I was at an outdoor event last night where I knew most of the people. Tasha was chasing Hugh and his bubble wand around when a middle aged couple walked up next to me and asked whose adorable child that was. Instead of saying, “He’s ours,” indicating Tasha, I just said, “He’s mine.”

It’s true. Sometimes I choose the short-cut with people I don’t know. Also, I made an assumption about them. They were in their 60s, wearing expensive clothes, had coiffed hair, perfect tans, and old school Southern accents.

A minute later, as we chatted, Tasha walked up and they said, “Do you two work together?” And I said, “Nope. She’s my partner, Hugh’s other mom.” I only take the shortcut route for a limited time because I’m way too old and beyond caring to outright lie.

I figured the conversation would find it’s awkward pause when instead, the man replied: “Did you get married somewhere where it’s legal?”

Taken aback, I said, “Yes, in New York.”

“Congratulations,” smiled the woman with the perfect teeth.

“Our daughter is gay,” said the man. “But she works for a big corporation and isn’t very comfortable about it.”

“Yes, she’s very quiet, I guess, about it,” said the woman. “Except on Facebook. There’s a picture or two.” And we all laughed.

“Aren’t the politics here just awful,” sighed the man with his Southern drawl.

“They could be better,” I agreed.

We sipped our sangria and watched the evening sky grow dark.

Sangria contest table at the event


Tasha built a tree swing this weekend. The first thing everyone asked is “how did she get it up there?” It’s a long way up to the top of that tree branch, and the answer is not by using a ladder. The trick is something she learned from watching network technicians hang cable. The project involved heavy weights, string, rope, and a book of knots. It’s a beautiful swing, and Hugh loves it. [Side story: He loved it too much the first day and after nonstop spinning, he walked over to the mulch and puked.]

While he was swinging, I asked if he knew what Thanksgiving meant. We obsess so much over Halloween that I thought I’d see if he even knew about this holiday with its turkeys and family dinners.

“Yes,” he said. “It means giving things to boys who don’t have anything. I will give them one of my toys. And also, I will give the boys 3 matches, a flag, a rain chain, and a house.”

“Hugh,” I said. “That’s exactly what Thanksgiving means.”

About every five minutes, Hugh starts a sentence with, “Hey, you wanna play a game of ____?” Fill in the blank: “I be baby squid, you be mama squid? I be red power ranger, you be black one? I be the cat, you be the cat’s mama?” You get the gist.

Now it’s my turn to say, “Hey, wanna play a blogger game?” It’s called Around Here, and you write about what’s happening right now in your life. [Side note: remember when Facebook posts started with “Amanda is _____.”? I liked the simplicity of those posts.] Anyway, chime in on your own blog and then link your post to the list, or just comment back to me what you are doing.

Reading House of Sand by Andre Dubus. I can tell that it is not going to work out for anyone, and I’m going to feel heartache for everyone. My kind of book.

Sitting here thinking about what went so wrong for Obama at the debates.

Wondering when Hugh will sleep in his own bed on a regular basis. That’s right. We are a failure in this department, although a snuggly one.

Hoping my Volvo will last past 200K miles so that we won’t need another car and can pay off some debt.

Frustrated that I’m not getting up in the morning to walk or run. I’m just so tired. How do you people on Facebook with multiple kids and jobs post those 13.1 mile Nike runs? I need to try harder.

Not listening to any music, which is sad.

WatchingSeason 1 of Homeland tonight with Tasha. Yes, that is our pitiful date night. Staying in alone and watching TV. I am beyond thrilled.

Making carpool plans for tomorrow night to hear live music at the Awendaw Green Friday night barn jam. Check it out, people. I’ll be the one in red cowboy boots.

This month in the blogosphere an event is taking place called 31 for 21.

October is Down syndrome awareness month. There are 31 days in October. Down syndrome is caused by having an extra 21st chromosome, so hence the number 21. There are lots of great bloggers out there taking the challenge to write for 31 days straight and raise awareness about Down syndrome. Two of my favorites participating in this event are:

Results Not Typical: The adventures of adorable, feisty 5 year-old Playette and her hilarious mother.

Baxter Sez: The activisim, wisdom, music, and laughter of the Piepmeier/Biffle parents and their four year-old daughter, Maybelle.

Or just google the term, “31 for 21,” preferably when you can afford to be distracted for awhile.

I haven’t blogged in almost 3 months. I don’t have a clear rationale for why I stopped; I just suddenly didn’t feel a purpose for doing it. Partly I felt overwhelmed by all the computer and social media time in my life. This morning, in fact, Hugh said, “Why do you love your phone so much?”

But I miss writing. The writing I do now falls into one of these categories: status updates, tweets, work emails, personal emails, and professional grant writing. I feel the need to tap into my story voice, the one that’s been in my head since I was six years old when all my stories went into  a pink spiral notebook that I decorated myself.

What really inspired me tonight is that Hugh is starting to tell his own stories. Instead of books at night, we just make up stories in the dark. Last night, his story had a particular arc to it. It went like this:

“A long, long time ago, when I was just a young boy, I went to Grandma’s house in Florida. But instead of Grandma, there was a ghost! I said, ‘Eeek’ and ran away. I found a pink and orange striped alligator who said ‘tick tock, tick tock.’ I took him all the way to California where I found Grandma. We went to look at chickens, but she said, ‘Better not touch them. Their beaks don’t look too friendly.’ So instead I found a snake, a striped one, and took it home. The End.”

Also, I got this great piece of art from my friend, Ami, as a belated 40th birthday present. She gave it to me at the beach and said, “No pressure. Just write in your head if you want.” But I knew what she meant.

I’ve meant to blog everyday, but I’ve caught the Italian malaise of doing everything slower than anticipated.

A typical day in the countryside is wake up whenever, eat apricots and yogurt and double espressos out of thimble-sized cups, visit a neighboring town, then siesta from 1-4pm when the entire country shuts down. Around 5pm, shop owners begin to pry open their heavy shutters, waiters throw white tablecloths on tables, and people emerge into the dusk bright eyed and ready for a long evening of eating, drinking, talking.

Two days ago, we hiked around a beautiful waterfall, then ate lunch by a lake. I ordered a whole lake trout and it came charred with just lemon and crusty basil. Delicious. Then the power went out. Just happens sometimes, no biggie. It was time for the four hour siesta anyway.

That night, our hosts told us about a neighboring village’s festival. There are about 700 festivals in the province, all celebrating some kind of food and raising money for the town. Colicello, they said, had one of the best. We found our way to a tiny hamlet with a church, a tennis court (our dance floor for the night), and vendors selling barbie balloons, pistachios, and jewelry. We put our name on a list at the entrance tent and about 45 minutes were eating some of the best food we’d ever had: spicy wild boar, polenta, fried risotto, charred sausage, Fava beans with sage, pappardelle with fresh tomatoes. And Umbian red wine. Then Elly and I danced the polka to accordian music.

Here are photos from the above. It’s too hard to do captions from my phone, but hopefully you can piece them together.







One impression I had of the French was that the women always dressed tres elegante. I felt inferior packing Tevas and a bright blue gap tee, knowing I’d not stand a chance fashion-wise against those slim women in their black and heels.

On the contrary, the women here dress refreshingly down to earth. The typical look is unstyled hair, little makeup, skinny jeans, and flats. The men on the other hand, ooh la la! They are the peacocks of Paris. Here’s one peacock’s feet on the metro.


Yesterday, we visited a museum, which was actually a grand mansion. The owners, a couple named Nelle and Andre, spent their lives creating the opulent home and collecting works of art which they bequeathed to the national trust. With the audio tour, I felt taken back in time, fully aware of the luxury of being able to sit and stare at art. Here’s Tasha at the museum cafe looking appropriately contemplative as we await our salad and pastries.


We saw the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and walked the Champs de Elysee. At the end of the night, we ate dinner at a restaurant that my grandparents had eaten at 50 years before. Tasha tried pig’s head stew. Go girl.


Also, we ate gelato and the spoons for some reason glowed in the dark.


Here’s me trying to casually French.