Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Big Kids. And The Little.

Well, Calvin passed Kindergarten.

Go ahead, breathe your collective sigh of relief.

It was nip and tuck.


Yes, I still throw out "not" like it's my job in life.


I mean, yes, I really do.

I had no plan to take his picture on his last day of school, but as we were dashing out to the van, I noticed that he had hiked his socks up, and I had no choice.

I played it very cool.

I always do.


Earlier in the week, he had his end-of-year program.

Homeboy came down with a fierce case of stage fright.

He didn't change positions the entire show.

He did a few hand motions, but mostly, he stuck to his odd nervous finger contortions.

I like to think of it as his personal version of the Mary Catherine Gallagher.

I had serious concerns that he may not make it up to the mic for his speaking part.

His big debut.

He did a great job, though his fingers stayed in their position of preference.

Following the program, one person asked me if he was sick "I thought he was going to throw up!", one person asked "Why was Calvin so mad?" and one person said, "Looks like we had a case of stage fright."

The moment he descended the stage, he was A-OK.
The after-party was a smash success.

Here's our conversation on the way home:
Me: You looked really nervous up there!
C: I know! I thought it was going to be easy peasy lemon squeazy, but it wasn't.
Me: I was afraid you might not say your lines.
C: Well, when it was time to go up, I took a deep breath and I said to myself, 'OK body, let's do this.' So we did.
Me: You've got some mad coping skillz.

Ruby's officially done with her first year of pre-school, too.

She rocked her bananas.

Man, I love my twirly girl.

I'm feeling a bit wistful for the both of them, because they're in Ohio for No Parents Allowed week.

That leaves me here with this dude.
He's been such a good boy, though he's 0-2 on naps for the past 2 days.

Tonight, we did what any parents would do when they are left with just their littlest.

We took him out for Mexican food then to visit our homeless friends.

They have kittens.

Tomorrow we have big plans to visit with one of our favorite people on the planet and eat mass quantities of watermelon.

What's on your agenda?

Monday, May 30, 2011

How Anthro Clearance Scratched My Itch, Part II



If you had told me the day would come that I would pine for yellow, I might very well have slapped you.

Or at least pinched you kind of hard.

I have never been a yellow person.

Well, that's not true.

I suffered from a mad case of jaundice as an infant.

The truth is, I'm still not what I would call a yellow girl.

I'm bluesier.

But, something is waking up inside me.

I don't think it's boredom.

It might be a little of The Grass is Always Yellower.

But mostly, it's my soul crying out for new life and the sunshine that brings it.

Ok fine. It's boredom.

But cut me some slack.
I paid my dues to blue and white. They'll always be my homies.

The time has come to play the field a bit.

I don't even know myself anymore.

Please send Mini Heath bars and a case of gray t-shirts.

PS - My napkin curtains were featured over at Nester's new blog, Window Mistreatments. Check it here!

PSS - Yellow knobs snapped up on a lark for $1.95 a piece, several years ago.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Time for Believing

Right now, on this day, there's nothing that matters except for the two things treading light across in my heart: What would my life look like if I really, really understood the depth of His love for me? What would it look like if I understood the depth of his love for you?

I'll hunker down with food and family and extra shots of fun for the next couple of days, but I'm hoping hard that the floating freedom of a holiday weekend gives me the space to see something new and the clarity to believe it.

Happy long weekend, Friends.

We are loved, every one.

Friday, May 27, 2011

In My Bag(s)

I am obsessed with those magazine features where you get to spy on what a celebrity has inside her suitcase/purse/fridge.

It always cracks me up to think of Star Jones barking at her assistant to hurry up and scrub the Sub-Zero fridge because Rachael's coming over!

And all of the lined up bottles of fancy water! I mean really.

Also, who really needs a $380 crocodile skin journal?

I'm mixing my features now, but I think you catch my drift.

It's fascinating, being a spy.

Provides such an opportunity for smug nosiness.

I'm no Star Jones and I've got rotten raspberries in my fridge right now, so I know it's not the same.

But here's what's inside my bag:

(Starting at high noon and working clockwise.)

-Revlon skinlights Holiday Glow...To Go "Starry Lights" palette
The entire skinlights line, which I adore, is now defunct. It's a violent pattern in my life, this
brute discontinuation of drugstore brands I love(d). The big draw on this little gem is the lip
gloss. It's kinda sticky, but it somehow makes me look like I have lips. And you just can't put a
price on that. Except the guy selling it on Ebay did. And I bought it, baby.

- Lone tampon
Sorry, but you asked. You didn't ask??
Back when I worked at Meijer, we had to wear read button-front smocks. One day, the store manager (aka local celebrity) sidled over to my friend and I and asked her if she had a pen he could use. She promptly reached into her smock pocket and handed him a tampon before even realizing what had happened. Oh yes, she did.

-Little snap-close spiral bound journal

I bought this a couple of years ago for Calvin when he was deep in the throes of his Executive
Phase. I decided to keep it for myself. I write grocery lists and ideas for my book in it.

- Blue felt-tipped pens

If it were up to me, I would only write with these. And it is. And I do.

- Neutrogena clawhand cream

The only thing that works.

-Glad coupon, this week's grocery list and the program from my SIL's
church Christmas Program

I had a major epiphany for my book at said Christmas program and jotted it down. Now it feels a bit like a lucky charm. I can't bear to part with it.

- 2 ponytail holders

I panic if I realize that I don't have one with me at all times. Panic.

- Cheapskate Target aviator sunglasses
I have wanted a new pair of sunglasses for a while, but could never justify the purchase. Then I forgot my sunglasses when we went to Florida. I swear it was an accident. And my right eye is extremely, perplexedly sensitive to light, even though it was my left eye that I stabbed with a pencil when I was 3. But we're not here to talk about that...

- "Gas Money" zippered bag
A different SIL gave me this for Christmas and I love it. I keep my little Moo cards in it.

- Purple bill-fold (as my mama would say)
TJ Maxx, eons ago. I heart it.

- Cash envelopes (get the scoop here)
It's the end of the month so they are totally empty.

- Meijer brand knock-off Claritin

Achoo! Achoo! Achoo! Yesterday I sneezed 24 times in a row without stopping. I was a little
disoriented to both time and space when I finally stopped.

- Vera Bradley makeup bag

- Trident Vitality gum

My new favorite. Green tea! And it has gooey stuff in the middle. It may interest you to know
that I always carefully pop a piece out, bite it in half, and put the other half back in the tiny foil pocket. I'm a halfer. It can't be helped.

- Calvin's blue velcro wallet that used to be my blue velcro wallet when I
was 8

He gets allowance now. In theory.

- Ruby's pink coin purse from Korea

What? You want more?

Well, alright.

- Last Blast Fusion mascara - black
Don't believe the hype.

- Burt's Bees Tinted Balm - hibiscus
My Mother's Day gift from Siley, via CMB. Cory has a long history of buying me an abundance of Burt's Bees and/or Bath and Body Works items. It's a subject of great humor in this house. But this tinted lip balm is THE BOMB. Yes, I still call things "the bomb". But only when it's

- Prestige eyeliner - brown
My make-up is wonky. Also, if you are real-life friends with me, you know that I almost always put my eyeliner and mascara on in the car. It's a habit I just can't quit. I have my reasons. I just don't know what they are.

- Maybelline Shinesensation lip gloss - Crazy for Caramel
I say carmull. You say caramel. Let's lick the whole thing off.

- Cover Girl & Olay eye corrector - 230
I am a chronic dark-circle sufferer.

- Cover Girl Smoothers translucent powder - light
This powder is so old its beeper number is 1. This powder is so old it used to babysit Yoda. This powder is so old it new Mr. Clean when he had hair.

- Eyelash curler
If you lined all of my lashes end-to-end, they might equal one of Silas's lashes. Maybe. If they
stood on their tip-toes.

- Wet 'N Wild Wild Shine - Fling
Kinda orangey, I'm not gonna lie.

And now, a word on my diaper bag.

It is not really a diaper bag, it is a Jeanne Oliver original crafted from fine French linen and she will totally toilet paper my house when she finds out I'm using it to cart Luvs around.

- Blurry policeman figurine

- Luvs, size 4

- Plastic wipes case, probably empty

- Bethenny
We mysteriously began receiving Forbes magazine in the mail and find that it's oddly
entertaining. Last week Dylan Lauren was on the cover, which suited me just fine because I
happen to be obsessed with her dad. In a related moment of serendipity, I recently caught
Oprah for the first time in probably 2 years and it happened to be the interview of Ralph
Lauren and his entire family. Law. Did you ever see the Elle spread featuring Jessica Simpson
in all Ralph Lauren Americana fashion? My head almost exploded. But now I'm just

Still waiting on your call, Bethenny!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Napkin Curtains - Redux

My freshly-plucked hankering for color persists. In fact, it's gathering steam as we head into June. I'm day-dreaming all manner of crazy, along the lines of wallpapering the Train Room in something vintagey and bright (don't tell Cory), painting the armoire green and decking the halls with snaps of aqua and fits of orange.

It was only a matter of time before I started staring wistfully at my lovely, neutral kitchen. Sure enough, that day came on Monday. It's tricky up in there, because there's very little wall space.

Also, I'm a reconverted cheap skate, which complicates things.

But the curtains! It occurred to me that they were the perfect candidate for a switch out. And...since they are my trademark napkin curtains, I knew it would be easy enough to find something zingy.

Naturally, my mind wandered to thoughts of Her Highness, Anthropologie, and all of her whimsy-wovens.*

Then I thanked my lucky stars that napkins might actually be the one thing I can afford at Ye Olde Anthro.

Then I remembered these.

I bought them 5 or 6 years ago, on clearance. $3.95 a pop. It probably still seemed a bit splurgey at the time, considering the number of moments in my life that warrant ruffly, flowered cloth napkins, but sometimes a girl just can't ignore the siren call of frivolity.

I clipped those suckers up in no time flat.

For free.

It's pure serendipity that the green matches the color of my island.

I've been smiling ever since.

The moral of the story? It's true: when you see something you really love and it's dirt cheap, you should probably buy it. You just never know when your window might cry out for a new napkin or two.

Part II of How Anthropologie Clearance Scratched My Itch coming soon!

*I used to work at the Gap. My manager, a dude, pronounced "woven" as though it rhymes with "oven". To this day, I sometimes say "wuvven" in my mind, just for fun. You should totally try it. Today's fun is brought to you by Manager Brian, wherever he may be.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pants on Fire

The bad news is, we had a recent rash of fibbing up in our hood.

The good news is, it happened to coincide with Spring and all her weediness.

I've seen first-hand how digging fingers into dirt and yanking junk out by the roots is like a spit-shine for the soul.

Here's to hoping Mr. Lee feels the same.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How To Make An American Weekend

The stars aligned on Friday for the kids and I to head out on an impromptu, whirlwind trip to Ohio (aka "Home").

The weekend was supposed to go down much differently, and I was disappointed when things weren't going as planned. But life has a way of teaching me that busted-up plans can often make for some unexpected, rowdy fun.

My Aunts were rolling into town, from PA, NM and AZ.

It was not to be missed.

From left: Aunt Elieen (Miss Arizooona!), Aunt Jan (Miss Pennsylvaaaania!), Aunt Carol (Miss New Mexicoooo!) and Mama (Miss Ohioooo!).

My Mom is the youngest of 5, 4 girls and a boy. Twenty years span between her and the oldest, Aunt Eileen, but they talked non-stop about long, lost cousins, the way Aunt Jan used to braid my mom's hair too tightly and the fact that they all dreamed, at one time, of joining a convent. They reminisced about my grandma's sassy streak and somehow, they managed to learn something new about something old.

My mind kept rewinding to the classic movie, How to Make An American Quilt. I wanted to rush off in a hurry and gather up 3 sisters for Ruby. She might need 'em now, and she'll definitely need 'em when her hair is gray.

The grand moment, combined with the impending End of the World called for a good, old fashioned cook-out, with more desserts than main dishes, because that's just how these sisters roll.

I trudged around with that vaguely familiar stuffed-to-the-gills feeling that I remember so well from the summers of my childhood. I'd stagger away from the food table and wander to the front porch swing only to return an hour later, not because I was hungry, but because I was no longer so-full-I-could-puke.

My staples: Chips and salsa, watermelon, brownies and mini Heath bars. You can hardly blame me.

Interestingly enough, the Amish man who is currently putting a new roof on the barn arrived just for the hay of it on Saturday to help Dad with the windmill.

It comforted me, having an Amish man with us for the End of the World.

And in hindsight, I probably wasn't supposed to take his picture. But for the record, I was more interested in documenting the fact that my dad was up there in that thingamajig with him when he probably wasn't supposed to be, and the Amish man rolled in on a blingy new tractor, which he parked in a nearby field, and not a buggy.

I figure if he can bend the rules a little, so can I.

I didn't see my two big kids all day long, (except for when I accidentally ran into them at the food table). When we were finally reunited, they were spackled in mud and sweat. Black-bottomed feet. A summer night does not get better than cousins and black-bottomed feet.

We attended to various forms of important business for the rest of the weekend.

We also slept 5 to a room, but I'd rather forget that part.

Then, earlier today, it was confirmed.


Flowers are my Jimmy Choos.
They're my Coach handbags.

If I were a richer gal, I'da given a good home to all of these lonely blooms.

Give me liberty or give me dirt.

No, that's not right...

Give me dirt or give me death.

No, too morose.

Give me dirt. With flowers.

Just give them to me.

I walked out with $9 of happy and I have big plans to tackle my favorite local haunt tomorrow for tomatoes, peppers, cukes and zukes.

I just don't see a way around a garden.

I only see a way in.

By 1:30, I was back at the childhood home of my girl, Sarah. Ready to pack it in and head back to my Big Girl home.

By 2:30, well, we were zonked.

Happy Sunday night, friends.

Here's to the last week of May!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dinner and a Book - 7.0

Dinner: Barley Salad with Chicken and Corn

We had this for dinner last night. It was limey and delicious. I felt compelled to share.

Also, it felt nutritious enough to warrant a late-night snack of chips and salsa and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

Thank you kindly, Martha.

A Book: The Midwife's Confession, by Diane Chamberlain

Our trip got off to a bit of a rocky start.

Long story short: We spent over an hour sitting on the run-way before take-off.

Short story long: The pilot kept saying things over the intercom such as, "Uh - it looks like the left engine is not starting...", "We've called the mechanic, but he's out-of-town, visiting his mom for mother's day...", "The on-call mechanic won't be able to head this way for 20 minutes or so, he has some other things to wrap up first..."

For the love of Pete, Captain. Censor thyself.

Thank goodness, I had The Midwife's Confession stowed safely in my 1 additional small personal item.

It grabbed me from page one. I do not say this lightly. I leaned over to Cory and told him, "I'm going to love this book." And I did. It was a quick read, but it was meaty. I didn't encounter sections that I wanted to skim over, which almost never happens. It was all important, all relevant, all interesting. Most importantly, it was well-written.

As a girl who tends to gravitate toward "quiet" fiction, without a big, shocking twist, I surprised myself with how quickly I was sucked into the lives of Tara and Emerson. I hunted down opportunities to pick it up and see what happened next. If there were none to be found, well, I made them up.

The story took on a life of its own and compelled me to keep reading, keep turning. I became wrapped up in the world on the pages, but I also found myself reflecting on my own life, taking a closer look at some of the threads of my story. I was pulled both toward the characters and back into myself. That is the sign of a great vacation read.

The twists were served up smoothly, with an even hand. At one point, I thought for sure I knew what was coming next, but I was wrong. Fiction happens to be the one outlet where I relish being wrong. Diane Chamberlain could have left me surprised, shaking my head in a good way, even without the final gob-smacker. Instead, she flipped me upside down and while I was still staggering around, not quite able to right myself, she did it again.

This is the sort of the thing that elevates a page-turner to giveaway status.

You heard me right: I'm giving it away, baby.

My personal paperback vacation read can be all yours. All you have to do is leave me a comment with the title of your favorite novel.

And, since this post is titled Dinner and a Book, the illustrious winner will also welcome a bag of barley, straight from Grandma's Pantry, for use in the Barley Salad with Chicken and Corn. Because couldn't we all use a little more barley?

Giveaway ends tomorrow night somewhere around 9 p.m. I'll announce the winner in my next post.

ps - If it's all the same to you, I think I may tack random numbers to the ends of all of my posts for a while. It just feels right.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Back To Life, Back To Reality 1.0

Yesterday started off in its usual way.

Ugly robe. Oatmeal, all around. Fighting. Yada.

I corralled the wild-stock. I showered! I think I even rubbed some color into my already-pallid cheeks. I did not blow-dry.

Calvin and Ruby got dressed on their own, and I was half expecting/hoping for a two-ring circus show when they came downstairs, but for reasons I can't imagine, they both decided to dress "fancy". (I think it had something to do with the fact that we skipped church on Sunday.)

I shuttled them out the door with strict instructions to "Get in the van and buckle up."

2 minutes later, I went out to join them.

They were not buckled up in the van.

I was overwrought.

Ruby took to praying, right there on the step.

Shoes and britches were changed, and we were on our way.

Calvin was due for his routine blood draw.

They like this trip, in theory, because they all get cups of juice to drink on the way.

It helps when he's juiced.

My homies Lu-u-uv playing in the door-less closet at the lab.

Calvin ratcheted up the fun by way of bunny ears for all.

Siley wasn't feeling it.

(Doesn't he look fancy?)

Every single time, he throws a big ol' fit like he means it.

Makes me sad.

But by the time the Elmo band-aid is slapped on, all is forgiven and he's complimenting Corrine, our rock-star phlebotomist, on her mad needle skillz.

Speaking of mad skillz...

Ruby's got 'em.

She gets them honestly. ;)

All of this to say, vacation's really over, Joe.

Well, mostly.

I've got one more quasi-vacation blurb up my cockeyed sleeve.

It's good to be home, Homies.

Youn's are fun to come back to.