Friday, February 29, 2008

Pretty Funny Stuff

Emma said this morning, while brushing her teeth:
"Whew! I need to clean out my head today!"

I said: What do you mean by that?

She replied:
"You know, sometimes, my imaginary friends, well....I imagine there are little friends that live inside my head. Today, I'm going to pretend they're running around with brooms and dustpans and cleaning it all out."

You know what? I'd like to have some imaginary friends clean out my head too. It's awfully crowded in there.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


There are some days that it feels so good to slip into my jammies.
On top of the endless running around (silly me! I scheduled a sleepover AND knitting night on the same Friday!), Emma had ballet today. Since she was the only one that showed up for class, we had a stretch class, so I got down there on the floor with her and her teacher. Her teacher is always impressed by my flexibility, though it's not from practice or anything, I just have a double-jointed hip.
But anyway, I'm a little sore 'cause I had to show off a little bit. And I just finished my grocery trip at the SuperCenter (it's been two weeks, so major purchasing had to occur). So my back hurts.
And I pried off my sneakers and peeled off the layers of my day and stepped into my flannel jammies for what will probably be the last time until next winter.
Ah.'s hoping I can sleep!

DAILY BLISS: white chocolate with coconut in it (!) - but I promise I only ate two ounces, Mom - and cleaning out my knitting basket

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


We had a nice line of storms move through last night. You all know how stormy weather calls me out to meet it on my porch by now.
The porch lights were off and dinner dishes were being taken care of (thanks, Dear Husband); I walked past my front door and saw the shadows of palm trees moving around wildly.
So I went out to join it.
Standing in the dark, I could feel the atmospheric tension. The air was still and dense one minute and windy and chilly the next. I decided it was angsty weather.
That works for me, as I've been living in a similar state.
Don't get me wrong - I actually like feeling this way.
It's easy to get a little caught up in the debates that rage in the minds of most women. For some of us, it's a quiet sense of discontent and for the rest of us, it's a loud argument that distracts from the tasks of the day and leaves you scattered and fumbling through the day.
Is it true that a girl should take care of herself first, then her family, so that she has more of herself to give? Should she instead sacrifice her own needs, albeit temporarily (they'll be grown before you know it after all), for the sake of her family? And what exactly are those "needs" that should be sacrificed? Hobbies? Time to invest in friendships? And wouldn't her kids be just fine in a public school so that she could afford to stay at home and add some square footage on to her house so she can stop trying to squeeze a three-bedroom-two-bathroom-and-a-garage lifestyle into a two-bedroom-one-bathroom-and-a-carport life?
Okay...maybe that one's in my own head.
Not that my answer to that ever changes, but still, the question is there.
You can get lost in that sea of self-doubt and desire for the kinds of change that only come at a high price.
Then something like raindrops always slaps you in the face and you wake up to the realization: "Hello-o-o! It's storming out here! Get back inside!"

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Cost of Fun

Well, we did all that fun stuff this weekend that I said we would. Emma had artwork on display downtown in a Family Fun Festival. She was very proud to be a featured student artist. We had lots of family come out for the occasion and I fell in love with an SPCA pup, introduced him to my mom, and she ended up taking him home. Those stories are pretty well covered on her blog.
We went to a grown-ups-only birthday party for a friend, which was quite a treat, and we watched movies each night.
Honestly, I think it's the movies that got me (neither of which I would necessarily recommend). Movies have to start late in our house. It's a small house, and there are lots of things in movies that children can easily overhear and I don't really want them to. So, two nights of late movies, plus as much Oscar coverage as we could stand (we didn't watch the whole thing, but it was still pretty late for me).
And that did me in. I am bleary-eyed today. I shuffled through the grocery store with my kids, since I had too much fun this weekend to fit in the necessaries. I made some dinner on the stove that is still stinkin' up the house. I don't have a vent hood or whatever that's called that I can't remember right now. Dinner always smells a lot better when you're hungry than it does when it lingers on in the air.
None of this is particularly interesting, but there is this great, bloggish pressure. I haven't posted anything since Friday. Surely I have something to say. I feel like I should. But I don't. There it is in all its glory - the sad truth that my to-do list, for the moment, has completely taken over my thought processes.
In the meantime, I've been trying to do a little housekeeping here. I am a self-proclaimed analog girl, so tweaking a blog layout is seriously deep thinking for me. I don't think I'm quite done....but, do you guys like it? Does it display right on your end of things?
Hope I have more to say before next weekend! Ha!

DAILY BLISS: a completely indulgent magazine to read and homemade salsa

Friday, February 22, 2008


Boy am I ready for the weekend! Not that it will be entirely relaxing, but we have lots of fun stuff to do - so it'll be busy in a good way.
This afternoon, Emma and I laid around on the porch and wrote a story. I'd been promising her that we would.
She saw the initials W.C. somewhere and decided they stood for William Cockatiel. I decided that he sounded like a jaunty sort of fellow who might wear a fedora. It kind of went on from there and I told her we'd catch it all on paper soon. This seemed like the perfect day to do so, what with the wind blowing and the warm sun shining.
So, the story starts out:

"W.C. That stands for William Cockatiel," is what he says when he is introduced to someone new. William is a fancy sort of bird who prefers to use his initials instead of his name. He also is in the habit of wearing a fedora.
He owns a tiny trench coat, but his wings don't fit nicely into the sleeves, so he never wears it. It hangs permanently from the end of the highest perch in his cage.

The story continues as W.C. is taken with the notion of hosting a party for all of his neighborhood bird friends. The whippoorwill was Emma's favorite guest to create. She learned about them in school this week. We decided he was the life of the party, regaling the guests with wild, loud tales of his most recent seasonal migration.
Anyway, I was thinking of trying this one out on Blurb, you know, just for funsies, so we could have a real book of the story we wrote. It's probably more trouble than it's worth. But if I do it, you can order a copy too, Mom (if I understand it correctly....). I'll let you know if it ever happens! Because, let's be honest here, it probably won't.

DAILY BLISS: Tax return, baby!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Emma: Dad, do you know what the man in the moon is eating?
Chris: Cheese?
Emma: Nope. Strawberry shortcake. And the strawberries are all floating into outer space.
Chris: How do you know that?
Emma: I just know about things like that.

We really enjoyed the eclipse this evening. We pulled out the ol' telescope and the pajama-clad kids put on their shoes and we enjoyed the excitement of being outside in the dark, way past bedtime. We spotted Orion, our winter friend, and the kids used the swings (it's fantastic how much louder that squeaky swing seems after dark), and we all seemed to have so much to say.
I love using our telescope. It's one of those things that forces you to slow down. You don't just set it to a channel and leave it there like a TV. You have to turn knobs and adjust lenses and work constantly to keep the view you want (you know, because it's all moving around and so are we). It's a lot of work to put it all together, so taking our time with it sort of honors the process, I guess.
The eclipse itself was gorgeous. I know it's just an illusion, but I am always amazed at how the murky shadow seems to squeeze all of the moon's brighteness into a tiny, concentrated, brilliant sliver.
We ended up having to send the younger ones off to bed a little before the total eclipse, but we only managed it by promising to fetch them when "it" happened, if they were still awake. Which pretty much guaranteed that Drew would be awake.

Me (amazed): Honey, I'm sitting on the swings, bathed in moonlight. Well, maybe it's just the light from the alley streetlight.
Chris (patronizingly) No, honey. That's the moonlight.
Me: Thank you.

And Drew was awake when we checked. He came tumbling out the back door, and put his shoes back on all in one motion and enjoyed watching the remaining light disappear. Just at the end, though, a bank of clouds drifted past and we had to catch the last bits through the gauze-y windows that graciously opened in the middle of the bank.
It seemed that I had more to talk about today - several days are all bunched up in my brain - but I think this is enough. A lovely evening, just cool enough for a cardigan over my jammies, spent in the dark backyard with my kids, swinging on the swingset and singing "Stardust" to the neighborhood. But not loudly enough to garner any complaints. It just seemed like it was the right thing to do.

DAILY BLISS: coconut rice and new grapefruit/rosemary soap

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Some Passing Afternoon

I wish I could bottle up this afternoon and send a little bit of it to each of you. This is the best time of year to be living where I do. Most of the rest of the year, I pine to be living somewhere else, but from January through March, I am absolutely content right where I am.
The sky is a deep shade of blue, the kind that other people get in the fall. Only, instead of being 50 or 60 degrees outside, it's 75 and there is the lightest kiss of breeze. Nothing to really ruffle your bangs up, though. It's just enough breeze to make windchimes quiver and to make your skin feel cool. The sunlight is all gold and sweet.
All of my windows are open this afternoon and I have been painting (an endless task, I am beginning to believe) my porch - the last coat on the porch floor. There will be details to finish in the coming weeks, but the biggest part of the job is now done.
I have some folk music (Iron & Wine) in my ears and green paint from my fingernails to my shoulders.
These are all good things by themselves, and each in their own right is enough to lift the spirits of a girl like me. But combined? They have made for an afternoon of bliss. And I wish I could share it. But it isn't really something you can catch and pass on.
From my favorite Iron and Wine song, Passing Afternoon,
"There are times that walk from you like some passing afternoon..."

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Whizard

On my way home today, I saw an empty wheelchair sitting at a busy intersection (just past Harden and Ariana for you Lakelanders). It had a green cushion sitting in it, and it brought to mind the video I'd seen of the deputy that dumped a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair over in Tampa, probably because the man in the wheelchair was wearing a green shirt. Since the chair was empty, and since my brain had quickly made that association, I presumed that this must be some kind of a protest. So I looked around for the protesters.
Then I saw a guy standing just off the side of the road. I started looking for protest signs or another indication of what must be going on.
Bear in mind that this all happened in a matter of three seconds.
Then it hit me. This man's back is facing the road.
And it became clear to me that this was just a homeless man taking a piss at a busy intersection during rush hour. Aha.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Redeeming the Day

I did manage to pull it together today and get my holiday on. We made heart-shaped pizzas (infinitely eaiser than homemade meatballs and marinara):

And we decorated some of those sugar cookies that you just plunk on the cookie sheet:

This has assuaged my guilt to a certain degree. I will now remain guilt-free until the Hour of Panic on the next holiday. St. Patrick's Day, anyone?

My wonderful hubby got me another apothecary jar (I am collecting these....I just love that they are pretty and they hold stuff - currently yarn and needles - but because they're clear, they add interest without adding much clutter). It's a giant apothecary jar!
And I have consumed more cheap chocolate today than the entire year preceding this day. I am now quite sick and will not do that again anytime soon. However, there were a couple pieces of Godiva chocolate tossed in there. I'm quite sure that they had nothing to do with my tummyache. Godiva chocolates are too friendly to make anybody sick.

DAILY BLISS: my new, $7 skirt that I found while trying to acquire a shoe box (with a pair of shoes in it, of course) for the school Valentine party - it has a brown twiggy print on it and a bow on the side of the waist. Gasp! I may not have worn festive red....but I had a waist bow today.

Holiday Schmoliday and a Heaping Helping of Guilt

First, let me say that Valentine's Day has never been a huge deal to me. I can think of two years that stand out.
1) In school, I finally had a boyfriend at Valentine's Day. Girls always got ridiculously large balloons and goofy stuff from their high school sweeties, and I finally got my turn. I got a big bunny rabbit with floppy ears who had a little pouch on his arm. My boyfriend told me the bunny had carrots in his pouch. When I looked....well, they were karats. A sweet, gold bracelet. To this day, when I see a gold bracelet, I think "Carrots! Karats! Ha!" and laugh a little bit. People look at me funny, but they don't know what a clever bit of wordplay I'm remembering.
2) When Chris and I were engaged (hm...maybe we weren't engaged yet...but we were close - it all kind of blends together after this long), I planned an elaborate beach breakfast picnic. We woke up early and drove to the East coast. It was beautiful, and those little heart-shaped Runts that I packed to scatter on the picnic blanket are still my favorite Valentine's Day candy because they remind me of that day.
Other than that, it's a good time to find some novelty chocolate and that's about all. But once I had kids, I started getting a little more into it. We've developed traditions, as we have with all other holidays and celebrations, and we've had lots of fun with it.
But as a working mom, I've had to learn to let go of a lot of things. To many women, this is no big deal. But to me (there will be a few of you out there who really *get* what I'm saying here), being a good mom and homemaker is a calling - it's my purpose. So, letting go of mom-things, or at least the things that I like to do as a mom, is pretty tough for me. Holidays are certainly not as elaborate as they have been in my house. By elaborate, I don't mean expensive either. Typically for, say, Valentines Day, I will stay up really late setting up a table with themed paper plates and a little heart-shaped box of chocolates for the kids. I'll cut the butter into my biscuit dough and stick it in the fridge so that all I have to do is add the milk, roll and cut it into heart shapes. We'll have a lovely breakfast of heart-shaped biscuits and strawberry milk.
Not so much now.
It hadn't really hit me that I'm not doing much of this kind of stuff anymore until this morning. Andrew woke up and gave us hugs in the kitchen, then stole a furtive glance at the table. He didn't say anything, but I saw a flash of disappointment on his face when all that he found was last night's homework and some junk mail. And then I felt sick to my stomach. All morning. We signed their cards while we were getting dressed and managed to unceremoniously present the kids with a little chocolate and a card, but I know it isn't the same. Somehow, I didn't think it'd matter. And it didn't until that moment. Maybe not as much for Emma, because she doesn't have as many holidays under her belt as Drew, but it mattered.
That's the point at which I started to torture myself. Would it have been so hard to plan ahead? Couldn't I have remembered strawberry milk at some point before this morning and dropped by the grocery store?
Then Chris asked me what was for dinner. Yeah - we don't typically do Valentine's Day dinner out together. Unromantic? Maybe...but we like our kids and don't necessarily have to go out and wait two hours for a table, while paying a babysitter to stay with our two other favorite people in the world in order to know that we love each other. But he asked me what was for dinner, and I remembered that I usually make spaghetti (with homemade sauce) and heart-shaped meatballs for Valentine's Day dinner. And probably some decorated cookies or cupcakes. Why didn't I really remember that before this morning? Because I let go of my need to be Suzie Homemaker and Working Wonder Mom at the same time.
I don't let go of things easily. I recently had coffee with an old friend and finally let go of the fact that, six years ago, I told him we'd go out for dinner. Not that that was the sole reason for going out (at all!), but I finally felt like I'd fulfilled my promise. I'm pretty ridiculous about stuff like that.
It seems that I haven't had any trouble letting go of the tasks, but the guilt? It's a little harder to do. Maybe I haven't let go of my need to be all things to all people. Maybe I managed to temporarily put it out of my mind....sort of like the strawberry milk. Maybe it's one of those things that can lay there for a long time and then pounce on you when you are most defenseless.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I've been waiting for a Monday so that I could look in a certain home store for a certain clock. A key-wound, coil-gong clock, to be exact. I finally got there today and they didn't have one.
I took the kids to Wal Mart to buy valentines for their classes and teachers today in the 30 minutes of spare time between chess club and dinner with my parents. I also needed a pair of size 2 double-pointed knitting needles. They didn't have the needles or teacher gifts we needed. An extra stop would now be necessary.
I went to Tuesday Morning to get valentines for teachers after supper. Apparently, they close at 7:00. I got there at 7:15.
I went to the shoe store to buy myself two pairs of shoes, you know, so each kid has a shoebox to decorate for valentines at school (I'm such a martyr). There weren't any on sale (the only way I'm getting two pairs of shoes is to find them on sale) except for some cute black shoes with high heels. But I own about six pairs of cute black shoes with high heels. Sigh. We'll have to try Target.
I decided to grab a movie for tonight. We haven't had a movie night since well before Christmas. Blockbuster didn't have what I was looking for.
I ran around all afternoon and got absolutely nothing done.
I'm going to go to bed now. Unless I can't sleep. That would seem to be the logical conclusion to my day.

DAILY BLISS: leftover white bean chicken chili and leftover party flowers on my table

Saturday, February 9, 2008


I hosted the annual celebration of my mom and Mindy's birthdays tonight. I needed a party! I spent the day baking and creating and decorating, and I'm wiped out. But it's what I love to do, so it's a good feeling.
I made a German chocolate cake for my mamacita - it's her favorite. And Emma and I created an eggless chocolate cake that I could eat. She has been bugging me for months about a jelly-filled cake recipe that was in her head, so I let her have the chance to shine in the kitchen. She took to it quite nicely and spread that red raspberry jam in the middle of the cake with my offset spatula like a pro! Everyone complimented her on her cake and she took it all in stride, lifting her hands up and making a face that said, "well, what did you expect?"

And here's me with my first piece of cake in, like, more than a year. I'm very excited, even if the cake is positioned just so that I bear a frightening resemblance to Charlie Chaplin. So much for dignity. But the cake was worth the sacrifice of dignity. Yes. It. Was.

I also have found some great new music. Now, I'm by no means a music expert. There is no accounting for taste with me, as I'm a big fan of Herb Alpert, but I like it finding new stuff to listen to, and I presume you probably do too. So, here's what I found. Do with it what you will.
Ingrid Michaelson - she had a song on an Old Navy commercial this Christmas (if you are chilly, here take my sweater) and I caught myself singing "I-i-i- lo-o-ove the way you call me baby" and decided I'd better find that song. It's super-cute and quirky.
Ray LaMontagne (Till the Sun Turns Black)- Oh. Weak-in-the-knees good. Thank you to my super-cool sister-in-law for telling me about him. Really, all the cool music I find comes to me through no fault of my own, as I lost all my cool points in junior high school. But this album threatens to dunk me into the pool of melancholy I've been circling around for a few weeks. And not in a bad way - I like to indulge my melancholy side now and again. I just have to decide whether I have time to really sink in and enjoy it before I listen to this album too much more.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Moan and Groan

Well, I mostly got the second coat of paint on the porch today. I ran out of paint. But I'm really sore! I feel like such an old lady!
Maybe it's just that I have been speed-painting, rushing and bending and rolling and swiping. That makes it sound a lot more pain-inducing, I think.
I fell asleep at eight this evening. That pretty much never happens. I tend more toward the insomniac side of life. So....I've sent off a few of those dang Christmas cards, I'm covered from knee to ankle in green porch paint, and I'm slipping into my wonderful, welcoming bed now.
Good night.

DAILY BLISS: Cooking with Emma. We made her "seasoned meat" recipe tonight, which she's been talking about for weeks. It isn't exactly a recipe - it's more like, open the cupboard and dump stuff into a bowl. And you know what? It turned out pretty tasty. She may be onto something.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Finished Object

Well, it's not earth-shaking or anything, but I finished something. It's a little lacy cap I've been knitting for Emma's ballet teacher during breaks I've taken from the cardigan for my mom. I have so many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) laying around the house, knitting and otherwise, that it really felt good to dig in and finish something up. Nevermind the blocking, which I'm sure would have made the hat spectacular, she has ballet tomorrow, there's cooler weather coming this weekend, and I'm gifting that sucker without the blocking. Emma kindly agreed to model for us:

Pretty crappy pictures. Again, I apologize. It's late, it's the last minute and it's dark. Oh well. It'll look really bad on my Ravelry page, but I'll just have to deal.
While we're at it with the cute kid photos, here's Emma with her new little OLPC. Thanks Technology Czar!:

Also, I gave my porch floor a first coat today. That's been a long time comin'. I started painting my porch quite some time ago, and joked about the fact that it would take forever. It has.
But, now that I think about it, that all makes for a pretty industrious afternoon when you put it all together. Hm.

DAILY BLISS: winter sunshine through the porch rail

Monday, February 4, 2008

Now It's Personal

So, Darla (who runs a GED program that meets at the church where I work) walked into my office today and laughed at me because I was working on my Christmas cards.
Yup. Christmas cards.
I understand that this is pretty funny,'s personal. I have been fighting with these cards for three months now, and with the idea of actually sending Christmas cards for several years. Every year, I say I'm going to do it and I have never gotten to it.
Not this year, I promised myself.
This would be the year I finally sent them.
I had a plan for just how cute they'd be. I was going to do the little photo cards that everybody sends, and my children would be wearing hand-knit stocking caps (in Christmas colors, of course) for their close-ups. Do you remember how furiously I was knitting around Thanksgiving time? It was so that I could finish those hats before we went to the mountains for Thanksmas. Because I was sure that the magic photo would happen in an idyllic woodland setting, with jackets and stocking caps. Birds might even land on my children's shoulders and a deer would meander by just in time for me to capture it for posterity. Oh yes. These were going to be beautiful Christmas cards.
Except they weren't. The mountains weren't cold this year. And my children - they are old hands at the photo shoot deal - acted like novices. Screwing up their faces and not offering me the sincere, pensive poses that I have coaxed out of them in the past. Scratching at their wool caps and sweating like it was August. I took 253 shots of them in their stocking caps in the mountains. Over the course of two days.
Because this year was going to be the year that I finally sent Christmas cards.
And did I get that money shot? No indeed. Usually I can get that one perfect shot amid 25 to 35 other shots.
Maybe they will be funny cards, I told myself.
But I couldn't bring myself to look at them to pick one. None of them were flattering. None of them told the story of our year with one glance. None of them fulfilled my hopes and dreams for Our First Christmas Cards.
Then the holidays happened to me. You guys were there. You remember. It was pretty bad. It was accidentally-sneezing-a-loogie-into-your-coffee bad. It was getting-caught-plucking-a-chin-hair bad.
The Christmas cards did not get ordered.
But I didn't forget.
About two weeks ago, I finally managed to cobble together a pretty cute card. I ordered my cards with a funny little message. Better late than never, they said. Two weeks after Christmas? Not too shabby for a first go. I got them home and got out my address book. Then I noticed that they didn't have envelopes with them. Don't these things, which come in weird shapes and sizes, come with envelopes? I was indignant. I was going to march straight into WalMart and ask for my envelopes. That is, when I had time to get there. I had picked up the photos during my weekly stop and I just didn't get there until my next weekly stop. Actually, it was a little longer than that. Oh well.
But the lady behind the photo counter told me that they don't, in fact, come with envelopes. Even the photo center can't order envelopes for these cards that the foist upon unwitting, half-crazy women who are battling it out with the forces of the universe in order to send a joyous, heartfelt and uncannily witty post-holiday greeting.
Try the office supplies aisle, she suggested helpfully.
No dice.
Several days later, I had to send my husband on one of those grocery store runs for the five items you neglected to pick up when you were there. Sometimes, husbands are pretty sure that you do this on purpose, hoping they will accidentally knock a bouquet of flowers into their cart for you. They would not be completely off-base in that assumption. I'm just saying, it'd be nice once in a while.
Anyhoo, the grocery store is right next to the office supply store, which seemed convenient enough.
And here we are, it is the last weekend of January, and my dear husband called me from the office supply store and told me I'd have to pay for a box of 100 envelopes, even though I ordered a bare-minimum 25 cards. Oh well. That pretty much doubled the price of the cards.
At this point, it's personal. These Christmas cards are something that I will conquer. They will go forth into the United States Postal System and do my bidding. They will bend to my will (insert maniacal laughter).
And that brings us to today. I sat at my desk today, working on addressing my Christmas cards. I hope I will have them sent out by Valentines Day. That should put my Valentines out to about Easter.

DAILY BLISS: watching an alligator glide across the middle of a lake - slow and silent

I only got two takers on the pay-it-forward game, and I presume it's because most of you don't have blogs or are already playing, so here's the deal. I promised to send out three handmade gifts. The first person to post a comment asking for a handmade goodie from me gets it. The catch? You can't already be playing the game.