Monthly Archives: March 2010

Don’t talk to strangers

On my list of things to do in Chicago was to meet Adrienne From The Comments Section Who Doesn’t Have A Blog.  She’s been cracking me up for months now with her witty rejoinders and I’ve been trying to get her to start her own blog but she’s been way too busy doing responsible things like saving her community school which doesn’t leave time for writing about what she ate for lunch and sharing it with the global Internet community.

I called her Friday afternoon to discuss plans for Saturday and had that brief panicky feeling that she’d say, “Who are you and why are you calling me?” but the first thing out of her mouth was, “You have an accent!” which cracks me up when people tell me that because a) I’m Southern and it’s buried in my genetic code; b) I don’t think I have that strong of one; and c) HAVE YOU HEARD PEOPLE FROM CHICAAAHHHGO?

She drove downtown in the morning and met Momologuer and me at the Starbucks in our hotel lobby and we immediately bonded over our love for all things carbohydrate.

She ordered the “lemon loaf” which I thought was interesting because I’d always called it pound cake and I wondered if Midwesterners didn’t eat pound cake or if I had just been calling it by the wrong name every time I ordered it.  I didn’t ask her to expound upon the difference because a) I didn’t want her to think I was weird and didn’t know one pastry from another, and b) I hadn’t had sufficient coffee at that time of the morning and couldn’t put two coherent words together.

Adrienne was so much fun to be with and I instantly felt at ease as we sat back and talked about anything and everything, and when I say everything, I mean it because I think at some point we were actually talking about funerals and really, isn’t that what you always wanted to discuss when you meet a random stranger for the first time?

I think, though, what I enjoyed most about our all too brief time together was listening to her laugh.  You can tell a lot about a person by how they laugh, and Adrienne has a wonderful laugh that’s loud, frequent, and full of joy.  I love to laugh and have someone with whom to laugh, so you can imagine how happy I was to sit and make merry and how sad I was when her parking meter expired and she had to skeddadle and get back to her family in the suburbs.  I came away from our time together feeling so blessed by the friendships I’ve made through this weird little hobby called blogging and renewed in my desire to meet as many of my blogpeeps as I can.

The second “stranger” I met this weekend was not someone from the blog, but an online friendship that I formed over two years ago.  I met Kate on a community message board talking about a tv show that we both enjoyed, and though our interest in spending time obsessing about fictional characters faded after about six months, our relationship continued through Facebook and then Twitter.

We made general “If you’re ever in North Carolina/Chicago…”  sort of plans to get together, but this past weekend I had a specific time and location.  Kate works in theatre (she’s an executive director) and she had secured tickets for us to see a play based on the works of Noel Coward at her theatre in the suburbs of Chicago.  I was a little nervous about going to the play because most of the plays I go to involve poor costuming (I never said I was crafty), whispered cues from the side of the stage  and children pausing their lines mid-speech to wave to their mother and I wasn’t quite sure I’d be cultured enough for the Chicago scene.  Remember, I’m the one that eats at the Pik-N-Pig.

As our train approached the station where she was going to pick us up, I hoped that we would get along as well in person as we did online, and I was beyond thrilled when our personalities clicked immediately (it helped that we first went out to eat and discovered that we shared a love of brown food).  I loved Kate’s energy, her wit, her pet phrase “Oh, My-lanta!”, and her incredible generosity.  I realized I sounded stalkerish when I asked about her sister, her ex-boyfriend, and her penchant for purses (I have a weird habit of remembering the most obscure details which makes me a great Trivial Pursuit teammate but also can make me appear to be in need of a restraining order), but she took it all in stride and didn’t call 911 to have me arrested.  By the end of the evening, we were fast friends and making plans to go to Vegas for her birthday, and we spent most of Sunday texting each other in search of handbags.

So what did I learn at the end of the day?  I learned that just because you haven’t met someone doesn’t mean they’re a stranger, that you never stop making friends, that life is always big enough to accommodate new ones, and that people from Chicago really talk funny.

Have a nice day.

Fourteen Years Ago

Fourteen years ago, my mom poked her head in my bedroom door and said, “It’s your wedding day!”

Today, my husband shook me awake and said, “Time to get up, Snoozer.”

Fourteen years ago, I went to the salon to get my nails painted.

Today, I never let them grow out past my fingertips and nail polish is more of a hassle than it’s worth.

Fourteen years ago, my hair was its natural shade and adorned with a white voluminous veil.

Today, it’s in a ponytail holder that may or may not match my clothes and seriously needs some help from Ms. Clairol.

Fourteen years ago, I grabbed a slice of pizza on the way to the church.

Today, I keep at least three pizzas in my freezer at all times.

Fourteen years ago, my friends gathered in a church to see us get married.

Today, blessedly, I still have those same friends.

Fourteen years ago, my daddy peeked into the sanctuary from the back of the church and dramatically whispered, “I don’t think he’s going to show up.”

Today, there’s never a doubt that he won’t walk in that door.

Fourteen years ago, we had no clue what was to face us.

Today, we still don’t.

Fourteen years ago, we said, “I do.”

Today, we still do.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings

I got home around 12:30 this morning after one of the most turbulent airplane rides of my life.  Our part of the country was under a tornado warning (eight confirmed) and the line of  storms stood between me and the runway.  The pregnant woman next to me was raising hands and asking Jesus just to let her live until the baby was born and I was praying I wouldn’t toss my cookies in her lap.  The woman to my right was snoring.

Either she had some mighty faith or she’d snuck a little something into her drink.  At that point, I wanted WHATEVER she had.

My trip with Momologuer was so much fun.  I failed to bring adequate footwear, my hairbrush, toothbrush, socks, and my phone charger, but didn’t forget my Visa or the six changes of clothes for 48 hours.


I was so anxious to get going that I also forgot to pack appropriate outerwear for Chicago weather.  I was thinking warm and springy thoughts, and as I was walking out to the car in my lightweight cotton twill jacket, Mr. CPQ said, “Aren’t you taking a real coat?” I hemmed and hawed about it taking up room in my suitcase, but grabbed a leather coat that was hanging by the back door just to placate him and OH MY WORD did it ever save my bacon.  It was freezing slightly nippy and the wind was so strong that I could literally feel it blow through the seams of my shoes the whole time we were there.

My flight out was uneventful.  I had the usual can of tomato juice to accompany my salted peanuts which is weird because I never drink tomato juice on any other occasion and, quite frankly, find it a little disgusting in any other setting.  I read a book that Whimzie had recommended to me, but I had to close it up 20 minutes before we landed because I sensed it was about to take a turn that would take me to the ugly cry and I didn’t want to alarm my seatmate.

Momologuer met me at the gate and we took the train into town and felt perfectly safe until a fellow passenger saw our suitcases and felt compelled to warn us about people faking heart attacks and picking our wallets.

I’m sure the Chicago Board of Tourism was ready to hire him immediately.

We kicked off the weekend with high tea at our hotel where we ate dainty things and plotted our takeover of Michigan Avenue. Both of us were busy last week and didn’t have time to set out a clear agenda for the weekend other than getting together with strangers I had met on-line and getting a pedicure.

From there we hit the pavement and started our journey towards tired, aching feet.

More later…

Have a nice day.

Come on, feel the Illinoise

I’m going to get wild, wild, wild in Chicago this weekend and go shopping, sightseeing, and pedicuring with my friend Momologuer, otherwise known as ImNotNed’s better half.  While she and I make it a point to get our respective families together at least twice a year (I’m working on arranging a marriage between her daughter and any one of my boys), we also try to carve out at least a couple of days where the two of us can spend quality time together and explore new places and generally not be responsible for anyone or eat at places that serve chicken nuggets.

ImNotNed was talking smack earlier this week about putting limits on credit cards to which I replied, “Sky’s the limit, right?”   He then informed me that last he heard, the sky was going for $14.95.

As if.

Knowing the two of us, that’ll be more along the lines of our latte limit.

While we’re there I’m hoping to meet up with Adrienne From The Comments Section Who Doesn’t Have A Blog as well as my friend that I tried to set up with the possible felon.   The rest of the weekend is gloriously unscheduled and open for traipsing wherever our hearts and VISA can take us.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite pictures from this week to peruse, and I hope your weekend is wonderful.

Scuba diver at the NC Aquarium

Kure Beach Pier

Squishy Baby

The view from our dinner table at Sanitary Fish Market

On the ferry where I didn't let go of his shirt for fear of him going into the ocean

Had a little more confidence that these two wouldn't go over the edge, but gave them quarters to spend in the lounge to keep them occupied, just in case.

Outer Banks, NC as seen through my dirty windshield

At the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

The Hatteras Lighthouse as seen through the Lego Photo App, courtesy of Travis

Stoplight on the bridge to Manteo. Weird.

Scamming money off the neighbors

Have a nice day.

Home again, Home again, Jiggedy-Jig

We made it back to Raleigh yesterday around 4:30 and since it was a beautiful day, Tommy and JJ  decided they would set up a lemonade stand at the end of the driveway and hit up all the neighbors as they returned home from their workday.  I wish they would have told me about the plan before it was set up and fully operational because I would have suggested they use disposable cups and not my water-spotted drinking glasses, but hey, they were being industrious and learning future job skills, and the neighbors needed something else to talk about.

That’s my ministry….making other people feel better about themselves.

The boys had pre-decided to split the earnings, but JJ forfeited his half to Tommy in exchange for future assistance in a video game battle against their buddy down the street.  Success in this particular game has eluded J and apparently $2 is a small price to pay for victory.

Come to think of it, it’s kinda’ like buying Spanx.

While they were out there, my neighbor stopped by their table and dropped off a box of Trader Joe’s chocolate covered shortbread cookies.  She’s a disciplined diabetic with a sweet tooth, so she buys cookies and cakes, eats one or two bites, and sends the rest over to our house for me the boys to eat so she won’t be tempted.

Her loss is my 15 pound gain.

Mr. CPQ called and asked if he could bring supper home, which told me that a)  he hadn’t cooked while we were gone and b) all the food in the fridge was dead, so I told him to bring pizza because we clearly had not eaten enough junk food in the last three days on the road and I didn’t want to shock the boys’ digestive systems by serving them something with vegetables.

I was going to pour the leftover lemonade with our pizza but I was told in no uncertain terms not to touch it because the lemonade stand was going to be open the next day and they needed the inventory.  I then spent the rest of the evening hand-washing and drying all my glasses.

Have a nice day.

A Recap. In List Form.

1.  It is very cold on ferries in March.

2.  Had I known #1, I would have worn something other than flip-flops.

3.  There are no safety railings on ferries.

4. There are, however, vending machines, and giving my kids quarters kept them occupied in the enclosed lounge and away from the not-so-enclosed side of the boat. 

5.   My children have a pathological fear of sea gulls.

6.  We spent all day by the sea.  Where SEA gulls live.

7.  Note to self: Never show them the movie The Birds.

8.  The season doesn’t start until next week.  Makes it a little hard to shop in fun little stores if they’re not open.

9.  On the bright side, saved a boatload of money not buying souvenirs.

10. Will use that money to buy a sweatshirt today.

Have a nice day.

In which I don’t have a clear grasp of where I’m going

I had plans on Monday to go to the NC Aquarium with my friend Heather and her clan.  We thought we’d drive down to Wilmington, check out the fish, then hit the beach with the kids and let them run around and chase each other and generally get sufficiently worn out to so they would sleep all the way back to Raleigh at the end of the day.  

As I was talking through the planned activities with Mr. CPQ, he said, “Why don’t you just take a couple of days and do some sightseeing while you’re down there?” 

He completes me.

I thought it was a great idea because I hadn’t explored any of the coast of North Carolina north of Wilmington, and I had been wanting to see some of the beach towns that I’d heard of since we moved here and scout out some potential vacation spots.

We quickly formulated a plan to leave Wilmington after our day-long adventure and head up the coast,  catch a ferry to the Outer Banks and make our way up through Buxton, Rodanthe (where I would once again rue the day I ever picked up a Nicholas Sparks novel), stop in to see the Hatteras Lighthouse and head to Kill Devil Hills so the kids could see the Wright Brothers’ Memorial. 

I was talking to Heather about my plans as we sat in the Wilmington Chick-Fil-A with our respective broods eating fries and drinking lemonade, and she asked, “Are you catching the ferry to Ocracoke Island?”

I looked at her rather blankly.

“I don’t think I’m going to an island.”

“Well then, where’s your ferry taking you?”

“I dunno.  All I know is that I’m supposed to catch a ferry and it takes me somewhere and then I drive to Kill Devil Hills.”

“Uh, Sus?  The ferry only goes to the island. You then catch a different ferry from that island to get to the Outer Banks.”

“No, no, no.  I’m going straight to the Outer Banks.  I already bought the ferry ticket on-line last night.”

“Sus, I don’t think you can go straight there.  Let me see your confirmation info.”

“Here it is.  See?  It says Ocracoke.  Not Ocracoke Island.”

“Sus, Ocracoke IS an island. I’ve been there.  Trust me.”

“But I didn’t want to go there.”

“Well, you’re going there now.”

This ought to be fun.

Have a nice day.

When Pigs Fly

Yesterday I had the urge to get out of the house and away from the piles of unwashed laundry so we took off for parts unknown and wandered the North Carolina countryside in search of a little BBQ place in Carthage that had been recommended to us.  We found it without too much trouble – drove in on the main road past Goober’s Motors (I kid you not), turned left at the courthouse and went about a mile.

The day was windy and chilly (and yours truly didn’t check the forecast and said “Wear shorts”) and we should have had our meal indoors, but no one goes to the Pik-N-Pig to eat inside because it’s outside where one finds all the action.

The restaurant is located approximately 50 feet from a private airstrip and it has a lovely back patio where you can eat and watch planes fly in and taxi up for a quick bite to eat.

That’s right, children. Go run in front of aircraft while we wait for the hush puppies that are bigger than my head.

The tea was so syrupy sweet the spoon practically stood straight up in the glass, and the waitress left us a pitcher on the table so we could refill to our heart’s content.

If you’re a local reader, I recommend the trip down there.  It’s about an hour and fifteen minutes from Raleigh and the experience is worth the drive.  Word of caution: If you decide you want to go there  for lunch, be sure you have a little change in your pocket going jing-a-ling-a-ling because it’s not that the Pik-N-Pig is expensive (it’s not) but it is CASH ONLY.

Had I been by myself we would have been out of luck, because I never carry money other than what’s rolling around in loose change in the car’s center console.  Fortunately, Mr. CPQ was with us and he is responsible and doesn’t set out on journeys unprepared.

Unlike me who one summer drove 1,500 miles to Oklahoma with three children and only $2 in cash.

Who’s the goober now?

Have a nice day.

Random Randomness: The Friday Edition

1.  Does anyone use Craigslist?  I’ve only been on there a couple of times and get overwhelmed with the massive amounts of information and I also can’t get rid of that lingering thought that if I use it I might end up being portrayed by Dana Delaney as the dead chick at the bottom of the stairs in some really bad Lifetime movie.

Any advice for using it safely?  What’s been your experience?

2.  Adrienne From The Comments Who Doesn’t Have A Blog asked me yesterday about the pig in the puppy.  When Gretchen and I were on our road trip, we kept seeing signs for “King’s BBQ, Home of the Pig in the Puppy”.  We didn’t pull off the road because we were on a schedule, but the curiosity is killing us and may require a special trip back just to stop in, do the hokey pokey, and see what it’s all about.  I’m guessing (hoping?) it’s smoked pork dropped in hush puppy batter and deep fried.  For some ridiculous reason that sounds good to me, and as I’m typing this, I’m trying to figure out how to get Mr. CPQ to head over there with us and give it a taste test.

Survey says it’s not going to take a lot to get him to jump on that bandwagon.

3.  I’ve been using the white board on my refrigerator to list the kids’ chores for the day.  I’m moving them out of the “I’ll let you sit on the couch and play video games” portion of their vacation and into the “I’m training you to be productive so you can grow up and get a job and support me in my old age” phase.  I’ve found that writing down what’s expected to get done that day helps all of us.  I don’t have to nag, they don’t feel nagged, and they can choose what they want to do and in the order in which it gets done. When they’re ready to check off an item, I do a quick inspection to make sure it’s done quasi-properly, and then I let them have the dry erase marker and check to their heart’s content.

My mom did something similar for me when I was a kid.  She would write my to-do items on a piece of paper and hand it to me, and I would then figure out how and when I was going to get it done.  Somehow reading it on that scrap of paper made my chores feel somewhat less draconian and I was more accepting of my mother’s authority in that way.

I am so weird.

And have serious control issues.

And a great mom.

4.  I have been warned that I would bring bad karma upon myself if I didn’t let others know about giveaways on other blogs, so I am reforming my evil ways to let you know that my friend Lynn is having a fun drawing on her blog for a new mixer, and Kellie is also doing a giveaway in celebration of her 1,000th post.

Meredith HAD a giveaway because it was her 1,000th post as well, but I just remembered it closed last night so you’re out of luck, but go over there anyway and say congratulations if you haven’t already because 1,000 is  ridiculously amazing achievement.

5.  I have no 5, but you know how I am about lists that don’t end well-numbered.

Have a nice day.

Top o’ the Morning to ya’

We did a little wearing of the green around Casa de Carpool yesterday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  I thought our laundry situation (meaning a near complete lack of clean clothes) precluded Tommy from wearing green, but at the last minute he found his green Crocs at the bottom of the shoe basket and all was well.

There was a teacher at my boarding school who wore orange on St. Paddy’s with a sign saying “I’m Protestant”.   I used to think she was a killjoy, but now I think she just wasn’t at the top of her laundry game either.


Kellie had invited us over for a little seasonal celebration and I think by now we’ve all learned that when Kel says, “I’ll bake a little something” it means no one will leave disappointed.

She made these adorable rainbow cupcakes with different colored layers and LOADED them with vanilla icing topped with a chocolate coin.  My kids thought they had died and gone to heaven because their mother rarely takes the time to decorate their cupcakes.

It’s enough that they got baked, people.

Everyone took turns petting Pat Penny the Bunny, then Tommy and JJ took off to play Lego and Nerf gun wars with The Boy, and The Girl sat with Travis and helped him play an I Spy game on the computer.

Kellie and I crashed on the couch in a brisket sandwich/soda bread/Irish cheddar/cupcake/coffee coma, found some blankets and pillows, and drifted in and out of consciousness until it was time to come home.

Have a nice day.