Category Archives: Incidents

Yes! please.

A couple of months ago my good friend Tori mentioned that she had an extra ticket to a Jason Mraz concert. I told her I would sacrifice for the sake of our friendship and take the ticket off her hands.

Because children and jobs make all areas of life inconvenient, I had to wait until the day of the concert, a Thursday, to head up to Jacksonville. Procrastination postponed my departure by an hour and traffic added another 30 minutes, so I cut it a little close by arriving in Jacksonville at nearly 6 p.m. I threw on some eyeliner, we popped into Tijuana Flats for dinner, Tori broke just a couple of traffic laws finding parking and we were in our seats just in time.

The tour is touted as “an acoustic evening with Jason Mraz and Raining Jane,” so there was no opener, but Raining Jane played a few of their songs before he took the stage. It took about four notes for me to be completely infatuated with them, especially the drummer. (Source)

mona rj

I think it’s because she reminded me so much of this girl from my secret Netflix obsession, “Gossip Girl.”

They were missing one member, but the three I saw were insanely talented and each played more than one instrument. The tour is based on the album “Yes!” Listening to the album, I wasn’t blown away by the band, but at the live show, they were incredible. P.S. Try to be in a bad mood listening to that cd, I dare you. 

When the Mrazmeister joined, you know things got funky. Clayton and I went to his concert a few years ago in Virginia, and this show was every bit as fun and entertaining. He is sarcastic (my second language) and laid back, and even in the middle of winter in a crowded theater, it felt a little like being at the beach watching the waves come in. The vocals blended so well together – again, the band plus Jason sounded way better live than on the cd – and Raining Jane can kill some percussion and sitar.

The only improvement would have been a venue with room to move. Our romantical swaying to the encore was rather stifled, though I think we still nailed the expectant couple awaiting first child vibe we were going for. Related: trying to sneak past a row of people inconspicuously with a six-month bump is as effective as attempting to avoid the potent marijuana smell oozing off the guy next to you by turning your head 12 degrees to the left. Neither works. I was so close to texting Clayton about whether or not a fetus could get high via aroma.

nat tori yes

After dealing with the back ups at the parking garage pay station and exit, we made it back to Tori’s house high (figuratively…I think) on the positive tunes but exhausted. Bright young minds needed molding early the next morning, so Tori went to work and I left shortly after she did. Panera’s honey walnut cream cheese had been calling to me for hours. I said goodbye to my tiny little roommate for the night and made it back to Tampa so that I could work for awhile before retrieving Addison.


Real talk: I’d been debating going to the concert for several weeks, wondering about some anxiety from the past few months that’s much improved but still lingering in certain situations. While this wasn’t a homerun in terms of my nerves, I’m really glad I went for it. Tori is infinitely understanding about all of my hang-ups. #jasonandjane definitely did their part to mellow me out, too, and even with the bouts of crazy in my head, it was a great show that I’d be bummed to have missed. Turns out Tori’s fortune that day was spot on.


How to Freak Out Your Valentine with Love

As much as I’d like to be too cool for school and totes nonchalant about Valentine’s Day, I’m not. Not even a little. I like holidays. I like excuses to veer from the norm, eat excessive amounts of junk and buy things that would otherwise be deemed unnecessary, e.g. polka dot ribbon. I am not the girl who expects a dozen roses (roses = no thank you) and a $200 steak dinner, but I do want a little pomp and circumstance. I love love, and it’s fun to think of new ways to celebrate it.

This year was Addison’s first year in preschool, so she I got to make valentines for her class. Hippie alert: I didn’t want to use candy. With Addie potty training–and rather successfully might I add–her life has been all manner of hand sanitizer and chocolate treats. The girl pees five times before 11 a.m.; she is her mother’s daughter.

I hopped over to the Dollar Store under vast amounts of pressure from my frugal hubs to keep things within reason. (“They are only two years old!”) I present to you sixteen adorable, “healthy” valentines that I didn’t even hijack from Pinterest.

school vday supplies





school valentine

school valentines bunchI did forget/ultimately decide to forego her teachers and still feel bad about that. (Their Christmas gifts were on point, don’t worry.) They may have a sweet Presidents’ Day gift heading their way if I can come up with an equally adorable Abe Lincoln craft.

I guess my mom blogger status is now official. Womp womp.

Valentine’s morning began with heart-shaped perfection. Doughnuts and pregnancy take the place of pizza and beer for nine months over here, and someone better hide those bad boys until after my glucose test on Monday. There was already one, uh, missing before I took this picture.

doughnuts2We have ambitious, likely-to-end-our-marriage plans for the new nursery, so we went on a research mission to Home Depot. Clayton still has some semblance of trust in our toddler’s capacity to listen to direction and obey commands from a distance, so he didn’t secure her in a cart. Do I need to spell out how enjoyable that trip was between the rows of loose lumber, wood cutting devices and swinging model door displays?

To reward both of us for not throwing tantrums at the tile displays, we stopped at a park to let that energy out. Ladies and gentlemen, my Valentine:

C slide C slide2

C slide3

C slide4

C A slideThey are the cutest.

I had to kick Clayton out for a couple of hours of Super Secret Vday Prepping, so he took A to my parents’ house. While he was gone, my little valentine elves, my brother and dad, got to redecorating the backyard.

Idiotically, I assumed my eagle eye hubs might not notice an open side garage door (with the extension cord trailing out of it) or a big gaping hole where our futon once sat. He did. And he was noticeably freaked out by the whole situation. In retrospect, watching “Gone Girl” the night before trying to pull off an undercover house heist while he was gone wasn’t the best idea for instilling confidence in one’s wife.

Once I let him in on the plan, it eased his little fretting mind. Mostly. He didn’t fully relax until the futon was back in its place on Sunday night.

After Clayton whipped up a delicious steak and shrimp combo, we took ourselves to the movies. In pajamas. With hot chocolate, popcorn and, duh, another doughnut.

movie night2I don’t want to brag is not something you’ll be hearing from me. I absolutely do want to brag about this one. It was the perfect mix of romantic and special—definitely out of the norm–but still comfortable. I was wearing a hoodie for goodness sake. Everything worked out with the technology, which was a major victory by itself. No one spilled hot chocolate on the rented projector, Maya didn’t start a yard fire with the candles and no one’s toes went numb in the chilly temps.

I hope you had someone or something that made you feel loved and celebrated this weekend. Baked goods totally count.

Open the screen door or the maltipoo gets it.

I am non-confrontational to a fault, many times kicking myself after the fact for being walked on or a silent observer when I could have spoken up. I craft clever comebacks days later while waiting in traffic.

Since having A, though, a more assertive streak has been slowly developing. I don’t know if it’s entirely a  Mama Bear thing or the sheer fact that I have way less time and brain power to process 16 different hypothetical scenarios if I were to to say something in a given situation.

This newfound confidence/lack of caring can sometimes mingle with my pregnancy mind and exhaustion, and then it just gets silly.

Case in point:

Our neighbors on all three sides have small yappy dog-ish type pets. Two of the neighbors have two dogs each. Lotsa tiny but powerful voice boxes. Every time any of the dogs are let out, it’s a screech fest. Which is fine, you have a ridiculous, obnoxious pet, that’s your problem. But the instigators—two miniscule balls of fluff prancing around the yard behind ours—are the worst. They rile up any other dogs who may be outside within three blocks and it’s all out yipping pandemonium.

As a reference, imagine a combination similar to this:

maltipoo plus hyena

(Source & Source)

Normally Clayton and I just roll our eyes. I’ll let a few frustrated grunts trail into the back yard as I’m closing the sliding door at nap time because those punks have been let out and could wake Addison up. Beyond that, what else can you do? The other night, I found out.

It was after 11 p.m. and the back neighbors released those crazed rat mongrels. They screeched and yapped for 19 minutes. NINETEEN MINUTES. Almost midnight, our kid is sleeping, we would like to try to sleep soon, and there are two Real Housewives-level canine hissy fits happening feet from our room.

I was losing my mind. I walked into the yard a couple of times without knowing what I could do. I peeked over the fence but saw nothing useful…like a loaded BB gun within reach. The owners weren’t even outside. I guess I couldn’t blame them because wow, can you imagine having to listen to that nerve-fraying racket for 23 straight minutes? How annoying would that be?

Finally, I straight up lost it. Clad in my most fetching maternity nightgown and breezy bathrobe, I marched into the backyard, crouched down low by the fence and just started pounding.

I don’t know if I was trying to scare those pooches initially, but I do know after a few raps it became more about releasing a couple decades’ worth of pent up aggression. It didn’t really matter by then if they kept barking; I was responding. Sure, insanely, but reacting nonetheless.

Believe it or not, the owners did not issue a restraining order. Instead they let the dogs in within minutes of FenceBash 2015. If this assertiveness isn’t gaining respect, at least it might incite some fear of the crazy barefoot pregnant lady in pj’s next door. Either way, those dogs haven’t been out after 9 p.m. since.   

The Leak Heard ‘Round the Neighborhood

Life this week has been reminiscent of that one summer I spent in Australia when we were allotted three bathroom breaks a day, took an average of four showers a week and washed our five outfits even less, beating our clothes against rocks and hanging them over foliage to dry.

Let’s back up. Last week I checked in on our water bill and noticed that it was, oh, five times our normal monthly cost. The bar graph of average usage was actually quite comical. Normal, normal, normal, we need more ink for this month. Because of MLK Day Monday, we couldn’t start dealing with the problem until Tuesday. Ugh, that guy and his revolutionary upheaval of atrocious civil rights violations. So inconvenient. The mysterious part was that we couldn’t find anywhere inside or outside the house that indicated a leak or excess water build up. So naturally, we were all whatever, it’s probably the meter.

JK. That is so not us. We were all OMG the leak is in the foundation! Our house is going to be ripped apart and the insurance won’t cover it and there are CHILDREN and BABIES that are going to fall in that massive hole and it’s all over for us!!! How can we live without a FLOOR?!?!

Spoiler: we still have a floor. And we can account for all of our children.

Did you know that normal, run of the mill plumbers don’t actually come and find a leak? Nope. They come out, check to make sure you didn’t somehow miss a giant bubbling puddle of sewer water in the middle of your house, and then refer you to a super professional Leak Detection Specialist. In other words, a weathered gentleman in an SUV who pokes around in your yard with the Leak Detection Specialty High Tech Equipment, or what looked like—to the untrained eye, of course–a metal pole with a handle.

The L.D.S. was worth every penny (and it was a lot of pennies), because he poked in just the right spot to send the leaking water pouring out of the ground and into the yard. And that’s where his job ends, by the way. If you have any pennies left, they will then go back to the plumber who has to re-reschedule another appointment to actually fix the leak.

The leak, which happens to be in a pipe located under a root the size of a fallen redwood. I don’t know if your natural inclination would be the same as my husband’s, but Clayton thought surely we have to destroy that root before the plumber charges us to do it. And yes, that seems to make a lot of financial sense when you’ll be charged by the hour and just getting to the leak could take several hours. However, that would make sense in the middle of the day, with adequate lighting, and the appropriate root-destroying accoutrements. We had neither.


But, bless his heart, off we went as the sun was setting to the local cheap power tool warehouse (because, Nat, it costs the same to buy one here than to rent one at Home Depot). One of us was in a big ol’ hurry to scoop himself up a [specific name that I don’t remember] saw. The other one had spent six hours sitting on the floor cleaning out the second bedroom and organizing old paperwork while almost six months pregnant, so she could barely straighten her legs to get out of the other one’s vehicle and waddle across the parking lot. To paint you a picture, Frantic McFrenzy darted a few steps, felt bad, turned around and came back, couldn’t wait any more, darted a few steps in front, felt bad, came back, and so on as we walked into and around the store looking for the money saving saw of redemption.

In all of our blade comparing excitement, I forgot the one reason I’d agreed to go with Clayton in the first place: the opportunity to use a working toilet. Ours has been merely a collection receptacle, just so you get your necessary dose of TMI here. So, on top of my prenatal stiffness, I was working with like a five hour bladder. Not ideal.

Cut to 8 p.m. and Clayton is still outside in the dark, sawing to the light of his iPhone flashlight app and, concerned spouse that I am, I’m curled up watching The Bachelor not so secretly hoping Clayton is preoccupied through the handing out of the final rose. Or at least until one of these chicks cries.

When he comes back in, he brings with him 1. lots of mud and tree shavings and 2. a noticeable air of disappointment.

“Well, that went about as expected.” To know where our expectations typically land on the optimistic to pessimistic spectrum, please see above reaction to water bill.

Tree root still splayed out over top of our busted pipe, almost mocking in its undaunted façade. Water meter still spinning like a whirling dervish when it’s turned on. We’ve been keeping the water completely turned off for the majority of the day, rather than pay $128 to make a pot of coffee.

Remind me to tell you about that one time I was in charge of turning the water off after Clayton had gone to work and there were winged, clawed beasts waiting in the meter hole when I, and my basketball stomach, bent down to wrangle it. Maybe the garbage man had to stop, get out of his truck and assist the pregnant woman on the verge of hyperventilation. I would have hugged him but I’d already maxed out my awkward capacity for the day.

Guys, we’ve really been roughing it in our air conditioned house with electricity and take out meals.

The plumber comes back tomorrow and we’re hoping he can de-root and de-leak by COB. We are not at all worried that removing the tree root will cause the gigantic pine tree to fall backwards on top of our house. No, hadn’t even crossed our minds, even though we have some experience in that department. We really need to find our homeowners insurance policy.

trees text  But hey, silver linings–we have a new saw and now we know BOTH Ashleys are cray cray.

C’mon get happy!

I posted an overly obnoxious and whiny caption on Instagram the other day and have been feeling lame about it ever since. I was—and still am—extremely frustrated by our new insurance situation as of late, but hey, we can afford (loose use of that word) insurance for our family and one way or another, I can see a doctor whenever I need to. So, time to get over myself.

As a recompense, here are some things that are making me not frustrated right now, 90% of which are food related because hello, pregnant.

1. Cream cheese + red raspberry preserves. Maybe I ordered a bagel with cream cheese, added the preserves at home and devoured the combo like a starved mountain lion. And then made two more pieces of toast so I could have more of it. Related: how are your New Year’s diet resolutions going, those of you not baking a baby? Suckers.

2. Mama got a new pair of boots. And baby is about to get fancy.



3. It’s been less of a meatless Monday and more of a meatless two trimesters over here, so I made vegetable enchiladas and they were filled with good veggies (albeit smothered in cheese) that I’ve been neglecting and lasted for three nights, i.e. I could slack on meal prep for two nights.

4. I ordered a decaf coffee at the Target Starbucks counter, and since they don’t keep a brewed pot of decaf, they made me a pour over. Holy delicious. It didn’t seem complicated until I looked it up; there are like 29 ways to make a pour over at home, so…whatever. Here’s my $3, pour hot water over powdered beans for me, please sir.

5. Doughnuts. I haven’t actually had one in a few months, but just the idea of them is putting me in a pretty good mood. Which reminds me of the ridiculous idea I had to do a pregnancy announcement using whimsically decorated Halloween doughnuts and the phrase “Something wickedly sweet this way comes.” Adorable, no?!



There was so much failure happening with the manifestation of this idea. First of all, the Dunkin Donuts commercials obviously used professionally trained, bakery owning frosting masters to craft the images I saw on t.v. Over at the ol’ local DD, I was treated to a “let me see what I can do” and gifted the scraggly interpretations of a moody teenager with some sort of clear musculoskeletal dysfunction. Then there’s the lighting, the giant plate, just a whole lot of no.

I was so annoyed I didn’t even eat one.

6. Breaking Bad. Not exactly an upper, but our two nightly episodes are little mini dates. Intensely graphic, drug-filled, cringe-worthy mini dates. We are at the beginning of Season 4 and OMG I want to punch Hank in the throat. (Source)

hank marie text1

hank marie text2

7. My brother (who is called Kunkle instead of Uncle) popped in this week and played with Addison for a couple hours. The next morning on the way to preschool, out of nowhere she shouted, “Kunkle’s here!” It melted my cold, dark heart.

8. Clayton, and now also Addison, playing the harmonica while Maya howls along. Never gets old.

9. Filling out paperwork and answering the “Occupation” section with “Writer.” Because stay at home pajama wearer, toddler chaser, kitchen avoider, stink eye deliverer and Instagram enthusiast usually takes up too much space.

10. The Bachelor is back and I don’t care who knows I am ALL IN already. With the sheer number of diagnosable alcoholics alone, this is going to be excellent television. SPOILER A’COMIN.

So sad to see you go, Tara. Thank you for representing Florida in a truly spectacular fashion. Enjoy that month long hangover. (Source)

drunk tara

Do it big.

Duuuuude. natl champs screen


I can’t stop smiling. Is there such thing as an elation hangover that lasts for like a month? Because that’s what I have. But instead of a headache, I have a permagrin and the giggles and sometimes full tear ducts when I catch that shot of Jimbo hoisting the crystal football over his head with his eyes closed or when I see the parking lot outside of Doak Campbell stadium packed with people welcoming the team back to Tally. If I’d had one more millisecond to contemplate it, I would have made the 4 hour drive with Addison yesterday to greet them.

Let’s back up. I was stomach-twisting nervous in the morning, so I got in a workout while Addison napped to clear my head and keep the anxiety at bay. That was important since I was such a vital component of FSU’s game plan. My parents arrived mid-workout and waited for Addison to wake up before removing her from the inevitable cone of profanity.

My garage obviously needed to know who I was rooting for.

My garage obviously needed to know who I was rooting for.

I had a few hours to kill so I made some stops in search of cold weather FSU gear. We were watching the game at an outdoor restaurant and the temps were going to be around 35. Stellar planning, as usual. I bought several correctly-colored-but-team-neutral sweaters but ultimately couldn’t bear not having FSU displayed prominently. The floor length puffer jacket would just have to do its job over a t-shirt and cardigan. Plus, I knew my head would be warm.


We arrived a solid 90 minutes before kick off to eat and tremble and pace.

If you have a television or access to any social media outlet, I’m assuming you know how things played out. If it was 9:30 p.m. on Monday night and you posted about The Bachelor, it’s safe to say our friendship is irreparably damaged.

Three quarters of rage and disbelief and antisocial behavior from one alumna.

Crouching Seminole, Hidden Offense

Crouching Seminole, Hidden Offense

And then a fourth quarter that  will live on in college football history.

arms up

Followed by a jumping, screaming, high-fiving, hugging, wife-carried-out-into-the-streets-of-Tampa celebration that hasn’t exactly ended in my mind.


C N crazy face

group1 (2)

How many consecutive days can one wear FSU apparel? I figure I have at least a month until people start making conspicuous comments in public.

It was a major concern for all of us if we didn't let you know our official BCS ranking via our index fingers for the rest of the evening.

It was a major concern for all of us if we didn’t let you know our official BCS ranking via our index fingers for the rest of the evening.

Fun tidbit: Downtown Tampa has a tall skyscraper, the SunTrust building, that is lit up for Bucs, USF, Rays and Lightning games in the team colors. When we were heading towards the restaurant I mentioned that ”they should have done the SunTrust building in garnet and gold,” not realizing that peak was ablaze in FSU colors. I was giddy when I saw it and said that if we won, we were going downtown to take pictures with it. Behold.

Professional photog skills from the car

Professional photog skills from the car

Mission: Accomplished

Mission: Accomplished

We (my SIL and I, the boys were totes poopers after 1 a.m.) wanted to party into the morning, but it was a Monday night and the two spots we crashed were already closed.

I still have grand plans to make my way to Tallahassee for some kind of celebration. And I shall keep partying it up until I have no more party left in me. Probably around week eight of next season when we get upset by Notre Dame or something.

And one last time for blogland…

F-L-O-R-I-D-A    S-T-A-T-E
Florida State, Florida State, Florida State

A List Full of Happy

Here are a few things helping me smile this week.

1. I beat my brother at Words with Friends. Sure, it was the one time in about 39 attempts, but I needed that victory. All that slaughtering was really starting to make me question my career path.

2. Girls Night was last Saturday night. Hey-o! As if that wasn’t enough, I assembled (didn’t even have to bake) and brought this saucy little minx:

ice cream cake (Source)

We chatted, kept our wine goblets full and took a stab at at-home nail shellacking. My effort was more like a massacre, but at least I gave being girly a go. Less than a week later, well, the results speak for themselves. I assure you these results have nothing to do with the product and everything to do with my general deficiencies in the feminine arts.


3. Catching Addison waking up from a nap as she bobbles around trying to blink her baby-sleepy eyes into recognition.

4. Our hot tub is up and running. We’ve lounged in it a few times after putting Addison to bed, and it is rather glorious. We can open the curtains and still check in on the Rays score. Really feels like the Noa’s are winning at life a little bit every time we’re soakin’.

5. Date night tomorrow night. Live music under the stars sounds like perfection. Except that it’s been 86 degrees. Gearing up for some sweet, sweaty PDA.

6. We went on a family run last night. Clayton hates running and only succumbs to my requests if tears get involved. Last night’s easy acceptance of my invitation was pleasantly unexpected. I love running with Clayton (except for when I hate running with Clayton) because I always go faster. Way faster. Our final quarter mile was under 9:00 min/mile. That’s downright insanity for me. It may have been even faster had Clayton not completely tripped over Maya, who got spooked by a mailbox. And that’s the story of the last time Maya will ever get taken on a run.

To the runners

I first started running consistently in 2011. I’d completed a handful of 5k’s in college, but once we moved to Virginia I had a lot of time on my hands while Clayton worked 490 hours a week. I had the distant goal of running a half marathon, provided I could actually wheeze through the three miles on my initial training schedule.

Distance running is not always fun. It’s physically demanding, yes, but more than anything it’s a mental battle within yourself to simply keep moving. On every long run, whether 5 minutes or 45 minutes in, I’d face that voice that tried to justify stopping. Quitting. Giving in and going home.

Becoming a runner, to me, was the development of a basic but profound ability to shut that voice up and run anyway. 

With a lot of sports under my belt, I can say that runners channel a competitive drive in the healthiest way I’ve seen in athletics: to push yourself to do more than you thought possible. “Beating” someone is not the endgame; doing your best is the ultimate goal. Running longer than you thought you could, running farther than you thought you could, running at all when you didn’t think you could. Your opponents are your last run, the clock and your head.

During the six months I spent going from 3 mile runs to 10 mile mornings, I incorporated several races into my training, culminating with the lone half marathon I completed in September 2011. 

What did I learn? Runners run because they love it. They want everyone else to love it, too. They are warm, welcoming and supportive to anyone who shows up with a pair of Nike tempo shorts. They are not exclusive or judgmental if you are newer or slower, stick thin or pleasantly round, wearing the latest Brooks or the Reeboks you use for gardening. They give you a ride to the start line when you are walking from a mile away. They get giddy upon learning it’s your first half. That same person, who you just met, waves and encourages you when you pass along the course. And then that person, who you’ve known for mere minutes, is waiting to cheer you on at the finish line.

My stint into running is still new, anything but elite, and far from marathon-capable. But I’ve spent enough time around runners to know that they are a community of decent, dedicated individuals.

Runners just want to run. And they are immediately inspiring to those who show interest in their passion. 

When I saw what took place on Monday in Boston, during one the most iconic races that celebrates runners on an international stage, I was heartsick. For the lives lost, for the people injured, for the city. But mostly for runners. There and everywhere. In a group that’s run together for a decade or strangers waiting for the starting gun next to each other, it is a true community. People who are unthinkably tough inside and out, who also use their coveted breaths to motivate someone who has stopped to walk in the middle of a race.

This ugly, darkened shadow has been cast over one of the most wholesome groups of people. Runners who have been working tirelessly to push past the point where their mind said they must stop, for the first time or for the 40th time. Families and friends lit up with pride, the people who facilitated this momentous accomplishment by babysitting, succumbing to pasta four nights a week and hiding water bottles along an 18-mile training route. A city opening its arms and streets and cheers to thousands of strangers.

These are the faces that form my sadness. This was the celebration meant to be incinerated.

Of course—unquestionably–if you have met a runner you know that quote floating around couldn’t be more accurate:

“If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target.”

Runners are solid and strong. Marathoners most of all. They ran 26.2 miles (still inconceivable to me) and kept running to help.

Those are runners. Those are the people who will prove there are 27,000 more reasons to hope and rejoice in the good of others instead of the one reason that leads us to doubt it. Though for a moment, one act grew louder and threw the dust of evil on this one day, in the seconds, the days and the weeks following I have no doubt the steady rhythm of feet on pavement will deafen the roar of terror. The melodic miles underfoot on roads in Boston, pastures in England, sandy streets in Africa and the sidewalk in my own neighborhood will drown the blasts of hate.

We’ll run. Even when it’s hard. That’s what runners do.

run for boston

Imma, Imma, Imma Bee

This morning I decided to take advantage of rare low humidity and exceptional cloud cover by working on the patio. Addison was napping, so I was really grooving in the work zone, apparently tuned out from most goings on around me.

Then I felt a little pinch on my thigh, not painful but noticeable. So I look down and see a tiny black tip of something poking through the fibers of my pajama pants. And then the something moved underneath my pants.

Enter that sense of sheer terror that you know is so unfounded and irrational but also too overpowering to counteract. I. Am. Going. To. Die.

But the terror mixed with the reality of being outside where neighbors are just a few feet away and my sleeping, possibly teething baby could not, under the direst of circumstances, be awoken.

I threw my computer off of my lap, grabbed a handful of my pants where the winged demon was last spotted and let out some sort of guttural, stifled, extended yelp as I prance-tripped through the sliding doors into the kitchen. I promptly attempted to de-pants myself, which proved a challenge given the state of my mental faculties (read: absent) and the death grip I had on that swatch of pant leg. Finally, the pants were off and the black, hideously oversized, buzzing bee-ish Creature emerged, pissed off of course, and began flying around my head.

More noises from the pit of my soul.

At this point, I high kneed it into the bedroom, still swatting at the bug’s invisible remnants on my leg. This was not a retreat. I’m no coward. I was simply regrouping under adequate cover. When I confirmed that my leg was, in fact, still attached to my body and not sawed off by a miniscule yet remarkably powerful stinger, I made a game plan. Numero uno: grab the camera and take a picture, obviously.

I wish I would have had Addison or the dog or a bird of prey for size comparisons, but time did not permit such luxuries. After snapping a shot or six, I failed at the tip-toed, bent over, flip-flop toss at the general direction of The Creature. Wily little bugger. It was time to call in the big guns. Lysol. Perhaps not exactly prescribed for insect annihilation, but I never read the fine print on those bottles, so who knows? I had injured The Creature enough to keep it in my sights for a solid 30-second stream of chemicals. I recycle. Stop judging me.

Suddenly realizing I was performing these athletic maneuvers sans pants abruptly ended the onslaught. But I think I made my point. And gave the neighbors a fantastic show for their hump day morning.


I’m leaving The Creature as it lies so that my husband cannot simply pretend to listen to my seemingly exaggerated story. I am making sure I have half-alive props for the ensuing reenactment. I hope The Academy is watching.


Wobble, baby, wobble

Last weekend Clayton and I attended a wedding dinner cruise in Norfolk. I’d never been on a big boat and wasn’t sure how the ol’ aging equilibrium would respond. Not well, friends. Not well. I took Dramamine about 30 minutes before getting on the boat, just like the doctor my mother ordered. But we didn’t actually get moving until hours after boarding, so maybe that was the issue. Everyone who came for the wedding showed up for the ceremony and some wedding festivities for the first two-ish hours, which meant we had the boat to ourselves. But then our party waited for The Outsiders to board and the boat filled up with strangers. And then that baby took off at the rousing speed of a gigantic ferry boat and my head was all, “What. Is. Happening?!”

We were on the second level, so there wasn’t any open air, and after I headed down to the bathroom in the windowless dungeon while we bobbed and weaved, all bets were off about how long I was going to keep that toasting champagne down.

I came back to our table and Clayton was having some friendly conversation with a stranger who happened to know where Pace, Florida was, and I tried to force myself to sit in the chair and pretend to listen. But all I could hear was the internal monologue of Captain Seasick vs. Princess Good Manners. Before I really knew what I was doing, I’d whispered to Clayton in the middle of his new friend’s sentence, “I’m going to the deck,” and took off upstairs. 

Best decision of my life. Not only is that obviously where you’re meant to hang out on a cruise, but the chilly, 50-degree night air worked magic on my inevitable dizziness. Why would anyone shuffle around in a closed-in box when they could be teetering over the edge of poorly constructed rails three stories over freezing water? Mystery. I stayed up there a long time looking at the lights and getting what I believe could be considered “my sea legs.”

I got to eavesdrop on the smokers’ conversations and even enjoyed an unexpected chat of my own when a man came and stood near me at the railing.

Him: You’re really getting your stare on.

Me: Mumble incoherently, as I so often do in social situations.    

Him: Jump in.

Me: Huh? You couldn’t pay me enough to jump in there.

Him: Really? I’d do it for $1,000.

Me: I think you’d have to add another zero to that for me to do it.


Him: Wait. Do you think there’s sharks in there?

Me: Yep, there are freshwater sharks that swim in this water.

Him: Oh, never mind then.

And just like that, I’m pretty sure I won that conversation. He left, probably to find me some sort of plaque or medal, and I had the view all to myself again until Clayton came to keep me company. He brought cheesecake, so actually, he ended up winning that round.

clayton nat cruiseI tried to convince him that life was just better on the top deck, but someone refused someone else’s prodding to “bring a jacket just in case” and was freezing his little tushy off. Someone else was warm and toasty and not nauseous on the upper deck in her winter jacket.  

So I compromised and after nearly an hour of fresh air isolation, I went back down to the party deck. When I joined the group with my newly acquired sea legs, I learned that standing was much better than sitting in terms of keeping the swaying of my brain at bay. Even better than standing? Dancing.

September 20113

Electric Slide. Cupid Shuffle. Some 70’s disco song that totally justifies the above finger pointing (but def not the open mouth). We rocked it all, with the exception of The Wobble, which we’d never heard of until that night and were utterly enthralled with. Man, people love to get their Wobble on. I officially decided we need to head to Da Club more often. You know, if they ever get Da Club in Newport News.

Thankfully, the wobblin’ of my head subsided long before last call, and we had a great time. It does throw a big question mark behind our plans to one day take a cruise, but I kicked that fear of flying (if “kicked” means flying once, for an hour-long flight, quoting Bible verses Rainman-style for the entire trip), so seasickness can buh-ring it.