Tuesday, March 24, 2009


My mind is all over the place these days.

My house is a mess - a total disaster. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, so we're just breathing deeply and getting through it. I dusted yesterday - seems pointless, as there is more drywall to be sanded. But at some point, I had to rid the furniture of at least one layer of filth.

We are leaving on spring break Friday. And I have a laundry list of things to do - a long list. Meetings, errands, stuff around the house.

Which explains why I forgot Sylvia's dentist appointment today. But not how I had 30 minutes to shop sale racks.

I know. I don't understand either. Nor do I understand some of these "designers," a term I use loosely here. Why I would I want to wear a sweater with little pockets on the sleeve? Or a pullover with a fake T-shirt sewn into the V neck? Or anything with pleats on the empire waist?


So, lacking a transition here, I'll segue into Sylvia's fourth-grade class play on Indiana history. I am fully up to date on the state of Indiana through 1865. On the relative importance of canals, of flat boats, and of abolitionists vs. secessionists. I am a bit annoyed that the note sent home had the start time as 1.15 p.m., yet when I walked in - at 1.10 - the play had clearly been underway for at least a few minutes.

I sat by one of the other mothers I know. Who is fine, most of the time. But feels a constant need to drop into every conversation that her husband is an aeronautical engineer.

Um, OK. So is mine. (My husband's bachelor's degree is in mechanical & aerospace engineering. His master's degree, too. In case you're interested.) But I don't necessarily need to remind everyone every time we talk. I have another acquaintance who likes to make sure all the kids call her husband Dr. X.

I wonder if it has to do with insecurity (which is what I suspected of the neighbor who always wanted us to know just how successful he was, how he had just joined the country club, how his wife could afford to quit work now). Or with an over-inflated sense of importance.

Either way, people notice. And aren't impressed.

OK. That 400-page book is not going to read itself ...

Thursday, March 19, 2009


How does a 45-year-old woman hit her head and walk away, then end up dead within hours?

It's so tragic. And it's so real. This is what happened to Natasha Richardson, who hit her head during a ski lesson.

She was 45 years old - my husband's age. She has two sons.

It just all seems so senseless. But boy does it stop and make one think.

We are going skiing in two weeks. This makes up my mind about whether or not we will be wearing helmets on the slopes.

And it also helps me pause and reflect on how fleeting life is, how quickly everything can change. You just have to appreciate every day what you have - it can all change. Life isn't fair; no one ever said it was. And as I read this morning, anyone who doesn't get up in the morning and say, "How lucky I am," is an idiot.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life lessons (or Where did I put that rat's ass?)

We were chatting this weekend - just general lunch time chat, about such things as Michelle Obama's arms and whether or not critics should be after her and her penchant for sleeveless dresses, even in February.

Which is when Maddie reminded me of a great quote from a favorite television show, Pushing Daisies (which, apparently, has met with an early demise - collateral damage from last year's writers' strike).

The quote: Where did I put that rat's ass I could give?

That program always made me giggle - very clever, very snappy writing. And that quote is just apropos sometimes. Because now, when it seems that I should get worked up over something trivial, I can remind myself and just not care.

As I've gotten older, I've learned a thing or two. About life. I've learned not to let little things get to me. If you do, you'll be consumed with angst. I like my husband's favorite quote, too: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss hit it right there - why bother worrying about what other people think?

I could concern myself with the fact that my husband and I do not use the same last name - won't people wonder whether or not we're married? Whether or not he is the father of our children? But I gave that up long ago - we know we're married; we know who the girls' father is. And anyone who matters knows. Why care what anyone else might possibly think, about someone who might have the wrong idea. It is their problem, not mine.

Which isn't to say I don't worry, but I save it for the stuff that matters - I worry plenty about my children (who else will?), and about my husband (I only have the one), about our life, our home, our finances, the choices we make regarding all of the above.

But as far as some of this other stuff? Such as, What will the neighbors think? or, Does he/she like me? I have learned to let all that go. Not that I didn't used to worry. But somehow, along the age of 40, I figured it out: If people don't like you (or, in this case, me) it's about them, not me.

And when I look at the people in my life that I consider friends - people in my neighborhood, my church, friends from high school and college - I am really surrounded by some great friends.

As for the rest of it? The small, nitpicky stuff? The keeping-up-with-the-neighbors? The kind of nonsense that surrounded me in the soulless suburbs of Houston?

Where did I put that rat's ass I could give? Because none of that matters a bit.

(And special thanks to Maddie for being clever enough to remember that bit of television philosophy.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Poor Sylvia.

Yes, I noticed that she didn't do much yesterday; she lay around, watched some television. She even took a nap, which I assumed was because she had stayed up too late the night before at a friend's house.

So it wasn't until we were halfway through our marathon of running errands last night that it suddenly dawned on us: She's not just tired and cranky, but sick. When she asked to sit next to me at the restaurant and buried her head in my shoulder, I knew it immediately.

You'd think I'm new at parenting. I guess there is always more to learn.

So today I have an excuse to stay home. Though she seems to be fine today. She went to bed with a fever of 101, but she woke up today as usual, fever-free. And hungry.

And I get the morning off - nice. I am so glad she is feeling better; you hate to waste a sick day on a weekend, after all.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Demolition Day

It's going to be a stressful few weeks around these parts. We may be hitting our limit: We are officially relegated to our temporary kitchen, i.e. the dining room.

It's demolition day here at our house - the old kitchen is coming out as I write.

I am not sorry to see it go. I've mentioned this before (because really, do I talk of anything else?). But I am mostly bidding good bye to a pile of non-working appliances, outdated cabinets, and worn-out flooring.

And it is good riddance, indeed.

So, today I bid a farewell to this:

This shot shows the size of our old kitchen - the behemoth of an island usurping what little floorspace is in the middle of the room. Must remember that this kitchen was originally built at a time when people did not have a lot of dishes, utensils or appliances. Or, more importantly, at a time when the owner of a house like ours (it's a pretty big house, and, when built, would have been the home of folks with money) did not deign to cook for herself. At the very least, she would have had some help. Which explains the servant's bedroom in the attic and the back staircase.

(Sadly, no household help was included with the purchase of the house - I am on my own.)

Here, the wall is gone! John and Gale are shown here dismantling the giant island, leaving what now feels like an inordinate amount of floor space. It's all in what you're used to.

You can see back into the new area (which is essentially done, lacking only some trim and tile grout). The new bathroom is functional (though lacking a window blind - probably need that, and soon). We've installed a laundry sink, as that will be our makeshift kitchen.

I would post a photo of my dining room, but I don't think I'm up for it - it is filled with boxes of dishes, boxes of food, our microwave, necessary appliances (coffee maker, toaster, refrigerator). And it is a giant mess. We are going to be on the edge of madness around here, I'm thinking - we still have to eat, and we cannot possibly eat out all the time.

I can feel my stress level creeping up even higher ... and I was already at a preternaturally high stress level to begin with.

It's all for the greater good - I can tell that Sylvia finds this all to be an adventure. I suppose we will look back someday with great fondness, full of thigh-slapping exploits of the giant remodeling of '08-'09.

In that spirit, let the games begin. But I'm quietly counting the days.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thank you for being a friend

To the recipient of my anxiety-filled e-mails of the last few days:

Thanks so much for listening (reading?). Thanks for being non-judgmental. Thanks for sharing - just enough - to allow to me feel as if I am not crazy, as if I am not isolated.

Mostly, thanks for being my friend for so many years. I won't say how many - that doesn't benefit either one of us, does it?

Thanks for being you!

Monday, March 09, 2009


We painted our new downstairs half bath and the addition part of the kitchen over the weekend. The bath is a green, slightly lighter than avocado - an apple green, I suppose you could say. The kitchen is a burnt orange, sort of terra cotta. It is stunning - both colors blend well with the slate on the floor. The green will be complemented by white trim and white bathroom fixtures; the orangey color also makes the slate really stand out (lots of terra cotta/copper in some of the tiles) and will look great next to our oak trim and the color of hickory cabinets we choose.

Cabinet stain has been narrowed down to two choices. We held them both up against the floor and wall, and both look fantastic. Trust me. It is all very warm and inviting.

I am feeling so good about all this. The wall between the old and new kitchen comes down this week; the kitchen demo begins Wednesday. Which means I need to get busy packing up the kitchen and setting up our temporary space in the dining room. And in the new bathroom, which will play its role as makeshift kitchen.

So this is your last chance to see our hideously outdated kitchen - it all goes on Wednesday. Come by and bid farewell - though you'll see no tears shed on this end!


"I'm not a big fan of the Spring-Back," were the opening words of this blog I read on occasion.

It's spring forward, you nitwit. That's the comment I wanted to leave. But didn't. Because I'm not a big fan of leaving caustic, nasty comments on others' blogs. I kind of want to sometimes, but I don't. I ascribe to the "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" school of thought.

You're probably wondering why I read this particular blog, seeing as it is so full of holier-than-thou, sanctimonious tripe. (It is - trust me. It is one of two highly sanctimonious blogs I read.) Good question; I ask myself that at least thrice weekly.

I'm a glutton for punishment, apparently. I know - who's the real idiot in this scenario?

Don't answer.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The fabulous, and the not so fabulous

Today, I have a headache. My back hurts. And did I mention that I had a terrible time sleeping last night? Lay awake for hours? (Literally - from midnight til 2 a.m. Dreadful.)

That sort of sums up my day. Last two days, to be exact. Yesterday was sort of hellish, for a variety of reasons. I'll spare you the details, but I was on the verge of a panic attack every hour or so, hyper-ventilating and overcome with brief terrors.

It's better today. Perhaps because today I had to pull myself together and get in gear - meetings had to be attended, things had to get done, passive voice had to be used. (In J School, passive voice was such a no-no - good thing none of my professors reads this, huh?)

I am feeling better, too, because I was able to take a nap this afternoon, getting back one of my precious lost hours of sleep from last night.

It has turned warmer outside - the day is glorious. It is warmer outside than in my house, a common phenomenon at this time of year. I went for a nice long walk yesterday with my BFF - the one who has the job that uses up all her play time, leaving with me with only dregs and crumbs. Thanks goodness this is a school-year-only job situation and that I can be patient - we'll have hours and hours poolside this summer to catch up. I look forward to that.

We have a nearly completed brand-new slate floor in our addition. It looks stunning - truly stunning. Gale, my contractor, is not convinced of just how lovely it is. But John, one of his employees, is on my side - he loves it. Of course, John also loved Maddie's wall color - perhaps he and I are simply on the same decorating wavelength. John's parents have some sort of Mexican tile in their house, the kind that is handmade and lies in the sun to dry, thus accumulating tiny bird foot prints in the tile. Sounds very cool. He understands just how very beautiful our natural slate tiles are, how the variations in color are eye-catching, how the look will go with whatever wall color we choose.

I assured Gale that when we are done, he will understand just how splendid it is. And that his name will be all over it - everyone will know who is responsible for our fabulous floors.

So I should get used to laying them? he quipped. Funny guy.

All right. Must move on - so much to do, so much I haven't done.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Yesterday I visited our local license branch. I shouldn't complain - the people who work there are nice and as helpful as they can be, and it's not really their fault the line is always out the door.

And mostly I'm not complaining. I got my new Indiana license (and they did not ask how long we'd been here - I was little worried, as I am way past the mandated 60 days in which to transfer my out of state license). And I started the license process on the Audi. My new DL picture is dreadful - for some reason, we now have this rule that one is not to smile, which did not help me any.

But I'm not sure I care to entrust the question of whether or not I'm a qualified driver to someone who tells me "read acrosst (sic) the the top line."

Scary. But I'm all legal again. And I have two more cars to register.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Game room, tile, more progress

What I wouldn't give for an extra hour or two each day. For reading, organizing, running errands - maybe even sleeping.

I could sure use it.

Today was a flurry of activity. While I was on the elliptical, my mind starting racing around, thinking of what I could do upstairs. But first I should back up: We moved all of Maddie's stuff from the third-floor game room down to her room - success! She is completely moved in (though to say everything is neatly stowed away would be a stretch - that is her job, and this week she is incredibly busy, with three swim meets, tests, ISTEP, science fair, etc. I can wait.)

So, with Maddie out, I cleaned, cleaned, cleaned ... in order to move Sylvia upstairs. We got the biggest portion of her necessary stuff moved up there; since she'll only be there for two weeks or so, we decided some of her furniture could stay in the hallway, or even move into our room (the sitting room off our bedroom).

And, since Sylvia is not taking up as much space as Maddie did, it suddenly dawned on me, while on the elliptical, that we could actually arrange the furniture in the TV area the way we would like, as we no longer have to accommodate for all of Maddie's stuff.

Thus I spent the morning moving furniture (and vacuuming thoroughly underneath everything I moved). It looks good. Not great - that will wait for the day Sylvia is no longer up there and we have a new couch (I've priced them - after this kitchen remodel, it will be a while). None the less, it looks much better, much less cluttery, much more usable space.

This took up much of the morning, but I feel so much better about the state of our house - we are seeing such progress. Today I am seeing this in the new part of the kitchen:

It is even more beautiful in person. Soon we'll be seeing new kitchen cabinets. I'm thinking "soon" is a relative term. But the stain choices are sitting in our house, waiting for a decision.

It is happening. Truly, it is happening.


It is cold outside. Temps are in the single digits.

But the sun is shining - it is bright and clear and beautiful.

I am not having strong "I-can't-wait-for-spring" yearnings. I usually do, but after two years in the perpetual summer wasteland of Houston, I am loving the colder days. I like the change of seasons, the cycle. When spring comes, I will feel completely ready, as if the world has been renewed.

So, for now, I'm still enjoying pulling out the sweaters, putting on my gloves. For spring break we're going to Colorado to ski - no vacation on the beach, no swim suits, no sandals.

But there will be time for all of that later. I'll spend my summer in the pool; I'll get all the sunshine I need.

Balance. It's all about the balance.