Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bunny Ears

I meant to post this last week when it was National Lefthanders Day (what, you didn't know about this all-important holiday? Hmph), but, you know, life.  And extreme laziness.  As it goes.

Right here I'm admitting to a giant parenting fail in that (up until very recently, which you'll see in a moment), my children did not know how to tie.  Flog me with a shoelace that they both got out of kindergarten without this particular skill (wasn't that a kinder-requirement when we were kids?).  I  blame velcro.  And extreme laziness.

Anyway, for eons, I've been begging people to help me teach Sammy because I am left handed and he is right handed and I just could not figure out how to teach him without confusing us both all to Hades.  And thus we reached this summer knotless.  But! Sabrina is left handed, too!  This is my department!  So I started teaching her.  And we got supremely confused.  I consulted Dr. You Tube.  And got even more confused.  But I knew I would persevere, if only through dogged and unending annoyance of my youngest.

Then one evening, we were at my parents', and I began lamenting (again) the situation.  Well, my dad had enough of that, grabbed a shoe, and started showing some kid (take your pick, I don't remember who was in the room and from his perspective, he didn't really care as long as he had a warm body listening) while I watched.  And that's when I noticed what he was doing was exactly the same thing I was doing, looping with the left, crossing over with the right, pulling through with the left again.  Wait a minute - this wasn't the mirror image I expected to see.  Did that mean that I - the ultimate lefty so left my left eye, ear, and foot are dominant as well - tie right handed?  Whoa Nelly!

And then it dawned on me. Duh.  I have 2 right handed parents.  They taught me to tie.  They only know one way to do so.  And thus, I tie right handed.  I could have taught Sammy long ago (never mind the confusion and inability to teach issues).  Grrrrrrrr.

Ultimately, my dad bribed each kid with a 5 dollar bill to learn in a week.  They did, they got their money, the end.

On to teaching Sabrina how to ride a bicycle.  Pray for me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Of Sand and Shrimp

So we went on a trip.  Not a vacation per say, since given I was in charge of the safety and governing of 3 other people, all financial transactions, navigation, organization, and, well, just about everything.  So, more of a business trip.  You know, as usual.

I was toying (well, more than toying, since I was actively doing nothing to refute the opposite) with the idea of skipping a family trip this year, given the intense desire of someone in this household to replace all the windows in this place (oh my lands, so $$$$), but my travel ambivalence was somehow overridden (I still don't know how this happened), and I found myself planning a not insignificant road trip to visit some of Chris's side of the family with a few paltry weeks to spare.  My anxiety flared mightily when I realized I'd been trusting Heir Google with his day-plus-a-few-hours drive estimate when I should have realized the map mileage put it more at 2 solid, long days each each way, and once I did, noted we'd be driving as long as we'd be staying at our destination.  I wasn't sure this was a reasonable trade off.  But the chief driver (not me, ha ha, no way) wasn't daunted but this prospect, and frankly seemed really jazzed to hang with some of his blood relation (we'd traveled to/with my side in recent years), so when he said let's go, I broke out my lists & spreadsheets (yes, I'm that kind of planner) & worked the magic (magic assisted by my mother, amateur travel agent extraordinaire, but I'd like to note here that it's also magic that has rubbed off because I'm not too shabby at the travel planning myself when I'm not freaked the heck out).

Destination: Charleston.

I am the only one of our quartet that had been to the SC, and that was for the decidedly more vacation-skewing Blathering last fall.  While I was fairly certain that during that excursion I would fins like-minded individuals willing to walk around shopping and generally ogling downtown for hours, sip fancy coffee drinks, and visit historical landmarks, I was equally certain I didn't have a quorum agreeing to anything of the sort on this one.   I mean, I was the only one excited about the proposition of multiple meals of shrimp & grits.  I really didn't know how I was going to entertain the small people  for more than 4 solid days short of buying them an entire toy store.


Did you know Charleston is on the coast of the United States? Did you know that includes a coastLINE?  And by which I mean beach?  I suppose I knew these things, but it didn't really connect in my mind because when I think Charleston, I think battlegrounds and plantations and seafood and biscuits and sweet tea and definitely NOT sandy tanning opportunity with wave action.  I cannot explain this.  I passed geography.

However, even with this knowledge, I had no confidence that my children would actually LIKE the beach.  These are pool kids.  Kids accustomed to chlorine and clear water and no sand to get into unfortunate places.  So I was a tad on the nervous side.  We could get there, take 10 steps across the itchy, grainy terrain, get hit with some driftwood coming on the first wave, and get slapped with a No Thank You, Ma'am right quick.  And then we'd be staring at each other for 4 days.  Or googling the nearest toy store.

What I learned on this trip: my children are complete & utter beach bums.  They adored it from the moment we set foot on the sand.  We ended up spending most of every day there with various relatives (nieces, nephews, grand nephews, assorted spouses, and even grandchildren - yes, you read that right - our family tree is decidedly kinked) walking, searching out seashells (& bringing home at least 5 pounds of them), building sandcastles, jumping waves, body surfing, boogie boarding (thanks, coastal-living family!), actual surfing (!) (& more on that in a moment), & it was incredible.  Sammy even turned down a snack - food, his dearest love - because he didn't want to take time away from the waves to wash his hands & eat.  Unprecedented.

About the surfing.  One day, the random guy came up to us, saying he'd been watching Chris & Sammy.  Not in a creepy way - he wanted to ask if Sammy would be interested in taking his surfing class.  He gave a brochure and blah blahed awhile about the lesson, saying that he guaranteed his students would be stand up surfing by the end of 1 90-minute lesson or it would be free.  My immediate (internal) reaction was, "I shall accept your challenge, Sir, and I shall win," Because I've seen my son and his gangly ways, so I was preeeety sure I'd be coming away with an invoice for $0.  (Side note: I checked & the lesson would only have cost $35, which seems like a screaming deal to me.  I expected $75 or $100).  This was in the back of my mind the next day while at dinner with my nephew-in-law (see: kinked tree), who is an avid surfer, so I told him the story.  He was joining us at the beach the next day and said he'd teach Sammy to surf.  I chuckled inwardly again and told him to give it a shot.  I expected a lot of exasperating sighing and under-breath muttering by day's end.
Um, I was wrong.  Boy caught wave.

No, he's not going to shoot the curl any time soon, but my wiggly, clumsy kid stood up on a skinny little board in the moving water and stayed put, long enough for me to snap several pictures.  Longer than his DAD (sorry, Hon, gotta speak the truth).  Sabrina chose the Cleopatra surfing option, but she had a blast boogie boarding, even when she (her words) "faceplanted".

So it all worked out.  I'm glad I front-loaded the trip with the things I wanted to do, so we all came away satisfied.  I love that the whole family was captivated by natural, free entertainment that left us happy and spent.  I'm thrilled that my vigilant sunscreen hosings kept everyone largely free of sunburn (save Chris's face, which will always turn beet red with exposure of more than 35 minutes), especially my bizarre skin that usually goes into alien mode in the presence of east coast sun (I cannot explain it, but yet it is unnatural and fairly consistent with each visit, but no longer).  And I'm happy we got to spend a pretty decent amount of time with kin we don't get to see very frequently, and even less frequently get visitors from our neck of the woods (come on, family, it's lovely over there, so get off your couches and head east I say).

Thank you to our east coast family for your time, tour guide excellence, fantastic conversation, and total embrace of my crazy kids.  Also, thanks to my Blathering ladies who reminded me of all the wonderful places we ate and wished we could have eaten (I hit up as many as I could, and am now sweating off the delicious consequences).  My only wish is that home and Charleston were just a little bit closer.  I don't mind the road trip (hey, no 3 ounce bottles!), but I wouldn't mind shaving a few hours, you know?
I'm off now to plan our next beach excursion.  Sammy needs to learn how to hang ten.



Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Sequel

Last week, I headed down to Austin for me second go-around with the ATX Television Festival.  It's no secret I love television.  It's my entertainment medium of choice, and I hold no aspersions of any refined taste.  I can love cheesy schlock as much as any critically acclaimed series, and I will never draw a line of distinction.  It's all wonderful to me.  OK, maybe not wonderful, but if I start a series and don't bail after a few episodes (which is rare), I'm with you until the end, bitter or otherwise.  In fact, I've been known to watch a series finale for a show I've otherwise never watched.  I'm that dedicated.

Someone on Twitter once asked what your dream job would be (training and salary notwithstanding), and my answer would be television critic, if not television writer outright.  How I didn't drift into this over the years is a mystery and sadness to me.  Eh, maybe there's still time.

Anyway, this time, I hopped in my car and made the trip solo this year (thank you, husband and parents).  I have to say, it's much better to have someone in the passenger seat and I hope I can rectify that in the coming years.  I made it in time to get all registered up and in line for the first panel I wanted to attend, only to see my friend and kind hostess Regan standing in the I Already Have a Golden Ticket So I Get in First line.  We texted (yes, texted - I am new to the 21st century and could finally do this) to make seating arrangements, and headed in.  

Now, listen.  Last year, I got mad at myself halfway through the weekend for not talking to the celebrities and panelists when clearly other attendees were doing just that and no one seemed to mind.  That's when I decided to toss my shy business to the birds and approach anyone I darn well pleased.  Did I look sound like an idiot sometimes? YES.  But I got some nice pictures and shook some hands (or uncomfortably hugged people, I don't remember) and got over my darn self, so WIN.  This was my approach going into this year.

Until this first panel about ratings and reviews (which was information and interesting and awesome), which included Tara Ariano or Mighty Big TV and Television without Pity fame (late of whom I've followed forever and admired for truly mining the essence of snark and the television recap, and well, I just couldn't.  I should have because she seems like a class act who doesn't think her sushi won't spoil, and I'm kinda bummed I missed that opportunity.  Tara, I think you're amazing.  I hope I get a chance to make a fool of myself in front of you another time.

There were other talented critics whom I enjoy reading as well, but I went fangirl for Tara (whom I'm calling by her first name because obviously we are best friends even though we haven't met).

The rest of the day passed with me feeding my parking meter, nearly spraining my ankle in a pothole, and developing a migraine that kept me from eating much at the awesome restaurant Regan picked (I am certain she now thinks I try to eat like a supermodel  when I was actually dying to munch down on the waffle fries she ordered), until it was time to drive across downtown to meet up with Jennie and her mom at the Friday Night Lights outdoor screening.  Let me make a long sub-story short (heh, like I'm slowing down on the overall story) and tell you that one of the circles of hell surely must be trying to park in Austin, Texas, on a Friday night.  I drove around for - no joke - an hour trying to find someplace I didn't think I'd get towed before I gave up and went back to celeb-watch in the hotel lobby.  Jennie assured me the evening was more about swatting mosquitoes than hanging out with actors.  I'm taking that cold comfort.

*Brisk clap* OK, Saturday.  Regan and I rendezvoused with Jennie, her mom, and Erica that morning, then went off to the screening we wanted to see.  First up for me was a conversation with Fonzie himself, Henry Winkler.  I felt like last year's luck was riding with me, and sure enough, I scored a front row center seat.  The man is exactly who you want him to be - kind, self-deprecating, truthful, and a fantastic storyteller.  He spoke for an hour and then took questions.  Remembering my new tactic, I stuck my hand in the air, ready to use the line I'd worked on a few days prior.  When he pointed at me, I told him that my husband had me promised that if I got to speak to him, I'd tell him that he was Chris's role model growing up, and what did he think of that title.  First, he asked my name and Chris's name, answered the question, and then said, "Give Chris my best."  Classy.  (There's a YouTube video of the talk and at 50:20, you can see the exchange.  Chris actually got choked up when I showed him.  Softie.)

 You look' at me? Wait, wrong show.

 The Fonz showed up for a moment.  It was greaaaaaayyyyyyt.  (Too much?)

They ushered us out of the theater before I could get a picture with the man, which is one of the great tragedies of the event for me.  Sigh.

Next was a reunion for the cast of Everwood.  I know you didn't watch t, but you've probably seen at least one actor in another role.  Treat Williams - heard of him?  He wasn't there, but he was in the show.  Again, I scored front row seats and lo, it was very cool.  So many of the cast came that I couldn't get them all in a picture, and those that couldn't come sent videos.  About three quarters of the way through, Chris Pratt, another cast member who couldn't be there, called via Facetime to David Hudgins, who was moderating, so we got to hear from him "live" as well.  What a neat little surprise.  And I asked a question again (pats self on back for hutzpah).

 Just a few of them.  No one has aged.

Isn't technology cool?

A note about David Hudgins.  He moderated the Friday Night Lights panel last year and Everwood this year, and he is just my favorite.  It's obvious why he is such a successful TV writer, plus he's fabulously witty in person.  I could with him for hours.  David, call me!  Heck, hire me! I work cheap and make good coffee.

That was all I had on tap officially, but Jennie and her mom (Peggy, I suppose I should use her actual name) were going to the Parenthood panel and could save me a seat since they had special golden ticketed and I didn't.  And it's a good thing because they had to turn people away from this one.  Why? Well, it's a really good show but also because Lauren Graham and Peter Krause surprisingly showed up.  This Q&A was entirely too short, of course.  Also, Ray Romano is on the show and was there for just about every panel, so bonus there.  (Love the man, but he seemed awfully uncomfortable talking to people about the work he's chosen to do with his life and also he could shave and put on a nicer shirt once in awhile since he's not inside his house.)

 I wanted to put these side by side, but apparently, this is where technology breaks down for me.

Then I did some people watching in the hotel lobby while Jennie and Peggy went back to their hotel and Regan and Erica were embarrassing Sean Astin at his show's premiere, and I finally scored a picture with some famous people.

Mission accomplished.  This is mostly for my dad, who watches Rookie Blue and Grey's Anatomy and therefore knows Gregory Smith and Sarah Drew.  I managed to get this by offering to take a picture for the girl who originally approached them and them asking her to return the favor.  Clever, yes?

I'd like to take a moment to award Sarah Drew the Connie Britton Award for Hair Excellence at this year's festival.

Sunday, I had a golden ticket to the reunion of the cast of Roswell (I know, you didn't watch that either), but I knew this was one of the biggest tickets of the weekend and it was in one of the smallest venues, so I wanted to make sure I was early enough to get a good seat.  That's when I had to brilliant idea to check out the Goldbergs screening which was happing immediately prior to the reunion in the same room.  I'd seen a few segments of the Goldbergs over the season, but this was the first full episode I's seen, and it's pretty adorable, and not only because it was about the son doing karate to his own neat kind of like Sammy.  It's charming and brought back a lot or memories for this 80s raised kid.  I think I'll watch more next season.

I saw Wendy McLendon-Covey at the hotel Saturday, and I didn't recognize her.  I thought I was watching some CW starlet get hounded by festival goers, and was shocked when I realized she plays a mom of teens on TV.  You go, WMC.

The Roswell reunion was good, although I think I'd prefer clips over the life of the show to watch the pilot in its entirety.  Another cast member (Jason Fehr) surprised the audience, and it was clear they all loved each other still (except for Katharine Heigel , who was neither there nor mentioned, so it makes you go hmm...), which makes for a nice experience.  The real cock-your-head-and-raise-your-eyebrow moment was when the last question asker turned out to be Snooki.  Yes, that Snooki.  I guess she has enough slush fund to fly down to Austin to reminisce about a TV show she once watched.  Key, whatever.  She's a fan.

They look the same.  15 years later, I do not look the same.
Another note: Jason Katims is a supremely talented showrunner and I'll watch almost anything with his name attached, but he should probably take a public speaking seminar.  

OK, enough recap.  I had a wonderful time staying with Regan and cannot thank her enough for giving me a roof over my head and coffee in the morning.  He children a ridiculously gorgeous and her husband very gracious to let a random internet stranger come into his house for 2 days.  I really wish she was my next door neighbor (and that Erica lived on the other side, she's just that awesome, too).  It would be the snark center of the world.  Ladies, you are the best.  Please come visit me anytime.  And Erica, I apologize for teasing you about your Ray Romano affection.  You have excellent taste and are not at all stalkery (he would totally talk to you).  I also loved hanging out with Jennie and Peggy some more and hope that continues when our book club get back up to speed.  Hey, did Snooki write a book?  Should we read that next?

Let me show you the fantastic picture of Regan and me:

And Erica and me:

And Jennie, Peggy, and me:

And Ray Romano and me:

Yeah, I failed big time on the picture and it pains me.  I WILL do better next time.
Which won't be next year.  It killed me not to buy an advance ticket with this wonderful ladies, but I already know I have a conflict next year.  Even though it's a REALLY good reason, it's still a bitter pill to swallow.  But you better believe I'm writing in 2016 in red marker on my calendar and tasking someone with buying my advance ticket when they go on sale at next year's festival.  Because my camera and I will be back, and I will be timidly yet certainly approaching Hollywood type people.  I'm coming for you.

Look.  Snook.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I wasn't tagged on this, but I'm going to use it as an opportunity to blow the dust off around here.  I mean, 1 post for this entire year when we're staring down the end of the 5th month is pretty darn sad. Let's let this serve as re-entry, shall we?  (Thanks, Jennie, for instigating this little push that I sorely needed.)

1. What is your favorite kind of cheese? I love ALL cheese. Half of my family is from Wisconsin. It's in my blood.

2. What are you excited about? For some reason, this is a tough question.  It's not that I don't have interesting and happy things happening, but I can't pinpoint anything in particular.  Maybe I'm trying too hard to find a Big Thing to mention and I don't really have any Big Things on the horizon, and that's OK.  The summer is starting to shape up (even though I don't yet have a trip planned for the family and I've got lots of eyeballs looking at me on that one, plus it's making me a little itchy), so that's pretty good.  Yes,  I'm looking forward to summer.

3. How did you celebrate your last birthday? I know I went out to lunch with my parents and my kids made me some lovely cards, but I was doing my level best to ignore my birthday, and it looks like I did a pretty good job because I remember nothing else.

4. What is on your bedside table? My alarm clock from 1998 (it says so right on the front - yay for longevity, boo for really ugly), a somewhat fancy box I keep all my manicure tools in, several books  that I own and may or may not read (but that do an excellent job of lifting up the ancient clock so I can see it over my pillows), several library books that I also may or may not read, a tablet for when I'm ignoring said books, a lamp and the telephone.  Perhaps this list will explain why I am ignoring my birthdays from now on.

5. What do you order from the movie theater concession stand? I am cheap.  I can't remember the last time I ordered from the concession stand.  But now I feel like I'm missing out.  But then again, I almost never go to the movies, and cannot, in fact, tell you the last movie I saw in the theater.  (That's not true - it was Frozen.)  Chances are I will be dragged to see X-Men 9000 or whatever it's called, so perhaps I will report back later.

6. Do you have a garden? What’s growing? It is tiny and currently consists of parsley and oregano left over from last year that by some miracle did not die.  It will soon include basil, which I bought a few days ago.

Quick story - earlier this spring, Sammy's scout troop needed to complete a gardening project, so I offered up out empty flower bed.  The boys planted 12 plants (tomatoes, basil, onions, carrot, among others).  Guess how many are living today?  Wrong - 1! At least until I check tomorrow and then you'll probably be right.

7. Any summer plans? Very good question.  I did finally find reasonably priced swim lessons not occurring with 200 other kids at the same time, so that's all set.  There's a week of vacation bible school in there.  And I just finished talking to all the teachers about what subject to work on with the kids over the break (yes, I'm that mom, but in my defense, they're those kids).  Chris desperately wants to travel, but he also wants new windows, so he's going to need to grow that money tree soon. 
I would also be more than happy to welcome any visitors (ahem).

8. Which TV couple(s) are you rooting for? Deacon and Rayna on Nashville, because he is all kinds of hot (even though I also remember him being goofy on Whose Line Is It Anyway? back in the day and my mind can't quite reconcile that). Please don't tell my husband.  I mentioning my List in passing the other day, and you'd have sworn he thought I was heading out to track a guy down that minute.  Simmer down, Husband.

9. What’s the last thing you bought? A t-shirt for Sammy that espouses my personal loyalty to Pluto as a planet.  I realize this is ironic because he'll be taught the new theory and will eventually reject my awesome shirt, but for now, I can use my son as a billboard.

10. What’s one thing you are passionate about? My kids.  I will fight tooth and nail for them.

11. What are you grateful for this week? I am grateful for the amazing school year this has been for both my kids.  They had the exact right teachers for them, and they blossomed.  And while Sabrina is lucky to have the same teacher (and class) next year, I am mourning the loss of the teachers Sammy will leave as he moves to the next grade and the very special teacher who is retiring.  We had a meeting today during which we all ended up praising and thanking each other, and it was just the best sense of right place, right time ever.  Retiring Teacher has promised to keep in touch, and is even going to send Sammy postcards from her summer road trip (you'll know when that happens because you'll hear his head explode).  And now that our "business" relationship is ended, I have no qualms making the other teachers bend to my will and be my best friends.  Maybe I'll invite them to book club (hey, book club, I have some great new people to include!).  But seriously, it has been the best year, and I'm so anxious for next year because I just can't see how it can be topped (here's hoping).

Tag, you're it.  Yes, you.