Monday, March 25, 2013

You Say It's Your Birthday?

Ferrari 250 Testarossa (replica)

In honor of Dr. SmartyPants' 74th birthday, I got him this.


I got him this picture. Of a Ferrari. Not the actual Ferrari.

 Just the picture.

And he's not really 74. Because that's older than my dad. (Hi, Dad.) I just like to transpose his age because it makes him seem a lot older than I am.

Like right now - I can transpose my age, and I become 44. Yay me! After August, there will be no more transposing. Until I turn 05.

Anyway - however old you are, my wicked smart love - I'm glad you're spending it at home with us.
I love you more than words can say...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Swing Away


This is one of my darling children. He's the oldest. He's the sweetest (sorry, Joshua.) He's the weirdest. But I mean that in a good way. No, really. He's unlike any other child I've ever met.

Some days, that brings me great joy.

Some days, that brings me great angst.

We've been having a battle of wills over the past few months. Derek tests me far more often than Joshua does. He always has. When he was about three and realized that he could start making some decisions on his own, he started fighting me for control.

It's been a long decade.

I can remember when Dr. SmartyPants and I were celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary, and we decided to hold a vow renewal service. I wore my wedding dress and we decided that all the boys would get matching tuxes, ohmygoshwon'tthatbesocute.

We were at the church, getting dressed and beautiful, when my monther-in-law came in.

"We have a little problem. Derek won't get dressed in his tux," she told me.

I went to the room where he and Joshua and Dr. SmartyPants were getting ready. Derek was sitting in his skivvies, refusing to budge.

"What's up, bud?" I asked.

"I'm not wearing that. I don't like those shoes. Those aren't my shoes."

"But these shoes go with the suit! It's okay that they aren't your shoes - we're just borrowing them for a little while. You never have to wear them again after tonight. And they match Daddy's and Joshua's!" I explained in my happy happy cheerleader voice.

"No. I don't like those shoes."

He had tears in his eyes, and his sweet little mouth was puckered up and his hands were clenched. It was very important to him to have some control over this outfit, I could see.

"How about you wear the suit, but you wear your own shoes? Would that work?" We were on a timeline, after all.

His eyes lit up. "I can do that?"

"Yes. If it is really important to you to wear your own shoes, that's fine. It's really important to me that you wear the suit."



It was, all in all, a fair compromise. I got what I wanted - two adorable little monkeys in their monkey suits. He got to wear his sneakers. (Please note, for the record, that Joshua is wearing the rental shoes.) I think you can see, in this picture, how he feels about the whole thing.

And so, nearly a decade later, it continues...I press - he pushes back. I insist...he digs in. I talk...he stares.

But sometimes - every now and again - we reach this place where it works for us both. He gets enough of his way and I get enough of mine that we can live together and not be angry all the time. In those moments, I believe we're going to make it. 

Honestly, when it's not completely infuriating, I find myself a little envious of his individuality. When I step back and look with dispassionate eyes, I wonder what I would have been able to do had I been so self-possessed at his age. It's taken me over 40 years to get to the point where I almost don't care what everyone else is doing and saying and wearing. If my mother had told me to put on the shoes, I wouldn't have even considered that there might have been other options.

He figured it out before he was four. He's still got it. 

And I hope that never changes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Honey Bear

 photo cce04301d63a0cebccd07af0df41c4b0_zpsbd7c4bea.jpg

This face - there's a story behind this face...

When Dr. SmartyPants and I first got married, we lived in a nice apartment complex near The University of Alabama. We were on the second floor and the guy who never woke up to his alarm clock lived directly underneath us, but that's not relevant to this story. We're still traumatized by him, though - just so you know.

Anyhow - in the next building over, just across a small green space - was a student who had an ancient Yorkshire Terrier by the name of Honey Bear. Honey Bear, as his name indicates, was a mean, mean whirling dervish of a dog with three teeth and the attitude of a wolverine. 

We had a dog, as well - a strange little thing I brought into the marriage. Her name was Molly and she was completely and utterly insane, which is also not relevant to the story. We're still traumatized by her, as well.

So - in the mornings, we would hook Molly up to her leash (because we are law-abiding citizens) and head down the stairs to take her for a walk. It never failed that as soon as we got to the bottom of the stairs, the girl with the Yorkie would open her door and let out her little devil owner...just go do your business...

So Honey Bear would come careening down the stairs, full-tilt, barking his fool head off at Molly, who would cower and wimper and whine and refuse to do anything. Honey Bear's owner (funny how I can remember the dog's name, but not hers, isn't it?) would go back inside and do whatever she was doing while we tried to extract ourselves from evil incarnate. A few minutes later, she'd reappear, wondering where her precious shmoopsie was.

She would walk out into the open stairwell and (being in Alabama) holler in the most amazingly shrill voice I've ever heard, "HONEY BAAAAAAAAAAAAYERRRRRRRR! HONEY BAAAAAAAAAYERRRRRR!


And eventually, Honey Bear would tire of tormenting Molly and go flying back up the stairs and into his owner's loving arms. His owner would wave and say something like, "HEY Y'ALL! AH AYUM SO SORRY. HE'S ONLY GOT THREE TEETH IN HIS WHOLE HEY-ED." Because apparently that was just her speaking voice.


Fourteen years later, and we still laugh about that girl and her evil dog. We wonder if she got married. We wonder if her husband went deaf. We figure a dog that mean is probably still alive, even though he'd be about 25 by now.

What is the point of this story, again? Oh. Yes. Jasper. Up there - that adorable face?

That's what he looks like when we say (very quietly) "Honey Bear" to him.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Elliot II

There are days I question my sanity. Yesterday was one of those days.

See - here's the thing...I homeschool my darling dears, and the money I could be using to place them in a very nice private school all goes toward paying for their tennis lessons and tournaments. 

Which is fine. No problem. They have a dream, and all that. Whatever.

So, on days when they stare out the window and only get 1/3 of the work done for school that they were supposed to get done, I find myself quaking with irritation or, as it probably should be called, rage. And that's when I find myself struggling to deal with the best way to deal with impressionable children without using any actual curse words or phrases. Because that kind of rage irritation just brings out the drill sergeant in me.

I find myself saying things like, "If you insist on doing things in such a...ah...errr...well, as Papa Ray would say, 'half-assed' way, then I have no choice but to..." 

Yes. You heard it here first - yesterday, I actually used my dad's poor word choices to mask my own. Sorry, Dad - but thanks. I would have used my mom's instead, but she just removed all the vowels from her curse words to make them appropriate, and it kind of made her sound like she was having some sort of aphasic episode..."Ddhhmmmmmt!" "Shhhhhhhhhht!"

My dad, on the other hand was more likely to throw the full word out there, vowels and all, and then punctuate it by throwing a hammer. You know the dad in A Christmas Story? When he works on the furnace? Yeah.

I ended up with something that falls in between my parents. Back in the day, before I had children, my language was quite...well...colorful. I could string together a series of curses that were so unique that entire dictionaries were written in order to contain them. Once faced with the prospect of hearing my children quote them back to me, however, I straightened up and tried the vowelectomy that got my mother through child-rearing.

It lacks a certain, how do you say, je ne sais quoi...

So now, I shall blame all my curse words upon my father. I will preface each one with "As Papa Ray would say," and then my children will rise up and praise my ingenuity tact and deviousness respect of the English language.

I think it's going to work great - "What do you mean, you didn't pass your history test? As Papa Ray would say, 'Dammit, son!' Sit your, as Papa Ray would say, 'ass' down in that chair and redo the whole, as Papa Ray would say, 'damn' thing!"


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

That Gun is Loaded

If you do not know about Walk Off the Earth, you've either been living under a rock, or you just hate music. Honestly - I haven't had so much fun listening to music since I fell in love with The Police in 1984. I love how creative they are - watch the video, and then watch the video afterward on how they made the video. Then, go to their YouTube channel and watch all their other videos. Then come back here and thank me for making your day so very wonderful. You're welcome.

Very cool stuff. I also adore that Sarah rocks the uke. She inspires me to keep playing.

The bad news is that they haven't yet released a full length album.

(Does anyone say album anymore? I realize it won't be on vinyl, but what else do you call it? A full length recording of multiple songs that can be downloaded on iTunes?)

I have their EP, which is fantastic, but it only has four songs on it, and as much as I love them, listening to the same four songs on repeat does get a little old after a bit.

The good news is...the full length album is due out in a week! That's right - next Tuesday, there will be more original, fresh WOTE goodness for the whole world to enjoy.

And just because I love you, here's my current favorite song that I've been working on playing on my own uke...puts me in the mood for my summer vacay a little early...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Red Means Go


I've been trying very hard to stop neglecting this part of my life, and for some reason, I found that I was getting all tense and weird every time I tried to draw directly into my sketchbook. (That's as opposed to just being all tense and weird all the time. Yes - I know I am. Shut up.) So I ripped a page out of a scrapbook kit I had lying around and drew a cardinal on it. I painted it in gouache and then stuck it into my sketchbook with some washi tape, also from my scrapbook kit

Once I had done that, it suddenly freed me up to do something with the rest of the spread, and I ended up painting the apple on the facing page. A few days later, I drew the tree frog and glued it in and then needed to do something to fill that last remaining space at the top of the apple page. A little typography later, and I had a completed sketchbook spread. 

Sometimes, I act as if it matters if I mess something up in a sketchbook - like it's some sort of precious thing (my preeeeshussss) that is going to be curated into the Louvre one day. In reality, it supposed to be a messy sort of laboratory, where I experiment with things. Experiments have a way of going desperately wrong, which is fantastic, because that's how you learn what you're really supposed to be doing.

None of these drawings is going to become anything more than what they are - space fillers in an overpriced bit of paper and binding. And that's perfectly fine. They don't need to be. Because they taught me something. They taught me to just scribble something on a piece of paper and stick it in a book. They taught me to stop over-thinking every single mark I make and just draw something.

How about you - what areas of your life are you neglecting because you just can't find a way to get over the hurdle of perfection? How do you jump over that hurdle? I'd love to hear!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Color Inspiration

Turquoise BirdCitrine Bird

There are days (weeks, months, years) when everywhere I turn I see the same color over and over. In stores, online, in my own house - maybe it's a seasonal thing, and my brain wants particular colors at particular times. I'm not sure, but right now, turquoise and citrine are front and center.

The fact that both of these pieces have birds on them shouldn't surprise anyone who has been here more than a couple of times. I'm clearly bird-obsessed. I found both of them at the local Carolina Pottery store, and they begged me to take them home, so I did.

Because who can resist a bird?

I think it's so interesting how our color desires change over time. When I bought the mango leather chairs you can see in the background, about 7 years ago, all of my color choices were on the warm side. My living room was a deep yellow, my dining room was cranberry. I loved orange as an accent everywhere. Even my wardrobe was warmer.

Now I'm all grey and blue and green - cool and watery colors. Is it just environmental? Is it just because stores are showing cooler colors right now, or is there some fundamental change that goes on in our brains over time that insists we change?

Whatever it is, I'm enjoying the colors for now. They remind me of the beach and of summer and warm temperatures, all of which I sorely need.

What colors are inspiring you right now?

Friday, March 08, 2013

I'm So Jaded

JadedJade Plant

When I first purchased my jade plant it looked like it does in the photograph on the left.

The photo on the right shows what it looks like now.

I'm the worst indoor plant grower on the planet.  (And not at all fond of hyperbole.) Look at that sad, pitiful thing. Have you ever seen a more neglected, scrawny, ugly specimen?

Honestly. I can raise children. I can raise dogs. I cannot keep a plant alive inside my house.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I don't overwater it and it stays in a sunny spot all the time. Maybe I need to move it to a south facing window, instead of the east and north windows where it generally lives. My office window faces south - perhaps it needs to live in there for a while.

Are there any expert indoor plant growers out there that can give me some tips? Typically, at this stage, I throw it away and start over, but that just seems silly. It's supposed to be one of those plants that anyone can grow, and I hate to feel like it's beaten me...

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Paving the Way

Joshua Cades Cove MillDerek Close

Life with boys...

Conversation after supper last night:

Joshua (on the left): You know, when someone farts, they should just tell people it was because of the concrete, or you know, the stuff they pave roads with.

Me: What? What does that even mean?

Joshua: know...asphalt? Ass-fault! HAHAHAHAHAHA

Derek: HAHAHAHA...wait. Asphalt?

Me: (laughing uncontrollably. horrified, and yet proud.) C'mon, D. Whose fault? Asphalt!


Dr. SmartyPants: (facepalm) Oh, dear Lord.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Nose to the Grindstone

Nose to the Grindstone

It's March! Yippee! It's the first indication that winter may soon be over and I can once again join the land of the living. Days are getting longer...even if not warmer...which means my brain tends to wake from its long winter nap and resume living and working.

This blog needs a boost - my creative life need a boost - my motivation needs a boost, so I decided to stop my whining about how cold and dark and miserable winter is and do something about it. I'll be finding my way and reconnecting to my blogging mojo along with an international assortment of like minded people via Holly Becker's Blogging Your Way class. If you aren't familiar with Holly's blog, Decor8, you either a) have been living under a plain and undecorated rock, or b) actually leave your house and don't spend all your time reading other people's blogs and pinning amazing things on Pinterest.

In either case, stop doing that.

So - I'll be up to my eyeballs in information and blogging homework, and I hope that a few of you lovely people come by and say hello. I'm looking forward to getting inspired and turning this blog back into the creative space it once was.

Happy March, peeps!