We are ninjas.

On Friday I went to my book group. School’s starting this Wednesday for all of our kids, so a lot of the discussion centered more around this fact and less around Olive Kitteridge. As we chatted, I realized that all of my friends had already tackled and conquered their school shopping the weekend before. I could feel a piece of my soul shrivel up and die.

WHAT? Tax-free weekend was LAST week?! I gasped.

I listened with growing horror to their tales of endless checkout lines and empty shelves picked over by all of the GOOD parents in the world…those wise people who had realized it was tax-free weekend and hadn’t waited until the 11th hour to get their children ready for school.

Do you think it’s going to be a madhouse at Target tomorrow? I asked in a sad little voice.

My friends avoided looking me in the eye and gazed silently, pityingly into their laps.

It will, won’t it?

Ummm…you could maybe go at dinner time, one friend kindly suggested, It shouldn’t be as bad at dinner time. 

I already had dinner plans for Saturday. I was also expecting a former student of mine, now a Russian professor herself, to come at noon to go through my old books to see if there were any she would want. I had been planning to spend the entire rest of the day packing. (If things work out with the house, we’re supposed to start moving our stuff in on Friday).

I calculated that we had a small window of opportunity between 10 and 11:30 to go to Target to get the school shopping done. This might not seem like such a feat, but I knew it would be miraculous if I could manage to accomplish such a wondrous thing. Target is like some kind of weird black hole for me. By some sorcery, time stands still the moment I walk through those automatic doors. I immediately fall into a dazed and blissful stupor and for hour upon hour, I wander the aisles, mesmerized by the siren call of adorable, owl-shaped trash cans, irresistible hand towels, and of course: the glittery, melamine, dollar bin offerings.

Early Saturday morning I pored over the supply lists published on the school websites and wrote a list of the things each kid needed. I gathered the troops.

Listen, kids, I said, We’re going to Target to get your school supplies. I have to be back home by 12 today. We are going to be like ninjas. We’re going to be in and out of that store like a sleek band of ninja warriors. We’re going to be fast and efficient. IN. OUT. Got it? IN. OUT. 

I exasperated my daughter by repeating this mantra all the way to Target.

Why do you keep saying that, Mommy? YOU’RE the one who makes us spend hours in Target.

Little Miss Smartypants.

OK, fine. You’re right. I’m saying it mostly as a reminder to myself, ok?

We got to Target and the kids spilled out of the minivan and made a beeline straight to the school supply section.

OK, you know what you need to do. Go, go, go, go, go! 

They dispersed and came back to the cart repeatedly, their arms laden with folders, notebooks, pink erasers, pencils, flash drives…It took them all of ten minutes at the most.

OK, we’re done! they announced casually.

What?! You’re done?! I asked, reluctantly putting down an adorable notebook decorated with cunning little foxes. Really? Are you sure?…OK. Well, I guess we should head to the checkout then… 

As I started zigzagging up and down the aisles en route to the front of the store, my daughter hooked her arm in mine and steered me in a more direct route to the registers.

But can we just look at the…

She propelled me onward, whispering in my ear, “We’re ninjas. NINJAS! Remember, Mommy? Ninjas.

But I do need –

At this point she held her hands up to my face like horse blinders, and said simply, Ninjas.

And that’s how my daughter helped me redeem my sorry self and break some kind of personal world record by getting out of Target in record time. Like a ninja.

New Old House

I’m not going to lie…Things are a little crazy at the moment. Trying to buy a new, very old house and sell our current one has been stressful. I am a walking, or rather flailing disaster. I’m breaking out like a teenager. My stomach is churning. The other day I tried to relieve some tension by doing some step ups during my lunch hour. I missed the step and crashed backward into my desk – ripping my silk blouse and creating a vivid red, black, and greenish blue map of my anxiety on my back and backside. Yesterday, I somehow managed to jab my temple with my car keys, missing my eyeball by a half inch or so.

The thoughts running through my head tend to be cruel and taunting –

Are you freaking insane? Why yes, yes I AM. 

You’re going to let that beautiful old house go to hell in a hand basket with your slovenly ways and your complete lack of home savvy.

Pshhhht! Who do you think you are…Martha Stewart?!

We just had a very thorough six hour home inspection that lasted from 8:30 to 2:30. The report left me reeling…There’s a lot to fix, not to mention a dead animal or two to find and remove.

But look!

I was convinced there were hearts hidden in the doorknob to the front door:

Here’s hoping everything works out, (we’re still not at all sure that it will), and that I don’t manage to skewer my eyeball, end up in traction, or land myself in a psychiatric ward before we get to closing.

Weekend Snapshots 29




More packing…

We took a break from packing to go to my friend’s annual hops harvest party. Every year she grows a crop of hops for a local microbrewery. With a little help from her friends, this year she harvested 150 lbs.

The cut vines were laid out on long tables and we got to work like a bunch of Pick-a-Little-Ladies from the Music Man: “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep, cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more!


Still packing…

In the afternoon we took another break to celebrate (belatedly) our daughter’s 10th birthday with a trip to Mint Springs Lake and Chiles Peach Orchard…

Now back to…packing, of course.

Quiz Time! The Sisters vs. The Kids Lightning Round

As promised, the third and final lightning round of Quiz Time! as devised by my husband.

1. What do the dots on a pair of dice add up to?

a) 21       b) 36       c) 42       d) 48

2. Who was the oldest person in the Bible?

a) Abraham     b) Jesus     c) Methuselah     d) Adam

3. What does an agoraphobic fear?

a) agriculture     b) open space     c) dancing     d) dogs

4. Which country has the longest coastline?

a) Canada     b) Norway     c) Russia     d) Australia

5. Which planet is 4th from the sun?

a) Saturn      b) Earth     c) Mars     d) Venus

6. What is the capital of South Africa?

a) Bloemfontein     b) Johannesburg      c) Pretoria     d) Cape Town

7. What is the capital of Canada?

a) Ottawa     b) Montreal     c) Vancouver     d) Toronto

8. Which city is furthest West?

a) Washington, DC     b) Montréal     c) Buenos Aires     d) Miami

9. Which city is furthest North?

a) Rome     b) Madrid     c) Istanbul     d) New York

10. What is the capital city of Australia?

a) Brisbane    b) Canberra    c) Sydney     d) Melbourne

1. c; 2. c; 3. b; 4. a; 5. c; 6. A trick question! a, c, and d – South Africa has THREE capitals: Pretoria is the administrative capital, Cape Town is the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital; 7. a; 8. a; 9. a; 10. b

It was all going so well until around question #4. We did abysmally. How about you?

It’s time to pack up our house for the big move. It may be a while before I’m back. See you later!

Weekend Snapshots 28


My colleague has been on leave for a couple months. We decorated his office in preparation for his return…


That moment when you discover that your brother has posted this super flattering picture of you on Instagram:

We signed a contract on a new, (actually very old) house. We’ll be moving in early September, which is why I probably won’t be around very much for the next month or so. It’s going to be crazy busy around here!

My best friend came for a visit. No pictures, because we spent the whole time drinking tea and catching up.

I did manage to dig up this photo though – this is us in the beautiful, enchanted Riverside Drive apartment we lived in when we first became roommates in graduate school. It’s where we first began our late-into-the-wee-hours-chats-over-tea:

So many good things began there!


We went to MarieBette for lunch, and had to try the new and improved brioche feuilletée (“bronut”), now available with a delicious crème diplomate filling…

Checked out the ever-changing IX Art Park…

Strange things afoot in this artists’ studio:


Met up for dinner to celebrate this baby’s:

…10th Birthday!