Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Swim Lessons

First off, is Chloe really this pale? That's got to be a reflection off the water, right?

Last year, we took a trip to the pool. As Connor, Chip and I took our cover-ups off and got ready to swim, Chloe excitedly jumped right in. We were thrilled to see that she was so comfortable in the water, but a little concerned because she couldn't actually swim. We jumped in to rescue our drowning Pisces and wondered why we had never signed her up for swimming lessons.

Meanwhile, Connor was getting better and better at swimming, but was completely unwilling to take direction from either of his parents, who both are clearly idiots and know nothing about how to swim. So this summer we took out a second mortgage on the house in order to sign them both up for lessons.

I had heard things about a magic lady who lived in midtown and taught children to swim in her back yard. Her name is Mrs. Holly, and she's exceptional! She really pushed the kids and they both came away from a week at her house with lots of new skills. (See above: Connor with a big goofy grin while treading water for 45 seconds.)

On the last day of lessons, parents were allowed to come and watch a little demonstrations of what the kids had learned. Chloe jumped in the deep end and swam underwater to one of the instructors. Connor swam freestyle across the pool, taking breaths as he went. Chloe retrieved a toy off the bottom of the shallow end. Connor swam the backstroke, and also dove in off the side. All in all, I was very impressed.

Two days after their last lesson, we took them to the Rhodes pool. Connor was all about it- he even went in the official lap lane with me and swam freestyle about halfway across the pool! Chloe, on the other hand, acted as if this was her first trip to a pool of any kind. As usual in every aspect of her life these days, she clung to me. "This pool is too BIG," she insisted. She's right- it's much larger and more crowded than Mrs. Holly's backyard oasis. But I still expected her to be a little more independent in the water. By the end of the day, she was jumping in off the side and opening up a little, but did ask me if we could bring floaties next time. I assured her that NO, WE COULD NOT.

Maybe she really is that pale. SPF FTW!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Highlights on the sleepover timeline:

5:30- First kid shows up
5:40- Second kid shows up
6:00- Official start time of party
6:07- First Band-Aid is applied
6:55- First trip to Little Caesars

7:05- Second trip to Little Caesars
7:10- First claim of a stomach ache
7:30- Ice cream cake is served

9:30- Kids are forced into pajamas
10:00- Kids are confined to bedroom
11:00- Kids are told to STFU
11:30- I fall asleep, although I could still hear some faint voices from down the hall

6:25- Kids are out of bed
6:42- Hissing cat is confined to his quarters
7:10- A child claims he does not like Pop Tarts (NOT Connor)
7:30- First parent arrives, to get her kid ready for his BAPTISM this very same morning
8:00- Chip takes Gidget for a walk. Allegedly.
8:55- I blissfully escape to pick up Chloe from Grammy's house
9:20- Second parent shows up
9:22- First toy is accidentally left behind
9:25- Chloe and I return home, and Chloe enters the mix
9:40- First ice pack applied to injury
10:00- Third and fourth mothers arrive
10:01- Connor defiantly ignores my requests to put down the game controller and say a proper good-bye
10:02- Connor sees the error of his ways and sees his friends out
10:30- I do the weekly grocery shopping, ALONE
10:55- I sit in the parking lot of Schnuck's, playing on my phone and enjoying the silence
11:05- Return home to find Chip serving lunch to our kids plus one other. Praise 10:55 decision-making.
11:40- First "tent" is built using not one but three mattresses

12:35- Final family arrives to claim their son
12:45- I take an inventory of clothes/toys/bedding left behind
1:15- Cat finally emerges from hiding place under the bed
1:25- Chip takes a nap

7:55- Tuck Connor in. Find Dorito IN HIS BED
8:00- Connor and Chloe are fast asleep

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food Fight

Can any of you who have older kids tell me that mealtimes will eventually get better? Right now, sitting down to dinner is just about my least favorite part of the day- I need some hope that this will someday change. I insist that we eat dinner as a family each night, spend some time together, discuss how our days went, yada yada. I'm starting to think I need to set up permanent TV trays in front of the couch and discourage discussion and interaction as much as possible.

What is the problem? Well, our problems are two-fold. First, Connor still has only a short list of foods that he deems acceptable. Unfortunately, he has decided lately that he's bored with all of those foods. So basically, no matter what I put in front of him- whether it's chicken nuggets or broccoli- he will sit and pick at and then ask if he can be done. We say sure, but no dessert. Then the waterworks start, because he obviously has low blood sugar and is bitchy. Now, I'm not losing sleep at night because my son didn't get dessert, but I really don't like having each meal end in tears.

Our other problem is Chloe. This problem is not tied directly to the act of eating. It's just her very existence right now. It seems that the universe is balancing itself out after years of perfect behavior. She turned four, and is now an unholy terror. Don't let the rosy cheeks and long eyelashes lull you into a false sense of security. She's a monster. So each night of dinner with her is a struggle, simply because every minute with her is a struggle. She'll pick something bad to do at dinner, and we'll say, "Quit doing that bad thing or else you will get in some specific form of trouble." Then she does that thing again, she gets her punishment, and she loses her mind completely. It's easier to ignore the ensuing tantrum when we aren't all sitting there trying to have dinner. For some reason it's much worse for the rest of us during mealtime. Especially Connor. He's too hungry to deal with all that!

In happier dining news, we took the kids and assorted grandparents to try out the new Thyme Bistro recently, and the kids were on their best behavior. We wrote about it here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Baby

For the past couple of weeks, Connor has indulged me when I've climbed into bed with him at night. "You're almost seven!" I exclaim. "When did you get to be so grown up?!?!" He gives me a little laugh and lets me hug and kiss him before finally dismissing me with an "I'm pretty tired, Mom."

He's still my baby boy, still sweet and loving and occasionally cuddly. More often than not, though, we get our physical affection in through rough housing and tickling and whatnot. But when he's tired and worn out, he still wants to love on me. I'm so glad. I'll take it as long as I can get it!

Each day I pick him up and lift him over my head. "Do you think I'll be able to do this when you're seven?" I ask. He just laughs and dares me to try it. And I will, every day until he's too big and I'm too feeble. He predicts that day will come when he's 29 years old, and I hope it's not a minute sooner.

Here's a picture from each of his birthday parties. It seems like just yesterday he was a baby, and now, as trite as it sounds, he really is a "big boy."

I love you baby! Happy birthday!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Dresses himself and the kids each morning in the same time it takes me to just dress myself
Anticipates the needs of his family and surprises us by doing things we didn't even realize needed doing
Details. .  well, that's the part he leaves to me
Dilligently photographs all our finest moments without complaining that there are no pictures of him
You are the best daddy (and husband) in the whole world, and we love you more than we can ever adequately express

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Ok, let's put aside all this family-friendly nonsense for a minute and talk about something adults care about: booze. I've settled on my favorite bourbon--Woodford Reserve.  It's handcrafted in small batches in Woodford County, Kentucky, and happens to be the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby.  It has a wonderfully complex nose, and enticing notes of caramel, vanilla, and even some fruitiness and floral tastes on the finish.  Lots of character and bite, but yet incredibly smooth.  (Did you like how I just slipped into winesnob mode?  Here, I'll shift back now.)  This is some friggin' awesome hooch.  There are more expensive bourbons out there, sure, but they're not better than this.

Our favorite way to drink it these days is in a Manhattan--  the bourbon, a little sweet vermouth, shaken, served "up" with a cherry.  One of the finer things in life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Time to quit dragging out beach pic posts.  I suppose I have a need to hang on to this trip because the future of the Gulf Coast is so uncertain.  We didn't see any oil while we were there, but the beaches just a few miles west of us were already being affected.  We're all overcome with anger, frustration and sorrow.

I had this same sort of feeling about New Orleans a few years back.  The Big Easy rose from the ashes, though, and maybe the Gulf Coast will make it through this ok.

 See the whole slideshow here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chloe Quotes

In a gas station bathroom, loud enough for her dad to hear from the men's room:
I just pooped so fast without even having to grunt it out!

In regard to almost everyting she eats:
Can I have some whup cream on that?

While looking at her new pet caterpillar:
I'm watching its butt wiggle! With ears on it! (pause) You know, I think that's its head.

She leaves you with a song:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beach Babies

We spent a long weekend at the Gulf Coast with some friends- five adults and eight kids total, to be precise. Here are half of those kids.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

FunderFarm Cookies

I've exchanged recipes for whole-wheat cookies with my mother-in-law in the past, but I've never had the guts to actually try them myself. (I'm not sure if she has or not.) This past weekend at the Memphis Farmer's Market, we tried a sample of cookies made with a mix from FunderFarm and found them to be delicious. We bought the mix to try for ourselves, and Chip and I love the results! The kids are a little iffy, though. They enjoyed the raw dough, but Chloe wasn't very impressed with the flavor of the cookies. Connor seemed a little unsure, but ate almost a whole cookie. He did note that there were "not enough chocolate chips!" which might be code for "tastes different/not sweet enough." He did, however, assert that his sister was "weird" for not liking cookies, at which point Chip and I fell out of our chairs laughing. Then we called him "pot" for the rest of the evening, while enjoying our portion of the cookies as well as theirs.

FunderFarm is at MFM every other week, and I understand their products are stocked at the Trolley Stop Market. I recommend giving them a try.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Memorial Day

Instead of cooking out or spending time with friends to mark the holiday, the Chockleys ended up at a long, strange street party with a bunch of strangers. It was a wild day.

The kids spent the weekend in Nashville with their grandparents. On Monday we met the Chockleys halfway between here and there, at Exit 101 along I-40. We visited for a few minutes, got some candy and drinks, then transferred the kids and their suitcases from Bwana's Prius to Dad's and headed home. Somewhere around 4:00, at about mile marker 38, we ran into this:

And then we didn't move again until almost 8:00.

Seriously, we sat on I-40 for almost four hours. To say we were completely unprepared for this type of event would be a gross understatement. Under normal circumstances, I would have my big "Mom purse" with tons of gum, pens, crayons, paper, toys, wet wipes, etc, packed just in case my kids ever find themselves bored with nothing to do. Only I didn't bring my purse, because it wasn't in its usual place by the door yesterday and I didn't think it was worth running back upstairs to collect it. We were only going to be gone for a couple of hours, right? Plus I wasn't driving, which was our next problem. I don't care about keeping my car clean the way Chip does. My back seat is filled with books and toys that the kids have abandoned back there. It has tissues and wet wipes and bug spray and other things designed for Mom emergencies. But sadly, we were in Chip's clean, spartan automobile, with nothing to entertain us except for watching the gas tank monitor to see how much longer we could use the air conditioning and still have enough gas to get home.

Over time, the kids took off their seat belts. Then we all moved to different places in the car, squirming and climbing and burrowing. Eventually, we and everyone else turned our cars off and moved out onto the road. The minivan behind us was stocked with a four-year-old girl for Chloe to play with, Highlights magazines to read, and some napkins that I could wipe Chloe after she squatted by the side of the highway. (We were so jealous of Chip and Connor! I have to admit- I held it.). Chloe had a stuffed animal and a doll chair that Mimi had purchased in a yard sale, while her new friend had a stuffed Mario doll belonging to her brother. Chloe plopped that chair down in the middle of I-40, and she and the other little girl played. Connor sat and played his DSi, with another kid watching over his shoulder. A few people had dogs with them, so Chloe wandered the road making new canine friends the way she manages to do wherever we are.

I had my phone, so I was able to call Mom and text Cullen to see if they could give me any info on what was happening or when we might move. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any internet signal out there in Fayette County, so I couldn't look up the information for myself. We heard bits and pieces from our new friends along the road, and it wasn't pretty. We were all so thankful that we missed it. If we had gone through there just 10-15 minutes earlier, we might have been in one of the wrecks. It might have been one of my babies in the helicopter we saw land ahead of us, or in the ambulances racing up the shoulder past our block party. So while we had a long, boring day, it could have been much more exciting- and subsequently much worse.

The kids were actually angels through all of this, and held up pretty well. Things didn't go in the crapper until we were moving, on our way home again, and Connor got a bloody nose. Since Chip doesn't even have a spare Kleenex in his car, Connor was forced to use a sock to staunch the flow. This was one more injustice than he could bear on this day, and he finally broke down and cried. "I want to go home! I want a TISSUE!!!" He managed to make it, though, and although dinner was more than two hours later than normal, and a half hour past bedtime at that, he and Chloe still managed to make the most of their day and stay sweet and positive despite the less than ideal conditions.

Awesome, eh? How was your holiday?