Friday, June 29, 2007

The Sweet Life

My Uncle, surf fishing.

This is part of the Weekly Photo hunters. Click to find other hunters.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

(Lack of) Southern Charm

I watched as they piled out of a car. Four guys and two young women. Another guy was let out of the hatchback because there were too many of them for him to have a seat in the vehicle. They walked towards the restaurant where I was eating with my family, including my in-laws. Several of the young men had on shirts with the insignia of my father and brother's alma mater. One even wore orange shorts.

After my kids finished eating I took them back out to the front area to "play" video games. I just let them sit in front of the screens and pretend. The group of seven I saw in the parking lot were waiting for a table so I asked one of them if they attended The University.

"No." was the reply. "We live near there. We're still in high school."

Now my mental wheels start turning in total, complete panic. These children appear to be staying alone in a vacation town. These children include a combination of five males and two females. TWO FEMALES!! Does this strike anyone as particularly troublesome?

So, playing it cool I start another tact.

"Oh, my dad went to [name] County High School" which happens to be the large high school in that part of the state (or Commonwealth).

They all look at each other. "That's where we go." says one guy lounging on the bench.

"Is that big black and white photo of the football team still over the door of the gym?" I ask. Some eyebrows raise and a few nod yes, looking at each other. My lack of a southern accent does not make sense as I describe the inside of their high school. "My dad is one of the guys holding the football in the front row. He was co-captain of that team."

The team that one some type of championship (forgive me dad for not remembering the exact one) that merits the photo to still hang prominently 50 years after they won it.

No one said a word. Not even "oh". They sat there and stared at me as if I grew 54 heads.

With that I turned and whispered to my kids, did you see how rude they were? They couldn't carry on a conversation! They didn't say yes with a proper s at the end, didn't say ma'am, couldn't acknowledge your grandfather went to their high school!

So we've got rude children staying alone in a beach house. Good job parents. The southern charm and manners were just oozing that evening. You must be sooooo proud.

** Technical note: we're experiencing computer problems here at chez SMID. Basically the computer decides to shut down after 15-20 minutes of activity and needs to nap for 20-30 minutes before it will graciously wake up again. That and my kids broke the period button forcing me to use a pen to tap the round silver pad any time I want to end a sentence with something other than a question mark or exclamation point.

This means I'll be scarce (again). Please accept my apologies now. I'll visit when I can.**

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gee, I rock?

I fancy myself more of a techno-girl. I get all giddy with computer-generated drumbeats, synthesizers and faraway voices. I hear a dance tune a la 1989 and I get all glassy-eyed.

However, there is a new award floating around the blogosphere. So new I was completely unaware of it until Ms. Jenn in Holland nominated me for one.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you're favorite fag hag has been bestowed:

These things still take my breath away. I just turn on my computer and write what comes to mind. The fact a few of you comment makes me feel like there a others out in cyberland who understand.

But when one of you gives me an acknowledgement like this, well, I'm still gasping for air.

Like all awards, it must be shared. So my list will be a bit odd, because that is how I am.

1. Alex Elliot - I've said it before and I will say it again, Alex makes me feel like I am not alone in this crazy journey. She is funny, thoughtful and informative.

2. The Blog Exchange - the insanely talented Kristen Chase created and maintains the Blog Exchange among other endeavours, plus being a superior mom to two kids. It is by far my favorite "activity" that I have found so far (and no not because I finally got a couple of Best of nods). I have made wonderful friends through the exchange, found new sites to read and have been challenged to write topics I wouldn't have attempted. Oh yeah, and the three people I encouraged to join in all received Best of nods their first time in. I know how to pick 'em, yup.

3. Kate - The Pillow was packed in a box for a while but my hope is it comes out of the crate soon and is fluffed up. I went on a Blogher discussion group for working moms a couple of days after starting my blog. Kate was the ally I needed as I tripped my way through blogging. Plus, it was through her that I found The Blog Exchange. And her masthead is just awesome.

Now for the slight tweaking of the awards.

As Stephen Colbert says "I don't see race", I've been surprised at how I don't see gender among my fellow bloggers. Seriously, I think of all of you as people first. So I'm naming the following two as honorary Rockin' Girl Bloggers (both of you can feel free to ignore me or show this off with pride):

4. Gunfighter - for the exchange about bummer stickers and poverty alone he Rocks. He's a blogger who really makes people think, is hysterically funny and gets under people's skin. Seriously, he's got some folks in a dander over writing about girls whimpering or some such thing.

5. The Ambassador - o.k. so maybe I shouldn't be giving awards to people I knew BEFORE BLOGGING BEGAN but this guy was blogging before me as he dealt with the exodus from New Orleans post-Katrina. But I happen to know that he can walk in high heels better than me and knows how to wear mascara. Sorry but that makes him, at times, more girlie than me. Not that that is very difficult to do.

Although guys, if you would prefer the Rockin' Guy Blogger badge, I can send that along.

So rock on everyone. Feel free to pass this along or ignore it. Just know I think you are fab.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The drive home

9:40 am - finally in the car, can barely see the kids with all the stuff that seemed to expand while we were away

9:50 am - have gone 1 mile on the small state highway with 20+ more to go to get off the island

9:54 am - 6 1/2 year old son yells that his 3-year-old sister has thrown up in the back seat. She has.

10:02 am - we're back on the road only to pull over for homemade donuts at a bakery. The owners are training Moldavian women who barely speak English. It takes 10 minutes to fill our order, 2 minutes for the kids to finish the donuts and yell they are still hungry, another 15 to get more food.

10:32 am - back on the road

11:30am - finally off the island

12:00noon - got into another state but stuck on its highway #64

12:30 pm - barely moving on highway #64

12:37 pm - we stop for food and play in a McDonald's playspace

1:07 pm - back on the road. Still lots of traffic.

2:07 pm - my husband offers to dance naked on the roof of the car to the Lazytown CD that we've listened to 89 million times on this trip if the traffic breaks.

2:12 pm - the traffic mysteriously and without reason breaks. No accident. No sudden increase in the number of lanes. No long line at a particular exit. We are now driving faster than the posted speed limit after driving for hours at less than 20 or 30 mph.

2:14 pm - kids keep asking why we are laughing so hard, why I am unable to speak, why there are tears running down my check. [To date there has been no naked dancing to Step by Step.]

2:30 pm - kids finally fell asleep

3:30 pm - everyone is awake

3:45 pm - we pull into the visitor parking lot of a large medical center in this state's capitol to visit the 14-month-old son of my cousin. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer before his first birthday and he was getting a round of chemotherapy. Even though he was in a pediatric ICU, my cousin asked that we still come by to visit. She managed, in spite of our travel delays, to have her husband, mom (my aunt) and two older sons nearby so we could all visit.

The next 30 hours (we didn't get home until 10:00 pm the following day) - in spite of all the bickering, complaints of hunger, multiple bathroom breaks, never-ending playing of the Lazytown CD (but still no naked dancing on the roof), guilt over letting the kids play non-stop Gameboys and watch the same four Backyardigan episodes on DVD, the lack of any healthy foods, it all seems pretty trivial.

I've got three healthy kids and a lovely husband. We had the privilege of spending two weeks in a fancy house a mile from a beach. And I am part of a pretty amazing larger family.

Get better baby boy. Please, get better.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Family, friends and fishing

Holding a squid.

Fishing in the surf with daddy and grandfather (known as Poppa T)

Crabbing with chicken necks attached to string.

Fruits, err crabs, of our labors.

Why do you go on vacation? In case you're wondering, while my sons and husband bonded over their Southern heritage by handling slimy creatures or body parts to capture other slimy creatures, my daughter and I did our own bonding Southern-style.

We napped under the ceiling fans.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Interrupt for some Fun, High Tide and L'Amour

Huh? But I'm already on vacation. At the beach. With the man I love.

A few weeks before we left, Craig informed me we would be taking a side trip from our lovely vacation home for one night. He said it would take a few hours to get there. So Sunday arrived, and he told me it might take a bit longer than 3 hours. I still didn't pack a lot of activities for the kids because I figured it wouldn't be that long.

We left the house at 9:15 am. We were still in the car at 3:15 pm. Suddenly his joke about going to Chicago didn't seem so funny. Nor his singing We're on the Road to Nowhere. At 3:50 pm we pulled into a nondescript hotel along a highway. When we got into the room he handed the kids an envelop with 5 sheets of paper.

They were tickets to the True Colors concert that night in a venue five miles from our hotel.

My husband drove all of us nearly 300 miles to attend a Gay-palooza organized by Cyndi Lauper and the HRC to raise awareness about the Matthew Shepard amendment being considered for the federal hate crimes bill in the Senate.

I'll admit, I moaned a bit when I realized the tour with Cyndi Lauper (remember my kids sing Cyndi?), Debbie Harry of Blondie (hello? the shirt!) and of course Erasure would be in our home town during our vacation. But I moaned at most a day and I worked hard to get over it. In fact, I almost forgot the concert was even happening. Almost.

So imagine my honey's surprise when I told him that if we were at home I had no intention of taking the kids to the concert. Not because of the music (my kids also got to hear Dresden Dolls and Rufus Wainwright) but because of the MC between the acts. Apparently he had never heard of Margaret Cho. But after her first 10 minute routine we heard with the kids, we started forcing bathroom breaks and food runs on them.

But I have to say that watching my sons sing to Erasure was a trip. Having my daughter in her Tide is High t-shirt and pink cowgirl hat befriend TJ and John next to us, was so much fun. She had them dancing with her. When they left she was so sad. "Oh, my little fag hag" said my husband as he comforted her.

And we were back on the beach by Monday afternoon.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Turning Australian

Sometime around 3rd grade my brother went to the beach with his camp. His counselors forgot to put sunscreen on the pale little boy and he came home with a sunburn. Which turned into a 2nd degree burn, complete with blisters the size of egg yokes. I remember him laying propped up in bed in his darkened bedroom - barely moving from the pain - for nearly a week.

To say I'm a fanatic about sunscreen would be an understatement. And spending time by the water, while lovely, does raise my anxiety levels. So as the summer kicks in (at least in the northern hemisphere) please remember that there is an increased risk of skin cancer from over exposure to the sun. And premature wrinkles. And that sunburns HURT!

I'm almost done. There a public health campaign in Australia that my children can perfectly chant.

So, everyone now Slip-Slap-Slop:

Slip on a shirt.
Slap on a hat.
Slop on some sunscreen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Something about my left side

We're here on vacation and something about my left side is very attractive to the locals down here. I'm serious. They find me irresistible. To the point that they physically attach themselves to me.

While walking up to the beach the top of my left arm hurt. It was a nagging hurt on my skin. Upon investigation, I found I was being bitten by a teeny, tiny red ant. And it was going to town biting, scurrying and biting some more.

A few hours later I noticed a new mole above my left hip. It was dark and very raised. As I went to check, it moved. I had a tick working very hard to get under my skin. Fortunately, after much tugging, I got it off with just two little bite marks on me. The head stayed attached to its the body.

And now this will be the vacation where my children will have to deal with me being a fanatic about ticks.

In spite of the hungry wildlife, we are having a lovely, lovely time.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Packed and ready

We're leaving tomorrow for vacation.

A two week plus vacation. This is the longest we will be away as a family, ever.

It's funny because as a family I couldn't be happier to take this vacation now. The boys' last day of kindergarten is tomorrow. We will attend their celebration concert, eat a cookie and have some apple juice. Then we will all run out of the building, screaming and tearing their school uniforms off as we replace them with Hawaiian shirts. We'll jump in the packed van - complete with bikes hanging off the back - head to the highway and get to our beach house in a different part of the country. A part of the country where everyone calls you "baby" - even in your late 30's. A part of the country where they know how to properly use "y'all".

Plus the kids are ready themselves. The boys have been packed for four days. Our daughter started to sob tonight when - standing in her pajamas, beach hat and sandals - I informed her it was bedtime and we couldn't leave until the morning. You would've thought I'd ripped her heart out. She's ready to go NOW! She is currently sound asleep with her sandals on her feet and beach hat mashed on her face.

But for my new job this couldn't come at the worst time. Everyone at the office is being so incredibly supportive about it. I told them during the interview that we had put down money on this house and they were fine with it. But 7 weeks into this job I've got projects I'm excited about, crises that I want to pay attention to and new relationships I want to keep developing. It will be hard not to check my work email or call in for updates. But I need to honor this time with my family.

Then there is this little side project of mine. The one that you all are a part of (yes, even you lurkers who don't comment). By the end of each day I literally have 2-3 posts running around in my head. I see things that I want to photograph and share with everyone. But I'm also feeling less umph to find new sites to read. Don't get me wrong, I like new people, really, and will visit you if you let me know you came by (hint, hint). I like the crowd I'm hanging with and don't feel compelled to make it bigger on my own.

So imagine my surprise when I got an international phone call yesterday from someone who was worried that I missed my 5:30am blog visit. She noted I hadn't been on any blogs for, oh, about 12 hours! That is a sign telling me I need to lay low for a while. But it was nice to hear her voice. It's quite lovely. You should really hear it someday.

I'll post a photo or two. Maybe share a vignette. But don't be alarmed if you don't hear much from me over the next two plus weeks. I'm enjoying the beach with my family.


And thanks to the person(s) who voted for my post in this month's Blog Exchange. I'm glad others agree that my dad really is awesome.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Less despair

In March I wrote about taking my kids and dad to a rally in support of the 300+ workers who had been detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Today I was back in that part of the state and I try to pick up a paper in each town I'm visiting. This was the huge photo on the front page.

Photo by Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times

Two-year-old Tomasa was reunited with her father after he had been detained for three months.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Good Night, Bug

The instant I heard the front door open, the sound of the spring on the screen door stretching to its limit, I sprang to my feet and ran toward the familiar sound. By the time the coiled metal had sprung back to its original shape and he had firmly planted both feet on the rug just inside the door, I had jumped up into his arms knowing no fear he wouldn’t catch me. As the door closed behind him he gave me a big squeeze, a kiss on the top of my head and the first of our nightly rituals was complete.

My dad rarely arrived home before dark and when your cue for bedtime is the illumination of the street lights outside in the small world of your neighborhood, late is anytime after the first firefly can be spotted in the rosebush wrapped around the light post lighting the way from the driveway to the front door. Therefore, our time was always too short.

Our embrace at the door lasted just a few moments; Too soon I was put back down onto the floor and I watched as he tossed his jacket onto the couch and unbuttoned the collar of his blue shirt. I followed him closely, taking two steps for every one of his long strides, as he strolled straight down the short, dimly lit hallway into the kitchen.

There he was met by my mother who, having heard him come in or maybe interpreted the sound of my pitter patter correctly, had already begun to re-warm what was left of the meal the two of us had eaten earlier that evening. She turned her head slightly and smiled at him over her shoulder. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and took a deep breath to smell the sweet aroma of his soon-to-be late supper.

My mother informed me that it was time for bed. I looked over at my dad and gave him my most sad, most pathetic looking face in hopes that he would allow me to stay up just a little while longer. I thought if I could keep his gaze from meeting my mother’s eyes he would smile and give me a reprieve. Tonight, he turned immediately to my mother’s face and my hopes were instantly dashed.

I turned and ran upstairs to brush my teeth and get my pajamas on. I don’t know what my parents did while I got ready upstairs - maybe talked about my dad's day at work or my day at school; Whatever it was it never took very long. I had just jumped into bed, my head hitting the pillow just as my dad came through the doorway.

He walked over and pulled the covers up just over my chest. As I pulled my arms out from under the blankets another ritual began:

“Nighty night,” he said.
“Nighty night,” I echoed.

“Sleepy tight.”
“Sleepy tight.”

“See you in the morning.”
“See you in the morning.”

“Pleasant dreams.”
“Pleasant dreams.”

“I love you, Bug.”
“I love you, Daddy.”

And he smiled. He always smiled at the end of our exchange.

This post is part of The Blog Exchange. My name is Nancy and I am the proud mother of two rambunctious boys, ages two and four. I've been writing fiction most of my life, but like so many before me have become an avid blogger to tell the story of my reality. You can find Allison over at my blog, Just Thinking . . . , today where she has written a truly moving piece about her own father.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Boys vs. girls - special shoe addition

How did this happen? My sons turned into little practical Germans while my daughter is a slave to fashion. She's three years old.

When I backpacked through Europe in the early 1990's, one way to tell where fellow travellers were from was what footwear - including socks - they wore. At the time Americans wore sneakers with white socks and Germans wore sandals with white or black dress socks. I'll admit, while I'm sure it was very practical from a keeping-your-feet clean perspective, the Germans' choice of footwear looked silly to me.

Fast forward to my little family. My sons for several years have worn their sandals with socks without any regard for fashion or what country they live in. The photo shows their footwear for church this morning. I asked them to consider wearing just the sandals.

One of them replied, "But the sandals rub into my feet." So practical. I would consider myself in that camp - I'm not one for crazy high heels or super pointy shoes - although I draw the line at combining socks with sandals.

Then it was time for my three-year-old to pick out her footwear for church. She chose her new sparkling flats. These are her first shoes that do not have either straps or laces. I bought them thinking they would end up in the costume basket(s), not as everyday wear.

As she walked into the church's meeting house this morning, several people asked why she was walking so funny. She was both struggling to keep the shoes on her feet and dealing with blisters. I offered to let her walk barefoot but she insisted on wearing these silver Dorothy shoes. She danced in the front during the service, pranced like a princess and generally acted like her shoes were her ticket to the ball.

So tell me. How do 6-1/2 year-old boys chose to be so practical in their footwear while a three-year-old girl endures blisters for the sake of pretty shoes? Is it in those X chromosomes?

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Kruger National Park, South Africa, 1999

" The camera doesn't make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE."
--Ernst Haas, 1985

This is part of the Weekly Photo hunters.
Click to find other hunters.