Kind of birthday cursed, kind of not.

July 1, 2015

Auntie Rhi and Little Miss Bee joke that they share a birthday curse. Auntie Rhi gets rare, life-threatening illnesses, and Bee’s parties fall apart or the air conditioner breaks or – you know, other curse-like stuff happens.

I was a little worried this year. Last week, Bee was complaining about her throat and had a cough bad enough that she asked for cough syrup before bed a few nights. I didn’t think much of it, because it wasn’t too bad. And then on Wednesday night, the girls’ stepmom texted me to say she thought Bee had strep. Stepmom had had it, and the girls’ dad had it, too. We had just talked about how the girls had somehow skated by without it. So I rummaged through my medicine cabinet, found some amoxicillin Bee could take, and dropped it off the next morning before work. Ta da! Problem all fixed.

Except Bee was feeling much better the next day. So much so that Stepmom never started the antibiotics, just in case. Okay, all’s well that ends well.

Until Friday morning. Friday morning, I opened the door to the girls’ bedroom to tell them to get ready. “My throat hurts,” Gracie cried. “And I don’t feel good.” Gracie-girl never cries over an illness. Dramatizes until the starshine has faded from the sky, yes, but this was the real deal. And if I hadn’t believed her then, I would have when she started puking her guts out right before we were supposed to leave. “Okay,” I told her. “Tell Dad and Stepmom when you get to their house. They still have the antibiotics they didn’t give Bee. If your throat hurts that much, you must have your dad’s strep.” And everything was good. I checked on Gracie throughout the weekend and everyone said she was feeling much better. I assumed it was because the meds kicked in, until she came home Sunday night without them. “Where are the meds you’ve been taking?” I asked. Gracie just gave me a blank stare. No meds. But, still, she was feeling better. All’s well that ends well. Risky, but it worked out.

We thought.

Guess who woke me up at 5 a.m. this morning, screaming and crying in pain because her ear hurt? Yep. Gracie’s been stuffy since the weekend, and I figured it was just the lingering effects of whatever she was getting over. Except it turns out it was whatever had infected her was just backbuilding; getting stronger.

We made it through Bee’s birthday – barely – but unless those meds kick in fast, I don’t think Gracie will be able to partake in our day of water slides and pool activities that we had planned for Friday. I doped my gooneybird full of ibuprofen and sent her with strict instructions to start the antibiotics for the love of Pete. And then I texted Dad and Stepmom just to be sure. I am all for playing it safe and not unnecessarily exposing your kiddos to antibiotics, but I’m also not really fond of watching my child not sleep because she’s so miserable. It’s time to vanquish whatever’s trying to hold on and take over Gracie’s immune system. Poor thing.

And how is YOUR Wednesday starting out?

Things Bee-girl Does And Does NOT Like At 9 Years Old.

June 30, 2015

Happy Birthday to my Bee-girl! Yes, someone let that kiddo turn nine. NINE. I mean, who would have thought I’d ever get to the point where I’d barely have any smallish sized kiddos at home? Not the me who was sitting on the couch crying because the girls wouldn’t, for the love of god, stay in bed and go to sleep after Hour Three of trying, that’s for sure. I never thought it when Bee happily bit every child in her daycare, or looked me straight in the eyes and dared me to throw away her toys because she wasn’t picking them them up, or on any of those nights when I cried myself to sleep after Bee’s fourth accident of the night. But lo and behold, Bee-girl did turn nine and while she might not believe in the magic of band-aids and the wonder of George the Dinosaur to protect her and smoosh monsters dead, she still believes in catching frogs and making wishes, and yes, the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. So if you ask me, she’s turning nine in the best way possible. And just in case we forget…

10 Things Bee Really, Really, REALLY Loves:

1. Cooking and baking. Any time I’m in the kitchen, Miss Bee is yelling to ask if she can help. Each time, it’s like she’s asking for the moon. “Oooh! Can I help?” she’ll beg, with a twinkle in her eye. I hardly ever make their lunches any more, and never the muffins. Bee girl has it under control. In fact, she’s been slowly taking over the kitchen she was approximately three.

2. Dogs and cats and frogs and anything else she can convince you is a “pet.” She and her sister both love dogs – which is good, because they have a small herd of them at their dad’s house, and two at ours. Her sister claims to love them mom, but it’s Bee who actually takes care of them, not just when the mood strikes her, but all the time. She’s the one who cuddles on the couch and soothes them and then sleeps with Bam the Destroyer each night so The Destructive One won’t have an anxiety attack.

3. Playing mama. Bee loves when she’s not the littlest. She loves being an auntie to her niece (who is almost two!!) and loves helping with Xman when he is around. She plays with them, helps them solve problems, gets them through difficult rounds of whatever video game they’re playing (hey – all in the name of auntie- and sister-hood) and does whatever she can to make everything all right. I can’t decide if it’s just part of her adorable little self, whether she likes soothing the part of her that used to be anxious when she was the littlest, or just likes being the guy the guy counts on. Whatever the reason, she’s great at it!

4. Choose Your Own Adventure books. This one is really new and might be my favorite. Because BOOKS. Bee is a very reluctant reader, but happened to pick up one of these again the other day. It’s the not the first time she’s seen them, but it’s the first time in a long time. And I think the interactive aspects finally struck her. Because she read it for an hour that night, and then asked if we could go to the library to get more. If you guess that she has a pile of them wrapped and waiting for her in her stack of presents, you’d be right!

5. Doing the splits to freak us all out. Bee is pretty bendy. She loves gymnastics and stretching and dancing…and doing the splits. Because that just does not look natural and we all react. Strongly. Which makes the Bee-girl giggle!

6. Gardening. I don’t know where this came from, but it certainly wasn’t me! I have such a black thumb, it’s not even funny! But my Bee-girl loves plants flowers and watering whatever’s growing and tending to everything. There’s a patch of weeds at the corner of one of the raised garden beds, and Bee is convinced – because it’s so tall – that it is wheat. It is wheat, and she is going to harvest it. Good googly moogly, she even asks questions about how to do it.

7. Calico Critters. Bee is convinced that she can buy all the pieces and then save them, the way Auntie Kim saved her Precious Places pieces, so that one day she can sell them all for millions. There may or may not be catalogs and spreadsheets involved.

8. Nature walks/looking for frogs. If it’s a weekend morning, you can find Bee-girl (and usually Xman, her trusty sidekick), outside looking for frogs or grasshoppers or any other interesting and non-bitey victims to catch and put in a bucket.

9. Earning marbles. Bee is much better than her sister at collecting marbles. She doesn’t might putting in a little sweat equity if it means watching her marble pile grow. She’ll vacuum, wash windows, refill the dog food container – whatever (ish) I can throw at her. Bee might be the most stubborn person I know, but when the girl is motivated, ain’t nothing’ gonna stop her.

10. This one particular oversized blue sweatshirt. The girls’ elementary school has a uniform policy. Sweaters or sweatshirts have to be solid navy blue or white. I bought one for Gracie, who decided she didn’t like it, or maybe it was just (more likely) that Bee had lost all of hers, and so she started wearing this huge, way-way too big sweatshirt during the school year. And loved it. She would wear that thing every day, dirty or not. Much to mama’s chagrin. But there are only so many battles a mama can wage…

10 Things Bee-Girl Does Not, Does Not, DOES NOT Like Now Or Ever, World Without End:

1. School. Bee loves her friends and her teachers and the general idea of this school thing. But having to try so hard and constantly struggle? oooh, my Bee-girl’s feelings take a hit.

2. Going out to eat. Even though I’ve long given up making Bee-girl pick something to actually eat, Bee loathes the few times we go out to eat. She’s pretty particular about how her food tastes and while she has places she loves to go, HEAVEN HELP YOU if you want to eat somewhere else. This one has been on her Me No Likey list since the beginning of time and I don’t expect it to change. Which means she’ll change her mind next week.

3. Losing games. This one has been a reappearance recently and I’m not sure why. Unless it’s because she’s so overwhelmed with so many other changes and challenges that something had to give? But lately when we’re all playing games, if Bee’s not doing so well, the tears are quick to pop up. She’s just as quick to hide her teary eyes in her lap or a pillow, or, barring that, will make an excuse to go to the bathroom. So she’s trying. But oh does she feel the sting.

4. Brushing her hair. Bee-girl has been growing her hair out. She loves her long hair. The problem is…it snarls. It snarls bad. Probably worse because she won’t brush it. Sigh. So every so often, I lather it up with expensive conditioner and comb through all the tangles. Because she’s my Bee-baby and I loves her, I don’t even lecture her. I say soothing little nothings and wipe away the tears because it already hurts enough.

5. Putting away socks. I bet you $1,000 I could find no fewer than 6 socks lying around my house right now, and I bet at least three of them are in weird places. Bee-girl cannot put away socks to save her life. They’re lying around in bunches, all inside out, all where they left her feet. Under tables, beside couches, under desks, near the TV, behind doors…anywhere but the dirty clothes basket!

6. Moving at any speed other than her own. Bee has one speed: Bee’s Speed. You can’t make her move slower, faster, or any other way other than how she’s already jiving. Trust me – 9 years of trying.

7. Getting talked to. I was going to say “yelled at”, but it doesn’t even have to be that. When Bee knows she’s done wrong, she feels it all the way down to her toes. Her shame is bottomless – even when it shouldn’t be. So it means I use a lot of gentle voices with big, meaningful words because I know my baby is taking it in, and I don’t want to pile on. I just want her to not do it again. Now if we could just get that lesson to stick…

8. Having clothes picked out for her. My fashionista will NOT abide by anyone choosing any clothes for her. It doesn’t matter if she has to wake up in the middle of the night to switch them out – she has, and she will. No one picks out Bee’s clothes unless their name is Bee.

9. Staying still. I don’t think I’ve seen Bee stay still unless she was asleep. She’ll skip, dance, jiggle, shimmy, hop, shoulder dance, bounce, or do whatever it is. If she’s home, she’s usually doing gymnastics across the living room floor. Or running. Or some other kind of something, but she is definitely moving. Even (especially?) when she’s supposed to be still.

10. Being in only one place at once. Bee loves being with all her peoples – my baby has a very large village! She loves being home with me and her sister and Jeff and Xman and her puppies. She loves, too, being at her dad’s with her dad and stepmom and herd of pets and stepsister and niece (when they visit). And she loves seeing her cousins. And wants to travel back home to Massachusetts to see her family there. And play with her school friends. My sweet-hearted girl is always talking about what she wants to do with her people when she sees them next – you know she is always thinking with everyone and damning space and time that she can only do so much at once. Lifegoals, baby girl: fix that teeny, tiny conundrum, would ya?

So there you have it! A little piece of my favorite 9 year old ever!

Five for Friday.

June 26, 2015

Goooood morning, everyone! That is me pretending to be awake. Not that I’m asleep because of anything interesting – it’s just one of those mornings when you fall dead asleep in between your two snoozes. But I have to wake up soon because I am actually planning on not napping during lunch today (the horror!) so I can read my book. Which brings me to…

1. My reading this week. My lunchtime book has actually been tremendously exciting! So much so, as I’ve said, that I’m skipping much-needed naps. It’s Robin Wasserman’s The Waking Dark (not, as I’ve thought so many times, The Walking Dark or The Waking Dead, thinking of The Walking Dead, natch). It’s about this small, pokey town in Kansas where nothing ever happens, until The Killing Day. Then five (was it five?) townspeople kill others around them – friends, family and neighbors they’ve known their whole lives – for seemingly no reason, before killing themselves at the end of the act. Except one person who has no idea why she did what she did. That survivor, plus a witness from each of the rampages, tries to sort out why the quarantined town has gone crazy and undo whatever is causing it to happen. Like I said – hella good!! Stephen King kind of good, and you know I don’t throw around that comparison lightly.

2. I’m also reading Prayers for the Stolen, by Jennifer Clement, about the trials and tribulations of growing up poor and female in rural Mexico, where girls pose as boys to avoid being stolen by drug lords. It’s an amazing read, one that reminds me of Tales of an Unknown American in its voice and scope. I was a little concerned at first about a (seemingly) white author writing about and from the perspective of a Mexican young adult, but a little research taught me Clement is Mexican-American, so I was glad to banish the uncomfortable feeling of so enjoying something written about people of color by a white author. Anyone not paying attention to that should be, especially with all the focus on it in the bookish community right now.

3. Focusing on reading is much more fun than some other things going on right now at home. The Ex has strep…and so did Bee-girl, we thought. Only she rallied before we started her on the antibiotics I had stashed at home. She had been complaining of a sore throat and cough for a few days, then declared herself sick and lied down. So we jumped to the streppy conclusion. Only that was the last we heard of feeling sick. Gracie, on the other hand, woke up this morning with a fever, croaked out that her throat hurt, and that she didn’t feel good. And just for good measure, she puked her guts out before we left. So. Yay for dad’s weekend? (Oh, come on – he has it anyway!) At least there’s amoxicillen waiting for poor, pitiful Gracie-girl.

4. It’s date night! Which is always fun. We’re trying to think of grown-uppish things to do tonight (really, any excuse to dress up), so we’re thinking of maybe visiting the fine art museum and then going for drinks someplace nice, or maybe last-minute tickets to Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Of course, Plan B is to throw on jeans, heels, and a nice shirt and find some live music and twinkly lights somewhere downtown. Although I won’t say seeing San Andreas is totally out of the question…

5. I’ve finally been tearing through Florence’s new album. I had some technical difficulties that wouldn’t allow me to download the album to disc, and just sitting there listening to a few songs at a time wasn’t allowing me to really process it. I can’t take my laptop to work, and I like to just sit and soak in new songs – not listen to them in the background during rare moments when my girlies are quiet! I finally remembered I’m not the idiot I sometimes play on TV and realized I could play an album from my phone through my car stereo. Doh! I like the album as a whole, and some songs (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful; Which Witch; What Kind of Man; Storms and Saints; others I’m sure I’m forgetting), but to me, it just doesn’t have the same sucker punch the other albums had. It sounds…Sarah McLachlan-esque. Where are the big percussion pieces? Where’s the destruction and sweeping flood lights? Maybe I anticipated the album too much, but I’m just not feeling it as much as I wanted to.

So there you have it, folks. The odds and ends floating around my head. Or at least all the reportable ones. Heh. Enjoy the weekend, eh?

Misery (Read-Along) Loves Company

June 24, 2015

Last month I devoured Misery for my Stephen King re-read project. For those who haven’t been playing along (and, um, maybe because I’ve been really bad about posting updates), I’ve been re-reading every book, novella, and short story King has written – in publication order. Why publication order? Well, because I seem to read and re-read my favorites over and over again and I wanted to make sure I read some of the books I’ve touched only once. Reading his published works in the order in which he shared them (and in a larger, though not perfect, sense, wrote them) has been fantastically interesting to watch themes, voice, and stylistic flair grow and develop.

Misery is about a third of the way through the list, although I still think of it as halfway (I forget to keep tacking on new books at the bottom of the list). It’s a book I was aware of when it came out, although mostly because of the movie tie-in. I wasn’t a King fan at the time – I wasn’t even a fan of Christopher Pikes or any gory, gruesome, scary stories. But it’s one of my favorites of his “early” works. I always remember that I adore it, but I forget how much until I’m zipping along through the story of our protagonist, novelist Paul Sheldon, and his captor, Number One Fan Annie Wilkes.

Before we go further, I need to warn you that my post is chockablock full of spoilers. If you don’t want to know what happens in the story: turn around, don’t drown!

As with most times when I read Misery, I was pulled in (I want to say literally; it always feels that way) by King’s trademark charm and folksy voice. It’s not quite at its deepest and truest, but it’s definitely there. It’s definitely one of the stories where King sounds most King-ish. I always remember (and promptly forget again) how god-awful the Misery Chastain stories are, and how delightfully cheesy that King throws in a meta bestselling author whose life is crumbling around him, and has his meta-self write romance novels! Delightfully awful ones! I cringed and skipped over the Misery story bits (because gawd) and instead skipped merrily through the will-he-or-won’t-he best his crazypants captor who is hellbent on making him do her bidding.

And that’s when the wheels came off the wagon for me and I realized a profound truth that is sort of uncomfortable and I don’t really think, but maybe:

I can’t blame Annie Wilkes.

Oh, sure, I can – and do! – blame her for the really crazy bits! I don’t condone killing babies or patients (or, um, family) when she was a nurse, or chopping off Paul’s foot or thumb. She’s obviously batshit crazy in a bad way.

But…can’t you see the glimmer of batshit crazy that you can sympathize with a little? No, no, no – sympathize is the wrong word. How about…that you could indulge in, too, if given half a chance? I mean, if I was given half a chance to stuff Stephen King away in my guest room and make him write for me, I can’t say I would pass up the opportunity.

Okay, okay, I probably would. But I would be really conflicted about it. I’m too much of an upstanding member of our stupid society to ever actually do it.

But I would want to. (And that is the truth.)

So for me, this read-through of Misery was a wonderful romp in which I purposefully rooted for the bad guy and sided with the wrong team. I had fun with it and found new windows and new angles from which to peer at a well-known story. I indulged my inner wicked temptations and pretended new stories of Roland and his ka-tet were rolling out of the typewriter and the Sox were on the TV every night for us to yell at together.

It’s good to escape. From madwomen who refuse to die, and from the soul-crushing reality that stealing celebrities for your own good is wrong. World without end, Amen.

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Calling all mamas of boys: advice sought.

June 23, 2015

Raising little boys is a lot different than raising little girls. I’ve always heard it, but now I’m learning it in real life – really fast. Yes, I’m “just” the girlfriend, but I’m spending nearly as much time with Xman as his dad is. My natural mama instincts have taken over, especially given that I’m parenting my own two girls at least half the weekends Xman is with us. Also, I don’t know if you know this, but four-year-old little boys have a lot of energy; two pairs of eyes are a good thing.

That energy is kind of what this is about. The boy is always, always in motion. Sometimes Xman’s energy is focused on running around like a car or a monster truck. Sometimes he’s taunting his dad to tickle him, with my favorite little twinkle in his eye and that grin lighting up his dimpled little cheeks. Sometimes he’s chasing the dogs, or convincing the dogs to chase him, or chasing the girls or his dad or me. And then, sometimes, there’s the play-fighting.

Remember that difference between little boys and little girls? There it is.

My girls aren’t what I’d call girly-girls. They may like to paint their nails (from time to time), and Gracie-girl might be spending a little more time in front of the mirror as she gets older, but Bee is the one who taught Xman to chase frogs and Gracie-girl will play Legos and Nerf guns and science experiments (with nature and slime and goo and god I don’t want to know what else). They’ve never been afraid of dirt or getting out of hand every once in awhile. The girls were pretty tumble-bumble when they were little. But the Xman’s constant ninja moves and gun noises and pew-pew-pews and karate chops! are something entirely new.

Here’s the thing: I’m not entirely opposed to it. Sometimes it’s play-fighting for play-fighting’s sake. The boy’s four and that’s what four-year-old boys do. (And I strongly suspect this doesn’t end at five or eight or even ten.) But sometimes there’s an entire plot surrounding his play-fighting and there is very little that is prized at Casa de Katie more than imagination and pretend-playing. I don’t want to discourage that.

What I would like to discourage is the contact portion of the play-fighting. Xman is a good kid – I can’t even tell you how much I love him already. He’s fantastic! But remember the part where he’s just four? Play-fighting involves an awful lot of accidental contact when you’re four. Maybe especially if your playing partner has been your dad for many, many weekends and accidental contact is barely felt or noticed and so nothing has been said. But now? Now Xman’s play partners are two girls who are doing their best to be both playmates and little mamas, and who maybe aren’t hurt (although sometimes), but don’t want to be hit or kicked or pinched, either.

So what do I do, Gentle Readers? If Xman is acting out and hits because he’s upset he’s losing or the girls aren’t doing what he wants (or his dad), then the obvious answer is an apology from Xman and a time-out. But what about accidental contact? Do we continue with the “Stop it, Xman”s and “Settle down before something happens”? How many of those before a time-out is called for? An apology is expected every time, but is a time-out? I know Xman is just four, but we’re raising a grown-up and boundaries and expectations should be set now. I’m just not sure where the line – absent intent of harm – should be set.

I know it’s normal. I know Xman is a terrific kid who doesn’t mean to hurt anyone. He’s just really good at being four-years-old! So hit me with your best advice. What have you done? What has worked…and not worked?

Off schedule.

June 22, 2015

Those of you who know me know I’m a schedule kind of girl. I like my routines, I like knowing what’s expected, I like pretending I have some semblance of control over my kingdom (or at least what’s supposed to happen when). And even if it’s a known departure, even if I can plan for it – like I could last night – sometimes even that throws a giant wrench into the works. (Yes, yes, because I’m ridiculous.)

It was Father’s Day yesterday. (Newsflash.) I know I’ve discussed the complete randomness of pick-up and transfer times of when Jeff gets his son – well, I mean, it’s every weekend, but we never know until day-of whether it’s going to be pick-up on Friday evening or Saturday morning, and drop-off on Sunday night (or when) or Monday morning. It’s something that I’m really working on just dealing with. So the good thing about yesterday being Father’s Day is that Jeff had decided he wanted Xman for the entire day, so I we knew that Xman’s mom would pick him up Monday morning. Bonus: I didn’t have to worry about when we had dinner, or whether last minute changes would derail all of our plans. Downside: uh, everyone was going to have to go home after dinner. Which meant no one was sleeping over.

Yes, me, the world’s pickiest sleeper, has once again become addicted to having sleepovers every night.

Because the Xman gets picked up early-early-early (so Jeff can go to work), that meant Jeff and Xman had to sleep at home. And because I have work – and kiddos to drop at their dad’s for Camp Stepmom – that meant no sleepovers over there. I mean, occasionally on Wednesday nights, since the girls have begun staying over at their dad’s once a week, I will stay the night at Jeff’s house one a work-night. The problem is that I have to get up and out the door at 5:30 a.m. in order to beat traffic and let Fenway out. [Bam practically lives at our house, but Fenway hasn’t so much as visited Jeff’s because of Fen’s over-excited bladder.] And we’d tried the sleepover thing with the girls just this Saturday night, but because Jeff and Xman are just two bachelor guys banging around, that meant we also had to schlep sleeping bags and blankets and pillows and the girls stuffed animal of choice. It didn’t work out so well Saturday night/Sunday morning, given we have to leave late enough for Fen to go potty and get back early enough to avoid any puppy accidents in the house. Coordinating all of that on a work morning? No, thanks. Making it work on my kid-free weekends when it’s just me schlepping my own self is miserable enough.

So that meant no sleepovers. Womp wah.

I’m not entirely ridiculous. (I am.) Jeff usually has to spend a night at home grocery shopping or doing laundry or…you know, house stuff…that he can’t do when he’s just stopping in before or after Crossfit to grab clothes and things for the next day. It’s just that that hasn’t happened since before our vacation and I’m not used to having an entire evening planned with…nothing. I didn’t have any housework to do because I had already finished all the laundry, fixed the toilet in the master bath (the tank wouldn’t fill), cleaned the kitchen, and doled out marbles earlier to the kiddos who wanted to vacuum, dust, and clean out closets.

What I hadn’t done in just about forever, though, was sleep. So that’s how it came to be (that and the crazy-early wake-up that morning), that the girls and I were in bed, reading, at 8:30 last night. And why I was freezing, because I didn’t have my own personal space heater neutralizing the a/c. Nothing was wrong with my lazy though: instead of getting socks or bumping up the a/c (I knew I would be hot later when I woke up, and I was right), I reached over and grabbed a pair of shorts and a skirt that were lying at the end of the bed and laid them across the top of the covers at my feet. Instant mini-blankets! I read for about an hour, knocking out most of Finders Keepers, and then shut the light off. And proceeded not to fall asleep until about 11 p.m. I was pretty mad. Especially when I woke up at 4 a.m. and didn’t fall back asleep.

This off schedule things is killing me. Either we need to dial it back or dial it up, but no matter what, each and every solution better involve more sleep for me. Because the moral of the story is that I love sleep even more than I love the illusion of control. One or the other, universe. Please.

Vegas: I had no idea!

June 18, 2015

Now that Tropical Storm Bill has moved on – taking its rain and wind with it, but leaving the street flooding, thank you very much – I can get back to what I’ve been thinking about nonstop. And that’s how to get myself a pot full of money so I can get us back to Vegas!

I’m not a Vegas kind of girl. I didn’t think I was. I’m an outgoing introvert who likes her sleep, so, naturally, a city full of big crowds and things you constantly need to be do-do-doing while never, ever sleeping, really didn’t sound like my thing, no? But my guy had been about a dozen different times and wanted to show me one of his playgrounds and a vacation with him anywhere sounded fun, so off we went!

A few things surprised me about Vegas.

Our high end digs. We stayed at The Cosmopolitan, the nicest, poshest, most luxe hotel on The Strip. No, really! We hotel hopped quite a bit, touring the other casinos and seeing what was going on. The Cosmo had a fantastically curated, wild art collection on display. Giant high heeled shoes, a three-story Chandelier bar, old-timey black and white canvases of old school Vegas, sculptures, old-fashioned cigarette vending machines, a high-end marble floor with shimmery bits in it that sparkled, and glam and glitz hanging from the ceiling every time you turned around. And our room…oh my god, you guys. The light fixtures were luxe. The bed was made for movie stars to lounge in. The living room was straight out of a couture magazine. The walk in glass-and-marble shower was bigger than my master suite back home! And the soaker tub that sat right in front of a huge (tinted) glass window…I needs me one. Seriously. I didn’t want to venture out to explore the city, our room was so nice! Our balcony overlooked the fountain display in front of The Bellagio hotel. A few of my friends told me to make sure I saw it, and to make sure I went back to see it again if I didn’t like the music. I got to watch every single show I wanted because we were right there. Talk about romantic…

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Once we did venture out, I was surprised by how far away everything was. We toured a bunch of other hotels like I said – The Flamingo, the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, Planet Hollywood, Paris, the Aria, New York, New York, and Mandelay Bay – and while everything looks like it’s right there, I’ve decided they made everything so oversized and bright and flashy to lure you in, like a fly to a bugzapper. You start walking that way, commit, and then die on your way because each resort is at least a half-mile away from each other. You make it to the end of the The Strip (or at least the furthest you can walk, not the real end), stop for lunch at Margaritaville, and then have to have a few top shelf margaritas to trick yourself into walking back again!

The casinos. I’m not much into gambling. To me, it feels like throwing away a good, sure thing. I’m not always tight-fisted about my money, but usually I am. And while I don’t mind parting with my money for a bit of entertainment, $20 to spend less than ten minutes pushing a button just isn’t my thing. But the even more surprising thing about the casinos was the smell. You guys, I swear to god the casinos smelled like President Snow was lurking around the next corner. There was this cloying death-smell everywhere, like too ripe roses and over-sweet melons had a baby or something. I couldn’t even stay at Caesar’s Palace because it was so strong there. The Cosmo was better about it, as was Planet Hollywood. The others? Oof.

The crazies. I was surprised we didn’t see more of them. While we waited in line for a show, we saw some falling down drunk guys who were so wasted, I was afraid one of them might hurl in our direction. But for the most part, they were free entertainment! Sadly, they didn’t stick around very long. The soberish ones kept the couldn’t-stand-up-ones moving, hopefully back towards a room. Or a toilet of some kind. Because whoa. And then while we were in one of the casinos, we heard a lady behind us demanding her mothereffing money. We thought she was just being loud and obnoxious, but she kept getting louder and we eventually turned around. She had her boyfriend? friend? stranger? by his hair and kept demanding her mothereffing money. A really old security guy came trotting over not too long after that, and soon it escalated into six cops and the casino manager. The lady refused to let go of the guy’s fro unless he was in handcuffs or she had her voucher back. Apparently, she hit it big and he grabbed the ticket. And she wasn’t haven’t any of it. She told everyone to check the tapes, check her blood alcohol level, whatever they wanted, but she was getting her money. I was sad we didn’t get to see the end of the “show.”

The airport. My first Southwest experience on the way out there was relatively uneventful. The smaller airport in our metroplex didn’t disappoint (there are rumors), though we did have to walk about five miles from the parking garage. And there was this fantastic New York native behind us (we scored the best seats – BOTH WAYS – for the win!) who schooled a Texas gun nut, which was awesome. The New York guy showed up again on our return flight and recognized us, and us him, and it was kind of funny. And awesome because I got to congratulate him on his victory. Oh, also, I recognized one of our cabbies as being a northerner because he said something was “full of bologna” and so I had to ask and turns out he was from Jersey. Heh. But the real surprise was how close the Vegas airport was to The Strip! I mean, it’s right there! You could almost walk, it was right there. (There I go with underestimating distance again.) Very handy, I suppose, being right next to where everyone’s going. Guess I’m just used to airports being out away from everything, mine being next to work notwithstanding.

I have so much more to tell you about – the shows we saw, the pools we spent half our time at, how we spent one morning walking our entire hotel to find a place open for breakfast only to find the mother of all buffets open right next to the elevators (whoops), but those will have to wait.

Real life beckons.

I want to go back.

Oh, Bill.

June 16, 2015

Why is it that you when you unplug for four days, four measly days, you come back and feel like the world has completely spun off its axis? What, just me? Okay. But as it turns out, there’s this massive (yet unorganized) tropical storm hanging out off the coast of Texas that’s sort of headed exactly our way. 50mph winds and gusts and flooding rains – 12-15″ of flooding rain, in places.

You know what we don’t need after 30 days of rain during the month of May? You guessed it – more rain.

Thanks ever so much, Tropical Storm Bill. This is really what I wanted to greet me from my vacation to the desert. Now I have to decide whether I should run out and buy bread, batteries, and booze. Oh, and apples (both for snacking and using for emergency flotation devices). And maybe some floaties and a life raft because you just know there’s going to be street flooding, at the very least. Maybe some yard flooding. Hopefully not any house flooding.

What kind of rates you think I could grab on flood insurance for the house?

Yeah.

I mean, I’m glad the drought conditions are over for us. I’m glad the skies are still raining from time to time so maybe my blueberry bushes will take. I’m glad for moments like sunshiney downpours when a certain little boy who is stealing my heart yells, “MS. KATIE! I FOUND A RAINBOW!” and I can drag him outside and teach him how to dance in the rain. It’s not all bad.

I just… Tropical storms? Must it?

Rainbow2

Back from one vacation, on to a new one (of sorts).

June 15, 2015

I’m doing pretty well so far this morning. I’ve gotten out of bed, made it out the door, and have hit every goalpost of responsibility…so far. We’ll see if I can wait until my appointed lunchtime before I nap, and maybe we should hold off on celebrating until I make it home at the end of the day.

Still, I feel like I’m sort of standing at a distance, poking at this day with a long stick. It feels weird, this life filled with formerly usual routines and responsibilities. Who knew it would only take a week brimming with luxury and absent of schedules to throw me off?

It was lovely to come back to the girls and the X-man this weekend. I got the biggest (and nicest) hugs of my life last night. It’s good to know that I’m not just the snack-maker around here; seems the girls missed me nearly as much as I missed them.

(I wish I could say the same about the pile of emails and tasks and deadlines I’m sure are waiting for me, but that’s a very different bucket of peanuts.)

But as much as I like settling back into routines, they won’t be exactly the same. It’s not exactly sleeping til noon, drinking all day, napping all afternoon, eating at crazy restaurants on the strip, and catching a Vegas show every night – but it’s not all sharpened pencils, and grab-your-backpacks, and is-your-homework-done-yet? either. The girls’ stepmom offered to be the “emergency grown-up on the premises” for the month so that we don’t have to bother enrolling the girls in the daycare that was barely meeting standards. The girls are almost old enough to watch themselves, but still sort of need someone on hand just cases. And also so the girls don’t argue themselves to death. So a hyooooge thank you to Stepmom for volunteering as tribute! Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the girls keep their word to get along, play nicely with others, and not bother any grown-ups who are working. Because even though we need to pack lunches and whatever clothes the girls are going to change into later, letting Bee and Gracie roll out of bed five minutes before we have to leave is a lot nicer than our getting ready for school routine!

So let’s do this! Let’s wade into whatever “real life” holds for us this week. Let’s organize the chaos and then we can talk later this week about how much fun I rolled around in while I was vacationing. So much fun, in fact, that I’ve come back without any voice at all. This is going to be a fun, fun week.

Right?

Vegas1

And we’re off!

June 8, 2015

Just a reminder that I will be in all likelihood off the blog this week as my honey and I are doing unbloggable things in Vegas. I’ll try to squeeze some things in there that I can report back on. Knowing me, there will be all kinds of fun and adventures before we even make it out of the airport…

(Turning, spitting, and cursing to avoid all the karma of the whatever from high atop the thing…)

Have fun this week without me, you guys!


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