Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Little Update

What are the kids up to these days?
They've spent some time working on their British accent. The phrase of choice is "indulgent nonsense." Obviously, Simon Cowell is their inspiration.
If you haven't seen Connor lately, here's all you need to know: Connor is right and you are wrong. That is the essence of any conversation you might have with him. We are trying to explain the concept of "backtalk" and why it is inappropriate, but he just talks back when we do. Also, he says this a lot: "But I was just. . ." As in, "But I was just playing with the lightsaber near her face, I wasn't trying to hit her in the nose with it!"

The kids are also really interested in these YouTube videos of a beatboxing Japanese guy. They work on their beatboxing even more than their British accents. Or, as Chloe calls it, their "spit singing."
Chloe is kind of a butt these days. She will accept any punishment you dole out, because it's worth it to be able to do what she wants to do. She also grunts a lot, and for the past week or so has been glued to my side. She loves me again! (File under: be careful what you wish for.)
Aren't these the best pictures ever?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Opyland Hotel

A couple of weeks ago, Mimi and Bwana took us to Opryland Hotel, that crazy man-made oasis in northeast Nashville. This place is the largest non-casino hotel in the world. I hadn't been in almost 20 years, and it looked quite different than I remembered. It has been expanded so many times, the layout is a bit haphazard and confusing. It's certainly impressive, though. The fountains, waterfalls, rivers, and abundant varieties of plants and flowers kept the kids (and my camera) occupied for a couple of hours.

See the whole set here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Extra Stay-Home Day

The long weekend got off to an early start on Friday, when I picked Connor up early from school in order to celebrate his last day in Kindergarten.

I thought we'd spend some time alone together before picking up Chloe and celebrating her last day in the Toucan Room as well. Like everyone else in Memphis, I have the free three-month trial membership to the Pink Palace, so I thought I'd take the boy there for a new special treat. It turned out to be somewhat of bust!

The skeletons and bugs and animals downstairs were all fairly entertaining for Connor, then we headed upstairs and enjoyed the hand-carved circus for a while before heading into the history section. This has always been my favorite section in any museum. When I was Connor's age, I had a book called "If I Lived in Colonial Times" and it was my favorite! My college major was History- I love it. Turns out, Connor is terrified by it. At the Pink Palace, there is a section on medical history. There are all sorts of instruments and body parts and displays, including a section on "bleeding" that had a life-sized display of a creepy doctor mannequin administering a leech to the arm of a patient. And there was a dentist doing things that Connor didn't remember from his trip to the dentist. But best of all, there was a display of a medical tent from the Civil War. In this one, our patient had a very jacked up foot, that had possibly been shot but that definitely was infected. Connor was terrified, and unable to look away, asking tons of questions and resisting my attempts to steer him anywhere but there. Finally another family walked up behind us and the dad let loose with a "Oh HELL no. That foot is gonna have to go, son!" Connor looked up at me and whispered, "I want to go home."

I was able to walk him out past the dinosaur so that we could leave on a positive note. Once away from danger he remembered that I was taking him to McDonald's for the rare "Happy Meal purchased by Mom" treat. That cheered him right back up. Then we collected Chloe and headed towards their other favorite place, Target, where they were allowed a treat apiece from the dollar aisle in celebration of their academic promotions. (Read: age-mandated class change)

On Saturday nothing exciting happened, except that I went to the Farmer's Market and picked up my first half-share from Whitton Farms. That night I cooked a shrimp and noodle meal that included our locally grown bok choy.

Sunday was awesome because Mom picked up the kids at 3:30. I think I passed out from exhaustion immediately after- the kids were nuts this weekend! And the spotty weather didn't allow them to get outside and run off their (mostly negative) energy. Seriously though, I didn't pass out! I did something way more awesome- we went and saw Star Trek! This was the first time I've been to the theater since a viewing of Madagascar 2 in December. That's right- the first Malco trip of 2009. And totally worth it- that movie ruled!

Monday was spent relaxing with sangria, margaritas, fajitas and friends. The kids finally got to use up the energy they had been storing all weekend, and it was the perfect end to a lovely weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Cloister

I managed to sneak into the Palmer Hall Cloister before Connor's T-Ball game the other day. Such an odd, beautiful room. (I didn't have a tripod, so these aren't quite as cool as they could be.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Last summer, two of Connor's best friends played t-ball for Idlewild. Connor wanted no part of it. This time around Connor was game. So he, Max and Ayden signed up, we bought a couple of camp chairs and water bottles, and my life as a soccer mom got underway.

We had a month or so of weekly practices, about half of which got rained out. So on the occasion of their first game, last Monday, they were about as green as a team could be. This lead to some very entertaining action, as kids danced, looked for clovers in left field, ran in every direction on the basepaths, and stood in left field hitting each other. And to a man, they all were entirely too concerned about picking up their hats if they happened to fly off while they were running.

My favorite sequence was once when a ball was hit right by the shortstop, who was busy inspecting his glove (which was not actually on either hand at the time). This kid didn't even flinch as the ball flew past him, so the third baseman ran after the ball, chasing it into left field. As he got to the ball, an outfielder started yelling because he was supposed to get the ball. So the third baseman, who had now reached the ball that was lying in the grass in the outfield, simply left it there and turned around to run back to his original post. You won't be surprised to learn that the batter safely made it home, while the crowd in the stands wiped away tears of laughter.

Connor did a fine job. He spent some time at first base and at third. He ran super-fast on the basepaths, occasionally threatening to pass the runner in front of him. He payed attention, stopped a lot of balls from going into the outfield, and had a lot of fun. But one time while playing first base, a ball was hit that rolled right past him before he realized what was happening. Ever the perfectionist, he told me after the game that he felt bad about missing that ball. I assured him that he still came out looking pretty good, relative to some of the other spectacular plays we had witnessed.

The game was over pretty late for us, so we came home, hosed both kids off, and got them in bed. As I tucked Connor in, I told him I was proud of him and that I couldn't wait for the next game on Thursday. "Thursday?" he moaned. "I don't think I can handle this twice a week!" But he did. Thursday's game was just as fun, and our team seemed to have a better handle on things overall. This could be because the game was earlier, or because they didn't have first-game jitters, but more than likely it was because Grammy brought a cooler full of Capri Suns for the team to share. Whatever the reason, it was definitely a success. And since we don't keep score in this league, you'll have to trust me when I tell you that we won.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Controlling the Chaos

Chip keeps putting up pictures because I can't find the time to write anything here. It's been a busy week or two, most of it revolving around the lovely campus shown in that last post. Not only is working there keeping me busy, but hauling the family to t-ball practices and games on the back forty is keeping me on campus even more than usual.

Because it's what I do when I'm feeling overwhelmed, I will have to provide a family update through numbers and lists. Here you go.

Things Chloe cried about between bathtime and bedtime last night:
There was no pillowcase on her pillow
I brushed her hair
I put a clean pillowcase on her pillow, and she prefers it dirty

Number of times Chloe ignored a direct order from a parent between bathtime and bedtime last night: 3
Number of times Chloe got in trouble between bathtime and bedtime last night: 3

Reasons I haven't written about Connor's t-ball experience:
No wifi at t-ball practice
Chip forgot to bring the camera to the first game
Too busy watching the American Idol finale

Skills Connor and his teammates still need to practice:
Which direction to run in order to reach first base

Great things about working at Rhodes:
Summer hours (leave at 4:00 if I'm caught up)
Summer dress code (casual)
Student workers (the reason I'm able to leave at 4:00)

Family members affected by allergies this week:
Connor (lots of drainage and coughing)
Chloe (lots of eye rubbing)
Chip (lots of everything)

Number of miles I've jogged this week: 15

Body parts currently aching:

Ways Connor's teacher has coped with the last two weeks of school:
All-day zoo field trip
All-day picnic/play day
Begging us to check him out early on Friday
Lots of movies

Weeks until I'm on the beach: 4

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


More pics at Rhodes taken last week during Connor's TBall practice...

See all of them here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tale of Two Pizzas

Friday night was pizza night-- I felt like Fredric Koeppel--and these were some of the best we've ever done.

I made the dough using the ancient Chockley recipe (yeast, half whole wheat flour, half white, salt, sugar, olive oil and water):

Steph prepared the ingredients, including fiddlehead ferns, which she picked up at Whole Foods.  (Thanks for this idea, Chubby Vegetarian.)
So on the left here we have crushed pistachios, pecorino romano and dried oregano-- a light but intensely flavorful combination.  On the right we have the fiddlehead ferns, portobello mushrooms, flatiron steak (nothing vegetarian about that...), gorgonzola cheese, and fresh mozzarella:

Finally, I threw these on the grill for about 8 minutes:
This sharp pecorino romano and the meaty portobellos and meaty... steak stood up to a nice Cab:
2005 Twenty Bench Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.  Notes:  lots of big blackberry and chocolate cherry flavors, with surprisingly gentle tannins.  Not terribly complex, but delicious.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Belle Meade Plantation

This past weekend, we checked out Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, which is where my sis is getting married in September. It's a beautiful old place-- more rustic (think barns and stables) than uppity. It'll be a fun place for a Chockley wedding.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I am so lucky to spend this holiday with the best mothers I know, this one and this one.

After learning that Chip and I had written nice things in this space about our mothers, my kids couldn't wait to do the same. Here are their essays.

My mom is the best. I love my mom. She is so awesome! I want to be with her and hug her and kiss her and play with her all the time every day. Sometimes at school I'm sad because I miss her. She doesn't play with me enough, though, and sometimes she yells at me for ignoring her the other 24 times she tells me to do something. But I still love her. She buys me Bionicles when I do my chores, and she reads to me and colors with me and plays with me, sometimes but not all the time like I want her to. I wish I could always be with her because I love her so much!

Mom- is that the tall one or the other one? Oh yeah. She's the one always trying to brush my hair- what the hell is that about? Like her hair is all that. But I guess it's cool when she lets me help her cook. I have my own little knife and everything, which I always use to cut butter. Also I can use it to eat the butter I cut because it's not too sharp and doesn't hurt me. She sometimes lets me smash garlic under the big knife, but other than that I'm not allowed to use it. How can she not trust me with that thing? I'm practically an adult! Mom also cleans up whenever Clarkie throws up a hairball, and that's pretty cool because Clark is my most favorite person in the whole house, even if he is a cat. I love you, Clarkie!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Birthday Chocolate Chip

Happy birthday to the love of my life. You only get better with age! Even though you still look like you're twenty. I love you!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Random Kid Quote

Last night Chip and the kids made a stop on the way home to pick up a Mother's Day gift. Chloe then greeted me at the door with this:

"Hey Mommy! I'm not going to tell you about your ornament because it's a SECRET!"

Monday, May 04, 2009


During the five minutes this whole weekend when it wasn't raining, I dashed outside to play around with the new camera.

Seriously, have you seen a more dreary weekend?