I arrived home from work this afternoon a little tired and weary from the week.  I've looked forward to the freedom of Friday night since late Sunday evening.  The freedom to stay awake until sleep comes to get me is a luxury I can't often indulge as a natural night owl who has to get up quite early for work.  When I can stay awake as long as I want, into the wee hours of the morning, it's like I'm stealing time.  In the winter, when the night creeps more and more into the day, I feel like I have less time to do everything I need and want to do.  I hate that.

Now that I'm hosting Christmas dinner, I feel like I have to do more stuff with less time.  This evening, my Friday evening, I came home from work with a well constructed To Do list for the weekend in my head.  I walked in the door, poured a glass of wine and decided to procrastinate.  Later on in the evening, I got the energy to get some of the shopping out of the way and after a few stops made my way over to Michaels.  I meandered through all of the Christmas decor, picture frames and art supplies with nearly nothing in my basket until I stumbled upon it.  The ceiling of the store opened up and the street lights turned toward it to reveal that... Martha Stewart has a craft collection at Michaels. 

I wanted everything.

I'm not really a crafter, but I could find an excuse to purchase a kit for hand puppets.  BECAUSE IT WAS PRETTY.  I NEED a bird stamp and a leaf sticker and a pair of beige scissors and paper flowers and a photo album and patterned ribbon.  

Because they're pretty.  

The packaging made me want to EAT everything.  It was all just the right color and shape and texture, but I knew better than to go too near.  Just like I know better than to go down the office/school supply aisle in any store.  It's bad news for all involved.  First, I'll waste time examining everything, imagining how I'll use it and what new furniture I'll need to keep it at its best.  Next, I'll pick up everything just to hold it.  I'll even carry it around for a while.  

It's a great way to spend a Friday night.  I need those.


Christmas Decorating Decision

This is how I will be presenting the napkins.

I've rolled the napkin, (my grey that will be masquerading as silver) tied it with a ribbon that was threaded through a Christmas ornament (4 for $0.79 at Target) and knotted in the back. That's one decision down. On to the next three hundred forty seven.


My First Time

When Eddie and I moved into this house, a house that would fit more than just the two of us and the dog without sitting in shifts, I offered it up to the family as a holiday mecca for all that I knew it could be. I offered it nonchalantly because I knew it would take years for the mothers to relinquish their hold on the "Family Christmas," which would be the same amount of time it would take for me to feel like this house was ready for anything like that. A mere ten months later, I'm not fit to host braille tutoring.

This weekend I found out (1) my family listens when I say things I almost mean... and they remember and (2) I would be hosting Christmas this year. In my house. Christmas is usually hosted by one of the matriarchs of the family, a person with an abundance of serving dishes, silverware and Christmas decorations. It takes cabinets full of take-home Tupperware, wine glasses and napkin rings. I don't have themed dishes or a bread basket or more than three dishtowels (none of which match any other).

I've always wanted to host something like this because it's for both sides of our family. Eddie's family and my family will both feel like Christmas is on their turf, which works for everyone. It makes the most sense, really. BUT I do this thing to myself where I go and put on all kinds of pressure to make everything perfect except I don't even know what perfect is in this case, because we're trying to make something new. I've been spending this week worrying about what that is and how to achieve it.

We're excited because it's a chance to start traditions and embrace the holiday in a new way while giving others a chance to enjoy themselves without the worry of, "Is everyone ELSE happy? Does everyone ELSE have what they need?"

Eddie's just excited because it'll be impossible for me to make us late arriving (because it'll be here) and we'll be having roasted duck (at his request). He does not realize that hosting this holiday means that we'll have to start cleaning immediately. And we won't stop until the duck is done.


Looking Back

Eddie and I cleaned out a closet this past weekend and I've unearthed some old gems. I was looking through some middle school yearbooks. I have learned something in all these years. I'm older and wiser. I will spread the wisdom:

Don't do perms. Ever.


Piece Of A Journal

Excerpt from 9.19.2000

Brave does not equal fearless. In fact, the mere definition of brave implies that some amount of fear must come first. Brave is being afraid but getting on a plane anyway. Brave is closing your eyes and jumping from the platform and into the water. Brave is getting in the car after the accidents.

I am scared.

I am brave.


Childhood Memories

This sits on a shelf in my living room. It's a piece of pop culture and a piece of my childhood. I "made" this in Vacation Bible School during the summer before my third grade year. All we had to do was paint the form with glazes that would run when fired in the kiln. I made sure my E.T.'s right index finger was glowing red, you know, just like in the movie.

I hope I'm not the only one that puts third grade art up in her living room.



You'll need to turn left
So get in the left lane now
Now. I'm not kidding


Because It's Pretty

This evening, my coughing is suppressed by a few well chosen medications and a prescription of sushi with friends.

I haven't been out for pleasure in a little while, so I went through my closet and chose something I've been meaning to wear. It's a beautiful sweater I bought a hundred years ago and I've been waiting for the right weather, the right feeling and the right fit (depends on the day) to wear it out on the town.

I put it on after choosing the appropriate shoes and pants. I think it looks smashing. But it's itchy. And uncomfortable. I'm not really sure how long I'll be able to stand it, frankly.

However. I will suffer because it's pretty. I'm a girl and I took an oath.


I Am Thankful For...

My husband because he finds a way to love me in a new way every day.

My family because their love is unconditional.

My dog because he is always honest and true (and cuddly.)

Nyquil because it will allow me to recharge before I work tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving all.


We Have A Dog

Sometimes I can't believe I live with an animal.

He has opinions.

He likes it under our bed. That's where I found him for this shot.



Check this out.


Need Rock-Hard Abs?

Get a cold. Cough a lot. You'll be bikini-ready in no time.

*Little slice of life from here: Eddie made me some "feel good" brownies (not the kind with the "special ingredient." These were made just because I'm sick, to make me feel better about being sick because when I'm sick, he makes me brownies) and we ate them while we watched the end of The Biggest Loser, the part where they weighed in. That's the only portion of the show we watched. And we watched it while we ate brownies.

I'll cough them off tomorrow.


If You Know What's Good

--"You need to get a hair cut this week."

"I know. Today was a particularly interesting hair day for me."

--"Seriously, call Bennett tomorrow and make an appointment."

(half-hearted) "Yeah."

--"No. If you don't want ME to cut it while you're sleeping, then call Bennett. Tomorrow."

Blink. Blink. (a little scared)

--(giggles malevolently. then coughs.)


Way Under The Weather



*Cough, Cough

...complaining about headaches and swollen lymph nodes.

...complaining about the fact that I've got to be at work tomorrow at 5am.


Pity Eddie.



When I am in the check-out line, my eyes often wander to the sides where all of the impulse purchase candy and gum live. On more than one occasion, I've tried to buy gum at the last minute but I can't seem to find any gum that I can enjoy. It's all sugarless. I don't do sugarless.

If you can't tell whether or not your soft drink is diet, pass it to me. I can tell instantly. Or, YOU can tell instantly by the face I make when I confirm that it is, in fact, sugar free.

EVERYTHING has gone sugar free. I had to throw away yogurt, purchased in haste (didn't have time to read the entire label). What I had read of the label, in the first few ingredients I found sugar. When I got it home and tasted my first spoonful, I instantly knew something was wrong, so I read the entire ingredient statement. There it was, in the last few ingredients. Why would you need to put artificial sweetener in something that ALREADY has sugar in it?

I don't do sugarless. Bubbalicious, where are you?


I've Just Taken Two Nyquil

Now I'm headed to bed. They've kicked in.


How To End An Argument With A Not-So-Technical Win

Expose your sparring partner's buttocks. This will end any argument abruptly, especially those silly ones where you can sense the tide is beginning to turn against you and you've realized your position is weak.

This gives you the upper hand immediately. Covered butt beats exposed butt. You usually wind up laughing together. Because butts are funny anytime.


How I Begin My Day

This morning around 4:00am Cody vomited in the bed. Where we were sleeping.


That'd be the time I got up this morning.


The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions

This evening just after work and walking the dog, Eddie and Cody and I all snuggled in the bed for a bit. It was such a nice little moment. Our little family. Until I teased the dog so much that he couldn't stand it and we all wound up on the floor wrestling with a quilt. After our wrestling match, Eddie and Cody settled in on the bed while I got changed for my trip to the gym.

I was searching for my running shoes when I hear my cell ringing in the kitchen. I run to catch it because that's what you do when your phone rings from the other end of the house. I answered knowing full well what would happen if I did.

On the other end of the line my friend begged us to meet her for dinner. I balked. I was going to the gym. I was dressed, my hair was already up and ugly. I suppose I shouldn't have had her on speaker phone for Eddie to hear when she threw out Fleur de Lis as an option. He groaned. All I had to do was say, "let's go."

So I did. And we did. I ate pizza in my gym clothes.


Little White Lie

This evening I met with my girls group. My friend and I agreed almost four years ago that we'd take on this challenge. We have 7 girls (they were all 12-13 when we started) that are part of our circle. Each week, we have dinner, talk and focus on a "lesson" of some sort that usually jolts us out of the routine of our lives for a bit. It makes us think a little more about how we choose to live our lives, or about why we've chosen to live our lives pointed in a certain direction. As the leaders, we are ever aware that we do not have any of the answers and make it alarmingly clear each week, whether intended or not. While the group is based out of our common church, we tackle more than just Jesus. Neither of us who lead wanted another poorly attended Sunday School class during the week.

I'd say it's going well in year four. Our girls (I love calling them "our girls") are maturing and it's easier to have a conversational type "lesson" without being simply a moderator between stories about their grandmothers or their dogs. We can participate in the group discussion and have to direct it back toward the original topic less and less. Now, if there are tangents, the questions they birth will often prove more thoughtful than we could have hoped. The girls (our girls) are bringing the discussions into their lives and bringing their lives back into the discussions.

This evening, nearing the end of our time together, we decided to go around the group, each giving one high and one low for their week since we last met. I listened to highs of upcoming Thanksgiving break and lows of painful dental surgery. I would be the last to contribute. I was thinking about it. I had to THINK about my high for the week. I already had a low. My parents aren't doing so well at the moment. I thought about how much I loved my husband and how much I enjoy being with him, but immediately felt guilty because I take him for granted sometimes. I couldn't come up with a high right away. That's not usually like me. I can find the humor in anything. Especially if it's inappropriate for 16 yr olds.

Then it was my turn.

I decided to go ahead and start with the high. I told them something that I was proud of for the week, but it wasn't a high. I lied. It was just too pathetic NOT to have a high for the week. I'm a little low.

I kept the smile on, we all hugged and parted and I was on my way home. My usual go-to talk radio stations had been taken over with sports so I hit "scan." I stopped at a dj's story that caught my ear. She hadn't had a great week either. I was in the mood to take comfort in another's pain. Wait. That came out wrong. I was in the mood to take comfort in the fact that there are others out there, others like me, who have crappy days and live to tell about it.

Don't tell me you don't do it.

So, I'm listening to this story about how she's in a hurry to get something in a store, about how she's frustrated because she can't find the item and is carrying around her 9 month old, about how she finally gets to the check-out where this little old lady and some kids are in front of her and she's late for where she needs to be. Then she stops because the kids in front of her are playing with their new toys, their prizes from the trip to the store. She watches them and loses track of just how long she'd been in line (like when you get a juicy magazine and suddenly don't care about how long the person in front of you is taking to move on - even though you hunted for the shortest line). When she realized she'd been there for longer than she'd expected, she looked up to see the old lady was stalling, digging in the bottom of her purse for the change she needed to pay the entire bill for those prizes. When she caught on to what was happening, she dug in her purse and helped meet the bill.

While still late, she said it was the highlight of her day.

I have things to learn this week.


Not Just For Special Occasions

First, let it be known that I hate shopping for food. I have to do that quite frequently for work and while I love to cook, I'd rather have this list of things that I need and give that to another person who would then bring me everything on that list and put it away neatly in my house.

The problem with that scenario is the fact that I almost never shop with a list. I get inspired by what I see in the store and there's dinner. I'm still working on a solution for that. I won't give up.

I've also gotten a little too good at the whole letting the dishes wait thing. This combination could only have resulted with the following admission:

A couple of evenings ago, I had a bowl of cereal for dinner. On my wedding china.


Ongoing Home Projects

In February, I posted about closing on this house. Since that time I haven't really posted any pictures. We've managed to do quite a bit of painting, staining and new floor and sink installation. Still, I haven't been so gung-ho.

It was really rough for me when we didn't get the first house, especially when we went so far in the process. After that, no house measured up. In the end, when we decided to purchase this house, it was a lot to do with the fact that it was definitely time to buy and because it was a killer deal. With the other house, it was move-in ready. I wouldn't change the cabinets or the floor or the colors on the walls.

This house is a different story.

We'll be replacing this tomorrow.

(The fan and not the popcorn ceiling. THAT'S another project altogether.)


Sweet Smelling Update

Earlier this week, I shared a little story that gave a peek into the extent of my neurosis. A majority of the time I can keep the minor things under control. I can recognize when I start to obsess over something, like when we first got married, I had to have the dishes and laundry done before we went to bed each night...except I'd put it off until later and at bedtime, I'd choose cleaning over sleep. Come to think of it, maybe it wasn't ME that recognized it. It was Eddie. It wasn't that he minded me staying up to clean, it was the attitude I had when it was time. I wanted to be together, with my new husband, so it made total sense to ask him to help.

It wasn't his idea of together time.

I've made progress. There are dishes in the sink that will stay there until the morning and I've generally run out of time to do laundry during the week. It gets done on the weekends.

I wasn't kidding about worrying about whether or not I was beginning to smell. I checked each day, several times a day for the rest of the work week. I applied the deodorant in the morning after drying my underarms meticulously. I used a different towel. I didn't change deodorant or anything because I'm limited in a deodorant choice, which is an entirely different post altogether. I don't do scented.

My week of intense observation has confirmed that I, in fact, do not smell. My body has not built up an immunity to deodorant and flowers do not fall as I pass (as I turn around to check one more time, just in case).


At The Speed of Retail

On Halloween this year, I waited until the last minute to pick up some candy. I went into a local store just after work to search through what was left on the Halloween aisle in an effort to get a bargain and still compete for the 'good house' on the block.

I was in such a hurry to pick through the bags of Butterfingers and KitKats that I didn't slow down until I was forced to stop at the check-out. I glanced at the week's gossip and debated on picking up one of those magazines, but I still have that fear of "getting caught" with one.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I totally check the MSN entertainment section most mornings on the web BUT before I could reach my hand out to pick up the latest on Britney, I noticed it. I heard the CHRISTMAS music playing in the store. Halloween wasn't even OVER yet. In fact, it hadn't even started.

During the holidays, one of our local radio stations switches over to all Christmas music, all the time. I scanned my radio stations this afternoon and I ran across it. There it was. Christmas music. It's November 8th.

Happy New Year, everyone.


Our Middle Names Are The Same

I've been thinking about my cousin a lot this week. I've been struggling with feeling left out of her life for the past few years. Which makes me feel a little guilty. My uncle, her father, died two years ago this month. He was my father's only brother. His little brother.

When my uncle died, my father wanted to swoop in and help the family with everything, but he never wanted to intrude. He made it clear that he loved them and was there if they needed him, but he didn't push. He waited. I imagine that was pretty difficult. I'd never really know because my father has built a pretty good stone wall. It's been well crafted through the years of being the oldest, being The Dad and always having a good answer to any hard question I'd ask. I never really knew if he was scared of anything.

I followed his lead in loving them. I'd call and leave short messages on their answering machine to let them know I was thinking of them, or I'd just leave a little joke to make them laugh. It was easier not to push them when they were an 8 hour car ride away.

Then they moved a little closer. I'd have to ride only 3 hours to visit. They worked, I worked. Time passed. Fast. It passed so fast that Susan met, dated and became engaged to a man that I had never met. The first I heard of him was when we got a call from my aunt telling us to expect a wedding invitation in the mail. I couldn't believe it. All of a sudden I felt completely over-protective. My uncle was gone and totally out of the blue I felt like the self-appointed guard dog for his side of the family. If this guy was going to get to my cousin, he was going to have to get through ME.

Just in case you were wondering, it really wasn't helpful to have adopted this attitude when I met him for the first time. At his wedding. I introduced myself and my parents before the ceremony and waited for him to...I don't know, bow or something. I expected him to go on and on about how sorry he was that we hadn't met before and how he'd promise to love and cherish my cousin like the queen that she is, because he knows (from reputation) that I'd have to hurt him if he did otherwise.

But that didn't happen. He shook my hand and that was it. I can't say I warmed to him. Then he started treating Susan like she was HIS. I don't think he understood that she was MINE for 26 years. He didn't know me and that meant that he didn't know her. We grew up together.

Now we're both grown up. And she's married. And I feel guilty for not having been there. I feel guilty for not pushing harder. I feel selfish and I know it's unjustified. Frustrating.

It's frustrating because I love her and she seems so happy. I feel selfish because I had nothing to do with that.

How's that for honesty?


After Thirty Minutes This Afternoon

After work, after the workout, I was down on the mat for a bit of stretching. I was reaching far to my toes and turned my head to the side to reach a bit farther. And I smelled myself.

Yes, I had run hard and I was sweaty AND it was near the end of the day but the question ran through my mind, did I put on deodorant this morning? I went through my morning routine in my mind, the cell phone, the bath, the pill, the toothbrush, and yes - the deodorant. Maybe it was just too soon after the bath for such an application and I was a little too wet for the deodorant to, you know, stick.

I refuse to believe that my body's capacity for emitting smell has exceeded my deodorant's capacity to cover it up or stop it altogether. After 31 years and a savvy sense of smell, this can't be an unnoticed ongoing occurrence. That kind of thing can't just magically change overnight. Can it?

I don't look forward to the rest of the week when I'm compulsively checking to see if I smell. Or when I smell. At what point in the day do I need to reapply? Do I really want to publish this little event on the internet?

Yes. Neurosis is interesting. Isn't it?



The Laws Of Attraction

Loudly, from down the hall while carrying clothes to hide in another room, I playfully ask: "Sparky, what will it take? What will I have to give you to change that light bulb before the girls get here?"

Do you know what he said? He said,"A light bulb."

THAT's why I love this man. He could have taken total advantage of me in my desperation to have the house ready before my guests arrived. But he didn't.

Opposites do attract.


The Inner Judgemental

My cousin Susan, 26, got married yesterday evening. She married a Pentecostal minister and joined a ready-made family. Her new husband is a widower with a little girl. I can't help but be a little afraid for what the future holds for her. I don't like admitting that, or thinking that my adult cousin isn't capable of making her own correct life choices. I also don't like admitting that the reason I don't think she's capable of making her own choices is because they aren't MY choices. You know, for her.

Like finishing her degree or the part in their vows where she had to say, "obey." OBEY. I didn't think we did that anymore. "WE" as in ALL WOMEN.

No matter our differences, nothing changes the fact that she was a beautiful, happy bride. I will work on that whole trust thing.


Curls And Bows

This evening I will be attending a Pentecostal wedding. The hairstyles are always interesting.



Happy Birthday Katheryn.

Katheryn would have been 25 today. She was/is my little sister.

I hated typing that sentence. Even after seven years, I haven't mastered the art of sharing a story about my siblings in a discussion where other people are sharing stories about their siblings without some kind of awkward confusion about tense. And death. I can't bring myself to say, "she was my little sister" because she is my little sister -- wherever she is. But if I tell some story and I don't clarify the fact that to some she was my little sister, inevitably questions like "So, where is she living now?" will be asked. Then I have to answer them. I've run out of euphemisms for "she died."

I don't like answering those kinds of questions because it makes people uncomfortable (me included) and then the mood of the conversation changes from sharing happy, funny stories to serious and concerned and suddenly all about me. There's got to be some unwritten social rule that says you can't smile or laugh within 10 minutes of someone mentioning death. Everyone seems to know that rule. In my experience they obey it more than any other social rule out there. I'm usually the first one to crack a joke if I've been put in that position.

I just want to tell the stories and laugh with the group that's sharing about their brother or sister. And for a minute, while I'm laughing and no one knows better, I can pretend she's still here.


Weekend Getaway

A couple of weekends ago, Eddie and I drove a few hours and wound up in Natchez, Mississippi. It wasn't really all that unplanned. Eddie's aunt has a second house there. Her first house is in New Orleans, which is why she decided to go ahead and purchase a second house just in case that first house is ever again...inaccessible. It also makes a great destination for her freeloading relatives looking for a manageable but lovely weekend escape. I guess it would be unfair to call us all freeloaders. She did invite us. Visitors help to keep the place lived in between the times she ventures up there. So, I guess you could say we were really helping out. That's right. We HAD to go. To help his aunt. And we didn't even charge her anything.

It was a completely stress-free trip. I was able to take quite a few pictures, which should make their way on my flickr page in due course. There's one I thought captured Natchez:

In The Web

It's a beautiful, historic town that wasn't bustling with any familiar pace. I wouldn't call it neglected; it's just been there long enough to have the dirty turn into interesting. In my mind, there's "new dirty" and that's just dirty. It's supposed to be clean and it isn't. It's wrong. Then there's the "old dirty" which has had a chance to develop some character. It's like those wrinkles caused from squinting into the sunshine. They are in just the right places and show that your lips and eyes and cheeks follow familiar paths to a smile.

*The mansion in the background is Rosalie.
*Update (the set of Natchez photos on flickr can be seen here.)
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