Well. At least I still remembered my aunt’s number.

May 13, 2018

When you have to take a deep breath and an anxiety pill to pick up the phone and call.

When you get excited after the third ring and think no one will answer.

When your sister answers and you don’t even recognize her voice any more.

When she all but shoves the phone at your mother.

When your mother can’t hear anything you’re shouting. And can’t understand what she hears.

When the silence is big-big. Huge. Smothering.

When you give the phone to the girls because grandkids fix everything. And remind them to speak slowly. And loud. And given them ideas of what to talk about.

And then hide in your bedroom.

When your teenager who was shouting at you just yesterday (because hormones)(and teenagery stuff) comes into your bedroom and rubs your back while you cry.

When your mum just breaks out in gibberish.

And you just can’t.

Fucking Mothers’ Day.

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Those tiny moments.

April 23, 2018

With an incredibly hectic schedule during the days, and with crazy schedules frequently at night with the school year winding down and concerts and field trips cluttering up my dayplanner, the moments I cherish are the quiet ones home with my girls.

I had to be in place early this morning, so the girls stayed with their dad for an extra night. I miss them so much after they’re gone all weekend. One extra night makes it so much harder, for some reason.

Soooooo, tonight there’s a game plan. No, literally – we’re going to play card games and order pizza and just chill out on the couch. Gracie-girl mixed five different decks of cards for us, and we are gonna have us an epic game of War. Mwa ha ha ha!!!

Games are afoot, madam. And I cannot wait to relax with my chicas and enjoy them!

Jumping back into the water – all of me, all at once.

April 22, 2018

Hello. It’s me. I’ve been wondering if after all this time you want to hear me. But I want to write. I need to write again. I need to feel like me and it’s time to add this piece back into the mix.

So how do I do it? I spent the past week thinking about it, casually, and then I contemplated it more often and seriously this weekend. How do I write out loud, on my blog? How do I return? Dipping my toes back into the water doesn’t seem like a good idea: it always feels colder and draws out the uncomfortable part. Just jump back in, Katie. The water will feel warm and you’ll get your breath back in just a minute or two.

Still, it’s a weird feeling – being gone so long from my blog, and then just being here, in one fell swoop. Or jump, I should say. I wonder if anyone will notice, or if I’m just shouting into void, voicing words that won’t even be heard. But that thought, even though it echoes back frequently, doesn’t hold much weight. I write for myself. I always have. It’s why I shrug my shoulders when what I’ve written causes trouble (because heaven knows I’ve tripped backwards into trouble so often it’s like an old friend), because what I write is me trying to figure out what I feel, what I’m going through, how I should act and react. It’s how I process so much of what I go through in my life.

Okay, this is getting maudlin and more than a little cheesy. Just jump in, Kate!

So what’s going on in my life? What the incredible, impossible-to-ignore urge to write? Let me tell you a little bit of it. It’s all way too much to write about in one go. So for starters…

I’ve all-of-a-sudden gotten a giant promotion at The Place That Shall Not Be Named. It came at exactly the right moment when I thought I would implode from burnout and…okay, I’m going to stop there because we don’t talk about things at The Place That Shall Not Be Named. Talking about work is not what you do in public, in writing. Suffice it to say that I’m incredibly happy to be noticed and rewarded. I’m overwhelmingly challenged to think and improvise all day, every day. And so I’m exhausted and barely able to move at the end of some days. But it feels like the best unexpected blessing right now. So I’m just going with it and trusting in my angels that they know what I need.

Then there’s the girls. Gracie is turning 14 on Thursday. Four. Teen. That is, if she makes it! We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch, the girls and I. Bee-girl is turning 12 in a few months and she’s full of hormones about to explode. Every time she asks to talk to me, she starts with an epic eye roll and “No, I didn’t start my period.” Because she’s been so acting like it lately that I maybe possibly might ask that question a lot. Oof. But we’re surviving. A little bit ago I thought we might not. Show me a parent of two teenagery girls who didn’t think that once or twice! But something I didn’t expect and no one told me – when your girls hit this age, this hard-to-parent, oh-my-goodness, pass-the-wine, oh-no-you-didn’t! kind of age, your love for them grows even fiercer, like you might explode with love and protection instincts, and you just want to smother them with mama love and talk their ears off, and show them every card game you know, because you want to spend time with them, but it has to be sly and sneaky, or else they’ll disappear into their rooms. It’s a tricky time, but we’re managing. I’m managing. By the skin of my teeth some days, but we’ll be okay.

My reading life has come back, and I am rejoicing! It’s what keeps me going when things get dark, and I am so grateful for it! I’ve already topped 125 books for the year and some of the books I’ve read have been shout-from-the-rooftops! kind of wonderful! Exit West, by Moshin Hamid; The Chalk Man, by CJ Tudor (Oh, I can’t wait to tell you all about it in my Thursday book reviews!); Allegedly, by Tiffany Jackson; The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur; Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed. And speaking of Samiras, I’ve finally watched Orange Is the New Black after four or five attempts, and Samira Wiley, my god you guys! I need more of her in my life! For reals. And surely that show counts as literature, yes?

Other creative outlets are afoot. Bee-girl and I have started an Etsy shop, and as soon as I get a few items in there, I’ll set you guys up with a link and beg you to take a peek. Bee has slime, slime, and more slime. Finally, a place to ship everything she creates! And ohhhhhhh does that girl create a lot of slime! She’s a connoisseur of all things slime-related. Isn’t it normal to have industrial-size containers of Borax on your counters? And shaving cream. And food coloring? I’m blaming Uncle Kene for introducing my mad scientists with the wonders of Borax. As for me, I’m selling needle point creations of literary quotes and political jokes. I have baby blankets. And so. many. Christmas ornaments! Corrie and I spent an entire weekend making Christmas crafts, but we might need to wait a few months before our Christmas Shop hits the markets. Let’s just say we’ll be ready!

And running! I’ve started running again, using the Couch to 5k method. I’m on Week 3  and about to embark on Week 4 – 12 minutes of walking and 18 minutes of walking. I’m doing great! I’m so proud of myself. I told you I was crawling back into myself, and running is definitely a part of me. I started running because a dear friend PHYSICALLY MADE ME, and I will always be beholden to her, to use an Anne-ism. Running is something to strive for. It gives me goals and an outlet to pour myself into! When I get a bit better, there’s a running club I want to join. Maybe there will be cute, sarcastic, bookish types who flounder near the back of the pack, like me. Who knows?! But I can’t wait to find out! Goals are good. They’re fantastic! And I’m reaching for them.

So yes, I’ve been up to a few things. Just a few, because these past few months have been sort of dark and depressy. I’ve been missing for a reason. But I’m glad to be back. The water is warm, jumping in took a courageous moment of fuck-it proportions. But my water-wings are nearby if I need them.

But mostly I just need to write.

 

Good thing chicken soup comes in big batches.

February 20, 2018

My mom’s chicken soup is one of the few recipes I can make that tastes exactly like my mom’s. When you’re missing your mom, this is important. All those almost-right recipes are still tasty, but every once in awhile, you want something that tastes like home. Say, for instance, when you’re sick as a dog.

Yep.

Wednesday night it was Gracie. She went from slightly sniffly to so-congested-she-wanted-to-fall-over-dead in the space of a few hours. I checked her for fever a hundred-million times, but she wasn’t ever warm. I figured it was the bug that was going around, let her stay home Thursday and Friday, and by Friday night she was mostly better, Saturday she was practically cured.

Bee-girl pulled the same stunt Sunday night. She had been fine all day, and then all of a sudden, she said her throat hurt and that she had a headache and went to bed. Then she got up and asked for cough medicine. I let her sleep in on Monday, and when she got up, she said she had a headache. She also looked like she got hit by a truck. I felt her head and hooboy, yes, my baby girl was a little warm. I took her temp – 102.1°. Urgent Care had a two-hour wait, during which we both took a nap (and I prayed I wasn’t falling victim to the same flu) and then went in for confirmation.

Poor Bee-baby. If you know her, you know she bounces rather than moves, never sits sit, is always scheming and planning, and moving. Not yesterday. She laid her head on my shoulder (and baked me with her fever), laid down on the exam table, meekly submitted to the mask and 8034 hand sanitizer sessions. She was sick. But not with the flu, apparently. Her flu test came back negative, oddly enough. And this is not a girl who gets a fever with any other bugs. So they loaded her up with Tamiflu in case it was too early for positive flu results, antibiotics in case it was something else, and a school note to stay out all week if needed.

I was texting back and forth with their Dad and Stepmom while all this was going on. And don’t you know that they were both sick, too. The Ex was so sick that he ended up at Urgent Care later that night, but his flu test came back positive. We can’t catch a break!

So their house has become the quarantine facility. I dropped Bee-girl off after I got her meds and she went right to sleep. Gracie and I huddled at home, hoping we evacuated the outbreak monkey quick enough. We should move the girls step-sis and niece into Bee’s (freshly laundered and bleached) room until everyone is okay!

And so tonight after I make chicken for dinner, I’ll pull out the giant soup pan – see! we even call it the “soup pan”! – and make some chicken soup. We only make it in the giant pan, so it only comes in giant batches. Sometimes it’s annoying because we can’t finish the soup, but I don’t think that will be the case this time.

Chicken soup to the rescue! Maybe I should mix the tamiflu right into the pan. Yeah?

January reading recap.

February 2, 2018

I’m sure it seems like all I do these days is talk about reading challenge this and readathon stats that. I do! I’m a bit unapologetic for it because right now reading is the life vest keeping my head above water. So I will talk about reading all day long if that’s what it takes! I know you get it.

Now that I’m the llama whose gotten her reading groove back, I’ve really killed it with my stats in January. I read a total of 33 books in January! Which – holy bananapants, Robin! I’m proud of myself. I know January is a strong month for me, because I start out all optimistic and ready to conquer the new year, and a little panicky when my numbers are small (I know you have to start the year with 0 books read, 1 book read – I don’t ever argue that my anxiety disorder makes sense), so I hit my TBR with purpose and intensity! But even if (when) I slow down, I’m in good shape to make my goal of 200 books this year. Anything more than that is icing on the cake.

Best books I read this month:
I read a lot of good books, but these ones will be in consideration for best of 2018, I just know:

  • Home Fire, by Kamila Shamsie
  • Sing Unburied Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
  • Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong
  • Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
  • 84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff
  • Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs, by Pete Souza

I thought that seemed like an unusually high number – last year I had 20 books that earned “best of” rankings, could I really hit six of them this early? But then I looked at last year’s stats and I had six of them in January last year, too (Difficult Women; All the Ugly and Beautiful Things; Heartless; Hidden Figures; The Association of

How to display a million, zillion Funkos.

January 30, 2018

I don’t understand when people say that tweens and teens are hard to buy gifts for. I’ve had a blast buying things for my two – or maybe it’s just that my girls are easy to buy for because I know them so well and they’re engaged with so many interests it’s hard not to trip over so many tiny little things they’d like.

One of those things is the Funko Pop! figurines that everyone is crazy over. I can’t remember the first one I bought for Gracie, but it might have been Harry Potter. She, of course, went nuts for him (Gracie loves being a dedicated and loyal fan almost more than she loves the subject(s) of her adoration), and the rest, as they say, is collectible history.

Gracie’s Funko addiction (for that is what it is, now) has grown to include the Harry Potter group – including a nose-less moldy Voldy, a truly creepy dementor with gauze-like material covering them, and a Hagrid whose size really does dwarf everyone around him (Huzzah for details!); a lone Katniss to represent her entire imaginary world; a Doctor Who or two (and maybe a Dalek, don’t hate); mini- Gandalf and Frodo (who were supposed to be keychains, I think?); and so. many. Stranger Things characters that my heart bursts with happy!

The question that had been nibbling at the back of my head became more insistent – what do you do with Funko creatures once you have more than one or two? Gracie used to have them arranged on the top of her shoe cubbies, and that worked…until she got about a half-dozen more for Christmas and over the tipping point she went. We needed a creative solution. And Gracie’s Auntie Kim loves to tackle problems such as these. Shelves, of some sort, would make a fantastic Christmas present. And if she found a great deal (she did), she would throw in a gallon of paint to re-do the accent wall in Gracie’s room.

Eventually, the shelves I found were all summarily dismissed and instead Kim decided we should go with a bunch of distressed wood crates she’d found at Michael’s. I agreed that I could live with them, did a few measurements to make sure they’d function and everyone (eh, except maybe Hagrid) could fit, and off we went.

A few design suggestions were proffered, and we went with a modification of the one Auntie Kim liked best. I love the spiral look, but the proposal had all of the crates touch and to me, it looked scrunched. Call me crazy, but since it’s mi casa and I’m the one having to look at it all day, I’m not going to greenlight something that drives me buggy. I’m happy to shrug my shoulders or greenlight lots of other things I’m neutral on, or things that don’t actively make me think of nails-on-chalkboards. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure we can come up with something everyone’s happy about.

Besides – how awesome does THIS look?!!

I can’t decide which of the new Stranger Things is my favorite: Hopper with his mug of coffee (to go with his contemplation), or Eleven with her Eggos and smudges of coffee, or Dustin with his Ghostbusters gear?Gracie might lean towards Hopper because she also did this thing with her lightboard, clearly proving that I am Raising Her Right:

Funko4

Yep. That kid is definitely a keeper.

Gracie had an extra Joyce (silly Santa, forgetting which he’d already picked up), which we were going to exchange, but then someone took it out of its box and recycled said box. So. I decided to keep it, paragon of feminist barely-keeping-it-together-but-don’t-EVEN-go-after-her-kids Mom of the Year that she is. This particular Funko Joyce is Season 1, and is carrying a ball of Christmas lights, hoping they’ll lead her back to Will. And so…I did a little thing to fix it. I present…

Funko5

Am I right?!!

Awesome feminist moms aside, once Gracie’s display issue was settled, we did also repaint her wall, as promised. I know it’s a little anti-climatic, but I *do* love the way the peacock blue pops, and I know it’ll match her gold-white-peacock blue color scheme to a T.

I still miss the purple, but it’s her room, I don’t hate the blue, and I can repaint my own room in purples and greys, now that the nearly-robin’s-egg-blue color experiment is officially dead. (Hey, it still beats painters-white.)

Not a huge reno project, but sometimes it’s the small things, guys.

#24in48: Challenge Complete.

January 29, 2018

Wheeeeeeeeeeeew, what a weekend! It was filled with books and reading and social media commenting and more reading and scrambled eggs and library books and still more reading. But I did it! Between midnight Friday night and ending at exactly 5 p.m. Sunday night, I read for 24 hours, well within the 48-hour window. Let’s see how I managed to pull it off.

Keeping track. I used a cool checklist that I mistakenly attributed to someone else (who, it turns out, stole the idea), designed originally by Kristin Isabelle (@FierceFabFemme), let’s give credit where credit is due! Somehow I finished my checklist last night, and then forgot to snap a pic! Gah! And managed to leave my planner on my desk at home. Good one, Katie. Here’s one of my earlier check-ins, though:

24in48CheckIn

Check-ins and Challenges. I had a blast on social media! I participated in 4 or 5 challenges, and checked-in via the 24-in-48 web site, my blog, Facebook, and all. day. long. on Twitter! In fact, I had so much fun cheering everyone on that I asked our hosts if I could help admin the next one. SO MUCH FUN!

Here are two of my challenges:

FirstAndLast

That was for the first and last books on your shelves. No dead white authors on these shelves. (Okay, there are but love that there aren’t that many in the pool.)

Readathon4

Here we have favorite and least favorite covers. I would frame a print of Wolves. But the Rebecca is sooooo bland! Who would want to pick that book up?!

And speaking of check-ins – here’s a picture of me at my battle station. I have about four books open, my laptop booting up, my Book of Books (my reading journal/master list) and my planner with my checklist are all open. Plus a whopping plate of scrambled eggs precariously balanced on top of everything! Love it!

Readathon7

 

Bookish clothing: Yeah, I got myself in the mood by rocking some rad bookish gear. Saturday I wore my Hermione shirt that reads, “When in doubt, go to the library.” (Which is exactly what I did on Saturday.) I had on my blue library card socks, too. On Sunday I wore my red “Read more books!” shirt from BookRiot, and my “Let the wild rumpus begin!” socks, but I didn’t take a picture of my shirt, alas.

 

Mugs. I started out each morning right: with a pot of coffee and a different bookish mug. I have about a dozen bookish mugs (mugs are my weakness), so it was difficult choosing my victims. But coffee was hanging in the balance, so it didn’t actually take me all that long, you understand.

 

Books, pages, and all that stuff. In the end, I read six whole books, most of another, and half of yet another.

  • The Polygamist’s Daughter, by Ana LeBarron (3 of 5 stars)
  • A World Without Whom, by Emmy Favilla (3 of 5 stars)
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby (4 of 5 stars)
  • Search and Rescue, by Christopher Van Tilburg (2 of 5 stars)
  • Dream Big Dreams, by Pete Souza (5 of 5 stars)
  • 84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff (4 of 5 stars)
  • Most of Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
  • Half of My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Bachman (re-read)

That’s…okay, I’m not really going to tally the pages for you. I thought I was going to, but no. Nope. Not gonna.

I had a blast! I read a lot of books. It was great motivation to put my foot up and actually rest it. I don’t know that I would have done that without the 24-in-48 Challenge. Honestly. So thank you, ladies, for hosting, and I can’t wait for the next one! (Seriously…is it this weekend? Huh? Can it be? please??)

#24in48 Check-in (and Challenge!) post.

January 28, 2018

It’s been a night (and a day and a night) filled with lots of lovely reading, so I thought it would be a good time for a check-in post!

(Also, there’s a challenge that requires a bit of photo-posting, so what better place?)

First, the check-in:

24in48CheckIn

That snap was taken this morning, so I am actually 19 hours in, 3 challenges (plus the one to come here in a minute), and 6 check-ins.

I’ve read half of two books – John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down (which I thought I’d finish first) and a re-read of Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry; and all of three others – Pete Souza’s photo-memoir, Dream Big Dreams; Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road; and Anna LeBaron’s The Polygamist’s Daughter. I guess this was one of those readathon’s when you read everything except what you thought you would. SQUIRREL!

In between all of the reading, I’ve done a lot of cheering online to keep my motivation up. I’ve also participated in a few more challenges than I usually do, which was another one of my goals for this go-round. Including this one: post a picture of the first and last books on your bookshelves. Keeping in mind that my shelves still aren’t reassembled from Christmas, when I move everything so I can show off the Christmas decorations, here’s what I currently going on right now:

firstandlast.jpg

My top shelf is filled with copies of my All-Time Favorite Reads. Harriet the Spy will always make that list, even if I do rather wish the copy I owned weren’t a movie tie-in. (Lesson: never, ever loan you “real” copy out to friends in a bid to make them read it. Buy loaner copies.) That shelf is pretty static. My last shelf, however, will change after I rearrange my shelves into their usual year-round selves. But right now, my last book is Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. I’m half-tempted to dive into it now, because have you heard about the casting for the movie adaptation?! I am over-the-moon with excitement!

How is everyone else faring? We’re nearly to the finish line, keep your heads down in the books and your spirits up!

#24in48 Readathon Update: Hour 15.

January 27, 2018

I SURVIVED!

No, not the readathon – we’re not even halfway through with that yet. I survived a trip to the library while using my crutches! (I am serious about trying to get this Jones fracture to heal itself!) Not only that, the library police let me live to loan another day. Double score!

And wait til you see my haul!

LibraryHaul_20180127

So many awesome titles! It was one of those weird days when some books I’d been longing for – like Artemis by Andy Weir or 84, Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff – were finally available, sitting there, just waiting for me. Others, like Search and Rescue and A World Without Whom I didn’t even know I needed.

But here’s the crown jewel, the one that nearly caused me to topple over, because I couldn’t carry it and crutch and carry a backpack filled with all my other books! But I managed. Truth be told, I would have crawled for this:

LibraryHaul2_20180127

That’s possibly the best library book I’ve ever lucked into!

And so now if you’ll excuse me…I’m gonna go try not to drool on it…

It’s here! It’s here! The #24in48 Read-a-thon, that is.

January 27, 2018

Anyone who has been around me knew exactly what I was shouting about at the first “It’s here!” I’ve been drowning everyone with my own excitement for the read-a-thon since I realized how miraculous the timing of the event was. I mean, I’m down for whatever reading challenge you have whenever you have it – yeah, yup, uh-huh, pretty accurate. But a reading event that challenges me to sit still and stay put with my broken foot propped up on a pile of pillows? And the angels did sing, you guys.

The #24in48 Read-a-thon is basically just what it sounds like: participants are asked to read in whatever fashion, at whatever speed, timed together however they want, with the ultimate goal of reaching a total of 24 hours read within the 48-hour parameters of the read-a-thon. The official kick-off happened last night at midnight and I was totally awake and ready for it! HUZZAH! I read for two hours and then decided around 2 a.m. that reminding myself to open my eyes every paragraph wasn’t the point of the game. I still had plenty of time (and I do!) to cross the finish line. Of course then this morning I slept in for the first time in weeks! I love sleeping, I do…I’ve just been terrible at it during the weekends. I pop awake at some ungodly hour and then…just can’t sleep. And so not that I wanted to be sleepless this morning, I was just sort of counting on using those hours towards my reading tally. But now I’m well-rested and ready to slay!
I won’t post every hour like I’ve attempted in the past, or even every few. I’ll make updates on Facebook and Twitter, and probably do an update post or two, so you’ve been warned! If anyone of you are participating, let me know! And if you have any good book recommendations, PLEASE chuck them at me! I’m always looking for the next book that’s going to knock my (bookish-themed) socks right off!
 

Alright. That’s enough jawin’. Time to get back to the books. Let’s do this!!

24in48Coffee