Isn't she lovely

I realized that I forgot to put up pictures from Kate's fake wedding when she told me that she would be spending New Year's here, with her fake husband. WELL.

The story is pretty simple, really - I got a new flash unit and I wanted to practice with it. A bride-to-be had called me about doing her wedding, and I wanted to show her some kickass pictures with the new equipment... however, I had no bride to shoot. Enter my sister, whose only modeling request was that I find her a single "spouse" instead of making Rob do it.* Next, enter Matt, the grad-student uncle of the little boy I watch during the day.

* Kate refused to have her fake wedding with Rob because she's still rankled over her fake prom date with Rob. His friend from school was supposed to be her date for her senior prom, and the day before the big show he called and canceled. Rob, who was visiting with me at the time, went directly to the only formal store in town (which also just happens to be a tire dealer - for those days when you need a frock and a Firestone!) rented a badly-fitting tux, and took my sister to the prom. And now you may say either "Awww" or "Ewww," depending on how incesty you actually think that was.

ANYWAY. So I got Matt to put on a suit and tie, and strapped Katie into my dress (which fit her like it was made for her, that beast) and we went up to Duke Chapel and played with the camera. Apparently, somewhere between the flashes, Kate and Matt decided that being fake-married was actually kind of fun, and now they're sort of dating, or at least as much as two people 700 miles apart can be dating. HOW CUTE IS THAT.

I'm feeling a little less crotchety about the Box of Suck. I've decided to just keep my trap shut - which includes not sending a thank you note, good manners be damned - and pretend it never happened. If she calls and asks Rob about it, I've instructed him to say we did, and that we liked the clothes for Norah. And to say nothing else, because although my mother clearly dropped the ball on my religious assignation, she really hammered home that "if you can't say something nice" thing.

This helped my mood today: while getting out of the car at the super-preppy outfitter's today, I straightened up and whacked my head on the car (and by "whacked" I mean "very nearly split it open like the rotten and squashy pumpkin that only just left our porch"). I held on to my pain, though, and managed to squeeze out a clenched-teeth "Ooooohergggh" so that Norah wouldn't hear me cut loose with some sailorisms... and with perfect intonation, in her tiny little bell voice, the princess said, "Shit, mama. MAMA SHIT."

Moral dilemma: open the floodgates and stand back.

I'm not a bad person, or at least I like to think I'm not. I try to be kind to everyone, even the jerks who cut in front of me (and my two wiggling kids, thankyouverymuch) at the post office. I give freely to charity, and buy books for the children's hospital drive at Barnes & Noble, and always ALWAYS hand a dollar to the panhandler who hangs out on exit 274.

I don't believe in organized religion, though. And this is the sticking point for my mother-in-law, who has up to now remained relatively silent about that. I've been involved with her son for eight-plus years now, and we've managed to dance neatly around the fact that she's a devout Roman Catholic and I'm... well, I like to sleep in on Sunday mornings, and I feel like God understands.

Yesterday a box arrived on our porch. It wasn't too big, which I understood - we're going to the in-laws' house in January, so we're just having a belated Christmas then. I brought it in, set it down, opened it up, and found several presents. WOOHOO! I thought, because I am an optimist and things wrapped in shiny paper make me instantly happier.

The top presents were labeled Norah, and they were tucked in with an envelope with my name on it, which I set aside for later. Norah and I gleefully had at the paper on her presents; the first one was an entire wardrobe of holiday apparel, which we will be sewing together into slightly larger apparel next year because there is NO WAY she'll be able to wear it all this year. The other one was a Veggie Tales CD with her name programmed into it - while I don't want to bash the Veggie Tales outright, because I'm sure their brand of music is well-loved by some people, I just have to admit right now that IF I HAVE TO LISTEN TO THAT AGAIN, I WILL DRILL HOLES IN MY FOREHEAD TO LET THE SOUND OF THOSE VOICES OUT.

The other presents were for Rob, who was working. I gritted my teeth and didn't open them, even though I was itching to see what he'd scored... and then he called! And said I could open everything! And things got freaky. His first present was a double picture frame, with a photo of him and Norah on one side, and a poem on the other side. Fine. Okay. Maybe it wasn't our style, but whatever.

The other thing was a book called "Will You Bless Me?" and it's basically a manual on teaching your child about God and what blessing means, and raising your kid properly in God's image and stuff, I went numb after the first few pages. In case you don't know how to be good to your kid and you need a badly-drawn children's book to help you, jump on over to its website, where you too can feel inadequate, pathetic, and offended. Also, it's a book about a child and her daddy, with no appearances made by her mother.

Oh, and my envelope? It held a prayer card. Granted, it was something about having Christmas with Jesus, and I'm sure it was supposed to refer to my grandparents, but it was still a prayer card.

My dilemma is this, guys: am I wrong to feel hurt by this? I have two reasons: one, it's clearly a box designed for Her Son and His Daughter, and Oh Yeah Annie Too I Guess. Two, the whole religious thing... what is up with this? She knows, she has known for YEARS that we don't plan to raise the kid Catholic, or in any specific faith for that matter. Is this her ever-so-subtle way of telling us that it's no longer cute or funny, and we'd better get it together and come to Jesus? I'm confused, I'm hurt, and I'm irritated by her refusal to allow us to be non-sectarian, and I feel like this is a bad thing. Am I being a bad person?

My holiday spirit has excused itself to go throw up and hide in the linen closet.

Take THAT, Blogger Beta!

So this might look normal in your browser and it might look like a mess. I don't know. I've been fiddling with the darn thing for hours, and frankly my dears, I am SO done giving a you-know-what. I hope it's as bad-ass as I want it to be.

Anyway! Hi! Was just talking to the luscious Adrienne, who said that my lack of posting didn't jive with my completely ridiculous template fiddling. Ergo, I will do better, and update you all on my scintillating life.


Because I'm tired, and I've eaten about 30 pounds of cookie dough. Ahh, the holidays: the season for consuming massive quantities of raw eggs and then lying to yourself about it. ("No self, that was NOT your third cup of 'nog! It was totally your SECOND! What kind of hoss do you think you ARE? And here, have a spoon for that dough, or it'll stick under your fingernails.") Happy holiday prep, all.


Yes, template ADHD strikes again... and the big question is, what am I doing fiddling around with the blog when there are 84,000 holiday-related jobs to be done? This template is supposed to do some bad-ass Javascript thing when you click on images, but I can't figure it out. Note to self: hire full-time webmaster to make my whims into reality.

Somehow I've destroyed my link list, so if you would be so kind as to comment with your blog name and address, I would really appreciate it. I must keep you all - I want to keep you in my magical circle of blog-love. Thanks, y'all... for now, must go wrap Rob's mega-secret present. Norah picked it out, of course, because she has impeccable taste. Just look at her fabulous hairstyle.

Holiday activity sucks young mother's brain: film at 11

Got the ornaments done, went to Savannah (Jeff was wonderful, and not at all a celeb type - seeing him wrestling with the little cousins while one of them hiked his t-shirt over his head and beat on his skull was cute as could be, and is probably going into some storage area of his brain for Jackass Junior, or something). Dog is essentially healed, save a little stiffness when she gets up in the morning. House is a disaster from various holiday related projects, including the ornaments (which came out all right, but were NOTHING compared to this or this or this), rearranging the storage space under the stairs to accomodate all my photo crap, knitting (and I hate to knit! damn you, holiday spirit!) various hats for the various babies who are shortly to infest my friends' lives, and trying to raise two kids in the middle of a PLETHORA of photo shoots. Yeehaw and pass the cranberry garland, man.

My biggest project is taking over our bedroom, since that's where the desktop and the scanner live. When we cleaned out my grandparents' house in October, somehow the photographs and memorabilia ended up in my car, and from there in my closet. My mother has a bunch of these, but my uncle has almost none, so I'm making two copies of everything and putting them in order in archival boxes. I'm having a pretty good time with it - either I'm awwwwing at the cuteness of my "old folks" as children (this child is my two-greats-grandmother) or sighing with relief that my parents didn't go for the reuse-ancient-family-names thing (in this case, Beulah.)

Must get back to it - just wanted you to know that I ain't dead yet, and say that I hope you all had some kick-ass turkey. Because that family togetherness thing? SO OVERRATED WITHOUT SOME GOOD EATIN'.

PS - congratulations to MB, who has recently outed herself with news that I got to know a while back. Supamama, do you know how hard it's been to keep my mouth shut?? When we're up there in January, can I come over and pat your belly like an old woman in the grocery store? Because I will totally not leave your porch until you let me.

Day whatever: having abandoned ship, HRH Pants begs your forgiveness.

You understand, right? You understand about my deep, dog-pain-related depression, right? Don't be all judgmental because I dropped out so early in the race - I had big plans, man. I just didn't count on the vet making me all sad.

Astrid is actually getting better. She uses her leg most of the time now, and after she's had her Rimadel or Remadil or whatever (I believe its generic name is "Holy crap I'm going to grind this up and snort it off a mirror") she bounces around like a little rabbit. This, however, is not permitted by the vet, who gave me quite a laundry list of things the dog should not do. Jumping, running, walking more than 100 yards or so, bouncing, and keeping up those Arthur Murray classes - there'll be none of that. If this is what it's like to manage her pain, it's not that bad... those of you who made outlandish offers (you know who you are) are much loved and appreciated, but officially off the hook.

So. Two upcoming shoots, can you imagine? I'm actually getting somewhere with this photog thing! I put together a catalog of all my samples and such - the photo DVDs, the sample book from the publishing house where I'm getting my photobooks done, etc. etc. - and OH YEAH my speedlite and my easy-to-transport mono kit came today. All these new toys! My mom is responsible for these ones - she said Christmas could come early if I got my act together and really worked at this. I feel like I've just been given the shiniest gold star in the sticker book, like somehow all the crap I put up with is being rewarded.

I almost feel like today should be Thanksgiving. That's rather Hallmark card-y, isn't it? Barf.

Here, this'll get my hipster points back: I'm going to play paparazzi next Friday, when I go see my family in Savannah, including my cousin Jeff, who has a pretty sexy celeb-type job. How fun is this going to be? (Assuming he doesn't run over me with his car or something.)

Day 10: on which I learn that my dog has a secret other life as an international soccer star.

And when it raineth, boys and girls, it poureth.

Astrid the hound has a torn cranial cruciate ligament, the dog version of the ACL. This little problem is only really fixable with surgery, and since she weighs more than 50 pounds, she's not eligible for the little fix, a $1300 band around her femur/tibia area that'll keep her bones from grinding into doggy-bone dust. Noo, MY dog, my elephantine dog, is only eligible for the super grande mother of all dog leg surgeries, the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. I feel like there should be a row of identically-dressed, tights-wearing midgets with bugles, bugling out a tibial leveling fanfare, because YA-DA-DA-DAAAAA! this particular surgery is going to cost more than $3000.

I talked to the vet at great length (after I finished sobbing uncontrollably) about what happens if we don't get the surgery, and whether or not I was a horrible person for not selling parts of my liver on the black market to pay for it. She said that several weeks of almost complete rest, combined with painkillers, should ease Astrid back to a semblance of herself; however, not doing the surgery will pretty much guarantee some vicious arthritis in a few years, which will lead to daily painkillers for the rest of her life. It's manageable, but her hiking days are over, so to speak.

I have never felt the guilt I felt when I heard that number and thought, "Weeping Jesus, we don't have that! No one I know has that! Surgery is out!" How could I sit there and put a price on what I'm willing to do for the one creature on the planet who has never asked me for anything? How can I say, "Oh, sorry, Toots, you're just going to have to be cripped up for life, and it's because I have nothing to sell, nothing to pawn, no way to get the money for you. You, who would jump in front of a team of rabid hyenas to save my baby."

I can't afford it, and we're just going to have to learn how to make her days as easy as possible. That's all there is to it. What a complete butthole of a day.

Day nine: well, here I go again... on my own.

Okay, this is from yesterday, but I have a really, really good excuse. Someone who shall remain nameless (let's call him "Bob," shall we?) went all computer commando last night, so I had to sit idly by and paint my toenails and say, "Are you done yet? How about now? Now? In five minutes? Is that now?" By the time he abandoned this particular ship, I was ankle-deep in CSI, and by the time I thought, "Hey, I'm supposed to blog something, wait wait waaaaaaaaSNORK." I was utterly unconscious.

So speaking of CSI, don't you just want to take little Mr. Sanders and hug him? That poor guy, trying to save someone and he gets slapped with a wrongful death suit. And he just looks so rumpled and yummy the whole time. Someone CLEARLY needs a hug.


Adrienne bailed me out again, as she wants to know the hobby I'd take up if I had more free time. (Silly! I'm a stay-at-home mom! All I have is free time! Blargh!) I think I'd probably get all crafty and start making things, a la one of my favorite artsy Australians, LoobyLu. The wonders and magic of felt, for example, (not just for Jesus storyboards in Sunday School anymore!) - don't you feel like there's something cool to be made out of felt? If I had more time, I'd start making crafty little presents for people. Watch, one might end up in your mailbox someday.

On that note, actually, I have my own question for you guys. I am participating in this (click the incredibly cool photoshop ornament to see exactly what):

And the question is, if I AM going to get all crafty, what am I going to make? I'm fairly good with that sort of thing, even if I don't have the time to do it often, so any and all suggestions regardless of skill level would be MUCHO appreciated. I have until December 1... help!

Day eight: Mommydate!

Jasmine and I are going to see Talladega Nights at the dollar theater. We are not taking our kids. We are not taking our spouses. And we might go COMPLETELY nuts and get TWO bags of Reese's Pieces.


No one asked me anything else, so I have nothing else to say except BOOYA DEMOCRACY.

Day seven: because $4.98 is totally justifiable on my credit card.

I don't know about YOUR Target, but OUR Target has a magical Box o' Picture Frames that just happens to include 10 shiny black metal gallery frames, and it just happens to be $4.98. And I might have bought two, because that's the kind of sucker I am. I see it, it's on sale for some horrifically low price, and I MUST HAVE IT. Time to find a blank wall for a photo montage, I suppose. Again.

ANYWAY. Hi. Good day today, which included the abovementioned purchase and the delivery of my first photo CD to my first real paying client, who nearly wrapped her arms around my face with glee. I'm relieved that it's over, because I was panicking about her looking at the pictures and saying, "Hm. Well. You tried, anyway. FRAUD." But I'm also sad, because now I don't have any more gigs* lined up, and I really want to make more of my nifty CD labels. Oh well, the marketing stuff should be here soon, and if it's not cheap and scary-looking, I'll be dropping it in doctors' offices and Gymborees all over town.

* I like saying "gigs." It makes me feel like a rock star, albeit one with slightly wider hips than standard, and a slightly smaller cocaine problem.

On to the question of the day, as it is Question Week. Anne asked me these questions, as pertaining to one of the places I lived in college:

1) What was the best part?

Anne was my roommate twice, most recently in the Almighty Allston, which we shall not discuss because the bathroom ceiling collapsed on our third roommate, Lee, and nearly killed her, and I think the lawsuit might still be pending. Kidding! It just sucked, so any conversation about it would just be about it sucking, which is only interesting for the first four words or so. The first place we shared was in the Bradford, campus housing for the lucky few sophomores who could get in. I kind of liked it... our apartment was right next to the front door, which meant we could smuggle in both Naval Academy boys and alcohol with effortless ease. And being on the first floor was also handy, because when the RA busted us (in what has since been termed the Valentine's Day Lonely Hearts Massacre) several of our more enterprising party guests could attempt flying leaps out the window, leaving us to face the wrath of the self-righteous little toady who stole our beer AND reported us. I think we may still be on probation.

2) What was the funniest part?

The Massacre, you know it was. Those Navy boys we took up with were just ridiculous. And yet some genius in Washington is allowing them to protect our country. Feel safe, y'all, because the kid who threw up Goldschlager in our bathtub and then professed his love for everyone in the building is protecting the home front. And carrying weapons. AWESOME.

3) What was the most ghetto part?

Purple Shirt Guy, the poor semi-homeless man who sat on the benches out front at all hours and ranted about ethnic groups, women, cab drivers, Labrador puppies, shower tiles - whatever struck him as offensive that day. And oh man, could he rant! I had never heard some of the words he came up with, especially when talking about the Asian girls Hopkins was stocked with. I believe he spends a fair amount of time in a certain hospital where another certain former roommate is working... And if he does, you tell him that the Tits-Up White Bitchsucker says hello.

4) What was the dirtiest part?

Weeelll, you'd have to define "dirty." As in, dirty like the crusty tuna salad container in the back of the fridge that we all patently refused to clean? Or dirty like hooking up with the NA quarterback, you badass? Because we were all kinds of dirty up in there, and this particular flashback? Has been WAY FUN. Next!

Day six: organization Monday

Today was a mostly misspent day, as we did nothing except for run around on the playground, eat, nap for exactly 47 minutes, and go over to Jasmine's, where I bossed her around and made her reorganize her dining room. She's been wanting to do this for a while, so it's not like I was just being an ass - I think she's in a funk similar to the one I was in when I didn't blog for a while. And since she is now fighting tooth and nail to get out of said funk, I say, YOU GO TEAM LEADER. (Are you reading this? Comment if you are, lurker.)

So! Adrienne was the first one to ask a question, so she gets hers answered first. See how this works? Adrienne wanted to know two things: one, have I completed the D Level Challenge? For those of you who didn't nerd out and go to Hopkins, D Level is the basement of the library. Actually, it's the super lowest lowdown basement, as the entire library except for the eternally important coffee bar level is built underground. You go up, recaffeinate, blink stupidly into the daylight, and go back down to your study carrel, which you had to kill eight grad students and a freshman to get into.

I'm assuming that Adrienne's D Level Challenge is the same one that the rest of us trashy creeps talked about, which is the one that takes place in one of the extra-secret study rooms when you're only studying with one other person (or more, which would probably get you mad extra points on the challenge meter). C'mon, guess what THAT's all about. And no, Picklehead, I have not... in so many words. FIGURE THAT ONE OUT, NOSY ROSY.

Adrienne also wanted to know if I would have joined a sorority, knowing now what I didn't know then. The answer to that one is probably no, and the reason for that (aside from the fact that it was WAY too expensive for a scholarship student) is that I would have said no to a lot more things, were I as brilliant then as I am now. I was a serious joiner, but then I became a slacker, because I became exhausted from trying to support a schedule with 84,000 extra-curriculars, and two jobs, and oh yeah, the curricular itself. But since I did join it, I can honestly say that I have no real regrets (if you don't count my introduction to Southern Comfort at the hands of a haze-crazy senior. I regret that with my entire BEING). I wish it had ended better,* but I don't regret anything else.

* I was, shall we say, dismissed for not paying my dues. That soured things for me a little, but it was okay, since at that point I was a senior who only really wanted to graduate and get a job. What was I THINKING?

End of Adrienne's question time... Anne's next, but there's still time to get yourself on the list. Come on, you know you want to (and I want you to, because I'm lazy and that way I don't have to think of stuff to write about. Help me out and I will give you many internet kisses!)

Day five: On which I get a massive headache and cop out with some (mad wicked fun) internet foofooisms

I killed my Tamagotchi in junior high (because who has time to be a responsible pet owner when there are Bonnie Belle lip glosses to be sampled? Dr Pepper to be consumed? Jeans to tight-roll, for heaven's sake?) so here, for our mutual animal pleasure, is the all new, no-kill virtual pet hedgehog!

adopt your own virtual pet!

Watch, I'll kill this one too because I'll forget I gave him bloglife. His odds of survival are good, though, because you can click on More and feed him strawberries. Because of my Tamagotchi guilt, I've given him enough strawberries to make an ocean of dacquiris; ergo, the little bugger will either live forever or die feeling like an overstuffed bag of wet cement.

Astrid the hound has suddenly developed a serious limp - and by serious, I mean, she doesn't even put her foot on the ground. Aside from making snide jokes about renaming her Tripod, what the hell should I do? I'm pretty sure all signs point to Vet, but I'm almost afraid to go... if it's something horrible, I don't know if I can stand it. We're trying heating pads, dog massage (you really CAN find directions for everything on the internet) and small doses of Tylenol for a couple of days, with the understanding that if she's not better by Wednesday we'll take 'er in. I'll keep you posted.

Because I'm a limp dishrag by the time evening rolls around these days (damn you, Daylight Savings!) I am uninspired and boring in my blog posts. Therefore, I am leaving it up to you guys to decide what I blog about this week. Ask me anything* and I'll answer it, one question at a time.

*I do, however, reserve the right to either ignore you or beat the stuffin's out of you if I don't like your question. This is not a democracy, this is a blogocracy, and I am the blogtator. Woohoo!

Day four: You're daaaaamn right

Oh man, was that fun - this is where I'm supposed to be, y'all. Thanks for your good-luck thoughts... clearly they worked their good-luck mojo, because I have 140 photos, 98 of which I would hang over a fireplace. I have a happy client, who plans to have pictures taken of at least the little girl EVERY SIX MONTHS until she turns 18. And I have a wedding in August.

I am so happy.

Day three: from kidney (beans) to spine.

I made chili for dinner today (because maybe no one cares what I had for lunch, but EVERYONE wants to know what was on for dinner, you know you do). It felt like the right time: cold all day, slightly windy, dead leaves competely filling our slowly molding jack o'lantern. It's fall, baby, let the spicy soup-like foods commence.

My first paying shoot is tomorrow. I have model release forms, invoices, fake home-printed business cards because the fancy-schmancies haven't arrived yet... Prop flowers, a new tripod to replace the old crippledy one, a box of alligator clips... An umbrella. My equipment. The only thing I have to find, polish up, and store away is my nerve.

This is kind of silly, I guess, but I talked to my grandmother about it today. She was a brave old broad, and it made me feel better to sit and look at her picture on my wall, and tell her about tomorrow, and being a big girl (read: non-babysitter) with a big girl job (read: non-babysitting). We had a long conversation a few days before she died, actually, about how excited I was about just the possibility of doing this, and in her thick Norwegian accent she told me to "go for it, lovey, because you simply MUST be what you believe you should be."

Well, here I am... and here I go. Talk to the cosmos for me if you get a minute, all right? This is going to be one big day.

Day 2.5: Crap.

I had a really long, great post about the meaning of life and all, and of course I left it open, and of course my clever spouse closed the window and lost it. Because he's good like that.

ANYWAY! A conversation I had last night, starring myself and the random lady behind me in line at Target:

Me: Yeah, I've been working on starting a photography biz, you know, nothing major yet.
Rando: So do you do weddings? Because we need someone to do ours, and...
Me: *blink. blink.*
Rando: I mean, do you ever photograph them?
Me: OHHHHH! THAT's what you meant!

I thought for a minute that she wanted me to be their minister or something, surely not a photographer! That's for professionals and grown-ups!

The idea of actually being a photographer is still sort of raw in my head, and when I think about it, I usually think in terms of "well, in the future, when I really DO this..." It's still hard to imagine that I could really do this RIGHT NOW, that I could start making money and actually having this job. Apparently, the rest of the world would like me to go ahead and get off my ass and start already. Good thing I slipped her a card before my brain started screaming in puerile (you like that word, don't you?) panic.

I need some advertising outlets that are cheap - who am I kidding, FREE. The brain says market, but the budget says sit down, kid, you ain't got no steenkin' money. You guys are smart cookies... any ideas?

Day One: on which I nearly goof ALREADY

I'm mid-Lost, and I have nothing to say, other than that if Dominic Monaghan showed up here and asked me for things that are illegal in many countries, I would ask him how to say handcuffs in Tagalog. I LOVES ME SOME HOBBIT.

Interesting things tomorrow, promise...

Getting back on the wagon

Because other people are doing it and I'm a sucker for group mentality, I am pledging to write something, ANYTHING on this here blog every day in November. I've got so much going on right now that it'll either help to get it all down, or it'll destroy me with the guilt I experience on the first day I forget. Either way, you know, it'll be an interesting story to tell my therapist.

In the two weeks since I've posted anything, I have:

  • Been to Baltimore, stayed with Adrienne, and picked all of the Oreos out of the mint chocolate cookie ice cream that I ostensibly bought for her. In her usual delightful hostess style, she said nothing and satisfied herself with some One Sweet Whirled, which was probably freezer-burned because my ex-boyfriends, Ben and Jerry, have canceled it despite our best attempts to save it. Adrienne, we did our damnedest.
  • Had lunch at Goucher with some old buddies, whose smiley faces and non-laughter at my job attempts made me feel like a real person with a real goal. (Suckers.)
  • Made said job attempts real, in that I have purchased the necessary equipment, had some shiny happy business cards printed (you want one? I have about 9000) and am meeting with a media rep to place an ad in the local parents' guide.
  • Swore loudly and had a panic attack every time I thought about actually doing something I want to do, instead of getting the Have-To-Have-a-Job job with the benefits and the steady pay, you know, little pokey things like that.
  • Danced the happy dance o' glee 45 times, because I have a real, non-friends, PAYING shoot on Saturday. And so it happens.
So! Thus explaineth my absence, blogaristas. This whole photography thing is really making me giddy, so I'll spare you the talk about that until after the shoot, at which point I will probably be either giddier or weeping. Pray for the giddier, it'll be easier to stomach.

It's Halloween! Norah was dressed as a duck, which was extremely cute (natch) and horrifically sweaty. We took her over to our friends' new house and then hit up the new Red Robin for dinner, where she had about 11 cups of milk and flirted mightily with the waiter while wearing only her onesie. Yes, we took the duck suit off and let her sit there in a onesie, because WE ARE THOSE PARENTS, the ones you fear have eaten someplace right before you and let their kid sit pantsless in the high chair. I did make her sit on my jacket, if that makes you feel any better, so hang up on that phone call to the child welfare office.

My sister and I are splitting a Napster membership. What should I download?

Heads up, Baltimore...

... I'm coming to see you on Monday.

The lovely and talented Adrienne called me tonight, and in the course of our conversation I agreed to come up next week, ostensibly to see her and to bring the baby to see her, but let's not lie to ourselves. There is one reason and one reason alone why I'm coming up there, and you can say it with me now: Don Pablo's margaritas. All this behaving-in-public, sitting-nicely-in-one's-highchair stuff I've been teaching the baby? JUST SO I CAN GET LIT WITH MY OLD PAL.

Those of you who are in Baltimore, if you have time to hang out, please do email me or call me or something. I'll have some serious free time on Tuesday, as my hostess with the mostes' will have to go to work, in order to support me in the manner to which I shall become accustomed. And that means tequila in the morning and tequila at night. Talk about a healing experience.

The thing last weekend was as good as could be expected, but I don't especially want to talk about it right now. I miss her, every single second. That's all there is to it, really.

Taking a leave of absence

This is just a short little stupid post to tell you that I won't be posting for a little bit. My grandmother (the one who was married to my grandfather who just JUST died) had a massive hemorrhagic stroke last week and she's dying. She asked us a long time ago to go ahead and pull the plug if she was going to be a vegetable, and it looks like my mother is going to have to sign a paper asking the hospital to do that tomorrow. My mother has to end her mother's life, and I feel like the whole world is flipping.

I love you guys, I do. I just can't be here right now. I don't even know if I can get out of bed tomorrow morning.

Puttin' on her big girl panties and dealin' with it.

Oh God.
Oh God.,
originally uploaded by annieandrob.
Yeah, so this is what Norah has started doing - putting things around her neck and wearing them around the house. It didn't bother me as much when it was my purse, or Rob's binocular case, or even the dog leash, although that was a little weird. This time, though, it just happened to be my black skivvies and an old and decidedly unsexy bra. There you go, internet, a good look at my undie collection.

So guess what? I had my first photo shoot today! If it's all right with my little buddy's parents, I'll post a couple of the good shots - we were at Duke Gardens, and the day was lovely, and things just turned out awesome. I think this whole photographer scam might just work, y'all. I'm still in practice mode, though, so no paychecks yet. But hey, if you're in the area (Lisa) and you have a baby, or one forthcoming (LISA) and you want a whole mess of pictures in exchange for the right to use them in my portfolio (LISA YOU KNOW YOU DO) give me a shout.

Rob's back in a call month, so I'm home alone with King Kong on DVD and an entire box of Turtle Fudge Brownie, which claims to be light, but is clearly made of nothing but fat and chocolate flavor. The possibilities here are just ENDLESS.

Happy Saturday night, kids - it's been one bad-ass mother of a day down here.

Ooo, PS - BIG congratulations to Dr. MyOldRoommate, who successfully defended her "seductive" dissertation. (Good thing the committee didn't get my email about how we spent her 21st birthday until today, ain't it?) Good for you, babe!

Blogging Jericho


I am only typing this right now because we're on a commercial break for Arm & Hammer cat litter, which a) I don't need and b) does not entertain me like the Jello pudding commercial that was on right before it. (Come on, you know you dance a little in your seat at that wiggle-when-you-jiggle song.) But seriously, you guys, is anyone else watching this? And are you as sucked in as I am?

What kind of freaky mushroom cloud was that?

Where are the prisoners who escaped from the prison bus?

How did that guy manage to do a tracheotomy on that little girl with a buck knife and a bundle of juice box straws without her waking up and freaking out? You can't tell me that didn't hurt like a mofo.

I think I feel an addiction a la Lost coming on.


Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside,
originally uploaded by annieandrob.
Because when she looks like this, who needs Photoshop? Good Sunday hike. Hope you guys had as nice a day as we did.

The ubiquitous baby bath picture

Norah's started looking more like a little girl, and less like a baby, and my heart is both overflowing and being broken like a guitar at a Motley Crue concert. (Not an accidental comparison - MC and Aerosmith are actually touring together and will be in Raleigh shortly. I'd go, but my leather pants, they have no room for that leftover baby belly.)

Finally, FINALLY, it's stopped raining, and I'll be able to get out and play with this camera. Norah and Jack are asleep, so I've been reading and learning about Av and Tv and all the other settings on this thing. Before long, I should be able to set it to take incredible, magazine-worthy photos and make me a latte on the side.

Big congratulatory hug to my friend Darren and his wife, Jennie, who have just had their first baby. Spenser Dylan met the world yesterday afternoon. Get ready, buddy - it's going to be a long and lovely ride.

There is no more news, I'm afraid. Just another long, lazy week in the life of. If anything nuts happens over the weekend, I'll let you know.

Confidential to that girl who lives in Catonsville: take the hiatus you need, but know that we'll miss you. You're a funny little bright spot out there in the blog world, and I think you're swell.

Wedding picture

Wedding picture
Wedding picture,
originally uploaded by annieandrob.
I bought myself that thing I wanted, you know, that thing that cost more than the birth of my child, the dog, and everything I ever purchased for myself ever all put together.

Say hello to my new love, Mr. Canon Eos 30D. We kiss. Often.

I never really bought anything big for myself before. (This is the part where you gag and mutter something about spoiled brats and Daddy's girls, which isn't entirely true... but isn't entirely wrong, either. I was a very, very lucky kid, end of story.) Seriously, though, this is really enormous for me - it's my first Me Thing in quite a while, and it's the first step to learning to take really, really good pictures... which is the first step to a really, really fun job, one that I got to choose for myself instead of walking into because I was desperate. Now all I need to do is practice, and get a portfolio, and about $5000 more equipment, and talk people into hiring me, and pretend I know what I'm doing, and file taxes as an independent contractor, and charge a lot, and learn where to make prints, and...

Well. Ahem. Better get started.

I'm so excited, you guys.

Cue the witch on the bike

Salutations, friends... We're back from Hilton Head, a last-minute trip to see my grandmother, who fed Norah at least eleven filets of salmon and a piece of cheese with more hair than Astrid. She means well, though, so we look the other way and grit our teeth. I drew the line at the gin and tonic, though, so don't fret. Baby was only allowed to have one.

And it rained! Did it ever rain. Whatever hurricane residue there was floating around down here decided to wait until we were halfway back to let loose, and we ended up parked under a BP gas station canopy in Dillon, SC, for half an hour. I was sure there would be a tornado - the sky was that pea-yellow color, and the rain just fell and fell and fell until all of a sudden it quit, and we all crawled out from under our shelters squinting and looking for cows twirling in the air. It was nuts, and it took us forever to get home, but it's cool... we made it, and 90210 is on the Soap Network, and I am feeling MUCH better now.

Back with the kiddlies tomorrow, back into the grind... How was your Labor Day, laborers? Who barbecued?

Heavy discussion

Because I was obviously drunk, I decided to broach the subject of a second child to Rob, just to see what he'd say. If you ever think that "just to see what he'd say" is a good reason to bring up something like this, call me first, and I will smack you around a little and then tell you that IT IS SO NOT. Rob hyperventilated for a few minutes, and did a little pacing (read: like a caged, angry, and underfed tiger) around the living room, and then stopped in front of me and very clearly said, "Like, another baby, you mean?

We're not really pondering the idea seriously yet, but I wouldn't be against it. My friend has a five-month-old who has the worst (or possibly best) case of babyhead smell of any baby on the planet, including all those in the baby washing products commercials. Bella smells like angel wings, like good dreams on clean sheets, like every baby everywhere should smell... and it makes me bonkers with babylust. We shall see, I suppose.

Norah, on the other hand, smells like crayons. She's figured out the whole coloring thing, and after she gets tired of chewing on her Crayolas or perhaps inserting them into various orifices of our incredibly tolerant dog, she wraps her fat little fingers around one and scribbles like a spastic monkey. "Tell Mama about this one," I said today, and she smiled her wicked smile and cried, "Puddle!" It was pink and swirly, but that's cool. My baby says it's a puddle, it's a puddle.

On the news front, were you so NOT surprised when it turned out that Karr guy didn't kill JonBenet?


What I Did On My Weekend Vacation, by Annie. I wish it were fun, kids, but it was just plain hard: I launched my dad and my uncle, in a canoe, into the middle of a lake in western NC. And when they got to the middle of the lake, where it was so deep and dark that you couldn't see the bottom, they lowered my grandfather's urn into it and watched him disappear.

The urn itself was a magical, biodegradable creation specifically designed for burials at sea. (It came in a box labeled "for burials at sea," so that's how you know I'm not making it up.) Choosing one was rough, as there are a number of options in the biodegradable urn market, ranging in attractiveness from "faux marble stereotypical urn shape" to "bulldog's ass." I'm serious, if you're ever looking into this sort of thing - and I so hope you don't have to anytime soon - you'll just hurl. Neon orange seashell shapes! Glitter and glitz! You can go completely nuts, har har har! Apparently, funeral supply companies have a wicked sense of humor... or death of a loved one makes some people completely blind. (By the way, you'll be sorry to hear that we went with the lame-o plain white one, instead of the one with embossed grapevines... for the wino in your life!)

We decided we would have breakfast at the lake, which in my family does not mean a box of Entenmann's and a gallon of OJ. Six AM, we were making quiches and baking bread. Eight AM, breakfast was loaded into the car and we went. Eight-thirty AM, mid-unloading, my sister and I discover the box - which we had never seen - behind the mushroom and spinach. Eight-forty-five, we're still staring at "for burials at sea," which is printed in an outlandishly cartoonish font (because that makes it more fun!), and my mom has to come get it because we can't seem to move.

The dropping (lowering? what word does one use when describing this?) of the urn was surprisingly peaceful; it went below the surface and started to dissolve almost right away. For a horrible, chilling moment, I thought, "Hey, just like an Alka-Seltzer!" which made me cry. I was so tired, and so emotionally shot, and there I was cracking wise in my head about my grandfather's urn. It's obviously my defense mechanism, but oh, the guilt.

So we did the right thing, and it's over and done. Off you go, Bestefar.* Bon voyage.

* Norwegian for grandfather. Like you didn't know.

Moving on... I'm down to two kids, one of whom is my own and therefore way WAY more fun than the other. I've got the preschooler for a few hours a day, three days a week, but it doesn't really count since it's during naptime and they're all sleeping. Can you imagine? At least an hour wherein I get to diddle around on the internet, or read a book that doesn't involve singing what a sheep says, or just sit and stare at the wall imagining that it's actually a Tahitian sunset! "Stoked" does not do this justice.

And behold, the other wonder of my world: new, beautiful hardwood floors in my messy, cluttered kitchen. Thanks to a friend of a friend, we got free (!!!) wood and an extensive installation lesson. The miracle Rob hath wrought! Life, she's good after all.

(And if you look really closely, you can see Norah's hot hot HOT pink life jacket, which she wore when we went tubing down the Davidson River, on the steps. The river was about three inches deep, so don't panic - I think I can spit faster than it flowed. She thought it was some kind of wild ride, though, so it was super good all around.)

Yet another affirmation that I am not Catholic

FIVE. That, my loves, is the exact number of kids I have been raising for the last two weeks, hence the blogdrought up in here. If I wasn't actively chasing a child, I was either elevating my swollen feet or rubbing my temples while crouched in a corner with my skirt over my head. Five kids, man. I'm beat.

Tomorrow is actually my last day with all five - the big three start school, so I'll be down to Norah and Jack, who's two. Jack is slightly developmentally delayed, as he was incredibly premature and is just now catching up, so it's more like having a set of twins than two babies a year apart. The two of them aren't that tough, really, so hopefully I'll be able to update more often, and you know, have coherent speech and not drink myself into a stupor every night.

Right now, though, I am going to bed. Newsy news coming soon.

Well, hello, strangers

Norah has a copy of the Jerry Garcia/David Grisman Not for Kids Only CD, and I can't get that darn "Arkansas Traveler" song out of my head. To all my pregnant friends out there: it's a cute CD, but be ready for obsession on a level with "It's a Small World" and "Tubthumping." Or maybe that last one's just me.

ANYWAY. Hello! Indiana was rosy, as only Indiana can be - I picked up a pile of my old kid stuff and was pleasantly transported down memory lane. Several old yearbooks and prom photos rose to the top of the flotsam, making me wonder how my hair stayed like that (god save our noble Aqua Net) and how I ever managed to find a date in high school. You should see the dating pool - shallow is just not the word. Yikes.

We're back, at least for the moment, until Norah runs (!!!yes runs my lord how that child can run!!!) off somewhere else. We'll actually be here for the next couple of weeks, until vacay in western NC, which will end with the spreading of my grandfather's ashes. The original plan was to take him to an island somewhere, but my grandma got a little skeeved about how much that would cost (understandably - it would have been like buying a new car to take us all down there) and so we're headed to their mountain house. He's going into the lake behind it, where we used to fish out golf balls and sell them to him for a nickel apiece. I still have one - I can't decide if I should keep it or send it with him, sort of an Egyptian pack-for-the-afterlife kind of thing.

Congratulations to a certain friend of mine who has found herself In the Family Way - welcome to the club, and prepare yourself... Norah ate 4000 grapes and a turkey sandwich today before screaming "Crickets! CREEEE-KITS!" (what that meant I have no idea, because there were no crickets to be found and as far as I know she's never been within 15 feet of one, but did we scream it oh yes we did!) and running off into the other room. She's also learned how to turn on the hose, activate the trash compactor, and take her clothes off, which she does with reckless abandon and no thought about where she is or what law enforcement officials might be nearby to remove this naked child from my possession. She's a lunatic, Anne, and you are destined to have your own little lunatic, because you lived with me and my lunatic child-vibe has almost certainly rubbed off onto you at some point.

And how you will love it! Enjoy, sunshine.

Sunday blogger

Righto. The in-laws are gone, the house has been reclaimed, and tomorrow I'm going to Indiana with Norah to get my stuff out of my parents' house. Because peace and quiet are for SISSIES.

I don't have a lot to say about the last eight days, except that no matter who you are, you do not need to visit someone for eight days. Our house is small - and by small, I mean "maybe you can squeeze in a goldfish, but no bowl, so don't even try" - and five adults and a baby do not a comfortable fit make. Fortunately we had five pleasant, non-smelly adults, and a baby who only smelled occasionally and managed to avoid saying COCK or FRUCK or anything that could be misconstrued as my attempt to teach her potty words.

Of course, it was today - after everyone left - that she decided to walk across the living room. I almost died; first she was standing at her table, and then she was clinging to my kneecaps like a little burr. With legs! That work! I'm thrilled, even though my heart bumped a little at the thought of my squishy baby being my squishy, mobile little girl.


So long, sweeties - I'll try to update on the road, but who knows. We only just got that newfangled cable internet out thattaway, y'know. Have a great week!

(MB: mule story in the near future. Promise.)


Countdown to in-law invasion: 18 hours, nine minutes. The house is clean, the baby has been instructed to not answer when asked what a duck says, and the dog has been washed, dried, and fluffed. Food has been purchased, dinner plans have been made, and two pop-out tubes of Grands! (how can you not love food with exclamation points?) are resting comfortably in the meat drawer of our fridge. We are ready.

We're actually fairly excited about the attack of the Philadelphians. It means we get to do touristy things that we really don't do now, since we've lived here for over a year and therefore should have done all of this by now. The planetarium, the Life & Science Museum, the beach (okay, we did the beach, but whatever) - good, clean, southern fun. If we could only justify a grain-filled watermelon* and a pantsless mule ride**, we'd be good.

* In case you didn't know, you can cut a hole in a watermelon and pour a bottle of grain into it, and make a delightful after-dinner aperitif that will burn holes through the side of a battleship. My sister and I MAY have done this once, leaving the remains in the fridge in our bedroom at my parents' house after summer vacation 1998. After completely melting the crisper drawer, it moved on through the floor and into the ground. We think it'll arrive in China any day now.

** Again with my sister - during my senior year of high school, we went on a camp-out with several of our best friends at someone's grandpa's farm. All these friends were male, and here's where my current buddy group starts freaking out: "You went camping with all boys? Were your parents high or what?" The answers to these questions are most likely yes. Anyway, after much beer and swimming (in a swimmin' hole, natch) Kate and I were persuaded to ride draft mules down a country highway, wearing only t-shirts and panties, in the middle of the night. Draft mules are large - like, special-bus large - and somewhat obstreporous, and explaining the situation to the policeman who PULLED OVER MY MULE ranks at least number three in my all-time most ridiculous moments. Someday I'll tell you the long version of this story, but you better go get drunk first.

Ergo, we will probably not be having these kinds of country fun with the in-laws. But oh, if we could.

In other news:

  • My parents sold their house after one year, one month, and three days of having it on the market. They've since stopped speaking actual words, and are now communicating only in "Woo-hoos!" and wild applause.
  • Norah said "Bella" today, in reference to my friend Jasmine's stunning marshmallow-armed baby girl. She also added "gonk," which I think is "junk," in reference to her mother's swearing about ALL THE DAMNED JUNK IN THIS CLOSET, SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS ALL THIS AND WILL THE WORLD END IF I THROW IT AWAY?
  • She also learned to lick her lips before blowing raspberries on my stomach, which improves her cheek-flapping remarkably.
  • My Mr. Stripey tomato plant has now reached the astonishing height of seven feet, three inches - and still has no flowers (anyone with a tip on that one, do let me know).
  • And I have attained the rank of Medium in the Target pants department.
Good vibes, man. Good vibes for a long week.

Littl'un lexicon

Things that Norah says that are cute:

  • Bah-bye
  • Priddy
  • My mama
  • Daddoo
  • Gog! (you know, with the tail and the fur?)
Things that Norah says that I wish she would not say, because I know she's going to say them in front of Rob's mother while they're staying here next week, and I'll have to smile grimly and explain how my godlessness has transferred to my child:
  • Beeshes (I think this might be "kisses," but damn, does it sound like "bitches.")
  • COCK! COCK! COCK! (This is, of course, what a duck says. Duh.)
  • Fruck (We don't know. She says it while she's eating, so it's not "truck" or "frog," unless we're having Fancy French Cuisine Night, and then she says it right after "escargot," "beignet," and "croissant.")

Now THERE're some winners for the baby book.

Don't knock Knockglen

Rob's on call, so I'm watching "Circle of Friends," and realizing that Minnie Driver is remarkable, just because of her ability to put on 30 pounds and look like a perfectly normal person. She's moved way up on the List Of Female Celebrities I Might Hook Up With If I Ever Switch Teams.

God, am I bored. Even spider solitaire's lost its charm. Anyone with an interesting way to kill an evening home alone (well, you know, as alone as you get with a sleeping monkey upstairs) should comment forthwith.

And a star to sail her by

He died on Saturday, while I was in the shower. My sister, to whom I am unbelievably close, as in "I will help you get up off the toilet if you're too drunk to stand after you pee," opened the shower door and I knew that something was wrong. Because even though we have helped each other pee, we have an unwritten rule about the holiness of shower time: you do not interrupt until well after the deep conditioner is washed out.

She opened the door and I freaked out and grabbed a bottle of shampoo to cover myself, and she looked me straight in the eye and said, "He died. He died just now. Just right now." And we stood there and the water kept on running, and I remember thinking, "Okay, so now what? Do I rinse my hair, or do I just leave it? How fast do I need to get out of here? Am I missing something?"

I rinsed and put on the first thing I found, which was pajama pants and a polo shirt that might have been my dad's. And this is where it gets really uncomfortable and sad and borderline scary, so if you want to stop reading right now I'm totally okay with it. But I have to get this out, because it's burning a hole in my chest.

I went into my grandparents' bedroom and my grandmother was standing over him, patting his face and saying, "Just wake up and talk with us, darling, just come back and tell us what you're thinking, doing such a thing. Just wake up now." And my mother was holding her shoulders and saying that he was gone, and we all knew he was gone because of the color of his skin (why did it change so fast? In the movies you get at least ten minutes of pink-cheekedness so you can cry and lament and hold hands, and the person still looks alive.) My mom got her to leave, and then it was just me and my sister, and his mouth was open and my God, I could not close it. I wanted to, because I knew that he would rather look peaceful and asleep and not all slack-jawed, but I couldn't do it, and neither could Kate. I was afraid.

After a while, the men came and took him to the funeral home, and we cried some and laughed some and drank a lot. And we realized that he really was better off - it's not just some trite saying that people give you when they're trying to sympathize. And I can breathe again, and even forget for a while. My grandmother's doing the rounds between my uncle's house and my mom's, and I promised to come see her as soon as she got home, and so life goes on.

To everybody who called and emailed and stuff, thank you for trying to help me deal. You really, really did. And to my "superb meteor," if you read this, thanks for giving me Jack London. Love you, you know, in that other way.


My grandfather is dying. He's been sick for years, and by years I mean "since the Reagan administration." However, this time we all know. We just don't know when. Within two weeks, we think.

We were in HH last week/this weekend, and there he was, my grandfather, who is 6'6" and the largest man in the world, somehow fitting into a twin-sized hospital bed and looking so very small. My mom took care of my grandmother and talked with him about what would happen After - After being that time when everything changes but we can't actually say how out loud, because that's like admitting it's going to happen, and no one can handle it yet. He'll be cremated. We'll send him to sea somewhere in the West Indies. My grandmother will be destroyed.

I've agreed to write the obituaries for the papers, and the eulogy. Somehow I got the role of the Family Writer, which makes me both proud and incredibly depressed. Why couldn't I have been the Family Cook, or the Family Birdhouse Builder? Anything with less emotional asskicking, as I said to a friend earlier.

I'm 27 years old and I've never been to a funeral. I have all my grandparents. I don't know how to watch someone die.

Muchas gracias, buddy-o's

Urrgh, so full. Since SOMEONE is working tonight, Norah and I went over to see our friends who have recently moved here from Baltimore. And did they feed me good, yes they did, and did they love on my baby so I could hold a glass of wine instead of her heavy little bod. Wine glass = lighter than a baby! Especially when you drink it all up!

We're home now, though, and the little madam is zonked out in her room. I've been browsing the cable channels (for as much as we pay in a month, you'd think they could turn on something worthwhile, like Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, which I missed this morning while cleaning the house. WHAT. A. LOSS.) I shall now watch reruns of L&O:CI, and quietly pass out, hoping for a late sleep but not holding my breath. Kiss kiss!

Birthday partied out

It's all too much
The ubiquitous first birthday cake photo - although her birthday isn't until next week, we decided to celebrate it at the same time as Rob's. And it was a smashing success, har har har. Baby likes some cake, she does.

Notes which will mean zilch to anyone but the person addressed

Dear Lisa,

Dude. You live near The Naughty. Your neighborhood whomps my neighborhood's weirdness rating any day.

Love from across town,


Dear Adrienne,

ASPCA is on speed dial. Clearly Britney's stylist is not on hers. Do I look that bad? Seriously, do I look that bad? Because we have so much in common, as we are both new moms and we have committed boneheaded new mom acts like changing our babies right out in public. Oh wait, that wasn't me.

Love from the dirty south,


Dear Rob,

Love you, buddy, as I have every single day for the past four years - happy anniversary. (Okay, it's in two days, but by the time you read this it'll be yesterday.) Now go make me a cake. I made you one. Git.

Love (the squishy kind that Lisa and Adrienne don't get, sorry girls),


Dear God,

GIVING THE BABY EXCESS MUCUS IS NOT MY IDEA OF A GOOD BIRTHDAY PRESENT. Hers neither, apparently, since she basically cried constantly last night and she's well on her way to a repeat performance. Couldn't you send me something else to test my strength? Locusts, or a flood, or perhaps a really embarrassing venereal disease? I would seriously trade for any one of those, because last night? It was THAT BAD.


Silver bracelets for Father's Day

So remember that guy? That guy down the street who is most certainly beating his live-in girlfriend and doing God knows what to her two little girls, who turn up on our porch at 7 a.m.? That guy just tried to have my sweet, wonderful, kind neighbor arrested for larceny.

That Guy bought a kitten for the two little girls, most likely to buy their silence about how he's beating up on Mommy. The kitten grew up a little into a teenaged cat, barely old enough to rebel against her parents or wear make-up, and lo! in a true after-school special moment (side note: best Lifetime movie EVER), she got pregnant. Four new kittens were then deposited into a box under the little girls' shared bed, joining the mother cat, two birds, and the rottweiler puppy, who was allowed to roam freely about the neighborhood, but that is another story for another bout of heavy drinking.

So Mommy and the girls moved out a couple of weeks ago and we all did a happy dance that they were gone and safe and no longer on our porches. However, the pets slowly but surely took over Mommy's abusee role, and strange things started to happen. The birds "escaped," (and if you believe that I've got a pill here that'll grow your penis five inches overnight), the puppy was sent to a new home, and the mother cat was shoved outside to fend for herself. Nice Neighbor Lady started putting cat food on her deck for the mother cat, who slowly became as skinny and haunted as an extra on Animal Cops. And then the final straw: the kittens were locked outside for two days with no food or water. TWO DAYS. And it's been 80-some degrees.

So Neighbor Lady went vigilante and took them to the no-kill shelter in Chapel Hill.

Somehow, That Guy found out, and with the help of his white trash sister, called the cops and had them come here to arrest Neighbor Lady. A very professional female cop showed up, heard the story from Neighbor Lady's sane, sober mouth, and then heard the other side of it from That Guy's shirtless, beer-can-holding one. Thank GOD justice prevailed, and Neighbor Lady only has to return the kitties, assuming the shelter still has them. And once again, I am appalled that someone like That Guy gets to continue breathing my air. Someone needs to bribe him to move - it would only take a sixer of Pabst and maybe some Cheese Nips.

ANYWAY, now that you know that sordid little tale, guess what? It's Rob's birthday tomorrow! I made him a horrific cake tonight, since he'll be working until all hours tomorrow - the poor stupid thing slanted over to one side, and the polka dots I piped on melted in the sun from the kitchen window and ran over the edges. And I had to make it in pie dishes, as my cake pans have mysteriously disappeared and are probably full of tongue depressors or guitar picks out in the shed. So the layers were a little bell-shaped... but I tried, and we ate it anyway, because it had chocolate icing on it. You could put chocolate icing on a pair of bowling shoes and we'd suck those puppies down before you could say "7-10 split."

We're headed to bed, where we will watch the first 10 minutes of Narnia and then pass out, because we're that cool. We may even refill our glasses of milk. Look out, Paris, there's a new party girl in town.

That skirt will never, EVER recover.

Holy cow, Britney Spears is a mess. A MESS. Was she unaware that she was being interviewed by Matt Lauer on national television, and therefore thought that ratty hair and gum-crackin' was somehow acceptable? My mother alert is on red-light high right now... instead of "girl is such a ho," I'm thinking, "Honey, we can just pull that down a little and pull that up a little, and spit that right here in my hand, right here, and thaaaat's better."

Confidential to someone who may or may not remember to check this, but who said "don't you dare blog about this:" Gran Turismo III is SO much funner when you play it in a swimsuit and make up new rules, and drink mucho wine-o. What a good time that was.


Those kids and their darnedest things

Overheard while driving to Target with the kids yesterday:

Kid 1 (who's five): Aww, look! Baby [Norah] is being shy!
Kid 2 (three): She is not. She is not being shy.
Kid 1 (getting defensive about her interpretation of Baby's facial expression): She is too, why do you think she's not?
Kid 2: Are you kidding? She doesn't have a shy bone in her buddy.


Pop quiz

1. If one's husband walks up to one at 9:30 a.m. and says "Hey, you know what let's do, let's go to the aquarium at Pine Knolls! It's only three hours away!" should one assume husband is insane and completely ignore that suggestion?

2. If a car travels at 74 miles per hour and is traveling 173 miles, and encounters 425 red lights along the way because one's husband is a terrible mapper and takes one on a local road the entire way, and then one arrives at the aquarium to discover that the only available parking is a literal mile away, should one then beat husband to death with his own shoe? And if so, what time will we actually be eating lunch?

3. After leaving the aquarium and its piss-poor excuse for a cafe, should one go to the beach dressed in long, somewhat tight jeans? If yes, please explain the logic behind one's decision to roll jeans up only about three inches and then take a wriggling, kicking baby into the waves. (Bonus points if you can name all the swear words used when a large wave caught me in the ass.)

4. Using a diagram, find all the ways that a scenario involving wet jeans removal, riding home pantsless, and hanging said jeans out the window on the interstate to dry could possibly go wrong.

(Fortunately we didn't lose them, but a trucker has now seen my undies.)

What'd you do this weekend?

What the hell is Darlene doing with a stethoscope?

I'm entering day four of my week-long vacation from the extra kids, and for the first time I'm feeling the teeth of the boredom dog bite my ass. But lo, TNT still runs double episodes of ER and L&O every day, so maybe I'll just take the day and slob out. Am disturbed, however, by the presence of Sara Gilbert on ER. She looks so clean and un-angsty in that little white jacket. Sara Gilbert is the epitome of my angsty days, and her cleanliness is really busting my groove.

Yesterday we went to Jordan Lake, where I got sunburned on the fake beach and baby ate about three pounds of sand. My new pal Jasmine, whose husband works with Rob, and her two girls came, so there was much splashing and wiggling and who-can-get-back-to-the-towels-faster-ing. On the way back, all the little girls slept while Jasmine and I ate moon pies and pretzels and talked about our husbands and their respective issues. I needed that, an afternoon with someone who can speak multisyllabic words and whose pants I do not need to change, but who understands the need to change someone else's pants in the back of my car at a gas station because hot car + stinky pants = NOT GOOD THINGS. And moon pies! Who doesn't need a good moon pie now and then? I love the south.

Rob's going to his first eye appointment ever tomorrow, and oh boy is he nervous. He's getting a lot of headaches, so before we perform exploratory brain tumor surgery in the bathtub I made him schedule a visit with Dr. Bahsjarat. Or possibly Dr. Bajsharat. One of those two. You would think I was forcing him to let me drill into his skull, and not that he was going to an office wherein he had to read some letters and answer "Better or worse?" 35 times. As someone who has had glasses since about age 5, I have no sympathy for him. I'll let you know if I end up holding his hand while he cries into the glaucoma tester machine.

Sara G just had to tell a man he had a day to live. Now there's some angst for you.

I made a patio today

For real, y'all! Our deck is lovely to eat and play on, but not so good for keeping the grill on. (It could be the size of a hockey rink - let's go 'Canes, by the way, you take that cup, boys - and not be big enough for the grill, since someone small and squirrely has a tendency to race to whatever's currently on fire and clutch it like a life ring.) So today Mom and I made a 5'x5' pavered patio space between the two big old trees in our backyard. We are feeling delightfully accomplished and utterly crippled. Thank God for the remote and delivery pizza.

At Lowe's, Norah was hamming like she's never hammed before. She was wearing the John Deere outfit that goes with her green hat (although she generally is only willing to wear the hat when she's otherwise unclothed, don't ask me why) and everyone in the garden section had something to say about That Cute Little Boy. Gender issues notwithstanding, the princess flirted and fluttered and slid sly sideways smiles at the old men buying geraniums with their old wives. I now have proof that she is my child - she must be the center of attention at all times, and God help anyone who dares to put her in her car seat and leave her there while trying to load 125 bricks into the back of a Toyota.

Kate is gone, off to visit my dad in Indiana before heading back to Boston. It's quieter here, and remarkably less entertaining. And my mom is leaving for good on Saturday. As some of you know, the 'rents have been trying to sell their house and move here, and my mom has been with us for the last year while my dad waited and waited and waited... and waited... for someone to go ahead and buy the place. It never happened, so my mom is headed home. We're getting our house back. And I am sad.

Hence the patio, hence our pizza (we said it was because we were too sore to cook, but it was a big old lie and we should not kid ourselves). We're cramming as much fun as we can into the next five days, calories and backaches be damned. Tomorrow we may do something completely nuts, like go rock climbing, if I can just get Norah to quit eating the caribeners. Carribeeners. Carribean-ers. Oh, you know.

Saving this for her senior slideshow

For real! A post! Woo!

Hello, blogsters, how you is these days? It's hot as you-know-what down here, and while we de-sweat from the dog park I thought, hey, I'll blog something.

Sadly, that something is nothing exciting, just more daily doin's. Today we discovered three things:

1. Norah is finally, finally, FINALLY THANK YOU GOD getting her top teeth. I am so sick of people commenting on the bottom two and then going straight for my underachieving mother jugular with "Isn't she getting any more? And is she walking? And writing your thesis, because clearly YOUR lazy ass will never get it done!"

What makes me get so defensive about that kind of thing? Like getting teeth (or in Norah's case, not getting them) is some kind of skill, a learned behavior that she's picked up that indicates her geniushood? Yes, she's getting teeth, and later I will get her to demonstrate her impressive speed in healing her black eyes!

Item 2: Norah has learned to express questions without using actual English words. She'll scoot over to her beloved dinosaur, hunt for a ball to feed it, be unable to find one, turn to me, and say "Daaaahr?" in this chirpy little bird voice. Or she'll stretch up and grab her highchair, beat on the tray with whatever dropped utensil is closest, and hit me with a cute little "Moooh-tah?" Or she'll bite my cheek and say "Paaaapapapa?" which obviously means "Rabies? Did I give you my rabies? Ha! Success!"

And three: she likes to swim! Here, internet - a photo of my daughter's naked ass. Hide this for me, in case she finds all my copies and burns them.

Saving this for her senior slideshow

Quoth my sister, "What is up?"

Yeah, so I guess I'm bad at posting these days. Somehow I've let this blog become an obligation, and as anyone who knows me can tell you, the odds of me completing something that I'm required to do, for whatever reason, are about as good as finding 99-cent gas. I am a sucktastic follower-through, and for that I apologize, oh blogworld. I loves you bunches, though.

Anyway! Here are some fun things that happened this week:

My sister showed up yesterday with Max the Righteous Airedale and a month's worth of Aveda hair gunk crammed in her Mini Cooper. I am tickled. Not only has she promised to share the knowledge gleaned (gleaned, I say) at her cooking class*, she also managed to comment on my new snack-sized ass** the minute she walked in the door. She'll be here for a couple of weeks and then move on to Indiana, where she has a job painting someone's house. In a perfect world, that job would pay her $21,600, as that is the exact amount of her yearly rent in Boston. Or possibly she will be paid in hours of sunshine and get a bitchin' tan. You guess what's more likely.

* Her current boyfriend signed them up for a couples cooking class for Valentine's Day. This came shortly after the pasta machine for Christmas - Kate loves pasta beyond all things, so such a gift was absolutely inspired. And he's got a mop of curly brown hair that he never really combs and yet usually looks like an Abercrombie ad. Don't ask, he doesn't have an older brother. I totally checked.

** Re: my ass. I have returned to the size I was in college. COLLEGE! I haven't talked much about this particular diet, because then if it had failed I would have had to admit it to my thousands of internet worshipers, and my self-esteem couldn't have handled a smacking like that. But I will admit to my success, just this one time, and then I'll shut up about it. Those people that go on and on about how hot they look in jeans, and how buying a swimsuit this year didn't give them a panic attack (unlike last year) and all that, those people make me want to... oh.

Ein photo of the princess in her best ever Easter outfit, purchased by my mom and dad at the same store where they got my dad's new weed whacker:

Yes, that is the John Deere logo on her belly. And it is also on her coordinating hat, which she opted to forgo in favor of a crown of dandelions. My baby, future president of FFA.

Insert appropriate livestock disease joke here

Apparently, "hand, foot and mouth disease" is not the same as "hoof and mouth disease," as much as I wanted it to be (because who doesn't want her kid to have a cow disease? If she has to be sick, it could at least be something I've heard about on Dateline, something that could cause a national panic and spawn really bad TV movies.) Norah has the former, and for the last three days my poor baby has been battling 103-degree fevers and blisters on her lips and tongue. She's much better today, but I swear if I didn't have a sense of humor (and a mega-sized bottle of baby Motrin) I would have killed myself from the pain of watching her sad, sad little face.

For a while there, I was pretty convinced that she was just teething - the fever was low, she kept biting her fingers, etc. Then she got what I thought was a zit, which is pretty stupid in retrospect. Babies don't get real zits, they get those cute little white zits, because everything related to babies is somehow cute. (And if you believe that, I'd like to talk to you about a Nigerian lottery you've just won.)

When her fever hit 103 on Tuesday afternoon, I decided that it was definitely time to be concerned, so I called her pediatrician, who directed us to the Urgent Care clinic. There we met Dr. Shepherd, who was incredibly, unbelievably hot. HOT! What kind of hot guy spends his days taking babies' temperatures the Uncomfortable Way? A SUPER-hot one, because he can do that and still be cool! I am ashamed to admit that that totally helped.

He checked her over, during which time she was laughing and dare I say flirting with Dr. Hot, and did a little hot diagnosing. He referred to her illness as "Coxsackie virus" a few times, and just to illustrate how emotionally shaky I was at the time, I will confess that every time he said "coxsackie" I snorted. He advised us on our Motrin and our sleeping and our freedom to lounge around in underwear and watch too much TV, and sent us home. And sure enough, the underwear lounging did the trick - she's sleeping like a log, and I'm about to be.

So that's where I been at - what's new with you?

Mondayism, vol. 2

This afternoon in the van, coming back from the mall.

Kid1: Let's be princesses. Our whole family.
Me: Would daddy and your brother be princesses?
Kid 1: Noooo. Daddy is the king and my brother is the prince and Mommy is the queen and I am the princess.
Kid 2: What will I be?
Kid 1 (mulls it over): Hey! You can be the CAT!
Me, preparing to lecture about how Everyone Can Be Princesses If They Want To: Now, maybe we could all--
Kid 2: HECK, yes!

When you can get that excited about being assigned the role of the housepet in a game where everyone else is royalty, you're either insane or three. Or both. Happy Monday!

The wearin' o' the hat

A couple of weeks ago, my uncle the playboy pilot and his girlfriend* went up to my parents' hometown, ostensibly to take my dad out for his birthday. They flew up in one of Uncle Dick's buddy's planes, an RV8 with naked ladies painted on its sides. I guess they're not completely naked; they have little ribbons painted across their hooties. My dad, who had trouble keeping his cool when Norah was born because that meant I had had sex at some point, was nearly apopleptic when they landed, so it was probably best that they took him out for a very large drink.

* I should note here that his girlfriend is a) his own age, a pleasant change considering the last girl he dated was MY own age, and b) remarkably tolerant of his midlife crisis. He gets a huge kick out of the naked lady plane, something that really surprises me since I always thought he was somewhat classier than that; she, meanwhile, just rolls her eyes and says "Oh, Dick, you goofball," and reads Vogue or perhaps Us Weekly. I would love her, but she's thinner than me and dresses way WAY better, so I'm taking out a hit on her later. Back to my dad and the hat.

Unfortunately, the three of them went out in town, which never really works because there are exactly three places to go. The three of them ended up at the Key West Shrimp House, a seafood restaurant that's been in town since my mom was drinking on a fake ID. Apparently, at the Shrimp House, the thing to do is to have your picture taken on your birthday wearing the lobster hat. My dad's done this before; however, it seems that the lobster hat has been seriously upgraded. It used to be a blue trucker's hat with a plastic lobster glued to the top... and now, you can see that it is in fact a lobster that also happens to be a hat. The glory! The wonder! The beady black plastic eyes!

Dad, wherever you are right now, happy birthday. And mind the claws.

Happy birthday Dad

Better days

Apparently, someone said something to Mr. Drunkyface, because Roxie hasn't been loose since I wrote that post, nor has she been put outside early in the morning to serve as the neighborhood's barking alarm clock. Which is good, because hitting her snooze button was going to involve a solidly thrown shoe.

And a side note to Anonymous: yep, that's North Carolina for you. It's also Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Nebraska, and every other place in the world, because in case you hadn't noticed, there are trashy people in the country, the ghetto, and even the so-called best neighborhoods in the most Charming Cities. So no dogging (har har har) my state, you big poopy.

Anyway. Today we hit the Cary Spring Daze festival, which was absolutely adorable. It was really just like any spring fair, with a heavy emphasis on sterling silver jewelry and photographs of giant daylilies, but the earthy section was informative (we're going to get a rain barrel from the city so we don't get busted watering during the current drought!) and the street performers were a fun touch. The best part was that we went on a day when the weather was great, and not once did I get chawed upon by a mosquito. This is probably because they're all building their mosquito condos under our deck and sharpening their probosciseseses to insert more efficiently into my flesh.

So! Photos! Here is a photo of Norah ignoring the swarthy pirates swordfighting before her, and instead focusing intensely on a leaf:

And here is a photo of the closest Rob will be in the forseeable future to piloting his own plane:

And here is a photo of Norah's very first black eye, which she earned by not shettin' up and lettin' Mama watch her stories!

(Actually, she wiped out while holding on to my desk chair and jabbed herself with the seat-lifty lever. Oh, man, did I cry - the guilt invoked by your mom is NOTHING compared to the guilt you feel when your kid does something appropriately kidlike and gets a booboo. It wasn't my fault, and yet OH YES IT WAS.)

And because you didn't go awwwww in a good way yet, here is Norah posing in front of our swanky new mulch yard - her swing hangs from the tree behind her:

Wait... wait... NOW. Awwwww.

I love the spring.

Really, now

Okay, this is it. It's freaking five-something in the morning, and I've been awake for an hour because Roxanne the neighborhood Rottweiler said I should be.

Roxie is about six months old, and she's just starting to get gangly and dog-teenagery... and bitey. She's bitten several of the neighborhood kids, not because she's mean but because no one is teaching her not to. She roams the yards (yard, really - since we're all connected, so's our grass) off leash, and I can't tell you how many times I've grabbed her, taken her back to her house, and shoved in the door. No knocking, no "here's your goddamn dog, jerkfaces," just shoved her in.

Roxie belongs to That Guy, the one with the girlfriend with the little girls who are allowed to roam the street with the same reckless abandon. The guy who's drinking or drunk or passed out. The one who is, we're fairly sure, selling drugs out of the house. The one with the GUNS.

* Side note: A bunch of us finally got together, took a deep breath, and called social services about the kids. An officer came out and checked things out, and of course it was on a day when the place looked clean and the kids were happy and smiley because they'd been at my house, coloring with sidewalk chalk. So nothing happened. Meanwhile, That Guy continues to smack Mom around and call her a whore and other choice phrases, and the girls see it all.

I guess I should call animal control about Roxanne... or the cops? Is this a cop-calling offense? Having never complained about a neighbor before, my knowledge of complaint resources is a little slim. I can tell you this, though: if that dog ever gets shut outside again, barking and whining, at such an ungodly hour, I'm going down there and busting some heads. I NEED MY SLEEP, dang it.

-- Crankypants, for a good reason.

Back from Hilton Head, back at work

Today while making lunch:

Kid 1: I don't like to eat that mega noodle soup.
Me: Why not?
Kid 2: The noodles are too noodley. My sister does not like noodley noodles.
Me: Well, no, who does?

And it all made perfect sense, one more indicator that perhaps I went to bed a little too late last night.

Why couldn't it have been John Cusack?

First, I must share with you that someone named Boobyhead Jackson showed up in my dream last night, and when I woke up, I thought, that is just what I deserved for being a smartass about our political candidates. Elections are very serious and I shouldn't mock people who are trying to make a connection with a clever and conversation-stimulating nickname.

But then I thought NIFONG! NIFONG! and made myself laugh, and felt much better.

I really have no news - I just wanted to use my one excuse to say Boobyhead again. Tomorrow's MaturityThon will include several rounds of "nana nana boo boo" and everlasting cootie shots.

Tired and bored - can you tell?

Real quick before I go to bed

Just so you know, "Naughty" Nauseef has been joined by "Ziggy" Zimmerman and "Bunkey" Dean in the Election of Those With Whom I Would Most Like to Get Drunk. What is in the water down here? I want to run for election so I can make myself a sign that says "Annielicious = Ass-kickin' District Attorney."

(I'd totally win, too, because our current DA is just wallowing in shit these days, what with the whole Duke rape-or-not-rape thing... Whether you believe the girl or not, you've got to be sick of hearing "district attorney NIFONG." That's not a name, that's a gardening tool, or perhaps a Chinese eating utensil.)

On another, only slightly different note, how fun would it be to print these signs? You could put any damn thing you wanted to on there, and the candidate would be stoked. "Boobyhead Jackson! That's brilliant! I am sure to win the auditor race now!"

At the moment, I'm blogging in the dark while Rob watches Good Night and Good Luck. Right now we could be a seriously modern and sexy smartypants couple, except that the only thing that excites me about this movie is George Clooney. Who is sexy, but not on that uber-trendy level. Damn. Might as well go to sleep now.

Flip flop weather

Hot! Sweaty! Wonderful!

No really, it's lovely here. It's about 85 degrees, and sunny, and my fabulously fabulous new garden is - dare I say - thriving. Now that the nights are longer and it's light until about midnight, we can sit outside and watch the mosquitoes eat the baby. We've been using kid-friendly Off!* wipes on her, and while I appreciate the lower level of DEET, I'm just not sure it's effective against bugs who can arm-wrestle with you while you put it on.

* Why is it that items targeted at younger people have exclamation points in their names? Off! Yahoo! It's like we're not listening, so someone has to yell it at us. Because of pressure from parents like me, Ikea will be changing their name to Stop Eating the Coffee Table, Because It's the Only One We've Got, It's Too Far to Go Get Another One, and We're Too Cheap to Get a Nice One!

My coughing has gotten better, except at night, when I'm still pretty messy. This means I haven't been sleeping well, which means I haven't really been inspired, funny, or entertaining (and now you say, "But when are you that otherwise?" and we laauugh.) What amazes me is how well ROB sleeps, even when I'm bent double, taking huge gasping breaths and barking like a seal. It must be something residents pick up when they're trying to sleep in the hospital - when people are whooping their way toward death right next to you, you just mumble something about "antibiotics in the morning" and roll over.

We're not exactly good churchy folk, so to celebrate Easter we're going to the NC Zoo, a mere 85 miles away, to give Mademoiselle her first look at wild things other than Astrid. ("Mere" is totally relative. Compared to our recent escapades to Indiana and Hilton Head, Asheboro is just a hop.) It should be pretty cool; the maps seem to include all the necessary animals - although if you have monkeys, what else do you need? - and all the parking and shuttles and such are free. And after filling the gas tank yesterday ($44!) that freeness is enough to make me sing hallelujah, so we might have a little religion after all.

We're also going to see the Big Bunny at the mall so that Norah can actually wear the precious Easter dress Rob's mom sent from Philadelphia and be photographed doing something conventionally Easterish. This is, of course, pending her acceptance of being held by a giant rabbit; she's just started to experience stranger anxiety, so something with plastic eyes bigger than her face might not be entirely okay. But we will try, and we will send the photo to the grandparents, and we will be GOOD PEOPLE.

Happy Easter to you, whatever you do about it. Mmmwa.

Because you can't make this shit up

It's election season in Durham, and a local lawyer has added his name to the rolls for judge. Check out what his name is. It actually says this on his campaign signs, and every time I pass one, I think, "Sir, you are completely out of your gourd... and yet somehow I could see myself voting for you eight or ten times."

We went to Hilton Head this weekend, where for once we didn't have a project to complete (such as my grandmother's birthday party, repainting the entire house, or perhaps building a full-size replica of Mount Rushmore in their yard) and what happens? I spend the entire weekend hacking and hocking and coughing my eyes out of my head with what has turned out to be pneumonia. WHO GETS PNEUMONIA IN APRIL? I mean, seriously. WTF already.

Norah can now "cruise," a pediatrician's term for "stagger around like a tiny wino holding onto the furniture and singing Irish drinking songs." I saw her do this and my heart stopped, because this means that everything in our house from my waist down will have to be elevated and/or nailed down, including my pants, because she definitely pantsed me this afternoon. I have been pantsed. By someone to whom I gave life! The injustice here is striking.

I'm going to bed, where my z-pack will most definitely start working and I'll pass out breathing steadily, with no rales and no racket in my lungs. And I love you all, but from way over here, so you don't get my cooties.

The weekend, plus a day, by the numbers

Days since I've updated this blog.

Times I thought to myself, "Hey, you should update your blog, asshole."

New shrubs, bushes, and other foliages planted in our side yard, which refuses to grow grass (we'll defeat you, you dastardly yard! We'll just mulch your dead, non-growing expanse! Ha!)

Pieces of mail I received with glitter and/or a funny photo (ride the chicken indeed, you-know-who-you-are!) on them yesterday.

Years I've had to hear about the

Day I was born, which was

Happy birthday to me!


No, there isn't a time change between here and Indiana. However, I'm still pretty wiped out - and I slept for a looooong time last night, as did Norah, who declined any and all opportunities to nap yesterday. We went through three airports, two planes, and one cranky airplane-row-mate who was forced to sit with us because he checked in late. Here is an important fact for those of you who travel child-free and would like to remain that way for the duration of your flight: DON'T CHECK IN LATE, because you will inevitably be left with the last seat on the plane, which will inevitably be next to a frazzled, slightly sweaty woman with a baby whose main goals for the next hour are to put her fingers into your ear at least three times and pluck each of your arm hairs, one at a time, from the arm sticking out from your short-sleeved dress shirt.

[Well if you'd just control your child...! you're all screaming at me, but let's switch places here for a minute, and say that if YOU had to pack a baby in a sling through approximately eight miles of terminal, strap her to a food court seat and feed her wiggly ass, and maintain your cool so that no one else got hysterical, YOU would want to get on the plane, sit her on your lap, turn your face away, and drown quietly in a $9 bloody mary TOO.]

Really, I'm exaggerating, and the trip was fine. Norah, although she's a wiggler of the first order, is an excellent flier - she tempers her arm-hair-plucking with that charming little "Heeey, but I'm precious!" smile, and nine times out of ten we get away with a lot of badness. She rode rather peacefully in the ultra sexy new sling I made with Adrienne, and it was pretty easy to boost her out, trip lightly through the security scanner, and then boost her back in. We didn't even take the stroller, which was probably for the best, considering the sprinting we had to do to make our connection. I almost certainly would have mowed down at least 12 other people.

Home was... home. Since we were only there for about two days, I was pretty busy, what with cleaning out my parents' house and making five, yes, FIVE trips to Wal-Mart for boxes and various other necessities. (LAH: I looked for your hubs while I was there, and didn't see him - is it possible that the birds ate him?) The weird thing was that I ran into two high school boyfriends, one in a downtown grocery and one that I literally smacked into coming out of Wal-Mart the third time. I haven't seen either of these guys for nine years, so to see them both within 12 hours of each other was a tad unsettling, in that "let's remind you of the days when your hair was below your shoulderblades and you wore entirely too much plaid flannel" way. Even more surreal was the fact that right before going out, I had sorted through a drawer of old pictures, including some of Old Boyfriend #1 and me at a certain pool party, which shall remain part of history... and then there he was reaching for his deli order in much the same way that he used to reach for my bikini string, musician fingers curled down and thumb up.

It is just always awkward when history flares up and smacks you around, especially when you haven't showered and your hair is flat and you're wearing a dirty sweatshirt. But we smiled anyway, and we small-talked, and we walked out together, and off he went, la de da.

Now that we've explored that little piece of my past, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure...

Norah in the airport, discovering the joys of Mama's carry-on

Baby Sleeps-No-More on the plane, next to our non-cranky row buddy, whose daughter turned out to be married to a guy my dad knows at home. Spooooky.Taking a bath in the kitchen sink in my old room (which is more like an efficiency apartment, really)

More fun can be found on Flickr, but not today, as I have 54 tons of laundry and dishes to do. Why is it that when I'm not here, it gets just as messy? Two guesses, and the first one don't count...