Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Five

I know this is a total hack, but here are five things you need to know this week:

1. Chloe hasn't touched a pacifier since Sunday.

2. Connor's conduct grades so far this week have been E, N, S, S. His teacher and I have a meeting planned.

3. I wore red, white and blue on Wednesday in anticipation of voting, and yes I cried when casting my ballot.

4. Chip has started making Connor's lunch for me, and I can't possibly thank him enough- for that and for all the other things he's done this week to make my life easier.

5. We have attended two events this week that required a costume: we have two more planned.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Anatomy of a Playdate

Connor recently had a friend over to play after school. The afternoon went something like this:

I picked them up from school, and struggled mightily to get all three kids strapped into my back seat since there really isn't room for three car seats in a Honda Accord.

On the way home, the two five-year-olds went wild- tons of showing off, and yelling, and (friendly) hitting and biting and kicking, and buckets and buckets of shrieking laughter. While this was a little much in the confines of the car, at least they were glad to see each other.

Chloe spent the car ride trying desperately to be a part of the kindergarten clique, laughing heartily whenever the big kids found something funny, despite the fact that she had no idea what was going on.

Immediately upon arriving at the house, everyone's shoes came off.

At one point during the playdate, I came upstairs to find Connor drawing in his Superman notebook while his friend patiently watched. I quickly explained that a playdate will be remembered more fondly if it actually involves "play."

On two separate occasions, I had to explain to the kids that you should knock rather than just burst through a closed door. This happened once while I was changing into a sports bra (not a dignified endeavor), and again when one of the kids was trying to poop (ditto).

Once the shoes were put back on and the kids were wrestled back into the car, the tearful ride to meet our friend's mother could commence. Connor, taking after me, immediately started planning the next get-together in order to ease the sting of impending separation.

After parting ways, we spent the ride home discussing why, exactly, some people do not stay married. This was a very complicated conversation to have with a five-year-old - in the course of explaining why a relationship might not work, I also had to explain why one does. The discussion was filled with lots of "Why?"s and was frequently interrupted by Chloe's loud rendition of Umbrella by Rhianna. Despite assurances that this was not going to happen in our family, Connor went ahead and claimed his spot in my theoretical bachelorette pad-"just in case."

Eventually Chip got home. I kissed him passionately in front of the kids, just to make sure they felt good about things, then I put on my iPod and ran from the house as fast as I could.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Kids Are Alright

You might remember I mentioned how Chloe sometimes whines, but in a benign, "just kidding" way. Well, she has really escalated that behavior, despite the fact that she isn't using the whine to get her way. She just likes the annoying sound of her own whiny voice!

But when she isn't whining, her voice (and what she uses it to say) is delightful! It has a sing-song quality to it that compels everyone else to imitate it immediately after hearing her speak. I'm sure that drives her nuts, but it's just so cute and fun to repeat!

She starts most sentences by stuttering a little as her voice rises until she finally hits the high note and delivers the meat of the word.
"YuyuyooooooooUUUUUUUUUUU gonna get me some milk Mommy?"
You really must hear it in person.

Other funny recent quotes:
Connor was worried about something that might be too scary, so Chloe reached over to rub his back and coo, "It won't be too scary, Connor. Don't be scared."

She looked at a bottle of Pillar Box Red and said, "That wine is from Target!"

At dinner the day I got my hair done, she said, "YuyuyoooouuUUU don't wanna eat dinner with that HAIR!"

Connor has come back from vacation a new man. He has totally relaxed and is not nearly as moody as he was. I hope the vacation hangover lasts for a good long while!

He told his dad that he wants to be just like him someday, and that he wants to be a lawyer too. It was so sweet! Knowing Connor also idolizes soon-to-be-Uncle Chris, Chip said, "You know Chris wants be a lawyer too!" and Connor, ever on the ball, said, "Who?"

Connor is starting to really struggle with wearing a uniform every day. He has started to sneak another shirt under his uniform shirt, so that he has the option of individuality when he gets to after-school care. This is okay, unless he tries to put a patterned shirt under a white uniform shirt. I'm trying to buy him interesting socks so that he can make at least one sartorial decision for himself each day.

We just read our first chapter book together (the first Captain Underpants book), and it was a big hit. We spread it out over a few nights, and he looked forward to it each day. This age is so weird for books- we have the simple books that Connor can read himself, but those books don't really have a story since they are focused on short words that repeat on each page. But he is ready to follow a more involved story, so the books we read to him are longer and more complicated. I can't wait until those sides meet in the middle! In any case, add "first chapter book" to the list of exciting firsts the baby books don't tell you to look out for (along with "wipes own ass semi-successfully" and "vomits in the toilet not on the floor").

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Weekend That Was

Our weekend was so busy! On Friday, I ran out on my lunch break to buy Chloe's Halloween costume and presents for my friends with Libra birthdays. Then we went home and played in the costume. . .

before heading over to spend time with the October birthday crew. Unfortunately, I forgot the presents I had so thoughtfully bought earlier in the day. Instead of exchanging gifts, we spent the night admiring Miss M's new glasses.

On Saturday, I spent the majority of the day in the kitchen with Beth and Cathy, preparing for that evening's engagement party for Tiffany and Mark. I love spending a day cooking with my friends! Especially when one friend brings a tiny baby, and the other drives up from Mississippi.

We had a wonderful time at the party, although for some reason Chip didn't really get any good pictures. Here's one with my new hair, though.

Sunday morning we "slept in" (hey- 7:30 is late!) and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with Beth and Marshall, successfully ignoring the disgusting mess covering my kitchen. Unfortunately, the Smiths had to head out before the main event, the Titans at the Chiefs. After cheering them to victory, we headed out to the neighborhood pumpkin patch to snap some pics and pick up a pumpkin or two. I think Chip would have preferred to dress the kids in something more portrait-appropriate, but in this age of school uniforms Connor really prefers to pick out his own weekend clothes.

After the pumpkin patch, I fixed dinner for the family and then quickly cleaned myself up and headed over to Yia Yia's for a Facebook-fueled reunion with some high school friends. It was so fun! One of my fellow Roadrunners was in town from Minnesota, and managed to arrange a meet-up with me and two other townies. It was fun to see everyone and catch up on old times while learning about who we all turned out to be. I hope to have some more face-to-face meetings with some of the Ridgeway Facebook folks before too much longer.

Sadly, Connor woke up early Monday morning in order to worship the porcelain goddess. Fortunately, this extended my busy weekend by a day, allowing me time to finally get that kitchen cleaned up and take a little bit of a nap. Not until last night did I truly feel I had recovered- I'm too old for that much activity!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Our 500th post! 

I've talked before about what the blog is to us-- a sounding board, a communication tool, a social tool, a resource for how not to be a parent.  Sometimes it's a place for Steph and me to bitch and/or gush about our kids to each other when we don't have time for real, adult conversation.  It's been a way for us to meet new people while breeding instant familiarity with them.  Other times, it's a place for me to bore people with my love of photography, or our love of wine or pop culture.

So here's to you, loyal readers-- we love you all.  Even you, Anonymous.  We'd probably be doing this blog even if no one read it, just because it's fun.  Oh, and of course because we really are just self-absorbed bloviating pseudo intellectuals, engaged in diaristic diuretics.

So to celebrate our 500th post, I'm posting one of my favorite pics I've ever taken.  (And no, it's not of RJA.)  These are our monkeys, and they are the reason for this blog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Part III: Shark!

We didn't really run into a shark. But on Friday, when it was sunny and perfect, we noticed the purple flag was flying again.

"Maybe there are no more jellyfish, just sharks circling out past that sandbar!" I joked. Ten minutes later, the sorority girls in the house two doors down kindly let us know that when they were out on the sandbar, they saw a shark go by. Ha! We never saw anything of the kind, and we didn't let this rumor ruin our fun of bouncing the Waboba ball on the clear Gulf water.

After a long day of building sand castles, Friday night called for more 2006 Connundrum- but not until after we'd had a bottle of Cakebread! For dinner, I made baked salmon served on chocolate linguini with vanilla-habanero cream sauce. I think Chip and I liked it more than the rest of the group, who were still self-flagellating over the stick of butter we had consumed the night before. (Note to self: No more cream sauces for the Chockleys.) Fortunately Roy ran out and got salad fixins at the last minute, so they all had something to eat while I shoved pasta down my gullet.

Saturday was sunny and perfect also. We spent the day trying to get as much sun as possible without burning, which is a difficult task. You know you have to skip the 50 SPF sunblock, but do you just go to 30? Or all the way to 15? I stuck with 50 on my face and chest, because I look old and haggard enough as it is. Other people forgot to apply any lotion at all to various parts of their anatomy, as witnessed by the reddish/purple color of Chip's face and Chris' feet.

The kids dug them a hole, and then filled it up again. But they weren't too tired for a nice dinner out at the Old Florida Fish House. Everything about the meal was great, including the sushi Chip, Chloe and I fought over, until the end. Our bill was overcharged, and we naively pointed that out, thinking it could be quickly fixed. Half an hour later we were presented with the "fixed" bill, which was now more than the original. Wary of another half hour wait, we paid the extra and got out of there while we could. No worries, though- running around the restaurant was way more fun than packing up stuff back at the house. No one wants to think about leaving the beach a minute sooner than they have to!

Back at home for the last night, we went up on the roof with our glow-in-the-dark bracelets and signaled passing ships. Because the moon was almost full, we were able to go down to the beach for a while as well, keeping a safe distance from the lone heron prowling the shoreline. We finally came in when Brandon and his girlfriend came by to say hi- turns out their costal vacation was starting on the very day ours was ending. And the circle of life is complete.

I am already busy planning our next trip to the coast (Spring Break! Who's with me?) and trying not to cry when I realize that I'm back in Memphis. (I asked Mom what I missed while I was gone and she said, "Oh just people shooting each other and killing babies- nothing interesting.") I just hope my post-vacation blues fade before my pathetic excuse for a tan does. See you next time, Emerald Coast!

Seaside Pavilions

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Part II: Under the Weather

Monday night's rain lasted all through the day on Tuesday. We weren't that bothered, since we could see and hear the ocean from our glassed-in porch. All of the adults continued reading the books we had started on the beach, while the kids engaged in their second-favorite vacation activity- watching TV in their bedroom! (We only have one TV at home.)

Cory, Sherri, Chris and I had been looking forward to a big shopping trip at the Silver Sands Outlet Mall in Destin, and our rainy day seemed like the perfect time for it. Oddly enough, every other tourist in Walton County had the same novel idea. We got some shopping done, but we also spent a lot of our trip fighting the crowds and standing in too-long lines. We left, vowing to return on a sunny day so that we wouldn't have as much competition. We never did.

That night, Roy and Sherri made poblano peppers stuffed with shrimp and rice and served with black beans. It was great, and went well with the pineapple-jalepeno margaritas we made. After dinner I cried through the end of Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith, a new entry on my favorite books ever list. I think I'll put it at number three, and recommend it to everyone I know.

Sadly, Wednesday morning did not hold much promise either. It was overcast, windy, and a little chilly, with more rain threatening. We walked down to the beach anyway, only to discover a red flag telling us the water was as dangerous as it was cold. We all resumed our Tuesday morning book/TV posts, but with a little more grumbling. We figured we'd find something to do eventually, right after we sat and did nothing for a little bit. Before you know it, lunchtime was upon us as was better weather. We ate and SPFed and got down those 49 (50) steps as fast as we could.

That night we grilled pizzas and had one of Roy's famous "Dooker Blowouts." This is much more fun than the name might imply.

We thought we had turned a corner, but Thursday morning it was cool and overcast again. At this point, even Connor said, "We've watched too much TV!" We killed the morning by walking down to the playground in Seaside and burning some energy there while waiting on the weather to pick up, which it did by the afternoon.

That night, Chris made crabcakes using his grandmother's famous recipe. (Secret ingredient? Butter.) The 2006 Conundrum was perfect for this meal! OK, really it was perfect for every meal, which is the reason we had at least a bottle of it a day. Before dinner we attempted the traditional family portrait session, which ran into several obstacles. To begin with, only the Memphis Chockleys had bothered to pack any white shirts. But fortunately, we had packed a LOT of white shirts. On to problem two: Chloe. She refused to participate in a productive way at any point in the family portrait process, save for two shots of her and Connor which you will see when you get our Christmas cards.

Beach Flowers

Monday, October 13, 2008

Vacation Part I: The Salad Days

I think we'll draw this out, Elizabeth-style. Enjoy the comedic truffles!

Last Sunday we snuck out of town at the pre-dawn hour of 5:00 a.m. Although Connor and I fell back to sleep for about an hour, Chloe was having none of that. She patiently waited for us to wake up and put in a movie, which is my kids' favorite part of any vacation- the in-car DVD action.

We got to the coast about 1:30, having only stopped for one meal along the way. Chloe was too excited to take a nap, although she did finally fall asleep when we turned on 98, meaning she slept for 15 minutes. We hit the beach right away, eventually dragging ourselves to the Bud & Alley taco stand for a late lunch of cheese dip, fish tacos, and beers. We were lucky to get hold of our rental agent, who allowed us to check in at our house early. We were firmly entrenched two hours later when the rest of the Chockleys arrived.

After they got in, we enjoyed the rest of the day sitting on the roof-top deck of our house and running up and down the 49 steps (50 if you like even numbers and felt compelled to count the step buried in the sand at the bottom) separating us from the beach.

Monday dawned bright and gorgeous, and we hit the beach as soon as we could. We soon discovered, however, that the purple flag flying on the beach meant "dangerous marine life." I figured it out by reading the sign under the flag, while Chloe learned her lesson the hard way- the back of her left knee and her right ankle received lashes from the tentacles of one of these:

No matter- a little vinegar and meat tenderizer did the trick, and we spent the rest of the day in very shallow water, staying alert for these hard-to-miss creatures. That night we drank lots of wine while the guys grilled some grouper and I made crabmeat/pecan relish to top it with. One of the best parts of vacation is the daily trip to Goatfeathers for fresh fish. It beats the hell out of a weekly trip to Schnuck's!

We finished the night on the square in Seaside, eating crepes and drinking one last bottle of wine while the Roys argued passionately on the subject of sugar. Then we skipped home in the rain to thank Mimi a thousand times for staying home with the sleeping children.