The Beanstalk

Record of a writer, a family & an adventure.

Month: May, 2013

Sandbridge this time.

We went to Sandbridge for Memorial Day weekend. Packed up the Subaru with a stroller, two suit cases, several books, bathing suits, sunscreen, baby beach hats, a video monitor, flip flops, tequila, The 20/20 Experience, a few issues of Entertainment Weekly, and jalapeno cheetos. Also, Jack. Note we did not pack the dog, because a dog is in fact NOT what makes a Subaru a Subaru. It’s the people, people! And the great gas mileage, the smooth ride, and the spacious trunk space. Sidney’s recent escapades precluded her from attending the family beach trip and I did not feel a shred of guilt even when we went for evening walks and everyone in sight was throwing a tennis ball for his dog. Even then I did not feel guilty because the sheer quantity of 90-lb dog waste I have cleaned off of the carpet in the last month has her in the dog house for the next five years – if she makes it that long.

Sandbridge is the happiest place in the world for me, and I think it’s getting to be that way for Mark too. See below:


We should actually still be there – this was the week we had been planning to go with my sister and her family, my brother and his girlfriend, my parents. But since Hannah is on hospitalized bed rest (she can’t walk past her own bathroom, let alone take a trip to Virginia), those plans were obviously detained. We went without the Adams clan so the trip was quite a bit different. Usually it’s straight FUN. Mark, Josh and Kyle (and oftentimes my father) play games in the sun all day every day while Hannah and my mom and I read books and help the kids build drippy sand castles that wash away by morning. We usually drink beer and wine and margaritas all evening and make fish tacos and grilled steaks for dinners, eat doughnuts for breakfast. We all kind of balance each other out, you know, the way family should. We have an unusually incredible time with one another, so much laughing and sunburn and falling asleep watching movies late at night. 

The weekend was lovely and relaxing, sweet and nice to be away from land-locked Winston-Salem, but it didn’t feel “right,” which, when it comes right down to it, makes me more happy than anything else because it makes me so terribly thankful for my WHOLE FAMILY my stomach hurts. God willing, we’ll do a make-up trip in the late summer. However, below is some photo documentation of this weekend.

Image Jack, meet the original. And get that creepy look off your face…

ImageKyle teaching Jack how to eat crabs, because it’s a must in this family.

ImageKyle and Natalie, trying to pretend it isn’t chilly out…

ImageOne of the happiest moments of my life, introducing my son to the ocean.

ImageIt’s a corn hole world.

ImagePost-kitchen sink bath.

ImageMorning chat with Grandy (or Gramby?)





At a loss for a title.

After Nero the rat disappeared for a few weeks I thought we had seen the last, but I was wrong. (For further explanation of Nero, click). Last night it was warm and pretty after all this rain we have had and Mark had to give Sidney a bath because she’d been muddy river swimming on Sunday afternoon. He was simultaneously grilling steaks for dinner and I was inside feeding Jack.

He walked inside carrying my Dove moisturizing body wash with aloe and cucumber, explaining that we didn’t have the usual dog shampoo, followed by Do you want the terrible news or the really terrible news?

G: Go with terrible first.

M: Nero is back.

G: (Gasp) No. Where?

M: The holes in the front yard.

We have been trying to figure out where these couple of three or four inch holes in the front lawn came from. He explained that he’d seen Nero coming up out of the hole.

M: That’s actually where the really terrible comes in.

G: (Staring, wondering what could be more terrible than an opossum-sized rat taking up residence at your home.)

M: I picked up a stone from the top of where the retaining wall is crumbling to kill him and I saw the red hourglass.

G: What?

M: Black widows.

At this point Sidney came bounding toward me smelling like me when I get out of the shower, and I was just too baffled to say anything about it, too many bizarre things to process. Meanwhile Jack just stares around like a little lemur with these big, gorgeous gray eyes slicked over with sleepy glaze. That was last night, so I immediately put a call into the exterminator and spent the rest of the night expecting to see Nero slither through the door or something.

Today I started my brand new job with the Rotary Club. I dressed up to business casual attire and attended the Rotary lunch downtown. The position is part-time, from home, executive secretary type of thing, with an every-Tuesday lunch. I woke up feeling pretty crummy, but had to actually get ready to look presentable to business people. Meanwhile Bob, my Terminix man, was going to come over at ten to investigate Nero and his red hourglass army. Somehow, between showing him the basement, the back yard and the front, I managed to lock us out of the house.

My two month old baby alone, inside.

I panicked, almost took a shovel to the window, when it occurred to me that our neighbor may have still had a key from a time they retrieved our mail. Sure enough. Crisis averted.

Bob left, I started to scramble to get ready to leave for work, getting Jack’s stuff ready, my shoes, makeup. In the midst of all this – I realize I ought to expect this now, rather than be shocked – I took three minutes to change Jack’s diaper and come out to find Sidney has thrown up. Again. On the carpet. This is twenty minutes before I’m supposed to leave for my FIRST DAY OF WORK. It’s nothing more than that she eats too fast, doesn’t chew, and then loses it, or that she eats out of the trash or a toy of Jack’s and has to get rid of it. This dog…


I screamed loudly at her, which made Jack start to cry because I’m sure I looked terrifying, threw her in her crate and called Mark three times (the EMERGENCY signal – because it qualified), cussing all the while. By this point Bob has finished spraying out the spider nest and instructed me to fill the holes with cement, and is gone. Thank God.

Mark called  me back pretty quickly and soon realized what he was dealing with, then promised to be home in 30 minutes. Good thing.


It’s five now. Jack is asleep on my bed and Sidney is in her crate and I’m sitting on the front porch with Dora (my laptop) and a glass of water trying to find a little serenity. I’m reading back over this, kind of laughing, kind of horrified thinking about the volume of my mad-at-Sidney yell. Thank God kids don’t remember before two. That gives me at least 22 months to find more effective means of expression or for Sidney to learn to stop being the dumbest domesticated dog on earth.


The little boss is two months old today and last night Mark fed him from a bottle. Does that seem like the most inane, boring start to a blog you have ever read in your life? I can understand, but it was such a tremendous event for me that I had the urge to run outside into the street and alert my neighbors that the Evans have just crossed from bondage to FREEDOM. Let freedom ring, I can now leave Jack for more than two hours at a time. It is not a small thing, I assure you. I am so relieved.  First things first: Mark and me for a day in Busch Gardens and Jack with my parents. I’ve been dreaming of Busch Gardens for months. Maybe  that will be second. Maybe first should be going to a movie.

Here are some pictures from the second month of Jack…


a big yawn.


sleepy heads.


…it’s a common theme.

Imagethe Kentucky Derby party.

New Year’s Resolution #2.

One of my new year’s resolutions, if you’ll recall, was to learn a new form of exercise. At the time it was a joke because I was pregnant fat and not really in the business of trying anything new. This was a comfortable resolution to make because I knew I had some time before I actually had to get going.

It is mid-May now, Jack is almost two months old, so last night I went to a class at the Y. It is called “Body Flow: A combination of Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi.”  I was pretty skeptical, and I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen this class except that a good friend of mine who had a baby last year started going and swore it’s the best class they offer. I have always been more into spin classes, so the thought of taking an hour to stand stock-still in oddly contorted positions seemed a little, well, inane.

I think I was sold when they turned off the lights. It started at 7:15 so the sun was doing that twinkly peeking through the park trees thing, and the room where the class is held is this massive upstairs room with only windows for two walls and mirrors for the others so you feel like you’re in this comfortable treehouse with a great sound system. Turns out all of those motionless positions aren’t actually motionless and certainly aren’t easy – there was a whole lot of trembling going on. I definitely fell over once or twice. A few times I had to bite my tongue not to laugh when the instructor said things like Sometimes you have to let something go in order to receive something else, which is a very true statement, but she said it as we were going into this incredibly awkward position, all bent over and people trying desperately not to fall all over the place, and I was thinking how does this apply here?

Anyway at the end of the class she did a full eight minute cool down, which I thought of dipping out of since I knew Mark was bringing Chipotle home for dinner and I really wanted to be able to eat before Jack was hungry again (a shrinking window), but I stayed because it sort of felt like a lot of little yogis would give me some really dirty looks if I messed up the zen of the quiet room by stomping by and swinging the squeaky door. Turns out I loved the cool down, laying on my back with my feet Indian style and my arms spread out to the side. She kept saying let your body sink into the floor, into the earth (again, had to surpress laughter, but I get it) and I think I finally did.

Laying there like that in the dark, the sun almost gone for the day, I got to thinking about writing of all things, and felt suddenly refreshed, like I had the energy I needed to keep working on this book I’ve started on. And then I was thinking about Jack and Mark, and felt so peaceful, like I could take anything they threw at me. No volume of shriek could fluster me. No height of grass. No height of clean laundry. It was amazing.

At 3:30 am we woke up to the dog getting sick in her crate. Butt-sick, if you know what I mean. For some reason this has happened three or four times with her in the past 2 1/2 years. To me that feels like too many because the dog weighs ninety pounds and produces a lot of waste. It is a horrifying thing, just complete carnage. So we let her out, cleaned her up, and then she got mouth-sick. Then at 6 am, back to the former. Okay, zen lost. All I could think was: We cannot afford to spend any more money on this dog’s antics. And I cannot live with this smell. And I cannot deal with a baby’s poo and a dog’s poo. It’s too much.

Life goes on. I’m going to keep going to Body Flow because maybe over time the periods of peace will last longer. And I’m probably also going to keep Sidney because, well, she’s my dog. And this is the way it goes. We are just going to have to embrace all of the moments of peaceful joy and serenity because they are gifts following or preparing us for the moments of angsty frustration and sadness.

Four good, chunky, solid years.




Four years ago it was about sixty-eight degrees in Greensboro and I was getting ready to marry my husband. We had prayed hard for a warm, sunny day, but it was overcast and it turns out that was better for everyone – the photographer for her outdoor afternoon photographs, for Mark (in a suit) who sweats like an NBA point guard when the temperature exceeds seventy-five degrees, for me because the heat does terrible things to my curly hair. I look back on that day with a great deal of satisfaction, love, joy and longing, because every sweet thing that lays behind comes with some measure of wistfulness, however small. I would like to revisit that day, even as a bystander, because it was so lovely for us.  

For years I have prayed this prayer: Lord, let time pass slowly. I detest the reality of life moving into the past, though I know it is inevitable. Even though I know I cannot stop or change the course of nature, I do pray that I will never be someone who finds herself always repeating the phrases Isn’t time flying? or I can’t believe we have been married for four years already! or Where has all this time gone?  I am truly thankful today, as I give it the litmus test, that these four years of marriage have really felt like four years and not one or two. They are giving me the courtesy of walking by rather than sprinting. They are packed with millions of lengthy memories so they must have been full. Long. Complete years.

Yesterday my sister, who is pregnant with her third son, texted me just before eight in the morning. I was sitting Indian style on my bed with Jack in the pretzel of my shins and thighs, just about to wake him to eat, enjoying that serene moment with a mug of coffee Mark had given me before he left for work. She texted to ask could I come over by nine because she had been bleeding all night and had to go to the doctor to check on the baby.  I moved into speed mode, allowing Jack only fifteen minutes in which he could feverishly eat, taking a quick (absolutely necessary – I swear) shower, and jumped in the car to drive over and hang around her house with her two-year-old while she dropped off the four-year-old at pre-school and took herself to the doctor (as her husband was in South Carolina for the day).  The morning turned into the day when we ended up having to take her to the hospital to evaluate her baby and body under a super ultrasound machine, which revealed a pretty significant separation of her placenta (baby water balloon) from her uterus. The doctor explained that it’s a pretty big problem, that this little bean is in a very risky situation now, that Hannah needs to be on strict bedrest and “keep her fingers crossed” that the wounds can heal. He kept talking about crossed fingers, and I kept thinking how what we really needed was the mercy of God in heaven.

Inhale. Exhale. The three of us (Hannah, Josh – back from SC – and me) just looking around the room at each other, Jack snoring beside me in his stroller.

My mom, trying to work toward going back to school, took the GRE this morning after dozens and dozens of hours of study over the past few months. That math section is a bear, especially when you haven’t thought about it for thirty-five years. She exceeded her required scores! It’s amazing. Huge relief.

Inhale. Exhale.

And then my other friend Ellie, who had her son Tucker early in July, was finally going to be coming home from the NICU in Boston this week. It’s been such a hard year for them, so many surgeries and moves (Richmond – Boston), and they were just yards from the finish line, going home to live with their son in their house on their cul-de-sac, and it all got pitched to the dogs because their house flooded due to a renovation error and now they’re homeless in their home town. 

Again, inhale. Exhale.

Four years Mark and I have been married. Four years full of a great deal of happy life and difficult life. And even though, with all of the miserable things that make me want to SHAKE someone and shout and find out who is in charge of making life FAIR and punch them right in the jaw, we struggle, I am still thankful that life is walking by and not sprinting. That the years feel like good, chunky, solid years. I would rather have heavy years that have to walk, panting sometimes and sweating, than lean years that can blow by me so fast I never even saw them pass.