Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Novy Blanc de Noir 2007

I'm about to get all winey on you folks.  Tune me out if you prefer Grape Mad Dog.

The sommelier at Erling's mentioned this wine to us when we were there for our (dating) anniversary a few weeks back.  We went with red that night instead, but filed this one away for future reference.  As detailed on Novy's site, this wine was actually a mistake-- the result of the winery trying to salvage something out of crop of rained-out pinot noir grapes.  This was lush and rich with lots of pear notes, sharing some characteristics with chardonnay, but subtly different.  Interesting, elegant finish.  Definitely recommended.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I'm feeling listy this week. (Much better than listless, I guess.) Here is a list of lists about Rock Band.

1. Songs that are inappropriately sexual but my kids sing along to anyway, oblivious to it all:
Suck My Kiss, Red Hot Chili Peppers
My Sharona (!), The Knack
Bounce, The Cab

2. Songs I hadn't heard before but now I love:
Maps, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Nine in the Afternoon, Panic at the Disco
Dead on Arrival, Fall Out Boy (WTH?)

3. Songs that crack me up when Chloe sings them randomly:
Toxicity and BYOB, System of a Down
Testify, Rage Against the Machine
Indestructible, Disturbed

4. Songs Chip wants to master on expert on the drums:
Siva, Smashing Pumpkins
Tom Sawyer, Rush
My Hero, Foo Fighters

5. Classic rock songs Connor loves because of the long guitar solos:
Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas
Ramblin' Man, Allman Brothers
Spirit in the Sky, Norman Greenbaum

6. Songs that make Chip pee on himself laughing when I attempt to sing them:
Livin' On A Prayer, Bon Jovi
Anyway You Want It, Journey
Pretty Noose, Soundgarden

7. Bands we're missing on Rock Band

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Showers

Maternity Leave

A woman in my office returned from maternity leave this week. She did alright on Monday, but on Tuesday she was a wreck. She took a long lunch to go spend time with the baby, and spent most of the rest of the day with her door closed so that she could cry when she needed to.

We all comforted her and assured her she wasn't nuts. What I didn't tell her was, five and half years later, I still cry at work because I'm not with my babies. For reasons I don't understand, it seems that the summer camp application for Connor has gotten me all riled up again. On the same day that my coworker was crying over leaving her newborn with a sitter, I sent Chip the following tearful IM (thank you, Google, for recording this for posterity):

me: OK, I have to tell you something I'm going to have to quit before summer. I just can't work in the summer, once C is out of school.

Chip: Wow.

me: I feel that so strongly! Isn't that weird? I just can't have him in camp all summer. It was one thing when it was daycare, now that he's in elementary school it just seems horrible.

Chip: And sitting around the house with you would be that much better?

me: Well, working is stupid. Whose idea was this? That we go to work all day rather than living life? It's such a silly convention in our society, that 40 or more hours a week is spent doing this. I want to pick the kids up at 2:30 every day. That just makes sense.

OK, obviously I'm not going to quit work. And Chip's right- I'm not really sure I want to, even if I could! It's just that some days, life seems so illogical. And Tuesday was one of those days. So that morning I wiped away the tears and carried on with my job, not letting on that I thought it was all pointless (Brenda and Jay disagree- I totally let on!). Then that afternoon, when my coworker admitted to us all how bad her day had been, I cried again! Just like I did typing that.

I'm sure this is just my post-Spring Break hangover talking. In fact, I spent time today reminding myself that summer is when my favorite project at work happens. I thought about past summers, and how they mostly went fine, and just about convinced myself that this really isn't such a big deal. I do know that when summer comes, I'll do okay, and so will Connor. So there's really no point to this, except to let all you new mothers out there know that some days suck, no matter what, but the next day comes and you realize it's really not all that bad. But I'll keep buying my lottery tickets, just in case.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I've Seen Them All

On Facebook, I recently filled out a list of five TV shows of which I've seen every episode . I hated stopping at five, though, since it hurts my OCD to have an incomplete list. Here I try to remedy that. . .

In no particular order:

The Office (US and British)
My Name Is Earl
30 Rock
Friday Night Lights
Say Yes To the Dress
Battlestar Galactica
Mad Men
Veronica Mars
Sex and the City
How I Met Your Mother
American Idol
Gilmore Girls
Party of Five
Arrested Development
The West Wing
My So-Called Life

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just Enough of a Break

One of the best things about Spring Break was not having to walk Connor over to his school in the mornings. Isn't that a silly thing to focus on? Each day, I park my car in the back lot of Evergreen Presbyterian and walk with Connor just a short stretch to the door of the Snowden kindergarten hall. I've done this in rain, snow, sleet, 11-degree weather, 100-degree weather, you name it. I'm like a postal employee delivering him to his teacher five days a week. But for some reason, just in the past couple of weeks, I've come to really dread it.

Of course there have been days, here and there, where I wished I didn't have to do it. But for the most part, I enjoy that time with Connor. Even if we fuss at each other in the hurry to get out the door in the mornings, we always have a pleasant few minutes together before parting for the day. It means a lot to Connor to have me with him- the couple of times I've only walked him halfway, he was very upset about it. And I know I have to enjoy this while I can.

But at the same time, Connor is my baby! He never wants to be away from me, he never has in all his 5.75 years. Chip and I have predicted that he will go to Rhodes for college, live at home with us and ride in with me in the mornings, hanging around in my office while waiting for class to start. So while I can appreciate in theory that there may come a day that he doesn't want me holding his hand on the way to school, I can't yet imagine it. And sometimes, just sometimes, I need a little break from the constant attention. First thing in the morning, when I'm cranky and tired and it's raining/hot/cold/windy, might be a good time for a little independence.

So last Thursday and Friday I came to work, still at 7:30, but without the 10-minute distraction of walking over to Snowden. My hair didn't get frizzy, I was on time, and I got a minute to myself. And maybe that was enough. This morning I was glad to walk Connor in, to have a minute to hug and kiss him good-bye before he started back to the grind. Maybe Spring Break was perfectly timed to refresh me, too, so that I could continue the morning routine just a few more months without breaking. Despite my grumbling for the past few weeks, today I found that I just wasn't ready to watch Connor walk away on his own in the mornings. Not yet.

Friday, March 20, 2009

City Museum

In a nutshell: The City Museum of St. Louis is AWESOME.

Stacey covered it pretty well here and here. Her accounts are what made us want to visit, and we sure are glad we did.

The above slide was the first and last attraction we enjoyed. In the interim, Connor went on every other slide in the place (except one, he keeps telling me) and even Chloe went down the ten-story spiral slide with her dad (even though she started crying about halfway down). I didn't go on any slides. What can I say- I'm not a slider! (If you look at that picture closely, you can see Connor at the top poised to come down behind his sister.)

I did climb all over MonstroCity, though, even up to one of the planes. Chloe and I then got distracted by a path to a nearby castle, but Connor went all the way to the plane at the top! (He didn't find any Virgin Mary statues up there, though.) I was impressed with how fearless both kids were- I guess heights aren't an issue! At least not yet.

We loved the skateless skate park, where you could pretend you were falling off of your skateboard as many times as you wanted to. You could also slide on all the ramps, half-pipes and concrete bowls. Here, Chloe demonstrates her favorite part of the skate park, the part I assume is responsible for the big scab on her back.

There is pretty much nothing in the museum that is off limits. You can climb up this, slide down that, shimmy into this tunnel, or jump into that ball pit. You just follow your instincts and see whatever you happen to see. We enjoyed the slides, and also the aquarium full of turtles. The kids enjoyed a mini-circus while I had a beer. We crawled through the caverns and set up camp in the tree house. I just can't imagine a cooler place for kids, and parents, to explore.

As we stopped for a snack in the afternoon, Chip was thinking it might be time to leave. Chloe, however, insisted that we stay a bit longer. Her stamina was incredible! Then she fell asleep in the car exactly two blocks from the museum. And as we were leaving, Connor declared, "I want to come back to St. Louis sometime so we can swim some more and go back to City Museum." Only a special place can compete with an indoor hotel pool! And we found it. We will be back, St. Louis. Oh yes, we will be back.

(Slideshow of all the pics is here.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St. Louis Cathedrals

On Tuesday, before hitting the City Museum in St. Louis, I dragged the family around to a couple of cool cathedrals.  I had my tripod with me, and wanted to try out some photo techniques.  (HDR, for you photo geeks out there-- a technique which combines multiple exposures to produce photos which capture a broader range of lights and darks, more like the human eye.)

First was the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, otherwise known as the "Old Cathedral," which is on the river, right by the Arch.  It was constructed in the Greek Revival style.  I could tell how old this place was-- built in 1834.  I have to be honest-- not a ton to look at, but still very old, and very French.

Next up was the Christ Church Cathedral, a gothic revival structure built between 1859-1867.  This was was truly beautiful, inside and out.
I had a case of family burnout and didn't make it to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, which is supposed to be the best of them.  I saw it as a kid, and I remember the amazing mosaics covering all of the walls. Next time, I'll start there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Arch

When we first arrived in St. Louis, we dropped our stuff at the hotel and immediately set out to explore downtown, with the goal of reaching The Arch. There were many cool buildings to photograph (I'll leave that part of the story for Chip to tell) and we eventually made it all the way to the riverfront.

I have to admit, I find The Arch amazing. I can't imagine ever tiring of staring up at it! Why is it so cool?

We asked the kids if they wanted to go up and look out those windows at the top. No problem! The only thing they didn't like about it was how long it took to move through the line and actually get in the space pod that took us to the top. The height was absolutely not an issue, though.

Afterwards we made it back to the hotel too late for dinner with the Wolowicz family, but with plenty of time to swim. And that concludes the short version of Day One.

You Can Find Me in St. Louie

Friday afternoon, Chip called with some good news.

"We aren't going to trial! I can take some time off for spring break!"

"OK then- let's go somewhere!"

I knew our trip only had two requirements- it had to be a short drive, and there had to be an indoor pool at the hotel. My kids fondly recall last spring's trip to Ann Arbor- the one where they took their first plane ride and attended their first wedding- as the trip we took to a hotel with an indoor pool. They periodically mention that we should go back to Michigan soon, because that hotel was really cool. I figured it would be pretty easy to recreate that same magic somewhere closer to home.

We decided to jump on the St. Louis bandwagon and go up there for a night. We figured we could walk around downtown, take some pictures, do the arch, and visit City Museum before leaving town. All that and swim, of course. I know there are tons of family-friendly things to do there, but we decided to limit ourselves. Why force the kids to leave the pool and see the sights if we were paying good money for that hotel?

So that's what we did. We had a wonderful time and so did the kids. They can't wait to go back to do more swimming and revisit City Museum. The only thing I'd do differently is find a hotel in a more central location (we were on the edge of downtown, near the hockey stadium and the action) and stay two nights.

Yes, there will be more posts and more pictures- I really do have to describe City Museum in detail, plus Chip took like 500 pictures.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Party

When Connor turned three, I didn't have any kind of peer-oriented party for him. We had some family over, and we took cupcakes to his school, but that was it. However, he talked a little about wanting to have his friends over, etc. I know he would have enjoyed a party, I just didn't have that part of parenting together yet.

Chloe made it clear that she was going to have a party for her third birthday. None of her school friends have had a party yet, but she has been to plenty as a sibling tag-a-long. She knows the drill. I groaned at the thought of cleaning my house and entertaining a bunch of two- and three-year-olds. Then I had a brilliant idea- Chick-Fil-A! They have a playground, they have chicken nuggets- what could be better? I called to set it up, and learned another bit of awesomeness that sealed the deal: it costs less than $3 per kid. Done!

It was a pretty fun party, very low-stress and inexpensive. Thanks to everyone who came all the way to East Memphis to help my girl celebrate!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


My kids stink.

And no, not in that sweet, endearing way that kids stink. No milk breath, no baby musk, no sweet scent drifting off the top of their heads- just full-out truck driver stench. It's shocking that their pleasant baby essence wore off so fast, and even more surprising that it happened so much faster for Chloe, but it has definitely happened.

This weekend at Target, Chip picked up some kid's toothpaste that contained mouthwash. "We have to get this for our kids' funky breath." I'm not even sure the kids formula will be strong enough. This morning, while helping Chloe get up and going, I had the misfortune of being face to face with her. "Do you need to poop?" I asked. She looked at me like I was crazy and breathed a toxic "No" in my direction. Oh sweet lord! That wasn't a fart- it was her breath. I literally gagged and handed her off to Chip with the directive that he brush her teeth for at least ten minutes with the new mouthwash toothpaste.

The other serious problem area is the feet. Chip insists they get this from me, and he's probably right, but really my feet only stink if I wear shoes with no socks all day. And at least I have the good sense to leave my shoes on when there's any question about their pleasantness. Not my children. The first question they ask when we enter anyone's home, be it ours or yours, is, "Can I take off my shoes?" Well, Connor asks- Chloe just sheds her shoes and socks and goes running through your home, spreading little footprints of stink all over your hardwood. I don't know why they think those things need to be aired out in public, but that's just how they do. So now you know why your house smells like a locker room whenever we come to visit.

Another game Chloe plays is to strip off her socks and say, "Smell my feet!" then wait for you to comment on their sweetness. "Mmm, sweet feet!" I usually choke out while holding my breath. Finally, one day recently, she said, "They're not sweet! They're stinky feet!" That goodness that game is over. I guess Chloe's smarter than I thought. I'm glad she's at least got that going for her.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Uphill Both Ways

Yesterday Chloe and I stayed home and celebrated her first sick day in over a year. Although she lounged on the couch most of the day, I couldn't get her to take a full-fledged nap. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and stick her in the jogging stroller- she could get some rest, and I could get some exercise.

I guess I had jogging strollers on the brain, as this weekend I had seen several new, fancy versions with a front wheel that swiveled. This led me to forget that I have an old, clunky stroller that a) is borderline too small for Chloe and b) I am an epic failure at using. Despite these shortcomings, I gave it a go anyway.

With Chloe's long legs dangling on either side of the stationary front wheel, we took off. Or should I say, began our slow crawl. I started jogging, but couldn't figure out what to do with my arms. Am I supposed to hold on with both hands? Push with one while swinging the other? I settled for some combination of the two and set out with the goal of catching up with the middle-school kid walking home on the other side of the street. It took me the better part of Quince to finally jog past him, despite the fact that his backpack looked rather heavy, but the time it took me to maneuver the stroller right onto a side street allowed him to catch back up.

The side street, Massey, contains the closest thing Memphis streets have to hills. (Picture a slightly uneven surface.) I thought maybe I could let the stroller roll in front of me while swinging both arms like a normal runner. Unfortunatley, I soon found out that the stroller pulls to the left, or into traffic. I'm sure you're wondering why I didn't just cross the street and let her drift towards the curb, but trust me when I say I wouldn't have gotten across the street at this pace, in 5:00 traffic, without getting hit.

Finally, we got to our next right turn at Massey and Shadowood. I noticed that Chloe was trying to fall asleep except that her head kept bobbing around. I took this as a sign that I should stop running, recline her seat, and start a nice steady walk in order to allow her to sleep. Thus completed both the hardest and easiest 1.3 miles I have ever jogged- hard because of pushing the extra weight, but easy because I took at least 20 minutes to get it done. I barely worked off the calories in a stick of gum, but at least Chloe got a good, long nap as we walked home.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fire Sale

Chip and I made a New Year's resolution to organize our attic. Our goal was to be done in March and have a yard sale/Goodwill giveaway so that all our unneeded stuff would leave our house forever. We were making progress, but when E suggested we have a group sale on March 7, we really had to step up our game.

Sassy declared her new yard to be the perfect spot for this sale, and it really is, so we spent Thursday and Friday hauling stuff over there, making signs, pricing things, etc. Our only real obstacle was the fact that we're all a little lazy, so no one could bring themselves to commit to a 6:00 am start time. We agreed to have our stuff ready by 8:00, put that time in our advertising, and slept well Friday night.

Saturday morning at 7:00, we gathered at Sassy's to move everything from her carport to the front of the house. There were yard salers waiting on us. This didn't bother me at all- if they feel like they're getting the best deal by digging through my crap while it's still in the box, rather than waiting on me to display it nicely on a card table, fine by me. One guy announced (at 7:10 am) that it was obvious this was our first sale, since everyone knows you can't start a sale as late as 8:00. I thought about how much earlier he must have gotten up than I did and laughed a little inside. Then I sold him something that Tiff's mom got me for Christmas in 1999.

Most of my sale items were baby-related: a crib, a car seat, lots of bedding and toys. I joked with people that it was obvious my babies were all grown up. (As each item sold, I crossed my fingers and hoped that I wasn't jinxing myself.) By 9:30 I had sold all but two things that I really wanted to sell. By 10:30 another one was gone. By 11:30 I packed up my last remaining item that was worth anything and headed home. I can sell that PBK crib bumper (with original packaging!) on ebay. I left a few junky things for the Goodwill truck and headed home happy, with the realization that I am not cut out for yard sale-ing. I think from now on I'll leave this stuff to the professionals and give my stuff away like the socialist I am.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Duh, I can't believe I forgot the funniest thing my kids say- the thing that prompted me to write that post earlier in the week, and I left it out!

Connor is starting to understand a need for privacy, particularly when he's pooping or changing clothes. (Although bathtime? No need for modesty.) So he is constantly telling Chloe that he needs "Privacy!" and for some reason she repeats this back as "Privacet!" It sounds like a medication of some type. But now we all say it, because it's too cute to be denied.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Kindergarten Conversations

Boy: My dog froze to death.
Girl #1: You already told us that!
Girl #2: My dog got run over.
Me: You told us about that. I'm so sorry that happened to your dogs. Let's talk about something more pleasant, OK?
Kids: OK
Girl #2: My sister got run over.

Girl #2: I asked my mama if she would kick me out if I had a baby. She said, "Girl you know I would!"

Boy: The tooth fairy left me five dollars!
Me: The tooth fairy only leaves one dollar at our house.
Girl #2: The tooth fairy left me $100!
Girl #1: The tooth fairy left me, uh, a lot of dollars. But I think she was broke after leaving Girl #2's house.

Boy: Do you have a little girl?
Me: Yes, she'll be three years old next weekend.
Girl #1: My sister's birthday is next Friday.
Me: That's great- my girl's birthday is actually next Sunday.
Girl #1: Friday isn't really my sister's birthday.
Boy: At my baby brother's birthday, we had a Spiderman Cake.
Girl #1: You already told us that!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Snow Scenes

Ok, Melissa and Click beat me to it, but I nonetheless feel compelled to throw some of my snow pics out there...


Monday, March 02, 2009

A Way With Words

I feel like I need to get some of this down for posterity's sake. Forgive me.

Connor loves to make fun of how his sister talks, partly because it's so sing-song-y and fun, but partly because he's starting to recognize bad grammar when he hears it. Here are some things she says that are adorable and that I refuse to correct.

Lots of pronoun confusion, like "Them's got on matching shirts!"
Plus, instead of saying "his" she says "heees," like he's but only possessive. That is definitely my favorite.
Instead of saying "I am going to drop this" she says "I am going to fall this to the ground!" There are a few things she does this way, like burn/fire, but I can't think of them right now. This one is Grammy's favorite.
She has also started ending any directive with "you," as if she's an 80-year-old. For example, "Get me some milk, you!" or "You need help with dinner, you?"

Connor, who considers himself perfect, still says "dinfrent" instead of "different." Don't tell him it's wrong!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Harpers Harpers Everywhere

This weekend we had the pleasure of meeting the extremely charming Harper B. I feel like I've known her (and her mom!) forever- hard to believe this was our first meeting! I certainly hope it's not the last.

We were so spoiled by our time with one Harper that we immediatly had to go visit another one. We didn't want any Harper-less days in our weekend!

So alert for two weeks old!

Thank you, Harpers, for making our weekend so special!