Friday, April 30, 2010

Puppy Love

Since the Memphis Chockleys are notorious for being NOTadogfamily, I'm sure most of you were surprised when we actually got one last week.

We simply couldn't ignore our kids about this subject anymore. The guilt overwhelmed us. Or more particularly, overwhelmed Steph, since she's the NON-dog person around here.  But I really admire her for being the one to say "You know what?  We gotta do this.  It's what our kids want more than just about anything in the world."

So this is Gidget:

We got her through the adoption agency that sets up at the Memphis Farmer's Market every week.  Connor fell in love with her there, and we had her at our house a few days later.  This is still technically a two-week "trial," but she's really fitting in well.

Well, with 3 of us.

She's about 14 months old, and already house-trained.  She can sit, shake and sometimes stay.  She's a quick learner too-- after nearly losing my arm on our Alaskan dogsled-style first walk, we read up on how to walk a dog the "right" way and she picked it right up.  She's crate-trained, so that helps cut the impact of her biggest fault-- she likes to pick something and chew it until it's completely destroyed.  She's a relatively calm dog, though-- none of the spastic jumping-on-people stuff.

We're new to the dog thing (I haven't had one since I was a little kid, and Steph of course never had one), so we're still learning.  It's remarkably like having a new kid in the house-- everyone's routines are impacted, and there is an adjustment period.  But it's worth it-- she already brings a lot of joy to the house.

Most of the house. 

But especially this occupant of the house: 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Act Now!

The kids were watching TV as I cooked dinner. Suddenly Chloe ran into the kitchen.

"Mom! There's a food prossser that does everything! It makes smoothies and cuts things real fast!!!"

I showed what I thought was the appropriate amount of interest, but I was wrong.

"But mom! You need to order it right now! TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!!!"

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend RnR

Sadly, the RnR doesn't stand for rest and relaxation. (Does that ever actually happen on the weekends?) Happily, it does stand for Rock & Romp. There is a great recap of the event here. And my favorite picture from the day is here:

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Week in Lists

I've been feeling list-y lately, which I understand is better than feeling listless.

Things I bought/was given at lunch today:
Bottle of Corsair rye whiskey
Two containers of tennis balls
A pedicure
Two bottles of Cote Est white wine blend

Things that made me laugh uncontrollably:
The first comment on Stacey's Commercial Appeal column
Melissa's boots
Chloe's "madam clothes"

Other places you can find us this week:
Writing lists for Elizabeth
Performing our duties as honorary fan of the week
Entering and winning contests

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Connor has been in a really good mood for the last week or so. It's been a refreshing change. He's been pleasant to his parents and his sister, he's been behaving at school, and it seems he's enjoyed the activities and events life has brought his way. We're not doing anything different, so maybe it's the arrival of spring that has finally lightened his mood.

I didn't realize just how hard he was to deal with until now- it's amazing how much easier life all of a sudden. You don't notice while it's happening, but we've spent a lot of time walking on eggshells around him, never knowing what might set him off. It's great when all the people in your household are operating within a somewhat logical emotional framework at the same moment in time.

I'm sure it won't last, and one of us will go off the rails soon enough, but right now we sure are having a happy start to our spring.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Her Stories

In the mornings, if Chloe wakes up on her own she will lie there waiting on someone to come get her out of bed. If no one magically shows up in a reasonable amount of time, she will stomp out of bed and find you, then force you back into a bed so that you can properly wake her up.

This morning she and her raging bedhead came and glared at me while I stood in the bathroom, hair wet and clad only in a towel. She grabbed my arm and pulled me over to my bed, where we climbed in and gathered on "the girl side," instantly making the queen-sized mattress into a more acceptable twin. As she refused my recently-toothbrushed kisses ("Too minty!"), I asked her how she slept. "Good," she said, giving me her usual answer. I asked if she had sweet dreams last night.

"I don't have dreams! Just my stories."

I've heard her say this before, and I can't tell if she remembers her dreams and calls them stories, or if she doesn't remember her dreams and only remembers the stories she makes up in her head as she falls asleep. In either case, I think it's a lovely way to describe the sugar plum thoughts that drift through her head at night. It certainly brings me some comfort, after years of dealing with Connor and his nightmares/night terrors. Just two nights ago, I was awoken by his screams and desperate jibberish as he tried to work through whatever anxieties followed him into the night.

With Chloe, there is no such anxiety. I excitedly asked her "What kinds of stories did you see?" Her answer didn't surprise me. "The Justice League!" Then she explained that she was a member of the League, one who could fly. She got to go to their Watchtower. "And Michael Jackson was there! And Ben Tennyson!" All her heroes, working together to fight bad guys- with her help. Not a bad way to spend a night.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Week in Review

In a half-assed attempt to get a garden going, we have covered a patch of grass with newspaper and hay in an attempt to kill the grass and cook the soil. I have absolutely no idea what the next step in this process is, or when it should take place. Do I need to buy soil to put on top of the hay? Wait a couple of weeks and dig into what's there? It's safe to say I didn't really think this through. I like seeing the little plot of land set aside in the yard, though. Makes me feel all earthy.

Connor had to build a 3D model of a truck or something- the theme was "transportation" which to Connor meant, "it has wheels." This gave us an excuse to buy and use paint, which is always a plus. It also gave Clark a chance to walk in paint and leave cute red pawprints all over the house. Really, it was like cliched cartoon or something, but so cute! No, we didn't take pictures.
Money quote regarding the 3D model, which Chip was in charge of:
Me: Well, this is your dad's project, I don't know what his plan is for the wheels.
Connor: No, it's MY project- for school? Remember?
Heh- oh yeah. What age do they actually do their own school projects? 19?

I decided that it's time for me to bite the bullet and wake up early to exercise. I managed to get in the habit of waking up before 6:00 in order to get ready on time- can't I add another 15-20 minutes in order to do some kind of workout? Turns out, I can. Thanks for the inspiration, Stacey!

Wednesday, the kids made their recording debut with Harlan T. Bobo and the Luv Clowns. This was despite Connor's violent opposition to the idea. (Not the idea of recording something, but the idea of doing ANYTHING NEW.) I let former rock star Chip handle that while I met a friend for margaritas on the patio at El Porton. Safe to say I won that round.

Also on Wednesday, one of my favorite internet blogs published a list I had sent in. So fun! But the inspiration for the list was sad. I hated hearing that Dixie Carter died. And thena few days later, Dr. Hooks. We lost some good people this week.

Thursday, Chloe had her annual check up, wherein we were told she is tall (97th percentile, a good four inches taller than your average four-year-old) and thin (actual quote from the doctor, "You're skinny, you know that?"). She had her finger pricked and blood drawn, and although it didn't really hurt at the time, her indignation grew as the visit wore on. What did hurt was trying to get a urine sample out of her. Hurt me, that is. I could die happy if I never had to share another public bathroom with Chloe.

Today I'm running in the Maria Montessori 5K, which is totally stupid because my 5K skills are seriously lacking. Plus I just found out that it's run on grass. But at least I got to skip my 5:30 a.m. workout because of this! Being in shape sucks.

Memphis Farmers Market opens tomorrow morning! Woohoo! I hope to see you there. Chip won't be with us, since he's judging the American Mock Trial Association National Championship Tournament, hosted by my awesome employer/alma mater. But he'll enjoy eating whatever I buy there.

I saved the fanciest news of the week for last. Chip relaunched his photography website at Isn't it pretty? If I ever get remarried, I'm totally asking him to do the pictures.

TGIF! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Golden Oldies

The other day I was talking to some friends about the "oldies" stations our parents made us listen to when we were kids. Back then I bitched and moaned about most of it, and wondered which of the bands that I liked at the time would survive as passable "oldies" the way the Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, etc, had. (I settled on U2). The reason this was on my mind was that, for some reason, I recently realized that in the 80s, the oldies were songs from the 60s and 70s. I did some quick math and realized that, yep, plenty of the music I like now could be considered oldies by my own standards.

My kids like a lot of music that is "old," from the Beatles to Michael Jackson to even 311 (Music came out in 1993). As an adult I can appreciate that good, well-written music stands the test of time, and that most of the pop stuff is a product of a particular era and is best left there, or enjoyed by someone feeling nostalgic. My kids have only heard the old stuff that has endured, so they haven't had to suffer through Young MC the way I had to suffer through Jan & Dean (or the way my grandkids will someday suffer through any of today's auto-tuned pop hits). And they are young enough that they don't know to call the music "old" and then mock me for my lame attempts to dance along with it. They still think I'm cool.

Or, they did. We were out of town on April 1, but I was able to read on Twitter and Facebook about all the April Fool's Day jokes that were being played around town. One person mentioned that 98.9 FM was calling itself 98.9X and playing a bunch of random music from 15-25 years ago. "Music for Generation X." I laughed and thought about how much I would probably enjoy that, then forgot about it.until about a week later, when I was flipping through the channels on my radio and discovered that this little gem is real! I happily set the dial and let my mind drift back to a time when grunge and hair metal competed for airtime and the Cherry siblings (Neneh and Eagle-Eye) were enjoying their respective one-hits.

Then it happened. One day I was jamming my way through the Fresh Prince's Parent's Just Don't Understand when Connor called out from the back seat. "Mom, can you change this to something else?"

Oh. My. God.

That's when it hit me- this is MY oldies station! I am old! My kids think I'm old! This music sucks! Seriously- even though I had recently done the math that told me these facts, it somehow did not click until there was an ACTUAL OLDIES STATION on the radio. One that did not play CCR, but instead played NKOTB. One that my children can't stand.

I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry at this realization, but I did know to embrace the power that my age brought me. So I told the kids to suck it, because I'm driving and this is what I want to listen to. See Mom? I did pay attention to you when I was a kid.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Party Girl

On Saturday, Chloe had two birthday parties on the schedule. The first was for her good buddy M, held at the Fire Museum. Chip was Chloe's escort, and Connor and I stayed home and enjoyed some "grown up" time away from the four-year-olds.

The second party was for one of Chloe's very best friends, CR. She and Chloe have been in the same class since they were babies at Union Avenue Baptist.

Once he heard the next party was at Seize the Clay, Connor wanted to come along as well. He had a hard time choosing just one thing to paint, but eventually settled on this dragon. He has talked about going back to paint a piggy bank ever since.

Chloe amazed me with her attention to detail on the day. We had already picked out a Play-Doh set for CR, prompting Chloe to buy herself the same toy with her saved allowance money. But when I suggested the same gift for M, she looked at me like I was an idiot. "M likes Thomas the Tank Engine, duh." M's mom commented that she was impressed with Chloe's choice- she clearly pays attention.
After that, she was exhausted and we sent her to whine at Grammy's house. Awesome day for everyone! Except, of course, Grammy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cathedral Basilica

During last year's trip to St. Louis, I visited a couple of beautiful cathedrals, but I left knowing that I had missed THE cathedral in St. Louis-- Cathedral Basilica. I fixed that this time.

Groundbreaking for Cathedral Basilica was in 1907, after more than 30 years of planning and fundraising. By 1914, enough of the building was complete for a dedication ceremony, yet full consecration did not take place until June 29, 1926.

First, the exterior:

The real reason this cathedral is so amazing is that it has one of the world's largest collections of mosaics. Work started on these in 1907, and they weren't completed until 1988! They are really awe-inspiring. There are 41.5 million pieces of tesserae glass in more than 7,000 colors.

Full-screen slideshow here.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


I've already told you about the Botanical Gardens and the City Museum. I'll spare you the gushing over The Magic House, an incredible children's museum that we had to drag Chloe out of. But in order for you to really understand why I feel like cheating on Memphis right now, I have to tell you about Citygarden.

First, you have to understand that downtown St. Louis starts at the Arch, which is beautiful but does not take up a lot of space on the ground, meaning tons of grassy park areas around it. Then there is an old courthouse or something, then a couple of blocks with fountains and an amphitheater. And THEN, after all that, there is a three-acre urban garden right there in the middle of downtown. It's amazing.

There are 24 pieces of sculpture scattered among gorgeous landscaping and fountains. My children LOVED the art, loved getting wet in the "spray plaza," loved wandering through the flowers and shrubs. And I loved that so much land in the middle of downtown that was dedicated to a public park and public art. I just really couldn't get over it.

All the up-front costs were handled by the Gateway Foundation, in partnership with the City of St. Louis which owns the land. Let's just say, even if I win the lottery, I won't be able to fund the Memphis City Garden on my own. But someone in this town's gotta have $50 million burning a hole in their pocket, don't they?

When it comes right down to it, yes I might envy St. Louis and their Bush Stadium and their kid-friendly museums and their NFL team and their Monsanto-funded gardens. But it doesn't make me want to move- it just makes me want to light a fire under someone here in town. There are so many projects that need funding! Until I win the lottery, I guess I'm stuck doing things like begging Pepsi for the quarter mil needed for our skatepark. It's a start, right?

Whole slideshow here.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Missouri Botanical Garden

We spent part of Spring Break 2010 in St. Louis. This is one of my kids' favorite places to go, because they love staying in a hotel with an indoor pool. Despite our best efforts, we can't get them to understand that they have those in every city.

Our first stop once we got into town was the Missouri Botanical Garden. Holy cow, this place is impressive. According to their website, the Missouri Botanical Garden was founded in 1859 and is the nation's oldest botanical garden in continuous operation. It is a National Historic Landmark, and I can see why. We were only there for a couple of hours, and we needed several more in order to see everything. We didn't even go in the children's garden! I left with a serious case of big-city amenity envy. (More on that in later posts.)

In the background of the above picture, you see a big dome. That is where the rainforest display is housed. The kids loved it in there, as did all the photographers. Chip wasn't the only person running around in there with a big lens.

I loved the 14-acre Japanese garden. It was beautiful and serene, and very much appreciated after a full day in the car. It was almost enough to drown out the "Can we go now?" whining that started up when we were about halfway around the lake at the center of that display.

See the whole slideshow here.