Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Central Command

No, this picture is not from an episode of "Hoarders."



Behold the Nerve Center of the Taylor family.


While I try to keep the rest of the house and my car tidy and spotless, my office often looks like a bomb went off in it. All the “stuff” involved with two kids and their schoolwork, a Brownie Troop, church activities, artwork, tennis, bills, and amateur photography literally piles up sometimes. Add Christmas gifts, ornament exchanges, Christmas cards, decorations, and Christmas activities onto that, and this is what I get. I am also in the middle of retiring from my job in real estate, so somewhere in all of this crap very important paperwork are the forms needed to affect that retirement. Also, there are some Coldwell Banker signs that I need to return to the office. It’s like “Where’s Waldo?” in here. If you can see them in the picture, give me a call, because I can’t find them anywhere.


You might be saying to yourself, “Vaiden, you idiot, why don’t you just clean it up?” That would be a good question. I usually have only a few minutes to find the photo, form, check, ticket, document, schedule, phone, parking pass or camera I need and then race out the door. Each day for the past two weeks, I have started the morning off by saying, “Today is the day that I clean out my office.” However, life inevitably gets in the way and before I know it, I am falling into bed late at night, office untouched. The mess lives on, safe for another day.

My office is the opposite of the calm eye of a hurricane. While everything outwardly seems to be running smoothly, it’s the room at the center of the house where the lists are made, the presents wrapped, the phone calls happen, the days planned out. People might be surprised that I can be a slob, but sometimes this office is my woman-cave, so to speak, with notes and pictures and books and coffee mugs and DVDs of “The Tudors” that I watch far away from tiny ears and eyes. I can come in here and be imperfect. It’s colorful and surprising in both unpleasant (wasn’t this permission slip due a week ago?) and very pleasant ways (Who left $20 on the floor? Who cares!) Obviously, the room must be cleaned and organized regularly to prevent utter chaos, but I like it like this. Like life, it’s messy and complicated. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Never Look a Gift Earring in the...Ear?

Have you ever found yourself wishing that you had a nice, neutral squirrel earring? That glows in the dark?

Or perhaps you are dressed for a party, but you feel as if your outfit is not complete without a tie-dyed birthday cake earring?

Until now, these problems have been borne by modern women in shame, behind closed doors, hidden away from an unfeeling, cruel world. UNTIL NOW, friends.


Behold the pair of earrings Katie created for me in her jewelry-making class this week. Drink them in. Revel in their fabulousness. You may borrow them only if you ask nicely and leave a large security deposit.





As you may know, Katie is a little more of a free spirit than I am when it comes to fashion and accessories. If Katie can make it out of the house with *some* of her clothes matching and no glitter, I call it a win. I once had another mother tell me, in all seriousness, that she admired the way I didn’t fight with Katie over her couture choices and let her dress as crazy as she wanted. (I feel like life is too short to waste time arguing about clothes.)  I am not so much a free spirit in the jewelry department, so the earrings are a little bit of a stretch for me. I do love that Katie made them and gave them to me in all sincerity. So if you see me sporting the custom earrings, now you know “the rest of the story”. Also, if it’s dark, just follow the squirrel.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Where the Sidewalk Gets Scary


I love Shel Silverstein.  I have loved his poems and books for as long as I can remember.  Even in college, I would be known to have a couple of, ahem, "sodas" too many and recite Shel.  Yeah, I didn't date much.

When my kids came along, I had two more Shel-lovers.  Katie, especially.  When I catch her reading late at night, she often is giggling over one of his poems.  As she gets older, she understands his humor and it's fun to watch her "get" the point of a poem.  She has three books of his, and she knows them all very well.  Last night, she wanted me to read to her for a change.  We play-fought over which poems we would read first and which ones were the best.  We started at the front of Where the Sidewalk Ends and read our way through to the middle.

As the pages turned and we got closer to the end of the book, Katie was getting restless and nervous.  She began flinching as I would turn each page.  Finally, as we neared page 154, she started, jumped out of bed, and went to Davis's room on an errand.  When she sheepishly returned to her room she asked, "can we just skip to 'Merry'?"  Hmmm. "Merry" is on page 164, the end of the book.  Slowly, realization washed over me and the hairs on my arms and on the back of my neck began to stand up.  No, I thought, that would be just too freaky.  But I had to know, despite the fact that my questions would terrify her even more.

"Katie, which picture is it that scares you?"  I asked.  Tears came to her eyes, but she seemed relieved that I knew what was going on, even if she hadn't told me.

"I don't want to talk about it," she said, shaking her head.

"Katie, please, I really have to know.  What picture?"

"Mom, no.  I really can't."  Her terror seemed to be building as she tried to block out the picture that was coming into her head. 

I couldn't let her think I was simply being cruel, so I told her the story.  I have had one copy or another of Where the Sidewalk Ends for almost all of my life.  There is one poem, one picture rather, that scares the fool out of me.  Even as an adult.  When Katie was tiny and even in recent memory, I have always known where that picture is and I carefully flip past it as quickly and quietly as I can.  We never read each and every poem, so it's never a big deal that we skip a few.  Katie also doesn't depend on my preferences;  she knows by heart some of the poems that I don't, since she reads her books independently of me.

The poem, and the chilling illustration, is "Melinda Mae" and it's the story of a little girl who decides to eat a whale and spends her entire life doing exactly that.  The poem itself is cute.  It takes up four pages and as you turn the page from young Melinda, you are met with old Melinda on the second two pages.  Old Melinda is the most terrifying drawing I have ever seen, to this day.  I have goose-bumps and the jitters just typing this sentence.  For thirty years now, I have been skipping that page.

I have never talked about this to anyone, ever.  While I am known for having a little bit of an over-active imagination, I have never wanted to confess that an illustration in a book of children's poems could scare me wide-awake at night.



Katie is deathly afraid of the same drawing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why I Maybe Perhaps Need to Stop Throwing Baby Parties

2010 has been the year of the baby party.  My friend Amy and I have thrown three baby parties this year.  Our church has been unofficially renamed "Our Lady of Perpetual Conception" for good reason.  Luckily, I have been drinking bottled water around there, so Scott and I are safe. 

The first baby party, a shower for a little boy, went off without a hitch.  The parents-to-be are very sensitive to environmental issues, so we had a "green" shower, complete with no plastic utensils or paper plates and we recycled the wrapping paper, bags, etc.  It was really fun event and it had a nice message, too. 

The second baby party was at my house.  We were having the house painted and it was a close call to have it finished before the shower date, but it was done.  Some of the paint might have been wet, but nobody noticed.  The only problem with that party was that the honoree went into labor the day of the shower, and her doctor called us as we were finishing cake and champagne to tell us the baby's name, weight, and amount of hair.  So we showered her in absentia, cranked up the stereo, and celebrated her birth.

The third baby party is tomorrow at my house.  Earlier this week, Davis ripped a curtain rod out of the wall, leaving a huge hole above the back door in the family room.  It has been repaired, but only after two days of work by my favorite painter.  More tragic, Amy (the aforementioned partner in baby-shower-hosting duties) had a horrific knife accident the night before Halloween and nearly took off her finger, requiring surgery today.  She will be at home tomorrow, recovering.

Left to my own devices, I have burned two menu items for tomorrow, my kitchen is a nightmare, and I was out in front of my house ripping dead flowers out of my flower beds at 8pm tonight.  (Blank mulch is better than over-the-hill marigolds, right?)  Mandy, my other co-host for tomorrow, has had to endure numerous phone calls from me because if I can't cook on a normal day, when I'm stressed it's just that much worse.  If I make it through tomorrow with no major crisis, I plan to take a bottle of champagne and drink a toast to me, Amy's poor finger, Mandy's ham and swiss biscuits, and Mike the Painter.  And to all my other pregnant friends, if I offer to host a party for you, run far, far away.  I'm the Calamity Jane of baby parties!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Little Spider Story

In the spirit of Halloween, Auntie V’s Story Hour today involves a spider.

It is no secret that I hate spiders. I REALLY hate spiders. This phobia has been a long-standing joke among my family and friends, and was the subject of an A+ paper in my college Abnormal Psychology class. I have been rescued from spiders by neighbors, friends, one very indulgent husband, and my kids. It seems odd that one of the eight-legged monsters would inspire a blog post, but this was too cute and too funny not to share.

My Halloween decorations include two large plastic spiders. I put them on the front porch, usually with pumpkins or mums or whatever I can prop them against. They are not very real-looking, and after a few days of staring at them from a safe distance across the room, I can work up the courage to pick one up and take it outside for the Halloween display. This year, they have been stuck in my half-dead ferns, and can be unnerving once you catch a glimpse of them, tucked away in the leaves.

 
With thunderstorms and high winds for the past two nights, I wanted to keep the spiders safe. Not because I couldn’t imagine life without them, but because I didn’t want them to be blown off the ferns, only to be discovered in the mulch next spring when I began putting in my warm-weather flowers. I would have had a heart attack if I had seen one of those lying in my flower bed, not remembering they were the missing spiders from October. I picked them off the ferns and tossed them into a pumpkin bucket on the front porch for the night.
 
This afternoon, Davis was re-arranging my pumpkins on the front porch and started laughing. “Mommy,” he said, “There’s a REAL spider in with the plastic ones!” I walked over and took a look inside the bucket. Sure enough, there was a small spider in with the two much, much larger fake ones.

My over-active imagination went into overdrive as I began imagining what this little spider thought when he fell or crawled into the pumpkin bucket. Was he terrified of his dinosaur-sized cousins? Was he a misfit spider who didn’t have many friends and who was trying to recruit these two to return with him to show all the other spiders how cool he was? Would he go back to his home and tell everyone about the giant mutants he had encountered during his travels? Would they believe him, or would they think he was a lunatic?  Would he go down in spider history as a spider Shakespeare, who would chronicle his adventure in the land of the gigantic?
 
I practically had an entire children’s book written in my head when the kids called me in to work on Halloween cookies. If you ever see “Sparky the Spider’s Giant Adventure” in bookstores, pick up a copy…

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Return of the Prodigal Planner

A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to Disney World. We all got off the plane in Orlando. My Franklin Planner did not.  While this may sound like the most trivial "problem" in the world, it was a big deal to me.


My entire life, I have been dependent upon lists and notes to stay organized. I color-coded my packing lists for Camp Bratton-Green. I kept lists of homework assignments throughout school. My obsession with lists and note-taking has made me the butt of many family jokes, but I will point out that I rarely forget a deadline, a birthday, or an appointment. When on vacation, I get there on time and with everything I need. I have addresses ready at Christmas card time. My color-coded lists are just part of who I am.

When I landed my first “real”, post-college job, I was required to attend a Franklin class and received my first planner. In the fourteen years since then, I have rarely been more than a few feet from my planner at any time. (I'm joking.  Not really.)  The only way that I can juggle two kids, their school activities, their friends’ birthday parties, my Brownie troop, adults’ and kids’ church activities, doctor and dentist appointments, tennis times, Scott’s schedule, and nights out with the girls is to have it all written down in the planner. I have business cards, copies of social security cards, touching notes I have received, school schedules, addresses, phone numbers, and passwords all safely tucked into their respective color-coded sections.

So how did I manage to leave it on the plane? Well, in the bustle and confusion of getting four adults, four very very very very excited children, and all of our stuff off the plane in Orlando, I forgot that it was in the overhead bin. I realized my mistake soon after we got to the hotel, but when I called the airline, I was told that everything found on the plane was promptly thrown away. “They figure if you left it then you didn’t want it,” explained the customer service representative. Well, I just couldn’t believe that.

As the week went on, I continued to try to locate my planner. I wasn't going to let it ruin our Disney trip (and of course it did not), but I was determined to get it back.  I called different numbers within the airline’s network, hoping someone would be willing to help me. Also as the week went on, I realized more and more that in addition to the schedules and calendars and to-do lists, the pictures and notes and special items that were zipped into my planner would be irreplaceable.

The item I most mourned was a picture of my grandmother, Dott. I don’t believe in coincidences, but by “coincidence” I met a former student of my grandmother’s while notarizing some documents at SunTrust. When he realized I was her granddaughter, his eyes filled with tears and he spoke very movingly about how much she had meant to him. A few weeks later, he brought me a picture of her he had saved for decades and gave it to me. It’s the one picture I have of her as a young woman. That picture is on my “grab it when the house catches fire” list. I couldn’t believe that her picture was in the bottom of a box, shoved in a back corner of some random airport’s warehouse. That picture was going to find its way back to me.

I finally spoke with someone at the airline who was nice enough to tell me all the cities to which my plane had flown that day. I called each airport’s lost and found and begged someone to help me. Another notebook I was carrying was found in Akron, Ohio, but no planner. So close! I went to sleep Saturday night losing hope of ever seeing my planner again. Sunday morning, the phone rang. The lost and found manager in Akron had my planner locked in her office, realizing that the information in the book would need to remain secure. She mailed it to me and it arrived today.


My next color-coded travel list will include, “Do not take planner on airplane!”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Disney World, Part I

OK, so it turns out this Disney World place is kind of a big deal.  I had prided myself on being such a wonderful, selfless parent that I was taking my kids on a "kiddie" vacation.  I knew that they would have a good time, but I thought that most of my good time would be watching them have a good time.  However, I began to see the flaw in my plans for sainthood when I had finished back-to-back rides on Aerosmith's Rocking Roller Coaster today.  We are all having a ball.  As I write this, my husband is off wandering the Epcot Food and Wine festival.  He promises he will be back in time to take the kids to breakfast so I can have a birthday massage at the spa.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, to the Averys for allowing us to tag along on your trip and for being the Disney veterans that you are.  This entire trip would not be the same without you!

Yes, friends, dreams really do come true here in Disney World.  See below for examples:


Katie and Cinderella


Katie and Belle


This was the BEST moment of Davis's life.  I have literally never seen him so excited.



Except for this moment.



Those of you who know me well know how much I love The Lion King. 
And that Rafiki is my favorite character. 



Farewell for now, and I'll post more later!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Twas the Night Before Disney

Twas the night before Disney
And all through the house
All the Taylors were sleeping
Dreaming of Mickey Mouse.

The luggage was stacked by the back door with care
In hopes that the airline would get it all there.

We're hoping for sunshine, we're hoping for luck,
And a picture with Buzz, Belle, and of course, Donald Duck.

We can't wait to share all the things that we've seen
And done at Mickey's Not-So-Scary-Halloween!

Katie and Davis, Emma-Caroline and Sophie
May come back with at least one Disney trophy.

Not to be left out, the grown-ups can cheer
Hooray for Epcot festivals and international beer!

The characters we'll hug!  The fireworks we'll see!
What a great Disney vacation this will be!

I will be posting a blog or two from Disney World and then I'll overload you with stories and pictures when we get back.  Wish us luck as we tackle the ultimate family vacation!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Life IS a Country Time Lemonade Commercial

Davis started tennis lessons last week.  While I do not expect him to evolve into the next Roger Federer, he has wanted to play since Katie and I started, and he seems to have a good time.  He enjoys playing any sport these days, and I can't help too much with football.  I throw like a girl, apparently.  Also, I don't like things being thrown at my head.  At least with a tennis racquet I can defend myself!

I thought that he had a lesson today.  We raced to the courts straight from his school and waited in the shade, lounging on the chairs and drinking lemonade.  Since it wasn't time for Katie to be home yet, we enjoyed a little time with just the two of us.  We talked about school, about getting a flu mist vaccine, about Disney World, about Cousin Whit, and about everything else that came to mind.  Nobody else was there and we quickly realized there would be no lesson today, but neither one of us wanted to leave.  I was really enjoying some time with my son and I was glad to be alone with him.  So there we sat, enjoying the late-summer afternoon together with our discussion and our lemonade.  Here was part of that conversation:


Me:  What was your favorite part of school today?

Davis:  No, Mommy.  Ask me what my favorite part of the whole day is.

Me:  OK.  What was your favorite part of the whole day?

Davis:  This right here.

Me, too, Buddy.  Me, too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Open Letter to A.K. Vogel

For people outside of my family and Knoxville, A.K. Vogel is a premier photographer and friend of mine. She has been kind enough to take our family portraits for the last two years. To see her work and find out more about her, visit her website at www.akvogel.com.)

Dear A.K.,

It was great to see you two weeks ago for our photo shoot. I tried to warn you about Davis, and I know that you didn’t believe me. After all, he was a live wire last year, and you somehow managed to produce pictures that brought my family to tears with their loveliness. Those pictures were wonderful, and I hardly expected you to pull a rabbit out of your hat two years in a row.

I guess you began to believe me when Davis started spitting at you and your very very very nice camera. I really appreciated how athletic you were as you chased him down the steep hill toward the river. You tried every trick you knew to get him to cooperate. I tried to kill him until Scott, ever the calm one, stopped me. As I told you in the many subsequent emails, I cried when we left. Davis received the fullest-extent-of-the-law punishment for his behavior. I whined to my sister and mom about how bad he was. I felt sorry for myself that I wouldn’t be able to put my new family portrait on the wall. (And I had the frame ready!) Everyone close to me had to hear the story of the ruined portrait session ad nauseum.

Then you went and made an absolute liar and fool out of me.

You produced this:




















And this:














And this:














And this (Katie was an angel for almost all of the evening, but still, this is magical.)














My family and friends defended Davis, saying that obviously he couldn’t have been THAT bad, because the pictures they saw were all great. They all accused me of *gasp* over-reacting and being a tad histrionic. (Me? Never!) Davis went down as the most abused and maligned child of all time with his cruel mother who talked about him so badly. But you and I KNOW what really happened, A.K. And just so the world will appreciate just what an amazing job you did, here are the photos titled “what really went down that day”!







You can't see me!








Like I said, Davis is the only person who has received this look from me and lived to tell about it.
















Will. Not. Smile.












And the one that just sums it all up:




No preschoolers were harmed in the making of this photo.















A.K., you are truly a miracle worker. Or a graduate of the Hogwarts School of Photography. We gave you the worst of lemons and you made lemonade. For the beautiful pictures that make us look almost normal AND the ones that represent more of our true selves, thank you from the bottom of my evil little heart!

Love, Vaiden

Apology!

Hello Acts of Davis Readers (Mom!):

It has been a while. I did not intend to take a three and a half week hiatus, but late summer/fall has hit me like a ton of bricks. I am not pretending like I am the only mom with this problem – everyone I know is struggling to keep up with it all! I would stare longingly at my laptop, but could not find the time to put out a blog and to be honest, my brain has been so twisted up like a pretzel that nothing I wrote would have made any sense anyway! The last three and a half weeks have welcomed the return of school for Katie, school for Davis, Sunday School, Girl Scouts, tennis for me, tennis for the kids, having the outside of the house painted, hosting an enormous baby shower, church meetings, weekly camera classes, football and tailgating season, and out-of-town company for two weekends. I have been a busy girl.

Despite all of those activities, everything has gone well. The painters didn’t fall off the roof. Davis and Katie have made fairly smooth transitions into new school years. The Vols are 1-1. I am loving my new camera and learning how to use it. The weather is cooling off, and we were able to eat dinner outside for the first time in months. Life is good for the Taylors, and thank you to all of you who are interested in reading about our adventures and misadventures. More blogs soon, I promise!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thank You, Dott

I’ve been thinking about grandmothers a lot this week.

First of all, my mother-in-law has been here for the last few days. She says she missed Katie and Davis, but I strongly suspect that after reading my last blog post, she wanted to come make sure her son and grandchildren were OK, since I have become a notorious streaker. All kidding aside, she is the best mother-in-law anyone could imagine. She’s enjoyed spending time with the kids, but I’ve also had a great time with her. We’ve played tennis, eaten really good chicken salad, and watched a chick-flick, and I’m happy she’s my friend in addition to being my husband’s mother.

My kids are blessed with two loving, fabulous grandmothers. Both Mrs. JoAnne and my Mom mean the world to my children, and I am fortunate that they are both huge parts of Davis and Katie’s lives. It’s important to have someone who bends the bedtime rules, looks the other way while you sneak an extra cookie, and loves you in that special way that only grandmothers can do. When my children are old enough to date and marry (at 40!), I look forward to stepping into that role. I will be a fantastic grandmother, God willing.

I’ve also thought a lot about my own grandmother. Growing up, she was always called “Grandmother”. No funny nicknames for her – just straight and to the point. However, when Katie was born, we were faced with a dilemma. She wasn’t my kids’ grandmother, and that word is a mouthful anyway for someone learning to talk. We all agreed that the best solution was simply to call her by her first name, Dott.

She died this past March after being sick for a while. I got to spend some time with her the week before she died, and although both of us knew we were saying goodbye, we enjoyed our visit. She couldn’t talk or move, but her eyes answered my questions. I told her about Katie and Davis, about Knoxville, our plans for the summer, and funny things that I knew she would enjoy. Her eyes never left mine, and she held on to my hand as hard as she could with the little bit of strength she had left. We always had a bond, she and I. Walking out of her room at the nursing home that day, knowing we had just said goodbye forever, was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

Her estate was settled last week, and in her usual generous style, she left my sister and me a small inheritance. She always told me that it wasn’t much, but she wanted us to have it to do something to “remember her by”. It may sound trite and silly to everyone else, but I bought a camera with the money. She loved pictures of the kids more than anything, and any visitor to her house was immediately given the latest photo album and instructed to believe that her great-grandchildren were the smartest, most talented, gorgeous children ever created. I am quite sure no one dared to argue with her.

Even after her mind and body began to go, she would look at those pictures and hold them. Even when she couldn’t remember who the children were, she would comment on how beautiful they were. She would always tell me, “I have never taken a picture in my life, but I love to look at them.” I still remember that. Still, I have second-guessed myself, wondering if a camera purchase with Grandmother’s gift was an appropriate way to honor her.

Today was the first day of the photography course I am taking. As usual, I was running late, my mind in a thousand different places. As I pulled into my parking space, I reached into my purse to put my sunglasses away and my hand closed around an envelope. It was the money envelope that my uncle had used to send Dott’s gift. I had looked at the front of it when I had taken it out of the outer envelope, but I turned it over for the first time there, sitting in my car outside Wolf Camera. My grandfather has been gone for five years now, but there in his handwriting, was “Love you, George + Dott”.

My heart seemed to stop. I stared at his handwriting, so familiar to me, and unforgotten after years have passed. I knew then that Dott would have been pleased with my decision to remember her by capturing picnics, birthdays, Christmases, first days of school, family get-togethers at the lake, and the just plain ordinary, run-of-the-mill days that make up all of our lives. She would like that, and although she never took a picture herself, it’s a small way I can honor her. Every time the shutter closes and the faces of the family that she loved so much are captured, I’ll thank her for being such a huge and cherished part of my life.

I love you, too, Dott. And I miss you every single day.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Davis is no Colin Firth, or, Public Nudity: It Can Happen to You


I love the movie Bridget Jones’ Diary. I loved the book. If you hang out with me long enough, you can’t help but notice that, like Bridget, things happen to me that don’t happen to normal people. After watching the movie for probably the 500,000th time Monday night, it occurred to me that I was an American, married version of Bridget Jones. Embarrassment for me is a way of life. So is keeping up with my weight and trying not to drink too much. I have a thing for tall, serious attorneys, too. My second-favorite scene in that movie is at the end, after realizing that Mark has left her apartment after reading all the scathing things she has said about him in her diary, she chases after him in a snowstorm in her bra, panties, and tennis shoes.

This scene has always bothered me a little, but I chalked it up to Hollywood. (And to the utter deliciousness of British super-hunk Colin Firth. Can you say “How YOU doin’” with a British accent?) After all, NOBODY goes chasing after someone she loves wearing nothing but her undies. Common sense would dictate that before you go dashing off into the street, you would dedicate four or five seconds to grabbing a shirt and pants. OF COURSE you would.

Davis and I have had a lazy morning. Scott took Katie to school, and Davis and I have cleaned up the playroom and organized the office. He was watching a movie when our neighbor called. She was babysitting a friend’s little boy and wondered if Davis wanted to come over and play. Davis’s lack of other-little-boy companionship was documented in my last blog, and he was thrilled to have a play date. He ran off to change out of his pajamas as I also went to get ready. He called over his shoulder, “I want to go by myself.” I was thinking that he did not want me to stick around with him after I had taken him over to Ellen’s house. No problem, I thought, I can come back and finish the office in peace and quiet.

(WARNING!! GRAPHIC CONTENT!!)

So I am standing in my bathroom, in my bra and panties, about to put in my contacts when I heard the door chime on the alarm system go off. “Davis?” I called, thinking that the wind had set off one of the window alarms by mistake. I slinked into the hall, avoiding all windows, because I didn’t want anyone to see me unclothed. (This is a plot point you’ll want to remember later.) “DAVIS!!” I ran through the house, and there was obviously no Davis. I went into the garage, not knowing what door he used. No luck. I went out towards the backyard, but that door was locked. NO, I thought to myself, but knowing that he had, in fact, gone out the front door. I sprinted to the front door and without thinking, yanked it open and charged outside. Davis was nowhere to be seen. I ran out further into the yard, and just as I could see his bright blue shirt at my neighbor’s front door, a car full of teenage boys came around the corner. Let me stop the story now to say two things:

1. Why the HELL were these people not in school?
2. Let’s just say that I did not have on my best pair of underwear. I was taking my kid to a playdate and going to the gym later. Who takes out the Victoria’s Secret for that?
3. While I do frequent the gym and play tennis regularly, gravity, time, a love of cheesecake, two children and one emergency surgery have left their mark. Things are not where they were years ago when I was the age of these truant people driving down the street.
4. Since I did not have on my contacts, I am going to pretend that the squealing of brakes was in concern for whatever domestic situation was occurring, and not so they could laugh at the naked old lady.

Yes, that was four things, but I’ve had a traumatic morning.

I raced back behind the front door, and called Davis back to the house. Davis received the talking-to of his life and was very, very sorry. In his defense, he thought that I had agreed to his going over to Ellen’s by himself. Once he had agreed that he would never, never, go out of the house without me again, he asked me through his tears, “Mommy, why don’t you have any clothes on?”

The phone rang. I was thinking that it had to be the police, coming to get me for public indecency (or at least intentional infliction of emotional distress on the teenagers), and it was my neighbor Ellen. “What in the world?” she says. “I hear screaming, brakes squealing, and Davis is in my front yard with one shoe and his shirt turned backwards! Also, was someone laughing?”

If anyone wants to buy my house, it will be for sale soon. I’m moving to England.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One Child Back to School, One to Go!





As I read my friends’ facebook pages and blogs filled with tears and emotion about their children’s “firsts”, I am thankful that this year is not a milestone year for us. We have had the excitement and nerves of two “new” years – kindergarten is obviously a new beginning, and first grade is just as new with a full day and more responsibilities. This year is routine for Katie. She knows the school, she knows the teachers, she knows the expectations, and she knows a lot of kids from the two previous years at Blue Grass. No nerves and no drama (yet, of course.) It’s comforting. As much as everyone idealizes summer, me included, there is a lot to be said for returning to a normal, predictable routine. I have already noticed a change in all of us. We are obviously up earlier, and things around the house and involving the family are getting done at a more brisk clip than they have all summer. We seem more awake, we are more organized, and it seems that even despite the continued heat of summer, we have a new spring in our step.



Davis still has three weeks more to go before the start of preschool. I have not had any type of routine childcare for Davis since April, so I am eager for him to start his own school. Not just for the break it will give me (and I really, really DO need a break!), but also for the opportunities it will give him. I suppose hanging out with 36- and 7- year old girls all summer is kind of a drag for a 4-year old boy. Davis, like his sister, is such a social kid that two people get a little boring no matter who they are. He needs more than the pool and the house and an occasional field trip. I can’t wait to see how much he enjoys a true preschool. I hope they don’t require combat pay from me after the first week. His teacher might have to start her own blog. Or take up recreational drugs. All kidding aside, I plan to use these three weeks to start getting him ready and enjoying a little Mom-and-Dave time. He doesn’t get to be an only child often, and he gets a kick out of doing big-kid things without Katie.



Once September begins, it is an extended sprint until Christmas. Fall is the busiest time around Casa de Taylor with Tennessee football, multiple family birthdays, school, and church activities. We are happily running a bed-and-breakfast for the football season with lots of out-of-town friends and family staying with us to watch the Vols. We are hosting a baby shower for a precious member of our church. AND, this year, just to up the ante, we have planned a trip to Disney World for the fall: a week’s vacation with Mickey, Buzz Lightyear, the Princesses and our dear friends the Averys. We are so excited that we talk about it almost every day and constantly plan our trip. More on that later!



Time to finish the coffee and get started on the wild ride that is fall/first semester/football season. It’s my favorite time of year and it’s always an exciting ride.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shut Up, Iron Man





















Sometimes you have to face the uncomfortable truth that your children’s toys can become possessed by demons. While toys are generally the fun and harmless, non-demonic kind, you can’t deny that a few are downright creepy. Take “Clownie” for example. Clownie was Scott’s favorite stuffed animal as a child. How my husband grew up normal with that thing in his bed throughout childhood is beyond me. He has since passed it down to Katie, who also keeps it on her bed. I am terrified of that clown. During the school year when I am alone in the house during most of the day, I can feel him watching me as I put away Katie’s clothes or clean her room. I usually just put him in the closet, but then I listen for the eerie creak of her closet door opening for the rest of the day. (And yes, my over-active imagination is not helped by my morning coffee intake.)

Clownie, however, is not my current problem. Davis received an Iron Man action figure for this birthday in June. It lights up, speaks, and is capable of defending a four-year-old boy from the forces of evil. OR SO HE WANTS US TO THINK. Davis is obsessed with Iron Man. He wears his Iron Man shirt for days and days in a row. He attempts to read his Iron Man books. We have let him watch the kid-appropriate cartoon and I have allowed him to watch exactly 4.6 minutes of the movie. (I edited out the other two hours. I’ve had worse mornings than pre-viewing a Robert Downey, Jr. film, but I digress.) Davis has several Iron Man action figures, but this one is his favorite. So much so that he snuck it into the bathtub with him one evening. The water, obviously, shorted out the lights and the voice and rendered I.M. mute and lightless. I called it a win, dried the toy off, and told Davis that Iron Man would continue to fight evil, but he would just be quieter about it. I didn’t think of it again.

Until…

In the middle of the night several weeks ago, Scott shot out of bed, standing by the door to our bedroom. “There’s someone in the house,” he hissed at me. Immediately the ancient fight or flight instinct took over and I had adrenaline oozing out of my pores. I heard a freaky, other-worldly voice booming through the upstairs: “I AM IRON MAN.” “Well, at least we know who it is,” was my vain attempt at humor while my blood pressure came down from the stratosphere. Scott shot me a death look and stalked off to find the culprit. There, in Davis’s room, was Iron Man, voice and lights magically healed. Scott didn’t appreciate this miracle and tried to turn him off. However, since technically the toy was already off, there wasn’t much he could do. He finally shoved I.M. into some luggage in my closet and we returned to sleep, only occasionally hearing his muffled cries.

On the nights my husband’s snoring requires me to sleep in ear plugs, I am not awakened by Scott’s and Iron Man’s battles. I don’t always know when Iron Man has had an active evening until I find him stashed away somewhere bizarre. The morning I reached out of the shower, blinded by shampoo, into the linen closet for a towel only to grab Iron Man and have him roar at me was not a good day. Keep in mind that when Davis wants to play with Iron Man, he is completely quiet. Iron Man has been to church with us (we considered asking for an exorcism while he was there), the grocery, and over most of Knoxville, quiet as a mouse for all of these outings. It freaks me completely out that he only comes to life at night, when we are trying to sleep.

Iron Man has settled down for the last couple of weeks and again, I had forgotten all about him until I woke up last night with the hair on the back of my neck standing up, sensing that something was frighteningly strange in the house. Again, it was Iron Man, railing against the world from Davis’s room. There was no way I was going in there. Stephen King has left enough scar tissue in my brain that I began imagining I.M. standing in the middle of the room, eyes blazing, an army of possessed, mutant toys behind him. Despite the paralyzing fear, I did manage to kick Scott (sort-of gently) and once he woke up enough to realize I.M. was back on the warpath, he got up to deal with it. From my bed, I could hear “I AM IRON MAN” and then I began to wonder what would happen if I heard “PUT ME DOWN SCOTT.” Then I heard the sound of Scott smacking I.M. around and shaking him furiously. “Don’t make him mad!!” I yelled, from the safety of my bed. Scott later reported that he tried to stomp on Iron Man and then attempted to pry his legs off, to no avail. Needless to say, Iron Man spent the night somewhere else strange, his screams muffled for the good of the sleeping family. If he and Clownie ever discover each other, we may be in trouble…

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There Has to Be An Easier Way to Do This, Part II



For anyone who read my blog post regarding getting my kids ready for the pool, I should let you know that the fun does not stop once we reach our destination. After I have checked the radar for scattered showers, gotten the kids ready, made sure there is no swim meet scheduled for that afternoon, packed water and Sugar-Free Kool-Aid and popsicles and towels and pool toys and sunscreen and my cell phone and a magazine to read and the kitchen sink, we head to the pool. The pool, where I can relax with a contraband beer disguised in a plastic cup and read a magazine while I soak up the sun’s glorious rays through my SPF 75. The pool, where the kids play together nicely in the sparkling water while the attentive lifeguards watch them closely. Or not.

Take yesterday, for instance. We have gone to the pool roughly four times a week for the entire summer, so you would think that my kids had the preparation mastered. Um, no. I still have to coach them through every step. Katie just wanders off with a book or her video game and forgets that she’s supposed to be getting ready. What’s worse is Davis – he completely remembers where we are going, but can’t put it together. My favorite is when they are at the back door ready to go, and Davis is naked, with his towel in hand. “Buddy!” I’ll say. “Are you forgetting something?” He looks at me, for all the world trying to figure out what I’m talking about. This is why this kid cannot go to Sewanee. Liberal Arts colleges and nudist colonies of the world, beware.

We get to the pool. We drag my backpack, the floatees, the cooler with drinks, the towels, and the water wings to an empty table and set up shop. I top off the sunscreen application and release the children into the pool. I settle back with my drink and my magazine. Summer pie recipes. Yum. And here’s Davis, needing a snack and a drink. “But we just got here and you had a snack and a drink before we left the house,” I try to reason. “But I’m so thirsty and hungry,” he pleads. I put down the magazine and look at it longingly, knowing full well I will not read a page today. I get out a snack and a drink, and get Davis settled down. Here comes Katie. “But I–I-I-I-I-I-I want a snack, too, that’s not fair, Davis always gets everything, you like him better, he had more snack at the house and here he is again and” I hand her a popsicle. She gets quiet and sits down. After the pool snack, I encourage them to get back into the pool. After all, there is usually only a ten-minute window between the time we get there and the time that the teenage lifeguards hear “thunder”, clearing the pool of those annoying swimmers and allowing them to retire to the club house to flirt with each other some more.

The kids get back in the pool. As I slowly reach for my magazine, I spot Davis running for the club house. As he get about halfway there, the burn from the scorching concrete registers. He freezes completely still and begins screaming “My feet!! Burnie Burn!!” I race over to him, pick him up, and carry him back to his flip-flops, all the while trying to explain that the concrete IS HOT, and if he needs to walk around, he needs to wear his shoes. He heads off to the potty.

(Quick aside – are all children obsessed with public potties or is it just my kids? We can potty before we leave the house but as soon as we get somewhere, they both have to go again. Also, the nastier the potty, the more my children want to go. This, however, is another blog post for another day.)

TEN MINUTES later, I am still watching for Davis. I make sure Katie isn’t actively drowning, then stalk off to the club house to collect my son. I find him STILL sitting on the potty in the men’s room. Apparently swimming makes him, ahem, regular. I make it back to my pool chair and just as I make contact with the seat, he comes racing across the concrete, screaming because his feet are burning BECAUSE HE HAS ON NO SHOES. Again. I carry him back into the men’s room (I spend entirely too much time in there!) to collect his shoes. We get back out to the pool, in the water he goes, snack/drink/potty time done. Now they can swim and I can relax. Full of hope, I reach for my magazine and my drink. Cue thunder…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beach Vacation, Taylor-Style

I’m baaaaack! Acts of Davis has been sadly neglected. When I logged on tonight, little tumbleweeds actually blew out of my laptop. We have been on vacation for the past week, and I was under strict orders from my husband not to alert the internet that we would leave our house unattended while we frolicked on the beach out of state. (Oh, yes, we DID frolic. I have photos.) Now that we have safely returned home, I am free to discuss our “holiday”, as the Brits say.

We spent the week in a lovely beach-front house with a pool. The house included three master suites looking out onto the ocean, an enormous kitchen, and a theater room. Needless to say, whenever we couldn’t find Davis, he was curled up in a leather reclining chair watching movies in there. He loved the beach, but he got a little choked up when he said goodbye to that theater room.

The kids had the “cousins’ room”. Picture four kids, aged 7, 5, 4, and 3 (my baby nephew was too little to be included) on beds and on mattresses on the floor, listening to bedtime stories and trying to convince the adults that they really were trying to go to sleep. They had a ball, sneaking in flashlights and trying to stay up late. That was some of the most fun we parents had all week – listening at the door to their whispered conversations. We didn’t understand half of it, but they did, and I think those are the times they’ll remember when they are all dancing at each other’s weddings. They played on the beach. They made sand castles. They swam. They ate too much junk food, despite Jenn’s and my protests. They all curled up for Shaun the Sheep movie marathons when they had had their fill of sun and sand. When they finally did sleep, they looked like little sun-kissed angels.

Along with all of this memory-making comes the obligatory family beach picture. You know the one I am talking about. The beautiful picture of the entire family on a spotless sandy beach, tanned and rested, smiling serenely into the last pink and purple bands of a sinking coastal sun. Everyone is looking at the camera. Everyone’s eyes are open. I love these pictures. My friends all have their personal version of this picture proudly displayed over their fireplaces, or blown up 16x20 on the living room wall. They are gorgeous, a golden moment forever captured in time. Not my beach pictures. My beach pictures are destined for a “when beach pictures go terribly wrong” segment on David Letterman.

My children are very good looking kids. Scott and I don’t scare villagers, so I don’t understand why we cannot take a decent family beach picture. Add in two grandparents (who are very photogenic, so it’s not their fault), two more adults, two more little boys, and a baby, and we didn’t have a prayer. The weather was perfect. The backdrop was perfect. The subjects…hmmmm…not so perfect. Sarah, our nanny and photographer, did everything she could. She sang. She danced. She threatened to put us all in time-out if we didn’t look at the camera and smile. We took, over the course of two evenings, over 400 shots. You would think we had gotten one lousy perfect gorgeous breathtaking picture, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you?!?

I promised my mother-in-law that I would go through the pictures and find the best one. This would be the picture that captured this summer and our kids at this point in their young lives. After an hour and a half of going through the shots, I finally decided on the best one. Everyone IS looking at the camera, eyes open. Even the baby is facing forward. Katie doesn’t look happy, but she looks neutral. None of the parents are correcting kids. The grandparents seem to be relaxed and happy. Davis (age 4) and Nat (age 3) look relaxed and happy, too, because they are BOTH grabbing their crotches. Not in a vulgar way, like Lady Gaga or Madonna or Kathy Lee Gifford, but in that way that little boys do, just making sure that everything is there to be forever documented in the family photo. I tried to find another picture. You don’t know how I tried. That one was, undeniably, the best one. I decided to take it in stride, like the year I sent out Katie’s Christmas photo bloopers. Crotch-grabbing family photos happen. This is part of life. This is part of parenthood. And yes, they DO sell wine in grocery stores in North Carolina.

(The official, released-to-the-world pictures are on my facebook page. For the Acts of Davis crowd, enjoy! If you are nuts enough to follow this blog, you deserve a good laugh.)





Thursday, June 24, 2010

There Has to Be An Easier Way to Do This

Confession Time: When you write a blog devoted to the misadventures of your four-year-old son, you really should examine what you are going to do with said blog when the four-year-old son doesn’t provide you with material for two weeks. This has been a golden summer for us here at Chez Taylor: I have taken some time off from my job, and the kids and I have had an amazing life of leisure for the past month. We sleep late, we swim at the pool for hours on end, we have movie marathons, we eat ice cream. In short, I have had a wonderful time and I probably haven’t been this relaxed in decades, literally. (Not changing diapers for the first time in seven years will do that to a girl.) Anyway, Acts of Davis has taken a hit because Davis has been an angel lately. Katie went to her grandparents’ house for a week and The Boy and I had a ball. It’s good to spend some time with the second child by himself once in a while. Davis would never admit it, but I think he loves his mom sometimes.

HOWEVER, the one thing that is stuck in my proverbial craw this summer is our inability to get anywhere on time and without my having to threaten my children with bodily harm to get them out the door at anything faster than a snail's pace. I think we have become so accustomed to NOT having to do anything that having to be somewhere at a certain time just blows my children's minds. Let me share with you (and it’s my blog, so I can) a typical Taylor afternoon:

2:00 pm: I ask the kids if they want to go to the neighborhood pool for a refreshing afternoon swim. After all, they were obsessed with the pool when it was December and wanted to go swimming every day, so I assume now that the pool is actually available they would have some interest.

2:05 pm: I hear absolutely no response from kids, so I ask again.

2:10 pm: Kids say yes. They are instructed to go to their rooms, put on their bathing suits, and report to their bathroom for sunscreen application.

2:12 pm: No kids. I repeat instructions, in a loving a maternal tone.

2:14 pm: Still no response…

2:15 pm: I tell the kids to haul ass down from the playroom and get their &**%%$#% bathing suits on or I am leaving them and going to the pool myself. I remind myself that this is not actually an option.

2:20 pm: Kids wander down to their rooms. They announce that they cannot find their bathing suits. I find Davis in the hall linen closet playing his video game and Katie in the guest room with a book.

2:23 pm: Suits on kids, thanks to Mom, who apparently has superhuman powers to look in their BATHING SUIT DRAWERS and find their bathing suits. Funny how I should hide them there.

2:25 pm: Sunscreen time. Wait, the sunscreen is still in the trunk of the car. Go downstairs to garage and dig out sunscreen. Back upstairs to kids’ bathroom to find…nobody.

2:27 pm: Locate kids back in third floor playroom, watching cartoons. Haul everyone back downstairs. Send them back upstairs to turn off TV and lights. Get them back into the bathroom. Find sunscreen.

2:29 pm: Sunscreen application begins. I apparently use the kind that smells bad/looks funny/blah blah blah. Screaming ensures, both from me and the children.

2:34 pm: Finish sunscreen application on first child. Look around for the next victim. Next victim has taken advantage of my inattention and is back in the playroom, watching TV.

2:35 pm: Drag next victim down by hair and repeat sunscreen application process. Not so gentle with the sunscreen application. Much more screaming this time.

2:37 pm: First child has disappeared, apparently forgetting that having on a bathing suit and being covered in sunscreen = going to the pool is eminent.

2:40 pm: Downstairs, with everyone ready to leave for the pool. Except Davis has no shoes on. Davis goes back upstairs to find appropriate swim shoes.

2:43 pm: Davis comes down in rain boots. Is sent back upstairs for flip-flops.

2: 47 pm: In the garage. We load up into the car. We forgot water and snacks for the pool. Back into the house for water and snacks. Find that we are out of snacks. Davis announces that we have to go to Kroger for appropriate snacks. I close my eyes and remind myself that I Must. Not. Harm. The. Children.

2: 55 pm: In the car with towels, snacks, water, sunscreen, shoes, and wait… forgot pool toys. Out of the car to retrieve pool toys from garage.

3:00 pm: Out of the driveway!! Down the street to the pool!! We made it!!

3:02 pm: Pool closed for swim meet.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Unlikely Moses

Sometimes leaders come in strange forms. Sometimes the people who solve certain problems are not the people we expect to solve them. Sometimes they are the people who usually CAUSE the problems. I am certainly not making any kind of political statement here – I’m talking about Davis.

We left a movie at church last weekend. The first Friday night of each month is date night, extremely prized and sacred nights for those of us without childcare help. For couples without family in town, date night is circled in red on the calendar. The kids go to the church, eat pizza, and watch movies while the parents get what is sometimes their only night out (free of charge!) for the month. Obviously, Scott and I are regular participants. Davis has appointed himself as the Provider of Movies, since he is kind of a movie nerd and he wants assurance that he will enjoy the feature film. (Also, his favorite pizza is pepperoni and black olives, for anyone who wants to know.)

Davis brought A Bug’s Life. Unfortunately, we had eaten our way through Lakeside Tavern and picked up the kids before the movie was finished, so we had to leave the DVD to collect later. This week, our church has experienced a water leak that has caused extensive damage and Vacation Bible School, which might have caused MORE extensive damage to the church property. Somewhere in all of this, A Bug’s Life got lost in the shuffle. Since the DVD wasn’t exactly ours, I was a little panicked about losing it for good.

Today was the last day of VBS (and that’s a WHOLE other blog series, folks!) Somewhere in the few neurons that were still firing after a week of two-year-olds, I remembered that we needed to find the movie. Katie, Davis, Maggie (our neighbor and good friend who braved VBS with me) set out to find the movie. Davis looked at all of us and said, “I know where the movie is. Everyone follow me.”

Let me reiterate that I have been in charge of two-year-olds all week and I hosted a sleepover for some of Katie’s friends last night. My brain was beyond any type of rational thought. I needed someone else to do some thinking, I wanted someone else to be in charge, and Davis was willing to lead. I was so out of it that this actually seemed like a good idea. So imagine the parade of Davis, me, Maggie and Katie, single file, processing through the church. Davis took us down the administrative hall. He took us down the nursery hall. We made a pit stop to say hi to a friend. We stopped at the water fountain. All the time Davis insisted that he knew the way to the movie. He chastised us for walking too slow. He asked us to pay attention if we started questioning him. He led us down the stairs, through the parish hall, through the downstairs classrooms, and down a dark hall. At this point, I was ready to scream, hating myself for allowing us all to be led on a two-mile journey through the bowels of the church by a four-year-old with an active imagination. He turned us into a room that I honestly did not even know was there. And there, on a side table, hidden under some papers and other movies, was our DVD. Davis picked it up with pride on his face and said to his amazed followers, “Here it is. I told you I would find it.”

Sometimes, we all just need to let ourselves be taken for a ride even when we don’t think the journey is worthwhile. The most unlikely of leaders can often show us the way.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Missing

I began this website with the encouragement of my friend Amy, who is usually the recipient of all my “Can you believe what my son just did?” calls. Amy has two gorgeous and perfectly-mannered girls, so I like to give her a taste of how the other half lives. We named it “Acts of Davis” since I had another friend question whether my homeowner’s insurance covered Acts of Davis. The name seemed perfect for a blog about how my younger, male child is attempting to slowly drive me bats. I have been very honored and humbled that a couple of people actually read this thing. Lately, some readers have commented that I have mentioned Katie and Scott in my last few entries, but not Davis. I get “When is Davis going to do something worthy of the blog again?” a lot.

Well, folks, Davis has struck again. For five of the worst minutes of my life (besides the time I attempted to watch Crossroads) my son was missing. As in, sound the alarms, lock down the place, we can’t find a kid, who saw him last, honest to goodness missing.

We had training for Vacation Bible School at my church tonight. In an inexplicable fit of absolute weakness, I agreed to help out with the 18 month old class. They’re cute, they’re cuddly, and I can give them back to their parents hopefully before they need a major diaper change. I love that my children are getting older and more independent, but four mornings with some tiny people seemed like a good idea. So I was down in the parish hall, attending a class for adult volunteers when Katie showed up at the back of the class. That’s odd, I thought. She should be upstairs in the nursery with the other kids. Why is Katie down here? My friend Angela turned to me and said, “Davis is missing.” I stared at her with what I can only assume was a stupid look. “Vaiden, DAVIS IS MISSING” she repeated, hoping that I could somehow recover my mastery of the English language.

For anyone who has ever lost a child, even for a minute, you know the feeling. Your legs are churning at the speed of light and your mind is racing even faster. We had been discussing child safety at our meeting and the next portion was concerning—wait for it--- child predators. I was frantic. I passed other people also searching, both inside and outside. If you were one of those people, you have my heartfelt thanks for looking for my son. Even as I was making laps outside and inside the church, I knew that it would all turn out all right. I knew that even Davis would have enough sense not to leave the church. One of us was obviously going to find him soon. Still, the dark thoughts were also there – what if someone had taken him from the playground? What if someone had come into the church? It was Wednesday night, and most of the doors were unlocked. I know as a parent that anything can happen, and nobody gets a warning before it does.

I had done one lap inside the church and was finishing up my outside lap when someone came out yelling that Davis had been found. I can’t begin to explain the relief that washed over me. From what we can piece together from various sources, he had seen Scott pull up outside to pick him up, and he apparently came in from the playground, dodged the nursery, and went downstairs to find me to let me know it was time to go. With no adult to tell him no, he rode the elevator, which is normally taboo for my children. The elevator was so much fun that he decided to make a few trips on it. So while half of my church was branching out looking for him, he was blithely riding the elevator up and down, oblivious to the mayhem he was causing. My church only has two floors, however, so eventually the ride had to stop. He was found wandering a dark hallway after he had taken a wrong turn downstairs. The entire incident took just a few minutes, but for me, it sure seemed a lot longer.

Scott took the kids home and I stayed for the remainder of the meeting. Also, when I sat down I didn’t think my legs were going to hold me any more, and I didn’t want to get behind the wheel of a car just then. When I got home, Davis was safely tucked into bed. I climbed in with him, knowing that he and Scott had enjoyed a LONG discussion on never running off without your parents. EVER. I reiterated this point as his eyes began to close and he drifted off to sleep. His parting comment, just as unconsciousness took over, was

“I knew where I was.”

That’s four-year-old boy logic if I ever heard it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Scott and I got married May 29, 1999. Eleven years! It doesn’t seem that long when you look at it compared to the eons of time, but we’re been busy. Jobs, different jobs, houses, births, deaths, more weddings, vacations, sickness, and health have all been packed into our married life. I couldn’t have picked a better person to hold my hand through all of it than Scott. I had just planned on holding his hand this weekend on a boat, covered in SPF 200, watching my kids swim in Pickwick Lake.

So if the eleventh anniversary is the traditional “kid with strep throat cancels your lake plans”, we’re there. We were looking forward to spending the long weekend at the lake house. The bags were packed. The car was ready to go. The grandparents were going to babysit while Scott and I had an anniversary date. And Davis woke up with a high fever after a fitful night of sleep. I took him to the pediatrician, because I always feel the fifteen dollar co-pay is worth it just to know what is going on, even if it is a little fever. Turns out that yes, he did have strep throat and that he would need to be away from other kids for a couple of days. Since the Taylor cousins were also going to the lake, I did not want the mass infection of a family with three kids under the age of six on my conscience. Also: I wasn’t looking forward to a four-plus hour car ride with him. Davis is already a card-carrying member of the “men who cannot be sick” club. He has been a beast. I know he doesn’t feel good, but telling me my workout pants are ugly does NOT help his cause. See how quickly you get your Advil and Gatorade now, Tim Gunn.

Last year, Scott and I celebrated our tenth anniversary with style: Caribbean vacation, watches. This year we knew we would scale down about 90%, but neither one of us was looking forward to Burger King and Putt-Putt golf as Plan B. So we scrambled. Bed-and-Breakfasts in a sixty-mile radius: all booked. Nice hotels in Knoxville: Booked. Roach Motels in Knoxville: Booked. Sewanee! We’ll return to the scene of the crime, so to speak. Booked. We stayed up half the night trying to find somewhere to spend our special day to no avail. Burger King, here we come, but wait!! A reservation opened up at a nice downtown hotel. Inexplicably, The Melting Pot had an available spot on Saturday night. We found someone who was actually willing to come spend the night with the kids since Davis is no longer contagious. Anniversary salvaged.

The moral of this story is (if you were looking for one!) that this anniversary has been much like our marriage. You make plans, plans change, and you roll with the punches. It all turns out fine in the end, and the journey is a lot more fun if the person riding shotgun is your best friend. I'll tell the cheese fondue at dinner tonight you all said hi.

Friday, May 21, 2010

No More Pencils, No More Books

I dropped Katie off for her last day of first grade today. For someone who is not sentimental about much, today has hit me hard. It's amazing to look back and see what a difference a school year has made. She reads chapter books independently, has lost and re-grown teeth, shot up like a Lady Vol basketball player, and, well, grown up. It's becoming more and more difficult to tell her tennis shoes and mine apart these days. We compare playlists on our iPods. We talk about God and fairies and she asks some heavy questions and I don't always know how to answer them. It's scary. I know moms with older kids probably are thinking, "Just wait!" I know, I know, but this year has given me whiplash with all the new things that she has done and thought and experienced. I remember that little person who would pause at the BlueGrass school door and look like she wished for all the world that she could jump back into the car. Now, she walks in greeting friends, waving at other girls, and blushing when a cute boy says "hi" to her. Now all of a sudden, it's me who is fighting back tears and wishing that she would just jump back into the car and be a little bitty girl all over again.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm Being Served Pizza by a Rat, and Everyone's OK with This?







Sorry for the long delay in posting, but Comcast and I have had a difference of opinion concerning my internet and cable. Long story short, after two weeks and a LOT of phone calls, we have internet access again. TV will be Saturday. The 21st century has returned to my house! One day we might look into that new-fangled indoor plumbing and possibly shoes.

You all know Davis. I actually have another child, a newly-minted seven year old named Katie. She is very smart and a bookworm (just like her mom!) She is also tall and skinny and blond and athletic (WHOSE kid is this?) Wednesday was her birthday and according to family custom, she got to decide where she wanted to have dinner that night. Katie can have a sophisticated palette for an elementary-schooler, so I had high hopes.

I have a confession to make. I cannot stand Chuck E. Cheese. I mean, really, really, really cannot stand Chuck E. Cheese. It smells, the food is gross, and do not EVEN get me started on that giant hepatitis-pit that the kids climb into. You couldn’t get that thing clean with a gallon of Lysol® and a flame-thrower. If anyone needs a cool science project guaranteed to bring about a lifetime of agoraphobia, bring a Petri dish into that bad boy. Also, I resent spending $20 for a ten-cent notepad with Zac Efron® on it, despite the fact that I have the soundtrack of High School Musical 3 on my iPod. Don’t hate.

Back to Chuck E. Cheese: my daughter could have chosen anywhere in Knoxville for her birthday dinner. Of course, nothing would do. Hepatitis-pit, here we come! Here is a well-kept secret among mothers: we ALL hate Chuck E. Cheese. Now lest you think I am absolutely horrible, intent on ruining my precious daughter’s birthday, I put on a brave face and tried to appear excited. Part of the fun of going there, for my children, is to watch me try to endure it. They torment me for days before we go: “Are you going to hug Chuck E.? He’s going to kiss you!”, etc. So Katie was completely in on the act. Part of the present was watching Mom squirm.

My husband kept offering me helpful little tidbits like, “Most of these people look clean.” “That kid seemed sorry that he sat on Davis.” “Oh, look, honey, they have Coke Zero!” Being out of Katie’s earshot, I snapped, “Well, when they have it with Antiguan Rum, then please let me know.” The mother next to me leaned over and whispered, “Darlin’, you have to pack it in your purse.” Excellent. I just cannot bring myself to be the flask-toting mom to children’s birthday dinners. Not just yet. Ask me again when Davis is seven!

We rode the rides, shot basketballs, shot ducks, got the gratuitous hug and high-five from The Rat, doused ourselves in hand sanitizer, and settled into a peaceful birthday-cake-induced sleep. Happy Birthday to Katie! Next year, might I suggest Ruth’s Chris? Please?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cleanup on Aisle 9



Being a parent is amazing. You experience a love you’ve never known before, you laugh and cry with new depths, and you wonder at creation and your place in it. Children are great teachers for their parents. Katie has taught me to look at the world with a child’s eye, to see the beauty in everything and everyone. Davis also taught me a new concept this weekend: revenge urination.

For all five of you who read my blog (Hi, Mom, yes, I’ll call), you know we’ve done some renovation in the house. Scott and I also tend to think “hey, while the house is destroyed, let’s take care of all the other little things we’ve wanted to do.” So we tackled the pantry, which had hideous wire shelving and was an awful shade of brown. It also smelled like dog food, despite the fact that the house was vacant a year prior to our buying it and we do not own a dog. No offense to dog lovers, but think of this: if you don’t own a baby, chances are that the smell of baby food doesn’t get you that fired up. But I digress.

We painted the pantry to match the rest of the kitchen. We went to Lowe’s for the shelves. What follows is roughly the conversation I had with the kids prior to getting out of the car at Lowe’s:

Me: Kids, we have to make some very important shelving decisions in here.

Katie: Can shelving decisions be important?

Me: Yes, very.

Katie: We’re talking about a room nobody sees and it still smells like dog food.

Me: Very important!! Look, kids, I need you both to sit quietly in the cart and let Mom and Dad pick out shelving.

Davis: I want to watch Toy Story.

Me: Focus, people. I need you to be good.

Davis and Katie: OK, we’ll be good.

Me: No causing scenes, just being quiet.

Davis: But I have to go potty.

No problem. We went into the store, I steered Scott toward the shelving aisle, and I took Davis to the potty. Remember this plot point – it will be important soon.

When we got back to the shelves, Scott and I began the long, drawn-out, terribly earth-shattering decision of what type of material and what color the pantry shelves should be. After all, this is where the instant grits and the Prego will go, so we can’t make this decision lightly. Davis began to get restless. He began to pout. He began to make threats. Scott and I were so busy, we weren’t really listening. We just did the “yes, dear” thing that parents do when they aren’t paying attention. Davis announced that he was bored and wanted to leave. We told him we were close to picking something out and he could wait. Then he stood up in the cart. “Daddy, we’re going to have to wash my shorts when we get home,” he said. As Scott and I turned to see what he was talking about, he stood up and URINATED. IN AISLE 9. In front of a dad with some small kids and a couple who went home and bought a lifetime supply of birth control.

Scott immediately whirled the cart around and left the store with Davis, leaving a trail of what was certainly not bread crumbs. While I was relieved (oops, sorry) that I wasn’t going to be the one to deal with him, I was left with another matter: the large lake of Davis’s anger. Should I run? The security cameras surely had all of this on tape. So I did what any mother who is past any capability of embarrassment would do. I stood there, straddling the puddle, helpfully guiding other home improvement shoppers:

“Hi there! My son just revenge-peed and my husband has taken him to the car to explain appropriate behavior to him. Or beat him, I’m not sure which one. Anyway, I’m standing watch until someone with a mop rescues me. Would you like me to reach the shelving bins for you? Do you like green or yellow? A wicker look is also nice. Yes, I also think the pink is inappropriate in a kitchen. Good to chat with you. ‘Bye, now!”

At which point the 5% of people in Knoxville who do not think I am certifiably insane crossed over to the other side. Canada is looking better all of the time. Moose don’t judge, right?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

All the Better to Move You With, My Dear



I enjoy a challenge. I like to rise to the occasion. I love the feeling if accomplishing something that seemed difficult at first glance. Today is apparently my LUCKY DAY.

It’s moving day! The elusive, hard-to-pin down, eagerly-awaited day when my life begins to return to normal (or the Taylor version of normal). We have the official green light to return to our house. We are no longer exiled. The floors are done, the cabinets, island, and stairs are unwrapped, and the house looks like a house again instead of the scene in E.T. where everything is wrapped in plastic. Tomorrow begins the next wave of painters, cleaners, baseboard-installers, and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! It’s all OK, though, since I will be in my own home, in my own bed, back to my own life.

Goodbye, Homewood Suites! Goodbye, waffle bar! Goodbye, free Neutrogena! Goodbye, coin-operated laundry! Goodbye, Scary Hairy Sunbathing Man Who is Very Proud of Himself! Hello, ankle brace? ANKLE BRACE?

Oh, yes. I decided to make today a little more painful and challenging. Just in case moving all of our stuff back to the house before check-out was not challenging enough, I will increase the difficulty level. Are you ready to rumble? Today is Davis’s day off from daycare. (Davis, you remember Davis?) And now I have a sprained ankle (a legitimate sports injury, I am so proud), so I will be performing all of these tasks ONE-LEGGED and HOPPING ON MY GOOD FOOT. Yes, folks, tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. See me carry suitcases and bags on one foot! See me play defense one-legged while I keep Davis from sprinting onto Parkside Drive! Watch me drive back and forth down Pellissippi with my left foot! This is some good comedy. Lucky for me, it’s just part of my life. Gotta go, the check-out clock is ticking…

P.S. All of this has been very hard on Buzz.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

If I Raced NASCAR


I have an old friend who embodies the stereotypical southern lady. She is always dressed appropriately, carries the proper handbag, and her house looks like a Southern Living magazine. I was very surprised when I found out that she attended the NASCAR race at Talladega today. This would be somewhat similar to me attending a spider enthusiast convention, complete with tarantula pettings. I think it was good for her to see how the, ahem, other half lives. She won’t come out and admit it, but I think she had a good time. I myself am not above watching a car race every now and again, and I had one great experience in the infield at Bristol. Jeff Gordon is VERY nice looking in person and also has gracious manners.

I have always thought I would be a great race car driver: I have some people skills and enough speeding tickets to qualify me for the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s “Top 40 under 40” Hall of Fame. NASCAR has gotten a little vanilla, to put it mildly. They need some spice, Posh-style. I can see it now:

ESPN reporter: We’re here with Vaiden Taylor, driver of the 34D car. What happened out there, Vaiden?

VT: This Victoria’s Secret-Tampax- Enfamil car was running faster than a group of women heading to Macy’s for a 50% off sale! Then Carl Edwards got into me. Perhaps if he became more familiar with Midol’s new line of extra-strength products we wouldn’t keep having these problems with him.

ESPN: He tried to have your qualifying laps thrown out earlier this week, causing some controversy. Can you comment on that situation?

VT: Carl needs to man up. I would like to see him retro-fit his ride with two carseats and qualify listening to The Wiggles while handing out chicken nuggets. THAT takes some talent. He can take that tired old back-flip down the road.

ESPN: We are now hearing reports from the Tony Stewart garage that you flashed him in Turn 2.

VT: Stewart has two Cup Championships. I have boobs. Look, we all use what we have. It’s not my fault he was laughing so hard he spun out.

ESPN: The National Guard is here to escort you to the officials’ trailer.

VT: Carl Edwards is such a girl.