Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I have always been a tremendously light sleeper. Seriously, a mosquito buzzing can wake me up (and ruin a night's sleep for me.) One reason my kids are such good sleepers, I've always thought, was because when they were little, it didn't bother me a bit to get up with them at night. I was totally relaxed over the sleeping thing, and I am almost the only one of my friends who never had to Ferberize. (Don't hate me, because I more than made up for it in my complete and utter anxiety/stupidity regarding introducing the kids to food.)

The problem is that everyone in my house now sleeps through the night except for me.

LAST night, the night went something like this:

11:30 I turn out the light (I'd had an espresso earlier in the day.)

12:49 My old dog Sydney is, you can't make this stuff up, barking in her sleep. I hobble down the stairs and pat her down.

1:15 I turn on the light and read a little bit to help myself fall asleep.

1:53 I look at the clock for the last time before falling asleep.

3:38 Jane appears by my bedside. She has had a bad dream. Naturally, she's the child who has inherited my sleep patterns so it takes her at least 45 minutes to fall back to sleep, during which she tells me a very complicated story which I can't remember now.

5:03 The last time I look at the clock.

6:37 The garbage truck comes a'callin'. Nanny nanny boo boo, I'm totally ready for you guys! Big raspberry from up here on the second floor...

Where I am wide awake, thank you.

I get up and head downstairs to make some more espresso. I'm going to need it.

I wish I could tell you that this is an odd night for me but it's more normal than abnormal. And on the nights when no one is barking in her sleep, or having bad dreams or driving a huge freaking truck with shrieking brakes down my street (not that I'm bitter), I still get up at least once and wander through the house and maybe do a little reading.

But hey, there is only a 20% chance of rain in the forecast for today and after the kids leave for camp (yessss)and I do an abs tape and ride on my trainer (!) for a little while, I can take a nap.

And if it DOES rain, we can all go to Mexico without packing, simply by using the bags under my eyes.

Monday, July 30, 2007

You Have to Laugh

What a difference the sun makes.

I know I detailed some of my bad mood in my last two posts. But I gotta tell you guys--I was starting to worry about my mental health. Seriously, I started to worry if maybe I had something diagnosable, like Sarcastic Shrew Disorder or something. My own mother, she of the "not only is the glass half-empty but it probably has a leak in it" perspective, sent me a note saying, "We did so enjoy our girls; they really are the most wonderful little people. I realize parents get frustrated with even the best and the brightest, but just look around you and count your blessings! Would you actually want marionettes?"

(Note how I exercised all kinds of restraint. I mean, it's pretty easy to criticize when you've just spent three months traveling in Europe but I didn't even go there. Do you know why? Because I totally rule.)

(Well, that and the fact that my parents are going to watch the kids in a few weeks while my husband and I take a little weekend away.)

THIS morning, my older daughter Ana had a full-scale meltdown over having to go to camp. The girls are signed up for a church camp this week from 9:30 until 1:30 every day --yessss. It's a camp where they do a Christian kids' musical but frankly, they could have been going to Satan Worshippers Unlimited, as long as someone else was going to give them a snack and let them get some of their pent-up energy out. Anyway, Ana melted down, complaining that she didn't want to go to camp. She hasn't had any ME time this summer, she said, and she just wanted to stay home.



I'm sorry to report that I did that voice that Sigourney Weaver does in Ghostbusters when the ghost is inhabiting her body. You know--the one where Bill Murray looks at her and says, "And what a lovely singing voice you must have." Yes, THAT voice.

I said, "If. You. Think. That I am going to have you around this house all week begging me for junk food and television and whining about how bored you are, you are sadly mistaken. GET. IN. THE. CAR."

(There goes that Mother of the Year Award. Oh, right, I lost that months ago.)

So anyway, I took them to the church (First I stopped at the local donut shop and each got a donut. Because I am the meanest mother on Earth, clearly.) and dropped their little hineys off at camp and on the way home, something wonderful and magical happened.

No, not just that I was alone for the first time in, oh, 100 years.

I looked up and there was this round bright yellow...thing in the sky, pushing the humidity up in the 12,000th percentile. Yes, indeedy, the sun came out. It's STILL out. With any luck, my hair might actually DRY today. Alert the media!

Then I went to Physical Therapy and got the truly magnificent incredible news that I could set up my bike on a trainer and get some exercise. The PT cleared this with my doctor and everything! I was so happy that I literally cried all the way home.

Ya'll --I never thought I would be so excited about getting to exercise. But man, I am seriously worried about myself if I don't get some endorphins soon. And I've got to take off some of this weight I've put on since my surgery. YIPPEE!

Not even the fact that I burned my sandwich at lunch lessened my joy. Not even the fact that when I turned on the fan above the stove to get the smoke out of the kitchen, it scared Scout so much that he peed all over the floor lessened my joy. Not even the fact that the kids came home from camp and Ana reported that I hadn't put a spoon in her lunch so all she'd had to eat was a bag of chips lessened my joy.

(By the way, she had a great time and actually received a SOLO to sing in the production.)

There was a moment when I thought the sun was going to go back behind the clouds and it was going to rain when I thought about getting in my car and driving to Mexico. But dude, maybe the sun will come out AGAIN tomorrow! At the very least, my two angels will be back in camp.

Life is sweet.

(But if it rains again tonight, I'll post from an Internet cafe south of the border.)

Mid-Life Crisis, Number 63 --Reprise

Okay, okay, so I woke up thinking about my last post. I mean, I woke up about seven times last night and finally had to come downstairs, boot up the computer and admit that I was equivocating. I have some young adults who read my blog and I was trying hard not to hurt anyone's feelings.

This does not make for good, nor clear, writing.

The truth is that having my cousin and my niece here and spending time with them made me feel OLD. Staid. Frumpy. Invisible.

And really impatient, actually.

I DIDN'T think it was all adorable that at any given moment I was being treated to an extended discourse by the Cute Young Thangs about:

familial relationships
male/female dynamics
popular culture
computer technology
work ethic (!)
why the Beatles don't matter (!!)
the Tour de France

Mostly, I just wanted to say, "Oh, for God's sake, talk to me in ten years and not until then. Love ya, Baby, you're a star. Now just SHUT UP.

This makes me feel like a bad person. Wasn't I once more indulgent of Young Kids Today?

The truth is that I was already in a terrible mood. There are bad moods and then there are EPIC bad moods and I was in one of the latter. My children and I had been cooped up for, oh, at least three years in this damn house due to the rain. They have taken sibling bickering and parental disregard and WHINING to new levels of obnoxiousness. I've felt so angry with them, and so unhappy with the indictment this makes evident of my parenting, that I haven't been sleeping well. I have this monster sore inside my mouth, I'm still in the dang walking cast and unable to exercise, and our housekeeper had to come the day BEFORE our company left, which meant that six minutes after she left, the house needed to be cleaned again, not to mention all the bed linens changed, etc. And she had to clean all around all of us because we were, naturally, all stuck inside due to rain and then MORE RAIN. My cousin kept saying, "I come all the way from Germany, expecting nice weather and it rains every day." I kept apologizing, because clearly this was some shortfall of MINE. Everyone seemed to want or need something from me at every dang moment of the day. I am coming down with a lovely summer cold. Plus, and this is probably the most upsetting thing, my old dog (the one I've had since before I had my husband or my family) is beginning to have some serious health issues, including a staph infection that seems to be resisting treatment and I. Am. Not. Ready. To think about losing her. I'm just not.

I don't know. I seem to have a permanent case of PMS. Oh, look, it's raining again. That ought to help. Also, I'm starting my diet today. That ought to send me right over the edge into Happy Land.

And you know, the other thing about being with People Around Whom the World Revolves is that it made me remember my own protracted stay in that phase of life. Gosh, I was INSUFFERABLE. I'd like to thank my parents for keeping their senses of humor and not killing me.

And I'd like for them to tell me how they managed to do it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mid-life Crisis, Number 63

I had to go to the yarn store today. No, really, I HAD to! Because I ran out of yarn in the middle of my husband's second sock. I know, I know, you're thinking I made this up. You are so skeptical! Here: You can sort of see the finished sock and then you can see how far I got on the second sock before it became apparent that I was going to run out of yarn.

This did not please me, as the first skein of yarn had cost, ready? this much.

Now, I realize that my husband is reading this (he is out of town) and just did the math and figured out that he will soon have a $50 pair of socks. But honestly? It's cheaper than if I remodelled the upstairs bathroom, honey. Plus, look how gorgeous the first sock is:

But ANYWAY, this post is not a sock post--I know that will come as a shock. But I had to go to the yarn store and TA DA, it wasn't raining for the first time this YEAR in Austin and people were really out and about. I saw a man walking down the street and something in his face really captivated me. I felt like I could see into his character--you know how sometimes you can feel like you know something about someone just by looking at his or her face? Because part of living a life is the character we develop in our physical appearance which conveys a bit of the internal character we develop over time.

I probably wouldn't have noticed this man but I had spent the weekend staring at the still characterless faces of my young (20) niece and my even younger cousin (17). My cousin was visiting from Germany (from where my parents had just returned after almost three months) and my niece was visiting from Midland. I know what you're thinking --worlds apart, you say? A girl from West Texas and a boy from Europe? Two ends of the spectrum, you say?


Apparently, the teeneage/young adult experience is pretty much the same all over.

At first I thought that maybe it's because both of them are only children that they have such egocentric world views, but honestly? I think it's really the age. And as much as I hate to say it, a lot of what builds character in our faces and our souls are painful experiences that we survive and that teach us about the workings of this ole world.

The thing is that I love these two young people and I don't WANT them to go through those "character-building" experiences yet. It's just that they are in THAT stage, you know? The world revolves around them and they know more than everyone about everything (I always respond so well to that. Because, as we all know, I really do know everything about everything.) I started thinking about it because I took them out to lunch and they talked on about themselves and as we were sitting there and I was trying not to swallow my tongue, two more sets of young people came in --all of them on their phones and sprawling all over the tables and booths (what is it about manners being a dying art these days? If you are young and beautiful, are you just exempt from changing out of the clothes you slept in before appearing in a public place?)and I heard one girl call her parental unit and say, "Can you, like, transfer $20 into my account? Because, like, I need gas. Well, like I KNOW, but I have to have GAS." (The "Duh!" was implied.) And then I read my beloved baby-sitter's blog and she had one of those "damn I'm good" posts --and she IS good, but well, that's not the kind of post that an older person would ever write.

It occurred to me that this really is a developmental stage that we go through and it's an important one. Young adults have to talk about themselves and get reassurance about their own greatness A) because it's the only topic of which they actually know anything and B) it builds a core of self-esteem that is necessary as we try to remain intact when the world starts beating us down.

Still, the future looms large as I contemplate the fact that both of my girls will be going through that phase at the same time.

Friday, July 27, 2007


The thing that always gets me about parenthood is how unexpectedly FUNNY it is. Today (well, yesterday, since it's after midnight) I overheard the following exchange between my younger daughter, Jane (6), and her little friend Emma. They were playing a very complicated make-believe game involving princesses and babies and evil stepmothers and Emma was ready to quit.

Jane: Please, please? Please can we play a little more?

Emma: No, I don't want to play this game anymore.

Jane: Please? Just a little more?

Emma: No, Jane. I want to play something else.

Jane: But I want to know what happens!

And here's a wonderful Ana-ism from my older daughter Ana, who is 9.

She comes down for a last hug good-night. (I know she's stalling, but I will take it anyway, thank you.) She buries her little face my shirt, breathes in deeply and says, "Ooooh, you smell like Mommy."

This was already very wonderful but I couldn't resist asking, "Like Mommy, huh? What does 'mommy' smell like?"

Ana: Oh, you know, like coffee and Mommy and sweat.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


There's a conference going on right now in Chicago. It's a conference of bloggers, particularly WOMEN bloggers. It's called BlogHer. Isn't that clever?

My friend Tiffany, who lives near Chicago, actually asked me in May if I wanted to come up for it but at the time, I was so new to the Blogosphere that I couldn't imagine anything I wanted to do LESS. When I worked as a professional fundraiser, the last thing I ever wanted to do was the networking thing with other people who wanted to raise money just like me. (Although I was pretty happy to network with people who could GIVE me money--that part was fun.) So, I thought that a convention of bloggers would be TERRIBLE --I mean, isn't that like a convention of WRITERS? Like other people who bump into furniture and stare at their own offspring with great surprise to find themselves parents? And blogging--I mean, what's to see? It's not like a knitting convention where you can admire people's yarn and completed and unfinished projects. It's not like there are BOOKS to take home or whatever.

Well, the day is almost here and BlogHer is beginning. I'm positively sulking that I am not there. Ladies and Gentleman (hi, honey!), I present to you the top ten reasons I wish I was at BlogHer.

1. It's raining here. (SURPRISE! More rain! Have I mentioned the rain?)

2. It might be raining at BlogHer, too, but I wouldn't be cooped up with my children and four pets THERE.

3. I have gotten to where I read a lot of blogs and a lot of the bloggers I like best are going to be at BlogHer.

4. My friend Tiffany works about ten minutes from where BlogHer is being held. I haven't seen her in, oh, ever. Seriously, she's among my closest, oldest, dearest friends ever -- she edited my book, she is my writing mentor, we've done some serious spiritual studies together, we've dissected parenthood and the political climate -- and I've never met her in real life. I would really like to hug her neck.

5. Did I mention that it's raining here and I'm cooped up with all these kids and pets, all of them shedding profusely (especially the children)?

6. All the cool kids are going.

7. I could use some ideas on why I love this blogging thing so much. I mean, I'm a writer and have written all my life. But right now, blogging is firmly in my top slot on my list of Favorite Writing Activities. Seriously, I just love it. I love the feedback, I love that I can post pictures. I love that I don't have to write a certain length every time I post. I just love it. But I have no idea why. It seems like some of the bloggers at BlogHer would know.

8. I also don't know if I'm any good at it. I think going to BlogHer would help me know one way or the other. Like being an Editor allowed me the great opportunity of reading and judging a LOT of freelance writing. I came away from that job pretty convinced that I'm a good writer. Bad punctuator; good writer.

9. Being away from my children always makes me appreciate them more. I find I am lacking in a certain amount of appreciation given that it's RAINING AND WE ARE STUCK INSIDE and I haven't even had an uninterrupted PEE in, like, nine freaking years! Am I sounding a bit unappreciative on this Love Thursday? You bet your sweet bippy I am! (I don't even know what a sweet bippy is, nor where I pulled that phrase. I bet someone at BlogHer has a whole blog about it.)

10. If BlogHer ended up rating on the Suck-o-Meter, I could stay in my hotel room, watch movies and knit.

Given that I'm not there, here's the very best reason in the world for staying: my parents are back from Europe and they are coming to visit tonight! As soon as they get here, my work with those children will be done for about four days. In fact, I could probably GO to BlogHer and no one would notice.

Well, okay, except the pets.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Final Horrible Coda

As a sad and horrible coda to my wardrobe malfunction: when we decided to stay at the beach another few days, I threw some laundry into the washer at my MIL's house. My mother-in-law put them in the dryer and hung up the athletic gear and and the swimsuits --stuff that can't be dried.

So, there, in my MIL's laundry room, hanging for all the world to see, was my lacy black thong, lovingly clipped to a clothes hanger by my MIL. Apparently, I'd forgotten to hide it away in some pocket of the suitcase and just tossed it into the laundry as if I wore the damn thing every day.

You can bet that this little incident will have quite the chapter in my autobiography entitled, "My Life Is So Stupid." Followed by a chapter on how I missed a turn on the way home and drove us 30 minutes in the wrong direction. In the rain.

And THEN, just in case I was ever tempted to say anything snarky about my MIL, we got home a little while ago and I unpacked the cooler and THIS was in it:

It's nice to be home, where it is, ahem, threatening to rain.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

So, we have our dinner last night and then my MIL tells us that she wants to introduce us to a very special dessert that she remembers from her childhood in Cuba. It was her very favorite dessert as a child. She is so excited to introduce us to it.

She wants to tell us the whole story but my husband keeps interrupting her because yesterday was a very exciting stage on the Tour de France and we are really wanting to WATCH the last ten minutes of it and not hear the story of the dessert. Not that the dessert story isn't fascinating or anything. (Although, I will tell you that we are a little suspect of the Cuban desserts we have had up until now. Neither one of us likes custardy, fruity kinds of desserts -- and there seem to be a lot of those in the Cuban lexicon.)

But then, finally, my spouse relents and goes into the kitchen just in time to watch his mom open a can and scoop out this dessert substance.

He says, "This was your very favorite dessert as a child? And there's a big story behind it? And the story is... that you opened up a can?"

He starts riffing on the idea that she is going to tell us this incredibly complicated story about NOTHING. "This is a very complicated dessert. To make this dessert, first, you must get into your car. Then you drive to the store. You ask for help. 'Where is the canned dessert from my childhood?'"

At this point, I am laughing so hard, I am crying. I don't know why this struck me as so funny but I was pretty punchy.

My MIL says, "No, that's not the story."

Husband, putting words in her mouth: "'You forgot about the MONEY. You didn't say that I had to pay with MONEY.'"

I am snorting (very glamorous).

Husband: "You can understand how it might be a bit confusing when you tell me that you MADE this dessert and then I walk in just in time to see you open a can..."

Now she's a bit crabby--just a bit --and she's not telling the story. So, we all taste the dessert. It's pretty good--she serves it to us on spoons. Just a tiny bit to lick.

I say, "This is really good." It is --it takes like a good caramel. (My spouse suggests we break out the apples.)

My MIL says, "And I MADE this!"

I say, "You canned this yourself??? That's AMAZING!"

'Finally,' I think, 'we've gotten to the bottom of the dessert story.'

Now we feel bad for laughing. We have all new respect for my MIL for canning her own version of her childhood dessert.

But no, that's not it.

She can't get to the point, though. Because there is a STORY behind this and she will not be denied. So first she tells us that she's researched it on the Internet and she still needs to work on her timing for how long she has to cook it.

So, it turns out that the way you make this dessert is to buy a can of sweetened condensed milk and then boil it for two hours in a pot covered with water. (Very important to cover it all the way because otherwise, the can will explode. She offers THIS bit of advice as something of a throw-away line. Her delivery sets me off giggling again --clearly, I have been cooped up with small children for way too many days this summer.) Then you turn off the heat and let it sit all night and in the morning you put it in the fridge. Then you open the can and you have dessert.

My husband and I are a bit speechless.

He says, "It's pretty damn amazing what bored people stuck on an island will come up with."

Images from the beach, day 3. (And a gratuitous sock picture since I finished Ana's socks.)

Both girls were closely supervised by some birds while making their sand castles.

This is my husband's brother's college cat, who lives with my MIL now. His name is Gary. (Get it? Gary Cooper?) Naturally, he really like OUR bed, because we have an orange tabby vibe.

I finished these while it was, of COURSE, raining in the morning.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Something for Everyone

I had every intention of dragging the kids back to Austin today. They are supposed to have piano lessons tomorrow and our summer sitter is scheduled to come. We have a new person taking care of the pets and that's a bit worrisome since our other pet sitter is just so unbelievably good and this person seems decidedly indifferent.

But something always happens to me when I'm at the beach. I fall under the spell of the surf and the tide or whatever. Suddenly, nothing seems as important as finding a way to spend another day by the shore. It's just magical. So, tonight, my beloved spouse is going back to Austin because he has a business obligation and then he will drive back down tomorrow night.

Yes, I love the beach so much that I am staying with my MIL by myself. The things I do...

The beach has something for everyone. To wit:

Here is Jane burying her dad.

Here is my beautiful Ana, looking remarkably like her namesake. Notice that she is wearing a rash guard suit --which is a suit that has an SPF factor of 50. Yes, we have had a protracted battle all freaking summer long over wearing one --you know, now that she's all about style and all and given that I'm all about not having to slather her with sunscreen because that, in itself, is quite a battle. Today, however, MOMMY WON. Heh, heh. (I'm WAY too mature to do a little victory dance. In public, I mean.)Here are Ana and Jane building a sand castle.

Here are Coop and his mom.

Here is Jane making the seagulls very happy.

Here is Coop being followed by his ducks out to sea...

And here, my friends, is the portrait of a happy sock knitter on the beach. (Note that I am employing my latest slight of hand technique in order to distract people from noticing the size of my... well, ME. I call this my "Distract Them With Cleavage" Ploy (well, cleavage and a really pretty sock yarn.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Wardrobe Malfunction

We decided to come to Corpus Christi for the weekend to visit my mother-in-law.

Other than a small loss of calcium on my part and the consumption of a large amount of alcohol, we're all doing very well, thanks.

But interestingly enough, as we were packing, I managed to somehow pack ALL of my clean underwear. So, when I dashed (well, as only *I* can dash in a walking cast) upstairs to change clothes for the car trip (I'd been packing and racing around like a mad woman all day and it was, here's a shocker, RAINING in Austin. You sure you don't want me to complain a little about the weather? Sure?) Anyway, I stripped off my gross and dirty clothes, rinsed off quickly and then couldn't find any underwear.


In my underwear drawer, though, I have about $5,000 worth of lingerie that I bought when I was a size four and had no children, nor did I think I could have them so I spent money like crazy on me, me, me. It's just that the underwear I bought then almost didn't qualify as underwear, if you know what I mean. Like, um, it is missing substantial fabric that would normally cover one's entire bum.

Okay, okay --it's THONG underwear and I can't believe I ever wore it because it is damn uncomfortable. Some women like it, I know. They probably are STILL size fours.

But here I was and the kids were already sitting in the car and I had to make a decision. I couldn't bring myself to put on the underwear I was wearing before my shower--ick--so I grabbed a pair of those thongs (silk, if you can imagine) and put them on.

I made them mistake of glancing in the full length mirror and honestly, I almost broke down crying. I don't want to get too graphic, but damn, it looked like someone had attached two white VW Beetles to where my rear end should be.

But hurry, hurry, hurry-- there was no time of a nervous breakdown. I got into the car and we headed on down to Corpus.

We stopped for dinner (oh, gosh, look, more RAIN) in a tiny town called Cuervo and we couldn't think of anything both girls would eat there so we went to a fried chicken place. We went inside and ordered (the food was amazing and just imagine how I would have enjoyed it if I hadn't been picturing what that fried chicken was doing to my arse) but then the Cooper women had to go to the restroom, only, the restroom was outside of the building around back and well, there was no way I was letting the girls go by themselves. In fact, I insisted that we all go into the room TOGETHER.

Which led to a moment of almost certain embarrassment about the time I remembered my unfortunate underwear, right? But we are talking about the safety of my children in what looked like it was not such a good part of town and not to be even MORE graphic than I already have been, but it would have been a lot more embarrassing if I had wet my pants.

So, working very quickly, I sat on the potty while the girls were washing their hands and then I tried to get dressed as fast as I could.

Jane, however, doesn't miss much.

"Mommy has some very silly underwear on."

"Yes, I... I packed all my other underwear, I guess so this was what I had left in my drawer.

"OOOOHH," squealed Ana. "I bet they are SOOO pretty. Can I see?"

Could my life BE more glamorous??

Thursday, July 19, 2007

(Not Feeling the Sock) Love Thursday

(First, in another Not Feeling the Love Thursday Moment: I really want to scream that my freaking computer cannot remember me and log me in automatically to Blogger.com. I check the freaking box, dammit (there goes my R rating) and I expect to be remembered! How hard IS it? I have Cookies enabled, dammit, (another rating gone) remember me!)

There's a tradition in the blogosphere that's almost a year old (can it be a tradition if it's not even a year old?) of calling every Thursday, "Love Thursday." People are expected to post loving entries on their blogs and loving pictures of themselves doing loving things.

In theory, I support this. There is far too much divisiveness in the world and having one day a week dedicated to sending out Love vibes can't be a bad thing.

However, what usually happens to me --and I'm sure this is why Love Thursdays were born because maybe it happens to everyone --is that I tend to hit the peak of my crankiness on Thursday. It's not quite the weekend, my house has crossed over from the first half of the week when the housekeeper's presence can still be felt to totally being in need of a nice vacuuming, the dog has usually chosen Wednesday night to show that she's not got the iron bowels she used to have (and why always the really good woolen rug in the Living Room? Why?), if my husband is traveling, he usually comes home on Thursday night and so I come face-to-face with the idea that I haven't lost thirty pounds in the time that he was gone (or even, you know, one pound) --it's just usually the culmination of all things frustrating.

In all honesty, I've actually been sulking since LAST Thursday over THIS:

I finished the first of my husband's hand-knitted socks. You know, the ones I wanted to be completely perfect because they would be his introduction into hand-knitted socks?? I mean, there is nothing like a hand-knitted sock.

That fits.

Therein lies the rub, of course.

It doesn't fit him.

Apparently, I neglected to factor in something called negative ease.

Negative Freaking Ease.

I don't even know what that is but I hate it.

So I sulked for a while and then decided to realign my sockic Karma by knitting a pair of socks really, really fast for my younger daughter.

So it was 40 stitches versus the 84 for my husband's sock.

And then I didn't do anything complicated. I just knitted and knitted and knitted until I had a sock.

Oh, and I tried it on her as I went. That might be a key thing--although I will tell you that I tried my husband's sock on him all through the process of knitting it, too. I KNEW it was too big. And still I finished it.

I don't know what I was thinking. I was just thinking that... something would happen. Aliens would make a sock switch! Something would intervene--maybe a burglar would break in and STEAL the sock. Or even better, a KNITTING burglar would break in, see that the sock was woefully too big for a human foot and reknit it right there on the spot!


It's just gi-normous. No way around it. I knitted it with my eyes open.

So, I knitted Jane a sock--in one day. Pretty impressive, for me. She loved the first one so much that she wore it, all by itself, with her sandals.

Then I finished the other one. She was so happy!

I knitted them with Cascade Fixation yarn which is this brilliant cotton yarn that has about one percent elastic in it. It's perfect.

So, then I immediately cast on a pair for Ana that I hope to finish tomorrow.

The other thing I did was give away my beautiful bamboo stitch socks that I knitted in that beautiful Claudia hand painted wool yarn. I gave them to my friend Sarah and let me tell you, she had exactly the right reaction to hand-knitted socks. It's like a million degrees here in Austin and she wore them home with her sandals. I will be making her socks until she begs me to stop.

At any rate, after I have finished Ana's Quick Socks, I am going to tackle knitting another sock for my husband. I'm not sure if it will be from the same wool or from something different that I pick up tomorrow when our summer baby sitter and I are going to Hill Country Weavers for an Outing. (As in, I will be Outed as a serious yarn hoarder.)

I guess it really is Love Thursday. I love knitting socks. I truly love it. I can't EXPLAIN it or anything. But I just love it.

As for the first huge sock for my hubby? I'm either going to knit a second one and give them away as a pair to some giant-footed person OR I might use it as a Christmas stocking.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I am totally CRANKY

My blog got an "R" rating. ME! An R rating. For this:

"This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

rape (5x) pain (3x) hell (2x) shoot (1x)"

Apparently, you can't say "rape" when talking about a rape trial without getting rated an adult rating. Does no one in this country want to call rape a rape? And since when is "pain" a bad word? I mean, my foot is giving me PAIN--how is that adult matter? Not to mention "hell" and "shoot" --those are bad words?

I guess I should feel flattered in some ways that at least someone thinks I write grown up fare. But mostly I seem to be having my usual reaction to repressive, reactionary, arbitrary authority figures: I'm blowing a really big raspberry.

Click on that Rated R logo if you want to rate your own blog. But just be forewarned that it will not make you happy.

Why My Husband Is the Greatest Dad Ever

On Friday the 13th, my husband wanted to take Ana (9) to open her first bank account. She couldn't wait, so he took her along with him to a meeting he had and then said that they would go to the bank and get a bite of lunch and then I was going to go get her at his office. He'd call when she was ready.

I got several calls from the two that day but none of them was for me to go get Ana.

At daddy's desk at work. ("Dad, maybe you should have Mom come help you organize your office. She's really good at that.")

Setting up her own little office space at an empty table.

Having lunch with Dad.

At the bank, waiting anxiously.

I got one call that said, "We'll be home after we get haircuts."

Well, after they got haircuts AND Slurpees!

My husband took pictures whenever he thought about it--he knew I'd want documentation of their special day. Not shown: the trip to Lowe's.

When he told me all about their day, I said, "Gosh, can I go to work with you some time?"

Seriously, though, how many of us would KILL to have a day like that with our dads? And he made a memory that she will treasure forever.

If I HAVE to be woken up at dark-thirty, this is what I prefer

This morning, I was awakened at 5:19 by a little girl standing beside my bed.

"Mom?" she said. "I can't remember you kissing me good night when you got home."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Off to Summer Slaughter Camp

This week is a camp week for my girls. Ana (9) is off to swim camp for the first time. It's just a day camp 9:00 - 1:00 and she has a friend in the class. She's a great swimmer and I think she will get a lot of confidence out of going.

So, naturally, I feel like I am sending my lamb to slaughter. The camp counselor took the class off to the pool walking single file and Ana threw a last lost look over her shoulder. She squared her shoulders and walked off to meet her doom.

I called my friend Kathy on the way back home (it's her daughter who is in the class with Ana) and she reminded me that if we don't help our children stretch and step outside of their comfort zones, they will grow up and NEVER LEAVE HOME.

Alrighty then. Point made and taken.

So then it was Jane's (6) turn to go to HER camp, which goes 10:00 - 3:00 all this week. It's a dance camp, a repeat of the one she took last month. She got her things ready and marched right in, after giving me instructions, in her 'I mean business' little CEO voice. "Find me some tap shoes that fit me, please." Yes, Ma'am! Last I saw of her, she was surrounded by a group of girls, showing them her new green M&M purse (a gift from our summer sitter, the fabulous Miss S.)

I turned to leave. There, in the doorway, was a friend and her daughter.

And the daughter looked just like a lamb going off to slaughter. The mom looked at me helplessly, consumed with worry. I smiled and touched her shoulder and pitched my voice so that the little girl could hear what I was saying to her mom. "Hey, how great to see you! Jane took this camp last month and loved it so much that she wanted to come again!"

The mom sighed a huge sigh of relief. "That is really ...GREAT to hear."

We moms of lambs have to stick together.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

On Being Southern and Other Identities

I have lived in Texas since I was ten. Thirty-two years. And 24 of those have been in Austin. It's the longest I've ever lived anywhere. I love Austin but my early years as an Army brat were formative, I think. In that, periodically, I have a strong desire to move. This happens most often when the temperature is in the high nineties (or higher) or during election years when I actually contemplate moving to another country. However, my good husband refuses to live any further north and I refuse to live any further south so we seem to be stuck at this latitude.

The really funny thing is that whenever I meet new people, they think I'm from the Midwest --the one area of the country in which I HAVEN'T lived. Maybe it's because I try to really enunciate since I have this voice like a Smurf on speed and I'm afraid if I don't enunciate, no one will understand me. (You think I'm joking but people routinely call my house and when I answer, ask me if my mommy is home. I know I shouldn't but I usually tell them to call her in Dallas and see. Click.)

I started thinking about this whole thing of regions and their identities because I don't really have a geographical identity, I don't think. I'm not Southern (my pie crusts suck) and I'm not Western (only went skeet shooting once and never hit anything. Plus I've never branded anything except a corporation). I'm not Eastern (although I'd like to live up that way about half the year --good knitting. But I don't walk near fast enough.) and I'm not Californian (no surfing, no manicures, no tan--ever. I do like California wine, though.)

I guess I don't know what I am.

I guess this doesn't surprise anyone.

But yesterday, I did something that many Southern women do every year. I have to admit that I have NEVER been so nervous. I don't mean to alarm you, but I, um, HOVERED. I called my father-in-law, who is an exceptional Southern cook.


More than once.

Ladies and gentleman (my husband, I'm not sure any other males read my blog), I present to you the pictorial of my adventures into Southern Womanhood.

I made Tomato Relish.

Here is the scene being set.

I used the recipe from the Bible of Southern Cooking (also a present from my FIL):

I won't detail the entire laborious process but I did want to note here that I had to PEEL the tomatoes before I cooked them. Nine pounds. If you blanch them in boiling water for a minute or so, you can take the peels off super-easily (another tip from my FIL.)

Anyway, here's what it looked like while it was cooking:

Here's the part where I got really nervous that maybe not enough liquid had evaporated and I took this picture to send to my FIL.

But he was playing golf and couldn't receive photos at that time. So I just bottled the stuff. And then I put it in the ten minute water bath--very important in the process.

And then, after I got those incredibly satisfying PINGS that happen when your jars vacuum seal properly, I put them in our narrow and hilarious pantry.

A good day's work--and it freaking takes about that long.

PS: My husband did a taste test and declared it perfect. I thought maybe I cooked it too long and that it needed more vinegar. We won't know until we eat it with black-eyed peas and cornbread.

Friday, July 13, 2007

And now for something completely different.

I need to confess to using Performance Enhancing Substances.

It's true. My name is Barb and I'm on a whopping case of steroids and if I may just say so, I now get the allure. Today, I went to the MALL (ME! The MALL!) and I tried on SWIMSUITS! (ME! SWIMSUITS! AT THE MALL!!) and I didn't come home and CRY. (ME! Swimsuits!! At the MALL! NO CRYING!!!)

Though some freak accident that could only happen to me, I lost my swim suit when we were in Alabama. Now, granted, it was the one I bought after Jane was born in 2000 but it was still in good shape and more to the point, it was the most only flattering acceptable one of all of my swimsuits. (As in, I could bend over and not moon the world with a flash of flesh so blindingly white that it would alert the national security counsel that someone was signalling aircraft.)

I tried to buy a new swim suit last year but my husband painfully told me that the suit was an "old lady" suit. (It had one of cute little skirts! Jane had one with a skirt! She looked adorable!)

(I'm not Jane!)

And then my mother said, tactfully, "My GOD, that suit is unflattering. At first I thought, 'how much weight HAS she gained?' But now you look like yourself again." I decided to ditch the suit.

Call me crazy, but I can take a hint.

But anyway, my suit disappeared in Alabama and all I can think is that it either blew out of my FIL's boat OR the ghost of Henry Wells stole it as retribution for disturbing his haunting grounds. Whatever the case, I had to have a shot of tequila and head to the mall. (Just kidding about the tequila. Really.)

I will spare you the picture of ME in my new suit but here is the suit itself.

That's a terrible picture but you can picture it, right? Basic black. No skirt.

Take a closer look at the label, though.

I don't think I have to say anything more, do I?

I would have been very much more depressed but I'm on this incredibly large dose of steroids because of the setback with my foot. I saw my wonderful doctor yesterday. (His wife gave birth on Tuesday for those of you keeping score at home. Little boy. Reed. SO CUTE.) Anyway, not only am I on steroids for the tendinitis in my foot, but I am also back in the infamous Boot. Only I had to get a new one because my old one wouldn't hold air anymore. (I swear this isn't because I washed it. As far as the insurance company knows, anyway.) Here it is:

And if you look carefully, you will see a little label on it.

(I tried to rotate the picture for you so that you could see the label without getting a head rush but I couldn't do it.) Anyway, the label says "SM." Despite the fact that I went bathing suit shopping today, this does NOT stand for sado-masochistic. It stands for SMALL.

Yes, indeed, my FEET are small enough to be labeled as such.

And given that I haven't exercised since January when all the foot mess started, and given that I've been doing a fair amount of EATING here in the Land of Denial, not to mention DRINKING (It's summer! I'm on vacation!), it is the ONLY part of me that can carry that label.

Luckily, the steroids are totally making me feel like Ah-nold in The Terminator. Nothing can get to me --at least for the five days I'm on them, right?

My pledge is that by the end of the year, my new bathing suit will be too big.

Read my lips and make my day and I'll be back...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I never wanted to write this story

Fair Warning: There is nothing funny in this post. If you came here looking for a bit of light entertainment, you won't find it here today. It's taking all my courage to post this.

I find myself compelled to talk about something and trust me, no one is more shocked than I. Those of you who know me in real life know that this is not a story I tell often. There are many reasons why I don't and I'll talk about some of them later but, well, here's why I feel like I have to say something now.

Today, the Yarn Harlot wrote THIS post. Yes, she's Canadian and mostly blogs about knitting but she's also very much a thinking woman. Her account of the Tory Bowen story is concise and pretty fair, I think.

But I feel the need to speak out on this issue because a sexual assault had a very big effect on my life and probably more so because shame thrives in secrecy and when evil goes unnamed.

When I was either 13 or 14, I went to spend the night with the girl who lived catty-corner across the street. She was a year younger than I was and we weren't good friends but it was during Spring Break and we'd been playing together. We went to sleep in her parent's bed --I don't know where her parents slept nor where her mother was.

Anyway, in the middle of the night, I woke up to find her father kneeling beside the bed, with his hands all over me under my pajamas. He didn't rape me. But he touched me sexually without my consent and I can't begin to describe what that was like. At age 14.

I didn't know what to do so I pretended that I was still asleep but said, "Stop. Stop." sort of sleepily. After a bit, he did and he left the room. I lay awake all night and cried, trying to make sense of what had happened. Trying not to go to sleep for fear it would happen again. I felt like it was probably MY fault in some way. I wished I hadn't worn those pajamas. In the morning, I made an effort to tell him, "I never remember what happens at night." I thought I would be in some kind of trouble... I don't know what I thought. I just wanted to get away and pretend it had never happened.

I never told anyone. But soon after, I started going out into the backyard at night after dinner and throwing up. And that began an almost 17-year long battle with bulimia. At the time, I think I was consciously trying to become sexless. Because surely, if there was something about me that drove grown men-- FATHERS --to do such dirty things, I needed to change.

It took me many years too realize that this man was really sick and that normal grown men do not find girls sexually attractive. Men with normal sex lives do not prey upon the young or weak or defenseless. After the family moved away, when I was in college, I finally told my mom what had happened.

It's taken many, many years to let go of the shame of that one single night. And the repercussions have been pretty huge and horrific--more than I want to talk about here. I don't usually talk about it at all because I never wanted to be defined by my status as a victim. I don't write about having had cervical cancer, either. Nor eating disorders. Once I thought I would like to get my license and counsel girls with eating disorders. Now I know I just couldn't do that and survive. I feel so much gratitude for people who can, though, and not just a little shallow that really, all I want to do is laugh and make people laugh. I'm at a point in my life where what I really want to do is find the fun in the daily absurdity and silliness of life.

If, given that, you are wondering why I'm telling you all this now, it's because this event made me see that there is a time for speaking up about injustice and about the reality of rape. Regardless of what words that judge lets Tory Bowen use, the reality of her rape does not change. She will be affected by it for the rest of her life. But I would also put forth the idea that there is more than one way to rape a woman, and what that judge in Nevada is doing is as harmful to Tory Bowen as what her assailant did. When you take away a person's ability to talk about a horrific event --to seek justice for it by fully describing it-- you add a level of pain that never goes away. Guilt and shame and dysfunction thrive in secrecy and in the dark.

I don't want to say that if we all sit by and watch what's happening without voicing our despair that such a thing can happen in this country --THIS COUNTRY, not Iraq or Dafur or Bosnia -- then we are a party to the rape of Tory Bowen. I don't feel that all of us are meant to be the torch bearers in every cause.

But for me, everything changed when I became the mother of two girls. God forbid that something should ever happen to my daughters. But if it does, I hope that they will trust that they can talk about it and not only be heard, but have justice served.

For me, the stakes are much higher now.

And silence is no longer an option.

Judge Jeffre Cheuvront
Hall of Justice
575 S. 10th St.
Lincoln, NE 68508


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What was that point again?

It's been quite a day. Not because anything unusual happened, really. I think it's just the pace of today was pretty relentless. I was going to list out everything that happened but it's nothing so compelling. Except that I am trying to be a better mom, while still getting Stuff done so not only did Jane have a little friend over for six-plus hours but we actually baked chocolate chip cookies and they got to lick the beaters and the bowl. (Every time I bake cookies, I think about the first time I offered then-five-year-old Ana the opportunity to lick the beaters and she looked at me like the simpleton I obviously am. "Uh, doesn't that have RAW EGG in it?" I remember thinking, "You're going to let the threat of salmonella poisoning interfere with eating something yummy? Whose child are you REALLY?")

One thing that happened today was that I got to meet my friend Donna for coffee. During the school-year Donna and I managed to get together at least once a month for coffee, at least right up until I had my foot surgery in March. But I haven't seen her since so we talked at breakneck speed for over an hour and then decided we had to see each other again next week. Oh, also, I offered to buy her incredibly cute shoes from her if she decides to get rid of them. They are uncomfortable but soooo cute. Of course, right now all I could do would be to sit and gaze at them adoringly but I think that the fact that I offered to buy them from her is a very good sign of my confidence that some day, as God is my witness, I will wear cute shoes again. (Everyone should go a little Scarlet O'Hara from time to time. Especially over cute shoes.)

Anyway, one thing we talked about was my blog --THIS blog. Donna has been reading since I started it back up again in April and she told me she really likes it. I said, "I have no idea what I'm doing with it --it's not like my other writings, which you know, usually have a point to them and stuff."

Donna said, "But your blog has a point to it!" She was all cute and defending me to me but then neither one of us could really THINK of a point. Maybe THAT'S the point. Maybe it's a Seinfeld kind of point--you know, about nothing.

Maybe it doesn't need a point?

So, I started thinking about the blogs I've discovered since April and what I like about them. (These links should open in new windows due to this cool html code that Damsel and I discovered.) Note that this list doesn't include my personal friends, with the exception of Tiffany, because I don't have clearance to expose promote them in my blog and plus, I'm more talking about sort of professional bloggers, if there is such a thing, which is the level to which I aspire. (I think.)

Probably my all-time favorite blog right now is Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda. Written by a woman named Mir, this blog details her life as a freelance writer, divorced and recently remarried and relocated, mother-of-two. Her sense of humor makes me laugh out loud almost every single day. Some drunk person once told me that I am the new Erma Bombeck (lightening didn't strike her but to this day I don't stand so close, if you know what I mean) but Mir is the new Dave Barry. (Well, Dave Barry is still the OLD Dave Barry but Mir writes in just exactly the same sort of rapid-fire, theater of the absurd, non-profane vein. I love her.

Y'all already know about my obsession with the Yarn Harlot, who writes in a similar style to my own only about knitting and her life (and funnier and well, you know, better.) Most of her readers (Like way more than 10,000 of them!) are knitters but she's so genuine and so unfailingly honest about her own foibles that even non-knitters love her.

Then I read a friend of Mir's named Chris, who blogs at Notes From the Trenches. What I enjoy about Chris is not only her sense of humor, but the fact that she is the mother of, get this, SEVEN children and she still sees the wonder and silliness and those small moments that make us all say, "Awwww!" and hug our kids.

I read Crazy Aunt Purl --who is rip-roaringly funny in that salty Southern kind of way (only she lives in California.) Having said how funny she is, if you click on her post from today, take a BOX of tissues and a bucket to cry in. I had tears rolling down my face.

I read all three personal blogs of my good friend, writing mentor, the Editor of my book and one of the smartest women I have ever known: Tiffany. (She'll probably correct my punctuation there since as we all know, punctuation to me is some sort of magical art form for which I possess no gift.) My favorite of her blogs is Rock Stories. She actually has a fourth blog called Dog Stories, but since I get to contribute to that one, I don't really think of it as a typical Tiffany blog.

Then I have several blogs I like but I categorize as The Profane Bloggers. People who use the F word with abandon but who make me laugh. I don't read them EVERY day, though, and I won't link to them here because I know that someone will get totally offended and because that's not the point.

I do HAVE a point. Really.


My point is that the thing the blogs I love the most have in common are as follows:
1. They are funny.
2. They are not profane, or edgy, or hip and trendy.
3. They are written by real women and are about small things that are huge--love, laughter, stitches of all sorts, parenting and pet-parenting, finding humor in the smallest moments and the largest losses.
3. They are not about any one thing and yet, they are about everything. They are about life.

So, while I'm still not sure what I'm doing with this blogging thing that I love so much, I sort of have a better insight into what kind of blogger I want to be when I grow up. I want to write about everything and nothing.

I want to write about life.

Toward that end, I just received a note written by my six-year-old. This is what it said:

So, the thing is that I wasn't aware that Jane GOT an allowance, much less that I was in arrears. You know what this is, don't you? This is a trademark of the child we call the CEO --it's the Presumptive Close. Jane is the master of that.

And while I was getting ready to take a picture of that note, I noticed Edward, asleep on the couch, sprawled out like a drunk Frat boy after a party with his mouth open. His is a darn good life. (This one's for Roy. Rest in Peace, furry friend. Your mama is a good woman.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vacation Wrap Up

I've regained the will to live after vacation. Maybe I was just tired because now I feel like a big whiner. I am truly grateful for a chance to GO on vacation, and also to come back to our nice house and not have to dive immediately into work, unlike my poor husband who looked like a hunted man after his first day back.

Maybe I'm feeling better because, despite the fact that the trash pick-up happened once again at 7:30 this morning, I was ready for them. HAH! Take THAT!

I want to do a little last vacation post, if you'll bear with me, but first I have to ask my sock-knitting readers a question. Those of you who don't knit can skip right over this part.


Here is a sock I am knitting for my husband. I knitted on it all through vacation but as I am A) a slow knitter and B) knitting a lot more stitches than I ever have in a sock before, AND C) I had to frog back an entire day's work after I cast on too few stitches, it is taking a long time to finish. (You can get a larger version of this picture by clicking on the photo but you have to use your back button to get back to here.)
My question, though, is: does this gusset look right to y'all? I cast on 84 stitches and then I knitted the heel flap and turned the heel and I picked up like 26 stitches a side. I decreased but maybe I should have decreased more rapidly? Does this look like it's going to be too baggy? Please give me some feedback so that I can either frog it back or just set fire to the whole thing. As an aside, I had no idea that knitting 20 more stitches on a sock would translate into SO MUCH MORE KNITTING. I don't know how the Yarn Harlot does it--her husband has size 13 feet!


There were things I forgot to tell and show you along the way in Vacation Land. Like my beautiful Ana's face in Waffle House. Ana was MADE for Waffle House--those are her PEOPLE. We also learned something very interesting but to tell you about this, I have to use my husband's first name, which is something I never do when writing about my family. I don't know why. But if you check out my humor columns, So, the thing is, you'll see that I have written whole columns about him and NEVER used his first name.

But anyway, his first name is Mark. While on our way to Alabama, when we stopped into a Waffle House the first time, we thought the cook's name must have been Mark because the staff kept saying it when they were calling out orders to the cook. This made my husband a bit jumpy. He'd be about to take a bite of eggs and someone would call out "Mark!" and he'd start and look around.

Well, on our way home from Alabama, we stopped into another Waffle House and imagine how disconcerting it was to realize that the cook in THIS Waffle House was ALSO named Mark! Jump, jump, jump. Finally, I asked the waitress, "Is your cook named Mark?" And she just laughed and laughed. "No, it's a system of communicating to the staff in the kitchen. We use these tokens and we MARK a place on the plate." Then she showed us how by, positioning the token on various spots on the place, they signalled "scrambled" or "fried" or "waffle" or "grits" or whatever. "We don't cook from memory anymore, " she said, a bit sadly.

So now you know that if you go into a Waffle House, your cook's name may or not be Mark but you will definitely hear that word a LOT. Now please forget that I told you my husband's first name. (The things I do in the name of blogging.)

On our trip, we saw license plates from:
South Caroline
Oklahoma (Does anyone else want to bang a pot with a spoon over their heads while chanting "Oklahoma! Oklahoma! "Oklahoma!" when they see the name of this state?)

One game Jane played a lot in Alabama was Grocery Store. She would draw and cut out all of this stuff to stock her store. Here are a few of the things she drew (I helped with some of the lettering):

Here is the map my husband drew for me on the day I got so lost with Ana in the car. Looks pretty simple, doesn't it? Really, it was the lack of signage thing more than the Operator Error thing. That's all I'm saying. No, really.

And then a bit of distressing news: my foot doesn't seem to be healing and I am back in my boot/walking cast thing. The doctor told me the bones are healed but something is wrong because I have pain every time I step, even when I'm in the boot. (This may have something to do with the fact that the boot keeps deflating on me as I'm walking. It has a hole in it. Of course it does.) I went to physical therapy today and ended up coming right back home because there wasn't anything she could do for me as long as I am in pain. I see the doctor on Thursday. The PT thinks that maybe I went into a shoe too fast and didn't have the calf muscle to walk in it so I've developed some tendinitis. I, um, cried when I told my husband. It's a bit discouraging after so many months.

And you know, the hell of it is that I still need to go to the grocery store in the worst way. Looks like I'll be taking the motorized cart. And woe to any old ladies who get in my way!

Two more quick pictures that show why we do these kinds of trips:

PS: I also shaved both legs.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Post Show Let Down

Okay, we're home again.

I still have only one shaven leg. The thing is, I don't really care. In fact, I seem to have been affected by Post Show Let Down, as we used to call it when I was in the drama club. You know, it's the phenomena that occurs after you've prepared and practiced for a show for months and then you've performed brilliantly for those too few short days and then... and then...

And then, well, nothing.

No bright lights. No applause. No cast party. Just endless summer days stretching out ahead --and not the fun kind. The rainy, hot and humid kind. (Have I complained enough about the weather? Because I can do more if anyone asks. Seriously, it's no trouble.)

I don't know what's wrong with me--the girls seem to have leapt right back into their lives, with play dates and swimming, etc. But my husband and I seem to be slogging through the minutia. You know, you go on vacation and life gets stripped down to just the family and the day's agenda and everything is all about living right in the present moment.

Then you come home and it hits you full in the face that the lawn needs to be mowed and the laundry is piled higher than the house and there's that pesky problem with the insurance company to deal with. And all of the pets and cars and the house and the pool (which turned green while we were gone) need maintenance. It zaps all the good energy out of me. It seems like there should be more to life than maintenance interspersed with the occasional vacation. And that you shouldn't have to come home from vacation and immediately set out to track down that horrible smell lurking somewhere downstairs.

Post Vacation Let Down.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Journey Toward Texas

I just did something I haven't done since I had an infant to breastfeed on demand.

I got out of the shower after only shaving one of my legs. I mean, on purpose.

We're staying in Shreveport, LA tonight on our way back to Austin. There was a mix-up with the hotel at which we had our reservations and they didn't have any more connecting rooms. Oh, because letting our girls stay in their own hotel room without us is even an option before they are in their thirties.

So, we all got to see that muscle in my husband's face pop out in that really alarming way that he saves for when people have truly PISSED HIM OFF. He is not one who enjoys failure of execution when it results in him having to load his tired and crabby wife, not to mention his children, back into the car to find another place. He sat down in the Failed Hotel's lobby, did a search on hotels in the city, called a few of them and found one a few minutes away with connecting rooms and a pool and there we went.

Unfortunately, he neglected to ask about the water pressure and so when I got in the shower and discovered, after I'd put the soap in my hair that it would take me a year to rinse it clean, I was a bit surprised but I thought I could deal. Three months into the rinsing, I decided I might as well start shaving my legs.

Whoops, sorry, I lost my freaking mind before I got to leg two. Out. Of. Patience. "I'm sorry, this is your patience speaking: I suggest you switch to an alternative power supply because your patience level is freakishly, critically low. You were pretty good all through dinner in that hot restaurant when that woman told you it would take at least an extra ten minutes if they had to THAW the chicken breast out before cooking it. You were very patient while your husband was reading the instruction manual to his incredibly cool tiny camera, even though he kept taking pictures of you that looked like THIS:


Although you did note the irony of finally appearing in a few of the seven million pictures that have been taken over the past week and even though you showered and wore make-up on a majority of those days, today was not one of them. Sigh.

But there in the shower, with the water doing something much like a Chinese Water Torture, you bottomed out of patience. This coincided with your first day of sobriety in ten days --so maybe that explains it. But at any rate, your new supply will be delivered tomorrow morning. Have a good night and try not to let the fact that your room has a distinct urine smell throw you for a loop."

Luckily, we have that second (and connecting!) room in which I can shower tomorrow and maybe throw caution to the wind and actually shave my legs AND my underarms. And luckily, our evil spawn redeemed themselves by being good travelers AND swimmers!

Home tomorrow.