Thursday, December 15, 2016

Grandpa Dog

Patches, our white collie, is 14 years old.  We call him our Grandpa Dog.  It's crazy to watch a dog go from a toddler to a grandpa sandwiched between not having any children to not even having a teenager yet.

And Patches is definitely showing his age.  He has horrible arthritis and we have to carry him up the stairs at night and back down the stairs in the morning.  Some days, this is pretty much my most taxing exercise. Which is sadly, not saying very much.  ((Hmmm, perhaps I need to also blog about going from a marathon runner to looking like a walrus about the same time we've had Patches.))

In any case.....

Poor doggie.  He has "fecal incontinence."  This means that often he has no idea he is about or is actually pooping.  He just walks along and drops a turd.  Lovely.  And also one of the reasons we have a lot of paper towels around the house and request visitors to sign a form about not reporting us to DSS when they leave.

He's deaf as a doorknob and is frequently surprised when he wakes up and sees who is in the house.

And, poor thing, he had a horrible flea infestation over the summer.  We were still doing monthly flea and heartworm treatments, but the flea treatment wasn't working anymore.  We ended up getting a very fancy flea collar from, which has been incredibly effective.  And the company ended up sending a postcard asking how the flea collars were working AND sent up our first Christmas card with a handwritten note wishing us and our pets a happy holiday!  ((WOW!!!))

And although we got rid of the fleas, Patches' skin was already so irritated that he didn't stop scratching.  And scratching and scratching and scratching.  And because he didn't know he had pooped, he would sit it in little turds which got stuck in his fur.  We would cut them out but by then, his skin became even more irritated.  And he would lick and scratch and lick and scratch and lick and scratch.

Patches would scratch in his sleep.  He would scratch and lick all night long.  He would spend the first few hours in the morning licking and scratching until he became so tired he would nap to wake up and scratch and lick some more.  He has pulled the fur off his legs.  And then this week, I noticed he was actually breaking skin and getting bad hot spots.

Back to the doctor yesterday.

And an antibiotic shot.

And this morning, for the first time in weeks?  Months??? Patches isn't incessantly scratching.  He's still a little interested in his skin.  And still licking and scratching a bit.  But he slept soundly all night and most of this morning.  There is mass rejoicing in the house that our old Grandpa dog has turned a skin healing corner.

And as Conor said yesterday, our animals never die.  ((I just chased Patches around the room spraying some medicine on his wounds.  It was a slow speed chase and he was giving me some serious stink-eye))  We are looking forward to a puppy or two in the future.  But we promise to Patches every day that he is our priority now and that his retirement years will be as restful and peaceful as we can possibly make them.

Just an update on the animals around here.  And one very special Grandpa Dog.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

We Have a Situation Or What Happens Your Airplane's Engine Fails

This week, I attended an out-of-state work related conference.  I arrived late Wednesday night, had meetings from 8 am until 8 pm and then flew out Friday morning at 7.  I was looking forward to getting a bit of work done Friday morning on the flights back to Charlotte.

The plane took off normally and I settled in to catch up on some reading. Then I heard a noise.  We all heard a noise.

OK!  Hold on here for a second.  The psychologist in me has to make clear that what I am going to tell you is how I currently remember what happened.  This was a very stressful experience and although I (and everyone else on that flight) was hyper-alert, memory is a pretty fickle beast.  I'm not sure of the order of events. I'm not sure of the exact words that were used. I only know of the timing of some of the events and some of the words from the texts I sent to Dave and the Facebook updates I sent to the rest of the world on what was happening while it was happening.  Yes, I will confess: I did not have my phone on airplane mode.  I figured if I was going to die, I wanted to tell my husband one more time that I loved him and our children.  And, I don't know? Let Facebook and the rest of the world know what was going on in our plane.

NOW: back to the noise.  There was loud, metallic noise.  It wasn't a boom like an explosion.  It sounded more like someone slamming a car trunk down on a lot of metal debris.

Then the plane lost a little bit of altitude (I think).  And it tilted to the right (I know).

The tension in the cabin increased although everyone wanted to be cool.  There is always some pressure when one is flying not get too worked up over turbulence or weird noises.  But this definitely seemed different.  And when (I think) we lost a bit more altitude, I thought "I love my kids. I love my family.  I don't want to die."

Actually, what I thought was more along the lines of "I love my kids. Not die now. No.  Nope.  No God.  Kids No Go Airport. Wait. Dead Mommy, No.  NOPE. No. No." All of that in a few milliseconds.  Honestly, scenarios quickly played out along with these words and none of them involved wanted me to be dead.  Big fat NOPE.

So we waited. I confess, I grabbed the arm of the woman beside me (traveling with her young teen daughter).  And we waited.  A few folks looked out their windows.  A person a few rows ahead of us looked around and reported seeing the head flight attendant talking on the plane's phone.

We waited a few seconds/minutes/hours/years more.

Then the flight attendant made the following announcement.  I shall provide my completely logical and unemotional interpretation of her statements:

"We have a situation."
((Situation is a euphemism for Shit Is Going Down.  This is the Real Deal Folks, so pay CLOSE ATTENTION.))

"The pilots are working very hard right now in the cockpit to get everything under control and they will report to you when they can about what is going on."

So, um, yeah.  I have a bit of an "anxiety" issue.  "Really?" you say, "I would have never guessed." It's a brain chemistry thing and when I need to, I take a small dose of lorazepam to get myself back to normal.  My hands were shaking so hard that I could not actually grab the bottle in my purse. It took 3 tries and I almost gave up.  But I finally got it my paws and took 2 pills.  I even offered one to my seatmate who said she was already on enough medication that she didn't think this was a good idea.

The next thing I did (probably because I calmed down) is that turned into Professor On A Plane.  I told my seat mate and her daughter it was going to be ok.  I touched my colleague's (who was sitting ahead of me) arm and told her it was going to be ok.  AND LIKE I KNEW ANYTHING, I told my seatmate that we were going to find the nearest airport and then land.  And then we would all quickly get off the plane and leave our luggage--perhaps we could take our purses--but we should definitely leave our real luggage on the plane.  And then I told her that I just learned something new about myself:  when I'm stressed, I get bossy and I apologized for that and she said that was just fine!

And then I CONTINUED ON saying well, it could not be that big of an emergency.  My colleague later told me that this made the dude in front of me start laughing because CLEARLY SOMETHING WAS UP and this was not a normal event.  What I left out of my rambling lecture to my seatmate and her daughter on why this wasn't an emergency was my analysis of the data that WE WERE NOT PLUNGING TO EARTH so on the scale of "Holy Crap" to "WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE," we were probably closer to the Holy Crap stage.  Although every single one of us were afraid we were closer to the WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE.

Then.  THEN.  THHHEEENNNNN!!!  The pilots came out of the cockpit.

I shit you not.

Both of the pilots came out of cockpit and like a giant thought bubble coming from every one of us, we nervously giggled and thought ''WHO THE FUCK IS DRIVING THIS THING!??!?!?!?!"

Looking back, I realize that they had reached Step #7 of the Protocol of Bad Things Had Happened and they needed to come out and physically look at the plane's problem.  So they asked the folks on the right side of the plane--over the wing--to open their windows.  And they looked out.  And said ok.  And went back to the cockpit.

It was horrible comic relief.  I still cannot tell that part of the story without thinking "Are you freaking kidding me!!!"

Then after a few seconds/minutes/hours/years, the pilot came on the speaker and told us that we had Complete Major Right Engine Failure and we were heading back to the airport.  That did not feel very good.  However, he then reassured us that they had a lot of training on this issue and.... I don't know what, if anything was said next.  Did he reassure us that he was confident that everything would be good?  I don't know.  I remember him saying they had a lot of training on this problem. Or something like that.  But I do not know what was said next.

I do know that I turned my freaking phone on.  One of the many lessons I learned from Flight 93 was that cell phones work on airplanes when you are close enough to the ground.  The first lesson I learned from Flight 93 was to attack the hijackers.  But the second one was that you can text people from the plane at low altitudes.  You shouldn't but you can.

I did not know if the pilots were blowing smoke up our, um, skirts with their confidence of handling this issue, but I knew I was going to tell my husband what was going on and that I loved him.  So I can look at my phone and see that about 25 minutes after we took off from the airport, I texted Dave that we were having an emergency landing.  We had a single engine failure.  And that I loved him.

We exchanged quite a few more texts.  People were crying all around. And then Dave texted that pilots practice single engine landing all the time.  And as far as an emergency goes, this should be routine.  Being the newfound AIRPLANE PROFESSOR BOSSY PANTS that I am, I read that out loud to everyone.  I even told them that my husband had just told me that.  One woman looked back at me and looked so relieved that I had said that.

We landed soon afterwards.  We laughed.  We clapped.  We cried.  The firetrucks had been waiting for us, gave us the once over, and then sent us back to the terminal.  Oddly enough, considering we weren't scheduled for arrival, we had priority and went right back to our gate!!

Dave and I continued to text about how glad we were that I had landed and was alive.  He also texted that engine failure is very rare and that statistically speaking, the next flight should be just fine.  I was still continuing to relay his informational texts to the others on the plane.  With that last text, while some folks appeared grateful for the news, quite a few--QUITE A FEW--rolled their eyes that statistically speaking, we were in like Flynn for the rest of all our flights forever.  I have to say, that makes me laugh.  It's a very "husband" thing to say.

And what a NUTJOB I was to share all that, right!?  What the HELL!?  I hereby apologize to those people who I am SURE wanted me to shut my pie hole on that flight.  I hope the people I reassured outweigh the people I must have annoyed, but I don't know. And there it is.  I am likely to talk and share whatever information or suppositions I have in an emergency.  I am also likely to touch people when they are crying.  Did a lot of touching, reassuring, and crying near the end of the flight.


We waited for about 5 hours at the airport until a new plane and crew flew out to get us from Atlanta.  They had snacks for folks in our waiting area.  We all checked in on each other at restaurants, bathrooms, and the corridors.  Seriously.  Normal barriers to speaking to strangers were broken and we chatted and joked and shared with each other.

We also shocked the new gate crew when it was time to board the plane again.  Our original flight had been very crowded.  The announcer told us that for this flight, "we didn't need to worry about having enough space for luggage; we'd lost a few people over the last few hours."  Oh. My. God(dess).  The entire waiting room broke into loud laughter.  Really!?  Could she have not picked another phrase to say there were fewer people on this flight!?  Again, the thought bubble appeared as we laughed saying "You almost lost a heckuva lot more people about 5 hours ago!!"

So I finally got home last night.  I had absolutely no anxiety on the additional two flights I needed to get home.  I'm hoping it stays that way.  I do know that when I got home, I was shocked at how hard I was crying and hugging my family.  I didn't know I'd been "holding it together" for the past 12 hours.

This morning, I woke up and was excited about how normal I felt.  Then my eyes just started leaking.
I know blogs are weird, right? There isn't a real theme to this one anymore.  But I do know that once I knew we were going to live, I HAD to write this down and get it out of my soul.

I'm writing this on a Saturday.  And no one writes or reads blogs on a Saturday.  But to get past this and heal, I had to bossy pants share with you what happened on my way home yesterday.  Thanks.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Killer Mommy

I almost killed our older gerbil yesterday.


Let me back up. Things have been crazy busy lately.  I'm working on many projects.  ((I'm hoping to go up for my promotion to Full Professor next year))  I'm trying to exercise.  Occasionally, I take a shower.  I never clean.  And I have a lot of animals.

Conor told me that his gerbil, Toasty, had run out of food.  Knowing how he and the twins feed their gerbils--the twins' gerbils cage is alternating layers of shavings and food--I figured I could get some eventually.

Well, damn.

After running to the grocery store to get some wine :-/ , Conor freaked out because Toasty was had his eyes shut and was barely moving. When we picked him up, he was cold and not really breathing.  I sped back to the grocery store and picked up some gerbil food. Toasty grabbed a few kibbles and ate.  And then fell asleep.  Or into a coma.  Or began to die.

I have never felt like a bigger shit than I did right then.  Toasty is the sweetest gerbil I've ever known.  He lets me pick him up and kiss on him and when I pet him on his nose, he falls asleep in my hands.  He always comes out to say Hi when I come into the room.  He's a sweet, innocent tiny gerbil.  And I didn't buy him any food.  And we couldn't tell if he was going to die.

Conor left the room and I picked up Toasty with a few kibbles in my hand and rocked him and kept him warm.  I swear a few times he stopped breathing.  I started crying.  He curled up his little feet and hands and slept on my chest with my hands around him.  Conor came back and kissed me on the head while I told him how sorry and horrible I was.

We put him back in his cage, in his bed with food in close proximity.

This morning, Toasty was the first thing on my mind.  Conor was still sleeping but I had to check on the little guy.  I took in a flashlight to find him, but had to turn on the light anyway because he didn't come out to say Hi like he normally does.

I found him in his bed, ever so slightly fluffier.  And he ran out and said HEY!  I AM STILL MAD AT YOU!  But he ran!  He scurried out of his bed!!  I hugged Conor so hard that Conor said I hurt his ear.

I've been back in several times today and have picked up Toasty and loved on him.

Something has to give because I have so much on my plate.  But honestly, it was a wake up call.  And today, I've taken care of more work and more errands than I have in a while.  There is definitely quite a bit of room for improvement in my work and scheduling.

And no sweet animal, child, student, or husband should suffer because I can't get my shit together.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Bunnies!  Bunnybunnybunnies!!!  We have BUNNIES!!!!

Introducing:  Rose Tyler (in white fur) and River Song (in the more auburn)

Some friends could no longer handle the bunnies so we adopted them.  We are still getting to know them and they are still getting to know us.

The cats couldn't care less about them.  George would like to snuggle per usual, but Fred has no interest in them at all.

Patches is jealous as heck.  He cannot stand the attention we are giving them. He wants to eat their bunny food (!). And he really, really, really, really wants to smell their bunny butts.

We are not yet in the snuggle bunny phase yet.  And with them being two, and I don't think they've been snuggled a lot before, I hope we can get there.  Bunny advice wanted!!  We have them in a pretty open area now.  We're hoping for bunny free range freedom at least part of the day once we are assured they know where they should come back to and Patches doesn't scare them to death licking their bunny bums.  :-)


Friday, August 19, 2016

Dreams of Where You Used To Live

One outcome from the Great Family Road Trip was finding out how many of my friends also dream about where they used to live.  I thought I was the only one.

As a psychologist, I'm sure sharing my dreams on the interwebs is a stupid idea.


I frequently dream of moving back to NYC, Los Angeles, and to NC.  I *loved* living in Manhattan.  I had a small apartment in Greenwich Village with a raised loft for the bedroom, a separate kitchen, and an entire wall and ceiling of windows that let me see the Empire State Building.  I also loved the density and energy of living in The City.  If I could, I would live there now and for the rest of my life.
My dreams of going back to NYC include finding my old neighborhood, finding a place with the killer deal like I had before, finding one with secret rooms big enough for the whole family, and generally the joy of living there and the sadness that I no longer do.

When I dream of going back to Los Angeles and California, I dream of driving.  I have two dreams of living in Claremont (where I went to grad school):  1) it is beautiful and I can go hiking in the mountains; or 2)  I am not in the right place.  Claremont has CHANGED since I was there.  There is a new village with lots of new stores and restaurants. After seeing that part of Claremont, I had nightmares of being lost in my former hometown.  I don't like those dreams.  When we passed through a few weeks ago, I didn't take the family through the new village.  Honestly, I didn't want to fuel my nightmares.

The other dreams of living in California involve driving and driving and driving around trying to find a bargain of a place to live that is close to both a highway and the beach or a mountain.  In my dreams, I'm in a lot of traffic and I can never find the Right House.  In all honesty, that sounds like the reality of living in LA.

Finally, I have to be honest with you. Although I LOVE my house in Charlotte, when I dream of moving back to NC, 99% of the time I'm moving back to my parents' home and I have to go back to school to 1) finish my PhD; 2) get another PhD; or 3) finish my undergraduate degree.  Ugh.  Ugh, ugh, and ugh.

I've had these dreams so many times I know the pattern.  Usually I have these dreams when I feel behind at work, which as a professor is ALL THE TIME.  Also, at some point in the dream when I'm behind in a class or behind on my dissertation, I think to myself: I had a tenure track job.  Why did I leave it.  WAIT!  I had TENURE!!  Why did I leave?! Why am I still in school WHEN I HAVE TENURE!?

And then I wake up.

First, there's the ugh of remembering the dream as I wake up.  And then there's the relief that I still have my husband, my family, our house, our dog, our cats, our gerbils, our chickens, our new bunnies, my friends, my job, and Charlotte.

As crazy as life is here, I prefer it to the dreams. Unless I could move all of this to New York City.  And then I would in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Great Family Road Trip: Epilogue

We are home.  And it is green.

The reason that was important is that as we left Charlotte, everything was rolling green and we were looking forward to the flat brown and then red sandy mountains of the Southwest and the West.  It is beautiful.

And then as we were heading back east and we left to brown and entered the rolling green, we  noticed again how beautiful where we live actually is.

I'm not trying to be (more) corny (than usual), but that's what vacation was to us:  seeing the beauty of other landscapes and coming back to see again, through new eyes, the beauty of where we live.

And the heat.  And humidity.  Sweet Baby Lemur, the heat and humidity here is oppressive.

And eating.  Oh my gosh, the food on this trip was awesome. But pretty much, the entire family has been stuffing our fat faces with fruits and vegetables and massive amounts of water since we've come home.  Yesterday, the kids went through 7 apples, 5 bananas, a entire cantalope, and a bunch of grapes.

And back to reality.  Back to work. Back to school.

All good though.  It's the first two week vacation I think I've ever had.  I highly recommend it as a reset button for your brain.

Speaking of which.....blargh.  Work.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Great Family Road Trip: Days 11, 12, and 13

Greetings from the OK/AZ border.  We are at the point in the vacation in which we are driving like the wind to get back home.

We had an active and productive last day of the conference filled with presentations, social events, and dinner with the students and faculty.

Tuesday morning, we stopped by Claremont where I went to grad school.  The childrens were NOT amused about seeing where I lived for 8 years.  In fact, it wasn't until Conor went:  "Is there where you got your doctor degree?" that he was impressesd.  I only took them by my old house and the (old) Village.  The last time, I went to the new Village and it still gives me nightmares.

Then, we drove up to the Grand Canyon.


We were only there for a few minutes when a huge storm blew in and out.  This provided us with that crazy moment every family vacation needs:  running back to the car while painful rain drops pelted us and we struggled with the altitude to breathe and move our legs.  We arrived to the car wet and lauging and with a great story from the vacation.  Plus, we saw some other visitors to the Grand Canyon.

The next day, we did not get our sorry asses up in time to see the sunrise.  However, the morning started off overcast so we felt CLEVER for sleeping in.

While all the cool kids recommended the Bright Angels hike, we note the young whiners in our midst (surprisingly, NOT Dave and me) and opted for the 2 1/2 hour ridge hike.  There were few people on it and we were able to have a nice time without a lot of other people.

And it's surprisingly easy to pick out the Europeans on this trip and it wasn't because of their funky clothes.  It was because those crazy people went RIGHT UP TO THE EDGE and FURTHER at the Grand Canyon.  We *never* got closer than 2 feet from the edge.  One fool had taken his *dog* out to a solitary rock/ledge that that was barely big enough for his dog to sit and him to stand.  Even typing that makes my palms sweat.

We saw some amazing views and vistas.  I would love to be someone who hikes the canyon or camp on the canyon floor.  But I'm going to blame the two little ones for why we didn't hike more this time.  They can blame us later, when they write their own blogs.

So now we are on the way back.  It's really a beautiful drive.  But, as my marathoner friends know, it's an out-and-back marathon and that's not nearly as much fun as a loop.  The fun thing is recognizing the same cites on the way back, waving to cities where we stayed, and freaking out when we realize we stopped at the same remote gas station in OK that we stopped on the way out.

But we're a wee bit focused on getting home.  It's still fun!  And we're still having fun as a family.  But I'm ready to snuggle with my dog, cats, gerbils, and say Hi to the chickens.

Monday, August 08, 2016

The Great Family Road Trip: Days 9 and 10

My heart is full.

I know that's a cheesy way to start a blog entry.  But SURELY you know I am cheesy.  Full of Cheese.  I am the sappy, emotional, cheese queen. Change my name to Brie.  Maybe Camembert.  Maybe even a sassy goat (cheese).  It all fits.

I joke about my boundaries being fluid, but it's true.  I just don't separate my home from my work from my life from my soul.  It merges into one big mess and it makes me so, so, SO happy.

Saturday was spent registering for the conference and taking the kids around to explore the Exhibition center--as well as connecting up with the PhD project and discussing sending a representative from our program to recruit students there, too as well as hanging out with Dave's old roommate, Heidi, and her son, Landon.

Sunday, we spent the morning and the afternoon conferencing and meeting with students/colleagues, with a trip to the beach to see Dave's cousin, Jo D and her family in between. 

And dinner with our marathon (and all around) friends Catherine and Orrest afterwards.  (I'm practicing my new sitting-with-hand-under-chin pose here.  Need an open mouth smile though.  And yes, there was a picture of all our families together on the beach above, but I looked like a turnip and I have editorial powers on this blog!)

What a day.  We couldn't even stay up to see the Disney fireworks from our balcony last night.  Have I mentioned that yet?  We're staying at the Desert Palms Suites and if you have a room on the upper floors on the back of the hotel, you have a PERFECT view of the Disneyland fireworks every night.  We strongly recommend trying to swing that if you need a hotel in Anaheim.  

I think Dave and I are still amazed at how much SoCal still feels like home.  Especially for me and how much time I spent in the OC when I was in grad school at Claremont.  And especially, especially how DRIVING here is SO MUCH BETTER than driving in Charlotte.  There are more cars here and certainly more lanes.  But sweet baby lemur, you can anticipate what folks are going to do on the highways here and the merges and lane changes are logical in Southern California.  None of that is true in Charlotte.  

Although, I have to be honest.  My favorite thing to freak my SoCal friends out is to tell them this:  We live in Plaza-Midwood in Charlotte.  It's a cool place.  We have great restaurants and things to do in our 'hood.  And if something takes more than a 15 minute drive for us, we have to think long and hard about whether we are going to do it.  

Our friends' reactions here range from slack-jawed to laughter.  As one friend said, "We can't even get out of our neighborhood in 15 minutes here!"  

Yep.  #truth

Today is a big conference day along with a UNC Charlotte OS reunion/meet up tonight.  

Tomorrow, we leave.  It's going to be weird to leave home to head back to home.  

Saturday, August 06, 2016

The Great Family Road Trip: Days 7 and 8

This is the longest vacation we've ever take as a family.  I fully understand now why the researchers recommend 2 weeks for vacation--not just 1 week.  And even though I start hyperventilating thinking of what I have to do when I get back, being away for this long with the family really resets your brain.

So we arrived in California Thursday afternoon.  You would think that driving in California--with four lanes on each side of the highway and loads of cars whizzing by--would be more stressful than driving in Charlotte.

You would be wrong.

Drivers in Charlotte are rude.  They tailgate.  They don't let you in to change lanes when you turn on your signal.  They don't know how to merge.

To me, it feels like home when I drive in California.  No matter how dense (or fast or slow) the traffic, everyone is polite.  They signal. They let you change lanes.  They don't tailgate.  They know that we are all in this together.  And it may be you who needs to get over three lanes today, but it could be me tomorrow.

So yes.  Happy to be driving in California again.

Also, there's something about traveling at (um, yeah, sure) "middle" age that makes the experience different.  I don't know if I'm going to the meteor crater or the petrified forest again.  That might be my last time driving through Arizona.  Well.  It may be the last time I drive through it after I drive through it next week.  I don't want to keep visiting the same sights again and again.  But it's weird to remember visiting these areas 25 years ago and not having any idea about the "last time" I do something.


We arrived Thursday.  Friday we went to the beach with my best friend from Grad School, Elisa, and her family. It was really fun.  It was also really cool because I follow her whole family (and they follow me) on Instagram.  So although I've known her kids in real life since they were children, I know them best from watching them grow on IG.  Way cool to see and interact with them again at the beach.

Plus.  The Beach!! And No, I didn't misremember how cold the Pacific ocean is.  Or how cool (not hot) the beach is.  But I TOTALLY forgot how strong the sun is, and we all were sunburned.  Y'all: people in California are not tanned!  They use the hell out of their sunscreen.  We look like lobsters out here!!

Then, we scooted back to the hotel and I went out to dinner with some of my best girlfriends from grad school.  Grad school was an amazing experience for me.  It was where I finally met my "tribe."  I have/had a lot of friends from that time.  This is my group of friends where we had a LOT of crazy nights and amazing experiences.

We started the "Who'd you do?" game back in the '90s that the rest of you call "Who'd you rather?"  Although in our version of the game, we picked out the grossest guys, politicians (e.g., Jesse Helms) and celebrities we knew and you had to choose which one "you'd do."  We did allow one shot to the head if the choices were too awful.

We had epic Girls' Night Sleepovers with a SUBSTANTIAL amount of alcohol, food, and compromising pictures (which we FORGOT to take last night--trust me, Ellen brought the props!).  I've never been as close to any other group of friends as I was to these women.  We had white elephant gift exchanges which involved a small amount of money, a great deal of trash talking, and take-no-prisoners approach to getting the best gifts.  On more than one occasion, I talked store owners into discounts so I get a great gift under the maximum price allowed.

How close are we still?  We all showed up with the same color of nail polish on our fingers or toes.  It's not a common polish.  But we all were wearing it.  That's crazy.

And one of the things I miss most about these women?  Sharing secrets.  There are some things I've needed to tell people that I could only tell them after a glass of wine.  And learning secrets.  Like the Hollywood trick (several of them have family/friends in the industry) of resting your face on your hand to take a prettier picture.  As you can tell, we are not idiots: we did that.  And my friends are all beautiful.  Really.  Beautiful women.  I'm lucky to be in this group of women.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Great Family Road Trip: Day 6

Oh, good lord.  We've been traveling for a week and we still haven't reached California yet!! And I've been blogging 7 days in a row instead of FB posting this.  It's like I'm running a marathon when I only trained to run around the block.

IN ANY CASE, yesterday was a tourist day off the beaten path in Winslow, AZ.  ((Such a fine sight to see)) Tripadvisor plus an actual trip to the visitor's center gave us some ideas of what we wanted to do, in addition to seeing the meteor crater.

So first stop:  Standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ.

As you can see, Kit is thrilled--THRILLED--to be part of this experience.  I have no idea what happened and when, but from the time we entered the visitor center until we arrived here (a whole 15 minutes), he hated all of us and everything we were doing. BTW, you should be able to see everything about the song from the picture above.  If not, here's a more direct one.

The little downtown area is quite cute.  And, truly, there is an amazing hotel just a few blocks further called La Posada that is gorgeous and has an amazing restaurant. And it's really not expensive.  Those of you who aim higher than the really cheap hotels should check this out as a break when you are driving down 40.  

Kit is *thinking* about not hating us right now.

After we left Winslow, we drove just a few miles to the Homolovi state park. This state park is an active archaeological site that honors both the native Americans who built massive pueblos here but also the Mormons who lived--and died--here as part of their journey out west.  We visited the cemetery first.  It was amazing to think of the people who had lived here trying to be free and the losses they incurred.  

Kit has lost his hate and is enjoying the junior ranger activities at the park

 Not pictured here are the two children's graves that broke my heart.  They were infants really.  What loss that must have been for these families in the middle of the desert.

We also visited the pueblos.  And I don't have any pictures of it.  We were too busy exploring the site, honestly. Clearly, it is prohibited to take shards of pottery from the park.  So instead, visitors (including us) would find the shards and then stack them on rocks for other people to see and enjoy.  Just a note--these pueblos were HUGE. 2000 rooms for a population of 300 or so.  Gorgeous views and a beautiful residence, build and live at around 1300 CE.  Amazing what history is in the southwest that we on the east coast think wasn't settled.

Finally, we went to the meteor crater.  I visited that site 25 years ago and it was/is one of the most important memories from that trip.  It had the same impression on the family.

This is the best preserved meteor impact site in the world.  It happened 50,000 years ago and it's amazing.  Can you imagine what the first peoples thought when they saw that?  That's a big ol' hole in the middle of nowhere.  How on earth did that get there?  It wasn't earth, people!!  :-)

So today we head to California.  Despite taking 7 days, the kids are going to experience some serious whiplash from being where there's so much space to the car and people density of Southern California.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Great Family Road Trip: Day 5

Honestly, I don't know what day we are on for this road trip.  I don't know what day of the week it is.  I just know what city we're in.

So driving through New Mexico (especially) and Arizona, can I be honest?  The landscape is soul filling.  It is beautiful.  I love the green of North Carolina.  But the brown and red and blue with the stark contrasts of cliffs and rocks of New Mexico.  If not for my deep rots (and job) in Charlotte, I could easily move to New Mexico.  It's a stunning part of this earth.

Also, one of the things I wanted to show the children was how BIG America is.  I have only ever lived in the densely populated areas of the coasts.  So driving through the middle of America and seeing all that open space is mind-opening. I'm a psychologist.  And I am interested in the effects of physical environment on people's cognitions and behaviors.  Living with a 20 mile clear view of everything around you must affect how you believe the world is and should be.  And many parts of this part of the country are so stunning.  So, really, if I need to turn my research towards this part of the country to study how the environment affects groups and communities--for the betterment of society really--I will do it.  Somebody fund me.  Stat

So we drove yesterday.

And we visited the Painted Desert.

And took our doll, Kaya, to see the petroglyphs.  Bridget is actually whispering to Kaya about what is going on and teaching her as we teach Bridget.  I love that Bridget wants to show Kaya so much about Native Americans in the Southwest.

And we found STANLEY!!!  He was by the marker showing where Route 66 came through the Petrified Forrest.  But absolutely, it was Stanley!!  (For those of you whose children are not so young, Stanley was a statue in the Cars movie--which took place along Route 66, which 40 parallels)

Then we hit the Petrified Forest.  What an amazing American experience:  Trees from 200,000,000 years ago that, when they fell, went into water, became infused with silia from the bottom of the riverbed, and turned to stone. This is a piece of wood/stone below.  It was awesome.

Then we went in search of the Cozy Cone, Sally's hotel from Cars.  AND WE FOUND IT!!!

We even found Doc Hudson's car!!

What a great day. Today we are in Winslow, AZ.  Going to Stand on a Corner (an actual park) and hit a few more historical sites before driving to Anaheim tomorrow.

At some point, I WOULD LIKE TO EAT SOME FRUIT AND/OR VEGETABLES in the next meal or two.  Yes, we've had some amazing food, but DANG, I am full of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.  My mouth is happy, but my body is revolting.  (HA!)

Ready for the next adventure!!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Great Family Road Trip: Day 4

Yesterday, was our first full day of not driving anywhere. We celebrated by running around old Santa Fe, buying more things that is reasonable, and eating so much, I think I have the meat sweats.  This is a day best told by pictures.  So of course, now I am writing lots of stuff.

The Georgia O'Keeffe museum was amazing.  After the first exhibition room, we saw a movie on her life.  As it started, I asked Dave if he knew what her pictures were about.  "I didn't before, but I sure do now!!" I found it extremely interesting that, according to the movie, she was very upset at the interpretation of her abstractions of nature were taken to be so explicitly, um, "feminine."  I woke up this morning thinking that the architect of the Washington Monument probably didn't explicitly decide to honor the first president by making a big, um, phallus in the middle of DC.  YET HE DID.  She was in the middle of a joyful and sensuous experience with the love of her life when she created those pictures. They are beautiful and powerful expressions of feminine love.  I think they mean a lot to women about how beautiful we are. And you are on massive drugs if you thought in any way we hinted to the kids what, honestly only a few of those pictures could be about.

So the kids' reactions?  Pure, unadulterated joy.  Best museum experience ever.  Bridget and Christopher both sketched about 8 pictures from her works.  They LOVED it.

After the museum, we meandered across the Plaza.  You might note that Bridget is very excited to show Kaya (wearing a kilt!) Santa Fe. She pulled her out at every place we visited and held her up.  When we saw the Native American dancers singers and dancers, she took Kaya over to them.  At the New Mexico museum, she showed Kaya to the registration desk and explained who she was.  They didn't mind the kilt and actually said that they knew Kaya from an exhibit a few years ago.  I ALSO want to point out that Bridget has bunny ears (unbeknownst to her from her twin brother) and black soot on her chin.  All of this is Bridget:  Kind. Beautiful.  A bit messy and loved by her brothers.  

Eventually we made our way to the San Miguel chapel.  Amazing.  The kids loved discovering the hidden views to see original structures from the early 1600s.  (Note: we feel like Charlotte is old.  And it has nothing on Santa Fe)

It's after this that pretty much we started eating and buying everything in sight.  Here are a few pictures en route.

Here is Bridget showing Kaya the New Mexico History Museum.

Here are the kids at the end of the day wearing the ponchos we bought from a woman who both wove the cloth with her husband and sewed the ponchos.  ((We have pictures of her and her husband doing the work))  Amazing.  And beautiful.

What a day.  What an amazing trip.  I love spending time with my family.

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Great Family Vacation: Day 3

I'm going to lose count of what day we're on, pretty soon.  I can assure you of that after the 13 hours I slept last night.  Apparently, sitting on your sorry a$$ for many hours in car focusing on the road in front of you is more difficult than slowly running a few miles, working at a standing desk, doing some gardening, and pretending to clean.  Who knew!?

So yesterday was when we started seeing the landscape really changing.  This was one of the reasons we wanted to go on this trip:  the Southwest is beautiful; it doesn't look like any other part of America.  There are times it doesn't look like it is part of this Earth.  I just checked my phone (which is taking better pix than my digital SLR at this point), this is the only one that shows it slightly.  We'll have to take some more as we hang out around here.

((Not my best picture))

HOWEVER, as I said this to kids "Guys!  Look around!  This doesn't look like any place on earth!!" Christopher responded, "Yes, it does!  It looks like this!  It looks like THIS place on earth!"  Bright kid that one.

So we arrived in Santa Fe, coming up through amazing views--OF WHICH I TOOK NO PICTURES! ARGH!!--and entered the city.  Staying at an economic hotel a few miles from The Plaza.  Yeah.  We are cheap.  In any case, we hopped back in the car, and scooted up to The Plaza, because we saw they were having The Traditional Spanish Market.  LITTLE DID WE KNOW, it was a once in a year event.  There was a section of traditional arts (from families who had been doing art work that started in New Mexico *500+ years ago*) and more contemporary arts.  

Luckily, we stumbled first onto the booth of Sean Wells, who along with her brother is a fifth generation artist, both of whom are educators, both of whom have public access cable channels, and both do some really cool work!!  Show her some love and click on her site!  She told us about this history of Spanish art in New Mexico, explained the significance of her and her brother's art in that context, and generally welcome us to the market.  She focused on retablo art while her brother does  We bought a punched tin mirror from her brother, who also made ornaments for each of our children. Two of the ornaments are ponies, and Bridget notes that he added Cutie Marks to them.  Can't escape My Little Pony at any place.

After exploring the Market, we had dinner at a rooftop restaurant.  

We are happy to be here.  Conor agrees that Santa Fe is beautiful

The kids love Santa Fe.  

Despite falling asleep for 13 hours last night, this is an AMAZING trip.  All in all, it's great.  We are having fun as a family.  We are seeing things that we could never see in NC.  It's a once in a lifetime trip and we are loving it.  

If you are finding this in any way appealing:  DO IT.  Just get in your car and go.  So far, the trip is a five person, two thumbs up.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Great Family Road Trip: Day 2

I have to be honest with you:  I'm a wee bit tired this morning.  I am glad this is our last travel day.  We get to Santa Fe, MN in about 6 1/2 hours (which seems like a hop, skip, and a jump right now) and stay for 2 days.

So, honestly, so far, the trip has been a blast. The kids are not going crazy and they are not going after each other.  I don't want to "brag" but my kids really like each other.  They annoy each other, yes.  But they enjoy playing with each other, too.  I feel sort of lucky to see that up close on this trip.  SO UP CLOSE on this trip.

They, however, do annoy us on occasion.  And that occasion would be the Witching Hour.  We learned about the Witching Hour(s) 4-7 with infants.  It, apparently, doesn't change over one's lifetime.  Happy hour for adults is the same time?  Co-inky-dink?  I THINK NOT.

So what the heck did we do for 11 hours yesterday?  Sometimes we did origami, while squirrel antlers grew out of our shoulders.  

Sometimes we did front seat karaoke.

We passed around fruit salad.

We killed zombies with our brother.

We listened to podcasts on The Blue Pill because we don't have bluetooth in our mini-van and the auxiliary cable doesn't work any more.  In particular, we listened to the Bath Tub story on the Moth...TWICE...because it is So. Damn. Funny. If you have 17 minutes, LISTEN TO THAT STORY.  It is true and hysterical.

Finally, we stopped in Weatherford, OK to eat dinner at a YUMMY Chinese buffet with our family and then went back to the hotel to continue the reunion while the kids played in the pool.

Great day, indeed.  Ready to head out and finally start vacating today.