Friday, July 22, 2011

Conversation of the Day

And it happened before 10am!

Landlord: Well, I've found someone who can trap the opossum, but he needs to be inside the apartment to set the trap and can't come back for the trap until Monday.

Me: Wait, does that mean the trap will be INSIDE the apartment?

Landlord: I don't know! Find out everything that you can!

Did you know that opossum are apparently some kind of protected animal? Pest people won't touch them, the HVAC people don't mess with them; rather, they all refer you to a certain, specific pest dude, who should be here in the next 10 minutes and, fingers crossed, will be driving a refurbished ice cream truck with an opossum affixed to the roof.

A passel on all your houses!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Not A Rat...

A lot goes through your mind when you think you have a rat in your vents. You forget all rational thinking, like the fact that millions of people have rats in their houses or around their mud huts, lean-tos, and other rural abodes. Or that millions of people lived without brick-and-concrete homes for centuries, and they... well, they all died around age 35, but I digress.



Instead, you worry about disease, about their tiny rat skin flakes wafting through your ventilation system (post-filter!) and landing in your food (thank YOU, kitchen vent) or in your bed (don't worry, the vent's on B's side. Sorry B.).


So you're thrilled, thrilled to hear your husband baby talking in the back bedroom. "Hey buddy," he cooed. "He there fella."


I, the still somewhat armed and generally angry lady of the (rat-infested) house, demand, "To WHOM exactly are you speaking?"


B replies, "It's not a rat, it's an opossum!"

Much to my surprise, I actually sighed in relief and got somewhat excited to see the pink little snout sitting contently in our ducts through the vent covering. That was night two. B called me back just now and we managed to get the little guy on camera surrounded by the debris he's kicked up by cleaning out our vents (yeah, thanks for that).


I don't know why opossums bother me less. I mean, they're still mean, hissy little creatures. But you scare them and they play dead. They get great roles, like "Rosebud" in Over the Hedge. And, I nearly adopted a passel of opossum (did you know that's the name for a group of opossum? It is!) when I was three.


My Mom and I were driving to my Dad's office, which held my preschool in the basement (It was a Montessori school, y'all. Settle down) when we saw what looked to be a wiggling mound of roadkill in the middle of the boulevard.
As I recall, my Mom heroically drove our wood-paneled station wagon to my Dad's office a block away, grabbed a printer-paper box, and swung back to the scene of the crime to save (save!) a passel of mini-opossum. That's right, the roadkill, unfortunately, was the mama opossum, and her passel was hitching a ride on her back, leaving them totally clueless why their mama, their ride, was playing, well, opossum in the middle of the road.


I remember Mom driving me straight to the vet (after letting my preschool class look in the box), where we unloaded no fewer than six of the tiny, wiggly, snouted creatures. They didn't make it, I'm told, but there was a valiant effort.


Of course, as I asked Mom about this today, it turns out that's not the whole story.


"You were three," Mom said. "How could I leave those babies in the road after we figured out what they were." She scooped them up and drove them to the vet, leaving them with a hushed exchange, "You realize they're too dumb to drink from a bottle, right?" asked the Vet. "And that they're opossum." Mom's cry remains, "You were three!"



She continued, "We did the same thing when the dog chewed off the leg of that baby bunny. We had to take it to the vet! We couldn't just watch it suffer."


Excuse me? My dog ate a lucky rabbit's foot? Not so lucky for anyone, certainly not Mom, who I'm sure had to pick up the bleeding baby bunny (and the dumb, near-blind opossum), or Dad, who certainly shook his head when the vet's bill arrived, touting formula for the passel of rodent he'd almost adopted.


When I was in sixth grade, I got a golden retriever. Mom wanted a dalmatian, but somehow I won and spent weeks watching the classifieds for a litter of goldens. We had a false alarm at a local farm, where someone tried to sell us a "miniature golden retriever," which sounds a lot like a mutt (not that there's anything wrong with that). But then, Mississippi came a callin'.


We adopted a puppy, who slept all the way home on my lap after crying his way out of the refrigerator box we'd picked up in town. He couldn't sleep in my bed, so that night I slept with an arm and a foot in his laundry basket, hoping to make him feel less alone.


Our beloved dog spent his puppy years bringing home everything from clothing of laundry lines to single running shoes, the origin of which we never did find. Mom dutifully hung the items on the stop sign at the end of our road and, like clockwork, they were always gone the next day, rightfully home with their owners.


Our pup got in his share of tussles. Once with a king snake, which resulted in him being terrified of playing fetch with sticks for over a year, and others after he realized that he was a male dog.


Then, one night our sweet dog limped up to our porch, having lost the use of both back legs.


Sixth grade me (not nearly as cute as three-year-old me, mind you, but still pretty powerful behind those huge glasses) was desperate. "He's dying," I wailed. Mom called the vet, apologizing for the late call, and explained our situation.


"It's just a specific type of tick," he said, calming my Mom. "If you bring him in tomorrow, we'll dip him and he'll be just fine. No permanent damage."


Mom replied, "But what about tonight?"


The vet sighed, "Well, the temporary paralysis will continue until all he can do is wag his tail."


Well, image trying to tell that to a pre-teen. Mom told the vet she'd be dealing with one long night and couldn't we bring him in, which the vet graciously allowed (certainly he'd forgotten about the opossum package we left him years before). Of course, the dog was fine the next day, but I sure as heck became terrified of all ticks.


So I'll leave you tonight, in the warmth of your own home, with the knowledge that B & I currently have a security system in our home. He's nocturnal, pretty quiet, and, if he'd just take a bath, we might just keep him.


When I told Mom it was an opossum, as opposed to a rat, and asked her why she thought I was comforted by this new fact, she replied, "Well, some people eat opossum. Nobody eats rat."


So meet O'Patrick our opossum, and say goodbye to him. I'm ready for him to head on to greener pastures. And I'm pretty sure he's hungry.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rat

Note-- If you're a hater of non-PG13 language or a lover of rats, do not read on. Sorry, Mom(s).

In real life, Splinter is not so cute.

Tonight, B & I were awake late, some of us Bar prepping and some of being supportive during the commercial breaks of Teen Mom. We heard a rattling, like pipes expanding in winter, and gave it a pass figuring that our neighbors must be tinkering or moving things around. Clearly we're knee-deep in Bar prep as it didn't occur to us that 1am was a logical time for such type of work.

After a few minutes ("What are they DOING?"), B goes to investigate. Twice. Figure it must be the neighbors, as we can hear them through our guest bath at times. Then I go to investigate, get as far as the end of the table, and make B go again.

Turns out it is coming from our guest bath, but not through the walls. Through the VENT. B points that the vent covering is literally hopping around, shaking and popping up from the floor. He starts to pick up a corner of the covering (PICK UP A CORNER!), and drops it when it moves again.

I close the sliding door so that only an inch shows and peek through as he arms himself with a plunger and tries to see what's going on. In hindsight, what the hell did we think it was? Santa?

I grab a flashlight and squeeze it in to him through the crack in the door. He shines it down through the vent covering and, like a moth to the flame, this HUGE RAT presses itself up against the vent covering, curling its freaky long tail through the vents.

How is it doing that? Is there another rat giving him a leg up? Do we have the world's first planking rat?

B calmly yells, "Holy FUCKtard!" as he peers at the rat, which stretches the full length of the vent, making it at least a foot long, easy, including its tail.

He leaves the plunger there and goes to the weight bench (which I'm suddenly oh-so glad to have in our art deco-style apartment) and proceeds to weigh down each vent covering with a 10 or 15 pounder, which I hope will keep Big Mama at bay overnight.

Let's just say my email to the landlord can best be summed up with "What the HELL are you going to do about this, and WHEN??"

For those of you who don't know me so well, I hate...nature. Ok, that's a stretch. I love beaches (not sand) and swimming (not salt water); I love sunsets (with bug spray) and morning walks (with my sunglasses and visor). I can claim that I camped all through elementary school (what's up, brownies?) and even undertook a week-long camping trip in upstate New York with Princeton's finest ROTC reps, two Eagle Scouts, and several tri-athletes. That's a story for another day, and perhaps why nature and I are on less than super terms these days.

Fact: I once called B, who lived hours (and timezones) away when I found a roach in my Birmingham apartment. The call, and the roach killing, took approximately 45 minutes and consisted of me crying, screaming (intermittently-- I'm no wuss), and almost agreeing with B's suggestion: Call your friend Joanna. Did I mention it, too, was after midnight? Maybe I need to go to bed earlier. But then, I wouldn't have heard the rat, it would've gotten in, and I certainly would've stumbled across it in our recycling after B went to work and spent the rest of my day up on the table cursing myself for not charging my cell phone. As it is, I may go to work with him tomorrow anyway.

"B," I asked, "Am I being too sensitive? Is our landlord going to think I'm crazy and say, 'It's just a rat.'?"

B replies, "Did you see the SIZE of that thing? I know I'm not helping your freakout, but, no, you are NOT overreacting here."

My one positive insect encounter is with Vern, a regular fly who we first noticed on our ceiling the week we moved in. We found it odd that, three days later, he hadn't so much inched from his perch over our couch. As the weeks went by, we realized that Vern had to have had the terrible luck to land on a freshly painted ceiling and, most certainly, starved to death. The only remaining question is whether the landlord painted the ceiling before we moved in. Or, rather, if Vern's been up there for 12 months or four years.

We had pets when I was little. The dogs always fared well, though I somehow convinced a friend of mine that one of our ancient dogs died not from natural canine causes but rather through poison from our (non existent) Chinese neighbors. I begged for a chinchilla but, thankfully, did not get one. "You know people make coats out of those things," my Mom told me.

For the record, it takes between 130 and 200 chinchilla to make a coat, which must mean there are literal farms somewhere of them. It has to be the cutest, saddest place ever.

It was the other pets that didn't do so well. I had a fish from my elementary school carnival that lived for four years (Mom and Dad were thrilled about that, I'm sure), but then I also had hermit crabs, a "must have" after my best friend came home with two from the beach.

Let's just say that the hermit crabs clamped down on my best friend's finger, forcing my Mom to force the pinchers open (and not with dark chocolate or a pint-size chinchilla coat), and then nobody wanted to touch the hermit crabs again.

In fifth grade, we learned about eggs and hatching and... oh who knows, but either way we hatched things in our classroom that year. Ducks, guinea hens, they were all up for grabs. I signed up for a duck and I just know Mom was thrilled when I brought home two, "to keep the first one company!"

The ducks (still cute and tiny) lived in my bathtub for one day, until I realized that they smell and don't take well to soap. We lived on the lake so we moved them out into the large dog pen we had in the back yard by the woods. In hindsight, my parents must have realized that the damn things would take flight soon enough and head for the river.

So I wasn't too shocked when the ducks disappeared. "They must've made a run for the river," my Mom said as we stared at the empty pen.

I was telling B this story in college, trying to explain to him what my life was like growing up. When I got the part of the story where the ducks vanished, he nodded knowingly and said, "Oh right, your dog ate them."

Cue me, wide eyed, "What??? NO! They went to the RIVER! They swam AWAY!"

Realizing that he'd really stepped in it, B started to back pedal, but the damage was done. "Come on," he said, as kindly as he could, "You had a huge dog, the ducks were tiny; what did you really think happened?"

When I called my Mom to accuse her of hiding the cruel world from my fifth grade self, she said, "Oh, the dog. Maybe. We always figured the owls got them." What??? Owls? In my little backyard pen, I'd created, literally, sitting ducks. An owl buffet, if you will.

So, like I said, nature and I? We've had our days. I realize that if B & I ever decide to adopt (or I'm ever questioned for torturing small animals), I will have to burn this post, which I'm told is quite difficult to do. (Technology and I aren't super tight either).

Pray for us, and that rat, who is about to meet his maker, I can assure you that. When you pray for me, make sure to include a note that I won't take a hit for searching "How many chinchillas does it take to make a coat" on a work computer.

PS-- B says that bathroom smells like rat now. Awesome.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rainy Florida Days

...make me think of all the things I don't want to think about.

I need to clean the house (Lordy, do I need to clean the house-- the dust bunnies are going to take over!).

I need to file our papers (random banking papers, insurance papers, and general randomness including receipts, business cards, and mailings).

The Bar starts a week from Monday and continues through that Tuesday. We close on the house the next day.

I need to make a to do list, one for here (transfer utilites, pack, cancel library) and one for there (transfer utilities, finalize insurance...)

And I want to write, really write here. I'll get to that, I promise. :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just Sayin'

I'm out of sugar. I need sweet tea. Rum has sugar.

Just sayin'.

Knock Knock

If you have a few minutes (and a tolerance for a little cursing and husband irritating), check out this post from The Bloggess.

It's enough to make me wish I was less reverent about life in general, or that my own dear Mother didn't know what an internet was. Of course, then I'd lose one of my most devoted reader and probably still not find such a level or irony in an iron chicken.

Home Office

Our apartment has officially become a home office this week as B has taken a few day to work from home this week as he studied for the Alabama Bar. It's been wonderful! It makes me excited to get be back in my office soon! He works in the back bedrooms (rotating between the rooms depending on which is coolest).

So imagine my excitement when my sister posted on her blog that today is Chick-Fil-A Day! Free Chick-Fil-A to anyone dressed like a cow!

We've done this the past three years and it's always fun. My first experience was in Birmingham, where people came in acting crazy dressed like our bovine friends (you guessed it, "Mad Cows"), as well as super cute sweet babies in tiny spots and ears.

I've tried to talk B into going for lunch so we'll see. Maybe if we hit the drive through...

It is nice having him around, however briefly, especially when I see the delight he takes in seeing a cat stroll across our porch. I watched him go outside, where I heard him meowing to it. When I went to look, he was waving his arms in a welcoming motion with each meow, attempting to usher the cat back on the porch.

The cat, beasts that they are, of course dashed away from him and lazed on our sidewalk, tempting him with her flirting, then darted away.

It's the simple things, folks. Happy Friday (and free Chick-Fil-A!) to all!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

6 Towels

Me: So I was thinking about where we'd stay once we load the rental truck.

B: What?

Me: The rental truck. I mean, will we go all the way to the new house or stop in Atlanta or...

B: Wait, you're already thinking about the details of our move? The one in August?

Me: Well yeah, someone has to.

B: I'm not saying I don't appreciate it, I'm just saying that I didn't realize you were already into the details.

(long pause)

Me: Know what I thought about on my walk this morning?

B: What?

Me: How many towels we'd need between the we moved our stuff and the time we moved out a week later.

B: Seriously?

Me: Yep. I decided on six, by the way.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Typical Conversations

Me: Hon, do you need anything?
(5 second pause)
B: ...Sure.
(10 second pause)
B: Wait, no. I'm ok.

Folks, Bar prep is definitely upon us.

B has been a saint this year. He's working full time, studying at night and in stolen moments during the day, and also trying to maintain a decent workout schedule (for his sanity) and diet (for mine!). He feels better when he works out; I feel better when I know he's eating.

This time last year, B was studying for the Bar in a different state. We were hanging out at a neighbor's, whose home we were house sitting, and the most taxing part of either of our days was taking Marley out for a walk. We miss that pup!

Last summer, I was decidedly in between work. I'd left all my nanny gigs behind when B graduated law school and was primarly just hanging out around his parents home, where we were living. B studied, I did a little freelance, and we kept crazy, Bar-friendly hours including late-night walks, random meal times, and frequent HGTV breaks.

This year, B's more confident. For one, he already passed one Bar (go B!) and, secondly, he knows basically what to expect. Sure, states are different and exam styles can change, but he knows what the feeling is like.

Last summer, the whole experience was surreal. There are no watches or cell phones allowed. All food has to be unwrapped and in clear plastic baggies (think naked protein bars and hard candy) and, if I recall, the only drinks allowed were clear liquids in bottles. Everything, including your laptop and power cords, had to be in clear plastic bags.

When I picked him up on the final day, he walked out like a normal person. The people around him walked out of the over-air conditioned conference center and began to sprint for their cars. For real.

We're finding out that this Bar might be even more strict; from what I can tell, no food or drinks allowed, though they do have a water cooler in the exam room. No word on if the no-flip flop rule is in effect.

This summer, I'm working from home during the day, making dinners at regular human hours, and trying to encourage B on his quest to get out of bed at 6:15 every morning for an hour of exercise. Let's just say I'm terrible at one of those three. My job also includes supplying snacks (tonight's creation was GORP) and keeping the bourbon stocked (we're no saints here).

In truth, for me, it's not bad at all. The nights are quieter as B studies and I try to stay out of his space when he's studying in the bedroom. When he calls bedtime, I head to the back (which is what's happening now) and we snuggle in for some Tosh.O or, if we're lucky, WEEDS.

Last summer I was obsessed with being "perfect"; law spouses had warned me about the crazies that would take over my husband and, in anticipating them, I drove myself crazy instead.

This year, we're old pros. I'm just looking forward to buying the Champagne (with which we'll celebrate the completion of the Bar, not the passing, which we won't hear about until October or so) and looking forward to our post-Bar, pre-work trip this fall.

Did I mention we close on the house the day after B takes the Bar? Nothing like a little tour of the South to round out a stressful two-day exam!

When you pray, if you pray, say one for B, who's studying for a test still three weeks away, and for my brother, who's preparing to take his Boards on Thursday. As we say around our house with some frequency, "Could you imagine if we had kids??"

We love you, T! Good luck on Thursday!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Beg, Borrow, Or Steal

Yesterday I went to TJMAXX for two reasons, both of them noble:

1) Purchase regular cotton tank tops for workouts. They have an PC name and, though I say it, actually typing w-i-f-e-b-e-a-t-e-r out makes me realize how horrible it is. Tanks they are!

2) A collared shirt. B and I have been playing more golf and are actually playing a course this weekend that requires collars (stepping up in the world!), so I needed something. I had one once, but I long ago wore it out playing, you guessed it, golf.

Of course, as any logical person knows, TJMAXX is the Sam's of clothing stores; you never get just what you "need" and you never get out for under $50.

In all fairness, I had been looking for a sunhat for our vacation in August (and also everyday use around here-- I'm tan just from morning walks!) and everyone needs at least one maxi dress (I bought two). And a coverup.

The adventure began at hats, which moved quickly enough. Either it looks crazy (and has enough brim to cover myself, B, and any child we choose to adopt while overseas) or it doesn't; fits or it doesn't; cute or it isn't. Five minutes and done.

Tank tops were a bust, as were collared workout shirts for girls. After much browsing in girls, ladies, and activewear, I made my way to mens and, finally, boys, where I purchased a $5 size 16 boys collared shirt. Done!

I found two maxi dresses that were both less than $20, one well under. I grabbed my goodies and headed for the checkout line.

As the lady checked me out, she started talking about her dogs and I noticed that my shoes (did I mention I bought shoes? Wedges. Oh boy...) were still up on the register, which seemed odd. I didn't say anything and, when I got home, sure enough, she hadn't charged me for one of the dresses.

I wasn't going back; we live 20 minutes from the store and the whole point of saving errands to one trip is to preserve my gas tank (and limit driving in general), so I told B and then called the store.

A few years ago, I had a similar experience. I headed to TJMAXX for a yoga mat and a bag to carry it. While I kept shopping (darn sales), I tossed the yoga mat into the carry bag and slung it over my shoulder. When it came time to check out, the lady swiped the bag tag and slid it over.

"Wait," I said, "The yoga mat in there is a separate item."

If looks could kill. She looked at me like I was crazy. She raised an eyebrow and I said, "Look, if I'm going to hell, it's going to be over something way better than a stolen $12 yoga mat." She scanned it, I paid, and off I went.

This time I called and explained my story. I hadn't stolen the dress, but I hadn't been charged for it. Could they add the charge over the phone? I wouldn't be back in for a while.

Long pause. "Well, why don't you just bring it back in when you're back over here."

Once Target neglected to charge me for my mondo-size jug of laundry detergent and every time I used it, I remembered.

This time, I feel better having called, even if she does think I'm crazy.

The best thing is that I wasn't sure I liked the dress, so I figured, well, if it's not on there, I'll take it back anyway and all will be fine (For real, I didn't steal it-- she took the security tags off!), but it turns out that B loves it, as much as he "loves" any dress I own.

So, dear readers, does this happen to you? I'm confident it's happened before, likely all the time at grocery stores, but who notices when there are 30 things in your basket?

By the way, the shoes are adorable.

Actual Conversations

B & I, while having both grown up in the South and attended the same University, are very different. I fret, he just does. I plan and replan, he he just does. I ask and wonder, he just does.



For instance, I finally delegated the task of home and auto insurance to him, something that was proving more difficult than I anticipated. He gladly took up the torch and has been working hard on it all week. Last night I had a nightmare that we'd basically made up our insurance company and were being rejected for a tiny tiny claim.


See also our plans for moving. We're moving out of our apartment and taking a two week trip. We don't want to leave our car at the airport ($8 a day!), but we can't leave it at our apartment unless it's on the street. Last night, after my insurance nightmare, I dreamed that our friends were now living out of their cars but had to move every night and could never. find. a. place. to. park. them.


Like I said, I fret and dream and rework. B simply gets it done.


So it's no surprise that today, when he gchatted me about rates and companies, our conversation went like this:


B: Remind me to do that when I get home. Here's what people think about Travelers (insert link).


Me: Oh. Hm.. that's not great.

B: Here's what they think about State Farm-- much better.

Me: You're right.

B: And here's what they think about USAA.

Me: Wow. We'll compare apples to apples tonight, or at least apples to apple-shaped oranges.

Me: FYI-- Sam's is selling Saturn Peaches. Basically peaches shaped like donuts.

Me: Freaked me out.

B: Ok, back to work for me.


As I always say, I may be crazy, but he married crazy. And that's a choice.

Learning to Crawl

I learned to crawl at 65 miles per hour. Or so I'm told at least.


When I was little, I remember begging Mom to "please please PLEASE" just let me go to Gulf Shores for a week in the summer. Why did we have to go these crazy places, like mission trips to Belize, tours through Europe (seriously), and dude ranches out West.


To Mom's credit, she didn't lock me in my room forever; I think she realized that it wasn't me being spoiled (right, Mom? Mom?), but rather knowing that "allll" my friends would be spending a week in Gulf Shores over the summer, and here I was being shipped off to Space Camp.


Don't worry about me-- years of therapy and the launch of my own foundation have helped me recover from the abuse.


Of course now I realize what a blessing those vacations were. At least twice that I remember, and likely one other time, Mom would rent an RV for a trip across the country. She's pull it into our driveway, where we'd spend a day or so loading it with food, clothes, toys, and general entertainment; after all, who needs suitcases when you're living out of your home?


As anyone with Southern family knows, "Memory" is a generous term to be applied to things in your own history that you experienced, experienced but don't recall, or may have experienced, or in someone else's history that you have unintentionally rewritten to now center around you.


As for me, I "remember" learning to crawl on our trip out West in the motorhome. I remember storing suitcases in the shower while we drove, only to park on unlevel ground and have the entire shower flood ruining, of course, Mom's suitcase first, the lowest on the pile.


I remember the family mutiny when it was pouring at the campground and Mom cooked steaks in the microwave. You try telling the mac 'n cheese generation that gray steak is done.



I remember Mom's panic as we literally had to wiggle around curves in the mountains to make it to the cabin, and when Dad had had enough of road living, and we drove that bad boy straight into downtown Boston to stay at the Charles; the bellboy offered to stay with it all night if he didn't have to crawl on top of the roof to take the bikes off.


Perhaps I should back up. Do you know what an RV looks like? Sure, you've seen them on gameday, tricked out with porches and TVs on the side, but have you ever experienced them? On the inside, they generally have, starting from the back, a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen area (which has a table that converts to a bed), a sitting area (which has a couch that converts to a bed), and two captains chairs with a TV in the middle (which won't work while the RV is in gear), and a sleeping loft above the captains chairs (more beds!). On the outside, they used to be hyped-up version of station wagons: light yellow and loaded with wood paneling.


Now, picture this monster in the lane next to you, neigh-- coming at you on a mountain road. Now imagine it has five bikes on the roof and a Hot Wheels racer strapped to the front, as if this mad machine has already found its morning meal. When it comes into focus, you see that it has Alabama plates. Get the picture?


I remember taking out a tree with those bikes somewhere in South Carolina (at a Holiday Inn, I believe), and Mom having to find an eye doctor for me when I was little in Vermont, pulling up in the gravel parking lot of the rural office in our traveling home.


I remember Dad firmly having had enough, though likely on a car trip later, and bucking Mom's One Suitcase Per Person rule, a rule I now look back enviously since B & I try to back in roll-aboards always, and taking exactly one respectable looking suitcase into the Greenbrier, a place that doesn't allow jeans in the lobby, along with a honest-to-God garbage bag full of other things he wanted to have. "One suitcase," he said.


I remember careening around Philadelphia's only roundabout, heading toward a place where the road would fork. Mom was getting a much-needed break from driving, only to have us wake her up screaming "Mom! East or West?! The road forks!" Mom, who had been blissfully asleep, had no idea what city we were in, what road we were on, or, likely, why she'd ever planned this damned trip, calmly replied, "We're going North to New Hampshire, so go North." This released the chaos in the car-- the road goes East or the road goes West, not North at all. "Yes," she said, struggling to unfold the map (ah, days before GPS), but eventually one side goes up or it doesn't--North is the end goal here!"


Of course, by this time, we'd passed the fork, selecting the wrong exit and prompting us into a Chevy Chase-worthy scene of monument repeats. From the back of the car, my brother piped up, "Look kids: Tower of London! Big Ben!"


We didn't always hit the road on our own. When I was going into second grade, Mom sat me down to explain that I'd miss the first three days of school but that she thought this was a good experience for me and important for us to do. What were we doing? Traveling through Europe for three weeks. I'm sure I cried about having to miss figuring out whose class I was in. Sucker.


Remember your fear of those Alabama plates barreling at you? Let's see if we can do one better: Imagine you're a retiree, or a couple away for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing Europe with the love of your life. Then, the last group boards the bus and your heart sinks; it's a family of six, with kids ages 7, 11, 16, and 19.


Mom herded us to the back, where we sat six-across in the last row of the bus while we rolled through country after country. I'd love to say that I remember being changed forever by the dialect, the people, and the experiences, but what I really remember is limited to four things:


1) A cat on roller skates touched my hair bow when we saw the Midnight Express on stage.

2) A man at a rest stop had a driver's license that had all these weird symbols on it that looked like number signs.

3) I had a Happy Meal in a romantically-lit red velvet booth.

4) Todd figured out how to use the detachable shower arm to soak not only my suitcase from open window to another, but also to saturate some Italian woman's laundry, which was hanging between the buildings.


Mom always told me that she'd rather have memories from vacations than furs and cars and it was her desire to see the world that allowed the rest of us to do so. She used trips to protect us (taking three week trips before and after my Dad's first heart surgery), to heal us (setting up a perfectly-timed, last-minute cruise for my college spring break when I'd just had my heart broken), and to bond us. After all, how many families can sit around grousing over gray steak (Kentucky Campground), purple hamburgers (the coast of Spain), and the time Mom almost starved Todd to death by booking high tea for lunch in Vancouver; I still remember Mom's face when we left this elaborate meal of finger sandwiches and crudites and Dad and Todd both asked where we were headed for lunch. Granted, neither of their knees had even fit under the tiny tables where we'd feasted with stacked finger stackers and tiny cups of tea, for which I'm sure my Dad requested ice and "Sweet n Low, or whatever you have is fine."


It's because of this that we can bond over the low-laying beds in the home we rented in Canada and the time we got snowed on in Candlestick park watching a mid-summer baseball game; well, some of us did anyway. My sister decided to stay back at the hotel and I, desperate to be just like her, did the same. We watched movies on pay per view and got take out. A dream come true!


I'm sure Mom has been tempted, at times, to ditch us all, use those frequent flyer miles she worked so hard to organize and fly to places unknown. Instead, like the time we had a four hour layover from 1am to 5am in Houston, she let the rest of us truck down to the IHOP for pre-dawn pancakes while she slept, alone, in the hotel room she'd booked. I'm sure she thought of leaving us all a few hours later when we finally arrived in Atlanta only to all sleep while she drove the five hours home.


We can laugh about the times we tried to stay in Atlanta hotels after returning from late-night trips, only to find our guaranteed room mysteriously given away while the high school prom partied on in the hotel ballroom.


I now that know, as I look back on how I was raised, I am so thankful that my memories, even the "bad" ones are hilarious and wonderful. I love that I can remember Dad refusing to ski, hating to move hotel rooms every night, and generally just wanting a nice nap and a glass of ice tea when the rest of us were sooo ready to go to the theme parks; yet, he always went and did so happily.


The only time I saw him completely baffled was when he asked for the soup of the day in a restaurant out West, a formality for my Dad because, as my brother-in-law says, whatever they had, Dad would order. However, this waitress told Dad that the soup of the day was Wisconsin Beer & Cheddar. Dad stammered over himself and said, "I believe I'm going to need a minute." She left and he just laughed and laughed.


B & I are starting to plan our own family trips, something that I drive him nuts about on a regular basis. "Where do you think we'll go on our anniversary?" "We should plan to do..." But I know he knows it's from a good place in my heart. The memories that I so cling to from my life are ones I experienced with all my siblings and, due to our age range, that usually meant vacations.


I will say this, I have huge respect for Mom's mad planning skills these days, especially since I have trouble booking a single hotel in a city WITH the help of the internet and reviews. How did she ever find all these places without even seeing so much as a photo?


So, whatever you're doing this July 4th weekend, I hope you're with people you love. And if you are on the road, remember to steer clear of the RVs with Alabama tags.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SATC 2 (See Also: Greetings from 2010!)

I've never been known for my prompt moving watching or general attention to detail when actually watching one. In fact, it's a running joke in our house that B can study for the Bar, watch a movie, and keep up with multiple games on his phone and still explain to me who "that girl with the curly hair" is running around with a knife. "Don't you remember?" he'll ask lovingly, "She's the one that's the lead guy's cousin and a double agent for the mob."


I, on the other hand, will watch with rapt attention and still not get what's going on until after the fact. Inception? Don't even get me started.


I say all this to say that I'm behind on movies and HBO's free weekend was a huge help... at filling out DVR. B came home and said, "Catch Me If You Can, The Firm, Three Men and a Little Lady...you have the most random taste in movies." I prefer to call it "wide-reaching."


He busted me watching the intro to Sex and the City 2, which I promptly changed to a baseball game ("Oh nothing, just flipping through..."). I waited until he left the room again and found it on HBO later that night (Hello, 2am reruns) and DVR'd it for later.


Later arrived and B again busted me for watching it, but this time he was suppose to be Bar prepping, so I think he actually appreciated that he had zero interest in what I was doing.


So I settled in for a catch-up with my long-forgotten friends. I'd watched SATC a few times in college, when cable-totting friends would invite us over for a night, and then seen them all thanks to TBS.


I saw the first movie with girlfriends (and a snuck-in bottle of merlot) and we'd had a blast. The whole theatre was bonding, it seemed, and without a single man in site.


SATC 2 didn't motivate me to the theatre, especially when it was panned, but it did pull me in that rainy Sunday afternoon on the couch. Ok, it was 90 and beautiful here, but doesn't it sound easier to stay inside when it's raining?


I watched it, prepared for the worst, and found it just... ok. I understood how people thought it showed the worst of the American traveler; they're staying in a 22K-per-night suite in Indian while serviced by private butlers who can't afford to fly home to see their wives but every three months. We're Americans! We want to flash skin and be pampered! Fine, fine, fine.

But I was more intrigued by the lack of humor in it. B pointed out one line (from behind closed eyes as he napped on my lap), "Why did you buy me a black one? Because it's the color of my soul?"


"How is that funny?" he asked. And I agree-- how is it funny?


These girls, these four women who prompted "Which Character Are You" games all across Facebook and even before there was Facebook, were once known for wit, sparkle, glamour, and, yes, over-the-top exuberance.


They had their flaws and so did the show; as my sister's friend pointed out, we cheered on a heroine who, in the end, was the only thing about the show that never evolved or changed. And while SATC 2 did find truth in new territories (Being a Mom is hard; admitting that it's hard is even harder), it also fell shamelessly into old ones.


A wise man once told me that if a movie entertains you for two hours, you've gotten your money's worth. I won't pretend I didn't enjoy two hours of fun fashion and glorious settings, but I did almost appreciate the growth in myself.


Some things aren't funny. Some things, perhaps, aren't funny to me. So long as we can agree to enjoy a good "falling off the camel" joke (for real), then I suppose it's worth an afternoon on the couch. Plus, it had Miley! I mean, honestly, way to date yourself, SATC 2, but bonus points in my book!


Let me put it this way. Hairspray, Kate & William's wedding, and Dead Poet's Society remain on my DVR; SATC 2 does not.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finally!

Have you ever had one of those moments when you think, "Wow. I'm a cook."?


For years, I remember going to the grocery store, dropping $60 (sorry, Mom), then getting home and realizing I needed to go pick up dinner. I had staples, things I was "suppose" to buy, but not a darn thing in the house to eat.


Well, finally, finally!, I feel like I'm getting a hang of "our" routine. I have the staples that apply to us (ok, and things like pumpkin pie spice, which never gets used). I love being able to make cornbread from what we have on hand, or bread for that matter. Salad dressings. Cobbler. Crisps. Cookies. Oatmeal cookies!

Granted, some of this new-found pride comes from the fact that B & I are moving (yes, again) in a few months and have a lot of here-and-there travel in between, so we're officially eating the pantry. We haven't gotten down to multi-night spaghetti yet (and, actually blue box mac 'n cheese is more likely in our multi-night future), but we have started trying to work our way through condiments, frozen meats, and pantry staples.


At the very least, I'd love to have all my flour, sugar, etc fit into the cannisters before we move. Last time, all our spices went into a tub, which went into a POD, which spent a sleepy summer in a climate-controlled storage facility, though not before trucking across town or, on the back end, several states, in 90-degree heat (sorry, spices). This time we'll be more direct, but hopefully less bountiful.


My Mom always advised that I learn to cook things while I had time, which I assume means before I have someone around my ankles asking about paint, cookies, or why there's finger paint on the cookies. So far, we've amassed a decent collection, but I'm more excited that I'm (slowly) mastering ingredients themselves. I know how to use curry (kind of-- trial, by fire, and error on that one), and how to make taco seasoning (a tried-and-true staple in our home). I can make our version of guac, pasta sauce, alfredo sauce, and, well, I'm sure other things.

Finally! After years of loving cooking, I feel like I'm generally understanding it. I am the master of my spice rack, at least for today.


I think I smell something burning....


As a note, this post was inspired by my first attempt at pinto beans. Yes, I bought dry beans and I realize this is no huge success, but I can't wait for B to try them. They're amazing. Granted, they simmer for two hours (winter food, anyone?), but I'm not sure we'll go back to canned. Feel free to throw that back at me later when we run into each other in the El Paso section of the grocery store.

A Southern Girl At Heart


In the past few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about Dad. It's been two years since he died and his birthday would be this coming Saturday. B and I are planning on finding fried chicken at some point over the holiday in his honor!

I've always associated Dad with food, a notion that start when my brother bemoaned the memory of Dad at Sunday dinner. You'd pass your plate down to him to cut up your chicken (we were young, mind you), and back it would come in tiny pieces. Tiny skinless pieces. B's family has a table toll; if you request wine, mashed potatoes, or sauce to be guided your way at the table, you can watch it decrease, be it by swill, scoop, or spoonful, as it moves your way. "Toll!" is the only apology needed.

Maybe it's my love of food or my Odyssean-style hunt for the perfect recipe, but I knew that I was a true Southern girl when I asked for a cookie recipe shortly after a funeral, Dad's funeral. Stay with me. Someone delivered a box of cookies to our house, as is custom during Southern mourning periods.

The bite-size delicacies arrived in a mixed greens plastic salad tub from Sam's, label removed, of course. From first bite, I knew these were the cookies I'd been looking for all my life. At the time, of course, I was simply eating and crying, another Southern specialty, but later, as the weeks rolled by, I remembered, through all the meals, tears, and evens of those crazy days, the chocolate chip cookies that had been so thoughtfully delivered to the house.

Did I mention that the cookie cupid, the deliverer of the divine, was the wife of the OB who delivered me? Faulkner is doing a happy dance somewhere in that eternal South beyond the clouds.

It took me several months and, quite honestly, I had other things to think about, but eventually I wrote a note to the wife of the man who brought me into this world about the cookies she delivered when God took my Father out of it.

Dear Mary,

I wanted to thank you so much for your kindness during the days after my Father's passing. I so appreciate knowing that Mom is in a town full of kind-hearted people who stop by and keep us in their prayers.

I also wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your sweet delivery in the days following Dad's death. Our family shared many a warm memory of Dad over your cookies, something I know he would've approved of.

Even today, when I think of those days after the funeral, my favorite memories are of my siblings and Mom sharing their memories, and your cookies remind me of that. If you don't mind, could you send me the recipe?

Sincerely,
A

And that, friends, is how I parlayed a funeral delivery into a quasi-funeral delivery thank you note into a cookie recipe request.

It took her a few months to write me back, but when she did, she gave me the blessed cookie recipe, which I share now, partly because I'm afraid the stained paper won't last much longer, partly because I think everyone should try it, and partly because I'm afraid B will leave me if I stop making them.

She called it the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and it's close, but just different enough to make all the difference in the world.

1 cup shortening (oh hush, you'll never be the same!)
3/4 sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs

Mix ingredients together in a standing mixer (for speed! When we need cookies, we NEED cookies!). In a separate bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt.

Add to sugar mixture and blend well.

Add 1 cup chocolate chips.

Bake at 375 for 9.5-10.5 (yes, she included the halves) minutes. She claims it makes 36-38, but that's if you scoop them teaspoon size (which makes excellent mint ice cream cookie sandwiches, by the way).

She left me with one final instruction, "Do NOT over bake!" Her emphasis on the "NOT", you'll notice.

While I'm sure this wonderful lady questioned my questionable letter requesting a cookie recipe she delivered to what was basically my Father's wake, she seemed to understand the long-lingering truth: In the South, at least, emotions are intrinsically bound with food. We celebrate with Sunday suppers, slice cake for anniversaries and birthdays, and set our snacks for clubs, groups, meetings, and more. Nothing binds church women together faster than the call for casseroles, which leaves me feeling less guilty; if we serve others through food, then perhaps this sweet woman, the wife to the very first doctor in my life, got a kick out of serving me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What a Week

B & I spent the weekend seeing houses and trying to determine if we'll keep the house we're contracted with or go to a lower budget level and buy a 3/2 instead. Basically, a seven year house verses a four year house.

He and his Dad crawled over every inch of that house, so we're not expecting to hear anything wild from the inspector (coming today!), but we've seen more houses just in case we end up needing a back up.

A house. We're not old enough for this! I keep telling B that time is going by too quickly already. I need to hit a pause button, but I think I'll wait until we're on a beach somewhere to do it. If you're going to strand yourself away from reality, you have to make sure you're not doing it in the middle of Wal-Mart.

Pray for our inspection. If this is our house, then pray it goes well. If it's not, then pray that it goes obviously miserably so that we can make a wise choice!

Quote of the Day

Mom: "Well, I think we can call today a succesful day on the house hunting front. We didn't see any cars up on blocks, any barbed wire, or a single strip joint within walking distance of your new place."

Me: "So not like the Florida house hunting trip at all then."

Mom: "Exactly!"

See, the trick is to set their expectations veeerrrry low.

Quote of the Day

B: "I think the house we picked reminds me of you."

Me: "It needs some work?"

B: "No!"

Me: "It's wired a little crazy? Plumbing has issues? Needs work in the basement? Is getting a little old?"

B: "Seriously?"

Me: "Well?"

B: "No, just that I had to figure out what its eccentricities were so that I could appreciate them."

Me: "I just wish we'd found it later."

B: "See? And I wish I'd met you senior year!"

Quote of the Day

B: "There's someone outside walking the dog."

Me: "Ok...?"

B: "I'm just saying, if it's true and there was a rapture, we didn't go and she's one of those dog watcher people."

Me: "I think I hear Grandma."

B: "Nevermind then, we're safe."

Friday, May 20, 2011

End of the World

There's a rumor going around, you may have heard, that the world is ending tomorrow. And while mostly I appreicate random things like that that crop up every so often, as they do make me think about what I have and what's important in life, today I feel like I'd simply show up before God looking mighty sleepy!

Today, so far, has been nutty. B & I, along with his Mom, our agent, and at least two lenders, have been working feverishly since 8am to get information gathered, organized, and sent. And I mean 8am yesterday. :)

As B's Mom says, this is the crazy part, and then things will settle down. If we do make it to close (in late July, mind you), B and I may have to have someone move our hands for us!

Right now I'm thankful for...
1) My job. I was only suppose to be here for two hours today, but having internet access has been invaluable, and it's pretty quiet around here.
2) For B, who's been driving since noon and still has hours to go to get here.
3) For my grandma, who will love that I'll call her in a few minutes and tell her we're spending the night with her.
4) For my seemingly tireless Mom, who admitted that she got home yesterday and took a nap.

Right now I could do without...
1) Such stringent mortgage hoops
2) "Business Hours"
3) Deadlines

Peace

I slept better last night than I've slept all week.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Two Years

It's been two years today since Dad died. I've felt it particularly strongly today because I'm in Birmingham (as opposed to Napa, like last year) and with Mom. I'm driving the same streets that remind me of phone calls from that day, and long drives.

This year has been a year of decisions, wonderful ones. I haven't written here for fear of saying things we were ready to say yet, like that we're moving back to Birmingham, and that B has accepted an amazing offer with a wonderful firm. Those two decision alone were gut-wrenching, exciting, wonderful, terrible, scary, and exhilarating all at once. Add in the fact that I accepted a job at my old company and we purchased a car and we're pretty much there.

Pretty much.

This week, I'd planned to come to Birmingham to house hunt. Then my old company called and I combined the trip with an in-office visit to touch base and pick up a laptop so I can work remotely.

B and I had been looking, in two cities, for the perfect home for months. Long before we knew our home city, we had already picked out neighborhoods, schools, and weekly watering holes that we'd love to adopt. So when it came time to visit, we pulled our top 24 and I (along with both our Moms) hit the trail, seeing house after house.

At the end of day 1, we saw a cute one, one B and I had seen online and liked, but figured it was our "reach" house: beautiful, spacious, but a little more money than we were interested in spending.

When we pulled up, I started into my monologue, telling the Moms the house specs and the price when our realtor cut me off, "there's been a price reduction." And there was-- a 10% one, which, for houses, is no small stuff.

Day two came and went. We saw more houses but nothing compared to The House we saw on Day 1, not at that price, and not on the list of things we wanted, which was, really, no small list. We weren't looking for marble and crystal, but we were looking for niche items, like work out spaces and a back deck.

So, with B's blessing, in light of the price drop, I put in an offer at 5:30pm. By 6:30 this morning, they'd countered back, reducing the price further. By 8, there were agents waiting to present other offers, so we were presented with the option: Accept now or wait and risk the seller withdrawing their counter.

By 8:30 I was in the office, unshowered and mostly frazzled, and we were under contract.

Did I mention that B hasn't seen the house?

This man has some serious faith! And he should-- he's going to love it!

I've thought about Dad a lot over the past few days, and it made me feel good to know that this was happening today. Mom and Dad were always adament about saving for exactly this (among other) reasons, so I know he'd be thrilled to know what B and I were doing. I felt this sense of peace about it that seems odd even now, but I know it's coming from somewhere outside of me, mostly because I've hardly slept this week and am pretty much spent.

I can't wait for B to get to town (tomorrow). I can't wait for him to see the house. I can't wait to show him the things I know he'll love about it, and discover things I didn't even notice that he loves.

I'm thankful today for so much-- that I loved my Dad enough to be sad and miss him still, that we may have found our "for now" dream home (we haven't closed, so I'm not calling it "ours" just yet!), that B is on his way soon (because I really miss him), that I have wonderful family that calls to check in, that we have wonderful friends (one of whom made his facebook status about Dad today and even called Mom to say he was thinking of her), and that I had top-notch support this week from all angles when things got plain exhausting.

So here, dear reader, is my pledge to you. Now that I can tell you most of my secrets (we're moving! here's where! here's why!), I'll write again. For so long I felt bound by our own indecision (and my general exhaustion), but now I'm feeling ... free. Don't worry, you don't have to read a lick of it, but it'll be here for me, to help me remember the day I really missed my Dad and bought a house without my husband seeing it. Something to tell our grandkids about for sure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hmmm...

The photos from all the posts I wrote last night have vanished. Here's hoping they come back but, if they don't, just wanted to put it out there that I'm not crazy! They were there!

Phone Calls I HAVEN'T Made This Week

B's gone, which leaves me on my own. So far, I have a whole list of phone messages I haven't left, starting with...

B, please come home. There's a bug in the washing machine. It's dead. Please come get it out. Now
~A

B, so... not dead after all. And location unknown. Please PLEASE come home.
~A

Monday, March 28, 2011

Drifting Along

Can you see what that is in the water? (No, not the oil sheen). That's a single floating flip-flop. This is my attempt to explain where I've been for the past two months.

The past two months have been crazy. I was feeling underworked (ie, fairly useless), and was actively looking for more work. Then life at the bakery kicked up so that I'm working about 35 hours a week there (four days a week), and now working full-time one day a week for my old company.

This has lead to much change, namely the fact that I can no longer get much of anything done before B gets home at 6ish. Hence, my dining room table is covered with tax documents (I'm channeling my father, so says my mother), the fridge is stocked with the basics, unimportant mail is stacked up, and the house is generally... ok.

I would LOVE to use this week to actually do some things, like really clean the bathrooms (how do you get hard water off sliding glass doors without getting in the shower and totally soaked in the process? Seriously, anyone?), put away all the laundry (after I do it, of course), and generally get us back to zero (which would necessitate me actually moving the pile of slippers from the shoe graveyard under the coffee table back into our bedroom).

I'd also like to go to the gym, finish my freelance work, and get a haircut. Anyone have an assistant they can loan me?

I'm thinking, for tonight at least, that the gym will be foregone, the taxes will say where they are, and I'll simply clean one thing, like an episode of Selling New York off our DVR.

Other reasons I haven't posted? Life decisions. They're coming, baby. B and I are hard at work deciding where we're moving in August, what job he's accepting, and whether or not to take our taxes to H&R Block for their free "second look". (Seriously, I like sneaking these questions in. Is it worth it, anyone?)

I have to keep reminding myself that these questions (the ones about taxes and hard water stains aside) are exciting. At this point in our lives, we are free, so blessedly free. We don't have to think about anything or anyone but ourselves and what we want. We don't even have a dog, and the plant we do have is rapidly meeting its maker.

So forgive me for not posting (though I've made up for it below, I hope!). I'm saving my creative juices for remembering how fun your 20s are suppose to be!

More B

I miss you honey.

Please come home.

I won't make you pose with the shark again.

Love,

A

Fernandina!

After our day trip with B's parents, we decided to go spend a little more time wandering the streets of Fernandina. Plus, who doesn't want to have a little fun in a new car?

We sped off for the afternoon to watch the sunset, shop the streets, and feast at 20 South Eats to celebrate... well, nothing really. A big decision made (we picked a car!), one of the first we've made together.

Besides, what can beat getting chocolate caramels at the fudge shop before dinner? That's my kind of appetizer!

We Bought a Car?

That's right! After years (accoring to me), months (according to B), we have found and purchased the most perfect car. B did hours upon hours of research before deciding which car got to join our little family and I think he made the perfect choice, or at least the best looking one!

Our journey started a few years ago when B was in the market, but quickly accelerated in September when his trusty Jeep seemed to kick the bucket (AC, gas tank, belts, you name it!).

B comparison shopped, test drove, researched, and bargained through various cars before deciding on this one, the Kia Optima, or the Honda Odyssey, if you ask me or my Mom (we're not known for our car knowledge).

B's response? "That's a minivan!" Optima, Odyssey; Tomato, Tomatoh, honey.

The day we went to get the car was kind of insane. The dearlership told us it was en route. When we called a few days later to check on it, they said "It's still on the boat." Oh really. It finally showed up right after Mom left town, so we hopped in the car that night and headed to St. Augustine, where this little beauty was waiting for us.

B drove it home and we spent an hour outside in it just looking at the gadgets and features. When we came inside, he had a voicemail from his Dad saying, "B, it's 10:30, time to stop sitting in your car, come inside, and go to bed."

Does he know us or does he know us?

So now this sweet ride is sitting out behind the house waiting for B to come back from his trip. It has trip-tronic shifting, so maybe I could teach myself to drive stick while B's gone. Honey, what do you think? :)

Happy Birthday, Mom!

We managed to snag Mom this year for her birthday. As luck would have it, she was on her way back from a church mission trip (at Biker Week!) and stopped by our house for a long weekend.

I'm sooo glad she did.

Not only did she give us an excuse to celebrate, but also an excuse to have a wonderful weekend together. We dined out at lots of fun restaurants, walked to the market, and generally just enjoyed down time together. After a week of talking with bikers, Mom even managed to sleep in until 9. Woohoo! Victory in my book!

While she was here, she also discovered that our pressure hose will reach our deck, and took it upon herself to clean the entire thing. B came home and was like, "Yes! Did you do this?" I fessed up.

Mom, thank you for sharing your birthday with us! Next year I'll remember that it's hard to blow out candles on a coconut cake without the flakes flying everywhere!

Baby Shower!

At the end of February, I headed off again, this time to Birmingham for a dear friend's baby shower. She's due in May and still wearing her low-rise, prepregnancy jeans. Yes, you can hate her if you like!

B decided to come with me, both out of support (it's a long drive!) and the hope that he'd get some golf in.

We left on Friday after work and headed to Atlanta, where we spent the night, leaving early the next morning for Birmingham. B dropped me off and prepared to hit the links. While he was full-up with the boys, the girls and I had an amazing 7 seven hours together, putting the shower together, celebrating, meeting babies, and generally just catching up.

I miss my high school friends. No matter how many things change, who gets married, who has kids, or how many times we move, they're always a joy to see.

The shower was wonderful and fun, and I hated for it to end, but I met up with B and we raced to my brother's house to shower and get ready for dinner with B's former coworkers.

Sunday morning, we squeezed in a breakfast with my grandma and had a blast over bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches before heading back to Atlanta. We got in just in time to visit some open houses, then crash. We headed back to Jacksonville on Monday morning, totally exhausted and oh-so happy.


Turkey Day!

Back when turkey was a bargain ("It's $.38 per pound!" B said over the phone when he called me), we decided to buy one. For about $8. You do the math.

The plan was to cook it at some point over the winter (thus, heating the house up and making it smell amazing), then freeze slices and pieces for sandwiches, stews, and other favorite recipes throughout the rest of winter.

Unfortunately, no one told me that winter begins and ends in January here in Florida. By the time I moved the turkey from the fridge to the freezer (or, about a week before I cooked it), it was already in the low 70s. The day I cooked the turkey, we opened all the windows, then closed them and turned on the AC.

I charged B with the task of cutting the turkey, because when else could you practice and basically hack at it until you figured it out?

While the end result did happen (I'm betting we ate at least 20 meals off that crazy bird), by the time the freezer was empty, I think we were both thankful that November is still several months away.

The Zoo!

Part of our Valentine's Day present? Two-for-one at the zoo. You tell me, have you ever seen a zoo with a dock onto the river? Florida rocks.

B's favorite? The monkeys.

Mine? Elephants!

North Carolina Visit

After B's parents left and B headed out of town for work for the week (on Valentine's Day!), I packed up and headed to North Carolina for a week of birthday celebrations, Chick-fil-A, and catch-ups with my sister and her family.

I LOVE going to see this family, including latest addition Mr. T there on the left. Someone is always up for a story, art project, or good Disney movie. I was lucky enough to be there when they watched Nana's Valentine's Day present, a DVD of Beauty and the Beast.

Why is this a big deal, you ask? Mom saved all of our movies, the old VHS tapes, and they've been making the rounds. Shockingly, after 20 years of use and hundreds of viewings recently, they've started to wear, namely, they're no longer in color.

Watching the girls see B&TB and gasp when Belle's beautiful golden yellow dress swirls around her on the dance floor? Priceless.

Amelia Island!

What do you do when your husband goes out of town, you don't want to do the laundry, and you're avoiding freelance work? You stay in your pajamas all day, eat spaghetti for dinner, and catch up on blog posts! Lucky you!

In February, B's parents came down to visit one of their old haunts, Amelia Island. They stayed with us for a night, then we headed off for a night at The Plantation, which was eerily similar to Hilton Head (in a wonderful way!).

B's parents used to bring the boys down here a lot and I can totally see why. Granted, it was still cool the weekend they came (a fact I can hardly believe now that's it's 85 here in March!), but we did all the old favorites, including a day trip to Fort Clinch.

B's Mom can still remember taking all three boys there to run off energy. "All I'd hear was, 'Mom! I killed him and he's not dead!', as they ran around with their toy guns."

I'm praying for girls.

We had such a wonderful time with them and have already begged them to come back and try new restaurants we've discovered. We promise, it's warm now! It's safe to come back!

The Plan

B is gone for a full week. My plan? List all the things I plan to do while he's gone in an effort to actually make myself do them:

1) Fold clothes in dryer.
2) Fold sheets still on guest bed from Mom's visit.... two weeks ago
3) Pack away tax prep items
4) Do remainder of laundry
5) Clean pollen off every surface in house
6) Organize new financial docs

So far, the things I've done include read an entire Jodi Picoult book in six hours (oops), make a nice dent in my comfy couch cushion, and read the Prince William wants a groom's cake. Life is good.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How to Make a Minnie Mouse Cake

"How To" to come, for now, here's a peek at the Minnie Cake my sister and I made for my niece/her kiddo's three-year-old party. Happy birthday, Sienna!
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Asked For It

Just when B saved us about $250 over six months on our cable and internet (cash back, etc), his phone inexplicably died. We took it to Verizon, who told us it had an "internal fracture," which is about like your doctor telling you that your blood pressure is high. You believe him, but mostly because you have to.

Long story short? No emails to B's phone this week. For now, it is only a phone. Ok, that's not true. For now, it's useless (no screen = no ability to select "pick up," etc), but the phone we put on the line until we get the replacement will be only, merely a phone. Back to the '00s for us!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Two Things I Love

Florida, for allowing me to have dinner outside with B both last night and tonight on our porch. We love this balmy winter weather! I know next year won't be this warm, regardless of where we are!

B, for spending the last hour on the phone with Comcast (who is raising our rates) and Uverse (who is offering an incredible deal).

Life is good!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

God is Laughing

Yes, at me.

Remember those posts about my needing to work more?

I found out today that my boss is (likely) partnering, expanding, remodeling, and franchising, all this spring. Looks like I'll get much more (welcome) experience in the industry than I anticipated!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Remember That Crazy Interview?

Remember a week ago (or yesterday, in blogging world) when I applied for a job because I felt I wasn't doing enough (stupid library being closed on MLK Day)? Well they called this morning at 7:30.

They want me to start today.

Oh boy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gym Fail: Why I'm Now a Follower of Matthew McConaughey

In high school, I figured that, if your clothes fit, you were in shape.

Friends, I'm here to tell you that I was wrong.

After jogging a few times (ok, once. For two minutes) with B, I decided that I needed to spend a little time on me, building muscle and bettering my posture, so I decided to try a free week at B's gym and take advantage of the free "personal training" session, which I figured would be something like an advanced gym tour in which the buff dude or chick in charge would show me around, tell me about the weight settings, and point out a few things that would strengthen my key goal areas: shoulders, pack, and core.

Friends, again, I was wrong.

I should've known I was in trouble when my trainer put me on an elliptical for five minutes at 100 (yes 100) level resistance and told me to go as hard as I could while he asked me questions about myself and my goals. Around minute three, I was wondering why he thought I'd be able to converse comfortably at this rate, but attempted none the less, switching to simple answers.

After the "warm up" (ha!), he had me do a minute of lunges, a minute of sit ups, and a cardio-style weight sequence. Then back on the elliptical.

After that round, I did two more exercises (of which I have no memory), then promptly almost passed out. I kid you not. Sit down, black spots, "I can't hear you" kind of pass out.

As I sat there, embarrassed and more than a little disheartened, the trainer says, "This is my bad, you looked like you were in shape."

Oh boy. Since then, I've been doing some things around the house and following Matthew McConaughey's fitness advice, mostly because it's the only one that ever stuck with me: Break a sweat everyday. For a Cali guy, it's pretty deep if you think about it. Life shouldn't be about clocking hours at the gym, but it gets harder as you grow older. Suddenly organized sports are harder to find and there's no gym period during the work day. Until I can find myself a paddle board (and a place to store it), I'm going to try to do something each day to make myself stronger and better.

Of course, that's somewhat harder now that I'm afraid to go back to my gym. My trainer wants to "finish my session" which I fear may just finish me. I don't want to quit the gym just yet, but, for now, I'm planning to hit up the non-staffed hours. And follow Matthew's twitter feed...

2010 In Review

Better late than never!

January
Start the year off right with a family vacation to the BVIs on a fabulous sailboat with B's family. Love. Wish I could go back right now. Rung in B's 27th birthday with a pirate themed bar which was, ironically, authentic. Ok, there may have been an eye patch, so it was only mostly authentic. B started his last semester of law school and we geared up for the coming Bar application. I had my last day at work for my job and instantly started babysitting/nannying for about 10-20 hours per week.

February
Our year of travel continued! Off to Mexico with my family for a week of sun and sand with the kiddos. Again, I'm ready to go back. Today.

March
My high school girlfriends make the trip to the NC shore for two days of catching up and enjoying some sun. I wish I could make this an annual thing (sensing a travel trend here?), but I'll take my joy where I can find it. We enjoyed B's final spring break, then headed to Texas for a college friend's wedding.

April
Off to UVA for B's third and final softball tournament. We had a blast playing softball, hanging with his friends, enjoying wings at Wild Wings, and beer at the local Irish pub. More babysitting, more time with the kiddos, and less snow. Yea!

May
I headed to Atlanta for a shower, then B and I celebrated our first anniversary in Williamsburg, where I had the best pancakes ever, plus a few delicious meals courtesy of our generous and loving parents! The next weekend B graduated, we moved out, and headed to California for B's little brother's college graduation. Ok, ok, and a few days in wine country. Win! We finished the month at our five year college reunion, which B summed up perfectly by saying, "That was really fun... every five years." We moved to Atlanta to prepare for B's Bar in July.

June
Bar Prep starts! I headed to Durham for a few days with the kiddos, but mostly we enjoyed Atlanta and the non-crunch time for the Bar.

July
Bar crunch time! After a few days at the under-construction lake house over the 4th of July, B locked it down and we moved to house sit at a different home in the neighborhood. I went back to Durham to meet the newest monkey in the crew, then B and I moved into the Embassy Suites for two nights during the Bar, which he passed. Woohoo!

August
Bar Trip! B and I moved to Jacksonville, then took a Bar Trip to Miami and the Keys. Life is good! Then work starts. Life is still good, if a little hot. Florida needs to cool off! We did escape the heat for a little while, heading to Columbia, SC for a wedding weekend.

September
Escaped again! This time to Maine, where we feasted on lobster and celebrated more wedding vows. I stared work at the bakery and B continued to settle in at the office. Also, my birthday. Awesome!

October
B passed the Bar! We headed to Atlanta for another wedding (hello, Ritz!), and we didn't get a single trick or treater.

November
Our NC family arrives en route to Disney World and we enjoy several days hanging with them and really meeting the little one, only four months! This might be the first month of the year that we didn't go out of town, at least not until Thanksgiving, which we celebrated in Atlanta and Blue Ridge.

December
The bakery is crazy. Christmas in Atlanta is filling, both in tummy and in heart. B's Granny and Grandpa came to visit us and pronounced our home lovely. We headed to Orlando to celebrate New Year's with Mom and look forward to Disney.

Y'all, 2010 was good. Really good. It was crazy. We moved, lived out of suitcases, and traveled to at least a dozen locations. New jobs, new cities, new friends, but still the same old us. I love our crazy, disorganized, exciting, and at times stressful life. Ready for another year!

20 Months!

I'm so tempted to say, "What the heck did we do that month?", but I remember! We can do this!

December 9 to January 9 brought such fun adventures. We celebrated Christmas in Atlanta, New Year's in Orlando, and B's birthday in Jacksonville.

B and I had fun caroling, buying and decorating our Christmas tree, and thinking about where we would be a year from now. By the way, does anyone know? If so, fill us in.

We spent our first year on our own this year. True, we went home for holidays, but this is the first year that we don't have any family in town and, to be honest, it's been great. We'd love to have kiddos nearby or family on call, but since we don't, we've spent a lot of time enjoying each other and our temporary city.

The picture above was taken a few days shy of the 20 month mark on the ferry en route to the Magic Kingdom. Happiness.

The truth is, everyone always told me that true love should grow richer and deeper with age. Maybe I'm still a newbie, but I find it totally intoxicating. Every year with B, I look back and think, "Wow, that one was really great," then I simply prepare for it to get even better, and I'm never disappointed.

B, this month I'm thankful for your spirit and your calm, especially when my crazies kick in. I know we're making big decisions, but I'm bless to know that, as my sister says, my biggest (and certainly most handsome) decision has already been locked down. I love you!

B's Take On Disney World

B's been to Disney, but he hasn't done Disney as often, or as recently, as we have, so it was a real blast to get his impressions...

1) The lines are waaaay shorter than he remembered. Granted, he's older (so he understands) and I think the lines were shorter.

2) It's really different when you're older; I noticed the pint-sized princesses running around way more than I ever did.

3) It used to take FOREVER to walk to Thunder Mountain (B's favorite), but it's really just a short jaunt past Adventureland.

4) Epcot is waaaay adult-oriented. We were amazed at how many vendors in the World Showcase were offering beer, wine, and cocktails as we strolled through the countries!

We spent one day seeing the Magic Kingdom (Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Country Bear Jamboree, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc) and were amazed that we'd done it all, including lunch and the parade, by around 4pm.

So we grabbed our park hoppers and headed toward Epcot, where we had dinner reservations later that night. We hit four great rides before dinner, where we surprised B with tequila in "Mexico" over dinner before the fireworks.

Let's just say that we slept well that night!


The next morning, we packed the car and headed toward MGM, now Hollywood Studios, where B noted that tons of Europeans were hanging around, definitely different than the other parks!

We loved Hollywood Studios, but had finished everything by the time our shuttle arrived and carted us back to the hotel where we got lunch and headed out for home.

I don't know if we'll make it back to Disney again before we leave Florida. But, if not, I'll always have New Year's 2011. What a fun time.

And, by the way, B and I decided that if we do go back, he's going to pull a YouTube and videotape him telling me. Our bet is that I'll be more excited than the kids! Only time will tell.

I Heart Mickey

B knows several things about me.

1) I like anything of his. This includes sweatshirts, slippers, soft tshirts, and warm gloves.

2) I'll try anything, but you may have to make me. This includes new vegetables, like mushrooms.

3) I love Disney World.

You may like Disney World. You may even enjoy Disney World. But me, I love Disney World. I watch the commercials and cry. I YouTube the videos about parents telling kids that they're going and I cry. I take the ferry to the Magic Kingdom and, yes, I get teary.

I'm not sure why. We used to go a lot when I was little, once a year when the orthopedic academy met in Orlando. I think it's that I have nothing but wonderful memories of being there. The rides, the friends, the parades, everything.

I'm not one of those people with Mouse gear around the house. If you looked through our place, you'd find only one Disney thing: The Eeyore B got me years ago, because Eeyore has always been my favorite.

But I've been so excited to go and go we did, this year with Mom during our Orlando trip. Amazingly, the place empties out after New Year's, so we waltzed right up to our favorite rides and enjoyed smaller crowds than I remember.

My favorite part? Seeing B's reaction...

I Love Disney

Did you know? I do.

And also, Florida. Shorts on Jan 2? Don't mind if I do!

New Year's Football!

Mom had lots of surprises up her sleeve this year, including seats to the Alabama bowl game on New Year's Day, which just happened to be in Orlando. How could we not go? Mom deemed the day "birthday worthy" and we celebrated B's big day a week early with beer, cheese steaks, and cokes in the stadium.


The game was fantastic! We won by dozens, but we had a blast cheering and generally enjoying the Florida sunshine. Roll Tide!