Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hell on Wheels

As usual, I'm posting about last weekend when it's almost time for a new one to start. But remember last week, when I posted weekend pictures of Chloe on the Big Wheel? Well, she had gotten so good at riding the Big Wheel, and so frustrated with the lack of traction from those smooth plastic tires, that on Sunday we decided to put her on a bike.

She struggled on her first trip around the cove because she kept accidentally pedaling backwards, which puts on the brakes. Then she spent a lot of time watching her feet as she rode, which caused her steering to suffer. But very soon she got the hang of it and just loved it.

We definitely need to buy a bigger helmet for her huge noggin, but I appreciate that she was able to coordinate her other accessories to match the small old helmet that we had on hand.

She hopes to someday be as fast as her brother, who is still using training wheels. We took them off, and he ignored the bike for an entire summer, so we caved in and put them back on.

If Chip and I could work up the enthusiasm to buy our own bikes, we might just have ourselves a new family hobby!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rock-n-Romp Season 4, Episode 1

A (very) warm spring day, a huge backyard in Midtown, three rockin' musical acts, two kegs of beer, blankets, dirt, and most importantly, tons of kids.  A great way to kick off season 4 of one of the things that makes Memphis cool-- Rock-n-Romp.

See the full slideshow here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Updatey-Like (tm Stacey)

I've been neglecting the kids. (On the blog, not in real life.) I think it's because I wanted to put up a picture of their haircuts, but I keep forgetting to take a picture. I also need a picture of Connor's mouth, since another tooth literally fell out and now he has a four-tooth gap with two big teeth inadequately filling it in. Seriously- he was writing something at school, leaning over his desk, and the tooth just fell out. Then he couldn't find it. But he consulted with his friend Wallace, who had also lost a lost tooth one time, and Wallace said the Tooth Fairy just "knew". I love the idea of Connor consulting with his friends about shared problems. Just like most things he does these days, it seems terribly grown-up.

(Chasing his sister around while I have the camera out, in order to put bunny ears behind her head? Not so grown up. But hilarious nonetheless.)

I'm really excited that it's time for shorts, because seeing my kids' long, lily-white legs on a regular basis is about the best thing in the world. Although Chloe doesn't like wearing skirts anymore! I finally got her to tell me why, though. It's because, "Mommy, you always say 'oooh look at those legs!' and I don't like it!" Ha!

Chloe still doesn't care how dirty and disheveled she is at any given time. She thinks that when I brush her hair in the morning I am "ruining!" her new haircut. Chip pointed out that she has a fundamental misconception about what "haircut" means. This did not console her. So far three hasn't been an awesome age for her. Any friends out there I can consult with about this shared problem?

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Top Five

Unlike Ross Gellar, my list of top five celebrity crushes is not laminated. Instead, it is a document that gets updated fairly regularly. If I think someone needs to be added, I do not take it lightly- the whole list gets reconsidered! Here's where things stand currently.

1. Nick Hexum
Always my number one, although he once shared the top spot with the man currently in slot number four. (See what I did there?) Nick is lead singer of my favorite band, he's politically active, and he looks damn good with no shirt on. His only flaw is that he's a dog person, but I believe he could convert me. 
(More Nick, since I can't find any pics of DJ Gallo)

2. DJ Gallo
DJ debuts at number two, coming out of nowhere to bump some old favorites off the list. DJ is a sports satirist who writes like he has read my mind. I believe I could replace Chip next to me on the couch with Mr. Gallo and not miss a beat. It's like he already knows all my old jokes. And he's adorable.

3. Taylor Kitsch
Ah, Tim Riggins. One of the many reasons to watch Friday Night Lights is to see this man in action. He perfectly plays that character who all the guys in town wish to be and all the girls in town sleep with. He's dirty and bad and so, so good. You can see him next month on the big screen in Wolverine. I'll be seeing that one in the theater.

4. Brad Pitt
It can't be denied. Plus he changes diapers! Brad is the elder statesman of this group, and even as he moves down the list I know he'll never drop off completely. Unless he is horribly disfigured in an accident or something- I mean, this is a list based on looks.

5. Taye Diggs
He has been on and off this list over the years, but there's no denying his perfection. I used to watch Kevin Hill, for cryin' out loud. I tried to slog through that Groundhog Day show he was on a couple of years ago. And I even set a season pass for Private Practice, despite the fact that I hate Grey's Anatomy. (Confession- I also hate Private Practice. Sorry Taye. I tried.) Beautiful.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Scenes from Cocktail Hour, Part 287

New flowers to take pictures of!
Somerset provided the alcohol
Harlow likes sawdust
And then she put a pinch of salt in her hair!
And Chloe said "Why?"
All of 'em here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Connor has recently decided to start cussing, successfully throwing in a "Dammit!" every now and again. I first heard it on Monday at Mom's, but I thought I was hearing things, that surely Connor was saying something else. So I just let it go- Chip and I kind of have an "ignore it" policy about curse words anyway, not wanting to draw attention to them, so it seemed the right thing to do. But Tuesday night at dinner Connor challenged us with a "Dammit!" right in our faces. I looked at Chip in disbelief, only to have Chip whisper that Connor had said it several times at breakfast that morning too. I suddenly realized what I'd heard Monday had been deliberate.

Since he clearly wouldn't stand to be ignored, we knew we had to address it. I simply told Connor that it isn't a nice word, and that Mom and Dad don't say it (as far as he knows!) so he can't say it either. And you know, that seems to be all he needed. Keep your fingers crossed.

Chloe has her own annoying word these days: Why?

I know it's a child-rearing cliche to complain about all the Why?s. But Connor never really went through that phase, so I was unprepared for just how horrible it is. The real problem for me is figuring out when to answer and when not to. On the one hand, you don't want to discourage learning! But on the other hand, it's obvious that Chloe is just yanking our chain most of the time. But oh what a slippery slope.

Mommy, why are we going this way?
Chloe, we are going this way so we can stop by the store on the way home.
Because we have to pick up supplies for Connor's school project.
Why? (and right here is where it goes from a good question to just being an ass)
Because we don't have the right stuff at home.
We just don't! Enough!!!

And it's not just me- the whole family is struggling with Chloe's existential angst. Chip has taken to responding, "That's not a 'why' question," which I find hilarious since he has a degree in philosophy and is now a lawyer. Wasn't 95% of his schooling spent sitting in classroom with other students, taking turns asking, "Why?"

Poor Connor hears it from her too. While watching Ben 10 yesterday, Chloe innocently turned to her brother and asked, "What's that guy doing?" He walked right into her trap:
He's fighting the bad guy.
Because he wants to destroy Earth or something.
Because he's bad!
Dammit Chloe!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Not-at-All-Detailed Weekend Update

The kids spent most of the weekend in Nashville with their grandparents. Chip and I lived a leisurely, child-free existence with the requisite mixed emotions. At lunch Saturday, I sat on a patio with a glass of wine in my hand and the sun on my face. I noted that although I was missing the kids, I really wasn't missing the responsibility of them. Then Chip had the best idea of his life, "We should have a nanny!" Brilliant! I'll start putting away some money for that. I'm sure it's affordable.

When the kids got home, they were very disappointed by all the rain. Soon they insisted we play dress up. I put on my wedding dress (not pictured) and Chloe and Connor went through all the costumes they could find. So cute! And in some cases, ferocious.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


This weekend, I had the pleasure of spending an evening in the company of a new mother. After plenty of cooing over the cute baby, talk inevitably turned to, "Are my hips ever going back to normal?" Just like that, we were off to the races. The guys who were with us started the usual, "Don't scare her!" protests, and I ignored them. I always hear that though, especially from men, when I start talking candidly about weird mama body issues. But I think it's the men who get scared by it and not the women, right?

I appreciated everyone who spoke candidly with me when I was pregnant. I was one of the first in my peer group to have a baby, so a lot of what I heard came from Mom and her generation. It was good advice. Kayla, the person my age who was already a mother, was also helpful. It was from her that I learned I would not be wearing my fat jeans home from the hospital. And that's something you have to be told, right? While you're pregnant, it's hard to imagine what your body might look like after the baby comes out. I needed the heads up.

When I was in college, I took a Developmental Psychology class that compared adolescence with pregnancy- these are the only two times in life, other than an illness, when a body changes so dramatically in such a short period of time. I always held this in my head, but only really considered how it would affect me on the front end of things. Yeah, I knew my boobs would never be perky again, but other than that I never thought about how my body would change afterwards. You have this vague notion of "getting back to normal." But there is no more normal. Or there is, but it's a different normal than the one you were used to.

I don't think it's unkind to tell a pregnant woman or a new mother about this, not if she asks. Your body doesn't become a horrible disaster or anything. It's just. . . different. And I think women need that warning, need to know that it's not going to be the same. You spend 30 years of your life with the same body, you know its pros and cons, you know how pants fit on your frame- it's weird when that changes. If you were 150 before the baby, when you get back to 150, it's going to be a different 150.

And so another new mom enters the fray. Should I be honest with her? Should I pretend like it's all fun and games? I know I appreciated the honesty, but I hear a lot of that "Don't scare her!" business too. What do you other moms think? Am I too harsh?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Chip has a "no anonymous comments" policy for the blog, but I am about to break that rule. We got a couple of comments from people who were trying to be mean-spirited but who actually ended up complimenting Chip and making me laugh. These comments also made me realize that maybe it would be fun to add some commentary to Chip's food posts.

Comment #1
"You guys are just like that semi-homemade chick except you try to make things look like you went to the Cordon Bleu."

Aw, that's so sweet! I mean, Chip's hobby is to take pictures of food with the hope that he can make it look more interesting and appetizing than it really is. And he is obviously succeeding, and is able to make it seem like I'm trying harder than I am. Semi-homemade? Which part is homemade?

That leads to comment #2:
"it is amazing what you can do with nutella, wonton wrappers and hot oil. what part of this dish actually uses culinary skill?"

Heh. Obviously, no part of it uses culinary skill! Oh, that's hilarious. That recipe has four ingredients (well, five if you count the hot oil). But this comment made me think that maybe I should write about some of the food pics Chip puts on the blog. If nothing else, those of you who say things to me like, "I want you to fix that for me!" can see how easy it all is and fix it your own self.

For those of you who forget about Nutella, remember to pick it up every once in a while! (Although apparently not at Whole Foods- they don't carry it because it's "artificial." That's why Chip didn't use the word Nutella in the description. It's generic Nutella! I didn't know they made such a thing.) It really makes everything you add it to taste magical. This recipe was too easy not to do weekly- a spoonful in a wonton wrapper, fry it up. I made strawberry puree to go with, but if you don't want to dirty up your food processor you could buy something to dip it in just as easily. Or let the hot oil residue count as dip. Mmmm moist hot oil.

The following weekend, I used the leftover Nutella to make a dessert pizza- it was a cooked crust topped with the Nutella, white chocolate shavings and strawberries. I got the idea from a recent CA article, but since I was too lazy to make my own dough (bought it frozen from Valenza), this also required no culinary skill whatsoever.

Also requiring no skill? Wonton wrappers. I appreciate that real pasta dough is easy to make and use, but I just don't make a lot of doughs or do a lot of baking. But since I like to do my own fillings, I love the magical shortcut of wonton wrappers. They can be fried or boiled, no problem. I recently used them to make raviolis with chicken, bacon, and ricotta filling. Well, I made "beggar's purses" so that Chip would have something interesting to take pictures of, but I used the leftovers for regular ol' ravs. They worked fine fresh or frozen. I also used wonton wrappers for the smoked trout raviolis from a few weeks ago.

So there are my quick, no-skill-required tips for the month- wonton wrappers rule, and Nutella makes everything taste better. Enjoy!

Oooh, meat and potatoes. . . fancy? Nope, just the picture!

Great Outdoors Outtakes

Connor and I traveled to the Hatchie Wildlife Refuge a few weeks back to meet up with the Greenberg-Oster clan. Stacey and I were doing a story for Memphis Parent on the Great Outdoors University, which is a cool youth conservation education program of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF).  The story is out now, so here are some outtake photos that I took that day.


Monday, April 06, 2009


Check out those teeth. See how perfectly aligned they are on top? Gorgeous, right? But look at the bottom. See those two adult teeth growing in beautifully? Those two teeth had to displace three baby teeth in order to grow in. That means there is another adult tooth under the surface that has no place to live and so must stay there, under the gums, indefinitely. Or it will grow at a 90 degree angle to the others- I can't quite figure it out. I do know, however, that I've started putting away money for braces.

Now look at that mess of a mouth. See all those little tiny teeth, with plenty of room in between, that make her look sort of like a monkey or some other animal when she screams? I will spend the money I save on her orthodontics on shoes.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fried Chocolate-Hazelnut Ravioli with Strawberry Puree

They Do Crack Me Up Sometimes

We've taught Connor to successfully use the phrase "Who shot who in the what now?"

Normally Connor is very literal and refuses to let things go unexplained. (This is mainly a problem when we are trying to pull one over on Chloe.) However, I made a joke with Connor the other day, and he got the joke. Then at dinner I referenced the joke in front of the whole family. Chip said, "Huh?" but instead of explaining it, Connor shot me a conspiratorial glance and said, "Oh, just a joke Mom and I have." His first inside joke!

Chloe has decided she knows how to go cross-eyed. She accomplishes this by getting a really intense look on her face as her eyes go wide and the right one moves almost imperceptively inward. (Not pictured.) Then she and whoever is witnessing it laugh and laugh and laugh, because it's about funny as hell.