Thursday, August 27, 2009

I never claimed to be a feminist.

I was reading yet another book on parenting the other day when something hit me that kind of blew my mind. I realized that while of course it's important for me to do the very best job raising Liam that I possibly can, my role as a mother is pretty short lived. Yes, he'll always be my son but the most he'll live in my home is what - 20 years? That's not a whole lot of time in the grand scheme of things. My husband on the other hand? If things go well, we could end up together for like 70 years. 7-0!! Now that's a relationship worth reading up on!

Fortunately, I didn't have to go far to find a book on marriage. Not long after we were married my mother-in-law passed along a book to me that she had received from her brother's wife. She told me it was the kind of book every wife should read. The title? The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbandsby Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Yeah. As you can imagine I rolled my eyes and thought, "Pshaw! Like I'll ever read that crap. Where's the book on properly caring for wives?" And then I shoved it into the bookcase and forgot it ever existed.

But we must have moved it to Nashville with us because about a year ago, I noticed Bill reading it in bed one night. I'm sure I jumped all over him like, You know that's Dr. Laura from the radio, right? The totally conservative bitch who berates women for having sex out of wedlock and sounds mean like Suze Orman? Why are you reading that? And he was like, She's really onto something here. If you did all this stuff, our marriage would be amazing! And I was like, Oh, I see how it is. I suck at being a wife so now I have to read a crappy book to figure out how to fix it? I've got a better idea! Since you're the one reading the damn book why don't you just do what she says and make our marriage amazing yourself?! Humph!

See? I so did not need lessons on how to be a loving wife.

Bill couldn't put the book back on the shelf fast enough (I can be kind of terrifying) which is where I found it this week after realizing the whole 'til death do us part thing is kind of a big deal. (Why I never thought about this before is beyond me.) I started reading it and got sucked in immediately. Yes, there's a lot of crap to sift through but there are also a lot of really interesting ideas. And plenty of things I could see in myself that could use improvement. Her basic premise is this: Men are simple. If you make them feel loved, appreciated and respected, they will bend over backwards to make you happy.

I can get behind that.

Yesterday was our 9 year wedding anniversary and for the first time in the history of our relationship, I went out of my way to plan something special for my husband (imagine!). I got a babysitter, packed a picnic basket with some of his favorite foods, and showed up at his office at the end of the day to surprise him with a blindfold (which he chose not to wear for fear of getting carsick). Then we drove to a nearby vineyard for a wine tasting and a picnic dinner.

It was so much fun! We ate way too much cheese (which I think might be one of my favorite things to do) and talked about all kinds of things just like the old friends we are.

We polished off a bottle of wine and went off to explore the vineyards hand in hand. We took funny pictures of each other while nearby picnicking couples gawked. Then we laughed and laughed and took some more.

Check it out - he's "falling" in love with me all over again.

He was totally surprised and seemed genuinely thrilled that I wanted to do something nice for him. It made me really happy, too.

We still do! Here's to the next kagillion years together.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And while we're on the subject of random clothes...

You know that hip hop dance class at the YMCA I keep talking about? Well, it's awesome. Kind of like the "Jazz" classes I took as a kid only crunker. Anyway, a few times a year the hip hop dance teacher puts on a DANCE PARTY just to, I don't know, blow everyone's mind? Seriously, I don't think there's any other reason she does it other than she loves a good dance party and wants us all to experience one together. How cool is that?

I had never actually been to one of these dance parties, just heard all about them from other Y members. From what I could gather they were kind of like the regular hip hop classes only a thousand times cooler. The group fitness room at the YMCA gets turned into a hot little club with flashing lights and video screens and everyone leaves the party with commemorative t-shirts that they wear to class like, I was there, bitches.

After I accidentally missed the last party, I wanted to kick myself. Everyone in class was gushing about it the next day and the teacher was saying things like, If you liked that, you're going to love the next party. I'm getting some of the guys from the Jabbawockeez to come and it's going to be off the chain! I was like, I don't know what the hell a Jabbawockee is, but I better not miss it. I gotta get my hands on one of those shirts!

(Here's a video of the Jabbawockeez performing on America's Best Dance Crew. Just in case I'm not the only one out there who had never heard of them before.)

Amazing, right?

So, last night was the dance party and it was totally themed around the Jabbawockeez! Well, I guess technically it was a Back to School theme but there was a lot of Jabbawockeez stuff going on - we learned a routine that was a compilation of several of their dances (no head spins, unfortunately), we watched videos of them during water breaks (we danced for more than 2 hours!), and three of them PERFORMED! (I could have reached out and touched them if I wanted but I probably would have been jumped by high school kids.) Even the sheet cake had pictures of them on it. It was totally bad ass!

Oh, and about the shirt? Done and done.

I also filmed myself doing the routine because my sister really wanted to see it and I thought, Sure, why not? It's not like I'm trying to impress anyone. I'll just post the video on my blog! But then I saw it and was like, Whoa, I dance way better in a dark room with no mirrors. Sorry, Moose. I'll have to show you my moves the next time we at da club.

And, in completely unrelated news...

Check out my outfit from our 90s-themed grill out the other night!

I think I basically dressed as myself my sophomore year in high school. You know, before I knew about things like hair straighteners and "product". Like the scrunchie around my wrist? It was the most appropriate "accessory" I could come up with. I kept it on my wrist until it got a little chilly and I had to put on my letterman jacket (what better to pair with a babydoll dress?). Then I tied my hair out of the way in a very soft low pony tail.

Totally cute, right? Not! (Sorry, just a little 90s joke.) We didn't have a costume contest or anything like that but people seemed pretty impressed with my getup. It think it was the super soft hair that won them over. And when NKOTB came on and I busted out the move that David Silver does in the opening credits of 90210 and nailed it, it pretty much sealed the deal.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Giddy up.

Unlike some grandmas who like to knit or bake or play bunco, Liam's grandma has slightly more unusual interests. Sure, she does water aerobics (I think it's required for all women over 50), but she also goes bowling once a week and likes to deface public property with her friends. It's what we received in the mail today, though, that I think she likes the very best of all.

I can't believe I had forgotten about her love of t-shirts that make you look like someone else! It's such a big part of who she is. I mean, it's not quite an obsession, but you certainly couldn't see a shirt like that hanging in a souvenir shop without thinking, Wow, my mom would really like that! (Or hearing your husband say, Look babe! We should totally get that for your mom...)

You would think that after she wore the one that made her look like a buxom bikini model to my going away party when I was in college and about to leave for my year abroad in England, her little hobby or whatever would be burned into my memory forever.

I wonder if it was the same bikini model shirt she took on her trip to Hawaii or if she and my aunt and their friends all bought new bikini model shirts specifically for their island adventures. Surely my mom doesn't have two bikini model shirts? Then again, it is kind of her thing.

I like to imagine an outdoorsy looking guy standing on a platform in the rain forest as four middle aged women in bikini body tee shirts came flying at him on zip lines yelling, "Towanda!" and laughing so hard it was just a matter of time before they peed their pants.

I know the box was addressed to Liam, but this shirt is fun for the whole family!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I disappear.

Whew, another week without a post. What the heck have I been doing?


I've been very posh, hanging out at the fancy hotel restaurant/bar at the Hermitage Hotel for the first time in my life not once, but twice in one week (I know! Who do I think I am?). First I got invited to a tomato themed Slow Food dinner that was five courses of decadent goodness paired with lots of wine and a tomato infused martini. *Drool* Then, the very next night our Pinkies Up Fine Art and Drinking Appreciation Society (it's far too classy to be called a club) met at the hotel bar for drinks and snacks (like lobster corn dogs!) before heading out to see the Cluck Close exhibit at the Frist.

Totally high brow. Just look at our pinkies!

Okay, maybe not so much (yes, that is the bathroom).

Oh boy. (As you can imagine, the rest of the photos cannot be shared)

I've been doing the mom thing all over town - library, park, museum, pool...even the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro! (And no, the fact that we had to drive through McDonalds on the way home had nothing to do with the incredible drinks I had the night before at The Patterson was because of all the wine I had with dinner!).

I, once again, tackled the ridiculous job of trying to prune and weed our side yard. I keep telling my neighbors that we're from the dessert and have NO IDEA what we're doing but I'm sure they're starting to wonder when the heck we will figure it out (it's been almost five years, after all). Bill was a sport and helped me which was great because if I had seen a snake in the grass by myself, I most certainly would have peed my pants and never stepped foot in the yard again.

Here's sort of what the after looks like.

As in: After several days of hard labor, it still kind of looks like crap.

I didn't think to take a picture of the before. Just imagine the after with all these vines and weeds still attached:

Good times.

I've been visiting Parent's Day Out programs and trying to decide where to send my boy this Fall. He ixnayed one because it was "too bad" and "smelled like strawberries". The one he has yet to dismiss is the one I like, too. It's close to home; Spanish immersion; "green" (there's a garden and compost pile); not too churcy (it's at a church but I don't think the ABCs are like A is for Adam, B is for bible...); and keeps three, four, and five year olds in a classroom together (Liam's a big fan of the older ladies). We dropped off our application today and my fingers are crossed that he continues to like it even after he starts going there twice a week.

I've also been reading (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk) and writing (I figured I'd go ahead and try writing a book! Why the heck not?!).

I've been trying out some new yoga classes at the Y. Low point - going with a friend who got KICKED OUT OF CLASS for modifying the moves to suit her bulging baby belly; high point - getting a juice and a compliment from an instructor I had never met before (juice because I was a "newbie"; compliment because I "showed great skill"!). Bill is going to go with me tonight and I'm really, really excited. We haven't yogad together since we lived in Reno!

I also had to do the real cleaning job instead of the surface cleaning job because we have a friend staying at our house while he is in town for a training. He is awesome and I will tell you more about him later. Right now, I've got to check a few more things off my list before Liam wakes up from his nap (and by nap I mean quiet time and by quiet time I mean extremely quiet time. Yesterday he was in his room silent for almost three hours - I would never have known he didn't sleep if he hadn't told me he was all done "resting quietly but not sleeping". Ha!).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Miss Matched meets her match.

If you ever accidentally wear a pair of shoes that is not so much a pair of shoes as it is two completely different shoes that together make a pair, don't panic.

I mean, most likely it's pretty obvious how you made the mistake in the first place. It's not like you're wearing one stiletto and one flip flop, right?

People are not only very likely to understand, there's a pretty good chance they might not even notice. Even when you're like, "Hey, like my shoes..." in that voice that is like, "Obviously there's something really, really wrong with what is on my feet!"

This won't happen with all people, of course. Some folks have eagle eyes and can spot a mismatched pair of shoes across the room. Especially if they happen to see you at just the right (or wrong...) angle.

But, even if that does happen; even if the whole party gathers around to point and laugh and admire your shoes, don't panic! You just never know who might be inspired by your mistake. One woman's wardrobe malfunction is another man's bold fashion statement.

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, you should be feeling pretty darn good right about now.

PS - No, those are not my super toned and tanned legs donning the mismatched pair of shoes. I am protecting the identity of the trend setting fashionista who rocked that look and inspired a young man to follow his dreams and instantly double the size of his shoe wardrobe.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Peanut butter banana muffins.

Yesterday our friends invited us over for a tomato themed pot luck brunch to round out the fun filled tomato weekend we had in our neighborhood. Everyone made a dish that revolved around tomatoes (tomato pie, peach and tomato salad, succotash, tomatoes with mozzarella and balsamic, husbandmade pizza with tomatoes, bacon and basil, Bloody Marys...) except me, who made peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip muffins.

What can I say? I wanted to bring something my child would eat and couldn't bring myself to put a tomato in a muffin (even if it is, technically, a fruit). The muffins were a hit so I thought I would share the super quick and easy recipe here.

It is one of the better recipes I have tried from the Deceptively Delicious cookbook (it's very hit or miss - chocolate chip cookies with chickpeas? FAIL) but has been altered to better suit my family and the contents of our fridge (chocolate chips instead of more sugar, unsweetened apple sauce instead of cauliflower puree...). Enjoy!

Peanut Butter & Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips

1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C natural peanut butter
1/2 C unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 C chocolate chips
2 mashed bananas
1 egg white
1 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line or spray muffin tin (makes 12 regular sized muffins, lots more if they're mini!).

Mix brown sugar, peanut butter, banana, applesauce and egg white. Add dry ingredients and chocolate chips, stir to combine (don't overmix).

Divide batter among muffin tins and bake until tops are lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean - 15 - 20 minutes.

They're no homemade pizza (with crust and sauce from scratch!), but it doesn't look like Bill is giving up his recipe any time soon. Your kids will definitely eat these though. (Oh, wait, most kids will eat pizza, too? Well, I suppose my child must be extra special and unique, that's all.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

You say potato, I say don't freak me out!

If you ever work at, say, the childcare center at the YMCA, and one of your responsibilities is to go out and find the mommies when their babies need them, and you go into a dark room full of yoga students sprawled out on the floor in the dead body pose with towels over their faces, trying to find meditative bliss while a borderline disturbing mix plays loudly on the stereo (a combination of wind chimes and the instructor's voice saying things like, "I release what no longer serves my mind" over and over again in a multitude of distorted voices), and you somehow manage to pick the right mommy out from the group of dead bodies, and you tap her on the shoulder and whisper, "Are you Lam's mom?" (not a typo) and she, while gasping for air and subconsciously checking her face for drool, finds a way to nod "yes", please think of something to say to her other than, "You need to come down stairs; there's been an accident."

First of all, the weird recording that the yoga teacher obviously made in Garage Band? Strangely effective. While not exactly sleeping, this mommy was definitely not awake. Being brought back to reality by a stranger in a green shirt squatting over you is a little unnerving to say the least.

Second of all, there's been an accident? Really? Have you never watched television? That is what police officers say to prematurely gray mothers who answer their screen door while wiping flour on their ruffled aprons. "Yes, officer. What seems to be the trouble?" "There's been an accident..." That's usually all the officer has to say for the mother to know that something is wrong. Very wrong. Like little Jimmy drove the pickup off a cliff or Pa got crushed under a wheat thrasher in the field.

There's been an accident is what you say when you can't bring yourself to say what really happened. Like if you dropped Great Aunt Tilly's Fabergé egg and it broke into a million tiny pieces and you know it's the only thing in the world she truly loves. What the hell are you going to say to her? Obviously, "There's been an accident..."

I'm just saying, this mommy is most likely already a little confused and out of her element. She is probably thinking things like, How did you pick me out of a whole group of dead bodies? I've never been to this class before so the teacher couldn't have helped. Unless he pointed out the one with the most questionable core strength. And it's not like you have any idea who I am. You hardly even look up when I drop off my son. Even if I didn't have a towel over my face I am sure you couldn't pick me out of a crowd. But I did have a towel over my face. In a dark room! It just doesn't add up. Wait a minute...did you say "There's been an accident"? What kind of accident? Did my son pee his pants or crack his head? Wait! Where are you going? What's wrong with my baby?!?

Then again, maybe this whole "There's been an accident" business was strategic. I mean, I have to admit, I never knew I could feel so relieved and grateful to see my son standing in a puddle of his own pee in a public place. His new yellow rain boots ($5 at Old Navy!) looked perfectly chosen for the occasion. It was surprisingly adorable! Sure there was a lot of pee for me to clean up (I assume that's my job since you just sat there watching me) and the fact that I didn't have anything dry to change him into caused a momentary flash of panic (is three and a half too old to be carried bare bummed through a parking garage?), but I suppose it's all relative. As far as accidents are concerned, it most definitely could have been worse.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nashville state of mind.

We moved to Nashville at the end of September 2004 and by Halloween weekend already had house guests. My sister and Camille, a girl we kinda-sorta knew from Reno who had friends in Nashville, coordinated a trip out to help us break in our new home. To have so much fun in a place we hardly knew - that also happened to be where we lived - was surreal. From that weekend on, we never looked back: Nashville was home.

We've had lots of visitors over the years and always enjoy showing off our hometown. The honky tonks and meat & threes, the laid back front porch lifestyle, the abundant greenery (most impressive to folks from Reno), the incredibly friendly and genuine people, the stuff you just wouldn't expect from the country music capital of the bible belt (like rock & roll and liberals), and the totally unexpected sights and sounds that make you want to scream, "Yes! This is where I live! Isn't it great?"

We were driving home from the Farmer's Market with an
out-of-towner when we spied this cross crossing the street.

We beamed and shrugged like, "I guess that's Nashville!"

This weekend Camille is in Nashville again with her boyfriend and the super cute retro trailer they borrowed from a friend. They both got laid off from their jobs and are touring the country looking for a new place to settle down and find work. Bill says it's like a modern day Grapes of Wrath which I suppose it kind of is (although decidedly more romantic).

They spent time checking out Albuquerque, Austin and New Orleans before arriving in Nashville. While I'm sure these cities are lovely places to park your ride, we would like nothing more than for our city to rein supreme. We want Nashville to win, dammit, and we're doing everything in our power to make sure it does!

Pick me, pick me!

At least, we want to do everything in our power to make sure it does. But Bill and I are both a little under the weather which means our ability to host with the most has gone right out the window. (I caught a cold last week that really rocked my world and just as I was about to rejoin the living, I passed it on to Bill. Now we're both hacking and coughing and wanting nothing more than to lay low and get healthy again.)

Fortunately, Music City USA has picked up the slack.

Just look at that sky! It's blue and has clouds. No hazy blanket of heat and humidity here! And I know it's hard to tell from a picture, but the air is not the least bit sticky. It's like...tolerable. In August! That's just unheard of.

We were driving around town on Sunday with the windows rolled down (still no air conditioning in my car...thank you unseasonably nice weather for not killing me this summer!) thinking, "Wow! This Nashville sure is a cute place to live!"

Then we went to watch the Titans practice because it was open to the public and couldn't help but feel even more hometown pride. "Just look at all these Nashville fans coming together to support our team. Now that's what I call community!"

It was a perfect day (weather wise) to have people from out of town passing through. But we've been careful to point out to our friends that the summer months are not always this nice; that last year at this time we were hunkered around the air conditioning with all the curtains drawn closed, cursing whatever it is that brought us to this this godforsaken bog.

At least, I think we mentioned that.


If all else fails, I've got a secret weapon.

Good luck topping that, Albuquerque!


Nashville won! All those blue skies helped but I think it's the concrete skate park that sealed the deal. Yay! Now I need your help. How does one move across the country? I mean, I know how we did it - bought a house, moved to town, then found jobs - but we had enough money from selling our house in Reno to survive without income for a while. If you don't have a little financial cushion, how do you make it happen? Is there a smart way to go about it or should they just hit the road like a couple of Okies and hope for the best? (Staying with us while they get on their feet is not an option - she's allergic to cats and we're rich with dander.)

PS - I stole the title for this post from a kick ass documentary that lots of our friends were a part of.

Now I bet you want to live here too!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Just say no to mommy blog.

Have you noticed how I haven't been posting very often? You have? Shoot. I was hoping to sort of slip under the radar on that one. But I guess that's not very bloggerly of me, is it? Posting is sort of the whole point of blogging. No posts, no blog. That's just kind of how it goes.

But there's a really good reason I haven't been posting. Sort of. I mean, well, here's the long and the short of it. (I don't know what "the long and the short of it" means so I'm just going to ramble on for a bit and hope you forget I said that.)

About a year ago I met a girl at a party and for some reason when she asked me, "What do you do?" I told her, "I'm mostly a stay-at-home-mom but I'm a writer too." "Oh, what do you write?" This came as a complete shock to me which seems funny now considering, duh, of course that's what she'd say. I got all embarrassed and sort of stammered, "Oh, right now, you mean? Oh. Um? I just have like, a blog? Or whatever. I mean for now. But I've written other stuff too!"

"I have a blog too!"

"Of course you do."

I should have backed away slowly to a corner of the room where I could text myself something along the lines of: Having a blog does not necessarily make you a "writer". Lots of people have blogs. Please try to remember this next time you think you can slide one by a stranger at a party. Chances are pretty good that they also have a blog. You don't see them going around introducing themselves as writers, do you? Next time someone asks, just say you're a mom. No one ever asks questions about that.

(Yes, I always text in complete sentences with no abbreviations and close to perfect grammar and punctuation. I should remember that next time someone asks me what I write. "Texts. Really long and time consuming texts. Oh, and also? I have a blog.")

But of course, I didn't excuse myself from the conversation; I stuck with it and tried to talk shop. This was my second mistake. As it turned out, I didn't have the first clue about blogging. Simple questions like, "Who designed your site?" left me utterly confused and grasping at straws. "My site? Um. I dunno. It's like one of those template thingys from Blogger. But I picked out the colors!" I wasn't really even reading other blogs at the time so when she tried to compare the mommy blog community to the crafting blog community, I'm sure I just stood there slack jawed, holding onto my glass of wine like it was a life raft.

But some of what she said really stuck with me (I have a memory like a trap door - the strangest stuff falls in there and never comes out again) and now, all these months later, I understand what she was talking about. I've even formed some opinions of my own! Hey, Maggie - welcome to the conversation!

(Whoa...I think I may have just written the long of it and now I'm coming to the short of it. Yeah? Maybe? Never mind.)

The more I try to get to know this blogging community I am in by default (I mean, I guess having a kid and a blog makes me a mommy blogger, right?), the more I think that blissfully ignorant writer from a year ago may have known more than she thought she did. I'm really not a blogger. If anything, I'm a writer. Sure, I have a blog, but the whole point of the blog is so I have a place to write. Putting together words and sentences to tell a story - that's writing. Blogging? That's an entirely different animal altogether. Mommy blogging? Oh boy...

I may be entirely off base here - I can only "research" the subject for so long before I start to feel like I'm stuck at the bad lunch table with a bunch of uglies trying to talk over each other to make the same point - but I'm pretty sure the whole mommy blog community SUCKS. It seems like a very competitive, mean-spirited group that is out for nothing but comments and cash (or payola or blogola or WTF? Why do bloggers have to make up their own words for everything!?!). Here's sort of what the mommy blogosphere sounds like to me (in an increasingly shrill and desperate tone of voice):
Look at me ladies - I give away useless crap every single day!
Well, I have twice as many people following me on Twitter, so there!
Whatever - I'm so busy updating all my sponsored links I barely have time to write anymore.
Who cares about writing? You're not going to make Dooce dollars if you waste your time writing.
Screw Dooce, I hate her!
I love her!
I love to hate her!
Stay-at-home-moms have the hardest job in the world.
No they don't - working moms do!
No way - work-at-home-moms work the hardest!
Breastfeeding moms!
Bottle feeding moms!
Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!!! No one cares! And while you're blabbering on and on like a bunch of freaking idiots, you're neglecting the whole reason you're in this mommy blog club in the first place - YOUR KIDS!
(That last one was me in case you couldn't tell.)

I don't think I have to go out of my way to say that not all blogs written by people with children are like this. Obviously. But the more I read the more I feel like a lot of mommies out there have lost the plot. Like they're all fighting for the chance to sell themselves and their families for a measly commission, a few cheap laughs and some sympathy from strangers.

And I swear this isn't sour grapes. Really. I love to write on this blog and it makes me eternally happy when people read it and it touches them in one way or another, but I am not interested in finding success in the blogosphere (I really hate the word blogosphere). I did not start this blog to make money or get free stuff or increase the traffic to my website (I don't even have a website); I started it as a commitment to something I am passionate about (writing) and a reminder that, no matter what my daily life might suggest, there is more to me than being a mom.

So, anyway, the point I was trying to make (sorry, no short of it here!) was that the reason I haven't been posting a lot is because I started to see myself as a part of a community I didn't like. The less I posted, the less I felt like a mommy blogger. But now, after writing the LONG of it (yet another reason I like to write - it helps me figure out how I feel about things), I realize I can be a stay-at-home-mom and a writer if I want. Just because I have a child and a blog does not mean I have to learn some secret handshake and go to the BlogHer conference. Writing for the love of writing is a perfectly good reason to write. Of course I could write without sharing my work. But as someone who loves to read, there is no greater joy than writing for other readers (it's not all about me, you know).