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February 2009
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April 2009


if you do that math, 3.24.93 was sixteen years ago. sixteen years ago today, marc and i were sitting on a couch in the hardy-wright lounge at college, chatting the evening away like we had been doing for a couple of weeks. the only difference this night was that after dinner, i had told marc i needed help with something in the computer lab that i didn't understand. (total lie on my part.) and marc, being a computer science major and having access to the lab after hours, said sure. we walked over, i did my fake thing and he gave me advice, and we walked back.

but on the walk back, our hands started to swing in unison. and then our knuckles bumped into each other once or twice. and then without warning ... he ever so quietly wrapped my fingers into his. and we held hands the rest of the way back to the dorm.

when we walked into the lounge, still holding hands, our friend dave, who was working at the desk, noticed. as marc and i sat on the couch, dave came over and not-so-subtly pointed out the new hand-holding thing, and asked us if this meant we were finally admitting we were dating.

marc and i looked at each other.

"well, are we dating?" marc asked.

"looks like we are," i answered.

and that was it.

Marcmichele i'm still not quite sure what it was about him that drew me in. obviously, he was seriously cute. 6'4" of lean muscle and warm brown eyes that twinkled when he smiled. he was always nice, polite, well-mannered, even-tempered. i never heard anyone say a bad thing about him, and everyone - from our friends to people he only knew from the basketball court to old ladies at church - respected him and admired him.

but there were downsides, too. he wore windpants everywhere he went. and the ugliest shirts i'd ever seen. and this chain. and his hands ... ugh. and his arms were covered with veins that poked out about an inch from the surface of his skin. and he played basketball; more than that, he was a jock. he could dunk a ball, and spent all the hours he wasn't in class (or was *supposed* to be in class) either in the fieldhouse or in front of a video game.

he wasn't one of the "smart" guys; he had no appreciation of literature or broader topics. school was an afterthought unless it was a computer class. he was just killing time. i questioned his ambition and whether he took things seriously enough. (at 19, i was ALL about being serious. as in, seriously ready to get out of school and just get on with it already.)

but then i'd see him walking down the sidewalk in those turquoise wind pants, that chicago bulls jacket, his long legs, his perfect round athletic butt ... and i melted and wanted nothing more than to sit in the fieldhouse and watch him dunk, and giggle like a ninny.

so when he held my hand that night, and told dave we were dating, i couldn't believe that i ... nothing-special-michele ... had gotten so lucky. suddenly i was dating a guy all the other guys liked, respected, wanted to be on the basketball court, and the guy that so many girls noticed and wanted to notice them back.

IMG_2022 even to this day, i wonder that. because as it turned out, marc IS smart; brilliant, in fact, at what he does. people want to know what he thinks. people he's never met want his advice because they've heard he's the man who knows about amazingly brilliant linuxy things. he is crazy savvy with business, much moreso than i ever even imagined. he is successful and getting more successful and respected each year. and he's still a genuinely nice and good and decent man. he has no vices - doesn't drink, smoke, swear, go to the booby bars during work trips with all the other guys. sure, he's on the computer or phone way more than i would like, but the alternatives are so much worse. he's turning into a car guy, but i can give him that. that's pretty okay.

he's still damn hot; i wonder how i got so lucky in that department. from business dress to cargos and sweatshirts, he makes my heart race. and no matter how badly i feel about myself after two kids, we still can't keep our hands off each other. he loves me wholly and completely, no matter what.

he is kind, he is a patient and creative father, he is a stable force when things go crazy. i always feel safe and protected with him, and i know that he will be pragmatic and level-headed when i go off the deep end.

when marc and i had been dating about a year and were starting to get serious and talk about "someday," i asked my mom how you know when you've found the person you want to spend your life with; how you know this will be the person you'll want to wake up to day in and day out for the next fifty years or more. and her answer boiled it down better than anything i'd ever heard:

"marry someone who is your best friend, and you want to jump them all the time."

hallelujah. i knew i'd found him. and sixteen years later, i look at marc and still get butterflies in my stomach. i never want to be out of reach. the good, the bad, the ugly ... we take it all, and at the end of the day we still want to make out.

i'm just thankful he gave up the ugly shirts. because then, who knows.

what a difference a day makes.

yesterday morning we were just hanging out, when i noticed something out front: the tree guys. they pulled up, got out of their trucks, and within minutes the sawdust was flying.

about five hours later, they pulled away and we were left to gasp at the difference.

within the first 15 minutes, our yard looked like it had just gone through a tornado. it was both exhilarating, and a little frightening.


then the big ugly locust started to come down, and all was well. we remembered why we were doing this in the first place.


IMG_1853 the whole process of removing entire trees was fascinating. so much so, that i came in from taking photos to find my entire family eating lunch at the front window, watching the tree guys and their progress like they were beavers building a dam at the zoo.


IMG_1933 the guys worked hard, and soon every tree had been touched, all the stumps had been ground, all the branches had been ground up, and the clean-up began.


and my family supervised every move the guys made. even the cat.


IMG_1773 (marc was looking especially fine as he micromanaged observed the operation.)



the kids had a blast playing with all the detritus. who doesn't love sawdust and twigs and stumps, right? especially when they make such handy guns for shooting birds ...


IMG_1918 or your mom.

where did he learn such behavior?

IMG_1896 oh.




in the end, we were very happy with all the changes, and with the guys who did it.


even though it makes our house look sad and pathetic.


IMG_1961 but i have big plans for paint.

and big plans for planting.

and we capped off the day with a trip to sonic for milkshakes to celebrate all our hard work. so it all ended well.


on saturday, we go the opposite of green.

it's a scary day for me. i'm all about the using my own canvas bags at stores ... recycling everything ... using compact fluorescent bulbs ... buying organic and local as often as possible. doing something that goes against that makes me squirm.

but on saturday, it's happening.

we're cutting down trees.

here's the problem. we live in a really boring, beige ranch built in 1965. we're on a hill, on a corner. we have a large yard that is surrounded by trees. and i love it. when i sit in the sun room, i feel like i'm in a treehouse, because all i can see are beautiful leaves.

IMG_4277 see?

and there are windows on all three sides of this room, so this is the view out every one of them. green in the spring and summer, gold and orange and red in the fall, white in the winter.

(this was in '05 ... harper has move beyond stacking rings. i'm just making a point.)

there is a downside, though.

IMG_1727 in the front yard, all the trees are so, so dirty.

they all have these tiny little leaves, and when they drop in the fall they litter the yard and are next to impossible to rake.

and the one in the corner by the driveway is a locust ... it drops long brown seedpods all fall and through the winter.

so our yard looks something like this by march:


ugh. yuck.

so last night a tree service guy came to our door, hawking his expertise. and marc and i had been talking for the past two years about doing some serious exterior work. so marc listened to the guy, told him what we wanted to do, and one hour and $2100 later, we have a gameplan, starting tomorrow:

we cut. and rip out. and chip up.

i'm trying to not feel badly about that.

that plan is this:

IMG_1727-bthe locust = gone. and all other trees will be pruned.

IMG_1728 the really ugly "landscaping" from the previous owners = gone.

and good riddance.

we ARE keeping perennials that i have planted in the smaller section near the front door, but everything else will be dug up, re-tarped, and the chipped up trees will be laid as fresh wood chips, ready for new planting in the spring.


IMG_1729 in the side yard, all the trees will be pruned, and the little juniper will be removed. it was planted at the same time as a small maple, and the maple is suffering. it has no room to grow. and the juniper is just ugly.

IMG_1730 on the side and back of the house, the cedar on the corner has to be taken down. it's growing dangerously around all the lines to the house, and it's encroaching upon the corner of the house. when we had our squirrel problem last year, the squirrelinator thought that tree was one of the points of entry to our roof for the buggers squirrels. that's all i needed to know. get rid of the cedar.

and all those lovely evergreens ... ech. gone. as well as the overly-leggy, never-pruned-correctly hydrangea on the side of the house that the previous owners planted then ignored.

other work includes trimming all the pines along the other side of the house (another major source of squirrels), and removing a half-dead crab apple tree in the back yard near the fence.

it's going to be major, but i'm excited. and once it's done we can begin to replant. we'd like to put another maple in the front near where the locust is now. and we want to put a shed and raised-bed garden and swingset in the back yard, so it will be nice to have the space where the apple is now.

my biggest problem, though, is that i do NOT have a green thumb. i can somewhat visualize what i would like the front and side to look like, but that's as far as i go. i know we'll put in perennials, because they're pretty low-maintenance. i have two dear friends, sandra and heather, who are amazing gardeners. i need to pick their brains. but i know some really smart people read this blog (wink wink ... i'm talkin' 'bout YOU!), so if you have any ideas for me, i'd love to hear them!

we would also love to paint the house this summer, so maybe we'll hold off on planting until that's done. hmm ... where's that paint deck??

i'll just content myself with visions of an outdoor redecorating to assuage my guilt over cutting down trees. no matter how much i hate them.




wasn't she just my baby?


but no, not anymore. now she's this big girl who is full of sassiness and stubbornness and orneriness and all other -nesses.

(to be fair, she is also full of sweetness and silliness and cuteness.)

she woke up this morning and came in our room, and i said, "who's the birthday girl?" and she giggled, "me!" then she said, "but i'm not four yet. i'm still three." i said, "yes you are four, right now." she started to cry, "i'm not four! my jammies still fit!"

in her rationale, she should have grown six inches overnight to prove her advanced age.

what a nutball.

i'm looking forward to four. if memory serves, four was my favorite age of henry's. he was just so cool. i'm hoping being with her this year will bring the same level of getting to know her as a person.

it's hitting me a little hard, this fact of her growing up. i tried so hard to hold on to her as a baby because i knew she was my last. but somehow, she grew faster than i could have imagined.

her sense of self is forming so rapidly. she loves art in any and all forms. her favorite foods are crab (the real stuff ... she can tell the imitation crap a mile away), mushrooms, blackberries, oatmeal, and chocolate. she could watch "tom & jerry" all day long. she typically has to pick out her own clothes and has definite opinions about what i choose for her. she is head-strong and quick to throw a fit, but she's also just as quick to giggle and ask to have her armpits tickled.

i still call her peanut even though it's obvious she will be taller than me by fifth grade. she has her daddy's nose, mouth, dimple on her left cheek, but those cheeks are all mine, as are her big sparkly eyes. though they appear to be brown, like daddy's. and her build is completely marc; she will be long, lean, and leggy. lord help us.

i hope that as she grows, she stays as strong-minded and true to herself as she is right now. if she does, i won't fear for her. she can take care of herself quite nicely in the fact of conflict, thankyouverymuch henry ... harper is not afraid to throw down and get in it. my hope is that she will continue to be gross and argumentative, so as to discourage boys from getting a good look at how gorgeous she is. having an older brother could prove to be our saving grace with her.

and yet she is so very girly. and that could be our worry.

i love you, little harpity-harp. i'm so sad your baby days are gone, but i'm also so thrilled to have you around to talk to and play with every day.  you amaze me and make me laugh and test me and fill me with more love and joy than i ever thought possible.

(pix of her birthday and party are here.)


random harper funnies

1. while getting tucked into bed tonight, harper asked for an animal to sleep with. i saw a fluffy, star-shaped yellow bear on the floor and said, "what about star bear?" harper looks at me, dead serious, and says, "his name isn't star bear. it's scorpion." then she laughed like a maniac. what a nutcase.

2. two days ago we were writing her name, and she said, "i don't really like harper anymore. i want a different name." what, pray tell, i asked her, would she like her name to be? "hello kitty."

good grief.

3. talking to henry: "henry, you don't like mushrooms? they make you throw up? you think they're disgusting? you throw up because they're delicate?"

4. while getting dressed and shaking her leg: "i do this because it makes my leg all strongy and gives me energy."

5. i'll leave you with photographic proof that she can crack up anyone just by making a face:


really ... how does that face NOT make someone smile?

(she turns four next week ... excuse me for the next few days while i get over the shock.)

march/april memory makers!

welcome to march!! i'm a little in denial that the year is nearly a quarter over already. yikes. even scarier is that i'm currently working on stuff for the september/october issue ... this year is flying by way too quickly!! at some point memory makers is gonna get sick of me, and i just can't face that yet. especially given the shrinkage in the industry right now. i'm a loyal-to-a-fault person, and i adore the people at memory makers/f+w, and will stay as long as they let me. but then there's that saying about fish and houseguests, and it's been three years, not three days. *shudder* i hate saying goodbye.

anyway, let's segue into the march/april article, shall we?

why do i love memory makers so much? well, it was all just shallow fun until CHA-winter '07, when i actually MET the people behind the mag. my first impression of them was nothing but good, and that sealed the deal for me. and i'm happy to report that the first impression was accurate and has only been reinforced over the years.

first impressions can be a great thing to reflect upon when searching for a journaling topic. whether it be the first impression of a new school, a new friend, a new car ... your first day of vacation in a new place, the first time you tasted thai food, the first time you heard the new cd from your favorite band ...

in the march/april article i discuss first impressions and how you can use them to find a story. the story i chose to tell is of my first impression of my now-husband's hands. it may sound odd, but trust me ... there was a story there:

Sadbuttrue my husband is a gorgeous hunk of studliness, but his hands ... oy. trust me, they were worse 16 years ago, when he was all bone and muscle and tendon, and they aren't gorgeous now.

this may seem a strange topic to journal, but given my first physical impression of him, and the fact that we are now married ... and the fact that i now cherish his hands ... becomes a pertinent story.

(and yes ... if you have the march/april mm in front of you, you will note a different layout is in the mag. there was a screw-up with the place that photographs layouts, and i had to recreate it last-minute. i like the original better. bygones.)

what can you think of in your life that created a memorable first impression? how can you use that to create some true and fabulous journaling?