Sunday, January 31, 2010


The two River Birch trees in our front yard have always been a bit fragile, shedding limbs on a daily basis. ICYHELL was particularly hard on them. Many yards in our neighborhood looked rough, but ours looked like a war zone.

The kids were fascinated by all the icicles and crunchy steps.

See the whole slideshow here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chip's Weekend

On Friday night, Chip had sushi and watched The Little Mermaid, turning it off before the part where Ariel leaves her father behind to marry some boy she hardly knows. Then he watched the Grizzlies game and wished he was there with Cullen. Er, with Stephanie.

Saturday, Chip drove the family wherever Stephanie asked him to, at the times she claimed were already on the calendar. Then he paid for a bunch of stuff at Target, just like he does every Saturday.

Saturday night, after driving the kids to Grammy's house at the time Stephanie told him they were supposed to be there, he was rewarded with a fine meal from his lovely, intelligent, talented wife. For the appetizer, proscuitto, parmesean, and fig jam toasts were accompanied by Four Vines "Biker" Zinfandel, a Top 100 wine. For the main course, Stephanie cooked trout amandine from the recipe found in Chip's new John Besh cookbook. It was served over oven-roasted potatoes and was delicious, if a little heavy on the lemon. It paired nicely with a 2007 Starmont Merryvale Chardonnay. Chip took pictures.       

On Sunday Chip did laundry and watched football, as he has every Sunday since marrying a woman who a)doesn't do laundry, but b) watches a lot of football. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chloe's Weekend

Friday afternoon, Chloe had the backseat to herself on the ride home. She smiled and laughed and sang and asked lots of questions the whole way home.

Friday night, Chloe went to Sakura for sushi with her daddy. She smiled and laughed and sang and asked lots of questions. Then she watched Ariel and went to bed happy, because she just tends to be happy.

Saturday, Chloe found a reason to be interested in Connor's basketball game- CHEERLEADERS! Oh my lord, she is such a cliche! She isn't much of an athlete, but dancing around to a Katy Perry song that she (inexplicably) knows the words to sounds like a career path she can get on board with. Let's just go ahead and assume she'll be weak in the areas of math and science and get it over with, shall we?

Connor's Weekend

I did a poor job of recapping our weekend in a timely manner. I'm sure you've all been sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear if Connor pulled it together or not.

Friday night he spent the night at a friend's house for the first time ever, and had a great time. I went to the Grizzlies game with Cullen (another last-minute win - so fun!) and Chip and Chloe went to Sakura. We all had a fun night, mainly because we were on each other's nerves and needed a night (mostly) apart.

Then we picked Connor up the next morning and within ten minutes he had yelled at me and cried.

But we recovered quickly! We went right from his friend's house to his basketball game, and it was awesome. The two Idlewild teams played each other (at Idlewild, natch) and there were even cute little Idlewild cheerleaders who performed for us several times during time-outs and between quarters. We chose to ignore that they appeared to be cheering for the other Idlewild team- I certainly doubt any of the boys even noticed.

For our family the real excitement came during the fourth quarter, when Connor made a free throw (pictured). His first point! Not long after that, he scored a real basket to bring his point total for the game (and the season!) to three. He glowed for hours afterward.

Saturday night he stayed at Grammy's, and once again we all enjoyed being away from each other. In fact, by Sunday we almost liked each other again! Also on Sunday- Connor was too exhausted that evening to go to his first-ever book club meeting, which made me a little sad. I had gotten him involved with this group because he doesn't exactly love to read and I was hoping some peer pressure in that area might make him view the whole thing in a more positive light. And it did! For despite the fact that he didn't actually attend the meeting, he did find that they had picked out a great book. By Tuesday he was reading the book over breakfast and in the car. Yay!

And as for the bone color count since our last update?
Fri- Green!
Mon- Blue :(
Tues- Green!
Keep your fingers crossed. . .

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Blue Week for Connor

At Connor's school, they are known as the "Green Dogs." (It's no "Lynx" or anything, but it'll do.) In keeping with the Green Dog theme, his class's conduct system is structured around bones. Each day he colors a bone in his homework folder: a green bone means he didn't get in trouble, a blue bone means he did get in trouble, and I assume a red bone would mean he set another kid on fire because it takes a lot to get his teacher riled up enough to dole out anything but green bones. In fact, despite the fact that Connor never follows directions and talks all the time, he has never gotten more than one blue bone a month.

Until this week.

Every day this week that child has come home with a blue bone and one day I even got a note from the teacher to accompany it. (Her note:"Connor has trouble following directions!" The voice inside my head: "No shit.") And unfortunately, his trouble-making attitude hasn't been left at school-he's brought it home to plague his family. It's been a rough week, with lots of lectures about actions and consequences.

But maybe today will be better. He had another visit from the tooth fairy last night, and waking up with money under your pillow always puts a person in a good mood. Also, he is having his first-ever sleepover at a friend's house. He couldn't possibly be more excited- mostly because he loves this particular friend, but also a bit because he's as ready for a night away from parents and homework and rules and little sister and consequences.

But I'm still going to miss him tonight.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Things We Love About New Orleans, Part Two

5.  The architecture-- so varied and interesting.

6.  Jackson Square.

7.  Public transportation that is actually useful.

8.  The electricity of a city that, for the first time ever, has a Superbowl-caliber football team.

9.  The real reason we go:  the food.  The best chefs in the world live and work in this city.  No city in the world has a richer food culture.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Food, Glorious Food!

People ask, "How was your trip? Did Chip take good pictures? WHAT DID YOU EAT?" Chip's got those first two covered. I'll handle the third.

We got there Saturday with visions of a late lunch at Mother's dancing in our heads. It was not to be, however, as we got to town a bit late. Instead, we joined a bazillion Saints fans in the Quarter to nosh and watch the game. Three touchdowns were scored before we found a place that had room for us to sit down. Seriously, it was crazy! And fun. So we saddled up to the bar at Desire Oyster Bar at Bourbon and something and enjoyed a Sazerac and "Oysters Desire," which were broiled with parmesan cheese, creole seasoning and garlic butter. Mmmm. We followed those up with fried crawfish tails and an Abita. We were definitely in New Orleans.

Saturday night we went to Dick & Jenny's, recommended by Tiff and Mark. It had a good, solid menu, and all the dishes were wonderful. They don't have a wildly creative menu, but they represent the region well and we left very full and very happy. We started with the roasted portabello & blue cheese cheesecake with fire roasted red pepper puree. Savory cheesecakes are never a bad thing! For dinner we shared seared diver scallops & gulf shrimp with crab & brie beggar’s purse & beurre blanc Veronique- yeah, it was as good as it sounds- and the pecan crusted gulf fish with Acadian popcorn rice, southern greens & Creole Meuniere sauce. I really, really love Creole Meuniere sauce- I could smell it at a table next to me and HAD TO HAVE IT. Then we finished with a vanilla creme brulee. Excellent.

Sunday dawned with a lovely breakfast fixed by Cindee, the lovely and talented proprietress of Southern Comfort B&B. After some sight-seeing, window-shopping, and picture-taking, we were ready to think about lunch. We walked by NOLA and admired the menu, but agreed that we were both still craving a Ferdi from Mother's. The line was hella long, as always, so I went to secure a table after Chip agreed to order a Bloody Mary and a beer for each of us. (So we could avoid future long lines.) He soon met me at the table with three beers, two Bloody Marys, and some story about "accidentally" getting a free beer. We enjoyed eating, drinking and watching the Cowboys lose almost as much as we enjoyed the ensuing nap.

A coworker suggested we stop at Wine Institute New Orleans (with its clever "WINO" acronym) during our trip. This place is like a dream come true. The walls are lined with wine preservation systems (sort of like this) and at least a hundred bottles of wine to be tasted on the spot. With the press of a button you choose a one-, two-, or four-ounce sample. Yes, please! It was reasonably priced- an ounce cost about 10% of the bottle price. We didn't try the $17 ounce of Opus One, but we did have lots of other goodies that we'd never have occasion to try otherwise. And although we didn't partake, we were pleased to see that they have a small menu so you can have a snack while sampling the wines. It is also a wine store, so you can buy anything you like on the spot. I will go there every chance I get!

Our final restaurant destination was John Besh's August. This meal was perfect- I'm not sure what else to say! We started with oysters three ways and gnocchi with blue crab and shaved black truffles. Then Chip had some kind of falling-off-the-bone chicken with chanterelles and a perfect pan sauce. I had trout that was coated in manna and browned on the sizzling abs of Taye Diggs. Or something like that. I'm pretty sure I blacked out at one point- but not before I noticed it was served with Hollandaise! We didn't even have dessert, which is rare for us, because we were so full and happy that we didn't want to jinx ourselves.

Monday morning we awoke to another delicious breakfast from Cindee and lots of questions about the previous night's meal. After letting Chip drool on the pages of her copy of My New Orleans, she confided that she had been given two copies as gifts, and that she had been waiting for someone to show an interest so she could give one away. Chip and I have been studying it ever since, and I hope to one day have the cajones to try and recreate my fish dish, found right there on pages 166-167. Thanks, Cindee!

Things We Love About New Orleans, Part One

The occasion of our 10th anniversary trip to New Orleans-- our first time back since Katrina-- makes me ask:  What exactly makes us love this city so much?  Here are a few answers:

1.  Southern Comfort Bed & Breakfast in the Garden District.

2.  Those cool trees that are everywhere.  (What are these called again?)

3.  The line at Mother's.  (Ok, not the line so much, but what happens at the end of the line.)

4.  NOLA is a place where no one bats an eye when you order this much alcohol with your Ferdi from Mother's.

(Ok, we really just didn't want to wait in the line twice.)

More to come tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Harper's Dinner at Grammy's House

We're behind on posting pictures around here, and since I've been too busy this week to form coherent sentences, I'll just let these snapshots speak thousands of words on my behalf.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


It's been noted that, whenever Chip posts cooking pictures, I always have on an apron. It's true- otherwise I tend to ruin my clothes. Plus aprons are super-cute. My kids have aprons, too. Connor and I even have a matching set! But Chloe and I trumped that by getting a matching, custom-made (by Mimi) set for Christmas this year. Chip photographed our excitement.

The initial discovery.

Look at you in that cute apron!

It's too exciting! No photographs, please-she has to hide!

She gives in and starts jumping up and down in excitement. I follow suit.

I love you and your matching apron! I love you too!

(Not pictured again: When she told me to stop talking and covered my mouth. While wearing the aprons! )

Friday, January 08, 2010

Leftover Portraits

I loved these pictures that I took on our snow day, but they didn't really fit in that post. So here they are on their own.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Snow Day

People love to laugh about how Memphis shuts down whenever there's a half inch of snow. But count me as one who finds it charming. I don't envy Geoff Calkin's mother, shuffling around Buffalo in a foot of snow. I enjoy the fact that I can stop and enjoy any piddling amount of the white stuff that might come my way, rather than fighting through it to carry on with our regular lives. Every half inch of snow is special- we're excused from school and work so that we can spend our time throwing snowballs and drinking hot chocolate. We'll be back to normal tomorrow, and we won't have to shovel snow out of the way in order to get there. Snow can be enjoyed occasionally, rather than endured for months on end, and I like it that way. Maybe it's because I've never known anything else.

School was dismissed early today, so I grabbed the kids around 1:30 and we rushed home to see how much of that half inch was left in our yard. We found our driveway was mostly covered, and we took advantage of it. Connor suggested that we put it in a big pile in order to maximize its potential. Chloe gave up early on, and by the time the pile was assembled, Connor and I were frozen. But we couldn't give up yet! After some shoveling and rearranging, Connor decided to make it snow by throwing shovelfuls up in the air and jumping under it. Once the pile was dispersed, we went inside, peeled our gloves from our frozen fingers and had lots of hot chocolate. A perfect Memphis snow day.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Very Superstitious

This morning on Mike and Mike there was a discussion about the absurdity of sports fan superstitions. Golic pointed out that as a player, he had a direct impact on the outcome of a game, but as a fan, there's nothing he can do to affect the final score. Greenie and I respectfully disagreed.

Here are some of my sports fan superstitions. Enjoy.

The number one rule is that I can't wear team colors or have the team logo on me at any time during the game. This was established a million years ago when, as a Memphis Showboats season ticket holder, I realized that they ALWAYS lost when I wore a Showboats t-shirt or when I wore maroon and gray.

The number one rule does not apply to cheerleading uniforms, obviously, or else Ridgeway would have gone winless for five years in both basketball and football. However, there was a pair of lucky cheerleading socks. They made all the difference.

Obviously, you can't talk about a no-hitter or say the words "no-hitter" while someone is pitching a no-hitter.

And finally, I have something important to confess. During the (imaginary) 2007-08 Tigers basketball season, I let Connor stay up to watch most of the Tigers-Vols game, and it was the only game they lost in the regular season. Then, without thinking, I let him stay up to watch the first half of the National Championship game against Kansas. Yeah. Sometime that night I awoke with the realization that it was ENTIRELY MY FAULT that we lost the National Championship. I've felt guilty about it ever since, so don't bother trying to make me feel bad. I already do.

Monday, January 04, 2010

All I Want For After-Christmas is to Pull Connor's Two Front Teeth

Our New Year is off to a roaring start, and by roaring I mean the kids have spent two days making horrible noises about the injustice of returning to school. I am totally with them. Many tears were shed last night, including those of a sleepwalking/night-terror-having Connor. This time it was all stress- no need to pee, no low blood sugar, just good old-fashioned anxiety! Woo hoo!

Speaking of Connor- you may recall that he has already lost four bottom teeth to make room for two adult teeth to grow in, (oh, the money we will spend on orthodontics!) and that he's the kind of kid who leaves a loose tooth alone until the new tooth literally pushes the old one out. What you may not know is that recently, three of his top teeth have been loose, presumably to provide space for two new ones. And this time, the whole "wait and let it fall out" thing is not going quite as smoothly. 

As December progressed, the landscape of his mouth changed dramatically. There was a big gap between his front teeth and a side tooth, as one of the front teeth started hanging sideways a bit. Then at dinner one night, he tasted blood. The tooth off to the side was not cooperating with his plans to eat. I said (for the millionth time), "That tooth has got to come out!" So he put a napkin up to it to stop the blood and conceded that it needed to be wiggled a bit, possibly twisted, but only until he felt pain. (So sensitive!) And have I mentioned the fact that Chip has developed a severe aversion to seeing a loose tooth wiggled? Seriously. He's a grown man, and he gets the heebie-jeebies from seeing a tooth move. Ha! Of course Connor and I mess with the loose teeth in front of Chip as often as we can. He's not ticklish, so it's only fair that we have some other way to torture him, right?

So anyway- Connor and I are trying to get the hanging-by-a-thread-bleeding tooth out, and Chip is trying to eat and not barf, and Chloe is contributing by pretending to pull her teeth out since she wants to be just like Connor, ALWAYS, and what do you know- the twisting worked. One down! And you could already see the entirety of another tooth underneath it. Nutjob! Or model of patience. Whichever.

You'd think this would set the whole thing in motion, but no. Apparently it hurt just a bit for just a minute to get that tooth out, so now Connor doesn't want to touch the others. And they need to come out. As time progresses, his crooked front tooth has begun pointing outward as the tooth underneath it grows in and tries to claim a space. Connor is lisping already, and his front teeth aren't even missing yet! It has to be hurting the inside of his lip, but he insists it isn't. And even though it's loose it isn't moving as much now, since the new tooth is blocking the way. I fear a trip to the dentist is in order, but not until Connor admits to some discomfort with the current situation and we can agree that the teeth have to be professionally pulled. Or that I need to punch him in the face and get them out of his head. We'll agree on something, I'm sure of it.