Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Tomorrow, Mac and I fly with my mom to meet my sister and her family in NYC. We have a fun-filled few days planned. We're going to the parade, the Botanical Gardens to see the train display, the Museum of Natural History, the Rockettes, hopefully the Statue of Liberty, Serendipity 3 for frozen hot chocolates, Tavern on the Green for Thanksgiving dinner, and much, much more.

Sadly Mac's knowledge of NYC is based solely on what he's seen in the movies. He knows Grand Central Station is the train station in "Madagascar". And he knows the Museum of Natural History is from "Night at the Museum". Clearly his appreciation for pop culture is the one true direct link to his mother's DNA.

Anyway, while you're cooking your turkey on Thanksgiving morning and watching the parade, look for us. We'll be there among the other 15 million people who thought that would be a good idea.

And we're trying to get to the Today Show. If I see Matt, I'll give him a kiss from you!

the journey to CrazyLand

I have had a touch of sinus yuck for a couple days and woke up with full-blown sinus pressure today. I got Mac up and ready for school.

And drove him to school in my pajamas and bedroom slippers with a jacket thrown on top.

It's a slippery slope.

Monday, November 23, 2009

clarification on Jimmy's encounter with Madame Secretary

Okay, Jimmy was upset that I said he said she looked "tired". I told him that wasn't insulting at all. People say I look tired all the time and that's without my jetting all the way around the world to a war zone where I'm trying to restore peace and harmony. Goodness, if I had her job, they'd probably say I looked dead.

So just to clarify... Secretary of State Clinton didn't look tired in a pathetic, stay-at-home mother whose biggest decision is what to cook for dinner kind of way. She looked tired in an official Secretary of State who's trying to save the world sort of way. Not a harried housewife who stayed up too late watching Brothers & Sisters sort of way, but a I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in my own bed in a long time because I go to a full day of meetings every day in a different time zone kind of way.

Does that sound better?

Here's a photo of a brilliant and gorgeous and really refreshed Secretary of State with Jimmy and other people. Jimmy's got the big beard on the left side as you look at the photo.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

fairly monumental day for Familia Story

JIMMY.... briefed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today on her trip to Afghanistan. He sat just across the table from her. He was close enough to touch her if he'd so dared. (He didn't so dare.) I, of course, asked all the questions you want to know, like...

did you get your photo taken with her (not that kind of meeting)

what was she wearing (a pantsuit)

I guessed, but what color (does it matter?)

how did she look (tired)

did she know you were a State Department employee (yes)

And for you Moncks Corner people reading this, he used Moncks Corner, SC in his briefing. She thought that was interesting enough to repeat the town name and write it down (along with a chuckle).

MAC.... got an invitation to his headmaster's house for lunch in two weeks for being a top Sally Foster seller. (They apparently didn't know that his mother is actually a top Sally Foster seller). Mac is thrilled because he LOVES this guy. I'm not sure how much interaction a first grader actually has with the headmaster, but he's made a huge impression.

SUSAN .... had lunch with her best friend Caroline AND found out she's one of a few lucky parents who get to go on the first grade field trip in a couple weeks to Middleton Gardens. She gets to be a bus chaperone and is already wondering how many minutes it takes to drive from Pinewood to Middleton.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

this is it!

I took myself to see the Michael Jackson "This Is It" film the other day before its theater run ended.

Michael Jackson was the first big-time concert I ever attended. I was a 16 year-old exchange student in Australia and he was FAB-U-LOUS. His abilities as a performer are still memorable 22 years later. There was fire and cranes and fireworks and people dropping out of the sky. Really amazing now and even more so then.

Watching this movie made me appreciate his abilities more than ever. At the age of 50, he was every bit the performer and perfectionist he was 22 years ago.

Watching the movie also made me want to dance.

Except that I'm not a dancer. The only person who thinks I'm a great dancer is Mac.

Which made me think that maybe if I had a flashier wardrobe, I could dance better. But I'm not sure where to buy shiny, colorful pants like he wore in the film. I'm pretty sure they don't sell those at the Tanger Outlets.

And even if I had the pants, I wouldn't have the pivoting pelvic thing that he (and all his dancers for this show) had. And they definitely don't sell that at the Tanger Outlets.

Which made me realize that some people are dancers and some people are observers. And it's critical to know which one you are.

a P.S. on the birthday party

When I picked up Mac from school on Monday, I asked him if anybody said anything about the birthday party. He said "yes, they were all talking about it." I asked what their favorite part was.

The scavenger hunt?

The storyteller?

The s'mores?

The campfire?

Wrong on all counts.

It was that blasted chicken snake.

Next year, we do nothing but unleash a bunch of snakes around a hay ride wagon. No other entertainment needed.

Mac's birthday party

On Saturday, we had Mac's 7th birthday party at my mom's farm. The weather was spectacular. After a dreary week of cold, rainy days, we had 75 degrees and brilliant sun. Perfect farm party weather.

We had crafts;

... a scavenger hunt (winning team pictured below!);
... carrot cake;
... a hay ride (on which a chicken snake was spotted- we threw in "Animal Kingdom" just for extra excitement);
... a storyteller;
... and s'mores around the campfire.

We had a great time and hope our guests did, too. Mac told me it was his best birthday party ever.

you have to listen to this song

I am an avid, rabid, maniacal fan of the tv show, "Brothers & Sisters" for a lot of reasons. But I LOVE the music they play during each episode because it's usually fresh and not widely distributed and it's always so appropriate for the scenes it accompanies. The test for "appropriate for the scene" is whether I'm a sniveling, crying, hiccuping mess. When I hear something I love and have to buy on iTunes, I go straight to the ABC.com website to get the details.

On Sunday night, they played this lovely, haunting song that I HAD TO HAVE RIGHT NOW. Well by Monday night, the abc.com website wasn't updated with the music from the Sunday night's episode. Doesn't ABC have somebody on staff who enters this type of information immediately????

This morning the song was listed and I've purchased it and am listening to it on repeat mode right now. You listen to it here on YouTube and see if you think it's as beautiful as I do. I'm hooked.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday musing, part 3

4. Tomorrow we are having Mac's birthday party. It's a week early, but we needed to have it this weekend so cousins Hayley and Jackson could come before their Thanksgiving trip to their other family in Ohio. This party is really going to be fun, if I do say so myself. We're having it at the farm and will do the requisite craft project during the "gathering time", followed by a nature scavenger hunt. Then we'll break for an early supper of chili dogs, which Mac has informed me for the 400th time that he doesn't eat. To which I have replied 400 times "you are the only child in America that doesn't eat hot dogs. Tough luck." (But I'm taking peanut butter and jelly for the weirdos like him). Then we're doing a hay ride which will end at a campfire where a professional storyteller will tell stories for awhile before we make s'mores. I am super excited.

So today I was making the always-requested carrot cakes for the party. I bought new baking powder at Wal-Mart two days ago for this very occasion. I opened the canister this morning and saw white powder all over the top of the container. The aluminum seal had been taken halfway off. It begs the question of whether it was a freak accidental opening; a case of tampering; OR did somebody buy a $2 can of baking powder, open it, use a couple teaspoons for their cake, close it back up and take it to Wal-Mart as a return? As this was Wal-Mart, I'm voting for the latter because that place is generally filled with weird, sad people. This story is exactly why I HATE shopping at Wal-Mart and why now, for the 4,000,001th time, I am vowing never to go back. I had to stop my baking, run to Publix (which fortunately is a 1/2 mile down the road) and buy new baking powder. The cakes look great, so the baking powder did its job.

More on the birthday party after tomorrow!

Friday musings, part 2

3. With all due respect to your Great Aunt Matilda, who may work at a fabric store and I'm sure doesn't fit this profile... I have been to the same fabric store three times in the last month or so and I have to tell you that I think the women who work there are slightly odd. They're not very sociable or personable and, at times, can be downright grumpy. That must be a requirement when you apply for the job. No matter how desperate I ever get for a job, I am not applying there. Not to mention the fact that I can't really sew, which is probably also part of the job application.


1. Since Jimmy's in Afghanistan, could I sleep one week on my side of the bed and the next week on his side of the bed, thereby delaying the dreaded "change the sheet day" by one full week? Hmmmmm.

2. A year ago, I wrote about attending Mac's school Halloween party, where I learned that one of his classmates was the child of famous supermodel Isabeli Fontana. I immediately went from thinking I looked cute in my Halloween shirt to feeling like a frumpy middle-aged soccer mom. This morning as I was waking from another bad night's sleep, I remembered that and wondered what young Isabeli (she's probably 23 years old now) was up to these days. So I looked her up on Vogue's website. (She was included in a Vogue spread a couple months ago. Normally Target sales circulars are more my fashion reading speed, but I read that Vogue issue because it contained a big interview with SC's philandering, wouldn't-shut-up-about-it governor's wife, so I happened to see Isabeli there.)

So here's a photo of what the supermodel mom is up to lately. Some high-dollar fashion show or something that probably made her a bazillion dollars just for getting out of bed:

And here's what the non-supermodel mom has been up to lately. Meetings with the corn maze's pumpkin delivery man to "dead-drop" checks at odd places and times. And that definitely did not make her a bazillion dollars just for getting out of bed!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

combining our science lesson with Tom Story, our turkey

Yesterday morning at breakfast, Mac and I were discussing the turkey project. I don't know if you can see the little chart in the belly of the turkey, but "STORY" is in the middle and the parts on the outside say "Jimmy", "Susan", "Mac", and ""Tom"" (in quotes).

Well Mac was miffed that his name was at the bottom of the circle. I told him I started at the top, and put the names in as we all came to be Storys. So Jimmy was naturally first, I was second, he was third (and at the bottom of the circle), and then we added "Tom" because Tom was like a child for purposes of this exercise, another member of the family.

Mac grinned and said "but, like, Tom didn't come out of you". The science lessons go on....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

our family homework assignment

Mac came home last Friday with a very fun Thanksgiving project for school. Instructions were given to disguise a paper turkey as part of your family to help the turkey make it past Thanksgiving incognito. The turkey is supposed to be decorated in a way that's unique to your family in terms of hobbies, jobs, sports, etc.

We finished our turkey tonight and we think he's pretty special. Allow me to introduce Tom Story.

Tom represents our life as the Story family in a nutshell, or in this case, a few beautiful feathers.

Just in case anybody comes after Tom to make him part of their Thanksgiving dinner, he's got his running shoes on. It appears, however, that his shoes are on the wrong feet, so he may just run in circles. Let's hope for his sake there's no confusion.

Monday, November 9, 2009

science lessons at the dinner table

Tonight while dining on yummy tacos for supper, Mac and I were discussing his Weekly Reader where they studied the difference in mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish. He read to me about different animals and told me what category they fell into. After he read about zebras being mammals (and all the things that make them mammals, like having fur, giving birth, young drinking milk from mother, etc), I asked him what humans were. He said "mammal". Then there was a pause before he said "well, female humans are mammals." I thought he was hung up on the milk production thing, so I said that male and female humans were mammals, but only female humans produce milk for their young.

To which he said "yeah, and only females have babies."

To which I almost said, "yeah, except for that guy who was on Oprah and in People magazine who had a baby", but my good senses overcame me and I thought it best to save that for another day.

How in the world can you teach a child basic scientific principles when things change that much?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

update on Mac's new duds

Jimmy just skyped and asked if Mac's outfit matches. The answer is no. He's not supposed to wear all that stuff together. The coat and the shirt go together, but the tie most certainly does not. It's intended to be worn separately, which is why Mac won't be allowed to dress himself unsupervised for a very long time because he thinks it looks sensational all thrown together like that. That ensemble won't see the light of day unless we want him to play the part of doddering old British professor when we visit Oxford over Christmas.

start polishing the crown; I'm back in the running

In my quest for Mother of the Year, I took Mac to see Star Wars in Concert. In our house (when everybody is present and accounted for), 2/3 of us are Star Wars freaks. I am the other 1/3. I have watched the movies and really have no obsession, or even mild interest, in the Millenium Falcon, the Death Star, or Darth Vader's return to the light.

BUT I do like the idea of being crowned Mother of the Year, so I took Mac to this Star Wars production. I bought the cheapest tickets they had because the man at the box office said we'd be able to see fine from up high. What he didn't tell me was that I should bring my own oxygen tank because by the time we climbed up to the top of the Coliseum, I would need some breathing assistance. We were WAY up high, but Mac only asked once why we couldn't sit in those seats on the floor right in front of the stage.

If Star Wars in Concert hasn't come to a coliseum near you, let me tell you what you've missed. The whole thing is very nicely narrated by the guy who played C3PO. He doesn't tell the story chronologically, but rather he discusses different themes and relationships. There's a 100-foot wide, 3-story tall high-definition screen at the back of the stage. At the front of the stage is the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra backed by a 100-member chorus. When the C3PO guy finishes narrating a segment, the orchestra plays that big John Williams music and the chorus sings while clips from the movie supporting the narration are played on this enormous screen. Throw in cool lasers that are beaming all over the coliseum with the beat of the music and some pyrotechnics and you've got yourself a pretty great show.

So I was pleasantly surprised that I actually enjoyed the show as much as I did.

I was also surprised - and not pleasantly - by the number of adults who were in attendance without children. Who would attend this type of thing if you didn't have to bring your kid? I was REALLY surprised, though, by the number of people we saw in full costume. I'm not talking children who wore their Halloween costume from last week, although there were plenty of them. I'm talking adults, without children, who had on full regalia. It's kind of like a Star Trek convention: wildly freaky for those who don't get "it".

The outing wouldn't have been complete without a mandatory stop at the gift shop. Mac really wanted the program guide. I thought that would be a nice souvenir. He could practice his reading, it was educational, etc. UNTIL I FOUND OUT THE BOOK COST $30. That is highway robbery, my friends. So I talked him down to the $10 flashlight thing. See photo below.

Well the flashlight died BEFORE the show ended. So I marched us right back to the gift shop to demand another flashlight, where we promptly got sucked into buying a $35 t-shirt. I don't pay $35 for t-shirts for myself, but this was a run for Mother of the Year, right? The family next to us had FOUR children and they were each getting t-shirts. How could I not buy one for my one child?

As for me, I'm just waiting for somebody to call to get my head measurements for the tiara. I don't want it to be too tight since I'll have to wear it for a whole year.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

as ZZ Top sang, "every girl crazy about a sharp dressed man"

Mac and I are spending Thanksgiving in NYC with some of my family and we'll meet Jimmy in England for Christmas. Yesterday I told Mac that we had to work on his wardrobe some and that he needed one dressy outfit for these trips. He immediately asked if that meant he got a tuxedo.

No. Not that dressy.

Then he said he'd like to dress like Daddy does when he goes to work, with black pants, a tie, a button-down shirt and a sports coat. I'm telling you, this kid is destined for Project Runway.

We had 30 minutes to kill before the Star Wars show last night, so we went to the outlet mall to run into Children's Place. We found THE LOOK. We didn't try anything on because we didn't have time, so this morning while I slept in, Mac got dressed up in his new duds to see if they fit. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I've cracked the safe

A couple months ago, I locked the combination for our little home safe that we've had for 11 years inside the home safe. This safe holds nothing valuable in terms of money, but it does have our important documents like passports, original birth certificates, vaccination records, etc.

How I locked the combination inside the safe was vintage dingdong Susan. The time before I opened the safe before the dingdong opening, I decided to leave the key in the lock and not turn the combination dial. That way, I could just open the door up next time I needed something. Even if somebody broke into our house, they wouldn't get anything except our passports, so what did it matter if it wasn't really locked?

Well that brilliant plan worked great. I turned the key and the door opened without my having to do that pesky dial turning. I always overshoot the mark and have to start over with those combination dials. It was great in theory.

So I got out whatever I needed, gathered up everything that I'd pulled out and put on the floor, put it all back in the safe, turned the key in the lock, twisted the dial and bam, it was locked.

Then I looked around for the piece of paper that had the combination written on it. I had the paper handy because I keep it in a zip-loc bag with the safe key.

Where was it?

Oh my. Did I gather it up with all those papers and put it in the safe, which was now locked?

Did I do this without having looked at the numbers at all since I'd so brilliantly left the safe last time so I didn't have to bother with that pesky combination? There was no recent recall from which to remember the numbers.

Oh my.

My first inclination was to have the door welded off. But that meant lugging a heavy safe out of the closet, down the stairs, out the back door, to the car and to a welder. Better just to order new passports.

My second inclination was to try to remember the combination. I knew I had 3 of the 4 numbers, but it was that pesky 4th number that I couldn't exactly remember. I tried every variation of the numbers that I could think of. All to no avail.

There had to be a way to get the combination back, right? A couple years ago, the brand label was coming off. I went ahead and pulled it off because I figured why would you ever need to know the brand name? ONLY IF YOU NEED A NEW COMBINATION AND NEED A STARTING POINT FOR THE KIND OF SAFE THAT YOU OWN?

So then I went to WalMart where we'd purchased the safe a decade ago to see what brand of safes they sell. They were Sentry brand and they were, of course, all fancy and digital now - not a dial safe in sight.

I went to the Sentry website, found a way to contact them about a combination and sent an email. A bit later, I heard from a woman there who said it was a Brinks safe based on the model number.

Well then the corn maze got into full swing and thoughts of the safe only surfaced in the middle of the night when I woke up in a cold sweat worrying about needing a a passport to go to England at Christmas.

So today I called Brinks. While on hold, I listened to this message that said you could only get the combination by sending a notarized letter stating you're the owner of the safe, etc. I was prepared to send the letter but wanted to make sure I had a real Brinks safe.

This nice lady helped me and after giving her the model number, key number, and serial number (minus one number that was partially scratched off after a decade of use), she asked if I knew the numbers of the combination. I told her the four numbers that thankfully I'd written down right after the unfortunately locking. I wasn't sure they were right since I had not been able to get into the safe with them but they're what I remembered from 11 years of using them. And guess what? I had the numbers right, but the number that I thought was 4th was actually 1st.

The safe has been opened and the passports are ready for the trip to England!

sorry ladies. he's taken!

My wonderful husband sent me the most beautiful flowers and the nicest note today on his birthday. How lucky am I?

learning new things everyday

Today I made a trip to Sam's Club to return unused concessions that we didn't need at the corn maze. I had 32 items on my flatbed cart. When I got to the returns counter, the assistant asked for my club card and the receipts from which the sales were originally made. I gave them to her and she started going through the receipts to pick out the items on the list. I thought this was a waste of time because she could just scan everything, but I played the part of the nearly patient customer.

Once she finished with that, she started ringing things up. She would scan down the receipt until she'd found something she had marked earlier and then she'd key in the item number and click enter for the number of returns of that particular item. Well after a couple items, she made a mistake and keyed in Diet Pepsi instead of Dr. Pepper. (It was an easy mistake, I guess - the receipt said Dt Pep and I guess Dt could stand for Doctor instead of Dr.)

So then she had to void out the return with the assistance of a manager and start all over again. At that point, I asked if it would be more helpful if I lifted things off of the flatbed so she could scan them. She said no, that wasn't necessary because she was "quantitating". Huh?

I didn't really have a response to that, so I let her continue with her method. When she was all done, we went over everything again and I told her there should be 32 items listed. She let me count the items on the return receipt and I only got 26. I said we had missed something. She said it was all there, that she'd "quantitated" and punched in 6 cases of water at one time instead of individually entering them as she'd done all the others.

Well I thought there was no such word as "quantitate". I looked it up online and found the following definition:

To measure the quantity of, esp. with high accuracy and including measurement
uncertainty, as in quantitative analysis

I stand corrected. The definition sounds a little high-fallutin' for what went on at Sam's today, but apparently we were quantitating!