the elf on the damn shelf

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

In the gritty hallways of Millington Elementary School, news started circulating when I was in second grade that Santa ISN'T REAL.

Snort, I thought.  That's not true.  No way.  Nope.  Dismiss.

By third grade, I realized that it *could be* true.  Shitty if true, but possible.  I chose to suspend my disbelief and pressed on with my bad self.

In fourth grade, I allowed myself to cross over to acknowledging, publicly, that Mom and Dad are Santa.  In truth, I had noticed years ago that Santa used the same wrapping paper as Mom, and that his gift tags were the same as hers...and that his handwriting was the same.  My burgeoningly analytical mind caught these inconsistencies and saved them for impeachment on cross-examination.

Memories like this make me think that I may have been destined for law school.

*     *      *     *     *

I have written multiple times about my smugness at not having an Elf on the Shelf.  It was a tiny little bit of holiday nonconformism that I really enjoyed.  I mean, we also don't drink eggnog, but that's because it's gross.  (Sorry, Lisa.)

Anyway, that smugness?  It's in the past.  

Here's how it happened:

Jack was getting ready for bed.  He is pretty meticulous with his bedtime routine.  It's probably a function of dragging out bedtime, but I still find it endearing.  It reminds me of my Grandfather Davies, padding around in his man pajamas, getting his carafe of ice water to put by his bedside before turning in for the night.  

Jack:     (almost whiney, but more wheedling)  Hey Mom.  Everyone in my class has an elf.
Me:      (taking a deep breath to start my schpiel about how that's cool, but it's not our tradition...)
Jack:     (guilty mumble) And they really like talking about what they do.  So...I made up an elf so I could talk about with them.
Me:      (Oh...he's not trying to swindle me into getting an elf.  He's confessing because he told a lie!  Oh damn, this is sweet.)  Oooooh, so, um, what did you name your elf?
Jack:    AAAJ.
Me:      (eyebrows raised, nodding slowly)  Oh!  Um, what does that stand for?
Jack:    Well, I wanted him to be really awesome, so I gave him three As.  But then, I figured if he's an elf, then he's joyful, so I added a J.  So, his name is AAAJ.
Me:      (melting)  Oh, buddy.
Jack:    What?  Is it that bad?
Me:      What??
Jack:     ...what I named him?
Me:      No.  It's wonderful.  So, what was AAAJ doing?
Jack:    Hugging my toothbrush.
Me:      ...

*     *     *     *     *

And so, just like that, AAAJ appeared, replete with a note explaining his tardiness.  


So, not only do you need to move the elf every night after your kids go to bed, but when they wake up and find the elf, they can't touch it.  Which is fine when you're almost 7, but is NOT FINE when you are Sawyer and don't give a rat's ass about grown ups and their arbitrary rules.  

So, I had to put AAAJ in places where Sawyer couldn't reach him.  This was inspired, if I say so myself.  


AAAJ and I started feeling more confident with each passing day.


And thirsty.  


*     *     *     *     *

I haven't forgotten to move AAAJ yet.  

My wrapping paper is different than Santa's.  So is the handwriting.

My smugness is gone, but my pride at sustaining the fleeting magic of Christmas through the eyes of my sweet Jack is very much intact.

Hope you acquiesce toward magic today.

Talk soon,
Heather

on boat slips and time warps

Sunday, July 31, 2016

I grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Specifically, on the small, lazy, and peaceful Sassafras River.  We were an hour and change from Washington, Baltimore, and DC, but felt a million miles away (mostly in a good way, except for when I was a teenager.) 

Every summer morning from age 14-19. I walked across the street and down to the hill to my summer job at Georgetown Yacht Basin.  It's a marina, filled to the brim with stunning sailboats, luxury yachts, people spending the summer relaxing, and people navigating the Bay and on the way elsewhere for adventure, after stopping for a tankful, a night, a shower.

With my fair Irish complexion, I wasn't fit for the docks.  Working on the docks meant being outside all day, fueling up boats, receiving visitors into slips and tying them up, bagging ice to sell, and other things that make you very tan and inordinately sweaty in the wet blanket that is Maryland summer.

I worked in the blissfully air-conditioned marine store.  From Monday through Thursday, I was primarily occupied selling boat parts to the cast of characters that worked as mechanics in the Repair Shop.  On weekends, I sold Tervis Tumblers and clamshell shaped Lucite chip and dip bowl sets to the wives.  And bathing suits.  And I sold Sperry's and Clearly Canadian (!) to EVERYONE.

I do regret not learning how to sail.  



*     *     *     *     *

At the going rate, I expect that what Jack and Sawyer will remember most about summer is swimming.  At his outstanding summer camp, Jack takes a few field trips a week and swims EVERY DAY.  He comes home soggy and happy, with the short fuse that comes from having zero percent body fat and swimming EVERY DAY.  He is often hangry.  We have learned to navigate this, mostly.



Sawyer doesn't know how to swim yet, but he's learning.  Every Tuesday and Thursday, all summer, he and I have made our merry way to one of our lovely neighborhood pools so that Sawyer can attend a swim lesson.  His teacher is funny, patient, creative, and awesome.

At yesterday's lesson, he made a huge leap forward in progress.  He didn't freak out when he was dunked underwater.  He put his face in the water and blew bubbles BY CHOICE!  When told to kick, he kicked with ENTHUSIASM!  He was clearly delighted with himself, and then delighted again by the delight of his teacher and and me, sitting poolside.  



When I remember this summer, I will remember taking Sawyer to swim lessons.

*     *     *     *     *

I approached this summer with my trademark perfectionism.  I made a gargantuan rainbow poster filled with summer activities for the boys and I.  At this point in the summer, I'd say we've done respectably well on crossing things off -- barely.  Many a morning filled with ambition about TODAY being the day for a lemonade stand! trailed off into naps and MineCraft and tickle fights.  I am, I suspect, a Pinterest fail.

Come to think of it, what I remember about summers growing up are lazy nights talking to friends on the water, concerts at Merriweather Post, and the general sense of well-being that comes from being tan and having friends and not having a lot on your schedule.

Come to think of it, maybe I'm not a Pinterest fail.  And while sailing would have been nice, I'm okay with my summers, all of them, just as they are.

Hope you enjoy some well-being today.

Talk soon,
Heather

on first grade and fritos

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Charlotte Potts taught me first grade.  

We started every day by writing in our notebooks.  It looked like this:

Today is Tuesday, September 7, 1981.  It is sunny.  Today, we have Gym.
After carefully writing the day's details with our number 2 pencils, we had to write a sentence all of our own design.  They looked like this:

This weekend, we are going to the zoo.
Or:
My mom bought me a new dress.  It is pink. 
But usually, it was some narrow variation of this:
I love Mrs. Potts.
I loved Mrs. Potts with my whole six year old heart.  When the advanced reading group met at the table at the front of the room (on the left, up by the floor-to-ceiling chalkboard, you know?) for Open Court, Mrs. Potts invariably ate a bag of Fritos.  

To this day, I LOATHE Fritos.  I am pretty sure it was her only "flaw."

Also?  By first grade, I was pretty sure I had my shit together.

*     *     *     *     *

Jack completed kindergarten last week.  

He had a marvelous year.  He grew -- vertically, emotionally, academically, and socially.  He learned -- Pokemon, math, reading, and tall tale telling.  He bonded -- with his wonderful teacher, his best new friends, and even some friends who proved challenging to him.

And now, with the intrepidity of youth, he's ready for the next challenge.





*     *     *     *     *

I was pretty emotional the night before Jack's last day of kindergarten.  I can't lie.  I mean -- it's totally relatable and it's also platitude central, right?

The days are long but the years are short. 
Childhood is but the blink of an eye. 
There is no love like that of a mother's heart.

Or, as the Interwebz so poetically puts it:

Time is an asshole. 

The truth is that the years are short.  They fly by mercilessly as a blur of soccer practices, negotiating bedtimes, frantic dinner preparation, and weariness at the end of the day.  

But, dammit, they are also a handful of exquisite, crystallized moments -- our butterflies on the first day of school, the awesome field trip, the wonderful Ms. Voyce, the crazy fun Valentine's Day party, and so many laughs and memories and joyful bits.

And so once again, by first grade, I'm pretty sure I have my shit together.

I know Jack does.

Hope your day is full of sweet memories and free of corn chips.

Talk soon,
Heather

on bonbons and half marathons

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I am a super Type A perfectionist. (Newsflash, right?)

When I stopped working as an attorney, a friend supportively cautioned me that it might take about a year to adjust.

I scoffed.  (I am also an occasional scoffer.)  

"I'm sure I'll be fine," I thought.  "I think it will take me about three weeks to adjust.  Yup, three weeks."

That was a year ago.  
*     *     *     *     *

I've learned a lot this year.  Here are some of my discoveries:

1.  It is not good for one's soul to do laundry every day.  

Nothing makes you feel like you're in a hamster wheel faster.

2.  Not having a commute is &*(##@ awesome.  

When Durel and I moved back to Austin from DC, I swore that I wouldn't complain about the traffic.  "Nothing will EVER be worse than 5 PM on the Beltway," I thought.  Nothing.  

Oh man,  I hadn't seen 620 at 8 AM, had I?  

3.  Moms need more yoga pants.

One of the best perks of my new job is walking Jack to school every day.  Those first few days of kindergarten, I had an existential wardrobe crisis.  It's 7 AM.  Am I supposed to get dressed?  Have on makeup?  I DON'T UNDERSTAND.

So, I got dressed and brushed my teeth and hair and put on some mascara and lip gloss.  And so did several other moms, I noticed.

You know what?  By Thursday of the first week of school we were all bare-faced in yoga pants.  We haven't looked back.

4.  Labels are dangerous.

I'm going to get sociological for a minute.  Labels are an intrinsic part of human society.  We need to define ourselves, and we do so in large part by comparing and contrasting ourselves with others.  I had (and still have, truth be told) a lot invested in my label of "attorney."  It's a prestigious one and it wears well, like an expensive suit.  

Beware, though.  The label of "stay at home mom" is a patriarchal booby trap.  It should be called CEO, because that's what it is.  Our society systematically undervalues the labor of the home, and that's some bullshit.  I have not started wearing retro dresses (any more than I ever did), and wearing an apron all the time, standing at the ready with freshly-baked, organic, gluten-free cookies.  I do not loll about on the couch eating bonbons.  Let me repeat:  I do not loll.

I also don't grow all my own food or work out for six hours a day.  We don't have a goat or chickens (though not for lack of asking by both Durel and Jack).  I don't stare at Pinterest all day.  I don't make my own cleaning supplies out of all natural ingredients.  

I work.  I do the work that is required to run a household smoothly.  And if you want to get tricky with details, I also do work to contribute to the smooth operation of my parents' household.  

Is there a job title for "double CEO"?

5.  It doesn't matter what people think.

This is the part that takes a year.  This is why I'm writing this post now, not after three weeks.

I lost a few friends when I stopped lawyering.  I saw their eyes glaze over when I told them about my decision to care for my family and take a break from the practice of law.  In large part, I ceased being relevant to them at that moment.  (Lawyers are big on relevance.)

I also made some new friends when I stopped lawyering.  Jack's amazing kindergarten teacher will become a happy hour buddy as soon as we decide it's appropriate.  Some of the moms I've met while volunteering at school are new, good, real friends.  

Apparently, I've inspired some friends, too, which I find surprisingly delightful!  One friend is moving with her family back to Michigan and changing up their work-life balance.  She told me I gave her the courage to think outside the box.  I think that's SO RAD.  

I got reacquainted with myself, too.  I've wrestled with my lifelong ambition of running at least a half marathon, if not a full one.  I pretended that I don't want to do that anymore, what with my 40 year old physique and creaky feet.  I then called my own bluff, because I do.  I remembered that I take a lot of joy in writing and reading and realized that I need to do them more.  I rediscovered cooking for nourishment and relaxation.

To Seussify it, I thought some thinks that needed to be thunk.  

And look!  How happy I am!



Hope your day is refreshingly free of patriarchal booby traps.

Talk soon,
Heather

The Right Time to Say Yay

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Last weekend, Cristy and Dagwood drove to Austin from Albuquerque to become Sawyer's godparents.  That was really cool.

We Davies are not overtly religious.  So, I'll leave it at that.

But I will say this:  No less than 5 times, during (intentionally) quiet moments in the service, which was candlelit and rich with significance, Sawyer shouted:

"YAY!"

Indeed.





Hope you have something legit to cheer about today.

Talk soon,
Heather

on firm kisses and unlikely comparisons

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Durel and I were talking the other evening about how, even at our ripe old ages, our parents still kiss us firmly on the heads.  

My family has always been pretty affectionate, so I never thought about it.  Durel's family is less demonstrative, so he did.

Here is my operating theory:  No matter how old you get, you are still your parents' baby.  And they will kiss your head firmly, forever.  Because it's in their parental DNA.  They've been kissing you like that since you were born and there simply is no good reason to stop.

*     *     *     *     *  

So, Jack is huge now.  He has seen the first Harry Potter movie and asks me repeatedly when he can go to wizarding school.  (I see Harry Potter themed parties in our future.)  He will play Quidditch, of course.  He anticipates being in Gryffendor, but Durel and I are quick to posit the virtues of Slytherin.  (Seriously.  Slytherin is cool.  It's how you use your power that makes the difference, n'est pas?)

He's big on cocoa, also.  So, imagine the kismet that occurred when one of the items on his monthly homework calendar was to "drink a cup of hot chocolate and use your five senses to describe it."

We got to work, and here's what we learned.  

Me:      OK, Jack.  Let's use your eyes.  What does your cocoa look like?

Jack:    Clear vomit.

Me:      ...Oh!  Uh...OK.

Jack:     You know what I mean. It's all bubbly.

Me:       Rrrrright.  How about your nose?  How does your cocoa smell?

Jack:     (sniffs)  Chocolate!

Me:       Great.  What about touch?  How does it feel?

Jack:     (unceremoniously sticks finger into hot cocoa)  Oh!  LIKE FIRE!

Me:      Wow.  OK.  How does it sound?

Jack:     (looks at me as if I'm a bit daft)  Like bubbles popping.

Me:      OK, most important one!  Let's taste it!

Anyway, that was a successful (and enlightening) exercise.  Here are a few shots of Jack at his best lately. I took them in between stealing every opportunity to kiss him firmly on the head.

As we do.

Holding a baby kangaroo at his friend Addie's amazeballs birthday party.

We big puffy heart love Menchies. 
He stole my sandwich at Panera.

He also ate about half of my pho.  I swear, I feed him.

Hope kisses are firm and vomit is only theoretical in your world today.

Talk soon,
Heather


the one about pie. and wine.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Christmas is an Olympic event to me.

I train for it.  I plan for it.  I make multiple lists.  I mutter over cookbooks weeks in advance.  I dance in my car to Christmas music in November.  Early November.

I'm into it.

Normally, December 23rd (or Christmas Eve EVE, as I call it in my head), is Baking Day.  If I have the great (biannual) luck of being with my sister, Jenny, we listen to the Pogues and the Waitresses and bake cookies and spike our coffee with Kahlua.  

If not, I bake pies all day.  I usually end up with a 1:1 person to pie ratio.  Not because everyone eats a whole pie, but because I want to make several kinds of pie, and why make just one?  Everyone has to taste it, you know.  And of course, my family requires at least three pumpkin pies.  So. I make a lot of pies.

This year, Durel had a great (yet revolutionary) idea.  He suggested that we go to Fredericksburg with PapaDu, Uncle Dustin, Aunt Geri to breathe Hill Country air and drink wine.  (Frederickburg is a Texas German town a little more than an hour away.  It has cuteness and vineyards in abundance.)

I told him that was a great idea.

My brain was freaking out about OHMAGERD THE PIEZZZZZZZZZZZ.  But I told that inner voice to shut up.  And off we went.

I'm also not good at admitting I'm wrong.  But you can guess where this is going.

Durel was right.  It was a perfect (balmy) day and an amazing way to spend it.

Exploring.




I love these people.  So much.

Getting artsy.

My beautiful sister in law.

Moving.

Maxing and relaxing.

Guess what?  I still made pie.  

Hope your Christmas involved the magic of new ideas.

Talk soon,
Heather

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

the elf on the damn shelf

In the gritty hallways of Millington Elementary School, news started circulating when I was in second grade that Santa ISN'T REAL.

Snort, I thought.  That's not true.  No way.  Nope.  Dismiss.

By third grade, I realized that it *could be* true.  Shitty if true, but possible.  I chose to suspend my disbelief and pressed on with my bad self.

In fourth grade, I allowed myself to cross over to acknowledging, publicly, that Mom and Dad are Santa.  In truth, I had noticed years ago that Santa used the same wrapping paper as Mom, and that his gift tags were the same as hers...and that his handwriting was the same.  My burgeoningly analytical mind caught these inconsistencies and saved them for impeachment on cross-examination.

Memories like this make me think that I may have been destined for law school.

*     *      *     *     *

I have written multiple times about my smugness at not having an Elf on the Shelf.  It was a tiny little bit of holiday nonconformism that I really enjoyed.  I mean, we also don't drink eggnog, but that's because it's gross.  (Sorry, Lisa.)

Anyway, that smugness?  It's in the past.  

Here's how it happened:

Jack was getting ready for bed.  He is pretty meticulous with his bedtime routine.  It's probably a function of dragging out bedtime, but I still find it endearing.  It reminds me of my Grandfather Davies, padding around in his man pajamas, getting his carafe of ice water to put by his bedside before turning in for the night.  

Jack:     (almost whiney, but more wheedling)  Hey Mom.  Everyone in my class has an elf.
Me:      (taking a deep breath to start my schpiel about how that's cool, but it's not our tradition...)
Jack:     (guilty mumble) And they really like talking about what they do.  So...I made up an elf so I could talk about with them.
Me:      (Oh...he's not trying to swindle me into getting an elf.  He's confessing because he told a lie!  Oh damn, this is sweet.)  Oooooh, so, um, what did you name your elf?
Jack:    AAAJ.
Me:      (eyebrows raised, nodding slowly)  Oh!  Um, what does that stand for?
Jack:    Well, I wanted him to be really awesome, so I gave him three As.  But then, I figured if he's an elf, then he's joyful, so I added a J.  So, his name is AAAJ.
Me:      (melting)  Oh, buddy.
Jack:    What?  Is it that bad?
Me:      What??
Jack:     ...what I named him?
Me:      No.  It's wonderful.  So, what was AAAJ doing?
Jack:    Hugging my toothbrush.
Me:      ...

*     *     *     *     *

And so, just like that, AAAJ appeared, replete with a note explaining his tardiness.  


So, not only do you need to move the elf every night after your kids go to bed, but when they wake up and find the elf, they can't touch it.  Which is fine when you're almost 7, but is NOT FINE when you are Sawyer and don't give a rat's ass about grown ups and their arbitrary rules.  

So, I had to put AAAJ in places where Sawyer couldn't reach him.  This was inspired, if I say so myself.  


AAAJ and I started feeling more confident with each passing day.


And thirsty.  


*     *     *     *     *

I haven't forgotten to move AAAJ yet.  

My wrapping paper is different than Santa's.  So is the handwriting.

My smugness is gone, but my pride at sustaining the fleeting magic of Christmas through the eyes of my sweet Jack is very much intact.

Hope you acquiesce toward magic today.

Talk soon,
Heather

Sunday, July 31, 2016

on boat slips and time warps

I grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Specifically, on the small, lazy, and peaceful Sassafras River.  We were an hour and change from Washington, Baltimore, and DC, but felt a million miles away (mostly in a good way, except for when I was a teenager.) 

Every summer morning from age 14-19. I walked across the street and down to the hill to my summer job at Georgetown Yacht Basin.  It's a marina, filled to the brim with stunning sailboats, luxury yachts, people spending the summer relaxing, and people navigating the Bay and on the way elsewhere for adventure, after stopping for a tankful, a night, a shower.

With my fair Irish complexion, I wasn't fit for the docks.  Working on the docks meant being outside all day, fueling up boats, receiving visitors into slips and tying them up, bagging ice to sell, and other things that make you very tan and inordinately sweaty in the wet blanket that is Maryland summer.

I worked in the blissfully air-conditioned marine store.  From Monday through Thursday, I was primarily occupied selling boat parts to the cast of characters that worked as mechanics in the Repair Shop.  On weekends, I sold Tervis Tumblers and clamshell shaped Lucite chip and dip bowl sets to the wives.  And bathing suits.  And I sold Sperry's and Clearly Canadian (!) to EVERYONE.

I do regret not learning how to sail.  



*     *     *     *     *

At the going rate, I expect that what Jack and Sawyer will remember most about summer is swimming.  At his outstanding summer camp, Jack takes a few field trips a week and swims EVERY DAY.  He comes home soggy and happy, with the short fuse that comes from having zero percent body fat and swimming EVERY DAY.  He is often hangry.  We have learned to navigate this, mostly.



Sawyer doesn't know how to swim yet, but he's learning.  Every Tuesday and Thursday, all summer, he and I have made our merry way to one of our lovely neighborhood pools so that Sawyer can attend a swim lesson.  His teacher is funny, patient, creative, and awesome.

At yesterday's lesson, he made a huge leap forward in progress.  He didn't freak out when he was dunked underwater.  He put his face in the water and blew bubbles BY CHOICE!  When told to kick, he kicked with ENTHUSIASM!  He was clearly delighted with himself, and then delighted again by the delight of his teacher and and me, sitting poolside.  



When I remember this summer, I will remember taking Sawyer to swim lessons.

*     *     *     *     *

I approached this summer with my trademark perfectionism.  I made a gargantuan rainbow poster filled with summer activities for the boys and I.  At this point in the summer, I'd say we've done respectably well on crossing things off -- barely.  Many a morning filled with ambition about TODAY being the day for a lemonade stand! trailed off into naps and MineCraft and tickle fights.  I am, I suspect, a Pinterest fail.

Come to think of it, what I remember about summers growing up are lazy nights talking to friends on the water, concerts at Merriweather Post, and the general sense of well-being that comes from being tan and having friends and not having a lot on your schedule.

Come to think of it, maybe I'm not a Pinterest fail.  And while sailing would have been nice, I'm okay with my summers, all of them, just as they are.

Hope you enjoy some well-being today.

Talk soon,
Heather

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

on first grade and fritos

Charlotte Potts taught me first grade.  

We started every day by writing in our notebooks.  It looked like this:

Today is Tuesday, September 7, 1981.  It is sunny.  Today, we have Gym.
After carefully writing the day's details with our number 2 pencils, we had to write a sentence all of our own design.  They looked like this:

This weekend, we are going to the zoo.
Or:
My mom bought me a new dress.  It is pink. 
But usually, it was some narrow variation of this:
I love Mrs. Potts.
I loved Mrs. Potts with my whole six year old heart.  When the advanced reading group met at the table at the front of the room (on the left, up by the floor-to-ceiling chalkboard, you know?) for Open Court, Mrs. Potts invariably ate a bag of Fritos.  

To this day, I LOATHE Fritos.  I am pretty sure it was her only "flaw."

Also?  By first grade, I was pretty sure I had my shit together.

*     *     *     *     *

Jack completed kindergarten last week.  

He had a marvelous year.  He grew -- vertically, emotionally, academically, and socially.  He learned -- Pokemon, math, reading, and tall tale telling.  He bonded -- with his wonderful teacher, his best new friends, and even some friends who proved challenging to him.

And now, with the intrepidity of youth, he's ready for the next challenge.





*     *     *     *     *

I was pretty emotional the night before Jack's last day of kindergarten.  I can't lie.  I mean -- it's totally relatable and it's also platitude central, right?

The days are long but the years are short. 
Childhood is but the blink of an eye. 
There is no love like that of a mother's heart.

Or, as the Interwebz so poetically puts it:

Time is an asshole. 

The truth is that the years are short.  They fly by mercilessly as a blur of soccer practices, negotiating bedtimes, frantic dinner preparation, and weariness at the end of the day.  

But, dammit, they are also a handful of exquisite, crystallized moments -- our butterflies on the first day of school, the awesome field trip, the wonderful Ms. Voyce, the crazy fun Valentine's Day party, and so many laughs and memories and joyful bits.

And so once again, by first grade, I'm pretty sure I have my shit together.

I know Jack does.

Hope your day is full of sweet memories and free of corn chips.

Talk soon,
Heather

Thursday, May 26, 2016

on bonbons and half marathons

I am a super Type A perfectionist. (Newsflash, right?)

When I stopped working as an attorney, a friend supportively cautioned me that it might take about a year to adjust.

I scoffed.  (I am also an occasional scoffer.)  

"I'm sure I'll be fine," I thought.  "I think it will take me about three weeks to adjust.  Yup, three weeks."

That was a year ago.  
*     *     *     *     *

I've learned a lot this year.  Here are some of my discoveries:

1.  It is not good for one's soul to do laundry every day.  

Nothing makes you feel like you're in a hamster wheel faster.

2.  Not having a commute is &*(##@ awesome.  

When Durel and I moved back to Austin from DC, I swore that I wouldn't complain about the traffic.  "Nothing will EVER be worse than 5 PM on the Beltway," I thought.  Nothing.  

Oh man,  I hadn't seen 620 at 8 AM, had I?  

3.  Moms need more yoga pants.

One of the best perks of my new job is walking Jack to school every day.  Those first few days of kindergarten, I had an existential wardrobe crisis.  It's 7 AM.  Am I supposed to get dressed?  Have on makeup?  I DON'T UNDERSTAND.

So, I got dressed and brushed my teeth and hair and put on some mascara and lip gloss.  And so did several other moms, I noticed.

You know what?  By Thursday of the first week of school we were all bare-faced in yoga pants.  We haven't looked back.

4.  Labels are dangerous.

I'm going to get sociological for a minute.  Labels are an intrinsic part of human society.  We need to define ourselves, and we do so in large part by comparing and contrasting ourselves with others.  I had (and still have, truth be told) a lot invested in my label of "attorney."  It's a prestigious one and it wears well, like an expensive suit.  

Beware, though.  The label of "stay at home mom" is a patriarchal booby trap.  It should be called CEO, because that's what it is.  Our society systematically undervalues the labor of the home, and that's some bullshit.  I have not started wearing retro dresses (any more than I ever did), and wearing an apron all the time, standing at the ready with freshly-baked, organic, gluten-free cookies.  I do not loll about on the couch eating bonbons.  Let me repeat:  I do not loll.

I also don't grow all my own food or work out for six hours a day.  We don't have a goat or chickens (though not for lack of asking by both Durel and Jack).  I don't stare at Pinterest all day.  I don't make my own cleaning supplies out of all natural ingredients.  

I work.  I do the work that is required to run a household smoothly.  And if you want to get tricky with details, I also do work to contribute to the smooth operation of my parents' household.  

Is there a job title for "double CEO"?

5.  It doesn't matter what people think.

This is the part that takes a year.  This is why I'm writing this post now, not after three weeks.

I lost a few friends when I stopped lawyering.  I saw their eyes glaze over when I told them about my decision to care for my family and take a break from the practice of law.  In large part, I ceased being relevant to them at that moment.  (Lawyers are big on relevance.)

I also made some new friends when I stopped lawyering.  Jack's amazing kindergarten teacher will become a happy hour buddy as soon as we decide it's appropriate.  Some of the moms I've met while volunteering at school are new, good, real friends.  

Apparently, I've inspired some friends, too, which I find surprisingly delightful!  One friend is moving with her family back to Michigan and changing up their work-life balance.  She told me I gave her the courage to think outside the box.  I think that's SO RAD.  

I got reacquainted with myself, too.  I've wrestled with my lifelong ambition of running at least a half marathon, if not a full one.  I pretended that I don't want to do that anymore, what with my 40 year old physique and creaky feet.  I then called my own bluff, because I do.  I remembered that I take a lot of joy in writing and reading and realized that I need to do them more.  I rediscovered cooking for nourishment and relaxation.

To Seussify it, I thought some thinks that needed to be thunk.  

And look!  How happy I am!



Hope your day is refreshingly free of patriarchal booby traps.

Talk soon,
Heather

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Right Time to Say Yay

Last weekend, Cristy and Dagwood drove to Austin from Albuquerque to become Sawyer's godparents.  That was really cool.

We Davies are not overtly religious.  So, I'll leave it at that.

But I will say this:  No less than 5 times, during (intentionally) quiet moments in the service, which was candlelit and rich with significance, Sawyer shouted:

"YAY!"

Indeed.





Hope you have something legit to cheer about today.

Talk soon,
Heather

Saturday, January 16, 2016

on firm kisses and unlikely comparisons

Durel and I were talking the other evening about how, even at our ripe old ages, our parents still kiss us firmly on the heads.  

My family has always been pretty affectionate, so I never thought about it.  Durel's family is less demonstrative, so he did.

Here is my operating theory:  No matter how old you get, you are still your parents' baby.  And they will kiss your head firmly, forever.  Because it's in their parental DNA.  They've been kissing you like that since you were born and there simply is no good reason to stop.

*     *     *     *     *  

So, Jack is huge now.  He has seen the first Harry Potter movie and asks me repeatedly when he can go to wizarding school.  (I see Harry Potter themed parties in our future.)  He will play Quidditch, of course.  He anticipates being in Gryffendor, but Durel and I are quick to posit the virtues of Slytherin.  (Seriously.  Slytherin is cool.  It's how you use your power that makes the difference, n'est pas?)

He's big on cocoa, also.  So, imagine the kismet that occurred when one of the items on his monthly homework calendar was to "drink a cup of hot chocolate and use your five senses to describe it."

We got to work, and here's what we learned.  

Me:      OK, Jack.  Let's use your eyes.  What does your cocoa look like?

Jack:    Clear vomit.

Me:      ...Oh!  Uh...OK.

Jack:     You know what I mean. It's all bubbly.

Me:       Rrrrright.  How about your nose?  How does your cocoa smell?

Jack:     (sniffs)  Chocolate!

Me:       Great.  What about touch?  How does it feel?

Jack:     (unceremoniously sticks finger into hot cocoa)  Oh!  LIKE FIRE!

Me:      Wow.  OK.  How does it sound?

Jack:     (looks at me as if I'm a bit daft)  Like bubbles popping.

Me:      OK, most important one!  Let's taste it!

Anyway, that was a successful (and enlightening) exercise.  Here are a few shots of Jack at his best lately. I took them in between stealing every opportunity to kiss him firmly on the head.

As we do.

Holding a baby kangaroo at his friend Addie's amazeballs birthday party.

We big puffy heart love Menchies. 
He stole my sandwich at Panera.

He also ate about half of my pho.  I swear, I feed him.

Hope kisses are firm and vomit is only theoretical in your world today.

Talk soon,
Heather


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

the one about pie. and wine.

Christmas is an Olympic event to me.

I train for it.  I plan for it.  I make multiple lists.  I mutter over cookbooks weeks in advance.  I dance in my car to Christmas music in November.  Early November.

I'm into it.

Normally, December 23rd (or Christmas Eve EVE, as I call it in my head), is Baking Day.  If I have the great (biannual) luck of being with my sister, Jenny, we listen to the Pogues and the Waitresses and bake cookies and spike our coffee with Kahlua.  

If not, I bake pies all day.  I usually end up with a 1:1 person to pie ratio.  Not because everyone eats a whole pie, but because I want to make several kinds of pie, and why make just one?  Everyone has to taste it, you know.  And of course, my family requires at least three pumpkin pies.  So. I make a lot of pies.

This year, Durel had a great (yet revolutionary) idea.  He suggested that we go to Fredericksburg with PapaDu, Uncle Dustin, Aunt Geri to breathe Hill Country air and drink wine.  (Frederickburg is a Texas German town a little more than an hour away.  It has cuteness and vineyards in abundance.)

I told him that was a great idea.

My brain was freaking out about OHMAGERD THE PIEZZZZZZZZZZZ.  But I told that inner voice to shut up.  And off we went.

I'm also not good at admitting I'm wrong.  But you can guess where this is going.

Durel was right.  It was a perfect (balmy) day and an amazing way to spend it.

Exploring.




I love these people.  So much.

Getting artsy.

My beautiful sister in law.

Moving.

Maxing and relaxing.

Guess what?  I still made pie.  

Hope your Christmas involved the magic of new ideas.

Talk soon,
Heather
 
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