Tag Archives: Decorating

Man Cave

I am a firm believer that every man should have his own Man Cave.  This is not always possible.  But it’s a great idea if there is any way you can swing it.  Before you convince yourself that this is a belief I have only recently begun to have in the last few days (since deciding to become a capital H Housewife) I should mention that the Man Cave is not just for the man.

The Man Cave benefits everyone in the family.  “Wanna listen to shitty German metal bands, Dad?  Feel free.  Let me invite you to spend the morning in your Man Cave.”

“You like that painting do you, Dad?  Go ahead and buy it, sweetheart.  It will look lovely in the Man Cave.”

MQD had a Man Cave in our old house.  We had a three bedroom.  One for us, one for Em and one for MQD’s desk, his creepy painting, his porn-addled single guy computer and his Don’t Tread on Me flag push-pinned to the wall.  It was perfect.

And then we moved.  To our Grown Up house.  And we have three bedrooms.  One for us, one for Em and one that is theoretically Lucy’s, but it is actually for the grandparent’s.  The Guest Room for now, but frankly, a new baby brings just one kind of frequent guests.  Grandparents.

We no longer have a Man Cave.  I campaigned briefly to turn the shed in to the Man Cave.  But it fell on deaf ears.  Occasionally we discuss getting a new shed, and wiring it.  And then I start to get jealous, and say we need TWO sheds if it will actually end up an auxiliary living room in the back yard.  Indoor/outdoor carpeting and a window unit air conditioning unit and it starts sounding like a dream come true.  Add in a thrift store couch, a mini fridge and a three foot tall bong and suddenly I’m in college and foot loose and fancy free… I need only step in the back yard turn up the Beastie Boys and…. Sigh.  I got lost there for a moment.  Mom Caves are a totally different animal.  They exist only in the recesses of my mind.

And really the main reason every house needs a Man Cave is because  the rest of the house is Mom Town.  Let’s face it.  I don’t get to ban the rest of the family from any of the rooms.  I pee with the door open and frequently entertain a guest while pooping. But much of the house is my domain.

And now sometimes there are moments that I think “Damn, I wish we had a room for weird shit that I know Mike will LOVE.”   Today I wished I was that footloose gal with expendable income and a boyfriend that had his own place.  Because I saw something that I wanted to buy for this boy I am crazy about.  He would have been over the moon.

Not only do I not have $60 to piss away, but there is no Man Cave in which to store it.  MQD, you’ve probably already guessed what it was.

For now, just know I haven’t forgotten.

I went to the mall today.  And I wanted to bring this woman home for my husband.  But sadly we don’t have a spare bedroom or a basement. Some day, my love.   Some day…

I’m a sucker for a guy with a red nose….

When I was a little girl Rudolph hung over the fireplace.  In my memory he looks just as he does above.  A sockmonkey sock transformed by my mother in to the “most famous reindeer of all.”

Christmas decorations were stored under the stairs in the basement.  In the twenty plus years my family lived in my childhood home the basement saw a fair amount of water and mildew as basements are inclined to do.  The dozen roses my dad gave me on my 16th birthday eventually got wet.  The 45s I had saved along with my Fisher Price record player succumbed to the moisture.   More than a few stuffed animals met their demise.  Shoe boxes of notes passed in middle and high school gave way to the wet environment.  (I can think of a few of you who might be glad to know that.)

Call it a Christmas Miracle if you like… But Rudolph survived.  He looks as young and vibrant hanging on the wall in my living room today as he ever did when I was a kid.  Don’t tell Snoopy, but if something ever happened to Snoop… Rudolph and those eyelashes could win me over in a hearbeat.

Hurry home, Scott!!

This is one of just a few of my “grown up” ornaments.  It is fancy. And sparkly.  And I put it carefully back in its box each year.  It was a gift from my brother and my sister-in-law several years ago.  And Lauren would likely blush if I said out loud the reasons this ornament reminds me of her.

To start with the easy ones, it is beautiful, as is she.  Not flashy and asking to be noticed but classy and gorgeous and fancy and understated all at once.

This ornament could wear blue jeans with pearls and high heels if it wanted to.  But it’s not likely it would need high heels, it is a good bit larger (to be read: taller, for those wondering if I am really about to call my sister-in-law LARGE in a public forum) than the other ornaments, just like the statuesque Lauren.  She has only an inch or two on me and yet she has always seemed taller, even to me.  Finally, a woman my brother has even a hope of seeing eye to eye with.

It is red.  And Lauren is a devoted  NC State Wolf Pack girl.  She taught Em to do the Wolf Pack symbol when she was teeny.  Just as we moved to Chapel Hill.  She didn’t seem to care it might get us run out of town.

What this ornament does not do… and Lauren is about to do… is make my baby brother in to a father.  I can’t think of a nicer thing for a girl to do.  I have mentioned before that my brother and I share little in common short of our love for one another.  But this change on the horizon will put all of us in the same demographic.  There is something about being a parent that changes everything. You share a kinship with other parents.  Perhaps this is what military veterans experience when they run in to another.  Perhaps their branch of service was different or the length of their active duty but there is a common bond.  And a relationship those of on the outside simply do not have.

Very soon three people whom I love dearly will join my Club.  The “I had a tiny baby in my house and I survived.  I was joyful and terrified, exhausted and more excited than I have ever been all at once. And I survived” Club.  My brother, Lauren and MQD.

Now just relax, girls.  Both of you.  Lauren and your sweet baby girl.  You just need to hang in there a little longer.  Scott will be home any day now.  And then … may your Adventure begin.

She’s a Lady…

Part of the art of being a woman...

There is a moment on a roller coaster, just before you begin the descent when you feel weightless.  Free.  If you had your eyes closed, if you had never seen the ride, in that moment you’d have no idea that moments later you’d be falling.

Christmas, 2005.  Emily was three months old.  We’d not yet decided that we’d not be opening the restaurant back up.   And what had been a tumultuous marriage even during its ascent was smack dab in the midst of that beautiful moment where everything is weightless. I was home full time with Emily.  And happier than I had ever been, blissfully unaware of what lay ahead.  And wholly unconcerned with the past that had brought me to that moment.

Christmas of 2005 was my last moment before free falling.  I had a house full for Christmas.  Jeremy ran out to get a few last minute gifts (read: do all of his shopping, he is famous for last minute shopping.)  From a local antique store he purchased this ornament.

I love it.  I loved it then.  And I love it now.  But I have never understood nor asked why he bought it for me.  It is a small bell, filled with something that I imagine once held a stronger smell.  There is a ribbon with a quote.  A quote I have researched but for which I  have never found the origin. 

...is knowing when not to be too much of a lady.

Part of the art of being a woman is knowing when not to be too much of a lady.

We came out the other side of marriage with an amazing daughter to show for it and a friendship that has withstood more than  a few tests.  I am not without fault.  In our ten plus years together I can say that on more than a few occasions when the fault behind an altercation could be pinned on me it was because of what one could call less than lady-like behavior on my behalf.   My tendency to take out my frustration in a passive-aggressive manner often manifested itself in behavior best classified as such.

And now this.  An ornament. Bearing a statement that all but sums up my philosophy.  A philosophy I’d always suspected he all but completely rejected.

“I love it,” I said.  And I hung it on the tree.   From time to time since then I have wondered what he was thinking when he saw it.  It is undeniably me.  But not a me I ever really thought he appreciated.  Maybe the colored (and I am just going with colored, because they were certainly not rosy) glasses that had distorted the way I had looked at our marriage and at my life for all those years also skewed the way I imagined he looked at me.  Maybe  not.

More than likely he saw it and thought as the last minute shopper does, “She’ll like this” and that was all.

That is the story I tend to come back to time and again when I roll it around in  my head.  “She’ll like this.”

This ornament has tremendous weight.  For it is the moment our coaster went over the edge, when I felt the weightlessness leaving me and the descent beginning that I realized I’d not survive the landing if I didn’t abandon all hope of being a lady.

A lady is polite.  And keeps her gloves on.  And her mouth shut.

There would be nothing ladylike about the months that would pass between that Christmas and the Christmas of two years later when Em and I were in an apartment 200 miles from home, a divorce attorney’s business card the only thing on my refrigerator.

A lady would never have had the strength to fight through all that ugly to get to the Beauty that is today.  And I suppose that is the art of being a woman.  The strength, the wisdom to keep going until you find Beauty.

Merry Christmas, to the Ladies.  And the not so Ladylike among us.

The Man in the Red Suit

So I am veering from my original course just a bit.  Not every post this month was about an ornament, but it was about Christmas, at least tangentially.

And you can’t talk about Christmas without mentioning the man in the red suit.  And if you happen to live in Bardstown, Kentucky (Bourbon Capital of the World!) then Santa Claus looks an awful lot like this.

And if you don’t happen to live in Kentucky and he still looks familiar… it’s because Santa Claus also happens to look an awful lot like this guy.

Merry Christmas, Dad.  You taught me that it IS next to impossible to keep a secret where a good gift is concerned.  So I blame you completely for my being a last minute shopper. I can keep a secret for a few days.  But if I bought Christmas gifts in November there’d be no stopping my mouth.

You taught me to pick up the trash as we unwrap presents.  Even though as a kid I thought this was absurd, the trash patrol mid Christmas morning unwrapping, as a parent I do it.  I can’t help it.

You taught me that it is perfectly okay to trick your kid on Christmas morning.  I will never forget the Christmas morning that I thought I really didn’t get a bicycle.  Because you left it in the laundry room until we were all done opening presents.  I never had to ask whose idea it was to do that to me.  Your cackling gave you away.

You are the biggest kid I know.  And I love that you spend December in a big red suit making Christmas for the children in Bardstown.

When I was a little kid…

Em pulled this ornament from the box and said “Ohhh, this is the one I made when I was a little kid…”  It slayed me.  It’s not difficult to reduce me to tears (as I have mentioned at least 800 times of late) but this was a different kind.

The nose tingling, eyes watering “I think I am doing this right” tears.  I have heard more than a few parents lament that if you”re “doing it right” they need you less and less.

Our "little girl" made this ornament just last year in pre-school.

In the past few months I have watched as my lap grows smaller and smaller and my “little girl” is literally pushed right out of “the nest.”  And it pains me.

I have come to terms with the fact that Love is infinite.  That I will find the Love that two children require.  But I can not deny that both Time and my lap are finite.  I struggle to envision how I will share them with two children.  Already I feel I do a less than adequate job sharing my Time with only one child between working and mothering.  How does one expect to blend another child in to the family without taking from the first?

And then I look at the face in the ornament.  She looks so different than the face I see today.

I see her flounce down the stairs in an “outfit” she has assembled.  Skinny jeans and a tshirt, her boots and a high ponytail.  I eavesdrop as she and her buddy discuss the best way to pass a baby to someone else without “flopping the head.”  I watch her practice being a Big Sister to her baby doll.  (A baby doll that has recently acquired a middle name.  A middle name that we have incidentally settled on for Baby D.)    Her teeny little self drags the empty trash can up the driveway without being reminded.  Stopping only to have me unlock the gate so she can put it away.  She empties the dishwasher while I make dinner, reminding me to check her back pack for a note from her teacher.  Last night after her shower her wet towel was hanging from the hook on the bathroom door.  Her dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

Maybe she isn’t my “little kid.”

Well, then. Merry Christmas to you, Baby Girl. In spite of this new baby and your big grown up self  you will always, always be my Baby Girl.

She hopped in to the front with me while we waited for MQD at the barber the other day. "Look at you in the front seat, Miss Thang!" She grabbed my glasses and began to pose. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


Once I set my mind to something I am committed.  Whether it is my favorite article of clothing (overalls,) my favorite food (cheese) or my favorite man (Snoopy) there is no changing my mind.

I got my first pair of overalls sometime in preschool.  I can remember ordering bowls of grated cheese as my meal at Anita’s Mexican restaurant as a little kid.

And Snoopy and I have been in love for as long as I can recall.

I left my first Snoopy in the Smithsonian Museum cafeteria circa 1981 and my mom promptly replaced him.  The “new” Snoopy was de-stuffed and washed multiple times before he was satisfactory. There is a certain neck flop that I demand from my Snoopy.  She very kindly obliged.

By the time I went away to college there was no questioning whether or not Snoopy would be tagging along.  At that point Snoopy 2.0 was coming up on 15 years of age.  He’d had a near total removal of his neck over the years, sewing up one hole at a time.  Until his head sits right atop his body.  But the crucial parts are still in full effect.

I started sleeping on my side when I was 8 or 9.  A broken arm introduced me to the joy of side sleeping with a pillow.  What began as a propped up cast developed in to a life long love of side sleeping and spooning a spare pillow. And my Snoopy.  The right side of his face is softer than the left.  His right ear even softer than that.  Years and years of my thumb smoothing his hair down has made his ear in to a Snoopy shaped worry stone.

I didn’t set out to do it.  When we decorated our bedroom.  It was my first adult bedroom with all new furniture and bedding, chosen by myself and my husband. Thirty four years old.  I got MQD a wedding picture on canvas for above our bed.  We opted to keep things very clean and simple.  Black.  And White.  And Grey.  He’s not crazy about the throw pillow I picked out for the center of our bed.

But who am I kidding?  It’s Snoopy that sits center stage.  He’s coming up on 31 years of service, I think.  He can sit wherever he wants.

Silver teacups and Princess Parties

In case you are still staring at my words from yesterday morning in disbelief… I am back again to blow your mind.  I don’t just love my mother-in-law.

I love my ex mother-in-law, too.

It will rain on my car every time I wash it for the rest of ever because nobody gets this lucky.  I didn’t get one great mother-in-law.  I got two.

The day we found out Emily was going to be a Girl I think the Carter’s outlet in Williamsburg got a phone call.  Ready the pink clothes!!!  Pam is on on her way!!  Em’s dad is one of three boys.  And one of many male cousins. And finally the Worthys would have a GIRL!

Like many first time moms I had all kinds of ideas about how I was going to dress my little girl.  She didn’t need to wear pink just because she was a girl.  She would have a yellow bedroom.  And I would never velcro a bow to her head, even if she looked like Charlie Brown.  I stuck to my guns on a few things.  She had a yellow bedroom.  And she never did have a velcro bow.

But there was  a day in the early fall when I was nesting something fierce and doing baby laundry, preparing my home for this little girl that would change my world.  I opened the lint trap in my dryer and I laughed.  I called Pam and I said “You win!!  There is PINK lint in my lint trap.”

I had a beautiful baby girl.  That wore a lot of pink.  And it didn’t kill me.  Or her.

Merry Christmas, Pam.  Since your retirement and move to Arizona we see less of you but your presence in our life is strong.  We had Grandmama Pam’s Sweet Potato Casserole for Thanksgiving.  And I think I will have to master your Chocolate Delight here pretty soon.  Through the magic of Skype we got to see your Santa dance and sing and I was reminded of the first Christmas that Em could walk.  It was cute the first hundred times she pressed the button.

A silver cup engraved with Emily’s name hangs from our tree.  It was a gift from your father, Pop-Pop, when Em was born.  It was too sweet to put away in a box of baby memorabilia, too precious to leave out all the time. So I put it in with the Christmas decorations.  Every year it reminds me of your grace.  You loved me and your son enough to encourage us both to love ourselves and each other enough to move on and let go.  I am forever grateful that I didn’t have to let go of you, too.

Grandmama Pam's Princess Party. Just a year after Em was born Pam got another Princess, Lily!!

In Laws & Tradition

If you blog or put yourself out there on the internet in any way at all you are quite likely aware of the way that you appear to a reader, be they casual or committed.  Often bloggers are criticized for being one-dimensional, only putting certain parts of their personalities out on display, some only the very best, some only the trainwreck that is their “personal” life.

I do my best to give a pretty well-rounded view of me, of who I am.  Not so much for a reader, but because my primary purpose in keeping this record is for my own benefit.  I will be able to look back and see what I hope is a realistic picture of the past.  Even if I do choose the images, the words, the stories to remember.   I make an effort to focus on both the good times and the bad.

The last year has held more good times than any year previous, in spite of the fact that I have led a pretty charmed existence all things considered.  But I try not to make bold statements about the greatness of my life, lest they bite me in the ass.

But I can say this was confidence.

My mother-in-law is better than your mother-in-law.  Without any grandstanding or superlatives I can likely convince you that I am right with one sentence.  I really like the little gifts she has surprised us with.  You know how your in-laws come to visit or you go to see them and they say “Oh, I picked these up for you” and you smile and make a mental note  – Every time they come to see me I will use these atrocious potholders.

But not me.  Nope.  MQD’s mother has been generous all while understanding that he did not marry a 20 year old bright eyed college girl.   I have opinions on things, some of them steadfast.  For chrissake she asked me what kind of toilet paper we like before she grabbed some the last time she ran out to the store.

She asked me if I was a Wreath Person before placing an order for a Holiday Wreath.  I am so totally  a Wreath Person and anxiously awaiting its arrival.

When we were in Boston this summer Ginger said “Oh, this is for you guys, you can put it anywhere, maybe your mantle.”  Gasp.  My mantle?  A girl’s holiday mantle is like the centerpiece to her holiday decorating. She can’t be serious?!

And I LOVE it.  Five months I waited to take it out of the plastic.  14 letters spelling out MERRY CHRISTMAS.  There was no way for her to know that I kind of love anything resembling vintage type set letters.  Or that I prefer colored decorations to brass.  And yet it is perfect.

We still need to get the garland for the mantle.  And hooks for the stockings. But I couldn’t wait any longer.  So much of Christmas to me is about unboxing the things that I have loved for years and years, the traditions.  It is a pleasure to put up a new decoration. One I will unwrap joyfully each year and remember, this was from our first married Christmas, in our new house.

Merry Christmas, Ginger. May I never have a box in my hall closet labeled Crap To Take Out When the In-Laws Visit.  Cheers!

Honest you do…

In our wedding ceremony I included a bit about how I knew that MQD was “the one.”  I said it was our first Christmas together.

She realized that Mike listened to her. All of you that know Kelly know that this is no small task.   As you can imagine this was both exciting and terrifying.  She opened her Christmas presents and saw that each item was chosen because Mike had heard her.   A big bottle of Delirium Tremens, her all time favorite beer, a package of Nutter Butters, her all time favorite cookie, and an ee cummings compilation.  Her all time favorite poet.
He did it again.
The listening.
He was late coming home from work this evening and I asked him where he’d been.  He smiled that sly Christmas-y smile and wouldn’t tell me.  I assumed he’d been Christmas shopping.
With both hands behind his back he told both Emily and I to pick a hand.   She chose first and he said “Nope, wrong hand.”
I’ll cop to getting slightly more intrigued.  These were specific surprises, one for each of us.
Mine was a  key.  An ornament.  Many years from now it will be the ornament that MQD gave to me the year we bought our house.  The year that we were married.  It is perfect.
We don’t always talk about what I write here.  Sometimes I am not even sure he has read it.  But tonight I had one of those Sam Cooke moments… the moments where he sends me.  He is reading.  He is listening.  Message received.  Loud and clear.  Ornaments are important to his girl.
And he found me the perfect one.
Merry Christmas, MQD.  It was only three years ago that I knew.  When I “found myself wanting to, marry you and take you home.”
And now here we are.  Home.