Monthly Archives: March 2011

On Being a Dog.

Ethan: “Mom, what would you like about being a dog?”

Me: “Well, I suppose if I had good owners it wouldn’t be bad at all.”

Ethan: “And you wouldn’t have to do laundry?”

Me: “Yeah, that too.”

Memphis, Again. With No Barbecue!

A couple of years back (wait – three years. Three already?!) we went to Memphis for our anniversary.

This year we went again, with a couple stowaways.

And this year we dragged the trailer along behind us. That’s why it rained all weekend, I’m sure. It was okay this time because our activities were mainly indoors – it’s just that this happens to us EVERY YEAR. But it’s okay, I figure if we get all the rainy weather out of the way early in the camping season maybe it will lay off us on our big vacation.

So the first thing that happened was I thought it was a half-day for Laurel. Turns out that only applied to grades K-5. Oops. I felt a little guilty but we pulled her out anyway. We figured one day a year isn’t going to hurt – especially when so many of her days are filled with shit like ‘fun day!’ and ‘pi day!’ and ‘go to the movie theater day!’ But that is another post for another time.

The kids and I had never been to Lambert’s – Greg thought we should go. We did. This is the part where I tell you I’m totally disgusted by the United States’ general fascination with gluttony. The idea that we glorify competitive eating and crap like that when kids are hungry in our own neighborhood makes me sick. And that is yet another post for another time. Like a good gluttonous ‘Merican I ate.

Pigging out at Lambert's

I was careful not to make myself completely sick because we had Big Plans for Barbecue for the evening.

Alas, that wasn’t to be. We pulled in, got set up, laid around recovering from road weariness for awhile, went on an emergency run for a DS for Ethan because he was going to send us to an early grave if we didn’t, then went to eat dinner…and of course the barbecue joint had closed FIVE MINUTES BEFORE WE GOT THERE.

We salvaged the night by driving through some of the less desirable neighborhoods of Memphis (thank you, GPS) and dining at Boscos Squared, where I had the most awesome black bean and goat cheese tamale. Word. Oh, and this:

boscos squared

By the way, I am not skeered of unsavory areas. Once when I was in Memphis I was lost on Elvis Presley Blvd, but not the good side. I was on the side with the hookers and gangbangers. So there you have it.

Back to our story – holy hell, are you ready for the miracle news?! Laurel found her name in a word search given to the kids at the restaurant. This girl cannot find ANYTHING personalized off the rack. Lauren, yes. Laura, yes. Laurie, yes. Laurel, NO. But here it was in print. As an aside, I never knew how difficult it would be for people to spell and pronounce her name when I named her, nor did I consider the difficulty of ever finding personalized trinkets for her…wait, maybe that’s actually a blessing.

Finally, Laurel's name

Bonus: Greg acquired a new growler and a growler koozie. Yeah, baby!

We retired back to the trailer shortly thereafter only to encounter severe storms coming through. Fortunately we had cable and wifi so the kids were entertained. Oh yes, and that damned DS.

Saturday was the big day, and after noshing on donuts from a local shop, we hit up the Memphis Fire Museum. It was, in a word, fantastic. Well, except for the fact that Greg’s Discover card was declined. Discover has a bad habit of freezing his card to ‘protect’ him every time we travel. And they won’t waive that feature. Hi, Discover Card? We’re not supposed to have to fucking call you to ask your permission to go somewhere, you bunch of chuckle-headed knuckle-draggers. And not only that but we had a recurring charge try to hit while you had his account frozen and it was denied so he has to make another pain-in-the-ass phone call. But again, another post, another time, right?

As always, this is photo-heavy, so mouse over for captions:

fire museum signfire museum sculpture

bucket brigade barrelinteresting infofirehouse life infofire museum sign 2

I have always been a little creeped out by dummies (of all kinds – you get what I’m saying?) and these were no exception. I walked into an ambulance model without looking around the corner first to see what was there. Ugh. Spooked me something fierce. There oughta be a warning on THESE things. With a roller coaster at least you know what you’re facing – with this not so much, but which has the warning? Yup, the coaster:

This little ditty totally freaked me out when I walked in on it. he means businessvroom vroomsteam powered equipmentOur son refuses to smile like a normal kidfire engine collection (a very small sample)Trying their hand at the high-rise simulatorCan't remember this animatronic horse's name

The highlight of our visit may have been Greg sliding down the fire pole.

 Greg's pole danceMichelle's pole danceLaurel's turnEthan's turn on the fire pole

Or maybe it was when we got to stand in the fire simulator while it demonstrated how it feels and looks to be in a room that’s ablaze. Ethan was a little freaked out but at the end of the day it’s probabl
y good that he experienced it.

Of course, no visit to Memphis is really complete (for families anyway) without a visit to the Peabody Hotel to watch the Peabody Ducks march their way to the fountain. That’s what we did. Never mind that we were standing right behind some gal who absolutely COULD NOT CONTROL her children, who were rolling all over the red carpet. Uh, pro tip: When your kids are losing their damn mind in public, get them out of there. Not just for your sanity, not just so they maybe learn something, but for the sanity of everyone else.

Oh, and some kid broke Ethan’s fire truck souvenir from the Fire Museum. Greg fixed it, and it was really cool of Ethan to share, but DAMN. The kid broke it and his parents didn’t do anything about it.

So here are the ducks:

Next we were off to Huey’s. For those of you who don’t know, Huey’s is a Memphis institution for burgers and I could probably live off burgers. I am a burger purist, though. I don’t want ‘em all fancy. Huey’s is particularly enchanting because their ‘thing’ (aside from letting customers write on the walls, which everyone does these days), is allowing those same customers to shoot toothpicks into the ceiling tiles:

ceiling at Huey'sLaurel shooting toothpicsgreg's turnMichelle's try

Only Greg was successful.

Ethan signing his nameLaurel writing at Huey's

No visit to Memphis is complete without a trip to Beale Street. Well, Beale Street isn’t really all that kid-friendly, but A. Schwab’s at 12:30 p.m. or so is relatively safe, so that’s where we went. While Laurel piddled around figuring out how best to fritter away her money on junk, Ethan and Greg and I donned hats and took photos. There is no telling what sorts of insects and/or diseases we now carry:Greg and Ethan in A SchwabsMichelle and Ethan at A. SchwabsMichelle and Ethan with more hats

Ethan ended up taking home the jester hat, which we later discovered LIGHTS UP. Non-parents may not think that is the most obnoxious thing ever, but parents know it is. Those little flashing lights in shoes? HATE THEM. Hate, hate, hate. In fact, Ethan asked me the other day at the shoe store why I disliked them so. “Because they were clearly dreamt up by someone who had major issues with his parents and no kids of his own.”

By the way Laurel, I SAW YOU LOOK AT THAT POCKETKNIFE. We have told you, NO POCKETKNIVES. It’s not so much that we are worried about you slicing off your finger, it’s that the schools have a zero-tolerance policy for such things, ridiculous as it may be, and again, another post, another day. Wow, all these posts and I don’t update this blog like I should. Huh.

After we’d spent as much time as we could stand on Beale, we headed out to the Pink Palace Museum. Now, the Pink Palace is an interesting study. I gu
ess it was built by the Piggly Wiggly founder. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Piggly Wiggly because a) I love the movie “Driving Miss Daisy” and b) it’s fun to say. Oh, plus, thanks to our membership with the St. Louis Science Center, we got in free!

pink palace murals

From the Piggly Wiggly store model:

how come I don't see this fancy shit on the shelves at my store

So you know how you go to a fancy restaurant and they offer oxtail stew for like $15? Well, just think. Back in the day, Campbell’s would’ve given it to you for $0.08.

Today this would cost you about $15 at a nice restaurant

This I could do without:

This I could do without

Blech. And by the way, what is wrong with me that I am not nearly as creeped out by a shrunken head as I am by dummies?

This should be in every housewife's cookbook

Other highlights of the museum included a fascinating (to me) exhibit on George Washington Carver and a whole big room chock full of skeletons of every variety.

That night Greg didn’t want to drive far for dinner so we stuck close to the RV park, visiting Wiseguys Chicago-style pizza. It’s in an old bungalow in the middle of nowhere as far as restaurants go, and those are usually the best kind. I was really needing some salad to redeem myself by that point, but no – no salads. Still, it was precisely the kind of local neighborhood joint I love to visit. The pizza was really good, though I wouldn’t exactly call it Chicago-style because it had cheese on the top instead of the sauce. Oh, well.

Ethan took a photo of his ‘personal’ heart-shaped pizza – it was really good, but they must have used 4 pounds of cheese on our meal alone.

Ethan's heart-shaped pizza

So there you have it. No barbecue this time. We’ll just have to go back.

And by the way, Happy Anniversary, Greg. It’s been great, is great, and I have no doubt it will continue to be great.

Fun with Time-Lapse

Folks, if you know Greg you know it was only a matter of time until he took the Chick Cam and made a time-lapse movie of all the images we’ve collected from the web cam.

So here is a very small portion of what we have:

Has Spring Sprung, or Do We Need to Light a Fire Beneath Her?

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. Of course, if you have kids in school, you know this is the time of year when everything ratchets up to about 110 miles per hour. If you don’t have kids in school but you garden or whatever, same goes for you. I keep telling myself to be better about updating this blog, but I guess I’m just lazy. Still, I keep trying to ‘turn my life around,’ so here’s an update.

1. Laurel was accepted into the Joseph Baldwin Academy, a 3-week residential program for academically gifted students. She qualified based on her ACT scores, teacher recommendations, transcripts, essay, etc. She also was accepted into the Duke TIP talent search and will qualify, I believe, for the National Grand Recognition Ceremony. It’s in North Carolina and she has a tentative trip to Six Flags that day. I’m taking bets on where we go.

2. I’m growing figs!

3. Greg finally got to scratch his ‘I-wanna-tow-the-trailer-with-the-new-truck’ itch last weekend when we journeyed down to Hawn State Park, got a primo camp site, and stayed overnight. I was coming off a nasty cold and Ethan was beginning one, so he and I were probably not in the best mood. But we hiked along Pickle Creek and the kids had a good time. Greg had fun too, because as a car rolled by our campsite with its windows down, we heard someone inside say, ‘That truck is badass.

Those tricky park maintenance folks tried to send us down an uncertain path, but we prevailed…

trail marker

…and the kids got to play in the creek. Laurel said she wished she had her swimsuit. We reminded her it was about 45 degrees. Ah, well, I remember playing in the creek next to our home growing up when it was about that and the cold didn’t bother me a bit. Kids.

On the banks of Pickle Creek

Still at Pickle Creek

Of course, on the way back we had a ton o’ fun when we were pulled over by Ye Olde Highway Patrol because we had expired tags on our trailer. I knew I had renewed them back in December but it was during Hell Week – you know, the one between Christmas and New Year’s, and I remember the weather was nasty that day so I set the tabs down…somewhere…and I guess we forgot to put them on. Of course now we can’t find them. So we get to buy replacements. WHEE. At least the Trooper was able to confirm we were registered until 2013 and he let us go.

4. It SNOWED ON MONDAY. Yeah, nobody knew it was going to do that – not even the weather folks. ‘Cause you know if they knew they’d have us all in a panic about it. We got about 3 inches of snow with 70 degrees forecasted for three days later (that’s today, and right now it’s actually 75). Laurel took a photo of the snow on Tuesday as it was melting away.

snow, snow go away

5. Ethan and I planted several things in the garden yesterday, including 84 onions, 27 potatoes, about 40 peas, and countless numbers of carrot and lettuce seeds. So we’ll see what happens.

6. Today, as I mentioned, it’s 75 degrees and our pullets took a field trip outside. Only one had to be rescued from the makeshift fence, so I consider that a successful outing. They got to eat some crickets and enjoy the sun for a half-hour or so, so they’re probably food-and-sun-drunk now back in their bin downstairs.

chicken field trip

7. Ethan is registered for Kindergarten, as of today. I even managed to take all the documents I needed with me to have him registered. How much do I rock? I’m okay with all this right now but I’m sure the day I drop him off for his first day of school I will bawl all the way home and then worry about him all day. That’s what I did with Laurel – only with her I bawled all the way to work. And then worried about her all day. Good times.

And that’s the news.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I’m going to go bake some soda bread. The real stuff, not the spotted dog.

Chick Cam

If things are working properly, the image below will refresh every 5 seconds or so with updated baby chick action. Don’t be alarmed, if the chicks aren’t moving they’re asleep or my fancy PowerShell script that updates the image quit working – IT Department

If you’re using Firefox, you can try to watch video with this link, username is visitor, there is no password.  If you’re using IE, you’re out of luck.