Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How I Spent my Christmas Vacation, by Sassy Molassy

Oh, hello there. Having a good holiday season? It's almost over; I realize my happy holiday wishes are somewhat belated. So sue me. I have a life!

Actually, I don't really. I am probably the laziest mother of four who ever lived. I'm cool with that. It saves me from having to drive kids to things like soccer practice. Anyway, we have been enjoying our very relaxed and lazy break. Having traveled to the wonderful Fachini family Thanksgiving in Georgia, we spent Christmas here in town. Christmas Eve was spent with my family of origin as is the tradition, although it was my sister's year to spend Christmas with her husband's family, so we did miss them. All I had to cook was homemade mac and cheese for the kids, and my first ever from-scratch cheesecake, which turned out beautifully if I do say so myself. I'm planning to eat the last of it in a little while, if you must know. And no, you can't have any.

The kids got some good loot, and then we came home for our annual viewing of It's a Wonderful Life and then off to bed so Santa could come. He brought more loot. Imagine that! The kids seemed very happy as Santa had answered their main wishes: for Calvin, a cell phone; for Joshua, a tribot; and for Somerset, a bike. Genevieve had no real requests so she got a Little People farm, which she could not care less about. That's okay though, as she is busy caring for the four or five baby dolls she received from various parties.

Tomorrow we plan to ring in the new year with a few of our closest friends. I love New Year's Eve, which puts me in the minority around here, but I will save that discussion for another post. Meanwhile, here are some pictures!

Cousin Kyle got an American bulldog puppy for Christmas. Even though I do not like dogs and do not in anyway understand the desire to own a pet, she was sort of sweet in a puppy kind of way. For a couple of hours.

Somerset about to dive in at the grandparents'.

Genevieve enjoying many of her gifts simultaneously. (Some of them were hair accessories. Can you tell?)

Calvin checking out his new phone Christmas morning.

Smiley Christmas morning Calvin.

Christmas morning extravaganza!

Joshua cozying up to his new Tribot.

Christmas morning Monkey Bread.

Video chat with Nonna down in South Florida.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lost and Found

Things I could not find this morning:

1. The will to get out of bed before hitting snooze for the fourth time
2. The pink travel mug
3. The lid to the blue travel mug
4. Any lid that fit any suitable container for my lunch
5. The words to convince my two year old that she would be much happier in bed than sitting in a daze on the counter watching me put on my makeup. ("I want your eyes to be pink, Mommy.)
6. Anything worth listening to on the radio
7. A wormhole that would save me from being five(ish...okay maybe closer to ten) minutes late for the eleventyninth day in a row.

Things I did find:

1. A snuggle before getting out of bed
2. A two-year old who just wanted to sleep sweetly on her mama's shoulder
3. An about-to-be-eleven-year-old who put his newly pulled tooth under his pillow just for old time's sake
4. The red travel mug that I filled with delicious hot tea with real cream
5. A container I thought would be too small for my lunch but wasn't
6. Pants that only needed a quick spin in the dryer to make them wearable
7. Matching, hole-free, new black socks, and in plain view
8. The already-graded pile of papers on my desk far outsizing the to-be-graded pile
9. Homemade chocolate-peanut clusters from a student and fellow-teacher's son (breakfast!)
10. That it's Wednesday of the last, short week before Christmas break

As always, the good far outweighs the bad. I really can't complain at all, can I?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Let me count the ways

Lately I'm noticing all the little ways in which my children are like me. It's an interesting experience, because in many ways they are not like me at all. And of course, sometimes they act like me in ways that are not at all good. This is different, though. I'm not talking about them being impatient and sarcastic and snippy with each other. I'm talking about little ways that show how they take after their ma.

Calvin: Has read the first four Harry Potter books in the past week or so. This is exciting to me on so many levels! I've waited for the day that he would read and enjoy these books that I adore, and it's finally here! It was also fun to sit at the table with a group of our friends as we all watched him sit and read without ceasing amid the whirlwind of activity that is the cocktail hour kids and even lift a plate out of toddler range with one hand while never tearing his eyes from the page. That's my boy! He also continues to demonstrate my tendency to eschew anything resembling a dry crust of bread/pizza/cookie edge, etc.

Joshua: Has always reminded me the most of myself as a child because he is just so clueless. The other night I went through his homework folder, and all his signed papers from the past two months were still sitting in there. When I was his age, I remember having no idea what was going on, ever. I was in my own little world, and so is he. The fact that I know where he gets it is what makes it okay. I grew out of it, and so will he. In the meantime, he's mostly just my happy-go-lucky little guy.

Somerset: Wants to do what she wants to do. The fact that you or I want her to do something different does not necessarily mean she's going to happily abandon her pursuit. This may be frustrating to me as a parent, but I also find it reassuring. I consider my willingness to tell other people that I do not care what they want me to do is one of the reasons I'm the happy person that I am, and I can only be glad if she possesses that particular tool. The flip side of that is that, like me, she also happens to be extremely sensitive to the people she does care about. Just when we think she's an incorrigible rebel, she can be devastated by a disapproving or angry statement from BD or me. And the way she cries when that happens is just 100% me with hurt feelings. It's heartbreaking.

Genevieve: Honestly at 2 1/2, her main Sassy-like personality trait is binge eating. That girl can put away the groceries! Oh, and she shows my preference for non-breakfast foods for breakfast. She woke up this morning asking for macaroni, but there was none in the fridge so she settled for Spaghettios. According to her Dad, she scarfed them down and chased them with a chocolate chip waffle. Unlike me, however, she often requests her food cold for the simple reason that she is too impatient to wait for the microwave. This is more like BD, whose mother says he would cry and beg "Don't cook it, don't cook it!" when she tried to heat his food. I, on the other hand, will not eat anything cold that is normally served hot. Blech! She also talks a lot. A. Lot.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Recently SAM accused me of having a "secret food blog." I laughed and replied that it wasn't secret, I just didn't think she'd be interested in it because she doesn't cook. It's not even my blog--Rita created it and invited me to contribute. Lately I think my fellow contributors have gotten busy and I must be bored or cooking a lot or just thinking about food too much, because I seem to have become the main recipe poster of the moment.

It's not a fancy food blog, just basic stuff you can easily whip up with minimal cooking skills. But lest I be accused of hoarding food knowledge and building a secret food blog underground, I thought I'd share. Bon apetit!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ravioli Day

I think I've said before that one of the things I loved about BD from the very beginning was his big Italian family and the fact that they all liked each other so much. Being from a small family myself, I found it fascinating that there were so many of them, and that they were all so themselves together, and that my cooly cynical teenaged boyfriend's face lit up like a little boy when he talked about upcoming get-togethers with all of them. It still does.

One of the traditions from BD's family that we have taken upon ourselves to pass on (ahem, aside from having lots of babies...), is the massive making of his great-grandparents' ravioli recipe each year before the holidays. We've expanded the tradition to include our friends, who truly are family to us. They are the aunts and uncles our kids will remember always having around (in addition to their real ones, of course), and their kids are the passel of cousins our family does not really have in abundance here in town. This past weekend, we all got together and made 58 dozen ravioli from scratch (I originally miscounted, but bagging them up revealed the true numbers). Thanks to Chip for the great pictures. I love ravioli day.

BD and SAM rolling out the dough and passing strips to the assemblers (with Shannon there to document)

Somerset working very diligently

Calvin preparing for the pickup tray.

Me being the pickup lady
Stacey and Jiro bonding over a ravioli moment

The group enjoying the fruits of their labor

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hillary Clinton reflects

This morning when I woke up I was
not The President, again. I lay in bed
pretending for just that last moment before
opening my eyes that it had happened. That
I was Her, the first, and that I was just about to
sit up, swing my legs over the bed and slide
my feet into the fuzzy presidential slippers.

I think that it is time I took up a hobby. Maybe
I'll go away, get a little cottage and grow things. What
is it that people grow when they do that? Orchids? Too
complicated. Rhubarb? Too...something. Where is the right
climate for cucumbers and mint?

I will let my hair grow long and
stop getting it colored. Or color it pink. I will get a bunch
of cats and let them go just shy of feral, knots of blind kittens
in baskets all the time. I will have a democracy of cats,
who will love me.

And Bill can't come.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


This is the most inspiring collection of photographs of the president-elect that I have seen. Enjoy! Look at those crowds!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Facebook, long lines, and various other ramblings

Yesterday I stood in line for over two hours to vote early. I took a book, of course, so it wasn't too bad. A woman behind me held a four month old baby in her arms the whole entire time. I wished so badly that I'd had a sling or something in the car to loan her, but I just had my non-adjustable Hotsling, which would not have fit her. I also felt like I should offer to hold the baby for a bit, but that's always a little weird, isn't it? She and I and two other women in line chatted off and on the whole time, and I think we all wanted to help, but what if she didn't want strangers (as nice and normal as we all may have seemed) holding her baby? Then we'd all have to stand there together feeling awkward for the next hour. Oh well. I did eventually make it to the machines to cast my vote. Woo hoo! I really prefer to vote on election day, but BD is going to be interviewing people at polling places that day, so I figured I'd better go ahead and get it done. Now watch, on Tuesday the big story will be that everyone is in and out in twenty minutes.

Not to delve into a big political discussion, because this is not that blog, but I recently experienced a big boom of people I went to high school with linking up on Facebook. In looking at their profiles, I couldn't help but notice that the vast majority of these people list themselves as "conservative Christian" and Republican. Neither of which, suffice it to say, comes anywhere close to the way I describe myself. I went all the way through elementary and high school with most of these people, so I guess that's why for some reason it surprises me to learn that they are all so different from me. Which is silly, really, because I in fact thought that everyone was Baptist until sixth grade, when I befriended a Jehova's Witness. And then all of us in our little cool girl clique proceeded to tell her that all her beliefs were wrong, that not believing in hell was crazy, and that her religion condoned way more racial mixing than we were led to believe was acceptable. I still want to find that girl and apologize to her. Thinking about her makes me cringe, not only because of our well-meaning bigotry and intolerance, (which were more often than not backed up by our teachers), but because it makes me think "Holy crap, the Jehovah's Witness was the crazy liberal in my world then?" I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt, after all, the city with more churches than gas staions, yada yada yada. I guess I'm just surprised because I grew up that way too, but I'm not that way now, and the path from there to here just seems so natural to me. To realize that the majority of my peers, kids I went to school with for up to ten years, exchanged classroom valentines with, went through puberty with, snuck out and ran around with, turned out so completely other than what I am...it just feels weird, and kind of depressing. It makes me realize how much I float along in my little liberal midtown(ish) bubble, forgetting I'm a blue dot in a sea of red.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Hung One More Year on the Line

Yesterday was my 36th birthday, and it was wonderful. Between BD surprising me with a shiny new bike, SAM writing me a very nice birthday post and bringing me Chicken Tikka Masala and a lovely French Silk pie, and what felt like hundreds of birthday wishes on Facebook, I felt very loved and happy all day. Who cares if I'm now officially closer to 40 than 30? 36 is looking great so far.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Women's Work

I have a rather un-feminist confession to make: I have never liked the idea of having a man in my kitchen. All the husbands I knew who cooked seemed to get embroiled in these very elaborate recipes that involved blowtorches and trips to multiple specialty markets. Dinner seemed to run quite late on a regular basis, and the wives, between keeping the kids out of the way and then cleaning up the man mess, seemed to end up with as much work, if not more, as if they just cooked themselves. Not for me, I proclaimed.

I grew up cooking. By the time I was in high school, I knew how to make most of my mom's recipes and most days I at least got dinner started when I came home from school. I know how to buy groceries at the biggest grocery store I can find, stock the pantry, fridge, and freezer, and make dinner nightly based on whatever I have on hand. I can take a pot roast from deep freeze to table in one hour (thank you, inventor of the pressure cooker) and serve it up with mashed potatoes and gravy, a green veg, and rolls. I cook like a mom.

Before we had kids, I subscribed to Food and Wine and watched fancy cooking shows and went through phases of baking bread from scratch. I was an adventurous and creative cook, and I looked for opportunities to challenge my skills and cook for a group. But you know, when you cook dinner for nine people at least three nights a week, where's the challenge? Sadly, since the kids started coming, cooking has become less a thrill and more a chore. I've been in a rut.

But things have changed around chez Sassy. BD, he cooks! Since selling the shop and becoming a feelance writer based from home, he has gotten himself a cookbook and started making stuff out of it. I'm not sure if it's because he knows my feelings about the male cooking-as-major-project deal, or if it's just because he's very new to the kitchen, but so far he has stuck to basic-but-good dishes. And I must admit, it has been absolutely wonderful.

I'm not ready to give up cooking altogether, but not having to do it four or five nights a week is very relaxing. And surpisingly, I find myself thinking about branching out and trying new recipes instead of just auto-piloting the old staples. In the past week or so, I've made polenta dishes (cooking my own polenta, not using storebought) and tamales from scratch, much as I might have done ten years ago but would not have felt like doing a month ago. It's been fun. Having a man in the kitchen is not so bad after all! Especially if he happens to be wearing jeans and a black tshirt and have a dishtowel hanging from his back pocket.

Monday, October 13, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday

A very hAPpy birthday to my girl SAM.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

More fun with words

I'm enjoying the feedback from my words post and am still processing. In the meantime, I'm following Rita through the Johari Window. Click on that and follow the directions to help fill in my window, then make your own and link me to it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Sound of Silence

In The Writer on Her Work, Volume 2, Joy Williams talks about feeling suspicious of a reader's praise by saying "Words, you know, they're around. They get used a lot."

Lately I have become suspicious of my own facility with words. It has occured to me that I think in complete sentences, and while this thought made me happy when it first dawned on me, now I'm not so sure.

This isn't just about my notorious talkativeness, because I believe I have reined that in quite a bit and it rarely gets away from me anymore. It's more about the internal thought processes that aren't necessarily tied to speech. I'm starting to wonder if words are holding my thoughts prisoner.

I don't know why this never occured to me before. I intentionally avoided teaching my children to read before kindergarten because of the theory that the process shapes their thinking into more rigid patterns. (This was a very popular idea among the Existentialist crowd, many of whom advocated waiting until kids were 8 or 9 before allowing them to read.) Three of my four children showed themselves to be highly verbal from infancy, and I wanted to give them time to develop their other facilities. I never worried that they would have trouble with words. I wanted them to focus on what came less naturally: being creative, musical, physically adroit. But I never thought about myself in those terms.

Today as I was reading a friend's blog, I came across these quotes from Ekhart Tolle's A New Earth. I'm not a New Agey spiritual kind of person, but the quotes struck me especially hard:

"Words, no matter whether they are vocalized and made into sounds or remain unspoken as thoughts, can cast an almost hypnotic spell upon you. You easily lose yourself in them, become hypnotized into implicitly believing that when you have attached a word to something, you know what it is. You don't know what it is. You have only covered up the mystery with a label. Everything, a bird, a tree, even a simple stone, and certainly a human being, is ultimately unknowable. This is because it has unfathomable depth. All we can perceive, experience, think about, is the surface layer of reality, less than the tip of an iceberg."


"The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality, the miracle of life that continuously unfolds within and around you."


It's funny how we can never see clearly when it comes to ourselves. Recently a student of mine who is also a very serious art student wrote in an essay about feeling that she is not as creative as she was a year ago. I suggested in my comments that she spark her creativity by doing things she wouldn't normally do and pushing herself out of her comfort zone a little bit. Maybe that's what I should do, too.

It has never been lost on me that I get a little thrill from being moved to tears for unfathomable reasons. I like it when a piece of instrumental music has an emotional effect on me, or when I see or experience something that stirs up feelings that I can't logically connect to the impetus. I guess I've always understood in a vague, peripheral part of my mind why that might be. And now I've noticed that my ever-morphing daydreams about escaping my children for a few days have taken a new form. I dream of a few days alone, without words. No talking, no reading, no writing. It might sound extreme, but I feel like my brain needs retraining, and rest.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend Update, sadly still not starring Tina Fey

Sometimes instead of not blogging because I'm busy or lazy, I'm not blogging because I'm having too much fun to stop and tell you how much fun I'm having. This weekend was one of those times.

For starters, BD had a real, actual, two-day weekend! He has worked Saturdays for the past eight years or so, but that's all over now. His excitement over the prospect of having a real weekend was almost as adorable as watching him walk around the house in my robe.

Saturday was the much anticipated Rock-n-Romp starring (as far as I'm concerned, anyway) Garrison Starr. After years of whining about why didn't I have a Garrison Starr CD, I got to buy one directly from her. A CD always sounds better when it was put in your hand by the artist herself, don't you think? See pictures of us having a fabulous time here.
Yesterday I went to the Midsouth Fair with my kids, minus the youngest, and my parents. I rode a lot of rides, ate food on a stick, and got so tired from walking around in the hot sun for five hours that I am back to being too lazy to tell you much more about it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hello, I Must Be Going

Beeep: Sassy can't come to the blog right now because she is touring the seventh circle of grading hell. In fact it's possible that she's only recording this message as a means to avoid reading month-old essays. If you really, really miss her, you can visit her here. (She thinks she looks like Petunia in the last picture, but she doesn't want Chip to go back to being afraid to post her picture.) Otherwise, please leave a message.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rabble Rouser

My school district is in budget crisis. There are a multitude of reasons for that, but the main two are declining enrollment and an ignorant city council that recently forced huge cuts which they justified by saving the average property owner approximately $8 in property taxes (really, I'm not just being snarky. Eight. Dollars. A year.) because, you know, what does a crime-ridden, floundering city need with educated children? Makes 'em uppity, all that book learnin'.

As a result of the declining enrollment, about 70 teachers are being laid off. Normally these "surplussed" teachers would just get moved from a school with lower enrollment to one with too many students for the current staffing level. Apparently, this year we're not so much with the latter. At my school, we lost a single science teacher because our numbers are down for the first time in several years. At this time last year, we got eight additional teachers who had been surplussed from other schools.

As a result of the budget cuts, over 100 non-teaching positions, both filled and vacant, are being eliminated. 40 of those are within the school board and are held by licensed teachers. Those 40 people now have the option, under our MEA-negotiated contract, to "bump" teachers with lesser seniority from their positions.

As a teacher, I'm not that worried about being bumped because I have ten years in the system, and within my department there are probably five teachers less senior than I. (Of course I don't want to see any of them go, though.) But as a parent, this really gets my hackles up. I have three children in a single elementary school in this district. All three of them love their teachers. Calvin, the fifth grader, is especially enamored of his main teacher this year. What if he got bumped by some bitter old hag who left the classroom because she grew to hate the sight of children after thirty years of teaching them? I find myself hoping that this teacher's disability (he is legally blind and active in organizations that lobby for the rights of the visually impaired) will secure his place. Joshua's main teacher is experienced and has won prestigious awards, so she's probably safe. But both of Somerset's teachers are young and have only been teaching for a few years. Will they be bumped? Or, to put it another way, will I have to organize a protest and go raise hell at the board?

I have refused to join the teachers' union every year that I have taught. I'm not opposed to unions in general--I think that workers should have the right to organize and that they should be protected from the arbitrary whims of management. I don't believe that loyal employees with solid histories in their jobs should be systematically replaced by younger, cheaper versions of themselves. I do not, however, believe in closed shops because no one should ever be forced to join any organization, ever, under any circumstances. And I have a specific problem with the MEA: they act as though the school system exists to employ teachers, and I believe that it exists to educate children. It's as simple as that.

It is not in the best interest of children to disrupt their education once the school year is in progress. Teachers and students have spent six weeks establishing procedures and good work habits, getting to know each other, and building the trust that is essential for real learning to take place. Yanking that security out from under them is wrong and could be disasterous in the lives of individual children.

I said as much to a colleague in the library earlier, and she looked at me as if I had three heads. I like this person and we chat each day in the library while in mutual exile from our rooms (we all have floating teachers in our rooms during our planning periods), but the fact that she used to be an MEA area rep somehow never came up before. Oops. I told her why I'd never joined the union and she said "That's fine unless people are trying to plan their lives. You have ten years; if you got surplussed, you wouldn't bump someone else?" And honestly, that's a tough question. I teach high school and those kids are used to being shuffled around and having their schedules changed multiple times, and I might be better at my job than less experienced teachers, and I need my paycheck, so yes, I see that. My students would already be affected by my having been surplussed, because their schedules would change and they'd be crammed into classes already in progress. I think that's different from people who chose to leave the classroom to take a cushy board job. And ultimately, if I had to I'd just find another job. That's life, right? No other business guarantees perpetual employment. Teachers enjoy more job security than most professionals would ever dream of, but sometimes even we will have to suck it up.

Monday, September 08, 2008

1.5 seconds of fame

My little family was on the news! We're about 1 minute 47 seconds in. Aren't we cute? We all look annoyed because the people who redid the shell would not stop talking for 45 minutes, in spite of impending rain that did in fact begin the minute the first musician hit the stage. Oh well.


Friday, September 05, 2008

I am all over this

Among the daily Facebook notifications, MoveOn updates, and MOMS board minutiae, I find each day in my inbox a daily sale email from Newport News. I'm not sure how they have a sale every single day, but trust me, they do.

If you're not familiar with Newport News, you should check them out. I would describe what they sell as trampy secretary clothes, or five-years-out-of-fashionista, or stylish-for-New Mexico. I receive these emails because I have bought bathing suits there. They sell the cheapest bathing suits anywhere, and they have a huge selection. Occasionally I'll see a dress or sweater that I like, but I don't think I've ever ordered any of those things. Based on my bathing suit experience with them, objects around cleavage may be farther than they appear. I'm not exactly built like their models, you know?

So today, I noticed a little box at the bottom of the email about the Secret Daily Deal, and out of curiosity I clicked. Bust out your credit card, because you are definitely going to want in on this.

Who doesn't need a metallic silver one-pece high-cut bathing suit with a long wrap-around belt?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

On Contentment

My belly is full of spaghetti, my children are in the other room cooperatively playing one last game of Hangman before their Dad puts them to bed, I'm enjoying a glass of locally grown and produced blackberry wine, I'm up to my happy little eyeballs in Grendel, and a Democrat may actually win the presidency.

Just don't make me watch the absurd waste of time and money that is the convention.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Go Ahead

Tell me my man is not hilarious.

(Back off, random women who keep stopping my man in the street to tell him just how hilarious he is. I've got my eye on you.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Yesterday my best friend was telling me that an overheard conversation at work prompted her to revisit her Myers-Briggs personality profile. She said she took the instrument again and got the same thing she always has. I vaguely remembered taking it at some point, but I couldn't remember my profile, so she urged me to do it again. It turns out I'm an ENFP. That's Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving, in case you didn't know.

I'm not really one for the psychobabble, but I have to admit that some of my elaborated profile was jarringly accurate. It's a strange feeling to see things that I thought were part of my own unique world view spelled out almost to a T by a complete stranger who never even heard of me. And then, ironically, I was annoyed by the few things that I felt did not reflect the real me. Shouldn't I find those small miscalculations comforting?

Here's my basic breakdown:
moderately expressed extravert
distinctively expressed intuitive personality
moderately expressed feeling personality
moderately expressed perceiving personality

The first paragraph of my elaborated profile contains elements of both the startlingly accurate and the annoyingly unflattering incorrect:

ENFPs are both "idea"-people and "people"-people, who see everyone and everything as part of an often bizarre cosmic whole. They want to both help (at least, their own definition of "help") and be liked and admired by other people, on both an individual and a humanitarian level. They are interested in new ideas on principle, but ultimately discard most of them for one reason or another.

The part about everything being part of the bizarre cosmic whole is dead on. And I do like and try to help people. I do get intersted in new ideas and then habitually reject them as flawed. That's why I can't buy into any one system of religious or philosophical beliefs, even the few that I find mostly appealing. But I don't feel that I care about being liked and admired by other people, especially on a humanitarian level. I mean, not that I want people not to like me, but I accepted long ago that some people just won't. It has been my experience that I do not inspire feelings of neutrality in many people. They either like me or strongly and immediately dislike me. And I'm cool with that, really!

It's mostly the extravert stuff that I find to be a tad off in my profile. I am good with people, but I'm also good alone. My seemingly outgoing personality has more to do with a lack of social anxiety than with an inherent love of people. And there's a lot of stuff about having a short attention span in relationships which is obviously not true (exhibit A: my 20 year relationship with BD), and about "zany charm" and sponteneity, which I find laughable. Not so much with the zany, I don't think.

I scored lowest on the "Feeling" part, and I was actually surprised that it wasn't "Thinking," because I answered "yes" to all the logical and analytical questions. But when I read the ENTP profile, it's far less accurate then the ENFP, so I guess they know what they're talking about.

The work habits part was another bull's eye for me. See especially the part about follow through and procrastination:

ENFPs are pleasant, easygoing, and usually fun to work with. They come up with great ideas, and are a major asset in brainstorming sessions. Followthrough tends to be a problem, however; they tend to get bored quickly, especially if a newer, more interesting project comes along. They also tend to be procrastinators, both about meeting hard deadlines and about performing any small, uninteresting tasks that they've been assigned...ENFPs sometimes can be blindsided by their secondary Feeling function. Hasty decisions based on deeply felt values may boil over with unpredictable results. More than one ENFP has abruptly quit a job in such a moment. (Ahem, see numbers 87 and 88)

This part is especially true of me:

The physical world, both geos and kosmos, is the ENFP's primary source of information. Rather than sensing things as they are, dominant intuition is sensitive to things as they might be. These extraverted intuitives are most adept with patterns and connections. Their natural inclination is toward relationships, especially among people or living things.

That's where that bizarre cosmos thing comes in. The part I found most thought-provoking, because I recognize its accuracy even though it's something I have only just recently begun to realize, was this:

Introverted Sensing
Sensing, the least discernible ENFP function, resides in the inner world where reality is reduced to symbols and icons--ideas representing essences of external realities. Under the influence of the ever-present intuition, the ENFP's sensory perceptions are in danger of being replaced by hypothetical data consistent with pattern and paradigm. When it is protected and nourished, introverted sensing provides information about the fixed. From such firm anchoring ENFPs are best equipped to launch into thousands of plausibilities and curiosities yet to be imagined.

I have always recognized my tendency toward conceptual thinking, but only recently have I realized that I can become too quickly confident that I see the essence of a person's behavior and can predict what patterns they will follow. This isn't really fair to the people close to me, and it can and does cause problems at times.

It was also really eye opening to read my friend's profile and see that what it says is her dominant trait is one that I have never really seen expressed. It explained a lot about some things that have been frustratingly out of balance for her, both within our friendship and in the larger world. That's really why I wanted to post about the instrument; because I think it can be a helpful tool for understanding not only yourslf, but the people closest to you. Now go take it and tell me what letters you are!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Super Flake

Here's something not so fun that happened to me last week, the first official week of school.

Back story: Last year, Genevieve was at the Montessori school that my two middle children attended when they were pre-school aged. The school had just opened a Nido program (Montessori for baby room), our previous babysitting arrangement ran out, and we were excited to have her at this cheerful, colorful, less-institutional version of daycare. Only the school doesn't see itself as any kind of daycare. It sees itself as a school. At first I just wanted them to stop doing that. I didn't want to go to meetings and do parent hours or have a semester conference about my two year old's "education." But ultimately I decided that if that was their vision and it didn't work for me, I should probably make other arrangements for my child or just stop griping about it. It didn't help that the two teachers in the baby room seemed to hate BD and me, even though they were never anything but loving toward Genevieve. And then as the year ended, they both bolted, leaving the always-friendly directress high and dry. She called me personally to apologize for things she was just fully realizing had gone on between those two and the parents. It seems we weren't the only ones they'd deemed unworthy of the Montessori "lifestyle." It meant a lot to me that she called, and I'd always been happy with the actual care Genevieve received at the school. So now I was in a quandry: send her back to where I knew she'd be happy, or find a daycare or sitter who was okay with the concept that they existed for my convenience and not the other way around.

I put Genevieve on the waiting list for a nearby daycare of excellent repute, but that didn't pan out. SAM had Mr. Baby on the same list, and we both hoped to have the kids at the same place so that I could help her with pick ups some days. I resigned myself to going back to Montessori, and then I looked at the registration materials. Both tuition and parent hours had increased. In the baby room, the increase was so large that SAM felt it ruled out that option for her all together. Their calendar was not in line with the public schools', meaning they would be closed the last week of August before their official start date after Labor Day. Suddenly, it just felt like too much. We already struggled to afford what we paid last year, and the parent hours were a major thorn in my side. Having her out for that week would mean BD staying away from his business to keep her until I made it home each day at 3:30. Desperately, I posted pleas on a couple of local moms' boards for any SAHMs interested in keeping both kids. And I got a bite!

A woman who lives right around the corner from me, whose friends were my friends on the boards, and who had been to my house for a play date, was interested. Her four-year-old son would be going to preschool three days a week, leaving her home with just her three-year-old daughter. She asked for a very reasonable rate, she was close by--it seemed perfect. I left word at the Montessori school that Genevieve would not be coming after all. Monday and Tuesday, things went well. Mr. Baby hadn't started yet because his father was still on summer break from his job. Genevieve was understandably upset at being left, but then she settled down and played and was fine. Then out of nowhere, mid-morning Wednesday I got a text from the sitter saying "This isn't working out. You need to find other child care." Wha?? I asked what was going on and she sent back that G just didn't seem to be happy there and it was affecting her own kids. Thinking she was just a little overwhelmed, I dashed off an email saying that I understood that the adjustment for both G and her kids was maybe harder than she had anticipated (thinking to myself what the hell did she expect by day three??), and reassuring her that in a week or two, she'd be fine and everyone would be used to the new routine. I asked if there was anything I could do to make things easier, if she needed more money, if she wanted a key to my house so they could play there some and help ease the transition. She replied simply that she had made her decision and as of that afternoon, she was done.

What kind of person does that to someone? Nothing had even happened! Were her expectations so utterly unrealistic that she had no idea any adjustments, on anyone's part, would be necessary? Was she that much of a wus that she couldn't at least finish out the week while I made other arrangements? When did people stop feeling like they needed to honor their commitments, or at the very least, wriggle out of them in a fairly honorable way? Do people no longer believe that they should be held accountable anymore? If something is the slightest bit difficult or unpleasant, it's now okay to just walk away, even when that means other people are left holding the bag?

Don't get me wrong, if she doesn't want to watch over my precious baby, I certainly don't want her to. And I'm glad I found out now rather than later that she's a dysfunctional, irresponsible freakshow of a person. Clearly something is wrong there. I guess some people just aren't capable, in the general sense of the word.

I scrambled and begged and got Genevieve back in Montessori school the very next day. They welcomed us back with open arms, even offering to work with us on tuition, and my gratitude for that goes a long way toward mitigating the minor irritations. Genevieve is doing great there and seems perfectly happy to be back in the familiar setting. So there was a happy ending for her, at least. SAM is still scrambling for childcare.

I hate flaky people.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Lest you think I was super-industrious all weekend, here are some other things I did:

-Read Breaking Dawn in two days. Well, plus a few hours. I bought it Thursday afternoon while grocery shopping for BD's birthday dinner and squeezed in a few minutes of reading before cooking enchiladas and serving them up to the assembled friends and family, then read a little more before bed. But mostly I read it Friday and Saturday, finishing Saturday night (for some reason I woke up at 6:30 Saturday and couldn't go back to sleep, so I had a couple hours of quiet before everyone else woke up). In short, it was somewhat surprising and pretty good, but "Renesmee" is the Worst. Name. Ever. What was she thinking? My formerly and briefly Mormon friend says it's very Mormon sounding. I'll have to take her word for it.

-Unwittingly drank an unfortunate amount of Sweet Tea Vodka Friday night which later caused me to revisit the stromboli I made and consumed during cocktail hour.

-Took the kids to hang out at my folks' for a while on Saturday, during which visit I read, napped briefly on the couch, and observed them fishing from my quilt on the ground, where I read some more.

-Slept in on Sunday, made and ate a big breakfast, went back to bed with the newspaper and eventually napped while BD and the kids watched a Tarzan movie from the box set he got for his birthday. It was after 2:00 when I got up, scavenged lunch for myself and the kids, and got motivated to clean while BD took Genevieve and Calvin with him on a Sam's run for lunchbox fillers.

I'm really quite lazy. I just tend to cram all my activity into short bursts so I can spend the rest of my time lounging around in my jammies at indecent hours. Really!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Miz Molassy learns you your lessons

School is in, y'all. I know you freaky northerners stay out until after Labor Day, but that's not how we roll down south. Our last day comes at the end of May and we go back the second week of August. I've been back two weeks now because as a teacher, I get one less week of vacation (that's five fewer days, Chris) than the students so I can be filled with in-servicey goodness before their return.

As I wrote in this month's Lamplighter column (p. 20), I really like this time of year. Sure, it's sad that summer is over. I love being able to stay home with the kids and having those weeks to swim, lounge, and play together. But let's be real, after a while I've had my fill of the 24/7 four-child experience. I need about 150 publicly-schooled teenagers in order to really flex my muscles. A girl gets bored with the easy life after a while is what I'm saying.

After week one with my new batch of students, I am in lurve with my schedule. For the first time since coming to the High school, I don't have first hour planning. When I started two years ago, I'd given birth on the last day of the previous school year, so my principal cut me some slack and gave me planning during that 7:30-8:30 time slot. That slack has now run out. I'm proud to say that I made it to work between 7:00 and 7:05 every day last week. We'll see if I can keep it up. Anyway, I have 2nd period Honors (this is really first period, but we call homeroom first, even though we rarely go to homeroom, because that totally makes sense), 3rd standard, 4th honors, 5th standard, then lunch, 6th period planning, and 7th journalism which only has 6 kids in it so far. In other words, I have four solid hours of teaching and then I'm pretty much on my own for the rest of the day. The purpose of the journalism class is to put out the all-but-dead school paper, which I have just taken over and am trying to revive. So it's more of an on-going project kind of class than anything else. I am really liking the kids in all my classes. I'm noticing, particularly in the honors classes, that the onslaught of Laurens and Britneys of the past two years has been abruptly cut off. Weird. These are the first 90s babies, so I guess the change is fitting. The trend must have been toward unique names because as of yet, I can't spot a trend. A lot of K-sound names like Kinika and Kennisha, but no one or two dominant names are jumping out at me.

It takes us a little while after school starts to get back in the swing of being gone all day and then coming home and maintaining the castillo. Today my house finally got in my face and reached the level of filth that causes me to get on my knees and scrub the whole bathroom with Comet. I'm pretty sure that hasn't happened since I was pregnant with Genevieve and had pica that caused me to want to do nothing but scrub things with Comet, sniff the fumes from the running dishwasher, and daydream about eating sand, so yeah, it was gross in there. (Not that gross, people. I've cleaned, just not this thoroughly.) I also took every single thing out of the nasty fridge and scrubbed the shelves. SAM, who was helping me with this chore, was moved to remark that "Its not so much that your fridge is small, but that your expired condiment collection is so large." Then she threw all my banana peppers away based on the sell-by dates. Wacky germaphobes. I had to use my beloved Pampered Chef scraper to chisel out the dried lake of Ovaltine-infused milk at the bottom, but now the inside of my fridge is all dazzlingly white. It makes me happy every time I open it. I also did a general tidying of all the main living areas (er, all both of them), swept all the wood floors and the kitchen, Swiffer wetted the kitchen, and forced the kids to clean their rooms. The boys' room was pushed from nasty to Child Protective Services-worthy by this weekend's cocktail hour junior squad, so I went behind the kids and got the last bits and vacuumed while SAM graciously excavated the window seat toy box in the girls' room and made most of the objects in the room vanish into it. So now we have clean kids' rooms on top of a Cloroxy-fresh fridge and a Comet sparkly bathroom. What a nice way to start out the week!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

So Long, Summer!

Once again, my summer vacation has flown by. I feel like we made good use of it, and the kids and I enjoyed the long lazy days of staying up late, sleeping in, hitting the pool, and staying in our jammies all day if we felt like it. I don't think I went more than three days in a row without showering, so I'm pretty impressed with myself on that front. Chlorine gets you clean, right?

How did we spend our last precious days of freedom, you ask? Well, technically it's only my freedom, since the kids have one more week off before heading back to school, but their Dad is just not as fun as I am, so there's that. Anyway, I digress. What did we do? Let me think...

I'll go back a few days from the official beginning of the end so I can include the Friday night Dive In Movie at the Quince YMCA. Swimming at night is fun. Throw in Bee Movie playing at one end of the pool, dollar Good Humor Ice Cream, and free popcorn, and what could be better? The older kids floated in front of the screen most of the time, taking occasional breaks to swim and jump off the side into the pool at the other end from the movie. Genevieve stayed in her little car float for about five minutes of film time, then we spent the rest of the time going back and forth between the chairs (and our snacks) and the baby pool. She had a big time.

Now, the official last week countdown:

Monday: Swimming for the last time at the Y.

Tuesday: "Horton Hears a Who" at the cheapie theater. We loved it!
Tuesday evening: I got tattooed for three hours, alone. The lengths I go to for some me time!

Wednesday: Used our free summer membership to the Pink Palace for the last time. I have been really surprised and pleased by the fact that my children find bones, fossils, and insects on pins to be so fascinating!

Thursday: Ran errands, met SAM for lunch at the food court in the Oak Court Mall, and made aunt Elizabeth's birthday Thursday Night Dinner. Served said dinner to six adults and six children. Okay, one was just a baby, but he ate!

Friday: Sat around avoiding washing the birthday dinner dishes, mostly. Calvin went to play at his friend's house in the afternoon, at which time he was treated to a few rounds of Laserqust and then, later, a trip to see "Journey to the Center of the Earth" at the movies. When BD got home from work, he took S on a daddy-daughter date to some art openings and dinner. Joshua got some highly-coveted computer time, and SAM and I ordered pizza and hung with the babies until the rest of the crew came home.

Saturday: Took the kids out to my parents' for a few hours, as is usual for Saturdays. That night we had a big Girls' Night Out planned with SAM, Stacey, Stephanie, Melissa, Mary, and Shiloh (yes, I'm too lazy to link to all of you at once), so I took the carseats out of the Sassymobile and vacuumed the remaining crushed goldfish and peanut shells from our beach trip so as not to mess up their pretty outfits. Viola--seven hot mamas (well, one not-mama) in a semi-clean minivan. What more could you want from life? I'd post the link to the pictures on Flickr, but it's blocked at work. Maybe later I will. Right here in this very spot.

Sunday: Made a big breakfast then pretty much lazed around all day, as one should on Sundays, right?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tattoo Session Two: Electric Bugaloo

I spent last evening getting all of the flowers of my new tattoo shaded and colored in. I was there from 6:00 to 9:30 and three solid hours of that were spent under the needle. Last time it took about two and a half hours and let me tell you, that last half hour makes a difference. Especially when most of it is spent tattooing right over the achilles tendon.

Since this was my second session and therefore not quite as novel and exciting as the first, and because I had to schedule it for dinner time and basically the minute BD walks in the door from work, I wasn't sure I'd have any company. I thought BD might come for a while as SAM had offered to watch the kids so he could at least be there for part of the time, but he felt too guilty about leaving her with six kids (our four, her two) to accept her offer. So it was just me and my book.

When Tony first started working, I didn't want to distract him so I focused on reading. I was happy with the level of distraction my book provided and spent most of the first hour immersed in it. Tony was working very quickly in order to be able to finish in one session, and we took no breaks. Once after two hours he went for paper towels and I ran to the bathroom, but that was it. After a while we started talking and I learned that my tattoo artist is quite the bibliophile, reading a lot about memetics, among other things. In addition to painting, his hobby is tracing the origins of fairy tales as far back as possible, and linking them to their various versions around the world. It sounds like his book collection at home may rival ours for sheer numbers. It was interesting chatting with him and getting to know a little bit about him.

The final hour got pretty intense. The fact that I'd had a ham and cheese sandwich at 11:00 that morning, followed only by a few handfuls of movie popcorn and a box of chocolate-covered almonds at the second-run showing of "Horton Hears a Who" that afternoon was beginning to tell. Hunger and pain combined to make me jittery and I just wanted it to be over. The last half hour was spent with me lying on my stomach with Tony firmly holding my leg down to keep my foot from twitching and jumping involuntarily as he completed the last large flower and a few small ones peeking out from beneath it. I focused on my book as well as I could and bit down on my thumb. Finally we finished, wrapped it up, and I was on my way home to the burritos I'd started for dinner before leaving.

It's hard to capture all the details through the sheen of A&D ointment, but here are some pictures of the finished product.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sleeping Ugly

Is it possible for a toddler to get too much sleep? For the past several weeks, Genevieve's naturally spunky personality has been peppered with fits of extreme clinginess, bossiness, and random contrariness. Not that this is unusual behavior for a two year old, but the fact that she's able to sustain a mounting level of two-ness until well after 11:00 pm is exhausting.

For most of the summer, she has woken up between 8:30 and 9:00 in the morning, napped for about two hours in the afternoon, and then, regardless of whether those two hours were from 1:00 to 3:00 or 3:00 to 5:00, she refuses to bed down for the night until well after the eleventh hour. And believe me, that expression is appropriate because the situation becomes dire. At that point in the day, I. Have. Had. Enough.

So today, she missed her nap. We were helping a friend tackle some largish regrouping and rearranging projects at her house for most of the day, and for most of that time Genevieve played happily with the other kids. Sure she had her moments, but she was mostly pretty good. At one point we rode to Germantown to pick Somerset up from her cousin's house, and I hoped she might take a quick doze and then wake up refreshed but ready to turn in at a decent hour. Instead, she talked the whole time, as she does now in the car. As she did all the way to Dauphin Island and then back to Memphis. So she never napped, but she lasted beautifully even through a restaurant meal involving three adults and six children!

When we got home, she played with her brothers and sister some more, requested and took a bath, and then went easily to bed at around 8:00. Eight O'Clock! I don't quite know what to do with myself! I'm sure that somewhere around 10:00 she'll wake up, but I feel fairly confident that she'll just nurse and fall back asleep.

Is it possible that naps have been making my baby into the bad seed?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Post-Beach reality

As I was saying, we're back from the beach. I wanted to tell you I was going, or send you a little post card from Dauphin Island, but BD thought that was a bad idea. I suppose it would be a bit dangerous for me to say, for example, "We're leaving for a week and I'm taking all our photo albums and anything of sentimental value with us so that on the off chance the house should burn down while no one is here who could possibly get hurt, it wouldn't be such a terrible thing." wink wink

The house did not burn down. The dishwasher had the decency to break the night before we left, and the new one I purchased upon our return arrived today. It was supposed to be installed, but for some unfathomable reason, they only carry one standard sized hose kit on the truck. It was too short, even though our dishwasher is only one cabinet away from the sink. After I told the installers that was unacceptable and then bitched out a customer service rep at Home Depot, I still ended up with the old broken dishwasher still in place and the new one in a box in the middle of the floor. At least they're refunding the install fee and the cost of the too-short kit, which is about $80. Stupid Home Depot.

As for the trip itself, it was wonderful. Genevieve was not quite the beach lover she was last year, but she did ok as long as she stayed supplied with snacks she could cover with sand before shoving into her mouth. And I found that I wasn't as sad to leave this year as I was last time. As I pondered the absence of parting tears, I realized that we brought a little bit of the beach alive in our daily life after last year's trip. Our weekly cocktail hours and occasional monkeyless nights out have made it a little easier to end a full week with our friends. Sure, it was still hard, but I'm pretty happy with the life I got to come home to.

Here are some of our pictures from the trip. And here and here are some more. These are the family portraits in the obligatory white shirts, in which the wind made my hair look like the stupidest hair ever.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wish I were here

We're back from the beach. Back from the beach sucks. See a few more pictures here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

Rita the Bookworm was kind enough to award me this lovely Arte y Pico a while back and I have alternated between slacking and forgetting to thank her and post it up. Thanks Rita!

1) Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award based upon creativity, design, interesting material, and contribution to the blogger community, regardless of language.

2) Each award recipient has to display the name of the author and a link to his or her blog.

3) Each award winner has to display the award itself and a link to the blog whose author presented the award.

4) The winner must provide a link to the arte y pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) These rules must be displayed.

My five blogs:

Secret Agent Mom
Fertile Ground
Chockley Blog
All Adither

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How could I forget?

BD, as Genevieve tries to snatch something from him: "You will rue the day, little girl."
G: "No, you'll rue the day!" Proceeds to go around pointing at everyone in the house and saying "You'll rue the day! You'll rue the day!"


Genevieve: "Me hunny mommy."
Me: "You're hungry? What would you like to eat?"
G: "Me want Talaloes" (Much mush-mouthed rolling of the L sounds)
Me: "Tangeloes?"
G: "No! Talaloes. TAL-al-loes!"
Calvin tries: "Marshmallows?"
G: "No! Talaloes. Talaloes. TALALoes!!
Somerset gives it a shot: "Pillows?"
Calvin: "She doesn't want to eat pillows, dummy."
G, clearly exasperated: "Like rolley-rolleys. Talaloes."
Me: "Oh, Spaghettios?"
G: "Yes! Talaloes!"

Me: "Genevieve, are you going to play in the baby pool while the boys have swimming lessons?" (All humans larger than she is are boys.)
G: "Yeah, me fwim my tummy, and me jump! And me...um uh, what else..."

Me: "I love you Genevieve."
G: "Me wuv-ou, Mommy."
BD: "I love you, Genevieve."
G: "No, me wuving mommy!"
A few seconds later, with a big grin: "Me wuv OU Daddy!"

**Insert shameless plug** Vote for me!

Monday, July 07, 2008


I did something this afternoon that I haven't done for eight years. I went to the dentist for a routine cleaning and checkup.

I realize that some of you will find it scandalous that I went so long without a checkup. Even more scandalous? It had been six years between that visit and the one before it. I can even remember the logic behind each visit: I figured I should go before we left Panama City for, allegedly, Taos, because I didn't know when I'd have the money, time, or inclination to go again. Who knows how long it had been before that one. Six years later, I went when I was planning my second pregnancy. And now, eight years later, I went because I took all my kids a few weeks ago and thought "Hey, I haven't been to the dentist since before Joshua was conceived, and he's seven!"

I don't hate the dentist or anything. I just am not a maintenance kind of girl. I am bad about not getting the oil changed in my car until it's been three times as long as recommended. I never go to the doctor unless I'm really, really sick. Or pregnant, which is a more frequent occurance. And I never think to go to the dentist because I never have any problems with my teeth.

Or at least, I never used to. That's right...duh DUH duuuuh...I have a cavity. Gasp! I have never had a cavity in any of my permanent teeth! But now I have a tiny one in the grinding surface of my third molar on the upper right side. They sprung it on me right at the end, too! After all the scraping. Oh, the scraping. It went on so long and was so disgusting and mildly painful. My mind drfted to that genius who is running the ads for something called "sedation dentistry." Before, I scoffed at the pansies who would need such a thing, but now...

It's not that I'm now scared of the dentist. It's just so unpleasant, with the tiny metal gaffs and the holding your mouth wide open for upwards of half an hour at a time, and the unfortunate timing of opening your eyes just as the hygenist's bloodstained latex hand is passing in front of them. And the bib. Oh my god, the bib! That they wipe the crud from the little hooks on. There hasn't been any advance in dental technology since the advent of the bib? Really?

It wasn't scary, and it wasn't even very painful. It was just. So. Gross. Thank goodness I don't have to go back for at least six years!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Happy Birthday Baby

Joshua, you are seven years old today. You don't know this, and one day it will probably make you a little bit queasy to think about it, but you were my only completely planned baby. Your dad and I see no reason to talk to any of you about this, and if you were really going to read this now, I wouldn't talk about it still, but I lost a baby before Calvin, and I lost another one before you. That very first pregnancy was a complete surprise, and it made us realize that yes, maybe we were ready to have a baby. Of course we really didn't have any idea what that would mean, but we took the plunge anyway and so in that way, Calvin was planned. But if it hadn't been for that first unexpected glimpse into the frontier of parenthood, who knows how long we might have waited.

Your brother was not a fun baby. It's a wonder he didn't ruin things for the rest of you. But somehow, by the time he was three, we felt brave enough to start again. In a completely uncharacteristic move, I planned and timed and got pregnant with a baby who would be born six weeks before the start of summer vacation. But then a few weeks into the school year, that baby slipped away. It was hard not to feel that with each pregnancy, the universe was sending me a new message. I already believed, because of Calvin, that I would have the baby I was supposed to have. Now I saw that I couldn't necessarily control when or how that baby would come to me. My timetable and carefully-planned maternity leave apparently did not jibe with your plans. I was sad, but I also knew with inexplicable certainty that you would come, on your own terms and in your own time. And you did.You are the child of mine who is the most temperamentally like my child self. As far as I can tell from my memories, I didn't really know or think much about where I was or what I was doing until I was about eight years old. You coast through your days smiling and easily made happy. Your funny, skipping little run makes it completely impossible for me not to grin. And even as your tendency to space out and tear things into tiny little pieces irritates and frustrates me, I can't help but remember the time I spaced out and drew in a library book at school and then cried when the outraged librarian brought me crashing back to the reality of what I was doing. The worst you are ever guilty of is just not thinking about what it is you are doing, and, well, I can't really fault you for that because you come by it honestly. Don't worry; you'll outgrow it.You will not outgrow the other tendency you got from me. You know, the one that allows you to be asleep as soon as you are horizontal. When you were smaller, every afternoon without fail, you would walk over to me, say "I ready my nap," climb up next to me on the couch and suck your thumb and twirl my hair and fall promptly and happily asleep. Just as that easy nap felt like your gift to me each day, I hope you will one day appreciate my gift of ready sleep. I only wish I could have passed it on to the other three!

Happy birthday, Joshua. I love you so much. You are my little composer and future rocker dude. You love a joke and to laugh. You sometimes forget yourself, but you never mean any harm, and that's all I can really ask for.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tattoo Redux, session #1

On my twentieth birthday, waaay back in 1992, I got a very 1992 tattoo. It was a thin, tealish-greenish vine with little purple flowers spaced along it encircling my right ankle. The details of the flowers were too much for their tiny area, and they never looked like anything more than little purple blobs, really. All the colors were sort of dark and muddied because the guy listened to my request that they not be too bright and cartoonish, but didn't take into account the fact that my olive skin scars darkly.

For years, I've daydreamed about getting the vine redone and made into something fuller and prettier. For a long time I thought it would be a grape vine, lush and twining. In the past year or so, I started thinking seriously of having it redone, and my vision moved from one of a realistic looking grape vine to a more stylized, Art Deco looking one. Then I could never really find an example where the grapes looked like I wanted, and I moved toward the idea of a Deco-looking flowering vine. For Mother's Day this year, my wonderful husband bought me a gift certficate at No Regrets. It was finally going to happen! While he was there getting his really cool compass tattoo a couple weeks ago, I got a chance to talk to Tony Max, whose book I had liked. We talked about my design ideas and looked on line at images that had elements of what I wanted, then set an appointment for yesterday.

Tony was all ready when I arrived and had drawn up a stencil for me. But when we started talking about color, I was disappointed to hear that all of the vine parts would have to be black. I had thought when we talked, he'd said they could be dark green, but now he was saying that just wouldn't work as cover for the old tattoo. He suggested that if I didn't want a black vine tattoo (which at one point was what I considered getting, but I decided it would make me feel even more silly in feminine clothing like dresses), I could get groupings of photo-realistic flowers all around my ankle, and the only black would really be the shadows and spaces in between other elements, which would work nicely as cover. He brought me a book of flower photographs and I picked out some that I liked. The idea was actually similar to one I've been thinking about for a whole different tattoo, so it didn't feel like too much of a leap.

Long story short, I liked what he drew up, and here's what it looks like after the first session. I spent about two and a half hours of actual needle-on-skin tattoo time yesterday, and it will take another session of almost that long to color in and shade all the flowers. But I love it! I won't get the next part done until after our beach trip because it wouldn't have enough time to heal before then.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Father's Day Gift in action

BD got his long-coveted new camera and took it for a spin at cocktail hour last night. Here are a few of my favorites (and hair shots for those of you who haven't seen the new cut). This photo essay will be called "Mostly About Me."

Juicing limes. No, that's not a euphemism.

Someone is being very entertaining in the kitchen.

This just in: being forced to pet dogs makes your boobs bigger. If only Judy Blume had known, I'm sure she would have told us.

I'm told this gesture is all me.

Okay, one really cute one of Genevieve.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Lovin'

You may have noticed that we're keeping summer hours over here at chez Molassy. That means I'm not around so much, although I'm really trying to avoid the total desertion that both of you may remember from last summer. The kids and I have been spending our days sleeping in and eating late breakfasts of Cocoa Crispies, swimming at the Y, swinging (and sweating!) in the back yard, and, Genevieve's current favorite, playing with pans and buckets of water on the front porch. Who knew that transferring water from an empty gallon ice cream bucket to a pan with flaking non-stick coating via teaspoon could be so rewarding? Who cares if it makes our front porch look like the Clampetts' before the move? Good times.

The kids are enjoying the break from school. Genevieve, especially, is thrilled to have Mama full time to boss around, cling to, and play with. Her most fun developmental leap right now is the emergence of empathy. If she enjoys something, she now realizes that other people might enjoy it too, and that their enjoyment is desirable. So she will say "Mommy rubbing my back" which usually means her tummy, and then after a minute she will scramble up to a sitting position and say "Do Set-Set!" prompting me to call Somerset into the room. This has worked out nicely for Somerset, as she is getting a lot of belly rubs and cradling baby-style as I sing the mockingbird song to her on Genevieve's command.

All the time with the kids is great, but G's bursts of kindness are interspersed with extreme clinginess and tantrum throwing two-year-old style, which has started to wear on me a bit. To remedy that, I have purchased a little weekly chunk of freedom for myself at the rate of $10 an hour. Our new once-a-week sitter, home from college for the summer, started today. I went to the regular Monday Monkeyless lunch with BD and the gang. After being unable to attend all year, it's fun to finally be able to go. Next week I've shifted the day to Tuesday so as to have childcare while I get tatted up. Yeah, I know it's sexy the way it looks like my right foot is sewn on, but the old green, skinny vine is being covered over by a new, prettier, much more tendrilly and climbing design. Pictures to come...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Just in case you mistakenly thought of me as smart...

Let me tell you what I did today.

After BD cut the grass this morning, the kids pointed out how the side of my van was all plastered with stray bits of grass and dirt. We decided it would be fun to wash the car and get wet in the blazing, unseasonable-even-for-Memphis heat. I went in the house to get a big pan (the plastic bucket is mysteriously bottomless) and soap and rags, then came out and pulled the hose out from the uncooperative reel. Remembering that I was out of washer fluid, I decided to fill the receptacle with the hose before I did anything else. In the winter I use real washer fluid but it's not like it has a chance to freeze anytime in the next four or five months.

You may see where this is going now. I popped the hood, propped it up, and looked around at the various caps that opened onto fluid receptacles. I knew that putting water in the wrong one would be bad. I saw two that were obviously the wrong ones, and one right under the windshield that had no discernible markings (that I could see), and after looking over the whole works one more time, I chose that one, uncapped it, and put the hose to it. The opening under the cap seemed very small and I sensed without it really registering that this didn't seem right. After a few minutes I stopped, looked around under the hood some more, and saw what I'd missed--the actual washer fluid receptacle. Crap!

I alerted BD to what I'd done and he came over to see that I had, in fact, put water where only brake fluid is meant to go. I went ahead and filled the actual washer fluid tank, and then the kids and I washed the van before I headed out to the oil change place a few blocks from our house. There was a young female employee greeting cars as they pulled up to the bays, and when I told her I needed my brake fluid drained and replaced, she shook her head and said "Oh, we can't do that." I think this is a lie, but I went on about half a mile or so down the road to a bigger tire/service place. I could tell the guy wanted to turn me away because they were so busy, but then he seemed to take pity on me because he called the mechanic in and asked if he could do it. He could. "You'll have to just leave it here and come back at four because we're so covered up," he said kindly.

I started to call BD to come get me, but reconsidered when I remembered the kids playing happily in the neighbors' sprinkler with their son. Instead, I went next door to Krystal, bought a pomegranate freeze, and set out for home on foot. It really wasn't a bad walk in spite of the heat, and the occasional honk from passing cars reassured me that if I have to be dumb, at least I'm still passably hot from a distance if the car is moving fast enough. The only downside to the walking was that I had on flip-flops. I was just recently told by a podiatrist not to wear flip-flops or any other cheap, unsupportive shoe if I'm going to be walking or on my feet for any period of time. At least these were the ones with the inch-thick foam footbed that actually does have some arch support built in, but the top straps are rubber and the left one had rubbed skin off the top of my foot by the time I got a few blocks from the house.

Once I made it inside, I stripped down to my skivvies and lay spread-eagle under the fan for about five minutes to cool off. In spite of the heat, loss of foot skin, and acceptance of the fact that I'm not very smart, I felt proud of myself for cleaning up after my own mistake without creating a hassle for anyone else. As it turns out, it's probably going to cost the exact amount I just received for my first paid writing gig. So I'm the only one paying for my mistake, in every sense of the word. At least that's something, right?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

You Have Been Here and You are Everything

When I was fourteen years old and just starting tenth grade, I was not what anyone would call a happy or well-adjusted girl. I also wasn't as badly off as I probably liked to think back then, but a summer's worth of Dead Milkmen and Violent Femmes will make you morose if you're not careful. I was, however, a lucky girl. In fact, I was the luckiest girl in the world. I just didn't know it yet.

When I was fourteen and just starting tenth grade, I met the love of my life. I met the boy I would grow up with and have babies with and, I have no doubt, the man I will grow old with. And fourteen years ago today, I married him. It was the best and smartest thing I ever did. Every good and beautiful thing in my life involves him and grows from our relationship.

Happy anniversary BD. Your unwavering willingness and ability to love me have, do, and always will astonish me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Genevieve!

You are two years old today and I can scarcely believe it, the time has flown by so quickly. About two years and 34 weeks ago, it was slowly dawning on me that you might be with me, a stowaway secreting yourself in small, warm, well-broken-in quarters until the time was right for you to show yourself. I wish I could say that I was immediately overjoyed at the thought of you, but see, I didn't know you yet. Only two weeks before I had ended the 50 straight months of nursing your brother then sister, uninterrupted by my pregnancy with her. For the first time in over four years, I didn't have a nursling or anyone in diapers. Your Daddy and I had wrestled with the idea of having another baby, and even though four children were what we had once imagined, we were tired and thought maybe three would be enough after all.

Thank you so much for knowing we were wrong. Thank you for staying with me and bringing your tiny blue self into the world, knot in the cord and all. I can tell you in all honesty that you have brought joy and beauty and searing love to me every single day of your life. You were only weeks old and so very tiny when you showed me how much you had to say, when I would prop you on the pillow in front of me and you would lock your eyes onto mine and kick and wave and make all manner of coos and grunts. Your story was already fascinating and it only grows more so with each passing day.

So now you are two. You look more and more like your big sister as you get older, but you are the only one of golden hair with highlights that no amount of money could buy. You are fiercely independent in some ways but you still love your mama. You love to swing and to be outside as much as possible. You love to go to the grocery store and run up and down the aisles and try to convince me to go "dif way!" You throw a mean tantrum and can turn from stingy to generous on a dime.

At night when you finally admit defeat and snuggle into my body to nurse and sleep, I smell your hair and rub your back and know how numbered those nights are now. You are my last baby, and hardly a baby at all anymore. I know this and the understanding is deeper than it was with your siblings and all the more bittersweet.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Home Stretch

Remember the last time I wrote a real post, like a week ago? Well I'm still here. At work. With no students. As of today, no one at my school has any students anymore, though, since Friday was the last day of classes for all schools in the district. But while other teachers scurry to get grades done, I had to do all that a week and a half ago. All I have to do now is go through the checkout process. This is somewhat like a scavenger hunt, only less fun and instead of collecting stuff, you get rid of stuff and collect signatures. You give your receipt book and summer address to the financial secretary and she signs your blue form on her special line, you give your AV inventory to the librarian and she signs, and so forth. I can't find anyone to take my offspring and sign off on them, though. There's no line for that.

Yes, it's that time of year when my own children come to work with me since they have nowhere else to go. At least I only have to work today and then until lunch tomorrow. And actually, the kids do great while they're here. Mostly. First they play games on the computer. This involves me a lot of me having to come over and try to figure out why the desired game will not work right. Then they draw on the whiteboards. This is the phase we are currently in. Calvin is drawing a variety of dinosaurs, both winged and non, and Somerset is drawing food and trees. Joshua is still on the computer. Somerset has also had a brief interlude with markers and construction paper that resulted in a lovely card for me, delivered to my desk organizer for work-to-be-graded, which is otherwise blissfully empty. Later the PTSA is feeding us lunch, which means I'll try to find something among the meat trays and pasta salad and crackers that my kids will eat and it will all end in Joshua having a chocolate chip cookie the size of his head for lunch.