We had the busiest weekend we've had in some time this past weekend:
• I taught a photography workshop in McLean (fun) • Maddie had her arts festival at school (fun) • Matt had to work both Saturday and Sunday, though only for a few hours (not fun) • family movie night: Laurie Keller's Scrambled States of America and other U.S.-themed Scholastic Video shorts (fun) • K's birthday party (fun) • Maddie's gymnastics class (usually fun, but scheduled at same time as birthday party, which was also same time as Matt was working, so the shuffling was not that fun) • holding Bridget on my lap at gymnastics (not fun) • more of K's birthday party (fun) • commissary (not fun) • National Cherry Blossom Festival (fun) • Skyping with Marie and my new nephew Charlie (fun) • part four of John Adams on HBO (fun)
note that nowhere on this list appears the following:
• laundry • any sort of catching up or housecleaning
So by now you may or may not have heard the news that Stacy Julian is stepping down from the magazine she founded in 2002 to pursue other ventures. The editorial staff at Simple Scrapbooks has declared this week Stacy Julian Appreciation Week, though everyone who has ever been inspired by her knows that one week just doesn't cut it. But we're doing our best to share stories about this truly amazing woman and how her vision has literally changed the way thousands and thousands of women view their lives, their memories, and the thousands of photos that we all have squirreled away in KMart envelopes, shoeboxes, CDs, computer hard drives... You know who you are.
Let me start out by saying that Stacy believes she only really points people in the direction of open doors, that she doesn't actually do the work of changing people's lives. I don't really buy that, personally, because without her work to build those doors, I certainly wouldn't be the person I am today. Really. Here's my story:
the state of Wyoming, illustrated by Laurie Keller
About eight years ago Matt and I moved from Montana where we'd lived for five years to Wyoming, a place I DID NOT WANT TO GO. I didn't want to resign from my very wonderful jobs at Great Falls High School where I had taught and coached for five years. Despite the excitement of buying our first house in Cheyenne, I had a really bad attitude about the whole thing. Yeah, yeah, I know, I knew it was coming since I understand that's what happens in the Air Force, but all that rational thinking fell on deaf ears. I moped, I grumbled. My moping and grumbling only got worse when I didn't get the position I interviewed for during the school year of 2000-2001. Now I had a bad attitude and was unemployed. Really, Matt deserves a gold medal for putting up with me that summer/fall. The situation did not improve when I was hired to work at the circulation desk at the Laramie County Public Library. I loved the library itself, and did not love the idea of working there when I wanted to be teaching. I masked my bad attitude (hopefully) and began the endless work of checking out and discharging books. This is where I should add a quick PSA: IT IS NOT THE CIRCULATION WORKER'S FAULT THAT YOUR KID RAN OVER HIS LIBRARY BOOKS WITH A BMX BIKE. Oh, and PLEASE DON'T GO TO THE LIBRARY, TAKE YOUR PANTS OFF, AND PROCEED TO WINDEX THE BATHROOM. I kid you not. More crazy stuff happens in libraries than anywhere else, I'm convinced. And the circulation worker is on the front line of that craziness.
One small benefit started to reveal itself while I worked at the desk: I got to see a lot of books. And if I wanted one for myself, I just started a small pile and checked them out at the end of my shift. So the day this book came over the counter, I grabbed it because it looked interesting.
Until 1995, I meticulously put all my photos in magnetic albums within 24 hours of picking them up at the photo counter. In 1995, I vaguely remember learning of the evils of magnetic albums and I stopped doing this and started accumulating photo envelopes in boxes instead. I knew that I wanted to DO something with them, but I didn't know what. A brief look into Memory Makers magazine in 1996 turned me off because everything seemed so cutesy (apologies to Memory Makers, but really, you were kind of cutesy back then. Go look.) But this book! This book was different. Within days of finishing it, I started to study each project again. This is what I wanted but didn't know it. When I discovered the premiere issue of a magazine based on the book a couple of years later, I snatched it up lickety-split and sent in my subscription check. Though I didn't actually put photos to paper until Maddie was about six months old, I had become a scrapbooker. I didn't have to use every single photo? I could leave some of them in the box? Or even almost all of them? The shift in expectations was so huge that it nearly made me reel with wonder. It sounds melodramatic, but it's true.
I continued studying the philosophy of Stacy Julian, taking her lessons to heart. In 2004, I entered a contest with an album based on all these things I'd been learning about and won. I'm really proud of that album. It sits above my computer. It only has about 25% of the photos I took on my trip to Santa Fe with Jill, but it tells a far greater story than had I decided not to do it at all because who has the time to get every single photo from every single trip into an album anyway? Right. No one.
Fast forward to 2007, and the only photo I can find of the two of us:
photo by Maria Hammon
Yes, that's me, hugely pregnant and standing on a chair while Stacy speaks through a bullhorn about my then upcoming book in Anaheim, California.
And if that's not a changed life, I don't know what is.
One of the huge benefits of living in Virginia is that we're but 6.5 hours from Ohio, so we've had a lot of visitors from that direction since we moved in here. This week we were able to pull off a visit from the Marquettes—this visit was supposed to happen in January, but we got a case of the kindergarten germs and had to call off at the last minute. I've been holding my breath a little since then, knowing how hard it is to coordinate the schedules and whims of six children and four adults. But the stars (and spring breaks) aligned, and they arrived Sunday night at 7:05 for a few days of high-quality fun. We packed it with pictures and playing outside and basketball and zoo animals and kumquats and cake and a whole lot of talking. Until 1:30 a.m. the first night, despite the fact that there were six monkeys who could care less if their parents stayed up too late the night before.
As I expected, we had a really, really good time. It's hard to express how much fun it is to spend uninterrupted time with the other half of one's longest-running friendship. The girls are intrigued and astounded by the fact that Nancy and I have been friends ever since we were babies; it is pretty astounding when I think about it, too. I have no memory of a time in my life that Nancy wasn't somehow part of it, and because our own moms and dads are friends too, I even have the kind of artificial memories that come from hearing stories over and over again so much that you forget you weren't born yet when they happened. I look at Molly and Maddie and wonder how their friendship will evolve throughout the years—they, too, have a history, though very different than the one their mamas share. Their mamas and daddies both, I should say, because the four of us also have a good deal of history and shared memories, having run in many of the same circles in middle school and/or high school.
I think the reason why I like this picture so much, this picture that I've posted three times now somewhere on this blog, is because it sums it all up thus far. Here we are together, just as we've been in almost 35 years worth of photos utilizing this same exact pose—and we're still figuring it all out together, all that activity and change and motion. The stakes seem higher now that we're raising children, but no amount of years or miles can affect the basic premise of the story.
1. I fell asleep on the couch last night during David Archuletta's song, missing my chance to complete an on-time Ten on Tuesday once again.
2. In the game of "Which Is Germier: The Pentagon or Kindergarten?" the Pentagon took a slight lead yesterday. Matt came home early, sick as a dog, and proceeded to sleep on the couch in the basement for the next five and a half hours. Through the smoke alarm, which I inadvertently set off whilst broiling fish for dinner... that is some high quality sickie sleep. I actually went down to check if he was still breathing after he didn't come barreling up the stairs (it took me a tiny bit longer than it should have to turn off the awful beeping because I was working on the wrong smoke detector, oops). Gracie didn't actually know he was home at all, because you just can't get high quality sickie sleep when Gracie knows you're home. It all felt a little Jane Eyre-esque, the hiding of the husband in the basement.
3. He is fine today.
4. I don't think the word "vending" is ever used except in reference to a machine. People don't talk about vending, only vendors.
5. As I unstrapped Bridget from the Baby Björn this morning after the bus stop run, I thought to myself that this little piggy doesn't have much time left before she breaks my back once and for all. Then I checked the strap to see what the weight limitation is for a Baby Björn. 33 POUNDS. Who is carrying their 33 pounder around in a Baby Björn?!? Gracie is not yet 33 pounds. Goodness.
6. I've been thinking a lot about pregnant J.J. and pregnant Marie, both of whom would really like to not be pregnant any longer. I was hugely pregnant last year at this time, so I can relate.
Last year at this time was so different than this year at this time it's like someone else's life entirely. Weird.
7. Speaking of being pregnant last year, as I was listening to Amy Winehouse today (the clean version!) I was thinking how much I listened to her last spring, and how I will forever associate her with California, looming deadlines, and utter pregnant discomfort. I'm sure she'd be thrilled. But she did perk me up a lot, so there's that. I made a playlist for an online feature I did for Simple last fall of some of the other songs I associate with that time... here it is:
8. It's almost NCAA Basketball tournament time! The internal family trash talk has already begun.
9. To the people who tagged the main street by our house with their little gang label: grow up.
I accidentally made some very good soup last night based on Suzanne's Sausage and Bean soup. I say accidentally, because it never fails when I think of a recipe at the last minute I'd like to use, I inevitably don't have at least two important ingredients. Then I figure it wouldn't hurt to add something else instead, and why bother measuring anything since I'm not following the original recipe anymore anyway, and kaBLAM I'm channeling Nigella. Sort of. OK, not really.
Sausage, Bean AND TORTELLINI Soup
add in no particular order to a big soup pot:
3 cans of beef broth 1 can of diced tomatoes 1 can of Great Northern beans (drained) however much fresh basil you have left that's about to go bad if you don't use it, cut into thin strips
after you've done that, do this:
prepare 1 package of sweet Italian sausage for cooking in a skillet* heat sausage in some olive oil and garlic, add a tiny bit of water, and cover until it's cooked through after sausage is done, combine it all with the other ingredients
simmer for a while, then add two packages of fresh Butoni spinach and cheese tortellini
top with shaved Parmesan cheese (this is the secret to making a thrown-together soup that you didn't have the right ingredients for much fancier; if you use grated cheese, the jig is up)
serve with bread/olive oil and balsamic vinegar
*Matt insists that the casing is edible. Some bugs are edible too, but that doesn't mean I care to eat them.
[pointing out the date on his letter, dated March 4]
"p.s. The date is one of my favorites. A directive. The calendar-maker is calling us forward. Through the muddy ground from melting snow—March Fourth! Toward the blossoming branches pointing—March Fourth! Move, dance, sing, March Fourth!"
Next year we may have a party with balloons and cake.
It's been a while since I played tag in the blogworld—but I got tagged twice by the same tag game, so I guess that makes me double-it. Thanks Stacy and Lisa for helping me to procrastinate a little longer on the 8000 things I have to do this week!
The rules: Link to your tagger and post these 3 rules on your blog.
Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
1. I've broken into houses in two different states, always through windows. I was under 7 the first few times, as our neighbors "hired" me to crawl through their window when they locked themselves out; the last time I did it was in Montana, after Nicole and I finished watching Scream (ugh, not my kind of movie—too scary, ha) and I realized I had locked myself out of my house across the street. On base. No one called the police, so that was good.
2. I got to pick Katherine's middle name when she was born.
3. We have four signed and numbered Monte Dolack lithographs in our house.
4. I've had three speeding tickets in my life. One in Montana, two in Wyoming.
5. I once ran through Great Falls High School in the pitch dark after 10:00 p.m. in a panic, even though I generally do not believe in places being haunted.
6. The first person listed in my address book is Michael Aspinwall.
7. Someone smuggled Dr Pepper into my wedding for the head table. We had a no pop, no alcohol, iced tea, water, and coffee only wedding to keep costs down : )