Monday, August 31, 2009

Remembering my first

The day I opened my store was such a blur, but in all the craziness, I can clearly remember my first real customer. The store opened at 10 AM and for the first few hours, friends and family popped in and out. My first sale was to a friend of mine, a fellow store owner in the shopping center. She bought a hipster overnighter as a birthday gift for a friend of hers.

But that sale didn't really count. She knew me, and like many of my girlfriends, had stopped by while we were setting up. She spotted the bag a week before we opened and said that she would buy it as soon as we were "officially" in business. While I sincerely appreciated the business, it wasn't a bonafide honest to goodness real sale to someone I had never met.

That happened just after lunch.

A group of women wandered in and began checking things out. I followed them around with enthusiastic and over-eager explanations of all of the products they were looking at. They finally gathered around a display of fold-up tote bags.

"Oh, these look just like the Longchamp," one of the women said. I had no idea what she was talking about.

Another added, "Fifteen dollars? They would make great gifts!" She scooped up three bags.

The truth was, I hated those totes. But they were inexpensive, and I needed some filler items since my opening budget was so tight. The colors worked for our display, so I ended up ordering a ton of them. We wrapped the bags and sent the woman on her way. Later I found out that the bags were a knock off of a ridiculously expensive brand of collapsible french bags.

So that is where I am now with my writing. Lots of friends proclaiming the cleverness of my products and a few lined up to "buy," but no real customers yet. And the truth is, I can't wait for that first sale.

Knock off cheapie thing that I hate or not, it is going to feel damn good to sell it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blog bog

If a blog entry is posted and no one leaves a comment, does it even make a sound?

Every so often I start wondering about the bizarre motivation behind this whole blog thing. Why choose to write this way? I read a statistic recently that said that there are over 15 million active blogs. Those are just the blogs that have been posted to in the last 90 days. There are millions more that have been abandoned. Portions of peoples lives are languishing out in cyberspace, little orphaned thoughts guarded by outdated snapshots of the family dog.

I guess the more important question is, would I still write this stuff if absolutely no one was reading it? Probably not. It would be like talking to myself.

And that is just crazy, right?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Oh baby!

As soon as I drop Little Guy at pre-school, I am off to visit a friend who just had a baby girl a few weeks ago. I can't wait to see my friend and lay eyes on her precious little gal. She and I haven't known each other long, so I have never known her NOT pregnant.

The best part about holding a brand new baby? Handing her back to her Momma and then heading home for a full night of sleep!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Working girl

So I recently got a little job. Sort of.

I am going to be writing blog posts and web content for my former store. It is in many ways the perfect job for me, since I know the business so very intimately. The gal I sold it to has spent the better part of this year working on developing an eCommerce site. I think it looks fantastic and it really conveys the essence of the in-store experience, something that isn't always easy to do.

Initially, I will be bartering for store credit. Though not a paying gig, it is a solid arrangement, and I have a feeling it is going to lead to bigger opportunities. We are still working out a few kinks with the look and feel and content, but things are starting to come together.

So now and then, be sure to visit me over here too. And if something strikes your fancy be sure to comment and then of course, throw my girlfriend a little business.

It's just a little job and even though my 9 to 5 is actually little more like 9 to 10, it still feels pretty great to be a working girl again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Breaking news

We will now interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this very important announcement:


Thank you for your patience and co-operation.
We will now re-join our regular program already in progress.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Home improvement

Over the weekend Hubs and I embarked on a minor home improvement project.

I decided to move a West Elm filing cabinet into our family room and re-purpose it for toy storage. The change was initiated by the purchase of a fantastic set of lockers that I got for our office/art room (the lockers are red and I love them so much, an entire post kind of love). The addition of the lockers displaced another smaller storage piece, also from West Elm, and it wound up in the family room. Once the smaller piece was gone, the file cabinet looked enormous and out of place. Since I sold my business, and I don't really need so much filing space, and it didn't really match, out came the file cabinet too.

The home improvement part came up because the cabinet is so heavy that when the drawers are all the way out, it tips forward a little. We are not in the habit of going overboard with the childproofing, but it needed some anti-tipping brackets if we were going to use it in the family room and allow the kids to open and close it regularly.

This is where things started to break down.

You see, Hubs and I cannot seem to work together on any task requiring tools without bickering. We usually get along pretty well. I like the guy. Really I do. But put a screwdriver in his hand and it's on.

It starts out innocently enough, with him trying to find a stud, and me hovering in the background. Then words are exchanged about the method he has devised for securing the cabinet. A second trip to the hardware store is made and a real patent-pending childproof anti-tipping bracket is purchased. More searching for the right place to secure it to the wall and a heated discussion over whether the cabinet has to be taken apart. The cabinet is moved three times.

Then he mentions something about his engineering degree.

And I am all, did you just call me stupid?

Finally the cabinet was fixed in place. But then, at the end of it, our relationship is the thing at risk of tipping over, threatening to crush him or me, or one of the kids.

And I wonder where they sell the kit to fix that little problem?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A peanut butter & reality sandwich

I was making a PB & J sandwich for Girlie the other day when she requested that I cut the crusts off.

"Nope. You can just eat around them." I replied.

You see, my whole parenting philosophy is based around the crust on a sandwich. Not cutting the crusts is my way of saying life is tough, there are always parts you don't want to deal with, so you'd bettter get used to it now. Eventually, it won't matter anymore, and you might even find yourself liking the rough edges.

I like to think that by not cutting off the crusts I am teaching my kids a valuable life lesson.

Or maybe I am just a meanie.

Friday, August 21, 2009

School days

Girlie started the second grade and I can already tell it is going to be a fantastic year. She got a great teacher, her best friend is in her class, and it looks like they have tons of great things lined up, including a family camping trip at the end of September. I have worked out a carpool agreement with a friend so I am taking her every morning, and my friend is picking her up. Not only do I get to avoid the afternoon heat, I also don't have to pry Little Guy out of his nap to get there on time.

Next week, Little Guy will be starting a half day program two days a week. We went to the orientation this week and he seemed like such a big little person as he explored the room. I know there will be some tears when I actually leave him there, but I think he'll enjoy the activities.

At some point in the very near future, I will be in my house alone. I plan to throw on some heels and apron, channeling my inner housewife. Isn't that really what we all picture staying at home to be like? Baking cookies, chatting with girlfriends on the phone, feather duster in hand, nary a child in sight...

Anyone want to come over for a champagne toast?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More room for debate

So I participated in policy debate in high school and during the first few years of college. Each year, a topic, known as a resolution, would be passed by The National Forensic League. If you were on the affirmative team, you offered a case in support of the resolution and defended your proposal. If you were on the negative team, your job was to prove that the solution offered couldn't possibly work. Yes, we definitely were the nerdiest group of people, but we had more advanced social skills than the Science Club, and marginally better attire, so we weren't at the bottom of the misfit heap.

In some ways it was easier being on the affirmative team, because you knew what the case was going to be ahead of time. But blowing apart another team's reasoning was where the real excitement could be found (oh, yes I did just write that). One of the tricks of a good negative team, was to link the other person's case to a nuclear war. Through a series of arguments supported by sources, some sketchy, you would link one argument to another until the affirmative team's idea resulted in the decimation of society as we knew it.

Of course we all knew that allowing prisoners to continue hunger striking without intervention as a method to reduce prison population (yes, a real case that I argued in support of), wasn't going to trigger a nuclear war, but an affirmative team had the burden of proof, so one small crack in the case, theoretically off-kilter as it might have been, and you lost.

What strikes me most now, as I listen to the debates about health care reform and the demise of the public option, is how much the arguments sound just like those crazy debate briefs we researched. Death squads, financial collapse, bureaucratic implosion of the system. The problem is, these aren't esoteric policy debates argued by scruffy students.

And at the end of it all, nobody wins.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I can't decide what I like more: a sizable to-do list with half the things crossed off OR a freshly written list with everything jotted neatly in front of me.

One has the advantage of showing that progress has been made.

The other is all about order.

Decisions, decisions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Worth remembering? Debatable.

I have lost a few more memories. Well, I didn't actually lose them, I threw them away. Every few years, I go through the childhood keepsake box and toss a few more items. I am finally down to one small box with the teddy bear I got at a police station in Switzerland, my parent's wedding cake topper, my baby shoes, a yearbook, and a random pile of news clippings.

This year I parted with the top speaker award that I won at a debate tournament in high school. It was a small wooden gavel with a little brass plate that said Third Speaker Emory '89. I won it at a debate camp I attended during the summer before my senior year. The camp was pretty expensive, but I my coach and I sold Krispy Kreme donuts to raise money to cover the costs.

The camp experience was a mixed bag, my debate partner and I were both from public schools and one of the coaches ended up handing over some of our best research to a couple of the private school kids who always placed at the top of the state competitions and toured the national circuit. Still, I remember being so excited about the award because the competition was pretty tough and I had big dreams of attending Emory University. Just six months later, about halfway through my senior year, I would find out that my parents couldn't afford the private university tuition, even with the partial scholarship I had already been awarded.

I wonder if I will remember any of that stuff now that I have tossed the gavel in the trash.

I wonder if I even want to.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Two: Part Two

So the plumbing survived our first major attack of the terribles. In the end, Hubs managed to wrench a small doll house table out of the trap, but only after the plumber had already been by to inform us that the entire toilet would have to be removed and reset. And that it would cost around $500. The story will now become a part of family folklore, each year the toy becoming larger and Hubs digging deeper into the toilet to wrestle it free.

But of course there is another part of The Tale of Two that I don't want to forget.

When I kiss his little toes, he always raises the other foot for a "turn." And there's the cute way he insists on an afternoon nap, saying "tired now," while snuggling his blankie like a long lost lover. And that laugh that shakes his entire being. It makes us all smile.

As is usually the case, two sides to every story.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Almost too much fun

The other day Girlie had a friend over and I took them to the Phoenix Children's Museum. After a full day of play and exploration, including an art room incident where her friend's gorgeous black hair wound up with a giant splotch of paint, she got invited to join the same friend for a baseball game that evening. I said yes, and her friend's Grandmother picked them up at around 5.

Girlie got home that night at around 9:45, pretty late for her since she is usually in bed by 8 PM. She told us she had a fantastic time and then proceeded to list the things that they had consumed at the game: lemonade, hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy, ice cream, and Cheetos.

Needless to say, she wasn't feeling very well.

"Mom," she said, "it was fun. But almost too much fun. You know?"

Oh honey. Do I ever.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Terrible news about the terrible twos

I have a feeling I am going to be writing a ton about the two year old thing this year.

A few days ago Little Guy flushed a very large wooden toy down the drain of our main bathroom. It happened in a split second as Hubs was running his bath. The plumber is coming today so I still don't know the full extent of the damage. Sigh.

Big sigh.

Here's the thing. Much as I love him, the truth is, Little Guy is a shady opportunist. I have resigned myself to exist in pure survival mode. And today, if we all make it the to the end of the day without damaging the plumbing, or breaking a major appliance, or experiencing any sort of bodily harm, then I am going to pour myself a glass of wine.

And call it a really really good day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


When we moved to South Carolina we bought a little bungalow on a historic street. It was practically perfect except for the main bathroom.

We felt like we could take on the the task of renovating, with the help of a contractor, since we had a little extra money from the sale of our condo in Atlanta and and a second bathroom to get us by while the work was being done. I interviewed a few people and found the perfect guy. He could do all of the work himself which would save us the hassle of hiring out painters, plumbers, and tilers separately.

Our contractor got to work ripping out everything down to the steal bar reinforcements under the concrete. We kept the tub, and had it buffed and reglazed. I couldn't see much of what was going on, but I could tell he was making progress, putting in beadboard, adding custom shelving, installing the vintage inspired tile, putting in the new pedestal sink. Finally he was nearly finished and taped off the room with sheets of plastic to begin painting.

That was when he mentioned, casually, that he was almost legally blind.

'Scuse me?

Sure enough, he finished the job and I started noticing things. The floor was unevenly tiled, the sink a little off, the paint job not so precise. Our new antique inspired bathroom looked a little too authentic. As in it looked almost exactly like the original bathroom, minus the Waverly wallpaper.

All that time and effort, and we were almost back where we started. I don't know what made me think about that bathroom, except I guess it describes exactly how I am feeling about my writing right now. I had a rhythm going before the summer and now it is all uneven, sloppy, and far from what I imagined it to be.

And this time I am the half blind contractor.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Planes, trains, and... dinosaurs?

Now that Little Guy is officially two, the boy toys are mounting an invasion. I can remember a time, before Girlie, when I imagined my house full of gorgeous wood toys and antique children's books. Just a few would do, thank you, let them use their imagination!

It all began to fall apart with the Little People. Not the real live little people, the plastic ones. Girlie was really into them and thus we started our first plastic collection. There was a house and a farm and various vehicles. Not quite a village, more like a smattering of random pieces that made up a rural community where the fire station was really a garage staffed by volunteers. It was okay though, because the fireman was actually a firewoman or maybe just a man with long curly hair, but either way there weren't that many of them.

Eventually she got dollies and barbies, a miniature kitchen and a doll house (both wood, thankyajesus), stuffed animals, a baby carriage, and piles of books. The girl toys crept in and stealthily took over, but they weren't aggressive and reminded me of my childhood. Plus, most of them were pink and soft and didn't make sounds. Yes, we did wind up with an astounding number of plastic Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop pieces, but they are mercifully small. So small, in fact, that you can occasionally vacuum them up, and no one is the wiser.

The boy toys, on the other hand, have mounted a full scale assault. The trains, the trucks, the cars! They all make sounds. Even our sweet wood Thomas the Train set has a small depot with a dinging stop sign. And when they don't make sounds, Little Guy is happy to improvise. BAM! CRASH! SHSSSSHHHHHHHH!

I was recently hanging out with a friend of mine who has two boys, ages 2 & 4, when she pulled out a bulk pack of 100 AAA batteries. My eyes widened and my jaw dropped slightly open, as I tried to form the question.

"You'll see," she smirked.

And she was right! Because now we have Geotrax, loud plastic remote powered trains. Little Guy loves them, plays with them for ages, and you DO NOT WANT the batteries to run out. And did I mention that he loves them, plays with them for ages? For that very reason, I love them too.

So I guess I'll just have to roll with it, this boy thing. At least the loud sounds double as a tracking device. As long as I am hearing something, I know my makeup bag is safe from plundering hands. I'll try to get as many stylish wooden things as possible, but I have a feeling this one is not a battle I can win.

"Oh, and wait until you get to the dinosaurs," my friend said.


Oh no.

Do they even make wood ones?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Project Run Away

So Bravo was showing a marathon of Project Runway reruns one day last week and I love that show. Normally I try to be productive while Little Guy naps, but Girlie wanted to use the computer and I was still stuffy, and it's still summer break, so I decided to leave the lunch dishes in the sink, flop on the couch, and watch it. I never ever ever watch TV during the day and it felt nice to cut myself a little slack for once.

Of course Little Guy wakes up during the final minutes of the finale. Yes, I have seen it before, but I was invested people, and I couldn't tear myself away. So I get him up, stick some snacks in a bowl, and resume watching. Maybe it was the cold medicine, or maybe it was Michael Kors making that face, or those headphones that Jay had on all of his models (love that), or maybe I was busy trying to decide if I really liked Kara or whether Wendy was really all that bad as a person, but I didn't notice Little Guy wandering off.

During a commercial break I finally snapped out of it and realized that things around the house were quiet. Not good quiet, bad quiet.

Sure enough, I found him in the bathroom, finger painting the door with my favorite tube of Bobbi Brown lipstick. Missed the last few minutes of the show after all, mashed up my best goes-with-everything shade, but I'm not bitter about it.

Not one little bit.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Guy!

You are full of life and more fun to be with than I ever could have imagined. Because of you I have learned that mud is a must have, that bugs are actually long lost friends, and that smashing even is more fun than stacking. You bring a wonderful chaos to my life, and I spend most of my day just trying to keep up with you, which is why I barely got this posted on your birthday!

Love and kisses,
Mental Momma

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ending the cold war

I am fighting a little cold this week, and by fighting I mean that I am ignoring it and pretending that my scratchy throat, stuffy nose, and tightness in my chest simply don't exist. Both of the kids are getting over the same thing and Hubs has it too. He has it so bad, in fact, that he worked from home for a couple of days.

The first day, when he called in sick and went back to bed, I felt so annoyed. How come he gets to be sick? I thought to myself as I grumpily made him some tea with honey. But lately I have been working on changing the dynamic between us, so I didn't say a word and resolved to try to nurture him a little without letting him know how put out I felt about it. As I busied myself with breakfast, it occurred to me that I could have a sick day too.

I just don't ask for one.

When I wake up with an illness, I weigh the possibilities. I try to figure out if I am really sick, whatever that means. I mentally calculate the number of the things the kids will need and the effort it would take me to translate that information. And finally, I feel so guilty about asking Hubs to rearrange his day, that I usually just pull myself out of bed and get on with it. And you know what? That has everything to do with me and nothing to do with Hubs.

So I am drafting a peace accord with myself. I have been waging a one-sided battle and really, how ridiculous is that? The next time, I promise myself I am just going to surrender and ask for help.

I mean, you know, if I am really sick.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Have you ever noticed how some things, when you pay too much attention to them, become impossible to do? It's like when you stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself try to tie a lace or fasten the clasp on a necklace. What is right in front of your eyes becomes awkward and confusing, and the closer you look, the harder it becomes.

I think that must be how it is with writing. Eventually you just have to step back, stop watching your reflection, wait for your brain talk to your fingers, and then it happens.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Food Fight

A few years before Girlie was born, I started catching on to the whole organic food movement. I remember being completely horrified that our fruits and vegetables were allowed to be drenched in pesticides and our meats were treated with dangerous fillers and medicines. It didn't seem to make sense that the amount of yucky stuff on our food had actually increased over the course of my lifetime. Though not a zealot, I considered myself to be an environmentally conscious consumer and started thinking about what I was buying. I wasn't always convinced that it was going to harm my own health (I mean the food growers wouldn't go that far, would they?), but I cared about the earth and I did it more for the general good than my own.

At the time, organic wasn't mainstream and you could only to go to a specialty store to get it. We were living in a smallish town in South Carolina but it was a fairly progressive one, and close to Asheville, North Carolina, so there were two organic markets. I could get fresh organic breads, local meats, and seasonal veggies pretty easily and I brought my own bags.

I felt like such a hippie.

Eventually, we moved back to Georgia, to another smallish but not so progressive town. There wasn't an organic grocer, but luckily the larger stores began picking up on the trend, so I made due. By then, the data was starting to come out about how the non-organic stuff was harmful to consume and it made me angry that the broccoli that I was feeding my kid, for her good health, might actually be damaging her growing body. I started getting my vegetables delivered from a farm. I couldn't get fresh bread or cleaning products, but at least I could get milk and eggs, even though I was basically shopping two aisles at the end of the store. Over time, larger companies started jumping in and by and large I was able to fill our fridge with what we needed, though it wasn't easy. Then I started noticing that it was becoming a little trendy among certain groups to buy green.

I bought organic mustard and felt like such a yuppie.

Then we moved to Phoenix on a single income and I started getting a little obsessed with the budget. Do I really need a $6 box of organic cereal? Am I just doing this because it is the hip thing to do? Are these just the trappings of a liberal yuppie, along with my crumpled Sunday New York Times and my (company owned) Prius? Does all of this stuff really have to be organic?

I regressed.

So I feed my family fairly healthy foods. We aren't big on processed stuff around here. You won't find Doritos or sodas in my pantry. You won't find hot dogs or Capri-Sun packets in my fridge. Or Lunchables or those disgusting pre-made PB&J sandwiches in my kids lunch boxes (have you ever read the labels on those things, they look like a science experiment). But you might find a $4 whole chicken or a package of inexpensive rib eyes.

And yesterday I found out, what I probably already knew, but was choosing to ignore, at least for a little while. While Hubs was with the kids, I spent a few hours in a dark (and cool) theater watching a movie that has renewed my vigilance.

The corn by-products in everything, the soy fillers monopolized by one company, the meats processed in giant filthy slaughterhouses, all that cheap stuff really costs a great deal.

So go see it, and get ready to fight. Liberal, conservative, hipsters and mainstreamers, we all deserve better than this.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Back to before

After a few months off, I am back in my routine. Waking while it is still dark, coffee pot chugging out some fuel, working on a short story, a new perspective on my book, Girlie starting school in a few weeks, Little Guy beginning a half day preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays, an upcoming writing workshop...

before is back!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Feelin' hot hot hot

Landing in Phoenix in August feels like stepping on Mars. Everything is quiet and dry and hot.

Really hot.

But I love it. And if men are from Mars, then maybe I am on to something. Don't tell Hubs, but Phoenix is my hot boyfriend.