Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!

One year, I sewed costumes for me, Tyler, and my ex. Where did I find the time?

This is Werewolf Tyler on the left and his buddy Death on the right:

All I need is a “Team Jacob” shirt…..

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Legos v. Barbies

“You’re lucky,” people say.

After looking over both shoulders to make sure they’re talking to me, I ask why. “Because you are a woman with stepdaughters! That must be so much easier.”

What I want to say is, “Easier than what, unmedicated oral surgery? Holy bleep, didn’t you ever go to middle school?”

What I usually say is, “Which would you rather play with, Barbies or Legos?”

I am, and pretty much always have been, a Legos kind of girl. I climbed trees, rode my bike everywhere, and practically lived at Chamblin Bookmine.

I think most girls, myself included, go through a phase where the mall is The Temple of Awesomeness, but I grew out of that phase a long time ago. It’s perfectly normal that Jason’s daughters are in a very materialistic, shopping-centered phase. But I can’t relate to it, and I certainly won’t indulge it. Additionally, it makes me kind of sad for them. There is so much more to life than iCarly and the latest novelty accessory (slap bracelets, silly bands, hair feathers – you name it, they have brought it to our house), but they have a hard time appreciating anything that doesn’t come packaged in plastic or isn’t advertised on TV.

Last summer we found ourselves shopping for first day of school outfits. One of the girls decided she wanted denim shorts as part of her outfit. “You already have denim shorts, so that’s good,” Jason said. “No!,” she exclaimed, “I have to have NEW denim shorts!” She chose something else, just because it meant her whole outfit would be new.   

I have to keep reminding myself that this has nothing to do with the divorce. However, it has everything to do with the culture – large and small – in which these girls were raised. While I am familiar with the larger consumer culture, my upbringing was 180 degrees from theirs, and I continually struggle with the clash of values. I was brought up to value experiences; they have been brought up to value things. 

Tyler is also materialistic, but not to the same degree, and not consistently. He finds his treasures on the playground – a rock that he believes is a fossil, a rubber band, a paper clip – but he also wants a PS3 and a new Nintendo DS for Christmas (not. happening.). On the other hand, his favorite gift from last Christmas was a small laughing Buddha statue I got for $2.00 at an antique store. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with his gender, but also because he was raised in a debt-averse household (both before and after the divorce).

But back to my original point.

There is no magic formula that governs which combination of step-parents and step-children will be successful, for the simple and obvious reason that all parents are different, all children are different, and all divorces are different. The pressures and tensions that are brought to bear on the relationship between you and your stepchildren are actually unique. YOU ARE A SPECIAL, SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE. I don’t say that often.

Jason and I have found that, even within our own household, the relationship between him and Tyler, and me and the girls, is vastly different. We have learned to meet each child where they are, instead of trying to force-fit them into little boxes of our own design. In return, we try not to let them manipulate us into being their “ideal” parents (imagine the inmates running the asylum). I’m sure the girls would like me better if I bought them trinkets every time they came over, but most reasonable adults understand that doing so would be only a cheap, flimsy victory. When the trinkets dried up, so would their affection. 

So no, I’m not “lucky” that I am a woman with stepdaughters. I am lucky that my stepdaughters are generally well-behaved, smart, and respectful children. I am lucky that they love my son, and he loves them. And I am especially lucky to have a partner who is committed to building a household that works for THIS woman, and THAT man, and THOSE kids – not some idealized combination of the three.

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What I Wore Wednesday: Brrrrrr Edition

(drumroll) It’s that time again!

 pleated poppy

Apparently I spoke too soon, as the weather abruptly cooled off last Wednesday, leaving us Floridians at a total sartorial loss.

I was greatly amused while walking around Tyler’s school, where most of the children were wearing last year’s too-short jeans and too-small jackets, which had been hastily pulled from the back of the closet.

I wasn’t as amused when I discovered that, even though the restoration company claimed to have delivered all our clothes…..

The lamest walk-in closet ever.

… winter clothes were nowhere to be found in the stacks of boxes. When Jason called, they were all, “oh, THOSE winter clothes!” and promptly delivered MOAR boxes. Because that’s clearly what we needed.

In my desperation to stay warm, I did something I don’t normally do: wear leggings out of the house. Apologies in advance to those with dignity. At least I didn’t try to pretend they were pants!

I think I just heard my grandmother disapproving from The Great Beyond.

Leggings (of shame): Old Navy
Dress: Old Navy
Cardigan: Target
Flats: Shoe Station

So that was Thursday. Friday morning I woke up to 39-degree temperatures, crippling dizziness, and a hefty serving of nausea. So I consider this a victory.

Pants: Target
Pink tank: Ann Taylor Loft
Cardigan: J.Crew via Urban Thread
Purple Converses: Target

Saturday: Moment of Truth. This is how I look when I just don’t give a darn, aka most of the time.

Jeans: Ann Taylor Loft
Flannel Shirt: Target
Fleece: L.L. Bean
Purple Converses: Target

Monday: I found an infinity scarf at Target that I liked. I had mentally matched it to 2 or 3 different outfits, but was pleasantly surprised to find out it matched my Electric Salmon Jacket of Indifference, too. Now I like the jacket much better.

Pants: J. Crew, via Urban Thread
White Tee: Target
Jacket: Chadwicks
Scarf and Shoes: Target

I FORGOT TO TAKE A PICTURE ON TUESDAY. Which is terrible, because honey, I looked fly. Chocolate tweed pencil skirt, white button-down, chunky turquoise necklace, brown wedges.

Aaaaaaand Wednesday. This sweater (from Target) is super-soft. I love it.

Pants and tank: Ann Taylor Loft
Cardigan: Target
Shoes: Shoe Station
Cat: Evil

There’s my cat, lurking in the bottom right of this photo. She rarely allows herself to be photographed, preferring instead to plot our demise from the shadows.


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Reunited (with employment), and it feels so good…..

Jason found a job! I repeat, Jason’s long dark tea-time of the soul, a.k.a. unemplyment, is OVER!

Tyler is excited.

VERY excited.

This one goes to eleven.

I am just thrilled for Jason that he found something so quickly. The job market is rough out there (in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last three years).

I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for three weeks. WHEW!!


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What I Wore Wednesday: Indian Summer

So, it’s still hot here. Monday, the high was 90 degrees. Ouch. Fortunately, it gets cool enough at night to sleep with the windows open.

 pleated poppy


Tank: Gap
Crops: Ann Taylor Loft

Friday: Outfit was boring, but I thought I’d share one of my favorite necklaces. It’s the tiniest, cutest little elephant I’ve ever seen. I bought it with my friend Jennifer in San Antonio, Texas, and I wear it when I need a little extra strength.


Dress: Old Navy
Cardigan: Ann Taylor Loft
Shoes: Target

Tuesday: I love this shirt. It’s lightweight and comfortable. The pants I’m not as much a fan of, as they feel about an inch too short. However, I am too cheap to get rid of them.

Shirt: Target
Necklace: Elephant
Pants: JCrew favorite fit
Glasses: Make me look vaguely smart, no?

Wednesday: Finally cooled off (it was 62 degrees on my way to work)(This counts as “chilly” in Florida).

Trousers: Ann Taylor (original flavor, factory outlet)
Tank: Ann Taylor Loft
Origami Sweater: Target
Necklace: circa 1999
Beagle: Would like some ham

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Last week, over at the under-construction house (no longer the burnt-up house!), the walls and ceilings went up.

Family Room, Thursday:


Family Room, Friday:

And so on Saturday (and Sunday!) we finalized our paint colors. Turns out it’s quite intimidating to pick out all the colors for all the rooms, all at once. Especially when you don’t have floors or furniture or light fixtures.

Most of the living areas (foyer, hall, living room, family room, kitchen) will be Sisal by Martha Stewart Living, which is a nice neutral khaki color. You can see it here (on the bottom) with our first runner-up, Cozy Cottage by Behr:

I really wanted to like the Cozy Cottage, but it was just too yellow when applied to the wall. Having moved from a house that was painted, inside and out, with the Yellow Paint of Much Despair, and having watched almost every mid-2000s episode of “Trading Spaces” where some designer opens a can of paint and declares, “We’re going to use a soft, buttery yellow!” I am TIRED OF YELLOW WALLS. My Pinterest boards are swathed in grays, turquoises, plums, and greens.

The other question mark in our paint line-up was the master bathroom. The bedroom will be painted a medium gray. The bathroom is TINY, and the walls are tiled halfway up in white, so I wanted to try something colorful. My first attempt was a rich purple…..that looked like dried blood on the walls. Oops. We finally settled on Zen, by Behr, which looks great with the pewter accent tiles:

We are positively hurtling towards the finish line on this involuntary whole-house renovation.

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WIWW: That Darn Skirt

From the “horribly embarrassing” files, I realized when I was flipping through my pictures that I wore the same skirt last Wednesday, this Sunday, and this Monday. Granted, one of those times was for about 2 hours to go to church, BUT STILL. The stress must be getting to me. This week I also took an envelope to my boss to sign (left the letter on my desk). Sigh.

On the other hand, despite my life being in shambles, I did manage to get dressed every day this week (even if I didn’t take pictures).

 pleated poppy

Sunday: I wore this to church.

Don't fight the funk, y'all.

Skirt: Ann Taylor Loft
Tank: Ann Taylor Loft
Blazer: Goodwill
Funky necklace: My mom (“Moo, when were you so stylish?” “The 70s.”)

Monday: When I ordered this jacket, the color was listed as “New England Red.” Which is apparently code for “shocking salmon.” However, it fits and is comfortable, so I’m just trying to roll with it.



Skirt and tank: Ann Taylor Loft, AGAIN
Jacket: Chadwick’s
Necklace: Etsy

Tuesday: I spent some time in the laboratory trying to accessorize with a scarf. I have a long cotton voile scarf I got at Old Navy a couple of years ago, so first I safety-pinned the ends together to see how it would look as an infinity scarf. It looked…. like I had a fluffy car tire around my neck:


Then I tried the weave, with much more manageable results:

Weave FTW!

Trousers: Ann Taylor Loft
Tee: Target
Scarf: Old Navy
Skillz: Mad

Which brings us to Wednesday:

Skirt: Target
Pink Tank: Ann Taylor Loft
Black top: Ann Taylor Loft
Necklace: The Other Side Vintage, Tallahassee, Florida


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Remember when….

My relatively-new buddy Erin (over at The Cohen Tribe), who is married to my relatively-old buddy David, taught me this super-fun game. It’s called “Remember When…”, and it goes a little something like this: 

Let’s say, for example, that you’re staring up at your ceiling during a thunderstorm as water drip, drip, drips onto your favorite rug. “Remember when our roof leaked?” you ask your partner.

Or after clapping your hands over your ears for two straight hours: “Remember when the baby was teething and inconsolable? Remember that?”

It’s meant to jumpstart the getting-over-it-process. Plus, it’s hilarious. Anyway, I have been using this little device quite frequently over the last few months. Like last Thursday, when I looked over at Jason and said, “Remember 2011? When our dogs ran off and our house burned up and then you lost your job three months to the day after that? Remember?”

 Yeah. That was awesome.

My dear Jason, the hardest-working, easiest-going individual I know, lost his job on the last day of September. He wasn’t given a reason beyond “it’s just not working out.” And if by “not working out,” they mean, “Sure, your billable hours are good, and you did win that federal court trial in March as lead counsel, and your articles have appeared in several national publications this year, but we just can’t get over your penchant for bow ties,” then I totally get it.

Otherwise, we’re both kind of stumped.

The panic comes in waves, like nausea. There is simply no way we can cut our household budget to make up for losing 2/3 of our income. Jason has been working his tail off to find another job, but has not had much luck so far. Most firms are looking for baby lawyers that they can pay peanuts, not 10-year trial-experienced attorneys who are used to more substantial compensation. 

If this was a normal year, we’d have an emergency fund to get us through 3-6 months. But this has not been an ordinary year. We put 20% down on our house (cha-ching), then put a new roof on it (cha-ching). Since the fire, we have been responsible for 20% of our additional living expenses – rent, utilities, lawn care, additional mileage, etc. (cha-ching, cha-ching). We have not yet been paid for our contents claim, even though we submitted it weeks ago.  

I am so very tired of people feeling sorry for me, and yet objectively my life is quite pitiful right now.  We have severely curtailed our lifestyle in the hopes that we can make it one more week. October 3 was our anniversary, and we had planned to spend Saturday in Thomasville, wandering around antique stores and eating cheese at Sweet Grass Dairy Market, but we had to cancel. Instead, we took a (free) five-mile hike to the gardens where we got married, and sat by the reflecting pool. There may or may not have been wailing. And/or gnashing of teeth.

This despair is physically exhausting, like an infection you can’t shake. I go over the numbers, again and again. I calculate and re-calculate. I shave dollars here, dollars there. It’s not enough. It’s never enough.

I feel sometimes as though I am being driven mad by it, as though I have been given a riddle with no answer. It feels profoundly unfair.

I am able to get to work, to do my job, to smile and say the right things to people who ask how we’re doing. “Oh, it could be worse,” I say, hollowly. “This happens all the time, the economy’s just terrible.”

I don’t want anyone to worry about me. But I am worried, oh, how I am worried.


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WIWW: Fall Approaching

Things are finally cooling down here in the Sunshine State (knock on wood that it lasts!). We’ve been sleeping with the windows open, and I wore my fleece for three whole hours last Saturday.

 pleated poppy

It’s been an awful week on an epic scale, so I only took pictures this morning.

I’m trying to break out of my comfortable rut by experimenting with accessories. Today, I put on a belt OVER MY CLOTHES. It feels so weeeeeird, but I think I like it. It’s certainly easier than having all my shirts tailored to fit my small-waist-big-hip ratio.

Anyway. Here are the results:

Please excuse the dog’s treat lurking by my left heel. She’s such an attention whore.

And up close:

Pintucked button-down: Old Navy
Skirt: Ann Taylor Loft
Belt: Target
Necklace: Mexico
Shoes: Payless


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Two Years

 Never more true than today:

I, Windy, take you, Jason,
To be the husband of my days, the companion of my house,
The friend of my life, and the father of our children.
We shall bear together whatever trouble and sorrow life may lay upon us,
And we shall share together whatever good and joyful things life may bring us.
With these words, and all the words of my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours.

October 3, 2009

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