Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Scattered Pic-Tures Ofthesmilesweleftbehind

This past weekend was full of momentous occasions for me. In an uncharactaristic show of preparedness and initiative, I charged up the batteries for the camera and actually remembered to take it places. This was partly motivated by my fear that Genevieve will one day hate me because her baby book is empty. Ok technically it's nonexistent at this point, but I'm fixing that. And I would never be able to redeem myself if I didn't take pictures of her first birthday.

Before I get to Genevieve and her birthday, though, I have to talk for just a minute about graduation. As most of you know, this was my first year teaching all seniors at the school that I have been trying to get to since I came back into the system two and a half years ago. I had an incredible year, and I really loved and enjoyed my students, and I'm going to miss them. I realized this year that I'm doing what I want to do, and for the first time in my life, I'm not keeping one eye open for something else or wondering what I will do next. I still love change, but I'm also realizing that my need for change is part of what makes this job perfect for me. The whole cyclical nature of the school year and getting a new batch of students each year really works for me. The hours and vacations allow me to be home when my kids are home, and now that I've found a school where I'm happy, I feel like I am home.

So, the weekend in pictures:

Sunday, my whole family was coming over to celebrate Genevieve's birthday and have lunch together while my sister and her family were here from Georgia. My grandmother, aunt, brother and his family, and parents were coming, the house was a wreck, and Big daddy woke up sick as a dog and unable to get out of bed, much less help me clean. After a lot of freaking out and yelling at the kids to help me, I got things reasonably presentable, and the afternoon turned out to be very nice. Genevieve enjoyed opening a few presents.

and especially reading the cards.

Of course, she had a little help.

She enjoyed being the belle of the ball.

I had to be at the Coliseum at 6:00 for graduation. I hadn't seen my students since their last class a week before, and I enjoyed playing mama one last time as I bobby-pinned hats to heads, negotiated mortarboard swaps for a better fit, and delivered contraband purses to the real mamas out in the crowd, since they couldn't be carried in the procession. I made sure to snap pictures of a few of my favorites, like the captain of the football team.

and his girlfriend

and their friends. Four of the kids in this picture are headed to Vanderbilt, some with full academic scholarships. After all the application essays I edited, I feel kind of proud of that.

Can't forget my class clowns.

The next morning was the baby's actual birthday, and she woke up in such a happy mood, it was almost as if she knew the day was special. We spent the morning relaxing and playing in our PJs before heading out to the Chockley's. She took a walk with big brother

and discussed badminton strategy with Joshua.

But she insisted that all the singing stop immediately.

She was clearly ready to get this party started.

Once we got to the Chockley's, we relaxed while the men made fire and cooked meat.

Stephanie and Chloe were clearly impressed by Big Daddy's skills.

Finally it was time for desert. Genevieve wasn't sure she liked her cupcake, even after I tried to help by wiping off most of the sticky frosting.

Then she was sure she didn't like it. At all.

What she really wanted was a fake cookie, of course

and a mojito

But even Big daddy, who usually prefers "just fruit," couldn't resist Andria's homemade ice cream.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Let's Hear It for the Boy

One of my best friends, Gretchen, was in town from Way Up North this weekend. It's been over two years since I saw her, so we had a lot of fun catching up. Saturday night we had a little too much fun drinking Margaritas on the patio at Cafe' Ole' with some other old friends, then hopped over to the Bayou for a couple of beers. It was just like old times, except that in the morning I had to wake up at 7:00 and deal with four children in spite of my nausea and extreme sleepiness. It was well worth it, though, since I haven't been out childless more than once or twice since Genevieve was born. Big Daddy was a trooper and even gave me the ok to stay out later when I called to check in, in spite of his fear of being alone with the baby without the benefit of mammary glands. (I don't blame him either--I have few infant skills that don't involve the magical boob.)

What I really want to talk about, though, is Sunday. I got up and did what I have to do, because in our house it's understood that if you are fortunate enough to go out with no kids and get drunk, you don't get to lie around and moan about your excesses the next day. But really, it wasn't too bad once I ingested my bacon sandwich with mustard, foregoing the cinnamon rolls after I made the mistake of licking some of their sugary icing off my thumb and almost hurling. It was Big Daddy, though, who really got busy. I have to just take a minute and recognize the fact that on his one day off after a busy week of BBQ Fest business and Volvo (dis)repair, he got up, did laundry and dishes, mopped and scrubbed particularly disgusting parts of the kitchen floor (read: dog bowls), cleaned up the deck and cut the back yard, took all of us to Lowes to get parts to fix the toilet and look at other stuff we might need, came home and worked on the toilet, decided the whole thing needed to be replaced, took the old toilet out and went to get a new one, opened the new one to find that it was broken, did not let the expletives fly as I undoubtedly would have, took the toilet back on his third trip to Lowes, installed the new toilet, and then cleaned up the resulting mess. I should add that his phobia of tile and bathrooms in general makes the whole thing just that much more impressive. He had mentioned earlier that he wanted to grill steaks for dinner, so I went to Kroger and splurged on two really nice pieces of meat. I felt like he deserved it, even if he did have to grill them himself. I did make salad and baked potatoes to go with. Then he read to the kids and put the older three to bed.

I probably don't do enough to let him know it, but I feel lucky every single day that I married this man. Not only does he clean and do laundry, get the kids ready and to school every morning, and read to them every night, he never complains about my cooking or balks when I say we're getting takeout. In fact he never acts as if it's my job to feed us at all, but seems glad that I do. He's smart, funny, and sexier than ever, and he's mine all mine.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Like a Real Writer

Last night I had a meeting with Courtney, the editor of the Cooper-Young newspaper The Lamplighter. Since I've inherited Stacey's monthly "Midtown Mama" column (apparently whether I like it or not), I thought I should find out what it is that I'm supposed to do. Courtney was very nice and we had an enjoyable iced-chai-and-brownie-accompanied chat at Otherlands, which allowed me to escape the house alone on a weeknight for an entire hour. After four days of cleaning up puke and poop in the wake of the evil stomach virus that afflicted us over the weekend, it was almost like a vacation.

Now I just have to think of something to write. That seems to be a theme with me right now. I need to think about things to write in this blog, in my column, and lately, I'm thinking, in a book. Yes, I'm in a "when in the hell am I finally going to write a book" phase. It just seems silly to me that I'm not working on that. Summer is coming and I'll have ten weeks off of work--what better time to start a novel? Sure, I'll have the kids, but couldn't I squeeze in a couple hours a day, at least?

Actually, it's lack of ideas stopping me, not lack of time. Once I know what I want to write about, I know it will happen. I'm just having trouble thinking of a plot and characters--you know, the little things. But I'm thinking, hey, the last Harry Potter book is due out this summer, and then what? People are going to need something new. Why can't I fill that gap? I like to read all this young adult sci-fi/fantasy fic, right? So why can't I write it? Well, because apparently my brain does not want to think up any cool characters with funny names and fantastical habitats. Dammit!.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Girl Trouble

Yesterday when I picked the boys up from school, Calvin was no sooner inside the van than he said "Mom, when we get home, will you call someone for me?" But when I asked him who he needed me to call, he replied crytically "I'll show you when we get home."

It turned out he couldn't wait that long, though. He was the recipient of an anonymous note from a girl, and the note instructed him to call the number written there at a certain time. "I was thinking you could just call and when the person answers you can say 'who is this?'"

I found it thrilling that he would come to me so unabashadly with this request, since my greatest fear at his age was that my parents might suspect that I had any awareness of girl/boy-related things. But at the same time, I wondered if I might need to set him straight a little bit on whose job it was to call girls and ask "Do you like Calvin?"

Not that there was any question about that. There were several little hearts sprinkled throughout and decorating the outside of the note. Apparently all the girls heart Calvin, so there was some question as to the author of this particular missive. "Everyone thinks it's Jessica," he said with complete innocence, "and I think it is but I hope not. But it might not be." His little brother, who has been the recipient of some back seat love advice from Calvin about his unrequited affection for a girl in his class named Ariel, suggested teasingly "I bet it's Mallory. Someone lo-oves Calvin!" "No," he replied cooly, "that's not what her writing looks like."

After explaining that the girl in question had probably been instructed never to tell her name to a stranger on the phone, I suggested that he could call his best friend and have him call the mysterious number. "Yeah!" he said appreciatively, "I'll get John to call!" I drove on with visions of having to get a land-line phone again if Calvin was going to start the phone talking with all his little friends. I know all of those adolescent things have to be coming, and even now, at nine, he is showing signs of the crazy moodiness and misunderstood angst of pre-pubescence. It's not exactly a pleasant prospect, but I'm trying to be optimistic and make sure I respond in a way that assures he will keep coming to me with his girl troubles. At least until the notes start containing things that I'd really rather not know.