Saturday, October 31, 2009


Today is my birthday and I am not usually the type to worry about getting older, but recently it occurred to me that thirty-seven is a full twenty years from seventeen. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be seventeen again. Ever. But twenty years?

The show Thirtysomething was a hit during the late eighties and though I was a little too young to really follow it, I must have caught a few episodes here and there. I remember being annoyed by several of the female characters, especially Hope and sometimes Nancy. There was always so much self involved drama on the show, but the women especially got to me. I resolved that wasn't going to be one of those women when I had a family.

A few weeks ago, I caught an NPR interview with several members of the cast discussing the twentieth anniversary of the first episode of Thirtysomething. I couldn't remember which actors went with which characters, so I came home and looked up the wikipedia synopsis on the program. Then I stumbled on this:

"Hope is a writer and stay-at-home mother who struggles between her desire to be at home with her daughter, Janey (and later son, Leo) and her need to work. Due to her feminist views, she sometimes feels like a sellout for having become a homemaker."

Uh oh.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pjs, pancakes, and pumpkins

Today I am feeling pretty good. Despite the fact that I am supposed to be on a plane to California this morning. Despite the fact that I got a ticket last night on the way home from writing class. Despite the fact that the situation I am heading for back home is going to be pretty tough. I feel okay.

Since I am going to miss trick or treating, I decided to make today all about hanging out with the kids. This morning, they are pretty irresistible. It was cold last night, and Hubs had them both in footie Pjs. They hung out watching cartoons while I made blueberry pancakes.

The cool weather is hanging around, and later this morning we are heading to a pumpkin patch. On the way home, we'll stop somewhere and try to find a copy of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. And I am hoping to coax Hubs home from work a little early to carve our pumpkins.

Today is one of those days when it is so easy to see that I am a lucky lucky girl.

Pjs, pancakes, and pumpkins.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Yesterday my father had some surgery and the results were not what we hoped for. My mom called to give me the results and then we had a conversation which included the words hospice care.

She said hospice but my brain initially processed it as rehab. He has been in the hospital for a few weeks and and the doctors had already warned us that he would need some help before coming home. A few minutes later I realized that she said hospice, that she meant hospice, and that hospice means something different entirely. She still hasn't talked to him about it and we don't know if that means at home or in a facility.

So I canceled my plans to attend a writing conference hosted by Sun Magazine this weekend and scheduled a flight to Georgia instead. I'll get to spend a few days with my Dad and we'll talk.

And maybe afterwards I will write a few things.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Say cheese!

I have been very lazy about including photos on this blog lately. We have three digital cameras, our original camera, one from the office, and one that Girlie got for Christmas a few years ago.

Three cameras, and often, not one good picture.

It seems like the batteries are always running out on all three cameras at the same time and of course, they all use different batteries and different rechargers. If I am lucky enough to grab a camera with power, I find that I have forgotten to remove the memory card from the computer (where I had been downloading hundreds of crappy pictures) and pop it back in. And don't even get me started on the composition of the photos. I cut off heads, pick bad lighting, and manage to make anything with dimension look flat. I really think it's me, because nine times out of ten, a picture taken of me looks bad too. Like I took it.

While the writing comes easily enough, capturing the image to go along with it seems to be an enormous effort. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I believe it. Maybe two thousand words. Or an entire novel.

I need an official blog photographer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't spend it all in one place

Today I am sitting here looking at a check my mother sent me for my birthday. For $25. It's sweet, really, and it's not that I expect more, but I wonder if I might be getting too old to get a check from my mommy. For $25.

I have plenty of time to consider this because this is another morning of waking up at the crack of dawn just to spend over an hour running an antivirus scan on my crappy crappy piece of (deep breath) desktop computer. As soon as I drop off Little Guy at preschool today, I will be heading somewhere and I will be spending some bucks. With everything going on, I have been ignoring the fact that this computer is on it's last leg and sticking my head in the sand has caused me to become ridiculously unproductive. I need a laptop really really bad.

Much as I want a MacBook, I will probably end up with a new PC laptop. Then I will have the clunker wiped clean and rebuilt from scratch after which I will load some really bad ass malicious software tools on both of my babies. We'll see where that gets me.

Saturday is my birthday, so I could call the new laptop my birthday present. Except that I was already calling my trip to the Sun Magazine writing conference in Big Sur the present. Oh, and I think I told Hubs the U2 tickets could cover my birthday too. And the vintage owl cookie jar I scored on ebay. And then there's the check. For $25.

Thanks Mom. And yes, I will treat myself to something special just for me, but I will spend it all in one place.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Opinions are like, well, you know

Last week I went to the U2 concert, along with half of Phoenix it seems. The rest of the week I kept running into friends who had gone.

"You went?"
"Me too!"

And then,

"I thought the Black Eyed Peas rocked."
"Weren't the Black Eyed Peas horrible?"
"The Black Eyed Peas were fantastic, totally disappointed in U2 though."
"It was incredible, Bono was beyond."
"It was okay, Fergie was better in person that I thought she'd be."
"So glad we went."
"So glad the tickets were free."

And I would catch myself every time, trying to decide if there was something I missed. Was it good? Was it bad? What were they seeing that I hadn't? Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when I see just how different they are, just how much a single experience can vary, it makes me wonder whether anyone else's opinion, other than my own, is really important all all.

You see I loved the concert. I thought the Black Eyed Peas were great. I thought U2 were awesome. I had a really great time, a worth every penny kind of night. And I guess I am right about that. For me.

I don't know, what do you think?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Left or write

Sometimes, writing involves a careful negotiation. The words must be coaxed out. The writer delicately asks permission to use them. With excruciating precision, the words flow into sentences which form paragraphs and pages.

Other times, the process is less elegant. The words are demanded and then beaten into submission. They come together quickly and organize themselves into perfect rows. And just because you told them to.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Art appreciation

So today I am heading to Girlies school to do an art presentation. I volunteer with a program to supplement art education in the classroom. Because of the budget cuts, the kids only get a half year of art class, so the rest of the time a small group of parents fill in on a rotating basis. We present a famous piece of art, talk about the artist, and do a project. Pretty simple stuff.

The thing is, I am not an artist, not that familiar with art history, and a little intimidated by the prospect of grabbing the attention of an entire class of second graders. Give me a room full of adults any day, but little people? They scare me. But I do it, because I feel very strongly that art is an important part of developing a whole person. The program is pretty organized and the school provides most of the materials. While it is art, and I am the type who can barely draw a stick figure, we are talking elementary school art, so I think I can handle it.

We're looking at Van Gogh's The Starry Night. I will talk about the painting, and Van Gogh himself, and then another mother will lead a related art project. I decided to make star shaped sugar cookies, because every kid loves a cookie, and if my presentation is a little boring I'll just whip a cookie out. Hey, kid! Look, a cookie! Anyway, I am working on the cookies and reading over the materials when Girlie mentions that they will be having a substitute teacher the day of my presentation.

And that the substitute is last year's art teacher, Mr. B.


Then I called the other mother to confirm the head count and found out that we are combining classes. So I'll have sixty kids instead of thirty.


Which is why I am up at 5 AM to bake a second batch of star cookies. For sixty kids. And preparing to impersonate the art teacher. While he watches.

Maybe I should have just volunteered to correct the spelling tests.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

i love U2

Hubs and I just left the U2 concert.

U2 people are my people, but somewhere along the way my people started getting old. I swear there was actually a woman using a walker. Okay, maybe she had broken her leg or something. And she looked about 50ish. But still.

The woman in front of us kept pulling up pics of her kids on her iphone and the husband pretty much sat through the entire show. I think even they high-fived each other about scoring some cotton candy, and not because they were stoned.

But once the music started I didn't even notice. I actually got pretty emotional during a few of the songs, like the one Hubs sang while we hiked in Italy and the one that was a huge hit the year we moved away from Atlanta. U2 is my soundtrack.

I am pretty sure that the misty-eyed melodrama qualifies me as old too, but maybe not. Either way, I think am okay with it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Too tired for a title

Today I am showing up here, but it is one of those days when you start off in a slow jog and then give up before the first corner. I am walking the rest of the way, dragging along really, and I am only doing it because I have already taken off and don't have a choice.

It seems that over the last few weeks I have forgotten how to fall asleep and it is finally catching up with me. It all makes sense really. My mother-in-law has been here for two weeks, so I have been busier than usual. The vacation was fun and somewhat relaxing, but I never sleep well away from home. And through all this, my Dad has been in the hospital. Last night I got some not so good news about him and stared at a dark ceiling until, well, I don't want to know how late it was.

Today I am puffy eyed and cranky, but I have to make lunches and get the kids off to school. I should try to squeeze in a shower and respond to a few emails. I need to get a big check in the mail and fold two loads of laundry. Instead of sitting at my desk to fine tune my piece for class this week, my mother-in-law and I are heading to the Heard Museum. It should be fun, but I have a million other things to do, so I am going to have to force myself to slow down and enjoy it.

So I am showing up, because I made a commitment to myself that I would. But that's it for today. That's all I have.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Next month I am going to challenge myself to really crank out some writing.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo, an online contest to write 50,000 words, the equivalent of a 175 page novel, in 30 days. This means I will have to get down 1600 words per day. Obviously, the concept is all about quantity and not quality, and you don't write a brilliant debut novel in one month, but the idea is to force yourself to be creative and keep moving. Sometimes, actually most of the time, I find myself stuck, trying too hard. So instead of laboring over every step, I am going to try the marathon approach.

At the very least, I should have some decent material at the end. And if it all sucks, well then at least I have gotten a large volume of crappy writing out of the way.

And that will free me up to get to the good stuff.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A bright idea

I was doing okay on the weight thing, just a few extra pounds from the summer, nothing major.

Then I went on an outdoorsy hiking vacation and managed to come back hovering on the brink of disaster. I thought I was totally fine. I mean, we were walking around every day, outside and all. I had on hiking shoes and sporty clothes. I was looking like the poster girl for fall fitness. Yes, I did spend every evening marooned on the couch reading a stack of great books with a large pile of pistachios and a couple of bars of dark chocolate, maybe a few glasses of wine. But surely a brisk walk in the fresh mountain air would be enough to prolong the pudge?


Anyway I am heading away to a writing conference in a few weeks and I want to be comfortable. Not that anyone cares except for me, but it would be nice to be able to zip up my fancy jeans. And still be able to breathe. So I am going on the Bright White Diet.

Haven't heard of it? Well, let me fill you in.

A few years ago I went ahead and bought the official dentist version of the teeth bleaching stuff. This involved taking a mold of my teeth and making a special plastic mouth piece to put the bleachy stuff in. The problem is, I am usually too lazy to use it and so for the most part the investment has not paid off. When we got home from our trip I noticed that my teeth were looking a little dull (wine and chocolate?), so I dug out the kit and popped the plastic pieces in my mouth. Then I plopped myself in front of the DVR to catch up on my shows. A few hours later, I realized that I hadn't eaten a snack.


So now I have the perfect solution. I get whiter teeth and cut back on the after dinner munchies.

The Bright White Diet. Genius. I should totally take this on on the road, maybe get one of those little carts at the mall.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Home, home not on the range...

We spent our last day in Zion National Park today. Hubs was totally in his element. I always wonder if he missed his true calling as a resident Park Ranger. I can almost picture us as a little ranger family.

The hiking I could totally hack, but then again the vault toilets would probably do me in. That, and I look really dorky in a sun hat. And they don't have a Trader Joes. So, maybe not.

Anyway I have read all the books I brought and ate way too much chocolate disguised as trail mix so it is time to head home.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

wilderness blog

I am writing this from the remote corner of the kitchen in a remote cabin in a remote part of Utah.I have to lean way over the counter and point the blackberry just so to get a signal. If I stand up too fast I will literally knock my head on the underside of a pine cabinet so I have to hunch over and the light isn't so good. If I even reach for my wine glass I will probably lose the signal again.

But I am blogging! How cool.

Next I am going to google 12- step programs for blog addictions. Not that I have a problem or anything.

Reading list

We read to both kids every night. Sometime last year, Girlie moved on to chapter books. This couldn't have come at a better time, since Little Guy also started asking for multiple stories at around the same time.

Lately, we have been reading through the American Girl series with Girlie. The American Girl books are pretty fun to read and it is really cool to watch Girlie get so engrossed in the twists and turns of the plot. Hubs and I take turns reading to Girlie, though not on a regular schedule, so sometimes he and I will catch up on what we've missed.

"Did she find the horse?" I'll ask.

"Yes, but they haven't heard from the father in a few weeks," he'll reply.

"Oh, no."

The conversations about the books we are reading to Little Guy go a little differently.

"Fire Piggy again," Hubs will complain. Little Guy is really into Richard Scarry and Fire Piggy is really called Richard Scarry's Busiest Firefighters Ever. It follows four little pigs named Snozzle, Squirty, Sparky, and Squirty as they inadvertently put out a fire in someone's barbeque. This cracks Little Guy up every time.

"Ugh. I read it three times before his nap." After the millionth read, I'm not so fond of Fire Piggy. Somehow, I don't mind the Dr. Seuss as much. I think I have memorized a fair number of them and the sing song rhyming slips me into an altered state where I can usually think of other things while reading.

Not in the dark! Why are my heels always so dry?
Not in a tree! Seriously, I could sand wood with them.
Not in the car! I really really need a pedicure.
You let me be! I should totally blog about this.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Little boxes

I had a dream about the little bungalow we bought when we moved back to Georgia the other night. In my dream, it was enormous on the inside and the rooms kept going on and on. In reality, it was a teeny place, barely a three bedroom. The closets were so small, that in one of the bedrooms, the hangers had to be placed in on an angle. We ended up selling it before Little Guy came along, but for a while it was just the two of us and our baby girl, and it was perfect.

A few years after we got married, we lived in a tiny apartment where there were always cat fights echoing in the back alley at night. Some crazy lady left food out, so it became the city cat hang out. Still, we loved that place because it was super cheap and centrally located in the hipster part of Atlanta. We could literally step out of the front door and be in a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop within two minutes. It had one bedroom and the only closet in the entire place was off of the living room, but somehow, it was perfect too.

Don't get me wrong, I love the house we are in now. It isn't huge, though sometimes it seems like more than we really need. Still there is a part of me, that looks forward to the time when the kids are out of the house and Hubs and I can cozy up in a little place again. I don't know where we'll be, but I can totally picture it.

Small and perfect, just like it used to be, except maybe with a little more closet space.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sock it to me

We're off to southern Utah for a week. We are going to spend some time hiking Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, and I am looking really forward to a little time away. The weather is supposed to be amazing and the leaves should be at peak season for peeping. No camping this time, we rented a house with bedrooms for everyone. In between the parks, we'll pick pumpkins with the kids, roast marshmallows over a bonfire, and try to spy some Elk. I've packed some books and can't wait to just chill.

As I type this, Hubs is busy packing the car, humming an upbeat tune. He hasn't had any time off for a while and has been on the road for the last two weeks.

But really, I know that he is most happy because he packed these...

The worlds ugliest hiking socks.

And I will try to let him enjoy them. Bleh.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dry Heat Shmy Heat

People often make cracks about the heat in Phoenix. A favorite is the snarky, but it's a dry heat right? And the truth is, when it is 110 degrees, dry or not, it is very hot. But once the temp drops, the dry heat thing usually works in our favor. 98 is bearable, 97 is pleasant, and anything under 95 is downright fantastic.

Anyway, fall has arrived and the weather has been phenomenal this week in Phoenix.

Let the gloating begin.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My hero

Little Guy is starting to have quite the imagination.

He dug up this vintage hard hat from a collection I used to have (don't ask), promptly stuck it on his head, and ran around the house saying he was a fire fighter. He kept asking for a hose, so I made him one from an old paper towel holder that I found in our recycle bin and some fuzzy green yarn.

And of course, he played with that darn antique makeshift craft gone wrong set-up for a solid week!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The way the cookie crumbles

Yesterday another favorite lifestyle magazine bit the dust.

Sure, most of the material was heavy in over-the-top uber-cool haute Mama fantasyland, but then again, Parents, with all of its cute crafts and happy Mommy stuff seems just as unreachable to me. Cookie was stylish, well-edited, and gorgeously photographed, more of an art installation tribute to motherhood than a parenting guide.

Along with Domino, it will be missed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Been there, done that.

I went to the Wonderland exhibit produced as part of the Phoenix New Times Best of Phoenix on Friday night and it was just what the doctor ordered for my post-retail pre-writer career funk. While I was there, I met a gal who has a couple of businesses in town and after a brief chat, I remembered why I should be counting my lucky stars that I sold my business last year. Not that she isn't doing well, but it is just crazy hard to keep it all going and the economy is pretty much squeezing every last drop of fun out of it right now.

Anyway, at one point I am nibbling a cookie, chatting with a few friends and a couple of new artsy types, telling some story, when I notice it. My girlfriend is nodding along, stifles a yawn, and then she says "Oh yeah, I read that on your blog."

Oh snap!? My blog is stealing my best material! And I don't think I have enough cleverness stored up to be interesting online AND in person.

So what to do? Introduce a time delay? Make stuff up? Cozy up to complete strangers?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Can I help you?

I almost applied for a job at Anthropologie yesterday. I miss working that much.

I miss my store. I miss the buzz of retail just before the holidays. I miss talking to people over the age of seven. I miss putting on cute clothes and chatting up shoppers. I miss obsessively rearranging displays. I miss stacking the tissue paper under the counter. I miss the delicious smell of a new box of bath products. I miss giving myself 100% discount at the register. I miss the drama of managing twenty-somethings and the subsequent relief that I am no longer one of them.

I miss making money doing something I love to do.

I miss making money, period.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Madam Chairperson, You may now have the floor...

Is it weird to say that I am in love with a chair?

Okay, not a chair, but an entire set. Weird?

Since I found my dining room table a few years ago I have been on the prowl for the perfect dining chairs. The ones I had went with my old table and were all wrong. I kept them slip-covered for awhile, and that was okay, but not great. My dining room table is turquoise, and like most of us, the table's greatest virtue is also it's biggest hang-up. So for the last two years I have struggled over what to pair with a fantastic turquoise table without going too cliche or too country or too modern. I needed something eclectic and stylish, but not over the top. Something that would allow the table to stand out, but not in a sore thumb kind of way.

After much research and many hours of prowling online, I had something in mind and was describing it to my good pals Cyndi and Jeremy from laboratory5. These guys are crazy talented artists and they make their entire living, supporting themselves and their two kids, from art and art related projects. How cool is that?

Jeremy collects mid-century furniture and occasionally even sells a few pieces when he can bear to part with them. He leads me to his studio where he plucks from what I swear was a pile of wood, my dream chair. He had recently purchased a dilapidated mid-century dining set just to get his hands on a small bar cabinet. The chairs were a little banged up, but he said he could repair and refinish them. He then threw out a ridiculously wonderful price and I pretty much cried (okay, maybe not full on tears, but my eyes were a little watery, though it could have been the sawdust).

Anyway, I brought four of the six chairs home yesterday
and I am in a full swoon!

Behold the perfect vintage modern chairs!

I know I should have waited for the entire set to be ready before I snapped a picture, but I just couldn't wait to share them. Because I am in love, and love makes you do crazy things. Now that the chair issue is resolved, I feel like I can move on to more important things. Like obsessing over the perfect dining room rug.

I wonder what else Jeremy has stashed in that workshop of his?