Thursday, December 30, 2010

Baby's First Christmas

I let the week get away from me without showing you the awesomeness of a 7.5 month old enjoying her first Christmas.

So much attention! So much to play with! SO HAPPY!

She delighted us with her cliched interest in this box top. She played with it for a half hour or so, banging, chewing, and lauging, paying absolutely no attention to what was inside the box.

Seriously- have you ever seen anything that cute?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Year in Books

Book Club
I've always wanted to be in a book club, so this year I gathered the other women I had heard utter that phrase and got one going. I hope the other ladies in the club are as happy with it as I am- it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that I'm going to get to discuss books and life with them once a month!

Connor reads for pleasure
Finally, Connor is starting to see reading as less of a chore. He voraciously read the first Harry Potter book and somehow that changed how he saw all other books. Suddenly they became entertainment to him. One of the best moments I've had recently was when Connor and I curled up together on his bean bag and each read our own books quietly together. Yay for family reading time!

The Master Butcher's Singing Club, by Louise Erdrich
Easily the best book I read this year. Outstanding.
I finally figured out how to successfully incorporated audiobooks into my regular routine. It has allowed me to "read" a lot more than I would have otherwise, and I'm so grateful for that! The only problem I've had is that I've recently been listening to Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, which is really long, and I'm doing it at the time of year when I'm less likely to take long walks or do a lot of jogging, which is when I usually listen to books. So I'm having a hard time getting through the book as quickly as I'd like. Otherwise, audiobooks have been very good to me this year. I get most of them through, if you're interested in giving it a try. They have a pretty cheap introductory offer.

Read in 2010
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
Sh*t My Dad Says, Justin Halpern
The Neon Rain, James Lee Burke
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris
The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson
Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger, Lee Smith
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Babycakes, Armistead Maupin
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson
Black Cherry Blues, James Lee Burke
Cimarron Rose, James Lee Burke
A Stained White Radiance, James Lee Burke
The Girls in the Office, Jack Olsen
Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird, Mary McDonagh Murphy
The Way Home, George P. Pelecanos
Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, James Lee Burke
Samaritan, Richard Price
Significant Others, Armistead Maupin
Shoedog, George P. Pelecanos
The Master Butcher's Singing Club, Louise Erdrich
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
Out of Sync, Lance Bass
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith
An Education, Nick Hornby

Not read in 2010
The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons
I got this book for Christmas last year and started it then. I'm on page 494 right now, steadily reading a page or two a day. I'll get through it eventually.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Year in Television

Here are some things that I was excited about this year.

Finishing The Wire
We were a few years behind, yes. But it was the greatest television show I've ever watched, so no matter what year I finished it in, it deserves a mention.

Mad Men, The Suitcase
I feel like four years of watching Mad Men really paid off in this episode. While watching it, I thought, "People will know this episode by name. It will be in the pantheon of great TV episodes ever." And I still stand by that.

Zach Gilford's performance in Friday Night Lights, The Son
Matt Saracen is one of my favorite characters on one of my favorite shows, and he is played brilliantly by Zach Gilford. This episode was a masterpiece, and it's a shame the Emmys overlooked his performance. I love Zach so much that I have vowed to watch Off the Map this January, despite the fact that it is is "brought to you by the creator of Grey's Anatomy." Man I hate Grey's Anatomy.

Lost was always event television for us. We so badly wanted to watch the premiere episode in HD that we got Mom to come over and take care of Connor for an hour for us, since it aired before we had an HD DVR. Yes, we're geeks, but this show was made for geeks like us! I loved the finale, and feel sorry for people who didn't.

Saying good-bye to Nick Jr.
My kids just don't care about Dora and her peer group anymore, and I couldn't be happier. I am so tired of that genre! Nowadays the real Nickelodeon is the TV destination for my kids, and I'm glad since I find iCarly and her peer group much more palatable than the cartoon set.

Top Chef: All Stars
Top Chef is one of two reality competition shows that I watch, and this all star season has been fantastic so far. It's one of the only shows that keeps me up past my bedtime- I'm too excited to record it and just watch it the next day!

Avatar: The Last Airbender
The whole family watched this series from start to finish this year, and we all loved it. It's not something that would be very enjoyable if you just happened upon an episode and watched it- like Lost, the entire series tells one big story, and it's meant to be watched in order. I recommend that you do. Then skip the movie- it was not good.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Morning

They were happy to see what Santa left for them.

I hope you were too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Program #2 Featuring Child #2

Note that she's a head taller than most of her classmates. She looks so grown up! My baby!

She loves being on stage, actually. She likes to sing, and she likes the attention. And she certainly did sing. They sang "Children Go Where I Send Thee," and she knew ALL of the words. No sweat.

Pictured here is the "big finish," when the Koala and Penguin classes sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," just like they have every year we've been at Idlewild. This was our seventh and final time to be involved with this program. If I think about it too much, I might cry. My babies! They're all grown up!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Poop Story

The other morning, Chloe and I had this conversation:

Chloe:  "Daaaaaaaaad!  I'm pewping, and when I'm done, you can come wipe me!"
Me:  <muttering, in the next room> "Oh I can, can I..."
Chloe:  <singsongy> "Daaaaaaaaaad!   Come wiiiiiipe me!"
Me:  "Ok, ok, here I come.  You know Chloe, you're 4 now, and it's about time for you to start taking care of that yourself..."

I arrive to see the usual grab-yer-ankles pose that she assumes, with the brown eye staring at me.  I accidentally look into the pot.

Me:  "JEEEZ, Chloe!  Dang!  That's a MAN poop!"
Chloe:  "I know, lookit that!  I made a big 'C'!  Look!"
Me:  "Wow.  You sure did."
Chloe:  "You know, if this potty was closed, and somebody came in here and opened it, they'd know I did it because it's a C for Chloe!"
Me:  "That's really gross, Chloe."
Chloe:  "Or maybe they'd just think one of the family did it, because C is for Chockley too."

This really happened.  I shit you not.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Catching Up

A few days ago, we were watching a cartoon that featured a pinata. When it was busted and the candy came out, Chloe said, "I wish I was there and I'd eat all that candy up and not share any! Well, unless Cannon G. was there. I'd share with him." Uh oh.


The fun thing about kids is that they get unreasonably excited about things like snow flurries. Until we call Bwana and he shows us that Nashville is blanketed in REAL snow.


Since I last told you about our health, Chloe threw up a bunch, had an ear infection and concerned a doctor with a slight "wheeze." She (and I) missed two days of school last week- it was the sickest I've seen her in a long time! Fortunately, she came out of the weekend in pretty good shape. She, Chip and I all have a lingering cough, but I'd say the main part of the cold has finally moved out of our house. It's been a sickly few weeks over here- even our cat is on antibiotics for a UTI right now!


On Tuesday, I took the day off work in order to attend a production of Peter Pan at Playhouse on the Square with Connor's class. Then that night the whole family (including Grammy) braved a 100-degree school auditorium to watch Connor dance and sing Christmas songs.

Chloe's program is not until next week. She told me that for the big finale, there are a lot of kids on stage, and "some people have to stand in the back." I expressed my concern, assuming she was talking about her own tall self. "Oh no, I'm standing in the front 'cuz I can SING." Amen, sister.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Young Love

Chloe: Cannon G. eats everything! He eats slugs, and worms, and flies!
Me: No way. Have you seen him eat these things?
Chloe: I haven't seen it, but he told me! And also he eats clothes and furniture and EVERYTHING!
Me: Don't believe everything a guy tells you when he's trying to impress you.
Chloe: Cannon G. wants me to be his girlfriend and I don't want to! No matter what he eats.
Me: Sounds like a solid dating philosophy to me.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I Miss It Already

We had  a lovely weekend. (And I hate to wish my life away, but can we just fast-forward to next weekend? I have a date at Restaurant Iris.)

Connor's first basketball game of the year was a big success. All of his grandparents were there to cheer on the Idlewild. . . Presbyterians, I guess? as their particular brand of street ball stymied the visiting Catholics. Connor had a steal, he fouled someone, and he grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up for a basket! A fantastic performance that left him glowing the rest of the day.

Saturday afternoon we went downtown for the last Rock-N-Romp of the year. It was also the best RnR of the year! It was recapped here and Chip put lots of pictures on Flickr. After the RnR we watched some of the Memphis Holiday Parade roll down Main. It was fun, if a bit cold. And after the parade, we went to the second of four meals in a row eaten at a restaurant. (I know- I'm a horrible hostess!)

Sunday morning, Chip's parents took the kids to breakfast and on to Target to shop for the kids they "adopted" this Christmas. Like geniuses, they picked a four-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy! I realized I don't do enough stuff like that with the kids- it took them a while to come around on the idea of buying toys for someone besides themselves.

We finished up with lunch at an Indian buffet (Connor quietly read a book then ate PB&J when we got home) and an afternoon of watching football. The weekend was fun, busy, and relaxing, all at the same time! I can't wait until the next one.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Under the Weather

If you want a quick update on things in ChockleyBlogLand, here it is: We're SICK. And not in that fun way that X-Games announcers use the word sick. Since last Sunday (11/21), when Connor first got the flu, no one has been quite right. Chloe and I have had colds, and as of today I can tell you that mine is worse than hers. (And getting worse by the minute.) Connor no longer has a fever, and he feels okay, but the virus is struggling to leave his system completely and has manefested itself as a nasty rash. The rash comes and goes to varying degrees, but last night at bathtime it was literally covering him from forehead to ankles. And speaking of yesterday, Chip woke up Monday morning around 3:00 a.m. with Connor's original flu- the one with the high fever, chills, body aches, etc. He didn't get out of bed until it was time for the Showcase Showdown on TPIR. But he couldn't actually sleep, because his fever was so high that it made his skin hurt.

And yet, somehow, we're all at work and school today. Nothing you can prescibe for me is going to get rid of my cold. And the doctor didn't seem concerned with Connor's rash. And Chip's fever is under control today. And Chloe is just excited to have an excuse to drink Dimetapp. So here we are. For now.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A New Face for an Old Broad

Yesterday the fam took a trek to Broad Avenue. A few years back, this would've been a bizarre thing to do, seeing as how the area was not very family-friendly. Recently, there's been a bit of an arts-based renaissance in the area. Slowly, the strip is changing from vacant old buildings and vagrants to art galleries and interesting bars and restaurants.

Livable Memphis and the surrounding neighborhood put on "A New Face for an Old Broad" yesterday-- a street festival of sorts, with lots of "pop-up shops." Lots of old vacant places were opened for one day, and artists and independent retail folks set up in them. The goal was to show what the area will be, when the transformation is complete. Generous bike lanes were drawn on the street, and there was a cool bike parade during the festival.  I haven't done an adequate job describing it really, go read the shpill here to read more.

Our friend Melissa Sweazy opened a cool little "Happiness Store" for the day, which sold happiness by the pound. There was a climbing wall, lots of street food vendors, families, animals, bikes, balloons, and... happiness.

Check out the whole slideshow of my pics here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Downtown at Dusk

After a string of particularly beautiful sunsets over the river, I decided that I needed to lug my camera to work so I'd be prepared to capture one.  Of course, that day had the most mundane sunset I'd seen in weeks, so I decided to point my camera at buildings instead.

The new University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphries School of Law, with its even newer sign:

The Falls Building (aka "Falls Bvilding"), where my office used to be:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

HP Renaissance

In December of 1999, I finished up my student teaching and was all ready to take over a fourth grade class that January. As a "welcome to teaching" gift, my step-sister, Robin, gave me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a book that both she and her students loved.

When I read the book to my first class later that semester, I was amazed at the response. Remember, this book was still relatively new (released in the US September 1998) so it was new and exciting to my students. I will never forget the following story:

One morning, the mother of a child named Brandon came to me to thank me for starting the Harry Potter book in class. She explained that the night before, she had come home from work, hung up her coat, and asked her kids about their day. Brandon to her, "We're reading this cool book at school- can you buy it for me?" So she put her coat right back on, grabbed her keys, and said, "Let's go." Apparently, in his nine years of life, Brandon had never asked her to buy him a book. She wanted to do it right away before he had a chance to change his mind.

No pun intended, but that was a magical moment for me. When you become a teacher, you imagine your career will be filled with stories like these, when you touch a child's life and change it for the better. (Then you continue teaching at a public school where they DON'T ALLOW Harry Potter books in the library because they are anti-Christian, and long story short you eventually move on to another career.) It was the first time I felt I had made an impact, and it was fantastic.

The Harry Potter series was always important to me, not just because of Brandon, but because I truly loved the characters. I will admit that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is in my top 10-15 favorite books of all time. I'm the dork who read the entire series in anticipation each time a new book was released. And for the first few movies, I re-read the books in advance of going to the theater. (And now I'll pause and let you do the math. Yes, I have read them that many times.) I love this book series.

Now I have my own young children. They have expressed an interest in seeing the movies, but I've resisted. The main reason is that I don't really like the movie series. The first few movies were made without knowing how the book series would end, and that really led to some weird editing choices, especially regarding Snape. (Why was he so cartoony? He's scary!) Plus I didn't love the casting of Hermione and the natural sexual tension that arose between her and the actor playing Harry in the movies. And just in general (as usual), I felt the movies were not nearly as good as the books. So for the reasons I just described, I really wanted the kids to read the books first, before seeing the movies.

I never said all that to the kids, of course. I just told Connor that the books were above his reading level and we'd tackle them later. But recently, he finally asked flat-out if he could read the Harry Potter books. I checked the Accelerated Reader website and determined that the first book wasn't too far outside of Connor's reading level, and told him to have at it. And he did. For the first time in his short life, he spent the whole weekend reading. He read at home, he read in the car, and he asked to take his book to Grammy's house. Each night, he looks forward to reading, first on his own while Chloe is in the shower, then with a parent during our traditional nighttime reading session. Just like Brandon so many years ago, he has been enchanted by the magic of Harry Potter.

And just like his mom, he's in no hurry to break the spell.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cruelty to Animals

About a week ago, I stumbled into the "90% off" Halloween section at Target. Behold, the best $2.58 I've ever spent.

Bumble Bee

Banana Split

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Arcade

The Arcade, on South Main, is Memphis's oldest restaurant-- opened in 1919.  Along with the Rendevous, it might also be its most famous restaurant.  The place is a movie star:  Mystery Train, Great Balls of Fire, The Client, The Firm, 21 Grams, Elizabethtown, Walk the Line all have scenes filmed there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sick Days

I've spent the past two days at home with a different sick kid each day. Their reward for throwing up everywhere was to lounge on the couch with their pillows and blankets and watch whatever they wanted all day long. I found this torturous. Cleaning up errant puke was the delightful part of this assignment compared to spending a day watching kid/tween TV programming and the accompanying commercials.

Chloe would like everything she sees in every commercial. And there's no more Noggin, which is a now-deceased channel that showed no commercials.

I love iCarly. Easily my favorite of the kids' current favorites.

Connor likes to kick it old school, and laughed his fool head off at hours of Pink Panther and Tom & Jerry.

Did you know there's tween version of Entourage that airs on Nick? It's called Big Time Rush. It's about some kids from Minnesota who was move to LA together to become pop stars. And they live in a hotel that's like a young Hollywood hotspot. I was made to watch an episode in which the lead singer of the band and his girlfriend, an actress, were made by their managers to pretend to break up so that the girl could pretend to be dating another young star. So they spent the whole episode hiding from the paparazzi so they wouldn't get caught together when she's supposed to be dating the other guy. Seriously? My kids are entertained by this? I guess I'll get them a subscription to US Weekly for Christmas. At least they'd be reading instead of watching all this crap.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rock n Romp

Chip recapped the afternoon here. Go read it. Then go to Flickr and look at his pictures.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Lately I've been letting Chip's pictures do the talking. It seems like kids get less interesting as they get older, ya know? We all just plug along and Chloe grows out of another pair of shoes and Connor reads another Magic Treehouse book and Chip and I load and unload the dishwasher and each day runs into another.

But that's not good enough for the grandparents and other interested parties, so let's see if I can spice things up a bit for you. (Spoiler alert: No, I can't.)

Connor is really happy to be in CLUE. It's the highlight of his education to date, and he actually looks forward to it. Looks forward to school! I never thought I'd see the day!

Chloe is not making an easy sartorial transition to fall. She refuses to wear a long-sleeved shirt or dress, but will grudgingly agree to wear a cardigan or hoodie over her short-sleeved/sleeveless clothes. But only long enough to go from the car to her school- it comes off as soon as she steps inside the building. And forget about leggings or tights. Or pants of any kind, if she can help it. It's supposed to be 29 overnight Friday- I can't wait to finally win this battle!

Connor has started taking drum lessons.

Chloe has been trying to get sick for about a week now. She doesn't have a fever, but she has a lot of sinus trouble and a very bad attitude. We love her anyway.

Connor finally watches sports, actively and with great interest. He was sincerely disappointed when the Titans were on Monday Night Football, which is past his bedtime, and he was unable to watch the game. And he's been begging me to take him to the Celtics/Grizzlies game. It's so exciting!

Chloe continues to be a total girl who complains loudly about her boredom while football is on the TV. However, she refuses to play by herself or do anything to occupy her time other than sitting in front of us doing the aforementioned complaining. So her future husband has that to look forward to.

Basketball practice has started, and games will be on Saturday morning from December through February. In case you want to come.

Chip keeps taking pictures, and I'm working on finishing up my Christmas shopping. And that's about the size of things in ChockleyBlog Land.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gimme Some Damn Candy!

Happy Halloween!

Time for the annual session at our neighborhood pumpkin patch!  I know you folks like to reminisce, so you can see how these little weeds have shot up by looking here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Get the (Halloween) Party Started

The first Halloween event of the year for the Chockleys was the annual carnival at Idlewild Presbyterian. It gave us our first opportunity to eat our body weight in cotton candy and show off our non-costumes.

Connor's "official" costume is a muscled Superman. He tried it on for the first time last week and declared that it looked "Ridiculous!" Chip and I fastened the belt, attached the cape, and told him he looked awesome. Then Chloe chimed in with her opinion: "Yeah, that looks RIDICULOUS!" Thanks. So Wednesday night, Connor begged to be able to go out in just a Halloween t-shirt. Fine, but I'm not letting him off that easy on Sunday.

Chloe's costume is a devil. This was her third costume idea, behind a cowgirl and a Barbie princess. It originated in the dollar aisle at Target, when she found a headband with devil horns. (After wearing the horns all the way through Target and declaring her intention to be a devil several times, she finally looked at me and asked, "So what's a devil?") She just wanted a red dress and red shoes to go with the horns- she is easy to please. Sadly, all the red dresses in the world seem to be fancy/expensive holiday dresses, so I talked her into a red skirt and shirt. Somehow we ended up with a shirt that has a heart on it, which doesn't seem very devilish. In fact, most people thought that she, like Connor, chose not to really dress up. But she did! Every bit of it, including socks and shoes, were purchased specifically to be worn on Halloween. But that doesn't mean you won't see that skirt again when you get our holiday card this December.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


A little fun with long exposures and flash down at the beach on our last night...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


It's likely that neither Chloe nor Connor will have a career as a wide receiver.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


My sis has actually been married for a year now, but I decided to take some "engagement" photos to beef up my portfolio.  Pretty couple, and you know, it's easy for them to look happy because it's only been one year.

 Kidding Steph!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beach Portraits-- with EXTRA LIGHT

Ok, so I really geeked out this year.  I actually brought my own flash and umbrella to the beach.  We may have looked like nerds, but I think it paid off.  It really provides a clean look, and allowed me to get cool sunset colors at the same time.  Thanks, Bwana for your light stand skillz!