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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

hugh grantWhen I was twelve years old, I fell in love.

I was standing in a corner at our new church, near the table where they laid out donuts and coffee for everybody. I looked up, trying in my usual way not to make eye contact with anyone, and my eyes fell upon a creature unlike any I’d ever seen before.

He was striding across the far side of the room, with a donut in his hand that was wrapped in a paper napkin. He smiled easily, greeting somebody along the way. He wore smartly pressed khaki pants, a button down shirt, and a jacket that looked just like what a grown man would wear. He had a sort of Ivy League brown mop of hair, like Hugh Grant in the 90’s.

I would later notice that he had an unusually long torso and short legs, so that they just about met in the middle. Altogether, this only added to his oddly magnetic way of carrying himself—he had such ease and confidence, such an air of ‘I know how to spell facsimile’!

He bounced a little on his heel with every step; his walk was, in fact, inimitable and wholly charming.

I couldn’t stop watching him. I swallowed an entire donut, all except the hole, before I knew what had happened.

After that day, it became slowly clear to me from Sunday to Sunday that he could spell a lot more than ‘facsimile’. He could also answer every conceivable question that arose in the youth group Sunday School class, which I was old enough to get into just a few months later. The teachers would ask a question, wait, and turn to him expectantly; he would grimace his full, privately-educated lips and deliver an answer made out of four-syllable words.

Way to go, Henry! They would all say. The dudes nearby (all the teenage boys were ‘dudes’ to me except for him—ah! Who would ever presume to call him by such a crude term!) would slap him on the back and wait for him to say something else. They giggled. They shoved each other around.

Henry never giggled. He never shoved. He was a paragon of manly virtues.

I learned to keep a close eye on his whereabouts when we were at church. Wandering through the building, trying to look busy, I would take alternate routes in order to cross his path again—never to speak! Only to pretend I didn’t see him and walk on by.

In fact, Henry is the one who first taught me how to intensely pretend not to see somebody. (This is a skill I still utilize, in the lunch line at Subway, or when I meet an old coworker whose name I can’t remember.) For some reason that my young heart could not understand, I wanted him nearby, but I couldn’t begin to imagine what it would be like if the silence was broken.

I was terrified that if we spoke—if he, for instance, made a comment about the lesson while we were both sitting in the Sunday school room waiting for others to show up, or if I, by some miracle, asked him what kind of extracurricular activities he was into—that he would notice I was in love with him.

Over the next year or so, our families struck up a kind of friendship. Our mothers seemed to get on well, and I delighted to see it happen—because it seemed to me that our marriage was more likely if the families were already acquainted. Henry being so very much older than myself (he was 15!), I wasn’t sure if they would ultimately approve, but I thought that a family alliance was sure to help the cause along.

One day, the worst/best happened.  

My older sister, who was loud and outgoing, had managed to worm her way into a conversation with him more than once. How bold she was! I trembled to watch her. By some miracle, he always seemed to answer her questions most cordially—as if he was just another human individual and not Hermes himself walking among us.

On this particular day, she asked him a few questions, and when I accidentally walked past them a little too close, she turned towards me and called out, “Henry is going to be in a play.” He leaned his long-torsoed body back against the doorway and turned towards me as well, to the point that it was nearly impossible to pretend that he was made of anything less than substantial material, visible to the naked eye.

I was caught. I was about to be forced into the admission that I was aware of the existence of a boy who had been in Sunday School with me for over a year. I almost said ‘Who?’ but my quick mind soon apprehended that he since he was standing right there, even a dummy should be able to infer that he was the Henry in question. 

“Really?” I said, smiling. I looked at him politely, though perhaps a little intensely.  

“Yeah” he said. He grimaced his fat lips in the usual way. This was fine, except that it was an angle I wasn’t used to—he was facing me, talking to me as I’d often seen him do with others—and it was almost overwhelming. THAT’S what his face looked like from the front? My knees almost audibly knocked together.

“Where?” I said.

“School,” he said, grimacing. He shook his flop of hair to the side then, exactly like Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

“Cool,” said I. Even my natural humility couldn’t hide it from me: I was doing a really great job here. He probably was wishing he could know more about me. He might have already noticed the blue skirt I had on (picked out, always, with him in mind); if not, he surely would in just a few more seconds of real-life-conversation.

Unfortunately—maybe before he could even notice the new skirt—he gave a little half smile and swaggered away from us. I stood there watching him go, and could feel my ankles itching with joy. He must have known who I was, to talk with me like that. Perhaps he even knew my name.

A few months after that, I’d started up a sort of friendship with his younger sister, who was gangly and freckled and seemed to adore him. She also must have quickly picked up on the fact that I listened to her best when she talked about him, because she obliged me.  She chattered incessantly about everything from his girlfriend to his room to the way he’d been recently grounded for something or other (Injustice! Thy name is Henry’s father!). 

One time, probably six months after the conversation about the play, Henry wandered up to the two of us while we were talking. He must have overheard something, because came out with a grin and a “What is she telling you about me?”

“Nothing important,” I said. My diaphragm instantly sagged with the weight of this flirtatious move.

“Well, don’t believe all if it,” he said, and I think he gave her a head scratch or something else quite brotherly and adorable. My heart sang, and I felt certain that he would make a good father.

A few years afterwards, we changed churches and he went away to school, although I still got snatches of news from the family. The last time I saw him, I was a college student selling perfume in the mall and he and his sister came by.

His hair was still gorgeously brown and floppy, but I wondered, did he always grimace like that?

Also, I don’t remember his torso being quite so long in relation to his legs…?

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whiskeysPhoto by Caitlin Steva PhotographyWe specialize in unique Bourbons and Whiskey at the Market Basket. It's something we are passionate about. This year, Wilson Living Magazine asked us to hand-pick a few special varieties for their Bachelors of Wilson photo shoot, featured in the March/April issue.

The three we picked are truly special--here's why:
EAGLE RARE

We hand-selected our 10 year old Eagle Rare single barrel from Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort Kentucky. This mahogany colored bourbon is full bodied that finishes with a nice spice note. This is our everyday, go-to, sipping whiskey at our house. And at under $30.00 it is certainly a great value. Eagle Rare is the only bourbon to wine double gold twice at the San Francisco International Spirits Competition. This is truly a rare bourbon that you will not find on every shelf.

KNOB CREEK

Named after president Abe Lincoln's boyhood home in Kentucky, Knob Creek is a standout in Jim Beam's small batch collection. Our hand-selected barrel proof , 9 year old Knob Creek is special because it was chosen with the help of Fred Noe. Noe, who represents the 7th generation of the Beam family is also a Castle Heights grad. Full and smooth with a nice long lingering finish, Knob Creek can be enjoyed with a few splashes of water from the tap like Fred's daddy, Booker liked. Fred was kind enough to spend some time with us and sign our bottles at the shop. These bottles are just special enough for the big day.

ANGEL'S ENVY

Angel's Envy get's its name from the “angel's share” or the small amount of whiskey that evaporates in the barrel during the aging process. This blended Bourbon is the swan song of late master distiller, Lincoln Henderson. Henderson is known for developing Jack Daniel's single barrel as well as Woodford Reserve. His son, Wes now runs the show at Angel's Envy as they continue to produce premium whiskey. While this whiskey can be delicate, our blend is full-bodied, balanced and expressive at the end. Angel's Envy spends eight monthes in port barrels giving it a unique flavor.

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

snowed in

As I sit here on Saturday afternoon, watching the rain slowly melt the ice and snow, I wonder; how did it all go so bad, so quickly?

Less than six days ago, we'd been preparing to begin our week as usual. We were a clean, well-nourished, emotionally stable family. Of course, we'd seen the weather reports and like all good southerners hit the grocery to buy milk, bread and chocolate.

But, come on, it never really snows here! 

Day 1. Presidents Day. That meant the kids were out of school, so it seemed ok that we stay home too. Snow and ice covered the ground. Reports indicated that no one should leave their homes and we were happy to oblige. We found the sleds and posted our obligatory FB video of our using them. We baked cookies, watched movies and stayed in PJs all day. Life was good! No one showered.

Day 2. An official snow day!! No school!! The kids were excited and while we felt the urge to do something, there wasn't much we could do. So we ate some more, sledded some more, and watched Netflix some more. Life was still good. The adults did break down to shower.

Day 3. No school....again. Bread, milk and chocolate were becoming scarce. Sledding wasn't as thrilling, the no showering thing was getting on my last nerve, television was useless, and there was no one left to stalk on FB. Life had become excruciatingly boring. Two of the children still refused to shower.

Day 4. Are you kidding me!?!  This is Tennessee, not Antarctica! The house had an odor, wet coats, boots and gloves were heaped in piles by every door, the dog had chewed up the sled, and we were down to a few slices of bread, those bananas no one ever eats and pizza rolls, covered in ice crystals. Life as we knew it was over! The little piggy that refused to shower was forcibly bathed.

Day 5. We busted out on Friday! At least the two adults in the house did, never so happy to see our work family. Thankful to not be in that stinky house eating that stinky food! Instead we ate lunch at Demos like the all the other civilized adults in town. And yes, we even stopped at Starbucks.

Then at 4 p.m., the Weather Bug alert went off! 

And adults in town were told to hurry home before Ice Storm #2 hit! Life had become almost comical... except when we got home the kids were not laughing... and all three were back to not bathing.

Day 6. The day I lost my mind. Here's why. The ADT alarm went off at 2 a.m. when an unlocked door was blown open by the rain storm, four hours later we awoke again to find that the pool liner had ripped from the walls of the pool as the rain melted the block of ice that had been atop it. Leaks, wrecks and flash floods were being reported all around. Lisa Patton looked frazzled and the Governor raised the State of Emergency to Level 2.

And right then and there, I was over it!

Pick up those wet socks! Put the dog out! De-ice the gutters before they break! Call the pool company! Empty every garbage can in this house and figure out where that smell is coming from! Go change out of those pajamas, it is 2 o'clock! Bring me your wallet, you've exceeded your data package by one million percent! Stop eating junk food! Turn off that television and go read a book! And for the love of all humanity, everyone go take a shower!

Day 7. That's tomorrow. I'm going to church. First, to atone for all the horrible things I said, did and ate between Days 3 thru 6, second to ask God to please, please make it stop snowing and third to pray really, really hard that that little groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, dies a miserable, painful death.

Mostly for the third reason.

 

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

photoFirst Day

Hour 1

Woke up this morning and the sleet had iced over our driveway and cars completely. Will still try to go in to work and make every meeting I had planned. Justin is going to work—no problem.

Hour 2

I said I was going to work but I hadn’t tried to walk around outside yet. I am not crazy. I will stay home today. Justin went to work and he was one of two employees who made it.

Hour 5

The snow has begun in earnest—will it ever stop? There must be a full inch accumulated out there. The last time I remember it getting this bad was in 1993.

Hour 6

The power went in and out a few times. Later on it went out completely, and has been out for forty minutes. I have been forced to get off the internet and put another layer on.

Hour 7

Justin is back home—they lost power there as well. We are going to brave this storm together, and if either of us dies, we’ve agreed that cannibalism is not ethical.

Hour 8

The power is back on. The snow is now up to three inches, and looks like it’s stopped. But no one is going anywhere; everything is quite frozen. Except UPS did make it here with a package from Amazon just now—what a relief. Could be the last delivery of books for a while, and it has to get us through this storm.

Hour 12

We had a good supper, but of course it could be the last for a while. I almost had Justin run down to Sonic and get me a burger while the power was off and I couldn’t get anything hot to eat. Then the power came back on before he was done with his other errands.

Hour 14

We watched an Amazon Prime movie tonight, here at the compound, and at times internet was so slow that the picture was a little blurry. We might need to start conserving our oxygen as well.

Second Day

Hour 1

Tennessee has declared a state of emergency. Justin was told not to go in to work (well, duh!). I spent the morning arranging things in the baby room, and pretended to go into labor a few times just for fun (Justin didn’t think it was funny, though; I think storm is probably starting to get to him. But we must do what we can to keep up morale, I think).

Hour 3

We ran out of cottage cheese and bananas at about ten o’clock, and there are only a few eggs left. Justin says that he will brave the cold to get to the Piggly Wiggly down the street—walk there, if he has to. I begged him to reconsider—there is still cereal left, and the other groceries in the fridge should last us for a week or so. But he doesn’t think we can make it without eggs, and secretly I know he’s right…

Hour 7

Being holed up here is starting to get to us. Justin has been reading quietly in his office for a while now—probably to hide his desperation. I find myself peering out the window from time to time. I wonder if anyone is out there? I wonder if anyone else is clinging to the life they knew?  It’s the not knowing that really hurts. Of course, when I get back on Facebook, I see enough evidence of survivors to comfort me somewhat—photo albums of kids sledding, statuses about cocoa, and Instagram pictures of footprints in the snow.

Perhaps there are others out there. Perhaps we’re going to make it through this after all… perhaps, somewhere out there in the great white, another family is huddled in a snowbank, clinging to life.

If not, Justin and I plan to propagate the species. 

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seven bridesIn honor of Valentine’s Day, and to give my poor husband a little help understanding how I got this way, I want to talk about one little movie that basically shaped my entire romantic ideology.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Ever heard of it?

This absolute gem of a film was made by MGM in 1954. It features a cast of seven beautiful young actress/dancers and seven handsome dancer/gymnasts, and is a musical. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won one. I read somewhere that it was all kinds of underfunded and MGM thought it wouldn’t do well, and then it surprised them at the box office.

But I didn’t know any of that when I was a little girl.

I just knew it was my favorite movie ever.

My sisters and I must have seen this movie one hundred times in the space of ten years. We acted out our favorite scenes. We rehearsed the songs. We each had favorite members of the female cast, favorite members of the male cast, favorite dresses, and favorite couples. When we played games, many of us chose names from among these characters (my sister’s pretend name was “Milly” for her entire childhood).

But the main thing I picked up from SBFSB was my entire conception of how gender relations were supposed to work.


This is what I learned (if you haven’t seen SBFSB, you should probably stop reading this post. It simply won’t make any sense):

      1. If you meet somebody on a weekday and he asks you to marry him within an hour, say yes. You will not regret it (although you might have to teach him a thing or two after you’re married).

Say yes, wait for “that awful sinking feeling,” and if it doesn’t come, you’re golden. Just don’t be surprised when you find that he’s keeping some pretty major secrets from you (like the fact that he shares a house with six brothers who are named after Bible characters in alphabetical order).

      2. It is perfectly normal to cook dinner for seven men on your wedding night.

It is also perfectly acceptable for you to dump that food on them when they act like a pack of animals, and haven’t “any decency to wait for grace.” It is also perfectly normal that your honeymoon suite will be across the hallway from your new husband’s six brothers, and that they are going to be grinning at each other when your husband decides to turn in for the night.

      3. A dress made out of a quilt is literally the best fashion you’ll ever see in your life.

I cannot stress enough that my fashion sense has been influenced FOR A LIFETIME by the clothes in this movie. Tight-waisted dresses made out of gingham and quilts. Men in matching shirts of different colors, doing cool feats of acrobatics and vying for a chance to dance with the only seven girls at the barn raising. This is the bar. Nothing I’ve seen in any store can touch it.

While we’re on the subject of only seven women at a barn raising: If you ever get a chance to move to bear country, where there are ten men for every woman, do it. You’ll have a wonderful time watching men get into fistfights over you.

      4. You definitely want to be kidnapped someday.

The best way to be kidnapped is to have somebody throw a blanket over your head and put you in their wagon. The kidnapper will do his best to kidnap the parson along with you so you can get married right away. If not, you can just hang out in the house with the other kidnapped girls until spring. The men will stay in the barn and respect your boundaries. They only kidnapped you because they couldn’t help it—they’re so in love.

      5. Romance is only romance if you fight with the man before you fall in love with him.

Admittedly, this idea didn’t really come to me from SBFSB alone. It came from every single romantic comedy made in the last 100 years. But in SBFSB, there are some especially good examples of the principal.

All I know is that this principal really tripped me up as a young teenager. Any time I had a crush, I was incredibly rude to the guy, hoping that he would respond in kind and we would fight our way right into each other’s arms. Instead, being a real person, he was simply put off and annoyed (and a little weirded out).

      6. It’s cute when men just don’t understand how to talk to you.

That scene where Milly explains to the men how to ‘court’ a female is precious. It helps you forgive them for all the crazy shenanigans when you understand that they’re not bad—they were just raised in a barn and have never seen a woman before.

      7. If you ever want to marry a man and your dad is upset about it (especially if he’s upset because this is the same man who recently forcibly abducted you from home), pretend to have his baby.

This technique works perfectly at the end of the movie, when spring comes and all the fathers and brothers descend on the farm. By this time, all that romantic fighting has done its work, and the girls have fallen in love with their blundering captors (clearly they’ve never heard of Stockholm Syndrome).

So the girls, in order to marry the men (and save them from hanging), unanimously try to pretend that the baby crying in the house is theirs.

Seems like a pretty neat trick. It’s like faking a pregnancy, only better.

So there you go. It’s Valentine’s Day! Armed with these romantic tips, you’re ready for it. Put on a dress made out of a quilt, get out there, and give your blundering fighting kidnapping man a baby.

 

Note: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is based on a short story called “The Sobbin’ Women,” which in turn was based on an ancient Roman legend, “The Rape of the Sabine Women.” It has been called an “incredibly sexist, misogynist” film which “romanticizes gender oppression” by Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, professor of women’s studies.

She clearly just doesn’t understand this movie. 

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

sickSo the "I'm sick" bug has hit our home. And if your children are like my crew of 3, their "I'm sick" bug is way stronger than anybody else's.

For the last week every counter in the kitchen has been laden with bottles of Chloraseptic, Mucinex, and "Mama's Magic Elixir" a.k.a. liquid NyQuil.. That's because when my 3 get sick, they ache more, cough more, and sneeze more than the average person.

Don't believe me?

Just ask them.

So with the flu, stomach virus and Ebola going around, you can only imagine how hard this last week has been on me... I mean them.

It all started on Facebook when several friends began to report they had been diagnosed with the flu. Post after post depicted aches, chills and fevers and as I read one after the other I could literally feel the temperatures rising in our home.

By that evening all three of my children were sicker than anyone else they knew... including those they lived with.

By morning the humidifiers were humming, the hot tea was brewing and Vitamin C was our candy of choice.

And the competition was on!

"Feel my forehead Mama," is the usual way the games begin. As I go one by one, determining whose temperature is the highest, my job is not done until a winner is declared.

And the winner gets the master bed (to themselves), the remote (to themselves) and the electric blanket (to themselves). The losers get the two chairs in my bedroom and non-heated blankets.

And as luck would have it, the winner only felt better so long as she was watching a Project Runway television marathon a fact that enraged the other two... even through their Vicks VapoRub-induced haze.

Ironically, as hoarse as they were, I could still hear the screaming in the next room... to "put something on we all can watch!!"

Interestingly, as weak as they were, at some point they were able to rise from their chairs to wrestle the remote from the weakest one.

As frail as the weakest one was, she somehow found the strength to make her way to the kitchen to inform me that the other two "are not sick! Make them get out of the  bedroom and give me back the remote!"

And my Saturday pretty much went much like this until their father finally loaded them up and took them to the nearest clinic.

Three hours later, we learned it was not the flu, not strep and not Ebola. Instead it was the common cold.

Not that that changed anything. It was still "the worst cold ever!"

Thankfully, after a week of cold medicines, throat lozenges and exiling each to a separate room and a separate remote, my crew is on the mend.

Of course, now their father and I are sick and while you may not believe this, when we get sick, well, we are simply sicker than everyone else.

It's true. Just ask us.

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

alarm clockIt started happening again. I can’t sleep. Rather, I can sleep, I just can’t STAY asleep.

This leads to a frame of mind that’s an ideal breeding ground for worry production. So I worry. Worry about getting back to sleep turns into worry about work, bills, taxes, life insurance, dementia, cancer, Ebola, my car’s engine light that keeps coming on, my oldest driving, even deflated footballs-stupid Tom Brady. I worry about problems I didn’t even know I had. If it weren’t for my foggy, sleep deprived brain, it would be hard to rationalize questioning every decision ever made about my children, career, husband, and career again? By the time those hamsters stop running, it’s time to get up and start the day.

It would be lovely to blame this on some sort of midlife existential meltdown. A really inspirational meltdown that culminates with the selling everything, backpacking across Europe with my family, while documenting every experience in a clever, witty, and heartfelt blog which is later made into an Oscar nominated film directed by Penny Marshall. Not that I don’t think this would be a wonderful idea. It’s just not going to happen EVER… if I don’t get some sleep. *As a side note, I’d love Melissa McCarthy to play me.

Looking at the clock would be a mistake. The neon green numbers just create more anxiety and confirm that I have less than two hours before the alarm sounds.

The fact that my husband sleeps soundly just inches away does nothing more than piss.me.off. It’s not enough that he’s got that smug look of peaceful sleeping. But now, HE’S SNORING!  A few nudges and a “HEY! You’re snoring!” wakes him up enough to say, “No I’m not.” He must have a death wish.

Giving up on any hope of sleep, I open my laptop to see what the rest of the world is doing. Before posting, “best way to reduce snoring that doesn’t involve a pillow and duct tape?” on social media, I realize that a post like that could be incriminating if this “accidentally” happens to my husband someday.

So what gives? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? Am I doomed to a life of sleepless nights? With no sleep, this could signal the end of my writing career. I mentioned this fear to my aunt last week. Her response, “It would be a shame to give up if you were any good at it. You’ll find something you can do better.”

One website says it’s all about creating the right environment. “Your room should feel like a cave.” What if your cave is also home to what sounds like a hibernating bear?

Another says a medical condition could be to blame-a swollen prostate. But how could my husband’s swollen prostate keep me from sleeping? That last observation made me giggle. So I got up, started a pot of coffee and decided that if I can make myself laugh at 4:04 am this is an ideal time to finish a writing deadline.

Two hours later, my cat smacks me awake to signal his feeding time and alert me that an argument between the boys could get bloody if someone doesn’t intervene.

Twenty minutes later, the cat’s fed, kids dressed and ready for school. Since there’s no time for a shower, a messy bun and extra deodorant will have to do. Pulling in to the drop off-line, my oldest says, “Don’t worry. If this happens next year, you can sleep a little longer since I’ll be able to drive me and Jackson to school.” And with those words, I realize, I may never sleep again.

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

medical staffI’m in a unique position—my prenatal care provider, one of a group of midwives who deliver at Vanderbilt, has actually requested a birth plan from me. I’m surprised by this. My impression has always been that hospitals hate birth plans, that they laugh at you behind their hands when you come in with a list of demands like that. I’ve even heard that birth plans carry a sort of extra c-section risk—something about karma, they say.

But she said ‘bring us a birth plan to have on file’ so I wrote a birth plan. I’ve decided that Ideal Labor is the only option for me, so I wrote the birth plan to reflect that.

 

The Ideal Labor Birth Plan


Mother: Tilly Dillehay

Father: Justin Dillehay

Due date: March 20

-When we arrive at the hospital, I’d like to be wearing my favorite Gap pajama top and pants, which are super soft and will photograph well when my sisters dodge in and out of the room and start Instagramming. I’d like to have my hair and makeup done (waterproof mascara), but hair up and out of the way like a real mom, and I’d like to have a sort of ‘hey, this is tough but also exciting’ glow about me.

-While I’m laboring, I’d like to have the full Panera menu available to me at any given time. I tend to get hungry when I’m doing something physically taxing, and those soups and salads are so perfectly light and refreshing (but also filling).

-I’d like to have the lights dim and music playing. The music should be a mix of Aretha Franklin ‘I’m a woman, hear me roar’ power songs and soothing, intelligent tracks, a la Sufjan Stevens. No Sam Smith, as I don’t want my child to learn to be whiny from an early age, and no pop, because I don’t want her to develop ADHD. Classical is also permissible (of course, although obviously I’ve been administering intrauterine classical music since the beginning of this pregnancy).

-My mother will be present in the room, and she and I will chat alternately about breastfeeding (she’ll get me caught up and ready to go when the little angel makes her appearance) and her latest home renovation project. My husband and I will chat comfortably about the classic novel that I’m in the middle of (I’ll have it with me in the room and get a few chapters read between contractions, at least until transition). He and I will also make little jokes about how ‘he got me into this mess’, but I’ll pat his arm reassuringly to let him know everything’s okay. My friends and other family members will pass conveniently in and out of the room as they arrive at the hospital, and I’ll greet them all with a smile.

-I would like as few pelvic exams as possible during labor. If possible, nurses should develop another way of measuring the progress of dilation; perhaps there’s an app for that?

-Intermittent monitoring is a must, and I will not tolerate needles in my arm. Since I will have no need for pain medication (the pain will be just enough to make me respect the power of the human body but not enough to cause me undue desperation), I will also require no needles anywhere in the vicinity of my back.

-I would like to wear a nice black bikini for when I’m laboring in the shower or the tub, because it kind of weirded me out when all of those ladies were laboring naked in The Business of Being Born. I will be happy to deliver the actual baby in a hospital gown, after all of the aforementioned costume changes have been made throughout labor.

-I plan to use the following methods of pain management: acupuncture, deep breathing, that workout where you hang from the ceiling in fabric slings and do gymnastics, eating Ben and Jerrys Cherry Garcia, calling my friend Karen and telling her that labor isn’t that bad, watching Seinfeld, getting somebody else to use one of those spider head massagers on me (works better than if you do it yourself), yoga, massage, reflexology, Jedi mind powers, talking about my feelings, and craughing (laughing and crying simultaneously).  

-When the baby is born, I would like only my husband to be present, and maybe a midwife if she insists. This is a private moment between the two of us.

-I would like all hospital staff to be at the ready, just outside the door, in case something goes wrong or my husband forgets the scissors and can’t cut the cord.  

-Birth position will be either crouching, on hands and knees, standing, or standing like the kid in Karate Kid when he’s on the rock and about to switch legs. I value spontaneity and would like to be able to choose between these positions and any others when the time comes.

-Please do not let anyone hand me a mirror when the baby is crowning, because that’s not what I want to see when I look in a mirror. Also, I don’t want to help catch the baby; I’ll already be doing a lot of the work and it doesn’t seem fair to give me the one job that the ‘catcher’ has.

-I would like to practice ‘skin on skin’ and hold baby immediately after the birth (but will the baby still have that stuff all over it?). Baby should latch immediately for a ‘practice suckle’ and then get into a schedule before we leave the hospital.

-After the birth, I’d like baby to room in with me and my husband, and to be taken away only for cleaning and ‘certified organic’ stamping. Any friends and family who have taken the trouble of coming by should be allowed in to say hello to the baby; I don’t plan to be too tired and I will still have all my makeup and hair in place. 

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

coffeeDear Starbucks:

I am writing this letter as I would like to lodge a formal complaint.

First, I would like it noted in your corporate records that I was probably one of your biggest fansever! Was being the operative word here.

You can't imagine my excitement when I heard you were coming to town. For years I've only been able to partake of your mouthwatering temptations on my infrequent trips to the Target in Mt. Juliet or when visiting out of town friends who took you for granted.  No matter the city, if I heard you were there I undoubtedly paid you a visit. And like any good stalker, I have the mug collection and Selfies to prove it.

To think you were going to grace our town with a full fledged store was the biggest news to hit Lebanon since Chick-fil-A came to town!

And since your doors have opened I've been a loyal fan. Probably dare I say your Number #1 fan. Just ask your employees, both the morning shift and evening shift, as I begin and end most days with a warm cup of your heaven in my hands. 

I'm not sure what it is about that aroma but I can't get enough of it. That sweet smell of coffee coupled with a hint of uptown, big city...let's be real I am never going to live in Chicago so this is about the closest I will ever get to being a hip, cool, latte drinking power player... and I have been hooked since my very first sip! 

And so it began on the first day your Lebanon store opened with my usual, a Grande White Chocolate Mocha and then after a few weeks, I stepped it up a notch to a Double Chocolate Java Chip Frappuccino (for those non-aficionados, that would be an incredibly chocolatey, coffee flavored ice cream shake with whipped creme and chocolate shavings on top, also known as... a token of God's love.)

Then the holidays came around and I became addicted to your Pumpkin Spice Latte followed by your Caramel Creme Brûlée Latte, and, of course, then your top selling,  holiday favorite, the world-renowned Chestnut Praline Latte.

It was all going so well.

Before work I would grab a drink and savor it all morning at my desk. I honestly think it made me look much more official. After work, I'd grab a cup to sip on the long road home, up 231 North (well not that long, but it's all relative in this town isn't it?).

On weekends, I would run in wearing my yoga pants and ball cap, as if I were going for my weekly run in Central Park. I wasn't... not even for a short stroll at Don Fox Park. But that was our little secret.

It was all so grown up, so civilized. (And right about now if my husband is reading this and working the math... yes, I spent a lot of money on my little addiction but since I don't get my nails done and rarely go shopping, you can put your calculator away and we can talk about this later.) 

Not that it matters anymore, because I'm writing to tell you... it's over!

On Sunday January 25, I got on the scale.

It seems that one thing you failed to share with your Number #1 fan is that macchiatos, cappuccinos, and expressos are just big fancy words for... I'm going to make you fat drinks! 

Therefore, it is with deep regret that I must inform you that I no longer will be gracing your store with my presence. (And just because you list the calorie content by each drink doesn't excuse you... who the heck would believe you can gain ten pounds from drinking coffee!)

 

Sincerely,   

Your ex-Number #1 fan                    

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

bedI have bed bugs.

Not a lot of them, apparently; just a few. The pest control guy I called in yesterday assured me of that. But in my brief experience, bed bugs are like garlic cloves in a wedding cake: one is all it takes to ruin everything.

It’s only been five nightmarish nights since the little clusters of insanely-itchy bite marks started appearing on my ankles, knees, and hips. Only five nights of waking up at one a.m. on the dot, scratching myself awake and realizing with horror: ‘that one feels new’. Only a couple of evenings where things got bad enough for me to take a bath, change clothes, move to the couch to finish the night.

But there’s something about this experience that haunts your waking hours. The concept of bed bugs, let’s face it, is creepy. It’s unsettling.

This is a foe that you can’t see. It literally hides out near your place of sleep, waits for you to get into really deep REM, and searches you out by tracking the CO2 you emit when you breathe. Then it finds you, numbs you, and takes some of your blood, and makes off with it before you know anything has happened.

My husband and I couldn’t figure out why I was the only one getting bitten—he’s been waking up completely untouched. We even briefly got online and did searches for pregnancy related rashes (that was a mistake; don’t Google that). But the rash theory just didn’t add up; it seemed so clear that I was getting just a few extra bites per night, and that all the hallmarks said ‘bedbug’.

So why were they leaving him alone? 

The pest control guy finally cleared this up, in the creepiest way possible.

“They usually stay about 20 feet from their host,” he said, in the middle of explaining the procedure for killing them. “They like to be close to the feeding site.”

“Their host?” I said. My husband coughed and looked at me sympathetically.

“What’s the host?” I asked again.

“That’s you,” said the pest guy. “You’re the host. Bed bugs have a preferred person to feed on, and they’ll leave other people alone until there’s enough of them that they get hungry.”

WHAAAAAT? This whole situation has officially graduated to horror movie status.

There are unseen predators. You know they’re there. You know they know where you are (because they know your pheromones!?!), and furthermore, you know that they have marked you out specifically because your blood is the only thing that will satisfy them. Nope, not your husband’s blood… your blood.

You cannot escape—waking or sleeping—no matter where you go—they could be waiting.

It’s making me edgy, anxious. I wake up relieved that the night is over, tiptoeing around my house like Naomi Watts in The Ring. What was that? Did you feel that? Is that a piece of lint on the pillow, or is it THE THING THAT’S HUNTING ME?

Before he left last night, though, the kindly pest control guy did say a few comforting things.

“Honestly, I’d love to get your business,” he said. “But you really don’t have a bad problem here. There are some things you could do yourselves that would probably take care of them.” He hadn’t been able to get a visual on even one bug, and although he identified the bite marks and the other signs as positively indicating a bed bug presence, was sure there couldn’t be many.

“You probably just brought or two in yourselves,” he said. “Take any trips lately?” We’d just come back from a weekend trip to Louisville.

The rest of the evening found Justin and I making homemade CO2 traps (Justin was a good sport and tireless worker, considering the fact that he wasn’t the one with the targeted blood). I was in the kitchen, activating yeast and arranging these contraptions out of water bottles and straws and kitchen glasses (it felt a little like cooking meth). Justin was in the bedroom, making this kind of plastic sheet bedbug guard.  The plastic, over your mattresses, cut to within two inches of the floor, traps them in, and they can’t climb up the slick surface to get to you. The bed has to be pulled away from the walls because they’ll climb them if they have to. During these other projects, we were also putting all our bedding and a good bit of clothing through the dryer, per the bug man’s instructions (heat above 140 degrees kills them).

We came out feeling really proactive, almost like warriors. We were victors over the invisible world of the bedbug, navigators of the unnavigable. Last night, I didn’t wake up with new bites. I slept through and woke in my own bed, feeling safe again.  I like to imagine the bugs like the ones in those pest commercials, thwarted and fuming (and eventually dead, if the CO2 traps work). Where is she? We HAD her. We were getting regular meals again! Now what? She’s got some kind of force-field up there!

Now we just need to address the mole problem in the back yard.

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

peach matte effect

I want to meet my baby.

Last week I bought a little stack of newborn onesies while I was as Target registering for baby items. Delicate pinks and white with polka dots. One of them has a monkey on it. “I love my daddy,” it says. Another has a little embroidered baby monkey, frolicking with a larger female monkey which I believe is supposed to be me.

I bought them over a week ago, but instead of tucking them into the Baby Box with other collected odds and ends, I laid them on the arm of my living room couch. I keep them there because every time I pass them, a little jolt of joy goes through me. Something about them makes it all seem so REAL.

I told my husband about this and now he too gives them a little acknowledgement as he passes—a smile, a pat. We grin at each other and keep doing whatever we were doing.

Part of the reason why these onesies have made such an impression in my mind is that at about the time I bought them, I’d just found something called ‘belly mapping’ online.

Apparently, other pregnant mothers have also asked the question: “What on earth is kicking me right now?” I’d been asking several related questions for a while. “What body part is it that keeps punching me in the ribs?” “What the heck is that one bulge that keeps showing up again and again to the left of my belly button?” “Where is her HEAD?”

Thankfully, the bottomless curiosity/time wasting capabilities of the pregnant community means that there are answers to these questions online. You can map your belly into quadrants, then use the movement patterns you’re seeing and feeling to figure out where the little thing is located (for now).

Looks like my baby is head-down (good), and she is doing a bit of a bottom-out twerk against my belly button. Her feet are somewhere back-in-there, pointed at my ribs, and on the whole, she’s just where a child of 31 weeks should be.

When I put all this together (and had it confirmed by the doc, the same day I bought the onesies), something just snapped into place for me.

You mean—that’s her bottom? Right there? That’s her head? She’s HOW LONG? She’s upside down? She’s sitting right here, right now, and in a month or two she’s going to be big enough to fill out these tiny onesies? Then she’s going to come OUT?

Like a six-year-old having the wonder of pregnancy and birth explained to them for the first time, I was entranced.

At about the same time, I had a couple of dreams featuring the baby. This has been the case since the beginning—weird pregnancy dreams, very common—but these were different. They weren’t breastfeeding nightmares or surreal sagas about being safely delivered of a Teletubby. These were about HER. I woke from two or three of them with a distinct (though perhaps false) impression of a small face, a small personality. For the first time, the word daughter makes sense to me. It doesn’t feel like I’m playing some kind of pretend game.  

I can’t believe it, but she’s real and this is happening.

The nursery just got painted (‘Toasted Coconut,’ with an accent wall of fat gray horizontal stripes—even though a decorating blog informed me that “stripes are out”) and the first baby shower is in just a few weeks. But it’s all about those onesies for me. It’s the onesies that I keep on the arm of the couch to glance at as I go about my business. It’s her little belly that’ll fill those onesies out, her little legs that’ll get snapped in, her little head that’ll pass through that envelope-style fold at the neck.

And I just can’t wait to meet her. 

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laundrySo the conversation went something like this....

Neill: "Madison, can you pass me a knife?"

Madison: "What do you need a knife for?"

Neill: "To cut my tomato."

Disgruntled, overworked, overburdened teenager: "You don't need to dirty a knife for that! Here, take your fork and use it as a knife. You just put it on its side and saw into the tomato. I'm so tired of washing dishes and cups and knives and forks! For the rest of the day everyone is using paper plates and solo cups!"

Ahhh the joys of the never-ending Kane chore list....

Every few months we change up the chore list. And not because my children have perfected their respective chore of washing dishes, putting up clean clothes or feeding the dogs.

No, the chore list is swapped because I can't take one more chipped plate, one more pair of basketball socks showing up in my dresser drawer or one more dog falling into the pool in their attempt to quench their thirst.

Usually by the time swap day rolls around, the chore list has become but a mere suggestion of what my children could be doing... if they so chose to do... so long as they had nothing better to do.

So as Neill and Madison wrestled over the knife that Neill was desperately trying to move towards his plate, with his sister continuing to hold him back with one arm while sawing into his tomato with his fork... I called SWAP DAY!

Now swap day traditionally only brings joy to one Kane child, because as everyone who has ever done chores knows...washing dishes and feeding dogs doesn't hold a candle to... putting up clothes.

Clothes that belong to five people.

Three of whom consider anything that has been worn once, tried on but not worn out of the house, or recently purchased but not yet on the hanger... an item that warrants being thrown in the dirty clothes' basket.

Needless to say, when swap day hit this Sunday, Zoe could not have been happier. Neill and Madison, on the other hand, made an insincere attempt to convince me they were no longer mortal enemies, in a joint effort to keep Zoe confined to the depths of hell... a.k.a., the person in charge of laundry.

So I doled out the new list. Madison would now be in charge of clothes and Zoe would now be in charge of dishes.

Madison: "Wait. Why is Neill still in charge of the dogs? They are all starving because he never feeds them and that is the easiest job on the whole list! He never gets any other chore. I mean, I was just trying to teach him something. Every 12-year-old boy should know how to cut something with a fork and now I'm being punished and he isn't!"

And mind you, she did have a point.

But as any good parent knows, the chore list is not just a list of chores we want our children to one day master. No, first and foremost it is a list of chores we, as parents, do not want to ever do again, so long as we have a child living in our home.

And if I gave the chore of putting up clothes or washing dishes to Neill, well...it would just defeat the point of the chore list.

Me: "Well, you shouldn't have been fighting over a knife."

Madison: "That doesn't even make sense!"

Me: "One day when you have children it will and while you are at it, add downloading some Michael Buble to my iPhone to your list of chores today."

I do so love the chore list...

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

seinfeld

I recently had a couple of sick days. I used this couch time very productively—watching episode after episode of Seinfeld, from a boxed set I got for Christmas.

If you want to know how bad things got, this should tell you: I ended up watching the behind the scenes documentaries every time I came across one, just to slow myself down. Not only was I watching Seinfeld, Kramer, Elaine, and George talk about nothing, in the end I spent a substantial amount of time watching Larry David and Seinfeld, Kramer, Elaine, and George talk about Seinfeld, Kramer, Elaine, and George and the nothing they talk about.

During one episode, in the Notes About Nothing (this is like a subtitle commentary you can turn on or off during each episode—another sign that I’ve gotten in too deep), they quoted Seinfeld talking about comedy with Entertainment Today back in 1991. He said that when you get to a certain level in comedy, people aren’t just laughing, they’re talking like you. The notes concluded: “After this episode, seen by 10 million, people were talking like Seinfeld.”

They’re absolutely right.

These three days of overexposure to Seinfeld had exactly such an effect on me. I was Seinfeld-ized. Seinfeld got all over everything I did.

Sometime during the Seinfeld Day 1, my husband texted me.

“Are the gas guys there yet?” he said. We’re having a line dug so we can start using the HVAC we just had put in.

“The gas guys? Here? Yes.” I said.

“Will you go out and ask them how long the job will take?” he returned, with a smiley face.

“What? Go out and talk to those guys?” I tapped back. “I can’t talk to them! It’s a bunch of men in hats and vests! They have a big truck! What would I say? They’d laugh me right back into the house. ‘Stay in there where you belong, pajama lady.’ That’s what they’d say.”

“What?” he said.

“And what is it with the hard hat thing anyway? They’re digging. In the ground. What exactly are they worried about? The sod flying up and hitting them in the forehead? The other guys getting them with a shovel? Maybe it’s just some kind of working-man code: wear the hat, you’re on the job. You get respect. Take the hat off, you’re off the job. No respect.”

“What?” he asked again. “Baby, have you had too much Tylenol?”

“I went out and talked to them. It was the most humiliating experience I’ve ever had. ‘What do you know about Caterpillars?’ they said. ‘You handle your business, we’ll handle ours. Get back to your Pinterest, or whatever it is—we’ll deal with your husband in the future.’”

“Oh, baby!”

“Actually they said they’ll be done tomorrow.”

“What?”

On Seinfeld Day 2, I was interrupted while cooking dinner by a phone call from my sister.

“Heeeello.”

“Hey, it’s me. I was calling to see if we’re still on for tomorrow.”

“Uh… [long pause] sure. I guess so.”

“You don’t want to do it?”

“I don’t know, I mean… sure, of course I do. What time did you say?”

“Seven.”

“Oh. Seven. [long pause] Okay.”

“You don’t want to do it?”

“Of course I want to do it! If I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t have made the plans.”

“That’s fine; we won’t do it.”

“No, no, of course we’ll do it, of course we’ll do it.”

“Okay. I’ll pick you up?”

“Sure. What time did you say?”

“Seven.”

“Oh. [long pause] Okay.”

“You don’t want to do it?”

After I got off the phone, I complained to my husband.

“There’s no protocol for getting out of casual plans except for the Long Pause. I can’t actually say no; I already said yes! I’m a nice person—what can I do?”

“You’re only human.”

“I’m only human. So what tool of communication can I use except the Long Pause? Who doesn’t pick up on the Long Pause? Why didn’t the Long Pause work?”
“I don’t know; maybe it was the fact that she gave you ample opportunity to honestly break the plans and you didn’t take it.”

“What? No.”

“Maybe it was that she repeatedly asked you if you wanted to go and you still said you wanted to go.”

“But the Long Pause! The Long Pause!”

 

On Seinfeld Day 3, I wore a recently purchased hat to cover my unwashed hair.

“Where’d you get that hat?” a friend asked me.

“You like it?”

“I do. How much did you pay for it?”

“Oh, I don’t really think that’s important.”

“Was it a deal?”

“You could say that.”

“Less than twenty dollars?”

“Yup.”

“Less than ten dollars?”

“Yup.”

“Less than five dollars?”

“Just.”

“Five dollars? Five dollars? For that?”

“You got it.”

“I’m getting one.”

“You can’t. It was the last one. It was a sale at the Gap.”

“Can I buy that one?”

“This one? Don’t be ridiculous!”

“You could give it to me for late Christmas.”

“Late Christmas! I don’t re-gift things I bought for myself! How rude.”

“You could give it to me for my birthday.”

“No!”

 

Things I wasn’t able to do during the Three Days of Seinfeld, but briefly considered doing because of the Seinfeldian influence:

Conduct drawn out and anguished conversations with friends about their love lives; engage in protracted conversations with friends about social etiquette; argue with my eccentric Jewish parents (my parents aren’t Jewish or eccentric enough); seek revenge on local business people for ripping me off; wear ridiculous articles of clothing and get flak; perform stand-up; end up in the hospital for a fake heart-attack; walk into a neighbor’s home and eat food from their kitchen; help  a struggling immigrant business owner; eat a box of Junior Mints.

The Seinfeld has been out of my system for almost a week and I’m beginning to feel a little more normal.

The only residual symptom?

Yada, yada, yada.

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Posted by on in The Perfect Grape

No doubt you are winning at something if you are drinking Champagne, especially French Champagne. The stuff is golden nectar of the gods poured in a glass. Here's to hoping that this New Year's Eve you can stare at the sparkling section of your local wine purveyor with some basic understanding of the labels. It can be confusing especially when there is so much French involved. “It's all French to me.” as someone recently said. But is it really with Prosecco and Cava involved? And of course there are the delicious domestics. Sparkling wine is made around the world but only called Champagne if it is made in the Champagne region in France using a specific method. Methode-Champenoise is a labor intensive and costly process by which the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, creating bubbles. Champagne can range in sweetness based on the dosage, or how much sugar is added. Sugar is often but not always added during the traditional Methode-Champenoise and what amount is added will dictate the label. Below is a list of designations starting from least amount of sugar added to most amount.

Doux-50+ g/L

Demi-Sec-33–50 g/L

Sec-17-35 g/L

Exta-Sec -12-20 g/L

Brut- 0–12-g/L

Extra- Brut -0–6 g/L

Brut Nature -0–3 g/L

*Extra Dry is found on domestic sparkling wine bottles and actually means less dry than brut but not sec or secco which would be deemed sweeter.

At the shop we have many options ranging in price from Louis Perdrier sparkling wine to vintage Dom Perignon. Vintage champagnes are made from grapes grown in a single exemplary growing season. These are supreme examples of what champagne can be and are therefore often costly. Perhaps a great way to celebrate an abundant year with friends and family is with a vintage champagne. We stock a couple that deliver Dom taste without the price such as L'Armandier-Bernier and the famed Bollinger, favored by James Bond. We also have a selection of the best value prosecco, cava and sparkling wines from Spain, Italy and the USofA. Here are some of our favorite NV (non-vintage) and vintage French bottles we stock for your convenience and pleasure.

Louis Perdrier NV Brut- High quality French sparkling wine. Notes of apples, some richness with a citrus finish. Great for a budget and any party!

 Forget Brimont NV Brut- Sophisticated champagne in the $25.00 range from family run winery. Offering notes of ripe gala apples, ginger and biscuit. Shows fine balance and elegance.

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Blanc de Blancs- Family owned and run Champagne House. Deep, wide aromas—cumin, buttery pie crust. Shows good length and presence on the palate; flavors are zesty citrus enveloped in a smooth minerality. A good apéritif.

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut RoséPale strawberry-pink color. Light raspberry and white pepper aromas, with a raspberry crème brûlée flavor profile. Clean and dry, with good length and heft.

Moet & Chandon NV Imperial RoséThis solid, muscular rosé might be the ticket to turning a red wine devotee on to Champagne. Flinty around the edges, with tight, tart red fruit.

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 2004 La Grand Dame- Intense, serious and persistent. Yellow stone fruit flavors are bright but kept in check with mineral, herb and citrus peel through the finish.

L' Armandier- Bernier 2002 Premier Cru- Growers Sophia and Pierre L'Armandier focus on organic farming. They use low doasage or no dosage in their Blanc de Blanc which is 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir as traditional method dictates.This vintage is broad and rich, scoring over 95 pts with Robert Parker. It is clean, refreshing and fabulous to pair with a New Years Dinner.

Bollinger La Grand Annee 2004 Extra-Brut- exceptional vintage with 90 plus pts from Parker and Tanzer. Notes of toasted bread and candied fruit, rhubarb and exotic spices. Perfectly balanced in any application. James Bond loved it and so will you! 


Any way you choose to celebrate you will win with these selections! Remember whatever you choose, drink responsibly. 

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

collegeThe last few months have been a whirlwind of college applications, ACT prep courses, and road trips as we have continue on our adventure of "where in the world will Madi go to college?"

This past week as we left that house at 5 a.m. in order to meet the 10 a.m. tour, with my hot cup of coffee in hand, I got in the car and gleefully noted "This is going to be such a fun day."

Shocked by my joyfulness, her father reminded both Madi and I that "today is going to be fun and SAD!" You see, as much as Madi and I have come to embrace our little college trip adventures, Brody isn't quite there yet.

When we finally arrived, Madi and I bounced out of the car, eagerly awaiting our guided tour of the buildings, library and dorms. Her Dad slowly walked behind us.

While we asked questions about majors, internships and clubs, her Dad asked questions about campus security, crime rates and how do they insure "boys don't get onto the girls' dorm floors."

Seemingly very important questions to the other fathers on the tour, who nodded in agreement every time Brody grilled our 19-year-old tour guide on crime per capita rates.

After touring the campus we set about taking in this new city, checking out how far the grocery was from campus, the movie theater and the mall. We also checked out the police station, fire hall and hospital..."because it's important to know these things," noted her father.

The good thing about Madi is that she has been taking most of this in stride, as every member of the family is handling her move... in their own way.

Later that night, as Madi was extolling the virtues of this new college to her sister and brother, Zoe pulled out her own set of plans, saved under the Pinterest board name - "Zoe's New Room When Madison Finally Leaves."

"When exactly will you be moving out?" she asked. "Because Neill and I have decided that he is getting your room, and I'm redoing mine and turning his into my dressing room/tv room."

Both Brody and Madi looked stunned.

"You can't have my room," Madi said, completely outraged. "I am coming back in the summer and on breaks and probably some weekends too!"

And her Daddy is a happy man once again...

 

To read more of Angel and Becky's columns go to www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

N1409P12012C

I like to make lists. Lists have always been my friend, and since I’ve been pregnant they are friendlier to me than ever.

Right now, I have three lists going. There’s one on my fridge that reads as follows:

House List

Put up Christmas tree

Get carpet replaced in office

Get HVAC installed

 Change out kitchen sink

 Put books on shelves and move love seat

Baseboards living room

 Strip wallpaper-living

Strip wallpaper-bedroom

 Paint living room

 Paint office

Paint baby room

Paint bedroom

 Replace bedroom carpet

Build shelf in closet

Build shelf in armoire

This is a good list, a long term list. And it’s in a public place, where Justin and I can both see it and remind ourselves of exactly where we are. We each make sure the other gets an opportunity to do the honors, scratching another major project off with a marker.

I also have an active grocery / gift shopping list always on rotation, and of course, there is a daily to-do list, which includes work to-do items and other accomplishments for the day:

Quiet time

Work out

 Make soup

Laundry

Wrap Sophie gift

Call so and so

  Call so and so

Finish that story

Edit that other story

Meet Valerie

Send shoot preview to so and so

There are also lists within the list—such as lists of layout edits to our current issue of the Wilson Living Magazine, due out January 7 (whoo-hoo!).

Like every human out there who makes lists, I also add items as I go along, if I find I have done something during the day that wasn’t on the list. Pay that bill? Add it to the list, and check it off. You did the work, I say to myself. You sure as heck get the credit!

And lately, I’ve taken to adding items to my list that make me feel better about a less productive day, but which, I figure, are a partial explanation:

Grow baby

Recover from UTI

Or items that are not precisely concrete accomplishments, but that still, in their own way, required skill, effort, and planning:

Think a lot about color schemes in the living room

Resist Bluebell Mint Chocolate Chip in the freezer

Yes, lists are my friend.

They’re a visual stress reliever, at least for me. When I’ve gotten all the goals of a day down on paper, I feel about 1000% more mentally clear, and totally ready to focus on a task until it’s complete.

Hey!—I just earned myself a cross-off:

Write/post blog

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

N1412P12009CThere’s few places as beautiful as Middle Tennessee in the fall. And one only needs to visit Facebook or Twitter to take in all the beauty. Changing leaves, crisp air, family photos in all orange or red surrounded by a bevy of changing leaves posted all over social media, and general giddiness of the season make even this girl excited about football… for the social atmosphere, not the game.

This is also the time of year my normal (Note: this will be the only time that adjective will be used to describe yours truly) “stay away from anything crafty” persona transforms into a glue gun wielding poor man’s Martha Stewart. Before realizing how underqualified I am to take on big projects, I’ve started the process of distressing every piece of furniture I own, every room in the house smells of pumpkin spice candles and all the decorating dilemmas in the world can be solved by simply adding a touch of burlap or a monogramed initial.

I start to lose steam around mid-October.  

My husband is irritated that all of our furniture is covered with burlap. That’s the only way I can think of to hide the fact that our tables look (not in a good way) distressed.

My boys are revolting against the matching sweaters I ordered for a family portrait. It was the large embroidered initials on the front that sent them over the edge.

I prepare the white flag after Halloween.

In November, I give away four bolts of burlap, send back the monogrammed sweaters, and throw away everything that even remotely smells like pumpkins.

By the time December rolls around, I’m a basket case.

I can’t keep up. I AM NOT MARTHA. STEWART! I am however consistent with my signature holiday homemaking rituals.

The lights on my pre-lit tree NEVER work as a team.

My homemade cookies for teachers and friends are actually made by toll house and can be found in the dairy case of any grocery store.

Three unused gingerbread houses dated 2007 remain in the deep freeze waiting for the day I arrange a craft party with my oldest and his friends.

There’s a bag of clearance Christmas décor and gifts that I always forget about and find in January.

The truth is, I’ll never be Martha. But I don’t hate her. She didn’t force me to charge a Mauviel copper pot. Even if some of the things she hand makes for the holidays can seem a bit pretentious. Martha brings us all back to a simpler time when doing beautiful things for family and friends was cherished. And lucky for me, my friends and family cherish toll house cookies, stale gingerbread houses, and wonky Christmas trees.

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

family pic

The week of Thanksgiving, my husband and I loaded into a three-car caravan, along with my parents, five of my siblings, and an assortment of spouses. We drove down into the heart of Louisiana. There, we split our time between the two sides of my extended family.

My mother’s people are Gremillions—very Cajun and Catholic—and are located in Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge is just like most smallish cities. Not swampy at all, although it is flat and piney like the rest of the state. You can get good beignets and café au lait there, and all the mainstream grocery stores carry etouffee mix and Tony’s seasoning. Seafood is easy to find in abundance, and gas station signage (I saw a gas station called “Stop and Geaux” on this trip) brags about the “best shrimp po’boys around!” There is also good cheap coffee grounds—Community Coffee is the brand my mother carries back with her when she goes.

My father always stops at the same gas station/meat shop, between Lake Charles and Baton Rouge, where he stocks up on a week’s supply of boudin.

What is boudin, you ask? It’s a kind of fatty, meaty rice mixture, stuffed into a sausage casing and served hot. You eat it with your whole mouth—lips, teeth, and throat are all necessary to squeeze the rice mixture out of the casing and devour it.

I’m embarrassed to say that it’s delicious.

We don’t usually make the trip down south over Thanksgiving. In the past we went at New Year’s quite often. Sometimes, also, for a wedding, or during a summer holiday. But I don’t know why we never thought of going on Thanksgiving before; it was absolutely the perfect time to go.

Most people had one full day of stuffed-to-bursting table time. I had a week of it. Everybody else in America spent Thursday eating turkey and stuffing, and that’s all very well and good, but I got a full week of strange Cajun-Southern combinations: gumbo one night, turkey the next; jambalaya and etouffee on the same potluck table with fried chicken and salad. Sweet potato casserole laid out alongside au gratin potatoes; crawfish cooking in the fryer while a traditional beef roast baked in the oven.

It was a grand time.

In the morning, we tried to anticipate the coming day’s food by exercising. We organized a family 5K, rowed around in the swamps of Birds Nest (my dad’s people are English-Irish swamp folk), walked in the genteel neighborhoods of Baton Rouge, and hunted squirrels. These efforts at working up an appetite were never equal to the supply of food.

My father’s people, as I mentioned, live in Birds Nest. This is about an hour outside of Lake Charles, and it is always a riot of a time there. Our own party was larger than usual, because of the spousal additions, but we were only a drop in the bucket. This trip, the cousins had begun to produce children, so in addition to spouses and girlfriends and boyfriends, babies were being handed around liberally just to add to the general confusion and merriment.

The center of activity was two large homes on the same backwoods road—my grandparents’ and my uncle’s. The homes are within walking distance of one another, and the movement between them was constant. We had a family-wide compulsory talent show one evening (best entertainment I’ve witnessed in a long while) and a barn dance with a live band on the last night of the trip.

When we loaded up the cars for the ride home, many of us cried (it’s tradition). More memories made.

I’d proposed this trip to my family as sort of a ‘last hurrah’. Babies are on the way (yes, more than one in my immediate family, but that’s all I’ll say), and I figured this would be a great time to get all of us together for an adventure. By some miracle, everybody’s crazy schedule was able to accommodate it.

But from the beginning, we’ve all been assuming that the twelve hour drive south is not going to be as easy to manage when there are schedules AND young ones in the mix. At least, not all of us at once, like this time.

But the more I think about it, the sillier it is to me. Since when do children preclude wonderful family friendly trips like these? Families have been taking road trips for ages. What’s not fun about taking your young children along to introduce them to more people they are related to?

If it means more weeks like this one, I’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. Toddlers and all—we’ll just pick up and geaux. 

Photo: My dad's progeny (children and sons-in-law) in white. My aunt's progeny are in red. My uncle's progeny are in black. Granny and Grandpa are leading it all up. This fun photo was taken in a barn with a canvas dropcloth backdrop; one of the aunts orchestrated.

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

Flower peach and pink arrangement pictureBy Angel Kane

Wilson Living Magazine



This past month, the hubs and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. And it went something like this....

"Do not buy me flowers! You know that it just makes me mad when you do. In fact, don't buy me anything that I haven't picked out myself."

"Duly noted. No flowers for you or anything that you have not specifically requested. And may I ask, what am I getting for putting in my time?"

On our anniversary, I received flowers and tickets to a musical that I'd never heard of.

And therein lies the secret to 20 years of wedded mostly bliss. It's taken two decades  to work out the kinks but it goes something like this...

 

1.    Not everyone puts their clothes in the laundry basket or washes them in the gentle cycle. The first few years this will almost drive you to divorce court. I mean, how hard is it to NOT wash all my clothes on HOT!!! But as time goes by you realize the fact that he's washing his clothes, your clothes and the kids clothes is a pretty big deal. In some countries, wives that don't wash all the clothes get stoned. So, your favorite white shirt is now pink and could fit on a doll... look on the bright side, you aren't facing a firing a squad this morning. Even the negatives, could be worse.

2.    My Dad spends every Sunday afternoon washing my Mom's car and then filling it up with gas. Whenever I mention this to my husband, he reminds me that while my Dad is doing this, my Mom is cooking him a homemade dinner. Never compare your marriage to someone else's; also, pump your own gas and like it!

3.    Not everything that you hear in your head should come out of your mouth. This one is hard because that girl in your head, she knows everything! But the one thing she doesn't always know is when to keep her mouth shut. Every once in a while you should duct tape her mouth and stick her in the trunk of your car. Because no one wants to hear it, her or you 24/7.

4.    He has his thing and you should have yours. Let him watch the game, play golf, work on his car because that means you can go shopping, watch Hallmark movies, and play Bunco with the girls. If he didn't have his thing, he'd be tagging along on yours. And taking the Husband to Home Goods always ends badly.

5.    The best part of marriage is you have a built in wingman. Grocery shopping, moving furniture, sick kids, crazy family, homework battles, putting up the Christmas lights. Marriage means someone to not only have your back, but most importantly someone to help work your list!

 

Twenty peach colored roses (because he knows peach is my favorite color) and tickets to a Broadway musical written by the creators of South Park (because he knows I secretly think that show is funny.)

 

I hope for 20 more years that go something just like this....

 

To read more of Angel and Becky's columns go to www.wilsonpost.com

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Good Morning!

Welcome to Crafty Southern Mama's How To Tuesday!

It is DECEMBER the 2nd, have you bought all your gifts yet?

If not, you're in luck!

Today I'm sharing a sweet dollie sewing tutorial that will make any little person on your shopping list squeal with delight!

If you have any sewing experience at all, you can make one of these.

If I can make one, ANYBODY can make one!

Several years ago (back when I actually had time to sew),

I ran up on this awesome sewing tutorial from 70 Piggies Blogspot on HOW TO MAKE A SOFTIE DOLL.

At the time my Miss Olivia was all about being a mama to her little dollies, so I was VERY EXCITED to make her one of these keepsake cuties!

b2ap3_thumbnail_dolls1.jpg

These dolls are really SIMPLE to make if you follow the step by step photo instructions.

(I am a visual learner, so tutorials like these are my ONLY HOPE!!!)

Gifts from the heart are always the best,

come on over to my blog to get the pattern and start one for someone you love today!

Thanks for visiting, friends!

Have a great day!

Mandy

Crafty Southern Mama

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