Monthly Archives: May 2013

Summertime Rolls

I love summer. It’s my super-happy-blissful-fun time. I love the heat, getting that sun-kissed glow (or burned to a crisp and getting that lobster-red hue that’s one more hour away from sun poisoning, which is what usually happens to me at least once a year)…I love being outside and sundresses and being barefoot all the time and cookouts and mint tea and watermelon and going to the beach. Even the smell of sunblock makes me happy. I love outside concerts and fire pits and ice cream and carnivals and fireworks and roller coasters and funnel cake and fireflies and playing my ukulele under a tree. Just all of it. I even love that initial blast of AC when coming inside from the heat. I love the Beach Boys! I love thinking about camping out in the backyard as a trial run with the kids this year.

Last summer was the best summer of my life. I had so much fun with the kids. We just hung in the backyard for like 3 months with the occasional walk to the park and back. It was awesome. We tended to the vegetable garden and flowers and plants. The kids love their little watering cans! I also chatted with my next-door neighbor over the fence every day like 50’s housewives. It was great.

This year is looking to be even better. We already have the kiddie pool out and set up their little sliding board so they can slide right into the pool. I think this year we can still get away with them running around naked in the backyard, so I am going to try to get them potty-trained by summer’s end. Wish us luck!!! I already have a little potty out there. Let’s rock this out, guys! If they have an accident, who cares! We’re outside! Wash yourself off in the pool and try again. Friends take note: this only applies to the two-year old-and-under set. Please don’t take this as carte blanche to get naked and pee all over my yard. I don’t care how many beers you’ve had.

The other awesome thing about playing outside really hard all day? ABSURDLY LONG NAP TIME. It just cannot be stressed enough…I love summer!

20130530-110143.jpg

Death to Muffy

The kids and I are currently enthralled with Microcosmos, a gorgeous, incredible, fascinating documentary about the insect world shot with microscopic cameras. How have I never seen this before??? It’s on Netflix. Check it out when you’re done with “Arrested Development.” It is quite literally one of the most amazing and beautiful things I have ever seen. And you get to see ladybugs do it. Annnnnnd…when the kids woke up this morning, they wanted to watch it. Not Caillou. Not Dora. Not Curious George. They wanted to watch an award-winning French documentary. There is a small, secretly pseudo-bourgeois part of me that felt a little proud. Smug, even. Shame on me.

I felt this same weird feeling yesterday when they were snacking on organic veggie crisps and hummus. I was happy that my kids like hummus, because it’s an indicator that they are adventurous eaters. But that smug bourgeois person came out again!!! “Oooh, they are so amazing because they like hummus.” I mean, what???? I didn’t know this person existed anymore! Let’s call her Muffy.

Muffy was born in the late 90’s when I was dating a guy that transformed me (not entirely unwillingly) from a thrift-store shopping, punk-rock-show-going chick into someone who, by the end of those 3 years, wore nothing but Banana Republic and listened to jazz and once ate sushi as a snack in his brand-new German sedan, probably on the way to some bougie event that I pretended to be excited about. Like, with chopsticks. In a car. Not that any of those things are bad or wrong. Not at all. But at that sushi moment, he said, “You’re so bourgeois and you love it!” I was like…uhhhhh…whut? Am I? Is this who I want to be? And am I dating Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho?!” I mean, I really did desire to look a “certain way.” Expensive. Classy. Pulled together. Muffalicious. Especially because at the time I was a manager of a team of people at a big corporate place. Which I hated. But I didn’t adopt this persona for the right reasons (if there are ever any “right reasons” for “adopting a persona”). I wanted to try to appear like I was better than everybody else because inside I felt like the big ball of poo that I just watched the dung beetle push all over the meadow on “Microcosmos.” It wasn’t me, or who I wanted to be. AT ALL.

Thankfully, this guy dumped me and I went back to my schlubby old self. As my friend Shari says, my inner hippie has an inner hippie. I still love jazz. If I worked outside the home, I would probably get me some Banana Republic (outlet) duds. I think could eat sushi every day for the rest of my life and not tire of it. I still like Volkswagens. But I don’t like Muffy. Muffy was a hot mess. A hot mess in some REALLY cute Banana Republic shoes that she still kinda misses.

Edited to add the following verse I found in my Proverbs 31 devitional email that I just opened up. Perfect!

“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6:3-5 (NIV)

Comparisons stink. They do.

20130530-081142.jpg

The Samaritan Woman’s Grateful Day at the Well

I thought of an awesome thing to write about on the way to the dentist yesterday, but I forgot all about it because it was the most pleasant dentist visit I think I’ve ever had! The dental hygienist and I were cordially chatting and SOMEHOW it came out that she’s a Deadhead and then if you overheard us talking you would have thought we knew each other for 10 years. When I left I was like, “We should be friends!!!” It was just so cool. As I left she said, “Have a Grateful Day!” I bet she doesn’t get to say that too often at her job. And look ma, no cavities!!

On a completely different note, I am hard at work on my summer Bible study on Women in the New Testament and with each woman that I research, I get more inspired by Jesus and His love for them, for me, for all of us. I’m learning how to put myself in the sandals of the Samaritan woman right now. How she came to the well at a different time than all the other women did, because she was an outcast. Because of her shame. And Jesus met her there. He made a point to meet her there, just like He will meet us anywhere. As long as we accept the offer, He will meet us RIGHT WHERE WE ARE. Broken and defeated and hopeless. That’s actually how He wants it. If you think you have it all together (and let’s face it, NONE of us do), how is He going to help you? Lift you up, give you hope, whisper the truth to you? This poor woman at the well is just rockin’ my world right now, man. Her and Jerry Garcia. Who my kids think is Santa Claus, because every time they see his picture they say “Ho Ho Ho!”

20130529-084733.jpg

Excuse This House

I’m not sure how it happened, but this house has become Holiday Central. And I LOVE it. I have always loved entertaining and having people over and cooking for them and the whole thing. I think it started being necessary once the kids started crawling and putting everything in their mouths. It was way easier to have everyone come to the totally baby-proofed house than have us go to the house with the Faberge Eggs and easy-to-reach antique knife collection. That’s actually a terrible example, as no one in my family has either of those things. But you know what I mean.

One holiday that I do NOT want to even think about taking over is Christmas Eve, although I will be happy to do it when the time comes. But, as far back as I can remember, my mom has done Christmas Eve at her house. And it is special and fun and full of tradition. She always makes her awesome barbecue and we pig out and open presents together (freeing up Christmas morning for the individual families to do our own thing) and then we drive around and look at people’s Christmas lights. And when I say “look,” I mostly mean “make fun of.” I mean, don’t get me wrong, we like a classy display as much as the next family…but come on. The real joy is coming upon a house that was clearly decorated by Clark Griswold on crack. Am I right?

We had a really, really nice picnic yesterday at our house. I seem to do all the summer picnics. I love it. I’ve done Thanksgiving the past few years. We even had our wedding reception in our backyard a month after we got married (also in our backyard) in the form of a big Labor Day BBQ. It was good times.

My oldest sister gave me this poem in a frame over the weekend:

“Excuse This House”

Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there;
Ours boast of it quite openly.
The signs are everywhere.
For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors;
I should apologize, I guess.
For toys strewn on the floor.
But I sat down with the children
And we played and laughed and read;
And if the doorbell doesn’t shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.
For when at times I’m forced to choose
The one job or the other;
I want to be a housewife…
But first I’ll be a mother.

–Author Unknown

Some other ways to express this sentiment:

“Both of us can’t look good at the same time, so it’s either me or the house.”

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling your walk before it stops snowing.”

“They lied; hard work has killed lots of people.”

I could go on. But I think the moral of this story is, I can basically stop cleaning because there’s no point, right? No? Sigh. I would never do that (the nuances of mild OCD would never allow that to happen). BUT. I definitely DO believe in low lighting to hide the flaws of my home, and I think I have a decent knack for making sure everything looks pretty good at first, even second glance. Another plus is having an “eclectic,” hippie-type style. This is the best-kept secret in housekeeping. Stain on a chair? Throw a tapestry over it! Windows desperately need to be cleaned? Slap some window clings on there, or paint a seasonal design on them with window paint with your kids! Funky smell from one too many poopy diapers and salmon cooking in the oven? Incense and patchouli, baby! Even if your husband hates it, it’s still better than poo and fish.

When people that love you are coming over, they are coming to see YOU GUYS, not eat their dinner off of your floor (which actually would work well in my house, what with my messy Toddler Eaters). They aren’t examining the nooks and crannies of your kitchen. I prefer to play with my kids a lot and just not be gross about things. Beyond that, I play it by ear. After all, I want them to remember more about their childhood than how spotless the tile was in the bathroom.

20130528-124032.jpg

I’ve made a huge mistake

So, what’s with me getting the most likes and follows on the post where I didn’t write anything and only posted pictures? What are you trying to tell me? It’ll take a lot more than that to muzzle me, people!!

Anyway, SHAME ON ME. I almost didn’t go to church this morning because a) I slept way later than usual; b) the kids were so content eating cereal and playing in their diapers and when I asked them if they wanted to go to church they said, “no;” and, finally, c) today “Arrested Development” came on Netflix. I watched the first episode and I soooooooo just wanted to stay home and binge-watch them ALL. But, thanks to a snarky comment from my husband that I was originally mad about but now I am publicly thanking him for, I turned off my beloved Bluths and got my butt to church. It was a wonderful service honoring our soldiers, and I am publicly thanking them now, too.

Ok, this blog post is cutting into my Arrested Development time.

20130526-122041.jpg

It’s all good in da ‘hood

I have lived in Reading for almost 15 years. Nearly 10 of those years have been in West Reading. I have a ton of ties to this area. Before I made the move to live on Penn Avenue in 2004, I worked at my friend Lisa’s store, the Lotus Boutique (owned by her mom Christine). I had an art show there in 2002, which was a total Bucket List moment. Thanks again for that, guys! Then I worked in Earth Rhythms (and lived upstairs for a few years). I worked at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio (an experience that could fill up a blog post on its own). I sold my jewelry in Firefly on Penn and the now-defunct Frock. I’ve been a vendor on Art on the Avenue a ton of times. I go to church at St. James, right across the street from my old apartment. I had my babies at Reading Hospital. I did collage projects with kids one year at the Reading Museum and even sold my art in their gift shop once upon a time. I got tattooed twice at Dragonfly (owned by my aforementioned friend Lisa’s partner). I won my first chess match of my life outside of the old Hard Bean in the mid-90’s (a moment I cherish, because I must have played a hundred games before I finally checkmated this person). I really love my little neck of the woods. It’s funky and familiar and I love the shops and restaurants and when we bought our house, literally down the street, I felt so far away from the action. It’s a place I hope I always continue to live within walking distance of.

Last night I took my nephew Josh to Vertigo, the awesome record store owned by my rad friend Stacey (housed in the location of the first incarnation of the Lotus Boutique). I then bought Hazel her first Barbie doll for $3 at BT Gallery, which is this awesome retro vintage kitschy pop culture store. It’s called Dinner Date Barbie. I bought Max a rubber snake. I almost bought myself a Felix the Cat t-shirt, but I was a good girl and didn’t get it. I have so many t-shirts that it’s insane. But I am a sucker for a good vintage tee. Maybe I’ll go back later and get it…

I am so happy that I am part of this awesome community. I haven’t even touched on Haute Chocolate or Wine Down or the West Reading Tavern (hi, Mark and Amy!) or Hello Bluebird or Cafe Harmony…I could go on and on.

Last night as I gabbed with Stacey and this dude John that was there selling records about music for like 45 minutes and then with the BT Gallery guy and then telling my nephew on the way back to the car how awesome my church is, I felt such a sense of community and love for where I live. Stay classy, West Reading.

20130525-085117.jpg

“YOU LOOK VERY SUCCESSFUL!!!”

My hubby got a new (well, new to us, anyway) car that I drove for the first time last night. It’s a black Saab convertible and I’m so happy for him. Chris made a big sacrifice for our family a few years ago. He had a really cool Spyder MR2 (is that right? I’m a girl, I don’t know about cars. That kind of sounds right, though). I know he loves himself a convertible and he loved that little car. He got in an accident and it was totaled (but he was fine). So, instead of getting another cool car, he got a beat-up old pickup for cheap and drove that until last week. I understand the important relationship between a man and his car. Therefore, I have always appreciated the sacrifice. Now he gets to enjoy the summer in a convertible! This car suits you, honey. You look saucy in it! And successful. Which conjures up a funny random memory: Last summer we were walking down to the Annual Reading Hospital Garden Party with the kids in their stroller, and we we were stopped at a corner waiting to cross. This car full of teenage girls drove by and one of the girls leaned out of the window and yelled, “YOU LOOK VERY SUCCESSFUL!!!” We were like, “Whaaaaat??” Hahaha. It was funny. Well, at least our struggling selves LOOKED successful, right? I guess I thought of this because Chris looks very successful in his new-to-him Saab.

Which then makes me think of how we went to the Pagoda (local landmark atop a mountain that overlooks our fair city of Reading, PA) a few weeks ago as the sun was setting so the kids could see the sunset and the city and the Pagoda and whatnot. We got out of the car and there was a guy sitting in his BMW with the top down, wearing what I assume to be an Armani suit (or something of equal quality – even from a distance you could tell it was expensive) with the sleeves rolled up and a t-shirt. He looked VERY James Spader in “Pretty In Pink.” He was talking very loudly on his phone and he said to whomever he was talking to as we were passing him, “I’m a man who likes to get things done.” Yes, James Spader. We know you are a successful go-getter. You all but have it tattooed on your forehead. I wanted to scream at him, “YOU LOOK VERY SUCCESSFUL!!!”

So last night Chris texted me from Walmart, asking if I needed anything. Yes, paper towels and blueberries. He texts back:

C: Lol. Pagoda BMW guy just walked past me at Walmart in a sport jacket a phone glued to his ear. Recognized his spindly hands.

Me: No Way!!! Well, he is a man who likes to get things done…

C: Those guys that drive European convertibles and use cell phones and shop at Walmart are all the same.

20130523-092323.jpg

Who knows

Last night I had a dream about J. Tillman. As in Josh Tillman. As in Father John Misty. As in my current all-time dreamboat fave-rave. As in the guy I’m going to see June 8th with my hubby and my niece, who also loves her some FJM. In this dream we were slow-dancing to “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. Okay, whatever. Who knows.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I have a dream like this, the whole next day I’m like, “Swoon, sigh” over that person and then I want to listen to them all day. But sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be listening to him. Sometimes I feel like if I’m a Christian, shouldn’t I be only listening to Christian music, or at the very least music that does not glorify drugs (not that huge a deal for me because I don’t love drugs) or take the Lord’s name in vain (which is a huge deal for me because I do love The Lord)? Who knows.

Most of the current music I listen to these days is kinda mellow and folksy and singer/songwriter-y, or raw and real and spare or have kind of an Americana thing happening. I like Iron and Wine and Blitzen Trapper and Deer Tick and Elvis Perkins and I like Tyler Ramsey’s solo stuff (he’s in Band of Horses) and I like the Black Keys. Oooooh, I like the Tallest Man on Earth almost as much as I like Father John Misty. Almost. At this very moment I don’t like anyone more than FJM. Who will I be obsessed with next? Who knows.

But I skip over “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” because I just cannot sing along to that and I don’t want my kids to hear it (they already can sing along to bits of a few songs that aren’t “questionable.” But is this bad? Is this funny and cute that they are like these little hipsters? I just don’t know. It’s nothing offensive. Sigh. Who knows).

Josh Tillman, former drummer for Fleet Foxes, quit the band and drove around shroomin’ in a van and eventually moved to Laurel Canyon and made a Very California Druggy-Sounding and Sometimes Jaunty Album under the Father John Misty moniker. It’s called “Fear Fun” and it’s fantastic (he also has some prior solo work he released under the name J. Tillman). He interests me because, well, his music is amazing and he’s charismatic and intelligent and funny and he’s a total babe and he’s perpetuating this fun 70’s tripped-out rock star myth (is it authentic or a myth or both? Who knows). He was once a Christian, but now he’s not. What does this have to do with it? Everything? Nothing? Who knows.

I wonder if I’m ever going to make that leap into full-on Christian music. I have a few Johnny Cash albums with old-time hymns that I love. I like Bob Dylan’s Christian albums just fine. Who knows.

I remember being in high school and wishing I could full-on sing along to that part in Jane’s Addiction’s song “Stop!” Because it was just an awesome breakdown at the end of the song. But he took the Lord’s name in vain so I always had to stop. Pun intended. What I struggled with then was, maybe I shouldn’t be listening to this band at all. But they rocked!!! But there was a lot of stuff on their albums that I personally did not believe or think it was good for me to be listening to. But they rocked!!!!! What’s a teenage girl to do? Who knows.

Now I’m 40 and still grappling with the same thing. If I listen to and support artists like this that are the opposite of what the rest of my life looks like, what do I do? Do I wait for that last part of my heart to change and I no longer want to listen to “secular” music, at least the kind that can be outwardly opposed to a godly life? Or do I make a conscious decision to cut this out of my life?

Who knows.

20130522-104547.jpg