Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pumpkin Patch 2013

In our family, "fun" family outings go like this:

Thursday -
Me: We should go to [insert all manner of outings which should serve beer. including, but not limited to: museums, zoos, parks, gardens, pumpkin patch or pretty much anywhere with a bouncy house or requires copious amounts of hand sanitizer] this weekend!
Brandon: Yeah. Harper would love it.

Friday -
Me: ((checks weather & website for any excuse to default on said fun)) Ah oh. It's looking like good weather and, oh great, not prohibitively expensive, either.
Brandon: Yeah. Harper will love it.

Saturday Morning -
Henry: from crib: "Maaaaaahmaaaaaa!"
Me: Yesss... it's Saturday. Wait.. oh no. Fun day.
Brandon: ((silence all morning.. hates all the things.))
Harper: omggggg!

Whatever it is always ends up actually being OK. Sometimes, dare I say, fun.

So, with that, the Phillips Reluctantly Do Pumpkin Patch '13


Harper getting her jump on while I stifle the mental image of her flying off of that thing like a cannonball should she get 'popped' by someone who weighs more:



In our family, we always do things the easy way - like putting on shoes, for example:

 
Harper on the hayride:

 
This is what Harper does when I tell her to smile for a picture. Obviously, I'm waiting with bated breath for her official preschool portraits:
 

 
Henry doesn't fancy shenanigans. Shenanigan #1: Seated too far from the tractor. Not amused.
 
 
Blue Steel. 
 
 
The only other picture of him that wasn't a blur.
 
 
Then this, x 27 or so. Henry, meanwhile, not pictured and..not amused.
 
 
Finally, a typical family portrait.
 
 
 
 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

I love words. In fact, I have a hard time reading novels because I get word envy.

word envy - n. unwarranted jealousy experienced by me when an author uses a stronger, more descriptive word than expected.

Also, I acknowledge that a well-developed vocabulary nearly extinguishes the need for... "swear words."

However, I believe with my whole heart that there is a time and a place - wherein there exists no substitute - to fervently drop the f-bomb.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

ironically 30.

I guess it's just like a stupid almost 30 year old to wax nostalgic about their "fleeting" youth instead of enjoying it, but. . .

 No one told me that at 30, I'd still feel like a kid:

Still making snap decisions with my heart and gut instead of experience. Shouldn't I know what to do, by now?

Still choosing sides, still lying awake, wondering if I chose correctly. Shouldn't I know who to trust, by now?

Still needing encouragement and reassurance when it looks like I'm doing o.k, anyway. Why can't I just do it 'my own self,' yet?

Still failing to stand up for myself, even when I know I'm right.  How haven't I learned to spit it out?

Still worried about how others judge me & how I judge others. Isn't there only One opinion that matters?
 
Still wondering what I'll be and what I'll do, even though that's now. Will I ever know an opportunity when I see it?

Still watching others hurt and hurting with them, knowing I can do little to affect it. Where is this thick skin of which people speak and shouldn't I have it, by now?

Still sticking my foot in my mouth and giving my opinion when it isn't wanted. Why hasn't my foot gotten smaller in 30 years?

Still feeling the sting of rejection and of others' words and actions, even though it's nothing new. Shouldn't I see that coming after all this time?

Still trying to grow up, while I watch two babies run and laugh and play together and learn and fall and get back up and ...grow up. 

Maybe being a 30 year old kid isn't so bad after all.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

she lives for the applause

 
 
I liberty the claws, the claws, the claws
I liberty the claws claws, liberty the claws claws
The way the chinchilla squeaks at me
I liberty the claws, the claws, the claws.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

to the republic, for which it stands.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've never thought to teach Harper the Pledge of Allegiance. Honestly, my job felt done after she began confidently belting out the chorus of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

The good news is, she's been in preschool for a couple of weeks, and I think they say it every day, because today, she taught it to me:

I pleasure to the flag
the united city and God
where the witches stand
God and liberty
and just for kids.




Tuesday, September 17, 2013

if your mass is huddled.

Give me your tired, fussy preschoolers,
hungry husbands yearning for the weekend,
the restless moms combing a disorganized refrigerator,
send these, the busy Southern families, to me.
I'll have them to dinner and bed by 7:15.

I feel oppressed by recipes. And confused (not by directions, but by my ability to follow it flawlessly and still, catastrophe at my hands). Basically, recipes stir up teenager emotions I shouldn't have to deal with just one month shy of turning 30. And yet. . .

This is one y'all need in your arsenal for sick kids, sad friends, unexpected guests and to combat the general malaise that blankets the South when temperatures dip lower than 50 degrees for more than thirty consecutive days.

Chicken and Pastry

Some do dumplings - Bisquick and milk. that's all - but today? Frozen Pastry. I promised 7:15, remember?  A true Southern woman would call this a bastardization of such a hallowed dish, but.. 7:15.

Ingredients:

Two boxes of prepared chicken stock.

One box of water, maybe two (as in, fill the empty box with water and pour it in)

5, 6, or 7 chicken bouillon cubes, depending on your blood pressure.

meat (white or white and dark) from one pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 white onion chopped finely.. undetectable-to-kids-finely.

1 or 2 chopped carrots

1 or 2 chopped stalks of celery

1/2 package of Annie's frozen pastry. (all Southern grocery stores carry this, or some brand of frozen pastry. Not puff pastry, for the love of Paula Deen. Plain pastry. Ask someone who works there and tell them why you need it. McLib's dehydrated pastry also works well. I can't even believe I'm saying this, but for those reading this above the Mason-Dixon Line, you can use egg noodles. But then it's chicken noodle soup. Still good, but not what we're doing here.

2 bay leaves (fairly unnecessary and not worth dragging toddlers to the grocery store if you don't have it)

1 big squeeze of honey, or two tablespoons if you don't buy that cute little bear. It adds depth. Who doesn't buy the bear?! A fancy adult who buys raw, local honey I am not.

Pepper to taste.. more salt if your blood pressure is medically controlled and/or don't care if your wedding rings fit the next day.

Directions:

1. Put on an apron and a serious face, like you're doing something difficult.

2. Pour stock and water in large pot you use for soup. Add water or more stock until you get the amount you want. You'll want leftovers, because like most soupy foods, it's better the next day.

3. Get it hot and start adding bouillon cubes. Taste it. Add more.

4. Add chicken, cream of chicken soup, bay leaves, honey and veggies. **Before you put the water in the pot, you can cook the veggies in the bottom of the pot with a scant bit of olive oil until translucent if you're in a bonafide jerk to get it on the table in 20 minutes.

5. After the veggies are fairly well-done and everything has been at a rolling boil long enough that they look more the sum than their individual parts, start adding the frozen pastry. Slide it in piece by piece. Slowly. So they won't stick together. Patience, grasshopper.

6. Depending on the kind you use, cook according to the package. Frozen, dehydrated or, sigh.., egg noodles will be different.

7. When the pastry is cooked and all slippery-like, taste everything again. Add more bouillon, or salt, or honey.

Serve with crusty bread and sweet tea. The huddled masses will love you..or at least be quiet for 5 minutes while they eat.

Monday, September 16, 2013

hold your horses.

At the onset of stress, one can generally find me holed up in the garage haphazardly stapling geometric fabric to ..something, burning myself with a glue gun, spray painting basically any inanimate object off-white or constructing shoddy window coverings.

As I've chronicled here a few times, these projects don't typically pan out, but for once, the combination of tacky gold acrylic paint, zero patience and stencils didn't make my head explode.

I snort laughed when I finished it, because.. horses!

Who doesn't need to see this every single day!?


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Type B does drapery.

1. Go to fabric store. Bring along 20 month old helper to paw at all breakables within reach.

2. Choose correct color in wrong weight because "eh, it'll do."

3. Despite extended measuring session perched atop rickety coffee table, purchase wrong length: because, really, who has time for step stool nonsense and lists?

4. Do not dare purchase lining fabric. No one sees the back, so who cares?

5. Allow fabric to remain in bag, mockingly, for approximately 3+ weeks or until threat of impending non-immediate-family dinner guests.

5. Unearth wrinkled fabric.

6. Do not prewash to account for shrinkage. Surely, neither peanut-butter-wielding, banana smearing, Crayola Picasso will ever have interest in 96 inch fabric sweeping tantalizingly from ceiling to floor.

7. Halfheartedly iron out wrinkles. Do not refill water reservoir when depleted. Just keep going.

8. Eyeball most precise length, use no pins, begin sewing immediately and as quickly as the machine will go.

9. Cuss some or lots. Give up and sew a pillow cover instead.

10. Drag out project many days as to avoid hanging the rod, which requires collection and use of stud finder, hammer and drill, which are all lost.

11. Post first blog in months about it. Naturally, include no pictures or address extended absence.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

You, with the Old Navy flip flop hot glued to your puffy deco mesh wreath - You realize you just decorated with an adult rubber shoe, right? A shoe.

Yank that thing down and put it on your foot before a beach-bound vagrant beats you to it.




Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring has sprung.

All week, I've been reading about great things to do with fabric scraps at in the fun lane. I've followed Holly's blog since I started blogging and I love absolutely everything she does to her home.

Today, she's hosting a link-up for everyone and their scrap project.

Though it be humble, here is my rag garland.  I've only been sewing for a month, so I don't have enough scraps to cuss a cat. 


If there was ever a project for me, it is this rag garland. You cut scraps - mine are about 8 inches long. Maybe about an inch and a half wide. I don't really know. I didn't measure them. And then you tie them in knots on a good thick yarn or rope. And then just throw it somewhere. 



It aligns wonderfully with my typical mantel decorating style - Shop the house and throw random things up there until it's a hazard to anyone standing underneath. Which is why I'll probably put that Spring banner somewhere else.



It's.just.too.tempting. Henry got a wild look in his eye as soon as I put it up. A yanking expedition is being planned. I know it.



And if for some reason this expertly(!) decorated(!) mantel causes you to think that I have it all together, the rest of the house is a wreck. Also, there's this. I'm just walking around with untied shoes. They're making a clicky sound on the floor. Like a 5 year old. 


And immediately down and to the right of the mantel, there's this:



Go forth and tie scraps.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Old School Blogging


Today, Theta Mom and The Miss Elaine-ous Life are encouraging us to go 'old school' and since I still find early 2000s hip-hop relevant and since I don't have anything nice to say today, this seems like a good fit. Y'all should do the same!

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?
Lawd have mercy. Living in Lee Hall at NC State with entirely too much time on my hands. Which I did not spend studying or going to class regularly. Like most 19 year olds, just generally making great decisions at every opportunity.
2. What 5 things are on your to-do list?
  • Make drapes for the TV room.
  • Fold the four loads of laundry currently piled on our bed.
Life-size Beast makes a cameo for comparison sake.

  • Clean out my car. OMG. Goldfish propagation, y'all. 
  • Decorate for Easter. Harper loves me more when I surprise her with seasonal decor.
  • Install a new baby gate upstairs, which will make Henry love me less.
3. What are 5 snacks you enjoy?
It's not advisable for me to keep snacks in our house that I enjoy, because I would enjoy an entire box of said enjoyable snack. Things I trust myself with? PB2 and celery and cinnamon Chex with almond milk. What snacks do I want? Doughnuts, chocolate, cake and chocolate cake doughnuts.
4. Name some things you would do if you were a millionaire:
Pay off our house. Geez. Can you sleep at night until you do this?!
Buy a fancy-ass minivan substitute. 
Go to grad school and get all the degrees. I don't have to decide! I'm a millionaire!
Top off an education fund for our children - but not one where they turn 19 and have access to it. Have we discussed the decision-making abilities of 19 year olds? 29 year olds, for that matter? Heh. Am I even qualified to have these imaginary millions?
Contribute to solutions to problems dear to my heart.  For the love of humanity, please do your research when contributing to non-profits, y'all. 50% admin expense means you're paying for the CEO's fancy-ass minivan substitute and pumping their child's trust fund.
Save the rest to take care of us and our families if they need it. 
Also, buy an enormous TV for the garage. Because I'm a millionaire and can watch Vampire Diaries while I elliptical, if I want. 
5. Name some places you have lived:
Raleigh NC, Milwaukee WI, Washington DC and my hometown, Fayetteville NC. You can tell that I'm kind of a big deal.
6. Name some bad habits you have:
Procrastination, not putting things away after I'm done with them, blogging when I should be folding laundry. ((Beast gives best come-hither stare))
7. Name some jobs you have had:
I have been a cashier at a grocery store, where I contracted strep throat 6 times over the course of 1.5 years because people and their groceries and their money are dirty. 
I have been a scorekeeper for youth sports, where I learned that I will never pressure my children to play sports.
I've been a student fundraiser and trained callers for the NC State Annual Fund, where I learned that hardworking farmers and their money are easily parted for worthy causes. 
I've been a fundraiser for United Way & The Children's Inn, where I learned that there are some problems that money can't fix. 
And Mom..where I've learned that I know nothing.
8. Name those you are tagging for #OSBlog:
Y'all, I don't do the Twitters. Saying funny things is too hard. Especially if you're going to limit my characters. Furthermore, I don't subscribe to pretending to have Twitter on Facebook.  #Befunnywithoutahashtag.
I'll still tag my frans, though, because both deserve to go viral and blow up. Or do those things in the opposite order. I don't know which. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

all I need to get by.

Playtime (ok, all the time) at our house is either:

 A. watching Harper run around and holler things at us - "Run! Chase me! Tickle Me! Be a Ninja Turtle! Here's your stick! Watch out! I'm going to 'sharp' (stab!!) you! Raaaaaah!!" while Henry trails behind or runs in the opposite direction

 or

B. refereeing two angry badgers who both want ALL THE TOYS.

or

C. Harper building huge, intricate something which Henry points to, "Oooh!" then crushes with his powerful baby fists of destruction.

plus any combination of at least two of the following:

giggling, whining, crying/hostile meltdowns, furrowed brow life lesson warnings in my adult voice, belly laughing, scream laughing (this is a form of communication only tolerable to other 3 year olds and their own parents - not other parents.)

This morning, we had a solid two hours of ALL THE TOYS + whining/crying/furrowed brow.

To people without children, nothing looks worse.

To people with children, the grocery store with both of them in their current state is at least 200% worse.

And yet..

After many bribes (cookies), shoe recovery expeditions (all of us must go! leave no man downstairs! by the way, carry us both! I'm scared to walk up!)  and threats (nap), we piled into the car and, like only three mortal enemies chained together against their will can, eventually stumbled into Harris Teeter.

By the grace of God, I wrangled them into an empty race car cart and quickly(!) began the disinfecting process as there is a 3 second window between Henry being introduced to a new environment and biting the dirtiest thing in said environment.

Amid protests from the peanut gallery  - "Do not wash me! I do not want to be washed with the wipe! Don't wash Henry either! He hates it!" - we spied out the cookie bin (at this point, let's pretend that all that disinfecting wasn't for naught, as I politely select a fresh pastry paper and hand both children a cookie from the COMMUNAL COOKIE BOX) and soldiered on.

As I selected 10 assorted boxes of pasta (buy two get three free! if you have a child, what night do you NOT eat pasta? no night!), I spied the rustling of limbs in my peripheral vision (never look totally away. never.), and said, "What're y'all up to? I hope you aren't thinking about standing up."

'No. Just huggin' and kissin' Henry.'




Thursday, February 28, 2013

dinner: a narrative

This morning, Harper donned her duds of domestication and whipped up some french toast for Brandon.

The result is art imitating life. Specifically mine.

Allow me to explain:


"Sure, my entire kitchen looks like a disaster and I spent a ton of money on obscure grocery items, but I know this Pinterest recipe will be worth it. I just know it will.  MAN, the house smells good. Everybody's gonna love this! Even Harper!"



Pause to appreciate coordinated ensemble: Tulle, silk, velvet,. . . the gang's all here!
Proceed, domestic genius, proceed.


Aww, snap! Let's turn off the timer before it buzzes. I'm all over this.
Timers are for busters.



Wait.. wait now. Is that done? Yeah. Wait. No. Maybe another minute.  How long has it been in there?  Oh. I turned off the timer. Yeah. Yeah. Probably ready. Looks fine. ...Eeehh, maybe not.
.
.
((((((Long stare at oven...))))))
lasting infinitely long, or, if one were to count, approximately 7 seconds


close enough. giddyup!
...minding the exposed wrist. no time for burn care whilst presenting your family with the most wonderful meal ever.


looks gross.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Animal Instincts

This is more of a public service message than anything else.

It isn't funny. It's serious and important.

..So, as much as I've been avoiding it, I need to give you the talk.

::Shudder::

The birds and the bees,

or more specifically: the pony, crocodile and narwhal.

Wait. You're not familiar with that last move? That's ok. I'm not embarrassed to tell you and I will even provide pictures.

Just because I waited until my mid-twenties to stumble through the weeds doesn't mean you have to!

No blushing. We're all adults, here.

The facts:

1. An adult horse is a horse. A baby horse is a foal. A PONY IS A SMALL GROWN HORSE. Not a baby horse.




2. Alligators live in the United States. Crocodiles DO NOT live in the United States or anywhere even close to the United States. No. They do not. The Everglades have no crocodiles. They have alligators. JUST alligators. Not both.




3. The narwhal is real. Despite having a horn like a unicorn, it is not a mythical creature. It exists.




And since you never really forget where you were or who set you straight, a sincere thanks to:

Katie, that night at Bowl Club when you told us how your brother didn't know the difference? I laughed along with everyone, but. . . . only in relief. Phew.. those horses in the Kentucky Derby are grown.

And Brandon, for that long, first confused, then sympathetic pause last weekend after I told you about the crocodiles that have been known to mistakenly swim up the Cape Fear River.

And finally, PBS Kids Animals of the Artic, yesterday. The world seems a little more magical, now.



Class dismissed.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oh hay Mom.

I'm just eatin' my apple after incapacitating a boot-wearing intruder. I shoved him into the bathroom so that only his boot would be ominously sticking out when you quickly rounded the corner. You know. . .so it wouldn't scare you as badly. You didn't need to see all that.




Thanks for looking out for me, Hank. Not scary at all.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Little Talks..with Harper



Don't listen to the male, I say!
 Oh!
The screams all howler say!
 Oh!
But the true may buddy dis, ship will carry off whammy safe to shore.*

Harp, who is singing this song?
Monsters. A lady monster and a man monster.

How do they feel when they're singing this song?
Happy.

Why are they happy?
Cause they're singing!

What makes you happy?
Being a princess makes me happ-eh, happ-eh, happ-eh!

What is Valentine's Day?
Glue and glitter.

Who do you give a valentine to?
Grandma.

Why?
Because I said it.

* Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men, lyrics courtesy of Harper.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Type B has a pet.

This probably isn't going to be very interesting.

I probably shouldn't open a post with that.

But a few days ago, our neighbor across the street told us that he'd had a cat in his back yard for three days and asked if it was ours. Really fluffy. Grey. Very nice cat. Looked to be a show cat, he said.

My interest was piqued, but not enough to actually want a cat. No sir.

Three days later, the cat came to our house!

..Not a show cat. But really fluffy. Grey. Very nice.

And much to Harper and Henry's excitement, she stayed the whole day!

Harper took to calling herself Harper Fluffy Kitty and rolling around a lot.

Henry stood at the door and talked to the cat.

We had to go out the back door every time we wanted to go anywhere, because the cat would try to get inside when we'd open the door.  She thought she was home.

I was worried something fierce about this cat. Clearly an indoor cat. Clearly lost for quite a while. Clearly wanted to be our cat.

Back where I come from, this is now.. our cat.

But it's not.

And I tossed and turned all night thinking about the cat curled up on our side porch on our door mat.

Brandon reminded me multiple times that this is, quite possibly, the fluffiest cat in history so she needed neither A. A pillow. or B. A blanket. ..both of which I wanted to take out there.

I also considered taking some baby food out there for it. Since we didn't have anything a cat would really be able to eat.

I've never actually had a cat. I don't think it's necessary to say that, at this point.

The next day, I fished out my least favorite Fiestaware bowl (burgundy. yuck.) and gave the cat some water.

My resolve was fading. I knew I was mere hours from steering a cart onto the pet food aisle of Harris Teeter.

And for two hours, she walked around the yard, all cute and friendly-like, while we all played outside.

I took fortyleven pictures. The cat did not look this terrifying, but these were the only two I got of her face.  Out of fortyleven. Seriously. In retrospect, it appears I was a few inches from getting a claw across the face.



Also, let's talk about the Valentine's Day mantle display, which includes both Christmas tree greenery and mini pumpkins. Or not. Maybe we shouldn't talk about that. Maybe just the cat. In a defensive stance.

I planned to annoy any and all Facebook friends who have not yet blocked my mommish updates with a four alarm alert about this lost cat. I imagined it going viral. Obviously.

And then the former city-dweller in me said to to myself, "Self, check Craigslist."

And I halfheartedly did, knowing it would lead nowhere.

But it did! There was an ad about this lost cat! From a week ago!

After a flurry of texts and emails and calls, after much jubilation in general, we found the cat's family.

Turns out, the cat's people are our age, have a 3.5 year old little girl and a baby. They live close to us.

Obviously, Lacey the cat thought she was home. ..Or at least found a decent replacement, as it seems a cat would do, but she happily abandoned my burgundy Fiestaware as soon as she saw her 'dad,' and hopped right into his arms.

Case closed.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Now, I'm not going to begin to delve into the impoliteness of chewing gum in public, because, well. . . I admit. I like gum. And while I don't buy it, if it's there, I'll chew it. In a heartbeat. And unless it's all wagging out of your mouth and you're drooling and slobbering, I just don't find it offensive.

But that's not my opinion of the week.

I spent the better part of middle school with a piece of gum in my mouth. . . Mom, a teacher, even bought it for me. I think she felt sorry for me because every day from 5 PM until 7 AM the following morning, I had to wear orthodontic headgear. Every kid should have to wear headgear. Builds character, and neck muscles, that big ole strap around your head.

That wasn't the opinion, either.

Sugarless gum is good for you. It fights cavities, but not if you swallow it.  

Like you haven't. 

Besides, I think unintentional gum swallowers might have stronger survival skills. Tastes good? Eat it! No thinking involved! Survive!

..That wasn't my opinion of the week. 

And now that all that weirdness is out of the way, I want to talk about some small-mouthed people with a big problem. Gum splitters. As in, "You want half of this? I just can't chew a whole piece."

The absurdity stops me in my tracks. Every. Time.

Bless your heart!

I just don't understand! I feel so sorry for you! 

How long must it take you to eat dinner? 

Do you use a baby toothbrush? 

What happens when these people have children? Lord, I hope this is a recessive trait, because, what if two small-mouthed gum splitters make a baby? Will the baby only be able to fit in a 1/4 piece of gum? 

Chew on that. The whole thing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

how to understand your mom: the step by step guide

1. Have children.

2. Raise them.

3. Repeat.

When I was a kid, my very favorite chore was cutting the grass because it carried the hallowed perk of moving the cars around the yard to do it. And when you're 12 years old? There is absolutely nothing more exciting than driving a car by yourself. Even if it's only 100 feet.

Y'all, I had been driving since I was 6 or 7. I've mentioned this. I was...highly confident.

And one particularly hot afternoon, I sat in Mom's 4 door Honda Civic and contemplated the conditions:  Dad was off doing whatever it was he did, Mom was napping (Mom never napped?!), the air from the A/C was ice cold and smelled like freshly cut grass. The smell of freedom was intoxicating. R. Kelly was loudly and convincingly telling me He Believed I Could Fly.

Yessir, it was a perfect day to take my first solo spin around the block.

Unremarkably, I did so. I wore my seat belt. I observed the speed limit, I stopped at stop signs. I checked my rearviews. Hell, I even used the turn signals. I met nary an automobile or pedestrian. The trip was approximately 35 seconds.

OF HEAVEN!

R. Kelly, I get it! I DO believe I can fly!

And as guided the stealthy Civic into its final right turn back onto Park Avenue, I pondered the end of my maiden voyage.

If an unlicensed driver operates a vehicle around a city block and doesn't see or hit another car, did it actually happen? 

No one would ever know of my expert navigation. . .well, until the next day at school, when it would be the first thing I told my friends. Unless I couldn't wait that long and I told them immediately.

And then I saw her.

In the middle of the street in front of our house. Pointed in the exact direction I was coming from. As if she knew exactly what I was doing. Hands on her hips, with literally, the scariest look I've ever seen on anyone's face.

As I pulled carefully and responsibly into the driveway, I avoided her stare. (She was also yelling, but the windows were rolled up and R. Kelly was still mocking me, thankfully).

I knew...I'd never leave the house again. ...I'd never see my friends again. ...AOL would be canceled. ...I might never live to see another episode of Friends or ER. We'd only had cable for a year.. That would be gone, too...She'd dance crazily around a fire in our back yard, stoked with my most favorite articles of clothing: Adidas striped track pants and Nike AirMax shoes...and lucky hair scrunchies. Those were goners, for sure.

My hand hesitated on the gear shift. Throw it back in drive and never come back? My fate was written, anyway.

As I recall, she got herself together fairly quickly, but nothing prepared me for the next few weeks. Sure, I was 'grounded.' No TV... or computer.. or something.

But Mom. . . she walked around the house like a kicked puppy. Wouldn't really talk to me.  When our eyes would meet, I saw only sadness and disappointment. (Obviously, she knew what she was doing.)

She was baffled. . . never thinking I was capable of such irresponsibility and stupidity.

In retrospect, this is probably more equivalent to the time I spent the night with Papa Kes and Grandmother and cut my own hair after I was supposed to be in bed.

In any case, I was officially out of the circle of trust.

She came around eventually. She had to. I was an only child. A one-shot deal. She couldn't afford to toss the baby out with the bath water.

Still, I didn't understand it for many years.

used turn signals! No one even saw me! It was an entirely calculated risk! I didn't drive to the beach! I was gone for 30 seconds. It was all rather. . .responsible!

Yesterday, I herded Harper and Henry into the door while I juggled bags filled with the components of dinner. As I wrangled Henry into a high chair and armed him with enough snacks to get us through the ground beef browning process,

Harper clomped upstairs to get..something.. "I be back in a second."

I didn't think another thing about it.

For years now, I've been following her every move. Since we moved into our house, I've followed her upstairs mere seconds after she's made every such proclamation, only to find her sitting on my bed reading books or playing with toys in her bedroom. While she be fierce, a naughty girl, she isn't.

When she'd been gone a couple of minutes, I called up to her, "Harp, come downstairs and tell me what you're up to."

"Okay!"

A minute later, she unassumingly, innocently & excitedly slid into the kitchen. . a pouf of yellow, glittery polyester Disney's Belle. . .which is the norm.

"Whatcha doing up there?"

"Momma, I made your dress (brand new! never worn! 90% off coup from Belk!) gorgeous! I snipped snipped snipped with the snizzors. It's just your size!" 

..delivered so proudly, that I absolutely couldn't even be mad about the dress or the..

three air holes in the arm of my favorite pink and white striped oxford Polo, as well as my brand new pink tshirt, a black turtleneck, three maternity shirts, two tank tops, Brandon's red Polo and also some new fringe on one of his t-shirts.

All of which is rather remarkable, considering I didn't even know she could use scissors. . . or that there were any upstairs - hark!, under the sink enclosed in a box filled with Brandon's hair-cutting equipment.



I get you, Mom. I get you, now.









Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Life Less Ordinary

A fair and reserved maiden



passes her days unconventionally. . . studiously practicing the art of freehand tattoo



waiting impatiently for a coach




to wisk her away. .



Monday, January 28, 2013

For your consideration. . .

I give you a man.




Warm.



And confident in his masculinity.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

part four: the sandwich armistice

This is part four of Indy's terrifying HCG diet series. Here's part 1, part 2, and part 3.  

Well it’s the morning of my eighth day on this diet, and I have some updates for y’all. First things first-I now weigh 206.2 lbs. That’s a whopping 11.4 lbs of weight loss in one full week. Booyah. I haven’t weighed this little in over a year, and I can actually see a difference when I look in the mirror. My face looks thinner, my clothes are fitting better, and my abs are hesitantly coming out of hiding ala the French “resistance” after the Americans have already chased the Germans out. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, while I technically haven’t felt physically hungry while eating like a shipwreck survivor (if you thought I was going to take the bait and continue my last analogy, you are nuts), psychologically I have not been without difficulties.

While I will say that the hunger pangs dissipated after the first couple of days, my love for food did not. Guys, the whole reason I am on this diet is that I love food. If I didn’t, I could just do what a lot of dieters do and eat bland food in moderation indefinitely. I would rather have a heart attack at 65 than eat cardboard until I’m 90. My grandkids might not know me very well, but I’m sure they’ll take it in stride. Anyway, after a couple of days not being able to eat what I want, I started fantasizing about things I would rather be eating. I would sit around and say things like “Mandy, you know what would be awesome right now?..(insert something absurdly unhealthy here)” I would construct elaborate meals in my mind and describe them with a far away look in my eyes.

At first, I would only think about foods that I would have chosen before my diet started. This didn’t bother me too much. What I didn’t expect was to start craving food that I would have snubbed my nose at any other time. Confession: I hate sandwiches. Hate at a conceptual level. Why in the name of Anthony Bordain would anyone take flavorful things like meat, cheese, etc and hide them between a double carbohydrate wall of blandness? I know that the rest of the world vehemently disagrees with this assertion, and I don’t have the physical energy to argue my position as I would have a week ago. Just know that I am against the very idea of a sandwich down to my very core. Two days ago, I caught myself craving a sandwich-any sandwich. Seriously? Have my standards fallen so low? I don’t even know who I am anymore.  

I’m usually pretty graceful around other people who are eating the way the good Lord intended. I keep my mouth shut (lest a rogue Dorito find its way in), I sit on my hands (to avoid bludgeoning my friends and family-Lord of the Flies style), and I try not to make any comments at all (if you can’t say anything non-manipulative in an attempt to make someone abandon their food…). I’ve actually asked my wife to eat things I’m craving so I can live vicariously through her in some sick voyeuristic spectacle. I got her a burrito from Chipotle yesterday, and it was only about 80% for her.

So after one week, how is this diet going? Well I’ve lost a lot of weight very quickly. That’s good. I miss real food every second of every day. That’s bad. Conclusion: it’s all about what you want and how strong your will power is (did you really expect a doctor to give a straight answer about anything?) Weight loss is simple math. Your body burns a certain number of calories per day (you can find calculators online). If you take in fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Every 3500 calories you burn more than you take in equals a pound of body fat lost. You could do it without the HCG. The HCG is just a helping hand. It makes you less physically hungry and causes your body to preferentially burn fat over muscle. Bottom line, this diet only fails when you do. If you subtract a larger number from a smaller one, you get a negative value. Your genetics don’t hold sway over physical reality. As long a you can deal with the short-term misery, you can do this diet.

Two more installments to follow: One after the diet is over and another 3 months after that. 

*Editor's note: Watch this. It's awesome. Also, I talked to Indy a few days ago, and it seemed like he was going to do this..at any second. So there's your juxtaposition. But even if there wasn't, I would have still linked this video. Because I can't quit watching it.







Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Indy starts the diet. P.S. Who needs Zagat ratings when you have all-you-can-eat BBQ? Zagat that, buddy.

This is part three of Indy's terrifying HCG diet series. Here's Part I and Part 2.
Indy didn't pick this picture or title this post. It's my blog and I do what I want.
In the manner of a death row inmate, I meticulously planned out my first stage. I ordered all of my favorite foods from Amazon, and a coincidental trip to DC for the birth of my niece provided the perfect opportunity for a restaurant hopping binge that would have made Caligula blush. On the first morning I forced down a huge breakfast. Then my wife and I (her parents blessedly babysitting our Tazmanian devil), headed to the Annapolis waterfront so that I could wolf down crabcakes from Chick and Ruth’s (supposedly the best in Maryland. I don’t disagree). After I finally surrendered to the remaining food on my plate, my wife looked at me and deadpanned, “McKayla is not impressed.” I had eaten significantly less than I would have a week before. Hmmm. Here I am trying to eat as much as I can, and I can’t manage eat a crabcake? Ding ding ding! The drops are working. I was stoked. I had confidence that I was not going to die during phase two.  
Dinner was, unfortunately a different story. We made three reservations in DC-each an hour and a half apart. Yes, three. Yes, that is ridiculous and wasteful and excessive. I get it. I don’t care. These were places that we had taken for granted a mere 9 months ago but after our move down to (I’m sorry Courtney) an area that doesn’t have a Zagat rated restaurant for 200 miles, had become the stuff of legend ala “You know what would be ah-maz-ing right now? Jaleo’s. I guess it’s Dominoes again tonight.” I ate and I ate. At first it was awesome-no guilt or worry. Hey, this is part of my diet. After a while though, I realized that I wasn’t really feeling full. My confidence in my survival during phase 2 plummeted. It was too late to turn back though. I rounded out my second day of phase 1 with another herculean intake of the least healthy foods I could find. Have you ever had red velvet cake ice cream? It’s legal crack. Anyway, as the last day of phase 1 came to a close, I started getting nervous about phase 2.
I woke up the next morning and weighed myself. 217.6. Ok I guess I had that coming. I had eaten more in 2 days than most third world countries do in a month. I took my drops and left for work. Part of the diet demands that you drink 0.5 ounces of water for every pound you weigh. For me, that is a lot of water. I drank 50 ounces of water and peed 6 times before noon. So far so good I guess. Lunch was two handfuls of iceberg lettuce and 4 ounces of lean meat (chicken, crab, lobster, veal, etc) cooked with no oil. I started getting hungry abound 3. I started getting really hungry when I left work around 430, and by the time I was home, I was starving, light-headed, and a little nauseous. Magic bullet, this was not. I’m stubborn and a little masochistic, so I determined to stick it out anyway. Dinner was the same as lunch-I calculated that I took in about 200 calories that day. I’m not sure where the other 300 was supposed to come in, but maybe I’m an overachiever. My wife and I did everything we could think of to distract me from my hunger and keep me from stealing the baby’s food. By bedtime, I was bowed but not broken. I woke up on day 2 and weighed myself. 214.8. I had lost 2.8 lbs in a day, and my constant running to the bathroom can attest that it was definitely not water weight. With results, however infinitesimal, my determination was renewed.
To be continued..

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Who's down with HCG? Indy.

The following is the second installment of Indy's terrifying diet series. Read the first here!
 



One of the anesthesiologists I work with did a fellowship in what amounts weight management, and a few of my coworkers let her walk them through the HCG diet. If I hadn’t watched my officemate drop literally 40 lbs in one month, I too would have been skeptical. This is where I should state that I have no vested interest in this diet, and I would not be surprised if, ten years after having completed it, people were to suddenly drop dead. I weighed this possibility and decided that it was worth the risk. I asked her if she could get me started.
Apparently in the 1950s some doctor was over in India during a famine and noticed that all of the pregnant women were delivering healthy babies despite their severely restricted diets. Years of head scratching, pontification, and laboratory data later, he decided this phenomenon was a result of the hormone HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin hormone. Apparently our creator has a plan for everything. HCG allows your body to preferentially draw its energy from fat stores so that pregnant women aren’t breaking down muscle and other vital tissues in order to support a growing fetus. My coworker also told me that it decreases appetite, but having lived 9 months with a pregnant wife, this was a bit counterintuitive to me. Still, I wanted to believe, so I did.
The diet more or less works in three phases. The first lasts two days in which you are supposed to eat as much fatty food as you can. I was pretty confident I could handle that part. The second is trickier. You drop to eating a maximum of 500 calories per day, and only super healthy nonfat noncarb foods are preapproved. According to the gurus, you are not supposed to feel super hungry during this stage. This stage lasts for a minimum of 21 days-up to a month. The third stage, you go back to around 1800 calories per day but continue shunning carbs and junk food.
It starts with a lot of bloodwork. I counted 9 large vials of blood that were taken for various and sundry tests. Everything came back normal for me with the one exception (surprise surprise) being my cholesterol. 243. Seriously? My being overweight was going to eventually lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease? Wait, I feel like I had read that somewhere. No time to stress. Just more motivation as far as I’m concerned. With the prescreening taken care of, I picked up the HCG drops (to be held under my tongue for 2 minutes every 12 hours) and about 12 bottles of vitamins and was ready to go.

To be continued. . . 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Indy is back, jack!



Indy and the lovely Mandy


Remember Indy? He's our great friend who entertained the masses with 

this
and
this
and
this 

after Henry was born. Now Grace and Henry are both a year old and we've all moved to North Carolina. That's cute, huh? Anyway.

About a month ago, Indy sent a well-timed text while I was in the middle of a two day cleanse trying to avoid Spanx at a Christmas party. I may have closed the conversation with, "Asparagus and cucumbers aren't a damned snack!" I was angry. And hungry. 

He has a solution by which I am fascinated. A solution I'm too scared to try, so I was more than happy to bug him to blog about it.

Of course he'd do this scary diet. After you've been shot by a cab driver, what's left to fear?

I'll pipe down, now, and let the man talk. 

Ok Ok OK. Last thing. What he says about his metabolism is completely true.  Once, we went to dinner in DC and he ate three bowls of cheese dip by himself and then ate dinner.



  So I should probably start out with an admission: I get it. Females of the world, I get it. A few short years ago I assumed y’all held the monopoly on body image issues due to your dangerously high levels of mysterious lady hormones (it’s science). Now, I know better. I had always been naturally athletic and could boast a metabolism that allowed me to eat multiple entrees at dinner only to burn them off so quickly that I didn’t have to turn the heat on in my apartment in the winter. I’m not sure when that stopped. I wasn’t consulted. Heck, I wasn’t even alerted that I needed to make some drastic lifestyle changes.
Four and a half years ago, I started a four year anesthesiology residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Looking back at my records, I was 6’3” and weighed 183 lbs. Admittedly, I was a little underweight, but I worked out and ran long distances 4-5 times a week. Why? Did I love it? No. I did it to look good for the fairer sex. I was single, and after work my day was my own. I was probably more than just a little vain-and still am despite no longer being supported by objective evidence. Exactly eight and a half months later, I met the girl of my dreams. Suddenly, I had better things to do with my free time-namely drive the 45 minutes to Annapolis to see her every chance I got. A smart dude like me probably should have realized that, with a finite number of hours in the day, if you are hanging out with your girlfriend, you are most likely not also working out. Long story short, I started gaining weight.
It wasn’t really noticeable at first. To be honest, I didn’t really mind filling out some, but as my important life events began happening at a rapid pace-first an engagement, the inevitable wedding, a pregnancy (her, not me), and the birth and subsequent wrangling of our daughter, I began to realize that I had been working out zero and eating at the same clip I had when I was a college athlete. I stepped on the scale a month ago and it read 216. Double ewe tee eff. I was by all objective standards overweight. I realized that I had recently been buying XL shirts when I had worn a Large size high school. I had come up with some lame excuses about why I couldn’t attend my college baseball team’s reunion. I refused to let my wife post pictures of me on Facebook. All of this while looking by all objective standards like a pretty normal 30 year old American dude. I had full blown body image issues. I needed to do something drastic, but I didn’t know what. I knew that simply working out more and eating less would reverse the progression, but how many hours would that take me away from my family? I needed a magic bullet. I needed a quick fix that would drop my new found weight without pulling me away from playtime with Grace and hanging out with my wife.
That’s when I decided to go on a no joke medical diet. To be continued in installments per Courtney’s request.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

accidental ass and the associated karma.

Is there anything more unnerving?

Is there anything that makes you question yourself more than that?

There's a time and a place to be a jerk. And there's so much jerkiness in the world. But when you're one.. on accident?

It bothers me. Far more than when I'm an ass on purpose.

That's been known to happen. Once or twice.

All week, I've been seeing pickup trucks driving around town with fortyleven Christmas trees bouncing precariously in the beds. Are they taking them somewhere to compost? Are people paying them to haul their trees off? Do they do contracting work for the city so that the city won't have to pick as many up? Hell, I don't know.

All I know is, when Harper and Henry and I made our way down the stairs this morning, there was a sturdy man out in front of our house trying to wrestle the enormously sturdy metal stand off of our tree, which I dragged to the road yesterday amid hoots and hollers from the peanut gallery "Momma! Don't let it fall on the bouncy house! You knocked over a chair! There's pines in my hair! It is stuck in the door! PULLLL, Momma!"

Once I got to the street, like this man, I stood there for about two minutes trying to pry the stand off during lunchtime rush hour. I don't even know why I'm bothering to say this, because you probably saw me. Because I'm sure that every car in Fayetteville passed by during this two minutes. 

I gave up.

Then Brandon didn't take it off last night because he got home late from work. And the only thing more dangerous than being within 5 feet of the side of our road is being 5 feet within the side of our road in the dark.

So. This man. This morning. He's yanking that stand around like a dog with a bone. And he can't get it off either. And then his side-kick jumps out of the cab of the truck (whose bed was filled to the brim with equal parts Christmas trees and..junk.) and he starts yanking, too.

And I stood in wonderment.. as they ragdolled the tree.. Would they take the tree? The stand? In the 10 seconds it took them to get it off, I thought - "I don't care if they take the tree. Obviously. ...but.. the stand is ours. The stand is ours, which we have hauled from Wisconsin to Maryland to Fayetteville. Ours." And while I generally have little to no fight in me in the morning, when he started to walk to his truck with the stand (the portion of which came off. half was still stuck around the tree), I opened the door and hollered out, "Sir, that stand is ours! Don't take that stand!"

"WHAT!" He said. "You want it now that I've taken it off?!" (broken it off)

(Yes. I was waiting to see if you were going to take the tree or the stand.) <--I did not holler this across the yard.

"Yes." I hollered.

So he's heated. Real mad. So mad I shut and locked the door and peeked out as he...

shoved that stand back on the tree and tightened the bolts!

Whuck?!

Dude. You already broke it!

And about 5 seconds later, I realized.

Totally my fault.

He probably thought I knew he was taking the stand for junk. . . or whatever. . . and he thinks that I waited for him to get the stand unstuck before I told him not to take it. Free labor, and all that jazz. And that stand? It was at the street. Like trash. Like I didn't want it.

Boom. Accidental ass.

So I've been feeling badly about it, this morning. Homeboy is just trying to make a living with his junk and greenery.

And as we were leaving the grocery store approximately 1 hour later, in a parking lot with approximately 400 empty spaces, a lady double parked on us so hard that I couldn't open either door on the passenger side to get Harper in. She had to climb into the back seat from the driver's side. To her delight. "I like to climb! Look at me!"

And buckling a five-point harness from the front seat? Ha. There is a LOT of butt in the air maneuvering. Accidental ass, if you will.

The best part is that lady who parked her tires into our spot shimmied her way out the passenger door and looked straight at me and smirked as I unassumingly pulled our race car cart up to the car. Smirked, y'all!

Case closed.















Thursday, January 3, 2013

Perspective.


If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the piles and piles of laundry will disappear all too soon and that you will, to your surprise, miss them profoundly. – Thomas S. Monson



Aww Lawd. Henry woke up early this morning and when I staggered to his room, I was mostly prepared for a sleepy baby, ..mostly mad because he was awake and couldn't find his paci.

Nope.

..Jumping up and down making all manner of loud squeals. Happy, Happy, Happy!

We stayed up too late watching Duck Dynasty.

Coffee, Breakfast, Laundry. . .

And because he tends to be an active participant in laundry, I generally stick him in the laundry basket while I'm changing loads. ..So he won't climb into the washing machine.

It's true.

One day, I was folding Brandon's t-shirts and I thought Henry was just helping me remove the clothes from the dryer.

I was..startled to turn and see only feet and legs sticking out. He was all up in there. And loving it.

Anyway.

I'm working on prettying up my laundry room. . because I spend a lot of time there.

I'm working on a Tide, Gain and Clorox . . . vignette, if you will.

So I used a free printable and framed that quote for my laundry room, because even when I'm all staggery from no sleep, it reminds me that I need to deeply appreciate the baby in the hamper.

Henry says, "Hey!" and seems to embrace my chevron phase.