August 2019

We’re only halfway through the month, but the momentum of the new school is already giving me whiplash. Is summer really over? For real?

At the tail end of July, we celebrated my Mom’s birthday with dinner on the river, then presents and homemade carrot cake back at our house.

The following week was MY birthday, and we were together again on the river since Chuck rented a boat for the day and the weather was completely perfect.

Corey came up to spend the weekend with me too, so we spent my actual birthday lounging with mimosas and doing a little shopping. We became best friends at 14, but I gotta say we look better now at 41.

But back to the river. We keep daydreaming about getting a boat, but honestly, we think renting a few times each summer is the way to go for now. We’re too busy and we want to keep traveling as much as possible. Perhaps owning a boat will be part of our retirement plan, or at least a “The boys moved out! Let’s celebrate!” plan.

We officially started our ninth year of homeschooling on Monday, August 12, and I swear I’m going to take professional photos of the boys. I used to be good about that, but if you know what it’s like to have teenagers, then you understand that taking pictures of them is a crapshoot. Sometimes they’re down for it, but most of the time they’re not.

Our first day of school at home was complete with Salem laying on top of their French work. It reminded me of Henri, le Chat Noir.

Jeremy is in 10th grade and taking the usual suspects: Chemistry, Geometry, English, and American History. He also has French, a Bible class, and chess. Jackson is in 8th grade, also taking French, English, and American History. He’s doing Algebra at home, and Life Science with Dissection at our co-op. We’re only a week in, so no casualties yet.

The weekend before we started school was a complete joy from beginning to end. It was our second Girls Weekend of the year, so hopefully, we’ll grab one more before the close of 2019.

The summer was lovely, a perfect mixture of busy and still. There were a few steaming, hot weeks, as well as that fall-like weather in July (wasn’t it divine?). I kept busy with freelance work, prepping for the school year (I teach four classes), and catching up on reading fiction.

I have to admit – I’m still thinking about our European vacation in May, and sometimes I catch myself wondering if it was real. We are dedicated low-fare hunters now, TRAVELERS ON THE CHEAP. We are looking and booking and daydreaming about what’s to come. And, since I never shared the video I made from our trip to England, Italy, France, and Monaco, here is it for you to enjoy:

Girls Weekend June 2018

The original idea for one our 2018 Girls Weekends was to reunite in New York City where our friendship really began. Though we already knew each other from working at the college newspaper, it was that trip to NYC that really solidified our friendship. This photo was taken sometime after we got home. We were 19 and 20 years old:

As the time came for us to nail down travel plans, we realized this wasn’t the year to make that trip happen. Life, as usual, got in the way. Instead of one of us hosting, we opted instead to rent an AirBNB in Middle Tennessee, an approximate midpoint between our cities. It was comfortable, serene, and, most of all, free from responsibility.

The apartment is situated on the second floor of a newly built (non-livestock) barn with an incredible view of the Cumberland River.

The covered porch on the ground floor was comfortable and cool, and it’s where we spent the majority of Saturday lounging in our pajamas.

The apartment was open and clean, though it was home to more antiques than necessary. The couple who runs this property must have been collecting antiques for years.

Though I appreciated much of the decor, I was not a fan of the creepy dolls.

We ventured into town Friday night for Mexican food and groceries, then drove to Granville Saturday evening for lakeside dining.

In previous Girls Weekends, depending on the city, we’d look for Top Chef restaurants or something that got high ratings. (Food is typically the one and only splurge.) However, we kept things as laid back as possible this time. We all wanted to rest and relax.

Unfortunately I made one mistake. I requested to stop and take a photo of this creepy, dilapidated house on an old country road, which meant walking a few feet into overgrown grass.

My souvenir is more chigger bites than I can count.

Otherwise, it was a perfect weekend. I love these ladies and I love our time together.

**I wrote about this friendship and how important it is to nurture your tribe for this month’s post on the Knoxville Moms Blog.

Signs of Life Days Four and Five

One of the first things I did after setting up my dorm room in the fall of 1996 is go to the student newspaper office and inquire about becoming a staff writer. I was a journalism student and it was time to start collecting bylines.

A handful of very good things happened on account of my student newspaper experience. I learned how to write a solid lede, how to fill unsold ad space with PSAs, and that writing a feature story was more enjoyable than writing a news story.

I also met two ladies who would bolster my life for many years to come. These names and faces are not foreign to you if you know me in real life or have read this blog for any period of time. Susan and Lesli have been permanent fixtures in my life since our friendship solidified on a 1998 trip to New York City for a journalism conference.

Together we have been through every up and down, every twist and turn that can happen in a 20-year span, and since we haven’t lived in the same city since our college days, we’ve relied on letter writing and phone calls (that turned into emailing and text messages) to arrange the thrice-annual Girls Weekend.

We’ve had dozens of them:

Girls Weekend protocol is simple: Get to the location, decide on food, and catch up on all the things we don’t send in emails and texts. This translates to hours of conversation, very late nights, and many cups of coffee.

This weekend we met at Susan’s house and it was as predictable as ever, which is exactly what we hope for. Lesli and I arrived at her house by dinner time on Friday and we were home in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday. All the stuff in between was goodness.

What’s important for you to know here is that the three of us are not clones of one another. We do not hold all the same beliefs and ideas, and the decisions I make may not be the decisions Susan or Lesli would make, and vice versa. Yet, in this trio, we say things we don’t say elsewhere and we support one another no matter what.

This election season has proven to be a divisive one for many people, and it’s the reason I started the Signs of Life blog series. And while there is diverse political thought among the three of us, we agree on one important thing: Life is too short and too unpredictable to go through it without one another. 

This Girls Weekend reminded me that I have a cheering section, a support group, and a fan club. It reminded me that I am a cheerleader, a supporter, and a great big fan of two fabulous women. This morning I sit in a place of deep gratitude that we have one another.

Signs of Life is a blog series I’m writing for February 2017. It was born out of desire to replace the negativity and despair that’s been bogging down our friendships, families, and communities after a tumultuous election season. This series won’t solve the world’s problems, but I hope it will create a speck of light and positivity when and where it is needed. 

The Ladies at Table Cinco

By now y’all know what Girls Weekend is, right? College besties, gathering three times a year, eating, laughing, more eating…

The bulk of our visits revolve around catching up on things that can only be said in person. Inevitably, we’ll each make a comment that gets marked down as unforgettable. Whether it’s our way of ear-marking the visit with humor or celebrating the random things said by an over-tired mom who’s had one too many, these silly quotes always go down in Girls Weekend History.

I’ll let you decide which one of us said the following:

“We can’t use that photo. I look like I’m from Star Trek.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever considered Bob Hope’s sexuality before.”
“Flowers are nice, but I really prefer cash.”

the ladies at table cinco

We ran a tab at the place we went to on Saturday night, and when it was all said and done, we tallied up who had what and divided expenses. The best part was realizing how the server named our table:

the ladies ticket

Cheers to the Ladies at Table Cinco. I love you both dearly. See you in the fall. xoxo

Girls Weekend January 2015

Susan’s daughter, Avery, age seven, took our Girls Weekend photo. The first one was standard.

Girls Weekend January 2015

Then she said, “Okay! Make funny faces! I’m not taking it until you make funny faces!” So we stuck out our tongues.

Girls Weekend funny faces

Then she says, “Okay, be serious. I’m not taking the photo until you’re serious.” So we got serious.

Serious Girls Weekend 2015

Then she started giggling and snapping furiously, so I sprang to my feet to get the camera.

Girls Weekend Oops 2015

And this was the final shot. Of course, I made the last one special.

Girls Weekend photo snafu

Thanks, Avery!

It’s still summer.

My favorite thing about homeschooling is having the freedom to do what we want to, and that includes deciding when we begin and end the school year. By law, we are required to “do school” a certain number of days for a certain number of hours per day, but when and how we accomplish that is at our discretion. That being said, our first day of school will be August 25, which corresponds with the first day of my last semester of graduate school. It will be a momentous occasion, one that will likely require a pancake breakfast.

We decided to go back to the homeschool co-op this year after taking a year and a half off from participating. The boys were thrilled when I told them, so that confirmed the decision. Also, Jackson will continue with private swim instruction and Jeremy should start soccer later this month. It won’t be long until we’re back to busy-ness and the lazy days of lounging in pajamas and taking afternoon naps will be over.

Today starts my last week of the summer semester and the mushiness of my brain is a good indicator that completing my final genre paper won’t be easy. It’s due Saturday, and even though I have tons of research and outlines and sticky notes that I’ve collected over the last 14 weeks, I haven’t written anything yet. I’m not overly worried since I write best under deadline. It’s quite likely that I won’t start typing the 10-page paper until Friday morning. I need to feel the rush and fear of potential failure to really crank out something good.

Did I mention we just had Girls Weekend? Love these ladies ♥

Girls Weekend August 2014

Finally, I don’t remember if I shared the fan letters Jeremy and Jackson wrote to George Lucas and Joss Whedon (respectively) this spring as part of a letter writing lesson. Anyway, we mailed them in March and last week Jeremy got a return letter from Skywalker Ranch. He nearly exploded from anticipation holding the envelope in his hand, but I regret to say that we were all a little disappointed with what was inside. I’ll share more of that later this week once I take the photos.

Girls Weekend with Avery and Catherine

Susan hosts Girls Weekend in the spring,  so this weekend I had the opportunity to take pictures of Avery, something I’ve not done since 2012. Susan also got to meet Catherine, who’s now three and a half months old. Man, time flies.

Being a mom of boys, I loved being around little girls this weekend. As a rule, we don’t incorporate our kids into Girls Weekend, but there have been exceptions when babies are born and photo shoots are overdue.

Avery at age 6

Avery bw

Catherine at three months

Catherine March 2014

The little ladies 2014

The little ladies again 2014

Of course, then there’s us:

Girls Weekend March 2014

Meeting Liz Gilbert

I know I said my presence online would be minimum this month, but y’all, let me tell you. This blog post is worth it.

It was Girls Weekend, so Lesli, Susan, and I were doing our usual thing. We eat, we talk, we have coffee, we talk some more. Sometime around 2 a.m. we realize that we’re not 25 years old anymore and our bodies cannot handle such late hours. The whole thing begins again for one more day and then we don’t see each other for several months.

On the rare occasion, we’ll go to an event, a museum, or a movie, and Saturday night was one of those times. Elizabeth Gilbert was coming to Knoxville to read an excerpt from her new book, The Signature of All Things, and discuss writing/creativity/life with the audience. (She is best known for the wildly popular and inspiring memoir Eat, Pray, Love.) The three of us were giddy with excitement to hear whatever batch of wisdom Liz would have for us. All attendees received a signed copy of SOAT, and I took notes on the inside cover page of mine.

An Evening with Elizabeth Gilber

She was as ever bit as brilliant as I knew she’d be. Clever, witty, eager to share with the audience what she had learned over the years of being an aspiring writer. Write every day, so that when you don’t write for a couple of days you know that something is missing. 

camera_20131102192219163

The evening concluded too soon and I held back tears as she graciously thanked Knoxville for the warm reception. (Liz isn’t unfamiliar with Knoxville. She taught creative writing for one semester at the University of Tennessee in 2005, immediately after her year-long sojourn that eventually became Eat, Pray, Love.)  Audience members were invited to have their books personalized in the lobby, and I swear every single person did just that. The line was painfully long but we stood in it anyway. My moment with Liz Gilbert was less than 10 seconds; I didn’t even speak to her. Both Susan and Lesli  had more courage and swapped polite conversation, but I said nothing. If I had opened my mouth, I would’ve said too much and started crying. I might have even crawled in her lap. (In hindsight, she probably would’ve listened to my drivel patiently because she is too kind to do anything else.)

camera_20131102210432927As a whole, the night was perfect.

But it wasn’t over.

The girls and I walked to  Coffee & Chocolate for a treat. Conversation floated from our favorite bits of Liz’s talk to other unrelated things. We had been there nearly an hour when I casually glanced at the small group of ladies standing at the register. There was Liz, ordering a steamed milk and talking with three women who were obviously as inspired as we had been. That’s her, I mouthed to Susan and Lesli. That’s Elizabeth Gilbert!

My eyes bulged. I said all sorts of profanity and Susan stripped off her cardigan. (Because clearly that’s what you do when you find Liz Gilbert standing five feet away from you ordering a steamed milk. You strip and cuss.)

I said more profanity and pulled out my phone. Despite the cardiac arrest I was clearly experiencing, I was going to be bold and ask her for a picture. Susan, minus her cardigan, grabbed her phone too and stood next to me and waited for just the right moment to interject. (Lesli, at nearly 32 weeks pregnant, stayed calm.)

From the depth of my gut, I squeaked out, “Um, excuse me? Can we have a picture with you?”

Liz turned a kind, smiling face our way and said, “Absolutely! Come on!”

camera_20131102215355185Y’all, seriously. SERIOUSLY. I might be smiling all calm and cool in this photo, but I was on the verge of vomiting all over the floor from nerves. What a crazy, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime moment this was for me, for us, for three women who dearly love reading, love writing, love learning from other smart, strong women who have important things to say. Again, I barely spoke to her because I would’ve lost all self-restraint. Instead, I said, “Tonight was wonderful. Thank you very much.”

My cup runneth over.

This morning, as I add to the novel I started four days ago, I’m meditating on these words from Saturday night: Your story chose you and needs to be told through you. Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert was exactly the gift I needed in this year, in this month, in this season of molding my words into fiction. None of this was by chance, for I am too smart to consider it as such.  All of Saturday night was on purpose.

“Destiny, I feel, is also a relationship – a play between divine grace and willful self-effort.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

The Underwood: Best Birthday Present Ever

When Girls Weekend officially ended yesterday afternoon around 2 p.m., I called Chuck from the road to discuss our afternoon plans. I had a paper to write and was considering a stop at the public library where I could have a little peace and quiet to complete it.  When I asked him whether or not I should come home beforehand, he replied, “Just come home first.”

There was much fanfare when I walked in the door, as if I’d been gone two months instead two nights. As I made my way through the living room towards the kitchen, I noticed Chuck was hovering. He missed me, I thought. So sweet.

And then I noticed a strong chemical smell. I turned away from petting the dog to determine where the oily, gasoline smell was coming from… Which is when I saw this on the dining room table:

UnderwoodI screamed. Then I ran to Chuck and jumped on him. Arms around his neck, legs around his waist. Then I screamed in his ear. Then I ran back to the typewriter and started crying.

To my writerThe reaction was two-fold. I have always wanted an antique typewriter that works. That is part of it. But the other part is that Chuck has kept an eye out for this machine for years, always remembering that it was something I desired. The gesture, more than anything, is what warranted the tears. My goodness. He still woos me. It is scary good when your spouse knows you this well.

I turn 35 years old on Friday, and this was a killer way to start the week.

For record-keeping purposes, here is a shot from Girls Weekend. Love these ladies dearly:

Girls Weekend July 2013

Weekend: Ready, Set, Go

In short:

– Girls Weekend starts tonight! Hurray! Since Lesli moved back to Tennessee, traveling for GW has lessened significantly. I will drive all of 30 minutes to get to her house, which is vastly differently from when I lived in Amarillo and she lived in Washington DC. Furthermore, we’ll be able to carpool when it’s Susan’s turn to host. We haven’t all lived in Tennessee since my boys were babies.

-Jackson will practice football in full pads tonight for the first time. His little lanky body can barely support the helmet, so it will be particularly adorable to see him in full uniform. Pictures to come!

-Major has been the best little running buddy lately. I barely ran in the spring due to shin splints, but I’m shooting for a November race so it’s time to get back to it. Major is improving his ability to stay focused and pace his trot. (He is a natural sprinter, so I’ve worked to slow him down and increase his overall endurance.) The challenge remains to be his attention span, as it pertains to squirrels and birds.

-The cucumbers have taken over the garden. I have more pickles than I ever imagined. If you like dill pickles, please raid my refrigerator.

I’ll leave you with a lengthy video of the animals. Jeremy and I wanted to see what the dog would do if we draped a deer skin over a lawn chair. The cat saw it immediately (of course!) while it took the dog nearly a full minute to notice it (of course!). Enjoy, and happy weekend!

Girls Weekend, January 2013

Two of my favorite people came to visit this weekend. T’was wonderful to be together for yet another Girls Weekend. (Previous visits can be seen here, here, here, here, here…Need I go on?) For a minute we forgot we were 30-somethings instead of 20-somethings and stayed up talking until 4 a.m. Sunday morning. Two days worth of coffee and Advil later, I seem to have recovered.

Miss you, girls!

Girls Weekend January 2013

Weekend Round-Up

When your friend asks you if you’d like to go to a chocolate boutique, there really isn’t any other answer but ABSOLUTELY YES.

We went to Co Co Sala on our first evening together, which was a great way to christen the weekend. All of the drinks come with some form of chocolate (those are chocolate shavings you see on top of mine) and the desserts are little pieces of chocolate artistry. T’was delicious!
I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo with my grandparents, whom I saw before flying home on Monday. They picked me up at Lesli’s house and we drove to Montgomery Mall for lunch. When Grandpa told me we were headed that way, I immediately thought of the summer of 1988 when we were living overseas in what was then West Germany. My parents – either to get us out of their hair or to remind us was America was like, or both – sent my sister and I to the states for one month. We spent two weeks each with both sets of grandparents. In the two weeks we were in Washington DC, Becky and I probably visited Montgomery Mall half a dozen times. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a townhouse just a stone’s throw away from the mall, which was probably one of the most exciting things you could provide two sisters – one who was a teenager and one who very much wanted to be a teenager like her big sister.

But I digress…

Grandma, Grandpa and I grabbed lunch at Nordstrom before driving to the nearest metro station. My flight was at 6 p.m.

Here is a shot from my connecting flight from Atlanta:

As usual, Girls Weekend was over much too quickly. We’ll repeat the occasion before the holidays to round out the year and then we’ll start over again next spring.

Earlier this month Lesli sent me the most awesome birthday card ever, and it’s the perfect picture of how I hope our future trio will be.

Girls Weekend, Circa 2042

Mike Isabella’s Graffiato

When you care about food as deeply as we do, deciding what restaurant to patron is a well thought out plan on Girls Weekend. It’s even more important when you visit a city (like Washington DC) that is saturated with celebrity restaurants. In this case, we chose a Top Chef celebrity restaurant: Graffiato by Top Chef All-Stars runner-up Mike Isabella.

In a word, OMG. I’m just going to dump all of the photos on the page and let you drool. There are roasted pistachios, skirt steak with potatoes, corn-stuffed ravioli, pizza with proscuitto and the most perfect double chocolate gelato there ever was ever in the whole wide world.

And then there are three very happy friends who waited all night long to see Mike Isabella waltz out of the kitchen to greet us, but he never showed up. Oh well!

Salute

I got home late last night from Girls Weekend in Washington DC and spent just enough time uploading photos and editing a small few. Then I crashed into bed and watched mindless television.

There is much to post about Girls Weekend, but I will have to divulge more later since zoo classes are today and we’re all still sitting in our pajamas.

However, I will share this: On the flight from Atlanta to Washington, the pilot disclosed that there was a fallen soldier on board who was to be interred at Arlington. The pilot then requested that all passengers, minus the accompanying Captain, wait our turn to deplane. Obviously, we all did as we were told, because when you see something like this from your window seat, suddenly your plans for the day seem a lot less important.

Salem resumes his spot.

When we started homeschooling last year, the boys and I got a kick out of Salem’s insisting upon sitting with us. Specifically, he required a spot directly on top of Jeremy’s school work, as seen here.

Well, it’s a new year but not much has changed. As expected, Salem resumed his spot on Jeremy’s math sheet.

Happy Weekend to you all. Keep me in mind as I travel to D.C. for Girls Weekend Summer 2012. See you soon, ladies!

Henry’s Orange Cupcake

After Fan Appreciation Day at Neyland Stadium, we drove a little north of Knoxville to see Henry, now one year old. Lesli and Jimmy were in town from Washington DC for an extended First Birthday celebration.

Remember Henry and how much of a little peanut he used to be?

Well he’s not a little peanut anymore. He is quite the little man now and ready to walk around on his own as soon as he figures out how to fall and get back up. His eyes are certainly his most striking feature. So handsome!

Even though the afternoon was all about Henry and not about Girls Weekend, it was odd not to have Susan there! We missed you, friend! As soon as Jack popped out of the car, he hollered, “Where’s Avery??”

Girls Weekend, Spring 2012

Friday’s weather was absolutely insane. I’m sure you’ve seen the news footage. The forecast was so grim that Lesli, Susan and I considered rescheduling Girls Weekend – which should be a huge indicator that we were very nervous about traveling. Girls Weekend is a standing thrice-yearly date we have kept since 2000. The only occasions for which we’ve rescheduled have to do with birthing or adopting children.

Weather be damned. We went anyway. Lesli had a flight scheduled and Chuck rearranged his schedule so I could head to Middle Tennessee sooner than later in an effort to beat the storms. Minus scary charcoal gray clouds and seeking shelter at a gas station in Crossville for a passing hail storm, my drive was fine. Lesli experienced what she called “more than turbulence” on her flight from DC, but the landing was smooth and she arrived virtually on time.

The rest of the weekend was just lovely.

 

Girls Weekend, October 2011

Three times a year Susan, Lesli and I get together for a weekend-long catch-up, and our visit this past weekend rounded out 2011. When we meet in the springtime next year, that will begin our 12th year of tradition. We’ve been through everything together since meeting in college, even though we haven’t lived in the same city since December 1999.

Just like Susan and I have done before with Avery and Jeremy (respectively), Lesli brought Henry to Girls Weekend. The only other ears allowed to attend belong to either babies or pets. If you want to know our secrets from the weekend, Henry and Salem are in-the-know.

Welcome, Friday!

It’s going to be a super duper weekend for a number of reasons – the first being that it’s Girls Weekend. Susan and Lesli (with Henry) will be here tonight. (The estrogen-testosterone balance won’t be as lopsided as it usually is in this house.) We’ll lay low since Baby Henry can’t join us for cocktails so I suspect we’ll do more lounging in the living room than hanging in the lounge. Still, Girls Weekend is one of the events I look forward to most each season.

The weather is entirely autumn. It’s been rainy, chilly, and the fall colors are so vibrant. Out every window is a lovely view. Salem is loving it, too.

Finally, it’s Halloween weekend! The boys are so excited! Chuck carved our pumpkin last night (with power tools!) and we made some Halloween crafts this morning during school. I hope we can make it to Boo at the Zoo at some point, too.

I hope you all have a fabulously fantastic weekend! I plan to.

PS. Someone knows my love language. 🙂

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Chapter 1

I misspoke in the last post. Upon uploading the photos from my camera, I discovered not 463 photographs to sort through but 510. Good grief. Someone should’ve told me to chill out.

Naturally, I can only share a fraction, and it’ll be a small fraction. We’ll start with Chapter 1: Washington DC. It shouldn’t surprise you that our stay in the nation’s capital was planned around the release of the last Harry Potter film. In keeping with Girls Weekend tradition with Susan and Lesli, we had to see it together, and that meant waiting an extra two weeks until we could all be in DC at the same time.  It was bittersweet to see the last movie together – not just for reasons of loving the books and films, but also because we’ve shared this tradition for nearly a decade. Girls Weekends will continue, but Harry will not longer be a part of them.

(Bummed about the glare on the movie poster!)

In addition to HP7 Part 2, what also made this weekend special was getting all of our families together. Not only had the three husbands not been in the same room since Lesli and Jimmy’s wedding day in October 2000, but the four children had never formally met. Sure, babies have traveled and such, but Jeremy and Jackson had never spent time with Avery (Susan’s daughter), and they’d only spied on Henry (Lesli’s son) briefly in our living room a few months ago. Basically, our little core of three has sprouted to 10 and it was nice to have everyone under one roof.

Of course, being in DC warranted two other things: seeing some of my extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins!) and touring national monuments and museums. In total we spent five days there, and we squeezed out every ounce of energy the boys had.

I was most interested in an exhibit featuring the inaugural gowns of the First Ladies.  Chuck and Jeremy indulged me.
I was most interested in an exhibit featuring the inaugural gowns of the First Ladies. Chuck and Jeremy indulged me.

After DC, we drove to Philadelphia to stay with my parents for a few days and see a few historical sites downtown – like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the gravesite of Benjamin Franklin.

Then, we left the kids and escaped. But more on that later.

Girls Weekend, December 2010

Susan and Lesli left last night, ending our last Girls Weekend of 2010 and hopefully the last one we’ll celebrate in Amarillo. The irony is that they were here last November and all I could say is, “Next time I host, it should be in Knoxville.” Hmm.

We did all of our usual things: talk, eat, talk, sleep, talk and laugh. And eat. And see the new Harry Potter flick. (Yes! Loved it! So stressful!) Normally we get dolled up and grab a long dinner out, but with no childcare available at nighttime, I treated my friends to Pei Wei takeout on Saturday and a home-cooked meal on Sunday. Low key and totally economical, considering we’ve been known to drop serious cash for fancy food and drinks.

We’ll head north of Nashville in the spring and D.C. next summer, and when it’s my turn again to host in the fall or winter, who the heck knows where it will be.

Today begins my last two weeks at the magazine and I’ll spend that time training my replacement. That means that the February magazine is completely out of my hands. It’s going to take a little time to process that.

However, on a positive note, yesterday I spoke with the author of the book I’m designing/editing and it looks like he may increase my workload a bit, which means it is to my benefit to have more time to work on it. I’ve barely touched it since Thanksgiving, so I’m already devising a daily schedule in my mind of dropping kids at school, running, and working on the book during the day – something I’ve not been able to do since I started it. The notion of “working from home” has lessened the blow of leaving my job. It’s funny – my reaction when people ask, “How’ve you done it all? I can’t imagine how much you’ve had on your plate.”

My answer is simply, “I have no idea.”