The Profit of a Yard.

The best thing we did in 2013 was get sod in our front yard.

Previously, our slightly sloped yard was nothing but dirt – with a few weeds, a bunch of gumballs (or pricklies, as we call them at our house), and plenty of tree roots. It was a shame, as most yards in our neighborhood are too sloped to be properly utilized. And then there was our yard – not a bad plot at all – yet a wasteland of uninhabitable negligence.

We’re not much for big investments or big renovation-like projects, but even we could see that something needed to be done. So we got our yard guys to quote it, were surprised that it wasn’t as much as we feared, and within a few weeks, actually had….a yard.

My kids actually began playing in the yard nearly daily,

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We accessorized our yard with nostalgic items such as Slip n’ Slides,

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And it became so popular that odd traffic jams began occurring.

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Our yard became a gathering place, where Ali basked in the privilege of hostessing/bossing/organizing neighborhood friends to properly enjoy her domain.

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Although we have several neighbor families that we love to play with (one of which you heard about last week because apparently it’s Neighbor Month around here), our across-the-street neighbors became our most common guests, with playtimes and picnics occurring at least twice a week all Spring and Summer.

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Lachlan would drive over,

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Bringing his older sister Olivia, who is a few months younger than Noah.

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Ali and Olivia were tight from the beginning, as Olivia was more welcoming to Ali’s organizational bossing than Noah.

Ali and Noah

Olivia played the part of the adorable younger sister that Ali always wanted,

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and Ali was a seven-year-old superhero to Olivia.

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But then, as the summer wore on, Olivia began to notice the other superhero in the family.

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And a new friendship began to develop.

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Noah had always been too busy avoiding the Realm of Girlishness to realize how fantastically awesome Olivia was, until all of a sudden, they were sneaking off for long conversations and impish giggles on the porch.

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There might have been one occasion where Noah and Olivia snuck inside, upstairs, and into his toddler bed to “Play Nap.”

He wanted to show her his blankets, he explained.

She liked his noisemaker’s music, she explained.

Their appreciation for each other’s company grew,

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And Olivia had to start diplomatically splitting her time between Ali’s maniacally organized activities and Noah’s casual conversations.

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The pinnacle of the summer occurred on the occasion of Olivia turning three.

She had a birthday party with a water slide and bounce house, and, to cut down on toddler bashfulness, there were only two non-adult guests – Ali and Noah.

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So basically the best thing that ever happened to my kids.

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And Noah paid her back well, becoming The World’s Best Birthday Party Guest.

He jumped and bounced and jumped and bounced and ate cake and jumped and bounced some more.

Then, when it was time for presents, he sat a respectful distance away from the gifting area, joyfully wearing his assigned Princess Party Hat, and made unpresumptuous recommendations as to which presents she should open next.

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At each present opening, he awarded the crowd with a creepy way-too-loud-and-excited laugh, thereby fully demonstrating glee on Olivia’s behalf.

And even when he realized that she’d gotten a Barbie Motorhome and she wasn’t opening it quickly enough for his boyish needs, still he sat, dutifully holding his balloon.

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He inched closer as the motorhome was assembled, still being somewhat thoughtful of her Birthday Personal Space.

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Until finally, he found his opportunity to participate.

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Noah.

He might be a player, but he’s not afraid of some pink.

The Moments of Artwalk.

I survived my first two-day art show for Picture Birmingham. Here were the moments I won’t (or, in some cases, can’t no matter how hard I try) forget.

1. I got stuck in a ditch.

Literally.

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That’s my friend Radford, illustrating exactly how stuck I was. And no, I do not have four-wheel drive. And yes, it did make me late for my setup appointment.

I dropped the kids off at a friend’s house, and as I was backing out of their driveway, using my trusty backup camera as always, I discovered that they had a perilous and quite invisible trap awaiting any and all visitors who attempted to use the Evil Weapon of Reverse on their property.

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Oops.

Radford was able to find an assistant who pulled me out of the ditch in five seconds, clearly demonstrating that they’ve done this before. Because people with traps utilize them often.

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2. Underdressed.

People watching is supreme at art shows. I spotted a girl in a t-shirt and panties (okay I suppose they were technically hot shorts but they were bright shiny spandex (with stars) and created a dreadful case of underbutt, side butt, and just butt butt.) Later, I saw another girl in huge baggy blue jeans and a bra.

Between the two of them, they had one quite wearable outfit.

3. Overdressed.

I saw a dude in a Grumpy Old Men winter hunter’s hat and another dude in a full length leather jacket. Between the two of them, they had the ability to cause death by overheating.

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Meanwhile, I melted in my sleeveless shirt and shorts. Because that’s how I roll – fully dressed minus suffocation.

4. I will do anything for love…but I won’t do that.

One browser asked me, “Do you have this picture in black and white?”

It’s a…sunset.

No.

 

…Later, Chris said, “But the customer is always right! You could have special ordered it in black and white…”

No.

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A sunset in black and white is worse than a scented résumé in Comic Sans with a Curlz header.

5. Curses.

On Saturday morning, another artist came over to my booth.

“Hi! I thought I’d walk around and see the other booths before things got started. But of course I’m not going to BUY anything from you. I LIVE in Birmingham. Ha! WHY would I ever want a picture of it?”

She then went on to curse me. Literally.

“I’m putting the Artist’s Curse on your booth. Do you know what that is?”

“Ummmm…..nope.”

“I’m cursing you to sell out. You see? It’s a blessing because you’ll sell out. But it’s a curse because you’ll have to make more.”

Well okay then. Everyone loves a good solid curse to start the day.

6. Finally finding the pot of gold.

I NEVER see rainbows. I’ve even gone out on rainbow chases, and let me tell you – they’re much harder than sunset chases.

But then, at the beginning of Artwalk, a beautiful, bold, double rainbow came right to me.

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…and only brought twenty drops of rain with it. Totally worth it.

6. Meeting you.

So, so SO many of you came to see me. I really should have kept a list because I lost count of everyone who came by. AND I had so many Instagram notifications that they all rolled off before I got back to everyone to thank them, so please know I meant to but…it was kind of a hectic two days. I never left my booth for the entire eleven hours of Artwalk. But I enjoyed meeting every single one of you and I was so honored that you’d come visit me. Thank you all!

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7. Freaking out someone else’s kid for a change.

Although I adore meeting blog readers, Ali and Noah are not always as excited. They’ve been known to be completely weirded out when a stranger references what they did last week.

I spotted my blog friend Katy and her family coming toward us, and greeted them by name.

Her oldest son looked at me, looked at his mom, and said suspiciously, “Uhhhhh….how does she know our last name?”

It was a beautiful moment.

My kids had just returned from the football game, so they were able to dispel any amount of creepishness that I had given off, and even crossed the Alabama/Auburn borders to do so.

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8. Body Art.

The cousins came by to visit with their craft that they made at the Artwalk kids area. Fans that they decorated with…glue and glitter.

Glitter.

On a fan.

Like you know, a thing you wave back and forth in front of your face. And in front of your parent’s faces.

I’ve never seen my brother and sister-in-law so sparkly.

9. Serendipity.

It was the end of the second day, and Chris left to go get my car to start packing everything up. My very last visitors walked up – two women and a younger man. The ladies were thumbing through some prints, and I watched as the gentleman walked straight to one print, picked it up, looked at it closely, then showed it to the others.

They were all exclaiming their wows at some detail in the print, so I went over to see which picture it was.

It was my bamboo picture.

140719 Sunset Through the Bamboo

“What’s so interesting about the photo?”

”It’s my name. Right here. I carved it last year.”

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Just one day before, I had told another visitor that I harbored a secret hope that one day one of the name-carvers would find my picture. (After all, I had worked hard to get those names and the sun in the same picture, as I can appreciate a name being left behind.) Then I quickly explained that I knew that was silly and it would never happen.

But it did.

And my day was made.

(And yes – he bought the print.)


It was a great weekend and I was able to raise a very good amount for The WellHouse. Thank you to all of you who came out to say hello!

Short Stories From the Road.

So you drive a Prius.
You park next to me at the bank. With an empty parking space on the other side of you.
The bank has very, very spacious parking spots, too, by the way.
Yet you park so close to me that I literally (and I do mean literally literally and not figuratively literally) cannot get in my car.
You are sitting in your car.
You light up in a goofy grin when you see me TURN SIDEWAYS to desperately reach my driver’s door. You wave happily as I unsuccessfully maneuver my boobs between our mirrors.
I open my car door the full four inches that you have left available to me.
I try to squeeze my body through the hole.
It does not fit.
This. This. THIS is when you realize that you’ve caused this problem.
And that you can be the solution.
Your goofy smile turns into an apologetic spewing forth of words that I can’t hear because – windows.
You wave for me to move out of the way and, to symbolically represent your intentions, you lift up your key ring that is hanging around your neck (Really? Your neck? Who wears their keys as a necklace?)
You put the key in the ignition…while it is still hanging from your neck…and you back up.
Into yet another empty spot in the very empty parking lot.


This may be my favorite find in the history of my online shopping love affair.

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Because it brings up so many fascinating, yet burning, issues.

Do you have to fold this dress neatly and ceremoniously?
Never let it touch the ground?
Do people sing the national anthem when you walk by?
If someone is in the same room with you while wearing a State of Alabama Flag Dress, do they have to stoop down so they’re shorter than you?
To qualify for this dress, do you have to be somewhat talented at going half-staff in case of national mourning?
Can you eat French Fries while wearing this dress or would that just be too unpatriotic? “One order of Freedom Fries, please!”


Sometimes I run by something that makes me want to immediately quit running, get my degree in Sewer Management, and FIX THAT LID.

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Instead, I have a moment of silence, wondering what happened to all the OCD wastewater treatment employees.


I spotted this gorgeous black shirt while out to eat in downtown Birmingham.

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From show-stopping to door-stopping. The rise and fall of Karen Kane fashion.


Aretha Franklin has not quit singing in my head since I saw this.

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And I’ll never hear that song again without loudly yell-singing “NATURAL NAPKIN!!!” over “natural woman.”


I spend a lot of time in the Chick-Fil-A drive-through line.

Sometimes while waiting, I do math. And discover Deep Secrets of the Chickens. Such as, every fourth chicken strip has 10 less calories in it.

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…which makes me want to have this conversation upon my next visit to the drive-through.

CFA: “Welcome to Chick-Fil-A. How may we serve you?”
Me: “Yes. I’d like a four-pack of fourth Chick-n-Strips.”
CFA: “Of what kind of Chick-n-Strips?”
Me: “Fourth ones. You know – the ones with only 110 calories each?”
CFA: “I’m sorry?”
Me: “I would like all fourth Chick-n-Strips. Simply break into four four-packs and pull me out the fourth strips of each one. This isn’t chicken science.”
CFA: “Um….Okay…..I’ll check with my manager.”
Me: “Thank you!”
CFA: “My pleasure.”


I often clip things to my fridge so that I’ll remember them – invitations, schedules, coupons, and other such vital information.

Then I realized that this was also still on my fridge.

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And decided that perhaps my refrigerator is not the best place to put things if I want to actually notice that they’re there – at least within a three year time period.