Family Christmas Activity #1: Gingerbread!

Our neighbor, Victoria, got Norah a gingerbread house kit at Trader Joe's (we have one in Chapel Hill now! Because Chapel Hill, despite their overwhelming minivan population, is awesome! And we can now buy organic milk for less than the hormonally-boosted Target milk! And if you can't tell, I'm SO EXCITED!) It's been sitting on the buffet in our dining room area for about three weeks, because I haven't had the time/inclination to put it together - this is probably because we didn't have any icing, and the directions said to make it with egg whites and meringue powder. I would love to say I had these things on hand, but then I would be a liar, and you can't lie at Christmas, because then you get no presents and possibly go to hell, which looks a lot like Southpoint on a Saturday night. Hoo-rah, holiday shopping.

So yeah, there it sat until this morning, when Nonos decided to haul it around the house and stand on it. "No!" I cried, "You'll break it and then we'll never use it!" I realized how stupid it was to deny her this, since we were obviously doing nothing with it anyway, and sent Rob and Norah to Target for icing in a tube and some tomatoes, because I wanted a ham sandwich, and you have to have tomatoes for that.

They got back, and construction began!

As you can see, Rob takes projects like this very seriously. He's a perfectionist, which served us well in the installation of the actual window in our actual house, but which drove Norah crazy after five minutes of, "Not yet, Nonos, Daddy's grouting the roof."

We didn't actually wait the necessary time for it to dry, because we'll probably have eaten it all over the next five hours. We're not very good at having sugary things around the house, and by "we" I mean "totally 100% me." So we moved quickly from construction to embellishments.

Norah was less than impressed with the included candy circles and hearts, but she rather liked sticking them to the house with the icing, because then she could lick it.

Eventually, however, she proved that she is more like her father than her mother in some respects: apparently, you CAN have too much icing, and how amazingly much does she look like Rob right here, those of you who know him?

Then at last, it was done, and with the addition of two teensy fingerpokes in the roof snow, it was lovely.

Holiday activity #1, check... next up, I teach Norah to address the Christmas cards. Man, I hope that one works.

Roasting on an open fire

You guys, it's 81 degrees here today. I am wearing maternity jeans, because none of the other pants I own will a) stay up or b) leave any feeling in my body from the waist down, and I think I'm actually sweating. I feel dirty. It's supposed to be snowy and winter wonderlandish, dang it.

So I decorated the blog for Christmas - it took a big 20 minutes, but I've been putting it off, because that's what I do, I put things off and do more important things like nap and eat endless clementines. (Oh, how I love the clementines. At least they're not sausage.) And I thought to myself, "Self, don't be a lazy bitch, you got this far, now write a post about something meaningful." For that reason, I will not be writing extensively about the clementines. BUT SERIOUSLY, I love them. Love love love. I will instead write about throwing up, because yo, you know you wanted to hear about it. At least this time it's not me.

The strep throat passed relatively quietly, and sister Kate arrived for a conference on day three of antibiotics, so we thought we were in the clear. She blew off the last day of her meetings so we could just hang out while I minded Nonos and the Chapel Hill baby. I let both Kate and Nonos sleep in that day so I could run down south, pick up the baby, and pop back home in time for pancakes and Little Einsteins.


First, I spent the morning trying to bus the other kids around, which meant I did not get home quickly, but rather after several hours of delivering this one here and that one there. And amidst all this carpoolery, just after I ran a red light and just before I cursed out a minivan mother (seriously, Chapel Hill, what IS it with you mothers and your vans? Sometimes it makes me feel inadequate, and then I have to slap myself around for an hour or two) Kate called my cell phone with news that the explosive vomit fountains had been turned back on, and once again, every cushion on the couch had been baptized.

A long day of sanitizing and burning through several rolls of paper towels (the heck with you, environment, I am SO NOT doing THAT laundry) and hours of lit Christmas Tree in a Can passed. Kate went back home the next day, fortunately not sick and relatively well-rested, despite Norah's best efforts to scare her into sleeplessness with the gut-wrenching force of her heaving. Things seemed to be on the mend for the next few days, the throwing up had stopped, we were maybe gonna be all right.


Then we went Christmas shopping, and Norah gave us one more spectacular display of -- guess what? -- the fountains. In Restoration Hardware. And now I can never go back and buy these, because we are most certainly on a poster behind the counter that's been faxed to every RH in the country, a poster that clearly says above our blurry faxed faces, "OH HELL NO."

Strep is just stress spelled funny

Turns out the Chapel Hill kids have strep throat, and now Norah's got it, from the raging fever to the tonsils the size of my last sausage biscuit (come on, you think I quit 'em cold turkey?) She was all hot last night, so we dosed her with Motrin and sent her to bed... which was fine, until about 6:00 this morning, when I heard this pitiful little "Mama, open the doooooooor" over the monitor. Ordinarily she wakes up singing "Good Morning Baltimore" (and you have no idea how hard I've worked to get THAT one in her head, just because it's hilarious to hear her tiny little voice sing about the bum on the barroom stooool) or something similarly chirpy, so this was clearly a bad sign.

We got up, we came downstairs, she was fine, if a little peaked. And hot, the hot was back, so I gave her some more Motrin and vowed to call the pediatrician when, you know, the sun rose and the earth started to turn again. We had a little OJ, we watched Jojo's Circus, we buried ourselves under the big pink blanket on the couch and prepared for a sick day, and then we got the juice back. OH GOD, did we get the juice back, in fountains and streams and fire hose-like JETS. Nonos managed to hit every cushion on the couch, every single one, and it is a testament to how far I have come as a mother that I remembered to grab a dishtowel and hold it under her face before I high-fived her for her incredible aim.

So it's not been the most funnest day around here, although she perked up some when I gave her a popsicle at 10:00 in the morning (what? her little throat was all fiery, and it was one of those wannabe-healthy fruit ones, so at least I tried.) Now she's back in bed, having been dosed yet again, and an appointment has been made at the pediatrician's tomorrow morning. And I'm here trying to convince myself that my throat is so not itchy, and I'm definitely not feeling warm around the face...

9w3d: Publication!

I got this email a while ago, and meant to post it, but you know, I'm only using the parts of my brain that tell me to eat everything in the house. So I forgot.

:: Schmap Philadelphia Fourth Edition: Photo Inclusion

Hi Annie,

I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo has been selected for inclusion in the newly releasedfourth edition of our Schmap Philadelphia Guide:

Please Touch Museum

Thanks so much for letting us include your photo - please enjoy the guide!

Best regards,
Emma Williams
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides

This is pretty cool - for one thing, I DIDN'T submit that photo, they just emailed and said they wanted it. I'm not really sure why they picked the one they did - it's Nonos on a tractor, in case you didn't click through - because it's not really one of my best in terms of photo quality. But who am I kidding, I'm totally flattered, even if it is some random Flickr-stalking website thingie.

So Thanksgiving is over, and we're literally picking up the pieces and watching the dust settle - my dad brought 87,000 tools with him, and we sawed a giant hole in the wall and put in a window in our dark, cavelike little living room.

This is Rob preparing to make the hole. There was much measuring and counting, which made Norah, my mom, and me very bored, so we went to Michael's and bought pinecones and glitter, two staples of holiday bacchanalia.

And here is the hole, with Rob in it:

This is my dad, outside on the scaffolding we had to rent. Hearts and flowers to Home Depot for renting it to us on the cheap.

And here, in all its beauty and glory (I'm telling you, put on sunglasses or the sheer force of my beaming, grinning teeth behind the camera will blind you for life) is the way it looks right now:

Please to ignore the pile of laundry in the chairs in the foreground - it's catch-up day, and I like to fold in here so Norah can narrate what I'm doing. "This is your sock? No, this is Daddy's sock. I will wear this shirt. This shirt is BLEEEEEEW! I do not like blue shirts, but I do like them. I think I will wear this pants today, ACKSHULLY."

It's gonna be a big day.

The best news is that I am no longer addicted to sausage, and have moved on to eating anything I can get my hands on. The barfery (Patty!) has slowed considerably, and now i'm just hungry all the time. Fortunately, things like celery seem to work as well as anything else, so I'm not wolfing down mayonnaise-covered quarter pounders at every opportunity... but hey, the way this crazy pregnancy is going, give me time. I love it.

Knocked-uppedness is kind of gross, really.

I added one of those baby tickers to the sidebar over there, because I am nothing if not a sucker for a blog widget, and DAMN, that thing MUST be wrong. Seven weeks and five days (as of right now)? That's IT? No way, I say.

I guess the first rule of pregnant club is that you don't talk about pregnant club, especially when it goes surprisingly well. With Norah, it was like playing at being knocked up - I was never sick, the weight gain was mostly in my belly where it belonged (okay, yeah, and my puffy little cheeks, but that was kind of cute, right?) and labor was a fairly brief, only slightly painful experience. I tried not to gloat, because everyone hates a gloater, and I declared myself "just lucky" if anyone asked.

Well, thou shalt not declare thyself lucky, because thou shalt be proven a big fat bloated LIAR the second time around. I am lumpy. I am exhausted. And I have been tossing my cookies like it was my job. I can NOT. STOP. PUKING. Mornings, afternoons, midnight for the last three nights in a row - all are appropriate times to worship at the shrine of unpleasantness. I've tried avoiding certain foods, but this gets more complicated when you eventually have to avoid all foods. Apparently, even plain toast is enough to start the hamster wheel of vomit in my belly a'turnin'.

There is only one thing I can continue to eat, and it's the weirdest, nastiest food I can think of: sausage patties. Specifically, the Jimmy Dean ones that come precut in a flat little tray. Good lord, do I love sausage patties. I was in Target with Nonos, staring at the hot dogs she likes and trying really hard not to think about the churned-up ingredients in each one (and Mills, I know dogs are your favoritest, but I just couldn't handle it) and there were the sausage patties. I tasted them on my tongue, I smelled their fried goodness on the air, and zip! they went home with us. And we have not been parted since.

Friend Mills says this is revolting, and she's absolutely right. Ordinarily I am not a huge sausage fan, and prefer bacon on my breakfast buffet plate. But damned if I can stop with the patty goodness. They stay down, they soothe my hungry belly monster, they amp up my blood sugar while simultaneously providing some form of protein (I guess...) and I have not yet thrown them up, which is a definite bonus. I can't eat tomato soup, french fries, or (and how this hurts me to say it) Chick-Fil-A, because I've tossed 'em all - but me and my patties are still BFF.

My mother suggested that I write to the company and tell them this story, and maybe it would score me some coupons. Clearly I have pregnancy brain, because I hadn't thought of this, and it is utter genius! I'll keep you posted.

There is another plus side to the puking, aside from hopefully landing the free sausage - that the constant barfery means the little bugger is hanging on in there. Everyone has their special sickness-related theory: it means it's a boy, it means it's twins, it means it'll be big, small, funny, happy, born with a caul, God only knows. The only theory I subscribe to is that the hormones are still UP UP UP, and the risk is going down down down. That, and sausage.

In other news, my parents are coming on Saturday and we're busting a wall out of the cave our living room and putting in a window. Happy Thanksgiving to ME!

To do, and to did

  • In the last five days, these things have happened to me:
    All the shelves in the monstrously long closet in our bedroom, which also houses my desk and photo equipment, collapsed in the middle of the night. This episode was made much worse by the fact that I was sleeping at the time, and woke up screaming, thinking the judgment was upon me, and here I completely forgot to get religion! All the stuff is fine, if a little dusty, but I may never be the same.
  • The pipes going from the house to the water heater and the supply line sprung various water-gun-style leaks, which meant we had to replace about three miles of worthless plumbing. Turns out it's all polybutylene, which is very bad, especially since we can no longer get help replacing it. There was a class-action lawsuit, and we missed it, dang it.
  • My camera quit in the middle of a wedding... just after my assistant went home. I had no backup. NO BACKUP. Kittens were had.

However, in the last four days, these things have happened to me:

  • The closet has been completely redone, from drywall to shelving units, and it's actually much more efficient this way. Hoo-rah, Closetmaid and your handy kits.
  • Rob replaced the pipes with much swearing and bumping of head in the crawl space - and now we don't have to worry about those anymore. Cross whatever fingers and say whatever prayers you can that the rest of the pipes don't turn sprinkler and destroy the inside of the house.
  • I got a new camera and had the other one fixed, with much swearing and beating of head against wall. So now I don't have to worry about that anymore.
  • A friend of a friend, who showed up to finish Saturday's wedding, turned out to be an awesome guy who wants to break into the weddings market, so we've agreed to back each other up for a year or two, which is perfectly perfect.
  • The bride and groom weren't mad, and in fact insisted on paying me anyway, even though I missed the cake-ing and other shenanigans at the reception.

And Lisa tagged me for a meme, which I didn't even know about until just now, because I'm blogging when I should be playing with my kid and providing stimulating and educational entertainment. I'm just TIRED, is all, and she's happy with her blocks and cars, so we're taking a break.

And so! Meme goodness!

Jobs I've had
1. Antique appraiser/store clerk
2. Librarian
3. Preschool teacher
4. Planner of massive, expensive parties

Places I've lived
1. Madison, IN
2. Baltimore, MD
3. Catonsville, MD (which is a totally different universe, ask MB)
4. Durham, NC

Foods I love
1. Indian food (oh gosh yes, Lisa)
2. Mashed potatoes and corn and gravy, mixed up (I am so gross sometimes)
3. Red velvet cake
4. Diet Coke, of which I get far too little right now

Websites I visit
1. Triangle Mommies
2. Perez Hilton
3. Craigslist
4. My photo one, to obsessively make sure the slideshow is working, because I'm a nerd

Places I'd rather be
1. Sleeping (duh)
2. Jasmine's house
3. In a pool
4. At the mall with Norah, because the fountains make her giddy and it's fun

Movies that I love
1. Gone With the Wind
2. Chocolat
3. Blades of Glory
4. Mary Poppins (wait, that's not mine, that's Norah's)

TV Shows I watch
1. Lost
2. Law & Order
3. CSI: Miami
4. The Backyardigans (wait, this is Norah's too! What the heck?)

People I tag:
(Anyone else will totally slap me around for it)

Oh, and one more thing I did recently: got Norah's birthday present. Turns out she's getting a sibling, and it's even the one with stylable hair and real crying action. Who's a good mom, huh? :)

Death wins again

So I had this whole long post all thought out, about how we'd been to the state fair and it was so great, and we went to the pumpkin patch today and that too was so great, and I even had pictures:

And then Death came and moved in under my porch, and all the happy thoughts went whoop! right out my head.

Last night while I was standing at the kitchen sink, I noticed a very bad smell coming in the kitchen window. I forgot about it almost right away, though, because at the same moment I noticed 85 enormous barn owls swooping around and making their little hooty-hoo sounds in the woods across from the house. That was infinitely better than the bad smell, so we stood there, apparently not breathing because neither of us mentioned the stench for a few minutes, listening to owls and not smelling anything. Then like a ton of bricks, it hit us both.

"God," sez I, "what IS that? That is... that is..."

"I don't smell anything except dish soap."

"Put your head right by the window. I swear, that smell is death. There is death in our yard."

"That is not death. Death is much worrrrr----gagggg."

(Brief pause for Rob to finish making horrible hurking sound.)

"Okay, yeah, that's death."

So I grabbed a flashlight, because if I have learned anything from horror movies, it is to investigate the source of Death Smell at all costs, even in the middle of the creepy, sort of cold night when every owl in the dirty South is hooting outside the door. Because that is SO NOT SCARY.

"Where are you going?"

"Robert, that is death. Death is outside. I have to find it."

"You do not have to find it. Get in here and we'll find it in the daylight like normal people."

"Robert, normal people do not have death in their yards."

(It's funny how, when I'm trying to make a serious point, I call him Robert. It's just that the usual "babe" or "dammit, you" doesn't have the same oomph.)

I took the flashlight, I poked it all around, and I saw nothing, so we wrote it off to the breeze coming from the woods. Maybe something died over there, and that's what's making the owls nuts, and there you go, rationality in spades.

So Norah and I are getting home from the pumpkin farm today, and we are both exhausted and clutching our happy little fat pumpkins in our dirty little fists, and I realized that she fell asleep. I wandered around to her side, pried her out of her car seat, shut the door, and almost dropped her, because there it was: DEATH UNDER THE PORCH. Death, in this instance, took the form of a possum (or an opossum, if we're going to be formal, but who gives a damn? It was DEAD) that had apparently dropped dead while foraging under our porch. Keep in mind that our porch is about 3'x6', so going under it is about the same as going under a limbo bar - it's not really an optimal place for hide and seek.

I got Norah in bed and started making various phone calls trying to figure out what the do with the damned thing, because let's be honest: you don't have a clue what to do with a dead (o)possum either. The thing was huge, HUGE like a DOG huge, and the smell by now was unbelieveable.* What does one do with a dead animal that big and that smelly? And why did the dispatcher at 911 hang up on me?

*I watch a lot of crime shows, and let me just say that I have NO IDEA what would make someone want to become an M.E. and deal with Death Smell every day. That smell will haunt my dreams and forever make my food taste funny. It has burned itself into my nasal sensors.

I finally got someone at Animal Control, who was very nice and understanding about my dead-possum-disposal ignorance. "Look," said he, "All you have to do is call this number, and ask for the Office of the Disposal of the Dead." I wasn't sure if he was serious about that. The Office of the Disposal of the Dead? There is an actual OFFICE for this sort of thing? You don't just call some guy with a truck and a snow shovel?

The OFTDOTD will not, however, be receiving a Christmas card from me this year, because they were not only unwilling to dispose of my (o)possum problem, but they told me how I would have to deal with it. I would have to BAG THE CORPSE AND PUT IT BY THE CURB. Yes, BAG THE CORPSE. A CORPSE WAS UNDER MY PORCH. I am so absolutely indignant about this that everything I even THINK is in capital letters. I had to get a shovel (which I covered in a trash bag, because I couldn't handle the thought of (o)possum death on my garden tools, and it was either that or burn it on the driveway) and scoop the CORPSE into a trash bag, twist it up, and leave it by the curb for the stupid OFTDOTD truck, which still isn't here.

I talked to the possum while I bagged it, and I was not entirely pleasant. I'm fairly sure I addressed it as "motherfucker" at least once, and I'm not at all sure that I was sorry about that. Speak ill of the dead, indeed.

And now I'm going to take a nap.

Putting the "me" in "team"

So you survived the Jackass wedding recap, huh? Good for you! How are those ulcers on your retinas?

Seriously, y'all, that was madness. You know that odd, full-body pain you get when you drink heavily (a.k.a. heavier than usual, even if usual is "all the alcohol in a quick sniff of Windex while you're cleaning the crayon off the bathroom mirror." And on a side/related note, HOW do kids DO that? She's too short to reach the towel bar, let alone the mirror!)? You're tired, and your innards are all beknotted from the booze and the resulting intestinal distress (don't pretend to be all ladylike, you know you've had it), and your back hurts a little from passing out flat like a starfish and staying there like a lump all night, and you just hurt. Yeah, I JUST got over that.

It helps, of course, that I've been engaging in some physical activity lately. Some of you know that I got a trainer last month (most of you don't, because I think I forgot to mention it, because hey! I had all that work and didn't update like, ever!), and he's been enormously helpful in explaining what all those scary machines at the gym actually do. That thing with the big long bar with handles is not, as it turns out, a support device for after you fall backwards off the treadmill. He has also frightened me into attending every session, because he's unendingly smiley and chipper, and I'm afraid that if I skipped a day he'd come to my house and chipper me to death. "Annie! What are you doing, sprawled on the couch like that? Get up and go, girl! Let's go! One more load of laundry, you lazy heifer! And one more! AND AGAIN UNTIL YOU DIE!" All while smiling, natch. He's just that kind of guy.

The biggest big thing, though, is my bulldog of a sister and her big idea: we are going to run in the Kentucky Derby mini-marathon.

Kate gets these ideas every so often; recently, her big ideas have included going on safari in South Africa for Christmas, and offering herself up for clinical drug trials. Sometimes the big ideas are kind of awesome - I mean, come on, maybe it's not numero uno on your list of places to see before you die, but how badass would it be to sing "Silent Night" with a pride of lions sitting on your car? And sometimes, the big ideas make you slap your head and say, "Um. Well. Can we discuss this first?" Kate, however, has no time for discussion, as she is busy taking her fourth dose of Adderall in four hours, and is on her way for an MRI, and after that she's going to rewrite a textbook, train a herd of airedales, and reorganize every apartment in her building, including those that belong to complete strangers because GOD ANNIE IT'S INCREDIBLE, WHY DIDN'T I CLAIM TO HAVE ADHD BEFORE NOW?

I think her madness stems from a childhood in which she was the smallest, the one most likely to be stuffed through the milk door, the one we sent down the laundry chute, the one who took the fall when we spilled orange juice on the pool table. We - usually Mills and me, but occasionally me on my own, in fits and spurts of true evil oldersisteritis - came up with the plan, and Kate either fell into place or found herself abandoned with Mills' baby brother Zach, who would then inevitably strip naked and ask Kate if she wanted to see his penis. (He was three or four at the time, so it's not like it was a pervy thing.) Kate, being somewhat older but not quite old enough to imagine how incredibly funny this would be in 20 years, was not amused at the time, and so usually stepped back into line and found herself dangling from a grapevine over a 30-foot chasm. We lived in the woods next to a semi-canyon - Kate spent a lot of time dangling from something rather thin and flimsy over something much larger and more potentially painful, just to see what would happen.

And now it all comes full circle, and Little Miss Madness has presented Mills and me with our PLAN. The PLAN always appears in my head in capital letters because it is big and intimidating; it is very long, and she wrote it in Excel, about which I understand only enough to make pretty borders and shade things yellow. And add with that Formula thing. However, there is no adding on the PLAN, there is only running, and then some more running, and after that (in a yellow-shaded box) there is some running. We have formed a team - the Stick Horse Derby, so named after an annual event on our street that took place during Mills' parents' Kentucky Derby party. The adults had drinks in shiny silver cups, and the kids made stick horses out of socks, yarn, and hot-glued flowers and then raced them around the cul-de-sac. I mean, this was an event. We must have done this until I was at least 12, which either shows you how serious the Derby is in that part of the world, or how incredibly goofy we were.

So the SHD is up and moving, and we're on day five of the PLAN. So far, I haven't skipped, and I haven't quit running halfway through a day's workout. Granted, it's fairly light during the first two weeks, but I feel pretty good about it, even though I'm discovering a whole new kind of body ache that's entirely unrelated to drinking. And Kate is doing her little dance on my grave right now, because for once she gets to have the big idea between the three of us, and we're following her head-first, right on down the laundry chute.

Jackass wedding recap, installment the third (and final, and longest)

Missed the first two days? Go here first, and then here. And if your eyes aren't bleeding, continue below.

Comment back to Diana: yes, I too thought that Boxville and his wife had split. But the story we got from various party-related sources is that she was in fact the cute little person present, and they were on the up and up. So perhaps love really is possible in Hollywood, or perhaps everyone is more loving when they're hammered. Either.

So! We're up to Saturday, after a day and a half of people maneuvering, not hooking up with the famous, and imbibement (imbibary? imbibeation?) of much alcoholic beverage. (Brief aside about the alcoholic beverage: at no time was Norah alone with drunk people, and honestly, 85% of her awake time was with me. When I talk about how heavily we were drinking, I'm speaking relative to the last, I dunno, five years of my life, in which I have been sodding drunk exactly once. So don't worry: "drunk" means "somewhat more than stone sober.")

7:30 AM - Norah is awake. ARE. YOU. KIDDING ME.

8:30 AM - Kate, Ben, Mills, Rob, Norah, and I have breakfast at The Breakfast Club, which is renowned about Tybee for (you will so never guess this) their breakfasts. And oh yes, was it lovely. After gorging on empty sugar and carb calories, we return to the beach house, where serious dayplanning is in full effect.

9:45 AM - Ben gets big-ass kite (BAK, if you will) out and we go en masse to the beach, where we will attempt to fly it. Wind warnings are posted; hurricane is spotted somewhere offshore. Or it could have been a cargo ship. Or trick of eyes - eyes are not quit focusing at this time.

9:47 AM - Thanks to aforementioned ludicrous winds, Ben does this:

10:00 AM - Mills does this:

10:16 AM - Aunt Denyse does this:

And this:

And, regretfully, does not get up from sitting position, and in fact then does this:

This is not good; Denyse is removed to house by my mother, who is no longer interested in attempting kite flight for herself.

[Time out for a brief update on Denyse - she has just scheduled an MRI and has a hairline fracture in her shoulder from the kite accident. Ben is now wallowing in his own guilt, and may be spending his own time up on the ledge, from which he will certainly have to be talked down with promises of beer and sleeveless t-shirts. Back to narrative.]

12:something, or possibly later, I don't know anymore - We return to house and spend next several hours in the pool. Many ridiculous photos follow, all of which are on Flickr. I'm not putting any more on here, it's too damned long already.

5:00 PM - Everybody in the car; it's Hollywood Wedding Time! Mills and Nonos are left behind with a family-sized box of velveeta mac 'n cheese, digital cable TV, and the sweet promise of No Mommy Means No Firm Bedtime Time.

5:30 PM - Arrival at Savannah's Telfair Museum, which is lovely, and attempt to park car on the street after three years of being out of Baltimore and so out of practice on street parking.

5:35 PM - Get car parked in incredibly convenient spot right next to museum. Watch parents and Canadian cousins go zipping by in their car, and disappear over the horizon.

5:36 PM - Hope they make it. Decide not to care, because the wedding is clearly taking place outside on the most Savannahian square imaginable. It's Southern Living, it's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, it's utterly divine.

5:45 PM - Seriously, has anyone seen my parents? We are escorted to our seats by a variety of ushers - mine was a high school friend of my cousin the groom, and Kate draws Kris Fontius, who looks DAMN NEAR PERFECT in a tux. Notice that all groomsmen and the officiant are wearing hot pink Chuck Taylor sneakers. Mentally applaud.

5:50 PM - Parents arrive. Not entirely sure where they parked, but not entirely concerned with this, as it is now celebrity spotting time. And the game is hot, too: behind us and two seats over is Tee Man, near the back is Foomis Fall, Trick Kosick is toting around a camera with a fuzzy mic attached, and Stanny Fuig is enthralling my dad with his camo wedding wear. Also in the crowd were Mom and Pop Bargera, who unfortunately do not have a Myspace page, so you get no linkies on them. Noticeably absent: Sleeve-O, who was apparently in Boston promoting his new show on USA. None of the other J*ck*ss team will discuss this; we begin wondering if there is some secret scandal, and if we uncover it, will TMZ give us credit for the exclusive story?

6:00 PM - Incredibly beautiful Southern wedding commences, which surprises all of us, given that neither bride nor groom are terribly southern. Oh well. They fake it better than Meg Ryan fakes the you-know-what in that diner. I almost cry, until Senor Boxville cruises up the aisle in sunglasses and a five o'clock shadow, and proceeds to mutter asides through the entire wedding (which takes about 10 minutes) with a stage villain leer on his face. Had it been anyone else, this would have been incredibly irritating; it's true, celebrities are SO MUCH COOLER than us. There isn't a dentist, or an accountant or something else normal, alive who could have pulled this off.

6:30 PM - Mingling and drinking commence. Liquor is not only top-shelf, it is Shelf That is Hidden From the Common People shelf. Los Angeles people prove themselves to be so incredibly nice, and not just because I am holding an incredible martini. The mingling is interrupted by photographers, who want to do the formal portraits; at this time, I sidetrack an intern and wheedle the info out of her about the passworded website where the photos will be later. [Note to self: check this again in 10 minutes, as I have been doing for the last two weeks.]

7:30ish PM - We move inside for dinner and general merriment. I feel like I've stepped into Gotham City, and this is an elaborately-staged gala where absolutely no detail has been ignored. If I ever go to anything as amazing again, I will almost certainly be there as a waiter, or perhaps a bathroom attendant. The cake is massive, and amazing. The food is served on plates as thin and delicate as bees' wings. The bar is on wheels!

7:45 PM - Rob becomes the star of the wedding when a bartender passes out and hits her head on the marble floor. After mad dash upstairs to locate him (and in process, complete loss of all cool points) he arrives downstairs in time to pick her up, walk her around, and send her off with a friend, as he and another med resident/attendee stand there and sigh collective sighs of relief that they didn't actually have to do any doctoring. Word later comes back that she has been taken to a hospital, where she is declared fine. However, she does not return; I am dismayed, as she has been making my drinks and she is REALLY good at it.

8:30 PM - Dancing begins in earnest; Ronnie B takes up with three-year-old Parker, another wee cousin. At one point, they are breakdancing, twirling on their backs. Everyone is collectively delighted.

9:30 PM - Home. Must go home. Feet hurt, and am exhausted from three days of not sleeping. People are beginning to leave, anyway, so I am not such a lame-o. We head for stairs to the door.

9:31 PM - Kate pauses to adjust shoes at bottom of steps, where she is suddenly used as a landing pad for a wavering, half-blind drunk guy who couldn't handle the complicated maneuvering required to put one foot in front of the other. Georgia State cops are immediately swarming our group, extricating Kate and "escorting" drunk guy to a bench in a nearby gallery. Kate goes to talk to drunk guy, having this exchange:

K: Everything okay over there?
DG: Um, yeah? I think?
K: Seriously, if you don't straighten up a little and quit fucking around, you know those cops are going to declare you a medical emergency and haul your ass out, you know that?
DG: What?
K: Yeah. They're afraid you're gonna puke on one of these paintings of gazelles or some shit.
DG: Um...
K: You gonna puke?
DG: Yeah. Yeah, probably.
K: (in a motherly tone) Okay then, you better go outside, all right? All right?

"All right," said Slam Bargera. And out he went.

10:00 PM - In car, on way home. Nothing interesting happens now.

10:30 PM - Home. Norah is sleeping, Mills and her brother are watching TV and celebrating the cheesecake that Zach brought with him (note to Zach: which eventually came home with me, and I ate it, and HOLY COW). Guess where we end up?

11:00 PM - In pool. Surprise!

12:00 AM - Still in pool, where it is freakin' cold. We move to hot tub, as three friends of Zach's arrive. All old people go to bed; all people roughly my age stay in hot tub; Norah is still sleeping, and will continue to do so until 7:00 AM, instead of 10 or 11 as I fervently pray to all gods Western and otherwise.

1:45 AM - Can't take anymore. I am a wrecked, ruined shell of my former self, largely because I've had about 13 hours of sleep in the last 72, and have had alcohol in every application appropriate for liquid substances except as a cereal topping. My feet are blistered and sore on the patio concrete, my head is fuzzy, and I punk out and go to bed.

We came home the next day, and I'm just now, a week later, feeling recovered. And I haven't had such a good time in YEARS. End of story! Off to rest my achin' fingers. If I get any of those photos, I'll post them, if you promise not to sell them to US Weekly. That is not Boxville's new girlfriend, THAT'S MY KID.

Jackass wedding recap, installment the second

(If you haven't already, catch up on the first part of this here.)

Right, so getting back to things. While Mills and I slept off the franticness of the Supermarket Search, Kate was having her own adventure in the Boston airport, which ran thusly:

11:00 PM, Thursday - Kate is informed that her plane will not be leaving for DC, which is going to make her miss her connecting flight from there to Savannah. However, this is not a problem, since the connecting flight has also been cancelled. After some shuffling, the ticket agent reroutes her to Charlotte, which will get her to Savannah at 10:30 AM Friday, instead of 10:30 PM Friday as previously scheduled.

11:35 PM - Kate does happy dance, because she knows she won't miss the rehearsal dinner, and so her chances of hooking up with hot celebrity types are much improved.

11:36 PM - Kate does somewhat less happy dance, realizing that she is going to be spending the next five hours in the airport, after already spending the previous seven hours at the airport.

11:37 PM - Kate stops dancing entirely and begins to pass out from exhaustion.

12:00 AM, Friday - Kate locates what she thinks is a quiet corner, in which she can sleep on her carryon bag like a vagrant. She begins to think that perhaps vagrancy isn't so bad, and is in fact rather comfortable.

12:15 AM - Kate is relocated by a foreign man with a heavy accent pushing a carpet cleaner; she is fairly sure she's being threatened with deportation, or at the very least, removal to a homeless shelter. Vagrancy returns to original suck status. Kate attempts to sleep under the armrests of those godawful uncomfortable bolted-together chairs. This does not work; Kate goes to buy some food and ends up eating several Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and does not have the energy to feel ashamed.

6:something AM - Plane leaves! PLANE LEAVES!

Sometime after that - Plane lands in Charlotte! IN CHARLOTTE!

8:45 AM - Back at the ranch, Rob calls and informs various family members that he will be leaving soon on his five-hour drive to Tybee, and should be there by 2:00 or so. I do a happy dance, because I missed him, and because now someone else can catch Norah when she vaults into the pool. Damn, my arms hurt.

10:30 AM - Kate lands in Savannah, is picked up by Ben, and is delivered to beach house, where she puts on a swimsuit and immediately passes out on lounge chair.

1:00 PM - Uncle, his wife, her daughter, and daughter's boyfriend arrive. Rob calls and informs various family members that he is not in fact within an hour of Tybee, and will in fact not arrive until later. What? Why? This is never clearly explained, and I do not do a happy dance at this time. My suspicion concerns the internet, and assing around thereupon.

3:00 PM - Mom and I go to area mall in search of shoes for Norah, a dress for me, and some "pants, not dressy pants, but you know, not sloppy ones either, and not khakis, but you know, just pants" for Mom. I give Mom the stink-eye when every pair of Just Pants does not meet with her approval, but quit stink-eyeing when she buys these shoes for Norah.

5:30 PM - Panic sets in when we realize that the rehearsal dinner starts in an hour and a half, and the beach house is way, way far from the mall. Several laws are broken during wild ride home, during which Norah calls out, "Mama? We going like big jet?"

6:15 PM - We are smashingly successful, and ready to go in 20 minutes. I look hot, in a motherly way; Rob has arrived and is dressed in his LA Casual Look, and Norah is cute like a bunny. Everyone else looks hot as well, and we pile into various cars and take off.

7:00 PM - Arrival at Fort Jackson, which has been rented out for the 200-person dinner. First sight is of Ronnie Boxville (there's that code! do you get it?) wearing a Confederate army cap and chasing a gang of small children with a cap rifle. The children, of course, love it; Nonos joins the posse and the battle of Gettysburg is in full effect within minutes.

7:15 PM - Realize that the weather is pretty gosh-darned warm. I now look hot in a sweaty-junior-high-kid-in-gym-class way. This is not ideal for celebrity hookups.

7:16 PM - Lose left leg to mosquitoes. Begin to question sanity of family responsible for planning event.

8:00 PM - BAD. ASS. Confederate Army reenactors, part of the Fort Jackson Experience, I guess, shoot off the big-ass cannon on the parapet. Sanity of event planners is somewhat restored, thanks to pyrotechnic display; sanity of cousin/groom is clearly not present, which is made clear when it's revealed that cousin/groom asked the staff how much it would cost to buy a cargo ship and shoot at it with a non-blank cannon round.

9:00 PM - Speeches and toasts begin with cousin/groom's parents, who are appropriately deprecating and praiseful of groom, and loving toward bride. I have brief conversation with Ronnie Boxville at the bar, which ends with him staggering unevenly toward his very cute wife with three beers in each hand. He is no longer on hot celebrity hookup list.

9:45 PM - Someone finally pries the microphone out of the blabbery bridesmaids' hands; audience is spared further TOTALLY FUNNY stories of sorority events we didn't attend and lost cell phones we will likely never call. I spot Kris Fontius (very easy code!) laughing with other guests; he is most hot, and would make an excellent celebrity hookup, except that he is rather short, and also will not even look at me. Another one bites the dust.

10:00 PM - My slightly hammered new aunt drags a befuddled-looking person over and introduces him to me. He turns out to be Spike Bonze (oh my goodness I handed you this one), who is utterly charming and quite possibly the only celebrity at this event with whom I would like to be siblings. Hooking up with brother type is unacceptable; ergo, Spike is removed from the list. Celebrity hookup is now starting to look unlikely, but I am bolstered by three Coronas and do not lose hope.

10:15 PM - People start loading up. Shit! What about my hookup? I am now losing hope!

10:17 PM - Hookup is not happening, as celebrities are packed onto a trolley/bus thing and headed back to their hotel, at which I am not staying. Bah.

10:45 PM - Back at beach house, Norah is snoring like an angel in her wee daybed, and I am somewhat disgruntled at lack of sex with famous person, but not entirely surprised. And also not at all displeased with evening, as my baby was completely precious, and drunken night swimming has commenced. This continues until 2:00 AM, at which point we drag ourselves inside and realize that none of us can feel our toes. This is a clear sign that we need to go to bed... so we do.

Next: kiteboarding on the sand and the demise of Aunt Denyse, and the unexpected drunk who fell on my sister at the reception!

Jackass wedding recap, installment the first

Status: Still unable to focus eyes for more than two days, mainly from sheer exhaustion, but also from my mom's wicked "wake-up cocktails." Hair of the dog that bit me, and whatnot.

Guys! For serious! This was the best wedding in the history of weddings, and I'm not just sayin' that because it was That Cousin and his Coworkers* The rehearsal dinner was incredibly fun, the ceremony was beautiful and even made the hardened, jaded Hollywooders tear up a little, and the reception was exactly what my reception would have been, had I been the proud owner of a few hundred thousand dollars with no other reserved purpose, like paying off our debt or posting bail for my sister. (Who's amazed that hasn't happened yet, by the way? READ THIS ENTRY AND YOU WILL BE.)

* About the coworkers. Because I don't want to be a Google magnet for people looking for info about these folks, I'm going to assign them certain codenames. If you need help figuring out what the codenames stand for, you just let me know... although to keep it all straight for myself, it's going to be pretty idiotproof. You'll get it.

This is a long, long, long story, so if you'd rather hold out for one of my semi-regular posts about how much I love Nonos/Rob/photography/life in general, you have my express written permission. I just want this all down, so I can look back and laugh, and wonder how any of us survived without extensive liver damage or jail time.

So! Let it begin!

Wednesday: Pre-Pre-Wedding-Eve

4:00 PM - Parents arrive, having driven 610 miles from their house in Indiana. Their dog Grace also arrives, giving Norah reason to SQUEEEEEE! almost continuously until bedtime.

6:00 PM - I leave for a wedding consultation at Starbucks, during which I break out in tiny hives, wanting so badly to tell these complete strangers where I am going, and yet feeling like maybe that wouldn't be cool. And god knows, I am going to be cool this weekend. Cool like ice. Cooooool.

6:03 PM - Childhood best friend Mills arrives at airport, and is delivered unto my house by my parents. Mills agreed to come along to babysit for Norah during the wedding (no kids, don't you know) and to completely relive our childhoods together, one hour at a time.

6:45 PM - I nail photography consult, but leave emptyhanded since the mothers need to discuss exactly how many hours they'll need from me. I weep at lack of check in hand and drive the four minutes home.

7:01 PM - Rob vomits from overdose of "you remember that time when we were seven, and your mom caught us making blueberry muffins in the microwave, and we melted the carpet with the tupperware because we dropped it trying to get it out? GOD THAT WAS FUNNY!"

10:00 PM - All in bed. For real. Sleeping. This moment marks the last reasonable bedtime for the next four days.

Thursday: Tybee Invasion, two days until wedding

8:00 AM - Out the door and on the road to this beach house:

My mom rented the place for a whole gang of family members, and really, it divided out to be less than the cost of three nights in a hotel per couple, so it was a great idea. Still, we pulled up and I thought it was a joke. That is not a beach house we can afford. That is something off of Cribs: Vacation Edition. Hoorah for the off-season.

2:00 PM - Beach house arrival. Nonos immediately scopes out this:

And her Mama immediately scopes out this:

2:03 PM - The first of several OH. MY. GOD.'s is uttered simultaneously by all present.

2:04-5:59 PM - In pool. With beer. Gramma takes first Norah shift, which delights Norah far more than if it had been Mama, as Gramma has cookies and sparkly stickers, which Norah is permitted to apply to all furniture, people, and pets present.


And Gracie:

6:00 PM - Dinner at The Crab Shack (no celebrities, relatively unimportant event, except that it was really good food and we had an amazing time, and 16,000 cats meowed at us from under the table to get us to drop some crab to them. Norah of course thought this was hilarious, and gave about $35 worth of Dungeness to a particularly loving and attentive tabby.)

7:00 PM - First update from my sister, whose plan was supposed to arrive at 11:30 PM. Layover in DC has been cancelled, as bad weather in DC has closed Dulles. Kate is hysterical and has to be talked off of ledge at Logan. Flight rescheduled for 11:45 PM arrival; Kate no longer suicidal; everyone full of crab and moderately drunk.

9:30 PM - Homeward bound. Mills and I sober up and go to Savannah to see her brother Zach's apartment near SCAD, where he is a student. This is the same kid who, at three, stood up in the country club dining room and yelled, "Anybody wanna see my penis? ANYONE?" That was my last memory of Zach before their family moved to Kentucky; to imagine him as a serious art student is hilarious and yet somehow fitting.

10:00 PM - Phone call from my mother. Kate is not coming until Friday night at 10:30 PM - dead smack in the middle of the rehearsal dinner, which we are all supposed to attend, and which will be my first chance to hook up with a hot celebrity. (Rob agreed to this plan, seeing as how it was both unlikely/ridiculous, and if it did happen, would certainly be worth money to the right tabloid.) Leaving rehearsal dinner to rescue Kate will throw serious dent in plan... Kate returns to the US Airways desk to explain to the clerk that it's now her sister that needs to be talked off the ledge.

10:15 PM - Reminder call from my mother that we would still be picking up Ben, who came on a different flight. This is sweet irony, since Ben was flying standby (he's a pilot, so that's standard for him when he's not working) and had tried to get Kate to do it with him, but she had demanded a ticket because she "could not miss a minute of this, and standby is so unpredictable sometimes."

11:31 PM - Ben arrives, not just on time, but 15 minutes early. Kate's flight is rescheduled for 10:30 AM Friday morning. No one is currently on ledge.

12:30 AM, Friday - Back at beach house, Mills and I remember we are supposed to be providing breakfast for the eight residents of the house. Frantic Yellow Pages search for 24-hour grocery commences.

1:15 AM - 24-Hour Kroger located... in Savannah. Mills and I drive 12 miles to get there, stock up, and get back into car, only to discover that the gas light is on, and had been on for quite a while. Apparently, singing old school Kylie Minogue and rehashing elementary school boyfriends are enough to distract one from one's dashboard lights.

1:16 AM - Where is the gas station?

1:17 AM - Seriously.

1:17:55 AM - What's that noise?

1:18 AM - Car chokes and coasts into gas station bay, where we put 16.98 gallons of gas into my 17-gallon tank. Oops.

1:45 AM - Return to beach house, chuck food in fridge and coffee onto counter, and collapse.

Tomorrow: the true story of what happened to Kate at Logan, and how Rob managed to make a five hour drive in eight and a half hours. And the rehearsal!

Savannah daydreamin'

Oh so exhausted. So, so, so exhausted. The wedding was incredible, as was meeting/mingling/holding up the very drunk celebrities who attended. Big long update later... for now, the photos from the beach house are posted, and the official wedding ones should be soon (we weren't allowed to take cameras, so I have to get them from one of the photographer's interns, who said she'd slip me her good ones).

Chris Pontius is hot, and Spike Jonze is one of the nicest people in the world. That is all.


Wow, busy week! I only had to nanny two days, but it seemed like every day was crammed with something or other or nothing that took up all the daylight hours. And at night, oh yes, photobooks! Who's jealous?!

Here's Nonos at Fearrington Village, which we visited on Friday to check out for photo shootability... It's not bad, but it's not great - the drought hasn't been good to the grass, and the formerly green, rolling fields are now brown, crispy fields. At least the cows were out, which we loved. We even stopped for a pack of Oreos on the way home in their honor.

Right, back to work. I'm slacking, can you tell?



Supreme injustice

I just missed Britney at the VMAs. Secretly I've been counting the minutes until this girl did her thang - I mean, while I'd love to see her succeed and have a rainbows and flowers comeback, and magically become a good mother because her VMA success made her feel that much better about absolutely EVERYTHING, part of me wanted to see if she was going to screw it up, or maybe just half-ass the whole thing. Why would she care if America loved her? We've already seen her dirty bits (literally and figuratively), and most of us were unimpressed. You can't even get the pervs to like your dirty bits, you might as well give it up.

Sarah Silverman, who I just don't get, is doing a rather nasty little schtick about Britney right now... I believe she just referred to her children as "cute as the hairless vagina they came out of." I know, I know, let's be all Shock America! But I just don't think that's funny.

ETA: The first 35 seconds are on YouTube, and you know, I think she really might have half-assed it. It could just be the low-res video, but it also could be the low self esteem. Oh, good luck, girl.

OMG 4 rl?

I did my first teenage model headshots today (there ya go, Googlers looking for some barely-legal) and oh my, it was fun. I met 14-year-old Kevin and his mom at the Factory Skate Park in Wake Forest, and weaseled our way inside to shoot on the ramps. Feeling rather badass and punky in my shirt from the juniors section (all right, all right, the chubby juniors section), I got the kid to experiment, play, and basically act like a kid while maintaining control of his voice/body/temper - something that's tough with babies and toddlers, duh.

I LOVED this, y'all. More from today:

Does anyone know how I can get cozy with a modeling agency, so they'll pimp their kids out to me and I can keep doing this for bigger dollars, and I can quit nannying and make a fortune a la my absolute superheroine, Annie Leibowitz, except without shacking up with Susan Sontag and you know, going that whole maybe-lesbian route?


I have an ear infection. A big one. It feels like my eardrum is about to pop with the sheer ridiculousness of it - I mean, come on... what adult gets ear infections? What am I, six?

I'm starting my first Rob-prescribed round of drugs today*, and right now all I want to do is stick a knitting needle up in there, just to let the pressure out. No wonder little kids are horrible when this happens.

*Rob used to refuse to prescribe anything for anyone related to him who also has his last name, because the medical board of NC is obviously on the hunt for doctors who write legitimate prescriptions for dangerous, addictive things like antibiotics. This concept came back and bit him in the ass when he got a monster cold sore and needed Valtrex, most commonly used to treat the herp Down Below, but also a smashing cold sore remedy. He ended up writing the prescription for my mother, who just laughed with the pharmacist and said, "Wait till my husband finds out." And then she came home and threw it at him.

Ugh. Time to sit around and whine for a while.

How embarrassing

... that's how I used to work it, too.

So no more weddings until October... yaay for breaks, boo for less money. (At least I have those sweet books to keep me busy, huh? Huh? God, I'm sick of looking at those things.) I get to attend one and not be part of the hired help - my Jackass cousin is gettin' hitched in Georgia at the end of the month, and I'm all starry-eyed excited about that one. Imagine the after-party.

But for now, I'm finishing up my post-processing and going to bed. We had to basically hogtie Norah to get her to eat a single bite of dinner, which did not end well, so I'm exhausted. Anyone who can make vegetables taste like ice cream is asked to call me QUICK BEFORE SOMEONE DIES.


After weeks of not posting, I'm in serious red-alert blog-world mode. Either I'm thinking, "Oh foo, that would be totally hilarious to write about, and Jee-ZUSS, you know people want to hear about that thing again!" Or I'm obsessively clickin' through my blogroll and looking to see who's updated. Why don't you guys update three or four times a day, like Perez Hilton? How hard is it? I mean, COME ON, slackers, I needs me some news.

I think the big problem is that I've been at this computer more or less all day, working on designing wedding albums for my many bridies. (I want to hate this, because they totally aren't paying me enough... but they're all so cute and dewy-eyed and excited, and you can't hate that. It would be like hating a puppy.) Here I go, inviting trouble, but what do you guys think of these? They're covers, so imagine that you've taken the books, opened them all the way up, and done what your librarians told you never to do: dared to lay them down, thereby cracking the spine and reserving your seat at Satan's left hand.

I'm not a very funky designer, but then again, I don't know all that much about design software. I can Photoshop a picture until it's damn near ready to hang in the Met, but creating something big and colorful and multi-part makes my palms itch. Ideas? Comments (and oh God, be gentle. I've been doing this all day, and anything too intense is likely to make me weep)?

Oh, also: that gray rectangle is where the Asukabook barcode goes. It's not up to me, unfortunately.

Oh, also also: the photos on the back of the blue cover are from their engagement session. And really, none of the photos are permanent - final cuts will be up to the bride and groom, so I'm just crossing my fingers and going with whatever.

Thirty days of eventfulness in 3000 words or less

I have to be honest: one of the main reasons I'm posting right now instead of snoring on the couch with my mouth open and half a can of Diet Coke dangling from my fingers is because I was sick of looking at myself walking through Springfield. Was it just my computer, or every time the page loads, was I briefly replaced by an all-white Homer Simpson? I am so not Homerish, thankewverymuch, ergo, new post! Booya!

So things have been nuts, as usual. The photos from all these weddings have been steadily getting better, or maybe it's me that steadily getting better - every single one has been, if nothing else, a learning experience. And I haven't had a really bad day yet - no bridezillas, no psychomoms, no major injuries.*

* Okay, that's a lie. I did a wedding here that involved me climbing a fire escape and shooting down from a penthouse roof. The shooting part went fine, and the pictures were fairly cool. Witness this, a lucky one of which I am undeservedly proud, since it was just a question of timing the downstairs lights:

My luck ran out on the way back down the fire escape, when my heel caught in the grate and I fell down the last few steps. Would have been fine, except that my precious little open-toed shoes (with reasonably low, sensible heels - I'm not stupid, just klutzy) sliced across the top of every single one of my toes. My feet looked like hamburger for two weeks.

But overall, seriously, every event has been great. I've got one more this weekend and then I'm off for a few weeks, so I'll have time to get those books done and breathe a little before the fall schedule starts. God, I love this job.

On the home front, last night Norah informed me that she would not be sleeping in her crib anymore. This isn't such a big deal logistically, as my childhood bed is already in her room and we had planned to move her into it eventually. However, every time we suggested even taking a short nap in the Big Girl Bed - even yesterday afternoon, for heaven's sake - the souls of dead weasels took over her body and we were beaten with our own limbs. So to hear her say, "Mama, I sleeping in that bed now please? Now I will do it?" and watch her climb up and flop down right in the middle, and then MIRACLE OF MIRACLES watch her teeny little eyes close like she was sedated... that was some kind of jawdropper. Today I took her to LnT and let her pick out her own sheets - after talking her out of the ones with the NC State Wolf on them ("he wearing a sweater! dog is wearing a sweater! that's so funny! I have it please PLEASE!") we ended up with pink polka dots. Oh well, she's happy, I'm happy.

I wanted to bitch a little bit today, because things haven't all been sunshine and daisies. A couple of weeks ago, I miscarried at about seven weeks pregnant. I didn't mention it, and I wasn't going to, because a) it sucked and I don't want to talk about it anymore, and b) I'm actually dealing with it fairly well, and c) I didn't want you, internet, to feel like you had to come up with something to say. It was a fairly horrific experience - aside from the physical issues, the complete loss of control was the worst, knowing that every second my body was expelling something or other that really ought to stay in, and there was nothing I could do to stop the process. The aftermath was more of an irritation than a grief process - haven't I been through enough, haven't I had enough to deal with, without adding in two weeks of this symptom or that one? It's over now, and I'm getting back to normal (okay, smarties, as normal as I ever was) so don't worry. I'm okay.

I'm finding it hard to bitch, though. After writing all that out up there - photos, jobs, Norah and her infinite ability to make me say "aww" - I felt like maybe it wasn't a bitching day after all. I'm better than I was two weeks ago, which is enough to brighten me up considerably. I'm lucky. And I'm happy.

Nonos is asleep right now, finally taking that nap completely of her own accord, so God knows I should be doing something... work, or laundry, or eating jellybeans, or something... hmm...

Like you haven't done it

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on

Thanks to Anne for the above photo, which is alternately flattering and horrifying - are those MY eyes floating above the ten-pound saddlebags? Good lord.

Like I've been updating all that much anyway, but I thought I'd, you know, give notice... This summer is an incredible roller coaster for me, and I'm just barely tall enough to ride - with eleven weddings (nine of which include those extra-schmancy books I was oh so excited about, and now fear on par with small spaces and Nicole Ritchie) coming up, I just don't get the blogging done I wish I did. I'll be here sporadically, and I'm still checking in on you guys, so don't think you can go talking bad about me - I am SO going to find out if you do, you bunch of hooligans.

Peace and love, as my mom says, and I'll be back in a little while.

It's two weeks later, do you know where I've been?

A thousand miles and back again, baby! Norah and I went to Indiana for a week+two with my parents, which was about the best idea ever... I got sleep, I got to say, "Hey, someone else! Play with this kid for a minute, huh?" And best of all, I got to hear Norah say to my father, "Gampa, you so cwazy Gampa, you got some fabulous." If you think that didn't make me snort out some Diet Coke, you would be sadly mistaken.

This is a picture of Nonos at Irwin Gardens, a privately owned establishment in Columbus, where my parents live now. You can't really tell, but she was so into this fountain that she's got her nose smashed against the wrought iron. She backed off and had a red indentation from top to tip, which yet again brought out the DC from my nasal cavities.

Also at the gardens, they had this elephant, which was apparently imported from some World's Fair or another - Nonos did not particularly appreciate it for its historic value, and got this close and NO closer, NO MAMA THAT EFFALENT IS RIGHT THERE NO I STAY UP HERE IT NOT UP HERE:

Later in the week, my high school buddy and his kidlet came up for a playdate, which was fun - he wasn't as into the playground as Norah, but he was awfully cute eating the grass. We might have let him do it, just to see if he'd quit after tasting it (he did, stop calling CPS).

We went to my grandparents' house in Kentucky, where as kids we used to play wedding and make my sister marry my cousin Ben. (There's some Kentucky stereotyping for you.) In an interesting twist, Kate is now dating a guy named Ben to whom we are not related, and Cousin Ben has moved to Florida, where he is now the deputy sheriff of Naples, and probably enforces laws against cousins marrying. In which case, Naples, have I got a story for you.

These are the fourth generation cousins, my other cousins' girls and mine. I don't think we'd know what to do with a boy child if we had one, which is probably why Ben got talked into wearing a dress a lot as a kid.

By the end of the night, I was pretty attached to the next-littlest cousin, Rachel (Norah is the freshest of the five). She did a lot of standing on my belly and jumping, which I would have had to kill her for if she had weighed more than eight pounds, and didn't look like this. How can you be mad at this?

More to come later...

Birthday party: aftermath

I tried.

We were in Harris Teeter (glee!) last week, and we took a stroll past the cakes section. "Look, buddyo," I sez to the kid, "look at the cakes. Do you want a princess cake for your birthday? Or this one with the cars?"

"Oh Mama nooo I want cake cake is right dere but that cake nooo."

"Okay, so what about this one with the palm trees and the fish and--"

"Oh Mama I need a cake and a BLUE CAKE yes yes BLUE CAKE and LELLOW TOOOO."

Well, all righty then, blue cake it was to be. I bought a white cake mix, some seriously large bottles of food coloring, and some vanilla frosting, even though we had chocolate left over from Rob's cupcakes (this would also give me a reason to eat the chocolate with a spoon, because who needs more than one container of icing in the fridge? I ask you.). I figured I could color the cake blue, the icing yellow, and POOF there would be Norah's dream birthday dessert, easy as could be and about three times cheaper than the one with the Barbie stuck in. Less booblicious, of course, but that is a sacrifice I was prepared to make.

Today dawned, and Norah opened her little presents (and, I'm pleased to announce, she prefers the wee metal pots I got for her play kitchen to anything else. BOO-YAH, Elmo and friends!) I woke up all smoochy and lovey and thinking about my Precious Baby Child Who Has Grown All Up, and Norah even humored that with a few extra cuddles. She's not a terribly cuddly child in the morning, so I know she was either being sweet or shooting for more presents. Either way.

I got out of jury duty today (did I mention I had jury duty? probably not, I was probably blog-slacking the day that came, but OH MAN was I pissed about it - thank goodness we were all excused) so we spent the morning at The Mall playing with Victoria from down the street. We came home, and I had every intention of getting going on the BLUE AND LELLOW CAKE MAMA, but that was before my neighbor dropped her kids off for some emergency babysitting. Even on my days off, kids haunt me. I may never escape!

So blah blah blah, the cake didn't get done until very late, while I was also making dinner and helping Rob shave the dog (no, that's not euphemism, we really were shaving the dog - it's really hot here, you know). And then this happened while I was trying to ice it:

My cake got a crevice. A rather unattractive one, might I add. So of course I filled it with frosting, which peeled up a bunch of blue crumbs and made that section turn an unpleasant shade of green. You know there's no fix for that situation, other than to cover it up with more, and before I knew it I had used up an entire can of newly yellow Creamy Vanilla, and I still had a half-naked cake. After a frantic trip to Food Lion and crafting an entire top layer out of frosting, I got this:

I tried.

But it turned out okay, see?

Apparently, the blue monster was good enough, because Norah went ahead with the candle-blowing-out business, and was actually pretty into it... so into it, in fact, that she slooowly lowered her chin directly into the frosting. After about 15 minutes of trying to get her tongue out far enough to lick it off (sorry, kid, but your career as a frat party entertainer is just not going to pan out) she took a huge bite, looked directly at me, and said, "Yo ho, yo ho, happy to Norah!"

I don't know what I like better: the fact that she finally got that whole "happy birthday to you" thing, or that she wished herself happy birthday pirate-style. That, in all her two-year-old glory, is my girl.

Birthday card

(This is the story of Norah and how she came to be, and it's quite long, so I understand if you decide to skip it. I'm feeling all nostalgic-y, seeing as how her birthday's tomorrow, so you can either jump in and love it, or catch me on the next update. It's cool, either way.)

I like coffee ice cream, even though it gives me serious dog breath. On June 27, 2005, Rob and I went to The Mall (which I always capitalize in my head because that's just how glorious this place is - it's Valhalla with Motown on the rock-shaped speakers) and hit up the Marble Slab Creamery. MSC is just like Cold Stone, except that it's at The Mall, which naturally makes it nine thousand times better.

I blame Norah's two-weeks-premature birth entirely on that ice cream. Either she wanted more and knew that it was Out while she was unfortunately In, or she was getting back at me for eating an entire waffle cone of it, giving us both the aforementioned dog breath. Whatever the reason (she still won't tell me), she decided that it was in fact time to cut loose, and my water broke at about 3:00 AM.

They don't tell you what that's like in baby-having class, not really. Our nurse, who was a leetle too focused on visualizations and imagining myself on a sailboat while the labor pains ate me from the inside out, sort of glossed over the whole water-breakage issue. What I didn't know was that I would run frantically to our shower, yelling, "Seriously! I think I'm wetting the bed and I CAN'T STOP GODDAMMIT ROB YOU GET IN HERE AND TELL ME WHAT THE HELL THIS IS." I think I was more upset about my water breaking than I ever was about the labor. My dignity, man! My dignity was in shreds!

Two hours later, we got the green light to go to the hospital. The 120 minutes between the first call and the green light call were spent in the bathtub, fretting. I tried to focus on what we had learned during our single baby-having class: sleep until it's time to go, because you are going to need the rest! Don't freak out when labor starts, because you've got time, so take a nap! Move your already-packed luggage to the car, idle around a while, play a few games on the XBox and make yourself some cheesecake! You're cool!

What we're going to do now, baby-having-class-curriculum writers, is we're going to put a live person into your body who is desperate enough to escape said body to shatter the very sac that gives it life. YOU NAP WHILE WORRYING ABOUT ALIEN SPAWN BREAKING OUT OF YOUR ABDOMEN. I did not nap. I stood in the shower and decided that labor pains weren't really that baaaa----

And then they were in fact that bad, so once the doctor gave us the thumbs-up, we piled into our aging Volvo and headed for the hills of north Durham.

That whole "two weeks early" thing got us in some trouble, namely:

  • We had never toured the hospital. I didn't know if we were going to Labor and Delivery or the cafeteria, either of which I would have taken at that point. I'm a nervous eater.
  • I didn't know my doctor. I was still scheduled for two more appointments with the practice's two remaining doctors. Ha ha, guess who was on call? One of them. Nothing says "relax" like a complete stranger walking in, foisting your legs apart, and saying, "Nope, we're not quite there yet. Would you like to see this, Dr. Harrison? It's very interesting, what's happening HERE..." Luckily, it turned out she was quite nice, and I didn't want to tear her face off for much longer.
  • Rob's insurance was due to start on the first of July, and so it hadn't kicked in, and we were still on the COBRA plan that my old employer had set up. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking COBRA -- but in the time it took us to fill out the necessary paperwork, I think I gave birth and taught Norah how to drive. It got very interesting when the poor check-in guy kept asking for cards I clearly didn't have (but I remembered those slippers in my hastily packed bag, oh yes I did) and I couldn't explain myself between yelps. Finally he ushered me into a wheelchair - and how fun was THAT, let's not lie, it was a total kick in the pants in the middle of all this chaos - and got me upstairs.

There was a bed, I know that, and after some clothes-changing and a few trips to the bathroom to alternately pee, puke, and panic, I was in it. And then there was peace, broken only by the contractions and Law & Order on the TV. Sometimes the nurses would come in, do a little poking under the hood, and determine that things were progressing as they should be, but otherwise I'M TOTALLY LYING ABOUT THE PEACE THING, BECAUSE OH GOD IT HURT. Shortly after threatening a very nice nurse with imminent demise, someone found an anesthesiologist. He might have been a janitor, for all I know, but they found him and at that point I would have taken a hammer to the forehead, just to help me forget the cramping in my belly.

Brief time-out to say this: I am so all about the natural childbirth. I say, if you got the cojones, you go for it, ladies. But I'll be the first one to admit that I ain't got 'em, and the rest of this story is going to go infinitely better because of that man with his nice spine-piercing needle. I do applaud anyone who can do it without the drugs... I just didn't want to. There you go.

Anyway. The nice man and his nice needle came, and only one of them stayed, and was I ever glad it was the little shiny one. Because I'm fairly tall, they went ahead and cranked that sucker up, and after a minute or two I was a-okay. And seriously, I was. I remember everything, I was alert and happy, and no one had to die! Win-win! Law & Order ended and another one began, thus bringing me the realization that Dick Wolf actually owns television, and baptizing Norah in the sweat of Lenny Brisco and Ed Green. If she remembers one fleeting moment from her birth, I'm pretty sure it's going to be the fact that when the doctor finally said go, Mama said, "Right now, or when this one's over?"

Too bad for me, the doc meant right then. I had been in labor for almost exactly 11 hours, most of which had been a cakewalk. I got my feet up (note to Rob: please tell me you've gone ahead and blocked that pretty picture out of your memory, because I have never felt quite so large and... inverted) and we went for it, and with only a few seconds of OH DEAR THAT REALLY DOES KIND OF HURT, we had a baby.

We had a baby.

She was redheaded. She had long fingers, her father's ears and her mother's earlobes. She was long and beautifully built, and red as a tomato. She cried for about a second, and then started a sweet little meh sound that I will never forget - Norah's first conversation, and she already had a lot to say.

Despite all the chaos and the pain (which was already disappearing from my conscious memory), we had a baby. She was lovely, and I was fine, and Rob was there, even though our bedroom carpet was soaked, our insurance was a total clusterfuck, and somehow we'd forgotten to turn off the TV and The L&O Sound was still bomp-bomping out from a crackhouse in Queens. We had a baby, and everything that was scary and bad and awful was piddly in comparison.

So that all happened a while ago, and now the lovely (red) baby is still as lovely, if somewhat noisier and more mobile. The lovely baby says things like "hellafint" and "copacopter," and has entire conversations with her crayons. The lovely baby eats chicken vindaloo with as much love as she does macaroni and cheese (which she used to call "vackaveen," which is now how a buddy and I greet each other, because it's just darned fun to say). The lovely baby is my best pal, my little cheerleader, the one who keeps me from getting lonely on the long nights when her daddy is stuck at work. The lovely baby looks just like me, and at the same time, just like her father, especially when they're sleeping with their mouths open - which reminds me how much I love him.

And how much I love you, little girl. Happy birthday.

To the international sportsman

Happy birthday, buddy. Thanks for bending to fit my whims.

(via Schmutzie)

It's too hot to be anywhere else

I have two herb pots on the steps, great big dirty herb pots that are certainly overcrowded and choking the very life out of the oregano. One pot has said oregano, thyme, parsley, and a three-foot basil bush in it; you would think that the herbs, they would be gasping and screaming for space, but they're not. They're thick, lush, lovely things - apparently, herbs are social animals, and really enjoy their cocktail-party-style living space. The other pot is exactly the same size, and is where the Mint Monster lives. Mint is not as mingley as the other herbs, so it went ahead and took over its pot, preventing me from adding anything else. It's a selfish thing, it is.

I love these herbs. LOVE THEM LIKE CHILDREN. For years now, I've been trying to grow things - I go out, I buy hundreds of dollars worth of plants, dig various holes in the ground, stick 'em in, and watch 'em die. Every. Single. Year. This year, however, things are alive! The herbs are alive! I'm not sure if I should take credit for improved gardening skills, or offer up Norah in thanks to the fauna gods (although, given her habit of ripping plants out and eating them, the gods might not be too interested in having her).

So I went out this morning, picked up the humongous watering can, and tried to water my children, because it's still HOT here and they're getting a little wilty around the edges. I filled it up with the hose, congratulating myself on remembering to water and being all Mother of the Earth Growing Stuff. And I tried to pour it out, and nothing poured. It dripped. I then stopped congratulating myself, and became rather ashamed for not watering often enough and letting spiderwebs build up enough to block the water.*

* In retrospect, I know this is entirely unlikely. But I had no idea! I mean, come on - what the hell grows up inside a watering can and prevents water from flowing? We've got some big-ass spiders around here; the spiderweb theory made as much sense as the Maneating Fungus theory I had a few minutes later.

I unscrewed the top of the spout and GAAAAAAAHK, there was a frog. I'm not ordinarily afraid of frogs, but it was just such a surprise - what, the watering can looked like a condo? Some other frog hung a "vacancy" sign and was charging rent? I got over the shock and turned the can to show it to Norah, who shrieked one clear, high shriek that dogs are still hearing in Iowa and bolted back into the house. You see her little leg in the photo? It's blurry because of the sprinting.

I named him Earl and gave him a poke, and he jumped out into the rain gutter, where he hopped under the street in the drainage pipe and presumedly met an Earlette, I don't know. The watering can worked, the herbs are perking up as we speak, and the Earth Mother vibe has been restored. I guess he was just happy in the can, and I understand that much - Rob's at work until tomorrow, and we're reveling in our day off, lazing around the house under the a/c vents and wondering when we'll have to jump out and make progress. For now, though, we're just chillin' in the spout.

Supreme hotness!

I got spotlighted (spotlit?) on the Foliosnap website! I've been using Foliosnap for my work site for a few months, and I absolutely adore it - it makes me look like a bad-ass web designer, when in reality I am nothing more than a bad-ass template tweaker. I have confessed it, internet, and there it is: I FAKE IT.

Must go get the car serviced, since I'm down to one petit monstre today, and she just happens to be my own, so life is good. Mundane, but good.

'bout time, kiddo...

... just ask your mother.

Congratulations to my internet friend and fellow Catonsviller, whose long job as an incubator is finally over - and whose life is about to get that much cuter. Le bebe decided to take an extra nine days to make an appearance, and if you've never been pregnant and can't imagine what the big deal was, let me just stop by sometime and sit on your stomach for a while, and then kick you in your sensitive parts. THAT'S JUST HOW IT IS. Now go hug your mother.

I'm so happy for you, MB.

Come on now, it ain't so bad.

I'm feeling somewhat exhausted and threatened by the idea of a long, hot summer with five, count 'em FIVE, kids. The older kids that I'm nannying had a swim meet today, and I spent several hours too many in the HOT, watching two of them frisk in the baby pool (turns out the littlest girls on the team don't actually swim at the meets, ha ha ha!) and the other one lose mightily after forgetting to put his goggles on his eyes, leaving them suctioned to his forehead until his brave dive into the pool twisted them up on his face, which left a red mark that'll be there for days. All this merriment and joy happened in the 95-degree heat, while I had the youngest child - an infant - strapped to my belly in a baby carrier. "Swim meet" is clearly some kind of parent code for "sunscreen-scented hell," and I so did not get the memo about THAT one.

But. I lived, and I should not bitch, because I get to sit here with my feetsies up on the coffee table, blogging and watching the TV Guide channel's expose on George Clooney. Intern George, if you will. Life's good.

Princess Nonos says, "Let us rejoice!" because she has a new favorite possession, a princess crown that is alternately the Best Accessory Ever and Satan's Plaything, From Which We Shall Run Screaming. I don't know what it is about this kid - some days, she's all about whatever object she happens to be holding. This BRACELET, Mama! This bracelet SO PRETTY AND BYOO-FULL! Just try to put the byoo-full bracelet on her the next day, and watch your own face roll off in melted waves from the hysteria. The crown, I'll admit, has been more love than hate - although it's early in the crown's life with us, and there's still time for it to become possessed with the spirit of evil. Ask Nonos, she'll tell you.

She also has her Thomas book in this picture, which is one of her best favorites thus far, and one that drives me insane. I don't really care about the fact that it's about trains and not princesses or fluffy bunnies or whatever the item du jour in Girlytown is - I actually kind of like it that Norah will point out trains, tractors, or bulldozers with as much joy as she'll express over a butterfly with rainbow wings. I'm just tired of reading the cutesey little story over and over again. On the up side, I can now identify several different pieces of railway machinery, including signal lights both broken and functional. That Thomas, teaching valuable lessons all over the place.

So I'm off to remain motionless on the couch and wait for Look-A-Like to come on, but before I go (and because I'm going through a showoff phase, and I like to talk about myself! on my own blog! imagine!) here are some pictures from a baby shoot I did on Sunday:

I call this next one "WTF Face." Although, by the time this kid reaches the age of IM, they'll probably just go ahead and read each other's minds without even bothering to abbreviate.

She's cute, though. And it keeps me going, the cute. There MUST be something cute about my nanny kids, right? RIGHT?