Thursday, July 31, 2008


I have two girls, S, five-years-old, and GK, two. They are stubborn and bossy, respectively.

Last night, S talked to her mother in a manner that mothers should not be addressed. I sent her immediately to her room and left her to think about it. Later, I told her she could come out if she would go and apologize to her mom. She went in the kitchen, but just stood there while Kristy talked to her. When she was finished, I asked Kristy if she had said "I'm sorry" and she said no. So I put her back in her room.

A bit later, just before dinner, I went in and asked if she was ready to apologize and she said no. That girl would rather sit in solitary than say she's sorry.

Eventually she was sprung without my consent. I would have left her in there all night, because I'm stubborn like that.

GK's hobby is telling everyone what to do and then watching as whatever it is is carried out. This morning she and Kristy were in our bed and I kissed GK goodbye and she said, "Kiss mommy." Well, I was going to. I don't need to be told to. But then it looked as though I was just doing what she said, which is what she likes.

Kristy does the same thing. If we turn a movie on, as soon as the DVD starts if the volume is too loud, she'll tell me to turn it down as I'm already reaching for the remote. But then it looks as though I was just doing what she said, which is what she likes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Like Herding a Platoon of Cats

Kristy is at home all summer with our four kids. It's one of the greatest perks of being a teacher - summers off. It's also what helps this family function, there is no way we'd be able to afford childcare for two and a half months while the kids were out of school.

I couldn't do it. Taking charge of those four kids all day every day would end tragically. You'd all hear about it on CNN. I have to be at work all day, every day; I consider that a perk.

Today she has our four kids plus Mr. Baby, and she's taken them to Davis-Kidd Booksellers. I just found out that C's friend tagged along as well. So Kristy has left the house with six kids, which is insane. And, yet, she can handle it. She's half drill sergeant, half shepherd and half school marm. She is Big Mama.

How does she do it? What's her secret? I have no idea. And I don't think I want to, because I'm afraid it might then be expected of me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Machu Picchu

Ninety-seven years ago today, Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu, the lost Incan mountaintop city.

Common belief is that Machu Picchu was a getaway for Incan royalty. A little respite from the day-to-day, humdrum routine of corporate Peruvian life.

Memphis's own Machu Piccu is the Gulf Coast of Florida, Mississippi and Alabama, with its white sand beaches and copious Budweiser. My people and I just spent a week at this sea level retreat and I had a little something to say about it in my column, "Because I Said So," over at The Commercial Appeal.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

G is for Growl

What was that? That noise emanating from my youngest.

Two-year-old GK has begun the lovely habit of growling when she doesn't get her way, when she's upset or frustrated. It's primal, it's gravelly. It's like someone is running a rasp over the short end of a megaphone.

And it's useless.

Does she think we're new here? That we'd give up, throw in the towel, surrender just because she learned a new, albeit otherworldly, noise? Does she think we're French?

We've been through the crying and the tantrum-throwing, the screeching, whining and pouting. GK bores us with her new noise. We laugh at her growl.

She's going to have to become more creative with her anger to hold our attention. What concerns me is that she's smart enough to do just that. I'm not sure what it will be, but I fear it will involve implements. Sharp, shiny cutlery. Possibly some gun play.

This little girl needs things. She needs water in her sippy cup, she needs Blue's Clues turned on, she needs her mother's undivided attention all. day. long. And she's not willing to wait for any of those things.

She wants them now, she said with a guttural timbre.

Monday, July 21, 2008

You Can Go Home Again, Unfortunately

We made it home. Perhaps one or both of you noticed I was gone all last week. We spent the week with three other families - seven adults, 10 kids - on the white sand beaches of Dauphin Island.

I already miss it.

There will be more to come, I'm sure, about the sand castles and the boogie boarding and the morning coffee on the deck and the late night bonfires. But right now I have a ton of work to do and, frankly, I'm still in mourning over not being on the beach right this minute with a cool drink and almost a dozen kids frolicking just out of my range of responsibility.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cold Storage

We've slowly been outgrowing our home. We've run out of closet space, under-the-bed space, bathroom space and personal space.

Recently, however, we've outgrown something I never even thought about. We are absolutely out of room in our refrigerator. I always thought we'd have more than enough room in that box since we don't really have more than enough money for food, but we've somehow managed to overfill it. That big, white appliance is crammed full with a couple of gallons of milk and the same amount in juice, leftovers, bacon, condiments, simple syrup, eight cups with two fingers each of chocolate milk, a few eggs, some more leftovers, 10 jars of pickles and pepperoncinis, and a beer.

We bought this fridge almost 11 years ago after moving into this house; it's your basic cold storage with no ice or water from the door, no gallon-sized door storage, not even an ice maker. The problem - "problem" - is that it works fine, so there's really no reason to replace it other than we need. more. space. The other problem, of course, is that we can't afford one of those big refrigerators that we really need.

Just the other day, a friend had reason to get rid of a small, dorm-sized refrigerator, so we happily took it off her hands. And the only place we had for it in our house was on top of the other fridge.

So there it sits. The annex. Just like your grandmother's new TV sitting on top of her old TV. It's like a refrigerator attic.

It's the perfect place for juice, a condiment or one jar of pickles.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Visions of C

C just returned from a long weekend with his Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Toby visiting with other family members at a mini-reunion in Statesboro, GA. By all accounts, he behaved himself on his first out of town trip without either parent. I knew he would.

He also had a blast, as I knew he would. I used to take trips like this as a boy, visiting family out of state without my parents. It's a great learning experience I think, that little taste of freedom, though without having to be too responsible. Just the right amount of freedom for someone his age. You learn initiative and a bit of self-reliance, and the whole experience is a character builder as Favorite Aunt Carol would say.

He can't stop talking about things that were said and games that were played and food that was eaten. He played with his cousins, Terryn, the Little Lady and Ben and Eric from way up north. He visited with Nonna, Mimi & Pop and played in the pool with Uncle Johnny just as I used to do.

It's a weekend he'll always remember. It's the very vacation that I can remember.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Most Stupid

Okay, listen up, I'm going to tell this story once and then I don't really want to speak of it any more. And if anyone says, "You should have ... " then I will leave four hungry and summertime-sleep-deprived children on your front door step.

I'm working on this big freelance project for The Commercial Appeal. They're putting out their annual issue of "The Memphis Most" highlighting the best Memphis has to offer and I'm charged with writing pieces on various restaurants in 34 categories.

I've had about two-and-a-half weeks to work on it and have been doing so diligently. Earlier this week I was working on it, in fact, and decided I wanted the Word document saved into a specific file instead of on the desktop of the iBook G4 where I'd been keeping it.

So I "Saved As" under the same document name but in a different location.

Then came tonight. I booted up and, while I was thinking about what I was going to write, I started mindlessly moving icons on the desktop around, deleting some, just doing some general housekeeping.

I moved the document called "Memphis Most" into a folder in my Documents. And then the little dialog box popped up to tell me that there was already an item by that name and did I want to replace it?

And I did.

And then I immediately didn't want to and I undid it, but it was too late. I had moved the old document into where the newer document was residing and it overwrote it. I lost about a week's worth of work.

So, I have one week before deadline to interview people, rewrite everything, write my column for next week and take care of some other things that I'm not even at liberty to talk about right now.

All of this to say, if you need me for anything in the next week, I'm busy. Sorry. I'll have more free time in about two weeks, but for now just don't expect much from me.

I'll just be sitting here, alternately typing and beating my head on this keyboard.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Lucky Number Seven

I guess the way it's normally done is to have a birthday dinner, then birthday cake and then open birthday presents. Had we made JP wait until after dinner yesterday to open his gifts, his head would have exploded. He began asking about opening his present the evening before, his voice vibrating and his hands shaking.

And then, yesterday morning, there was this exchange:

Me: Good morning.
JP: Can I open my present now?
Me: Happy birthday, JP!
JP: Can I open my present now?
Me: I'm going to go for a quick run and you can open it when I get back.
I returned and wasn't even in the front door yet.
JP: Can I open my present now?

So we let him open his new electric keyboard in the early morning hours of his birthday. Later that evening we ordered pizza per his request.

Delivered pizza and people giving him stuff, it's the perfect JP Day. I hope he had a great one.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Birthday, JP!

Seven years ago today, without the aid of any pain relievers whatsoever, I had a baby boy.

Happy Birthday, JP, I love you!

You can read about him here, and you can look at him here.

It's my grandfather's birthday, too. He's ... more than seven. Happy Birthday, Pop!