Sunday, December 27, 2009

Learning About My Son

I've learned something new about my son that I didn't realize. My in-laws have told me that after my son has been at their house, they'll notice that certain do-dads are re-arranged. This picture of two golden pine cones is an example of that - they wouldn't have put two matching ornaments together (I don't have two matching ornaments, so I guess technically I wouldn't either but for an entirely different reason) but they noticed last night that a number of ornaments were grouped together like this.

My in-laws' house is very nicely put together with many decorative items. Every book, picture, etc is in a certain place to create a certain effect. I get the impression that my son understands that concept (I don't get it but am impressed with people who do) and quietly seeks to "improve" the effect here and there. He's never mentioned this to me but I want to set up a hidden camera or something the next time we're here because I'd love to watch his face while he's re-arranging so I could try to understand what he's thinking and feeling.

Apparently he has some strong opinions about how things should look. He gets that from his dad, not from me. I have absolutely no eye for this stuff, but whenever I need a picture hung or something like that - I'm impressed with my husband's ability to know what will look interesting. I told everyone that, for all I know, my son is also re-arranging things in my house but since I don't really do anything intentionally, I would never notice if something changed. He could probably move furniture and it would take me a few days to notice. I think my daughter is like me. She's too busy reading or listening to her new iTouch to even notice what room she's in, much less whether a particular vase is set up in exactly the right place.

Every once in a while I get a decorating idea and it's not too bad. But I can't pull it off by myself - I have to describe the general concept to my husband and he knows how to put the details together to make it work. Colors are very important to me - they really set my mood. For example, I knew that I wanted our bedroom to be a soft, nature-y green but left it to him to pick the exact color of paint and type of granite for the bathroom. It's pretty good teamwork, to tell you the truth. After this visit to my in-laws, I realize that there's this whole other person in my life who could help me with this stuff. Cool. My daughter and I need all the help we can get. I guess in our family the girls will be in charge of the "internal" issues and the boys will cover the "external" issues.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I've been wanting to post about my daughter and her Santa hat for about a week, but either I was out of town on a business trip or she was at her grandparents' house - and this post simply requires an accompanying illustrative photograph. Thank goodness for a pretty quiet Christmas morning - it gave me the chance to stop her for just a few seconds and grab a picture.

For about four years now, my daughter has worn a Santa hat every day for the week or two before Christmas. She thought it was a cool and different thing to do and she liked all the attention and laughs the hat brought her when she started wearing it to school. I love the fact that she wants to be different and express her personality. (She also insists upon wearing non-matching socks and has done so for at least 2 years's another great thing that makes her special.)

Last week, I told her how much I liked the fact that I completely identified her with the Santa hat now. She looked at me and simply said: "I know. It's my trademark."

Maybe I'll ask her to help me come up with a trademark of my own this year. After all - the marketing gurus all say that a person should try to develop his or her own "brand." I've never had any idea what my "brand" is - but I think it's great that my 10 year old has a clear sense of herself. She's the Santa girl with the fun, funky, non-matching socks.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Madame de Stael

I'm addicted to the biography of Mme. de Stael as if it was a novel. She lived her life as one huge adventure - really, one long search for love. She was exceptionally intelligent and never hesitated to say exactly what she thought to anyone in her near vicinity.

It was, occasionally, Napoleon Bonaparte who was within earshot and he never liked anything she had to say. As a matter of fact, I have the distinct impression that he didn't deem it worth his time to listen to anything women had to say unless it was about motherhood or being a wife. It's been very interesting to read this book because I'm learning a lot more about the Napoleonic era and the downfall of the French monarchy. I'm not at all a big fan of Napoleon and I find myself cringing on Mme. de Stael's behalf because the mistakes she made are PRECISELY the kind of mistakes I make.

She walked around with her heart open all the time, throwing herself into friendships. Some of the friendships were worthwhile and brought her joy but some were destructive. She was also the epitome of the high-maintenance woman.

On the whole, however, I must say that I would love to be more like her. She wrote and acted so well that people all over (except for Napoleon) adored her for her gifts, she loved and taught her children very well, and she truly went after what she wanted in life.

But she was always prone to sadness. I think many sensitive artists are - I honestly don't know how you can avoid melancholy if you look at the world through sensitive eyes. Even with sadness as a consideration, I still wish art was a bigger part of my creative energies. It would be so much more satisfying than the practice of law!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Leaving On A Jet Plane....

Am I the only person who hears that song over and over in her head when she's about to go on a business trip? On second thought, if that oddness is unique to me - don't tell me because I don't want to know.

As I'm sure you can tell from that introduction, today is a travel day for me. I'm off to Virginia for a short business trip. Ugh. I'm not tremendously fond of airplanes. I guess they lost their glamor once I had to start traveling for work. Or...maybe it was when I had to start taking off my shoes and showing the security guards my shampoo.

Stupid shoe bomber.

At any rate, I was already homesick as I drove to the airport BUT I'm trying to look on the bright side of the situation. The bright side is, of course, the fact that I should be able to sleep more than I would if I was at home. At home I'm doing dishes, laundry and various Christmas/Choir/Cub Scout duties until at least 9 every night - so by the time I start to settle down, it's late and I can barely remember my own name. During my trip, it's just me, my book, and my laptop. I couldn't do laundry and school lunches even if I wanted to do them.

Which I don't.

So I'll read, maybe plan out my grocery list for the weekend, and then sleep. I'll also remember that next week is a 2-day workweek for me.

And all the people said....AMEN.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


As most of you know, Scarlett is an ongoing theme in my life. She has been ever since I was 16 and read Gone With the Wind for the first time (and chose her "I'll never be hungry again!" speech as my soliloquy for my sophomore oration project). I say that she's an ongoing theme, not my hero and not a model of behavior in all matters - but dang it, she's tough, she's career-minded, and she's completely ignorant about love.

I just can't help being drawn to her character and I suspect she's got a lot to teach me.

At any rate, the movie is apparently 70 years old now and I feel very vindicated for my feelings about the book, the movie, and Scarlett herself after reading this commentary.

(By the way - I feel the exact same way about Breakfast At Tiffany's and the character Holly Golightly. I guess I don't like my heroines to be flawless. I just want them to be real and searching for love.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Don't Forget What "Perfect" Is....

Last night we had a few hours with my parents and it really was the perfect night. We decided to go to the Domain so we could eat dinner, then watch fireworks. At first we were on the waiting list for California Pizza Kitchen, but there was a little fine chocolate/wine/coffee place around the corner and I was hoping they might have some "real" food. They did, so we were able to go right in, grab some tables in the corner, buy a bottle of wine and some paninis and just enjoy each other.

Afterwards, we rushed the kids through Borders (if they had their way, they'd LIVE in the bookstore...just like I would) and watched the fireworks. It was definitely one of those nights I wish I could hold onto forever.

I suppose I'm acutely aware of the fact that things do change and people do leave us. My parents were in town because they attended a funeral in San Antonio earlier in the day. Perhaps it's a combination of that, of the fact that two of my dear friends have mothers who are struggling with the final stages of breast cancer, and the fact that my children are no longer babies...but when I think about my parents I am stunned.

Being a parent is the scariest thing on Earth and I believe we make our biggest mistakes as parents (I know I have) but hopefully we find the greatest joy in that role and, ultimately, the joy overcomes everything else. I don't know how my own parents have done it for forty decades, but if they can do it - it gives me hope that I will ultimately find my way.

Someday I hope I'm watching fireworks with my own grandchildren and remembering how far we've all come as a family.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What does this tell you?

I decided to write a short story, and here's what I learned....I can't write from the perspective of a grown-up. Or...maybe I can...but it feels stilted and fake. I don't like the way my writing sounds when it's about grown-ups. The only way I was able to really find my voice in my writing was to write from the perspective of a kid. Specifically, an 11-year-old girl.

I found this very interesting. I've had pretty serious writer's block whenever I've worked on my fiction. Who knew that I just needed to revert to my "true" age?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best. Blog. Ever.

I'm seriously tempted to start writing my grandmothers again so that I can get some snarky return notes that I could then post on PAN. It's truly difficult to pick a favorite passive aggressive note, but "What Would Jesus Do for a Klondike Bar?" is way up on my list.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Attack of the Army Guys

So...I'm washing my hair in the bath tonight (Yes, I wash my hair in the bath - leave me alone. I like baths.) and when I come up from my second rinse, I see this....

Yikes!!!!! It really did kind of surprise me. Especially since he's pointing his WWI-era gun right at me while wearing his pointy Kaiser hat. I decide I'd better take stock of my surroundings and see if there are other threats to my safety.

Whew. Looks like this guy is no threat. Kaiser-dude must have already taken him out so it's only his legs sticking out from behind the organic baby shampoo.

It cracked me up - if I wasn't clear about the consequences of having a 6-year-old son before, I sure am now. So I had to take these pictures with my Bberry. As my husband saw me doing that, he asked if our son had told me why the army guys were there.

Um, no. (They were placed there intentionally????)

Yup. Apparently they were in my bath to scare me. I cracked up and had fun telling my little Rambo that his army guys seriously surprised me. He loved it. So I guess there's no telling what I'll find in my bath tomorrow night. I can be a good sport about most things, as long as they are not ALIVE.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Past Reality

Have you ever been so stressed and so overwhelmed, that if you really take stock of where you are in life - you think that you might honestly lose it? I don't just mean just lose it in the "Oh-my-goodness-I-must-make-time-for-a-pedicure" way but in the legitimate, "my-family-needs-to-make-sure-that-resident-mental-care-is-part-of-my-insurance-plan" way.

I'm probably close to that...but the funny thing is that I'm very much at peace. I posted on Facebook the other day that I've found this odd sense of peace in the sense of chaos. It is, perhaps, pure survival instinct - but whatever it is, I'm grateful for the fact that I'm able to find a sense of myself in this wild schedule.

I can state with certainty that I do NOT want to face another December like this one. Although...I'm not sure I have much of a choice. You see, I won't deny my kids experiences that they really want to have and there's the added complication that I'm trying to grow professionally myself.  A friend of mine has sent me a few emails about a holiday party I should attend to meet some local assocation/non-profit professionals. It's a great idea but I can barely find the time to check my calendar...much less schedule the event and shell out the $50 for the lunch. In other words - December is clearly the month when the entire world decides to start being social. It's quite exhausting, to tell you the truth. Between the regular events (cub scout den meetings, choir practices) and the special events (work parties, events with friends) - it becomes rather obvious that one is not supposed to think, sleep, or eat normal healthy meals during the holidays. One is only supposed to purchase gifts, mail them, attend children's parties/concerts, and (maybe) figure out how to make the season special for one's family.

Is anyone else feeling this way? I hate to be the poster girl for "Misery Loves Company" but I have to admit that I truly hope I'm not the only person struggling to make sense this month.

Dickens on the Strand

The wonderful thing about my children trying new activities is that I get to experience new things also! Our lives have been out of control crazy lately ('s impossible to describe....) but I had the joy of attending Dickens on the Strand in Galveston today. We had such a good time. My daughter was all over the place, singing like crazy and the rest of us just hopped right behind her to catch every parade and concert. We also enjoyed other cool things such as civil war camps, funnel cakes, and the temptation of wonderful things to purchase.

I resisted buying most of the things I wanted to get, however, because my splurge was $75 to rent a victorian dress for the weekend. I hit Lucy in Disguise (a really fun Austin place on SoCo that I'd never explored...which is truly shocking for me considering I simply live to act and play dress up) and I'm so glad I did. My daughter and I got some sweet Victorian mom and daughter pictures, plus I was in heaven hoisting that dress all over the place. (It was WAY too long for me. Really, it's quite hard for me to rent things like that because they have to make them for people of normal height.) You can't see all of my dress in any of these pictures - oops - I forgot to get a full length from the back. But trust me, it was great! (I made my hair clips late last night, along with a nosegay I pinned to my black evening purse. I felt like quite the sophisticated lady.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why is Kiehl's following me????

I have a Twitter account, although I don't really tweet. It just hasn't worked for me so far. Plus I'm not in the mood to add another social media venue into my schedule. Every once in a while I get a notice that someone's started following me and I just feel sorry for whatever friend it is because they are going to be seriously bored if they watch my account.

But today I got a notice that Kiehl's is following me. WTF??? Seriously?!? I can only assume that this means Kiehl's ran some program where it hunted down emails of customers on Twitter. That seriously creeps me out. I guess it shouldn't - but it strikes me as somewhat disingenuous. I mean - I feel quite certain that Kiehl's doesn't give a flying fig whether I'm in a business meeting or shopping for a ficus.

So...why are they following me? Stalking customers must be the new American marketing plan. Are they going to start driving by my house at night too?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Priorities change over time, and I've finally realized that's ok. As a matter of fact, I now believe that part of growing up is trying on different priorities for size, seeing what fits, and discarding it if it doesn't work. When I graduated from law school, lo' those many years ago (during the previous century, thank you very much - back when people wrote out their essay answers by hand, not via computer), I sort of went along with the conventional wisdom of my classmates that we were all supposed to get a job that paid us the highest-possible salary, work our butts off, bill more hours than any other associate, it.

Truth be told, I never really threw myself into that life. I only gave it a half-hearted effort because it wasn't me. I knew it deep down but wondered if I could just force myself to start liking it if I kept at it. Nope. No way was that happening.

Then I had a baby. Well, that clearly taught me a whole new lesson about priorities.

During  the course of the last few decades, I've "experimented" with putting different priorities first. I've tried work, I've tried career (two different things, in my opinion), I've tried parenthood, I've tried exercise/dieting (don't get me started on that one), I've tried my marriage (sort of - still working on getting that one right), and I've even dabbled with letting spirituality take a higher rung on my ladder-o-priorities. It dawns on me that, perhaps, I need to have a few top priorities that just take turns at the top. Kind of like a dance, I take turns spending time with each priority as it needs my attention. Imagine a square dance...or, in my case a mosh pit might be a more accurate comparison. The dancing happens - things are accomplished - but not necessarily in a coherent manner.

So, really, it's all cool. As long as I don't ignore the priorities in second and third place at any given moment AND as long as I don't put some totally screwed up priority at the top of my list (like, I don't know, deciding I'm going to throw myself at Alan Rickman's feet until he falls madly in love with me) - I should be ok.

The truth is, some days (like today) my top priority should just be "breathing." But right now I plan to go up and exercise to my Bollywood Booty DVD because exercise has been creeping back up to the top rung lately. Tomorrow's priority? Who knows....stay tuned because it might surprise both of us.