TULA PINK! Quilt Show – Something Interesting We Did

DH and I were talking about the pitiful state of our social life. We just have a hard time connecting with people. (TMI? Have you missed me?) With the 1/2 life that comes with shared child custody, it is difficult to make adult friendships work. Add to that – we both basically have a default setting of quiet and absorbed in our own worlds (quilting, books) and it takes a while for people to like us. And we are a skosh curmudgeonly and old. Ok, more than a skosh.

Recently while bemoaning our “fates”, I got sick of trying to think how to meet people who could be our “couple friends”. I decided that we need to make our lives interesting outside of trying to meet people. I HATE things I can’t control. And meeting people who can stand us enough to hang out with us regularly is definitely not something I have much control over.

Every weekend, kids or not, we are doing something interesting – so that our lives are interesting regardless of our social status.

Our first foray was a quick trip to see the Tula Pink and Luke Haynes quilt show at the Albrecht-Kemper museum in St. Joseph. This is an adorable little gem of a museum in n a cool old mansion.


The quilts were more for me, of course. And they were amazing and beautiful. Tula Pink is sort of my favoritest person in the world I don’t actually know – so I was a goner. It was great to see all of the quilts I had fawned over online in real person.


Luke Haynes does amazing work – true art pieces in fabric. I had been to a talk he gave a few months back, so knew a bit about his work. Again, so great to see some of these in real life.

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My favorite is the dual Elvis… I LOVE the flying geese backdrop.


And I love this picture. The kids with LUKE – Some prehipsters these two are, for sure.


The paitings at the Allbrecht-Kemper are housed in about three rooms – and there really are some cool American art pieces…


Victory by Lisa Lala took my breath away. I love the color so much – this picture doesn’t do the color justice. I want to make a quilt in this palette.


My favorite painter is Janet Fish – so I was thrilled to see this painting, entitled Cows. So weird that I was this close to another of her paintings and didn’t go to see it until now.


A very cool painting was this Fruit Ninja-like piece. I cavalierly thought that the paintings would be documented on the website, so I didn’t take notes. So I don’t know the name or who it is by.


Another painting that had a color palette that caused me to drool was Afterglow in Mexico by Wolf Kahn. Lavender, cornflower blue, russety orange. Another set of colors on the quilting to-do list.

Albrecht-Kemper was an interesting thing to do.  The Tula Pink and Luke Haynes exhibit is open until September 7, 2014.


This is a little project DH and I collaborated on.  We had a box of Penguin book cover postcards for a long time, and thanks to the internets, we found a cool way to use them for some art for our hall.  This is step 1 of making my upstairs hall retro artsy cool.  I am gathering my ideas here.

5 Years: Our Love is Organic!

DH and I have been married for 5 years + some change.  We finally got around to celebrating yesterday – we did all things gardening – something we both love.  We started the day at the Lawrence Farmer’s Market, took … Continue reading

26 Days of Family Fun (Day 2)!

Last weekend we hosted two of the kids’ friends for a sleepover and a comedy magic show. 

Here are my insights:

1.  I hope friends are a reflection of the type of person we are.  Because my friends are way awesome – awesomer than me.  And it was great to see that the kids have awesome friends too. 

SS’s friend was just about the coolest kid in the history of 10 yr olds.  He knew Kings of Leon and has a burgeoning sardonic humor and a funky fresh haircut.  And he appreciates knowledge – which is good, cuz SS has some.

And don’t even get me started on SD’s friend.  She was off the hook.  Very bookish, very friendly, very funny – and had pockets full of contraband Jose Pepper peppermints.

2. I don’t get boys.  I don’t understand the overt competition.  Or why they are so grabby of each others’ possessions.  And why they don’t like to talk about who has a crush on who.  And all the loud noises.  Being married has inoculated me from the fact that the male gender completely frickin’ eludes me.  DH is a beautiful anachronistic match for me.  But the complete puzzlement I felt while observing SS and his friend reminded me why I completely gave up trying to comprehend straight men fairly early in life, resulting in – 1. Most of my male friends in life have been gay and 2. I spent part of my early 20s dating women even though I am not really attracted to women romantically (again, sorry those women).

I am being extra nice to DH since this – as I have been reminded that I probably need to hold onto the one member of the male gender who is straight and I can relate to. 

3. My SD has SIX boys who have a crush on her – 6!!!!!!!  She can understand boys (she has a twin brother, after all), and so girl talk is not exactly her thing.  But in the long car rides this weekend to and fro Liberty, Prairie Village, and Olathe, her friend shared with me that there are many, many boys who have a crush on SD, including one who has had a crush on her for 4 years!!!!!!!!!

This is interesting to me because in my entire school career (k through college), there were exactly 1 boys who had a crush on me.  And he was a literal psychopath (long-time readers of this blog will remember he is the first boy I kissed (5th grade) and now is prison for murder via decapitation – happy story).  I dated, but I worked for that – strategic campaigns that required military-level planning and precision.  And by the 5th grade SD has SIX boys with a crush on her.  And she is like, “whatevs” – she really seems like she couldn’t care less.  Bless her.  It just isn’t that interesting to her.  I think she feels badly for them because their crushes are unrequited and that they get nervous around her, but that it really isn’t her problem. 

One of the reasons boys didn’t like me was because I was big and had weird hair.  SD definitely does not have those problems – she is so pretty and graceful and has straight, non-weird hair.  The other reason boys didn’t (don’t?) like me is because I have this crazy big not shutty up personality.  And that is boy antidote. 

I don’t want SD to have a personality as over-the-top as mine, but I don’t want her to be seen as a quiet vessel by boys – in which their personalities can take over and allow them to NOT SHUT UP.  I wish for her enough boldness in her that the weak boys are scared off, and the awesome boys are intrigued.  And for her to not be interested in any of it until she is 29.

2011 Year in Review – The Memories

Here are my most memorable moments from 2011 (in no particular order):

* Being petrified of some new responsibilities at work.

* Long dinners with friends at various restaurants across the city – laughing until crying, the fantastic hugs at the end – feeling connected with a family I created.

* The horrible awkwardness of delivering a bad performance review.

* Crying outside the DeYoung in San Francisco, calling my mom at work so she could talk me through how to tell DH and the kids that I feel like I don’t fit in with the family.

* Subsequent conversation with kids, trying to explain why I felt I didn’t fit in with the family sometimes.

* Finding new muscles in my shoulder blades that I didn’t know I had (thanks to Mandy)

* Getting styled up with some new clothes and jewelry – choosing to look great even though I was fat.

* Behind-the-scenes tour of Monterey Bay Aquarium.

* Seeing all the cool things grown in California on the drive to Monterey Bay Aquarium – strawberries, brussel sprouts, kale.

* When DH found his wedding ring after it had been missing for months.

* SD’s straight As!

* Conquering JewelQuest on my iPad.

* Hours talking in therapy.

* Deciding I could still love myself, even if I was fat.

* The adorable measuring cup sets I got for Christmas.

* Weekends spent writing papers for school, trying not to be bitter about it.

* My beautiful winter coat that I wore once before it was stolen.  And the replacement which is even more beautiful.

* Putting quarters in the parking meter at the med school.

* Painting SS’s room in the unairconditioned late summer heat.

* The joy of beautiful new rooms for the kids.

* Discovering what a great writer SS is.

* Getting iPhones

* Dinners at Cafe des Amis with DH

* The first time the kids saw (and touched) the Pacific Ocean

* Loooooooooooooooong stretches of Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado seen from the car window

* Camp Ginger

* Everybody at my mom & dad’s for Thanksgiving, being awesome

* Eating dairy regularly for the first time in a long time

* Superfun business trip to Los Angeles

* Superwretched business trip to North Carolina

* Harry Potter – the books and the movies

* The skytram in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the delightful coldness at the top.

* Watching episodes of Modern Family over and over and over again with DH and the kids – debating who we loved the best and the funniest line.  For me, it is Cameron and “I would have blown the money on flowers anyway, so they saved me a step.”

* Endlessly quoting Modern Family to each other – “What’s the plan, Bill” “Ta-da!” “Do you, <insert name>, do you?” “dig-a-dig-a-dig-a” “Welcome to your nightmare, ha ha ha ha ha.” “Go Bullfrogs!” “Slow Down Your Neighbors”

* Watching all of the episodes of iCarly and developing a crush on Spencer.

* Missing having time/energy to craft

* Needing to take a moment to remember exactly how old I was – 37

* The vacation home we rented – with the gigantic windows and the dining room table where we worked on the Yellowstone puzzle and the renderings of pregnant, nekkid women everywhere.

* SS’s snowglobe collection

* SD’s butterfly collection

* My cousin’s wedding

* Spending a night in the hospital with DH.

2011 Year in Review – Unintended Achievements

My accomplishments in 2011 are paltry.  At least on paper (or on screen).  I am more in debt and weigh more than I did 365 days ago.  I only read 17 books.  And it appears I still beat myself up.  Or do I?

Because I *could* look at this year differently.  Instead of recounting the failures that are my constant companion, I can look at the things I did well.  Well, wouldn’t that be cool?   The last six months in therapy have taught me many things – and started a journey that will lead me not to “success” but to happiness.

In the spirit of choosing to recognize all that I am, rather than a handful of failures, here is what I did accomplish this year:  (If you abhor bragging, do not read on.)

1. Kicked butt at work – continuing my 13-year streak.
2. Completed three graduate courses and got As in each one – 7 hours closer to an M.S. in Bioinformatics.
3. Became closer to my stepkids.  One of the saddest parts of being a stepmom early on was the fact that my coming home was minimally acknowledged.  Now it is de rigeur for the kids to come clammering down the stairs, literally cheering that I am home.  And I am often rewarded with the title “Best Stepmom in the World”.  I’ll take it.  Those kids feel like my blood now.  It was one of the biggest challenges in my life.  But we found our ways to each other.
4. Became closer to my husband.  This year had highs and lows, for sure.  Just when we got good at the every day marriage challenges – not enough money, crazy mismatched work schedules, things randomly breaking in the house, and kids who require food and attention and to be driven back and forth 45 minutes 2-3 times a week – the universe handed us some crappy health issues and all the detritus that gets churned up when one (me) starts therapy.  After the big and little bumps, I end this year even more in love with DH.  We have been there for each other in ways that I didn’t imagine on the day we got married. I know the challenges aren’t over – my guess is they aren’t ever.  But I do know when I am terrified and crying in the middle of the night, I just have to reach over and DH will be there.  And I know that being happy is even greater when one’s companion is holding your hand.  Every year, every day I understand more how precious this marriage thing is – because it is a lifetime shared always.
5. Took the big step of getting into therapy so that I can take care of myself because I love myself.

That is a pretty darn good list – and not any of them were on my “resolutions” for the year.

A Good Evening Ahead…

I have spent all day working… but I have a great evening ahead of me…. DH will walk through the door in a few minutes and I will:

1. Not do laundry.

2. Cook a simple but good vegetarian dinner.

3. Settle into Blue Nights to read for an hour or two, while listening to the new Fuel Friends Autumn mix.  Every day would be perfect if there was always a new Joan Didion book and Fuel Friends mix.

4. Watch The Trip with my husband.

It is fall, I got an extra hour, and I am choosing to be happy.


As of today, DH and I have been married four years. 

On a too-hot day in May four years ago, we got married.  It was a wonderful day.  It is a bummer that we can only live our wedding days once.  It was such a blur – all my shiny friends and family, the heat, the color, the ribbons, the flowers, the happy tears, the champagne, the hugs.  There are so many memories of my wedding day that make me giddy.  And those memories are punctuated by some ugly memories of things people said that are like little black spots on the shiny golden surface.  Brides become convinced that the day should be one of the best in their lives, so that it is extremely bracing when people shatter that illusion, even unintentionally, even for just moments.

So when I think about my wedding day, those moments of crud coming rushing back to me.  But that isn’t any good.  The love and joy and awesomeness of the day is a bazillion times more than those isolated moments.

And so it is with marriage.  Marriage is about keeping the love.  Doing things for and with each other and moving past the black spots.  This past year, our marriage has had some challenges.  But I am crazy lucky to have a husband who is committed to being committed – he keeps us together when I start obsessing about the black spots.  And the wonderful thing is that there is always enough shiny golden happiness at the end of every day.  Always.

Last night we ate at Cafe des Amis to celebrate our fourth year.  It was really wonderful.  The staff, the food, the atmosphere, the wine – goodness all around.  And after my last sip of coffee, the waiter came by to thank us.  We were talking about nighttime rituals and the waiter mentioned that he drinks tea with valerian root to help him sleep.  My husband then said the scientific name of the valerian plant.  At which point the waiter asked him if he was a botanist.  My husband replied, “No, just a show-off.”  At that moment my heart was full of everything good.  That moment encapsulated all I loved about him – from his seemingly boundless intelligence (who knows the scientific name of a random plant used in Sleepy Time tea??) to his dry sense of humor. 

And I said to myself “Mine.”

Marriage is not for everybody, in fact I was pretty sure it wasn’t for me up until I got married.  But finding DH was the best path for my life.  Here is to four years.

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Single Dads!

Single dads – I love them. I don’t think the popular culture and what not paints a very good picture of single dads (well, or of anybody, really), but I love them. When I was dating I took a chance by dating a single dad – a chance that I was loathe to take until I met DH. And more than once I have seen people stifle looks of dismay/judginess when I told them my boyfriend/fiance was divorced with kids. I mean all that baggage, right?

There are single dads – gems who disengage to leave the current girlfriend who he left his wife for to take care of his kids – and then there are real single dads. Dads who take kids on for days, weeks, months, years in a row without help. The sacrifice we find laudable in single moms is the same sacrifice of those with xy chromosomes. My husband blew me away when we were dating and I saw him take care of his kids – he was so gentle, loving, fiercely protective, endlessly patient. He judges every move he makes based on how it will affect his kids. That is love. He didn’t want to be a single dad – but he dove right in and swam because he had to. He was keeping two 18-month old kids on his own in a walk-up studio apartment on the Plaza… and years later he continues to be a primary caregiver for them – from cooking to math homework to matching little girly socks in the laundry. I cheer him on, but he is running the circus.
And so I fell in love with a single dad… and along with that gained a new appreciation for what that means. Many women fall in love with a man because they know he will be a good dad. I fell in love with mine because he is a good dad.
If you want to fall in love with a single dad, well you can’t have DH, he isn’t single any more… but check these fellas out:
Frank in Then She Found Me…. I love, love, love this movie. Helen Hunt is dazzling and Colin Firth is the fictional character most like my husband I have ever seen. The stress and joy and sheer panic he experiences at being the lone caregiver is so beautifully acted by Colin. Plus, of course, Colin Firth is so frickin’ sexy even when he is wearing platform heels and singing ABBA songs.
Louie C.K. in Louie. OMFG. LOVE this show. It is *very* for mature audiences. But he is hilarious. And touching. And controversial. And obviously such a good single dad. Please, universe, let this show run a long, long time.