Friday, December 30, 2011

We Might Need Padded Shorts

You haven't lived until you've watched us try to cross Quince on these things.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Gun Show

You know, Santa got Nerf guns for the kids this year. I guess he saw how well they had handled the water guns Connor got for his birthday this summer, and thought it might not be that bad an idea.

Connor perhaps took to it a little too enthusiastically.

Chloe's first hit. Bulls eye!

He was so anxious to shoot back at her that he actually helped her get suited up.

Dude, you are doing it wrong.

On her way to putting an eye out.

And now neither kid stands a chance.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Current Issues

There are lots of ways the kids are getting on my nerves right now. Most of them deserve, and receive, disciplinary action. But there's one thing Connor does that I don't know how to deal with. It annoys me to no end, yet I should probably be patient with him. Or should I? Here it is:

Connor has no idea what is going on in the world around him, yet can't stop asking questions about it. Here is an actual conversation that took place between us, which is very representative of a thousand other conversations we've had lately.

In the car on the way home from basketball practice, just me and Connor, listening to continuous Christmas music on The River.
Me: De-liii-laaaah! (Assumes Delilah radio voice) "Of course you do. . ."
C: What?
Me: I'm just impersonating Delilah. She's so smooth.
C: Who's Delilah?
Me: The woman on the radio.
C: But who is she?
Me: She's Delilah. The DJ on the radio. The woman who just said, "Of course you do" real smooth like that.
C: Who?
Me: Those two ladies who were just talking? Not the one who just reunited with her long-lost brother, but the other one.
C: But I don't understand who she is.
Me: She's the DJ! The person who plays records! She talks between songs! You know! The person who works at the radio station! DELILAH!
C: I don't get it.

I mean! OMG! We're miles away, literally and figuratively, from the original, off-handed impersonation of Delilah that started all this. And he's just curious, right? He just wants to understand who she is? But without actually participating in the world that exists outside of his head? I feel bad that, instead of patiently explaining it to him, I just want to run the car off the road into a pole so we'll have something else to talk about. ("I'd better call an ambulance! I'm bleeding after that wreck!" "Wreck? What do you mean?")

This happens pretty much all day every day. And I don't have to be talking to him- he'll start up when I say something to Chip, something that Connor doesn't even need to understand. All. The. Time. It's like he has no idea what's going on, and no interest in keeping up, yet he's deathly afraid that someone knows something he doesn't. It's maddening. But I have to be nice about it, right?

For what it's worth, a few days later we were listening to the radio and the female DJ came on and Connor said, "Oh, she's like Delilah!" So I guess he did get it, eventually, after that sat in his brain for a while. I'll take that as a sign that I shouldn't just ignore him when he starts asking these inane questions. At least not every time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Showing Off

I've never really had much of my photography printed, but I figured it was about time to have a gallery show. Stacey and I brainstormed about having an exhibition of Rock-n-Romp photos-- shouldn't be hard to do, right? We decided to put it on in conjunction with the December Rock-n-Romp, which just so happened to be held at an art gallery.

I fretted over selection for weeks.  I had 6 years of RnR shows to choose from-- literally thousands of pictures.   Well, take out the first couple of seasons-- I had just gotten a camera back then and had no idea what I was doing.  (Thanks a bunch to Steph, AndriaStacey, Sweazy, Aimee and Kate for helping me narrow things down.)  Then, I fretted over sizes to order-- larger prints have more impact, but smaller prints allow me to put up more of them.  Then, pricing-- how much is the Rock-n-Romp crowd interested in paying?

I finally narrowed it down to about 30 prints, ordered various sizes, and stocked up on supplies to get all the stuff on the walls. Fellow photog Sophorn McRae showed up the morning of the show to help and thank Buddha she did, because I probably wouldn't have gotten it all done without her.

The show was a success-- I sold several prints and people seemed to really enjoy it.

After the Rock-n-Romp, I had about 20 prints left, so we brainstormed again about what to do with them. Leslie Gower of the Downtown Memphis Commission had the brilliant idea to put them in the windows of a vacant storefront downtown.  The space at the corner of Union and Main sees a ton of traffic, both auto and pedestrian, every day.  So yesterday, I put them all up again.  This time, mounted on glass, facing outward, which presented another whole host of logistical stress.  (Thanks for the help, Stacey and Caleb!)

It's been fun to show off my work and to celebrate the awesomeness of Rock-n-Romp.  The prints will be up for a month downtown, so go see it if you're down there!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2011: The Year in Books

This year I set a goal for myself to read 35 books. (I track this information at I reached that number so quickly that I adjusted my goal to 52 books. As of today, I've read 59. I will definitely finish another book this year, if not more. Sixty books! I didn't know I had it in me.

You know me well enough to know that all I really want to do is list these books for you. I'll divide them into categories to make the list more fun. (For you, that is. All lists are fun for me.)

Book Club Selections
Winter's Bone, Daniel Woodrell
Shadow Tag, Louise Erdrich
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
The Uncoupling, Meg Wolitzer
The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer
South of Broad, Pat Conroy
Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen
The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell
Bent Road, Lori Roy

Detective Series That I Love
Dublin Murder Squad:
In the Woods, Tana French
The Likeness, Tana French
Faithful Place, Tana French
Dave Robicheaux:
Heaven's Prisoners, James Lee Burke
Dixie City Jam, James Lee Burke
Kenzie & Gennaro:
A Drink Before the War, Dennis Lehane
Darkness, Take My Hand, Dennis Lehane
Jackson Brodie:
Case Histories, Kate Atkinson
One Good Turn, Kate Atkinson
Inspector Kari Vaara:
Snow Angels, James Thompson
Ellie Hatcher:
Angel's Tip, Alafair Burke

Series Written By A Friend, About To Become A Motion Picture Franchise, Probably Starring Brad Pitt
The Gray Man:
On Target, Mark Greaney

Non-Fiction: A List of Books Titles That Require Colons
The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons
Whiter Shades of Pale, Christian Lander
Life, Keith Richards
Bossypants, Tina Fey
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, David Simon
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, Erik Larson
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, Erik Larson
I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away, Bill Bryson
Life Itself, Roger Ebert

Kid Books That I Felt Compelled To Comment On
The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
The first Percy Jackson book. They get better as the series progresses, but this first one was not good.
Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo
This book made me and Connor cry, and he declared it his favorite non-Harry Potter book. I cried typing that.

Authors I Will Read Anything By
Bloodbrothers, Richard Price
The Night Gardener, George Pelecanos
Killshot, Elmore Leonard
Sure of You, Armistead Maupin
Long Gone, Alafair Burke
Right as Rain, George Pelecanos

Author I Tried To Like But Just Can't
Winter's Bone, Daniel Woodrell
The Bayou Trilogy: Under the Bright Lights, Muscle for the Wing, and The Ones You Do, Daniel Woodrell

Books I Have Recommended Repeatedly
A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer
Bossypants, Tina Fey
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, Erik Larson

Books I Did Not Like
The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
Rogue Island, Bruce DeSilva
March, Geraldine Brooks
Little Bee, Chris Cleave
Bad Things Happen, Harry Dolan
Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson
South of Broad, Pat Conroy

Books Set In Maine
Empire Falls, Richard Russo
11-22-63, Stephen King (currently reading)

Pulitzer Prize Winners
A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
March, Geraldine Brooks
Empire Falls, Richard Russo 

Book I Struggled To Finish
Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

Books I Liked Fine, But Had No Other Category For
Last Night in Montreal, Emily St. John Mandel (note: Chip HATED this book)
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Tom Franklin
Blindness, Jose Saramago
The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
Black Water Rising, Attica Locke
The Good Son, Michael Gruber
The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd
Fuzzy Nation, John Scalzi
Rizzo's War, Lou Manfredo

Book I Love, Love, LOVED and Think You Should Read If You Enjoy A) Crime Stories or B) The Wire
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, David Simon

Best Book I Read This Year, and One Of The Best Books I've Read Ever
The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Time For Shirts!

As you know, I LOVE Christmas, because I am thrilled to have an excuse to buy things for people. In my dream world, I can buy something for everyone. I'm constantly looking for the right present for you!

Many times, these presents are t-shirts. I love funny t-shirts! Of course, I never wear them except to sleep in, and I assume you don't either, so instead of buying them I'll just link to them instead.

Me and Tiff (NSFW)

Monday, December 05, 2011


Friday night, Connor had a friend spend the night. They had basketball practice, and by the time we got them food and got them home, it was 8:30. Time to play! At least that's what Chloe figured, and she jumped right in. And guess what? Connor's friend didn't mind at all! He's an only child, so he thinks it's fun to have a brother and sister duo to keep him company.

But do you know who DID mind? Connor. Of course. Instead of enjoying himself and playing, he spent most of the evening hollering at me to come get Chloe out of his room and away from his guest. His friend just looked at me like, "Whatever- I don't care," whenever I led her to another activity, but Chloe insisted on dramatically sobbing hysterically each time she was rejected by Connor. She kept worming her way back in, though, and by Saturday morning they were all three having a pretty good time together.

It's hard to explain to my kids that brothers and sisters tend to bicker, but can still enjoy each other's company. Even when they are having fun with each other, they refuse to acknowledge it. I thought it was pretty funny when Chloe told Connor's friend that he was "the brother I never had!" I was hoping that would hurt Connor's feelings a little, and make him want to be nicer to Chloe, but he didn't care in the slightest.

The only thing he did to get her back was to accuse her that she "like likes" this friend. Please- she's five. Even Chloe knew to roll her eyes at this pronouncement. I chuckled and assured them that someday they would in fact "like like" each other's friends, and that's when I'd start stepping in to keep everyone separated. They were thoroughly disgusted by this idea, but I got a good laugh out of it.

Ultimately, I don't care if they think they don't like each other, as long as they continue to love each other, which they certainly do. Their bickering drives me crazy sometimes, but it's just par for the course at this age. I know that in a few short years they will become very close, united in their teenage disdain for their parents, and the bickering will be with me rather than with each other. No reason to speed up that process by forcing them to get along now, right?

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Hello there! How was your November? Ours was. . . busy, I guess. But not in that out of the ordinary way where you end up with some big accomplishment. Just in the way that is becoming the new ordinary: Chip's got a photo shoot, I've got a Jazzercize class, Connor has basketball practice, everyone's got homework, blah blah blah. It seems like this school year has flown by in a daze. I spent the first couple of months waiting on things to "calm down," but they never did. And now I realize that this is just how things are, and I've slowly come to accept that fact and adjust my schedule and expectations accordingly.

The transition wore me out. I kind of liked being in a rut, where we came home, ate dinner, watched a half hour of TV, and put the kids to bed. I knew that couldn't last forever, but I was caught off guard by how quickly it changed. I thought it would be gradual, but adding the second kid to the elementary school mix was somehow the nudge that pushed us over the edge. So here we are, almost at the end of the first semester, and we've finally started to get a handle on things. We can usually get the kids out the door on time in the mornings, with appropriate footwear and complete lunches and corrected homework. (Except for this morning, of course, when Connor left his lunchbox at home.) And we've figured out how to have a life after 5:00, which is the part that had eluded me up to this point. So I guess the point of this story is that we're all happy and doing fine and I'll probably find time to tell you that more often as we move forward.

But what did we do, specifically, in November? You've been holding your breath this whole time, waiting for an update? I guess the highlights are as follows:

Rock n Romp!

A trip to Nashville to throw a Fortieth Anniversary party for the Chockleys. Mazel tov, you two!

To kick off the holidays, we made ravioli.

Thanksgiving weekend was exciting. First, I made lots of side items while Shannon cooked a turkey. Then we decorated the house, but not with enough lights to satisfy Chloe Griswold. But the most exciting thing that happened was that Chip's old band, Native Son, played a reunion concert! It was awesome!

Now we are all bouncing off the walls, looking forward to Santa's visit. And some of us are hinting that maybe we don't think Santa is real, but please know that those individuals would be "pretty mad" to find out that Santa is really just Mom. But do you really think Mom would spend this much on Christmas presents? Ah HA! We let that discussion end on that head scratcher. But I'll keep you up to date as this story develops.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Pumpkin Portraits Part 6

The Chockleys definitely love traditions.  The yearly trips to 30A, the ravioli making at the Alleys', the sausage balls on Christmas morning. Rituals keep us grounded, and allow us to feel secure in who we are.

Or maybe we're just boring.

So back to the same ol' pumpkin patch up the street for October portraits of the kids.  To see the progression from munchkin to ...whatever these large humans are now... see here and here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween Blues

Halloween weekend was spent getting candy, by any means necessary. (Any means other than taking all the entrance fees we paid at various places and using it to buy candy at the store. That would have been too easy.) We hit Zoo Boo, visited the pumpkin patch, crashed a friend's neighborhood trunk or treat party, and then trunked or treated again at a nearby church. Sounds like fun, right? Not so fast.

Chloe's favorite holiday is Halloween. She complains that I don't decorate the house enough. She has a mental inventory of every decorated house in the neighborhood. She's had this costume planned for a year!

But Sunday night, her energy level started to wane. She picked at her dinner and fell asleep early. Then early Monday morning, she woke up early to go to the bathroom. I thought it was just excitement and too much candy. But a million trips to the bathroom later, we realized she had a stomach bug. She still insisted on getting dressed in her costume and going to the best-decorated house in the neighborhood Monday night, even though she couldn't actually eat any candy she might collect. My poor girl!

Connor gave me a REALLY hard time about skipping the Nerf War Sunday afternoon. No worries- there were Nerf Guns at our friendly neighborhood church party! Just like they shot back in the Old West.

Connor just doesn't really care about Halloween, so on Monday night he stayed home while Chloe put on her costume and ventured out. He managed to amass plenty of candy over the weekend though, so I think he'll be alright. He just has no enthusiasm for this holiday.

Yes, we gave her plenty of treats for being a good sport. I think she agrees with Connor that staying home with no costume on is a fun way to celebrate Halloween.

All in all, we had a fun weekend but the actual day of Halloween turned out to be a real dud for us. I do hope yours was as much fun as your Facebook pictures suggest it was. But now? Bring on Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Return to 30A

Chockleys made their annual trek down to 30A recently, and a good time was had by all.  October really is a perfect time to go-- the crowds are thinner and the weather was simply perfect.  This trip was especially fun because we stayed in Seaside proper this time.  Thanks to that photo contest I won, this trip was (mostly) free.

I won't bore you with the details-- you know how we do at the beach.  Reading, relaxing, wine, cocktails, naps, fresh seafood, drip castles.  You know.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


The first nine weeks of school have come and gone, and despite the looming specter of the first report cards, I still feel like the year just started. For some reason, it's been harder to get in the groove of this school year than it has been in the past. Partly it's because both kids are in school now, but partly it's because Chip and I are busier, too. As a result, we're more than two months in and yet some mornings we're shocked to find that no parent actually looked inside the kids' backpacks the night before. I know the kids do their homework at Idlewild in the afternoons, but it would have been helpful to see that note about needing to bring a snack BEFORE 7:00 a.m., you know? Not to mention actually checking the homework.

Even though I'm still struggling to get used to the school year, Chloe is decidedly not. As suspected, she started kindergarten and it was as if she had finally fulfilled her destiny. Then a week later she's like, "Oh, THAT'S what you meant when you were telling me to sound out words! Reading- not so tough!" Under the unparalleled tutelage of Mrs. Berry, the lightbulb went off and Chloe could suddenly do everything. Her handwriting is now legible, she counts seemingly to infinity, she even draws things that I can recognize. She's had startling, rapid intellectual growth over the course of the last two months, and it's been really fun to watch.

Kindergarten hasn't been a problem socially, either. Several of her closest friends also ended up in Mrs. Berry's class, so she didn't have any trouble with the transition. She wants me to walk her in, but she doesn't really care if I get a kiss good-bye or not. As soon as she crosses the threshold, she makes it pretty clear she'd like me to get the hell out of there. And instead of coming home and complaining about how much she hates school and wishes I would homeschool her (cough*Connor*cough), she comes home and tells me why each day of the week is her favorite day. It's glorious.

My favorite part about kindergarten is that Mrs. Berry teaches through song, so Chloe is constantly entertaining us with her beautiful voice and a barrage of facts. "O-N-E, that spells one, O-N-E spells number one. . ." and other songs in that vein are belted out often and to great lasting effect on her learning. One day last week, the kids and I took Gidget for a walk. Chloe was wailing some song about the months of the year, and it came to light that Connor does not know the months of the year in order. I wish I had video of the look on his face when he confessed that, along with the expression on Chloe's face as she realized she knew something that he didn't! She spent the rest of the walk trying to teach him the song while Connor gave me a hard time for not getting him into Mrs. Berry's class back when he was in kindergarten.

It's safe to say I am very pleased with the foundation Chloe is receiving in Mrs. Berry's class. I believe she will be the type of student who enjoys learning for years to come, and that's a fine future to see for (at least one of) your children.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Last week were lucky to have Maisy over for a visit. We all had a great time- especially Maisy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Everybody got new hairdos, and then they let me pictures. Imagine that- a picture of Chip!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Twenty Years

Saturday I celebrated my twenty year high school reunion. It's a hell of a thing to do, a mere six days after turning 38. I think I could have used a little buffer, some time to get used to how old I am before getting smacked with yet another dramatic reminder!

I kid! We had a wonderful time! We started with a picnic Saturday afternoon, followed with dinner at El Toro Loco, and finished by closing down TJ Mulligan's. (As I was feeling my age, I did not make it to Mulligan's.) I was struck by how pretty all the girls grew up to be. Those boys didn't know how good they had it back in 1991!

Chip took pictures at picnic, and various iPhones captured the evening festivities. Sadly, those nighttime photos are not neatly collected on Flickr. Even more sadly, they are most definitely all over Facebook.

It was great catching up with all these old friends. Looking forward to the next one, Roadrunners!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Day One

On Saturday morning, Chloe lost her first tooth. As we were getting ready to head to Snowden for Kindergarten orientation. It was a bit overwhelming.

This morning I hauled both kids (and four bags of supplies) to school: one anxious and jittery and tired from crying so much at bedtime, the other excited about starting kindergarten. Just like you expected.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Happy Birthday!

How is it that Stephanie gets more beautiful with every year that goes by?

Happy Birthday to my best girl!