Wednesday, March 31, 2010


As soon as the kids left town, Chip and I said, "Great- now where are we going to eat?!" For some reason, freedom from kids means one thing to us: dinner out. I guess it's because dinnertime is so stressful in our house, since I cook every night and my kids are picky and each meal eventually devolves into a negotiation regarding how many more bites must be eaten before one can move on to dessert.

So Monday night we went to Tsunami with Mark and Tiff to have the new Izakaya menu. I'm not exaggerating- we ordered everything on the menu. It was gooooood. Go get some tuna. Then last night we went to Iris, because we're boring and predictable, which also happens to be the reason I ordered the trout amandine. Again.

A couple of weeks ago we took the kids to Brooklyn Bridge restaurant for Chloe's birthday dinner. I reviewed it for Dining With Monkeys. It was good too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Contrast in Styles

Since my kids have been gone, I've received the following reports from Nashville. They speak for themselves.

From Roy:
Chloe, after she gets strapped in the car, asks, "Bwana, what time is it?"
"I'm not sure", says Bwana.
"It's Adventure Time!!!" yells Chloe.

From Cory:
Tonight, I was looking with Connor and Chloe at pics from one of my proms, and I explained what prom is to them, and Connor said, "I'm not going to go to prom. . . I think I am going to be sick that night."

Monday, March 29, 2010

She's A Full-On Monet

I've spent the weekend painting, something that is unusual for many reasons. For one thing, I'm not at all a visual artist. For another, it's impossible to paint anything when the kids are around- they want to TOUCH IT. Amazingly, I was able to overcome both of those obstacles and have a fun, colorful weekend.

Friday I ventured out for a night of eating, drinking and painting with friends at the ARTjamN paint studio. I think painting on a canvas is exhilarating, but since I honestly don't have a lot of talent in the area I never think to invest in the materials. I remember loving a high school art class that centered around painting- it gave me an excuse to create something, no matter how ugly it might turn out. Once I heard about ARTjamN, I had a feeling it would provide the same kind of atmosphere that long-ago art class did. And I was right! It was so much fun to hang out with nine wildly creative women, watching them work and seeing the diverse but amazing art they managed to whip up in a couple of hours. I can't wait for another similar girls' night out.

Chloe was delighted with the flower I painted for her wall, even if it was easily the least impressive thing to come out of ARTjamN Friday night. Connor has made me promise to paint something for him soon, and even asked to come along and paint something for himself! Maybe it's time for me to invest in canvas and paints after all and develop a little mother-son amateur art studio at our house. I believe Connor could come up with some good stuff if given the opportunity, and I'd get credit for "playing with him" if I worked alongside him. Sounds like a win-win!

Saturday night, after the kids went to bed, I snuck into our downstairs half-bath and painted it a lovely dark brown called "Iron Gate." (Benjamin Moore) The kids were in awe on Sunday morning, and completely offended that I had done such a thing without letting them watch. Then they both touched every inch of surface in the bathroom, including the still-sticky leftover paint tray. Sigh.

After all the ooohing and aaaahing and hand-washing, I drove the kids to Jackson to pass them off to their grandparents for an exciting Spring Break trip to Nashville. Exciting for me, that is. Oh, the childlessness!!! When I returned to Memphis, Chip and I got to work painting the den "Blue Heather." (Also Benjamin Moore) The den takes a lot longer than a bathroom does, and after a chardonnay, some halloumi cheese, UT and Baylor losses, a nice zinfandel, and countless DVRed stcoms, we still are not quite done. But we will be before those kids get home and start touching stuff. Then I'm going to take a nice little break before moving on to the other downstairs rooms, all of which will be painted in the near future. Slowly.

Monday, March 22, 2010


In an effort to get my kids more interested in outdoor play, we recently bought a new swingset for the back yard. It's awesome, and it has definitely had the intended effect.

Connor recently decided to spend his very own money on a pair of roller skates, and thus bequeathed his old roller blades to Chloe. This is another recent occurance that has driven the kids outside more- they want to skate in circles around the carport, where the concrete is fairly smooth.

So we were finally in the groove, and then yesterday it was 36 degrees and rainy. And guess what? My kids still wanted to play outside. Chloe and I bundled up in hats and gloves and I pushed her on the swings, then later on she and Connor did some driveway skating.

I'm glad I'm not the only one in the family who refuses to accept this springtime weather setback!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Grumpy Gus

I have to admit, lately I've been struggling with Connor. He is just such a pessimist!

It's not how the rest of us handle things at all, so Chip, Chloe and I just don't know how to react to his constant grumpy disappointment. And sadly, it dominates the mood of the household even though he is the clear minority and the rest of us try to ignore it.

OK- I've written and erased about a thousand things here, so let me just summarize thusly: Connor is never happy with what you give him. He always wants more, and is devastated when he doesn't get it. It worries me- I hate that he never just enjoys life! He doesn't ever seem to be happy, even when he gets what he asked for. But it also makes me hopeful that maybe he'll be one of those highly motivated people who always strives for more rather than settling for less than what they really want.

Either way, let's just all try to ignore that pout and go on about our happy business, shall we? Believe me though, it's easier said than done.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Birthday Breakfast

You thought I was done with birthday stuff? No, not until you all concede that you wish I planned your birthday celebration each year. Behold, breakfast:

Monday, March 15, 2010


Hey there Sissy. I'm struggling to figure out what to say about you that isn't an endless string of cliches. You are, in fact, the light of my life. A little ray of sunshine on even my cloudiest day. . .

We are constantly amazed by your wit and your general cheerfulness. You are so easy-going and fun to be around!

And your vocabulary- where did you learn so many words? And why do you feel the need to constantly say all of them for us? Suddenly, all the stories Grammy has told over the years about my prodigious talking skills resonate on a new level.

Although your mouth runs constantly, I don't easily tire of it. You still announce things to us in that sweet, sing-song voice that we feel compelled to impersonate. In fact, whenever I tell my friends something you've said, I find myself repeating it in your special voice.

I love how mature you sometimes seem, as well as what a sweet baby girl you still sometimes are. You are a delight, and I love you. Happy birthday!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Birthday Party Day

Chloe emerged from her bedroom at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, all decked out in her Sleeping Beauty costume. She was ready- eight hours early. Eventually, I talked her into taking a shower (so her hair could be tamed) and putting on jeans so she would be warm while awaiting the start of her party.

Part of the party prep included her first ever manicure at Sweet and Sassy, all the way out at Wolfchase. It was worth the drive- she loved it.

From there we traveled to TJ Maxx so that she could pick out a party dress that didn't double as a polyester costume containing a hoop skirt. She also selected a fancy purse.

Did I mention that the dress came with a matching outfit for Maggie? She didn't want to be underdressed for the Chick-Fil-A princess party.

The kids had lots of fun playing and eating and screaming and putting their hands all over the Muddy's cupcakes that I brought for the adults in attendance. (The kids were served cow cake, and fought over who got the most black icing.) Once the kids were nice and sugared up, I sent them home. It was a great party, and a great day. Happy (almost) birthday, Princess!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beautiful Disaster

This morning, Chloe and I looked through her closet and talked about what she was going to wear to her birthday party. She settled on her Sleeping Beauty dress, the one with a hoop skirt that she wore on Halloween.

The she asked me to help her put on her headband. Once it was in place, she went over to the full-length mirror to admire herself. "I like this," she said. "I look good in this headband with this outfit."

I'm in trouble with this one.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Feeling Real Great 'Cause the Weather's Mild

Once Ayden pointed out to my kids that the tree/bush that has been in our backyard their ENTIRE LIVES is awesome for climbing, they spent the rest of the weekend hiding in its branches.

We all spent the whole weekend outside, actually. It's ridiculous how much we needed sun and temps in the high 60s.

I'm not even mad at this rain- 75 degrees means I get to wear a skirt, whether it's raining or not.

I love you, March!

Monday, March 08, 2010

You Might Think He's a Jester

This probably isn't funny to anyone else, but it cracked me up.

At dinner the other night, Chloe asked me, "What's your mom's name?" She knows the answer to this question, but it's normal for her to start questioning me about all our relations, so I didn't think twice. I just said, "Sandra Miller!" and went on eating. Then she said, "Who's Sandra Miller?" and I said, "My mom!" and she cracked up and asked me what my mom's name was. That circular line of questioning continued, and we all laughed at her silly cleverness.

So Connor wanted in on the action, and decided to try a new question. Only, he didn't get it. He was completely unable to recreate the joke. And it made me laugh even harder than Chloe did.
C: Chloe, who's your teacher?
Chloe: Mrs. Hamilton.
C: Who's your teacher?!
Chloe: Mrs. Hamilton!
C: Uh, who's your teacher?
Chloe: Mrs. Hamilton . . .
He was trying so hard, you could see the wheels turning, but even though he tried for several minutes, he could never come up with "Who is Mrs. Hamilton?" Maybe I'm just a horrible person, but I've laughed about that for DAYS.

(Yeah, she's pretty funny.)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Just Creatures For Awhile

I had the bright idea to invite two of Connor's best friends to our house for a sleepover.

 Really, the boys were angels. They played outside, they played inside, they played video games- they even played with Chloe. And most importantly, they realized that big bush in our back yard is great for climbing.

They didn't get to sleep until around 10:30, which you may know is pretty late for Connor. Then they woke up before 5:30. By 3:00 Saturday afternoon, Connor was begging to go to sleep for the night.

I can't wait to do it again! But I really can't wait until they do this at Jamie or Wendy's house.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Jumping Off the Stage

The Kindergarten and First Grade classes at Snowden had a Black History Month program yesterday, almost a full week after that particular month had ended. I appreciate that they are trying to draw out their celebration of African-American achievements, but Connor didn't. He wanted it over with. Wednesday night he finally shared with us his intense stage fright, and Thursday morning when I left him at school, he was in tears. It seems he had done such a good job dancing during rehearsals that he had been moved to the front row. And he didn't want to be there.

Connor gets this from me. Yes, I spent a lot of time in high school dancing around in front of people in a short polyester skirt. But I never liked to perform solo, or really be featured in any way, and I HATE to be a speaker in a large group of people. Can you believe that? I love talking to a bunch of people, but not if I'm at a podium or on a stage- only if we're just hanging out talking. I think it's even a tiny part of the reason I quit teaching- I would regularly blush if I made a mistake in front of the classroom, just because I was always right on the edge of utter embarrassment from being in that spotlight.

When I was a kid, I tried out to be the lead in a musical at church. I think it was summer camp or vacation bible school or something. Anyway, I don't know what possessed me to try out- I have a vague memory that I was visualizing myself doing a good job, and thought I could will myself into it. Long story short, I got the part and then totally stood in one spot and whispered into the mic when the time came. I really wanted no part of it. My mom still makes fun of me about it- it was sort of a disaster.

The point of that is, Connor totally gets this from me. And so I'll always be sensitive to it, and I won't really push him to overcome that fear. It's why I wasn't bothered a few weeks ago when he told me, "I didn't want to try out for a solo." But he was committed to dancing in the front row yesterday, so all I could do was encourage him to try and have fun. And he certainly looked like he was having fun, but afterwards he told me it was hard to smile and that he was glad it's over. After I told him he did a great job and I was proud of him, I agreed that I was glad it was over too.

Monday, March 01, 2010

But I'd Like To Do It Again

On Saturday, we had one last basketball game. Our season was scheduled to end the weekend before, but we missed a game along the way due to weather conditions. So we were forced to end the season with a demoralizing loss to this team:

There was some debate, but I'm pretty sure that's a girl who is guarding Connor. She was built like a truck. And you can see that the rest of their team was at least a head taller than anyone on our team. It was hard to sit through.

That's Connor looking at the scoreboard, wondering, "Is it possible we only scored two points this whole game?" It was, in fact, possible. The sad part was, Connor had a great game the week before, as did the team as a whole, and everyone left the game happy and feeling good about basketball. This week, Connor left the game moaning, "Why did our last game have to be against big kids?"

To add insult to injury, the team members were all given participation trophies after the game, and of course they spelled Connor's name wrong. It fascinates me how often that happens, especially since I know I wrote it correctly on the sign-up sheet. Since Connor was already in a funk about it being the last game, and about the ugly loss (did I mention that he missed two free throws?), the misspelled trophy was just the icing on the cake. He sulked in the car on the way home, but fortunately snapped out of it pretty quickly. The sunshine and relatively warm temperatures helped, I'm sure. I still think I'm going to try to get that trophy replaced, though.

Next up? Coach pitch!