Last weekend, I got a haircut and we spent some time after that visiting with both of our parents. I also scheduled an appointment for Paul.

That appointment got canceled because the owner had to get tested for COVID, which I have since learned seemed to be mostly out of caution, as his wife had been exposed. But of course, before I was aware of the timing, all I could think was, “Great. I’m still leaving the house pretty infrequently, and just my luck, I interacted with someone who might have it.” Fortunately, that’s not really the case, and the cancelation worked out for the better–my friend Emily, who’d cut and dyed my hair up to this point and who I will be going to again in November, needed a guy to practice short haircuts on Monday morning. I’d taken both Friday and Monday off to spend a long weekend in Erie, but we decided to come home Sunday for a couple reasons. Charlie had a pediatrician appointment Monday afternoon, my car needed inspected so we scheduled that for early Monday morning, plus I just kind of wanted a day at home to chill. After a weekend gone, especially now with a baby, that meant things like laundry not getting done, so I wanted to reclaim a little time. Emily posted that she needed someone at 10:15, and I thought, “Hey, we’re home and Paul still needs a haircut,” so I messaged her right around 7 a.m. to see if she still needed someone and sure enough, she did, so he was off to the city for a couple hours while Charlie and I stayed home.

Paul’s sister Julie is trying to start up the tradition of hosting an annual fall party at their place up outside of Erie, especially now with two baby nephews. I get the sense that part of it is because, of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be spent with our families, but Halloween is an easy time of year to get us all up there. So we had a nice time with immediate family and close friends. Paul took some time to go to the lake and its beaches with his parents, but it was too cold, I thought, to bother taking Charlie and certainly too cold for my tastes. So we mostly spent the weekend hanging out and enjoying Julie’s hospitality. I could’ve gone for more of their homemade wine, though.

My car passed inspection with no maintenance needed, which was great since Paul’s currently unemployed, his hair looks great, and Charlie’s development is right on track. We noticed that he’s been watching us eat lately and that maybe that’ll make transitioning to solid foods easy, and sure enough, that actually is a sign that a baby is ready to start solid foods. Plus he’s been teething already for a couple of weeks. So now that he just woke up from quite a long nap, he’s getting a diaper change and his first taste of carrots.

Saturday 9: Lights

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

1) This song was inspired by a young Ellie Goulding’s fear of the dark. What scared you when you were a kid? Also the dark.

2) She thinks back to the room where her brother and sister slept and she felt safe. Did you share a room when you were growing up? Yeah, my brother and I shared a room until I was about 6.

3) Ellie Goulding grew up in public housing and worked her way through the University of Kent in Canterbury. Back in those days, her favorite job was theater usher because it offered her the perk of seeing plays for free. What’s the most recent “freebie” you scored? (This includes a buy one/get one deal, extra points on your credit card, etc.) Not me, but my husband, which also kind of saves me money. A friend of mine is a hair stylist, and she needed a man for a class for a short haircut this morning. Just so happens he needed a haircut because the one he had scheduled was canceled when the owner needed to get tested for COVID. Because it’s for a class, it’s free.

4) Even though today she is an international music star, Ellie still lives modestly. She describes herself as “still in university mode,” and limits herself to $10/day for lunch. Where do you economize? Anywhere I can, especially with a new baby. Lately, that’s been taking advantage of Target deals–two large boxes of diapers will get you a $15 gift card back, and two canisters of formula gets you $10.

5) Ellie has proclaimed herself “a cat lady” and often posts pictures of her cats to her Instagram account. What’s the most recent photo you took? One of my cats.

6) Ellie appeared on Sesame Street. She, Elmo and Abby thanked clouds for raindrops, lakes, and the water we drink. Would you be thankful for a little rain this weekend? We just had some, so no.

7) In 2011, the year “Lights” was a hit, Prince William married Kate Middleton. Ellie not only attended the wedding, she sang Elton John’s “Your Song” for the couple’s first dance. Tell us a song that reminds you of a romance in your life. Oddly enough, my husband and I don’t really have a song, although there are definitely ones that remind me of him.

8) Also in 2011, AT&T abandoned their attempt to buy T-Mobile. Which company is your cell phone carrier? Are you happy with them? Verizon, and for the most part, yes.

9) Random question: What recent experience made you feel old? I wouldn’t say it made me feel old, necessarily, but over the weekend, we visited one of my husband’s sisters. She and her husband were hosting a fall party with immediate family and close friends, as young as late teens. I realized that aside from my in-laws, I was the oldest at 31. Also, there was another couple with a baby there close in age to ours, and we had a clear difference in parenting styles (at least to me) that I think can be partly attributed to age.

Friday 5: Z

  1. How have you been sleeping lately? Honestly? Pretty good, for having a nearly four-month-old baby. He’s sleeping through the night, for the most part, save a couple of early-morning wake-ups once a week or so. That said, I am a paranoid mother, so I’m still waking up a couple times a night and peeking over to make sure he’s okay. You would think the Owlet smart sock we have that monitors his heart rate and oxygen levels would off enough peace of mind, but not for me!
  2. What kinds of linens and stuff do you have on your bed today? At the moment, we pretty generic plaid set from Kohl’s. But I have to say, they’re the most durable set of sheets we own. I just bought a new set and somehow (I blame the cats) there’s already a nice, big rip in one of the corners. The Kohl’s set? Pristine.
  3. What’s the latest you’ve gotten out of bed these last few months? I work at 7 (from home) and have the baby on a 6:30-ish wakeup schedule to feed him. Today, he woke up at 4:30 and went back to bed around 5:30, and so I stretched that wakeup to 7:30. That’s as late as I’ll go. But on weekends especially, I’ll take a morning nap as soon as I have the chance, whether that means my husband takes the baby or the baby is asleep.
  4. Have you had any pleasant or unpleasant dreams lately? Nothing firmly in either camp, but definitely some weird ones. I had one within the last week or so where there was a flood and we were trying to pack to leave, but for some reason packing involved going through my mom’s basement which was some weird, like, thrift store, and people were just casually shopping. And my dead grandma was there.
  5. What helps you relax these days? Hot bubble baths. I had to be careful of the water temperature when I was pregnant, but now, all bets are off. And there’s my usual standbys–reading, writing, Netflix, family walks in the park on a nice day.

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Vision of Love

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

1) The lyrics refer to “sweet destiny.” Do you believe in destiny? Sometimes I do.

2) This week’s artist, Mariah Carey, has something to fall back on. She studied cosmetology and worked as a hair sweeper in a salon. When you get your hair cut, do you socialize with the stylist? I do, especially when I go to my friend that usually does it. While she was between salons, I started to go to the guy I went to when I still lived with my parents, and I do talk to him but not quite as much.

3) She isn’t likely to turn to cosmetology any time soon. Mariah is currently on the best seller list with her autobiography, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. Was the last book you finished fiction or non-fiction? Fiction.

4) So far, more than 800 people have reviewed Mariah’s book on Amazon. Do you review products/services online? For the most part, no, but I will if I have strong feelings about a product or if there’s some kind of incentive. I’ve seen the occasional raffle for a gift card if you leave a review.

5) When she was a high school student, she was nicknamed “Mirage” because she skipped class so often. Did you ever play hooky? On occasion. My best friend and I used to take what we’d call “mental health days,” where if we felt like we needed a break, we’d just stay home. As long as we weren’t missing a test or something, our parents knew and were okay with this. I’d normally spend the day channel-surfing for music videos because at the time, MTV and VH1 still played them early in the morning, plus other digital channels played solely music videos.

6) Mariah doesn’t apologize for spoiling her dogs, who have been known to travel by limo. Do you know anyone who treats their pets like people? I’d say everyone I know spoils their pets, but not to this extent.

7) In 1990, the year this song was popular, Martina Navratilova won the Wimbledon Women’s Singles Tournament. How’s your tennis game? Terrible, just like every other sport I’ve tried.

8) Also in 1990, Pope John Paul II toured Mexico. Have you ever visited our neighbor south of the border? I have.

9) Random question(s): There are Gofundme campaigns for many purposes. Have you ever solicited funds online? Would you? I haven’t. I don’t fault others for doing it and I have donated to a few, but I can’t see myself doing it unless things were really, really dire, and even then I don’t know. It’s just not like me.

Saturday 9: One Night Standards

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

1) The video for this song takes place in a motel and the story is told from the point of view of the desk clerk. Have you ever worked in a hotel, motel, or bed-and-breakfast? No.

2) Ashley McBryde sings that she’s not Cinderella, a reference to the fairy-tale heroine warned to return from the ball before midnight. When did you recently stay up until the wee small hours of the morning? Actually stayed up? Sometime in the first few weeks after my son was born, so over the summer. New, breastfeeding babies need fed every three hours, so sometimes, depending on how those hours would fall, I’d stay up until midnight or later and then go to bed after he was done eating. Of course, that also means I was waking up in the wee hours of the morning to feed him, but he’s now old enough and a good enough sleeper that he’s making it through the night consistently. But we still do have the occasional 2 a.m. feeding and diaper change.

3) Ashley had been working hard as a singer/songwriter for eleven years before she was discovered and proclaimed one of County’s best new artists. What was your life like 11 years ago? I was 20, in college and generally enjoying it, and I was about a year away from meeting my husband.

4) Ashley is from Mammoth Springs, AR. One of the most popular stops on Main Street — for locals and tourists alike — is Spring Dipper Ice Cream. More than 20 flavors are made right there on the premises, from Jamoca Almond Fudge to French Vanilla. When confronted with such a wide selection, do you tend to order your familiar favorite or try something new? I’ll probably gravitate towards something close to a usual favorite but still technically try something new.

5) In 2007, she moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. Have you ever relocated for a job? Yes and no. When I got my current job a few months out of college, I was living at home, and I moved a few months after that in part to cut my commute by more than half–I was originally driving about an hour and 15 minutes. But I’ve never picked up and moved a substantial distance solely for a job, no.

6) Whenever Ashley hears a Carpenters song, she thinks of her mother, who loved Karen Carpenter’s voice. Tell us a song that reminds you a loved one. Classic rock, REO Speedwagon and Journey in particular, remind me of my dad.

7) In 2019, the year this song was recorded, Notre Dame Cathedral was damaged in a fire. Have you ever visited Paris? Unfortunately, no, but I intend to!

8) Also in 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Harry and Meghan) had a baby boy. Is anyone in your life expecting a baby? A cousin of my husband is, and her sister just had a baby a few weeks ago. And then, of course, mine was born at the end of June, and going back a little farther to March, his only cousin (so far) on his dad’s side was born.

9) Random question: Do you always want to hear the truth about yourself? Probably not always, but I would like honest but gentle feedback, sure. And for the record, lashing out at someone about their faults when you’re mad at them is not that.

Friday 5: Role Play

  1. How do you think you’d do in learning to fly a plane? I mean, I think I could learn it just fine, but I would be very, very nervous.
  2. How do you think you’d do hosting a nationally televised late-night talk show? For as shy as I can be, I actually think I’d do pretty well. I can carry on a good conversation. What I’d struggle with is the fact that I know celebrities who go on such shows often have a list of topics that are off-limits, and a lot of it is not necessarily rehearsed but sort of discussed in advance. I’d rather have a more organic, honest conversation, and that comes from just being a fan. When you’re a teenager devouring every interview your favorite band does, you start hearing the same things over and over again and long for something new and more substantial, and if I’m ever in a position again where I can interview people, that’s how I’d approach it.
  3. How do you think you’d do in auto body repair school? I think I could handle that. I think I might even enjoy it.
  4. How do you think you’d do as the only occupant of the International Space Station for a year? It might be one of those things where I think, “Yeah, I can handle that!” then end up being very, very wrong. If I were still single and childless, maybe.
  5. How do you think you’d do as a professional dog groomer? I’d probably have fun but would get very, very frustrated with owners that were either not very good or too ridiculous about it. The dogs would be fine, it’s their people I’d struggle with.

From Friday 5.

This past Saturday was my last on weekend rotation, and the way that works, it meant my only day off this weekend was Sunday. We spent some time in the park walking.

I was back at work on Monday but took Tuesday off, so we headed off to my mom’s again to get him and Eliana together and also to share some of our coveted outlet covers. Eliana’s starting to get a little too interested in outlets.

Toddlers are far more entertaining than expected, although maybe that’s just because she’s my niece. But we went for a brief walk down the road, and she stopped and picked up leaves and distributed them to all of us and says, “Hi, pumpkin!” to the pumpkins out on neighbors’ porches. I’m told that last week, she called Charlie on her toy phone the next day and that this time, as we parted ways for her to meet Mama and go home and us to visit Charlie’s other set of grandparents, she said, “Bye, Charlie!” She later told Mama and Dada, accurately, that Charlie cried and went night-night over the course of the day.

I think we’ll spend this weekend at home, maybe save for more walks in the park, and give the grandparents their fix again in a week or two.

Saturday 9: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

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

What’s Love Got to Do with It is also the title of Tina Turner’s film biography, which tells of Tina’s escape from her abusive, controlling husband, Ike. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Spread the word that help is available.

1) The video was shot around New York City in spring. Kids are seen jumping rope. Were you good at jump rope? Has it ever been part of your workout routine as an adult? I mean, I wasn’t bad at it. I’ve never included it as part of my workout routine, though. My husband has.

2) In real life, Tina Turner played basketball for her school. Were you good at team sports? Never played one.

3) In the video, Tina Turner wears a little black dress topped with a denim jacket. That jacket is a fashion staple 36 years later. Do you own a denim jacket? Technically, yes, although I haven’t actually worn it in years. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s in a pile of things I’m getting rid of.

3) This song was first offered to Cliff Richard, a major pop star in England who never enjoyed gained superstar status in the US. Perhaps, if he had recorded “What’s Love Got to Do with It?,” he would have been better known on this side of the ocean. Tell us about a time when you said “no” when “yes” might have been the better answer. I think I have more examples of the opposite!

4) Tina’s first marriage, to Ike Turner, was a painful one. Her second marriage, to German music executive Erwin Bach has been far more supportive. This has been a blessing, since Tina has had serious health problems in recent years. Do you have any medical/dental appointments scheduled? No, and after the many appointments pregnancy and postpartum care requires, I’m happy about that.

5) Tina met Erwin at Heathrow Airport in 1986. He was there to help her prepare for her London performances. They immediately liked one another, but didn’t become romantically involved until months later and were surprised to find themselves falling in love. Have you ever had a romantic relationship that crept on you? I guess my relationship with my husband kind of did! Our brothers were friends in high school, and we just kind of started talking the summer they graduated.

6) The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards referred to Tina as his “favorite aunt.” Is there anyone who isn’t a relative of yours by blood but you refer to as aunt, uncle, brother, sister, etc.? Not really.

7) Former President George W. Bush is also a big Tina Turner fan, and has praised her for having “the most famous legs in show business.” What do you believe is your best physical feature? My eyes, and also my legs!

8) At home, Tina often doesn’t always play music or TV because she appreciates quiet as much as music. What about you? Do you enjoy quiet? I almost always have music playing, although I’d say that has more to do with loving music and less to do with hating quiet.

9) Random question: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “very lazy” and 10 being “very productive,” what number are you? Maybe like a 5? Like, I can be very productive when I’m motivated to be, if it’s something I want to do.

Friday 5: Literally and/or Figuratively

  1. When did you last gloss something over? There’s this guy that my best friend and I went to high school with who was a few years older that we found to be very, very attractive. Now as an adult, he’s a really obnoxious Facebook user–very long-winded and into the type of “both sides”-ism that veers into saying virtually nothing of substance. She sent me a post of his from the other day that I actually agreed with, for the most part, and I often don’t, but it was so damn long that I just skimmed it. Literally, though…I put a lip balm/gloss on my lips about daily this time of year.
  2. When were you most recently out to lunch? Literally, last Monday, if ordering pizza at my mom’s house counts. Other than that, I haven’t gone out to eat since I was kind of roped into it in Deep Creek several weeks ago. Figuratively, I like to think never!
  3. What are some hats you wear? Wife, mom, writer, employee. Literally? Um…I have a few winter hats I break out sometimes.
  4. When were you ever head over heels? Aww, when I fell for my husband! And when we had Charlie! Literally, maybe that time I fell on my face in the park.
  5. When did you recently give it the old college try? Literally, I graduated from college in 2011, so…figuratively, maybe with this piece I started writing. I’m trying to write about what it’s been like to be pregnant and then have a newborn during COVID. I have some of it done, but I need to work on it some more and intend to throw it to the workshop wolves tomorrow night. (I kid–they’re very nice people and great writers. Someone had a poem last week that was stupid good.)

From Friday 5.