28 July 2008

Today is my Birthday.

Yesterday I was toasted by a handful of my nearest and dearest and given a composter (thanks, y'all!). Today, I received a staghorn fern from my in-laws (photos coming), a non-enormous bathrobe from my parents (yay), and tickets to see David Sedaris read here in October from my husband. So far, 32 is spoiling me.

We also took our very first post-bird camping trip over the weekend, which turned out really nicely. Hot, to be sure, but fun. Bird was a trooper, as always. There will definitely be more of that in our future. I mean, look how cozy they are in that little tent? You totally can't tell it was 600 degrees in there.

25 July 2008

txt me bk

I have a lot of friends with the same name as my husband.

When I send A. a text message, there is always a fair chance I am going to select a different A. in my address book on accident, telling an unsuspecting friend that he should pick up some sour cream on his way home, that the cat did not get meds this morning, or that we should try to stay up past 8pm tonight. (wink, wink).

It is really going to freak someone out or, better yet, cause a nice, uncomfortable miscommunication in the future. I hope all of the A's are looking forward to it, because I know I am. Game On!

24 July 2008


As I write this, I am finally emerging from the murky depths of a fierce hangover, which I earned 100% last night on the back porch with A., flipping through a calendar and having a nice tense conversation about where to be and when over the Holidays. It’s an annual discussion I like to call, “Who will be disappointed the most?” and it most certainly flows better with an adult beverage or four.

And for the record, the reason I don’t usually drink white wine (ah, yes. NOW she remembers) is because it goes down a little too fast, a little too easy. And I end up with a wicked case of the bedspins and, eventually, huddled around the upstairs commode (which is gross by itself) assuring Andy that I’m fine and making wild arm gestures, waving him back to bed and saving him from the wretchedness that is me.

And so, today. I have worked very hard at nothing except sitting completely still and trying not to move my eyes. It has been exhausting work. My mouth tastes vaguely metallic and my body aches. My brain feels cold and my thinking is slow and sticky. I was asked to proofread a booklet with unimaginably tiny type and tedious subject matter, and that hurt me everywhere. For lunch, I dragged my sorry self over to A’s office and sought shelter in a warm, white Jimmy John’s sandwich eaten in a sort of upright fetal position next to his desk. He showed me recently unearthed home videos of us seven years ago, when we were skinny and lively and able to bounce back from two bottles of Chenin Blanc without incident. He rubbed my face to ease my headache, and only laughed at me a little bit, because he is a kind man.

19 July 2008

Behold, my laundries:

Look what came to my backyard this weekend!

Finally putting that hot Tennessee sun to work for us.
Love this thing. Just one step closer to living that country life I babble on and on about from time to time.

Want to hang your spouse's skivvies up for your neighbors to admire? One super awesome feature of this little beauty is that you only cement a little plastic sleeve in your yard, giving you the option to pluck the whole thing out of the ground and store it when you're not using it. Also awesome: comes fully assembled. Thanks to my most greenest C.S. for the recommendation. (And to my most helpfulest A. for the cementing.)


Conversation with my nine-year-old neighbor from across the street:

Dude, did your uncle just drive up and give you money?

Man, that's the easiest two dollars I ever made. All I had to do was get up early and pee in a cup so he could take it to work.


Conversation with my daughter over breakfast:

Birdy, watch out! You almost spilled your milk.

Mama, don't freak up.


What I saw today down the street at Wayne's Unisex, the haircut place that hasn't changed one bit since, oh, about 1979, and is probably the last place you'd think to take a two-year-old for a haircut, but it is so cheap and just so awesome in there:

Skinny old droopy guy, pretty tall, with paper-white hair.
Cut in the most fabulously long mullet I have ever seen.
A six hundred year old woman was trimming the "party" part straight across, which came almost down to his non-existent old-man butt.
I do not kid.


You know, for being a pretty handsome guy, he's not very photogenic. So I picked the most bizarre shot (a little Picassoey with all the legs, right?) to give you an idea of the Bear's new summer 'do and the distinct line between head (not shaved) and body (totally shaved).

This guy, on the other hand, is a bit more handsome. In a crazy, anxious, reclusive movie star kind of way. Tragically handsome, tragically a few horses shy of a library.

This is a somewhat terrible photo of what we like to call "the curler." When Big D gets nice and worked up, like during a thunderstorm as in this case where he nearly tried to climb into the bath with Bird, he curls his ears up in this super bizarre way, like little bat wings. The vet says he's never seen anything like it.

And how 'bout this haircut?

18 July 2008

Finally, a non-vacation post

We had a slew of people visit us from Indianapolis for a few days over the 4th, effectively filling our little house to noisy, joyful capacity (total bodies: 8 adults, 2 toddlers, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 fish. Plus 6 additional dinner guests on Friday.) Birdy had a fabulous time with her small friend P.,we laid on old blankets to watch fireworks in the park in our neighborhood and Bird spent half the time with her hands on top of her head, afraid the fireworks would fall on her. She and P. ate popsicles that stained their skin green until morning, despite heavy scrubbing. We all stayed up too late and ate too much. We talked about old times and how much things have changed. We laughed at my dog’s haircut. We waited in line for the one shower in my 80-year old house. We braved the heat.

I love to be the host of that kind of party. It was perfect.

I read something in a glossy home magazine recently about a woman who, of course, had some fabulously rustic summer home in, like, France or something, and it was all about her laid-back style of hosting (she doesn’t match towels!) (Mama says WTF, do people really match their towels?) and how she hosts these lounge-y weekends with fabulously simple dinners at an enormous table probably with fireflies and famously interesting people lolling around on hammocks with candles hanging from the trees, smoking fancy cigarettes and having a few too many glasses of wine, everyone jolly and singing a little too loudly and helping cook breakfast in the morning.

Well. Our style of hosting is more of a fend-for-yourself, you-know-where-the-band-aids-are, if-you-want-a-clean-shower-here's-a-sponge model. And yet, we still have loads of guests year-round, so that must be somewhat appealing. Or at least not completely revolting. Anyway.

This woman in the magazine was talking about her steady stream of summer guests and how she felt it was good for her children as they grew up, that it encouraged spontaneity and joy de vivre, that observing an unscripted, uncensored moment around the grown-up table was healthy and made kids feel included, valued, one of the pack.

Recently, someone I respect very much wondered aloud if our constant visitors were causing stress to our little Bird. It was a part of a larger conversation about attention-seeking behaviors that really made me feel helpless and honestly, hurt my little feelings as a full-time worker bee who’s just trying her damndest to be a good mama.

Uh-oh. Shake it off.

Anyway. I believe that yes, Birdy does need very special one-one-one attention from us. And she also needs to be left alone (within earshot) to get lost in her little world of babies and songs and playdough pancakes. And I believe it’s good for her, on occasion, to be a valued member of a raucous bunch of good-natured and treasured friends, where everybody cooks and everybody parents, where people aren’t hanging on her every precious word and she can gain the confidence to strike up conversation with anyone, even (gasp) a grown-up, or feel loved enough by a non-family member to snuggle on the couch with her favorite grown up friend A.L., or discuss scarecrows in-depth with a plentifully tattooed photographer friend, or rub a pregnant guest’s belly and ask two hundred questions and never feel embarrassed, or too young, or insignificant. It's good for her to have structure, yes, but it's good for her to learn that you don't always have to give a shit about bedtime. That sometimes things not going according to plan is the plan. That friends can be family and you can never be loved too much.

(Wish I would have thought to say that then.)

16 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 11

My mom is a born Granny. She’s a really wonderful mom, too, first and foremost. But Granny-ing is where it’s at for her. She and Bird make each other so happy that I don’t mind when she lets her put lip gloss all over her face or feeds her a thousand Fig Newtons for lunch. Because most of the time, she’s careful to respect our parenting, and all of the time, she respects Bird for the awesome human she is. No baby talk, no obnoxious permissions (the perfect storm for a wicked tantrum), no spoiling with presents. Just the pure and loving one-on-one attention that makes really, really good buddies. I have a lot to learn from Mom about letting Bird lead me when I can, about setting my laundry-folding or dinner-making agenda aside, about climbing into her world and being more present with her. I’m so proud of both of them. Together, they inspire me to be a better mama.

Vacation Thought No. 10

I was invited and un-invited to Bird’s birthday party about seventy-two times during the week of vacation. She also told my family that “After my birthday, I will have a SISTER.”

So yeah, we’ll see about that. Kind of a big gift.

15 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 9

We used my brother and sister-in-law’s new house in North Carolina as an overnight layover in our travels. They have a lovely wooden chess set on their living room coffee table, as well as a perfectly Bird-sized dog, the largest ottoman known to man, cold diet cokes in the fridge, the biggest master bath I’ve ever showered in, a seven-thousand pound cat with a tiny mustache and many, many catalogs.

In Bird-land, that chess set became an irresistible tray with drinks on it. She carefully arranged them on the board and spent a lot of her time by herself, serving them in an orderly fashion on the floor, assigning them to imaginary friends ( the great Venture Adivans) and friends back home at daycare.

A few hours before we left for our final flight home, Bird tripped on the rug while she was arranging her drinks and made fierce contact with the edge of the coffee table, right between her eyes. It was a nasty fall, and afterwards she got clammy and quiet and really, really sleepy. We all worried. All of my mama senses overflowed with the primitive desire to hold her very, very tightly or even absorb her back in my body somehow. I felt like throwing up.

The medical advice we sought told us not to worry, and sure enough she snapped out of it on her own in about twenty minutes with a huge bruise in the middle of her forehead that has now faded to bright yellow. I’m so thankful she’s okay, and also so thankful for bangs.

14 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 8

What a two-year old girl will say at bedtime when there is an air mattress on the floor:

Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? MAMA!!! MAAAAMMMMAAAA! Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay?

And then she will jump. Once.

13 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 7

Bird is an early riser. Fortunately, so is my family. My brother jogs most mornings before even Bird is stirring, my dad wakes up bright and early to open and slam every conceivable cabinet door and drawer in the kitchen, like a wild and ravenous grizzly bear foraging for some Egg Beaters and a cinnamon-raisin bagel. My mom pads around like a little ray of sunshine. My husband and my sister-in-law are adjusting to this early-bird way of life, and they are accepting and mostly pleasant about it.

Bird managed to beat everyone to the wake-up once during the week, so she and I took a special walk to the beach and sat on the hard sand to watch the tide roll out in the quiet. We walked a little, spotted a few early-morning dog walkers, seagulls, washed-up jellyfish. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful and perfect scene, mama and birdy enjoying the ocean and filling up with peace in the early morning.

And once we’d reached that mother-child beach nirvana, we held it for a few exquisite moments and promptly began a quick decent into madness, with Bird brewing up a wicked tantrum about a few grains of sand on her leg – after sitting in sand up to her waist all afternoon the day before and loving every minute of it, with sand in her swim suit and hair and EARS for the love of God-- and me grabbing her hand and saying things through clenched teeth like, “We are having a REALLY NICE TIME ON THE BEACH, Birdy, and your whining is DRIVING ME BANANAS. We are going to WALK in the WAVES because it is FUN.” You know, because it is up to me to tell her what she enjoys and our moment together is all about ME and my picture-perfect moment of mother and child harmony. And it is totally appropriate to art-direct special moments with a toddler. I left the beach with a screaming, kicking toddler under my arm. It was a beautiful morning and I will always treasure the memories.

12 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 6.5

Bird was drawing with a fat red crayon before our first flight took off.

“What are you drawing, Bird?”

“A corn pipe.”


11 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 6

My parents bought a special, slightly miniature beach chair for Bird. It was red. She thought it was totally the bees’ knees. (BTW, when I use that expression with her, she looks at her knees with alarm). She spent the majority of her indoor hours putting her babies in time out in a corner and then sitting in it with her legs crossed like a lady and her back to the offender. Or sitting in it with one of my dad’s giant cop-style flashlights, waving it around and having long conversations with nobody, like she was a guest on Invisible Letterman. Or standing up and singing loudly out of the stray detective paperbacks that come with a rented beach house, pretending to be in church.

10 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 5

I learned that my newly suburban brother is capable of a full and informed discussion on the nuances that separate Crate & Barrel from Pottery Barn.

09 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 4

Dad likes long walks on the beach. On Vacation, he takes off nearly every day alone (though sometimes with my Mom), his big tall white self moving along, swinging those big arms the way he does, big gentle grin tilted up at the sky, like he’s always giving thanks. This arm-swinging, glory-giving walk is so distinctive we can pick him out even when he’s far away, even when he’s strolling through the crowds of people way down the beach around the resorts. He’ll stop a few times and just walk into the ocean until he’s about shoulder-deep, sometimes float on his back for a while out there all alone.

I think about him more tenderly after certain events: his heart attack when I was in college, his scare with the big C this winter and my Granddad’s death this spring. And I think this is what it will be like when he leaves this world, just getting up from his chair and walking toward wherever he’s led in gratitude.

02 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 3

If you were on any of our flights, you may have heard:

Bird’s Lyrics to “Frosty the Snowman”

Fros-ty the snowman!

Was a very joyold soooooul

With a corn-cob pipe and a button nose

And a corn made out of piiiiipe…