Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas, Arkansas Style

Mick and I hosted a wine and cheese holiday party at our office building on Monday afternoon. Nearly all of the other tenants came include a massage therapist, a lawyer, an economist/consultant, a graphic designer, and a guy who works for a company that owns cell phone towers. People brought their wives. We brought Leo.

I really enjoyed hearing about everybody's kids, their work, their holiday plans. People we meet in Arkansas seem to be charmed by the idea that we CHOSE to move to Little Rock. They are eager to help us enjoy living here and I gratefully collect all of their suggestions about places we should visit nearby, good restaurants in town, and other features of Little Rock.

One of my own favorite features of Little Rock is how quickly you can get out of it. When I drive out to visit Katie in Perryville, I pass the last traffic light on the West side of town, and then don't see another one for 35 miles. Instead, the road rolls up and down gentle hills past lakes, pine forests, and farm land. In a wink, you go from city traffic to countryside. I love it.

On Christmas eve morning, I drove out to Perryville to hang out with Katie and Honey, despite a driving rain storm. It had been raining extremely hard for about a day and a half. Everything was thoroughly soaked, and it was still raining HARD. Trees were standing in water to their knees, creeks were running fiercely on either side of the road, and Lake Maumelle was overtopping its parking lot. I have new all-weather tires on my car and I really enjoyed being able to get out into the dramatic weather to see what was happening in the countryside.

When I got to Katie's house, I found Katie and Honey sorting through baby clothes. Honey finds this kind of activity irresistible, and unless we give her a job of her own, she will quickly and gleefully undo whatever organizing Katie has done. I love watching how gently and adroitly Katie gets the job done while at the same time letting Honey participate. It's a joy to watch them in action together.

Speaking of joy: I have LOVED getting holiday cards and letters from our friends. You can't imagine how curious I am about all of you - how your kids are doing, how YOU are doing, what you are thinking about. PLEASE keep it up.

Cold weather followed the rain storms, and it snowed out in Perryville on Christmas Eve. We didn't get any snow here in Little Rock, but we did get the frigid temperatures. Brrrrr.

Our family gathered in our house on Christmas day. Here's a picture of the kids with Leo's new video game system. He showed Katie and Travis how to play a game called "Fat Princess" based on Capture the Flag only you have a princess to protect and you feed her cake to make her fat so the other team will have trouble carrying her off.

After fattening ourselves on lunch, we went to see the new Shirlock Holmes movie. Honey came along to her first movie experience and she did pretty well. Hopefully, folks sitting near us didn't mind her little toddler voice naming things that came on screen, like "Horse" and "Water."

Over dinner tonight, Leo and Mick and I were discussing friends, both here and in California. Leo asked us if we've met anyone here that we could call a friend yet, and that left us trying to decide what marks the boundary between acquaintances and true friends. Is it how long you've known them? Or how often you see them? Or what you do together?

What do you think? I'd love to know.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can You Count?

I snagged a cheap plane ticket and hotel room package deal at Travelocity and made a quick trip to visit my Dad last weekend. We saw the New York City Ballet perform at the Kennedy Center in DC. Very wonderful. And we also spent some time pouring over Dad's notes and mementos about our family history.

This photo of us isn't the best, but hey, can you see the family resemblance?

Much of what we know about our family's past comes from the US Census. And guess what? 2010 is a census year. When I got back to Little Rock, I signed up to be a census enumerator. The Census department needs 5000 Arkansans to help with the census here, and they have only hired about 600 so far. The pay is puny - less than $13 per hour - but I think the work sounds pretty interesting. And if you've ever done any research on your own family tree, you know how great and lasting is our common debt to the census takers. You can find out about the jobs at Maybe you know someone who needs some extra income. Even high school kids are being hired - anyone who can count, passes the test and does not have a criminal record.

This week, Honey learned to say, "Nana" and she started saying "Leo" when she looks at pictures of him. Absolutely thrilling. Leo comes home on Sunday and I can't wait to see if she'll call him by name when she sees him in person.

Here is this week's picture of Honey. She looks a little like her grandpa, don't you think?

In Washington, they'll be counting votes. I hope that goes well. And in Arkansas, we'll be counting our blessings. I hope you enjoy the holiday, too, however it adds up for you. Cheers!

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Directions

Mick and I are both expanding our portfolios this season.

A book agent contacted Mick recently and persuaded him to develop some ideas for children's books. Mick is thinking about something digital, maybe even with sound. The task has got his creative juices gushing.

Meanwhile, I enrolled in an online school for tax accountants. Mick's new plan probably sounds waaaay more fun than mine. But actually, I'm really having a great time studying the tax code - call me a Geek if you want. I don't mind. After completing this course, I can find part-time jobs and earn enough over the tax season to carry me through the rest of the year. Anyway, that's my plan. I'll let you know how it goes.

So we're sitting here in our shared office today. Him reading classic kids books for ideas, and me filling out practice tax returns. Quite a change for both of us.

It's grown very cold here. Ice on the windshields in the mornings and a biting wind on your face when you walk outside. As a result, we've been hunkered down indoors and I don't have any juicy photos for this week's blog.

It seems too early in the season for this kind of cold, and we're not quite ready for it. We like the cold, but at the same time, we need to get a handle on it. For instance, we are figuring out where the cold can seep into our snug little house (like through the uninsulated hardwood floors) and how to manage the thermostat to keep us comfortable without overheating the place.

Katie and Travis saw their new baby's ultrasonic images this week. We all went out to dinner afterwards and sat around marveling at the pictures. What a miracle! I am shy about posting the image on the blog, so you'll just have to imagine it - a perfectly healthy little tyke about two inches long with all the right parts in all the right places. Yoo-hoo!

I miss my friends. Never hear as much from you as I would like to hear. I hope everybody is safe, warm, and happy.