy infant halfway across the US to arrive with only one day to organize food (which you insist on making yourself) and decorations (for a site you've never seen) in a three bedroom house with eleven people sleeping in it IS NOT A GOOD PLAN. The party, of course (of course!) was adorable and delicious. I met lots of cool people. I slept for fourteen solid hours and still didn't feel recovered.

4. A week later I turned 27! I think. Turns out, I don't really know how old I am. When I was in the hospital for F's birth the nurse asked me my age. Twenty-five, I responded. My Mom nodded. Twenty-six, countered P. I was aghast. I'M TWENTY-FIVE!! I insisted. My Mom agreed with me. Turns out, I was twenty six. The two people in the room who were actually *present* at my birth got it wrong. That's why I pay the bills, because clearly I have superior numberating skillzzz.

5. A week after that, R got married! The wedding was beautiful and fun and it was so inspiring to see a couple so in "wuv, twue wuv" that it was just beaming out of their very hair follicles. The best part though was seeing my extended family and getting to catch up with everyone -

  • plane tickets: $200
  • drinks on 6th street: $30
  • discovering that your sister and your uncle, separated by hundreds of miles, and without knowledge of each other's quirks, each invented *the same* stupid looking dance to embarrass their significant others which involves looking like a jellyfish: PRICELESS.

6. And here I am. My garden is overrun with "volunteer" plants, my basement flooded for the sixth time when we got home, and there's no food in the fridge, but I don't care.

I'm just thrilled that I have ten whole days before I host my next party.

*the "quick skinny" sounds like some new diet secret on HSN. Sorry to disappoint. Unless, of course, you're in the position to work out five times a week, breastfeed a baby and run around so much you sometimes forget to feed yourself. In which case, go for it! You'll look just like me! Except probably not quite so haggard and graying and freakishly tall. Other than that, you'll look just like me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baby Travels

I'm guessing that F leading the race for Most Traveled Baby On The Planet. At last tally, this baby had been on 21 airplanes by the time she was 8 1/2 months old. She's so savvy, we stand in line at security and she takes her own shoes off.

Ok, her shoes are actually socks made to look like shoes and she takes them off everywhere, but the point is, this girl knows the drill.

That said, I've learned that traveling with a 3 month old is a whole different sack of potatoes than traveling with a 9 month old. At 3 months, she slept. At 9 months, she parties. Hard. She's so squirmy that, short of a few squats, I got a full on Turbo Kick workout on the way home from Guadeloupe last month.

As if that weren't daunting enough she's started teething in the past couple days and LORDY it's a wild ride.

With this in mind as I prepare for our upcoming trip to Turkey, I've begun early to arm myself with possible protection against my little whirling dervish.

1. Boon Baby Squirt Spoon: Gastronomic Genius for Feeding Fledglings.

Felicity has only eaten one jar of store bought baby food in her entire long life, but this sucker looks like it's too travel friendly to pass up. You stuff the squishy handle full of pureed food. When you've identified a local hungry baby, you squeeze the handle which deposits the baby food directly onto the bowl of the spoon. Then, when you're finished, you can put the little cap right back on the spoon and store the rest for later. This process makes the baby feeding much more efficient, but getting the food into the baby's belly and not just all over the rest of the plane is still not guaranteed.

2. Flyebaby For My Baby. Maybe:
Luckily, F is extremely social and views plane rides as one big campaign stop on her way to Empress of the World. While I'm struggling to herd our bags, our other people and F down the length of the plane (we're unerringly in THE LAST row of every flight), she's busy literally shifting from side to side making eye contact with each passenger so she can give them a personalized smile, giggle or wave. You think I'm exaggerating. I'm not.

However, she is the squirmiest baby I've ever met. The above pictured Flyebaby is advertised as a way for Mama and Baby to get some good face time during the flight while Baby rests comfortably in a gently swinging hammock.

Me, I'm just looking forward to those straps! Lockdown will be sweet.

3. Enlisting Solid Help

This will be the fourth trip to Turkey for P and me, but this year we are bringing along some backup. Not only will my sister be joining us, but we're also taking HC out of school for the two weeks we'll be gone. She's great with the baby, but more importantly, she might learn a thing or two about Turkey!

Wish me luck and pass the Baby Benedryl.

Scheduling Is Not My Forte

Wanna know how my summer is going to go? I knew you did.

In less than a week I leave for Turkey for ten days. With a teething infant.

Less than a week after that, I'm throwing an all-out Sweet Sixteen for HC at our house.

A week after that, Felicity and I are flying to Dallas where I'm co-hosting a wedding shower.

Two weeks after that, the whole crew and I are flying to Austin for the wedding.

Two weeks after that I'm hosting a baby shower at my house where I won't know any of the guests except the pregnant honoree.

A week after that we're packing HC off for three weeks at a Shakespeare Conservatory in Oxford, England.

A week after that I'm hosting a fundraiser for P's foundation at my house.

Oh, also, in case I didn't mention in, half my house is being remodeled.

I need a drink.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Mom.

There are many things I did not inherit from you. My height, for example, totally came from Dad. As did my temper. And my vampire teeth. In certain ways I'm more like Dad than your other kids. That said, I had a disturbing revelation this afternoon on my first official Mother's Day.

(In previous years I enforced a Step-Mother's Day modification, but this year being F's first experience with the Mother's Day situation, I thought we should just stick with the traditional celebration. I'm rainchecking my Step-Mother's day for sometime in November when I'll really need it.)

First of all, it was an awesome day. P and I took the baby to church with us, where she was greatly admired. On the way out, a stranger called out me, "She wins the best baby award!" Nevermind that holding her was like holding a two cats that don't like each other (scratching included). At least she impresses the strangers. That's really what life's all about.

When we got home, HC had prepared my favorite breakfast of ALL TIME: toasted mini-bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers and diced red onion. P made mimosas the size of the Pacific Ocean and I drank the whole thing. And a half.

Then I even had presents!

They're totally stereotypically Mom presents and I couldn't be happier. HC wrangled F into making little hand- and foot-print decorative stones for my garden! They're so small I'll have to find someplace awesome to put them so they don't just get lost amid the foliage.

Luckily, they're covered in gold glitter glue, and every little bling helps.

The day continued with such lovelinesses, but I digress.

The point is, Mom, I concluded the afternoon by mowing the yard. When I was a teenager, I was SHOCKED and FLABBERGASTED and incredulous and generally alienated when you told me that you "sort of liked" mowing the lawn. Mowing the lawn was the worst.

And yet, this afternoon, with the (admittedly, loud) white noise of the push mower giving my imagination a smooth lake to swim in, and dusk slowly descending on the spring blooms and my blood flowing in satisfactory way...I related.

It was peaceful in its cacophony, creative in its destruction, restful in its exertion. I sort of enjoyed it, my Mother's Day mow.

Does this mean I'm going to start grinding my own wheat and gleaning leftover animals from various farms and streetcorners? Because when it comes to heredity, I'd like to draw the line somewhere.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Aint No Mountain High Enough

...too keep me from packin' for you, babe.

The baby and I are setting off on an epic adventure tomorrow evening. Before that can happen though, I must address the catastrophic laundry situation. On a normal day, the laundry piles are big. Often, quite big. Mostly because it's all the way down stairs and I'm both lazy and forgetful.

I never remember to switch the loads until I step out into the frigid bathroom post-shower and am suddenly faced with the reality of no clean towels.

It's even worse now that I've been avoiding the basement in all its torn-up, mold-farming glory for the sake of my sanity.

Today though, I'm up to the challenge. So far I've divided it up into several piles and I have one observation to make: You know you have a baby girl when you divide your laundry into darks, whites, delicates and pink.

That's right.

I have an entire load of just pink.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Moving On

So the basement flooded.

Big deal.

Who cares, even? HC probably cares because she has to actually make the "living room" live up to its name, but at the same time she's seizing the day and totally taking over A's room while it's going through this vulnerable stage so it all comes out in the wash.

Heh. Wash. You should see the dirt down there.

ANYWAY. The point of this blog is not for me to get rebogged-down in the drama that is my broken house, but instead for me to show you my lemonade.

Not real lemonade, mind you. My darling lemon tree is barely holding on through these winter months. Fake lemonade. For my fake feelings of serenity and acceptance.

The first one is this: I'm repainting in a big, bad way.

The hallway is going to be "iced mint". Yeah, that's right. The new guest room is purple and gold. And HC's room is (by her choosing) going to be light blue and grey. I'll be the first to admit that these color choices could be a mistake of epic proportions, but I'll also be the first to sass-back that I DON'T CARE. It's now or never. My love won't wait. (Kiss me my darling...)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dear Sanity,

Thanks for sticking it out one more day. Youdabest.

As a special thanks, I give you a little glimpse into one of the best scenes of my life from the past month. Happy girls with Legally Blond playing in the background. "Look how cute there's judge and everything! And jury-people!.


video

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tomato Soup

It's officially the first Friday in Lent. As such, I've been completely inspired to try out a kajillion new vegetarian recipes. I even got a little over-excited and started yesterday.

Last night I made stuffed poblanos and veggie paella. Both were tasty, but I'm not sure I'd make either again. I know I did something wrong with the paella because, although I have never eaten it before, I saw a chef get booted off Top Chef for having non-crispy-crunchy paella and mind was definitely soft.

Next assignment: order paella somewhere good so my mouth knows what it's talking about.

Tonight I made Tomato and Gin soup, Spanish Lentils with Mushrooms, and Lemon Garlic Pasta. The lentils were decidedly UNpopular, the pasta was unremarkable, but the Tomato Soup really hit the spot. Also, I think it's cool because it uses potato as a thickener. So without further ado, a recipe:

Amanda’s Tomato-Gin Soup
Adapted from Gourmet

1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped shallot
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 lb. tomatoes, halved
2 pounds russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/3 cup gin
3/4 tsp. grated nutmeg


Cook onion, garlic and shallots in butter in a 4-qt. pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add tomato, potato, tomato paste, bay leaves, broth, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Discard bay leaves. Or, if you're like me, forget completely they're in there. Puree soup with a hand blender until smooth. Don't mind those little green bits. It's just the bay leaf you were supposed to take out. It won't kill you.

Stir in cream, gin, nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. salt. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve soup hot, topped with chopped chives. Alternately, top with freshly whipped heavy cream or a dollop of crème fraiche.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear Forgiveness,

I have a question: Are you and "Forget" really such good friends? Because I rarely see you two together anymore. I mean, I get that "Forgive and Remember" doesn't have that "Bonnie and Clyde" ring to it, but you should really consider a change. For one thing, if something is worth your time, Forgiveness, it is probably worth Remembering too.

Sincerely.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Little Advice, or, The Way of the Polar Bear

I'm taking a break from my Letter Writing Challenge because this entry will write itself all on its own.

Monday morning (as if that weren't bad enough) I was roused from the semi-sleep that I float around in after F's 5am feeding by a severe knock on my bedroom door. P moaned and rolled over.

"Yes?" I called.

P rolled back over and started to flail around as if attempting to hurl himself toward the edge of our rather large bed. "I'll get her!" he slurred as he clawed his way out from under the covers. He assumed that HC had missed the bus, as usual.

P and I have an ongoing "discussion" about situations like this. My position is, if HC misses the bus, she better be prepared to meet the wrath of ME because getting to the bus is her JOB and jobs must BE DONE. P doesn't get a free pass if he doesn't turn in his column on time, I don't get a magic wand to take care of my business and she doesn't get to wake us up at that ungodly hour when we probably only got in bed four hours earlier just because she spent two extra minutes perfecting her mascara. Or whatever. P, on the other hand, is a softy and tries to shield HC from the fire-breathing dragon that I become on those mornings. Hence the half-conscious flailing and clawing.

However, the voice on the other side of the door broke in --

"I hate to wake you guys up so early...but...the house is flooded. Again."

Suddenly, P's flailing stopped. I muttered an expletive. Neither of us moved for a second.

"Is it bad?" I called out.

"It's pretty bad," she answered.

This time, P relaxed and nestled under the covers. "I'll just let you get this, if you don't mind," he whispered with his eyes closed.


Twelve hours, three dead mice and over 100 gallons of water later, our entire downstairs is being remodeled. For those of you who haven't seen my downstairs, it consists of HC's bedroom, a guest bedroom, A's old bedroom, a TV room, two bathrooms and a long hallway. It isn't pretty.

This all could have worked out a lot better if I had just gone and done the re-tiling down there already. You see, it has flooded every year for four years now, each time a different reason. Each time it messed up the floor a little more, and each time we would file with the insurance and resolve to replace the floor. The cork floor that we were so proud of (it's different! it's cool! it's eco-friendly! it's easy to install!) has proven a complete disaster. Even better than the way it looked though, is the fact that as I ripped it out with my bare hands, dripping with the frigid, unstoppable water that seeped in through the floor and the walls, I was charmed to discover the mold we've been propogating underneath it.

Last fall I almost committed to a new floor down there, but then my spendthrift kicked in and I thought, who cares if it looks a little beat up? It's not like we're trying to sell this house. We can live with it. Who wants to spend that kind of money for a cosmetic change anyway? Plus, it would have involved moving all the furniture and where would HC sleep?

Turns out, I was wrong.

By the time I went down to see what HC was talking about, the cork had absorbed so much water that what had once been a seamless floor was a series of haphazard cork boards strung around the room, not even attached to each other. They were floating around like little rafts. Trooper the cat was sitting on one board looking up at me pathetically, as if to say, "Please, don't make me go the way of the polar bear. I have no claws. I can't catch my own salmon."



Needless to say, I have my work cut out for me. When you give a mouse a cookie, she will want to go ahead and repaint while the furniture is cleared away, and why not throw in some new curtains as well. Oh, and let's just swap the kids' bedrooms while we're at it. No biggie.

A Little Advice: When it comes to homeownership, it's important to know the subtle difference between "cosmetic" and "necessary before the whole darn thing blows to pieces".

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dear Adele,

I've had your songs on repeat for week now. This is getting a little ridiculous.

It all started with that NPR concert that I watched while feeding my procrastination habit last Sunday about this time.

This blog entry may or may not be feeding the same habit.

Your retro sound, your look, your charming personality...it hurts me deep inside. Your beats are so good they even get to my little baby girl. There she is on her tummy, propped up on her hands as she contemplates the possibility of someday crawling, and when I pump your jams she bobs her head back and forth right one cue. It's killer. Seriously.

THE. CUTEST. THING. EVAR.

So far I've restrained myself and only purchased three of your songs on iTunes: Rumour Has It, He Won't Go and *sigh* Someone Like You.

Oh, Someone Like You.

It's not enough that you have incredible timing and expression. You must taunt me with an alto range that almost perfectly matches my own. If, you know, mine was about 800 times cooler sounding. At least when I'm rocking out my Queen of the Night I don't have to think to myself, "This could be you. NOT."

Sincerely.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dear George Eliot

Today's installment in my 30 Letters Challenge (not thirty letters in thirty days, mind you!) is addressed to someone who is deceased but with whom I wish I could communicate anyway.

In an autodidactic spasm a couple months ago I bought a recording of the unabridged Middlemarch for my Ipod. I knew little about George Eliot and nothing about the book -- except a vague sense that intelligent people respect both (and that dude looks like a lady).

Since I was a little girl I’ve always thought of my life as something small, like a very serious secret that, if let out, would scandalize no one but might just communicate Warmth or Calmth or Thought. Most people wouldn’t notice it at all. I still remember the look of incomprehension on HC’s face when I told her that as I child my main and ambition was to be anonymously influential. I had – and still have – ambitions that pull at me in the quiet hours, and while I never consciously assumed they are unique to me, it is startling to have each of them addressed in terms of familiarity as they were in Middlemarch by a woman whose personal life couldn’t have less in common with mine if she’d tried.

Maryann Evans (aka George Eliot) courted scandal by disavowing her Christian upbringing, living with a married man for 15 years, then, at the age of 61, married a man 20 years her junior at which point she promptly died. Known for being ugly, strong-willed and for often forming embarrassing, unrequited emotional attachments, Evans nevertheless wrote Middlemarch, which lays out more compellingly than anything else I’ve ever read, what it means to be a good wife.

Dear George Eliot,

I write to you tonight to express my admiration for your work. Reading Middlemarch didn’t change my life. It helped me to define it.

To articulate what I mean is a humbling task, since much of Middlemarch stands so perfectly on its own and adding my comments seems like costume jewelry on Venus de Milo: irrelevant, tacky and distracting. However, I must work with what I have, and what I have is my own experience.

In describing your hero Will’s emotional turmoil after he realizes that he ought to (for various complicated reasons involving class and propriety) leave the town Middlemarch and separate himself from his beloved Dorothea, you hit upon something that struck me to the core: “But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope”.

When I heard this particular line for the first time, I had to turn off the recording and brood for a minute or two before moving on. I have witnessed that type of despair (although, thank God, not experienced it myself). To hear one sentence encapsulate such destruction is stunning at first. Then, after a day or to, its truth is inescapable.

Someone very close to me has been spent an agonizing few years under the influence of this type of despair. Every day he hopes that his daughters (estranged because of a very nasty divorce) will show love and affection for him again. Every day, he expects that this time they will follow through with their promises. They never do. His hope never dies, and yet every day it is starved just a little more. The destruction this type of despair, the eagerness of unfed hope, eats him alive.

There are other types of despair, of course, for instance the kind that leads to suicide. But at least suicidal despair leads has some release. It reaches a point where living is no longer necessary – in other words, where hope is no longer a consideration.

You continue in a later passage to describe how Dorothea (Will’s hope, who is both married and above him in class rank) feels while trapped, married to an unloving, if not malicious husband. You write, “Marriage is so unlike anything else. There is something even awful in the nearness it brings”. Here I am, happy in a very loving marriage, and yet I find this observation so moving.

You weren’t married when you wrote this – how would you know?

I don’t see anything awful in the nearness of P– so how would I know?

I feel that the word “awful” here doesn’t have to mean something “bad” necessarily, but perhaps something frightening. The vulnerability of spousal relationships is terrifying, especially so to one who does not find comfort and reassurance in her counterpart. I value P and our marriage so highly that I can experience through my imagination what it would be like to have a marriage and husband that made me question myself. The thought is, as your observer, truly awful.

But, while individual lines of your work remain in my mind, it is not the individual lines that I found the most powerful; it was the characters themselves. With devastating delicacy, you exploit their flaws and explore their gifts in a way that seems both realistic and instructive. You write that,”We do not expect people to be deeply moved by what is not unusual,” and yet the stupidity of Rosamond, the arrogance of Dr. Lydgate, the impracticality of Mr. Garth and the hypocrisy of Mr. Bulstrode are all of a very “usual” sort. What is unusual about them is your treatment of them.

In my life, I find that the most cruel and indelicate moments arise between two friends discussing a third. Among women especially, it is easy to fall into patterns of complaining and high-horse-iveness, especially when discussing husbands. How comfortable it is to rag on and on about his various flaws! In fact, it’s so easy that sometimes he doesn’t even need to have any flaws. Invention is the pet of boredom. Ego and self-delusion are major players in mundane activity and they’re just as dangerous now as they were when Middlemarch was new.

A good wife would never behave in such a way. A good friend would never behave in such a way. I aim to be both. My job is to love my friends and family for the good in them, lead by example and never avoid a chance to make a situation right. Above all, my job as a is to practice humility. Humility is not the same thing as deference, or even the same thing as flexibility. Deference implies timidity, and the arrogant are often flexible. Humility as I understand it is, among other things, the constant cultivation of a good intention toward people. It is the practice of allowing that I may be wrong, and that someone else may be right. It is the examination of my own intentions: Am I resisting what P suggested for a good reason, or simply because I don’t want to exert the effort of thinking about it? It is the keeping in mind that P means well for me and that anything I can do in service to him or my family is part of my calling as a wife and mother. It is the setting aside of egotism and thinking of others.

Being a good wife isn’t about getting your husband’s constant admiration or surprise vacations (although for many lucky women, these are some of the perks!). It’s about setting one’s self aside and thinking him (or your children) first. I have taken a vow not just to have, but to hold. Not just to be faithful to, but to cherish, my husband. For better or for annoying. For richer or for budgeting.

As long as we both shall live.

There isn’t much wiggle room in those words, but it was my decision to enter this union and I gave my word. So let’s make the best of it. (Which, in my case, is pretty darn good.)

Besides, as you write,”What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult to each other”?

Sincerely.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dear Joe,

*this an installment in my 30 Letter Challenge. You'll note that the Challenge has changed from the "30 Day Letter Writing Challeng" to the "30 Letter Challenge". This reflects a recent crisis of accuracy on my part, when I realized that I started this challenge...oh...six months ago or so. Whatever. In this episode, I'm supposed to write to someone I don't talk to as frequently as I wish I could.

Dear Joe,

I love your tattoos. They're super cool. If you were a girl, you would be that girl on that TV show about tattoos. I can't for the life of me remember what her name is and I'm too lazy to google it. Oh. Kat Von Dee. You'd be her.

However, you are not a girl and you're not on TV and you're supposed to be my handyman. Last summer when Dan Dan the Handyman rode off into the sunset, you valiantly stepped in to take his place.

That is, until early December.

The stacks of two by fours is still there on my stairs and my windowsill, Joe. Every time I pass them they call out for you. "Where's Joe?" they cry, in tones of the abandoned, "has he gone for good? Why doesn't he return our calls? Does he even love us anymore?"

Everything started off so well. I know it's hard to maintain the great momentum we had going there for a while, what with the mending the holes in the wall and replacing the rotten trim. But even after you'd been gone for a month I had faith in you. I knew that stack of materials had implications about your intent to return. When others scoffed at the petering-out of your progress I smiled and thought, it's ok. I'm a good, flexible and generous employer. He'll be back.

That was quite a while ago, Joe. Since then you've ignored about eighteen of my phonecalls and haven't even had the decency to send birthday cards to the two-by-fours. They miss you, Joe.

We all miss you.

Especially since I can't find anyone to take up where you left off. Your project in "heading in an unclear direction" and we can't figure out where you were planning on attaching the lights to...you know...ELECTRICITY. It's a problem.

Please Joe, find it in your heart to come back to us. We'll hold no grudges. As long as the work gets done.

Come back. For the sake of the two by fours.

Sincerely.




Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dear Someone I'd Like You to Meet,

Dear F.,

You're the cutest baby EVER MADE. I want everyone in the world to meet you. I know in my heart of hearts that you are cute enough to bring peace to the Middle East and stop the landfills.

Luckily for me, and unluckily for the rest of the world, you are currently asleep. Those pretty blue eyes are closed and your tiny fists are wrapped tightly around a soft blanket Deedee knit for me in college. Now it's all yours.

Sleep tight, baby girl.

Sincerely.


*Now, in lieu of allowing F to gladhand the universe and thus solve the world's problems, I offer this incredible video evidence of adorableness. You're welcome.


This morning, waking up:

video

This afternoon, going down for a nap:

video

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear Favorite Internet Friend,

Do people have favorite internet friends? Can an internet friend be a friend in real life? Can a real friend have the internet? Does my baby think she's related to my dog?

Let's try again.

Dear Tiger Mother,

I just read your article a few days ago, and I want you to know that I'm of two minds: on the one hand, you're a hamper full of crazy. On the other hand, I'm truly inspired.

Let me explain.

Despite the fact that the Wall Street Journal let the Tiger out of the bag several weeks ago, your bared teeth only penetrated my well-insulated consciousness last Friday. I don't even remember who brought you to my attention, but it could have just been your headline. I mean, "Why Chinese Mother Are Superior" is startling for many reasons, not least of which was my hope that you making some kind of nun pun (Mother Superior? Anyone?). You weren't. Darn.

After reading this excerpt from your memoirs, I'm left with conflicting feelings. I mean, what kind of mother uses the threat of a stuffed animal holocaust as a motivational tool? On the other hand, "teh interwebs" are full of outraged western parents expounding the evils of rude mothering and I'm not going to throw my unsolicited opinion out into that arena.

What I am going to do, is make a couple tardy New Years Resolutions:

1. I won't let HC quit voice lessons. No, I'm not going to make her sing her throat out without bathroom or dinner breaks (like you seem to advocate) but I refuse to let singing float out of HC's life like the laundry list of other extra-curriculars that have been lost to a sea of apathy. Things are getting hard in voice. So let them! Perseverance will be our rallying cry! HC, are you with me? ARE YOU WITH ME?!

2. I will not be afraid of organized activities. Exercise classes every morning? Sure! Storytime and Kindermusik once a week? Absolutely. Adult beginners gymnastics? Count me in. Making friends and falling under their influence? Give me time. I'm a work in progress.

The time has come (the walrus said...) to have expectations - for myself and for my charges. I will read difficult books. I will expect good grades. I will demand ...

wait...

what was I talking about?

Sincerely.