Sunday, August 30, 2009

how hard can it be to find a church?

Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), we were spoiled by being able to attend really wonderful churches in Brazil. Both of our churches in Brasilia and Sao Paulo were led by people who were good ministers and faithful believers, and who also happened to be just really nice, approachable people who welcomed you in as if you were family.

When you're from a small town and you're raised Methodist or Baptist or Presbyterian or whatever, you just go to the church of your denomination in your town. There's no choice as there is just one option. Then when you move overseas, you just hope and pray to find a church that speaks English and doesn't practice chicken sacrifices or some weird something like that. The denomination really doesn't matter so much as the fellowship of being in a body of believers.

I really didn't give a second thought to finding a good church home when we returned to the motherland. I knew we wouldn't attend our childhood church to which Jimmy and I still maintain our membership, but there are a lot of churches in the close vicinity, so how hard could it be to find a church that's more contemporary, has some younger families in it (and yes, I'm considering us as a younger-ish family), and doesn't dumb down religion?

Very hard is the answer to that rhetorical question.

On every available Sunday since we returned in June when we weren't traveling, we have been to a different church or a different service at the same church. We have been to traditional services at big Methodist churches and little Methodist churches. We have been to contemporary services at both of those churches. We have been to our childhood membership church. Nothing has been quite the right fit.

So today we branched out and went to one of these campus churches of a big network of planted churches. I honestly didn't know if I was at church or a nightclub or a rock concert. Mac was insistent that he wasn't going to the children's program but the greeter insisted on giving us a tour of the facility in case he changed his mind. So by the time we entered the "sanctuary", they had dimmed the lights so that only the band was lit up. I am not kidding you when I tell you that it was a little like entering a movie theater after the movie has started and you have to feel your way along, squinting around for 2 seats next to each other.

The music was good, but loud; the sermon was good, but impersonal (delivered by video from the main church in Charleston), and the people were very friendly (which is a plus because at some of these churches we've been to, nary as soul has spoken to us). Mac was hooked. I'm willing to give it another try for the promise of another good sermon. But note to self for next time: less church-y clothes and more concert-ish clothes!

A little P.S. - in his sermon, the minister said that between all their campuses across the state and in all their services at these campuses, some 11,000 people attended this church last weekend. They are definitely getting the message out to a lot of people.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

it was a short-lived career

After a VERY stressful week last week trying to juggle work (full-time for the first time since Mac was born), a child and life without Jimmy, I was ready to go to Bull Street. If you're not from South Carolina, that reference will mean nothing to you, but Bull Street is where the state psychiatric hospital is (or at least was). In short, I felt like my child was getting shortchanged and I came to the hard realization that he needed a parent more than I needed a job.

Last Thursday night I couldn't sleep and wrote a resignation letter. Jimmy noticed I was online at 2am and talked me off the ledge from afar. He's good for that from afar and aclose!

After a lot of soul-searching and prayer over the weekend, I decided to see if I could go part-time (up to full-time as necessary for travel and post-travel work). I sent the email to my boss in DC on Monday explaining everything to him (I've worked for him before and he is a reasonable guy), but he was away until today. I did get an email yesterday from him saying that he would call when he was back in the office. Which turned out to be today.

So we talked this afternoon and he said since I'm hired as a contractor, I can't go part-time but that he'll hire me for short-term gigs as they come up. We'll see if they come up. He assured me there were no hard feelings on his end and that he understood family had to come first especially in this situation.

I definitely feel like the monkey is off my back, but I also feel a huge sense of failure because I just gave up what had the potential to be the best and most interesting job I've had since I started working and maybe I should have been able to do it "all".

Next time I'll have to order a bigger-sized Superwoman cape.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

the feeling of accomplishment

I will admit in 11+ years of marriage, I have learned to hand off the heavy lifting to Jimmy. Got a piece of furniture that needs to be moved? Before marriage, I would have shuffled it across the room by myself. After marriage, I would wait for Jimmy to help me if not watch him move it by himself.

I was a VERY self-sufficient girl before marriage and I'm having to grow my self-sufficiency legs back. I'll give you a couple examples, since I know you're a captive audience.

1. We have a queen-sized mattress on top of split boxsprings. Why might we have split boxsprings? Because we learned the hard way in Baltimore that a queen-sized boxspring does not turn corners to get up tight staircases. The problem with the split boxsprings is that our metal bedframe was missing that reinforcement leg in the middle that provides support from the floor up to the frame so we had some major sagging going on. Jimmy and I noticed before he left that we rolled into the middle, but it seemed easier to roll than to fix the problem. Until yesterday, when I got fed up and called the mattress store, asked for the best solution and was told what to buy at Lowe's. Then I went to Lowe's and had them cut the wood into the right size slats. Then I came home and heaved the mattress off and lifted the boxsprings off and laid down my wooden slats. And guess what? Last night there was no rolling, no distinct sagging, no hanging on to the edge of the mattress.

2. My bedroom in this rental house looks like a warehouse. Oprah says your bedroom is supposed to be a retreat. My bedroom is a retreat only if you like communing in Sam's or Home Depot. I have a dresser, a bed, two mismatched bedside tables (that aren't really supposed to be bedside tables so they're entirely too large for the space), a file cabinet, industrial shelving (that I was using before the dresser got here from storage, but now realize that I need at least a couple of the shelves), and a closet door that won't close because I have hanging shoe racks on either side of the door. In other words, it's a mess. But today I decided that if I moved the dresser over some, I could put a couple of the shelves on that same wall, cover it with a table cloth to hide the junk on the shelves and it wouldn't be quite so heinous. The problem is that there's a 26-inch television (the big, fat, heavy "old" kind and not a sleek flat screen that my 6 year-old can pick up) on top of a 5-drawer dresser that's packed to the gills. The dresser is sort of tall and I was scared to risk lifting the tv for fear that I'd drop it or get it down and not be able to get it back off the floor. So I did what any sensible person would do. I tried to push the whole combination. And guess what happened? NADA. That's right. It didn't budge. So I walked away and gave it some thought. And decided to wait until somebody stronger could come over and help me. And then the self-sufficiency thing kicked in and I decided I was not going to be beaten by a heavy dresser. Women lift cars off of their children nearly everyday, for crying out loud. So I kicked off my flipflops, squatted a little bit, put some shoulder into it, and the whole thing moved. I was able to push it about 3 inches before it (and I) just refused to go more. It still needs to go a couple more inches, but I can live with it the way it is for the time being.

So there is a feeling of self-satisfied accomplishment for getting some things done around here, but what I wouldn't give to have Jimmy here to do these things for me. And this time, I wouldn't take his muscles for granted nearly as much...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

is it a sign that your child watches too much tv...

... if he tells you something comes on at "8pm Eastern/7pm Central"?

I'm gonna get spoiled

Apparently when your war zone-located husband thinks you're losing your marbles, he sends flowers and lots of them. Look what came yesterday!
If I'd known it was this easy to get flowers every week, I would have lost my marbles a long time ago!

Monday, August 24, 2009

where did the last 20 years go?

This past weekend was the dreaded (by me) 20th class reunion from Berkeley High School. That's right. Class of '89.

Jimmy and I missed the 10th reunion because we were in Guadalajara at the time and didn't have money just to fly home for the weekend. So we promised ourselves that we wouldn't miss the 20th, no matter what.

No matter what.

Unless Uncle Sam intervened.

Which he did.

Which meant I had to attend the class reunion by myself. It's one thing if you've never gotten married or you're happily divorced and you have to attend these functions on your own. But if you are happily married and have to attend the reunion from a high school from which you and your spouse graduated and the aforementioned spouse is missing... well it looks bad. I was already paranoid about how I looked with all these wrinkles (really laugh lines, but who can tell the difference except me), so to go solo was just embarrassing. I Skyped Jimmy earlier in the day on Friday and asked him if he thought I could get rid of some wrinkles between then and 7pm. He said I could but we couldn't afford what it would cost last-minute, so I had to go with wrinkles and graying hair - all without him.

I was originally going to boycott the whole thing because I wanted them to have it in July when Jimmy would be home but the people on the committee chose to have it in August. Which I guess is their prerogative, but whatever.

The festivities included a meet and greet at the Dock on Friday night, a family fun day on Saturday at Short Stay on the lake, the reunion dinner and dancing at the country club on Saturday night, and a worship service on Sunday morning. Until about Tuesday, I intended to attend the Saturday night function only.

And then I had a dream early in the week that I missed a lot of good stuff by not attending the meet and greet. I know. It's pathetic to dream about your class reunion. But that shows how pathetic my life is right now and I've been an insomniac since I started work last Monday, so quite frankly I was happy to be in a dream state, no matter what the dream.

After the dream, I talked to my posse to find out if any of them were going to the meet and greet. The Coxes were so I knew there would be people there I knew and recognized. Then on Thursday, our friend Dara connected via email and we decided to go together, which meant I had somebody to walk into the room with, which is a big thing for me. You know that instant when you walk in and you don't know if/when you're going to see a familiar face? I hate that instant. So the two of us braved the instant together and recognized a few people, but really questioned who the majority of the people were and if they were even in our class because their names didn't ring any bells. A lot of those folks have either improved dramatically or declined dramatically; shockingly nobody looks the same as they did 20 years ago.

As planned, Mac and I skipped the Short Stay event. The last time I heard about Short Stay was a year or two ago when a man got his arm bitten off by an alligator there. That made the rounds all the way down in Brazil. No need to tempt fate with alligators or quite frankly see anybody or be seen by anybody from my class in a bathing suit.

The next event was the dinner and dancing on Saturday night. I went with the Coxes after which we met the Ackers at the event. I had a GREAT time and just wish Jimmy had been there because he would have loved catching up with all those people. I recognized a few more people than the night before but gosh, it was hard for a couple reasons. One was because they all looked different. And secondly, the sweat was dripping in my eyes and causing me not to see so well. It was about 110 degrees in the country club. Honestly, if I were a July bride and had my reception there, I would demand a refund because of the extreme discomfort caused by their poor air conditioning system. It was H-O-T but such good fun.

And finally Mac and I went with niece Hayley (who was with us for the weekend along with baby Blair) to the church service which was led by members of our class who went into the ministry. It was a lovely ending to a great weekend and - not surprisingly - not nearly as well-attended as the party events.

So as our alma mater starts out, "Here’s to thee, our alma mater, dear old Berkeley High, ever shall we cling together as the years go by." I can't wait for the next reunion. Maybe I can even bring Jimmy next time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2nd day of 1st grade...

...was proclaimed by Mac to be "the best day ever at Pinewood", which is saying a lot since he's had two whole days there!

The teacher came to the car at pickup and said that he behaved beautifully. Yea!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

1st day of 1st grade

Mac shot out of bed like a cannon this morning. He was ready for his first day of 1st grade with Mrs. S.

Unfortunately, when I picked him up at the end of the school day, Mrs. S said he talked and talked and talked nonstop, was disruptive because of the talking, talked out of turn, didn't wait to be called on with his hand raised, etc. He got a green frog taken away from him (their disciplinary system) and Mrs. S said nobody should ever have a green frog taken away on the first day of school.

I was floored.

I was dumbfounded.

I was embarrassed.

I was really upset because I hadn't been having such a hot day to begin with.

So I thanked Mrs. S and told her we'd deal with this at home.

In new situations and around people he doesn't know, Mac likes to show off and when he shows off, he talks nonstop. I am hoping this is what happened today. Mac really doesn't get bad behavior reports in school (at least up until now).

However if we have a repeat performance, I have told him that he will no longer have football to look forward to and those fabulous cleats that he'd sleep in if I let him will be going back to the store.

What a crummy first day of school.

And then we went to the "evaluation" for flag football.

This evaluation was supposed to run from 6 to 7:30. Well Mac's bedtime is 7:30, and I knew he needed a good night's sleep after today's early start, so we got there early because I thought we'd get in the line and get through faster. Didn't happen. They weren't ready early and so as more and more people gathered and waited, there was just more and more chaos. Finally they started talking around 6:10 and we rushed to get through all the 7 stations and out of there by 7, to stop at Burger King for fast food, to get home, showered and in the bed by 7:45. I am pooped. But Mac had fun at the evaluation and met some children and I met some parents and that's done. Now we wait to find out when his practices are. One hour a week plus a game is what they say. We shall see.

Almost ready for the NFL!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

school uniforms or not?

Mac's entire education thus far has been at schools with uniforms. I LOVE schools with uniforms. There's no arguing in the morning, there's no fussing over not liking something. It is what it is. You wear it because you have to.

Well now tomorrow is day one of no uniforms. I'm afraid mornings are going to be a nightmare now because Mac, who has no sense of what matches or what's fashionable or trendy, is going to wear outfits that are not socially acceptable. He pairs things that have no business co-existing on the same body. So my plan is to decide the night before so there's no delay in getting ready in the morning.

In good news, he does wear a PE uniform twice a week, so that leaves us just 3 days a week to do battle. We bought two PE outfits the other night at the Back to School Bash and boy, was I pleasantly surprised by the price. At Chapel, it didn't seem possible to buy any component of the social or sports uniform for less than $20 or $30. I'm talking one shirt, one pair of shorts, etc. So I always hemorrhaged money every time I went to the uniform store.

I'm not exactly sure of the breakdown, but the other night I bought two nice t-shirts and two pair of basketball-type shorts for $50 total. I felt like I was robbing the school blind. I did express surprise and the woman ringing it up thought I was complaining.

It reminds of the time when Jimmy and I first moved to Mexico. We drove down and our only overnight stop in Mexico before reaching Guadalajara was some town that I can't remember the name of. Well we went out to eat and we were so used to Washington, DC prices that we thought we had to order enough to equal the cost of dinner out in DC. The waitress must have thought we were crazy when we ordered, and the craziness was surely confirmed when we left all this untouched food on the table. I sort of felt like that the other day when I paid for the gym uniform. I felt I needed to keep buying stuff because those four pieces equaled about one gym shirt at Chapel. Score one for Pinewood.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Knock, Knock...

Imagine my surprise a few minutes ago when I heard the doorbell ring and looked out the window to see the big brown UPS truck out there. I love getting mail and getting packages that come on a special delivery truck are even better. But I didn't order anything so whatever could it be?

I opened the door to find this:

How fun is that!! I've never gotten flowers delivered by UPS and that seemed totally cool. Until I realized that it's about 98 degrees outside and the box felt like it was about 95 degrees to the touch.

But never mind. Somebody sent me flowers. Yea! So I opened the box and found a little note that the flowers had been lovingly packed by Gabrielle. Gabrielle told me to remove the outer "sturdy" petals that were left on to protect the flowers in transit, to cut an inch off the stems, and that the flowers would perk themselves after 8 hours in the vase full of water and that solution they always throw in.

I don't think I got all the "sturdy" petals off but here are the flowers (and the cool vase they came in). Keep in mind we're only 30 minutes into that crucial 8 hours!

At this point, I hadn't seen a note yet, but I figured they must be from my secret admirer Jimmy because I was really upset when we skyped the other day and he felt bad. And then I found the note:

Can you believe that in the middle of some outpost in Afghanistan while he's away from his home base on some mission he found the time to order me these beautiful flowers because I was having a bad day? What a guy. I am a lucky girl indeed and I'm going to enjoy these roses until I've lost all the sturdy petals and the not-so-sturdy petals.

day two on the new job

Well my mood has improved dramatically after I hit the pits the other day. The pity party for one is officially over (for the moment). There's no time for a party because there's too much reading to do to get up to speed for the new J-O-B. The good news is that I can work from home a lot and that makes me feel closer to Mac, especially since school is a mile from us in case something happens at school.

Speaking of school, we went to the Back to School Bash at school last night and met some of Mac's classmates and their families. Mac had already met one new friend in his class when he and big cousin (and babysitter until school starts) Arden went to McDonald's for lunch yesterday. The children determined that not only would they be at Pinewood together, but that they'd also be in the very same class together AND that the new friend's dad just spent 18 months in Afghanistan with the military. I met the mom last night and she was a welcomed breath of fresh air and encouragement and understanding and venting. All what I needed when I needed it.

And speaking of Afghanistan, Jimmy's fine. He got his first haircut on the military base and apparently those military barbers think that one size fits all. Oh my, it's short on the sides. But he's still handsome as all get-out and he looks so cute in his khaki, khaki and more khaki!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

new things happening for everybody

Last night Mac and I attended an event for new families at his new school. Let me just tell that these people at this school are so nice.

His teacher had gallbladder surgery on Friday and knew she wouldn't be up for attending the new family event the very next night, so she called us early in the week and set up a time for us to meet her on Thursday.

Why did she do this? Because all the children in Mac's class went to this school last year. She already knows all of them and they know her, so she wanted Mac to recognize one face at the Back to School Bash that we'll be attending tomorrow night. How nice is that?

We'll attend this event tomorrow night where we'll buy PE and field trip clothes and have a little assembly in the gym.

Tomorrow is also important because I start my new J-O-B. I'll be working as a financial auditor with the Merida Initiative of the State Department's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau. These are the folks I worked with in Brazil and I love the work. It's interesting and so different from anything I've ever done or have personal knowledge of since I've never used or trafficked drugs or had the occasion to get to know any law enforcement types other than as neighbors and friends.

I was so excited about this job when it was first offered to me, but that excitement has tapered off to a little itty bitty ember. I am so stressed about working and being there for Mac and not having to park him in the after-school program too often.

Before you start in on me, I know there are millions of single working moms who do this every single day of their lives and they don't complain. My new title of geographically single working mom is very new to me and I'm finding it all a little daunting. But don't you worry. I always tell Mac to "buck up, Buttercup" so consider this Buttercup bucked!

on any given Saturday

Today is an exciting day at Casa Story.

...Listen for the drum roll in your head.... Ready?

We bought Mac's first pair of football cleats today!

We bought them at Dick's Sporting Goods and they have a little track that runs around the shoe department. I'm quite sure you're really not supposed to run around it, but Mac put those shoes on and he was off like a bullet. He proclaimed them to be super-fast and worthy of purchase.

This may not seem like a very big deal to you, the casual bystander. But when you have an American football-obsessed father whose first words when he held you approximately 14 seconds after you arrived into this bright world were "Go Gamecocks" (sadly, I am not kidding), you might better be able to understand how we (that's the royal we and not really me, as in I) have looked forward to this day.

You might also grasp the significance when you consider that we've lived nearly four years in a place where Mac didn't have the opportunity to play or even watch American football (other than on television and at the annual American Society game). It was all futebol, aka soccer, and quite frankly, I don't think Mac's going to make it big in the soccer world.

We are talking B-I-G deal with these cleats.

Jimmy is a little disappointed because it's flag football. I can't (as in I looked slightly into it and nothing jumped out at me) find a league that allows pads and helmets and full contact for 6 year-olds, which I personally see as a good and positive and potentially brain-saving thing. For the record, I did check two different leagues and they're both flag football for Mac's age.

So we've signed up with the Summerville Baptist Church's Upward League (or we will as of tomorrow). Thursday night we have to go to an evaluation. What do you evaluate in a 6 year-old's flag football performance? I have no idea as I'm new at this whole thing, but I shall put my game face on and plod through it along with all the other dads who will be there.

And if you decide you'd like to drop in on us on any given Saturday in the next couple months, you'll find us at the ballfield. I'll save you a seat!

Friday, August 7, 2009

day two of my movie life

After I was up so late last night, I slept in this morning until the luxurious hour of 8:45. WOW. After Skyping Jimmy for a nice long 45-minute chat, I got myself ready for my day trip to Newburyport, a lovely town on the Merrimack River about 30 minutes from Lowell. It's like a bigger version of Annapolis, MD, one of my favorite places to windowshop and sit by the water, which is exactly what I did in Newburyport. I windowshopped mostly but did buy my first ever pair of Naot shoes. Man, are these comfortable shoes. I was wearing my standard-issue Havaiana flipflops from Brazil and when I put the Naot shoes on, they felt like bedroom slippers with great arch support. When I commented on this to the saleswoman, she wasted no time in telling me that of course, they felt supportive after prancing around a city in flipflops. Okay, but she didn't have to get snippy about it.

After a late lunch and enjoying the riverfront, I headed back to Lowell where I met Jeremy at his office. We went to the set again, still at the bar, and guess what happened? Mark Wahlberg walked not 2 feet away from me! He was so cute, in his newly married in real life (last weekend) state. I could have spit on him if I'd wanted - I'm a bad spitter, but he was that close. I assumed spitting was on the not-to-do list, even though we didn't cover that one specifically. I also saw Amy Adams but hardly recognized her in her outfit. Very 1990s Lowell, Massachusetts and not so 2009 "Julie and Julia".

So it was a successful visit to the set and I am most pleased with everything I saw and learned and everybody I met. But don't you worry that the fun is over yet. We're going tonight with some of Jeremy's colleagues to a nice Italian restaurant in Boston and tomorrow is Boston-touring day. More to come...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

my life in the movies...

Our childhood friend Jeremy works in the film industry in the accounting department. He's worked on some very cool stuff that I can remember, like Oceans 12 and 13 (or was it 11 and 12 - I lose track of those numbered movies), Batman with Heath Ledger, Bride Wars, etc. And he's worked on lots of other stuff that I can't remember the names of right now. It's currently 1:45am, which is well past my bedtime so my brain's not fully functioning, but I had to share this day with you!

When Jeremy visited us in Sao Paulo in May, I happened to mention that I'd love to go to a movie set and that you'd think with a friend who worked in the business that possibly I'd have the opportunity at some point in my life. Jeremy is a very clever guy and invited me to come to a movie set at some point in my life, but especially when we were back in the US over this next year.

He started working on a movie in Lowell, Massachusetts, outside of Boston in June. The movie is called "The Fighter" and stars Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, and co-stars Amy Adams. It's based on the gritty, but true story of Lowell boxer Micky Ward and his brother and trainer Dicky Ecklund. Micky Ward is probably most well-known for his three fights with Arturo Gatti, who committed suicide a couple months ago in my favorite Brazilian beach town, Porto de Galinhas. (HBO also did a documentary called "High on Crack Street" in 1995 which chronicles part of the Micky/Dicky story. You can watch it in 7 parts on YouTube but it is not for the faint of heart.)

This movie is being made on very small budget and there are just 33 filming days in total, so I didn't have many choices for visiting the set. By the time Jimmy left, they were already on something like day 14 with just 3 weekends left to go. One of those weekends is our 20th class reunion and the other weekend is just before I start work, so this weekend was the only good choice. So I booked my ticket and off I went today to Boston.

I will be the first to tell you that I think I lead a charmed life. I continue to get to do things that are beyond any expectations that I ever had for myself and my life and visiting this movie set is one of those things. I had promised Jeremy I'd be a model of discretion, I wouldn't make a peep, I would speak to no one unless spoken to first, I wouldn't stalk movie stars, etc. You have to understand that this world is so foreign to me that I'm completely and utterly fascinated by it. My one true guilty pleasure is reading People magazine - everything in it is so far removed from my normal existence that I may as well be reading about life on Mars. To be on a movie set around movie stars and people who make movies was a way cool experience for me.

Anyway, I got to the hotel (where I would like to tell you that Amy Adams is also staying but I have yet to see her - maybe tomorrow morning at the breakfast buffet??) and ironed my clothes because I could not go to my first and probably only movie set in wrinkled clothes. Jeremy picked me up about 7 and we went to the set. They were shooting on location at a bar in a gritty part of Lowell. I got a very cool badge that I had to wear and we walked right in. Apparently all you need is a badge. There are so many people running around that as long as you have the badge, you are obviously supposed to be there.

Jeremy introduced me to one of the producers who was seriously the nicest, most non-stereotypical movie type person that you could imagine. This guy took us around the set and pointed all these different things of interest to me. At this point, they were having stand-ins stand around to check lighting and whatever else movie people check before they film so we eventually moved off to the side to get out of the way.

While we were watching all the activity, Christian Bale apparently walked right past us and I missed him. Can you believe it???? I should have come up with a signal system with Jeremy so he could notify me of close star proximity, but that thought came to me too late. The producer introduced me to the real Dicky and another guy from the High on Crack Street documentary (and we saw the real Micky when we got out of the car earlier). The producer also introduced me to this other actor who plays Dicky and Micky's dad, but I'm drawing a blank on his name right now. TOTALLY C-R-A-Z-Y!

So when it got closer to filming time, the producer took us outside to this place where they had monitors set up with director's chairs with different names embroidered on them. The producer told me to sit in his chair - CAN YOU IMAGINE??? - and he gave me a set of headphones so I could listen to the filming while watching the monitors. How cool is that? I thought I was very VIP. So we watched for awhile but let me tell you, movie-making is a seriously slow process. We left the set about 9 to go eat dinner with one of Jeremy's friends and they still had hours of filming to do.

BUT I get to go back to the set tomorrow afternoon so maybe I'll see Mark Wahlberg. And if I see Amy over Rice Krispies in the morning, I'll be sure to pass along your regards!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

pecan allergy testing, aka a trip to the torture chamber

Today was the dreaded trip to the allergist's for the pecan open food challenge. These are pecans. Who doesn't love pecans? I would pay a doctor to let me come in and eat pecans for 4 hours. Yes, you read correctly. We were in the allergist's office for 4 LONG hours trying to eat what must have amounted to about 20 pecans. I could eat that many in about 3 mouthfuls. Not Mac. He whined and cried and gagged and tried to throw up. It was embarrassing.

I tried to be patient. We had about three nurses attending us and you have to be on your best parental behavior with that much supervision. So there was no threatening, no yelling, no nothing. I was a model mother. I told him there was nothing to be scared about, that he tested as low for pecans as he did for peanuts and he breezed through the peanut challenge, etc. I explained that he had a choice in this test: he could eat the pecans and keep that beloved DSi or he could not eat the pecans and lose the DSi. I told him I'd buy him a new DSi game if he'd just eat the pecans.

He kept saying he was scared. At this point, we'd killed almost an hour and I was done and was losing patience. And I knew he was playing us. But one of the nurses didn't and she tried to use all this psychological talk about why he was scared, did he really think we'd allow anything to happen to him, they were trained professionals, etc. PUH-lease. I didn't fall off the turnip truck of Mac Story's manipulations yesterday. I wanted to tell her she was wasting her breath, but that didn't seem very "mother of the year"-ish, so I let her go on and then told him the time had come to make a decision about which consequence he wanted. DSi or no DSi. Because that's what it came down to.

He was supposed to have 5 rounds of increasing quantities of pecans with 15 minutes between each round. He made it through 4.5 and then refused to eat the last 1/2 batch. I told him no new game, he said fine, so I knew he was really done. He'd had no reaction thus far and the doctor declared him pecan allergy-free. I have never seen a chocolate chip cookie with more than 20 pecans in it, so I'm thinking this diagnosis was correct.

We're still supposed to go back for the walnut challenge, but I need to be medicated before we do that. Today was very stressful. Perhaps the walnut test could be a good father-son bonding experience on one of Jimmy's trips back home? He'll have seen all sorts of war things, so a 6 year-old's hissy fit will be nothing. What do you think?

a little overnighter to Myrtle Beach

On Saturday, I decided to bid on a hotel room in Myrtle Beach on If you know me well, you know I like to travel and I especially like the thrill of the hunt for a good travel deal and the victory when I find that deal. So I bid $75 on the highest-star rating they had for MB and got a room at the Sheraton - great location near Broadway on the Beach but not right on the beach which I thought was the only downside.

Mac and I invited my niece Hayley to go with us. I knew we'd both appreciate the company for our own reasons. She accepted so Sunday morning we were off. Our first stop upon arriving was Ripley's Aquarium. The children had a great time and were soaking wet by the time we left from the touch tanks full of sting rays and horseshoe crabs. They got even wetter when we ran to the car in the driving rain that had overtaken Myrtle Beach while we were in the aquarium.

We went straight to the hotel to check in and enjoy the indoor pool. I hate indoor pools because they're always so over-chlorinated, but boy, was I glad for one at this hotel. Nor did I mind not being right on the beach because we couldn't have enjoyed the beach if we'd wanted. There was a monsoon going on right outside. After swimming, we came back to the room to watch a little tv and bathe.

Our night outing was a round of putt-putt. Now I perhaps had bragged that I was a master at putt-putt, so they were prepared. When we first entered the putt-putt course, I heard Mac tell Hayley to focus so they could beat me. But alas, that was not in the cards as I won that game handily. Sadly for me, Hayley thought the highest score won so she placed no value on my low score and Mac told me that "this isn't about losing or winning, Mom" so my victory was really for naught.

On Sunday we putt-putted again and then ventured over to the outlet mall so I could pick up a few pieces for my new job. I promised the children that if they behaved, we'd play one last round of putt-putt. So they were on their best behavior. Sadly the woman in the Lucky Jeans store was not. I walked in to try on a pair of jeans (not for work, but because I needed a pair). Their sizes are all like men's sizes, so you have to know your waist and inseam measurements. I didn't know mine and so asked the saleswoman to help me. Our conversation went like this:

Her: What size do you wear?
Me: 6 or 8
Her: Oooohhhh. That would be a 28 or 29.
We walk over to the jean selection to look for 28s and 29s.
Her: Yeah, we don't really carry a lot in that size.


Finally she found some pairs that might work, and Mac and Hayley joined me in the fitting room. I tried on a 28 and a 29. Hayley's vote was for the 28s because she said they made my legs look skinnier. I explained that when your thighs are encased like sausage, of course your legs look skinnier. I decided to go with the 29s, though, because they were looser and felt better in a non-sausage sort of way and they looked halfway decent.

We concluded our trip to Myrtle Beach with yet another round of putt-putt and a trip to Pizza Hut.

So now I am putt-putted and junk fooded out completely. We had a great time, but if I don't play putt-putt for another few years, that'll be okay!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

P.S. on career counseling

We also really like Cash Cab on Discovery but decided:
a) that's not a sustainable source of income, and
b) we never, and I mean NEVER, want to get in the cash cab if it's just Mac and me. We need Jimmy with us if we have a hope of getting past the $200 mark!!