Boy time

Before dinner calm
Pre-dinner calm.

We went to Davidson this weekend, for Chris and Lauren’s wedding. It was one of those rare weekends back home in which most of the time was spent with BOYS. (With Kelsey and Grace gone, there is little incentive to fill up the harem.)

Boys, boys, boys:

Lil Bro Peep is all grown up
Sam, all grown up.
Pyrrha and Jak
Jak and Pyrrha.
Husband!
Husband.
Caleb!
Caleb.
Mom and her daddy
Da-Dan and his youngest daughter.

Gotta love boys. Patrick also showed up, but he is not featured here, as I was in the throes of post-wedding food poisoning when he arrived. So happy to get to see him, too.

Food poisoning aside, we had a lovely, calm weekend. Pyrrha acted like she owned the place. She’s become very comfortable with Davidson living and I daresay she was rather disappointed to come back to our shack after three days at the family estate. Dublin has become her constant companion and has been showing her the Ways of the Normal Dog.

You may have noticed an improvement in photo quality (although not necessarily photo skill). This is because I picked up my new camera, Louis, which I bought from Grace. I feel very honored to have him in my care. I am sure I won’t use him half as well as his first owner, but I am going to do my best to learn everything I can. There is so much to learn! It is a formidable piece of equipment.

How nice to be away, how nice to be home.

Wish I could have stayed

Prowling the kitchen
Pyrrha, prowling Juju and TT’s kitchen.

Our weekend away was a happy, full one. The family women accomplished lots for Kelsey and Alex’s wedding; Pyrrha acted like a normal, stable dog and became fast friends with Dublin; we missed Sam; Dad found a new method of receiving basic channels; we spent most of our free time walking the dogs; I nagged Grace to give me some of her clothes; she said she’d sell me her camera instead. At dinner on Saturday, I announced that I would stay for a month. If only I could.

I don’t particularly enjoy driving and nearly five hours in the car by myself (with a sleeping wolf in the back) was plenty. However, after you pass Lynchburg, the landscape suddenly becomes beautiful. The sky clears. The light is purer, the hills are greener and higher. I feel close to God when I’m driving back home in the mountains. “Virginia is God’s country,” my grandmother, raised on a farm near Amherst, has always said. I wholeheartedly agree.

My hair has reached that long, unmanageable point, but I’m too lazy to make an appointment at the salon. “I think I’m just going to keep it at this length for a while, and then I’ll cut it short,” I told Guion the other night, while I was looking at it in the mirror. “I don’t think that’s how hair works,” he replied.

Monday Snax

Family + Dublin
My family + our surrogate dog, Dublin.
Thanksgiving girls
Girls of Thanksgiving. L to R: me, Dana, Grace, Emily, Kelsey, and Nicole.
Proper Pratt siblings
Pratt siblings on our best behavior. Win is so stoic.

Ah, Thanksgiving. It was so ideal. The weather was divine; the food, miraculous; the company, perfect. As always, it is difficult to get back into the weekly routine, but I feel sufficiently rested and hopeful. I left ineffably thankful for our families. And I got to spend plenty of time with dogs, which was naturally another thing to be grateful for. Photos from the holiday weekend on my Flickr.

Snax with leftover turkey and cranberry sauce:

The Extraordinary Syllabi of David Foster Wallace. Kind of thankful I’m not taking a lit class with DFW. Although I think it is totally wonderful that he assigned The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. (Slate)

Women Who Write Like Men and Men Who Write Like Women. A somewhat interesting corollary to my thoughts on this matter? So, it turns out that men and women do actually use pronouns differently, and so we can overgeneralize and say that there are some “men who write like women” and some “women who write like men.” Haven’t processed the implications of this, but it’s still interesting. (Full Stop)

Joan Didion on Stage. More Didion (because I’m reading The Year of Magical Thinking right now, probably). And because she is snarky and cool. (The New Yorker’s Book Bench)

Living with (Millions) of Books. Houses without books look soulless. (English Muse)

Jonathan Lethem’s Alphabetical Absolutism: How Writers Keep Their Books. Photographs of contemporary writers’ bookshelves. I liked Junot Diaz’s thoughts on the matter of buying more books than one can read in a year. (The New Yorker’s Book Bench)

Peter Jellitsch Draws the Wind. Now that’s a crazy endeavor. But how cool is this? Very. (Fox Is Black)

Bicycle Portraits, Part III. This looks like a beautiful book. Would make a gorgeous gift for the avid cyclist in one’s life. (Miss Moss)

30 Tech Gifts Under $100. It seems all people want these days are gadgets, so this is a small but helpful gift guide for design-friendly digital-age presents. [Side note: Can I talk about how much I hate the asterisk in the Design*Sponge title? I always want to leave it out, even though copy editor rules tell me you’re supposed to punctuate a title the way a firm punctuates it. Still. I think it is stupid, Bonney. Even though your gift guides and your general website are great.] (Design*Sponge)

Constellation Calendar. Ooh, love. Even though I can’t identify a constellation to save my life (except probably Orion’s belt). (Unruly Things)

The Class Comforter. The sweetest. I would like to have that job/get someone else in my office to have that job. (Sweet Fine Day)

On not being the golden child

Mom and Sam
Mother with the sleepy golden child, Christmas 2010. Source: Me

TIME magazine’s cover story from this past week was a selection from Jeffrey Kluger’s new book, The Sibling Effect. The article, titled “Playing Favorites,” documents the phenomenon that is well-known to everyone with siblings: Mom and Dad have favorites. The basic premise of this article is that if your parents tell you they don’t have favorites, they’re lying. We’ve always protested this was true in our family, but now we have psychology and science on our side.

The general consensus of psychologists quoted in this research is that moms tend to favor the first-born son and dads tend to favor the last-born daughter.

In our family, this theory works out. Sam is a flawless demigod in my mother’s eyes; he is incapable of wrongdoing. Grace, on the other hand, has been the beloved of my father since she arrived as the beautiful, sassy blond angel. It’s not that Kelsey and I were unloved or ignored. Far from it. Kelsey became my father’s prize thoroughbred, the champion athlete, and I was my mother’s ongoing project. Since I was little, I always felt that she disciplined me the most because she saw herself the most in me. (And besides, even if I’m not my mother’s favorite child, I’m definitely my grandmother’s favorite grandchild.)

The child hath returned
Father with his favorite, who hath returned from the vast expanses of the Earth. Source: Me

We are lucky in that our parents’ favoritism tends to shift around from season to season, though. We commonly joke about our standing on the parental totem pole. Dad even once made a list of his favorite children and he likes to remind us where we rank (Dublin is almost always #1, followed closely by whomever is spending the most time at home). This shifting around in ranking does make it difficult to pinpoint who is the favorite, and in that way, I think we avoided the insecurity complexes that might have come from having parents who were obvious about their favorites.

I never believed Mom when she told us that she didn’t have a favorite, because I felt like it was impossible. You have four kids, four very distinct humans. How could you not like one just a little bit more than the others? I remember finally getting her to yield slightly on this issue. “I don’t have a favorite,” she once told me, “but I love all of you in different ways.” “Aha!” I said, triumphant. “But then you do have to love some of us a little more than others! If you love us all in different ways, then it is impossible to love us all equally.” She rolled her eyes and went out to putter around in her garden. We constantly bug our parents about this, because all we want is for them to admit it, so we can each justify all of the perceived, minute injustices we suffered for the sake of parental favoritism.

The only thing I’m worried about when/if I have children is this: What if I’m not very skillful at hiding my favoritism? What if it’s evident that I love one kid more than the other? At the end of the article, Kluger gives some practical advice: Just lie about it. Tell the kids that you love them all the same. And then maybe they’ll believe you.

What about you? Are you the golden child? Do your parents still deny that they have a favorite?

(P.S. I think these photos I’ve shared are deeply revealing and provide strong proof for my long-suspected hypothesis.)

Monday Snax

Late Monday Snax!

People we saw (click on thumbnails to enlarge!):

As you can see, we had a wonderful weekend in North Carolina, even though it was jam-packed with activities and even though we didn’t get to see everyone we’d hoped to (e.g., Danielle, Meller, Logan, Sam, Carmen, Sarah, etc.). I feel absolutely exhausted today and felt like falling asleep several times today at work. The dark and stormy skies don’t help that feeling, either. But we’re home and happy to be back even though we miss everyone dearly.

Snax as a garnish around a stuffed swan:

Shaun and Ann-Marie’s Engagement Shoot. We got to spend a handful of time with Shaun, one of G’s best friends, and his utterly fabulous, funny, and beautiful Aussie fiancee, Ann-Marie this weekend. They just got their engagement photos back and I think they are just perfect! Can’t wait for their wedding in August! (Sarah Der Photography)

Mixed America’s Family Trees. This is such a fascinating feature from the NYT: A series of interactive family trees with photographs from families with mixed racial heritage from across the country. I was really into genealogy in middle school. If I had to take a stab at my multicolored leaves, I think my mix is predominately Irish-Scotch-Dutch. How about you?

Daddy-O. I miss my dad. I love this photo of him and Dublin. (Como Say What?)

Leaving Tokyo. These photographs of pregnant women and families with little children fleeing the Tokyo area are so heart-wrenching to me. The children look so frightened and serious. I think about Japan almost every day and I can’t get the Japanese out of my mind. (Tokyo Photojournalist)

Having a Dog Makes You Exercise More. Reason #3,408 why I NEED a dog. (We can give up online shopping, but we cannot give up NY Mag.) (New York Magazine)

50 Photos of Basset Hounds Running. This is absolutely and gloriously grotesque. If this isn’t proof that a Basset Hound is a really, really cruel way to breed an animal, nothing is. (Best Week Ever)

Sequinned Sewshi. Tiny, crafty things like this usually annoy me, but I have to admit that these hand-sewn sushi bits are pretty adorable. (Lobster and Swan)

Belle Sue. Dreamy, peaceful film photographs by Belle Sue. (Miss Moss)

15 Totally Surreal Vintage Ads. I think “totally surreal” is a bit too nice. “Extremely creepy” seems to fit better. (Flavorwire)