This blog post brought to you by not finishing Evie’s Halloween costume

I’ve toyed for some time with the idea of starting a “Five Favorite Things Friday” post series on The Evie Standard.  A lot of bloggers do this sort of thing, and it’s kinda cute, I think.

But you know and I know that “Five Favorite Things Friday” will start off great and then become “Five Favorite Things Every Other Friday” and then “Five Favorite Things Fridays in May” and then…

Yeah.

But today’s Friday!  Yay!  And here are five things.  I’ve used up all my commitment on watering plants and limiting caffeine intake, y’all.

1.  Update on last post:  After throwing up the last post, I noticed many more examples of Animals Gone Domestic in our fair city.  This is good for the blog, bad for me.  I fear I may end up starring in my own version of Life of Pi, trapped in a dingy in the middle of the ocean with a pissed off tiger.  Or an armadillo.  In my case it would be a pissed off armadillo.  Maybe I could finally convince the armadillo to trust me, and we could work together to find rescue.  Anyway.  What?  So, examples.

Evie and I attended a playdate at a local park this week.   The day was breezy, overcast and a pleasant 84 degrees.  As close to Fall as Florida is gonna get.  The park’s amenities included a path that wound through the surrounding woods. Before setting off on a walk on this path, another mom casually informed us that someone had said they’d seen bobcats in the woods.  Then what happened?  Everyone set off for the walk.

??**%%!!** (I just don’t have words anymore, folks.)

Also, a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page that her husband saw a panther walking around their neighborhood.  Ho-hum.  Panther.  Probably selling Amway.  Pretend you’re not home.

Someone help.

Oh!  And I wanted to show you guys this:

This sign is posted on Honeymoon Island, a state park located on a beach that we frequent.  I mean, really.  What’s a day at the ocean without a few rattlers?

2.   Gone Girl.  Readers, you know how sometimes you stumble upon a book that consumes your life?  That you can not put down?  My house is a mess, the laundry is piling up, and Evie’s Halloween costume is still not done.  But I could not put this book down.  I read it in three days.  And if I didn’t have this pesky homemaker gig to do, I’d have finished it in a day.  Or less.  I had to make myself stop reading it.  I considered picking it up at stoplights, and I almost, almost gave up nightly TV time with my husband, my favorite time of the day, to read it.

I’ve talked with others who’ve read Gone Girl, and they weren’t as impressed.  They didn’t like the ending.  They thought parts of it were unbelievable.  I agree that the ending wasn’t on par with the rest of the book.  It felt rushed.  It wasn’t as tight.  But I totally believed the rest of it.  It was kind of like a really good Law & Order episode meets Dial M for Murder meets…a Lifetime movie if you could admit you watch Lifetime movies.  Which I can’t.

Also, I read it on a Kindle, which I didn’t hate.  It was actually kind of awesome.  I recant my former statements about Kindles.

3.  The Neighbors.  This is a show you aren’t watching.  Why are you not watching it?  You should be watching it.  Quick, before it gets cancelled!  It’s about your typical American family who, seeing an opportunity to pounce upon a wicked-good deal in a tanked real estate market, buys a typical subdivided American house right smack dab in the middle of a community of aliens who have come to study our typical American ways.  Hilarity ensues!  Well, not consistent hilarity, but this show has so much potential, y’all!  It’s quirky.  It’s clever.  It’s charming.  It’ll probably never make it.  Or maybe it’ll fly below the radar like The Middle or Raising Hope as a nice filler between the Nashvilles and the Revolutions.

Besides, it stars Jami Gertz, a woman who’s got riding on the back of a kick-ass motorcycle in a gypsy skirt, legs wrapped around a late eighties Kiefer Sutherland AND holding Robert Downey Jr’s hair while he pukes up whatever battery-acid cocktail of cocaine, booze and wasted youth he’s consumed and then crying on a mid-eighties Andrew McCarthy’s shoulder about it on her resume.  And that, dear readers, make her awesome.

4.  Cats.  Why are cats such a pain in the ass?  I recant my former loving statements about cats.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  The newest little member of our family, Izzie, has upset the balance in our home.  Which I knew would happen but secretly hoped wouldn’t happen.  Sam, our other pathologically neurotic, always-on-edge cat, is determined to…just…just…make somebody pay for this!  She’s  righteously pissed that all the time she formerly spent being fat and shedding now has to be spent standing in doorways and at the top of the stairs, looking menacing.  Seriously, folks, it’s like living with an early-nineties Glenn Close.  I guess that makes Izzie Anne Archer and me Michael Douglas.  I’m fine with that.

It’s really all worth it, though, because there’s this:

Evie and Izzie reading a book together.  Izzie also sleeps with Evie every night.  Granted, it’s because I shut the door to Evie’s room so Izzie can’t get out, but still.  I have to protect Anne Archer from Glenn Close!

5.  Growing my hair out…again.  Oy.  This again.  Over the past ten years I’ve cycled through short hair, long hair, short hair again, highlighted hair, long hair with my natural color, badly highlighted hair, short hair again.  Really short hair.  And now I’m growing it out.  As she’s expressed to my many times, Evie likes my hair longer.  As he’s not expressed to me many times but I know it’s how he secretly feels, Gill likes my hair longer, too.  And I’m ready for a change.  I miss my ponytail.

But, holy moly, what a pain in the ass.  Worse than the cats!  I haven’t had my hair colored in a year, so the blond is now only at the very ends of a small section of my hair right in the front.  And the cut I had was many-layered, so, depending on the humidity, my selection of hair products and my level of giving a damn that day, I can look like this:

Or this:

It just depends, really.  What I really want to look like is this:


 And, dammit, one day I’m gonna find a hairdresser who’s knows what the hell I’m talking about.

Meantime, I’ve got Gene Wilder hair most days, my eyeballs have decided to reject my contacts on the same days as the Gene Wilder hair, and my skin, appalled and offended by my hair and 15-year-old glasses has decided to break out all over in mighty protest.

I’m about as far from Ms. Bancroft as one can get, friends.

But I live in Florida among the ferocious beasts.  And it’s October 26th, and I still have a kick-ass tan.

So there.

Punkin Pie

Evie’s preschool’s Thanksgiving program is tomorrow.  There will be a play put on by the little ones (Evie is a turkey) followed by that wonderful Southern church tradition: the covered dish.  Does the dish have to be covered? Anyway.  My original plan was to make a cranberry relish, but Evie suggested we make a punkin pie together.  I was game.  Turns out, punkin pie is actually a simple recipe that is perfect to make with kids.  Let Evie and me show you how it’s done…

This shot was ripped off inspired by one of my favorite sites of all time, The Pioneer Woman.  Love her, love her site, would commit acts of violence for her Olive Cheese Bread.  But I digress.  Our lineup: Sugar, Salt, Cinnamon, Ginger, Ground Cloves, Eggs, Canned Punkin, Evaporated Milk and Pie Shell.  Simple, cheap, in the ballpark of nutritious.  Perfect!

My charming, helpful assistant.  Yes, that is a leopard print headband.  Just because we’re slaving away in a hot kitchen doesn’t mean we can’t be fabulous, y’all.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove pie shell from freezer to defrost for 15 minutes.  Add 3/4 cup of sugar to a small bowl.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of my favorite spice, salt.    I also love little chubby fingers, don’t you?

Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves.  Inhale the warm, spicy, sweet, beautiful smell wafting from bowl. 

Behold!  An egg!

Crack two eggs into a separate, larger bowl.  Remove raw egg from chubby fingers with baby wipe.

Whisk eggs.  Will Evie ever lose that little roll of fat where her wrist meets her hand?  God, I hope not.

Add one small can of pureed punkin to whisked eggs.  Punkin!  Ewww!

Whisk eggs and punkin together.  Lotta whisking.

Add one 12 ounce can of evaporated milk to mixture and whisk.  Have you ever tried evaporated milk in coffee?  It doesn’t suck.

Hold on there, little missy.  Mommy will pour everything into the pie shell, thank you very much.

The best thing about making punkin pie?  Very little mess.  Bake pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40-50 minutes.  Or, in the case of my bitchy oven, keep checking and toothpicking until you’re just too annoyed to mess with it anymore.

Finished!  Be sure to bake your pie on a thousand-year-old baking sheet, especially if you’re featuring the pictures for all the world to see.  Serve with embarrassing amounts of whipped cream.

Thank you, Libby, for the recipe, wherever you are.  And thanks for suggesting we use Carnation evaporated milk.  I used Walmart’s brand, so.

Just the right amount of Evie

The hardest part about posting every day is finding ideas about which to write.  I feel certain there are ideas swirling around me all the time like little gnats of inspiration, and I swat them away.  That being the case, this daily exercise is good for me.  It’s toning all those creative muscles that’ve gotten all soft and squishy.  Maybe by the end of this month when an idea gnat propels itself directly at my face, I’ll…um…well, this metaphor clearly doesn’t work.  If something flew at my face, I’d swat it.  Anyway.

A good way to find ideas for writing is to check out daily writing prompts.  There are several different websites that provide these.  Some of them may seem vague or inapplicable at first, until you really think about it.  I came across one the other day that was “Describe how your house is different from others’ homes.”  I thought for a while about this one, and I couldn’t come up with any way my house is markedly different from yours.  Then I started really looking around here and realized there are some strange things going on.  Come along — I’ll show you.

Elmo has done something terrible.  His sentence?  To hang on the stairwell bannister until dead. 

 

Speaking of stairwells, do you have the alphabet lining yours?  No?  Well, why not?

This is pantry stew.  Tonight’s was a blend of a very old package of Almond Accents, some raw egg noodles, carrot sticks and a browning pear.  You know how Evie is when the inspiration to cook hits her — she’s got to get in the kitchen.  Gill offered me five bucks to take a bite of it.  


Meet Lucky.  Remember the wise old rocking horse from The Velveteen Rabbit?  I think Lucky is much like that horse.  Because he sits not far from where I do my makeup and hair, Lucky endures pretty much daily makeovers, manicures, pedicures, body wraps and facials.  I think he may have even had a haircut at one point.  He never complains; he just smiles warmly at his 3-foot-tall stylist.  Here we see him receiving a once-weekly application of Kleenex to the head.  I hear it’s good for the circulation.

Welcome to Evie’s restaurant.  Evie, the proprietress, is also head chef and sometime customer.  Evie serves a mean apple-punkin pie and a lovely cup of tea.  I prefer her peas with ice cream.  Delicious. 

This is my favorite part of Evie’s restaurant.  Because she’s totally up on the latest culinary technology, Evie’s was one of the first kitchens to have a combination gas burner CD player.  She even upgraded it to include an AM/FM radio that plays soft rock exclusively.  By turning the volume up, she can simultaneously raise the heat under her frying pan.  Love it!

I wanted you to have the full experience of what it’s like to dine at Evie’s.  You’ll note in the clip below that Evie is also cooking in the bathtub.  That girl never stops! 

I guess my house is different from others’ houses.  Who knew?

GTL in FLA

Guess who I saw at the mall yesterday?

That’s right!  Pauly D, baby! 

I think the sloppy black bars and grainy texture lend a special touch, don’t you?  Poor guy.  All he wanted to do was eat lunch from Great Panda and do some shopping at H&M.  Maybe pick up another gold chain to add to his collection.  Already he has to deal with his girlfriend exposing her bra straps to all of creation, and now he’s ended up on some crazy girl’s blog.  Jeez.

For those of you unlucky enough not to have seen Jersey Shore, here’s what the hell I’m talking about anyway…

Okay, so it wasn’t the real Pauly D.  But I risked being blessed out by a guy who probably wields a can of hairspray like a weapon to bring it to you.  And, yes, I straight up pointed my phone right at him and took a picture.  Good thing my husband wasn’t with me — it would have put him in the hospital.  It’s like I tell Gill every night, “You just have no idea what I’m up to during the day.  No idea.”

Also, this counts as a blog post.  No, it does.  Jersey Shore, bitches!

 

 

Cowgirls, cuteness and can you forgive me for being a slacker?

I know y’all are convinced that this blog has gone the way of beta tape.  It’s true we’ve had a lengthy hiatus, but now we’re back, baby!  And y’all deserve some pictures!  What follows are several photographs in a series we like to call “High Noon Meets Sparkly Purple Butterfly Hairbow.”  It’s a think piece.  

Various tales of cuteness accompany each photograph because, gosh darn it all, our readers deserve only the best! 

When I woke Evie up from her nap on Sunday, as per usual, she stretched, yawned and was generally very warm and snuggly.  I sat on the edge of her bed and cuddled her close to me as she sucked her thumb and reluctantly came back into the world.  (Both Evie and I “wake to sleep and take [our] waking slow”, as her daddy will agree.)  She lifted up the soft little pink and white blanket that her Granny crocheted for her before she was even born and told me to “get my blankey all around me, Mama.”  Well, how can you say no to that?  

This is a song Evie and I made up:

“You get the salt,
and I’ll get the pepper!
You get the salt,
and I’ll get the pepper!
Then we’ll take the salt,
and then we’ll take the pepper,
and we’ll shake-a, shake-a, shake-a-shake!”

It went through several versions before we were satisfied with it.

Evie’s favorite place in the world is McDonald’s Playland.  I can’t say I blame her.  It is a lot fun.  I took her last week for dinner and to play with the other 1,245 kids whose parents had the same idea.  Evie ran, climbed, slid, ate only her french fries and generally had a fine time.  As the hour got later, the number of kids dwindled, and soon there was just Evie and one other little girl.  The time was late in toddler world — say 7:30.  I called up to Evie on the upper level of her beloved Playland and told her she could go down the slide one more time.  She and the little girl slid down one more time, whereupon the little girl said, “Let’s go again!”  Evie responded, “I can’t.  I gotta go.”  Good girl. 

Sometimes I’ll just be sitting in a chair, minding my own business, and Evie will come up to me out of the blue and say, “I love you, too, Mama.”  How did she know that’s what I’m always thinking?

And so ends your sampling of our photographic series.  Evie wants you to know you can purchase the entire piece for three easy payments of $19.99.  All proceeds benefit Evie’s Make a Wish For More Tangled Fruity Gummies and Scooby Doo Season Four DVD’s Foundation.  It’s a worthy cause.

And I promise I will never leave you again.

 

This is Halloween

One of the best things about having children is rediscovering the holidays.  The older Evie gets, the more she enjoys them, and we go happily along for the ride.  Truthfully, before she was born, I was beginning to really be over Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.  Okay, maybe not Thanksgiving.  I do love me some stuffing.  But, lord, all the rushing around, the shopping, the boring parties, the disappointing horror movies, the same carols over and over, the rushing around.  Oh, and the rushing around.  Over it.

But now I live the holidays through Evie’s eyes, and a lot of the magic is back.  This past Halloween weekend was a good example.  We had so much fun that when it was over, it kind of felt like Christmas was over.  Lucky for you and me, I took lots of pictures.  For a change.

Evie wants everyone to know that she, in fact, is a witch.

And that she can fly on the broom from the fireplace.  (See what I mean?  The magic, she is back.)

First stop on our Halloween Weekend Tour 2010 was the liberry, where the liberrians organized the first annual Halloween Hoot.  We enjoyed stories, songs and a somewhat confusing costume parade. 

Unfortunately, the storytime portion of the Hoot lasted a bit too long for Evie.  After twenty minutes, she took it upon herself to inform the entire room that “It’s almost over!”  I felt like I should be embarrassed but thought it was hilarious instead.

“I sense there may be a ladybug behind me.  Am I correct?”

Trying to subtly implant the intense desire to share the best candy with Mommy.

Later that night we visited the mall for climate-controlled early trick or treating. 

Dinner at the food court where the menu included two chicken nuggets, four french fries, 5,000 Smarties and a fun size Snickers bar.

The actual big day finally arrived, and Auntie went ALL OUT.  There was witch’s brew, apple-peanut butter-marshmallow treats, candy necklace making, fun Halloween pizzas and, of course, candy.  Evie sampled the punch and munched on the marshmallows she’d picked out of the apples while reading Disney Princess Halloween books with Dracula’s wife, a.k.a. Auntie, a.k.a. Lady Gaga.

 Who doesn’t love pizza with a face?

Trick or treating with Baba, who insists serious vampire research tells us that Dracula actually preferred Nikes.

Evie misses Halloween, and so do I.  Good thing we have Thanksgiving to look forward to.  Hope she likes stuffing.

Closet Light

Hello, Closet Light, my old friend.  I’ve come to talk with you again.

 

The first time we met, I was 6 and had the great fortune to see bits and pieces of The Omega Man while hiding, unbeknownst to my dad, behind his chair.  Knowing what I know now, I should have been afraid of Charlton Heston’s providing the sole path to the human race’s ultimate salvation.  But I was little, and the white-haired, chanting crazies in long black robes and aviator sunglasses were what actually scared the poop out of me.  By the time one of them was set on fire and sent screaming through an abandoned concert stadium, I had had enough.  I crept back down the hallway to my room and, in a shaking voice, told all of my stuffed animals about the atrocity I had witnessed.   We huddled, petrified, under the covers, certain that one of those horrid creatures would appear at the window any moment, scratching at the glass and demanding to be let in.

 I don’t remember how it happened, but you came into my life the next night.  When you poured your soothing light across my room, I was less afraid.  Like all kids, I knew that total darkness gave all kinds of horribleness free reign, but even a partially-lighted room would provide safety.  It was you, Closet Light, who showed me that the figure in the corner was not, in fact, a one-legged troll who loved to munch on the eyeballs of little children but only my clothes hamper.  It was you, dear beacon, who bestowed upon me the sweet dreams my parents whispered about as they tucked me in.

 I’m so glad to see you now in Evie’s room, although I do feel guilty for letting her watch James and the Giant Peach, which scared the poop out of her.  After that terrifying experience, her ladybug nightlight no longer afforded the protection Evie needed to sleep peacefully.  And there were even a few nightmares, I’m afraid.  So, I introduced her to you, and now all is well.

 I remember distinctly what it was like to be afraid of the dark.  It’s especially unsettling to wake up in the middle of the night after everyone’s gone to bed.  The house is empty of the soothing drone of the TV in the den or the reassuring sounds of your parents moving around. The stories they read to you and the hugs and kisses they gave you only hours earlier are now but a distant memory.  Now there’s only the dark.  And the quiet.  So, you huddle under the blankets, petrified you’ll accidentally let a limb slip over the edge of the bed and undecided whether you should sleep facing the door or the wall.  If you turn towards the door, you’ll see the monster coming for you, but at least you’ll see it coming.  If you sleep facing the wall, you won’t see it coming, but if you’re gonna die at its bony hands anyway, why add insult to injury?  So many questions to ponder in the dead of night, alone and afraid.  And…wait.  What was that noise?

 Because of you, Closet Light, at least I know little Evie is not alone if she wakes up in the middle of the night.  She has a friend to comfort her and to scare away the monsters.  I leave you on all night, just for this purpose.  So she won’t be scared.

 Shine on, Closet Light.  And thank you for making another generation of my over-reactive, over-imaginative family a little less scared of the dark.

Down goes Evie! Down goes Evie!

“You’re gonna eat lightning, and you’re gonna crap thunder!”
Mickey Goldmill
Rocky

On Monday, this happened:


Okay, everybody calm down.  She’s fine.  You can hardly see it anymore.  Look, folks, all I can tell you is this is the chance you take when you step in that ring.

I kid.

What really happened is that poor little Evie got a faceful of terrible when she stepped in front of an occupied swing at Gloria’s.  Gloria had warned all her little ones to be careful around the swings and especially not to step in front of them.  But, you’ll remember that Evie is my child and just, you know, had to see what would happen.  Obviously, she found out.

It’s okay, though.  She needed another injury to add to the collection growing on her body.  Let’s see, there are at least three bruises on her legs, a pretty bad scrape on her thumb, three bugbite scars on her cheek (see photo) and several little warning nicks on her arms from our cat, Roxie.  I can’t seem to get across to Evie that she continues to annoy Roxie at her own peril.  Hard-headed Evie is still determined to be friends.  Again, because she is my child.

Yet, with all the bruises, bumps, black eyes and dirty fingernails, there are still requests for pretty dresses, Disney Princess hairclips and toenails painted pink.  So, while Evie did beat the crap out of a little boy two years her senior last week, she did it in sparkly Tinkerbell tennis shoes. 

And I gotta tell ya:  I love every single thing about that.

Blue Ridge Baby

Welcome to another edition of Evie’s travel log.  This time our jet-setting girl has visited North Carolina’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, where summertime is totally bearable and ice cream and homemade jam can be had just about everywhere.  Pictures, anyone?

Why does everything in the mountains look spooky?  This house is not the one in which we stayed but is instead inhabited by ghosts.  I’m pretty sure about that.

Evie’s antennae go up as she explores the house in which we did stay, which was beautiful.  She especially enjoyed sliding down these stairs many, many times on her butt and putting all of her flashcards in the the many, many drawers of the apothecary cabinet in the den.  Note to self: If you can’t find your cell phone, look in drawers of the apothecary cabinet  in the den.

 

Meet Nabisco, the neighborhood cat.  Nabisco and Evie took an immediate liking to each other, and I’m suspicious of a failed plot to bring the kitty home with us.

First stop: the lovely park in dowtown Blowing Rock, where Evie couldn’t really decide what to do first.  Swinging is always fun, but there was also a giant mud puddle at the bottom of the slide, a rock wall for ages 10 and up and a little boy not paying much attention to his baseball bat.  Decisions, decisions.

Of course, your parents could always take you to a candy and ice cream shop  right around your naptime and refuse to let you grab every sweet you can get your hands on, only to act surprised when you have a semi-meltdown right on Main Street.   That’s always a possibility.  In the end, your daddy will always help you manage breaking up the ice cream cone, though.

 Tweetsie!!!  One of the only places in the free world where women dressed as Old Western  “ladies of the night” are sent to play with children on board a coal-burning vehicle run 1,000 times a day for entertainment purposes and with a carbon footprint that can be seen from space.  But…fudge!!!

Mommy and Evie rocket at the speed of sound through the mountain wilderness.  We were warned by our conductor to beware of burning  cinders from the engine that might fly along side the train.  He was serious.  Did I mention the fudge?

Evie prays for unlimited access to the gift shop.  Mommy asks God  for a bar car.

So, used to be that the cowboys and Indians came, pop guns blazing and hootin’ and hollerin’ onto the train.  I remember from my childhood this being terrifyingly awesome.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen anymore.  Now, a bunch of Appalachian students on summer break perform a mostly-improvised skit that elicits mainly yawns and pity laughs.  Bless their hearts.  Stick with the Business majors, y’all. ( Incidentally, yes, that Indian is in a lime green shirt.  So?)

Listen, y’all, I’m sorry for raggin’ on Tweetsie.  I remember it fondly from my childhood, too.  Look!  The plastic horses are still there!  And fudge!  And pink velour cowgirl hats! (not pictured)

Even Daddy got in on the action!

(Isn’t it funny to think how the people in the background of your pictures become like familiar strangers over the years?  These people you’ll never see again become permanent fixtures in the visual recordations of your life.  So.) 

Go, Daddy!

We wrapped up our visit to Tweetsie with a stop at the petting zoo, where most of the animals are too aggressive to pet.  Here you see the llama and the ostrich.  Big announcement: ostriches are bastards. 

Good thing this beautiful face makes up for all the meanie ostriches who snatch your ice cream cone filled with animal feed right out of your hand before you even get a chance to throw some in their pen.

And this face, too.

Back at the house, Evie checks her email and the Dow.  Daddy, unused to a decent air conditioner in his own house, fashions a makeshift Snuggie.

So, there you have it: Mountain Trip 2010.  We came, we saw, we did a little shopping.  Many thanks to Evie’s Mimi for the beautiful house, the beautiful memories and the beautiful pictures in which she never appears because she was behind the camera in every one. (Yes, my husband and I suck.)   Props to Big for his mad puzzle skillz.  I don’t think Van Gogh ever thought “Cafe Terrace at Night” would be sawed into 500 pieces and then put back together again for fun, but I’ll bet his right ear he’d have thought it was cool.  More props to Evie’s Uncle Lee and Aunt Jennifer for their mad grilling skillz and for letting us cheat at Apples to Apples.  You guys rock.

And props to me for actually throwing up pictures of myself in my own blog.  Go, self-esteem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyndi Lauper was right

As I sat there on Fort Fisher Boulevard two Saturday evenings ago and watched the heat rising from the pavement in steamy waves, I sighed again and turned my steering wheel slightly in order to see around the car in front of me.  All I could make out was an endless line of cars creeping slowly along the two-lane highway.  To my right and left stood beach houses, some refurbished and painted bright candy colors, some graying and crumbling with age, up on stilts to catch the second-row breezes.  I watched the homeowners escaping their hot kitchens through slapping screen doors and gathering on front porches for cocktails and people watching.  I envied them.  They were home.  I was two hours away from home, stuck on a holiday highway for God knows how long.  I was hot and tired and my nose was sunburned.

Yet, I was happy.  I had just spent the entire day at the beach with my little girl who was now contentedly singing and talking to herself in her carseat.  I glanced in the rearview mirror and smiled.  Her skin was brown as a pancake and her pigtailed hair shone in the setting sun.

I had created this day for her.  My original plan was to drive to Wrightsville Beach to visit her great-grandparents, grandparents and one of her aunties who were staying the entire July 4th weekend.  Evie and I were only going to stay for a few hours, have lunch and then drive back while she napped.  As we made our way down there, I thought to myself, “Self, why don’t you stay the whole day?  Why don’t you take Evie on a little adventure into Carolina Beach, have dinner and walk out onto the Kure Beach pier?”  It sounded like an okay idea.  But what about Evie’s nap?  And did I remember how to get to Carolina Beach from Wrightsville?  Should I attempt to do this by myself?   What if we ran out of gas and were captured by pirates?

As I weighed the pros and cons, I realized something about myself:  I make the fun.  If I wanted to take my little girl to one of my favorite places in the world, eat deep-fried seafood and watch old men catch fish, I had only to step on the gas pedal.  This was a wonderful realization. 

I wonder what Evie will remember from that day we spent together.  Will it be the unbelievably gorgeous weather we had?  The fresh, light air?  The sun glistening off the sapphire ocean like diamonds?  How crowded Kure Beach was with all kinds of different people?  Her first taste of fried shrimp?  The pelicans and seagulls, hoping for a bite, flapping around the grizzled old fisherman on the pier?  Driving back in the dark with her mommy listening to talk radio turned down low?  Or will she just remember it as a day she had fun with her mommy? 

I’ll remember it as…well, I’ll just remember it.