Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In Stitches Dug Out In Half

So I got this mysterious package yesterday. Plain DVD case, inside it a solid white DVD with nothing on it but the hand-written words "You Rock." It took approximately 1.4 seconds for me to stick it into The Admiral's PowerMac, whereupon I was face to face with ... my face.

I'm not supposed to say exactly what this is or where it came from, but anyone curious enough to peruse the November archives might get a pretty good idea. All I can say is that I'm really grateful to have a chance to actually see what was going on up there. Laugh away! But you know, in a good way.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hey Shona

It has recently come to our attention that The Admiral is famous.

Not so much because he has a video on YouTube, but because, as of this writing, 827 people have bothered to look at it. And only 34 or so of those are The Admiral.

For the record, this video was taken at a campground in central Illinois, so don't be confused by the woman speaking Thai in the background. The mbira The Admiral is playing was one of his very first carpentry projects - before constructing the giant stereo cabinet, before disassembling and reassembling an upright piano, before The Boat - built while he was in graduate school. Doesn't seem like much to work on, but each of those keys is made from a piano wire hammered flat. Hammer one time too many? Note's bad. Start over. This was apparently a very long, tedious process, which is why it gets a place in the Admiral Project Hall of Fame. And why I'm very glad we didn't start dating until he was finished with it.

It's really pretty, though. And the spirits it conjures make babies sleep.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Destiny Will Arrive

Okay, I think I've got a little time to mention this before I'm summoned to tucking-in duty, so here we go.

I counted back and it's been right around forty weeks since I originally mentioned my need/desire to sell Mothersville. I wasn't really eager to let the store go, but I just couldn't figure out a way to stick with it, especially with another child on the way. Several possible options came and went since then, but as of just a few weeks ago, I really didn't know what was going to happen when the lease expired at the end of August. But looking back, it seems quite fitting that it took this long for a solution to my retail dilemma to present itself.

Which brings us to right about now, when I am so pleased and excited to announce that the super-lovely and uber-talented Melissa Anderson Sweazy has bravely stepped to the helm as the newest co-owner of Mothersville. A Memphis native graciously returned to us by the City of Angels, Melissa brings a Southerner's wit and charm curled up around a left coast artistic sensibility, and best of all, a deep and true desire to help out the new mamas of Memphis. She, babydoll Harlow, and the clearly game Caleb are fairly new to the Memphis parenting scene, but are eagerly throwing themselves at the mercy of Midtown. Give a hand, y'all!

I admit, I was a little hesitant to get back into a partnered situation, not sure if I could give up the thrills of dictatorship. But it quickly became clear that we shared a passion for Mothersville, as well as sharing several other passions (e.g. Prince, Mini Coopers, Xanadu). And it's taken a little time, but I think I can even overlook her grotesque flaws (i.e. publishing a book, having a super-sleeper baby, sharing the same general oxygen as George Clooney). I mean, hey, nobody's perfect, right? What really matters is that we both believe in Mothersville, both want to keep providing support to Memphis moms, both have faith that the tide of natural parenting will eventually flow to the midsouth. And of course, both appreciate the wonder that is Olivia Newton-John disco-roller-skating with Gene Kelly.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tag Team Back Again

I've been blog-tagged! Which apparently means I'm supposed to post eight little-known facts about myself. Now that my entire family is reading this blog, however, along with my spouse and friends, it's harder and harder to think up facts that are still little-known. But here's my effort to toss out a list that is at least 50% surprising to any one reader.

1. Aside from negligible traffic infractions, I've never done anything illegal.

2. I wrote a letter a week for two years.

3. I often sleep with my right foot tucked up against the inside of my left knee, like a horizontal flamingo.

4. The first album I bought with my own (okay, Grandma's) money was Jack Wagner, All I Need, purchased at the Ben Franklin drugstore in Olivia, MN.

5. I sold my first car on eBay (for more than retail) and negotiated for my next one over the phone (for less than retail). This doesn't sound that surprising unless the reader knows about my crippling phone-phobia.

6. I don't get nervous about public speaking as long as I'm working off a script.

7. I can sing the jingle for Pac-Man Cereal. (But no, I won't.)

8. I've only had my heart broken once. The breaker is currently serving 16 years for aggravated kidnapping and probably more for an unsuccessful escape.

A Good Man Works Until The Daylight's Done

My dad's a consultant - a corporate hired gun doing service, in his case, for the auto industry. He's in the midst of a big six-week project that's taking him all over the south. When I woke up this past Saturday morning, one of the first things I said was, "I wonder where Pops is right now." Within an hour, I had my answer: Pops was less than 200 miles away and rapidly (very rapidly, I'm guessing) approaching Memphis.

It was a very pleasant surprise, having him buzz up for the day. No matter that we had no plans for the day and could think of very little to do that would keep us out of the blazing heat. It didn't even matter that the house was still a little trashed from the previous night's cocktail hour. We just hung out, plowed through leftover snacks, and all worked together to keep Miss M's body from literally unraveling due to another day stuck inside.

It was a very quick visit, with Pops back on the road less than 24 hours after arriving (and 10 minutes before we left for the playground to celebrate the temperature drop from 105 to 95 degree - pansy Yankee!), but it was a fantastic treat. Sort of like eating a bag of Lemonheads and watching Pure Country at the same time. With your dad.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Update

I feel I've been blog-negligent this week, but I really have nothing to report. Well actually, I have something very big to report, but it's going to take more than the 7 spare minutes I usually have in front of the computer to write it all down. So in the meantime, the quick SAM news is this: the air conditioning is working, the children are stir-crazy but otherwise handling the heat fine, The Admiral has been besieged by an unexplained back pain but he's soldiering up and we're still having folks over for drinks tonight, because nothing gets between me and my Friday mojito. Except my Tuesday mojito.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Grandpa, Everything Is Changing Fast

This past weekend marked the introduction of Mr. Baby to his paternal grandfather and namesake. Grandpa H drove all the way down from the Northland for a quick visit, making various familial and historical stops along the way. He's an extremely unobtrusive houseguest, so much so that he refuses to even stay at our house, but we tried to make him feel as welcome as we could. He spent most of the visit fighting off aerial attacks from Miss M, although they reportedly had a very pleasant afternoon together at the Pink Palace, marveling at the wonders of parabolic acoustics and really, really big crystals.

I always enjoy having H around, and we were lucky to have the chance to show him off to our friends as well. I wasn't sure exactly how he'd handle being thrown into a crowd of young parents, but he reinforced my belief that he can get along with just about anyone. He's so deferential and diplomatic in social settings that I want to put a big sign above his head that says, "I've been to all seven continents! Ask me stuff!"

He took his leave of us at about 8:00 this evening, not wanting to interfere with the school night bedtime routine even though it meant returning to his barely functional hotel. Of course, by that time, we had little to offer but two screaming children and a broken air conditioner*, so perhaps a fifteen minute wait to share an elevator with half a dozen Elvis impersonators didn't seem so bad.

*Did I mention the broken air conditioner? Because our air conditioner? Is broken. And the temperature? Is record-setting. At 10:20 pm, it's currently 84 degrees with 54% humidity. No, no, not outside. In our living room. And tomorrow's forecasted high? 107, baby.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

You'll Be The Perfect Boy

As I write this post, I am typing with one hand and knocking wood with the other, because I'm about to officially report that we have somehow been given An Easy Baby.

I'm tempted to say A Good Baby, but I know that most of the pleasing behaviors Mr. Baby demonstrates are beyond his conscious control. I can't really give him any personal credit for not puking very much, or for keeping his diaper-change showers to a minimum, or for - oh lord bless him - going from consciousness to sleep without significant outside assistance. But in irrational moments, it's hard not to think he's being so accommodating on purpose. As if it's not enough that he's simply adorable.

Last week marked my return to retail, baby in tow, and aside from a minor meltdown during the first ten minutes (mine, not his), we've been doing pretty well. It's taken some adapting, and I still haven't quite managed to tackle the mail and to-file pile growing ever larger on the counter even though I've figured out how to do 118 other things with a baby slung onto me, but overall we're handling things. And again, most of that is because I have a baby who is easily contented. As long as he's dry and full, he's a happy kid.

Sure, he's got some less than perfect habits, the primary being his dislike of being in a stopped vehicle, demonstrated by high volume, inconsolable crying that can last anywhere from 5 to 50 minutes. And he's also got an uncanny ability to wake from a dead sleep and enter his grumpiest state the moment hot food is about to enter my mouth. And he still has some highly questionable nursing habits (although those didn't stop him from tipping the midwives' scales at 12 lbs this week). But in general, I can't help but feel awestruck at his temperament. And, I must admit, a little proud. There's just something so Norse about the way he can lie calmly and quietly in a room/house/yard/store whirring with chaos.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Second Time Around

I was so wrapped up with fictioning last week that I failed to mention a milestone in Mr. Baby's life: his first movie. The Admiral and I took advantage of my last day of maternity leave, and our wedding anniversary eve, by taking the wee one with us to a matinee of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

And that went ... about as I expected. We went during his afternoon naptime, but the thing is, as good a sleeper as Mr. Baby is, he's also loud. Every fifteen minutes or so, his face will turn red and scrunch up and he lets out a pitiful wail. It's easy to correct - a little bit of rocking or shushing or even benign neglect and he goes right back to silent mode - but that's not a simple fix in a movie theater. So I spent two hours of the two hour and eighteen minute movie standing in the little entrance hallway, Mr. Baby slung and mostly-sleeping on me.

It occurred to me while I was leaning there that every movie we've seen this summer has been part of a series - Spiderman 3, the third Pirates of the Caribbean, Ocean's 13 and now this fifth Potter installment. And with this second baby in tow, it did indeed feel like the summer of the sequel. Yes, we have a better idea of what to expect this time, but there are still plenty of surprises. And an entirely inappropriate amount of candy.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Circle In The Sand

It's very hard to believe that at this very moment one week ago, I was sitting on a deck chair facing the Gulf of Mexico, watching my and assorted other children running happily amok on the beach. Or I may have been a few feet from the deck, curled up on a sandy but blissfully comfortable armchair, napping with a drowsy newborn on my chest.

Speaking of the newborn, people keep asking me how he did on vacation. The answer is: variable. He slept for most of the drive down, but screamed his tiny little head off when he was awake. For the first few days of the trip, he slept so much and so deeply that I was at risk of drawing the ire of every other parent there. He even slept on the beach under his little cabana while I tried to set the new world record for jellyfish stings. But then the next few days were so difficult that I pulled enough sympathy to reprise my role as Lazy Extra Wife, spending hours trying to get him to bed while everyone else cooked or cleaned up dinner. And yes, it was hard to sit inside with him while everyone else was out swimming and sunning, but sitting inside a beachfront condo sure as heck was more fun than sitting inside an overheated midtown house for a week.

I don't know if it was the limitations of the baby or just a general awareness of our group's overwhelming reproductive powers, but it struck me about halfway through the week that this was the first vacation I'd taken where I really felt like one of The Grown-Ups. We went on beach vacations with our neighbors when I was young, and over the last few years we've crashed my parents' timeshare in San Diego, and I always spent those trips feeling like I was just along for the ride - not really in control of what was happening, but also absolved of responsibility for how things went. But as I was sweeping up goldfish crackers and slathering unrelated children with sunblock, I realized that this was it, I was A Mom. Not just in my home, but full-time in the world. Which has its drawbacks (didn't eat a hot meal all week) and its perks (um, see Fig. C).

I can't fully detail everything that happened down there, for sentimental as well as legal reasons. It was one of those periods of time that you worry might be spoiled by talking about it too much. But what I can say is that we're going again. Next year if not before.

Postscript: Other accounts of this trip are here and here.