Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In which I vow to sign up to bring paper plates henceforth

Elizabeth has a class Halloween party tomorrow, and I signed up to bring cupcakes. I signed up to bring cupcakes because I like to bake, and I especially like to bake cute holiday-themed food. I decided on an Ina recipe -- Beatty's chocolate cake. I've made it before with good results. So I stopped at Whole Foods for "good" cocoa powder, per the recipe instructions, and a few other ingredients I needed. I baked the cupcakes. And they were mediocre at best. And worse yet, I couldn't get them out of the pan. I had a serious mess on my hands. I decided to cut my losses, because I did not want to waste my good Callebaut in buttercream for subpar cupcakes for a bunch of 7 year olds. I then made the decision to run to Publix to buy Halloween cupcakes.

E was at soccer practice until 6:30, and I had J and C in the car with me. I looked at the clock and realized that we were pretty tight on time for getting cupcakes and then picking up E on time. So I gave J and C a little lecture: "Okay kids, we need to be a lean, mean cupcake-buying machine. BOOM. Get the cupcakes. BOOM. Get in line. BOOM. Pay for the cupcakes. BOOM. Get back in the car to pick up Elizabeth. We will not get sidetracked. We will not wander off. We will not purchase any other items besides cupcakes. We will not waver from our single, fast cupcake-buying mission. Okay? Okay!"

The kids did exactly what they were supposed to do, but then we got up to the checkout lines, and I immediately got that sinking feeling that comes with knowing that despite your best efforts to purchase cupcakes with military-like speed and precision, you've been thwarted by Publix's "only two checkout lanes open during peak hours" policy. It was 6:19. I knew it would take more than 5 minutes to get through the line, and then we'd be late to pick up E. So I said to the kids: "kids, we have to put back the cupcakes. We don't have time to get through this line. Hurry up! Put back the cupcakes!"

So they did, and we drove off, cupcakeless, to pick up Elizabeth, each of us thinking that we have never seen, and hopefully never again will see, such a spectacular display of incompetence on the cupcake-procurement front. I was going to go back to Publix with the kids after we picked up E, but I decided that cupcakes really did not seem to be in the cards today. I will make a second (third?) attempt tomorrow.

a hot cuppa optimism

I've always liked those cute "Life is Good" t-shirts, and as the resident gift buyer/clothing shopper in my family, I've seen to it that all of my family members have one of these shirts. I've never bought one for myself though. But then I saw this one, which celebrates what is {and hopefully always will be} my life outlook, and also, coffee. So I bought it.

Monday, October 29, 2012


I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lifted me up out of the pits
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song . . .

He set my feet upon the rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see, many will see and fear
And put their trust in the Lord

Psalm 40: 1-3
As interpreted and performed by U2 at Red Rocks.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


The kids were underwhelmed by my Halloween decorating efforts this year. I didn't really do anything differently than what I do every year (pumpkins and mums on the front porch; assorted decorative pumpkins inside), and that was definitely the problem. They are interested in a "ghoulish" vibe, not a "harvest" vibe. Their grandparents, who live close by, have a spectacular Halloween display, complete with spider webs, ghosts, orange lights, etc., and ours was definitely uber-lame in comparison. I knew that there was no way that I could compete with Grammy and Granddaddy, but I figured that the least I could do was to try to spook up our mantel a little bit.

I saw this pin on pinterest:

and really loved the bat tree. I figured that a project that involved putting sticks into a vessel of some sort was something that I could probably swing. I found some sticks in our yard, found some black spray paint in the garage, and spraypainted the sticks black. I wedged a piece of styrofoam into a black vase and stuck the sticks into the foam.

Now when it came time to decorate the tree, I almost ordered these from Amazon, but then I happened to find a pack of felt Halloween stickers at Target that contained pumpkins, cats, and these cute little owls:

I originally planned to use all of the embellishments on the tree, but then that killjoy Halloween minimalist in me ended up kind of liking how the pumpkins looked by themselves, so I left out the others. I threaded a loop onto the pumpkins and hung them onto the spooky tree.

I love my spooky tree. The kids think that it is "a good start."

I'm linking to the Pinterest Challenge over at Young House Love.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

the agony of defeat (or something)

After Elizabeth's soccer game a couple of weeks ago, I looked across the field and noticed that she was crying. She had been playing goal at the end of the game and a little girl on the other team scored on her, so I assumed that that's why she was upset. I walked over to her, put my arm around her, and gave her a little pep talk about how great she played; how it was obvious that she was trying her best and having fun, and that's all that matters; how the other girl made a really great shot that would have been tough for anyone to stop. She looked at me totally confused. Turns out that she was actually crying because the family who was supposed to bring the team snacks that week had forgotten. Come to think of it, that's exactly the kind of thing that makes me cry too, so the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Friday, October 26, 2012

LIES!!! (and poor grammar)

I'm not sure which is the worse crime.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nope, nothing to see here.

Our postman has this little thing he does that has given the kids and I hours (okay, minutes) of amusement over the past couple of years, ever since he took over our route. Poor David misses out because he's rarely the first one home to see (or not see!) the packages. I was finally able to compose myself long enough to photograph it.

Okay, so let's say we have a package that won't fit into the mailbox. The postman walks up to our porch with the package. But he doesn't just drop the package on the porch; oh no, that might tip people off that we are not home, or prove to be all-too-enticing for potential package stealers. While I suppose those could be legitimate concerns, the UPS guy, the Fed Ex guy, the guy who drops off our dry cleaning, etc. are clearly not worried. But our nice USPS guy is worried, so he goes the extra mile to try to hide the package under our doormat.

Caroline was the first up to the porch this time. Nope, no package there, just a doormat pulled off to the side with a giant lump under it! That will definitely fool anybody casing the neighborhood!

Let's move closer:

Keep driving, Harry and Marv, nothing but a doormat there.

I think it is so nice of our postman to try to hide the packages, but I can't help but feel like I'm playing hide and seek with a 2 year old -- when they hide under the bed covers and I pretend to not notice the toddler-sized lump under the comforter.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Back to life, back to reality

Back to the here and now, yeah (gah, I love this song):

I realize that I dropped the C-bomb and then disappeared for a month, but all is well here. My physical recovery from what we'll now call The Recent Unpleasantness has gone incredibly well. At my doctor's recommendation, I've resumed my running/yoga fitness regimen, and I've started sharing sessions with a trainer with a friend a couple of days a week. Due to the small size of my tumor and its biology, my doctor does not recommend chemotherapy or radiation for me. I started on a 5 year course of a medication, which, like any medication, has potential side effects; the most likely side effect of this particular medication is irritability, but I haven't noticed anything yet (but you should probably ask David to be sure).

When I was first diagnosed, I vowed that I would never let stupid, inconsequential things bother me again, but I'm already failing on that front. I still get infuriated when people plow through a four way stop sign when it's clearly not their turn, and it still makes me all kinds of crazy that Publix only has two lanes open (one of them 10 items or fewer) during late afternoon prime time, while the much smaller Western has seven open lanes, but no shallots. Basically, if you need groceries in this town you're screwed. But while this experience has not quite allowed me to transcend life's little nuisances, I find that I feel mostly joyful these days. Pure, unbridled joy that comes out of nowhere and overwhelms me at the oddest moments.

At one point, Amanda asked me what I did with my days while I was recovering. Before I was able to drive, I did the usual things (reading, napping, watching British period dramas, going for walks, puttering, thinking up home improvement projects and then ambushing David with my ideas when he first gets home from work). It was harder to remember what exactly I did after the initial recovery period, so I went through my iPhone photos to trigger my memory.

I briefly contemplated becoming a vegetarian (but then I remembered bacon) and made plans with a friend to get together and make veggie burgers; we texted potential recipes back and forth:

I kept our resident artist supplied with materials. Some artists work in oils, some in acrylics, some in clay. Elizabeth works in scotch tape:

I received the Restoration Hardware catalog -- sorry, source book -- and carried it from the mailbox to the house. That qualified as my physical therapy for the day. In the past, I would get the RH catalog and think "I cannot even believe the magnitude of the dreary pretension on display here!" but then I'd move on to other idle thoughts. But this year, I had nothing if not loads of free time on my hands, so I weighed the catalog:

And compared it to the yellow pages:

As expected, it outweighs the Yellow Pages by a solid 2.5 pounds.

We had a mini-session scheduled with our favorite photographer, so I scrambled to put together coordinating outfits for the kids.

In the end, the kids looked adorable, if slightly disheveled, but then that is our family's signature look.

I planted mums.

We listen to a lot of top 40 radio in the car; my kids are just at that age. It's kind of funny to hear them in the back debating which station is better, "The Q" or "The Vibe," and then when David just can't stand it anymore, he'll interject "THEY ARE EXACTLY THE SAME!!!!" Anyway, Flo Rida is a particular family favorite, so I was excited when I realized that one of his new songs, I Cry, samples that long-forgotten 80s adult contemporary classic, Piano in the Dark (which is a fantastic song to croon when you are alone -- try it sometime!)


Brenda Russell:

We got the Halloween decorations down from the attic. I saw this size 2-4 toddler Tigger costume (never worn by any of my children for Halloween, but tried on by at least one of my children every year when we get down the Halloween decorations) and then David and I had this conversation:

C: I'm going to donate this Tigger costume. It takes up half of one of these Halloween bins, and clearly at this point nobody here is ever going to be Tigger.
D: One of our grandchildren may want to be Tigger someday.
C: This is how people become hoarders.

Jacob ran in the Boosterthon, his school's big fundraiser:

Caroline and the rest of the kindergarteners went to the Pumpkin Patch.

Life is good! Really, really good.