I am NOT FOOLED

Is anyone else with me in thinking that these “ponte stretch pants” are merely fancy talk for “leggings?” For EIGHTY EIGHT DOLLARS? I think not, J.Crew. I am not fooled by your fancy marketing talk.


Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

I can’t really explain adequately or eloquently exactly how I feel about New Orleans. I was born there, lived there, grew up there. I left to go to college in Austin and never moved back. But I still call it home. Almost all native New Orleanians do, even if they haven’t lived there for ten, twenty, thirty years. You can’t really shake New Orleans, and I don’t want to. With the Saints win the other night, and talking with my sister, and thinking of how much I really want my girls to know my parents (REALLY know them, not thank-you-notes-after-birthdays know them) I really think that I want to move back.

Of course, wants don’t really reflect practicalities. My husband is licensed to practice in Texas, and it won’t transfer to other states until he’s practiced for five years. Plus, Louisiana still has the French Civil Code, so he would need to learn some more angles to the law in order to practice there. (Ah yes. Backwards in more ways than just Britney, people.) In any case, I don’t even know that he would want to live there. But in order to start winning him over, we have two trips planned to New Orleans within the next 3 months! We’re taking the girls to Mardi Gras, which will be FANTASTIC and I seriously can’t wait. I know that when most people think of Mardi Gras they think boobs and beads, which… sure. But I certainly won’t be taking my children to Bourbon Street, ok? Give me some credit here. I myself didn’t even go to Bourbon Street until college, when I brought my roommates home for the holiday and we headed down to view the debauchery. (And it’s pretty smelly and gross, by the way. Don’t really feel the need to do that again. Also, too much beer for me. Ahem.)

The Mardi Gras I want to show them is the Mardi Gras of Lundi Gras, of king cakes, of dressing up in costumes and watching amazing parades as they roll down St. Charles Avenue under the oaks. It’s the Mardi Gras of the Twelfth Night Revelers, of kings and queens, of balls and Rex and Zulu and Endymion and Bacchus. It’s eating fried chicken on the neutral ground and dancing to the St. Augustine Marching Hundred high school band. It’s sitting on your dad’s shoulders and reaching out to catch the beads that a float rider is handing out as they point to YOU and you alone.  It’s policemen on horses and flambeaus with their sticks of fire. It’s being four years old and thinking that there is nowhere so magical in the world as New Orleans at Mardi Gras time. Katrina can’t change that.

I’ll let the Rebirth Brass Band take it from here.


Driving and Crying

I sometimes don’t even realize how fast G is growing up. That she’ll be four in just a couple of short months just hasn’t penetrated my conciousness yet.

On the way to school this morning, I had the mirror angled so I could see her in the back seat. She was leaning her head to the side of the car seat and was staring out the window when she said, “Mama? You and Daddy and me and Adele and Homer and Juju and Vanilla are never going to die, right?” I didn’t know how to respond. Not even a little. We’ve never talked about death with her until recently, when our neighbor’s dog passed away. We didn’t even really elaborate, just explained that Sascha’s body had given out and she was in dog heaven (a fantastic book by Cynthia Rylant, by the way, should you ever need to explain the demise of a pet.) She had seemed to take it in stride and we moved along to other topics, but to have her broach it again with our family as the subject completely floored me.

I just said that none of us was going anywhere anytime soon, and changed the subject. But my eyes were stinging and my throat needed to be cleared again and again because What If? What If something were to happen to one of us? My life, my heart is centered around my family and I know that no one is invincible. From watching the grace with which others have handled the unthinkable (Heather and Mike and Stephanie Nielson come to mind immediately) I know that life does go on, that one can continue to move through life. But I’m an adult. I can grasp that on a bigger level because I have the understanding and capacity to do so. How do I explain any of this to a three-year old?

So I copped out. I moved on, I changed the subject, I made her laugh. Because I can’t explain something to her that scares me so much.


The One About the Kitchen

I’ve mentioned my One Butt Kitchen before. It’s small, with emphasis on the small part. However, when we bought our house six years ago, we bought it from a flipper who had done only the absolute basic updates, and it was built in the 1940’s. We first saw the house before it even went on the market while just driving around neighborhoods, and we knew we wanted it from the second we hopped out of the car and ran around looking in all the windows (we are classy, you see). What we saw was a basic, cute two bedroom, one bath bungalow with limitless potential sitting on a bed of dirt (seriously, no grass… this IS Texas, after all, and no one had lived in the house for years). I remember Alexa asking once about what was important in a neighborhood, and to be honest, when we bought our house our ‘hood was sketchy. Oh so very sketchy. “Crack house on the corner” sketchy. (Another post for another day. It involves friendly crack dealers!)But it was affordable, we loved it immediately and our realtor made an offer for us the moment it hit the listings. And despite four other offers going in for it that day, we got it. Fate. Kismet. Whatever it was, we got it and it was ours. I so wish I had had the forethought to take “before” pictures because boy howdy have we done a lot to this house. However, that’s for later. The kitchen, it is my topic for today.

When we bought the house, the flippers hadn’t purchased the appliances yet, so we wrote those into our loan and the purchase price was less overall for the house. Now, may I just say (with the kindest of intentions because Casey gets cranky when I gripe about the kitchen/bathroom/lack of closet space), our kitchen is jankety. (Is that a word? If not, I’m using it anyway because it perfectly expresses what I mean.) The cabinets are the most basic basic that ever were, the floor tile was, until Casey replaced it, frightening, the sink is a double behemoth that might look more at home in a shed. But when you’re buying new appliances, you can’t really say, “Well, these are too nice. Do you have anything in, say, avocado green? No? A vibrant orange, perhaps?” They just don’t make those anymore. I know! I was surprised too. So we have nice, big, stainless appliances that are lovely but WAY too big for our tiny kitchen. I’m so used to it now that I mostly don’t even notice anymore when I can’t open the oven and the fridge at the same time because the doors smack into each other. But every now and again I look at it and think “This has got to be the weirdest use of space ever.”

Ah, homeownership. It’s joyous, yes?

Coming soon: Why We Won’t be Redoing the Kitchen Because It Would Involve Knocking Out a Retaining Wall


Knocking Out Those Resolutions One at a Time

*warning: there are about 5 run-on sentences in this post but I don’t care a bit because I’m so excited about the topics of discussion. Try not to judge me.

I am notoriously bad at making myself do things I should do… therefore, I am a procrastinator extraordinaire. At this very moment, I’m totally avoiding some stuff I should be doing. Like dishes! Or showering. But that’s neither here nor there. What I’m truly excited about is that in this freezing year that seems determined to bog me down even though I have already declared 2010 the year of “better than 09,” I have managed to do two things that I said I would do.

1. I conquered a fear of reaching out to the Internet and contacted the lovely Jennie back in Octoberish when she started her fabulous site, Style Lush, to see if they might have need for more writers for the site. She wrote back (immediately and all friendly-like, because she’s like that) and let me know that they were pretty full but that she would contact me if something became available. And then she did write back later! And said I could write some stuff! And lo, I was THRILLED. I’m a huge fan of the women on the site, even though I’ve typically been a crap commenter on their blogs because I just started this here blog about a nano-second ago, and I don’t always leave my family blog on there because, hello, it’s about a billion pictures of my kids and that’s only interesting to the grandparents. These women can WRITE, I tell you, and I’m so honored to even be in their virtual company.  So I’m writing over there now and loving it… click on over and check it out! My checkbook asks that you buy everything featured on the site so that I can’t, please.

2. I started a business. No, really. I did. A little one, nothing enormous, but so far it’s giving me enormous personal satisfaction and also a creative outlet, both of which are making me really happy. Hazeled is my new photography venture. I know there are a billion photographers out there, and I’m not trying to make this a “bring home the bacon” kind of job, but if I can take photos (which makes me happy) of beautiful children (which makes the parents happy) then what’s not to love? I’m still scared out of my pants about it but I’ve already had my first client shoot and I have a second one coming up on Thursday. Truly, I couldn’t be more excited.

So there! I did it! Two things that scared me but are making my 2010 infinitely better. This, I’m sure, will give me license to procrastinate in just about every other area of my life. My husband will be thrilled.


Belated, but Better than Never

Stolen shamelessly from every other blogger out there, I present my belated wrapup of 09.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

Quit my job. Spent a month with family and the babies in the summer, minus my husband. Got less sleep than in any other year of my life than I can remember.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My resolutions last year were simple and general: be content, stop procrastinating, be patient. I can safely say that I worked on all three. Not as hard as I should have, though. I’ve made some for this year, but they’re a little more specific and hopefully more measurable.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Me! And a close friend had a baby girl 2 months after I did.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My husband’s grandfather passed away in March.

5. What countries did you visit?

Um, the US. (I have 2 kids under 4. I don’t travel much these days.)

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you didn’t have in 2009?

A real vacation with my husband minus children.

7. What dates from 2009 will be etched upon your memory, and why?

January 9, the day baby A was born. March 16, the day we found out my husband’s law firm rescinded his job offer.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

Baby A, and managing to be a stay at home mom without losing my mind. (I was unsure about how well I would do at this.)

9. What was your biggest failure?

I really need to work on my patience with my kids. Really really really. Three was a hard age for G and consequently for us as parents, and I really want to be more understanding and kind.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Well, I re-bought my Nikon D50 after baby A broke my first one. (sob) But it’s one of my favorite things.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My husband’s…he had a terrible year in terms of the law school payoff and he still graduated with honors and got a job in the legal field, which is more than many have been able to do in this economy.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?’

Tiger Woods’.

14. Where did most your money go?

Mortgage, bills, preschool.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

When I decided to launch my own business and just went for it. (cough http://www.hazeled.com cough)

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

I and Love and You, the Avett Brothers

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

a. happier, since last year at this time I was 2 days away from giving birth and was incredibly uncomfortable and cranky b. thinner (see aforementioned 2 days away from giving birth) c. poorer. Oh my god, SO MUCH POORER.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Playing with the girls, spending time with my girlfriends, having one on one time with my husband.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying, spending.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my ENTIRE family (in-laws, brothers-in-law, sister, parents, husband, children) in Colorado. POST FORTHCOMING ON THIS MADNESS.

21. Did you fall in love with 2009?

No. I wanted to beat it silly. (With the exception of the baby, of course. She’s amazing.)

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Sadly, my TV watching consists of Scrubs reruns and not much else. Me! Who used to be the queen of Useless Pop Culture Facts! Although that skill did come in handy while playing Scene It at Christmas.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don’t hate anyone.

24. What was the best book you read)

That’s a hard one, but you know what’s easy? Naming the worst book I read: Twilight. (It’s ok, I know people loved it. I did not. Couldn’t get past all the writing errors, “murmuring,” and sparkly characters.)

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I don’t think I have any. I’m kind of the opposite of a music geek… I’m a music ignorant. I like it, but I’m not the one who seeks out and discovers the cool new bands.

26. What did you want and get?

A healthy baby.

27. What did you want and not get?

An iPhone. I know, UNNECESSARY. But the question was asked, so…

28. What was your favorite film of 2009?

What means this word “film”? Do you mean Netflix?

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My sister babysat and we went out! As adults! It was awesome! I turned 31. Doesn’t feel that different than 30, if anyone’s curious.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

(CAUTION! DEAD HORSE AHEAD! STEER CLEAR! I promise I won’t ever mention this again after this post. SWEAR.) I have to say that C’s job offer being rescinded was the thing that broke our year. He worked SO HARD in law school, did everything “right” spent hours on hours (including an ENTIRE SUMMER) away from his family, and graduated with honors… without a job offer. And so it really reflected in how he felt about himself, how he felt he had done. It was as if all his work was in vain (which of course in the long run, it wasn’t, but we’re talking immediate situation at hand, here) and I would have done anything to keep him from feeling that way. A good job would have made our year more satisfying.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2009?

Workout clothes and running shoes. HAWT.

32. What kept you sane?

My kids, my husband, my friends, my mom and sister, reading, sewing.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Oh my god HEALTH CARE.

34. Who did you miss?

I miss my parents, since we don’t live in the same state, and I miss my girlfriends because we now all have kids and no time.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Well, that’s a darn shame… I don’t know if I met anyone truly “new.”

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.

Don’t fret and worry about stuff you can’t change… look ahead and things truly do get better.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need. –Rolling Stones

Here’s to 2010… it’s looking better already.