This picture is going to come out when I need some blackmail material.

September 25, 2014

Remember that time a little while back when I totally caught my ten-year-old trying to smuggle lipstick from her dad’s house, to her backpack, to school? Stepmom sent the Ex and I a picture today of something she found in Gracie’s room.

LipstickA small mirror covered with kisses in different shades of lipstick. Practicing kissing? Maybe. Choosing inappropriate lipstick shades? Maybe that, too. Growing up way, way too fast? Most definitely! I know it’s normal, and I’m laughing a whole bunch more than I’m freaking out. I’m just not quite ready for my first little baby to be a tween, never mind the teenagery doom that comes right after the (relatively) minor tweendom.

Still, it makes me feel better knowing that I’ve got some good blackmail material at the ready for when I need it. It’s not much, but I’ll take what I can get! Including laughing with Gracie’s dad and stepmom in these little moments in between the quiet panicky ones.

The single moms’ club.

September 24, 2014

The girls piled in the door last night, excited and out of breath, not an unusual occurrence after arriving from dinner at their dad’s house. They were talking over each other, petting the dog, and jockeying for hugs, babbling about their days. Bee, in particular, looked alight with news.

“Mom, J.Love’s [as we'll call her] mom is going to text you about picking her up tomorrow,” she said, jumping from one foot to another. “Her mom is getting out a little late and so you can pick up J.Love.” Okay, I could do that. Except I hadn’t gotten a text, and much as I love our girls, they do have a tendency to sometimes get the details wrong.

I texted Sunni, and it turns out she did need a favor. She works for a local company and had been commuting two hours each way to the other side of the metroplex. She got a transfer this summer so her commute is more like 15-20 minutes, and so she felt good about signing J.Love up for the After Care program at school, even with its stringent – and early – pick-up times. Except she’s discovering now at her new location that even though she’s supposed to leave at 5:00, Sunni doesn’t always get out right on time. And she’s sometimes 10-15 minutes late to After Care. And After Care is not happy.

So now we have a new plan: on Mondays and Wednesdays, when I pick up the girls, I’m also going to pick up J.Love. Sunni will only be those 10-15 minutes behind us and can pick her up at our house. Yes, I’m sure some days it might run a little later than that, but that’s what you do to help out your friends. We single moms have to do what we can to help one another out. I remember when we were little, my best friend’s mom had a seizure and couldn’t drive for almost a year (I think it was a year; maybe it just felt like a year because we were little?). The other moms in our circle of friends made sure our friend got to Girl Scouts and CCD and to our houses after school to play. My group of friends, even as young as we were, we were learning how to take care of each other and our moms recognized that and helped us out. They helped their fellow mom out. That’s one of the reasons I’m helping.

Bee and J.Love are over the moon. They know it’s just 15 minutes. And yet Bee is already making homework club plans, God love her. I’m happy for them. It’s always good to have one more mama in your village. I’m glad that after all the years of Bee having a shifting base of friends, she’s starting to have some keepers, some girls who have stuck around. I’ll do whatever I can to help. Sometimes it’s as easy as giving a friend a ride home two days a week.

It’s certainly worth it for those smiles I saw last night!

My shiny, new, cursed kitchen floors.

September 23, 2014

One of the things I didn’t blog about last year were the rather protracted contract negotiations that were finally resolved at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeDiscussed, and which yielded a sizable signing bonus and back pay. There were any number of things I could spend it on: I could put in an above-ground pool, I could save it for a down-payment on a car (my jeepy-jeep isn’t going to last forever), I could save it towards a new a/c unit (mine’s going to blow any year now, I’m sure)…

Instead I decided to sink it into some new flooring for the kitchen. The house is twelve years old and has been through two dogs and two kids – the entire house could use new flooring. Not to mention that there is – was – carpet in the kitchen under the table. When the Ex and I built the house, we weren’t thinking about what a hassle it would be to feed children in an area that had carpeting. We were barely married – we weren’t thinking about kids at all! And while mine are a goodish age and I mostly don’t have to worry about food at the table, I would still be a much better mom if I didn’t have to worry about the kitchen floor at all.

Kim and I had been looking at flooring options as we dreamed about home renovation projects we would one day tackle. We had picked out a nice smoky greyish-tan cork-based hardwood that looked modern, but not too modern. We picked out a few more options that would match our newly refinished kitchen cabinets and not clash with the kitchen table, and started pricing them out. Surprisingly, Home Depot had the best prices. AND they were running a special on flooring installation.

So we gave Home Depot a call to come out and do a professional measurement. I gave him my cell phone, and Kim’s cell phone as a secondary number in case I couldn’t be reached (my cell phone reception at work is sketchy, at best). This turns out to be important later. I scheduled something for the next day, the guy called Kim’s cell phone to make sure she was there (but not my phone), showed up, and all was good. He said they’d call to go over options in a day or two. This was August 18th.

The next day, I got a call on my cell phone to get the product information for the quotes. The guy took down the SKU numbers, got my email, and said he’d email me the formal quotes, but it looked like $1600 for one and $3000 for the cork one we really liked (and ultimately got). In my head I had made a deal that if they came in under $3000, I’d go with the one I really, really wanted. I called the guy back the next day and placed the order. He fumbled over a few instructions (because, as we found out later, he was an idiot who didn’t know what he was doing), and pretty soon I had a flooring order installed! When I asked if the flooring would be there in a week because we were hoping against hope it would be finished before Kim left, he said maybe, but he doubted it. My confirmation email with the order said 2-3 weeks on delivery. And everyone said they would call to schedule the delivery when the material came in.

Flash forward two weeks! Kim’s just left (sniffle), and I was checking messages from my home phone that I never use. I had one message from Home Depot from the 19th or 20th saying the measurement had been done incorrectly and they needed to talk to me before they ran the quote. Obviously that wasn’t the case, because the quote arrived and the order placed. Also – where the heck had they gotten my home phone number? I had another voicemail, too, saying my payment couldn’t be processed and to call them back. I checked my credit card and sure enough the payment had posted. I called Home Depot and left a message for the manager, which was never returned.

Another week goes by. We’re up to what – September 3rd? It was a Wednesday. I get a call on my cell mid-morning. It’s the delivery service contracted by Home Depot – my flooring is in! Not only that – it’s out on the truck for delivery! And the dispatcher wants to know when I can meet them. Huh what? I kindly told the guy that I could meet them after 5p, which obviously wasn’t what he wanted to hear. I had him confirm that it was out right that minute for delivery, which he did, and then I told him that no one from Home Depot had called to tell me it was in, and that they were supposed to call to schedule delivery. I told him I was at work and couldn’t just leave unannounced. He asked me to hold for a minute, came back on the line and then said he looked closer and wouldn’t you know! It actually said on the slip to deliver between 5:10 and 5:50. Uh, sure, boss. At 6p that night, the guy actually delivering materials called me and said they were at Home Depot, waiting for the material to be loaded (so it wasn’t on the truck? whaaat?) and they’d be a little late. At 6:20, he called back and said they were paging and paging the Home Depot guys, but they weren’t answering – could they reschedule. When I said I could meet them any day that week after 5, he said he’d try to page someone again. 20 minutes later, I had my material. Or what I hoped was my material. I asked the contract guys if they knew how the installation piece worked – I knew the wood had to sit in my house for three days to acclimate, but no one had called to schedule installation. They said they didn’t know, but they were sure someone would call now that it had been delivered.

No one called the next day. Or that week.

Monday I called to speak to the manager. I got his voice mail and left a message. I called back and spoke to some in Flooring. He was really very helpful and spent an hour on the phone with me reviewing everything that went wrong. He didn’t know why my sister’s number or my home phone number were attached to the account. He explained that the installation piece was contracted out, but he wasn’t sure why they had never called. He got them on the phone and found out that my order had been cancelled. Oh. Wait – what?!?!!! The guy who had processed my quote had entered the wrong code, the installer said, and they had left messages, only to cancel the order when no one from Home Depot called them back. The associate didn’t know anything about that (unless she was called the people in corporate who process the quotes), but got everything back on track and asked her to please call me because I had been waiting almost a month, had paid upfront, and was about to cancel the entire affair and contest the charges with the fraud department of my credit card company. I was. The installer promised to call me by end of business.

They called my sister’s cell phone.

When I finally got on the phone, we settled on an installation date for Saturday, the 20th. They asked if the material had been in the house for three days. I laughed and said it would be three weeks. They asked if I was moving my own furniture and I said I was (it was $45/piece and they wouldn’t disconnect the water line to the fridge). They gave me an arrival window of 9-11a.

I was still angry. Even when I thought I had fixed the problem, my order had been cancelled and the entire process mishandled. I wrote an email to Corporate. I called the store back the next day and finally got ahold of the manager. Let me tell you – the manager of my Home Depot should run every store ever. I ran down a quick bullet list of things that had gone wrong, he asked for a few minutes to look into it and promised to call me back. He did, apologized again, and asked what it would take to make it right. I asked them to cover the furniture moving expenses. “Done. What else?” I asked if they could reimburse my installation costs since that got botched. “Done.” He didn’t even hesitate. There was no pushback. I didn’t even have to mention that my mom-in-law has a dozen rental properties and pours half her profits into Home Depot fixing them back up. It was just – handled.

I happy(ish) again. It might have taken a month, and it might have been a lot of aggravation, but flooring with $1000 back? That’s worth it.

At least, that’s what I thought. Cooper Flooring called the night before installation to confirm my window. Everyone who was surprised when 11a came and no one had shown up or called, raise your hands. Exactly. I called Cooper and they said their workers had forgotten their paperwork, had to come back to the office, and it would be about 2 hours before they got to my house. When they finally did show up, the workers said no one had told them they had a job. Yeah. I had already called the manager of Home Depot (who had been nice enough to give me his cell number in case something else went wrong), and he promised to cover the expense of boarding Fenway (she was going to have to stay until Monday, because a four-hour delay meant I couldn’t get her before they closed Saturday night), and refunded me another $400. Luckily, that was almost the last thing that went wrong.

I snapped a few “Before” pics:

Before1 Before2




And then I let the guys get to work. A little while later, I went out to check on their progress. I shouldn’t have, because I started panicking – the color of the wood looked a lot different from the sample. It was beige-er and had more of a rose undertone; it wasn’t as grey as the sample.


So I panicked-texted Kim and tried to bury my feelings. At least the floor would be installed. At least it wasn’t linoleum and dirty carpet. At least it would all be finished and I would like it much better after I forgot what I thought it would look like. OR, when they finished, I would panic instead over the way the individual pieces squeaked and moved. If nothing else had gone wrong, I would have chalked it up to the fact that it wasn’t nailed down and hadn’t yet settled. But I had NO confidence left. So when the very nice manager called on Sunday to see how things went, I asked him what he thought and that is how he ended up at my house last night after his shift, to see how bad it was. He assured me it was just before it was a floating-floor and I was getting used to a new surface. He said that there was a one-year satisfaction guarantee, so if anything changed we could get the installers back out. And he said if that happened, to go through him and he’d oversee the project personally. Isn’t he the best? Really, it’s too bad he’s married. I was thinking of proposing by the end.

And I do like my floors better now that the initial shock has worn off. They looked a lot greyer when it’s dark out, too. I’m sure a new coat of paint on the walls will help, too. (Ahem:Kim:CoughCough)

After1 After2 After3

So! All’s well that ends well, my mom would say. Fenway isn’t quite sure she’s forgiven us yet for putting slippery floors in, but the epic slideysock wars definitely have the girls on my side. They think the floor is gorgeous and fun to boot!

Fairyland: Where Mondays don’t exist.

September 22, 2014

I really meant to show you the big reveal last week. I honestly didn’t mean to get caught up in the craziness of ThePlaceThatShallNotBeNamed. Whoops! So today I have for you the results of the girls’ hard work, constructing a happy fairy village (and a playground), where fairies always feel at home and there are never any Mondays to darken their week.


Garden Garden1 Garden2 Garden3 Garden4 Garden5 Garden7

Who wouldn’t want to live there for awhile?

Five for Friday.

September 19, 2014

Yeah, it’s a lot later than I usually post. But! It’s because I’ve been busy with all of the things! Like…

1. My floors are being installed tomorrow! Huzzah! After a month of mess-ups and mistakes and aggravation on the part of Home Depot, the linoleum and carpet in my kitchen/eating area is finally going to be torn up and my pretty-pretty hardwoods are going to be put in. Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly! So today I’ve been moving all the knickknacks and little things out of the kitchen and eating area and the pantry and shopping for felt pads to go on the bottom of the chairs and table and moving snacks and drinks to where I’ll be hanging out tomorrow so I’ll have access to something. I think I’ve hit everything, but I’ll forget at least one big thing. The better to blog about, I guess…

2. What the heck is up with the mosquitoes in my house? I went all summer without any bites (aside from one or two maybe) and then BAM! A cold front goes through, a warm front followed, and now I’m covered! Okay, maybe not covered, but I’ve gotten ten bites in the past week! I’ve been walking around the house covered in the smell of Off because at least one of the buggers is living in my scrap room. One more reason I am ready for Fall. (I have awesome yard guys.) And the roof was cleared away and the bunnies all gone. I suspected it was going to happen soon because those little bunnies were awfully hoppy when I checked on them the other day – they had no interest in being corralled back in the nest or even staying still. But I’m still sad that our cute, fuzzy complications have left.

3. The mess and clutter at my house has reached critical mass, but I’ve found a rather neat little trick to get it under control without exhausting myself. I’m using the Pick 5 trick: you pick up or clean five things in the room where you’re at, and then go back to whatever you were doing. So, let’s say after I get the girls their dinner, I pick five things in the kitchen – I load the dishwasher, put away the nail polish from the counter, wipe down the counters, file the bills that had stacked up, and put away all the books and magazines stacked on the table that I’ve stopped noticing. The room looks a little neater and I even managed to put away a few things I’ve ignored for…well, I won’t tell you how long. Then I sit down and check email or read some blogs or whatever it is I want to do before the next item on the night’s itinerary comes up. Rinse, repeat. It’s not overwhelming and it gets stuff down. More of a slow and steady approach that appeals to my enjoyment in crossing stuff off lists.

4. Has anyone started watching Red Band Society? It started last week and I forgot to DVR it, but I thought it looked good. Also, as a public service announcement, don’t forget Big Bang starts again on Monday night!

5. Books I finished this week: The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker. It was really, really good. My sister had mentioned it to me and said her friend Carly had really enjoyed it, so I nabbed it from her shelf in August. (Turns out, in fact, I had stolen Carly’s copy. Heh.) I’d recommend it to all women, especially those who are just moving out on their own for the first time. It talks about trusting your instincts and how to read how dangerous a person’s intentions might be. An interesting point was when de Becker stated that if you asked a guy when the last time he worried for his own physical safety, he might not even remember, but if you asked a woman, her answer is much more likely to be within the past few days. That’s the only book I finished this week because work was nuts and I didn’t so much take any lunch breaks. I’m re-reading Divergent for my nighttime book, and started reading Claire Kendall’s The Book of You, a psychological thriller about a woman being stalked.

So there you have it. And off I go again – got to go back to cleaning. I’ll hit way more than five things, but floors. Pretty, pretty new floors.

3. The bunnies have left the nest. Sadpanda. I went out to check on them this morning; I was going to tape a giant note to the fort the girls constructed. Otherwise the lawn guys would move it so they could mow.

Creating a bit of fairy magic.

September 17, 2014

One of the items on my To-Do list while my sister Kim was here was to restore the Fairy Garden to its former glory. She and the girls had created the gardens in a couple flower pots by the front door on a trip awhile back, and the pirate ship and castle grounds had seen better days. So much so, in fact, that we had started calling it our fairy ghetto.

We didn’t get to our restoration project until near the end of Kim’s trip and, admittedly, my role was to fund the project, greenlight the use of certain found objects and craft supplies, and mostly to just stay out of the way. (It was tough, lemme tell ya.) Meanwhile, the elves were hard at work…

[Let us stop for a moment and reflect on the fact that my autocorrect changed that to "the elephants were hard at work..." If elephants were working on fairy gardens, that is something I would want to see. Also: not even close to "elves." Okay, carry on.]

We stopped at the craft store early in the morning to see what we could find. Blue beads, a bird house, some shrubbery, moss, a few pieces of furniture and knick-knacks geared towards the popular fairy garden trade. Mostly what we used were found goods: old planters, potting soil we had in the garage, candle holders and ceramics that weren’t being used, etc. One of the girls most favorite parts was when we pooled all of our resources on the table and divvied everything up. There was far less horse-trading and bribery than when Kim and I were young and running negotiations, but it was still fun to watch their little minds at work.


Then Auntie Kim stepped in and started prepping the pots. She got creative with a large styrofoam type planter that was going to be a cliff-side in its next life.



Gracie painted her fairy house, Bee painted her new door and the bottom of her pool, and Auntie Kim strung beads for the waterfall and glued beads over the pool to look like water.


Everything was coming together…

Fairy2 Fairy3

And that was the last I saw of the kiddos.

September 16, 2014

Everyone has their favorite things about fall: pumpkin spice everything, fall foods, football (the kind where no one beats their kids or their spouses, natch), cooler temperatures, being able to put away the annoying windshield sun visor, cozy sweaters, new wardrobes, boots… All those things are lovely, sure (well, except for that pumpkin stuff – blech), but my favorite far and away is that once the temps drop, my kids go outside to play and I never, ever see them again. Huzzah! Hooray for the sun being so cool that our sneakers won’t melt to the patio and we won’t get sunburned in 3.14 seconds!

We had such a day last weekend. The cold front came through Thursday night. Friday we all dressed in jeans and cardigans as we went off to school and work, and that night temps dropped even lower. I had on socks and yoga pants! The next morning, I wore a hoodie! In September! It was glorious!

After I picked the girls up from their lock-down lock-in, Bee and Gracie headed straight for the backyard. I didn’t expect to see them until I called them in for dinner. So I was pretty surprised when Gracie came tearing through the house, yelling for me like something was wrong. “BUNNIES! MOM! I FOUND A BABY BUNNY IN OUR YARD!” Now, we have grown-up bunnies all the time. I thought maybe a tinier version was hopping along and Gracie wanted us to see it. I threw on some shoes and went outside to see what was up – and Gracie wasn’t kidding.


A baby bunny small enough to fit in the palm of my hand was hopping around, shivering, scared to move much. Bee had come out to see what the shouting was about, and so I dispatched her to find me some gardening gloves. Of course, Bee couldn’t find any, so I had to risk all sorts of bunny diseases, other than just dying of The Cute. I picked up the bunny and put him in a teeny tiny gardening pot we had nearby.

Guess what? Baby bunnies are squeaky! My goodness! I kept glancing over my shoulder to make sure some 20-foot, rabid mama bunny didn’t hear that thing making so much noise and come running. That was about the time that Gracie was all, “HEY! MOM! THERE ARE MORE OF THEM!” She had lifted up a tuft of grass and, sure enough, there were three more teeny tiny baby bunnies, all shivering in the cold breeze and wondering where the roof to their nice cozy home went. [Aside: Later I asked Gracie how she knew the bunnies were there. "The ground was moving, so I picked up the roof," she answered, nonchalantly. "GRACIE!" I yelled, "What if that hole was filled with snakes?! They would have eaten your face!" She wasn't moved. "But they weren't. They were bunnies." Sigh.]

Refusing to be mean Mr. MacGregor, I returned Peter Rabbit back to his nest with his tail intact, let him curl up with Flopsy, Mopsy, and that other one, and covered the bunnies up again. We moved a piece of wood to partially cover the side of the roof, then turned a chair upside down over the bunny nest, so that mama bunny could get in, but Fenway could not. The girls, unhappy with my simplistic approach, stayed outside to build a super mega bunny fort supreme!

And that was the last I saw of the girls. They stayed outside in the gorgeous weather, watching out for the bunnies and making sure nothing bothered them. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, outdoors in the gorgeous weather. Even if those silly bunnies confused the seasons and thought it was spring.


Five for Friday.

September 12, 2014

Here’s what I’ve got rattling around in my head this Friday…

1. Football! I was looking forward to a reset over Week 1, but the Steelers let me down. How can there be any justice in a universe that lets the Ravens win this week? Okay, I know we shouldn’t hold Ray Rice’s teammates culpable for what went down, but I haven’t quite figured out how to let them have a win without also letting the higher-ups in the organization also claim it. That was disappointing.

2. I finished a few books this week. Kelley Armstrong’s Omens, which was recommended to me by my friend Tiffany. It was okay – I’m just a leetle bit over this whole supernatural thing, the entire plot was based on happy coincidences/white-suburbia fantasy fulfillment, and Armstrong likes to tell not show. I also finished The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan, a non-fiction book about young women recruited during World War II to live and work in a newly created “secret city” in Tennessee – where they unknowingly helped enrich uranium to be used in atomic bombs. My sister Kim (of all people – not the world’s biggest history fan) passed along this one. She knows how much I love World War II history, but she captured the book perfectly: it was interesting, but the author really needed to decide whether she wanted to write a historical novel or a straight non-fiction piece. Not that I’m doubting the reporting put forth; it’s just that her voice felt off. I need something highly engaging if you want me to sit through a bunch of fact. Or a chunk of make-believe, for that matter. The third book I finished was Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. I’m torn between re-reading it immediately, and sending it to Kim to read. I loved the stuffing out of it, so it’ll get its own post later.

3. The girls are having a lock-in at their grandma’s church tonight. They’re each bringing a friend and they’re so(!) excited(!). Bee keeps calling a lock-down instead of a lock-in, which gives me the giggles. I’m sure Grandma and the other chaperones are going to wish it was a lock-down by morning!

4. Speaking of lockdowns, how much do you love this cover of Kanye West’s Love Lockdown by the Glass Animals?!

5. Today’s going to seem very dull. Yesterday, my mom was released from rehab (no, she wasn’t ready; yes, she’s home anyway), it was 9/11 and all whatever at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeNamed, and then I met Gary Sinise. So. Yeah, definitely not the same speed as yesterday. The day just isn’t the same when you know it won’t include hott actors.

That’s what I’ve got going on today… Hope your day speeds by and your weekend brings mucho sleep. Ooh, and fun things, because your life might be much more exciting than mine.

Reflection, foreign and domestic.

September 11, 2014

Thirteen years ago, after buildings had fallen, our military headquarters smoldered, and a giant hole in the ground of Pennsylvania lay open, I took a time-out from the crisis atmosphere at work to call my mom. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one; I’m sure a great many Americans called their moms that day, probably a lot earlier than I was able. But I work for a company directly affected by 9/11 and so it was late afternoon by the time I was able to stop for a moment.

It took a while to get through, but when I finally did, despite everything, we sounded perfectly normal. “Hi. Are you okay? Isn’t this crazy?”

Crazy, indeed.

Who would have thought that such anger could exist to wreak such devastation and destruction on buildings filled with innocent civilians?

Who would have thought that thirteen years later, my mom would be so ravaged by Parkinson’s Disease and the onset of its accompanying dementia that I couldn’t reliably call on her to be my touchstone in a world gone mad?

This afternoon my mom is being released from rehab, three weeks after her stroke. She’s not physically ready to be released, and yet. Everyone is distraught, trying to find a solution to a largely unsolvable problem. No one wants to send her back home, back to an unhappy situation where she’ll be left unattended for large portions of the day. My mom refuses to go anywhere but home, to the place she’s spent 36 years of her life. She doesn’t care that she will be left alone with just the TV and a white board prepared by her home health care helper, reminding her what day it is, what she’s watching, what’s on schedule for the rest of the day. She doesn’t care that she might not be able to make it to the bathroom. She doesn’t care that she might not see her brothers and sisters (or daughters) as often, because they feel unwelcome. She wants to be home. And everyone in the family – my aunts and uncles, my sisters, myself – we all want her to want something better. Even if we don’t know what that is.

Crazy, isn’t it? I mean, not so much, but it is all the same.

Thirteen years later, a crisis of an entirely different nature, but it still feels like my buildings are falling down, my family headquarters is smoldering, and gaping holes are left. Coping feels just as difficult, the situation as unfathomable.

And yet. There are moments, for which I am so thankful, when I accept that things are the way they are. When I can connect with friends and see an entirely different side. Mum’s still here. She still has good days. Her stroke wasn’t worse. She has family who loves her. I have friends and family who love me. Thirteen years later and we’re still safe. Still fighting. Still living.

Living. Sometimes laughing. Putting one foot, one day, one more story in front of the other. Crazy, isn’t it?


Thanks, Bill, for making me laugh this morning, and for sending this beautiful red, white and blue sunrise.


September 10, 2014

Gracie walked in the door from her dad’s house, tossed a quick hello over her shoulder, and immediately zipped over to put her backpack away. That was my first clue. My oldest child is pretty good about following rules – certainly she isn’t as absent-minded as her sister – but she always stops to give me a hug and race through eleventy stories before I ask her five times to please for the love of god to go put her backpack away.

Something was amiss.

I sauntered over and caught her furiously trying to smuggle something out of the front pocket of her shorts into the small pocket of her backpack before I noticed. Rushing? Gives it away every time. Silly ten-year-old! “Whatcha hiding?” I asked, letting my good humor show in my voice so my little culprit would ‘fess up. “Nothing,” she answered. It didn’t even come close to believable.

“Whatcha really hiding?” I asked again, this time with a little less laughter in my voice. Ten is gonna be ten, but don’t lie about it. Sheesh.

She knew she was caught, too. Everything about her body language screamed “busted!” as she slowly pulled her hand out of the backpack and opened it, revealing a tube of lipstick. Bright pink lipstick. I sighed. “Gracie,” I started, “You know you’re not allowed to wear makeup. And you know taking things from your dad’s house and trying to smuggle them to school so you can hide it from us is wrong.”

I must have hit just the right note of moderate censure. Really, it was more disbelief than anything else. I mean, I know Gracie is ten and I expect as we navigate the tween years, more and more silly decisions will pop up. Ten is going to raise it’s silly, hormonal head more and more often, especially the closer she gets to eleven.

Gracie knew just how busted she was. She hung her head and just stood there, deflated, and listened to me chastise her decisions. Every now and then, a slightly broken “Yes, ma’am,” crept out.

“It was not a smart decision, Gracie. You see Ms. Greer every day, and you know she’d not only tell me you had on bright pink lipstick, she’d make you wash that junk off!” That made Gracie stop and crinkle her face – clearly that hadn’t occurred to her. Score another point for having best friends teach at your daughters’ school.

I held out my hand and Gracie handed over the contraband. I took a pic and posted to Facebook, tongue in cheek, letting everyone know the trials and tribulations I was facing, and to let the Ex know that I had confiscated said lipstick and to let me know if he wanted it back. Since it looks like it’s a holdover from Wet’n’Wild’s 1990s line, I wasn’t surprised when he responded that it wasn’t Stepmom’s, and to tell Gracie-girl that he said I could throw it away.

Yep. Good and busted. I was lucky I was in the mood to laugh over antics and realize that things could be much worse. Still, it made me miss the days when I would find ice cream in their backpacks instead of lipsticks. My babies are growing up…and it just might kill me!


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