Perhaps looking for homes during one of Indiana’s coldest and snowiest winters wasn’t our best idea. We don’t choose these things; some things choose us. After today’s (ugh) snow stopped, we slogged to the opposite side of town in 20 degree weather, unloaded a minivan full of stuff (we probably don’t need) into a snowy and freezing storage unit, and headed to a few open houses.
And therein lies the rub: Greg prefers newer homes. I prefer older homes. Sara & Kelly prefer the home we’re in, and Sara has stated that even if we go, she is staying. And in case we had any doubts, her cat is staying with her. Uh-oh.
Newer homes all look exactly the same to me, and exactly like the one I have. Open concept rectangles with sliding glass doors by the kitchen table, opening onto a small-ish back yard which looks out onto identical homes with identical decks, and an obligatory Bradford pear in the front yard. If you live in this house, please don’t misunderstand. These are great homes. I live in that home, and have for 9 years. I’m simply ready for a change. Greg, however, likes his logically laid-out spaces in a world full of warranties and updated appliances. He’s practical. He’s low-risk. He puts a coat of paint on a wall, and voila! He’s home.
Our Spanish Ranch, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Older homes are interesting to me. They have a spirit. They have a story. Big trees, and established yards. I don’t love all the quirks of older homes, but I love many of them. I love the nooks and crannies where my eyes land, and I wonder upon who put them there. I become a part of the story, full of layers and texture. I love stripping away parts and making the story mine. I love leaving some parts just as they are, and incorporating both stories into one. It takes both moments and years to fall in love with an older home, and in so doing…I’m home.
While I love watching an older home breath, Greg fears it will cough up a lung. While Greg loves bright, open spaces, I feel exposed. We are at polar opposite sides of the risk-tolerance curve, which is why we are married. When we met, Greg lived in an all-white house, and after he bought it, he changed nothing. I, on the other hand, lived in an 89-year old bungalow, which we are pretty sure the earth was trying to swallow whole. After I bought it, I changed everything. I especially loved changing out my glass fuses in the middle of the night with my bare hands while I heard pipes bursting underneath my house. GOD, I LOVED THAT HOUSE. Greg is right to call me crazy for loving it. I am right to call him boring for thinking it was crazy. If you’re married, this logic makes perfect sense to you. If you’re single, buy the bungalow before you have a penny-wise husband to talk you out of it. Warning: garages leaning to the north may eventually collapse…to the north.
Upon my last check, my bungalow in Irvington had not yet, been swallowed by the earth.
It’s good that we met. He saved me from electrocution, and I turned his Spanish Ranch into a home. We recognize that our compromises are good for both of us. It’s good to stretch. It’s good to be married. It’s good to live somewhere between a house that can’t be taken down by a hurricane and a house that is a hurricane.
So we came to live here. With a cross-country move, 2 job changes, and a baby on the way, this house made a lot of sense. Brand-spanking new. Tidy yard. 3-car garage. Cul-de-sac. Complete with sliding glass doors off the kitchen, but I turned down the Bradford Pear, and opted for maples in the backyard instead. With so much change in front of us, this house would not keep us awake with worry at night (we had babies to do that for us). And now I have to figure out how to add Sara, her rescued cat Cy-Cy, AND a SPACESHIP into the listing. Warm, sunny home with gorgeous wood floors! Appliances stay. 1 cat, 1 child, and 1 spaceship included! Spaceship comes with working wings and bubble wrap to cushion any hard landings you may experience! Full guest suite in basement!
So please tell me, which do you prefer: a new house you can move right into, clean and fresh, that won’t impinge its personality upon you? Or an older home, which may both hug and fight you at the same time? Do you think moving with children changes your choices and tolerance for risk? What with children being so inexpensive and all…
Tags: The Girls
For those of you following my “Goodnight” series (in homage to Goodnight Moon), we’ve started to pack up The Beast. It seems just yesterday we finished building and painting this behemoth. Now it’s time to say goodbye. I sat quietly on my window seat, and watched the billionth snow storm of the winter roll in Tuesday night. It was beautiful to curl up under my lights and watch it through my bedroom picture window; of all the things we’ve done to this house, I think I will miss The Beast Project the most. Usually home remodeling projects that hit snags turn out not quite-as-pretty as you imagined they would. Oh how I loved being surprised by this one.
Goodnight projects that made me swear. Goodnight home remodeling projects everywhere.
Other Goodnight Projects:
Goodnight Sewing Room
Tags: The Girls
You may suspect in Indiana, we take the study of Indians rather seriously. Sara just finished her Native American unit, and in true fashion to her school, the study went quite deep. Their products of study and Festival that followed were SO COOL. My favorite has to be Sara’s Totem Pole, a source of much laughter in our family. Sara’s Totem Pole represents:
Eagle: Granddaddy: Smart, Strong, Good Eye
Monkey: Uncle Randy: Funny
Fox: Kelly: Shy, Smart, Sneaky
Butterfly: Auntie Amanda: Beautiful, Nice, Friendly
Bear: Daddy: Strong, Brave, Fearless
Raven: Sara: Smart, Independent
Mommy? Um…wait. Did I not make the…? Well, I’ll be. I didn’t make Sara’s Totem Pole. I called a girlfriend immediately, whom after working a string of 7 night shifts, accidentally slept through her daughter’s Native American Festival. She saw me later, and in tears, told me her daughter represented her as a sleepy bunny. You can imagine my laughter when I told her I didn’t make Sara’s pole at all. I am totem-less. I am without totem.
Other great projects Sara made for the Festival (with exactly 1 created at home, making me love this Festival even more):
A Kuchina Doll, Hopi Indian Tribe.
A Wigwam, complete with fire, people, and beds, and food.
A Seminole Indian Festival Headpiece.
A “Winter Count”, which is like an illustrated calendar.
A Chickee Home, built by the Seminole tribe in the swamps of Florida.
An Iroquois False Face Society Mask.
A Beaded Dress of the Cheyenne Tribe, hand beaded by Sara.
The Inuit traveled by kayak on water, and travois on land.
A Cliff Dwelling, made as a group project, and if you peered in the windows, they added illustrations inside.
Beautifully done, 2nd grade! And kudos to the teachers who designed this curriculum. I never cease to be amazed by what I get to learn…oops…I mean what MY CHILDREN get to learn…
P.S. Next year there had better be 5 animals on Kelly’s totem pole, all representing the awesomeness which is the Momma! I’m kidding! (sort of…)
Tags: The Girls
February 3rd, 2014 · Comments Off
Let’s say Sara were beyond tired. Overstimulated, even. Good chance she’d give us a clue as to her situation (in the form of teen-like sass that would burn my Grandmother’s ears), and we would simply send her to bed. In this scenario, would Sara fall asleep? Absolutely. After she threw her linens and most of her clothes down the stairs. Along with every toy she could reach, and perhaps she’d rip a toilet out of the floor and toss it down for good measure. The tirade would take no less than 2 hours, and be synchronized with Hulk-like yelling. She would then fall fast asleep for 45 minutes. 2 night terrors would follow, and let’s say from there? It’s truly anyone’s guess. It’s a sight-to-behold, let me assure you.
NOW, let’s say Kelly were to have a “I’m so sleepy I want to pull my own eyes out” kind of evening, and we put HER to bed. Would she also put up a good fight? Absolutely! She learned from the best! Kelly would quietly, without making a peep, throw ALL of her linens and stuffed animals off of her bed, and promptly pass out for no less than 12 hours. On her face, no pillow or blanket required. No screaming that she couldn’t possibly sleep without that stuffed animal no one has seen in 3 years, and we are the worst parents on earth for not knowing where she lost it, and why haven’t we thought to implant all of her toys with GPS systems? Kelly knows a soft landing when she finds one. She has tossed her Care Bear down in protest, and that’s enough anarchy for one evening.
I do so cherish their differences, as life would be tremendously boring without either one of them. Here’s the funny catch: we tuck them both in after discovering their amoeba-like sleep-states. Sara? Always smiles in her sleep, and grips my hand, just as she did when she was an infant. No matter how mad she is when she falls asleep, she always grins when I pass by her bed. Kelly? Go ahead…move the alligator…I dare you. This little blonde tyrant can kick your teeth out without so much as opening her eyes. We have ONE RULE IN THIS HOUSE: NEVER, and I mean NEVER…WAKE THE BABY.
With another snow storm upon us, I wish you all a warm night’s rest, tucked in and warm. We are lucky to be so lucky. Godspeed my friends, Godspeed.
Tags: The Girls
February 1st, 2014 · Comments Off
Someday, many years from now, when our faces are crinkled (along with everything else), we shall sit poolside at unconventional hours and drink Chablis at 3 pm. I’ve never been a Chablis person, but when our middles are thicker and softer, and our hair is thinner and coarser, I intend to make it my signature drink. You, my much-cherished girlfriends, will surround me, and we will laugh until tears squeeze out of the corners of our eyes. Just as we do now. Because we will have traded a carpool line for an actual pool, there will be no rush to leave. We’ll complain about aging, just as we do now, and our husbands will tell us we’re as beautiful as we’ve ever been. Just as they do now.
I tell you this story, because right now, our lives are less Chablis-esque. We meet for coffee with the snow piling up outside, never removing our parkas. Gripping our hot cups and cold hands, we run through the possibilities of the immediate future. The far-off future. The future that sits in the middle. Maybe if we talk about it enough, we’ll find new solutions. Maybe miracles will occur. We sure could use a few.
While I know we’ll never forget this winter, I hope in our “Chablis at Three” days, the edges of these hard times will have softened. I hope we remember the small kindnesses we shared. The year Kellie had to blow out her birthday candles a month late, and Shayla surprised us with the beautiful cupcakes. The year the snow fell and fell on our lovely dinner at Noah Grant’s, just as it did that first dinner at Zing. The winter I declared “This Shit Calls For Pie”, and made a promise to keep us in pies until this wicked season turns. I have a funny feeling I’m going to be making a lot of pies.
Maybe in our Chablis at Three World, we’ll see that many things changed, but some wonderful things stayed the same. Look at the far edge of the pool: there are our husbands shaking their heads because we got to chatting, and we’re late for dinner…again. No, I don’t care if you wear the same blouse you wore last week! Why would I care?! I’m wearing the same blouse I wore last week! (We’ll call them blouses, because screw it. We’re old.) I’m wearing it again because it flatters my saggy boobies. What am I saying? My boobs are perfect. Crap girls…how many glasses did you let me have?! STOP BELLYACHING BOYS! WE KNOW! We’re late for the Tokyo Buffet and all the good sushi will be taken! Now come over here, sit down, and have a glass of Chablis with us. Sweet sassy molassey, I think we drank it all. Come ladies, help me up. I gotta go change my blouse…
That’s the life ladies. Chablis at 3. We’re staying by each others’ sides until we have Chablis at Three.
Tags: The Girls
We really didn’t have much time to recover from our Oreo Disaster, as tomorrow is the 1st grade Annual Bake Sale. You’d think doing this for the 3rd year in a row, I’d remember the treats are due a day early. You’d think. My A-Game has gone south for the winter. But it can’t be helped: the 4 weeks we’ve lost to weather has created 4 weeks of backlog in everyone’s lives. The weather forecast would indicate we have yet to reach the far side of hell, so to head off the next big storm, I bought one of everything at the grocery today. It took me 2 carts to get to the car. I’ve done my part…one of you will have to buy a top-o-the-line snow blower. IT’S THE ONLY WAY, PEOPLE.
This Pinterest project did not fail me, so I’m so happy to tell you if you sprinkle a plastic heart mold with V-Day edible what-nots, you can layer white candy coating on top, freeze it, and peel out perfectly cute chocolate hearts. If your children make them, it will take 3 lbs of chocolate, $10 worth of what-nots, and full bag of M&M’s (yield: 24). It will also take HOURS. If YOU make them, it will take 2 lbs of chocolate, $4 worth of what-nots, 1/8th of a bag of M&M’s, and about 30 minutes. It’s Dealer’s Choice; I let the girls make half.
Sara and I think they are awesome, but Kelly lost interest about half-way through and said she never wanted them to begin with (very Kelly-esque of her). Both girls told me they were disappointed I hadn’t purchased fancy little bags with coordinating ribbons and why didn’t I create handmade school-themed name tags? WOW. Wow. It’s like they’ve met me. The “Me” I simply cannot be after 2 Polar Vortexes, and Week 4 of Sara’s intensive therapy for her latest autoimmune flare-up. Which flared again today, just to remind me I’m not in control of ANY-THING. A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
Thank God for Pediatric Dermatologists. Thank God for medications. Thank God for the ability to pay for them. Thank God for Sara’s iron will. Thank God for the friends and family holding me together as we put the house on the market, pull Sara through 11 medications/interventions/creams per day (visualize a mule kicking and screaming, and you’ll be close..I had to build an actual med chart to have any hope of getting it right), cheer me through 3 daily hours of snow and ice covered commuting, and patiently await my attempts at being a PTA President during the 2nd snowiest January in recorded Indiana history. And I thank you for your patience as well. I know my writing has dropped off, which is driving me insane (posts back-up in my head like a flood). I JUST HAVE SO MANY FUNNY THINGS I WANT TO SAY! And I will. I promise. Hopefully so, so soon, my friends. And Godspeed to you and yours, in whatever weather you may be experiencing.
Tags: The Girls
You’all, it’s been a BAD week at the ranch in the crafting/cooking/scheduling department. Epic-bad. Kelly, on an annual basis, gets quite worked up about her half birthday. We, on the other hand, do not. While I make her a treat to take to school (these summer babies have it hard), I tell her no presents. No fanfare. We do more than enough for her actual birthday. She couldn’t decide on a treat, and I found instructions for “easy” white chocolate dipped Oreos on lollipop sticks. Pinterest is a liar, and should be held accountable. The sticks cracked the cookies, and those that didn’t crack, fell apart in the candy coating. It was a wreck. I quickly grabbed spoons and created “Oreo Graffitti”. The girls made them, and they dried, and were handed out, just as you see above. Kelly called them “Melting rainbow Oreos in clouds with sprinkles”, which I couldn’t support. It would never hold up in a focus group. [If you don't know that I'm joking, please read more of this blog. My real answer was of course, "You're the most creative genius, and that's the prettiest name I've ever heard, to match these amazingly unique cookies", with Daddy in the background yelling, "YUM KELLY! These are DELICIOUS!"]
Sara made a 2-dimensional beaded dress to take to the Native American Festival at school. She was assigned “Cheyenne Clothing”, and while making something at home was optional, she worked so hard gluing bead after bead onto a brown felt design of her own making. The beads were as secure as an 8 year old could make them, so I bought a craft spray glue to affix it to a poster board. AND, the entire thing turned to a gummy, sticky, white mess from hell. Sara went to bed crying, and I ruined my manicure, scrubbing every bead with acetone and Q-tips. Did it work? No, not really.
This follows a controversial decision made last weekend to cancel BINGO at school during questionable weather. Our city is entirely on hold during yet another Polar Vortex, which has turned reasonable people into raging bears, especially me. I’m Miss Popular on every front in my life right now. I am at the HEIGHT of popularity. You could confirm this with Greg, but as the Bear-In-Resident, I bit his head off without warning. He’ll have to get back to you.
Wisdom hasn’t come to me this January (from hell). It hasn’t come quickly, so I shall sit here quietly (sort of), and wait for it to come suddenly. Waiting. I’m waiting…
Tags: The Girls
Kate DiCamillo just won her 2nd Newbery Medal! WHAT?! Did I jump up and down and scream? YES, and I wasn’t alone. Sara and Kelly did too. I cannot BELIEVE I missed the announcements. Every year, I watch the Caldecott and Newbery announcements (live feed on the computer because after several complaints to ESPN, they finally convinced me that “Literary Awards” aren’t a sport. Spelling is a sport…I think I’ve made my point.).
This year? As you know, I’ve been wildly distracted. I had not even reviewed the Honor books last night when I blogged a picture of “Flora and Ulysses”. Isn’t that sad? My favorite author was nominated, and I didn’t even know it. But I must have been sending good vibes with my post, because it was announced today, and I am overflowing with happiness.
I met Kate DiCamillo this Fall, on her book tour for “Flora and Ulysses”. The 1st picture above was taken moments after she and I had a discussion about what I thought happened to 2 characters after the ending. Her words to me were, “That is lovely! I hadn’t considered that, but now that you say it? That’s just…LOVELY.” Oh gracious, my friends. I didn’t shut up for a month. I took out an ad in the Indy Star and announced, “Kate DiCamillo thinks Lori’s character postscripts are LOVELY!”
I have followed my favorite authors since I was a very small child. Some kids collect baseball cards. Some kids follow the NBA draft. Some kids were in love with Princess Diana. Many (my sister included) had posters of Sean Cassidy all over the bedroom walls. I thought these were all wonderful things, however, I collected stories as a child. Therefore, I have always followed storytellers. What a beautiful, enchanting ride it has been.Congratulations to a delightful author who thankfully decided in her mid-30′s, she should do more than wear black turtlenecks from JCPenney’s and call herself a writer. She should actually write a book. And aren’t we ever so glad she did. Whenever you publish, “we will always turn back towards you”.
Tags: The Girls
January 26th, 2014 · Comments Off
More snow is falling, which really…at this point just feels redundant to say…it goes hand-in-hand with the sun rising. The sun rises, we wake up to a 3″ drifting snow squall with -25 degree temperatures and 25 mph winds, and then the sun sets. In between, we navigate horrid roads, pass innumerable accidents and slide-offs, pray we don’t slip into the ditch, and reschedule our lives through countless delays and cancellations. We are living under one rule, and one rule only: whatever you do, DO NOT GET COLD. Of course we’re all cold. So, so very cold. My friend Vanessa couldn’t get hot water at a sink at school, and that meant she crossed the threshold by 8am. Her hands would be cold for the rest of the day. I tried to run errands last week, and came home equally tired and depressed. I’ve never experienced this kind of unremitting, severe weather. I’ve boarded up my house through 3 hurricanes in one season, and this might be worse.
Basically, January has been CANCELLED. January is delayed in perpetuity. 2014: the Year without a January.
I’ve moved to Plan B, which is titled “Distraction”. For the last 3 Fridays, I’ve escaped into the sweet, quiet darkness of Afternoon Matinees. Here is my summary:
(1) “August: Osage County”: just don’t do it, unless you want to be front and center to the worst family dynamics to hit the big screen since “War of the Roses”. Only 1 character croaks, but you’ll wish death upon the rest, or on yourself, just to make it end sooner. Not all plays make for good movies. But then again, not all plays make for good plays.
(2) “Her”: just do it. As tight and as colorful as an Ang Lee, you will lose yourself in this seamless and unexpected story. Spike Jonze is the ultimate storyteller: it will feel so real, and you will wish it didn’t have to end.
(3) “American Hustle”: so entertaining, but keep it in perspective. Many were expecting a “Casino” darkness meets “Argo” mentality meets “Oceans Eleven” quippy-ness. It’s none of those things, and yet, it is wholly entertaining. Is it even? No. Is it sure of what is trying to be? No. Is the acting insanely good? Yes. Is Christian Bale a thrill to watch? Absolutely. Let it be what it is, and let yourself laugh at the funny parts. I went with 3 girlfriends, and we screamed over the tops of our popcorn.
We’re spending many, many hours wrapped in quilts by the fire. So here are our book summaries:
(1) Kate DiCamillo’s “Flora and Ulysses”: read it. If you like a good DiCamillo, it’s a pleasant journey. It’s far lighter than Despereaux and Edward Tulane, but that’s refreshing. Not all books need perfidy to be great. It’s full of messaging, written straight at children, and spoken in a way far more eloquent way than any adult could deliver. When you read it out loud to your children, don’t be afraid to give some of the characters accents. You’ll see what I mean when you read it.
(2) “Worrier To Warrior: A Guide To Conquering Your Fears” by Dr. Daniel Peters: an absolute must if you have a child who worries. It is written for children, but it’s no picture book. You won’t get a Berenstain Bear message in this one. Dr. Peters is a Child Psychologist who shoots straight, with explanations about why we worry at a neurobiological level, and then provides very useful step-by-step tools to walk your way back out of worry. We sometimes miss how much our children are worrying about their worrying. Sara and Kelly haven’t been this engaged in a book since Angelina got the flu and snuck off to ballet practice through her bedroom window. It has been a life-changer for Sara, and came just in time for a series of very important medical appointments. 2 short months ago, those may have been nearly impossible, but she breezed through, and finally got help for some her more troubling medical maladies. Did it prepare her for the Orthodontist? HA! Don’t be silly. Only Valium could do that, so my stance is: braces can wait.
(3) “Pandora Gets Jealousy” by Carolyn Hennesy, and this entire series: way, way out of our league. Sara and Kelly are obsessed with Greek Mythology, but these chapter books are for 4th grade and above. We crawled through it, but I had to stop and explain every other sentence. It has taken us MONTHS. The text doesn’t flow easily, and the plot moves slowly. I felt like I had moved Stonehenge when we finally finished the first in the series. Later…when they can read it themselves!
(4) “Extra Yarn” by Mac Barnett: I will never tire of this book. That yarn can stand for anything. No matter the problem, I pull out Extra Yarn, and it applies. That’s the whole point! She never, ever runs out yarn, just as that yarn can stand for anything! I just got that. My mind is has been blown…AGAIN.
I have a Plan C, but it involves anti-anxiety medication. Not my favorite plan, but I, along with everyone who has been Polar Vortex’ed to tears, am wearing thin. We commute to a school which does not delay, and rarely closes. Every single morning, I wake up to the Sophie’s Choice of school commutes: do I risk it, knowing a large part of the students live near the school and will make it in? Do I throw in the towel, worsening our cabin fever, while my kids fall farther behind in class? And if I do make it, how will I get back? Is it worth it? I am so far behind in my own life, but if I do drive home, I spend anywhere from 15-20 hours commuting per week. By Friday afternoon, I’m usually in a catatonic state.
These are easy problems. These are not real problems. I know this. But in a world frozen solid, at Day #27 with an up-in-the-air schedule, it feels real. It feels endless. I wish the News Station would just commit to our new reality: January should be called off due to bad weather, and we should try again in February. Godspeed my friends.
Tags: The Girls
As a follow up to my Indy’s Child Post, “Confession: I Love Leftovers”, here are some ideas on how to use just a few ingredients to make several meals. Why? Because it’s -10 with more snow on the way, and I’ve decided to never leave the house again. I’ve never spent so little money at the grocery store. Just the thought of leaving the house makes me want to cry and crawl back into bed. Excuse me for a few minutes.
OK, an hour under my covers has me in a slightly better mood.
With a 2 lb chunk of ham, a few pounds of very thickly sliced turkey breast from the deli (a full inch slice), a 2 lb bag of sweet peppers, buy 2 of the 2 lb container of gourmet tomatoes, and a pound chunk of Colby Jack cheese, and a just few extra ingredients, you can:
Thickly chunk the ham, turkey, and cheese, add tomatoes and sweet peppers, put them on fancy drink stirrers as lunchbox kabobs.
Quesadillas. Dinner? Done in 10. (finely chop the turkey, tomatoes, and sweet peppers, and shred the cheese).
Warm the turkey in broth, drizzle with a bit of a gravy and mashed potatoes and green beans. My favorite dinner.
Ham and Turkey Tetrazinni.
Ham in the lunchbox Mac ‘n’ Cheese.
Roasted Tomato and Sweet Pepper Soup.
Brinner: Ham, Sweet Pepper, Tomato, and Cheese Omelets with a side of biscuits.
Ham and Pea Soup.
Take the swizzle sticks and pile on tomatoes and fresh mozzarella balls in the lunchbox, and then use the leftovers on pizza.
And then take everything that is left, along with your kitchen chairs, and start a fire in the middle of your living room to stay warm. I know, I’m supposed to say peppy and happy things about this winter to make us laugh at how crazy it all is, but my pep is currently suffering from frostbite. I simply cannot get warm. Here, I’ll make another list: running, rowing machine, hot shower, hot bath, hot coffee, blankets, sitting by the fire, sitting on my Honda’s seat warmer, living inside my full-length parka coat…see? I think I’ve lost the ability to do anything on my to-do list. Just the thought of moving makes me cringe.
OK, another 30 minutes under my quilt has me ready to make another pot of soup. I’m officially an 80 year old with no teeth…soup is my life. I’ve made every single soup I know how to make since the beginning of January, and now? I just throw random crap in a pot, heat it, and puree. Cheerio and green grape soup. Black bean and radish soup. Don’t judge me. I haven’t felt my toes in weeks.
Godspeed my friends. SERIOUSLY ,THIS TIME I MEAN IT…Godspeed.
Tags: The Girls