30 August 2011


I guess I'm really a grown up. There's just something about this age I turned today that seems, not old, but...established. In my head, I linger down around 24 or so, but on paper...here I am. And it's fine.

24 August 2011

In the beginning

Even when my room is ready and my copies are made and I've got the first couple of weeks planned, my stomach still always flutters at the thought of the first day of school. Tomorrow is day 1 of my eighth year teaching high school English...

I'm always anxious about my classes, the dynamic, getting to know 90+ seniors and them getting to know me, and it almost always turns out just fine after that first day awkwardness. We've got a new schedule this year and I'm a little nervous about making that work, but I'll be used to it after a couple of weeks, I think.

Wish I could be here to send my little boy off to day 1 of grade 3, but I've got all his things laid out and his dad is a morning pro. And heck, I'm a pro at what I do, too, if I do say so myself...it's all going to be okay. Maybe even better than okay...

"I like a teacher who gives you something to take home and think about besides homework." ~Lily Tomblin

21 August 2011

Birthday girl too

My wise and beautiful friend Barb turned 60 yesterday and her family put on a fabulous surprise party for her Friday evening at her daughter's cute vintage home in University Heights. Janice and I gave Barb this flea market sampler I found and reframed. I'll be thinking of my friend this week as she travels to Florida instead of starting the school year along with the rest of us. Her daddy is not well and needs his girl.

17 August 2011

Birthday grrrl

My funny old gray kitty Allie turns 15 today. I still remember the night, that first summer Ryan and I were dating, when we returned to my parents' house in Cassville after our family trip to Minnesota and found a batch of newborn kittens under their deck. Ryan reached in and scooped each one out and a couple of months later we drove back and chose this one for our very own. I felt terrible about taking her from her mom and family then, but we're all the family she's ever known I guess. She's been with us almost as long as we've been with each other. She's always preferred Ryan but she's become increasingly cuddly in her old age and often sleeps on my shoulder at night, with her paws on my neck. She used to be more rotund, more vibrant, more fiesty, but she's still very vocal and Macauley and I love to imitate her meows, with are really r-ows. She's down well below 10 pounds now and almost feels like a whisper of what she once was when I pick her up, like a frail, elderly lady. According to the catcalculator and the catster site, our girl is 77 in human years, and you really can feel it in her bones. We'll wait to officially celebrate when Macauley gets back from camp but I'm thinking of our old gray girl tonight and how she's been with us from the very start.

15 August 2011


I haven't tried Pinterest yet, but when or if I do these images from the recent Pottery Barn catalogue would make my boards. Just things I like...

The adorable wire task lamp is from Pottery Barn Teen and I'd rather have it on my desk than pinned on a virtual inspiration board. It's on sale and my birthday is in only a couple of weeks, Ryan...wink.

14 August 2011

Doing our duty

This past week was ours to be on duty for the neighborhood pool, which I interpreted as unlocking and locking the gates and bathrooms at 10 A and 10 P each day, although there might be more involved I wasn't aware of. We went down a little early Friday night and let Macauley get in for a night swim before we closed up shop.

While Macauley was underwater, Ryan surprised him by jumping in even though he hadn't worn his trunks and they did a little roughhousing. Boys will be boys...

Then yesterday afternoon we attended Pacs for Pups downtown at the 1984 Arcade, a fundraiser for a local animal rescue group called the Killuminati Foundation.

I've never been especially skilled at video games, but there's something about these familiar 80s graphics (whoa, ultravampy Ms. PacMan!) that fills me with nostalgia...The other day we were driving and Macauley was asking me about when I grew up and why we didn't ever wear seatbelts and, having had this same conversation several times before, I just shook my head and said we didn't know better or something. He was quiet for a bit then shrugged and said with a pensive exhale, "It was just a simpler time...a simpler time." Indeed.

We lunched at Maria's then, our duty done, hit the pool again and spent a relaxing afternoon/evening at home...

11 August 2011

Pale and interesting

A bag of thrift store glitter rehoused in a jelly jar with an itty wooden scoop

This book is on my birthday list, along with The Paris Wife and Patina Style. I was just thinking that, my Florida tan having now faded, the title could also be applied to my skin these days. Must get some color before I head back to school in a week or so. I knowing being tan is not so good down the road but it always makes me feel so much better in the short-term. I've added some pale and interesting flea market finds around my house recently...

Mini cloches on ironstone butter pats, just chandelier votives turned upside down--thanks, Shannon for that idea long ago...

Relishing the days around the house before school starts...the clock is ticking.

10 August 2011

Metaphorically speaking

We went to Bolivar last night to celebrate my father-in-law Michael's birthday. Ryan set up an Apple TV for his parents and Linda made a yummy dinner of manicotti and a very interesting salad that was so different and really good. I've always thought Ryan most resembled his mom, but I can really see a father-son resemblance in this picture. From his father, Ryan has inherited a number of traits, including, I think, his loving and affectionate nature (Michael adores Linda; Ryan makes me feel the same), his sharp business sense and--for better or worse--a propensity for worrying.

Such is the fate of fathers, I suppose (or parents in general for that matter). I just finished House Rules, Jodi Picoult's book about a teen with Asperger's and a fixation on forensics and CSI who puts his whole family through all sorts of trials, both figurative and literal. I dog-eared a passage from the perspective of one of the detectives in the book that echoes the mind-blowing worry and panic having a child can incite:

Mrs. Ogilvy leans forward. Her eyes are red-rimmed. "Do you have a daughter, Detective?" she asks.

Once, at a fairground, Sasha and I were walking through the midway when a rowdy group of teenagers barreled between us, breaking the bond between our hands. I tried to keep my eye on her, but she was tiny, and when the group was gone, so was Sasha. I found myself standing in the middle of the fairground, turning circles and screaming her name, while all around me rides spun in circles and wisps of cotton candy flew from their metal wheels onto a spool and the roar of chain saws spitting through wood announced the lumberjack contest. When I finally found her, petting the nose of a Jersey calf in a 4-H barn, I was so relieved that my legs gave out; I literally fell to my knees.

I haven't even responded, but Mrs. Ogilvy puts her hand on her husband's arm. "See, I told you, Claude," she murmurs. "He understands."

Almost every time we get in the car, Macauley steers the subject toward what vehicle he will have when he is 16. I don't know how many times I have told him we would worry about whether he will get an itty bitty "adorable" SMARTCar or Ford Fiesta (his dream cars of the moment--isn't that funny?) or the more sturdy Hummer or Sequoia I have in mind (gas-guzzlers, yes, but more metal between my baby and all the dangers of the road) in another 8 years or so. As we flew down 13 last night, my mind took off in all sorts of worrisome directions, thinking of what it will be like to watch the one thing I treasure more than anything in this whole world back out of our driveway and zoom down the road, toward freedom and fun and adult responsibility but also all sorts of danger I can't grab the wheel and protect him from. Surely Michael still feels this way when his sweet Ryan pulls away from his childhood home with his own family...so I cut him some slack on the worrying bit.

It's hard not to let the fear creep in and make me irrational myself. But it's what parents do: Let go more and more every day in so many ways. It's such a heart-twisting feeling to love something so much and let it run wild in this big scary world that I sometimes wonder why generation after generation keep signing up for it. Macauley says he only wants to move a few blocks away when he graduates (Class of 2021!) and promises that he will visit me every day and drive me to the flea market. He's been asking when he can get a cell phone (he thinks 10 is a reasonable age; I have no idea) and a while back he said, "Mom? When I get my own phone will you put me on your Favorites list on yours?" I told him I absolutely would and asked him if he'd do the same for me. "For sure," he nodded. I hope I'm always one of his favorite people to call, to drive around with, that we always talk, that he always knows just what I think of him. Ryan and his dad talk often. I talk to my parents regularly, too. Another passage in Picoult's book, where that same detective laments not keeping in touch with his own father, reminded me of how many people out there can't say the same:

"My dad used to say that living with regrets was like driving a car that only moved in reverse," I smile faintly. "He had a stroke a few years ago. Before that, I used to screen his calls because I didn't have time to talk about whether the Sox would make it to the playoffs. But afterward, I started to call him. Every time, I'd finish by saying I loved him. We both knew why; and it didn't sit right after all the time I hadn't said it. It was like trying to bail out an ocean of water with a teaspoon."

The days of summer have seemed luxuriously slow of late, but I'm very aware this car is zooming down the highway, that I'll blink and my only son will be pulling in to my driveway with his own family to celebrate my 60-something birthday on a warm August night. I'm buckling in.

08 August 2011

Premiere party

Phineas and Ferb is one of Macauley's favorite shows right now, and meeting them at Disney's Hollywood Studios was probably more important than tracking down the famous mouse or any other characters there. We stood in line for quite a while for this meet and greet and it was worth it. Perry the Platypus was only a cutout that kept popping up from behind the fence, but we found a stuffed version (that makes a platypus sound when you squeeze its front paw) to take home as a souvenir.

We decided to celebrate the world premiere of the duo's new movie on Disney Channel this past Friday evening with some themed food (pictured sideways below?) and serving ware and a little family time in front of the big screen. It's fun to make a big deal of the little things...

We also celebrated my middle sister Lindsay's graduation on Friday. My mom got to sneak away from camp to attend the ceremony at MSU where Linds was hooded as a Master of Science in Education Administration. Now she can be a principal and maybe she'll be my boss one day!


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