Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Year to Date

January has come and gone, and all we've managed to put up on the ChockleyBlog is a bunch of pictures and a story about a tooth. I don't know why I have felt such apathy towards blogging. Maybe all the negative comments? Maybe because so many of my blogging friends are now getting paid to publish their stories and pictures? Maybe because Dee is blogging about all her good deeds, and suddenly my tales seem even more egotistical and self- indulgent than usual? In any case, this little blog suddenly seems Bush League. Plus Chip charges me every time I use one of his snapshots, and I don't have that kind of budget.

Seriously though, I don't know why I stopped caring, but I think I'm coming out of it. Here's a quick rundown of everything you missed in January.

The main events have been covered here to some extent. We've got the Rock Band, the tooth, and the 44th president. Since we are pro-choice, big-government, anti-plastic bag peaceniks (with a degree in American History!), of course we made a big to do over the inauguration. I took off work and kept Connor home from school to experience the big event. We had hoped to join Dad downtown at the Civil Rights Museum, but since it was cold and snowy we decided to stay home and drink hot coffee and cocoa and laugh at Justice Roberts from the comfort of our living room instead. Mom joined us for a moving, multi-generational celebration. Chip and I popped open a bottle of bubbly that evening to cap the night with a toast, and then we slept as soundly as we had in eight years.

The weekend before that we ran up to Nashville for a day so that Chip could do something work-related and the rest of us could lounge at the Chockley B&B. They had just gotten the floor redone in their kitchen, so the toaster oven was in the dining room and the fridge was in the den. It made it seem even more like an exotic getaway than usual! Everything there looks great and has inspired me to think about redoing some of the tired old rooms at this house. So far we've only replaced the kids' shower curtain, but I've got other things in mind. It's interesting- a lot of people I know have started the new year with the attitude that "I guess I'm never going to be able to sell this house, so I might as well fix this one up and learn to love it again." (You know, I think I'll put that in an email and send it to All Things Considered with "Hard Times" in the subject line. I'll mention where I'm from, and how to pronounce my name!)

Chip and I have enjoyed television way too much in the month of January. Two of our favorite shows of all time, Battlestar Galactica and Lost, had their season premieres this month and blew right past our lofty expectations. We're also really enjoying Top Chef, and yes we are the idiots who watch American Idol. Dumb but fun. We have been disappointed this month by a couple of terrible episodes of The Office, but still laugh our fool heads off for How I Met Your Mother and 30 Rock.

I'd cover books in this paragraph, but you can probably tell from that last one that we haven't read any. Well, Chip and I haven't, but know who has? Connor. His reading has really accelerated this month. (Yes, that was a pun for you MCS elementary parents out there.) Last week his class went to the library so they could each check out a book for the first time, and Connor read that sucker like it was nothing. Add that to the missing tooth and the fact that I bought him a pair of shoes that are size 1, and you can see that he has really grown up in the past month.

Chloe has given up naps. My heart has broken into a million pieces- not because I am sad about her lost youth, but because I miss the naptime that has eased my days for the past 5.5 years. A new day had dawned, my friends. A bigger milestone than the post-diaper era is the post-nap era. We are adjusting. Other than that, she got new shoes too. They are a size 10, and as she will proudly tell you, they came from Target.

This week I took the first sick day I have ever taken for something other than a stomach flu or a fever. I instantly regretted it when I got to work Tuesday and realized that I was way too behind and that I was supposed to have stood in line at the school board on Monday. (I am not yet panicking- I still feel good about getting into Snowden again next year. We'll revisit this topic this summer, I'm sure.) I did go to the doctor on Tuesday to get blood drawn and lungs x-rayed. I was mortified to find nothing was actually wrong with me, other than that I should be taking Mucinex instead of Sudafed. Sigh. I can't believe I broke my doctor-free streak for that! (I'm feeling much better, thanks. I just wish I could take a nap each afternoon- the sinus pressure makes me want to close my eyes.)

What can I say about the snow day that hasn't already been said? I put the laptop on our bedside table so that I could check the status of the MCS from under the covers and go immediately back to sleep if they were closed. They weren't. I looked out the window, saw wet streets, and hopped in the shower. Fifteen minutes later I got out and noticed that the streets were suddenly white. I checked again- schools are still open. Cut to 7:00 when Connor and I were walking out the door- only a text from Kristy saved me from getting in the car and driving off. Schools were closed! Although I could have used an extra hour of sleep (see above), at least I already had my coat on, making it easier to immediately begin frolicking in the snow with Connor. Chloe and Chip frantically changed out of their pjs to join us in enjoying our snow day. (Well, we enjoyed it until we got cold, came inside, and some of us decided to continue the fun by drawing on furniture with paint pens. But why ruin a happy memory with that story?)

So there you have it. I'll be back soon. Probably.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Photographic Odds 'n' Ends

A missing tooth! And a real instrument rather than a virtual one.

That's me on guitar, Connor on drums, Chloe on vocals. A proud family moment.

This picture got skipped when we posted before. If you look carefully, you can see the growl, but she's striking her "watching us all with the eeeeyyyeeeeee. . ." pose here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another One Gone

When I was a kid, I loved having a loose tooth. At the first hint of a wiggle, I would descend upon the tooth with all my strength and willpower, begging it to progress at an unnatural rate. A lot of the time, I would get it out of there as quickly as possible- often with a lot of blood and force. Sometimes I treated it like a toy, and would work it until it was just hanging by a thread. I would play with it for days, twisting and wiggling and tapping it with my tongue, until it finally fell out on its own.

One day right before Christmas, we all sat down to breakfast together. “My tooth feels weird,” Connor said. Apparently when he chewed his food, he could “feel it.” I guess I hadn’t really thought much about Connor entering the loose tooth era of his life, because this revelation rocked my world. I got tears in my eyes and started gushing about my baby and his tooth. Of course, I also wanted to get a finger on it and start wiggling.

“Moo-ooom- don’t!”

Oh no! Who is this child who wants his loose tooth left alone? He can’t possibly be related to me! I spent a couple of weeks asking him daily how his tooth was and cajoling him into wiggling it for me so I could see how loose it was. But he didn’t take any pleasure in it, so eventually I quit bugging him other than a perfunctory, “How’s that tooth?” every few days.

Last night, Chip, Connor and Chloe were in the car on the way home. Chip was fussing at Chloe about how she lost a sock in the course of the day, when Connor interrupted. "Yeah, that's nice, BUT MY TOOTH JUST FELL OUT!" Chip stopped the car to turn around and get a good look, then called me to share the news. I absolutely paced by the back door waiting on them to get home- I couldn’t wait to see my suddenly grown-up boy and his new gap-toothed grin.

They got home, and Connor handed me the tiniest little baby tooth I have ever seen in my life. Then he smiled as widely as he could to let me see the new hole in his bottom row of teeth. I was shocked to see that his adult tooth was already well-exposed. Such patience to let the new tooth push the old one out!

It was amusing to witness Connor’s mixed emotions about the whole affair. Part of him was really proud, but part of him was bothered by all the fuss we were making. It was hard to explain that we weren’t teasing him, but that we were truly excited. He told Grammy, “I didn’t even cry!” She assured him that he didn’t need to- it was a natural occurrence that didn’t have to be painful or scary. I think that helped him calm down about the whole thing. He wouldn’t let us take a picture, though.

We got the kids ready for bed while covertly clearing a path between Connor’s bedroom door and his pillow. Time for our first visit from the Tooth Fairy! We didn’t want her tripping over a toy and spoiling the fun. When the time came to sneak a dollar under his pillow in exchange for that tiny tooth, I totally chickened out. If Connor accidently woke up, I couldn’t bear to be the one who had screwed it up! Besides, I’m Santa- I figured I should share the fun. Chip got in and out quick as a flash (or in our house, "quick as The Flash"). “Piece of cake!” he said, showing me the tooth while we both giggled like kids.

Connor woke up this morning, thrilled to find a dollar bill under his pillow. Then the morning progressed, just like any other morning. We struggled to get shoes on, and get out the door on time, and the tooth was forgotten. Another milestone has come and gone, and my babies continue to grow up before my eyes. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. But that's okay- I'm pretty sure I don't want to.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Red Ring of Death

Funny how I just posted about how important Rock Band 2 has been to us since Christmas, and boom, our Xbox died. We Rock Banded it to death.  The other night, it stared back at us with a red, angry eye:

There's a ridiculously high hardware failure rate for Xbox 360s made before a certain date, and Microsoft knows about it, so at least they wisely extended the warranty to 3 years for this problem.  Still, the Chockleys are Rock Band-less for a couple of weeks.  Connor has taken to beating on things which are clearly not drums, and Chloe often forlornly sings from the backseat of the car, into her closed fist:  "And he's watching us all with the eeeyyyyyyye!  Ova tigerrrr..."

East Memphis Sunrise

Hey, that's a good name for a drink.  What would be in it?

Anyway, the sunrise was particularly pretty this morning:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Around the Web

For some reason I haven't done any blogging here in 2009. I get around, though.

Over the break, Chip and I took the kids out to dinner. Read about it here.

A few weeks ago, Chip won a party platter from Lenny's. We took it to Cocktail Hour last night and enjoyed both the sandwiches and the company. Read about that here.

I'll get around to writing something here sooner or later. . .

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Virtually Rocking

Back in that hazy period between college and law school, there was a really odd game called Parappa the Rapper, where this funny little paper-thin Japanese dog rapped and danced, and you pushed the buttons in time with the raps.  It was very bizarre.  Go ahead, look at it here.

More than 10 years later, folks are still playing games with the same premise-- pushing buttons in time with the music.  Now, you push buttons to songs you know, and the buttons are on things which closely resemble real musical instruments.

As a (now former) professional musician, I've always taken a dim view of these games.  It seemed to me like an excuse for kids to get fat sitting on their butts in front of the TV rather than going out and playing real instruments, interacting with other musicians, starting their own bands, writing their own music.  Playing and writing music with other people was a big part of my growing up.

Well, turns out I was wrong.  Santa brought Rock Band 2 to the Chockleys this year, and it kicks ass.

I've come to realize that the game (and presumably the others like it-- I've only played Rock Band) is actually more of a gateway than a substitute.  It's much more like the "real thing" than I ever thought.  It teaches kids the dexterity, rhythm and musicality involved in actually being in a band.

And how else would I have known that Connor is a five-year-old powerhouse on the drums?

Even Chloe loves to wail into the microphone.
Another cool thing is the communal nature of the game-- it's an activity that we all love to do, and it works best when we all do it together.  It's a true "family activity."
I've left pics of Steph out, but trust me-- she loves it too.  Last week, after I went out with the guys, I got home late, long after the kids had gone to bed.  She greeted me at the door with bloodshot eyes.  I said, "You've been playing Rock Band by yourself, haven't you?"  She laughed and said "I shole have."

Friday, January 02, 2009

Ringing it In

Tiff and Mark hosted a fancy get-together this year, including a sit-down dinner for 28 folks. There are unfortunately some parts of the evening which I don't recall all that well (we spend the night there, Mom and Dad!) but I know it was a blast.  Thanks, Tiff and Mark!  And Happy New Year to everybody.

See the whole slideshow here.