Monday, January 31, 2011

Curled Up


Because I am, apparently, the world's most susceptible person, I've had strep throat all weekend.

My children rarely get it, but I, on the other hand, am a streptococcus magnet. To my knowledge, I haven't been around anyone who has had it. I haven't been kissing random strangers in the streets. I haven't licked any grocery store buggy handles.

And yet, Friday night, when the little sore spot started irritating me on the left side of my throat, I knew exactly what it was. I spent Saturday in the bed, hoping and praying it would just get better and go away, but when I woke up at 5 AM with 101 degree fever, I knew exactly what it was. Even when I went to the neighborhood clinic to see the nurse practitioner, and he told me it was probably just a virus, because my throat didn't look all that irritated, I knew exactly what it was.

It sucks, being right all the time.

So, I'm on penicillin and trying to sit upright most of the time, because for some reason, it takes me 17 years to get over a dose of strep. When my kids DO get it, they take one pill and are magically healed and start bouncing off the walls, but not me. It takes a couple of days, usually. But I have to get better and soon!

On Friday, I head to Memphis, and I have much outfit planning to do before then. And packing. And unpacking. And repacking. And re-planning. And all that giddy excitement tends to be tiring.

I think I'll go take a nap, now...

Friday, January 28, 2011

There's a Reason I Need a Getaway

Jasper has a new trick. He figured it out by watching us open the door, so now he just lets himself in.

That sounds like a great thing - saves me a trip to the door, right? Sure, except I still have to close it.

And then clean up all the mud from the door, the floor, the kitchen cabinets, or wherever else his little (gigantic) paws have marched.

He's a digger, he is.

In the last week, I've given him three baths, cleaned his and Raikki's paws countless times, mopped up little "accidents," replaced the water bowl that he's picked up and carried all over the kitchen (with the water still in it,) picked up the mulch that he's brought in to chew on, wiped a ton of mud off his nose, and many other things I'm too tired to recount.

Then, there are those pesky children to deal with. They came in last night with unrecognizable shoes...completely coated in a layer of mud an inch thick. Their pants and jackets were caked with it, as well. My washing machine was in overdrive.


But there's a light on the week from today! I'll be landing in Memphis! Meeting up with Melinda! Pretending there's no such thing as mud!

Which means we'll probably skip Mud Island.

Now...I'm off to stock up on paper towels and dog shampoo for the next few days. I have a feeling I'm going to need it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

He's Got Your Eyes

See these eyes?

These sweet peepers are very similar to mine. The color is greener, and the lashes are longer, but like mine...

They don't see so well.

If there was one thing I'd choose to not pass along in my DNA, it's my eyesight. I've worn glasses since I was 8, contacts since I was 14, and up until I turned 40 or so, every year I had to get stronger ones.

Dr. SmartyPants has 20/20 vision, or did until his near vision started to conk out. But still - at a distance? No problems. Derek has his father's eyes.

Lucky kid.

Today I took Joshua to get fitted for contacts. He's nine. I was 14. I'm having a hard time thinking he can handle them, but the doctor said they'd be fine - great, really, especially for sports - and so...

He learned to put them in today. Pretty much. We'll see how he does taking them out tonight, and putting them in tomorrow morning. Those gorgeous eyelashes are a bit of a hurdle to overcome.

Mah baybee. Wearing contacts. Next thing you know, he'll be sporting braces and getting a driver's permit and wanting to go on a date and...and...and...

No. It's best to not think of such things. I'll think about that tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Kind of To Do List

I found this list on the kitchen table a couple of days ago. Joshua has been planning out his days very carefully, I see. I like how he thinks - there are four entries for playing, two for eating and two for dessert (desert), followed by a peaceful 13 hour sleep.

Sounds like my kind of day.

Instead, I woke up at 4:58 am to the whimpering of a puppy needing to go out, and have not had a combined 13 hours of sleep since 1999.

I hope your Wednesday, on the other hand, is full of playing, desserts and peace!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

eight am

the eyes

I had planned to keep my 365 project over on tumblr, but I've been finding the site down more often than I'd like, and feeds not getting through, and many many complaints from long-time users, so I decided to come back to old, reliable Blogger. So - if you've been following along on tumblr, please turn your direction to instead. Plus, you can follow there, and comment and say nice or not nice things about our daily family long as they are nice things.

Okay? Thanks.

I haven't taken any other pictures today to show you. And the reason is very simple.

I'm in full on procrastination-mode, people. I emptied my cluttered up studio - to the floor and walls - and all the junk that was in there is currently residing in my family room. It included everything that was already in there (art supplies, school supplies, office supplies) PLUS everything that ended up in there when we moved back from Arlington. I'm so overwhelmed I don't even know how to start working on it, but I have to, because I supposedly have a deadline of January 31 to have it done. That deadline comes from my goal setting pow-wow with Linda, and it's fast approaching.

So, I'm here to admit to you a problem I have.

I'm addicted to art supplies, school supplies, office supplies and paper.

And books.

I'm excellent at throwing away other things - clothes, shoes, dishes, knick-knacks, old spatulas and spoons. I was reading a blog the other day that challenged people to cut their wardrobe down to 33 items for 33 days just to see how little you could really live with, and I realized that I'd have to go shopping and buy some more things to reach 33 items.

But paper and pens and paint and folders and notebooks and books (oh, the books)...



I have a vision for my studio, though, and it involves absolutely no clutter. None. It involves open space and white walls and lots of light and one (ONE) bookshelf with books and supplies and that's all. And I'm going to get there. I'm going to get there. I'm going to get there.

And I'm going to start.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday? Really? You Can Go Jump in a Lake.

Day 22/365

This photo has nothing to do with the post...I was just inordinately pleased with it, and wanted to make sure you saw it, in case you aren't following my 365 project at tumblr...

The weather is actually not terrible today. When the boys and I went out at about 11, it was already 41 degrees, and I think we may have broken a sweat on our one mile run. They are participating in a marathon of sorts, in conjunction with Dr. SmartyPants' and my half-marathon in April. They ran the first mile of it on Saturday, at the Knoxville Zoo, and then they will run 24 more over the next 10 weeks before finishing the last mile on the marathon course. They get to cross the 50 yard line at Neyland Stadium on the Saturday of marathon weekend, just where we'll finish on the Sunday.

Today's run was the hardest mile I've ever run in my life. And actually...I only ran 1/2 of it. I walked the rest of the way back. The Smarty and I ran 9 miles yesterday and everything on my body below my ribcage is in pain. Good pain - not injury pain - but holy smokes. Ouch.

The thing about Mondays is that it's always a battle. We have to reset the internal clocks for the boys after the weekend. They don't sleep all that late on the weekends, but it somehow feels to them like we're getting them up at the crack of dawn.

Which we don't. I get up before the crack of dawn, and I don't wake them up for another hour and a half because IT'S SO FREAKING QUIET during that time.

They have no idea.

We started school well this morning, but there were some dramas that had to play out over the course of the next few hours. I have this one child...who shall remain nameless...that is SO DADGUM STUBBORN I can't even believe it. He is convinced that if he avoids doing his work, I'll eventually get tired of looking at him sitting at the table and tell him he doesn't have to do it.

Not once, in all the years of schooling that he has, have I ever told him to just stop working. Ever.

And yet.

Last week, I started the new policy of a timed math lesson - he has a certain amount of time to get his work done, and if he isn't done, he gets twice as much math work to complete. Last Thursday, the day after the implementation, he got his work done in 5 minutes UNDER the scheduled amount of time. And it was all correct. Because he's a freaking math genius.

Lazy...but genius.

Today, at the end of the scheduled time, he had completed 3 (THREE) PROBLEMS. Not three sections, mind you...three. individual. division. problems.

So, I counted up the remaining problems, multiplied by two, and made him a new set of worksheets, thinking that would certainly spur him on.

Fast forward four hours later...I've taken him on a run, given him a lunch break and gone to the grocery (while he stayed home and "worked.")

He had completed 8 (EIGHT) PROBLEMS. Please understand that I'm not even talking about eight ADDITIONAL problems. EIGHT PROBLEMS TOTAL.

So we had another talk where I asked him if he understood how to do the problems (yes,) if he had a brain disfunction that prevented him from doing his work (no,) or if maybe he just thought I wouldn't make him actually finish (yes.) YES. He admitted it.

I gave him 30 minutes to finish (the original work) or risk another doubling of extra work, while I went to finally take my shower. After 20 minutes?

He was completely done.

Now he just has to do his reading, write a paper, go to piano lessons and take care of the additional math work and we'll be all done with school.

9 billion hours after we started.

Oh, Monday. You really are a bitch.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hello, Friday. Where Have You Been All My Life?


We got out and about early this morning, getting our banking and grocery shopping done before we normally start school. (We don't do formal school on Friday - we save it for science experiments and field trips and what I like to call life "How to do Your Own Laundry.")

I've been thinking how pleasant life has been this month, in the quiet of winter - after holidays and before sports and other distractions begin again. We've stayed home more than usual, and it's been really relaxing and wonderful. It makes me want to never get back involved in all those "extra" activities we stuff our lives with - the things that make dinners rushed and bedtimes late and mornings crabby, but without those extras, we'd be less well rounded and far too insulated from society and would end up wearing nothing but Pajama Jeans and Forever Lazies.

So, we're looking for a piano teacher, and investigating martial arts academies for one and soccer academies for the other and attempting to plan our time between the two schedules which will inevitably need to happen at the exact same time. Gone are the days when I tell them what sports they'll be doing, and by the way, make it on the same team, please.


But I'm not complaining. I'm just going to be very mindful to enjoy the next ten days or so of sweet quiet January evenings by the fire -- telling stories and reading books and cuddling with the pups and loving each other. I may never see them all together again the rest of the year, but for now...

They're all right where I want them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Everybody's Got a Parasite, I've Got You*

*from Antidote by my favorite band when I was in grad school, Pain. (That's not grad school pain. That's the band, Pain, that I really liked a lot in grad school, and actually really still like them, but they aren't producing any music currently, darn it.)

Snow Day Perks

Okay. I've been mulling over this one for a while, wondering if I should post about it, and I finally decided that I had to, or risk obsessing about it. See, I was reading a post by a blogger that I enjoy, and she was talking about her day helping in her son's kindergarten class. The main point of the post was that she wasn't one of "those" moms - you know - the ones that are constantly at school every moment of the day and kind of snarky about moms who weren't there every moment of the day. One of her commenters commented thusly:

Ok, this is my response to the “passive aggressive” ones who never saw me at school. It is rude. It is not “nice”, and it isn’t meant to disparage non-working moms who aren’t being rudely aggressive toward me - really. That’s my disclaimer, and I’m sticking to it.
“Oh, well the reason you don’t see me around is because I am EMPLOYED - I’m not just being a parasite on my husband’s paycheck.”

Now, I know she prefaced it with a disclaimer about how it isn't meant to disparage non-working moms and all, but c'mon. I don't buy into the "no offense" defense. What you say is generally what you mean. And really? A parasite?

What is it you imagine I do all day at home with my children? How can you, a mother who comes home and does all those things after work and knows how time consuming and difficult they are, suggest that SAHMs are parasites?

Is there really no wiggle room one way or the other any more?  I mean, I know there isn't in the politcal world - you're either right or left, right or wrong and never the two shall meet, but is there any place in our society for moms who take each other out with these kinds of comments?

I was kind of stunned at how the comment affected me. I'm not usually so sensitive about things, but it made me stop and think. Am I a parasite on my husband's paycheck? Are other moms who have chosen to stay at home parasites? I had to ask Dr. SmartyPants, who looked at me like I had lost my mind and told me that he never considered me one, and that if chose never to work, even after the kids were grown and gone, he still wouldn't consider me one.

(everyone together, now...awwwww)

I chose this path, just as others have chosen theirs. I admire and respect moms who work just as hard outside their homes as they do in them - who care for their children with love and grace and aplomb, even while they aren't with them 24/7. I can't imagine how hard it must be to leave in the mornings and not see them until supper time, but millions of mothers do it and they make it work and their children are loved and they know it. Just as many mothers choose to work as those who have to work. It's good for them and it's good for their families, and they rock.

But for those who choose to be at home - the idea that we are somehow lazier or get less done or have no drive to succeed or that we are parasites on our husband's paychecks is insulting. We've just made a different choice - a choice that works for our families, just as your choice works for yours. Our days start as early as the working moms' days do, we work just as long and just as hard, but our paycheck is measured in time, not in dollars. Our service is commemorated in one Saturday out without the kids instead of with a plaque. Our pension fund is a box full of homemade cards and letters and the knowledge that we did what was right for OUR family. Not for yours.


ps. I'm guesting over at Indie Fixx today - come by and say hello!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why I Love My Family: A List of 18 for the 18th

1. Every morning, for the past 18 days, they've walked into the "photography studio" and let me take their picture. They have even reminded me to make sure and take a photo that morning. A certain member of this family, who has had to travel for work, has even taken self portraits and sent them to me, so as to not disrupt the flow.

All Done #shakeitphoto

2. They like when I knit them things, and request items from me.

3. They give out hugs like they were free or something.

4. They clean their rooms when I ask them, even when they don't really feel like it.

5. They clean the dishes after supper, since I've already cleaned them twice during the day and made supper (thanks sweetie...)

6. They play Beatles Rock Band with admirable zest, if not laudable talent. They let me take video of said playing. They may let me post said video, if I ask often and nicely enough. PLEASEpleasepleasepleasepleaseplease, Dr. SmartyPants, PLEASE.

7. They hum Eight Days a Week while playing with Legos.

8. They sit and draw while I read to them.

9. Sometimes they fall asleep when I read to them after supper, but they pretend they've heard everything. Being an engineer is hard work and his brain gets tired. It's okay, really.

10. They let me read to them after supper instead of vegetating in front of the television. (We're reading Little House in the Big Woods right now.)

11. They think a salad and a baked potato is haute cuisine.

12. They say "excuse me," "please," and "thank you," to me, to each other, and to pretty much everyone who crosses their paths.

13. They don't like slow drivers.

14. They love dogs.

15. They love chocolate.

16. They love cars.

17. They love photography.

18. They love me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Friday I Finished

Sketchbook Project Moulin Rouge

I mailed in my Sketchbook Project today. It was hard to let it go. I've become kind of attached to some of the drawings in there, like Spock Frog and this one - Moulin Rouge Elephant. I had to make him hang from the ceiling - it seemed more "Spectacular Spectacular," somehow.

It will get scanned into the collection, and when it's online, I'll give you a link, so you can all go flip through it. Of course, if the tour comes to a city near you, you can go flip through the actual thing.

That's so cool...

This was the first thing on my list of goals for 2011, and I'm ecstatic that I got it done on time. I was a little worried there, for a bit - life had gotten crazy, as it does at the end of a year, and I was afraid that after all that build-up, I was going to crash and burn. But I didn't. I pushed through and in the end, while it changed a bit, it's a completed work.


In other news...

I left my house yesterday, for the first time since Saturday. Holy lord. It was just to run to pick up dog food and people food, but it was like being let out of prison. I'm not going to talk about what was keeping me inside, because I don't want to be that blogger that complains about the s-n-o-w all the time, but I'm still moving to Ecuador, people. This winter thing is just stupid.

Today is sunny and warmER than it has been. (It's not warm...just warmER.) I'm considering putting on all my clothes and standing outside and meditating for like 6 hours, rather than starting on the next item on my goal list for the year, but that wouldn't be too productive, I suppose. Those remaining boxes aren't going to unpack themselves, after all. Although...

I saw recently that a large, nationwide garbage disposal company has these big garbage bag things they'll deliver to your house, for a fee, and then come and pick up and take away, and hey - wouldn't that be easier than unpacking the boxes? Why yes...yes it would!

And ALSO - it's day 14 of No-Restaurant-January, and I'm getting a little antsy. It hasn't been all that hard to do, exactly, but when you eat nothing but your own cooking for an extended period of time, it just seems like everything starts to taste the same. It kind of all tastes like ham.

But that could be because I got a ginormous ham on sale at the grocery and have been using it in every single dish I've cooked for the last week.

I need a fabulous Mexican food specialist to come to my house and make me a beef chimichanga and some cheese sauce.

With a side of ham.

Have a great, great weekend, people...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Zelma Cinnamon Fine Art: A Winters Slump ~ Red Hot GIVE AWAY!

My friend is giving away a painting! Go check it out, but don't follow the instructions, because then you might win it, and that would mean that I didn't win it and I would be sad...

Oh, I'm just kidding...GO...ENTER...WIN!!

Zelma Cinnamon Fine Art: A Winters Slump ~ Red Hot GIVE AWAY!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Monday! Wait...I Mean Tuesday, Right? Tuesday?


I'm so messed up. I don't even know what day it is. Except that it is 1/11/11, and that's cool.

I'm confused because of the snow. The snow was nice yesterday, so I gave the boys a snow day, so we did our Monday work today, but it isn't Monday and I'm pretty sure it's Tuesday, but it could be Wednesday.

I haven't left the house since Saturday. It's beginning to wear thin.


I did get out on Saturday and met up with Linda to work on goals for 2011. I'll share them with you as soon as I find my notes.

No. I'm just kidding. I know where they are. I'm still just processing them and putting them in my calendar and assigning priorities to them and all. The first goal is actually only 2 days away, so I'm frantically working on that, so I can't tell you about it right now, okay?


This is what winter does to me. And I don't like it.

Not one bit.

Anyone up for a move to Ecuador?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Oh, Life. Is Bigger.

I woke up with R.E.M. in my head - Losing My Religion, in particular. I don't know why. I haven't heard it recently. I haven't even thought about R.E.M. in an age, and yet.

There it is.

So in honor of that bit of randomness, let's have a list of random thoughts by me, okey dokey?

Derek' Faves

My children are obsessed with three things...this is one of them. Hot Wheels. They currently have 2.5 million little cars, randomly scattered around my house. They know each and every one of them and know when one is missing. If we go to the store and they see Hot Wheels, they have to go look, and they peruse their mental inventory to see if they have that particular model and THEY ALWAYS KNOW.  Occasionally, I'll bring one home to them and it is invariably one that they always have.

Of course, I can't even remember my children's names most of the time, so this is probably not as amazing a skill as I think it is.

The other two things my children are obsessed with are Legos and stuffed animals. They are also randomly scattered around my house - left for me to trip over on my way to take the puppy out in the middle of the night. I would like a very large dumpster to be delivered to my house so that I could throw them all away and just start over.

My Kitchen

We've officially declared January to be "Restaurant-Free January," and have pledged to not set foot in a restaurant during the entire month of January. This is very difficult for me, as I'm very good as setting foot in restaurants, especially when I forget to get dinner ready. It's going to take a fair bit of planning and self-control, neither of which I'm terribly adept at.

Dr. SmartyPants doesn't actually have to comply with this pledge, as he travels frequently for work, and it's very hard to pack a week's worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner with the extra baggage handling fees these days.


Daily Puppy Fix

This dog pees 75 times a day. Most of them outside. I'm not even kidding. I got up at 5:20 this morning to take him out, and in the next hour, I took him out an additional six times.

Please remind me of this, the next time I say I want a puppy.


In 27 days I'll be taking a little trip I'm completely excited about. I know someone else who is excited, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011





to this.'s amazing what a gallon of paint can do for your attitude...

Monday, January 03, 2011

It's a Whole New Year, Baby.

Jasper Direct Gaze BW

Whoa. This Monday got away from me before I realized it had started. We started back to school today, and after two weeks off, I was glad of it.

I'm sick of TV. Of Cartoon Network, in particular. If I hear the theme song to Hot Wheels...Battle Force Five again, I may scream.

Great. Now it's stuck in my head. Hot Wheels...Battle Force Five...somethingsomething...To SURVIVE...

Jasper is 13 weeks old today, and has been with us two whole weeks. He's getting closer to understanding WHERE TO GO when he has to go, but it's an uphill battle.

And I've been downhill the entire time.

New Year's Day was just not great for me, people, and I'm hoping it isn't going to set the tone for the year or anything. The 5K was a wash (for us...some people ran it...), I barely had enough paint to finish my bedroom, Joshua dropped an entire gallon of milk in the garage and Ron picked up the stomach bug that's been going around, and I didn't get to go meet with Linda for our annual goal-setting-fun-having-rollicking-good-time-making New Year's Day meet up.

But at least I didn't blow up my car.

Speaking of Linda...she has an amazing project in the works that I'm so totally excited about, and eager to help out with whenever I get the chance...if she'll let should go check it out, add it to your blogroll and follow along. You just might learn something.

I'm three days into my portrait project and haven't missed a day yet, although Dr. SmartyPants didn't get his picture made when he was sick yesterday, so there's that. But...I thought it would be kind of tacky to make him get out of bed and show the whole world how he looks when he doesn't feel too super-swell...I was extra excited to take pics today, because we were all awake and dressed before eight, which took the Nick Nolte/Lindsay Lohan vibe out of the photos, if you know what I'm sayin...

Peace, people. Stay out of jail, 'kay?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year!

8 AM Day 1

Good morning, my people...I hope you all spent a wonderful evening enjoying the last day of 2010. I managed to stay awake all the way to 11:30 before I went to sleep.

I live an exciting life, folks.

I was supposed to run a 5K this morning, but it's raining cats and dogs, and I'm just not that hard core. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice. We'll have a little Ottwork 5K then.

I've started a new project for 2011, which I'll actually document at my tumblr site - I'll be taking an iPhone photo of each (human) member of my family every morning at (about) eight AM, creating a collage of the four photos, and posting them to the tumblr site every day. I'm hoping to document the minute changes we all go through in a's all about the minutia...

Today...I'm just going to enjoy the rainy day and relax a bit, and paint a couple of rooms...all part of my plan to make our house feel like our home again.

It also helps me avoid unpacking all the boxes still lurking in my studio...

Here's to a great 2011!