Under protest.

July 21, 2014

The mood might have been upbeat as we marched into the big box store, but it was a lie – for one of us any way. The signs and displays and warnings that school was starting soon! Stock up on supplies! had been out for a few weeks – since before 4th of July, if you can believe that – but I wasn’t having it. School doesn’t start for more than a month! They’re rushing past the entire second half of summer!

And then I remembered what happened last year.

Last year I staged a similar protest. I refused to buy school supplies in July because the girls didn’t start until the end of August. I had a major family vacation to prep for; I didn’t have time to be distracted by the almighty dollar’s need to push school supplies! I’d worry about it when we got back from vacation.

Then, when vacation was over and we set out to conquer School Supply Mountain, everything was gone. Binders, loose-leaf paper, notebooks, pronged folders. All of it. Even the expensive stuff! It wasn’t like we dilly-dallied – we still beat tax-free weekend. In fact, we ventured out the very first weekend we had the girls. But it didn’t seem to matter. My protest wasn’t bringing any of the supplies back. I picked up what we could and then I let loose on the check-out girl – something I never, ever do (because what control does she have over what gets purchased?). I thought it was ridiculous that a major supplier ran out of back-to-school products almost a month before school even started; that if that was the case, more supplies needed to be purchases next year. She answered that the teachers were the ones at fault – that they swooped in and bought out whatever was on the shelves, no matter what was left or how many weeks there were til school.

Since I was left with little choice – shop the second the goods were spotted, or pay 93458348% mark-up at an office supply store – the girls and I went aisle diving this weekend. We had as much fun as we could, although it took us an hour and we were a bit out of sorts by the end. But it’s done. $130 later. Now I just need a place to store all of this where we won’t trip over it for another six weeks.


Spoiled rotten (if I’d let her).

July 17, 2014

I can’t even admit how much money I spent. Spoiler alert: it was a lot. In fact, it was double what I spent at any other store – and I stopped at store in which there aren’t as many secrets as advertised.

This happened:


See, Fen likes to go through toys like they’re free, or something. I buy her the really tough, can’t-be-ruined toys, and she likes them okay…but they’re not her favorites. Her favorites are those Kong toys that are covered in tennis-ball-type fuzz. I don’t know if it’s the fuzz or the smell, or the fact that she gets a kick out of turning the squeaker on and off by herself (I prefer “off”, myself), but she loves them. She’ll fling one across the room and play fetch with herself, even; that’s how much she likes them!

So what happened is that I stopped at PetSmart to buy Fen a new toy and saw that her favorite toys were marked down from $16 a pop to $6 a pop. On clearance. And you know how much I love a good clearance sale! So I bought every single one they had. Not pictured is a doggy-shaped larger variety that Fen had already been started adoring. (I’m not so mean as to hoard them all for later.) The shark was pricier – he was $20 and part of a new line. He’s squishy, has no squeaker, and seems like he could outlast even my destructo dog. We’ll see.

So that’s how come I’m down a goodish amount of money. And also why Fenway is mad at me right now. See, she has her Kong puppy that she’s been chewing on. And she loves him – it’s not like she’s deprived. Last night after taking the picture of the goods I have socked away, I cut the packaging off and gave Fenway the shark. But that wasn’t good enough for her. She spent the evening lying on her belly in the hallway, facing away from me, because she wanted another of the fuzzy Kong toys.


Of course, every time I took her picture, she acted all happy and interested until she realized I wasn’t giving in. What a sulker. She should check with the girls – sulking has no effect on my cold, cold heart. Or else we’d all be spoiled rotten. And broke!

Don’t worry – it’s still a jungle out there.

July 15, 2014

I was sad to learn several weeks ago that my favorite tree in my running park had fallen down. Not all of it, but a goodish half had rotted through and then finally tumbled during one of our wild and crazy start-of-summer storms. I was a bit heartsick – that tree always cheered me up when I was running. It was something to focus on, something to offer shade, something solid to hate when it refused to get a lil closer.

That, and it scared the crap out of me.

It used to look exactly like the tree from The Jungle Book, you know, with the vultures sitting and waiting for Sher Khan to kill Mowgli…or were they offering Mowgli tips on how to kill the tiger? Hmm… in any case, all it took was one afternoon when it was cloudy and overcast and a whole mess of vultures were sitting in my tree for me to dart my eyes towards the tall grass, waiting to see if Sher Khan was going to come chase me. I was convinced that he would do it, could do it. He was there, waiting.

No more. Now that my tree is broken, so is the spell. I feel a bit safer from my man-eating (cartoon) tiger. A bit.

D2148557-B6CC-4648-B55B-A85A4C43D94CExcept apparently we’re not out of the woods yet. Sher Khan might have cleared out to look for other fields identical to his movie scenes, but Kaa, the evil snake who often tried to hypnotize Mowgli and eat him, well he’s still around.

Run2You need to believe he’s brown, two feet instead of eight or ten, and…well…a copperhead instead of whatever large, green jungle snake Kaa was, but STILL! Not a fun friend to have lurking in the grass! Corrie found him while she was out walking her dog and once I figured out what kind of snake he was, I told her BAD IDEA LUCILLE, stop looking! Turn and run!

And if Kaa and Sher Khan weren’t enough, now we have fairytales mixing realms, because good god if I didn’t see Aragog’s children running amok while I was out for a run Sunday morning.

Run3He was almost the size of my hand, and much bigger than the two I killed in my house when Rhi was here. Apparently I am much more afraid of them out in the while – possibly because I’m the one who has broken the treaty and ventured into their domain? Or possibly because it was the size of a small car. Either way. I turned the corner, it was there, and I slammed on the brakes and screamed something that rhymed with “truck!” in a high, girly, scaredy-cat scream. It was unfortunate. Then I had to back up, get a running start, and long-jump over that sucker because they have excellent vision and scuttle lightning fast! I didn’t want him scampering up my leg or anything.

And so this is why I am going to need to bring some sort of gun with me when I go running from now on. Crazy people I can handle. Silly cartoon predators that may or may not actually exist I can (mostly) handle. But actual, real, live predators who are lurking, waiting to eat me from the ankles up?


A bookish round-up.

July 13, 2014

Summer seems to have two modes at Casa de Katie this year – either we’re so busy that I have a hard time finding time to blog about our adventures, or things are s-l-o-w and I’m too busy recuperating to tackle the mountain of blogging ideas that piled up. So I’m going to take the easy way out and steal a bookish round-up meme that my friend Trish posted over at her blog, Life, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity. (You should go read her. She’s awesome!)

BOOKS RECENTLY FINISHED: I’ve read twelve books this month so far. Two were re-reads: I read Room by Emma Donoghue because Trish was reading it for the first time and her tweets made me want to go back and revisit it because I read the book so quickly the first time that I couldn’t remember big chunks of how things happened; and Millbury by Chris Sinacola because I had two copies of it and I pulled one out to give to my sister while she was here.

Four were YA books that were, frankly, pretty disappointing. Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick, about a teen who is mysteriously turned into the most beautiful and irresistible woman in the world, was written in a style I found too simplistic and drove me batty with the way it dumbed things down for the audience; If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, which is like a newer, lower class protag retelling of Face on the Milk Carton and never pulled me into the story; Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal, which was actually sort of decent except I wasn’t in the mood for more paranormal teen fic (protag can hear the ghost of Jacob Grimm and mysteries in his town abound); and After the End by Amy Plum that I came thisclose to buying hardcover because it sounded amazing – teen living in Alaska after World War III (and decimation of the world) finds her village wiped out and consequently discovers that the rest of the world wasn’t destroyed in a World War after all – which would have been a lot better without the confusing paranormal storylines that NO ONE MENTIONED IN THE BOOK FLAP COPY.

I read one decent YA book that was fluffy and fun, even if it was a bit dippy at times – Jennifer E. Smith’s This Is What Happy Looks Like. Two teens accidentally start emailing (after an initial email was sent to the wrong address) and fall for each other – only she doesn’t know he’s actually a movie star. If you want a cute, gooey love story that you can knock off in an hour or two, this is your book – but borrowing rather than buying might be the way to go.

Natacha Appanah’s The Last Brother is the lit fic equivalent, I think. It was an okayish read about WWII’s impact on the remote island Mauritius, kind of like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas for adults, with deeper thematic exploration, more characters, and in a different setting. Yeah, I know, but really.

Which leaves three really good books: Time and Againby Jack Finney, that a friend had recommended to me, but what really sealed the deal was that Stephen King described it as THE book about time travel. It was definitely his inspiration for 11/22/63. And so much less confusing than The Time-Traveller’s Wife! The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez has been getting all the buzz since before it came out, and for good reason. It was so hard to put down! Given all the talk about immigration lately, it’s a good reminder that every single person on this planet has a story. I loved the short chapters from all the minor characters’ perspectives, telling how to came to live in this one building, and I loved even more how they fit into the bigger story, so the book felt cohesive, never choppy. It fell just short of being a grandslam recommend-to-everyone-right-now sort of read, but was hopeful and inspirational and heartbreaking all at once. The last starred read from this month was Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods about a man’s journey along the Appalachian Trail. Basically, it’s like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, except told from a middle-aged somewhat-privileged white guy’s perspective who isn’t out looking to find himself. There was a lot more historical and fact-filled sidebars about hiking and the trail and regions as opposed to Strayed’s personal history, introspection, and exploration of emotional well-being, but much to my surprise, I found myself liking it almost as much – once I adjusted my expectations.

NEW BOOKS IN THE HOUSE: Not too many books came home with me this month…well, comparatively. I had pre-ordered Rainbow Rowell’s Landline, so that showed up on my doorstep on Tuesday. (I’ve been forcing myself to read it slowly and savor, but I’ll still finish it later today. And then have to wait way too long for her next book. Sigh.) I had some books to trade-in at the used book store, so I picked up What Was She Thinking? by Zoe Heller in exchange. I also stopped at the library (because what if I ran out of things to read?!) and snapped up The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell, What They Do in the Darkby Amanda Coe, The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block, and The Time In Between by Maria Duenas that has been on my TBR for ages. I don’t always get to my library books before I bring them back, but they’re comforting – knowing I have good, free books at my disposal in case of reading emergencies.

NEW BOOKS ON MY E-READERS: I have The Eyes of the Dragonby Stephen King queued up for my SK re-read project. I’m also fighting the temptation to download JoJo Moyes’ new one, One Plus One.No, I don’t need to buy another new release – I spent my July allotment on Landline. But it’s so. tempting.

BOOKS ON THE NIGHTSTAND: I’m about 50 pages from the end of Landline.And I’m about to start Public Enemiesby Bryan Burrough as my lunch-break book.

So. Your turn – what have you been reading lately? And what books are up next in your summer reading?


Summer is having new adventures.

July 8, 2014

We desperately needed a break. The girls had slept in Saturday morning, after our big night out watching fireworks, but clearly everyone was still tired. The kids were whining, tempers were flaring with the slightest provocation, and I really needed to get out of the house. So when Corrie texted to see if we wanted to go get snocones, the answer was clearly YES, WE DO.

I thought when she said “snowcones”, what she meant was “go find one of those trucks on the corner.” 20 minutes, three highways, and four towns later, I figured out she meant something a little more established: Bahama Bucks, a super-cute, summer-themed specialty shop (shoppe?) catering exclusively to summer drinks. Especially snocones.


There must have been 100 flavors of snocone. I had no idea how I was going to choose! I was tempted by pink lemonade, but settled on Jamaican Punch. It seemed a little more excited, and less likely to be found elsewhere. Bee was unable to choose and mixed two flavors: sour apple and sour lime. (My girls – they are crazy for sour flavors.) Gracie went for root beer float – the flavor of snocone, not an actual float. And she mixed it with a scoop of ice cream. (I told you this place was fancypants.) And not only was it fancy, they were generous with the portions! I got a regular, and I swear my snocone was a foot high. The girls got smalls, and really, they could have gone with baby-sized. The snocone was balanced perilously, death-defyingly high. High enough to carve ice caves and all kinds of scenes into the sides. You know – because we’re grown-ups. Ahem. And for all of that, it was $12. Okay, maybe a lil steep for shaved ice, yes, but that’s what we’d pay for ice cream.

The girls sat and ate with us for awhile. Then they went outside and sat by themselves, within view. They were so. pre-teen. going off by themselves like that. They played with the games out on the patio for awhile while the grown-ups talked grown-up talk and people-watched and generally just enjoyed twenty minutes of weekend without out our chilluns.

After we all declared brain freeze, we scooped up our girlies and ventured back home. Where the girls promptly fell to pieces again. But. The point is that we found a new summer hidey-hole, a time-out from all the fun (and not-so-fun) when we need to cool off 5 or 10 degrees. And that – adventurin’ – is what summer break is all about!

Kermit-green, amiright?

Kermit-green, amiright?

The Fourth was with us.

July 7, 2014

It had been forever since I got to spend the 4th with my girls. Given that the holiday is during their month with their dad and hardly ever fell on one of my weekends, it had been more than four years since I got to watch fireworks with the girls. We had a Faux Fourth every year, with burgers, macaroni salad, our jello flag cake, and lots of water games…but how can that really compete with watching fireworks light up your daughters’ eyes?

Even with such a rosy outlook, I almost blew our weekend right from the start. I thought our town’s fireworks display was on Friday night – I mean, July 4th actually fell on a Friday! A holiday on a weekend! And perfect weather was planned! (Sorry, East Coast.) Who would mess with that?! Our town, apparently. Because our fireworks were scheduled for Thursday night, as I found out late Thursday afternoon, much to my dismay. I had been looking forward to couch lounging. Pizza. Pajamas. I didn’t want to have to stay dressed. Go out. And revel. Booo on that! That was for Friday night! And I couldn’t just skip fireworks – who knows when the next time I’d get to enjoy fireworks with the girls would be. After agonizing over it for a couple hours, I found a nearby town who was nice enough to host fireworks on the night of our country’s actual birthday, thank you very much, and couch lounging was preserved! Huzzah!

Of course, couch lounging still didn’t go as planned. After dinner, I discovered the Boston Pops was live-streaming their concert from the Esplanade – my favoritest of July 4th activities! I ran and got my dictator stick conductor’s baton and told the girls. Gracie sat and watched nearly the entire concert with me and Bee-girl drifted in and out. A few friends were online and tweeted the event with me and it was almost like I was home again, if only for a few hours.


The next morning, the girls and I drifted down to the town’s Fourth of July parade after sleeping in. (Hooray for long parades and towns with plenty of local parking!) We even got a decent spot for parade viewing, despite the fact that we showed up halfway through!


Say all you want about kids these days, but my girls loved watching the parade. Bee’s favorites were the “flag-girls” and Gracie’s were the marching bands. When this float went by, stylized after a log cabin and featuring people dressed as founding fathers, Bee piped up with, “Mom! Look! Patriots…but not the football kind. Sorry.”


My favorites were still the fire trucks. How many times did I stand on Main Street back home, watching the town’s parade end with all the fire trucks? (And how awesome was it that my uncle used to blow the horn or light up the siren when he drew the truck right in front of my cousin and I?)


After a lazy morning and an early cookout (with, yes, burgers and jello cake and macaroni salad on the actual Fourth – the indulgence!), the girls and I ventured out for fireworks. My plan was to park on the top of the parking garage at the mall, just a few blocks down the street from the park. I was worried that it would be crowded, even if we got there 90 minutes early. I should have been slightly suspicious when just a few other families were there. But Gracie declared it the best! 4th! ever! and so I didn’t much care about anything.


After bragging that we had the best spot, a stupid mall cop walked over and said no one was allowed on the parking garage. The girls were absolutely destroyed, but I promised we’d find a good spot. I was about to head out the airport where John and Corrie were hanging out, but saw a few families hanging out in a store parking lot across the street from the mall. We wouldn’t be up as high, but the sightlines looked good. And judging by how quickly it filled up just after we got there, it seemed to be a local favorite. The girls cheered up after awhile – the fact that they were sitting on the hood of the car didn’t hurt.


And the fireworks were just as wonderful as we had hoped.


It was a long day and a late night, but worth every single year I waited for it.

Gone girls.

July 2, 2014

Sometimes quiet is really, really quiet. I grew up in a house where quiet was more than an endangered species – it was nearly extinct. Our house was never quiet (well, unless our dad was asleep and we were all too afraid to make a peep). At night, after the kitchen was closed and lights were mostly off and my mom and the kids who were still up were gathered watching television, our house would hush…but never really quiet. It’s like the memories of all the kids and friends and cousins and aunts and uncles and general hustle and bustle of running a large(r) household were still echoing off the walls.

My house is relatively quiet, at least compared to that. I don’t run a radio constantly for background noise the way my mom will. The TV isn’t on unless we’re watching it (and during the school year we enjoy a screen-free school-week). But two very chatty girls (and their mama) and a boisterous, attention-needy puppy still makes for considerable noise.

And that’s just when we’re running ops normal! When you add in a crazy auntie who’s visiting, plus the fact that it’s summer break and our own staycation, and pandemonium sets in. But a good kind of pandemonium. It was lovely having Rhi here. The girls were happy and well-behaved. Auntie Rhi made for a fine ring leader of our little circus. I’d come home and Gracie had done the girls’ laundry (a summer rule) and Bee had put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher (her summer chore). A new load of dirty dishes was loaded. Counters were wiped down. New flamingo decorations were added every day. Summer reading and book reports had been supervised. And best of all, I had someone to talk to about my day as I chugged down a glass (or three) of wine. (ThePlaceThatShallNotBeDiscussed has been stressy – and that’s the understatement of the year.) Two weeks have never flown by so fast!

Yesterday, Rhi abandoned me to go back to Connecticut because she doesn’t love me enough to stay…or because her work won’t give her any more time off, one of the two. And Gracie and Bee went off to their dad’s house for their July visitation. I’ll still have the girls for dinner two nights a week and every other weekend. In fact, tonight is one of our dinners and this weekend is my weekend, which actually starts tomorrow since it’s a long weekend, so it’ll be like July hasn’t happened yet. But that didn’t stop me from missing all my people when I got home. The quiet was too unsettling. Poor Fenway looked behind me at least a dozen times, waiting for the girls to appear. When that didn’t happen, she walked from room to room to room looking for her bestie, Auntie Rhi. When she realized she was stuck with me and only me, the poor puppy lied down at my feet and sighed all the sighs. She didn’t even want to play fetch, the poor, friendless pup.

The first few days are always the hardest. You’d think I’d be ready for a break from the girlies, and I’ve found I usually am – for a few hours. Then 7:30 hits, when they’d usually be getting home from their dad’s house, and I start to really miss them. I’m sure this weekend will cure me, though. We’ll have all the fun for the 4th, and enjoy all sorts of weekend fun, and then Fenway and I will go back into withdrawal on Sunday night.

July – it is the best of times, it is the worst of times. And definitely, surely, without a doubt too quiet.

The likes and dislikes of Bee-girl, who is eight.

June 30, 2014

I can’t believe another year has passed. Bee-girl is eight – EIGHT! And I’m pretty sure she’d tell you that turning eight is super-great, despite the blues little sister someone was feelin’ last night. (I’m not really holding her to them – she was worn out after a very exciting birthday weekend at her dad’s house.) When she’s not lingering on everything she can’t do or get away with anymore, Bee girl is smashingly, fantastically so full of Bee-ness that it takes my breath away. Sure she has her shy moments, but I’ve never met a child more confident and sure of who she is. Not that Bee’s confidence spills over into everything she does – she stumbles and falters like anyone else. No, I mean more about who she is. I know 30-somethings who aren’t as sure of themselves as my Bee-girl!

Which is why I am very confident about the things Bee likes and no-way-Jose does not like (at all!). Because she will either bowl you over with a tackle hug or give you her patented Really? flick of the eyes when confronted with them.

10 Things Bee-girl Is Madly, Crazy in Love With:

1. Annoying her sister. One of my favorite things that emerged as Bee came even more into her own this year was the realization that she can both adore her sister and try to annoy the bejeezus outta her. It’s like Bee said to herself, Wait a minute. Nothing bad happens if I step out of my sister’s shadow. Even if I then blow a raspberry at her. Like Bee’s new persona “Stacey” that she came up with because everyone says how much she looks like Gracie. So she invented an evil twin – and then ran with it when she noticed that it drove. Gracie. ba-na-nas. Didn’t hurt that the grown-ups all cracked up, too, so Bee feels like she’s sharing a joke with them. All the power!

2. Fashion. Bee calls herself “a fashion girl” and it’s true – she loves clothes, shoes, and anything to do with clothes and shoes. She pulls together the cutest outfits (some that I never would have put together), will make fashion boards with outfits cut from magazines, has fashion shows with her Barbies and Polly Pockets, and will sit for hours if I get her a sticker book filled with outfits and dolls to dress. As long as Bee-girl doesn’t get lost in the weeds and get hung up on appearances, I’m good with the obsession. It’s nice to have something all your own.

3. Chocolate. Bee is silly enough to think she loves chocolate more than I do…but even I have to admit, it’s close. Sometimes if we’re going out to eat and there aren’t any options that Bee likes, I treat her to chocolate cake from the dessert menu and call it dinner – because sometimes you just need that. And also because Bee isn’t scamming me – she is a “home-cooked meals” kinda gal and we can only eat pizza out so many times.

4. Dancing. When Bee was little, it was bouncing. It’s what Tiggers (and Bee-girls) do best! It’s morphed a bit into dancing. Bee leaps and pirouettes across the floor, shimmies and shakes to tunes in her head, and busts a move without provocation whenever actual music is on. That girl always hears music and isn’t scared to boogie on down. She likes to have fun and ain’t nobody gonna stop her! The girls still play “Introducing…!” all the time in front of the TV with their microphone. It’s so fun to sneak peeks!

5. Pets. Allll the pets! Don’t tell Gracie…but Fenway is Bee’s puppy right now. Fen loves both her girls (and her mama)(in that order), but she loves Bee-girl best of all right now. Bee’s attention isn’t as singular as Gracie’s – she can flutter off and forget she was just playing with the dog without even noticing she’s doing it – but she never has a sharp word for Fenway, either. And Fen follows her like she’s the Pied Piper. And then there are the four dogs at her dad’s house that she dotes on, her relentless searching for Friedrich when we’re at Auntie Kim and Rhi’s house, and somehow she batted her eyelashes and sweet-talked her dad and stepmom into getting a weeks-old kitten for her birthday.

6. Cooking. Bee is still in love with baking and cooking and helping me in the kitchen. And as she’s gotten better at it, she’s earning a bit more freedom, too. Bee-girl can bake a cake with minimal supervision, and makes a mean cheese-and-ham scrambled egg, too! I see culinary school in Bee’s future – that’s how much my Bee loves the kitchen!

7. Puppy dog eyes. I think this is born out of Bee’s love for mischief, because it started as a joke. She’d bat her eyelashes and make puppy dog eyes and we’d all laugh at her and tell her how cute she looked and that she was good at it. So then Bee-girl started making puppy dog eyes for real (if you can count laughing and the sparkle of mischief that glinted in her eyes as “for real” still). She knows she can talk us into many, many things if she pulls this stunt. Again – all the power!

8. Self-validation. Remember when I said Bee-girl knows herself and is down-deep good with herself? I wasn’t kidding. Add into the mix that Bee’s inherited my stubborn nature, and what happens is this: Bee cannot be swayed by any outside opinion. It can bolster what she already thinks, but you can’t talk her into changing her mind. Her opinion about what she’s wearing, what she’s doing, or how she’s acting – you can agree with her and inflate what she’s already thinking, or you can disagree with her – but you can’t change her mind. It’ll come in handy when she’s a grown-up, but it’s pretty intimidating when you’re her mom!

9. Catching bugs. Dear buggies in my yard: I’m sorry. Bee-girl has been scooping up grasshoppers, lady bugs, moths, jumpy things – everything but spiders, wasps, and ants – and putting them into her bug motel. She thinks it’s great fun! Every night she goes out into the yard, and every day I let about 20 guys free. I’m glad she’s not scared…but I feel kinda bad for the inmates.

10. Make believe and magic. Bee loves playing pretend. She still plays Barbies and dolls and house and Polly Pockets with abandon. She believes in the Tooth Fairy and sends letters back and forth with her. She believes in fairies and that she might see Tinkerbell. She thinks the rabbit who lives in our yard is Peter Cottontail and that he pooped jelly beans on our patio because he knows the Easter Bunny. In other words, Bee is still all the best parts of being a kid. I hope Eight doesn’t destroy that, or we might have words.

10 Things Bee Does Not Like (And You Can’t Make Her):

1. Homework. Bee is not a great student. She struggles and works for every little thing. It’ll make her a great college student because she’ll know how to study, but right now, getting reading homework done is like pulling teeth. But worse.

2. Spelling. Bee is never, ever, ever, ever going to be a decent speller. She can’t hear the phonetics and her brain can’t piece together the rules. Nothing about it is intuitive for her. Let’s hope that’s not a prerequisite for a world-class chef.

3. Orange chicken (unless it’s Panda Express). Oh, Bee-girl. Ask her what her favorite food is and she just might tell you orange chicken. I know she loves the kind from Panda Express, and…wait, no, that’s it. I’ve tried cooking every other recipe I could find, and we’ve made all of the pre-fab frozen entrees I could find, too. Gracie’s having a good time with the experiments because she’s liked most of them. But Bee-girl? Not so much.

4. Going out to eat. Bee likes home-cooked food. Going out? Not so much. She’s not a picky eater, and she doesn’t mind trying new foods (she’s much better than her sister, actually), but she just doesn’t like going out. There are two or three restaurants where I know she’ll eat. Otherwise? Forget it. Not that it matters much because the only time we go out is on staycations. But still – you like to know you’ve got options.

5. Scary movies. One thing I love about Bee is that she knows herself so well. (Have I mentioned that a time or a hundred?) So it doesn’t bother her one single bit to tell me a movie is too scary for her and she’ll just go play in the front room. She doesn’t think she’s missing out. She won’t try to push herself and then pay for it later – she is just fine bypassing all that nonsense. Which is probably a great big GIANT blessing, because Bee gets nightmares like I do, and she’s not the best sleeper.

6. Reading. Bee is not the biggest fan of reading time at our house. I have to force her to read on her own or to me. And when it’s time to read out loud as a family? She tries to sneak into the front room to play, and when that doesn’t work, she starts playing in the living room where she can listen – only she forgets to pay attention.

7. Wearing sneakers. It’s a fight all year making Bee wear sneakers to school on gym days. “But Coach says we can wear boots when it’s cold out!” “But, Mom, I can’t wear sneakers with that skirt – they look dumb and they don’t match!” Oof. I appreciate that Bee will wear alllll of the eleventy hundred shoes she owns, but fighting about sneakers when she needs to wear them is not high on my list.

8. Things she’s not good at. Bee hates when her sister and I put on Jeopardy. She won’t play board games unless she thinks she can win. She’ll quit in the middle of something – not with the attitude of a sore loser, but because she sees something shiny and would much rather follow the sparkles. She’s not mean-spirited or grouchy about any of it (unless she’s really tired), its more of a “life is short; why spend it doing that when there’s all this other stuff! I could be doing” kinda thing.

9. Taking medicine. It’s a good thing Bee is “the healfiest” as she’ll tell you, because she cannot take medicine. She gets all worked up about it, convinces herself she won’t be able to swallow the pill in question, and then that makes her alien gag reflex kick in. Before you know it, she’s spewed the drink, the half-dissolved pill, and everything else all over the floor or the bed. Because will she stand over the sink? Of course not. Sigh. She’s going to be eating chewable Tylenol when she goes off to college.

10. Sleeping without Bear. In her heart, Bee knows she’s getting too big for “snuffed” animals. (Hey – at least she says “snuffed.”) Her eyes say it all as she gets Bear off the floor and pulls him up to the top bunk with her. I had a stuffed animal to hug after nightmares all the way through college; I’m not ever telling her she can’t have him. I made a rule when she was little that Bear had to stay in bed so we wouldn’t spend two hours looking for him each night, and she does much better about that. There are only a few times now when she’ll come out, sheep faced, and say that she can’t find Bear. I think she could sleep without him if she had to…but it wouldn’t be great sleep. And I get that.


So there you go, sweet-hearted girl o’ mine. A teeny, tiny glimpse of who you are. There aren’t enough words to say what you mean to me, so these tiny, ineffective lists will have to do. Love you!!

Things that happen when you leave your kids home with Auntie Rhi.

June 27, 2014

One of the awesome things about having Auntie Rhi here for two weeks is that the girls get to spend some quality time with her. Of course, Auntie Rhi is slightly crazy (remember that time she baked a tie-dye cake and wrote in frosting: “AT LEAST THE KIDS ARE STILL ALIVE”?), so you never know what’s going to happen. You might come home to find all the stuffed animals under tables and TV trays because they were playing zoo, or everyone’s face painted because…well, just because. The girls love this. They embrace this. Because crazy is a highly valued trait in our house.

Which means that when you leave your kids home with Auntie Rhi, you’re unsurprised to find a dog bone on the roof of your garage.


Or a line of taste testing material lined up and waiting for the girls to feed to you with Q-tips, while cackling wildly like mad little scientists.


Or stories about how the girls went bunny-hunting and set out bait and then devised equipment that they would need. Of course, right after I got home, the bunny showed up and the girls went scrambling out of the house, looking for all the world like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, ghost hunting. Or moose hunting. Definitely something crazy.


Because crazy is what we do best. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

In which we do not curse the rain (though we might want to).

June 26, 2014

I knew we might be in for a bumpy ride towards the end of Auntie Rhi’s visit – June usually leaves with a literal bang, in the guise of a tornado or some such huge storm – but I wasn’t planning for an entire week of flooding rains. But that seems to be what’s on the docket.

We snuck in our plans to visit the zoo on Saturday – and I’m glad we went then because it’s been wet and wild ever since. Sunday we had planned to go for a leisurely brunch, then visit the waterpark like Bee has been planning for her “family” birthday party, and then go out to our “fancy” dinner. A fun and ambitious day, worthy of staycation! But then the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down and that was the end of that plan. The girls tried very hard not to be disappointed; they exclaimed over the very. big. raindrops. and delighted over the number of times the NOAA alert radio went off. The first big storm in awhile tends to be new(!) and exciting(!). We lounged around in pajamas, watched Frozen, played board games, and waited for the downpours to end.

They didn’t. At least, not until right before bedtime, and while we couldn’t go to the waterpark for the last hour it was open (because I am a mean mom like that, refusing to spend $30 to get us in for just one hour of swimming), I did pigpile everyone into the car and take us out for frozen yogurt and used books. Which is almost as much fun.

Monday night the rain lifted enough for us to go to fancy dinner and we had a great night! The ground was a little soggy, but it was sunshiney enough to do what we wanted to do and that’s all we cared about. Plus – hooray for drought relief! We were winners all the way around!

Tuesday night the girls went to their dad’s for dinner and the grown-ups got a much needed break. But not from the guilt. I felt so bad that our plans got scuttled and that the girls were forced inside each afternoon while it downpoured some more. So I made plans with Auntie Rhi for Wednesday night: if the rain managed to hold off for one day, we would take the girls to Putt-Putt for a round of miniature golf and go-karts. It might cost a fortune, but it would certainly rescue the week! Plus, there was a good chance I could hunt down some coupons. Hooray for plans!

You know what happened, right? It flooded to end all floods. Okay, well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not for some parts of town. Half the highways were closed for water on the roads and ensuing accidents, Six Flags was under water because the creek flooded its banks, the entertainment district was flooded, and high water rescues were needed in much of the town we live (and play) in. The rain at work was up over the curb yesterday. A local highway had water so high, it was pouring over the divider in the middle. That’s how floody it was!

No Putt-Putt for us. Instead we went to No Frills Grill and let the girls play in the little game room while we drank tasty beer and waited for our food. Rhi and Gracie played the quiz game and Gracie got mad at us quite a few times for not paying enough attention. We laughed, the kids were crazy, and mostly we did not care about the rain. Also: we win for not telling the girls about our golfing plans, so there was no whining about what we could have been doing!

The rain has been lovely. It’s making a (teeny, tiny) dent in our drought, so I’m very carefully not complaining. But it would be really nice, Universe, if we could please have some sunshine this week for a bit of fun before Auntie Rhi leaves!


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