Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hi my name is Melinda...

just in case you've forgotten who I am!

I've been a bad blogger. So many posts running through my head and an inability to put them together coherently. Perhaps you should just have a look inside? I'm not sure what the sound track would be for this post, something soothing? Marshmallow world? Deck the Halls? The Target ditty that I have on repeat in my head as it seems to ALWAYS be on?

Phew! MOST of the presents purchased. Only two left. And those are the hardest two! Only minor concerns of: "What if they don't like it? Will it be a pain to return?"

The kids have wrapped the presents so they are a bit of a happily rumpled mess with wobbly bows/ribbons and dodgy taping around the edges. They've wrapped things that aren't presents. I'm pretty sure there are a few ornaments, one box full of Christmas ribbons (which a certain six year old forgot would be needed to do the remainder of the presents) and some full of who knows what. If something is missing, it probably is wrapped and under our tree.

We have a new puppy, which is a bit like having a newborn baby. We've had an unusually cold December so far, with several nights below freezing (probably over our annual average already), so he's been sleeping in his kennel in the laundry room. He starts the "I've got to go!" crying sometime before 6 a.m. What joy to stand on the doorstep in the freezing pre-dawn hours waiting on him to finish his business. I swear it is just like Austin Powers when he first wakes up from the deep freeze. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Gooooooo. Stop.

There have been school Christmas plays, dance recitals, sniffly noses and nighttime coughing, a funeral, canceled shopping trips, cookies that didn't work out (note to self: double ALL the ingredients when making a double recipe), fudge that did. All the whirlwind stuff that means Christmas is coming! Again.

And didn't we JUST DO IT a few months ago? Can we push it to every other year?

Saturday, December 4, 2010


It has been building, rising, creeping and now boiling over.

In their defense, we've had a hectic fortnight of holiday, trip to Myrtle Beach (five and a half hours in the car each way), rehearsals, recitals, practices, homework, testing, etc.

But today, they were cranky and defiant to the point that it resulted in a one week ban of use by either child of anything that requires electricity in any form. Be it outlet or battery, computer, DVD, television, video game, etc.

I think they'll be the better for it. We have let technology overtake us little by little and have discovered that we need to launch a counter-offensive. We are instituting a sharing policy of electronics with time limits strictly enforced.

So far we have played monopoly, visited the Wildlife Center at Georgia Southern, played outside far longer than usual, despite cool temperatures, and done some toy sorting in anticipation of Christmas.

More deep thoughts on this later. For now I am emotionally drained. It is very, very important to me for my children to appreciate that they are very lucky and to treat people with respect. Our meltdown (which involved both children AND parents) was a huge revelation to me that we have some work to do on that front. I don't mean to say that I want them to be pious and meek and let themselves get walked on or to crush their spirits under the weight of rules and regulations, but that we have to achieve a balance between good self-esteem and compassion and respect.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


My heart.
My belly!
My home.
My life.

Today is Thanksgiving. A day full of family, love, food made with love, lots of laughter and gentle reminders all around how very lucky we are to have things, life, but most of all people we love who love us back.

It might be the only day of the year I gladly woke up at 5:30 a.m. It is my first year being responsible for the star of the feast.... the turkey. He was placed in the refrigerator to thaw on MONDAY. This morning he was still in the frozen tundra state. A quick google later and he was immersed in cold water and warmed up to ready to bake temperature quite nicely.

There was turkey, chicken, cornbread dressing, sweet potato souffle, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, mustard greens, butter beans, dumplings, broccoli salad, cucumber/tomato salad, pear salad, rolls, yeast rolls, cornbread, pecan pie, chocolate delight, rum cake (mmmm!), strawberry cake, apple slices, strawberries and donuts. We're full... all seventeen of us... and sleepy.

Tomorrow is Black Friday and stores will open for Christmas sales at 4 a.m. Guess who WON'T be there. If I get up at 4 a.m. it will be because Hugh Jackman and Nathan Fillion are on my doorstep. Since shopping isn't in my top five list of things I enjoy doing, I have to say that the prospect of battling hordes of savings crazy maniacs in the aisles of Walmart or the mall stores is my idea of hell.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photo Diary

Fair Week Parade

Tacky Day

Halloween Costumes

The Fair

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November? Really??

Oy vey. We've been busy.

Parades, The Kiwanis Fair, Tacky Day, guitar recital, dance lessons, school, homework, family portrait session... and we're only halfway through November! 36 days until Santa!! 101 things to get done, places to be, gifts to wrap..... oh my. Taking a deep breath now.

I have photos to share of what we've been up to.... but blogger is not cooperating and won't let me load photos much less video.

But I'm still here! Still breathing (despite the strep near death experience) and thinking of fascinating blog posts to write that stay stuck in my head and get nowhere close to cyberspace.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Status Update

Did you know that having streptococcus invade your throat is a really, really painful experience? That it could take an adult female out of commission for THREE DAYS? That swallowing could threaten to bring you to your knees and dry mouth make you consume your body weight in water in 48 hours... while your mouth remained dry? Did you know that you would be in such agony that someone would have to drive you to the doctor, help you in and out of the car and that you wouldn't care that you had no makeup on and hadn't combed your hair? Did you know that you would beg your beloved to amputate your throat?

Now you know.

I had planned to blog about J.T.'s Halloween concert and Abby's newly learned skill of crying on demand. But I felt it most important to get this important health bulletin out. Wash your hands... stay far away from your germy children, disinfect everything. You do NOT want to get this.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


This song is on high rotation around here since our friends Chris and Ashlee turned me onto it.

I look at the little creases around my eyes and wonder at how many hours of laughing it took to etch them there. The wrinkles that crowd my forehead when I squint or frown will become more prominent in time...testament to those days that end in frustration and moments I wish had never happened. But I'm glad that there are fewer of them than the laugh crinkles around my eyes and the little crescents on the edges of my mouth that are reminders of grins gone by. All of these lines upon my face, tell you the story of who I am.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's Official

I'm an old person. What follows is a rant about "today's fashions". Much like my father, who complained about paying good money for jeans that looked like they were ready to be thrown out, I find some of the offerings on the store racks to be less than appealing. This is completely hypocritical of me, whose historical closet included stonewashed jeans, hightop reeboks, and jelly shoes, but remember, I'm OLD now and I get to complain about the younger generation and their nutty fashion choices.

The jegging, for example, is sure to be to 2010 what legwarmers were to 1985. Jeans, yes. Leggings, okay. Combining them? No.

The romper suit for grownups makes me think of dress up in reverse. Abby has a romper and looks quite adorable in it. On a twenty-something it looks weird. Particularly when it is a short romper.

The Beiber haircut. Barbershops/Hair salons the world over should be barred from allowing anyone old enough to shave to inflict this hairstyle on the rest of the world population. Perfect for the thirteen and under crowd. But goofy looking on say, Tom Brady (and there was a collective: "Who the heck is Tom Brady?".... he's the guy married to Gisele Bundchen).

The herd pocketbook. An animal print shoulderbag that is now yesterday's must-have. Lovely visual commentary on following the crowd there. Have a matching bag and you can hang out with my herd, ahem, group.

The rain boot. It hasn't rained here in weeks, yet rainboots are everywhere! Why would you wear them when it's not raining!! It dements me, as Mary would say. Not a puddle to be found and people strolling around in rubber boots. I keep staring at their feet thinking, your poor feet must be sooooooo hot!

I wonder if it has spawned an epidemic of athlete's foot?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five (1961)

One of my all-time favorite jazz pieces. The 5/4 time, the lovely saxophone. Sigh. Take off your shoes, pop in the music, have a glass of wine... Mmmmm. Delicious.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Cookie Lady

There is a little lady who stops by my office frequently and delivers a bag of Neiman Marcus cookies, a dozen or so, stuffed into a ziploc bag, labeled "For Melinda" or "For Melinda's family". Is there anything that could brighten a day more than getting cookies delivered... with your name on them, no less? She is elderly, and of late, her memory is failing. Sometimes the cookies are a little too crisp on bottom or a little too salty. But it makes my day nonetheless.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Holy Hell, What a Day

Burnt the toast.
Boy comes home with bad grades. Didn't follow the directions.
Someone else's screw-up takes over the day.
Mind whirling, trying to figure out how to unscrew the screw-up.
Late delivery. Late leaving for home.
Homework. Dishes. Supper. Baths. Bed.
Still whirling.

Repeat tomorrow.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Care and Feeding of Roses

It is the Labor Day holiday weekend, no work on Monday. In homage to the "labor" bit of Labor Day, I got up early to do sheet washing, cabinet wipe downs, followed by supervising the kids in the pool.

My rose bushes are mere feet from the pool, and in classic feminine multi-tasking syndrome, I thought to dead-head them, pull weeds from around their bases, and clip out any bad/diseased places.

They are Knock-out Roses. Lovely shade of hyper pink that bloom 8 months out of the year. As I worked I reflected on the fact that rose bushes, and their care, are a metaphor for life. Dead heads that are removed, fading older blooms replaced continually by new, tightly wrapped buds. Unseen thorns that prick and scratch at soft flesh. They grow better each new season with a bit of pruning and one must keep vigilant for pests and fungus while providing the right amount of water and fertilizer. But the end result is worth all the effort and work.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


It's been a crazy week. There are days when I swear I attract crazy like a right wing television host. I'm closing my eyes and imagining a pause button for life, where I could just get off the treadmill and everything stays frozen while I breathe.

In and out.

The laundry pile isn't growing, homework doesn't need to be checked, the dishes aren't threatening to overflow the sink, no one is squabbling or complaining about the bread on the grilled cheese being "too mushy" and I can just. breathe. All of the obligations and duties are on hold. No one's happiness or needs are dependent on what I get done. Or don't get done.


Some mood music please.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The One with the Re-enactment

My children informed me today of an adversarial sibling interaction in which the female was subjected to a dodge ball type attack with a flattened soccer ball at close range.

They cheerfully re-enacted the entire scenario for me in slow motion. The boy was undoubtedly guilty.

He was thanked for so readily assisting in his own prosecution. The judge waived incarceration in favor of time served as the injured party was both not injured (it was a deflated ball and really, he just set it on her and didn't throw it)and might have poked the bear with a stick in order to illicit the encounter.

Note that SHE did not volunteer to incriminate herself. Now we sing: "Girls go to Mars to get more cars, boys go to Jupiter...."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Did You Miss Me?

Two weeks with no news here. Really, there has been no TIME to construct a blog post. The kids started school last week which means we had to sort out our routine after 9 weeks of lazy summer days.

It hasn't been a seamless transition. Abby started dance lessons today and J.T. continues with guitar. Add in homework and chores, playtime and supper, all to be accomplished in the few hours between end of school/work and bedtime and you see that we are busy. I prefer to be busy and in a routine, so in an odd way, I feel a little more relaxed as we are finding our groove.

Rob and I have also been finishing the upstairs project. The painting, apart from a few touchups, is done and the carpet was put down today. Dust is EVERYWHERE, and there are lots of small things to tackle, so we aren't at the finish line yet. But the big stuff is done. It feels nice.

Stomper Girl is looking for happy things and it has inspired me to focus on the ups instead of the downs. I'm a big believer in the fact that some days you have to make your own happy. Find it. Reach for it. Turn blue into sunny yellow.

Here is my happy for today:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

To Grandmother's House We Go

Mary and Aunty Evil expressed a curiosity several posts ago about our farms. So I thought I'd share a few photos taken between our house and mothers (a twenty mile or so distance). These are scattered along the roadsides. Old wooden barns, sheds and outbuildings. Nature is taking them back over. Rusted tin tops their wooden beams, vines are reclaiming the timbers... but they are, I think, beautiful. Everytime I see one, it makes me wonder who built it? What was their daily life like? 80, 90 or 100 years ago...
We live on a dirt road. Advantage: little traffic. Disadvantage: no road crew to maintain it.
It's not Tara from Gone with the Wind. This type of farm house is actually far more common than the huge, column graced homes of the movies. A wrap-around porch, chimneys on either side of the house. It gets hot here and the goal of heating/cooking would have been to let the heat escape quickly, instead of hoarding it as would be an advantage in a colder climate, where it would be more common to see a centrally placed heating source and chimney. Hallways typically run straight through the center of the house, from the front porch to the back and are called breezeways, as they let cool air flow through the house.
Cotton. Goes through cycles of popularity based on the soil. Cotton is best suited for growing in rocky, sandy soil. You can tell from our dirt roads, that we don't have rich soil. When I was younger, cotton was not THE crop that it is today and was in the 1950s when my parents were growing up. The majority of our local fields are planted in cotton today.
Another gorgeous, fading barn. If you peer in closely, you can see a modern tractor underneath the eaves. Old sheds and barns are still used to shelter tractors, hay bales, wire, etc.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Living on a dead end dirt road entitles one to up close encounters with native flora and fauna. In the past two weeks we have seen:

eighteen wild turkeys (pictured above... I have NEVER seen more than one, maybe two at one time)

one black snake

innumerable brown rabbits

two centipedes

a dozen frogs

one turtle

two tortoises

100 cow birds

dozens of house wrens

eight squirrels

fifteen wasps (think of these in the past tense as they are no longer nesting among the eaves of our house)

millions of ants

ten lizards

one armadillo

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Getting Started

The top picture is Rob's collection room getting a coat of primer. The second is my retreat space, already primed!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dream a Little Dream, II

The renovations upstairs are a GO! I spent a good deal of time diligently researching possibilities before we met with a loan person at the bank. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that we could get a better rate than we currently have and easily afford the upstairs work we dreamed of making a reality.

The framing, insulating and dry wall work is complete. AC unit in and tonight. We paint. This may mean divorce proceedings on Monday, but we figure we can muddle through and save that much money on hiring professionals to do the job. Rob's portion will be a bold blue while mine will be a soft Scandinavian color. I'm stuck between a palladian blue and queen anne pink. Both soft and mellow.

Then I will just need to save up for the fun bits.... I love this desk and will need a reading chair, something cushy and comfortable.... perfect for melting into with a good book. Art for the walls and a sweet touch here and there.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simple Gifts

Ripe strawberries, Belly laughs, cotton dresses, lipgloss, new earrings, refrigerator art, chocolate chip mint ice cream, ruby relaxers, happy endings, belle and boo, CASTLE on DVD, toffee, farmer's markets, words, shabby chic, messy hair, gap-toothed smiles, dancing in the den, five year olds, old movies, mix tapes, mail, blogs, puzzles, peach cobbler, tutus, after the rain, kisses, husbands who help, pink suitcases, vintage, chocolate milk mustaches, nine year olds, pico de gallo, thunder, cold wine, warm bread, blank paper, s l e e p y m o r n i n g s.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Our purchases from the Farmer's Market on Saturday. Not shown: a huge watermelon. I used the peaches to make peach cobbler, sliced the tomatoes and sprinkled with salt and pepper and cooked the white peas, sliced the eggplant into rounds and fried them. Add sauteed chicken (the only thing not purchased at the market)and you have our Saturday night supper. I think my favorite thing about summer is the fresh veggies and fruit. Delicious.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sniffle, Sneeze, Cough

I have contracted a rhinovirus. Also known as the common cold.

My head feels like small people are slamming away at my skull with pick axes while my sinuses are swollen, stuffed and inhibiting my ability to breath normally. Swallowing is an exercise in torture that produces pain in both my throat and my ears. I dare not leave the vicinity of the tissue box without a handful tucked into my pockets.


Breathing and taking care of other basic functions has taken priority over any non-necessary functions like cooking and cleaning.

What a wonderful way to celebrate a three year blogoversary!

Monday, June 14, 2010

In the Summertime

when the weather is HOT. Our summer is not a three month season. It usually begins in early May and lasts until the last of September of mid-October.

I love the sunshine. Long, lazy days when it doesn't get dark until 9 p.m. But the heat and 100% humidity? Not so much.

We are beating the heat with this:

Please note that it is leaning to the left. The directions said it needed to be on absolutely level ground to prevent listing, but we decided it wasn't necessary. Stupid instructions also state that the pool would be ready for water in 45 minutes. To which Rob guffawed and muttered: "Not when married people do it." He was right. It took closer to two hours of sweaty, cranky labor to put it together.

We have also tried out a few indoor amusements that don't involve video games or TV. And yes, those are MY artistic renderings (and you thought I was lying about the level of disaster that is my art/craft talent). Ha!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Tomorrow is the 56th anniversary of the D-day invasion. It's also our 12th wedding anniversary. No, it doesn't seem like it's been that long. I can still remember very vividly the details of that day. We've turned out well I think, for two people who are muddling through it all together. Content and happy. Still friends, still confidants, still in love.

Happy Anniversary Rob.

Music from our first date:

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hello Vacation!

Could it be that these little babies are already big school kids?!

Today was the first day of summer vacation for the kids. J.T. earned a medal at Honors Night on Thursday for making A/B honor roll every term. He slept with the medal in his hand. Abby got a tag for knowing all of her sight words. We celebrated their hard work (I have read that it is important to remind your children that hard work earns good grades, not something so vague as 'smart') and Ma Ma's birthday with dinner out.

What kind of mother-in-law do I have? The kind who chose pizza for her birthday dinner because she knew the kids would prefer it to a real sit-down restaurant that offered something so exotic as vegetables and salads. We refused however, and insisted on taking her somewhere that requires silverware. My father-in-law, of beer and liquor preference ordered a mojito. The look on his face when it arrived with mint leaves and a sliver of sugar cane... if only they had added a little umbrella. I told him he should have just ordered the beer.

I have this week off, so we have made big plans: Splash in the Boro with the cousins, a trip to the library tomorrow, grocery shopping (usually Rob's domain), an UNO tournament, yard work (oh the weeds!), car cleanout (it really is a rolling dumpster) and hopefully, sleeping late everyday! Abby let me sleep until almost nine this morning... before she woke me by blowing on my eyes and pointing out that if I would only look at the window I would see that it was day and not night. "Wake up Mom!" A call to action that was followed by a demand, er, request for chocolate milk.

As we were puttering about, I overheard them say my favorite words: "Let's pretend..."

Yes... let's.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Girl and Her Lip Gloss

Or more appropriately, a girl and her lip gloss gone crazy. All over her face, in the hair around her face... and dozens and dozens of lip prints on my dresser mirror. She even put it on her hand and made hand prints on my mirror.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Burnt Offerings

Melinda has gone where no one has gone before.

I burned a batch of cookies.


The same pan of cookies.

Two times.

Forgot to set the timer the first time and overbaked by 20 minutes.

Turned the oven off and let them cool/stop smoking.

Forgot they were in the oven and left them in it over night.

Turned the oven on to preheat.

And burned them again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pause Button Please!

I'd like to temporarily slow things down. Let the world stop spinning while I take a deep breath, have a spot of tea and a cookie... and exhale. Make that a glass of wine and entire box of cookies please.

We survived the graduation turned engagement party. My niece's boyfriend proposed with a rubber duck ring. Long story, but the entire proposal (which he bravely pulled off in front of 40 of their nearest and dearest family and friends) suited them. He was a music major and she just got a degree in German and Cultural Anthropology. They will need to take a Rob boot-camp course on organization and spread sheets as this is NOT a case of opposites attract.

I finished the painting. My mother tells me that next time I should hire a painter. Which I
think isn't an indictment of my brush/roller skills. Maybe. The ADD and the painting... not a good combination. I rolled a while over here and got bored with the long wall, switched to the short one. Spotted a bare spot over the doorway.... eh. That could explain the drips on the baseboard, the speckles on the back of the computer, the little runs of paint in the corners and the odd smear of Nantucket Gray (it's actually green-oh so jealous aren't we Aunty Evil)on the door frames. It did clean up well. Mostly.

The Wedding Shower was lovely. Perfect weather. Great family. Delicious food. One kid who "accidentally" slipped and just happened, HAPPENED to land in the pool. Of course it would be MY kid and he would then proceed to apply wet lower half to dirt to create a nice muddy coating all over his pants, feet and hands.

The cleaning lady came. Oh lovely, sweet cleaning lady. Which did give me a moment for a sip of Aussie tea and a nibble of Tim Tam at the end of the day.

The Tim Tams and tea, by the way, are MUCH more delectable than the Vegemite. Is it an acquired taste? I followed the instructions to the letter. Spread thin over buttered toast... but.... meh. I will try it again. Visitors here say that boiled peanuts are slimy and gross too. But we think they are delicious.

It really is the simple things in life that make it all worthwhile, yes?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


How does one manage to get paint under the drop cloth and not on it?

If your nine year old were to drop a four letter word into playdate conversation, does it have to be in front of the child with the judgmental parent?

What are the odds of Abby using her orange ear plugs to attach a "calendar" to her wall, just hours after the paint is dry? What are the odds that the ear plugs have an oily component and leave a lovely greasy mark on a freshly painted wall?

Did you ever snort laugh when your daughter, when asked about her dream job, responds: "I wanna work at Burger King when I grow up!" ?

Is dressing room lighting the WORST lighting on the planet, or do I really look like that?

Why did the romper come back in style? I get it for the small people. But on the grown women.... not so much.

Do you know the proper way to eat Vegemite? I got instructions with mine!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Eleventh Annual Anniversary Trip

Twelve years of marriage, already? My how time flies (hush up Rob).

Tomorrow we are embarking on the annual Savannah Anniversary Trip. Five weeks early due to work commitments for each of us. I've been looking forward to it all year. Books, clothes, shoes, window shopping, dinner, time alone.... bliss.

Monday, April 19, 2010

This is me...

setting about a Spring-time reboot. Freeze that image in your mind. By the time I'm done:

* Painting the den, hallway, stairway, guest bathroom AND the kitchen wall that J.T. splattered green den paint all over

* finishing up stage 1 of the "me" project of 2010

* steam clean the carpet

* organize swim lessons and guitar practice

* play hostess at a wedding shower

* host a Graduation party for my niece

* work on Mother's (did we decide if that was Mother's or Mothers'?) Day festivities


worst of all

cringe at just the thought of it

* go bathing suit shopping

THAT FACE won't be nearly that serene!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hodge Podge

Here's your update Aunty Evil! We've met with the mortgage person at the bank, and have decided after much number crunching, that we'd be better off saving up the money for our project. Which means dream delayed. But it is really important to us to be smart about our finances, as our local economy is expected to take a big hit this year. The good news is that Rob's careful financial planning and attention to detail resulting in us getting the best possible rate on our mortgage in the beginning.

This next bit is very dark ages--mid-1990s at least. We are still on dial-up! I know!! We live in the boonies and it has only just now become available in our section of the countryside. So of course, upgrading is HIGH PRIORITY! Remember the sound of the PC dialing in? Yeah. It's not so unfamiliar for us. That means I'll be posting more pictures and zooming through the web at lightning speed. I figure I can get the whole internet done in a few months.

My brother's birthday was the 9th of April. He would have been 46. Every year, my parents, siblings and I gather together and remember how lucky we were to have him in our lives and share our memories. This year, we spotted a big brown owl watching us carefully as we walked. He/She hooted and clicked at us, tilting its head to get a better view. We paused and watched the owl just as carefully. On our way out, we discovered the reason for his care.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dream a Little Dream

On Wednesday I have an appointment to meet with someone at the bank. We plan to discuss the feasability of turning our unfinished upstairs into a finished space. It's all a big fat "if" for now.

BUT. If it is easily within the realm of our finances, we plan to go ahead with it. The 'easily' is emphasized because we are cautious with our money. It would not do for either of us to live under the stress of worrying over making payments, stretching dollars for something that is not essential. I don't mean to sound as if we are cheap, or that we tuck away our dollars and cents for the future, without enjoying the present. We each purchase little bits of happy: books, a new dress, lovely sandals, movies, dinners out, etc.

"It" will be a place for Rob to display his large collection of toys, er, "collectible action figures" and comic books. I will have a retreat space where I can read and write and think in peace.

Even though it is still in idea phase... I've begun to dream a little. Don't you think this would look nice on clean, white walls? A bit of whimsy here and there? Perhaps a cushy chair or chaise for reading and daydreaming. A desk for writing, blogging and emailing. Notecards tucked in one drawer, scribbled ideas on so many fragments of paper nestled away in another... Books on shelves, piled high in corners, the window open to let in the light and fresh air.... sigh...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Diary of a Field Trip


- 5:45 a.m. Alarm off. We parents get ourselves ready and the final things in the car (except for those one or two essentials that are always left behind - more on that later), before waking the small people. Can I tell you that they've never gotten up so willingly? All I had to do was flip on the lightswitch and say "Today is Field Trip Day!" They popped up like jack in the boxes and beat a path for the bathroom.

- 7:30 a.m. Caravan of two school buses and 20 or so cars is scheduled to leave the school

- 7:45 a.m. Caravan of two school buses and 20 or so cars pulls out. Bus drivers immediately deviate from the pre-printed map to take a back roads short cut. Luckily we are the first car behind the bus.

- 8:00 a.m. Hit the interstate and accelerate to.... 55 miles per hour. 15 miles UNDER the speed limit. I have begun the side-seat driving and will hear Rob mutter "Yes dear" quite frequently as I offer advice; "Stay with the bus! Why are you passing the bus? What if they turn off behind us! Oh, you had to let that car in huh? How are we going to get back behind the bus? Oh. Pull off on the shoulder and let them pass us.... Good plan." Abby has already started asking "How much further?" and "Are we there yet?"

- 8:45 a.m. I realize that the essential I forgot was my makeup bag. Although our fellow travelers will get the full benefit of fixed up Melinda, the vacationers of Saturday and Sunday won't be so lucky.

- 9:45 a.m. The caravan, or what's left of it after over half the parents decided the pace was too slow and zoomed ahead, pulls into a rest area for a bathroom break.

- 11:00 a.m. It starts to rain. Can you imagine driving a school bus loaded with 50 kids on a five lane interstate (that's just the north bound lanes) in the rain? We spend the next hour carefully staying behind the bus, copying every lane change, speed change etc. Abby asks "are we there yet?" for the 32nd time.

- 12 p.m. At last. The aquarium is in view. But wait! The bus has it's own special parking and we have to find a place to park. We pay $5 for a spot in a parking deck and wind our way up and up and up until finally, there is a spot on the 8th level. Couldn't have parked soon enough... all that circling was making me dizzy. "Yes we are here Abby!"

- 12:15 p.m. We meet up with the school buses. The teachers had a really great plan to let the kids eat their sack lunches in the park across from the aquarium before our scheduled 1 p.m. tour. In a brilliant bit of planning all my own, I purchased two sandwiches for Rob and I the day before and packed them in our cooler, thinking we could eat with the kids in the park, saving both time and money. And then it rained. So the kids ate on the bus, there is nowhere to sit in front of the aquarium that isn't soaked and mass confusion of the pre-purchased tickets reigns.

- 1 p.m. By the time the ticket mess is sorted out and Abby and I have returned from the bathroom, the kids are inside, we are being rushed in and our sandwiches have to be thrown in the trash. Goodbye delicious sandwich and fresh strawberries. "No outside food allowed."

- 1:01 p.m. We begin a self-guided tour through the aquarium. There is a moving sidewalk that passes underneath a portion of the largest tank, the one that holds 3 whale sharks, 2 manta rays, 6 giant grouper and an assortment of other sharks, tropical fish, etc. It is amazing. 63 million gallons of water, every drop of which is filtered hourly. There is a 'theater' seat up in front of the tank where you can sit and listen to a guide give information on the different animals as they pass in front of the tank. We even get to watch them eat. Huge quantities of fish are poured into a large pipe that comes up under the tank and into the water. The fish know it is time to eat when bubbles start rising from the bottom of the tank as the pipe is opened. They quickly gather for the feast. The guide explains that the whale sharks are 'target fed' every other day, with a big scoop of plankton put right in front of their wide mouths for filter feeding. Their esophaguses are only about the diameter of a golf ball, so anything large could cause them to choke.

- 2:30 p.m. We decide to wait out the remaining time before our 3-D movie in the aquarium cafeteria. Rob brings us an order of chicken fingers and fries to share and four drinks. Cost = $19!! No wonder they don't let you bring in your own food! Abby wants to go in the gift shop. Me: "No. I'm not paying $20 for a stuffed whale shark."

- 3 p.m. We rejoin the rest of the school group upstairs and wait in roped off lines to enter the theater. Ten minutes of line-waiting hell as Abby keeps going under the ropes to peer over the railing at the other patrons or to poke her brother, wallow on the floor (yuck) and poke her brother... repeat. We are supplied with 3-D glasses and swarm in to find seats.

The cartoon film features a fish that is eerily similar to Dory from "Finding Nemo" and the makers are lucky that Disney doesn't sue them for copyright infringement. A "Bruce" the white shark character make his appearance EXACTLY the way the white shark did in Nemo... sneaking up behind the two smaller fish. The narrator fish appears to burst through the screen and water spritzes us from the ceiling, then bubbles fall followed by octupus tentacles in the form of strings and finally a blast of air, all perfectly timed with messages about ocean conservation. The kids squeal in delight at each of them.

- 4 p.m. We sign the boy out and try to find our way back to car park where we have to puzzle out the electronic payment system for the parking garage. The ticket has to be inserted into a vending type machine, which spits out change and a receipt to be used as you exit the parking deck. We. are. tired. But we still have to find our way OUT and onto the interstate for the next leg of the journey. More about the rest of the weekend adventures later. I'm tired all over again now. How 'bout you?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


We are planning a trip! First, we are travelling with J.T.'s class to the Georgia Aquarium, then we are going to take a respite here.

Spring Weather means warm weather AND cool weather clothes must be in the suitcases. We will be spending about 12 hours in the car round-trip, so DVD players, DS games, board games, books, etc., must be included. Snacks, drinks, hand-cleaner, paper towels... the list goes on. and on. and on. After all the careful planning, we will forget something essential like toothesbrushes or deodorant. Rob's dad once went off without any underwear in his suitcase. Talk about forgetting the essentials!

I also have to make a road trip CD from my itunes... which means every other song Rob will say, "What IS this?" There was a Leonard Cohen (composed Hallelujah) documentary on TV the other night, so the CD will have some of his work, as well as Black Eyed Peas, Ingrid Michaelson, Snow Patrol, The National, Smashing Pumpkins, and Sugarland. Something for everyone.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Fring/Spling Fling

Friday was the annual Spring Fling carnival/fundraiser at our elementary school. As you can tell from the post title, pronouncing Spring Fling correctly takes a bit of practice.

Cheap hot dogs, cokes, chips and homemade baked goods... yum. Kids running in mad circles about the field, all clad in matching brown Spring Fling shirts... ugh. Odds of the kids sticking together and making it easy to keep track of one's family amidst a sea of writhing, squealing brown... nil. Number of kids piling into blow up bounce houses/obstacle courses because the college student volunteers were late... countless. Children who developed selective hearing: "What? I can't hear you!" when told to get out of the crush before they were squished... two. Tummy aches from too much cotton candy topped of by ice cream... two. Knowing the cleaning lady had been and a tidy, fresh house awaited our return... priceless. Minutes before the trashing of the clean house began... 23.

It was a blissful twenty three minutes I tell you. BLISSFUL!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


*has schedule an appointment for a cut, color, and eyebrow maintenance...3 months overdue.

*is having a love affair with the movie 500 Days of Summer... particularly the gorgeous vintage frocks and music Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths, anyone?

*complains about the cold but will be equally cranky about the hot two months from now.

*as ever, is unorganized, and can't find: nail clippers, tweezers, a stack of completed thank you cards, OR my brown argyle socks.

*has children who have mud puddle radar and can find one and wallow in it on the sunniest of days.

*which means her washing machine could go on strike at any moment.

*doesn't wanna... workout, have salad for lunch, give up chocolate, do the laundry, or clean out the closet.

*is living such an exciting life that the highlight of the week thus far was the fact that toilet paper was on sale.

*thinks the Olympics aren't nearly as fun without the USSR to root against.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow Indeed!

Kid quote: "The best day ever!"

Dad quote: "Snow is like an amusement ride; you get on, enjoy, get off and go home."

Thursday, February 11, 2010


It might,just might, MAYBE snow tomorrow evening.

My children are over the moon with excitement.

Fingers and toes crossed that they get their very first snowfall.

The last time it snowed I was in college and had to drive to my history class. Quite brave of me to sludge through 1/2 an inch of snow and twenty degree weather so I could be the ONLY person who showed up.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Life is Like

(oh you thought I was going to say 'a box of chocolates' didn't' you)?

I was thinking more like a really fast merry-go-round that never stops, even when you feel like you're going to be sick.

Dear dad of the recent 'Daddy' post went in on Thursday for a heart catherization and was quickly bustled to Savannah in the ambulance. Three arteries that were 70-80% blocked required a triple bypass surgery early Friday morning. He did really well and should come home tomorrow! It is stunning to me that someone could have heart surgery on Friday and be ready for discharge on Tuesday. The six weeks of taking it easy that are prescribed post-surgery will be harder than the surgery itself.

Abby is leaning to ride her bike... without the training wheels! What?! Already? She has it mostly mastered in a hang-on for dear life way and has a tendency to steer to the left.... meaning our down the driveway beginnings find their arcing journey's end in the backyard. She grins the whole time and pedals like a mad woman.

J.T. should begin guitar lessons this month if we can sort out our schedules and would like to sign-up for baseball in the spring. Abby is pestering us for dance lessons. Fitting in extracurricular activities and homework and meals, etc. is quite the challenge! I have no idea how my mother managed with four of us.... baton twirling, football, piano, band practice...

The car has done the now that it's paid off I must break something routine. Twice. At a price tag of $1,000. Abby's tubal ligation bill came. Without listing the portion paid by our health insurance. Which necessitated several phone calls and navigation of the automated phone system loop. I might have muttered an ugly word or twelve while on eternal "please hold".

Last night we had the most gorgeous pink sunset. It made the merry-go-round ride slow down. Just for a bit.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wise Beyond My Years

Another year, another year older... or as those of us in the ripe old thirties like to say, another year wiser. Since I couldn't invite you all over for cake and ice cream, I thought I'd share some of my hard-earned wisdom with you. You might want to take notes.

* Sock sorting is not a job for the Attention Deficit. I have 27 socks in all lengths, colors and thicknesses who have no mate. It may have something to do with the washing machine and dryer eating them and it may have something to do with the fact that I am bored and distracted by the time I get around to the socks.

* 11 p.m. is a late night. A really late night. If you're going to plan a nice big party (with handtowels please) Aunty Evil, I need to be home by 10 p.m. at the latest. Otherwise I'll be snoring face first in whatever delicious dessert you've prepared for me, the guest of honor.

* Don't try to convince the "I'm not flying unless it's a medical emergency" husband that a trip to Alaska next summer is a good idea. Aside from the whole flying thing... trying to contain Abby on a non-Disney cruise to a whole lot of history rich/kid activity poor destinations seems like a bad idea. So I think trying to convince him that flying to Australia in the pressurized cylinder of death over shark infested waters is not up for a vote right now either.

* Fingernail polish with glitter will NOT come off! It cannot be scraped off, peeled off or chemically disengaged from the fingernail under any circumstance known to man. Or to woman. Or to this woman anyway.

* Those little diet meals in the frozen food section are filling.... for about 30 minutes. Eating 5 cookies for dessert negates the benefit of the healthy meal. Unless one subscribes to the "I could have had fettucine alfredo AND the cookies" theory. Luckily, I practically invented that theory. I call it "The Diet Coke Principle." Diet coke cancels out candy bar because I could have the candy bar and a regular coke. So technically, I saved myself 200 calories.

* No matter how old one gets, if one is "the baby" in the family, one will always be referred to as "the baby".

* You can make your best friend's husband turn really, really white and speechless by announcing that you've seen that video of him doing the Wiifit hula hoop... and it's all over youtube! Even if you haven't and it isn't.

* A cake, some friends and a couple of presents is all it takes to make a 9 year old boy exclaim "This was the best birthday ever!"

* No matter how stringently one enforces the "no eating outside of the kitchen" rule, one will find cheese cracker crumbs and ice cream spoons in bedrooms, under the couch cushions and even in the bathroom (?!).

So go on. Take this sage advice and live a better, more fulfilled life starting right now! Oh, I have another one about playing chicken with a squirrel, but I'll save that for later. The long and short of it is, if he'd had a bigger brain, he would have darted right and not left. You know, away from the car and it's giant wheels of death.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I love my daddy. I don't talk about him often enough in this space. He's a stubborn, hard-headed, soft-hearted, penguin-walking, mathematical/engineering whiz with a love of ramblin wrecks, sweet and sour pickles, WWII history, and trains. He gave us his time, money, support and love... and still does.

He has sold cokes and cooked hot dogs at the football concession stand to support his band geek children. Travelled to football games near and far to cheer on the son whose first punt went farther up than out, but who developed into a great tackler and could get the fool out of the football by the end of the season. He has used his trusty pocket knife to relieve feet of splinters and entertained us by proving that someone with a lot of muscle mass cannot float and will instead sink to the bottom of the pool. He not-so-patiently taught us how to drive both a manual and an automatic car, even though it is probably responsible for the lack of hair on his head and the gray in the few that remain. You can still find him taxi-ing grandchildren around and his spaghetti is spicy deliciousness.

"Sit" and "still" are not in his vocabulary.The last movie he sat through was The Fugitive in 1993 and he loves my mother so much he took her to see Gone With the Wind (all four hours of it) when they were dating. If you need him, he's probably in the shop making something or repairing something or hanging out with the dog.

He taught us THE best fight song EVER:

Doctor is a concept that ranks right up there with educated idiots and liverwurst for my Dad. So it wasn't a terrible shock to any of us that the way we found out he'd been having chest pains for a while, was when he experienced dizziness and left-arm pain at the hardware store and ended up in the ICU hooked up to a cardiac monitor for a couple of days. He has an appointment with the cardiologist next Friday and needs to watch his sugar intake and was prescribed something for cholesterol. We're grateful we get to love him a lot longer and that we can still ask him for advice and opinions for many years to come.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


The cold has descended to even the deepest parts of the south. The Everglades are under a freeze warning! We're talking mid-40's for the high and low 20's for the overnight low. For thin-blooded southerners, that is practically arctic cold. Thank goodness for hot chocolate and fuzzy blankets.


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