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Truly a wonder of nature, this urban predator.

July 22nd, 2014 · 21 Comments · Daily

This morning I took the girls to register at their new schools. Afterwards, we went to a tiny place that serves nothing but cookies.

DING! (That was the sound of us walking into the cookie place and activating the welcome bell.)

Cookie Guy: Well, hello there! Long time no see!

Me (to myself): What does he mean? We’ve been here a few times, but I would hardly call us regulars at the cookie place!

Me (out loud): Ha! I know!

Cookie Guy: I haven’t seen the girls in ages!

Me (to myself): I’m not sure what’s happening right now.

Me (knowing that I tend to sometimes say too much when I speak out loud): WELL, you’re about to see A LOT MORE OF US, because we just bought a house not far from here!

Cookie Guy: Where did you live before?

And I told him.

Cookie Guy: Where’s the new place?

And I told him.

And then the girls each ordered a chocolate chip cookie and I reluctantly ordered a snickerdoodle (I’ve spent the past 22 days eating things that do NOT contain flour. BUT: Snickerdoodle!), and we sat and ate as Primus was blaring in the kitchen. All of this to say: I don’t care if this guy thinks he knows us. How great is it to have an enthusiastic acquaintance who peddles cookies to the tune of Tommy the Cat?!

(I know!)

When I was in the eighth grade, I was enrolled in a class during which the students took turns reading the newspaper in the evening and then summarizing three current events during the next day’s meeting time. Because it also involved sharing personal opinions on the particular stories we chose, I was always very careful when making my selections. (I didn’t care much that Ronald Reagan was seeking a second term, but I was all over the story about the woman who sued a hospital for not letting her starve to death.) Anyway, I share stories here at Fluid Pudding for two reasons. First, it sort of serves as a record of my family’s adventures. (It actually came in handy quite a few times over the past few months when we were trying to remember when we got the new front door or when we replaced the roof.) Secondly, it’s a way to keep in touch with you. (I know I don’t really *know* a lot of you, but it feels like I do, and I like that feeling.)

Anyway, I know the house stuff can be boring and the pet stuff can be sad (mainly when the pets die), but all of that is part of life and I really have no idea where I’m going with this, other than: Thank you for your patience as I document Where We Are Right Now. You know we bought a house. We had it inspected last week, and the inspector found quite a few things that needed to be fixed. Because we’re firm believers of not being too pushy, we’re asking the sellers to fix only three things: Change the bad light bulb over the tub because it’s a weird bulb and I know myself well enough to know that I won’t take time to research weird bulbs, change the breaker wires to the correct wattage because I don’t want the house to burn down, and get the radon out of the house because I can’t be bothered with cancer. We haven’t yet heard back from them. So we wait.

In the meantime, we currently have a contract on OUR house, and I couldn’t be happier. (We adore the buyers and we love the reason why they want our house.) The Coming Soon sign in our front yard will be changed to an Under Contract sign tomorrow morning, and it’s so weird to think that one month from today will find us waking up in our new house. (You know, if the radon thing gets cleared up. AND THE LIGHT BULB.) ((I wonder how many people out there think I’m a flake.))

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Nashville cats play clean as country water.

July 20th, 2014 · 26 Comments · Daily

If you saw my most recent post, you know that our family lost the greatest cat last week. (Please don’t take this opportunity to tell me that YOUR cat is the greatest cat. I used to eat feta cheese and chocolate chips mixed up in a bowl. You probably think that sounds terrible. AND, you’re WRONG, but it just goes to show that we all have individual differences and that’s why the world is such an interesting place.)

This is Sidney in 2007 showing off her greatest quality: Patience.

Robert Smith loves her cat.

(Meredith was proud to have done her own hair that day. With lotion.)

If you need to know more about Sid, and you DO because she really was the greatest cat, you can go here to read about the time when Harper pierced her ear with a hole punch.

You can go here to see what happened when we considered making chili out of her and serving it to our neighbors.

You can go here to see her Bono impression.

Finally, here she is on the day she accepted Ramona Quimby as her sister.

Sid & Ramona

I know that 47% of you are rolling your eyes and saying things like, “It was JUST a CAT!” Please know that if you’re part of that 47%, you’re on very thin ice right now, Sister. (That’s what I say to the girls when they’re on thin ice. It’s not very effective.) Anyway, I was right there with her at the end, and we spent quite a bit of time talking about the good old days: Nashville and meeting Jeff and getting married and moving back to St. Louis and meeting Meredith and Harper and Ramona for the first time. I took photos because I was feeling helpless and I knew that I wanted to remember when her life was great, but I also wanted to remember her final day with me.

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I cried a lot. I had no idea that the whole process would go as quickly as it did. I had a hard time driving home, and it didn’t get any easier when this shuffled onto my iPod.

Nearly 72 hours have passed and I’m getting ready to eat Chipotle and as I type this message to you, Meredith’s friend is telling her how horrible our new school is and that it’s full of “stuck-up” people and that the school has “lots of financial problems” and all I can do is laugh and hope that the next month goes by fairly quickly, and that all transitions are smooth for everyone who is transitioning. And that includes you, unless you’re part of that 47% up there. (Thin ice doesn’t thicken in my world for at least four hours.)

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Rest in peace, sweetest cat ever.

July 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Daily

Sidney Lynn Reiner Downing, 5/1/1999 - 7/17/2014

Sidney Lynn Reiner Downing, 5/1/1999 – 7/17/2014

(Comments are off, because the stuff about the rainbow bridge is nice and all, but I really can’t handle anything like that right now.)

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Mother’s tired, she needs a rest. The kids are playing up downstairs.

July 15th, 2014 · 26 Comments · Daily

I could waste ten minutes of your time to tell you a story about open houses and contracts and barrels and negotiations, but I know that if you’re anything like me, you’re losing patience with this whole The Puddings Are Moving saga.

I’ll just say this: We found a house. As of this morning, all paperwork has been signed. We move in on August 20th.

So, we now have a house and the girls will have their own rooms, but they’ll be switching schools and we still need to sell THIS house and my cat has lost half of her body weight since January. In other words: Ups and Downs. BUT, I feel good knowing that Christmas will be spent in a new town, and the new town is less than 30 minutes away from our current town. (I’ll have lab results on Sid sometime tomorrow. She’s 15. I’m nervous.)

I don’t know how much you want to know. Here is our new kitchen.

Kitchen

I love that it’s green because my “Make Breakfast, Not War” print is held in a green frame, and it’s one of my very favorite things.

Make Breakfast, Not War!

This is Sidney.

Sid

She became my roommate shortly after I moved to Nashville in 1999. She showed up as a stray at a friend’s house, and as soon as I saw her I knew we would be pals. I took her to the vet, and she ended up having to live at the animal hospital for over a month because of parasites and severe malnourishment. I visited her nearly every evening, and even though she was all hooked up to IVs and had no idea who I was, I think she appreciated the gesture. When I was finally able to bring her back to my apartment, I realized that I was very much allergic to her. (She’s definitely worth the allegy medication.) Anyway, she has been around for our wedding, the move back to St. Louis, the move from our city apartment into the house, and the birth of both kids. I’m really hoping she gets to see the green kitchen.

And now we clean. Our realtor is visiting us tomorrow to see if we’re ready to be put on the market.

This is my theme in so many ways right now.

Except for the drug part. No drugs.
No bread, either!
(I know.)

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Also, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

July 10th, 2014 · 12 Comments · Daily

This morning I made plans to meet a friend for coffee after dropping the girls off at their Music, Art, and Drama camp. Because the girls and I arrived at camp early, I also arrived early to the coffee place where I was super excited to find outside seating. (I typically don’t do outside. BUT, with temperatures hovering in the low 70s, it felt like a fine idea.)

I ran inside (figuratively, obviously), grabbed an almond milk latte (my current favorite because: No Dairy), and then returned outside to choose a seat.

I went with this one.

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Shortly after I sat down, a man with one leg sat at the table next to mine. I do feel weird referring to him as a man with one leg, but I didn’t hear him speak or see what he was eating, and he was with a friend so there was no real wiggle room for a casual Good Morning. (He sat facing my back, as most people tend to do (You other brothers can’t deny.), so it wasn’t long before he transformed into Fellow Outside Sitter.) I know that every person is so much more than a tag like Crazy Underpants Lady or Tattooed Neck Guy. Please know that I know that. (I’m sure I’ve been referred to as Old Bald Mom or Bad Eye Contact Weirdo Who Always Cancels on Plans. It’s fine.)

Anyway, one thing I love about this particular coffee place is the fact that the outside seating area is filled with polite little birds. Some people feed them. Some don’t. The birds will come up and look at you, and if you don’t toss a bagel crumb in their direction, they’ll scamper off to another table. (Sometimes birds scamper.) If you feed them? They’ll stay, until you STOP feeding them. Do I need to keep explaining this? I have a funny feeling that you already know how birds do. Birds have been behaving this way for YEARS.

One particular little bird was little. (And because I used the word Little twice in that sentence, you’re probably gathering that he was abnormally small. You are correct.) He bounced up to my table and because he was fluffy and could use only one of his legs, I ALMOST ran (figuratively) back inside to buy him a piece of toast. (Luckily, another man two tables over had more than enough bread crumbs for the birds, and it didn’t take long for Fluffy Little Guy to catch on to where the crumbs were coming from, or from where the crumbs were coming (if prepositional rules are to be followed). However, because this tiny little bird had a flat tire, I kept my eye on him. Because THAT’S WHAT A MOTHER DOES.

At around 9:00, my friend arrived. (For the sake of this story, let’s call her Alison. We reconnected nearly 15 months ago, and you can read about that here if you’re kicking back just wanting to read stuff. It’s a good story.) We sat and talked about not eating flour and how she’s exercising and I’m NOT exercising and family stuff and old times and as we talked, my little friend the little fluffy bird stopped by.

Me: Oh! That’s my favorite little bird. He’s just so fluffy! He looks like a baby. I love him and his sad little leg.

Alison: Is he using his leg at all?

Me: No. I wonder if he was attacked by a cat.

Alison (looking closely at my tiny fluffy bird friend): DOES HE EVEN *HAVE* A LEG?!

With that, we heard the scraping of a chair behind us. It was Man With One Leg. He and his friend had packed up their stuff and were leaving.

Alison and I immediately did that thing called Crazy Big-Eyed Lady.

It looks a little like this:

BeeFace

(That was the face I made a few years back during Meredith’s spelling bee finals. If you’re still in the mood to hang out with me, the story is here.)

I don’t think the man heard us. I really truly do not think he did. (Alison didn’t even REALIZE that Plaid Shirt Guy was the Man With One Leg until he got up to leave with his friend. See? Your Nutty Owl Dress Lady might be my Twinkling Biscotti Friend! The world is a magical place. So many different colors!)

After the feelings of mortification wore off, I started to giggle. (I giggle at funerals, too. It’s a nervous thing.) Pretty soon I was laugh-crying so hard that I had to run (literally this time) to the bathroom to wipe the (not so waterproof after all) mascara from my cheeks.

After composing ourselves, we walked down the road to the farmers market where I admired the heck out of a cobbler. (He was taking a break from mending shoes. HA HA HA! It was really a peach cobbler! I love words!)

Enjoy your weekend. You are, and always will be, my Amazing Internet Friends (even if you double as People Who Smell Like Goat Cheese).

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Because I can’t seem to make decisions lately…

July 9th, 2014 · 7 Comments · Daily

It has been entirely too long since I’ve checked in over here. The girls have been participating in a Music, Art, and Drama camp at a friend’s church, meaning they’re busy during the hours of 8:30 and noon each day. I’ve taken on a freelance project that has provided me with more work in the past month than I’ve seen in the past year.

Also, the Tour de Fleece kicked off again.

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This is my current fiber. It’s dyed by Bee Mice Elf, but I can’t share the fiber type because I’m currently unable to locate the label. If you’re interested in the process details, I’m spinning it from one big four ounce braid and will chain ply it next week to transform it into a 3-ply striped yarn.

And then I’m going to spin what you want me to spin.

Option #1: Schmutzie Sunshine

Schmutzie Sunshine

It’s an 80/20 Merino/Tussah Silk blend hand dyed by Wool Gatherings, and named by me for Schmutzie. I think it’s begging to be lofty and chunky. Maybe a cowl? Maybe a pair of fingerless mitts?

 

Option #2: Joseph’s Coat

Joseph's Coat

It’s a 50/50 Bombyx Silk/Fine Merino blend hand dyed by Lisa Souza. (The photo doesn’t show just how shiny it is!) I think this wants to be a medium weight. I talked to Lisa when I bought it, and she said that it looks best when you just grab parts of it and spin it without any sort of plan. So that is my plan. No plan. Except: Gloves or a Hat.

VOTING IS OPEN!!!

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EDITED TO ADD: We have reached our maximum voting capacity! (I had no idea there WAS such a thing!) Anyway, Schmutzie’s Sunshine won with 54% of the votes! Thanks to all who participated!

(Please know that I’m deliberately avoiding talking about the house thing. At 5:00 last night I announced that I am done with the process of looking at houses.)

((We actually put a contract on a house last week, and then the whole situation got flaky and weird, so we tiptoed out of the house and back into the game.))

(((Also, I’m no longer eating bread because it’s always something with me and the eating, isn’t it?!)))

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Doors Closing and Windows Opening

June 24th, 2014 · 11 Comments · Daily

That house? The one with the wall of windows and the nice kitchen? That is not our house. The good news? It’s not our house because we don’t want it to be our house. The first time we saw it, it was lovely. The second time? It was pretty terrible with its dirty cracks and unfinished business. (It went from Iggy Pop to Iggy Azalea, and even I don’t know what I’m talking about!)

This house thing is really not a thing at all. Something good will happen. It nearly always does. Thus it is, and so it goes.

I finished a pair of socks.

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Also, I started a new clean eating adventure yesterday. My only rules are No Bread and No Processed Foods. I’ve screwed up only once, and if you know me at all, you know that one screw-up in 36 hours is pretty much a victory.

This is my next adventure:

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I started this sock on November 4, 2008 at 5:30 in the morning as I sat on the ground in the dark and waited for my polling place to open so I could vote for MY CANDIDATE OF CHOICE! (You know who I’m talking about.) Anyway, after working on it for a day or so, I shifted focus because there was cornbread (also known as My Nemesis) to be eaten.

What else?

I’ll tell you what else.

Henry loves his bunny.

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We’re going to look at two more houses on Thursday night. If one of them ends up working, I’ll definitely let you know.

That’s what I do around here.

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I’m already imagining how I’ll decorate for Christmas.

June 17th, 2014 · 20 Comments · Daily

Welcome back to “Angela Goes On and On About Moving But Never Actually Moves!”

Do you remember two and half months ago when I started singing songs about falling in love with a house? Yep. Well, that wasn’t our house. (It was MY house, but it wasn’t my FAMILY’S house. The Downing Rule? It takes four yeses, but only one no. (Yeses doesn’t LOOK correct, but it is. I looked it up. Someone needs to endorse my fact checking skills on LinkedIn!!!))

The last time you and I hung out, I was talking about seeing three houses on Saturday. We actually ended up seeing FOUR houses, and two of them were Fast Nos. (You really do think there should be an apostrophe in that Nos, don’t you? I know!) One of the Yes houses was super nice and empty (move-in ready!), but had no privacy in the back yard. (I need privacy in my back yard, and that sounds dirty to some of you, but it’s not.)

The other Yes house? Despite the cruddy paint job and the fact that it needs a bit of work that we don’t know how to do (PROPERTY BROTHERS!), we quickly fell in love with it. And now, because I like to share everything with you, I’m going to show you WHY we fell in love with it.

This is what’s going on in the kitchen.

Kitchen

It needs a microwave above the stove, but we’ll cross that bridge when it’s time. (It’s time.)

Please know that although I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, meaning I’m WELL AWARE of what’s possible on the internet, I’m trusting that you won’t run these photos through a special real estate filter to see exactly where the house is located so you can steal it from under our noses! I TRUST YOU! Anyway, check out that back splash. (Is it weird that I wish the appliances were black? When I’m 50, I’ll consider replacing them, as I hereby proclaim 50 to be The Year of Black Appliances. (Or maybe BLUE! It WILL be 2020! We’ll probably be riding around in hovering wagons by then! Imagine the possibilities! STAINLESS STEEL!!!))

Anyway, do you see all of that natural light at the end of the photo? That natural light is a result of this.

Stairs

That staircase is lovely, and is up against a wall of windows. If we move into this house, I promise to hire a choir of children who will stand on the stairs during the first snowfall to sing Silent Night in German while holding tiny (non-drip) candles.

Wait. I just found the photo of the wall of windows. This is the back of the house.

Wall of Windows

I know I don’t deserve a house that looks like this. I’m absolutely amazed that it’s sort of in our price range and that the neighbors seem like nice people and that there is a lot of diversity in the subdivision. (All of these things are more important to me than how many bathrooms are available and if the garage holds one car or two. I want the girls to grow up around good people who don’t look just like us.)

This might be our house. (It also might not be. You know I’ll keep you updated.)

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We’re looking at three houses tomorrow.

June 13th, 2014 · 10 Comments · Daily

I’ve been cleaning out our dining room closet because the dining room is being sold as a bedroom and no one keeps weird tablecloths and expired cleaning products in their bedroom closet. (I guess I can’t really speak for No One. All I can say is that the imaginary toddler who will be residing in our dining room (on a princess bed!) will not have tablecloths and chemicals in her closet. (I’ve named the imaginary toddler Winnie.))

Yesterday I found the Christmas cards we received in 2004. It was VERY difficult to decide which ones to recycle. In the end, I kept only the cards from friends and family members who are no longer with us, as well as a card from Stew because I have a funny feeling it may be worth a million dollars some day. We won’t sell it for a million, but it will be nice knowing that we have a Christmas card that can pay the girls’ way through college and beyond.

This is Stew. (This song could have been written about me if my life in the early 90s was slightly exaggerated and deemed worthy of a song.)

Anyway, I revisited cards from many of you, and: Merry Christmas 2004. Some of you aren’t married anymore. Some of you no longer have hair. A lot can happen in a decade. A lot can happen in a DAY!

(I also found a size 2 thong with tags still attached. It was in a ceramic box that said, “Been looking for love, and then came you.”)

I found the card I made for Jeff in August of 2002.

2002 Announcement

I quickly posted it onto Facebook, and a few people didn’t notice that it was from 2002, and I received a congratulatory e-mail, and it felt really weird, considering I had a hysterectomy six weeks ago. At the same time, I’ll never again be congratulated for growing an actual baby, so one last spin wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The inside of our house has been painted and we have new carpeting in the basement. We’ve been filling the driveway with stuff we no longer want and we’ve watched people pull up and dig through our old stuff, sometimes filling their cars with things like tiny plastic chairs and yard polo sets. (Last night a man pulled up and took Jeff’s old home brew kit along with some unused beer bottles. Jeff talked to him about where to find supplies, and BAM! There’s a new beer brewer in town, and his name is John.) ((Have I mentioned that I haven’t had a drink since February 6th? (I probably have six lady drinks per year. Now that I’ve made the personal connection between alcohol and migraines, my red-faced days are over.)))

Anyway. I’m overwhelmed. We have so much stuff and nowhere to put it. I spend the days moving things from place to place and Sisyphus comes to mind.

I just wanted to check in. I hope your weekend is a good one.

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It’s now. And now it’s now.

June 3rd, 2014 · 15 Comments · Daily

A lot of not so much has happened since we last spoke.

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A few signs went up in the front yard, and as a result we’ve now had a number of rooms painted and the carpet guys (if they ever call us back) should be here within the next few weeks. I need to thank you all for your words of encouragement and sanity last week. We are definitely moving, and we’ve expanded our search engine to include homes within our current school district as well as homes that are thirty minutes away. We’re open. The girls will thrive and I’ll continue to eat too many doughnuts regardless of where my hat is hung.

Today is the first day of summer break, and Meredith is no longer an elementary school student. She has been attending her elementary school since preschool, which means she has roamed those halls for eight years. It was weird to pick her up for the last time yesterday afternoon.

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(Henry, who always has a bit of nature stuck to him) turned three yesterday. He celebrated with salmon jerky and sweet potato fries.)

I’ve been reading a book titled 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I believe it’s marketed as a self help book, but that’s not why I’m reading it. (I already consider myself to be mostly happy. Although my family would probably disagree, I don’t think the world could stand me at 10% happier.) Anyway, I’m a little less than halfway through the book, and I already want to invite Dan Harris over for burrito night. He’s cynical (I always love the cynics) and has spent the pages I’ve read so far embarking on a new age path of spirituality in an attempt to settle the never ending voice in his head. (The voice isn’t related to mental illness. It’s the voice we all have. Mine spends the entire day telling me that I look bad in my clothes or that I’m not as smart as I think I am or that I’m a crappy mom. Just now it told me that it wishes I could type faster.)

I could go on and on about how much I agree with everything I’ve read to this point (Deepak Chopra IS over the top! Eckhart Tolle IS weird!), but the thing that’s really striking me right now is how much I’m loving his discussion on Buddhism and how it’s important to not dwell on the past or suffer through weird “what ifs” about the future. Present moment. It’s all about right now. (Right now I’m drinking my second cup of coffee for the day and I look bad in my clothes. Gah!) Anyway. I love my religion, yet I also love the idea of incorporating some of the Buddhist ideas into the way I live. Less fear about what might not happen. Stop wasting time on grudges. (I’m the biggest grudge holder you barely know.) Death happens and life should be celebrated and I’m wearing Birkenstocks.

Anyway. I know. Just be aware that coping with the process of moving will be a lot easier if I allow myself to live in the moment and simply smile politely at the folks who tell me that moving sucks and that it will be the most stressful thing I’ll ever experience.

Please know that I will not be participating in a sweat lodge or dancing naked at a drum circle. (With that said, it’s going to be a hot day today and our only plan is to go out and rent a bell kit and practice pad for Meredith’s percussion band camp, so really, who knows what I’ll be up to later this afternoon? Bring on the dancing horses!)

God’s totally cool with me doing whatever it takes to feel less rattled about things that happened years ago or things that might happen tomorrow. (We’re having lunch with my nephew tomorrow. I’m not the least bit rattled.)

Oh, you guys. Have I told you lately how much I love that you tolerate me?

 

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