This afternoon I got off work a bit early, so I came home, read a portion of one of my dictionaries, and took a nap.
It was perfect.
Friday, December 30, 2005
This afternoon I got off work a bit early, so I came home, read a portion of one of my dictionaries, and took a nap.
(I also can't sleep without flossing my teeth, but that's another discussion for another day.)
Today I got my latest issue of my alma mater's alumni magazine, and the main story is about the swearing in of the new university president. It says all sorts of hokey crap about him being a "servant leader" who "ushers in a new era of servant leadership." Which is all fine because I know my alma mater, and I know how they like to say hokey crap and be redundant (must be where I got it) all the time and think it's fabulous, and so I skim the story but mostly look at the shiny pictures. Wherein I find my piece of entertainment for the evening: In one photo, the new university president and his wife are standing in front of a hideous ice sculpture of an eagle with wings spread wide, but the angle at which the right wing is captured makes it look less like a wing and more like an alien nebulous mass, poised directly above the servant leader university president's bald head, ready to vaporize his brain matter.
Or else it looks like a crystalline mohawk. Either way, not what the editors of The Accent intended, I'm sure.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 12:19 AM
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Last night when I was pretending that the rest of the world ceased to exist briefly for the sake of my personal convenience, I stumbled across something that made me laugh so hard I may have just snorted. I started out giggling, but by the time I made it to, "You could maybe hide it in cheese or peanut butter?" I had completely lost it, and by the time I hit "Pony Hole," I may have just been crying from the glee. I don't know if this makes me immature or just in desperate need of a good laugh, but whatever. Enjoy the link. Let me know if you snort when you laugh.
Earlier this month I gave a little plug for Ashton Allen on another little blog I have (ssshhhhh, it's a secret, don't tell), and he found it and sent me an e-mail thanking me for the plug and wishing me a happy new year. (I probably should have used some capitalization there. I don't care.) Right, so anyway, I felt that Ashton, being so nice as to take the time to write me an e-mail, deserved better than a mention on my sort-of-secret blog, so I'm giving him a plug right here. Ashton's music is fantastic, and I encourage a download or a purchase directly from his site. Also his t-shirts are pretty fun, and if you want to buy one for yourself or someone else (ahem*iwearsizesmallandlikebothshirtssoeitheroneisfine*ahem), I'm sure that would be a good idea. In addition (the fun never ends!), Ashton is playing some shows soon. If you're in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and some other places I'm too lazy to type out, chances are that he's playing near you. Many of his shows are in Barnes and Noble, and please, people, is there a reason not to go? Good music, lots of books about, high quality snacks in the cafe... You should check it out. Because I said so. And a big thank you to Ashton for the e-mail.
On a related note, related because it's about purchasing music, I recently ordered both CDs that are available on Kim Taylor's website, and they're perfect, of course. My favorite part was that the envelope they came in was hand addressed. In ink pen. I'm a sucker for things written by hand, even if it was just my address. She has a new album coming out next spring-ish (if I remember right), which thrills me no end. Kim has had the recent honor of being played in my car on the way to work, and I rarely play anything but the sweet sound of silence on my way to work, so she must be very good indeed. I recommend a purchase from her site or a download from iTunes. (But let me remind you that if your purchase from her site, the envelope is hand addressed. By hand. In ink pen. It's very nice.)
So last night after I'd watched Monsoon Wedding and caught up on blogs, I decided to play beauty parlor and assaulted my hair with a curling iron. I'm happy to report that I have settled on a hairstyle for New Year's Eve and that it also looks fabulous slightly messy the next day, which means that I've settled on a hairstyle for New Year's Day as well. It's really a shame I have no date for the New Year's Eve festivities, or even one for, say, doughnuts the next morning, as I will be foxy like a...um...well, like a fox. I guess I'll have to settle for the attention of my many fine friends and just show you all pictures later so you can tell me I look pretty. (I don't fish for compliments, people, I just tell you right out that I should get them. So humble, yes, I know.)
Today the little girls from across the street are hanging out with us, and they are the most precious things ever. This morning as I was knitting, Kate mentioned that she and Greta were going to learn to knit, but they couldn't do it last night because, "there just wasn't so much patience." Must be on backorder. Mine is.
I am looking forward to the holiday season being over. I'm ready to get back to my usual pace of life. This time of year, as enjoyable as it can be, really stresses me out, and I'm more than ready to return to the ordinary.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 11:05 AM
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I'm officially all peopled out. Go away, people. I'm turning off the phone, dimming the lights, and settling in front of my computer with a plate of microwave nachos and a BIG BAG of Hershey's Chocolate Mint Kisses (it really does say BIG BAG on the bag, just like that, in all caps). If I do not respond to your call or e-mail in a timely manner,
bite me I apologize. I'll get back to you when you're less annoying I'm a little less irritable. GO AWAY ALREADY! Enjoy your Wednesday evening.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 7:15 PM
Monday, December 26, 2005
During the Season of Gluttony (also known to some as "The Holidays"), I think this quiz is appropriate.
You taste like filet mignon. You are the epitome
of fine taste and everyone knows it. You are
expensive, well aged, and in demand!
How do you taste?
brought to you by Quizilla
Please share your own results; I'm curious.
Link via Holly, who tastes like fajitas. Thanks, Holly!
Posted by findingmagnolia at 2:54 PM
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
GEDDIT? GEDDIT? A ball? And they're in the ball pit?
My gift to you this Christmas is a bad pun. Are you thankful or what?
Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope it's all you're wishing for and more.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 12:52 PM
Friday, December 23, 2005
I'll make this short, mostly because I'm tired and lazy.
Tonight Tim, Julianna, and I went to see King Kong. When we used the ticketing kiosks, in the bottom of mine was an abandoned ticket for Memoirs of a Geisha, and in the bottom of theirs was one for Munich. Perhaps we should have taken this as a sign that there are other films, quality films, no less, that are playing, and why mess with the blockbuster? However, we missed the sign, and King Kong, it was.
I think the most telling thing I could say to you is that I had two favorite parts during the movie:
1. The part where I was eating candy and not really paying attention.
2. The part where Julianna put her scarf over her eyes and I put my cardigan hood over my eyes and we started laughing.
The main issue I have with Peter Jackson, and I had it in the first Lord of the Rings, too, is that he enjoys chase scenes too much. Someone is always being chased, running pell-mell through some jungle/cave/field/river/underground labyrinth, and it lasts for. ev. er. Then when it's done, he lets his audience breathe for precisely 2.45879 seconds before beginning another chase scene. Because chase scenes are so exciting! And suspenseful! And crowd-pleasing! And...boring after awhile, once you get past the point where you feel like you might go right over the edge from the tension he builds up but doesn't relieve in a timely manner. To build up suspense throughout a film, thus leading to an impressive climax and resolution, is one thing, but to employ it over and over again when we all can guess (or already know) what is going to happen is simply a waste of time.
I will give props to Peter for an impressive cast and stunning visual effects. He is talented, for sure, and I don't want to imply otherwise. I'll subtract props, however, for the nightmares I'll be having thanks to the creepy people and the insect/arachnid/wormish life he indulged in so liberally between the chase scenes. (Couldn't someone have warned me about that? Or at least offered to sit guard by my bed while I sleep with all the lights on?) Overall, I'll give the movie an, "Um, Okay" and let the rest of you judge for yourselves. I won't be recommending it, but if you're a big Peter Jackson fan, I won't attempt to hinder you from attending.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 11:29 PM
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Yesterday my phone rang repeatedly throughout the day. I kept having to interrupt what I was doing with Mary Liz to answer it, and she was more patient than usual, so near the end of the day I turned the phone off and said, "Thank you SO much for being so quiet while I answered the phone today. Now that everyone we know has called, I can turn off the phone and just spend time with you."
"Everyone has called us?" she responded.
"Yes," I replied emphatically, "at least, everyone we know."
And on we went, listing everyone who had called. At the end she paused, trying to think of one more person who may have called. "Did John Mayer call?" she inquired.
"We don't know him."
"Oh," she answered, clearly puzzled, "we don't?"
We sure don't. But something tells me I may have been playing his new album a little too much in the car.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 7:07 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
It's one of my least favorite questions, but people ask it often. This last time I was standing next to an older gentleman, waiting for my drink at Starbucks. He inquired about my order, and I reciprocated. He asked about Jack, and I said something, because for some reason it's important to me that people know, to indicate that I'm his nanny, not his mother. He asked if I was in school, and I said, no, that I have a degree already, and am not planning on a graduate degree just yet. He queried as to my major, and I told him, English. And then he asked the question. "So how are you going to use that, then?" And I didn't have an answer. I don't ever, really, except the smart-alecky one.
"I use it to create sparkling dinner conversation with my many suitors and also to feel superior to those who use apostrophes inappropriately."
I got an English degree because I like to read. That's all there is to it. I tried other majors, but nothing thrilled me as much as reading great books. I remember telling my mom when I was in high school that if I could major in anything, regardless of its usefulness, it would be English. I just wanted to read. It took two other majors and a threat of dropping out to bring all of us who were paying for my schooling to the conclusion that maybe I should just do what I love to do. And so I have an English degree. I have no plans as to do anything specific with it, and I really don't mind. I suppose I could say that I've used it to write a lot of really bad poems. I guess I could admit that I have more than one children's book scribbled on scraps of paper, bound together in a folder somewhere on my desk shelf. But those things aren't important to me in any professional sense right now. They're just for me, because I like them. I like my life as it is, with no pressure to take things further if I'm not ready or willing to put out the effort it would take to make something more substantial of that part of my life. My English degree is just one small drop in the bucket of all the things I've learned, and right now I'm making use of some of the other drops. The English degree deserves a break already. After all, I don't feel that my college education is more important than my other education.
Except, of course, when I'm making sparkling dinner conversation with my many suitors. Then it's downright crucial to my success.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 11:09 PM
I've perfected my loud, sharp claps for occasions like this:
Today was Jack's Christmas program at school. I attended the dress rehearsal, and let me just say: IT KILLED ME. Over and over again, those kids were killing me. I forgot how much I love school Christmas programs, but please. If I had more time I'd find out when all the kids I know are performing and I'd show up.
First of all, Jack was magnificent in his usual way. He stood in the back, third from the right, with his shirt accidentally unbuttoned, and sang his little heart out. My one regret for the day was that I didn't have my camera out at the moment that he, between hand motions, put his hands behind his head, making his elbows jut out to the sides as if he were relaxing in an easy chair. Classic Jack moment. The kid just never quits doing funny things with his gangly appendages. I only wish I could have seen what he was doing with his feet.
During the portion of the program in which Jack sang, there were a number of solos. A little boy I know named Sam sang an earnest solo which he just belted right out, and I was hard pressed not to employ the loud, sharp clap right in the middle of the song. So I died a tiny little death right there in my chair and managed to resurrect for the next song, which did, indeed, feature another tiny death, many of them, actually, this time by my heart bursting into a million tiny pieces when the little girl sang:
I light one candle to watch for Messiah
Let the light banish darkness
He shall bring salvation to Israel
God fulfills a promise
It was so sweet and clear and perfect. My heart burst over and over and over and I wanted to go, "Little girl, you are killing me. Please stop, please. Except don't. Maybe sing forever." And then later I saw her in her pink crocheted hat with the sequins all around it, and I wanted to ask her mother if I could take her home with me as a Christmas present. She was just that perfect.
For their big finale, Jack's group sang a song which involved much shouting instead of singing (indicated in the following by caps) and big hand motions:
Pre-PARE the way for the COM-ing of God
Make STRAIGHT the way for the COM-ing of God
Join in if you know it, and don't forget the hand motions:
Pre-PARE the way for the COM-ing of God
Make STRAIGHT the way for the COM-ing of God
Man, I love Christmas.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 8:22 PM
Monday, December 19, 2005
I decided this morning at 2:45am that since I only have two varieties of cookies to make, 150 Christmas cards to print for someone else who hasn't approved the design yet, three items to take to the dry cleaners, eleventy bajillion dirty dishes to clean, 43 photos to process, who-knows-how-many photos to back up from the hard drive, one extra day of work with one extra child to boot, and three loads of laundry to do this week, I should probably do a last minute Christmas project involving at least four errands and a lot of printer ink.
Someone, please, hit me hard with something heavy. Preferably right on the noggin.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 3:44 PM
Saturday, December 17, 2005
It all started because Jack and Mary Liz were playing nicely together, and I had nothing else to do but read the latest Southern Living magazine which had arrived at their home. I'd decided long before that I wouldn't have a Christmas tree, that I'd just set up my smallest nativity set, the one that is in all one piece so as not to require any actual set-up, unless you count putting a new tea light (which may or may not be lit during the season) in the hollow behind it. It was brilliant! The Christmas decorating was done! No one really cared! But then Southern Living had to put all those mantle decorating ideas, none of which required obtaining or watering an actual evergreen tree, in their issue, and I had the stroke of genius to steal one of those ideas and take it much, much (much, much) further.
The original idea was to put two curved branches (preferably found in one's yard or the yard of a friend or neighbor, thereby making them free) in a rectangular vase filled with gravel, disguise the gravel with moss, and hang nice, matching ornaments spaced evenly throughout the branches. It was simple, it was sophisticated, it did NOT involve a popcorn tin full of Hallmark ornaments collected over the years and two full strands of white Christmas lights.
And also their branches were not so...branchy.
What I have now are some tree branches that look as if they were vomited on first by a bunch of white lights and then by a bunch of ornaments. It's kind of tacky. I kind of love it.
If you look at it from the right angle, it's actually quite cute. The ornaments are many and varied, and I do believe there is something for everyone to enjoy, even grinches and Southern Living editors, who surely do not wish to take credit for my branchy work of Christmas art. If you look at it from the wrong angle, however, you will poke your eye out, for there is not quite enough room for the average adult to pass by the curved branch into the living room.
I guess if you come over, you'll just have to remember to duck.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 12:24 PM
Friday, December 16, 2005
Tonight I looked after six boys. Don't worry; it was lucrative enough to make the torture worth it. In fact, I'd say the torture was much less than my current personal hell and paid much better. (I don't get paid extra to listen to Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits, but so help me, I should.) Also, to be fair, one boy was sick and so was sleeping the entire evening.
The rest of the boys were busy being boys which kept me busy breaking up tussles and keeping balls from flying towards breakable objects all night.
When it was late enough, I sent them to bed and/or to rest watching a DVD. (Two of them were from a different house, so their beds were waiting for them for later.) The problem was that one of them, the eldest, actually, refused to go to bed.
And when I say "refused," I mean he wrapped himself around a chair and clung to it as if it would save his life. Which really? Not so much, seeing as I'm bigger and stronger and used to maneuvering a chubby four-year-old who has the "make myself like lead" deal down pat. By comparison, this kid barely put up a fight, though I will give him credit for reaching longingly in the direction of the chair as I climbed up the bunk bed ladder with him under one arm and my other arm steadying our ascent. As I slipped him effortlessly over the railing, I apologized, probably more for damaging his self-esteem than anything else. I gave some lame excuse for tossing him in there like that and scratched his back for a bit to make him feel better. I imagine it's hard being the biggest most of the time, only to be outdone by some random babysitter.
Sorry, kid. Better luck next babysitter. Unless, of course, it's me. Then luck's not going to help you much.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 1:20 AM
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I am of the opinion that if I do not own a dog, I should not have to clean dog poop off of my shoes after walking through my own yard. If you own a dog, it is your responsibility to clean up after it. If you don't want to pick up your dog's poop, either don't have a dog or keep it confined to a space where you will be the only one likely to step in the droppings.
I have had to clean dog poop off my shoes twice this week. TWICE. You know what that means don't you? It means that if I catch you, I'm going to have to kick you.
And your little dog, too.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 10:35 AM
Monday, December 12, 2005
I meant to write about this yesterday, but the day got away from me. So here we go, one day late: It's over. Yesterday marked one year on my experiment, thus bringing to a close something that's been, and that I hope will continue to be, good for me. This year of, for the most part, not buying food if I have some at home already, not eating out, and foregoing new clothes has been quite an adventure. I've never eaten so many beans in my life. My level of window shopping has decreased dramatically. And best of all, I spent a lot less money this year on clothing and food. While I am not completely financially free yet, I've made a bigger dent than I would have otherwise, and for that I am so grateful. Now that it's all over, I think the question is: Where do I go from here? Surprisingly enough, I have an answer.
What this experiment taught me first and foremost was how better to distinguish need from want, to be happy with what I have, to distinguish between true value and cheap stuff I'll never really use. It has also taught me to appreciate the privilege of being prosperous enough to get what I need (or even just want) whenever I need (or want) it. We live so richly--having whatever food we want at any time, being able to choose from an endless array of items to consume.
What I hope to take away from this, or rather, what I hope to practice as a result of what I learned, is financial judiciousness. I want to continue to recognize what is need and what is want and to make my decisions regarding filling my needs with thought and care. I will continue to eat what I have at home before I buy more food, to eat out rarely, to purchase clothing for specific purposes as opposed to purchasing it only because it's on sale or because it's pretty. I suppose it comes down to this: I will treat myself occasionally, but for the most part I want to make mostly need-based purchases.
I went to The Gap today to pick up a few things that will benefit my wardrobe. I have to admit, it was really fun. The colors! The styles! The many things I tried on that I realized were too frivolous! I left feeling good about my choices; my wallet was a little lighter, but the lightness was from money well spent. I hope I feel that way about all my purchases in the future.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 1:43 PM
Friday, December 09, 2005
Clearly, so far today has advantages over yesterday.
Yesterday was Jack's first snow day ever, but Mary Liz still had school, so I decided we should have a Very Special Time in honor of the Very First Snow Day. Once Mary Liz was off, Jack and I headed over to my place, where I gathered a few extra things together before we hit the Plaza. We had such a great time walking and snow-fighting our way down the street that we only had time to make one stop before we met Jack's mom for lunch. Naturally, we chose the Apple store, where Jack explored a new game and I typed ninety words per minute. (I had to throw that last bit in just to impress you with my typing prowess. Are you impressed? Yes? No? Maybe a little bit?) Jack's mom met us there and we all headed to PF Chang's, where Jack had to be cajoled by his mother to eat (I wouldn't have cajoled; I would have just let him be hungry, but that's me). Though the food he insisted he'd like was completely unappealing to him, the lemonade was not, and he sucked down as much as the server brought him until we told gave the signal to halt beverage delivery. Perhaps you can see where this is going already?
After lunch, true brilliance struck, and I decided that it would not only be more efficient to stay at my place until it was time to get Mary Liz from school, it would also be Tons! Of FUN! And so we trudged to my cozy apartment, Jack got settled in my bed, and we all (cats included) hunkered down for a toasty afternoon. All was quiet on the western front until Jack appeared at the office door, wet from chest to knees, insisting that, "It must be sweat, Mary, it's just that hot in here." I tried to break it to him gently, but quickly, that it wasn't sweat, but was, in fact, pee. And it was, in fact, all over my sheets, soaked through nicely to the feather bed, pressed into the feathers with the weight of a large six-year-old who sleeps on his stomach.
I sent him off with a pair of my pants which could be held up by drawstring, the smallest long-sleeved shirt I own, a slightly used Old Navy bag, and the instructions to take off all the wet clothing (which was, um, all of his clothing), put it in the bag, re-dress, and come to me for help with the drawstring. While he stripped himself, I stripped the bed, and it was done. Gross? Sure. Complete and utter tragedy? Nope. I patted myself on the back for not freaking out and we got in the car to put the finishing touches on Jack's tranformation--finishing touches meaning getting him into clothes that didn't belong to me.
And that was that. We did a bunch of other stuff, I dropped everybody off, the end.
Oh, wait, no, not the end.
From my usual job I headed straight over to Round Two out south. The kids I had in my care for the evening had been playing outside all day, and consequently they were too tired to do much of anything but sit around. With minimal effort, I got them all settled in front of a Christmas movie, and I sat down to read a magazine I found (I think it was Elle). Within forty-five minutes, the middle child was sawing logs in the easy chair and the other two weren't far behind. I declared it officially Time For Bed and attempted to wake the sleeper. He didn't budge. We tapped him, we shouted his name, we moved him around in the chair, all to no avail. I finally decided to just carry him upstairs and put him into pajamas while he slept. I heaved him onto my shoulder and began the trek upstairs, pausing on the middle step because, oh dear, something seemed a little too warm about my arm. And also a little bit wet. Sure enough, I'd woken him just enough to make him pee all over both of us. Awesome.
At least I got it all out of the way in one day.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 2:48 PM
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
And also possibly other loose change, but I definitely recommend the dimes.
After the Over the Rhine show Saturday night, I dropped Nicole off at her apartment and borrowed her car to drive back to the hotel in Elgin. I passed through a manned toll station, where I paid my 80 cents by way of a dollar bill, and the toll booth operator called me sweetie and told me to be careful as he dropped two dimes into my outstretched hand. I had then in my posession two dollars and two dimes.
Which did me no good at the unmanned toll station, where exact change is required and the toll is 60 cents.
On the toll receptacle, a sign was posted stating that if you do not have correct change, you should proceed through the tollway and call a certain number within four days. I called today, and the automated system informed me that I still had time to pay my toll and included an address to which my payment could be mailed, as well as instructions on how to find out how much is due. I checked the appropriate charts, addressed my envelope, included the necessary information about the toll station I'd left in my dust, the car make, model, and tag numbers, and my own contact information. I then made out my check.
For sixty cents.
Avoid the hassle, people. Just bring a roll of dimes.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 12:40 PM
Monday, December 05, 2005
The weekend kind of made a swooshing sound as it went by. These Chicago weekends with John & Judy are always this way, though; by now I shouldn't be surprised.
We headed out Friday at 2:30pm, all six of us and our gear in a Dodge Durango. We were short on legroom and long on road time, so we did the best we could to manage without complaining, even through a snowstorm. I think we did all right, but I'm probably not the right one to make that assessment. I may be giving those of us in the middle seat a wee bit more credit than we deserve. We hit Elgin, Illinois, Barren Wasteland of Nothingness, shortly after midnight and settled in for a short night.
Saturday morning we all showered and shuffled about our adjoining rooms and one of us (*ahem*yourstruly*ahem*) went shamelessly to the lobby wearing no footwear whatsoever to get coffee. As soon as we were all properly dressed for the weather (socks and shoes included), we headed out. There was a very large breakfast which left no room for food until dinnertime, and then only limited room. There was shopping. There was Starbucks. And then, thank heaven for 7-Eleven and the fact that Nikki Nicole moved to Chicago, there was a dropoff of one certain person (moi) who was grateful to be hanging out with a friend and attending an Over the Rhine show instead of making an appearance at the annual
Meat and Cheese Extravaganza Christmas party, which is the official reason for the trip.
Over the Rhine was an added bonus, an afterthought, a happy coincidence, but such a good one. For me it was the highlight of the trip. Nicole is my favorite show-going companion for many reasons, not the least of which is her sincere appreciation for a good live show and her willingness to express it enthusiastically and out loud. To have her along for a night of good music is always a pleasure. Over the Rhine cosistently puts on a good show, which we anticipated, but we had the added enjoyment of a cozy venue and a great opener. Kim Taylor was exquisite, and I was pleased as punch that Nicole thought so, too. We raved about the whole thing all the way back to Nicole's apartment. It was fantastic.
And then I drove back to Elgin, Illinois, Barren Wasteland of Nothingness.
Luckily I only had to sleep there, and not for very long, either. Sunday morning found one of us (*ahem*yourstruly*ahem*) in the lobby in her pajamas getting coffee, and once we were all showered and dressed, we hit the ground driving. We had a few more good stops, some detours (two of which involved the consumption of bacon), and finally we were back on our way home.
I do enjoy Chicago, but it feels more than good to be back in my own warm apartment, and with a full night of sleep ahead of me besides. Goodnight, all.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 10:26 PM
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Sometimes I find it strangely satisfying that I can make it through the day on chocolate-based liquids and mint M&Ms alone.
Other times I think that vitamins and minerals might be a good idea.
People like me are the reason that the multi-vitamin business is thriving.
Posted by findingmagnolia at 7:47 PM