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Friday, January 31, 2014

Me and My Shadow

Tops among the things Baby Sister said to me yesterday:

Q: Is this okay to wear out to lunch?
A: Flannel pajamas and ballet slippers? Absolutely. I wish I had the entire combo in my size. Our lunch date is going to think you look perfectly toasty and delicious.

Q: Will you still be my mom when I'm a teenager?
A: Of course.
Q: [MOVING CLOSE ENOUGH TO COUNT MY PORES] What will you look like then?
A: Heaven only knows, Lovey.

Q: [Actually this was a statement, but this is a good pattern so I'm sticking with it] I really like the days when it is just the two of us.
A: Me, too. [Glancing at tomorrow's calendar entry which says "Baby Sister's Kindergarten readiness conference"- EEGADS.] Me, too little dolly.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Does Ari Shapiro Need An Intern?

Are you following Ari Shapiro's dispatches from London on NPR?

When I am not seething with envy, I am really happy to hear all the somethings interesting he's discovered in a place I adore: Phone boxes are a national landmarks! King George's cookbook is up for auction! World War One diaries are going online! Ari doesn't speak in exclamations. His delivery is very NPR soothing. That's just my enthusiasm. It is also how I recount his stories at the dinner table for anyone not lucky enough to be in my giant car for the broadcasts.

I imagine Ari Shapiro sorting through piles of exciting press releases (are there piles of papers in offices anymore? Or is it just my desk? Am I the last one standing with a paper calendar?).

I envision he gets fantastic invitations to explore all sorts of fascinating goings on. Which really could be just to meander down Oxford Street. I suspect he's excited to accept London's endless offerings. Then he gets to recount the nooks and crannies for people like me who idle their cars in American driveways, hanging on his every word. I'm hooked on his travelogue and hear the enthusiasm of a newcomer — not a tourist, but someone hunkering down to a new life.

And I'm so incredibly jealous.

Not to mention he's probably eating in a pubs in his off hours. There's that, too.

I'm not saying I'd want to necessarily be new to London. In fact, while I'm dreaming, I'd specifically not like to be new, to have to learn the nuances of banking, grocery delivery and UK customer service and to feel hugely self-conscious. For the kids to attempt to discern when to use "our" and to print with serifs. But to pal around with my friends on the Marylebone High Street, laze about in Paddington Park Gardens, browse Daunt Books, play in Hyde Park, soak in culture and language and well, everything? Oh, and to buy wine nearly anywhere? I would jump at the chance to go back. And how. And with a few small people to boot.

I say that knowing full well we'd sure miss our new friends in Nashville, our church, school, budding committee assignments (Spirit Shop Co-Chair!) and our great big backyard. I'd miss the ease of taking a sick child in the car instead of a bus or cab. I'd miss Target. And my motorcade-ready car. I am reluctant to admit that I like the easy peasy of it all these days. But it is really true that we miss London and are grateful for these colorful snippets of news from the other side of the Atlantic.

Surely I might feel a bit that way, too if he were reporting from La Grange. We were at a dinner party over the weekend with folks new to Nashville after living 20 years in Chicago. They were delighted that we could fall in love with that area in less than 3 years. Love we did. The melancholy longing for places left behind always sings a little song in my heart. Thanks, terrifically sentimental Irish stock!

There is something about Ari's London reports that tug at me extra hard. Maybe that it is someone else's story now and we'll just be visitors. Even if (when!) I convince the kids and their cousins to study abroad.

But I'm exceedingly grateful for the audio postcards Ari Shapiro seems to be sending directly to my huge SUV on the school run. Here's hoping he needs an intern to sort through his inbox. I'll take payment in Waitrose mini pain au chocolate. Or we can just work out a barter system with Goo Goo Clusters. I've got it: I'll work for free and provide Tennessee's most sinful confection in exchange.

Also, I need housing for 6 and school spaces for 4. Three at Our Sweet School. Is that a deal breaker?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunshine Day

Everybody's smiling. (Are you singing that Brady Bunch tune now!? I hope so.)

I hear the Windy City is closed. Unsafe wind chills like we cannot imagine. But oh, the bragging rights they're earning! I have to admit a little jealousy.

People who told us we would be fine in Nashville with a few fleeces didn't see this winter coming. If even the sunny south has to endure days of single digits, at least we could get snowed in blizzard-style. But as it is, I can barely convince half of the smalls to drag a coat along as they dash the few feet from car to school door. They know they won't get outside this week. Indoor recess again!

There's one serious hold out on a coat. He wears a sweatshirt ("BUT it has a hood and it's lined with fuzzy stuff!") which will apparently keep frostbite at bay. Wasn't Captain Scott wearing a lined hoody  on his expedition? Harrumph. You know where that got him, right?

For anyone who thinks boys don't care about their clothes should try to find a few minutes alone in front of the mirror at my house. It is crowded there, what with two girls dancing, Baby Sister admiring how she managed to get both chocolate and magic markers on her face and the boys doing Who Knows What. Reflecting apparently.

But the frigid thaw broke for about 24 hours yesterday. We kept Baby Sister dressed. But just barely. She was at the park in a tank top, short shorts and her bare pigs. Because it was in the mid-50s. I shudder to think how she'd dress if we move somewhere hot. She arrived at the dinner table in a bikini and high heels. Her fashion sense is a little "Love Boat" to be honest.

The bracelet is a nice touch. And about those makers - what's so magic about them? Maybe that they work in subzero cold. If that's the case, we're all pretty well magic lately.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Secret Agent Girl

Baby Sister gave me strict instructions to not tinker with this outfit she'd carefully laid out before going to school. She says it is her Secret Agent uniform.

I confess to being inspired. If not a bit jealous of her afternoon plans. I've got to up my game. I don't have any secret things going on that would require a tie dye and short shorts. But the day is still young.

She is SUCH a character, that one. She had the entire car singing "We all live in a pink summerene. A pink summerene...!" on the school run. Purple ski-coated arms sweeping in direction. She would change the vehicle color on a whim ("a BLUE summerene") and delighted in her siblings following along.

But Baby Sister doesn't have a lock on whimsy. I'll show you more about it this weekend, but meanwhile, check out my fantastic new wall decor. No animals were harmed in the decoration of my hallway.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hi Ho, Hi Ho!

It's back to school they go. Some more chipper than others and all chilly. The car doors were frozen shut!

Lucky Baby Sister, today's her "normaler" (her term) day off. It will surely be too quiet around here without these guys today. But they've left plenty of reminders behind. Trying to make order out of chaos should keep Baby Sister and me busy for a while. And there is still one last pile of Christmas things to put away.

A good day to shelter in place and play catch up.

Big Sister gets a gold star today! I feared we would say goodbye all too soon to her vacation persona (loose and silly, carefree and confident -- you can even see it in her body language - maybe you can see it in her funny glasses) when I went to wake her for school (all of us not so secretly hoping for at least a delay...) but she rallied and went out the door like a bright penny.

Whew. Turning the page. Starting fresh and excited about what it next!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Auld Lang Syne

The trees are down (thanks, Biggest Brother!) and we ate in the dining room twice this week (which makes it twice ever!) as the kitchen table was taken over with Christmas decor. 

The Polar Vortex awarded us an extra day of holiday for which we're exceedingly grateful. We've put the day to good use playing games and tidying up. Didn't seem right to go back to school with stockings still hung.

It was a wonderful Christmas. Lots of reflecting on days of old and reconnecting with friends from years past. We ventured from one capital city to another to enjoy the new year with some of our oldest friends in Richmond. Treasures all around! The Mister swears we lived there 16 years ago but that seems entirely impossible. 

In packing up our ornaments I found this little box which once held my entire ornament collection. That was about the same time I put a Christmas tree in the passenger seat of my tiny convertible and drove it home to my equally tiny apartment. Busy with work, after Christmas I dragged it to a spare bedroom and let it sit until about February when I asked my father if I could borrow a saw. I can still see his expression imagining what possible need I could have for a saw in my apartment. I think he relented because he trusted the Mister with his tools. We cut that thing to pieces and tossed it over the fire escape. Those were the days! I had so few ornaments then that I baked gingerbread men to fill in the gaps. It is a tradition we still keep. The cookie ornaments, that is -- not throwing chopped up bits of the tree three stories. Although, we actually did launch another tree from our rooftop in Richmond, too.

Speaking of work (we were at one point - before I started yammering about tree disposal), when we were in Richmond we visited with a former co-worker of mine (actually in some form or another, all those Richmond friends were sort of work friends) and drove by my old office. Akin to touring Antietam or Stonehenge, the concept of Momma working in an office seems like ancient days for the smalls. Me, too if I'm honest with myself. But if I could drop in solely for lunch meetings over big cookies, I just might be tempted to return to the salt mine. 

I'm more likely to serve big cookies in our very own dining room these days. So THIS is the dining room?! Forgive me if I've already told you this, but as we've not had both a dining room and eat-in kitchen since we lived in Virginia (two homes ago), we didn't need a dining room table. Our big, old display table from Marshall Field has been our only table for a while. But in the new house we have a dining room again. So we thought we should eat there. Ideally while seated.

We found an old table and chairs for a steal at my favorite antique shop. It surely was a bargain because the chairs were missing their seats. No worries! I had wood cut at the hardware store and covered them myself on the cheap. A local fabric store recommended an upholsterer in town but one glance at their fancy website and I was fairly sure they weren't in my budget. The window treatments are old fabric I intended to use at the flat. I followed this tutorial with great success although I confess to adding framing nails (!) for extra support.

And if it doesn't give you a yearbook feeling (do you suffer from that, too?) to think about Christmas decorations in the new year, when the kids get back to school I'll show you how we doctored our rental with greens. And not just the mailbox.

Happiest new year from the Arctic South.