Category Archives: Family

Weekend Snapshots 52

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The theme for the weekend was “things fall apart” with a soundtrack of Christmas carols in the background…

My workhorse camera and constant companion of many years finally quit without so much as two weeks notice. (Today’s photos courtesy of my phone). The 17-yr-old backup car I’ve been driving after finally giving up my old minivan (RIP) is shambling into retirement like a grumpy old man. (Heat? You want me to give you heat AND get you to where you want to go? WHAT? And the door has to open too? This generation is so damned spoiled!). Our oven has ceased to function. Even our dog, Tallis, has been causing us worry. We suspected renal failure, but after lots of expensive labs, it looks like he’s just an old man with constipation who needs to be on Metamucil and wear doggie Depends. For real.

Friday

My son had his piano recital.

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We practically yanked him offstage mid-bow to race off across town to catch the last part of the Spanish Renaissance Christmas concert my husband was singing in…

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Saturday

The forecasts were predicting snowfall from one to ten inches. We were ready to hunker down for a cozy snowbound day in pjs, but it turned out to be more like a dusting.

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IMG_3423With no excuse to laze about at home, we ran around town doing all the usual weekend things like getting our cars Jiffy-Lubed, piano lessons, and shopping for a new oven…

At the end of the day we all converged from different parts of town in three different cars for dinner at Lime Leaf. My daughter reminded me that this was the restaurant where my friends held a surprise baby shower for me before she was born. Naturally, a commemorative photo was in order:

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Back at home, my husband spent the rest of the night working on the final exam for one of his courses. Here’s an exam question for you: Were Shih Tzus bred to: a) keep the manufacturers of paper towels and Nature’s Miracle in business? b) be foot warmers for Chinese emperors and empresses? or c) both A & B

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Hard at work warming the emperor’s feet.

(Tallis was probably being a captain of industry in the next room performing duty A).

Sunday

The latest addition to our menagerie…

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Our new friend perches himself here all day and scolds us through the window for all of our many failings.

With a broken oven, our resident baker has had to explore no-bake options. This weekend’s delicious experiment was Tiramisu:

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We capped off the weekend with an evening, candlelight Lessons and Carols service…

When our 17-yr-old wasn’t making us laugh, he was making us cry by reminding us that this would be the last Lessons and Carols service he would ever sing with us.IMG_7051

Thanksgiving Book

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We just got back home after another week in Princeton, New Jersey, where our family has been congregating for many years over the holidays. We had a one day layover at Auntie Sissy’s house, where I rediscovered this immortal classic. We had given her this book my now 17-year-old son’s Kindergarten teacher asked him to write to make up for the couple extra days we took off at the beginning of the week…

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My Days Off

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Day 1: Sunday. I took a car to New Jersey. We took Route 81. We got some gas. We had dinner at Applebees. We got balloons. One floated away. We got home late. We went to bed.

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This year we stopped for lunch at Delaware Welcome Center, which didn’t even exist when the book was written. Instead of balloons, my mother got ketchup packets. Twelve of them to be exact.

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Day 2: Monday. I took the New Jersey Transit to New York and took A LOT OF SUBWAYS. We had lunch. We eated pizza. We went to my sister’s doctor appointment. We watched people ice skate.

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This Monday we took the New Jersey Transit to New York. This time we were going for my son’s college tour. We eated pizza.

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Day 3: Tuesday. I played with my little cousins. They are triplets. Julia is their big sister. We’re going to the children’s library in Princeton.

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The triplets aren’t so little anymore.

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We Skyped with Julia, who gave us a tour of her flat in Edinburgh, where she is studying.

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Day 4: Wednesday. I went to the movies with part of my family. Tonight my Auntie Sissy is coming.

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The family has expanded since then…

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Day 5: Thursday. Thanksgiving. There was some smoke and we had to fan it. The smoke comed from the oven. That was our dinner. We made a fake church! We got baptized by Julia and we did stuff in the sanctuary.

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This was our dinner. No smoke comed from the oven this year…

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Day 6: Friday. We drived home and I stopped for lunch.

Weekend Snapshots 51

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I was Hanging with the Harpies this weekend.

Friday

Harpy Sister #1 and I picked up Harpy Sister #2 at the train station and headed straight over to crash my book group, where we cackled long into the night.

Saturday

Harpy #2 signed copies of her book Tiger Pelt at the Charlottesville Book Fair. We are bursting with pride that Tiger Pelt is on the short list for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize!

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A couple of very special guests made a rare appearance to show their support…

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They are grinning so hard their faces might crack.IMG_5893

Meanwhile in Richmond, my Harpy-in-Training was tearing it up on the soccer field. The first team they played awarded her a special ball at the end of the game:

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How did you show great sportsmanship? I asked as I inspected her ball.

I was saving a ball and I collided really hard into the player who was trying to get it in, so I went over during half time to apologize and to make sure she was ok.

And what were your phenomenal saves?

Well, I tipped the ball over the crossbars once and everyone was cheering so I guess that was pretty good…Oh yeah, and I saved another ball with my face. All I can remember about that one was that it hurt.

I’m rather glad I didn’t witness that.

Sunday

We began the first part of our trip to New Jersey where we’ll be spending the week with our family. IMG_5096

We are heading out for the next leg of our journey in just a few minutes…

 

 

Weekend Snapshots 50

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Friday

8 am: This was the sight I saw as I pulled out of the driveway. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to school and work we go…IMG_5828

Later that day my college friend Lizochka drove up from Charlotte to Charlottesville for a visit. She arrived at the university towards the end of the workday, so I could take her on a quick tour of the Grounds. The leaves are at their glorious peak, so despite the rain, it was a great weekend to be in C’ville.

Saturday

Our oldest son had to be at his testing site by 7:45 am for the last SAT he’d ever take. My daughter would be heading to her last soccer game of the season. As we discussed the complicated logistics over breakfast the kids asked me how Liza and I were planning to spend our day.

“Oh, we’re going to get up to aaaaaaaall kinds of mischief.” I told them.

“But what are you going to do? Are you going to go around painting graffiti or something?” asked my 15-year-old son, who is always willing to play along.

“Well, you’re just going to have to tune into NBC 29 News tonight to find out!” I replied with my best attempt at exuding an edgy, menacing sort of vibe.

My amenable son raised his eyebrows and pretended to be suitably impressed.

My daughter shot us down in flames by deadpanning with devastating accuracy:  “Are you going shopping at Roxie Daisy?”

OK, kid. Yeah, whatever:

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Unrepentent miscreants that we are, we recorded our every move:IMG_1771IMG_1772

I want to steal this chair. It was like sitting on a cloud. A really, really expensive cloud. ($3000+).IMG_1796

We hit up all my other favorite spots on the Downtown Mall too:

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From O’Suzannah to Rock, Paper, Scissors, and an obligatory stop at Caspari to say hello to the zebra finches!

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No visit to C’ville is complete without a stop at MarieBette, where we had our lunch:

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And last but not least, we poked our heads into Patina, my favorite store in Charlottesville.

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Cute book lamp!

We had a cozy dinner at home with a table full of family and friends, and then we spent the rest of the evening tucked up on the couch, watching the charming movie The Big Sick.

Sunday

A jiu-jitsu takedown? A hug? Who can tell?

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Bidding a fond farewell to my sweet friend…

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It’s been a long time since I’ve heard this boy play his guitar…IMG_4556

At choir, we got started on Christmas music… “Hey on, Sir Ass, hey!”

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Onward.

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Party

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Now that our youngest is 12 and in 7th grade, we deemed this to be the year that she should stop trick-or-treating. It’s become a tradition in our household to ease the pain of aging out of trick-or-treating by throwing a Halloween party for the big kid, and it was my daughter’s turn this year!

I was a witch on a flaming broomstick, and I don’t mean that I was wearing a costume…From 6 am until 6 pm when the party finally started, I snapped out orders to my cowering family as we raced around trying to get the house decorated and ready.

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Yup.

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We made sure the kids would not be deprived of candy even if they were too old to go trick-or-treating!

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No guts, no glory.

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After!

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Glow ring toss

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Tarantula Toss

My daughter pointed out my nail-studded sign to her friends and said in her snarkiest voice: “My mother is extremely proud of her little pun.”

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Nail Salon with press on stickers

But I got the last laugh when she opened up the little pumpkin to the right and jumped when she saw what was inside…

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Finger bubbles!

Dinner…

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Popcorn hands with candy corn nails

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I vant to suck your bloooooood!

Our 15 year old invited a few of his friends too. They played an epic game of Manhunt in the backyard, but probably the biggest hit of the party was playing with the dry ice.

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We transformed our breakfast room into a photo booth and stocked it with lots of props and costumes. Even our poor, long-suffering dogs (I mean panda and bee) got into the act!

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Happy Halloween!

A Fishy Story

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For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7 

My children are descended from a long line of liars on both sides of their family tree. From the moment they entered the world, they’ve been raised in an intricate and treacherous web of secrets and lies. It’s exhausting to live like this, but we know no other way. It’s programmed deep in our DNA.

Mostly we lie for benign reasons. Like many parents, we’ve spun tales of Santa and the tooth fairy.

IMG_2606But we’ve also dipped our toes into more questionable acts of deception. For instance, when my oldest son was a toddler he once asked me why a squashed squirrel in the middle of the road wasn’t moving.

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How could I break this kid’s heart?

“Oh, him?” I replied, “He’s just taking a little nap. They do that sometimes.”

Another time I wandered down the feminine product aisle in the grocery store with my second son.

ScanWith his blankie clutched in one chubby fist, he trailed the pointer finger of his other hand along the packages of maxi pads and tampons as we walked down the aisle.

“What are these?” he asked.

“Oh, just ummm…things for women.”

“But, what are they?…Cheese sticks?”

“Yep. Cheese sticks,” I replied. “For women.”

I will admit that there have been more egregious examples of deceit. It’s possible that on an occasion or two, I may have asked my kids not to mention something to their grandparents, “because they’re from another generation and another culture and they wouldn’t understand and we wouldn’t want them to worry or make them sad.”

It was only last week that I realized all these years the little punks have been storing up every single lie ever told in their steel trap brains.

I was driving my 15-year old home from his afterschool activity. As we pulled into our driveway, his older brother happened to pull in right behind us. He emerged from his car, dripping with sweat and lugging the enormous gym bag he insists on carrying everywhere. (It’s actually the large duffle bag I used myself when I was a college student to carry an entire semester’s worth of clothes and books back and forth between my house and campus. I’ve offered more than once to buy him a smaller gym bag, but he’s always demurred, because “it holds all my stuff.”)

But I digress…He had told me that morning he would drive straight from school to the open mat session they were having at his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym, just as he had done the week before.

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So sweet. So innocent. Such liars.

“Oh, hey!” the 15-year-old addressed his older brother as he got out of the car, “So you went boxing again?”

Through the car window, I could see my son shoot daggers at his younger brother with his eyes. He put his fingers up to his lips and curled his lips into a silent, but unmistakable “SHHHHH.”

Busted.

It’s difficult for me to understand the appeal of grappling with a sweaty stranger, yet I’ve let my son do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. When he started talking about doing boxing, however, I put my foot down and told him in no uncertain terms that he would not be allowed to do this. The boy is about to apply to college. Does he really need to get his head bashed in for sport?

I suspended his driving privileges for a couple days and read him the riot act for lying to me about the boxing. When his dad came home and was apprised of the situation, he launched into a lengthy disquisition of his own.

“Even worse than the fact that you went boxing, is the fact that you deliberately lied to us about it…” he said in an injured tone.

My son could bear the hypocrisy no longer. He yelped in fury and began to enumerate the many times we had lied to him and to others.

We all went to bed that night feeling bruised and battered and not unlike that squashed squirrel in the road.

At 1:30 am I awoke from deep slumber to the strong smell of fish frying. Surely this was just one of those nonsensical, yet hyper-realistic dreams?

I stumbled down the stairs to investigate and found my thwarted pugilist standing over a frying pan.

“What the hell are you doing?!” I asked, my eyes squinting in the bright light of the kitchen.

“Frying fish,” my son replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“Wh- why are you frying fish at 1:30 in the morning?!”

“I was hungry.”

“Where did you even get the fish?”

“I caught it a couple weeks ago.”

“Well, where has it been all this time?”

“In the chest freezer.”

The exchange was so surreal and yet so banal. I was at a loss.

“The whole house reeks now. Next time you’re hungry, could you please just have a bowl of cereal like a normal person?! And make sure you clean up after yourself when you’re done!” I said and lumbered off to bed.

When I went downstairs the next morning I saw that he had, for the most part, cleaned up his mess. I did find a carefully labelled Ziploc bag left on the counter top that had until very recently contained “two longnosed sunfish fillets.” As I looked around the kitchen I also discovered a gallon jug of canola oil. I stopped buying vegetable oil years ago when I read about its carcinogenic properties.

“Where did this come from?” I wondered out loud.

“Oh!” my daughter piped up, but then immediately stopped herself, “Well…actually I don’t think I’m supposed to tell you.”

She took one look at my face and began to sing like a bird.IMG_1163

“Last week when ‘N’ drove himself back from his piano lesson in Crozet, he stopped off at Great Valu and bought fish and frog legs and that’s when he got the oil too.”

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That one in the middle? She’d sell her brothers down the river for a song.

Her response so perfectly reflected our bizarre and dizzying reality. It’s damn near impossible to keep track of what we are or are not supposed to tell each other or what we know or are not supposed to know. Though I hadn’t known about the vegetable oil, I had in fact known about the fish and frog legs. I had seen a small fillet in the fridge, but it disappeared soon after and I had forgotten all about it. As for the frog legs…my son fried them up and ate them the very same day. (And by the way, in case you, like my eccentric son, were wondering? “They taste like river chicken…kind of chickeny and fishy at the same time.”)

“But wait a minute…what about that other fish he bought? Did he already fry that?” I asked.

“No. He bought that fish to feed to his other fish. And he caught the sunfish at his friend’s house to eat himself,” my daughter patiently explained.

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My kid buys groceries for this thing.

“So you knew about the sunfish?”

“Well…yeah,” she answered evasively, wondering if this admission would get her into trouble.

“Did you see it? Was it a whole fish?”

“No. He came home with the fillets. He must have cut it up at his friend’s house.”

“And you saw him stash the fish in the freezer?”

“Yeah.”

“And how come I never saw this ginormous bottle of canola oil until this morning?”

“Oh, that’s because he was hiding it in his gym bag.”