Thirty Three

As of Saturday last, I am thirty-three years old. (Side note: I’m not suddenly British, what with the order of that sentence. I would normally say “last Saturday” but I am feeling fancy, what with being THIRTY THREE and all.) Thirty three, in case you were wondering, feels an awful lot like thirty-two. I suspect that at thirty-five I’ll have some sort of seismic shift wherein my face will proclaim to the world “I feel MIDDLE AGED!” but so far I’m not there. I’m also discovering that the older I get, the less willing I would be to go back and relive the previous decade again. For example, when I was twenty-three, I was living in a New York city fourth floor walkup apartment that contained a bathroom with no sink. I… enjoy that my current bathroom has a sink. I wish it was a LARGER bathroom, as it is roughly the size of 3 bathmats stitched together, but hey, it has a sink, and I like to brush my teeth. Hoorah for sinks!

So. Thirty-three. Or, 33, because I’m getting ever closer to 34 as I type out “thirty-three” since it’s taking forever.

I’d like to accomplish a few things this year. This is no Mighty Branded Lifely Type List, but I’m starting a new year, dammit, and I am going to stop biting my nails if it KILLS ME SO HELP ME. I’m not the kind of biter who nibbles fingernails down to the quick… I do find that to be pretty gross, and that’s not my issue. No, my issue is nerves. I nibble out of habit, or stress, or during scary movies or TV shows that make me uncomfortable. This is why I cannot watch reality TV. Toddler and Tiaras? My fingers would be shredded to NUBS, I tell you.

Also, I’m going to improve my posture. (I know. Pass the Dentugrip.) I feel like I would FEEL taller if I stood up and didn’t stoop or hunch or slump, as I am wont to do. I’m slumping right now, in fact! As I type! Must stop this.

And now, for the Internet resolution.

The internet, people, is a great place, but I fear it’s taking over. There’s blogging. Twitter. Facebook. Google+. Pinterest. Spotify. Goodreads. So on. Et cetera. Add in any others you might wish to.

Not everyone needs or wants to know what I’m up to in every arena of my life. In fact, my internet life is fairly separate from my actual life in that I only have a few friends who read here. I have lots of friends who check in over at Style Lush (and you should too because it’s fabulous) but for the most part, the internet and real life don’t seem to overlap too often. Also, I think that the tendency to “check in” with the internet in case we missed something is becoming a phenomenon as well. I don’t want my kids to think that I live life with my phone in front of my face, but I KNOW that there are some days when that happens, for whatever reason. (Usually that reason involves lots of whining, and not by me.) So, an achievable balance with the internet is a third thing I’d like to do in this, my 33rd year. (See? British again.)

Since I’ve established that this year will include posture (good), biting (bad) and internet balance (achievable), I think it can happen. Now! Let us speak no more of the internet ON the internet, because if a tree falls on the internet and no one’s around to write about it on Twitter… WELL. You know.

Let’s talk about the weather instead! Everyone loves that! Seriously, I’ve never wanted to leave Texas so much during my time here. It is supremely boiling hot outside. I am, actually and literally, going to try to fry an egg on the sidewalk tomorrow, because I want to see what will happen. It is so, so hot, y’all. As in, over 105 degrees for more than 28 consecutive days hot.

Part 2 of our road trip involved a stop in North Carolina. I grew up going to summer camp in North Carolina, and I love it so much I can’t even put it in to words. A lot of my love for the state comes from the fact that I loved summer camp so much (LOVED IT. Even now I can sing you songs, should you desire. Look out, Blathering attendees!) but MAN, is that state beautiful. And green! Because it rains there! We have no such moisture here. We just sit around roasting in our own juices and complaining about the heat. The cold water runs tepid from the taps; I haven’t done a load of warm water laundry in weeks because why fire up the ol’ hot water heater when ALL THE WATER IS HOT ALREADY?

Anyway, North Carolina. I want to move there. And look at my camp!

We got to wander around a little, since it was rest time and we weren’t scaring any unsuspecting campers, and it was just the best thing in the world to be able to show Casey and my girls a place that means so much to me.

And Adele is totally considering jumping off that diving board.

In any case, it is cool there, and green, and rains regularly, and BY GOLLY if I can get Casey on board with this, we’re out of here. I cannot take it anymore. So if you’ve ever felt the urge to come visit Austin, come soon and you can stay with us. After that, you’re on your own.

Also, and apropos of nothing, is 33 too old for a nose piercing? Because I kind of really want one.


Is this thing on?

Um, hello?

Hi there?

Helloooo (echo, echo, echo)?

If a website goes un-updated in the woods and there’s no one around to read it, does it… wait, that’s not right. Moving on!

Things have been happening around here, I guess… nothing of too much note, really, except that thing BIG THING that’s been hanging over our heads is no longer hanging. Earlier this year, Casey applied to take the Foreign Service exam. He did pretty well, and made it through about four rounds of tests/interviews/background tests. Have I mentioned that he speaks Mandarin Chinese? He does. It’s… unexpected, considering his Wisconsin-Texas background. He looks like this when he’s being serious:


And like this when he’s maybe not so serious:

All I’m saying is, Chinese is not the first thing that comes to mind when you meet him.

In any case, a lot of things have sort of been on hold while we waited to get word about the outcome of the tests. If he passed, there was a chance we could be moving. We wouldn’t know whether that would be within the US, or abroad; we didn’t know whether it would be in the fall, next spring or next WEEK, even. (Though considering the hair-tearing angst I just went through to get G into kindergarten, I was really hoping we would be able to stick around at least long enough for me to feel that the angst was worth it.)

He got word on Tuesday that he didn’t make it to the next round, which would have been an in-person interview. He’s disappointed, and I’m disappointed for him; when someone you love wants something really badly, you want it for them too, regardless of whether it would cause your family to move to another continent where you don’t speak the language. I had actually gotten mentally prepared to be the non-Chinese speaking one in the family; I fully expected that the girls would pick it up in about .5 seconds and I would have to rely on my five-year-old to help me do the grocery shopping.

I’m still so proud of him for doing so well, and for making it as far in the process as he did.

You know what this means now, right? Home improvement decisions! I sincerely desire a bathroom larger than the size of a postage stamp! Time to get on that!

In other news, my worlds collided recently because my dad DONE JOINED THE TWITTER. My dad. Twitter. WORLDS COLLIDING BOOM SMASH.

My dad, you see, doesn’t know what a blog IS, as far as I know. He doesn’t know that I (half-assedly) write one, or that I write for Style Lush, or that I have “friends from inside the computer.” I am sure he would be suspicious of most of these items of info. I do have a photoblog of the girls that I maintain (again, not regularly) for friends and family, and he reads that, but that’s about the extent of his/my internet world. My dad’s a very intelligent and funny and up-to-date man (loves his iPhone, plays Words with Friends like a champ) but he’s also very busy and I just never thought something like Twitter would even hold his interest. As of this moment, he is following exactly two people (my cousin and myself) and it may very well stay that way. But, you know, STILL. I don’t even link my Twitter stream to my Facebook because the two are so completely removed from each other. It’s that whole adage of “Facebook is for people you used to know, Twitter is for people you WANT to know” situation. I don’t think I’m hiding anything, or censoring what I say, but it’s just a completely different medium for me. Ah well. Time to become transparent and say “Hi dad! Let me talk to you about blogs.”

So, if you’re reading this… hi, dad. Let me talk to you about blogs.

(Huge thanks to Jennie and her super kind and flattering post from today, which alternately made me tear up and gave me the much-needed kick in the pants to FREAKING WRITE A POST ALREADY. If you aren’t reading Jennie, you really should be. She’s a very large part of the reason I even blog at all. Inspiring, that one.)

The Longest Time (In Months and Hair)

Is it still January? And has this not been the LONGEST January in the history of Januaries? I really can’t believe it’s only the 23rd… it feels like this month has gone on and on and on. Perhaps because my in-laws were here for a week? (I jest. I genuinely like my in-laws. I do not genuinely like the fact that, due to eating at restaurants and playing incessantly with grandparental gifts,  my children have decided that sleep is for babies, not kids, and that they now go to bed at nine. NINE. PEE. EM. 9 p.m.)

I give that two thumbs down, Ebert. Obviously. Well-behaved children go to bed at 7:30 in this house. The end.

To remedy this, I allowed Adele to skip her nap today in order to facilitate a decent bedtime. I’m not really anticipating that this is actually going to work, but we’re trying it just the same.


So while ago, I cut my hair. It had gotten long. Too long, I think. Not like Crystal Gayle or anything, but long for me. Not so much like this:

as this:

(Casey took that. Thanks, Case! Also, I’m pretty sure we should repaint our house, but if we try to strip the old paint off, it’s almost certain that the wood itself will fall right off. Ah, priorities.)

So I chopped it. And now I miss it. It’s poofy. And I blow-dried it today and it made me look like Shirley Jones. No, Florence Henderson. One of those 70’s-era housewives, anyway. (Minus the bangs.)

Joys! Obviously I will be growing it out again. As Bridget Jones says, what is happiness if not the pursuit of attainable goals?

Also, while my in-laws were here, Casey and I got to go out to a real, adults-only (not in the “adult bookstore” sense, just a sans-kids sense) dinner. There were multiple courses, and wine, and dessert; no one stole any food off my plate without asking, and I didn’t get up to refill anyone’s drink or fetch additional silverware, though old waiter habits die hard and I noticed that the table next to us could have used a couple extra knives. In short: BLISS. We really have to do that more often. Also, if you’re in Austin, I highly recommend East Side Cafe. Delish!

So, to recap: January is long. My hair is not. Adult dinners out are necessary.

Any words of wisdom you care to impart?

a slip of the tongue

I’m afraid I’m turning in to an accidental night owl. I never was one before; I’ve always been a morning person. But lately when I get in bed I just start thinking and my mind races, and I toss and turn. Sleep doesn’t come, and I look at the clock and realize I’ve been lying in bed and changing positions for two whole hours and then I get so angry about the wasted two hours that I REALLY can’t sleep and it’s just a vicious cycle of sorts. Then I finally fall asleep and am awakened by one of my cats at 4 am wanting to be let out. I’m livid about this, by the way; I’m completely accepting of the fact that my children are going to be waking me up during many nights over the next 18 years or so, and I signed on for that. I did not sign for it with the cats, so both of them are now getting the boot each night before I get in bed.

So sometimes, while I’m practicing my Not Sleeping routine, I think about current things that are occupying my waking hours, and sometimes I think about past things. Usually such memories are embarrassing ones. Why is it that we can remember every little slight, every humiliation in minute detail?For example, I lived in Rome for a summer during college. I graduated with an Italian language minor, and I learned more living with a host family for 2 months than I ever did during classes. These months weren’t without their embarrassing moments, of course; the best one was the evening at dinner when I blithely said to my host mother, ” Non vale il pene” which I thought was “it’s not worth the pain” which basically is an equivalent to “no big deal.” Now, see, it would have meant that, had I not said “il pene” rather than the correct word “la pena.”

That’s right, folks. I said “It’s not worth the penis.” At dinner. To my host mother.

Luckily she had a sense of humor.

And you know what the worst part was? I had READ that slip-up in a book. The protagonist in the novel did the same thing and I REPEATED the mistake. In the words of Homer Simpson, I certainly felt S-M-R-T.

Please tell me there are those of you who have done something similarly humiliating. Strength in numbers, people!

Things My Husband Would Change About Me (if he could)

I have a few quirks that make my husband insane. I’m sure that he would claim to love these traits! They make me me! He loves me just as I am! (Thank you, darling.) I know these make him nuts, not because he tells me, but because I can tell by his reactions when these things happen. I have a habit of leaving my shoes wherever I take them off… at the moment, my slippers are next to the bed, my running shoes are right by the back door (artfully placed for maximum falling-over potential), my non-running running shoes for schlepping children around are in the bathroom, which, as previously mentioned, barely has room for a wall holder for toilet paper, let alone an extra pair of shoes. I KNOW this drives him crazy, so why do I do it? Not maliciously, I assure you… it’s just a mystery.

A bigger thing that drives him crazy is my love of (and consequent stockpiling of) products. By products I mean the lotion, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, moisturizer, exfoliant, et cetera, et cetera that help to make us lovely ladies so, um, naturally beautiful. The weird thing is, I’m not much of a makeup person. I can go weeks without remembering to put on mascara, I wear clearish beigeish pinkish lip gloss daily (though I have many colors that are similar to each other, I can tell them all apart) and, as I specified earlier, I chase children professionally. My point is, it’s not like I need to look like the paparazzi are chasing me every time I leave the house. So why all the products? I don’t know! But I love them, they smell nice, and it’s the little things, right? I mean, my vices COULD run to the $400 handbag and shoe variety, but they don’t. So I feel that it could be much, much worse.

I do feel that I could work harder at controlling the issues that cause C to narrow his eyes at me (and yet say nothing, because we’re non-confrontational like that), so I’ve decided that 2010 will be the Year of Controlling My Natural Instincts. Join me, won’t you?

Things that Might Indicate I’m Crunchier than I Actually Am

The crunchy items:

  • When I was growing up, my family never owned a microwave. Weird, right? I’ve spent my life heating up leftovers in the toaster oven and in a pan on the stove. And (shhh! don’t tell anyone!) it works just fine. Now, in my own small family, in our own small space, we also don’t have a microwave. Mainly because we have no counter space on which to put it, and it can’t go on top of the fridge because that’s where the cat food and cereal boxes reside and there is literally no other space in the kitchen AT ALL, but also because we really haven’t felt a need for it. Cold coffee? Toss it in a pan/pot and heat it up! Melt cheese on a tortilla (which is totally a meal, by the way)? Toaster oven! Works fine.
  • I also grew up without a television, for the most part. There’s some family myth wherein my mother put our (working) TV into the garage sale we were hosting because she was just sick of it; I think I was about 3 at the time. We did get one when I was in high school, but we only used it to watch movies. There wasn’t any cable hooked up to it, nor did we have the popular and useful set of rabbit ears, so there weren’t actually any channels. I had to get my 90210 fix at my best friend’s house, because even I knew what kind of outcast I would be if Dylan’s wife accidentally got shot by her dad and then he spent the next day with his head buried in her wedding dress and I didn’t get to watch it. (WHAT? It was obviously a very touching episode since I can even remember the song that played while he cried into the wedding dress – Nobody Knows Me Like My Baby, by Lyle Lovett – which is still one of my favorite songs. Ahem.)
  • We have a compost bin. It lives in the backyard, behind the garage. We have a little container in the kitchen that we fill with the compostable foodstuffs, like eggshells and carrot peelings, and about every other day we empty it into the bin. No big deal. Also, I don’t have to look at it every day. Or smell it.
  • We are primarily a one car family; C rides his bike to work, weather permitting, and sometimes I drop him off after dropping G at school. Sometimes he takes the bus, or we pick him up. Easy to do.
  • We cloth diaper A. G was in daycare and so it wasn’t an option at all, but we tried it this time around. Not that gross, saves us money, no need to run to Target in the middle of the night when I realize I’ve exhausted all possible diaper supplies including the “secret spare” that I keep in the glove compartment of the car.
  • We belong to the local food co-op.

Now, for the reasons I am not as all-natural as the above items might make it seem:

  • I am the chief user of paper towels for the central Texas region. I use them for anything and everything.
  • I’m sorry, but the all-natural toilet bowl cleaner does not clean the toilet bowl. Not even close.
  • Clorox Wipes are my kitchen pal.
  • My daughters are sugar fiends like their mama.
  • I love the sweet, sugary death that is Coca Cola Classic. Red, white and you, people.
  • I don’t have any kind of green thumb at all, sadly. I can keep basil alive and that’s about it.
  • I turn up the heat instead of putting on a sweater.

I think that everyone probably has a mix of crunchy/non traits… care to share?

Things I Would Replace Each Year if Price was No Object

  1. towels – fluffy = good, old and carboardy = bad
  2. non-stick cookware (we’ve had ours since we were married and I think we all may be slowly dying of Teflon poisoning)
  3. dish cloths  – after awhile these start to squick me out
  4. underwear – sometimes it’s so tempting just to toss it all and start over
  5. my attitude when it comes to holiday shopping

And you?