Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Yesterday was a tough one at our house. A sick child, an unexpected day at home during a very busy work week, and a hectic morning spent visiting urgent care, picking up my laptop from the office, and waiting for multiple prescriptions at Target.

I was tired and crabby. Calvin was tired and crabby and sick. We were quite the pair.

By the time we made our way from urgent care across town to my office and then back home to Target, Calvin was teetering on the edge. While we waited for his prescriptions, I tried to keep him entertained with my phone, my keys, his toy cars, his bear, a snack — I employed every tactic in my arsenal. But all he wanted to do was stand up in the cart, stand on the stool we were purchasing in the back of the cart, throw my keys, chew on the tube of toothpaste, and — once we picked up his prescriptions — try to open his eye drops. Which were not childproofed. Which I knew he would most likely empty onto the ground. Which cost me FIFTY DOLLARS.

I said no, and that led to the tantrum of the century. Shoes went flying, items from our cart went flying, he banged his head on the cart until his forehead was scraped and bleeding, and then he tried to climb out. All while screaming bloody murder and hitting me in the face.

I wanted to die. Right there, in the middle of Target. Just take me, Lord.

Instead, I picked him up football-style and carried him to the checkout under my arm. One kind man helped gather all the items Calvin had thrown as I struggled to hold onto Calvin and unload our cart. Another mother came up behind me in line, smiled sympathetically, and said "I have one of those at home." But the cashier stared at me unforgivingly, and other shoppers gave me The Look — the one that clearly says "Control your monster of a kid, lady. I shouldn't have to listen to that." I tried as hard as I could to hold my head up high as I checked out and carried my still-hysterical child out of Target, shoeless and screaming.

Poor baby. I knew he was tired. I knew he didn't feel well. I knew I was pushing my luck. But I also knew I had to get him to the doctor, I had to pick up work, and I had to get his prescription filled because otherwise we'd both have to stay home again today — putting me even further behind. I didn't have a choice.

After forcing my inconsolable child into his car seat, I shut the door and ran back to the cart return. The same man who had picked up our strewn-about items in the store was parked two cars over. I gave him a tired smile and a half wave, and he said "My son did that all the time when he was a toddler. He's 16 now, and he's a good kid. It's going to be okay."

I nearly started crying. The exact words I needed to hear at the exact time I needed to hear them. Heaven sent, delivered by a kind stranger.

Later in the day I relayed the morning's events to Nate, explaining how embarrassed I was and how terribly some of the other shoppers had looked at me. He asked, "Who does that? Who looks at someone going through that and judges them?"

And I said, "Me. Before I had kids."

Parenthood is nothing if not a constant lesson in humility.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Service for 18.

A few months ago, my friend Nikki posted this to her blog.

I fell in love.

I actually own a few of the plates shown on that particular wall — they're hanging in my kitchen. And while I love the graphic, happy look of those plates and the collage created by that blogger, I really wanted to create the plate wall in my dining room, and I wanted the collection to be a little more "me."

If only I knew what "me" meant. My taste is hardly definable. I'm a casual person, but I'm attracted to fancy things. I love vintage patterns. I delight in cheerful colors. I admire bold choices. I choose subtle paint colors. I gravitate toward traditional lines. I like, but am somewhat terrified of, modern decor.

I am a complete mixed bag when it comes to style, and my house (and closet) is proof of that.

Luckily, a plate wall can be whatever you want it to be. So instead of mulling over which direction to take it, I just started collecting. For the past two months I've been hitting up every Goodwill, Arc's Value Village, and Savers within a 15 mile radius of home and work. And anything that looked even remotely interesting to me, I bought — with no real plan in mind.

Slowly, a pattern of color and style began to emerge. I chose colors that would fit with my first floor decor - reds, greens, yellows. Some solids, some patterns. A mix of vintage and traditional, with a few oddball additions for good measure. Toward the end, I added in black patterns, thinking that would help ground the collection a bit.

This weekend I decided I had enough to hang. Of the 22 plates I collected, I used 18. I made a pattern on the floor, traced each plate on paper and cut it out, numbered the cutouts and the corresponding plate, and taped the paper up to the wall. I wanted it to have some flow to it, but sadly the wall space wasn't as wide as the floor space I used to create the initial pattern. So I futzed with the layout on the wall, then futzed with it some more as I began to hang.

And then I futzed with it even more after it was hung. An inch over, an inch up, would a different plate look better here or there? (The answer was always yes. And still is, even looking at it now.)

The (probably not yet) final product: 18 plates on my dining room wall. An imperfect arrangement of dishes in varying styles and colors. A piece of original artwork that took weeks of shopping, three hours of hanging, and less than $80 total (including $50 in plate hangers).

I love it. Even though I know it's still not quite right and I already want to change it. But that's the beauty of the plate's fluid. I can add, I can move, I can replace. All of which I'm sure I'll do in the near future.

It's a perfectionist's dream project, really.

Friday, March 25, 2011

March madness.

Every March we spend a weekend at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minnesota with Nate's family. We've got a truckload of March birthdays on that side of our family — my brothers-in-law Jon and Kris were born the 3rd, Nate's birthday is the 9th, and mine is the 11th. Since no one wants to get together for birthday dinners that many times in one month, Nate's parents kindly began the tradition of hosting all of us for a birthday weekend up north.

March madness used to be an apt description of our weekend — years ago there were late-night snowball fights, very competitive games of pool and Mario Kart, and some pretty out-of-control rounds of Balderdash. But, with age comes wisdom (and children) and the weekend has become significantly tamer. The craziest thing we did this year was play Apples to Apples and eat too much at the breakfast buffet. Although we did stay up late enough to see the first 20 minutes of Saturday Night Live, which is an improvement over my regular weekends...

It may not be the raucous time it once was, but it's still a wonderful, fun, relaxing weekend away with people we love. Most of whom you won't see in the following pictures, because my camera seems to be permanently focused on Calvin.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama.

Today is the third day of spring. Or, as I like to call it, the eight millionth day of winter...with rain.

It's no wonder I can't find the motivation to blog these days. I can barely find the motivation to move from the couch to my bed every night. Late winter is ugly in Minnesota. The first few weeks of spring are even uglier. I think the bears are onto something with that whole hibernation business. It would be lovely to fall asleep in my bed January 2 and wake up mid-May. Sure, I'd miss my birthday and anniversary, but I'd also miss rain on top of dirt on top of snow on top of mud. I think we can all agree that's a sacrifice worth making.

Alas, I am not a bear. And also I have a job, which I'm pretty sure they expect me to do year-round. So, no hibernating for me. But we did get to trade the winter doldrums for a few days of spring last month, and it was glorious. Flip flops, bonfires, porch swings, spring jackets, dry ground...heaven. Not to mention biscuits, sweet tea, fried catfish, fried pies, chocolate gravy, and my most adorable grandparents. Super heaven! (That's new, I made it up. Pretty sure it's going to catch on quickly.)

Spring is my favorite time of year in the south. And I thought it was high-time Nate and Calvin were properly introduced to my beloved Alabama. So the three of us, along with my brother Jordan and his long-time girlfriend Heather, met my parents in the Nashville airport and drove down to Athens together.

For four days we did nothing but eat up — fried food, warm weather, and time with each other. And we have the pictures to prove it.

Oh, so many pictures. Hope you're in a comfortable chair.

Having breakfast with Papa.

Sticks. So. Many. Sticks. No need for toys when you have sticks!

Even when you're grown. (Note there are two in Cal's back pocket).

We burned some stuff.

And then my dad art directed this uh, unique family photo.

Uncle Jordan replaced the sink. Calvin "helped" with his own set of tools.

Then he fixed the tractor (lawn mower) with a real screwdriver. And ran around with his shirt tucked into his sweatpants, G-Pop-style.

Climbing, peeking, generally being adorable.

My favorites.

Introducing Great Nana to the joys of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

After being cooped up all winter, there was a lot of running. Mostly by Calvin.


Fried pie deliciousness. Very healthy.

My sweetie boy.

Cuddling with Great Nana and Baxter.

And...sticks. (Birthday shopping for Calvin just got a lot cheaper.)

Eating Dad's face.

Posed photo, not so much fun. Or flattering of Mom.

Jumping around like fools while taking self-portraits? Much better.

Stick fight with Uncle J.

Sweetness with Papa.

And Great Nana, too.

Sadly, this photo was the best of the bunch.

The kids, looking tired. Or maybe that was just me (I had the stomach flu. Too much fried food?).

Dad and his Bub.

Lots of (loud) exclamations of "Airplane! Airplane! Airplane!" (He was an angel on the plane both ways, by the way.)

Nate's fake serious face, Cal's real one. Airports are serious business, you know.

In case you were wondering, the maximum number of photos you can upload to Blogger in a single post is, apparently, more than 33. And I thought this would be a world record.
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