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.