Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Remember . . . He's Only Ten

I can't stress that point enough. Granted, he's more perceptive than some, but - he's ten.

One more time before you read any further - HE'S TEN.

Okay . . . read on.

Because my child is ten: (1) he doesn't remember a world where there was a World Trade Center, or where we weren't searching for Bin Laden; (2) he doesn't have a complete grasp of what 9/11 was all about; (3) he has a rather irreverent sense of humor; and (4) he's just generally clueless. (4) is the end-all, be-all gap filler.

I'm done with the disclaimers now.

Found this in his take-home folder. Based on the structure of what he wrote, I am guessing that the assignment was to answer "who/what/when/where" questions vis-a-vis a theoretical "event" and then write a letter to someone inviting them to said event. Date on the paper is 9/8/10, so, you know, 9/11 was probably at the forefront of his mind.

Whoops - just slipped in another disclaimer, didn't I?

Front of the page reads as follows (my annotations are in Italics):

9-11 Dance Party (ummm, okay, that's a wee bit unstable)
Where: Sundance Square
What: Dance Party (yeah, we've established that - you left out the 9/11 part this time, which might be a reasonably good PR move . . . .)
When: Friday, September tenth at 7 p.m. (so it's a 9/11 dance party on . . . 9/10?)
There will be a slide show with music starting at 8:30! (Does a 9/11 slide show really get an exclamation point? And what kind of music? Given that we are talking about a ten year-old, visions of a slide show consisting of photos of panicked people fleeing from buildings, synched to "The Cupid Shuffle," come to mind.)
If you have any photos (of 9-11), bring them to me in Sundance at 3:00 p.m. They will be turned into slides and placed in the show.

And on the back:

Dear Raven, (Yes, Connor has a - male - classmate named Raven. Yes, his mom is artistic - she's an award-winning floral designer, actually. So we can forgive her "Raven," can't we?)
I am throwing a 9-11 dance party! (again with the exclamation point!)
It is tonight at Sundance Square. Be there by 7 p.m. There will be a slide show of pictures from 9-11 at 8:30. If you have any pictures from 9-11 bring them to Sundance Square at 3:00. (Because we expect ten year-olds to have a lot of 9/11 photos lying around? I watched 9/11 happen live, because I was home with Connor, who had a bad respiratory infection . . . and I distinctly remember turning on the news and seeing the second airplane slam into the building right around the time that he started wailing . . . from his crib. It's possible that he had a camera-shaped toy at the time - a Sassy teether, maybe? - but nothing with the capacity to take actual pictures. I'm not 100% sure, but I'm guessing that his classmates were similarly hamstrung.)
I will then put them in the slide show. R.S.V.P. with me at (555) 555-5555. (Okay, clearly we watch entirely too much TV if we understand the 555 thing.)

Oh, dear heavens. There's no grade or other comment on the page. Most likely, the teacher was stunned into silence. And I probably shouldn't be posting this - no doubt, his insensitivity to the plight of 9/11 victims, widows and orphans will come to haunt him in a future senatorial campaign. Another thing to complain about to the therapist, right?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Five Little Monkeys

I've been carrying around a lot of monkeys lately - things that I just can't get around to making myself do. So over the weekend I decided to grant myself amnesty - no recriminations about what hasn't been done to date - and commit to shedding one monkey per day, for the next five workdays. Five days, five monkeys.

Monday's monkey: getting my bills out at work. Done and done. And not too terribly painful, either. Added bonus - I can turn in expense reports without feeling like a total schmo.

Today's monkey: well, actually there was more than one. I remembered to call the credit card company and request a new card. It's a zero balance card, and the plan is to put all of our family birthday and Christmas gift purchases on it, so that I can track spending. Yeah, right - I know it won't work. I purchased some gifts previously, so already we're dealing with a carry forward, and I'm sure that I'll use it for something non-gift-related . . . multiple times . . . purely for the sake of convenience, but I think I should at least get points for having the thought. By the way, when I mention family birthdays above, I mean "all of the birthdays except for two" (mine in April, and bro-in-law #1's in August). We begin in September with my grandmother's birthday, then we have Parker's in October, my husband and my mom on the same day in early November, Connor in late November, my dad and bro-in-law #3 in early December (again, on the same day), my mom-in-law a few days before Christmas, bro-in-law #2 on Boxing Day and sis-in-law the day after New Year's. Do you have any idea how hard it is to think up totally distinct (and distinctive) birthday and Christmas gifts for that many people, that close together? Hence the need for some organization and tracking . . . .

I am about to knock off Tuesday monkey #2 and forward some investment instructions to our financial planner. Honey, if you are reading this, no, those aren't the instructions you told me to give to our investment instructions a few weeks ago. Because I totally accomplished that task the day that I told you I accomplished it.

Wednesday's monkey will be to enter all of my billable time for the month of September a day in advance of month's end. You will know when that happens by all of the flying pigs circling the Metroplex.

By the way, if you think the monkeys pictured above are as cute as I do, AND you crochet, visit CraftyAnna's Etsy site, and she will sell you the pattern. (Yes, I realize that there are seven monkeys pictured. One is the momma monkey, and one is the doctor. Duh.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010


No, this blog entry is not about dried botanicals used to create a pleasant aroma in one's home - although, come to think of it, that reminds me of a story. Which I'll save for the end of this post.

I'm titling this "Potpourri" because it's a compilation of a week's worth of unrelated snippets of life with the McGlincheys.

Sunday: Mid-afternoon, we piled into the car and headed over to the Dallas Arboretum to snap pumpkin patch pics. During our tour of the beatiful gardens, I became aware of the fact that my husband considers me his own personal arboretum docent.

Him: "What's that cool-looking purple stuff?"
Me: "Torenia."
Him: "And that over there, with all of the puffy red things?"
Me: "Turk's cap."
Him (proudly): "And the yellow coleus?"
Me (ruthlessly bursting his bubble): "Croton. And it's not a type of coleus."
Him (disappointed): "Well, what is it, then?"
Me: "Croton. Just croton."
Him (now getting a bit testy): "How can you tell the difference?"
Me (losing my patience): "Coleus has scalloped leaves and a velvety texture. Croton has sharp-edged leaves and a glossy texture."
Him: "Okay, then what's that tree behind the croton?"

Honestly, I don't mind that much. It's sweet that he expects me to know the names. And it's kind of cool that, most of the time, I do. My mom and mom-in-law clearly have taught me well.

The kids didn't care what the plants were called. They were too busy (in no particular order):
  • Marveling at the fact that "pumpkins float, Mom!" (No, they didn't chunk pumpkins in a fountain. They were already there. I assumed that an Arboretum employee did the chunking, given that there was a fair quanity of them in the water, but now that I think about it, I suppose that it could have been the handiwork of some kids . . . just not my kids, thank you very much, and that's the important point.)
  • Picking out their favorite fish in the koi pond. ("I like the orange and black one. No, not that one, Mom - the one next to the yellow one. Oops, now he's over there by the white and black one. Oh, he's over there now. WHY WON'T HE STAY STILL?" Um, because he's a fish?)
  • Begging for coins to throw in the koi pond . . . because to five year-old ears, "koi fish" sounded like "coin fish," so naturally you would want to throw coins at them. Both parents and big brother quickly set him straight. Rest assured, no koi fish were harmed in the making of this blog post.
  • Hollering at a bunny rabbit to come out of the bushes . . . and wondering why he seemed to be hiding from them. (Why, indeed!)
Tuesday: The five year-old decided that it was time to have some of his new kindergarten friends over for a play date. Okay, we actually have calling cards for that purpose, printed with our address, the home phone number, Mom and Dad's cell numbers and the family's e-mail address. Nah, Parker decided, too easy, and far too impersonal: shunning the preprinted cards, he wrote out some of his own:


Then he, very carefully, folded them into paper airplanes. "Parker, I don't think you can take paper airplanes to school." "But these aren't paper airplanes, Mom; they are CALLING CARDS." Ahhhh, yes, important loophole. Walked away from the conversation entirely convinced that he doesn't care a rat's patoot about providing contact information to his friends - he just wanted to game the system and bring paper airplanes to school. With each passing day, he continues to morph more and more into his big brother.

Thursday: I met some friends for girls' night out at an establishment on Seventh Street. One of the girls had a plate of desserts with her, left over from a prior function, and she insisted on sending them home with me. Now, I've been very good in sticking to my low-sugar "allergy diet," but now that my immune system seems to be humming along again, I allow myself a treat here and there - but only things that I really, REALLY like and have to have. Well, I really, REALLY LOVE baklava. And there was baklava on the Saran-wrapped plate. So, a few blocks down the road, I decided that I had to have a piece of baklava on the spot. A couple of seconds of digging under the Saran elapsed before I realized that I really wasn't paying attention to the road. The thought crossed my mind that it would be pretty embarrassing to get into a wreck while trying to access a piece of baklava. And then I became aware of exactly where I was within the Seventh Street development - at the stop sign next to Terra Grill - and I decided that it would be HILARIOUS to get into a wreck while trying to access a piece of baklava in front of a Mediterranean restaurant.

Friday: Having skipped lunch, I went to Super Target mid-afternoon to pick up some greeting cards, hummus and a bottle of Superfood (note to file: Naked Foods Green Machine Superfood is ambrosia in a bottle; Odwalla Green Superfood, meh). I actually managed to limit myself to just those items, meaning that Friday was one of those rare days that I was able to avail myself of the Super Target "ten items or less" checkstand. Apparently, Friday afternoons at Super Target are "Crazy Old People Time." I saw several of them, but the one two people ahead of me in line took the cake - mussed hair, smudged lipstick, way too much eye shadow, and it took her eons to complete a very simple transaction. Given the latter, it would have been entirely appropriate for her to turn to the rest of us in line and thank us for our patience. Instead, she turned and very enthusiastically delivered the equivalent of an Oscar acceptance speech, gushing things like "I want to thank you all for your support." At the end of the speech, she clasped her hands together and shook them on either side of her face, like a victorious boxer or or a winning politician. I should have been worried about how she was going to get home, and I did worry about that, sort of. But the primary thought that ran through my head was, "God, I love 'Crazy Old People Time.'"

Also on Friday: I saw for the first time the menu for the new sushi and sake restaurant that just opened on the ground floor of the pie-shaped building at the corner of West Seventh and University. I immediately called my husband and told him all about the menu, and we made plans to have lunch there. He asked me what the restaurant was called, and I could not remember whether it was "Blue Sake Sushi" or "Blue Sushi and Sake," so Parnell suggested that, in light of the fact that his friend Eddie offices on the second floor of Pie-Shaped Building, we should refer to the restaurant as "Under Eddie's." This made total sense to me, particularly since the restaurant next door is named Eddie V's.

Even later on Friday: I gave directions to the house of someone who lives on Lindell Avenue, and for the umpteenth time I had to remind myself that they didn't live on Kirkwood Road (a street a few blocks away in the same neighborhood). And, also for the umpteenth time, I wondered why I consistently confuse Lindell with Kirkwood. Then it hit me: there is an established attorney in town named Lyndell Kirkley. Lindell . . . Lyndell Kirkley . . . Kirkwood. And I was very relieved that I am not, actually, factually, going mental.

Saturday: Providing proof that Fort Worth is the biggest small town in the free world, while out at a Junior Club social event I mentioned our new name for Blue Sake, and several people decided to adopt it as their own . . . because they all know Eddie. Also, Parnell advised me that he would not be partaking in any sake at "Under Eddie's," because he has never had sake and, quote, "I am too old to try new liquors." What the what? I certainly don't remember marrying an arbitrarily crochety old guy. These things sneak up on you, I guess.

Prior to the Junior Club event, we attended a wedding downtown, and - thanks to the groom being Sri Lankan-by-way-of-London and both halves of the couple being doctors - the wedding party read like a meeting of the United Nations. It was a beautiful, life-affirming ceremony, but we agreed that there is something to be said for having a Scottish lass deliver the first reading ("Thanks be to GOTT") and a Hugh Grant clone deliver the homily. After making a few pointed (but entirely charming, in that British way) comments about the groom being just a wee bit unworthy of the bride, he shared the bride's confession that she was initially attracted to the accent. Then Hugh Grant said, "As you might have noticed, I, too, have an accent, and if you also find the accent attractive- and you are female - I am single, and let's talk after the service." Now, if an American dude pulled out that statement mid-wedding ceremony, we would all find it crass, wouldn't we? But substitute a British guy, and all of the men are chuckling and the women are - well, melting. So, post-remake of "Four Weddings and A Funeral," and over a delicious chicken tikka masala at the Fort Worth Club, Parnell and I agreed that: (1) all weddings should involve people of Sri Lankan extraction (chicken tikka masala, people - not rubber banquet chicken, chicken flippin' tikka masala); and (2) in retrospect, we really should have tried harder to make friends with British people in our early twenties. It really would have classed up our own nuptials.

Okay, the potpourri story: My senior year of high school, I participated in "Greater Houston Close-Up" along with most of my other 633 classmates. GHCU was a two-day "intro to government" attended by seniors from campuses across H Town. It also was boring as heck. Highlights were - well, the biggest highlight was the morning of day two, which I skipped entirely, opting to sneak out a side door into a parking garage (very Watergate) and participate in a day of downtown shenanigans (very Ferris Bueller) with several other seniors. We played with the executive toys at Hammacher Schlemmer (very Harry and Sally), talked the James Coney Island dude into giving us paper hotdog-slinger hats, visited a shoe store that appeared to cater exclusively to pimps (one of the guys purchased a pair of purple vinyl loafers with black-and-white faux snakeskin vamps, wore them around the rest of the day . . . and forgot to take them off when we returned at lunchtime, and I will never forget his very quick retort when a teacher noticed his change in footwear: "They are my Easter shoes, and I promised my mom that I would break them in"), and I have a vague recollection that we ended up at my dad's office. (It's okay, Dad was cool - he'd seen Ferris.)

But the highlight of day one was our field trip to court (my small group drew the short stick and did not get to go to the county lockup, where I was informed PRISONERS ACTUALLY SPIT ON YOU - so, on second thought, maybe not the short stick). The bailiff slept through the entire proceeding, and there were a number of odd types camped out in the back, clearly just there to spectate, and one of them was hooked up to a very large oxygen tank. The defendant? An alleged shoplifter, accused of stealing a bath rug and a bag of potpourri from JC Penneys. Apparently, when the store security guard stopped the woman at the door, she had both the bath rug and the bag of potpourri stuffed in her purse, begging the question - just how big was the purse? But the highlight to end all highlights: defense counsel, a good ol' boy to top all good ol' boys, continually referred to the potpourri as "POT-POUREE," not using the French pronunciation, but saying "pot" like he was talking about marijuana. And, apparently, he was not entirely aware of the difference.

Defense counsel to store security guard: "Now, can you tell the court what, exactly, is POT-POUREE?"
Store security guard: "Well, it's dried flowers."
Defense counsel: "Uh huh, and does one INGEST this POT-POUREE?"
Store security guard (sort of confused and alarmed all at once): "Um, no. It, um, it's designed to create a pleasant aroma."
Defense counsel: "Uh huh, and is it possible that the POT-POUREE in the defendant's handbag was a specific type of POT-POUREE, PURSE POT-POUREE, designed to be carried in a handbag to create a pleasant aroman in said handbag?"
Store security guard (now entirely convinced that defense counsel was an idiot): "I don't think so. I've never heard of purse pot-pour - um, purse potpourri - and it was, like a one-pound bag."

It's a wonder that I decided to go to law school.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Phonetic Spelling, U R Osum

Phonetic spelling has brought out the inner writer in our five year-old, encouraging him to dabble in various literary genres:

1) Short stories.

(When I saw a rainbow, I was so amazed. The End.)

2) Non-fiction/how-to manuals.

WUT DUS YR CAT DO (What does your cat do?)

CATS EAT MAOWSES (Cats eat mouses)
CATS PLAY WITH TOYS (Self-explanatory)
CATS NED COLRS SO PBOL NOH WHO IT BLNGS TO (Cats need collars so people know who it belongs to)

Of course, being the multimedia wonder that he is, Parker illustrates his own works. I particularly enjoyed the picture on page 2 of “Cats for Dummies”: in the right-hand margin, a mouse. In the left-hand margin, a Pac Man icon, with its gaping maw turned toward the mouse – and with a number of large dots drawn to connect one with the other. Actual literacy? Well on our way. Cultural literacy? Oh, we got there a long time ago.

3) Personal correspondence.

CAMDEN HERE IS YR BATMAN STCKR (Camden, here is your Batman sticker)
U R OSUM (You are awesome)

(Hey, Nana, I have gotten big toys, so, you know, I get big toys.)

That last example was, I believe, a rather heavy-handed attempt at convincing his grandparents that they really should go all out on his birthday present this year. Subtle, he is not. Ridiculously cute, yes; subtle, no.

Pictured above: one in a series of crayon-on-paper works featuring abominable beings. “Abominable” is one of Parker's favorite adjectives these days. This is the abominable bear. Not shown – my personal favorite, the abominable human.

Not to be outdone in the creativity department, the ten year-old (who now has two creative “credits” to his name – DVD of his twenty-second stop-action opus from filmmaking camp arrived in the mail last week, and bizarre pug dog/cobra hybrid that he designed online via the Cartoon Network Web site is featured in a filler ad that ACTUALLY APPEARS ON TV, running between CN shows - can you tell that I'm a bit more impressed by this than he is?) created several new Miis for our Wii. We now have the option of playing Super Mario Cart as Ricky and Carly Bobby, their sons Walker and Texas Ranger, and Ricky’s best pal, Cal.

Shake and bake, folks. SHAKE. AND. BAKE. McGlinchey boys definitely are shakin' and bakin' in the creativity department.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Themed Adult Birthday Celebration #1

First in a series of four . . . .

My grandmother celebrated her 92nd birthday on Thursday, so the boys and I planned a dessert centered on one of her favorite things - golf. We hot-glued plastic champagne glasses to a piece of cardboard and filled them with pink tissue shred to resemble pink "ladies' tees." We glued green tissue shred to the cardboard to disguise the bases and create the grass. The golf ball cupcakes are chocolate (we used a box mix), iced with homemade vanilla buttercream and studded with upside-down white chocolate chips to make the dimples.

Happy birthday, Gigi! Coming up - a "big" birthday for my mom, my husband's birthday the same day, and my dad's birthday a month after that. Connor, Parker and I are planning themed celebrations for each of them, just for grins.

Super Target Super Buy

John Derian for Target products are here! Love John Derian. Love Target. Love it when people return Target "internet only" items to the brick-and-mortar store, the brick-and-mortar store employees don't know where to put said items, so said employees mark them down to next to nothing and toss 'em on an end cap.

Found this set of eight John Derian melamine plates taped together with packing tape and marked down to $6.06. That's seventy six cents per plate. Actually, I used my Target Red Card one-day 10%-off shopping pass, so I paid sixty eight cents per plate. BOO-YAH!

See how nicely they go with my Fitz & Floyd "Cape Town" serving pieces? I bought this leaf-shaped plate (which matches exactly the color of my dining room walls) at the Import Store in downtown Fort Worth . . . for two dollars.

The bowl set me back four dollars. I also picked up a divided dish and a huge platter - think I paid four bucks apiece for those.

Before you decide to hate on me, bear in mind the following - I am, for all practical purposes, an unlucky person. My raffle ticket? Always one digit away from the winning one. My chair at the table at the charity lunch? Next to the chair with the sticker on the underside of the seat, entitling the occupant to take home the centerpiece. My call to the morning drive-time show during the big promo giveaway? Yeah, I don't even bother to pick up the phone. So please forgive me my retail luck - it's really all I have going for me.

Tha West Side is Tha Best Side

Let's show these fools how we do this on that west side,

Cause you and I know it's tha best side.

- 2Pac

For those of you not from Texas or one of the plains states, this is a tornado - specifically, it is the tornado that shattered Fort Worth's "West Side Bubble" in 2000.
The steeple in the background belongs to the First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth. My church. When I say that the tornado hit close to home, I am not exaggerating. The path of the tornado, essentially, was West 7th Street. I office at the corner of 7th and Throckmorton downtown, and my neighborhood, Arlington Heights, begins where 7th Street ends and turns into Camp Bowie Boulevard. FUMC falls in between. Mercifully, the tornado picked up, went over my building, missed the church, and picked up again just east of our neighborhood.

But it took out a LOT of stuff between points A and B.

This is (sort of) the story of a tornado, and why that tornado cemented a girl's love for her adopted hometown in general, and her adopted 'hood in particular.

You've heard of making lemonade out of lemons, right? Well, the West Side decided to make a lemon souffle. A big, fluffy one, worthy of "Top Chef," with a beautiful lemon glaze drizzled over the top. Everything was rebuilt - but it was rebuilt bigger, and much, MUCH better, and for the most part folks avoided the temptation to raze stuff and start from scratch. They used what was there. Literally.

This "sculpture" sits outside of the new post office building. (No, the tornado didn't take out the post office. Long story, but in a nutshell - the USPS agreed to give up its prior location in exchange for the developer building a brand new post office building. You read that right - the federal government actually cooperated and recognized a good deal when it was offered one.)

The artist who created the sculpture? A true visionary named Mother Nature. These steel beams used to support a billboard. Now they are public art.

One of the biggest tornado casualties, the old Montgomery Ward catalog building, was converted into a mixed use residential project, the commercial component of which, anyone who knows me will tell you, is the actual, factual center of my personal universe. See, behind the beautifully restored Monkey Ward's building (which now has a boulevard cutting through it - hard to describe, really cool in person), there lies the most fabulous Super Target on the planet. Seriously. I have visited others. They pale in comparison. When it was under construction, I drove by it twice a day. In my head, I did the "OPEN, OPEN, OPEN" hand routine from the old Mervyn's commercial.

Then, one night when I was out driving (I forget my actual intended destination), I drove by Super Target for the heck of it (knowing that the grand opening wasn't scheduled for a few days) - and the doors were open. And they let me in. And, that night, I had the Montgomery Plaza Super Target all to myself. As I recall, it was right before Halloween, too. So I shopped the newly stocked shelves of the Halloween section of the Montgomery Plaza Super Target all by myself. It was so peaceful there. I'm getting a little misty-eyed just thinking about it.

Anyway, since then, rarely a day goes by without a trip to the MPST. It's less than a five-minute drive either way (from the office or from the house), so it's the no-brainer choice for - well, for just about everything.

This is the gorgeous view of downtown Fort Worth as you approach my beloved MPST, along with another "night shot" of Montgomery Plaza:

Between MPST and our 'hood are situated three of the best art museums in the country - the Kimbell, the Amon Carter and the Modern. Here is some more public art, courtesy of the Modern and the Kimbell:

The rusted thing in the background is Richard Serra's "Vortex." It's hard to grasp the scale of the piece from the picture, so I'll just tell you - it's 67 feet and 230 tons of awesomeness. Why is it awesome? Ask my sons, who could spend hours in the "Pretend-cano" (a young Parker's description of what he viewed as being a volcano-like object). Best description that I have heard of it is that the piece is a giant acoustic bell, and you, the visitor, are the clapper. You go inside, and every noise that you make reverberates and is amplified. What I really like about it: the more subtle the sound, the greater the effect. A whisper or a foot shuffle is far more impressive than a scream or a stomp, driving home (maybe) a point that we try to impress on the kids - well, pretty much on a daily basis.

In the foreground is Joan Miro's "Woman Addressing the Public." Which the kids like because it's freakish-looking. And which my husband likes because the reverse side looks like this.

He would like to think that the large hollowed-out area is the woman's mouth. Because she is addressing the public in a typical female fashion. Alternative title of this piece, according to him, could be "Woman Shrewing her Husband."

I could go on all day about the quality of the art at these three museums, but to sum: Fort Worth has really cool art. Housed in really cool buildings. Architecture snobs will recognize the work of Louis I. Kahn (the Kimbell), Tadao Ando (the Modern) and Philip Johnson (the Carter):

Non-architecture snobs will simply say, "Wow, cool buildings."

Rounding out the museum campus are the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, which houses both the Fort Worth Children's Museum (pictured below) and the Cattle Raisers Museum (so, kind of a three-for-one).

Continuing on the "great architecture" theme, the new FWMSH building, pictured above, was designed by the Legorreta + Legorreta firm - which, contrary to my kids' insistence, has no connection with a certain Danish toymaker. Although the lantern on top does look awfully LEGO-like . . . . We spend a LOT of time at the FWMSH. It's a kid magnet, and the new facility is ridiculously awesome - although we have a lot of fond memories of the old building. We also have a lot of fond memories of the construction period in between, chief among them: (1) navigating temporary walkways and barriers while taking ten nine year-olds to the Omni for Connor's "Night at the Museum"-themed birthday (on what had to be the coldest November night on record); and (2) seeing "The Polar Express" (for the first time - where WAS I all of those years?) at the same Omni Theater, just Parker and me, both of us in our pajamas, drinking complimentary Starbucks hot chocolate and marveling at the construction-themed Christmas tree in the atrium (the atrium and the theater being more or less the only parts of the old building still standing). If you're ever looking for a new holiday tree "concept," I highly recommend shopping the Home Depot - you can do a lot with yellow caution tape, levels and T squares, with some Bob the Builder-type vehicles thrown in for good measure.

It was during our Mom-and-son Polar Express outing that Parker discovered that he really LOVES hot chocolate (Starbucks or otherwise), and that was also the day that he and I conquered our respective Omni phobias. See, every Omni show in Fort Worth begins with a mini-movie, taken from the perspective of a cameraman in a helicopter flying over downtown Fort Worth, which helicopter gets way too close (for my comfort) to various buildings. Interesting factoid: Connor's friend's grandfather shot that footage. Another interesting factoid: I could not switch jobs with Connor's friend's grandfather, not for any sum of money. To say that watching the film gives me vertigo is an understatement. I usually clamp my eyes shut, and Parnell tells me when it's over.

Parker's Omni phobia? "The black part." Yeah, we had no idea what he was talking about, either, at least not at first. We finally figured out that he was objecting to the demonstration of the Omni's acoustic system. The lights in the theater are dimmed, the screens go black, and one by one they illuminate a speaker, and that speaker plays a distinctive, very loud and bone-resonating tone. For whatever reason, this seemingly innocuous demonstration scared the bejeepers out of our youngest son, who was fine while he was drinking hot chocolate in the atrium but had to be dragged into the theater proper and had a panic attack while waiting for "the black part" to start. So I confessed to him my issue with the downtown flyover, and he saw in his mother a kindred spirit. No, totally kidding, he took the opportunity to make fun of me:

"Mom, that's just dumb. The helicopter part isn't scary AT ALL."

So we cut a deal - he agreed to try to remain calm during "the black part" if I would keep my eyes open during "the helicopter part." We held hands. And, you know, it worked! I am pleased to report that I now watch the flyover every time. It still makes me a TAD nauseated, but all in all it's tolerable.

So, for a myriad of reasons, we're big fans of the FWMSH. We're big fans of the museum district in general. We're really big fans of the fact that the museum district lies six blocks from our house. Not that we have ever actually WALKED there (they are LONG blocks), but it's somehow tremendously satisfying to know that we could walk, if we wanted to.

Between the museums and downtown, and across the street from the world's best Super Target, a BUNCH of stuff is happening - condos, restaurants, condos above restaurants, a three-story Movie Tavern (soon to be joined by a Lucky Strikes bowling alley), boutiques, miscellaneous bars and live music venues . . . but what really makes me happy is that, in the midst of all of this shiny, contemporary, "sort of Dallas-y but we try to ignore that" new construction stands THIS:

This is Fred's Texas Cafe - home of some truly amazing hamburgers and really cold beer. The interior of Fred's looks much like the exterior. Regulars got angry when the replaced the naugahyde booth seats, because sitting on exposed springs and tufts of foam was part of the "experience." There is a piano on the porch. I'm not entirely sure why. Bikers like Fred's. So do families. The chef, Terry Chandler (AKA "The Outlaw Chef") is a flippin' gourmet chef, whose "blue-plate specials" could rival anything you can get in fancier digs.

In addition to being a great hangout, Fred's is an important landmark, because the 7th Street development is LOOOOOOOONG - blocks and blocks long. At one end is Fred's, and at the other end is Trinity Park, inspiring Bud Kennedy, local food critic and all-around funny guy, to refer to the east side of the development as "The Shops at the Duck Pond" and the west side of the development as "The Shops at Fred's." Naturally, this nomenclature stuck at the McGlinchey household.

Describing things as being "near Fred's" also allows one to avoid having to pronounce "Foch," which is one of the main thoroughfares through the area. Being a German word, it's pronounced a lot like a certain word that it sort of resembles. However, no one really feels COMFORTABLE pronouncing it that way, so you hear a lot of variations. My personal favorite is when people pronounce it "faush," like it's French. Which it clearly isn't. Anyway, a whole lot easier to say, "Oh, it's over by Fred's."

What else do we have going for us on the near west side? Well, we have really inventive crazy people:

Yes, that's a naked guy, sitting on a sign for the "Museum of Living Art" at the Fort Worth Zoo ("Museum of Living Art" being a synonym for "really kick-butt herpetarium") touting art that looks at you. We also have really creative crafty people:

Before you ask, it's a "traffic sign cozy" - crocheted and whipstitched to the pole. It's red, yellow and green, mimicking the colors of a traffic light . . . because the sign advertises the location of a traffic intersection camera. Not sure if the person who made this was silently protesting the placement of the camera (or a society where cameras have replaced people), or seeking to draw attention to the sign (and, thereby, the camera). Or maybe he or she was just trying to be funny. Or thought that the sign looked a bit chilled.

What makes me laugh is that no one has made a move to take down the cozy.

When I hear people refer to our area as "The Bubble," I wonder if that term really fits. To me, "bubble" has connotations of "staid" and "coddled." Yes, all of our kids wear uniforms to school - private and public alike - but that's a citywide thing. Likewise, all of our trash receptacles look the same, but that's not unique to the West Side, either. If left to their own devices, most West Siders would opt out of uniforms and identical yard carts. Our trash cans may be Stepford, but we are not. We are cheerfully artsy and individualistic and just a bit off-kilter.

And that's why my family lives where we live.

Oh, and one more thing about the tornado: the residential neighborhood that was the hardest hit is called Lindale. After the storm, Lindale had new street signs made. The signs have a tornado on them.

THAT'S how we roll on the West Side of the 817 . . . .

Friday, September 17, 2010


It's a beautiful Friday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas, and I'm at my desk drafting an opinion letter on an apartment complex refinance deal (well, at the moment, I'm blogging, but I'm on a "break"). When forced to draft legal documents on beautiful Friday afternoons, I find that listening to music via Pandora helps grease the mental skids.

And, quite often, I listen to rap and hip-hop.

Some find my love for rap and hip-hop surprising. I've seen the jaws drop when my cell phone rings - my husband's dedicated ringtone is "Return of the Mack" (get it? MAC-Glinchey?), and I selected the Nelly/P. Diddy opus "Shake Ya Tailfeather" for my friend Robyn (because she is a heck of a dancer - but my observant older child also pointed out that "she has a bird name, and birds have tailfeathers"). Likewise, I've seen the looks when I roll up to the Junior Woman's Club blasting DMX from my busted speakers. (Here's a tip, fellow rap aficionados - when selecting car options, DON'T FALL FOR THE BOSE SPIEL. Bose speakers are NOT compatible with gangsta rap. My stereo system came packaged with other features - couldn't get the seat heaters without the speakers - but in retrospect I should have driven the car from the lot directly to Car Toys. Blew the first speaker a few months after getting the car, and blew a second one a year after that - ironically, listening to a cut from Outkast's Speakerboxxx.)

I blame my mother for my eclectic musical taste. She LOOKS like a normal woman of a certain age, but if you ride in her car, you might get a Broadway soundtrack or Andrea Bocelli - or you might get G Unit. The uncensored version.

I also don't think that it's coincidental that I chose to pledge Alpha Delta Pi in college. Consider the evidence:

I'm just sayin'.

Snippets from this afternoon's playlist:

Missy Elliott, One Minute Man
Eve, Let Me Blow Ya Mind
Estelle, American Boy
Pras, Ghetto Superstar
The Game, How We Do
Jay-Z, Dirt Off Your Shoulder
Sir Mix-A-Lot, Baby Got Back
The Fugees, Ready or Not
Vanilla Ice, Ice Ice Baby
Outkast, Ms. Jackson
Nas, If I Ruled the World
2Pac, Starin' Through My Rear View

Peace out . . . .


Today's lunch convo veered to creative programming on ESPN Classic - specifically, an episode of "Celebrity Bowling" that my coworker caught the other night, featuring Pat Morita (pre-"Karate Kid") and the dentist from the Bob Newhart Show (the first one, not the one with Larry, his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl). From "Celebrity Bowling" we got to "Battle of the Network Stars," and then to "Wheel of Fortune" - not "Pat and Vanna Wheel of Fortune," but the old-school "Chuck and Susan Wheel of Fortune." And, God, did the memories come flooding back.

For those old enough to remember "Wheel Classic," do you remember the prize room? You won a puzzle, and you had to immediately spend your winnings shopping the prize room? All of the prizes looked like they came straight out of the Service Merchandise catalog - mantel clocks, cloisonne vases, really ugly Oriental screens - and if you were watching Wheel with your grandmother, you had to be careful about dissing on the prizes, because chances are good that your grandmother had a lot of that stuff in her house. And actually found it attractive.

Remember the odd pricing? "A collection of RCA records, valued at $213"? And if there was an item with a price tag that was less than the money that you had remaining - say, you had $50 and the cloisonne vase was $47 - THEN YOU HAD TO TAKE THE VASE. And you got the remaining $3 on "credit."

Which leads me to my real topic . . . . The anatomically correct ceramic dog.

Remember him? And he WAS a he, for sure. Usually, he was a greyhound, or a Dalmatian, and he was big - looked to be waist-high - and, as I recall, definitely anatomically correct. Because the dog was always posed sitting on his back haunches, his junk always pointed right at the camera (and you, the home viewer), framed by his front legs.

Every episode, there was a dog. A big, ugly, sort of perverted-looking and completely useless dog. And, depending on whether you liked the winning contestant or not, you would root for them to either avoid the dog or get stuck with it. "Ooh, ooh, he has eighty bucks left, and the dog is seventy seven! Take the silk floral arrangement! If you take the silk flowers, you can take the paperweight, and this long, painful-to-watch nightmare will be over!"

Remember when people were FORCED to take the ceramic dog? They always sighed. Audibly. "[SIGH.] I'll take the dog, Chuck." Sometimes it was "[SIGH.] I GUESS I'll take the dog, Chuck." Like they were fooling themselves into thinking that they had some choice in the matter.

I always speculated that many of those dogs never made it to the car - oopsie, they got dropped in the parking lot, and the remains got tossed in a Dumpster. I imagined that there was a Dumpster marked just for this purpose, placed just outside the stage door: "Please deposit your anatomically correct ceramic dog remains here."

Yeah, I was a weird kid - what's your point?

Screen capture from a Wheel Classic episode above - complete with the ubiquitous "prize-room-shopping-contestant-in-a-bubble" effect. Because the producers knew that you wanted to see the winner's facial expression when he or she was FORCED TO TAKE THE DOG.

Nom, Nom, Yum - Lebanese Moussaka

I have shared this vegetarian recipe with a couple of people recently and decided to share it with ALL of the people (or "ALL of the humans," as my five year-old would say). While I was at it, I converted various metric measurements (recipe was adapted from a Nigella Lawson dish) and otherwise "de-Britished" it (thus, "cilantro" instead of "coriander" - but I will admit to liking "aubergine" TONS more than "eggplant," and am thinking of adopting aubergine as an affectation).

LEBANESE AUBERGINE MOUSSAKA (see? I'm using it already!)

1 large or 2 medium eggplants
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and diced
10-12 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole if small (or fewer large cloves cut in half)
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
2 (14-oz.) cans of tomatoes, including liquid, chopped (or equivalent in fresh tomatoes, deskinned)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
Pinch dried mint (optional)
3/4 cup water
Fresh parsley, cilantro or mint for serving (optional)

Measure out the salt, cinnamon, black pepper, all spice and dried mint into a small bowl and set aside.

Trim the stems off the aubergines and cut into cubes about 1 inch thick. In a pan, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat and sauté the aubergines for a few minutes or until golden brown. With a slotted spoon remove to a side dish covered with kitchen paper and reserve.

Add the remaining oil, onion and garlic to the pan and sauté, stirring constantly. After about 5 minutes, when the onion is translucent and soft, add the chick peas. Stir for another 5 minutes and then add the pomegranate molasses and return the reserved aubergines to the pan.

Add the tomatoes and sprinkle with the spices. Add the water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to moderately low. Cover and simmer for about an hour.


1) The last time I made this, I omitted the pomegranate molasses (which you buy in the juice section at Central Market - top shelf, next to the pomegranate juice products) and it was just fine without it. Also omitted the mint - didn't miss it. The cinnamon and allspice are what really make this dish.

2) I have substituted organic pasta sauce (really good stuff) for some of the canned tomatoes, and that worked as well.

3) Cook it until it is appropriately mushy - I've gone past an hour before, because it just didn't look done at the one hour mark. It should have the consistency of stew. Terra Grill in Fort Worth basically uses this recipe, but they serve theirs casserole style, and that's another option - throw it in a casserole, top with some mozzarella or other white cheese and bake it until the cheese melts. Otherwise, it comes out like a good, hearty stew.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Radical Robyn

. . . my great friend and frequent partner in crime, gets credit for the amazing set-up at this weekend's Junior Woman's Club open house. In keeping with this year's "Journey Through the 80's: I Want my JWC" theme, she pulled off an "80's movies" theme to perfection. From the GINORMOUS movie poster vases:

To the concession stand-themed food:
To the 80's tunes playing over clips from great 80's flicks, you've got to give the girl props for being the social VP "hostess with the mostess." Above, clockwise from left, you're looking at popcorn cupcakes, Junior Mint brownies, mini pizzas, and baked pretzels (wrapped with brown sugared bacon). Other movie candy-themed sweets included Goober clusters and Milk Dud cookies. And who's ever heard of a theater concession stand that didn't have a big jar o' dill pickles or a big vat o' yellow nacho cheese? We had both - although the pickles were rolled up with ham and cream cheese (note to file: pickles plus ham plus cream cheese equals appetizer-y deliciousness in a deceptively pedestrian form), and the cheese for the nachos was served in a silver chafing dish. (Hey, it's Junior Woman's Club - we had to work in a chafing dish somewhere.)

I do get credit for an assist on the cupcakes (although Robyn's mom - the tree from whom the party-planning apple didn't fall far - gets credit for the "movie theater popcorn butter" accents, which I think really put the cuppies over the top). I made the cupcake collars - specifically, I made eleven dozen of them. More specifically, I made twenty two dozen of them. The first eleven dozen featured a color scheme that, upon party walk-through the day before, I determined just weren't going to cut the mustard. So I went back to the drawing board. And literally wore a hole through the skin on my thumb with the scissors . . . . The price we pay for food art!

The departments got into the 80's spirit - lots of Pac Man and other 80's video game references, and more sweets to go along with (cupcakes, Pac Man-shaped sugar cookies and Pop Rocks, to name a few).

I picked a bad time to stop eating the sugary stuff . . . but I am looking forward to (in no particular order): (1) lots of opportunities to break out truly bad 80's looks (hair bows! Carnation bangs! Leg warmers! And a really great excuse for a girls' day trip to Dallas to buy Mexican dresses at La Mariposa!); (2) lots of fun party concepts, courtesy of Robyn; and (3) not being (officially) responsible for ANYTHING. (I say "officially," because Robyn knows that she doesn't even have to ask for help with party stuff . . . . It's an obsession, but did I mention that I have a partner in crime?)

Today's Note from Parker

Posted on the refrigerator:



FN1: Daily conduct grades in Parker's class are awarded on the common "traffic signal" basis (except that his teacher refers to green as grass, and the other colors are labeled weeds, so the inquiry every afternoon is, "How green is your yard?"). Green equals excellent, yellow (caution) equals satisfactory, red equals unsatisfactory - oh, and blue equals needs improvement. So, in other words, blue comes between yellow and red. Want to explain that to me? Want to explain it to a five year-old who knows that the color between yellow and red on the ROYGBIV scale is orange? Yeah, I got nothin'.

FN2: Like a lot of kids his age, Parker tends to replace his R's with W's (hence, the other day he wrote our dog Ruby's name, "WOOBY"), and I find it quite amusing that, when he spells a word phonetically, HE SPELLS IT LIKE HE SAYS IT - complete with little kid "lithp."

In an attempt to regain "gawownd" after coming home on blue ("bwue"?), he drew me a picture . . . of a character from "Total Drama World Tour," the age-inappropriate show that he watches with his brother when we're not looking, being the same show that taught him the phrase, "Fo shizzle." Ooh, sorry PJ - bit of a miscalculation there. But points for the intense colors, and for depicting Bejeweled-style jewels falling from the sky (because that happened in one of the episodes? because you know that your mother likes playing Bejeweled? because you know that your mother likes ACTUAL jewels?).

For those scoring at home, we are churning out, roughly, four art projects and three "notes to Mom and Dad" per night. On Monday, I guess he decided that he didn't have enough homework (as in, he didn't have any), so he assigned himself the project of writing an illustrating a book. The first draft of the book was great, from Mom and Dad's perspective . . . except Parker misspelled a word, and Dad (poor, naive Dad) pointed out the misspelling in the spirit of constructive criticism. Cue the waterworks, and first draft of Mr. Parker's Opus was torn into shreds. Really? Over self-assigned homework? I've long maintained the theory that the kid was a closet perfectionist - even more of a perfectionist than his brother - and that the "easy, breezy" persona was just a mask. While I do so enjoy being right, I don't enjoy the tantrums that much. And I continue to blame "lack of nap" as the primary catalyst. But he went to bed early, woke up chipper (well, relatively speaking - PJ has never been much of a morning person, whereas Connor springs out of bed at o' dark thirty and is immediately amps on eleven), and immediately began working on his second draft. Which he took to school and presented to his teacher, but apparently self-imposed make-up work doesn't save you from a "bwue" in Kindergarten World.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Parker Rants - September 2010 Edition

So on Sunday we overheard the five year-old respond, "Fo shizzle," to a question posed by the ten year-old. Okay, technically "fo shizzle" is not a swear word (swear phrase?), but it frequently is followed by more offensive words, and it's generally a little too "street" for the kindergarten world - so (after stifling inappropriate laughter) we shut it down. A few minutes later, he said it again, and the second time, we REALLY had to lay down the law - having confirmed that he picked it up from a Cartoon Network show, we advised him that the third offense would result in revocation of viewing privileges vis-a-vis said show. (No, we didn't say "revocation" or "vis-a-vis"; I'm paraphrasing!)

I think that maybe the "no nap" thing must be getting to him, because we're noticing A LOT of ranting in the just-prior-to-dinner hour, and Sunday night was no exception: after many tears, several slammed doors, and multiple utterances of, "You guys are being MEAN to me!" he disappeared into his room and returned five minutes later with the following manifesto (written fairly neatly, with some phonetic spelling employed, but the message came through loud and clear):

BY THE TIME THAT YOU READ THIS I WILL BE FAR AWAY. SO, YOU KNOW, GOODBYE NOW. (***) ***-**** [our home phone number].


1) As funny as Parker rants are when spoken, they are somehow tons funnier when written. What fun awaits us in the years to come (said only partly sarcastically)!

2) Like his brother, he writes like he speaks. "By the time that you read this": vintage Parker melodrama. "So, you know": vintage Parker Valley-boy speak. The only thing that would have made it more perfect is if he had written it, "So, you know, goodbye and stuff."

3) What's up with the phone number? With a relatively straight face, I pointed out that giving the phone number to us doesn't accomplish much if (a) he's leaving the residence to which the phone number has been assigned and (b) we're staying at that number. And we have the note.

Apparently, I did not keep my face straight enough, because he picked up on the fact that I was having fun with all of this, and more door-slamming ensued. By this point, I was on the phone with my mother, and I heard several choruses of, "You and Nana need to S, T, O, P talking about me. If you S, T, O, P talking about me, then I might not leave." (Yes, he frequently spells words in the middle of sentences - for emphasis, and simply to show off the fact that he can spell.) So we S, T, O , P'd talking about him, and - of course - he promptly got angry because he was no longer the center of attention. The only thing that upsets Parker more than being mocked - the cessation of mocking in favor of other, less Parker-focused topics of conversation.

Ultimately he lost interest in being contrary and zonked out on the floor - but not after responding to my question about what he might want for dinner (I'd been working out in the yard, made minimal plans for din-din and was resigned to playing short order cook), "NOTHING, Mom, NOTHING. N, O, THING."

Lord, I love this age. No, seriously, I do. No need to pay to see a stand-up comedian, or movies, even - you have all of the entertainment that you need, in-home, 24/7.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eternal Sunshine of the Kindergarten Mind

In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, I found myself repeating the same odd (but true) thought - namely, that I was looking forward to the start of kindergarten, perhaps more than Parker was, because I would finally get to know my youngest son. You see, it's hard to really get to know a child when he is always around an older sibling - particularly when that older sibling is as larger-than-life as Parker's older sibling is. We know how he is with Connor, but who is Parker in isolation? Adding to the problem is the fact that Parker enjoys his role as international little man of mystery. This kid is all about roles - if you observe him closely, you can see him change from persona to persona. Sometimes you can tell that he thinks that he's changing into the person that you expect him to be. Other times the change is for our amusement, and a lot of the time it's for his own.

Thus - to cite one example - we started kindergarten not knowing whether the kid could actually read, or ever would learn. Admittedly, we did not spend as much time teaching him to read - or trying to teach him - as we did with Connor. In hindsight, I recognize that a lot of our efforts with Connor originated not from a desire to help him succeed but - to be blunt - out of boredom. He was our only kid, he was too little to do a lot of things, and so we read a lot of books, and we watched a lot of "Baby Einstein" and educational TV, as a means of bonding with him and filling what I recognize now were empty hours. We tried to do those things with Parker, in between big brother's sporting events, school carnivals and camp carpool routes (there's a reason that we refer to PJ as our "luggage child"), but when we did make the effort, he was far more interested in what Connor was reading (Star Wars encyclopedias, not Dr. Seuss) and watching (Cartoon Network, not Noggin), and we quickly discovered that a Leap Pad Learning System can't hold a candle to a Wii in terms of attracting a young child's attention.

When Parker did sit down to read with us, he quickly became frustrated and dissolved into tears: "I can't do this. I'll never learn to read." Or he would shout out wrong answers - "It's a Q! 56! A raspberry!" - until we gave up. So we wondered: Is he dyslexic? A closet perfectionist? Overly dramatic? Playing us like fiddles?
Answers: No, yup, OH YEAH, and ditto. After my spouse suggested that maybe we should take him to see a reading specialist, which totally freaked me out - overreactions and unfounded worries are supposed to be my department - I was forced to go the other way and temporarily become the voice of reason: "School's two weeks away, he clearly doesn't want to do this with us, so maybe Mrs. Sylvester will have better luck - and she'll tell us if there's a problem." So we waited. Math skills assessment tests were administered right off of the bat, and we were advised that he knocked that one out of the park. (Not really a surprise - he comes from a long line of math geeks, and the first week of school, he corrected his brother when Connor said that there were sixteen kids in Parker's class: "No, there are sixteen ENROLLED students, but two were absent today, so we only had FOURTEEN." This elicited one of those "swerve off of the road" reactions from his parents - um, did the kid just do subtraction in his head, involving two-digit numbers?) So, okay, math is not an issue - but what about, you know, LITERACY?

Fast forward to the beginning of week three. After spending a good half hour spelling words with magnets on the fridge ("Take the H away from HAT, then add an R, and you have RAT. Add an E to the end, and the vowel says its name, RATE"), he retreated to his room and returned with a book that he had spontaneously written and illustrated. About Batman. (Yeah, no surprise there, either.) What impressed me were his efforts at phonetic spelling: "Ridulr" for "Riddler," "Itrgin" for "Etrigen," etc. But what had me rolling on the floor was his response to me awarding him a package of Batman stickers for his efforts: "WOW. I did NOT see that one coming. Thanks, Mom. I should write books more often."

So "reading panic," officially over. For those scoring at home, that's two McGlinchey children who prefer to do things on their own time, at their own pace, with minimal interference from Mom and Dad. Which I know to some parents sounds like an absolute dream, but it does take some getting used to. Twice, apparently. But I am sort of pleased to know that a hunch I have been carrying around was correct: little brother is a lot more like big brother than you would think. When they are together, you tend to notice the differences, but cut little brother away from the herd, and you start to see the similarities.

His artistic tendencies also echo his big brother's. One of his first take-homes from art class is reproduced below. He explained that the building on the left (the one with a very detailed shingled roof and distinctive furnishings) "is my room, Mom. See? There's my loft bed with the blue tent. Only I couldn't color it the color of my actual bed, because you wouldn't be able to see it, so I colored it black. Which means that we need to paint my actual bed black now."

What's the building on the right - the one that sort of looks like an afterthought, with minimal furnishings - a bare bulb and a chair? "That's Connor's room." Ah, of course. (In his defense, Connor's bed and fan, which are both sleek and space-aged, are battleship gray, as are his walls. So this is a more faithful depiction than one might think.)

What about the stuff in the middle? "That's a waterfall, Mom. For the tigers."

Ohhhhhkay. And why are there tigers? "Because I'm good at drawing them."

Yup, the kid's alright.

Fun on the Interwebs - BakeGreek's Blog

If you are a fan of sugar cookies (of the shaped, royal icing-topped variety), check out Love Kotomi's various decorating tips (example: how to make the perfect zebra stripes with icing) and "common sense" suggestions (using a napkin as a lazy susan for turning your cookies whilst you ice them, dedicating a pair of eyebrow tweezers for kitchen use as a means of placing your nonpareils just so, etc.). Upon her recommendation, I tried out Alton Brown's sugar cookie recipe, and I also followed her baking instructions to the letter. Not sure if it was Alton's recipe or Kotomi's tips (probably some combination thereof), but I have never had shaped cookies come out so perfectly shaped - none were swollen or misshapen. Her suggestion that you stamp out the cookies and then flash-freeze them, still on the their tray and surrounded by the "scraps," before attempting to separate them from the rest of the dough is pure genius (she likens it to 'lifting sheets of glass versus lifting sheets of Jello," and she is absolutely right - I never had an easier time getting my cookies onto a baking sheet).

Photos above are of some cookies that Parker decorated (with a little help from Mom) after I baked them per Alton's and Kotomi's instructions. He requested apples (for back-to-school) and fish (because they swim in schools - clearly, my newly minted kindergartener had school on the brain). Color palette was his as well: he made requests for lime, purple, etc., I mixed, and in that positively reinforcing, totally endearing and uniquely Parker way, he cheered me on: "Mom! That green color is awesome. Your use of color is INGENIOUS! I'm serious. YOU ARE AN ICING GENIUS." And, yes, I melted like a lump of unchilled sugar cookie dough in a 350-degree oven.

Better Living Through Catalogs

As of this evening, I am the proud owner of a monogrammed chair. Actually, the chair itself is bereft of monogramming, but like all good things it came with accessories - specifically, two monogrammed slipcovers. First slipcover was purchased many moons ago, and my intent at the time was to immediately turn around and use my "thanks for shopping with us" 15% off coupon to purchase the chair that, you know, would actually render the slipcover functional. Except that I didn't immediately purchase the chair - for some reason (and it was a good reason, but I no longer remember what it was), I delayed. And - get this - the delay actually benefited me. This was a tremendous surprise. In my experience, "Good things come to those who wait" tends to be a bit of a crock when applied to retail commerce, and should be rephrased, "Frustration and disappointment come to those who wait, because the thing that you knew you should have purchased the first time but didn't is now [pick one - or, more often than not, more than one] sold out/discontinued/no longer available in your size/no longer on sale." But this go-round, the retail gods smiled upon me: Ballard Designs sent me another 15% off coupon, to replace the one that had long since expired - AND they put the chair on sale. So, of course, I did what any self-respecting woman would do . . . I bought the chair, and I applied my "savings" to another slipcover.

This is my new Parsons chair, proudly displaying its linen "look." Although it was hard to tell from the catalog and the Web site, I thought that the linen color that I selected might be a fairly close match to the living room walls. Yup, hit that particular nail a bit too hard on the head, because when you stand a few feet away from the chair, it completely blends into the wall, and you find yourself asking, "Hey, did she go all of the way 'round the bend and monogram the actual wall?"

Love getting chairs in the mail. Don't know that I have gotten a chair in the mail before - another one to cross of the bucket list. Added bonus - watching the kids turn the box into a fort. Added ADDED bonus - watching the blond-to-the-roots kid get into the fort, tump it over in slo mo, door-side down, and then struggle mightily to get back out of it. Ahhhhhh, it's the little things.

I have noticed an uptick in catalog traffic over the past few weeks. Ballard is providing heavy coverage, for sure, because they smell blood in the water - what's one monogrammed chair when you can have TWO, one for each end of the dining room table? (I think my mother must be getting a kickback, because that was her immediate response to my news about the chair: "So why not get another one?" Why not, indeed. Parnell McGlinchey, you read it here first - you have your mother-in-law to blame for your SECOND monogrammed chair.) But a couple of the other, non-Ballard catalogs were what really captured my attention. See, I am a marketing exec trapped in a business law attorney body. Really. I'm fascinated with marketing - always noticing product placement, what works and what doesn't - and, looking back, it's been a lifetime obsession. I probably missed my calling (thanks, unimaginative high school counselor who told every smart kid who walked through her door, "You should be a doctor or a lawyer!"), but I can be bitter about that, or I can live vicariously through others - and triumph their efforts in my blog. The latter seems like more socially useful behavior - far more socially useful and sane than, say, monogramming a chair.

So, with no further ado, announcing two candidates for the "Kathryn McGlinchey 'Hey, You Pulled a Target and Totally Reinvented Yourself' Award" . . . .

Candidate #1 - Restoration Hardware. I always found these folks to be kind of - well, beige. And they still are . . . but the beige is the most gorgeous Belgian linen imaginable, and it's stretched over some of the most beautiful furniture that I have seen in a long time. The blurb on the inside cover puts it all out there, in refreshingly candid fashion: the economy is in the toilet, we thought about doing what everyone else is doing and reducing both prices and quality, but instead we said, "What the hey, let's go big or go home." People of Restoration Hardware: it is WORKING. You had me at "Reproduction Antique Hungarian Sleigh Bench" (page 16).

And, may I say, your visual design team is KILLING IT. I literally drooled over the dining room on page 44, and the living rooms on - well, all of the pages.

The kitchen on page 22 reminded me of something that I recently saw in House Beautiful - except, upon revisiting HB, YOURS IS BETTER.

Okay, your prices (and the fact that most of your furniture pieces are ten feet long, and are therefore horribly out of scale for my little Tudor) make it unlikely that I will actually partake in your loveliness, but here's hoping that folks with lots of bucks and big, empty rooms jump on your bandwagon. When I knew that you were approaching a Target-like level of success in the "reinvention" arena: the day after your catalog came, Pottery Barn arrived . . . and, for the first time, everything in there looked cheap.

Once upon a time, my friend Lindsay sent me an electronic "Coloring Book for Lawyers." One of the pages had an illustration of a very WASPy man behind a traditional desk, with the caption, "THIS IS MY DESK. It is mahogany. Important people have mahogany desks. My walls are mahogany, too. I wish I were mahogany." Well, Restoration Hardware, congratulations - for the first time in my life, I wish I were beige.

Candidate #2 - Talbots. I have bought a fair amount of Talbots clothing in my lifetime, but generally my purchases were met with remorse, as in, "What was I thinking when I bought this extremely white-bread item of clothing?" Because Talbots pretty much defined white bread. I can sum up the problem with pre-reinvention Talbots in two words: tapered slacks. Long after the rest of the world emerged from the 1980s and early 1990s and realized that pants that are bigger up top and narrower at the cuff make your thighs look ginormous, Talbots kept cranking out the same cut of pants. (And, by the way, old Talbots, they are PANTS - not "slacks." "Slacks" is one of those words, like "panties," that make my skin crawl and/or a nerve under my eye twitch uncontrollably. Usually both.) Bootcut? Hmmm, nope, never heard of those. But have you tried our "MC Hammer," available in exciting shades like navy and the ever-popular cordovan?
So imagine my surprise when my Talbots catalog arrived, and the model on the front was wearing a really killer navy sequined sweater with a black-and-silver beaded collar necklace (NAVY AND BLACK TOGETHER! SOMEWHERE, A DECEASED TALBOTS DESIGNER IS TURNING OVER IN HER GRAVE . . . AND MUSSING HER CORDOVAN TAPERED SLACKS!) with . . . wait for it . . . skinny jeans. Thumb, thumb . . . OMIGOSH, OMIGOSH, more jeans, beautiful bootcut and staight jeans, sitting slightly below the natural waist, in a variety of attractive washes and rinses. Not a single pair of tapered-legged, high-waisted mom jeans in sight. Oh, and the leather skirt on page 16! The funky cardigans and coordinating blouses . . . which are actually mixed up and not displayed in fuddy-duddy, matchy-matchy fashion! Even the old Talbots standard (haberdashery-striped button down shirt) had a cool, origami-folded neckline trim. Result: I find myself putting Talbots near the top of my "where to shop for fall pants and jeans" list. Which are not words that I necessarily expected to ever type in sequence.

One word of warning: the online catalog has not caught up to the paper catalog, visual design-wise. (You can view the paper one online, by clicking on the "Pearls of Wisdom" tag.) It's almost like they are afraid to completely abandon the dowdy crowd . . . but if that's the case, would you really put the dowdy stuff ONLINE? You know, "online" being the place that younger, less dowdy people are most likely to seek you out?

So, Talbots, I like the direction that you are headed, and I do appreciate the very self-aware tag line, "YES, it's Talbots." But Restoration Hardware, thus far, is winning . . . .