Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sidney, soup, Sidney

Oh, how I love Sidney Poitier. I watched To Sir With Love twice tonight - kind of an odd double feature.  C. Louise walked in after I'd made it 3/4 of the way through the first time and said she'd like to see it from the beginning, so we started over. (Oh, but between viewings, we went out to dinner because how could I cook when I was so busy watching Sir? Dinner out was also C. Louise's idea - she's a smart kid. I had a delicious carrot soup and a salad, then back to Sir.) Because C. Louise appreciated the film, I must push her past the point of caring by showing a Sidney Poitier film festival. I considered Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and Lilies of the Field as our next film, but then I remembered how much I love Patch of Blue. I haven't seen it in decades and it still scares me. Shelley Winters plays a vile creature. Sidney is heroic, as always. The girl is blind, stringing beads and always lost in the park. Oh, melodrama. If I recommend the film, C. Louise won't watch it. So, I'll just start watching it myself, then C. Louise can interrupt and be like, "hey, wait, why can't I watch that?" and then we can pause it, go out for soup, then start it from the beginning and our Sidney Poitier ritual will be established.

Monday, June 28, 2010

No Matter Your Instrument

I mentioned Michael Bolton two days ago and that fella has been a spark. I had my hair cut and colored today and except that I am still bald on top, Michael and I no longer sport the same 'do. MB also sparked an exploration into the cheesiest of cheesy songs by The Mike, which reminded me of my second favorite Dave Chappelle skit. Watch, laugh, keep dancing and enjoy what I consider to be the cheesiest of songs in the final scene. (Not Sarah Farrah will appreciate the cameo by ?uestlove.)

John Mayer skit from Tom on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Future internet sensation!

As a parent, I always know exactly what other parents should do with/about/to their kids. When I hear another mom talking about her parenting challenges, I know the solution. But I don't always know what to do with regard to my own children.

My revolutionary (or rip-off) social media idea is a site called Other People's Children*. What I'm imagining is a Chat Roulette for parenting. You know Chat Roulette, right? You log in and video chat with random, anonymous people and when you are bored or disgusted with the conversation (or the visual), you hit next and move onto the next random person. Other People's Children will combine the lurid appeal of anonymous chatting with our universal desire to espouse our personal philosophies to other parents.

Here are a few sample conversations:

Mammoo: My little Proton is 2 and won't stay in her own bed.
Chat 1: I spank my kids when..{next}
Mammoo: Little Proton won't stay in her bed.
Chat 2: We have a family bed and all 9 of us pile into...{next}
Mammoo: Little Proton won't stay in her bed.
Chat 3: Some bourbon at dinner calms my kids down...{next}
Mammoo: Little Proton won't stay in her bed.
Chat 4: I let the dogs chase my boy Trump until he's too tired to ...{next}
Mammoo: Little Proton won't stay in her bed.
Chat 5: You're a great Mom and whatever you're doing is great!
Mammoo: Well, thank goodness! Thank you for your wisdom. What parenting issue can I help you with?
Chat 5: When should I let my son start dating, I mean, officially? He's 13 and has a little crush on my friend and she said she'd take him out, you know, just for shits and giggles. It's sweet that she gave him some Axe body spray and, so ...{disconnect}
Chat 5: Where'd you go?
Helimomsha: I'm at my wits' end with Arbuckle. He's getting in trouble at school.
Chat 1: I saw on Oprah...{next}
Helimomsha: Arbuckle's getting in trouble at school.
Chat 2: We're homeschooling and...{next}
Helimomsha: Arbuckle's getting in trouble at school.
Chat 3: At my daughter Rigid's private school, we believe if you spare the rod...{next}
Helimomsha: Arbuckle's getting in trouble at school.
Chat 4: Do you give him regular enemas? {next}
Helimomsha: Arbuckle's getting in trouble at school.
Chat 5: Honey, you are doing the best you can! Rock on! You are a great Mom!
Helimomsha: What a relief! You're right. Thanks for your clear-headed analysis. What's up with your kids?
Chat 5: Well, my issue is sibling rivalry.
Helimomsha: That's a tough one! What's going on?
Chat 5: My daughter Lotus is very jealous of Excel. Whenever Excel nurses, she has a fit.
Helimomsha: That's very normal.
Chat 5: Yeah, sure, but it's escalating. When she gets home from school and walks in the door, if he's breastfeeding, she loses it. I give her a turn right away and send him out to play basketball in the cul-de-sac... {disconnect}
Chat 5: You there?

* A video chat site called Other People's Children should be free of liability, right? I'll simply ask people to check the "I'm not a pedophile" box when they log in.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bears for Bolton

You know what was awesome about today? While digging through toys, throwing out, sorting, cleaning and, of course, rearranging the furniture, I got to hear Michael Bolton sing How Am I Supposed To Live Without You three times. The song is on a CD called Hearts of Gold that played continuously (mysteriously, sinisterly) while I worked. The house looks like holy hell right now - when I get into a mode like this, every room is destroyed before it can be rebuilt - but I don't care! After a day with Michael Bolton all I can think about is how shaggy and unkempt my hair is these days. I need a new do. I fear my split ends and grown out roots are too Michael Boltonish.

It's somewhat ironic that I cried like a baby at Toy Story 3 a week ago and then mercilessly threw out my kids toys today. The toys were all sad looking and I realized it was one of them - a Build-a-Bear, perhaps - who must have cued up the Bolton music. Subliminal message not received, Bear. I can live without you just fine.

(It's Saturday night. I'm blogging on my iPhone while flat out in bed, totally exhausted, at 9:40 pm. Is it sad I'm thrilled with my day, my evening and the lovely freedom of going to bed early?)(Shout out to Not Don for being the muscular Ricky to my Lucy. The man toted furniture all day.)(Also, I'm super efficient - cleaning one day every couple of years takes less total time than cleaning regularly. When will the world see it my way?)(Goodnight.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Horse of a Different Color

Making art, horsing around, sweating their butts off - a terrific way for kids to enjoy their summer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Boondoggle Alert

Did I build enough suspense with my posting about The Wall? Seems like it was only a few hours ago!

Said wall is in our office and behind the wall is the staircase. Untapped space lurked under the stairs and I wanted to take a tiny peak to see if it would be usable for storage or possibly for a secret room (and if you're creating a secret room, by all means post it on the internet).

Nice hole.
OK, are you comfortable? Let's get a little closer.
Let's take a look at what's in there.
And there.
And there.
And there.
A generation (at least) before I thought of making an under-the-stairs secret room, someone in this house beat me to it, and they had a pretty sweet poster collection. Now, my house was built in 1910 (happy 100th, old girl!) so it's possible tragic love letters from WWI could have been discovered today. That's okay. I'll take my old shitty posters over WWI...umm, no, the letters would have been awesome.

The hole has now been expanded to something more door shaped.
And here is the vast space where we will stuff our children. It's decent enough for a couple of bean bag chairs and a book shelf.
The boondoggle to follow should become out of control - light it? drywall it? ventilate it? What is a Harry Potter room worth?

The Wall

Here is a wall. More later...

(This may or may not be my idea of a brilliant blog post.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tainted Love

I have a great idea for a blog post, but I decided to watch The Daily Show instead of working on it. Let me tide you over with this:
I just bought* a box of PopTarts* and a box of 64 Crayola crayons for each kid. It's my personal vision of happiness, circa 1973*. Either I love my children or I hate them and so I'll poison them with fake food and petroleum-based art supplies.

*These kinds of impulse buys do not happen at Whole Foods. This is what happens when I have to go to a real store to buy contact lens solution and Band-Aids.
*Why the hell would anyone buy unfrosted PopTarts? Pointless.
*It's really my personal vision of happiness 1973-present.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Get out.

In our beloved, plastic town of Dallas, TX, nature is elusive. It must be pursued. We did some serious nature hunting yesterday. We Not Bradys aren't super-outdoorsy types, so this was big for us. Today, we're all safely back indoors with our laptops and Wii console, looking fondly at our iPhone photos from good ol' yesterday.

6:45 AM, running at White Rock Lake

10:00 AM, hiking at Cedar Ridge Preserve

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Not Cooking With Gas

Never buy this stove.

Hell, they probably don't even sell it anymore. In any case, the thing has a grill on the left with a downdraft vent that starts automatically when the grill is on. I had big dreams to prepare a filet for Not Don for F Day, along with portobello burgers for me and Middle Girl and a hamburger for C. Louise who can't chew much right now due to her new braces. I planned to saute (fry? whatever) asparagus and boil pasta on the burner side. I started the pasta water first and when it was almost ready to boil, I started the burger. The downdraft sucked all the heat off the burner side and my pasta water never came to a boil. The grill side flamed up and filled the house with smoke. We flung open windows and 15 flies joined the party. The downdraft is a failure - it takes in the heat but not the smoke. Now, I have had this stove for about 7 years. This bad performance isn't news to me. I just thought it couldn't happen this time because, you know, it's F Day.

The meal came together finally at about 8:00. (This was after we had been rejected from seeing Toy Story 3 at a sold out theater in the afternoon. We shucked, we jived, we consoled crying children and we ended up at another theater a short 40 minutes later.) I should have quit with the F Day showing off yesterday while I was still ahead of the game.

p.s. Miss M referred to Father's Day as "F Day" just once, and now I must use the phrase ad nauseum.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day preview

I did something for my husband today that he only gets once every few years. (Minds out of the gutter, please.) I mowed the lawn. This is a very big deal. I got up bright and early to get it done while he was off golfing. (Y'all, I have resolved to never complain about the heat, but I will point out for those who do not know this: I live in Texas and it's June and I'm mowing the lawn and it doesn't matter how early you go out, it's already blazing hot. See? That wasn't complaining.) Then, I cleaned and took the girls shopping for  gifts for tomorrow. I had Not Don take a nap when he got home from golfing, cause I'm all saintly like that. Then, I took his car to the car wash. (Vacuuming a spouse's car in 100+ degree temps (not complaining) is a sure sign of: a) true love, b) dementia, c) someone who wants to brag on their blog later.) I filled the gas tank, too, while I was at it. Then, we went out to dinner. Now, we're watching Airplane!

So then. It feels like Father's Day is done, no? Well, no, not even close. I can't publish our top secret super surprise plans for tomorrow - I'll report back. The girls are fired up. Meanwhile, I'm making a list of demands for Mother's Day 2011.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pretty in Pink

Anyone remember back in February when I said I was going to redo my master bedroom, the most neglected room in the house? Well, voila! No, this isn't it.  This is Middle Girl's new room, which was previously our guest room.  (Guests are no longer welcome in the Not Brady home! Stay AWAY!) Our contractor and friend, Not George, painted the room pink, installed the shelves, cabinets and sconces (all from Ikea, of course) and disassembled/moved/reassembled the daybed. (He also installed a new curtain rod and lace curtains, not pictured.) My room? Looks exactly the same as it did in February.

Congratulations, Middle Girl! You look pretty happy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Local Color

Dallas, I must love you. Days like today remind me why I got over my Dallas Hate years ago. This morning, I took Miss M to her swim lesson and was greeted by John 3:16 on the dry erase board. Last week, the greeting read, "Jesus is my lifeguard." Bible Belt swimmers are the safest swimmers in the world.

Here's the studio where that middle kid of mine is doing an art camp this week. I used the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone to take this photo. This is the back of the building - an old Whataburger - with the word ART stenciled on the door. Can you feel the cool?

Here's Premiere Video's foreign film section. I love that ladder and how the DVDs and videos go all the way to the ceiling. I was renting something for C. Louise that stars Scarlett Johansson's husband - not from this wall, alas. I'm just glad to know it's there.

It was a beautiful day in my neighborhood.

p.s. I also went to the Dollar Tree today and that's not at all interesting or special except I noticed they sell pregnancy tests. For a dollar.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog and stuff

I just finished reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I mean just finished at 6:45pm and now it's 7:05 and I have to head out for my book club in ten minutes. Whew. Just under the wire. I enjoyed this book and it's one of those where, halfway through, I began wishing I had been underlining passages to revisit later. I'll never be able to remember what was so juicy about it if I don't have it marked up. (Now on to The Witches of Eastwick.)

I learned this week that I need to stop putting 2 spaces at the end of sentences. I am still typing 2 spaces and then going back and deleting the extra one. Drag. I haven't been able to retrain myself.

Speaking of retraining, I need to relearn how to cook. I used to know how. I have a hard time making an actual shopping list and planning even a few hours ahead for a meal. I think the 2 space thing might be an easier learning curve.

Time to go.  Whew.  Just under the wire.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cultural step forward, dietary step back.

The Not Brady Family was invited to have authentic Mexican food at the home of one of N's friends from school yesterday evening. We don't know the family well. The Mom was so sweet to invite us all over after we'd had a discussion several weeks ago about who among our kids will eat different foods at Tex-Mex restaurants. "I'll cook you real Mexican food," she'd said and immediately set a date for the dinner.  I was nervous since I speak no Spanish and she has limited English proficiency. Also, I was nervous about the menu since I have been eating a vegan diet for 2 (!) whole weeks. Anyhoo, I decided I did not want to be the douche saying, "I'm a vegan..." so I decided in advance to eat everything. I don't know what the meat was marinated in - they didn't seem to know either - but it was fabulous. The beans had both sausage and bacon in them. The guacamole was more or less pico de gallo with chunks of avocado - divine. It was all delicious. Language, schmanguage - beer and grilled beef is all people really need to connect. As for my health kick, I'm back to being a douche vegan.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Anal Tables

Yesterday was a parent workday at Miss M's school. Her school is a small, public Montessori school that serves 3-years-old through 3rd grade. On the last workday of the year, they take every table from the Primary classrooms (ages 3-6) and sand the tops and repaint them for the next year. I painted tables for 2 hours. I love painting these tables.

Most people with a cursory understanding of Montessori think it's a groovy free-for-all where the kids hang out and do as they please. In reality, it is an incredibly structured environment. Case in point are these tables. They are color coded by height. The blue tables are the shortest for the tiny 3-year-old kids, then the pinks are a few inches taller, with the green being the tallest. The tables fit kids of varying heights and the color coding is just a layer of anal attention to detail that I find to dominate in the "prepared environment" of the Montessori classroom. I love these cute tables even more than the children who sit at them. I'll be a basket case when Miss M "graduates" from 3rd grade next year and I will be forever separated from these tables. Perhaps they'll hold her back.

(can't wait to see if anyone googles "anal tables" and ends up here)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Choose Ducky, Stupid.

I just watched Pretty in Pink for the first time in 24 years. Molly Ringwald's prom dress remains the single, ugliest barf-bomb ever put on an actress in any film. Blaine (Andrew McCarthy) is the biggest puss of all time. Ducky (Jon Cryer) is a great character but he suddenly tells Andy (Ringwald) that Blaine is "not like the others" and is really a good guy. What the hell are you smoking, Ducky?  Blaine  is an ass from start to finish. Andy is stupid to end up with him. Stupid! Does anybody believe their relationship is going anywhere? I have a tension headache.

So, um, be sure to add it to your Netflix queue.

(Ducky fought James Spader to defend your honor, Andy. Where was your precious Blaine then, huh?)

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Spoon Full of Saccharin

Miss M has been in swim lessons this week. She blows kisses at me during her lessons.  Today, she yelled over to me, "Mommy, I share my heart with you." All the other moms went, "AWWWW!  She is so sweet!" And just like that, they forgot about her pumping her fist, yelling, "I am the Queen!" And they forgot about her misbehaving and being reprimanded and losing her cookie privilege. And they forgot how she chats throughout the lesson, distracting everyone else and interrupting the teacher. And they forgot her telling the other kids, "Well, my dive was perfect.  No offense, I'm just saying."

That kid's got a future.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Exercise doesn't suck.

I have gotten up at 5:30AM the last three days to run with Not Don and another couple. (We're a flash mob of 4 and it's fun.)  I've also added a bizarre slice of childhood trauma as my version of cross-training. (Cross-training = hahaha, overstatement.)  This week, I have jumped rope, hula hooped and roller skated. These are all things I suck at and sucked at (and was embarrassed by my suckage) as a kid. (Second grade was a nightmare of rope jumping ineptitude. Mommy!) (And now you're going, huh?  Hula hooping counts as exercise?) To this day, I can only manage to jump rope or hula hoop for perhaps 30 seconds at a time.  Getting up early + exercise + 30 seconds of cross-training are sucking the life out of me.  I'm sleeeepy. I've dozed off twice while writing this. (You too?)

No running is scheduled for tomorrow - no early wake-up call and no childhood flashbacks. I expect to return to my normal level of physical activity of rearranging furniture and kicking my dog.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Drink With Jam and Bread

Such is my commitment to green tea with soy milk, I have invested in a reusable cup.  It's washed and ready for me to begin saving the environment tomorrow.  I haven't had coffee in more than 2 weeks and I don't miss it. Not yet anyway.

(Yes, I took this picture this morning in anticipation of having nothing interesting to say today.) (That is my new cowboy hat in the background.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Not Dewey

My friend, Not Sarah Farrah, recently said she alphabetized her nail polish. Seems odd since it's so obvious arranging nail polish by color is the only logical way. (I don't own any nail polish, so who am I to say?) Then I thought about my book shelves and how I recently reorganized them. These two are in my dining room.

Find brown, blue, red and black bound books here.
Aqua, green and white titles are shelved right next to the bike parking. Easy.

(My favorite book, by color of the spine, is The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.)

Monday, June 7, 2010


Thanks be to Not Don for rescuin' my summer.  He swooped in tonight with frequent flier miles and an iPad to finally book our summer trip to Virginia.  I've been stewin' about drivin' v. flyin', on which dates, to which airport, yada yada yada, I had the bisque...Now we're in, we're goin', we're booked and we're perfectly shoe-horned between his trip to Italy and C. Louise's school orientation camp.  (I realize orientation camp sounds gruesome - it has some pithy name I can't recall like "RaMp It UP!")  Now we're swoopin' off to the Old Dominion and I can stop wringin' my hands about it.

This has been another great Marital Moment, brought to you by the letter G.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I added the Hipstamatic app to my iPhone today. Here's my Corpse Chic self-portrait. It looks like I have a flipper coming out of my chin in addition to the waxy skin and vacant eyes. Not Dunmire has posted fab photos using this app. She needs to resurrect me and then give me some photog lessons. And modeling lessons. And a facial. And a flipper amputation.

Baby Needs A New Pair of Shoes

Baby gonna be barefoot for awhile, I'm afraid.  I could not remember my dreams this morning so I had to bet blind.  Turns out I bet mostly on blind horses.  Finally, Rocks and Rings came through for a win in the last race. I "won" $30.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Run Down

5:30 AM did not arrive at my house until around 8:00 AM today.  I did run.  I did stub my toe so hard that I have a deep bruise and blood blister.  I don't think I'll be able to wear my Five Finger shoes again for a few days.

Tomorrow we go to the horse races.  Now that's running I can enjoy.  I like to bet based on my dreams from the night before.  Proper dream interpretation in the seventh race = cash money.

If I were less brain dead right now I would tie together my lame attempt at running with the grace of horses running and how I much prefer to be the slob/voyeur instead of the hoofer.  Or, I would regale you with prior dream/winning bet combinations so you could look forward to my inevitably cute/profitable report tomorrow.  I know what I should do for you, you who has now made it to paragraph 3.  Instead, I'm running off to bed to get my dream on.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Eat and Run. And read.

(Yawn)  I'm ready for bed, folks.  Really, I'm ready to read for awhile and I need to lay out my go running at 5:30AM.  Don't ask. Or don't tell. Whichever.

When I first moved to Dallas, friends introduced me to The Dream Cafe. I didn't like it at first - I had never been to a "natural" restaurant before. Over time, it became a regular destination for it's delicious (healthy) food and for its wonderful atmosphere. The Dream had an open, grassy field where kids ran wild and climbed on play equipment and got all Lord of the Flies in play houses.  Sadly, a huge condo development has recently gone up on the field and the running around space is limited. We don't venture there as much as we used to.  Tonight, we dined on their patio and I found myself vegan-izing the already healthy fare - a far cry from my first adventure there in 1990.  (Their website says they've been around 17 years, but according to my steel trap memory, it's been at least 20.)

Oh yeah, good news.  C. Louise got her summer reading list in the mail today.  Good news for me because reading lists get me high.  She'll read To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men and Night.  I might do some re-reading along with her just to be super annoying.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Open Book

I'm reading hard through Open by Andre Agassi.  I'm dying to get to the part where he starts doing meth.  Brooke Shields just came into the picture.  My friend recommended it so highly, she bought several copies for friends and gave me one.  I've done that before.

Years ago, I bought copies of The Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett for my entire book club.  I wanted to make sure everyone read it and enjoyed it as much as I did.  They did not enjoy it like I did, sadly.  For them.  (I find humor is difficult to get agreement on.  Or at least what I consider to be humor.)  I gave my copy of Winner to my friend to read when she gave me Open.  I like her recommendation so far and I hope she likes mine.  (My self-esteem depends on it!)  (Not really.)  I'm not afraid to be a pusher at great personal risk to my reputation.  Twilight, anyone?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In A Tiny Voice

I want to make a virtual Dudeist church sign, but I have writer's block. It's like deciding what a tattoo should say.  I have the same feeling whenever I try to do my Six Word Memoir.  Or Twitter for that matter.  I wouldn't be blogging if I could spit it out in 140 characters or less.  As for that tattoo, I'm not opposed.  I just can't imagine what I'd say and it's a teeny bit more of a commitment than a tweet.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I've Been Slacking

It's June 1. I have had two episodes these past couple of weeks of walking away from the blog for a few days. The first time, I was in a bad mood; the second time, I was in a really good mood. Apparently, I'm only inspired to write when feeling eh. "Eh" is my inspiration.

In honor of June 1, I'm giving myself a directive (yeah, I'm talking to you) to blog everyday until the beginning of Lent. I was going to go in for the full 365, but giving the blog up for Lent next year should be an option. Until then, I'll post with reckless disregard for my feelings.

(Why honor June 1? Why the hell not. It's as good a jumping off point as any other.) {I stopped right here to google significant June 1 events and..}

I'M FREAKING OUT! I just googled June 1 birthdays and Charlene was born on JUNE 1, 1950! I just NOW found this out! I had already embedded the video and everything before looking it up. I had already written the above parenthetical. My hair is standing on end. I'm dying.

The name is in the mail.

I found someone with a nameless baby. A pregnant friend mentioned on facebook she's looking for a baby name, so I e-mailed her my list of suggestions. (Yes, I realize lamenting on facebook is not the same as actually soliciting me for advice. I sent her the list anyway.) She was polite and responded positively. As for the baby, I was happy for her all along, of course, but now I have skin in the game. I can't wait for her to deliver so I can see if she picked something I recommended. Should I bill her now or after the birth?

Vegan Week

I have mentioned before my desire to adopt a vegan diet. Well, I accidentally started last week and now I'm on Day 8. Turns out, once I tried to break my latte addiction, I substituted with lots of salad. I've had good restaurant experiences so far, the best at a Salvadoran place. My 11-year-old (you know, the nameless girl) baked vegan cookies yesterday. They're called Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows. Fabulous.

I don't have lofty goals to make this a lifetime lifestyle, but I'm so enjoying it right now.

Fun Fact: Oreos are vegan.

One room, two sides

The getting rid of shit initiative continues - slowly, but it continues. My house might need some fiber.

Slight progress has been made. You know I gutted the armoire of its art supplies and I made a trip to Goodwill. We have also painted our living room and dining room white. We're now calling our office The Yoga Room. We don't do yoga, but expect to be motivated to take it up by an uncluttered space called The Yoga Room. Any day now. (I have made zero progress on our master bedroom - it is still "before.") Every room is in a transitional phase.

Here are opposite ends of my living room today.
By the door, a new pile of shit for Goodwill. Yippee, progress.

On the mantle, a new configuration.  The painting deserves a close-up.

A dear 12-year-old friend of ours painted this and gifted us with it. It's our backyard. We only just took down the swing set a few weeks back, which makes the painting even sweeter.