Friday, May 31, 2013

Almost Done!

 Me and Will listening to the Durham Bulls on the radio, out on 
the screened porch Wednesday night.

 First of all, if you haven't read this, and you have ever in any way been involved with schooling children, I insist you check it out immediately: Not only so true, but one of the most hilarious things I've read in quite some time.

Today is Will's last full day of school. Next week, they will torture us by stretching things out one half-day at a time. Okay, it's only Monday and Tuesday, and then fourth grade graduation is Wednesday. But still, with just a tiny bit of effort, we could have this whole thing wrapped up by Monday night.

So given that today is Will's last full day, and Jack's last full day was yesterday (he started exams today), do you know what significant milestone we just passed? I AM DONE PACKING LUNCHES UNTIL AUGUST 20TH! (yes, I believe that merits all caps.) Maybe if I had children who ate a wide variety of nutritionally sound and interesting food, packing lunches would be a pleasure. But Will eats hardly any typical lunch foods (no peanut butter, no sandwiches of any kind), and Jack sticks to turkey and roast beef sandwiches. No hummus, no yogurt (though both boys eat yogurt at home), no foods that have potential to contaminate other foods with their scent. That leaves us with sandwiches, muffins, carrot sticks, grapes and cookies. Plus the symbolic string cheese I put in Will's lunch every day, which he never eats (though he eats it at home).

So every evening as I pack their bags, I feel like a lunchtime failure. I feel quite positive that Jack and Will's teachers and peers have been judging me harshly. To be free of these feelings for the next eleven weeks? That, my friend, is freedom indeed.

Other things ... I'm on a major decluttering kick. This will be the Summer of the Big Declutter. (Stop laughing! Did you hear me say it was the Summer I Will Finally Get My Attic Under Control? No, you did not.) I've already started, and here's my confession: I'm not recycling half as much as I should. Usually I'm a very committed recycler, but girls, sometimes to make any headway, you've just got to throw stuff away. You know what I'm saying? You chuck it and you don't look back.

So, anyway, do you have any good decluttering tips for me? The Man's idea of a decluttering tip is that I should leave the house for a day while he takes a pile of giant trash bags and fills them with everything he deems unnecessary to our daily lives. When I came home, the house would be completely bare but for the dog, the children, and a jar of peanut butter.

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 49. Because I always round my age up, that means I'm 50. But you know what? I don't look a day over 46.

Anyway, it was a lovely birthday. The Man took me out to lunch, and then he picked up the boys from school, and I lazed about on the porch, drinking sparkling mineral water and reading a Jackie Robinson biography. Will had a baseball game, and had two hits, and pitched two innings for a total 0.0 earned run average (for those of you not familiar with the ins and outs of baseball, that's a might good ERA indeed).

The Man and I put our chairs in the shade, and I drank some more sparkling mineral water (sparkling mineral water is to me the very definition of the word "treat"), and we chatted and watched our guys win 24-3, and cheered for both teams. We always cheer for both teams, but I suppose there will come a day when the players are bigger and meaner, and then we'll only cheer for our team. That will be a sad day indeed.

Then we came home and ate pulled pork barbecue and chocolate cake and I opened my very nice presents.

Okay, that's all I've got for now. Send in those decluttering tips, would you? I need all the help I can get!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Little Bits and Pieces

Strawberry fields forever ...

1. I went strawberry picking last week. The strawberries this year are small and oddly-shaped because of all the rain we've had this spring. They still taste mighty fine, and I'm going back soon to get some more. Time to make jam!

2. Thanks to my friend, Sarah, I have discovered the most amazing service in the world. For $4.95, I can order my groceries online, and then pick them up at the store. Sarah has been doing this for years, and I've always assumed it cost an arm and a leg. Of course, when you have three children, two of them five and under, an arm and a leg is a bargain, so I understood why Sarah was willing to sacrifice so many of her limbs.

But it turns out she's been paying a pittance! In fact, this service pays for itself, since you can't make impulse purchases when you shop online. My grocery bill for the week was about twenty dollars less than it usually is. Bargain!

3. Another great deal: Buying reading glasses on line. Last week, I bought a package of five reading glasses on, including a pair of reading sunglasses. Total cost: $29.95. They're cute and funky, and now I have reading glasses spread out all over my house. I feel rich! (If you're interested, go here.)

4. The tyranny of May continues ... This week we have the 4th grade class play, a BIG deal, Jack's final band concert, baseball practice, and on my personal docket are two lunches with friends and my monthly book group meeting (we read Open by Andre Agassi, and I was surprised by how good it was). Two weeks from now, fourth and eighth grade graduation, fourth and eighth grade pool parties, and eighth grade graduation party.

I know I'll miss my children when they're grown and gone, but I will not miss school days in May. I don't remember it being this busy when I was a kid, do you? I remember field day ... and that's it. I'll have to ask my mom what she remembers.

5. Last week my friends Amy and Danielle came over for lunch. We ate this cake that I made with the strawberries I picked:

It tasted good, but was rather ridiculous. The recipe called for cutting two cake layers into four layers, but by the time I tried to put the fourth layer on ... well, just forget about it.

Anyway, Amy, Danielle and I have been friends now for fourteen years. We met when we were pregnant with our first babies. I am probably more myself with them than anyone else I know, other than the Man. I have no idea how they've put up with me for this long.

6. Got my first Durham Bulls' post up on the Bull City Summer Blog. If you want to read it, go here. My next piece is going to be on an elderly woman who goes to every single home game. That's how I'm going to be when I'm old--drinking a beer at the ballpark while I listen to the game on my transistor radio.

7. Is that enough stuff? Are you ready for summer yet?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Am Having a Good Time

 The fridge at the Pomegranate Kitchen

As most of you who read this blog know, I'm a children's book author. I'm very fortunate and blessed to make my living doing this, and I love it. But I love other kinds of writing, too, and for a long time have wanted to write more about where I live and some of the things that interest me.

Tomorrow, I'm going over to the Durham Bulls baseball park to talk to the groundskeeper about foxes. Apparently, for awhile this spring two foxes made their home there. And as it just so happens, my last book had a mystical fox running through it, and as it just so happens, there's a big documentary project taking place this summer called Bull City Summer, in which ever single Bulls game is going to be documented and blogged about, and as it just so happens, a friend of mine is involved in this project, and when she heard about the foxes, she emailed me and said, "You have to do a blog post about the foxes living in the Durham Bulls park!"

So I emailed the park's groundskeeper, who emailed me back and said, Come on over!

I could not be more thrilled.

First of all, I'm a baseball fan, and I'm a Durham Bulls fan in particular, and the idea that two foxes were making their home in this humongous, AAA park tickles me to no end. That I get to write about it tickles me further. That my friend who's involved with the documentary project just told me she's going to try to get me a press pass so I can go to whatever games I want and write about them? Good grief! I can't even tell you how happy that makes me.

Another happiness: I have been contributing some posts to a blog that covers North Carolina foodways. Tomorrow, they're publishing my post about a nearby Persian restaurant that's not really a restaurant--it's called Pomegranate Kitchen, and it is, in fact, just a kitchen. You buy your food, and then you take it somewhere else to eat. Have you ever eaten Persian food? It is to die for. If you told me I'd fall in love with a dish called pomegranate stew, I would have told you I don't think so. But it's amazing! And the woman who owns this place and is the cook is fabulous. I walked in on Tuesday afternoon and said, "Can I interview you for this piece I'm writing?" and she told me all this interesting stuff about Iran, where she's from, and how people cook there.

The drink selection at Pomegranate Kitchen

This made me very happy, too. And tomorrow, the Man and I and our friend, Rick, who leads my Bible study and also speaks fluent Spanish (he owns a landscaping business and all his employees are
from Mexico--and documented, Rick would want me to tell you; he insists upon this, and every January he or his partner travel to Mexico with their workers to help them get their papers renewed), and another friend of ours named Cricket are going to a Mexican grocery/taqueria called La Superior for lunch so I can write about it (and the Man can take pictures to accompany my story--the Man is also coming with me to take pix at the Bulls stadium--so convenient to have a husband who's also an amazing photographer!). And this makes me happy, too. It makes me happy to live in this small city, where all sorts of interesting things are going on.

But I have to admit, all this excitement is also a little exhausting. I'm happy for it, but I'm also happy that things at home are quiet, and that I have Bible study every week to keep me grounded, and that I have my friends who are steady and helpful and kind.

So I'm having a good time, and now, just writing about it, I'm ready to go to bed. I think the entire month of May is going to be like that. I'll keep you updated.