Friday, December 24, 2010

top 5

In order, my top five Smith (and now Caldwell) family traditions. Happy Holidays, everyone! May you be surrounded by family that are friends and friends that are family. And lots of good food.

5. Christmas Eve spaghetti dinner, complete with green noodles. I don't remember the exact origin of this tradition, but it's a nice break in the monotony of ham after turkey after ham (not that I'm complaining. I could eat holiday food all year round). It always marks the official start of Christmas celebration when I smell my mom's spaghetti sauce bubbling on the stove. Of course there's always peppermint red velvet cake, fudge, Woodford pudding, ginger muffins... our family knows how to do Christmas food.

4. Our annual viewing of the Muppet Christmas Carol. My dad and I are definitely the most enthusiastic about this tradition (although I'm sure some members of my family would have much more colorful adjectives) and could probably reenact the movie on our own without the help of the actual Muppets. Nothing can make me laugh the way Gonzo as Charles Dickens and his faithful sidekick Rizzo the Rat can.

3. The mystery of the ugly Christmas fruit. Years ago when my great-grandmother passed away, my mom managed to sneak away from cleaning out her house without a hideous sculpture of fruit that some kind old lady friends were insisting was "just her style". That year or a few years following (the time line gets a little confused now), my aunt Jane gave it to my mom for Christmas. A few years later, Mom gave it back to Jane. The first Christmas Joe and I were married we had a huge gift under the tree from Jane. I was so excited to open it... until I got past the first layer of tissue and saw the tip of the fruit sculpture peeking out at me. Last year I managed to give it back to mom (via a decoy Big Box) and now it's anyone's guess when, where, and for whom it will re-appear.

2. My family always makes a pretty big deal out of going to pick out our Christmas tree and decorating it. My dad brings down the boxes upon boxes or ornaments, Nutcrackers, figurines, and lights and we spend the day after Thanksgiving re-telling stories, singing Amy Grant Christmas songs from the early 90s, and welcoming the Christmas season as a family.

1. The Big Box started on accident 16 years ago. My Dad put a huge box under the tree with no tag on it, and for a 10, 7, and 4 year old, a large unmarked box at Christmas time is a BIG DEAL. Of course, seeing how excited and curious we were about the box, my Dad made a game of it and refused to reveal who the box was for. It was the last thing we opened Christmas morning, all of us nearly exploding with excitement. It was pillows. For Mom. But the Box was back next year, and the year after that, and it's there this year, 16 years later. Some years it's a hit (a Wii, black pearls for Mom), and some years it's a miss (a vaccuum) but it's always there, unlabeled and enormous, our own little Christmas mystery.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

my baby is a genius

Just because I haven't written them down yet, I probably never will with any future children, and I know I won't remember when I'm 40, here are the words Laine knows so far (at slightly over 13 months of age). You're welcome.

woof woof
bawk bawk (chicken noise)
moo (Are you noticing a theme here? She knows animal noises, but not the actual animal. Go figure.)
uh oh
"dat" for "what's that"
ho ho (what santa says)
wawa ("wallet")
bye bye

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ho ho... uh oh

We got there right at 10am, waiting in the front of the line for The Big Man's arrival. When he made his grand entrance and sat in his green velvet armchair and I heard the little ones all around me squeal I couldn't help but get a little teary-eyed. Joe nudged me and laughed, but there was something undeniably moving to me about starting a new tradition with my daughter, one that has always brought me and my family so much joy. I still remember Dad telling us stories while we wound our way through the maze of fake snow, elves, and the like (one of the best was about a reindeer named Elmer who had something to do with creating the famous glue...), watching the videos of ourselves when we got home, the certainty that somehow the Santa at the Augusta Mall was, if not the real thing, close enough to make sure all of our Christmas morning wishes would come true. Laine was squirmy and excited as we moved toward The Man Himself and I allowed myself high hopes for the world's most adorable Christmas card, the first in a long line of happy mall-Santa memories.

Well. There's always next year.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


One of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal is the cranberry sauce and in my experience no cranberry sauce could ever quite match up to my grandmother's. It was just the right combination of sweet and tart, with the perfect whole berries to crushed berries to juice ratio. I would always leave a large section of my plate empty until I got to the cranberries and then pile them as high as I could, knowing I would still be going back for more (and then mixing them with mustard for a turkey sandwich the next day... with an extra bowl on the side). I raved to my grandmother every year about her cranberry sauce and she would smile, her eyes full of pride and years of cranberry wisdom and experience and that signature smugness that my grandmother wore as elegantly as her enormous jeweled rings, revealing nothing.

This year was our first Thanksgiving without my grandmother. My mom made the ginger muffins (another of Grandma's finest recipes), cooked a beautiful bird stuffed with cornbread goodness, roasted green beans with mushrooms, and baked apple brown betty for dessert (we skipped the family tradition of Woodfurd pudding... but that's another blog entry). As I was helping put away ingredients, I found the bags of cranberries in the pantry.

"MOM." The bags hung limply, one from each hand, as I turned to her with a look of resignation. "The cranberries."

"Oh," she said dismissively, wiping down the counters. "You just make them."

Now, I am good at many things, but I have never considered myself an accomplished chef by any means. The thought that I, a lowly and inexperienced novice in the kitchen, could recreate the cranberry magic that my grandmother brought to the table every year was not only improbable, it was LAUGHABLE.


"Greer, just read the back of the bag."

The back of the bag? I turned the package over, sure to be confronted with some kind of code or the first clue that would lead me on the mysterious journey to find the secret of The Perfect Cranberry Sauce. Instead... "Bring water and one cup sugar to a boil. Add cranberries and continue to boil gently for approximately 10 minutes."

"Then what?" I asked my mother.

"Then we'll start the turkey."

"No, I mean, what do I do after the bag instructions?"

"That's it. We put them in the fridge."

The shock must have shown on my face. It was like hearing that the pyramids were actually miniature and just looked big in pictures or figuring out that the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle was actually easily solved with a simple pattern of the same letters every week.

"I feel like part of my childhood was just stolen from me." I said, dumping the berries in the pot and watching them begin to pop and bubble. "All the time she made it seem like this great mystery... this amazing recipe. And all along she was just reading off the back of the bag."

"Well... add something to it then." My mom said. I don't think she got quite how earth-shaking this revelation was for me. I watched the berries bubbling in the pot, waiting for them to reach that perfect whole berries to crushed berries to juice ratio.

And then I did add something. I added some brown sugar and little lemon juice. And I added a little bit of experience, and a little bit of cranberry wisdom, and a little pride. And, just for Grandma, a little bit of that signature smugness and, I hope, a pinch of elegance.

The cranberries were especially delicious this year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

haul out the holly

Almost every Christmas when my sisters and I were young my parents would dress us in our holiday finest and trot us down to the Augusta Mall for a videotaped visit with The Man Himself. The videos have a place of honor in a cabinet in the living room now, snuggled up with the Disney movies and sing-a-long tapes, recognizable by their red cardboard boxes and descriptions scrawled in my dad's barely legible handwriting: "Greer and Chelsea- Santa 1989" or "The Girls See Santa- 1993". Every so often they are dusted off, rewound, and played for everyone's amusement and nostalgia. There's the Santa with the story about the squirrels, there's the year my hair was especially atrocious, there's the year that Mom and Dad's hair and glasses were almost identical in their enormity. Watching those videos reminds me of that feeling of joy and anticipation that I always identified with the approach of the holidays (and still do). So this year we are taking Laine (in her holiday finest, of course) to the mall to meet Santa. And while I am sure we will record the occasion on my Flip (I don't even know if they videotape for you anymore), I am most excited to capture her reaction and then mail it to our nearest and dearest for this year's Christmas cards.

My family never really did cards... we received a few and put them dutifully on the fridge or in a basket, but I don't recall ever having a family photoshoot or helping my mom compile stats for a newsletter to wow the relatives we never talk to otherwise. It wasn't until the first year that Joe and I were married and got Libby (who was super festive in her holly collar) that I had any desire to send out a Christmas card myself and spent weeks on Shutterfly agonizing over which card to use with which pictures and how many to order and yadda yadda yadda. I get that some people may consider cards wasteful in this modern age when it would be so much easier and cheaper to just send everyone a facebook message with a link to the album full of pictures of Laine and The Man Himself, I feel that there is nothing that quite matches the joy of a tangible paper card with a handwritten address... I know I love this time of the year in part because it's the only time when there is something other than bills and magazines in our mailbox and something other than the gym schedule and coupons on our fridge.

So this year will begin a new tradition in our home of taking our kid (one days kidS) to the mall to see Santa. And while we will not have a cabinet full of VHS tapes to commemorate each year and to watch the steady march of time from one Christmas to the next, we will have a little box of Christmas cards in a closet or an attic, tangible and precious, for her to look back on. Who knows what she will have to say about my hair...

** Yep, I'm willing to sell out a little to make this Christmas card thing happen. My husband is kind of a Scrooge, y'all, so I gotta do my part to make my Christmas dreams come true. Bloggers, interested in scoring some free Christmas cards from Shutterfly? Check it out- they're the jam.

Monday, November 22, 2010

yeah, about that

So I really did have every intention of blogging every day this month. I threw that intention out into the universe and do you know what happened? The universe LAUGHED at me. And then smacked me in the face with a week that was more of an emotional roller coaster than I have ever experienced before. And people joked that I should have plenty of blog fodder, but I felt weird about that. I know that it is kind of a selfish and egotistical thing to have a blog in the first place, but I felt like I needed to draw a line before I was just exploiting tragedy for the sake of sticking to my NaBloPoMo goal. So, yeah. I did not write a blog entry every day this month (did you notice?). But I'm back! Within the past few weeks I have lost a grandmother, gone to a funeral and thrown a first birthday party within 24 hours of each other, put up Christmas decorations, gone to the beach, gotten bangs, taken Laine to her 12 month doctor's appointment (4 shots, finger prick, AND blood drawn = awful)... it's been an eventful month. And now it's the week of Thanksgiving... the holidays are fast approaching and I couldn't be more excited. Every year it seems I have more to celebrate, more to be thankful for. And even with the negative, sad, and difficult things that have happened lately, I can not deny or ignore the tremendous number of blessings in my life and the importance taking the time to be grateful for and appreciate them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Every year at the end of the school year my high school (which I actually attended from 5th grade all the way through 12th) had an assembly. And every year at this assembly there was a slide show. And every year at this assembly during this slide show they would play the same song. To an outsider it might sound monotonous and boring, but to a Davidsonite it was a moment to aspire to- the moment when your face was on that slideshow. When YOU were among the elite, the prestigious, the powerful and all-mighty SENIOR CLASS. You'd watch the faces of your friends fade in and out on the projector screen, laugh out loud at the popular kid's nerdy softball photo from 2nd grade, smile at the sweet smiling faces of your classmates when they were cute and pudgy babies. But it was when your face appeared on the screen that you knew you had made it. You had made it through (in my case and that of a few of my classmates and friends) 8 years at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. You were, quite literally, too cool for school. You were moving up and out and on. You were sitting there in the front of the auditorium (in the senior section, of course) and your face was flashing bright and toothy and innocent, larger than life... and then it was gone. And suddenly, with the fading of your own face, you knew what it really meant to be on that slideshow. It meant a passage of time, the end of an era, handing over a torch. It meant watching your friends slip past you, up and out and on into the world. It meant leaving the comfort of the top, front, and center and starting over again somewhere else... on the bottom, in the periphery. It meant leaving the comfort of familiarity for the startling newness of the rest of your life. By the end of the slideshow, almost the entire senior class was usually in tears. As an underclassman I always assumed it was because they were so happy, feeling so close to one another and overwhelmed by emotion. And to an extent that was true. But I didn't really understand until I was there in that moment is the fear that is inherent in the unknown. And while what waits for you may be even better than what you're leaving behind, it doesn't lessen the sadness of having to leave in the first place.

"Long ago, far away, life was sweet... close your eyes."

Monday, November 8, 2010

and i'd been doing so well...

So it's 10pm and I have yet to write my daily blog entry. I'm kind of at a loss here. I just taught ballet to little people for about five hours and my brain is aching almost as much as my feet (but not quite). The biggest things going on in my life are Laine's upcoming birthday and my grandmother's impending passing. Isn't life a funny thing? Anyway, I'm not really ready to write about either one yet any more than I already have. So I'm going to cheat and send you over to my dad's blog. He has written some insightful, articulate, and inspiring things about what has been happening with my family for the past few days. (I especially like this one.) It's not the first time my dad has been insightful, articulate, and inspiring. I'm sure it won't be the last.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

stop this train

I think this is one of the most relatable songs for a 20-or-30-something that I have ever heard. It's not about falling in love or falling out of love or being cool or wishing you were cool. It's about being able to really take s step back from yourself and see that you are growing up, feeling the panic set in that maybe you don't know HOW to grow up and maybe (definitely) you would really rather NOT grow up, realizing you don't have a choice, and trying your best to deal with it. It's about facing mortality- your own and that of the people closest to you- and still trying to make the most of life while you can. My mom has always impressed upon us that there is balance in everything in life and this weekend has shown me a new dichotomy that I had not really understood before: the balance between fear and acceptance, holding on and letting go, the anxiety of not having enough time and the bravery to do as much as you can with the time you have.

No I'm not color blind
I know the world is black and white
Try to keep an open mind but...
I just can't sleep on this tonight

Stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
But honestly won't someone stop this train

Don't know how else to say it, don't want to see my parents go
One generation's length away
From fighting life out on my own

Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't but honestly won't someone stop this train

So scared of getting older, I'm only good at being young
So I play the numbers game to find away to say that life has just begun
Had a talk with my old man, said help me understand
He said turn 68, you'll renegotiate
Don't stop this train
Don't for a minute change the place you're in
Don't think I couldn't ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly we'll never stop this train

See once in a while when it's good, it'll feel like it should
And they're all still around and you're still safe and sound
And you don't miss a thing 'til you cry when you're driving away in the dark

Singing stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can't take this speed it's moving in
I know I can't
Cause now I see I'll never stop this train

Saturday, November 6, 2010

dream a little dream

I don't usually remember my dreams. I fall asleep fast, sleep soundly, and wake easily (try not to hate me). So when I have nights full of vivid dreams or restless sleep, it's usually a sign of some kind of anxiety or emotional stress. Last week, I dreamed that my best friend's wife was eaten by an alligator that lived in my backyard and was trying to eat my family's dog. A few days later, the same friend betrayed me to some kind of Asian mafia spies who were coming over for a dinner party. The next night, an ex-boyfriend came over to our house to help me bake a bunch of pies. This morning I woke up thinking that there was some hysterical website that I needed to link to on my blog. I sat staring at the cursor for a few minutes before realizing that I must have dreamt about it. Which means that I am now dreaming about blog entries. Apparently NaBloPoMo stresses me out.

PS- Thanks to everyone for their support, concern, prayers, and well wishes. Grandma's condition is still more or less the same, so we're all just staying close and supporting her and one another.

Friday, November 5, 2010


In less than an hour, I am taking Laine to a first birthday party for her friend (and birthday buddy- they were born one day apart!) Emilia. Less than two hours later I will be driving home to be with my family as we support my grandmother through what will most likely be one of her last days. She celebrated her 80th birthday this past January. I wanted to say something poetic about the circle of life or the exchange of a last breath for a first, but everything falls flat or makes me start singing the Lion King in my head. Suffice it to say, this should be a day of very mixed emotions for me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


So apparently November is "NaBloPoMo"- National Blog Posting Month. Why they had to make the shortened version so awkward, difficult to remember, and impossible to say without sounding mildly retarded I have no idea, but there you have it. And while I realize that it is already four days into the month (and exactly one week from my daughter's birthday, but hey, who's counting?) I've decided to give this thing a shot. The deal is that you write one blog post a day for the entire month of November. I'm pretty sure there is no requirement that they all be good posts, so I should be ok on that front. I guess it's like when songwriters try to write a song a day and then they hope that they get a couple good songs out of it. Or when photographers take thousands of pictures with the end goal of 10 or so solid shots. Or when the Duggars have 18 kids and... actually, I'm not sure what their endgame is.


So this is Day One.

Or Day Four.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I just downloaded the new Taylor Swift CD and was listening to it while riding to Target (like ya do) the other day when this song came on. Oh lordy. One does not want to be that person sitting all teary-eyed in the Target parking lot with a whiny baby in the backseat ready to do some hardcore Target browsing, but I totally was. This is the first verse:

Your little hand's wrapped around my finger
And it's so quiet in the world tonight
Your little eyelids flutter cause you're dreaming
So I tuck you in, turn on your favorite night light
To you everything's funny, you got nothing to regret
I'd give all I have, honey
If you could stay like that

Oh darling, don't you ever grow up
Don't you ever grow up, just stay this little
Oh darling, don't you ever grow up
Don't you ever grow up, it could stay this simple
I won't let nobody hurt you, won't let no one break your heart
And no one will desert you
Just try to never grow up, never grow up

I can't really say that I don't want Laine to grow up... it has been one of the greatest joys in my life to watch her change and learn and discover and develop over the course of this year (a year that has been both long and short in the way that only something truly new and amazing can be). I look forward to sharing so many things with her as a little girl and a young woman and one day (holy crap) as an adult, but there are moments that I wish I could just freeze time so that she would always find me so funny that it gives her the hiccups and always come crawling full speed ahead towards me whenever she gets hurt.

I've been thinking a lot about her upcoming first birthday: planning her party, trying to decide how I will feel at 9:22pm on November 11th, 2010, remembering what was happening in the two weeks before November 11th, 2009. I've realized that part of why I am so anxious to celebrate the anniversary of her birth is because I think of it as a sort of "birthday" for me as well. At the moment they handed me my little cone-headed beauty and I looked up at Joe and saw the same fear and wonder and relief and joy that I felt echoed in his eyes, a family was born. And suddenly, I was more than a wife, daughter, sister, teacher... I was a mother. So while I am looking forward to having family and friends around to celebrate what a wonderful little human my daughter is, I will also be celebrating the new part of me she created just by being born. And I look forward to that part of me growing up along with her.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


(We're just going to pretend that I haven't (yet again) been such a blog slacker and have been posting regularly. Cool? Cool.)

Last night, thanks to the aligning of some pretty remarkable moons and stars that allowed us to find not only a babysitter and free time, but also a lot of excitable theatre people and their groupies, I got to experience my first corn maze. And really, although I have absolutely no point of reference or comparison, I think that I probably had one of the best groups of people to go to a corn maze with. After "pre-gaming" (ie. stuffing our faces with burgers, hot dogs, and rice krispie treats) and getting our glow-bracelets, head lamps, and rations of chocolate at the Darnell household (Melissa's capacity to host things deserves its own blog entry. Girlfriend is ridiculous.), we headed the few miles down the road to the wonderland of fall festivities that is Washington Farms (which will probably get another blog entry in the next few days since we are taking Laine there this weekend to visit the petting zoo and get a pumpkin and do all of those other cute things that you do when you have a kid. I'll also try to keep a running tally of how many times she asks "Whas dat?" while we're there.)

Loaded up on the hayride. Some of us are more excited than others, apparently.

Of course I had to orchestrate a group shot. Thanks, Washington Farms, for having this all set up for photo-nerds like me. And you can't argue with the cuteness.

The maze was... well... a maze made of corn. I don't feel like my expectations could have been too far off given my decent grasp of the English language. But they did have fun little signs with riddles and trivia questions to give you hints of which way to turn. You know, to keep morale up after you had been wandering through corn for an hour. OH, and of course you had the added incentive to escape so that you could bounce on the inflatable hill of joy that was at the end of the maze. Let's be honest, I probably would have paid the ten bucks for that alone.

It's a CORNDOG. Get it? GET IT??

Awesome, right? I might have ever paid ten dollars just to take this picture.

More of the cuteness. Thanks for a great evening, y'all.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

pressing on

My mom's friend Tara had what seemed like a picture-perfect life. She had a handsome husband and three beautiful, well-behaved, energetic sons. They had more than enough money, a beautiful home, and nice things, were involved and respected in the community, and were surrounded by loving friends and supportive family. I can only imagine the devastation for her and her entire family when her middle son Brennan was diagnosed with cancer a little over a year ago. Suddenly the life that had been such a perfect example of the American dream had become every parent's worse nightmare. Brennan's battle has been a difficult one, as I'm sure it is for all of the children and their parents and siblings and grandparents and friends who face down this horrifying disease every day. But the grace, courage, and determination with which they have approached every challenge and set-back and seemingly insurmountable odd has been nothing short of inspirational. And while the material things they had before their fight with cancer might now seem useless and inconsequential, the support they have garnered from the community has been staggering and the love, hope, and encouragement from their family and friends has been beautiful to witness.

This month is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Today the Simkins family has chosen to honor Brennan and his friend Patrick (also battling cancer) with a day of fund-raising efforts geared towards finding a cure for this disease that kills more children yearly than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and pediatric AIDS combined. Please join us to raise awareness by logging on to
and donating directly. You can also mail a check to CURE or log on to CURE's website
and click DONATE, indicating in the comments that your donation is for Press On 9-30. Their goal is to raise $100,000 in Patrick and Brennan’s honor to help fund research that will lead to better treatments and cures for pediatric cancers.


Friday, September 10, 2010

double digits

Dear Laine,

Lainey-bug, Punkin, Babycakes (or just 'Cakes, as your Daddy calls you), Doodlebug... you are ten months old today. You have now been out in the world as your own little unique, independent being longer than you were inside of me as my little tumor-baby. It's amazing the changes that have taken place in both of us over these ten months. You are a daily source of wonder, joy, frustration, amazement, anxiety, and pride for me and your father. Already, before you can even walk or talk, I am so proud of the little human that you are and who you are becoming before my eyes.

You are absolutely a handful. Now that you are mobile there is nothing that you don't want to see, pull up on, attempt to eat, or explore. There is no power cord or coupon insert or leaf or dead bug that you won't put in your mouth (PS- when does that stage end? I'm kinda over digging things out of your mouth, especially now that you have sharp little teeth you can clamp down with). You are smart and spirited, always studying everything and everyone, and a wonderful little mimic, which your daddy and our friends and I will have to start being careful of very soon. You are a fantastic sleeper (thank you, sweet baby... we love you so for that little gift), and you have so far eaten every single thing we have given you with great relish. Except pancakes, but we can eventually forgive you for that. You are also quite the musician; you love your toy "one man band set" with the flute and drum and maracas.

One of my favorite things to do is take you out to run errands during the day. Now that you're a big girl and can sit up in the front of the cart by yourself you love to flirt with everyone who walks by. You're completely indiscriminate: old people get the same treatment as other babies and kids, men get grinned at as much as women. And it work so well- you have never been somewhere and not made friends or gained admirers. You're absolutely charming and delightful, and I love all of the warm smiles and laughter you solicit from complete strangers everywhere we go.

Your favorite thing to do lately is to be chased. You explode into fits of adorable giggles if your daddy and I try to keep you from crawling somewhere. Often you will leave the room and then turn and look behind you to see if we're following. Sometimes it's cute, but sometimes I really do want you to stay out of the toilet bowl and then it's a little more frustrating. But I'm always a sucker for that little belly laugh of yours. And I am getting to hear it more and more often- you've got quite a sense of humor!

You are far and away the most joyful little human I have ever known. While I have been tempted to throw you out a window during your whiny, clingy, teethy phases (I feel like I can say that because my parents said it to me and I turned out ok) and your poop just gets more and more smelly, there is nothing in this world I love more than being your mother. You are a light in my life and I love you so so so much. I could not have imagined or asked for a more perfect first daughter.



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

those who burn books...

This video is sad and terrible and ridiculous... and needs to be shared. (And bless the newscaster's heart... she gets PISSED.)

But all is not lost. Thanks for something refreshing and true following on the heels of something so nonsensical, CAIR.

"As the German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine wrote almost two centuries ago, "Those who begin by burning books will end by burning people." The theater piece for which he wrote those words, called "Almansor," was addressing the Inquisition's burning of the Quran. In 1933, university students in Heine's own beloved homeland burned his books, along with many others. They burned people soon after."

PS- How about we all go to a karaoke party to commemorate 9/11 instead? Yes? Great.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

they say it's my birthday

(Well hey there, blog. Long time no see.)

Birthdays and holidays have always been a pretty big deal in my family. We celebrate birthday seasons- calling to get wish lists and planning dinners and parties weeks in advance. Christmas traditions are treasured, taken out and dusted off every year with each ornament, stocking, ice-skating bear figurine, and advent calendar. But while Christmas has always topped my list of favorite holidays, there was nothing that I looked forward to as a child quite as much as my own birthday. There is something to be said for a day that is a celebration of being born that I think resonates with my ego quite nicely. But I also must attribute my love for birthdays to two other things- my mother and the Penny Whistle Party Planner.

The PWPP is a book that my mom took out every year the month or so before mine or one of sister's birthdays (although I don't think that either of them would argue that I was (am?) far and away the most enthusiastic about it). Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a different party theme. The authors give ideas for everything from invitations to games to food that incorporates your theme of choice. And we got INTO IT. Some of my favorite parties include:

1. My first ever theme party was a Swan Lake party when I was quite little (3 or 4 I think... Mom could confirm). One of my first dance teachers, who was a professional dancer at the time, came over and taught all of us little ones a "Swan Lake variation", in which I was of course featured as the lead swan (I won't go so far as to call myself Odette, but I was kind of prodigy, y'all). Everyone got little clear plastic swans filled with candies and my mom made all of the girls their own little tutus and we performed for everyone's parents at the end. As mother to a little girl now I can only imagine how ridiculously stinkin' cute that must have been. Oh, and I had a Barbir cake with a real Barbie in it. The cake was her skirt. Not theme appropriate, but awesome.

2. Pig Party. I went through quite a pig phase in middle school. I had a ton of the suckers... stuffed one, figurines, calendars, you name it. (I still have some of them... they are now in residence in Laine's room.) So of course my birthday party had to be pig themed. We had no-handed jello eating contests, pig calling contests, and some relay race type game involving a pink balloon and crawling...

3. Artist Party. My friend Christin still gets props from my family for her own personal dedication to this theme- she came wearing a scarf and beret with a little swirly mustache painted on her face. We had an older kid from my fine arts school draw portraits of all of us (we still have mine somewhere, and I know some of my friends have theirs as well), and of course there was all sorts of craftiness.

4. Kidnapped Party. We did this for my 13th birthday (Yes, the theme parties lasted that long. I'm not ashamed.) and it is probably my all-time favorite party idea. It's basically a reverse surprise party- the only person that knows about it is the guest of honor. My mom contacted all of the guests parents and told them to have a toothbrush and small travel bag ready the morning of the party. We (my sisters and I) woke up really early and piled into the Suburban and went one by one to "kidnap" each girl from their bed. Then we returned home with six or so bed-headed, pajama clad 13 year old girls and had a breakfast feast.

This year I'm turning 26. Not really an exciting number: no milestones, no special privileges and no expectations of any kind of crisis. But that's never mattered in my family. Birthdays may seem trivial to other people, but my mother taught me early that every year is special one and deserves to be celebrated. And as much as I loved all of those parties and owe so much thanks to my mom for all of the time and effort she put in to make them special every year, I thank her even more for teaching me that, and for making me feel that the day of my birth was, and is, cause for so much celebration.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I feel like it's only been a short time since I wrote the entry "six"... and yet here we are a year later. At "seven".

Dear Jaime,

Seven years. I think back on the me that you knew seven years ago and I can only hope that you are able to see who I am now. You would have been so proud of me. I'm getting back up on the stage, doing the thing we both loved best. You would actually be phenomenal in the show I'm in now... it's such a wacky comedy, full of the physical humor and comic timing you excelled at. I'm also mother to the most beautiful baby girl... you would adore her. I wish she could know you.

I still think about you all the time. Joe and I went to Vegas last week and we saw street performers in the Venetian and as always those silly human statues had me caught in a place between smiling and wanting to cry. I'm going to the beach this weekend and, while it's thankfully so much less painful to walk to the point now, I still find myself walking towards the houses more often than not. It's just a little easier that way. I'm also hoping to re-set the piece I choreographed for you in 2003 this year on some of my amazing students. Since it was my first real work of choreography I feel like I can make some changes to make it even better now... a better testament to what an inspiration you were in life... and how painful it was to lose you.

My life is very full at this point... I'm turning 26 next month and I feel like I'm exactly where I hoped I would be. My family is happy and always a joy to be with, Joe is working hard and supporting me and keeping us both laughing, Laine is healthy and happy and such a pleasure to be around, and I have found fulfillment through community theatre (which I'm sure you can relate to) and a job surrounded by exceedingly talented kids. But know that you are missed. Maybe not as constantly and achingly as you once were... but I think that's a good thing. But you are, and will always be, a hand print on my heart. I love you.


Thursday, August 5, 2010


Laine is good at many things. Drooling, for one. Throwing pacifiers out through the slats of her crib, for another. But if I had to name one I'd say that her greatest skill is making friends. Waiting in line at the grocery store (or Target, her fave), she'll tilt her head to the side so far it is almost resting on the handlebar of the cart and offer up her sweetest, two-toothed smile to the little old lady behind us. Or at a restaurant, she'll wave her slobbery-Puff covered fist in the air and coo at the couple dining near us until they have no choice but to engage her in conversation. My favorite (and a surefire winner) is when we're talking to someone unfamiliar while I'm holding her and she'll drop her head onto my shoulder and look up, batting her baby blues from under long eyelashes, pretending to the delight of the onlooker that she is meek and shy. She's got mad skills.

She was on her A-game the other afternoon when we visited the children's section of the Athens public library. As soon as I put her down, she crawled her way over to a group of kids sitting on a bench, sat back on her little padded behind, and grinned up at them charmingly. Fortunately for her, they were more than receptive. The coo-ed and aww-ed at her, showering her with chewed up baby books and worn out stuffed animals. She had them wrapped around her finger... especially the oldest girl, a self-proclaimed "expert at babies".

"You know what I love about babies? How they grab onto your shirt when you hold them. I bet she does that, doesn't she? They all do, you know," she said, holding her youngest sister on her lap and trying to pry a board book out of Laine's mouth. "And they like to chew on things. But this is a library book, so I won't let her."

Laine was amazed at this smaller-than-normal human. She gazed up at her, turning on the charm full force. Baby Expert scooped her up onto her lap and tried to read to her, fighting to keep the book out of Laine's fists and mouth.

"You should take her over to the doll house. Babies love dolls houses. Actually, I'll take her. Cause she might try to put stuff in her mouth again, right?

"Yep, probably."

"OK, well I'll keep an eye on her. You should look at the parenting books. They have a lot. And some of the books you can listen to in the car, which she might like. Especially fairy tales. Babies like fairy tales."

I was still stuck on the suggestion that I check out some parenting books. Clearly I was not yet to "expert" level and could use the guidance.

"They have board games too," she informed me while Laine gnawed on the dollhouse roof like a baby beaver. "Does she play board games? You could probably help her. There's one about Goodnight Moon, which you've probably heard of. She would like that. Babies like Goodnight Moon."

"Yes, we've read that one quite a few times."

"Well, you should get the game then. Babies like games."

I scooped Laine up, juggling our library books in the other arm, coaxing her to tell her new friend "bye-bye" ("Babies like to wave bye-bye, don't they?") and making for the exit, Baby Expert tagging along behind us.

"You should come back more," she said behind me. "This is a good place for babies to make friends. I've made lots of friends here when I come."

I think Laine has met her match.

Monday, July 19, 2010

coupon schmoupon

Joe has started coupon-ing. And as any of you who know Joe will affirm, Joe does not do anything halfway. He doesn't even just do it all the way. He does it the holy-cow-man-get-a-hold-of-yourself-and-remember-there-are-other-things-in-life way. Many times this is an attribute that works well for him in his life. He's an extremely dedicated employee, a devoted father and husband, a loyal friend, and an amazing and focused student of anything and everything that interests him. And one heck of a coupon-er.

Now I can't really come down too hard on the coupon lifestyle. There have been a few times where he has come home proud as a peacock with a trunkload of groceries and other household items. He held his receipt in the air like the third tablet that was never brought down from the Mount (TIL NOW) and told me that he got $50 worth of stuff for A DOLLAR. Or something to that effect. And really, who wouldn't be impressed? So I pat him on the head and tell him what a man he is with his expandable file folder of newspaper clippings and help him unload his bounty.

And during the unloading is where my main problem with Joe's coupon frenzy comes in.

Of course I'm thrilled with the four boxes of cereal for a mere $2. And the free shampoo (FREE!). And the BOGO granola bars. And the...

I'm sorry... WHAT?

Oh yes, and then these as well...

(This may not seem so bad until you take into account that we don't own a Glade scented oil thingee to begin with. So refills seem a bit useless, do they not?)

Now Mr. Super-Coupon, of course, has infallible reasoning for these purchases. You see, the rebate for the GRAY HAIR DYE FOR MEN (I just feel that a product so ridiculous should be written in all caps) worked with the coupon so that they were basically paying YOU $1.50 to buy it! And the refills? Well they were free with Extra Care Bucks! And if you spent $20, then CVS (the Mecca of the coupon savant) gave you back $5! Who WOULDN'T buy these things? It's LOGIC.


One can't argue with such logic.

Instead, one must shake their head, roll their eyes, and be ever so thankful for extra, unused cabinet space in the kitchen, designating one lucky cabinet as a sort of Island for Misfit Coupon Purchases.

And then one must get to work on eating all that cereal.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Hey blogosphere! Yet again I have to start an entry by apologizing for my lengthy absence. It's amazing the difference it makes to have a mobile baby as opposed to a non-mobile (immobile?) one. Laine requires a great deal more active supervision now than she did when I could plop her on a blanket by my feet while I typed. It gives me a whole new respect for some of my favorite mommy bloggers... it takes a great deal of time management and dedication to maintain a decent blog, let alone a really phenomenal one like some of these women have. But fortunately for you I am trying to get my life a little more organized and take better advantage of the little baby-free time I have (hallelujah for nap time, am I right?) and blogging is going to get squeezed into that Excel spreadsheet somewhere. While sometimes I dismiss it as a silly hobby, I feel it is a really valuable way of keeping track of myself and my family and I know that I will really enjoy looking back on even the most mundane of entries a few years down the line. And I enjoy having a creative outlet that I can share with whoever cares to read it. So, if you've been missing me in your Google reader, fear not... hopefully I'll be updating weekly from now on!

At least until Laine starts walking.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

first father's day...

Watching you become a father on that day seven-some-odd months ago...

And grow in your confidence, your love for our daughter, your role as "family man", "provider", "Daddy"...

Has been one of the greatest joys and sources of pride in my life so far.

Happy Father's Day, pook. We're both so lucky to have you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

look out world...

Lainey's on the move! After a few frustrating (for both of us) weeks of bouncing on her hands and knees and kicking violently on her tummy, Laine decided enough was enough of the immobility nonsense. Motivated by her desire to see (ie. eat) my Real Simple magazine, she took her (very confident) first few crawling steps, and she's been on the go since then! Thankfully I had my Flip camera handy and managed to get her to do it again (and again and again... yikes). She has also figured out how to get herself into a sitting position from her tummy, so looks like someone will be lowering the crib mattress tonight...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

this one goes out to all my mother-fathers

Saw this gem on Kalli's blog and just HAD to share. Give us a few years and Joe and I will totally make a video like this. Cause you know we are most def' going to be rockin' a minivan. Word.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

it's about carousel, but josh said to title it "josh"

I've been trying to write a post about Carousel for the past few weeks, but every time I sit down to start one I get stuck (clam up, maybe? HA. that was an insider's joke, y'all.) This one will probably even have to go through the draft process, which I don't usually do. Usually I type, do a quick scan for squiggly "you spelled that wrong, moron" lines, and click the publish post button all in under half an hour or so. But this show... the experience of this show, rather, and the relationships I've gained and things I've learned and strengths I've rediscovered have been so important that I feel like if I'm going to blog about it then it needs to be good.

I auditioned for Carousel with high hopes but limited expectations. I wasn't sure who I was up against, what part I was right for, or if I would even remember what the heck I was doing once I was standing in front of people trying to sing. It wasn't until after I auditioned that I did some youtube exploration and learned more about the roles I would be appropriate for. And it wasn't until after I saw the cast list that I realized how much I had wanted the role of Carrie, which was (thank the Lord... and Drew) the part I was cast in.

I have always enjoyed the process of creating a show almost as much as the final product of performing in one. Rehearsing feels more like play to me than work, and most of my favorite people have been actors/singers/dancers/all of the above. This show was no different, and maybe even a little more fun than usual thanks to the amazing cast and the fact that I had basically quit performing cold turkey after college. Creating the character of Carrie was equal parts difficult and easy- difficult because I hadn't had to learn song and lines in so long, easy because I had excellent direction and scene partners and PLENTY of enthusiasm.

But this show has meant more to me than just a return to the stage. It's been a return to parts of myself that I had forgotten or temporarily set aside. I have grown not only as a performer but as an adult and a friend. I was able to work with people who were before just the stuff of Athenian theater legend (and who far and away surpassed every expectation I had) and get to know others even better than I had in previous contexts. I was reminded of the rush of getting a laugh and earning applause, of the adrenaline that motivates you to go for feta fries at the Grill after 6 hours at the theater, of the work involved in getting into character (fake ponytails and all), and of the strange and wonderful kind of bond forged among cast-mates.

While I hope that Carousel is the first in a line of shows that I will be a part of in Athens and as an adult, I know it will always hold a special place in my memory and my heart; the show that brought me new confidence, new friends, and a new catch phrase. And really, who could need much more than that?

No one walks out on Carrie Pipperidge, y'all.

(Haven't seen it yet? You've still got four more chances! Call 706-208-TOWN and reserve your tickets. All mushy reflection aside, it's a darn good show.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


There is one thing that I have gained since becoming a mother that I did not at all anticipate. It is something that most new mothers probably do not have, or if they do then it was already well established. (Or maybe they are just cooler than me?) It is also something that it has always been a struggle for me to maintain/find/enjoy for most of my life.

It is the ever-elusive "social life".

It would seem (or at least I assumed) that once you have a little person dependent on you for food, shelter, and most other things necessary for survival, a social life would go right out the window. Kind of like free time and sleeping in (oh, goodness, how I miss sleeping in...). But in the past few months I have found the opposite to be true.

I attribute this to a number of things. First, and most importantly, I have an amazing and supportive husband. He is so wonderful with our little girl and is willing, even happy, to be home with her in the evenings while I work (and now play some, too!) with hardly a complaint. I am also much more comfortable being away at night now that Laine has a set bedtime routine. Every night by 7:30 I can be fairly certain that she is asleep and will stay that way for approximately 12 hours (am I a lucky woman or what, y'all?). Also, I have entered into situations that are conducive to forming adult friendships, the first being a group of new mothers that meets weekly at Full Bloom, which has become the foundation for Mother's Night Out festivities, weekly playdates, etc. The second is the production of Carousel that I recently auditioned for and was cast in. Being surrounded by such passionate, clever, talented, and fun-loving people has been rejuvenating for me in so many ways and has really filled a hole in my life that I wasn't even really aware existed.

All this is to say that I am happy and fulfilled beyond measure at this time in my life. My daughter is precious and healthy and happy and brings me joy daily (hourly, even). My husband is an anchor and compass for our family and for me, and has proven his love for me by allowing me and encouraging to do things that I may otherwise have let pass by. And my new-found friends and freedom have reminded me how much fun it can be to define myself in terms other than "mother" and "wife" and "teacher". Things like "performer" and "friend" and "adult". And the more complete a person I am, the more ways I find to define myself, the better I become at those first, most important, three.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

changing the world... one blog at a time

It seems that I have been inspiring people to start their own blogs... namely my co-workers! Fortunately for me (and for those of you who like to read blogs), I work with interesting, creative, and artistically talented people.

First to join the blogging fun were my bosses, Shane and Terra. They started theirs to celebrate and document the arrival of their third son (!!!) Chase and the goings-ons of their busy little family (running a dance studio and taking care of three little boys under 5 would give anyone something to blog about!).

And then came Wonder Woman, AKA Lucy. Lucy wears many hats around the studio but basically she runs the joint. Between keeping up with accounts and tuition, to ordering costumes and organizing everything for our showcase and performances, Lucy is the go-to gal for pretty much everything on the business side of things. She also happens to be a talented actress in her own right and is going to grad school in L.A. next year. Sad times for me and the rest of the staff, but SO awesome for Lucy!

The last one to tell me of her new foray into bloggerdom is fellow teacher Hillary. Hillary is the only teacher that has been at the studio longer than I have, and she is hanging in there even now that she is teaching middle school math, and coaching both soccer and cheerleading! Her dedication to and love for her students is really amazing to see... and they definitely return the feelings.

It's exciting for me to see all of these people jumping onto the bandwagon and sharing their perspectives and lives via blogging. Anyone else joining in the fun?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

happy mother's day!

It's amazing beyond words the changes in me (my perspective, my priorities, my family and marriage, my internal clock, my capacity for anxiety as much as for joy, my body, my ability to do things one-handed, my definition of "free time", the size and bounds of my ability to love) from here:

To here:

To here.

Happy Mother's Day to all who are blessed enough to be one, have one, or become one.

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." ~Rajneesh

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


It is SPRING in Georgia, y'all! I can say with the authority of about 25 years of experience that spring is the best time to be in Georgia and that Georgia is the best place to be in the spring. Azaleas, dogwoods, perfect temperatures... pollen coming out of your ears, but that's another story. This poem always comes to mind when April rolls around. Here is to opening the eyes of your eyes and awakening the ears of your ears!

i thank you God by e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

holy followers, batman!

Whoa you guys! When did I suddenly jump from 5 followers consisting almost entirely of blood relatives to 21 followers?? I know 21 is kind of a measly number for some big-time bloggers out there (dooce would totally scoff at me I bet) but I have to say I am pleased as can be to see all of those anonymous little blue-blogger heads over there sin my sidebar. Welcome, newbies! I guess now I should start blogging more regularly...

Joe and I are coming up on of 3 year anniversary this week. We have a pretty good track record of anniversary celebrations (is 2 really enough for a track record?). Our first year Joe surprised me with a night at Chateau Elan complete with spa treatments for both of us (yeah... my husband got a pedicure... hotness.) and fancy multi-course dinner. Last year I reserved a cabin for us in North Georgia with a hot tub (which of course I ended up not being able to get in due that whole pregnancy thing I found out about the week before we went) and a mini-arcade for Joe. This year we were both kind of slacking and hadn't planned anything at all beyond "well... I guess we can go out for dinner the night of"... and then I ended up getting scheduled for a rehearsal that night (for Carousel... in which I have one of the lead parts... more about that later but suffice it to say that I am super excited and it's basically awesome). So we were fast approaching anniversary d-day with no plans whatsoever, let alone fancy weekends away.

Last night we went with Joe's boss/friend Josh (look, Josh, a blog shout out!) and his lovely date Jessica to a Terry School of Business Alumni gala in Atlanta. Fancy stuff, y'all. As part of their fundraising efforts they had a massive silent auction as well as a live auction after dinner. On a whim I decided to bid on a package for a trip to Vegas including limo service and tickets to Love, the Beatles Cirque show. There was only one bid on it so far, so I wrote myself down and figured I'd be quickly outbid. (Can you guess where this is going?) Much to my excitement and Joe's surprise, no one else bid and I WON! Upon seeing the final list of auction winners, Joe smiled (a little smugly in my opinion) and said "Happy anniversary, babe."

Sometimes I think I make things too easy for him.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

and the winner is...

Whirl (aka our good friend Stephen... but I swear it was chosen blindly by my better half), who said "It's like Free Willy, but for old people." A close second was Pamela with "I swear, guys, that's my wife!". Thanks to all who entered, but only Stephen gets the rockin' prize of a ten dollar Target gift card! (Or I'll take you out to dinner, Stephen, your choice...)

We will now return to our regularly scheduled blogging. Stay tuned for more contests and giveaways in the future though!

Monday, April 12, 2010

caption contest!

Stephen, purveyor of all things weird, random, and hysterical on the internets, linked me to this goody this morning.


I wasn't sure what to do with it at first, but I knew it must be shared. So I decided to use it for... wait for it...

my first blog contest (insert fanfare, drumrolls, canon fire, fireworks, etc.)!!!

Leave a comment with a caption that best suits this picture. After a few days I will read them to Joe and have him pick the funniest/most appropriate one (without knowing who said what... see how legit this is?) and the author of said witty and hilarious comment will be THE WINNER! The GRAND POO-BAH of ALL BLOGGERDOM.

I don't know what you will win, but it will be something AWESOME. And CHEAP. And probably from TARGET.

Now get to commenting, my witty friends! Can't wait to read what you come up with!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

a day in the life

8am- Baby wakes up. Of course the one day I scheduled her doctor's appointment based on her usual 7:30am wake up time, she decides to hit her little baby snooze button and sleep in. Nonetheless, grateful for the extra 30 minutes.

9:30am- Take a bath with baby in bouncy seat watching/fussing/napping. Makes it a bit difficult to relax but cleanliness and non-porcupine hair is still achieved so I chalk it up as a win.

10:15am- Convince baby that napping in swing is a good idea.

11am- Baby is weighed by by friendly nurse that sadly looks like she might eat children that cross bridges without answering a riddle. 12 pounds 5.5 ounces!

11:30am- Baby is due to eat but we are still waiting on doctor to tell us what we already know (ie. baby gained weight, keeping doing what you're doing, good job Mommy, etc.). Teething links and a stuffed lion can only distract for so long before baby turns into little hungry ball of rage. Finally, Dr. Baker comes in and confirms that, yes, my suspicions were correct that 12 lbs. 5 ozs. is indeed more than the 11 lbs. 8 ozs. she weighed 2 weeks before*. Therefore she has gained weight, keep doing what you're doing, good job Mommy. When he shows me Laine's weight gain on a percentile chart, she bursts into a tearful screaming fit. I tell him she has body image problems from all of this pressure about her weight.
*Mommy generally has NO problem gaining 1 lb. in 2 weeks.

11:50am- Ravenous baby gets to eat.

12:30pm- Pay LAST rent check and drop of keys! YAY!

1pm- BabyGap has no baby girl sun hats. Can you believe it? Aren't they supposed to be THE place for cute baby summer clothes? Especially when I have a $10 coupon? First time I can recall every being disappointed in anything Gap-related.

1:15pm- Gymboree has multitudes of sunhats. Also, a mom with a baby named Noel because she was born right before Christmas. All involved in the conversation agree that this was a perfect and logical choice. I consider saying that my daughter was born right before Thanksgiving and that her name is Turkey.

2:30pm- Ravenous baby strikes again.

3:30pm- Daddy home, baby hand off, Mommy to work.

8pm- Get home 30 minutes early in time to feed baby and put her to bed! However, when I kiss her sweet little head, I nearly burn my lips off. Baby is on FIRE. After taking her temp and finding it to be much higher than I am comfortable with (102.3! eek!) we call the doctor's answering service. The nurse tells us not to worry if she is not showing any other symptoms but to check on her through the night and give her tylenol every 4 hours. Remember how much I love setting my alarm at 4 hour intervals? So much.

12:30am- Baby still feverish, but it's gone down. She looks at me like a crazy person when I take her out of her crib to give her medicine, but goes right back to sleep. Good baby.

4:30am- She doesn't feel hot to the touch anymore, so I decide to let her sleep.

5am, 5:15am, and 5:30am- Baby grunting.

5:35am- Give up and feed baby.

8:30am- Baby still asleep. Write blog entry about day.

8:35am- Come full circle.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I was anxious about a lot of things before I had Laine, but somewhere near the top of that list was Sleep Deprivation. It's in all of the What To Expects and Girlfriend's Guides and Holy Cow You're Pregnant Now What books. And then of course there are all of the Happiest Baby on the Block and No Cry Sleep Solution and Make Your Baby Sleep So You Don't Want To Throw It Out a Window books. So you go into this having a baby thing knowing full well that your sleep patterns will either change or become completely non-existent.

To prepare myself I did what they always tell you not to do at the end of summer vacation right before school starts back. I slept as late as humanly possible every day. I refused to set alarms, I didn't make plans or appointments before noon, I kept the blinds closed and the dogs in their kennels and I buried myself under the covers until I had to go to the bathroom so bad I could no longer fight the need to get out of bed. And then some days, especially when I didn't have to teach, I would squeeze in a late afternoon nap as well. Just because I COULD.

Maybe we got lucky or maybe we did something right (or probably a little bit of both) but I didn't think that the newborn stage was as bad as some people say, Sleep Deprivation wise. Laine definitely woke up to eat at night, but once the doctor gave us the ok to let her wake us up on her own (how I hated setting an alarm for 11:30 pm and then 2:30 am and then 5:30am... there are no hateful words strong enough) she seemed to get the hang of the whole nighttime-daytime thing pretty quick. And I took the "sleep when she sleeps" lesson to heart, bringing her back to bed with me if she woke before the sun was up.

And now Laine has finally reached the glorious Sleeping Through the Night stage of life. I read one book that said that Sleeping Through the Night was really only 6-8 hours for an infant but I'm calling BULLHONKIES on that. Six hours is not a full night's sleep for anyone. I was thrilled when she slept 6 hours in a row for the first time, but I in no way counted that as "through the night". But Laine now sleeps 10 to 12 wonderful hours. TEN to TWELVE. Those are big number, y'all. However, those hours start at about 8pm. Meaning even at her snooziest she wakes up around 7:30 or 8am every morning.

To my pre-baby, zero-tolerance for alarm clocks self, that is hecka-early.

(Love and hugs to those of you whose little precious ones (ie. sleep eating demons) still wake up every 2 hours or have chosen 5:30 as the wake-up time for your household. I have a special place in my heart for you and mothers of twins and triplets.)

But to my post-baby, new mommy, adultish self, it is becoming the new normal. My inner clock is adjusting. I go to sleep a little earlier than I used to and find myself waking up at 7:25 waiting to hear Laine squawking and grunting in her crib. She greets me with wide-eyed, open-mouthed joy and wiggles of pleasure (which helps clear that early morning fog for sure), cooing and gurgling as I change her diaper and get her dressed for the day. Yesterday after she had eaten, I decided we would go ahead and run some errands before her mid-morning nap. Feeling alert and awake and adult-like, I buckled her into her carseat and headed out, to-do list in hand.

I was confused when the bank parking lot was nearly empty, and annoyed to find the door locked. Was it a holiday? Why on earth would the bank be closed? I turned to lug the carseat back to the car and the man parked a few spots down from me rolled down his window.

"They don't open the lobby til 9."


It wasn't that they were closed. It was that they WEREN'T OPEN YET.

Let's just say that getting places before they opened was never a problem for me before.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

letter to my girl


You will be four months old on Thursday. FOUR MONTHS. Although I am amazed at how much you have changed in that amount of time (which is, in a way you can't really understand until you have your own babies, both very short and very long), I am almost more astonished at how much I have changed. I look back on those blurry, panicky weeks when we first brought you home and it feels like remembering a movie. Was that really me? Were those whirlwinds of emotion really mine? I feel like I spent most of the time just looking at you with a mix of amazement and fear, wondering what on earth to do with you and hoping I would figure it out so I could help you grow up happy and healthy and strong. I had no idea what I was doing most of the time in that first month, Lainey-bug, and I sometimes still don't. But every now and then when the car seat snaps in on the first try or you go down for a nap without a fuss or I manage to get out of the house with you and all of your stuff in under ten minutes I think... "huh... I'm getting the hang of this mom thing".

You have added so many skills to your resume in the past months. You still don't like to roll over or spend much time on your tummy, but you are a champ at holding your head up and grabbing onto toys and kicking (boy do you ever love to kick... which I should have known after carrying you for 39 weeks). You love to be read and sung to before bedtime and get the sweetest little furrow in your brow while you study your Winnie the Pooh and Goodnight Moon. You smile and coo and scoot around on the floor and are basically just the cutest, most delightful little creature.

We have also discovered in the past month or so that you are not a fussy baby. You don't cry or fuss or whine. Oh no. You SCREAM. You are a shrieker. Sometimes the rage is more than your little body can contain and your tiny little hands will shake as your sweet little face turns red and you SCREAM. The volume is pretty impressive, as is the pitch. You may well have a future as an opera singer, darling daughter, because the octaves you can achieve are rather extraordinary.

It is funny to me that you will never really know your father or I as we are right now. Our twenties will be present for you only as blurry memories and pictures that you laugh at as a teenager because my hair will be so old-fashioned and my clothes so ridiculous and your father so young and baby-faced. You won't remember this tiny little apartment that we brought you home to. We were so happy to have that extra little bedroom just waiting for you to fill it... so proud of our 900 square feet (which, if you don't know, is actually still rather small for 3 humans and 2 dogs)... SO thrilled about having a washer and dryer, even though they do sit smack in the middle of the kitchen. I spent hours on your nursery, painting with your Grandma Terri, picking the exact spot for each item of furniture and each little decal on the wall, trying to get it just right even though I had no idea that it was YOU there in my tummy. (It's funny to look at you now and realize that it was you in there all along... my little thumper, kicking away at my ribs during the evenings.) This has been a big year for your daddy and I, with graduations and new homes and, of course, you. I know you won't remember it, but it will always be a special and wonderful year in my memory and one I will find great joy in telling you about when you're old enough to want to know.

You are my first child and my first daughter, which means you have a special place in my heart that no one else will ever fill. There is nothing more precious to me than seeing your sweet, silly smile in the morning and your peaceful sleeping face at night. I can't wait to see what the next months bring.

I love you, little one.


Monday, March 1, 2010

our closing (an illustrated telling)

We arrived at the bank at 8:22am and pulled into a parking space directly in line with the drive through window, watching the little red light and waiting anxiously for it to turn green. Ke$ha's (ridiculous) (and awesome) song "Tik Tok" came on and I asked Joe if he had woken up that morning feeling at all like PDiddy. I don't think he had.

After depositing the check from sister-in-law, we requested our cashier's check, only to have the little bank man inform us that cashier's checks could only be given in the lobby... which opened at 9am. Which just so happened to also be the time of our closing.

So we waited in the parking lot.

And got some Jittery Joe's coffee from across the street. (And took a very bad picture of ourselves. 'Cause I like to document things and Joe thinks I'm odd.)

Finally 9am rolled around and Joe sprinted to the door as soon as they unlocked it. I watched the numbers on my cell phone clock change and felt the car getting colder as I waited...

And waited...

Until finally Joe sprinted back out of the bank and into the car... along with the cashier's check!

The very large cashier's check. (THOUSANDS)

Fortunately we were not far from the lawyer's office and made it there only about 15 minutes after 9. Everyone graciously told us we weren't too late, it was fine, they hadn't been waiting long (in other words, they lied).

And then suddenly... we were done. We had signed every piece of paper in Athens and then signed a copy of every piece of paper in Athens and then... we owned a house. The previous owners passed us keys and a garage door opener and we were done.

Did I mention the previous home owners were super nice folks? They left us this lovely gift at the house...

On our FIREPLACE. Yeah, we have one. We also have a yard. With a deck.

Y'all... we own a HOUSE.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

crazy closing story #1

I don't know how many of you knew this, but closing on a house is freaking expensive. Silly naive little me thought that if the sellers were covering the closing costs then that meant that they were... well... covered. Meaning A) you could no longer see them because they were underneath something, B) they had been topped with cheese at Waffle House, or C) they were taken care of. Mostly I assumed it was C. So imagine my shock, horror and dismay when I find that not only do we have to have money at closing (on top of what we paid for the home inspection (cause we had to pay for that too, fyi)), we have to have A LOT of money at closing. As in THOUSANDS of dollars. But Joe handles the money stuff in our little family, and he assured me that we would indeed have the necessary thousands (THOUSANDS) no sweat.

Joe was wrong.

Call it what you will... miscalculation, a mathematical error, ill-advised spending, bad timing... but we ended up a few hundred short. Fortunately we realized this ahead of time and I have a very cool sister-in-law who agreed to loan us the money until Joe got his next paycheck (at which time we will of course be rolling in dough). Money was transferred, problem was solved. Right?

Of course not, 'cause I'm writing a blog entry about it.

Due to some kind of mental issue on the part of the people who work at sister-in-law's bank, the "next day" transfer won't show up in our account until Monday. Which, for those who are keeping track, is 3 days after closing. So that doesn't so much work.

So to make a long story slightly shorter and get to the punch line... wanna know where Joe is right now? At 9:15pm the night before we close? Driving to Atlanta. To get a check from the same sister-in-law. Which we will then attempt to cash and deposit at 8:30am tomorrow, get a cashier's check for the amount we owe at closing, and hightail it to said closing at 9am.

Cause we live life on the edge, folks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

working on it

So I asked some folks on facebook for suggestions for blog topics and I've been marinating on a few of them.

(Oop... hold the phone. Baby just pooped. Pooped and then grinned at me. So it's all good, but I still probably shouldn't let her (to reuse a good word) marinate in her own... you know.)

OK, clean baby. Where was I?

Ah yes, marinating.

Someone suggested writing about what "home" means to me now, but I think I'll save that for after we CLOSE ON OUR HOUSE on FRIDAY. Let's take a moment for that "holy crap"-ness to set in.*

Someone else suggested writing about my worst fears of parenting. Since it IS after all Weblink Wednesday, I will let this speak for itself. I just don't want to be those people.

Stephen said, and I quote: "Write about the dichotomy presented by the myth of the white man's burden, coupled with the ingrained manifest destiny of our cultural heritage."

And then I hit him.

*Lots more to come on the closing, home decorating, moving, and whether or not my marriage survives all of the above.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


There are many things I was told to expect about motherhood that I have found to be "mommy mythology". The immediate flood of profound and unconditional love at birth. The sense of having your life immediately, irrevocably, completely changed as soon as the baby is in your arms. The mind-numbing exhaustion for weeks on end. The "instinct" that will override all uncertainty and panic. The simple, natural bond of breastfeeding (to this one in particular I bestow a big ol' HA). Not to say that I don't think these things happen to other women, but they certainly did not happen to me. I grew to love my daughter in a process that was full of both joy and frustration, pride and confusion. But there is one thing that I heard from a few sources (the most reliable of which being my own mother) that I can confirm as truth based on my own experience.

There is no feeling that compares to being on the receiving end of this:

Friday, February 12, 2010


(The only reason I am blogging this is for the extra entry for myself. Just keepin' it real, folks.)

The Vintage Pearl blog, which we all know I LOVE from my previous Weblink Wednesday, is having a giveaway... you could win a $50 gift certificate. Then the only difficult thing will be deciding what precious thing to get... choices, choices, choices.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

drumroll please...

It's official... we're buying a house!!!

Better pictures to come... this one is just from the online listing.

Making this announcement reminds me in a way of when we found out we were pregnant... part of me wants to jump around and squeal with excitement, and part of me wants to curl up in a little ball in the corner. (I'm not so good with major changes...) Don't get me wrong, the house is going to be perfect for our first home... just enough space, a yard for the dogs, a safe neighborhood with lots of families. But it's yet another step that Joe and I are taking that proves we are now adults. We have our first baby and now we're moving into a home that we own and are responsible for. No landlord to call, no free maintenance repair service. It's a step I have been looking forward to for a while (and there really won't be a better time for us to buy), but like every big change in life it is a step forward that seems to call for a brief look back. I realized once we decided to go through with the purchase of this house that I have to shift the way I define myself in my own life. I have to embrace the new joys and struggles ahead of me by learning from the ones in my past, but not by holding onto them. While I am still my parents' daughter, I am now also my daughter's mother. While I will always be welcomed with open arms (and a very happy mother) into my childhood home, I now have the responsibility of creating a home for my child.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

a book

Last weekend we made the short trek out to Bogart to have dinner with my aunt Jane, cousin Morgan and her boyfriend Evan the Superhero. While waiting on dinner (a perk of having family close by... FREE FOOD), conversation turned to my blogging. Jane is arguably one of my biggest blog fans and apparently has even gotten some of her co-workers to read my ramblings. And every time we talk about my blog, Jane says the same thing:

"You need to write. No, REALLY write. Like... a book."

When I was young, my dad wrote all the time. Short stories, Christmas carol parodies for his co-workers, essays, and novels. I remember him having my Mom read his drafts and seeing the manuscripts with pen marks criss-crossing them like a road-map. And the bulky envelopes stacked on top of each other being sent to agents and publishers. And a cursor blinking at the end of a paragraph while I read what he had just written. I was certain that Dad would be a famous author. That some publishing company would one day, finally, send back a positive response. But it never happened. And for a while he seemed to give up on his writing, the manuscripts banished to closets and file cabinets. But, while he may have thought that he failed, he had succeeded in passing on his love of writing to me. On top of any assigned writing for my Language Arts classes, I wrote poetry and short stories and historical fiction. When I was at the peak of nerdiness, I even read one piece aloud to my Social Studies class. For fun. I was super popular, folks. But, like my dad, somewhere along the way my passion for writing got pushed to the back burner. I became invested in my ballet training, musical theatre, acting. In college I tried to start a blog but didn't keep up with it and eventually deleted it. I kept a journal of poetry for a while, some of which was actually decent, but then stuck it in a box of memorabilia and forgot about it. My mom wanted me to write a story about the farms we passed on the way to the beach (oh, Cows in the Woods...) that just never got anywhere. But then I decided to start this blog. And to keep me accountable, I shared it with my family and friends. And somewhere between documenting my life and trying to make people laugh, I remembered my love for writing. And what might even be the best part is that I think I inspired my Dad to start his own blog, reminding him of his old love of the written word. Talk about returning the favor. As thanks for helping me find my voice, I give my dad back his own.

So now, like father like daughter, I consider taking my writing to the next level. I'm daunted by the memory of my Dad's frustrations (the pen scrawling on rough draft after rough draft, the rejection letters in the mail), but inspired by his talent and perseverance. So maybe Jane is write... maybe my writing is a dream worth pursuing. Maybe I will find that I have something worth saying. And then maybe I'll write. No, REALLY write. Like... a book.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

weblink wednesday! (no really)

OK, so... I really did write this yesterday (on a Wednesday). I was so proud of myself for A) knowing what day it was and B) writing a blog entry that corresponded with that day... and then Blogger decided to have some kind of hissy fit. I couldn't post or comment on anything for the rest of the day. Which means it is now Thursday. But Weblink Thursday just doesn't have the same ring to it so... Basically what I'm saying is THIS IS ALL BLOGGER'S FAULT.

Anyway... here's your Triple Threat edition of Weblink Wednesday.

1. I really really like the JayZ/Alicia Keys collaboration "Empire State of Mind". It's got that kind of beat that makes you feel like you MUST bob your head. Or rock from side to side. Something vaguely "gangsta", if you will. So anyway, I thought this video was one of the best parody/remakes I've ever seen on youtube- it's funny, well written and recorded, and mimics the original song almost perfectly. And it's about my home state!

2. Stephen, provider of oh-so-many of my links to the amazing and ridiculous wonders of the web, shared this with me. AWWWWWW babies making silly faces... I'll post it on Laine's behalf. :)

3. When I got pregnant, I had this vision in my mind of getting some kind of charm necklace with names or initials of each of my kids as I had them. I hadn't been able to find anything that wasn't too cutesy or cheesy until I found this website for The Vintage Pearl through another blog I follow. Now I just have to decide... round or square? And maybe a baby spoon? ...