Last Sunday, I went into Pittsburgh and came back with a beautiful head of dyed hair, probably my favorite we’ve ever done–but I’m aware I say that just about every time.

So last weekend was our weekend to stay put (mostly), and this weekend was our visiting weekend. We were trying to squeeze in a visit to Jacob and Katie to give Arlo a late Easter gift, but they were painting. Instead, we spent Saturday evening after work with my mom (and getting Vietnamese takeout) and Sunday evening with Paul’s family, where Charlie showed off his increasingly fast walking pace.

Today, we babysat Eliana–aside from me popping out to deposit savings bonds my mom has been holding for me and a few other errands, like a Starbucks run–so we spent the day wrangling two little kids, including some time outside. And then Paul went outside to cut the grass, and Charlie saw him from inside in his pack ‘n’ play by the window and for some reason, this was so upsetting to him that he got himself so worked up that he threw up everywhere, and that’s why the pack ‘n’ play is now in the yard.

Saturday 9: Don’t Rain on My Parade

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

 1) Is rain expected where you are today? I don’t think so, which is nice because we’ve had a decent bit lately, and our yard, particularly in the back, can get a little swampy and needs a dry day or two before it should be cut. Frequent bouts of rain has made it tough to keep up with, especially with me working full-time, my husband in grad school, and the two of us juggling caring for our 9-month-old.
2) In this song, Barbra Streisand warns everyone to not spoil her optimistic mood. What is something you’re feeling really good about today? Writing momentum! I’ve got two pieces out in the ether waiting on responses, a pitch going out Monday morning, and I’m mulling another pitch to send most likely Monday or Tuesday, whichever day I have time to put it together.
 3) She sings that life is candy and the sun is a ball of butter. Which have you consumed more recently, candy or butter? Probably butter, because my husband just made me eggs and I know he prefers cooking eggs with butter.
4) This song is from the musical Funny Girl. It’s based on the true story of Fanny Brice, who starred on Broadway, in movies and on the radio between 1910 and 1951. At the beginning of her career, no one thought she would succeed because of her unconventional looks, but she forged ahead, saying, “I make things happen for me.” Are you focused, like Fanny? I would say so.
5) When the stage version of Funny Girl was in pre-production, the part of Fanny was offered to actress Anne Bancroft, but she felt the songs were too difficult for her. Singer Eydie Gorme dropped out when told her husband, Steve Lawrence, could not play the male lead. Carol Burnett said she’d love to do it, but also admitted she thought she was wrong for the role. Running out of time and options, producer Ray Stark decided to give lesser-known Barbra Streisand a try … and the rest, as they say, is history. Has there ever been a time in your life when you were glad things didn’t work out as you’d originally planned? I think that’s how life tends to pan out in general! I think my best example is that my original college plan was to major in computer science. I applied to the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus but didn’t get in but was accepted to my first choice of branch campuses, and my plan was to stay there for two years, then transfer to the main campus. As it turns out, I both struggled with some of the math classes needed for the computer science degree and I wasn’t really happy on that track, so I followed my heart, as they say, and switched to English, and it just so happens I’d landed in a very good writing program–and I never intended to be there. On top of that, while I was at that branch campus, it was ranked higher than the main campus for academics.
6) Funny Girl was the top grossing movie of 1968. #2 was 2001: A Space Odyssey. Given the choice, would you rather watch a musical or a sci-fi flick? Ha, probably the two genres that best sum up my tastes and the two I’d have the most difficulty choosing between! I think I lean sci-fi, but sci-fi can be really disappointing if it’s not well-executed. A musical, at least, can be bad, sure, but for very different reasons. At their worst, I think I’ve disliked musicals for being boring, as opposed to disliked sci-fi for being a hot mess or silly.
7) Streisand’s favorite color is burgundy because it reminds her of when, as a little girl, she received a hand-knitted sweater as a gift and wearing it made her feel special. What color is your favorite sweater? I think most of my sweaters are grey!
8) In 1960, she began performing in New York clubs but she had a hard time getting work because she was only 18 and most nightclubs wouldn’t hire a girl not yet old enough to drink. Do you remember your first legal alcoholic beverage? What did you have? I don’t remember! I know it was the evening of my birthday, and I think it was a glass of wine. I do remember having a piña colada when I went out with friends the next day, though.
9) Random question: How many people know the real you? I truly feel like most people do. Everyone is guilty of presenting certain versions of themselves to certain people, of course, even without thinking, but I think just about everyone who interacts with me gets the authentic me. I’m not interested in trying to present myself a certain way or to behave in a way that shapes what people think of me. I mean, my hair right now is pink, purple, blue, and teal. The kinds of people who visually present themselves that way aren’t really the kinds of people trying to be someone else.

Friday 5: Aca-scuse me?

  1. In what way have you recently been rebellious? I guess having multi-colored hair–at the moment, teal, dark purple, and dark blue, and a little deep pink–is a bit rebellious. I haven’t encountered this personally (yet), but there seems to be a common attitude that a mom shouldn’t do such a thing.
  2. What fond memories do you have of camping out? Going to the woods most of the last several summers with my best friends with my best friend.
  3. When did you last have a snow cone, or something similar? I probably had a snow cone a couple summers ago, but I’ve had gelati from Rita’s in the last week or so.
  4. Where do you have difficulty fitting in? Where do you easily fit in? Lately, I’ve had some feelings of not fitting in with my extended family–I’ve been reminded lately of some stark differences in values–but I’d say on the whole, I don’t feel like an outsider. But my husband once told me that the most he’s ever seen me be most like myself, most at ease and in my element, was at writing events.
  5. How do you feel about banannas? I like them, but they’re not my favorite.

From Friday 5.

The Bones (2019)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) They lyrics compare a relationship to a house, saying that despite superficial problems like peeling paint or broken glass, the foundation can still be solid and strong. What home improvement project is next on your list? Either staining the deck or painting the kitchen cabinets, although I feel like staining the deck should come first before summer kicks in and it starts really getting hot out.

2) Maren Morris sings that she knows she and her lover can face any storm. Are you afraid of thunder and lightning? Nope.

3) The video for this song shows Maren and her husband, singer/songwriter Ryan Hurd, on the beach in Maui. Would you rather go for a long walk along a beach or a hike in the woods? A walk on the beach, but both make me happy.

 4) “The Bones” won Morris and her collaborators (Jimmy Robbins and Laura Veltz) the 2020 CMA “Song of the Year” Award. Here’s your chance to pat yourself on the back. What’s something you have done well lately? (Go ahead. We want to hear about it!) I had an essay published about the confidence boost I got from dyeing my hair fun colors.

5) The song was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Song. For the awards show last month, Maren put a lot of work into her look, including lightening her hair and lipstick and reshaping her brows. She was surprised when saw on social media that people confused her with reality star Khloe Kardashian. How long does it take you to prepare to face the world (on an average day, not for an internationally telecast awards show)? If I’m doing a full face of makeup, about an hour and a half, but I can do it in 30-45 minutes if I have to.

 6) Experimenting with hair and makeup comes naturally to Maren. Her parents have owned the same hair salon for decades. She and her sister played there as children and took turns working the reception desk when they were in high school. Do you have a hair appointment scheduled? Speaking of dyeing my hair fun colors, I had an appointment this morning and came out with awesome pink and blue and purple and green, and I’m heading back in eight weeks, at the beginning of June.

7) Mom and Dad do not go out of their way to play Maren’s songs in their salon. They don’t want to “bombard” clients with her music, just because she’s their daughter. But, if one of Maren’s songs happens to come on, they are naturally very proud. Where were you the last time you had to listen to someone else’s choice of music? (Bank, doctor’s office, friend’s car, etc.) Did you enjoy it, or did you wish you could change the station?It was at the aforementioned hair appointment, and I enjoyed it. My hair stylist is a friend of mine, and we have very, very similar taste.

 8) Maren says her favorite foods are tacos and tortillas. When did you most recently eat Mexican food? Authentic Mexican? It’s been a while. But we did our sort of homemade version of Mexican pizzas the other night.

9) Random question: What do you call that thing in your living room? Is it a sofa, couch, or a davenport? A couch, but if I’m being particular, ours right now is a loveseat.

Friday 5: III III III III III

  1. Who are your three latest celebrity crushes? I don’t have many at the moment, but my husband and I were recently in agreement that we think writer Tamsyn Muir is cute. Also, read Gideon the Ninth. I loved it.
  2. What three strange things have you done during the pandemic? I think having a baby during a pandemic was pretty strange! Same with the new normal of wearing masks. Related to that, my baby shower was a drive-by one last June, also definitely out of the ordinary. And not going to concerts is very strange for me.
  3. What three goals do you have for the weekend? Sleep in. Get the garden going. Get the baby monitor mounted in a better spot.
  4. What three things are you avoiding? Cleaning, a YouTube video of a nasty-ass spider my husband is watching at the moment, and…I don’t know.
  5. What three things are you feeling pretty good about? The coming weekend, my writing life (still!), my adorable 9-month-old.

From Friday 5.

For Easter, Paul’s mom decided to host on their side on Saturday instead of Sunday, which worked out nice–I can’t speak for Jacob, Katie, and Arlo, but it allowed us basically a full day with each side of the family and no going back and forth. So Charlie and Arlo had a nice Easter visiting with each other, as well as their aunts, uncles, and grandparents, and we hung around most of the day and ate and enjoyed the boys’ Easter gifts before heading to my mom’s to spend the night, rather than drive home and back out the next day.

And man, Charlie slept like shit. It could be that he takes after me and doesn’t sleep well in a different place–even though that hasn’t been an issue before, like over Christmas–but Paul’s theory is the expensive crib mattress I bought is just way better than the pack ‘n’ play he sleeps in when we travel. Which…fair.

Brandon, Kelly, and Eliana came over Sunday morning, and we had a nice brunch with more gifts for the kids. I bought Eliana’s (and Arlo’s) kind of last-minute–it was just a little Fisher-Price set with a baby and a bathroom with a potty, sink, and tub–but she loved it and played with mostly just that.

We ended up hanging around most of the day.

Monday, I was able to get vaccinated. It feels like such a great step forward.

That puts our families’ vaccine totals at my mom and brother fully vaccinated, one does each for me, Paul, and Kelly so far, and one dose for Paul’s mom and grandparents, although I believe their second doses should be soon. The kids still can’t get it, and I’m still keeping a close eye on news on that front. But at least most of the people around them have been vaccinated, especially with us and my mom watching Eliana just about every week.

My mom was pretty well knocked on her ass after her second dose, and Brandon reported being wiped out, too, although not as bad. I’m taking that as a sign that I won’t feel so great, either, so I took off work the day of the second shot–also because it’ll be my first Monday back from weekend rotation, which means a shortened weekend–and the following day. I didn’t really feel like waiting it out and either calling off or trying and failing to power through the day, and I have plenty of days to burn anyway. Here’s to hoping I’ll feel fine and will get to enjoy a nice, long weekend.

Saturday 9: Here Comes Peter Cottontail

1) Which do you prefer: colored hard-boiled eggs, chocolate marshmallow eggs, or plastic eggs with coins inside? I guess chocolate.

2) What’s your favorite color of Peeps (yellow, purple, or pink)? Pink.

3) All this talk of sweets is making Sam hungry. What’s for lunch? I had a grille-cheese sandwich.

4) This song was introduced by country singer Gene Autry and it’s still a favorite. Please share some of the lyrics. (And you’re on your own; Sam didn’t include a link to the song this week.) Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail!

5) Gene Autry was so popular that a town in Oklahoma named itself for him. Have you ever been to Oklahoma? I have not.

6) He and his horse Champion also had a TV show. Can you name another famous horse? Does Mr. Ed count?

7) Gene Autry also recorded “Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer,” and it was, of course, wildly popular, too. Who is your favorite recording artist? It’s too tough to pick just one!

8) In 1950, the year Autry recorded this song, Diner’s Club issued the first credit card. Think of the last thing you purchased. Did you use cash, a credit card, a debit card, an e-wallet service (Visa Checkout, Paypal, Google Pay, Apple Pay …) or a check? Credit card.

9) Easter is recognized as the start of the spring season. What are you looking forward to this spring? Warm weather! I hate winter, so I’m glad to have more sunlight and higher temperatures.

Friday 5: Play Ball!

  1. In what area of your life are you on a roll? This isn’t technically true, but it feels like it is–writing and publishing. I think just by virtue of deciding to really hit it hard this year, I feel like I’m doing a lot, even if most of what I’ve done has been tweaking pieces and submitting them and I’ve only had one published so far this year, a piece on the confidence boost I got from dyeing my hair on Atta Girl. It’s also very counterintuitive, but I’m doing more writing with a 9-month-old than I did pregnant.
  2. What’s the most recent spherical food you consumed? Not quite spherical–or at least, they’re spherical when they go in the oven–but strawberry-cheesecake cookies I’m making for Easter. The first tray didn’t turn out great, but that just means we get to eat those. Save the prettier, better ones for the festivities.
  3. In what way has your life taken a strange bounce? All of the circumstances surrounding my husband’s job loss last year. In short, in 2019, he found out the site would be moving to Mexico, but with no clear timeline, we didn’t see a point in putting plans to start a family on hold, and because of the relocation, he was entitled to benefits like going back to school for free. I got pregnant that fall. He got word his last day would be in July of last year, a few weeks after my due date, and two weeks before our son was born, they told him to just stay home and he’d be paid through the original end date. He enrolled in school to get an MBA, which is allowing him to stay home with our son for the next two-ish years. So having a nine-month-old while his dad is going back to school wasn’t exactly what we had in mind, but hey, it’s working.
  4. When did you last hit a home run? I’ll go with that essay published by Atta Girl.
  5. When did you last attend a special event for which you needed new clothes? Probably my own wedding, honestly. I tend to think it’s not necessary to buy new clothes for every wedding you’re a guest at, so I don’t–I think people like to use it an excuse to do so, and it is a good one, but I also think people confuse “want to” with “have to” on that one. And while I wasn’t really attending anything, I’d say being pregnant was a special event, and I certainly did need new clothes for that. Not many, since I was working from home and COVID hit and I barely left the house, but still.

From Friday 5.

Paul was able to get his first COVID shot Friday evening. Even with one of us only being partially vaccinated, it’s a huge relief. At least now when he’s fully vaccinated, we’ll know that the chances of him bringing COVID home from grocery shopping or the occasional in-person classes he has to attend for grad school are very slim. He said he felt tired over the weekend but felt really good today, which he thinks is a mental thing. My mom said something similar–she felt super relieved to get her first dose and had had a rough weekend a week prior, and she thinks the vaccine helped alleviate that.

Paul’s grandparents all got their first round, too, and by chance, so did his mom. When she took them, the pharmacy had an extra dose, so she took it. The number of vaccinated people in our inner circle is growing, which is great. I’ve sometimes felt like even visiting every other week has been an unnecessary risk, so it’s nice to know that’s changing.

We went for a nice, long walk in the park on Saturday, then visited our parents Sunday, and it was a good thing we did it that way because Saturday was warm and sunny and Sunday was gross and rainy. The walk ended up being a little longer than I’d intended, just by virtue of the way the trail in the park is designed, and I’m still kind of feeling the effects of it. At least that means I’m on my way to being in better shape until I’m vaccinated myself and get back to the gym.

We had nice visits with our families, even though it was a rare day where various mishaps led to like two or three outfit changes for Charlie in a day. Everyone talks about how messy babies are, and it’s not that that’s untrue, entirely, but just a diaper leak or spit-up is rare enough for him that it’s not usually an issue. It’s a good thing I have multiple outfits on hand, even if it is in part because he’s so tall for his age and I want backups for the backups in case something suddenly doesn’t fit.

He had his nine-month checkup today, and he’s doing great. The pediatrician says he’s a little ahead developmentally, which honestly surprised me because with Eliana a year older and Arlo a few months older, we’ve seen babies at a similar age and I’m just feeling like he’s not where they were at the same age–but I concede that could just be a delightful combination of paranoia and the major pitfalls of comparison. After opting to keep crawling on his tummy for a little while, he’s finally decided he’d rather crawl on his hands and knees, he can grab and feed himself small pieces of food, he’s pulling himself up to stand, and he’s walking with (a lot of) help. We think we’ve possibly heard a few early words, too, but it’s tough to tell what’s maybe just a very well-timed babble and what’s something more intentional. It’s happened enough that Paul’s convinced it’s intentional.

He didn’t measure much taller, but the pediatrician attributed this to the difficulties of measuring a wiggly baby, especially considering he’s about to bust out of his car seat. My mom intended to buy him one for his birthday, but I really think he’s gonna need it before then.

Saturday 9: Fooled by a Feeling (1979)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.
Chosen because next week is April Fool’s Day

1) Some believe that the practice of playing tricks on one another on April 1 dates back to the 14th century because it’s mentioned in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer is considered one of England’s greatest poets. From memory, quote a bit of poetry for us. (It doesn’t have to be English, or great.) “Quoth the Raven, ‘nevermore.'” It’s a cheap one, but my brain’s coming up blank on other poetry right now.

2) When Crazy Sam was a little girl, her mother would prank her on April Fool’s Day by slipping a rubber worm or plastic spider in her lunch box. Did you/do you carry a lunchbox, either as a student or an adult? I did as a student, and for a little while as an adult going into the office. But we went remote probably around three years ago now.

3) In 1998, Burger King got into the April Fool’s Day fun by promoting a special “Left Handed Whopper,” supposedly perfectly  designed for a leftie to hold. Describe your perfect burger. Gotta be honest, one of my absolute favorites is from Red Robin and has pineapple on it, and I get it with an Impossible patty. I’ve also had two fantastic veggie burgers that have had apple on them.

4) In this week’s song, Barbara Mandrell sings that she followed her heart into her lover’s arms. Are you more often led by your heart or head? Probably my heart, if I’m honest. I let my emotions rule sometimes.

5) She knows now she was wrong for believing her man loved her. When did you recently admit you were wrong? I’m not sure. Seems I haven’t had to lately.

6) Barbara Mandrell recalls being able to read music before she could read words. Can you read sheet music? I can’t, but I can read guitar tabs.

7) Barbara had her own TV variety show in the 1980s and, in the 90s, acted on the daytime drama, Sunset Beach. The soap opera’s producer, Aaron Spelling, was a huge fan of Barbara’s and was thrilled to finally meet and work with her. Tell us about someone you really enjoyed working with, and why. My writing group–and in fact, all writing groups I’ve been a part of, including my college classes. I’ve been lucky to land with smart, funny, intuitive people who are a joy to hang out with but are also honest about what’s not working for them and help tease something better out.

8) In 1979, when this song was released, a top-of-the-line Sony Walkman sold for $150 (approx. $500 in today’s dollars). Did you have a portable cassette player back in the day? I am just old enough to recall having a boom box with a cassette player a few years before my portable CD player was glued to my side.

9) Random question: What’s the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning? My 9-month-old son. Well, technically, this morning in particular, it was the cat that was biting my hands to wake me up because he wanted breakfast, and then it was my son. He’s sleeping in his own room, so I can’t just roll over to check on him anymore, and of course that paranoia of wanting to make sure he’s okay always kicks in.