Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Morning Update

Friday night was a lot of fun, as was lunch at El Porton on Saturday. It was kind of funny that we had the female half of the bridal party together, and we didn't really ever discuss the wedding! I guess that's what email is for. I'll spare you the gory details, but let's just say Carrie had a good time.

The not great part of Friday night was when my sexy high heel got caught in a crack on the sidewalk and I twisted my ankle as bad as it has ever been twisted. It was the size of a grapefruit by the time I got home Saturday afternoon! (Fortunately this didn't happen until after we'd gone dancing.) Since I didn't have anything else to do I plopped my fat ass on the couch and watched TV with my foot elevated and iced for the rest of the day.

This morning I slept in until 8:30, which is incredibly late for me. It was awesome! My ankle is not nearly as swollen today, although I am still walking funny. Better than last night when I couldn't put any weight on it at all, but still pretty sucky. I am sad that I won't be running much for the next couple of weeks. Oh well- I had to have some kind of souvenir from the evening! I guess a limp is as good as anything. (Except maybe a new black umbrella, right Carrie?)

But you want to know how I'm doing without the kids. I think about them constantly! I talked to them yesterday morning, and Sherri said Chloe was kind of blah yesterday. I'm hoping it's not because she misses me. They haven't called me at bedtime yet, which is usually when the "I want Mommy" starts, so that's good. The main problem is that today's big game starts at the same time the boys arrive in Nashville, and I can't convince them to just listen to it on the radio on the way home. So it will be close to 4:30 by the time they leave Nashville, meaning I won't see the kids until bedtime. Believe me when I tell you it will be a LONG time before I spend three days away from my kids again. Today is already torturous, and I still have ten hours without them. Maybe I'll drive up there to watch the game- in Cullen's car, so that I don't have to drive home! I doubt it though. I've come this far- I should press on! Plus gas prices are outrageous and I have to drive to Nashville Wednesday night as it is. (But that's another story altogether.)

I guess what I've concluded from this is that my limit on time away from the kids at this point in our lives is maybe two nights- like, if they had left Friday morning and come home Sunday by lunchtime, I think I could have really enjoyed the time without them. I would have been ready to see them by the time they returned, but not anxious because it had been so long. But this weekend is not working for me at all- getting them back tonight at bedtime, and then taking them to school first thing in the morning, is horrible.

But I don't want you to think that my kids are all I've thought about this weekend, so I leave you with this: Yes I know the words to our fight song, and I'm not afraid to use them!:
Go Tigers Go, Go On To Victory
Be A Winner Thru And Thru
Fight Tigers, Fight Cause We're Going All The Way
Fight, Fight For The Blue And Gray And Say
Let's Go Tigers Go, Go On To Victory
See Our Colors Bright And True
It's Fight Now Without A Fear
Fight Now Let's Shout A Cheer
Shout For Dear Old MSU!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Afternoon Update

Being without the kids on a weekday is not so bad. I got to sleep in, get Starbucks on the way to work, and I have a bachelorette party to look forward to. As I figured, day one is great. Day two will be iffy, and day three will be weepy. Probably. I'll let you know!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mis Bebes!

I'd like to write something eloquent about the prospect of three days and nights away from my kids, but I can't- I'm too busy freaking out! I've never been away from them both for that long, and really I didn't think I would until I had something fun planned, like a long overdue trip to post-Katrina New Orleans or a trip to visit my sister-in-law in NYC. Instead I'm going to be without them for three days while I sit around my house in Memphis, alone. I have one fun night planned, and I'm looking forward to it, but other than that I can't bear the thought of spending the days without them.

Don't get me wrong- I enjoy being without the kids sometimes. Once a week Chip and I have dinner together, alone, and that's great. I even enjoy going to the grocery store by myself on the weekends. But seventy-two hours in a row without my babies? I'm not ready! I didn't leave Connor for a long weekend until he was two and a half- Chloe just turned two! I'm just miserable right now. I can't believe they really left me.

I hope that Sunday afternoon I'm able to post something about how great this weekend was, and how being alone was the best thing in the world, but I just can't imagine it. So I guess for now all I can do is sit here by myself and cry.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Wine Post

I told Shannon I'd had a great sparkling shiraz over the weekend. "Do you ever drink anything but Australian Shiraz?" was his reply. I do! So here are some recent faves, for my Ann Arbor readership.

2004 Whitehall Lane Merlot- WS 90
Whitehall Lane was one of our favorite wineries when we visited Napa on our honeymoon. We don't drink a lot of merlot, but theirs is always good so we thought we'd go for it. We ate it with grilled pizzas topped with rotisserie chicken, mushrooms and gorgonzola cheese. It paired well.

Lenoble Champagne Brut - Corkscrew Club
So good! We had it with sushi, of course. Very dry and crisp, but still complex with plenty of fruit and a touch of oak. I wish I could afford this on a regular basis!

2006 Amano Fiano-Greco
Chip and Roy had this at the tasting they accidentally went to on Chloe's birthday. Great Wines was doing Italian wines in honor of the Ides of March. This bottle is inexpensive and very easy to drink- there is a lot of lemon and honey. Very different and very good. I think we'll have it a lot in the future, based on the price. ($12 I think?)

2006 Rosenblum Contra Costa County Zinfandel
I wanted to make lamb burgers that I'd seen Giada make- ground lamb, parm-regg and basil for the burgers, then wrap each patty with a slice of proscuitto and cook them in a skillet. I made some mashed potatoes too because chips felt a little too pedestrian with such a fancy burger. Chip picked out this zin to go with the meal. The burgers were great, and paired well with the wine. I've had better zins, but it was certainly a solid bottle, like you would expect from Rosenblum. I really just wanted to describe that meal.

Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut- WS 90
This is good and creamy with a long finish. (That's what she said!) I think I'm going to bring this to Carrie's shower this weekend.

2006 Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay
This is a really complex, well-balanced chardonnay. It seems like all the chards I look at are either $12 or $4o, so it was nice to find a good one for around $27. Sometimes it's a crap shoot trying to find a California chardonnay that's not too oaky, so I will definitely go back to this one. Chip didn't write down what we ate with it, but I think it was some kind of pasta.

2005 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett S.A. Prum- WS 92
I wrote down everything on the label since I don't understand the German. I really liked this, but it could be more balanced. Chip wrote down "sweetness and richness cover the structure for now, but there's a bright acidity underneath." Maybe it needs time in the bottle- I'll need Shannon's ruling on that one. I love the kabinetts-when I say I could replace water with wine in my diet, this is what I'm talking about. We drank it with sushi.

2006 Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz- WS 92
A big Australian shiraz! I made filet mignon stuffed with blue cheese and served with applewood smoked bacon mashed potatoes and sauteed mushrooms. It was all awesome- just a huge, intense wine, pretty much exactly what you'd expect a higher-end Australian shiraz to taste like. If I were rich, this would be my house wine. Yummy!

Here's my new favorite recipe for an appetizer to eat while drinking Sancerre and cooking the main course:
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup ricotta
Lemon zest
Combine the above and toast a baguette for dipping
So simple and so perfect with a sauvignon blanc!

Although there is a good chance that was all bs.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Monday

A brief recap of the day so far:

Times Chloe has had a complete meltdown: Twice. Once because of the removal of a week-old Band-Aid (the wound has been healed for some time now, and the Band-Aid fell right off) and the other time because I suggested a nap. That second fit didn't last long, since she fell right to sleep. It was loud while it lasted, though.

Times Chloe has totally pulled one over on me: Once. I thought she ate all of her lunch and gave her some candy, but it turns out she had just hidden her entire uneaten sandwich.

Times the AT&T man has rung my doorbell: Twice. Apparently a main phone line got knicked when they put in our fence. Sorry, neighbors! Good thing our fence guy is insured. And that I use VOIP.

Times Connor has been perfect: Once. If today counts as once- he has been an angel all day long! He cleaned his room, he helped Chloe put on her underwear and pants when I was summoned to the door by the smug red-headed phone guy, he ate every bite of his lunch, he Windexed the back door, and he gathered all the toys that need to be put away upstairs after nap time. Who knew that 57 months old was the perfect age?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sibling Harmony

On Monday, I read this from one of my favorite parental columnists:

Sometimes every single thing I do feels like an act of love: putting bowls of good soup on the table, pulling the comforter tighter around a sleeping body, putting a paycheck in the bank, folding small pairs of sweatpants, sweeping grit into a dustpan, stopping to look at the stars. Last week every single thing I did felt like an act of PMS: it entered the room with me like a cloud of mustard gas, like a chain gang shackling me to a dozen versions of myself, every one of them a criminal. But today I could write the book on happiness. . .

I wished I had written that, because it fit me exactly. The week before Chloe's birthday had not been a great one around here, with lots of attitude from both the kids and their mother. We were feeding off each other, and not really enjoying each other's company.

That changed as we headed towards Chloe's birthday. Unlike Connor, who at age two was oblivious about most things, Chloe was very aware that she had a special day coming up. Connor knew it too, and was surprisingly agreeable about the whole thing. He wanted Chloe to be happy, and that made me happy, and soon we were having a big lovefest.

It started Friday, when I took ice cream to Chloe's class for an early celebration. Chloe's teachers told me she was so excited that she'd actually had trouble settling down for her nap. She couldn't wait for her mom and brother to get there. She made sure we sat on either side of her and gave us both lots of hugs.

Then we went to the park, where Connor let Chloe lead him around by the nose. He played where she said to play, climbing and sliding with his sister and ignoring the swings he wanted to get on so badly. I have never seen him be that patient with her- it was probably the best present she got this year. It was a present for me too!

Since then, they have gotten along remarkably well. Usually one of them begs for sibling attention while the other ignores the begging, but not this week. They've watched Chloe's favorite show together and played Connor's favorite games together. They've run around outside while the parents watch from a window. And boy have they sung and danced together- my favorite story is that they spent an entire ride home from school cracking each other up with this song:

Their good will has been extended to their parents, too. They haven't whined about who is sitting where, or which parent is bathing which kid, and they've even been somewhat willing to eat the food I put on their plates.

It has been an amazing week, one that I doubt will be repeated very often in their lives. I'm glad I have these memories to hold on to, because surely by 9:30 am tomorrow, when we're all home together for the day, the spell will be broken. They'll be fighting over some toy, and whether to watch Dora or Spongebob, and I'll be thinking about having my tubes tied. And I'll be glad I wrote this down, because otherwise I might not believe it actually happened.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

11 Excellent Email Subjects Lines in my Spam Folder

I haven't made any of these up.  But I did leave some of the funniest out, because my grandmother reads this blog.

1.  Scarlett Johansson loves men with huge equipment - do you measure up?
2.  Big your piano, be a real man
3.  Hey.  Is big ptenis (sic) better?
4.  Never be laughed at again - prove them all wrong
5.  BodypartLarge - scaleDorothea     (?)
6.  Make the bulge in your pants grow and grow
7.  Your chick will not settle for less, why should you?
8.  I heard John had to stop taking those capsules because he became too large, and his girlfriend complained it hurt
9.  PhallusAmpleWilliams  (?)
10.  Make your weapon esteemed
11.  Switch to Green Tea Like Oprah

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mmmmm, fish

Now that the March issue of Memphis Health & Fitness is out, I'll share the pics from my fun excursion with Stacey to three Memphis restaurants in one night. It was lots of fun pretending to be a professional photographer for a night, and I hope to do it again sometime!

These are the three pics that actually appeared in the mag:

Automatic Slim's - Grilled Salmon with sauteed spinach, cabbage, mango and peanut relish in a coconut milk, roasted pistachio and star anise cream sauce

Spindini - Halibut with Peekytoe Crab Risotto and broccolini

Tsunami - Tuna with daikon radish, jalapeno and red grapefruit salad, with Thai sticky rice

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another Exciting Dining Experience

The Chockleys took us to lunch on Sunday afternoon (thanks!) and I was moved to write up a review. Read all about Connor's somewhat controversial meal over at Dining With Monkeys.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How It Went Down

Chloe had a great birthday.

It started with some balloons.

It continued with some bubbles.

She got a new umbrella.

Then snuck back into the kitchen for another bite of cake.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Her Second Birthday

Dear Chloe,

It's hard to believe another year has passed! I still think of you as a baby, but you really are a big girl.

Here's some of what you are up to as you turn two:

Took your first step towards environmental responsibility by switching to the potty from disposable diapers
Like to watch American Idol, and ask for it by name (Amerkin Igol!)
Love Diego and Dora, whom you still call "Doh doh"
Pronounce a hard "c" like an "s"- Sonner! Sitty! Sann(d)y!- only it's not a plain "s." It's more like a fat-tongued "s" that's not quite an "sh" but definitely can not be recreated in print.
Of the food we order from Sakura, you prefer the Marty roll.
Love to blow bubbles or float on your back in the bathtub
Still love your paci and your pink blanket from Beth, but really only when it's time to sleep.
I think you're going to need braces on your teeth
After passing gas, you exclaim, "I farted!" with pride

After burping, often ask "Did you hear that?" and laugh
Know your parents' real names
Favorite word is "MINE!"
Are really excited that it's your birthday
Despite your parents' best efforts, are a total juice junkie
Like to sing The Alphabet Song, substituting a hilarious thing with your tongue for "LMNO"
Worship your brother, but don't usually let him know that
Are smart, articulate, and absolutely gorgeous.

Happy birthday! I love you!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Quotable Connor

On abuses of power:
The other day, Dad and I saw a police car that was going super-fast with no lights on! They were going fast and they weren't even going to save somebody!

On personal hygeine:
My butt itches!

On peer pressure:
Me: Connor, you can wear short sleeves today.
Connor: Yes!!!! Wait- what about the other kids at my school? I don't want to be the only one in short sleeves!

On fingernail biting:
But if I let them grow all day long, they'll be way too long!

On Chloe's rendition of The Alphabet Song:
That tickles me the way she sings that!

On being gorgeous:
Yeah Mom, I know.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Guilty Pleasure

On Sunday afternoons, 98.9 KIM FM plays the American Top 40. What's so exciting about that? Well, it's not the current, Seacrest-hosted Top 40, but a Top 40 from some random year in the 1980's. Fantastic! It's really a must-listen for you 80's music connoisseurs. There are a lot of songs from those years that didn't make it out of the 80's and onto current radio playlists, songs that I haven't heard or even thought about for years. And I find those are the songs that remind me the most of that era, precisely because they are stuck there. For every What You Need by INXS, there's a Day By Day from the Hooters, or a Night Moves by Marilyn Martin. I find myself tempted to move my Sunday Target trip to the Super Target in Cordova, just so I have more time to spend in the car listening to Casey Kasem. I feel bad about keeping this treasure all to myself, so I'm taking this opportunity to share it with you- enjoy.

Friday, March 07, 2008

What's Up, Chuck?

It's snowing!

On Thursday I went and read to Connor's class, and it was really great. When I was done reading (Are You My Mother?), the teacher, who was at the back of the room, started asking questions about the book. The kids all turned around to look at her and shout out answers, except for Connor who just sat there staring at me with a love-struck look on his face. And yes, it was really that sweet- feel free to let out a collective "Awwwww!"

Chloe has developed a taste for sushi and for spinach and gorgonzola ravioli.

On Tuesday I am going to the school board to sign up for Connor's "choice transfer." We want him to go to kindergarten at Snowden, but there are only five spots available! I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

If I don't get in line early enough, there's still a chance we will move into the school district. We are meeting with a new realtor on Sunday. Hopefully we can sell it without completely giving it away, although I doubt it.

I bought a bridesmaid dress last week. Look here to see it- it's really not that bad! That is, assuming it fits- the one I tried on was a bit small, and since they didn't have the next size up in the store, I had to order it without actually trying it on. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Chockleys vs. The Leprechauns

Tuesday night, Connor was in the shower playing and having a grand ol' time when suddenly he started bawling. "I don't want to go to school tomorrow! I don't want to see the leprechauns!" Chip was like, "Whaaa?" Connor went on to tell some story about how his teacher said leprechauns were going to come in their classroom some day when it was empty and make a mess and leave candy or some such crazy story. Apparently Connor had been sitting on that one all day until he finally couldn't take it anymore. We did everything we could to assure him that his teacher was kidding, that leprechauns were pretend, etc. But we're just his parents, and we don't know anything, and how could we possibly pretend to know more than his teacher? He sobbed and sobbed until he finally calmed down enough to go to sleep.

The next day, I pulled a different teacher aside and asked her, WTF with the leprechauns? She said for the holiday they flip over the chairs and pull things out of the kids' cubbies and sprinkle candy around the room, then leave little footprints that make it look like some leprechauns came in, ransacked the place, then went out the window. (So apparently, St. Patrick's day at Idlewild is a lot like when our house got broken into, only with candy.) I explained how terrified Connor had been the night before, and asked if maybe the teacher who originally told the tale could pull Connor aside and assure him that it's pretend. Because this is Connor we're talking about. Santa only works because there are presents involved and we've always talked about him. We can't introduce messy, candy-dropping leprechauns this late in the game! There's a chance we won't even do the tooth fairy, just because I know Connor would cry himself to sleep worrying about a fairy sneaking into his room.

(Quick time out: Another issue at play here is that I just have trouble perpetuating these myths. Although I didn't feel betrayed by my parents once I found out Santa/Easter Bunny/etc. were fictional, for some reason I feel really guilty lying right to my children's faces. I was as surprised as anyone to find this out about myself, but it's true. So between that and Connor's skittishness, I'm thinking Santa might be enough. I guess I'll play it by ear when the teeth start falling out. I'll make sure Connor doesn't tell your kids, though- I don't want to ruin it for everyone. Despite what you're about to read.)

Soon after I left the school, I got a call from Connor's lead teacher. "I thought about it, and if Connor is scared, maybe some other kids are scared. So I just won't do the leprechaun thing." Aaaack! I assured her that Connor would be fine if she told him the truth and asked him to keep it secret. "I don't want to be THAT parent!" I protested, but to no avail. "No, no, I don't want Connor crying himself to sleep. I just won't do it." And just like that, I ruined it for everyone. I guess I'll bring some candy on the 17th to assuage my guilt. But I refuse to go out through the window.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

96 Colors and Then Some

One of Connor's favorite hobbies is to "draw," by which he means "color." I try to explain to him that someone else drew the solid black lines, and all he is doing is coloring in those lines. He nods his head in agreement and says, "So do you wanna draw with me?" And I say yes. Because I, too, love to color in coloring books. My mom says I always have, and I believe I always will. I tend to take it seriously, as does Connor, and both of us always want to display our art when it is done. Sadly, the underlying reason that Connor and I love to color, and insist on confusing it with art, is that neither one of us can draw for shit. I can barely crap out a stick figure, and Connor isn't even that advanced- what he calls a stick person is clearly just a blob with eyes and feet.

But when we open that magical box of 96 crayons, we can pretend that we are doing something worth looking at, that we are making Lightning McQueen into something special by coloring him inchworm green instead of his usual red. We fight over the cornflower, the electric pink, the mahogany. We concentrate on staying in the lines, because those of us with no artistic vision can not tolerate scribble-scrabble. And when we're done, we admire our work with wonder, proud of what we have created.

I hope, for Connor's sake, that he inherits some talent in the arts from his father. It'll have to be an aptitude for music, though. Unfortunately, Chip can't draw for shit.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Our Other Anniversary

Back in 1993, Chip and I (and Tiffany) were innocently cohabitating in a rented condo on the first floor of the Mayfair, the building right next to Outback Steakhouse on Union. (Although back then, it was a Po Folks.) We each had our own room and our own significant other, and we were great friends but nothing more.

In the fall of 1993, our respective relationships both ended. We hung out a lot, to ease the pain of being alone. We were both glad to have another friend (besides Tiff) to rely on during this rough time, but that was the extent of it.

As 1994 dawned, we hung out a lot more, not always with other friends. Attitudes were shifting, but only very privately. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about the feelings I was developing for Chip, since I didn’t want to make our friendship awkward for us or for others. But that February, things changed. I remember feeling especially flirty with him during the ice storm of ’94, although I wasn’t sure if he was flirting back or not. Then there was Valentine’s Day- he and I and two other single friends went on a sad-sack, “we don’t have dates” double date. Chip and Lori were paired up, and me and Curt. But Chip didn’t just buy a card for Lori- he unexpectedly bought one for me too. And wrote something flirty in it. Hmmmm.

Around this time, Reality Bites came out. A movie we could relate to, about people our age who were struggling with finding their place in the world, people who drank too much Diet Coke and smoked too many cigarettes (ok, maybe only one of us identified with that), but most importantly a movie about best friends who were really in love with each other. Why yes, Chip, we should go see that movie. It was a loaded proposition, one we both knew carried a lot of weight but that we weren’t ready to talk about. That day I went to the Limited and bought a new skirt to wear. It was our first date, but no one knew it- not even us. I still have that skirt.

A couple of weeks later, Rhodes was having a particularly early Spring Break. Tiffany and Lori (& Libby?) planned a trip to. . . the beach? Dallas? Somewhere. Chip and I decided we couldn’t afford to take that kind of time off work, that we’d just stay home. Just the two of us. We spent a few days hanging out the way we normally did, then Chip suggested we go up to Nashville for the night, to see his parents and probably to see some band play or go to a particular restaurant or something. I don’t remember the specifics, just the overwhelming feeling that we were moving out of our natural habitat in order to make this easier to confront. And we did.
“Stephanie, do you ever think about what it would be like if we were more than friends?”
“Actually, Chip, I think about it all the time.”

And just like that, we were a couple. For as long as we both shall live.