Five for Friday.

February 27, 2015

Is it Friday? Really? It’s been such a weird week that I honestly have very little idea which way is up!

1. The weather is not helping. Ice day Monday. And Tuesday. Then a delayed start Wednesday, although we didn’t get the 5″ of snow we were promised. Then, yesterday, a pop-up snowstorm showed up, and while it snowed off and on, it was the tiny, gritty snow that didn’t stick to anything. Thank goodness, because I had to go get the besties from the airport! Then, what’s happening today? Another snowstorm! Anywhere from 1-3″ to 4-6″ depending on who you listen to and where you live. Saturday? An ice storm!

2. The weather for Sunday is a little iffy. Either the arctic blast will stay in place, or it will be 40 and rainy (most likely scenario) or it will be 40 and not rainy. After much consideration, with the state of my lungs and the fact that I’m still on antibiotics for bronchitis, I’m thinking running in the rain in 40 degree weather would not be best for my body. So as much as it kills me, I might not run my half-marathon Sunday. Corrina is running, rain, shine or (as long as she doesn’t get body checked by the race organizers shutting down the course) ice. I feel awful that she signed up and came all the way down here and I might not even run! But them’s the breaks, I suppose. I guess. (Nope – still feel awful.)

3. So we wild and crazy ladies spent our first day back grocery shopping, Irish Nacho eating, beer hunting, and talking, talking, talking. CRAZY, I told you! Heh. Juls and Cor had a 3 a.m. wake-up call yesterday, so we stayed in and made homemade mac&cheese for dinner and watched Gone Girl. I don’t think we stopped talking the entire day. We had so much to catch up on! Having people around who have known you since you were 5 years old and who really, really know you is always awesome – you know they’re going to give you the best advice!

4. Fenway is one happy puppy. She got to go to the vet this morning. She got to go in the brand new car (remind me to vacuum out the pet hair later), which she decided was best ridden in half-perched atop the console in between the front seats. I finally got her to lie down on it – I was scared to death she was going to go flying into the windshield. And then she decided the open windows were much more fun and she moved into the back seat. Yes, I drove the entire way to the vet’s office with the windows down even though it is 19 degrees out. I am the best mama ever.

5. So…the besties are meeting who Juls is affectionately calling my Man Friend tonight if the roads aren’t too dicey. Yeah, apparently we’re moving into the Meeting The Friends stage of whatever this is. It’s starting to feel really real you guys. I’m capital-N Nervous! …and maybe a little excited to see what happens. Funtimes.

So there you go! Five things going on right here, right now. I’m so microscopically focused, I didn’t even tell you about what I’ve been reading. That’s how you know I’m really, really on vacation!

Bestie adventures, past and present.

February 26, 2015

Monday, Ice Day 1, oh so long ago – I never told you how we recovered our afternoon. After Fenway had been rescued (and placed in Time Out until she had forgotten what a horse even was), and I set about making my Bee-baby feel better. It helped that Corrie and I had made plans for her girlies to come over for the afternoon. We had movie plans and playing in the snow plans and, most excitingly, science plans!

Oh, yes.

We pulled out the Really Awesome Microscope that just sort of fell into our hands and all four of the girls fought over turns and slides and what to cut up to look at next (including: fingers [for blood, natch], celery, fabric and all manner of things they wanted to look at, some of which even made sense).

Micro1 Micro2

Not only did we have the girls all pouring over the microscope, but we also had Taylor Swift pouring over the surround sound. Rather loudly. Not exactly my first choice, but hey! The girls were happy!

So, yes: Science. TaySwift. Pretty much we were feminist heroes. You can have it all, girls. Expand your sense of self. Contain multitudes. Smash stereotypes!

That was certainly worth listening to crappy music.

So that was Monday. Today, my besties are flying down from Mass. to vacation with me for six days. We have all manner of fun things planned! Dueling piano bars, game night, the art museum, a cupcakery, the JFK memorial, a half marathon, museum-ing to our hearts’ content, and drinks with friends. Not to mention allllll of the talking and walking down memory lane! The weather might not be as lovely as last year – there will be no 70-degree strolls through the Botanical Gardens or reading in the afternoon sun out on the patio. But there aren’t any other girlfriends I’d rather be ice-bound with.

Bonus points if we pull out the microscope while we’re drinking!

Snow! (Again)

February 25, 2015

Because snow > ice. Even when it’s barely enough to count, this New Englander stuck in Tejas will take it!

Snow

Ice Day Adventures Part 2: Horse-blocked.

February 24, 2015

You knew that yesterday wasn’t going to be all idyllic, didn’t you? You knew that the snow! ice! wonder! of the morning, with the freedom of a lazy day in front of the fire, frolicking with friends from across the street, it was too good to be true. Especially if one lives as Casa de Katie.

Which is why I was unsurprised when, after I caught my kids playing outside without coats or mittens in the whopping 14 degrees and had admonished them, dressed them, and sent them back outside, I was unsurprised to hear an absolute shrieking and wailing that only grew louder as the back door was flung open.

My heart nearly stopped. It was a real scream, a terrified scream, the kind that could end with heartbreak or a trip to the emergency room and so many worse things that all seemed to be flying through my head as I ran to see what crisis I was dealing with.

Bee stood at the back door in the midst of a full-blown panic, tears coursing down her face, tripping over the words she was trying so hard to yell out. “FENWAY IS GONE! SHE’S GONE! SHE RAN AWAY! SHE’SGONESHE’SGONESHE’SGONE!” I looked outside and could see Gracie standing at the two-plank gap in the fence, hollering at Fenway who was running quite joyfully with the horses in the field.

“It’s okay,” I told Bee, calmly and slowly. Bee kept shrieking over me, and I remember thinking that Bee was not going to be my go-to person in a crisis. Wow. I assured her I would just go and get Fenway back, that Fenway knew where she lived, and when she got tired, she’d just come home. Apparently this is not what happens in movies or in Bee’s mind, because Bee thought Fenway’s escape was absolutely irreversible. “She’s a rare dog!” she wailed at one point. Yes, I managed to hold in my chuckle.

But my baby’s heart was utterly broken, and so I had just thrown on my boots and dashed outside, in my pajamas, hair flying all over the place, as I tried to coax Fenway back through the gap.

Fenway wasn’t having it. She heard me whistle and call her, all the way across that giant field. I saw her stop and look at me a few times. Bee had run to get a bone (she kept asking if she should, still all a-panic, and I agreed to give her something to do, good lord) and I even waved that at the dog and nope. She chased the horses, examined the far fence line, ran through some frozen streams (good gravy she was going to be a mess), and chased the horses some more.

Snow4Fenway finally decided the bone I was waving looks pretty tasty and tried to wander over towards us. The problem was that the horses were so worked into a lather by the dolty dog who had been chasing them that Fenway had actually herded them over to the gap she wanted to get through. And the horses were all HEEEEY! People!! We like people!

Those horses were awfully friendly.

Snow5 Snow6

So then Ponyboy there with the awful toupee wouldn’t let me through the fence to go get Fenway, and Fenway couldn’t get close enough to make it through. Because you know why? She’s scared of the flippin’ horses!!! Yes, yes she is. That’s what kept Fenway in our yard, despite the fact that I knew she could squeeze through the gap in the fence. The horses would occasionally come investigate this little puppy peeking her head through, and every stinkin’ time, Fenway would bolt back to the house because nuh-uh. And now??! Now all of a sudden?! SERVES HER RIGHT.

Except I was the one dealing. Sigh.

So Bee ran back to the house to get some apples to tempt the horses away from the gap. Meanwhile, Fenway had grown tired of waiting and had run off who knows where. A few minutes later, the stupid? fiendishly clever? Fen showed up somehow in our neighbor’s yard, trying to get at us through a much-too-small gap between a post and the fence section.

So I tried to get out of our yard through the gate, realized it was hopelessly frozen shut and I couldn’t kick it open, trekked through the house, over to the neighbors’, saw that their gate was nailed shut (what the man?!), and ended up ringing their doorbell and asking if I could please have my dog, who happened to be stuck in their backyard.

And then I lectured my dog the entire. way. home. that we were walking on ice and if she tugged me and knocked me down, she was in big, big trouble.

She didn’t tug me.

And that is how she spent half the morning in time-out, thinking about everything she did wrong, and I spent mine consoling a worn-out eight-year-old that everything was okay.

And nailing two planks back into place. Because once is quite enough, thank you!

Snow, said the girl.

February 23, 2015

It started with just a rumor. Then a Special Weather Statement. Winter Storm Watch. An upgrade to a warning. Schools announced closures yesterday afternoon, long before the rain even changed to sleet. All of North Texas ran for the hills – and the bread and milk aisles.

For once, the forecasters had it right. Well, just right enough to keep everyone home today. We maybe didn’t receive the inch of ice they were warning us about, but we had enough to cancel school and work and lo, everyone was happy. The girls got to stay up late last night, and if I was hoping they’d sleep late in response, I called it so, so wrong. A very excited Bee-girl ran into my bedroom this morning at 7:30 a.m.

“IT’S SNOWING!!!” she trilled.

Not exactly. Sleet. And not too much of it. But you can see why she was excited. Well, excited and a little miffed that our green grass was too tall to be covered by that white stuff.

Snow Snow1 Snow2

Barely a dusting! But that patio is much more slippery than it looks!

And so our lazy day began. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast (because, oops, no pancake batter for pancake muffins!). Lounging in our pajamas in front of the television, under piles of blankets. A second cup of coffee for mama while I marked and highlighted my second time through Tiny Beautiful Things.

A lovely, lovely start.

There’s no way it lasts, says the mama.

Funny how the years just fade away.

February 19, 2015

It’s funny how all it takes sometimes is a smile, a feeling, and the words falling out of your mouth to make you feel like you’re a teenager again, standing with your back against the tall radiator in the doorway of the pantry, talking to your mom while she does the dishes at the sink.

I spent so many evenings like that, talking to my mom about boys and friends and problems and hopes and the silly little early days of a crush. She was patient and kind and generous and listened and listened and listened some more until her ears probably felt like they were going to fall off. (I know this because my oldest daughter is only eleven and the days haven’t started when she talks and talks and talks about boys, but if it’s anything about how she talks and talks and talks about inventions, boy am I in trouble.)

I don’t talk as much often about the guys I date. For one, I don’t date all that often. I’m happy on my own, with this little life I’ve created (and keep creating) for my girls and I. My nest is cozy. I don’t need a relationship to make it feel full. But I go on dates. Lots of first dates. Not so many second ones. I’m careful with who I let in. I’m carefuller still about what I choose to say about those adventures. Part of the reason is that, hello – I’m a single mom and my daughters are almost nine and eleven and I don’t know what I’m doing; how to go about a healthy atmosphere of dating that won’t mess their little selves up. (Yes, yes – file under: parenting, general and constant fears.) Part of it, too, is that despite all of my blurting and writing and oversharing, there are pieces I find hard to open up about. And part of it is that I tippy-toes believe in jinxes. Oh, yes, capital-J Jinxes.

This doesn’t mean that my mom feels the same reservations that I do. She asks nearly every time we talk whether I’m dating someone. It’s been years since I’ve given her much hope on that front, but she likes some good entertainment as much as the next mom, and so the eternal question: Are you dating anyone?

It doesn’t bother me. I know she isn’t asking because she wants or needs a “yes” any more than I do. She was very clear when she was raising us that she didn’t want or expect us to be dependent on a partner. Do as she said, not as she did; don’t make the same mistakes. Follow our hearts, but also our brains. So I knew there was absolutely zero judgement behind the questions, and doesn’t that make all the difference in the world?

Which is maybe how I found myself smiling into the phone long before I maybe would have normally confessed. There is a guy. Maybe. Sort of. It’s still in the very early stages, but I wanted to give my mom the small gift of something different to talk about, to think about, to laugh over. I thought I was doing it to change up her afternoon, and yet as I sat telling her about who he was and how we had met and the few dates we had been on (dates! plural!), all I could think about was standing at the radiator, figuring out my feelings with my mum as my sounding board. Fifteen-hundred miles, twenty-plus years and one larger-than-life degenerative neuro-muscular disease later, and my mom is still a sneaky mama-ninja out-maneuvering me and being exactly who I need her to be.

Who knows how this particular dating adventure will turn out. It’s fun and new and exciting, and maybe, possibly, sort of has some shiny potential shimmering around the edges…but that might all wink out of existence next week or next month or six months from now.

But that mama superpower of moms being moms forever, world without end amen? That’s not going anywhere no matter how much time has gone by or how old the mamas and daughters might be.

In which we lose lots of our sanity and a little bit of chocolate.

February 18, 2015

My spirituality is something rather complicated. Unsurprising, right? I mean, isn’t most people’s? If people ask, I tend to simplify it – usually quip that I’m a recovering Catholic. But in reality, it’s something bigger than that. Do I believe in a God in the way most people who say they believe in God usually mean? No, I don’t think so. I believe in a God-like something, a benevolent force in the Universe that wants us all to be good, kind people who are compassionate and look after one another. I believe in the power of prayer, the power of kindness, and you betcher booty that whatever you call my spirituality, karma has its own role, oh yes it does.

Still, despite the fact that I stopped adhering to a strict Catholic viewpoint around the time that I graduated high school, some habits are hard to break. I’ve still kept Lent each year because I’m a little bit in love with the idea. I like the idea that we can make this small sacrifice, lift it up as a way to atone for maybe just a fraction of the little things we get wrong every day. (Right or wrong, it’s a little bit of that karma thing.) And, because I went to a Jesuit college and Jesuits are awesome people who ask us – how, then, shall we live? How shall we give back to this world we are fortunate to be a part of? How can we be of service to one another? – Lent is also for not just subtracting pleasure, but releasing something good back into the world. Whether it’s volunteering or performing random acts of kindness or what have you, Lent is not a time for turning inwards and improving just your own lot in this world. Not if you’re Catholic. Or, um, whatever I am.

Which is how we came to have a rather odd conversation in the car this morning. “You know, today is Ash Wednesday,” I announced. The girls were very aware – although, maybe not the fact that today was Wednesday. They attend church with their (Methodist) grandmother and this past week they had a Mardi Gras-type celebration about the coming of Fat Tuesday and Lent and, well, whatever else was an excuse to throw down at church. “During Lent, we all have to give something up,” I continued, “and you know how every year I give up chocolate?” It’s true. Could there be a bigger sacrifice? Maybe caffeine. Or wine. But there limits to even my creative ways of making it through each day without committing murder. I glanced up at the girls in the rear-view mirror. “I thought this year we could make a pledge as a family to give up candy for Lent.”

“NOOOO!” Bee might have screamed.

Then there was silence. Dead, shocked silence.

“We’re supposed to give up something that means a lot to us,” I reminded her. “I wanted it to be something we decided on as a family. For Jesus.” Hey, I wasn’t above plucking their poor, wee guiltstrings if it meant getting a healthier jump-start on Spring. Maybe fight filling the pantry with candy once this Lent-thing was over.

“I could give up candy,” I heard Gracie’s small, little voice offer up from her seat. God bless her. Score one for she who seeks approval from authority figures.

Bee was, predictably, fighting it with all the power of her stubborn little sweet tooth.

“I can’t give up candy!” she panicked. “I could give up Bear instead!”

“I don’t think that will help you sleep,” I countered.

“I have George, still!” was her happy answer. Yeah, that wasn’t really following the spirit of giving something up for Lent, I explained.

I tried again, reminding her that I would be giving up candy, too – no Cadbury eggs for me. Except for Sundays. Sundays were the exception; they were how we start Lent now and made it all the way to Easter with only 40 days. I don’t know how, but it’s saved my sanity more than once…once I learned about them, that is.

“So can you do it, Bee? Can you commit to our family pledge to give up candy?” I hope using fancy language would sway her.

“Okay. I could give up candy with you.”

And just like that, we all collectively lost our minds.

No candy at Casa de Katie for 40 days or 40 nights.

Tonight I’ll explain about random acts of kindness, of volunteering where and when we can, and we’ll brainstorm on how we can give back. We’ll flesh out our crazy, one-off religious ritual.

And it will be, if nothing else, a hilarious adventure.

Five for Galentine’s Day!

February 13, 2015

Happy Galentine’s Day, loves!

Okay, yes, I see a lot of blank stares, so for those who would like the hilarious full explanation, I suggest clicking here. In short, though, Galentine’s Day is the day before Valentine’s Day, in which we celebrate the true loves of our lives – our besties! There is much dancing, much wine (if you’re besties with me, at least), and much celebrating. Because our romantic partners may come and go, but the gals in our lives? They’re here through thick and thin. And thinner. And thinnest. And they ARE AWESOME!

So! I give you my Five for Galentine’s Day:

1. A big Happy Galentine’s Day to my sisters and cousins-who-are-almost-sisters, and friends-who-may-as-well-be-sisters. Heaven knows they have listened to me time and time again about relationships gone good and those gone bad. More importantly, they’re there when it’s all about us – celebrating papers that are published, crushing a huge project, or running an impossible distance. We have some awesome, awesome people in our family – including (especially?) some kickass ladies who would do anything for one another. Love you all!

2. Happy Galentine’s Day to my incredible mom, and all of my extra moms – aunties, friends of the family, and relatives of all my friends. It takes a village to raise us all and knowing I have such an incredible support system means the world to me! (Especially when you encourage me to stare at hott men who read for as long as I can get away with. See? Clearly awesome.)

3. Happy Galentine’s Day to the girls’ Stepmom who has stepped up and not only parented the girls in wonderful ways, but has become a friend to me, as well. Thank you for picking up the girls on Friday on your lunch hour, for volunteering a place for them to hang out when everyone has to work, for always telling me when the Cadbury Eggs are out, making sure I got to watch Outlander, and sharing so many Reader adventures! I’m so glad you are part of our lives!

4. Happy Galentine’s Day to all of the second mamas to my tiny Gals at home – and yes, you all fit into these other categories, but second-parenting my girlies is so much work you get an extra shout out. My minions are going to grow up so much stronger, smarter, and sassier because of all of you. Whether it’s being available at school for crises big and small (on their end or mine!), being their Safe Grown-Up to tell secrets to when they’re unsure about telling mom, or filling in the gaps when and where I can’t, it’s a precious, precious gift that should land you a lifetime supply of wine and chocolate.

5. And for all of my friends I’ve met online, through my blog, Twitter, other blogs or other friends – an extra big Happy Galentine’s Day to you all! You guys are the best. I know we’re all smarter than to listen to the idiocy that online friendships are somehow “less than” other “real” friendships. I know it not only because we’re kickass, but because we support each other and call each other out and stand up for each other every single dang day. In fact, we’re so busy being awesome, we don’t even have time for that noise. Thank for for every time you’ve stood up for me, smacked me upside the head when I needed it, and let me pout when I needed that. Thank you for talking books, kids, girlie problems, morality, philosophical issues, and generally helped the world become a better place. Seriously, they should just let us rule the world; collectively we solve all its problems.

And isn’t that the damn point: collectively.

Happy Galentine’s Day, you guys! Now someone hit the music so we can get on to dancing and drinking!

Meep, meep!

February 12, 2015

So yesterday, this happened:

Rav

I know, right?! I bought an entire car all by myself! How grown-up is that?!

I had a lot of help deciding to ditch the jeepy jeepy – sometimes it takes a village to raise Katie, as I’ve been saying all week – and when I started doing my research, I noticed that because of pretty, pretty Presidents’ Day, a new 2015 RAV4 was just $2,000 than a 2011 used RAV4 with 30,000 miles (although the used car may have had more features. Meh meh meh).

So yesterday, after fighting to move a vacation day (for Pete’s sake), I showed up at the dealership having done a bunch of prep work. I had cleaned the jeep out of all worldly possessions (and not a few socks. Which, what the heck, Bee?!), I had found the title to my jeep (within five minutes of looking for it, despite not seeing it since 2010 – the most grown-uppish I’ve felt all month), and printed out the divorce decree because the Ex was still listed on the title, even though the decree gave us our own cars. Or, I should say, I meant to print out the divorce decree. But it’s all good.

So I show up at my appointment, walk in, and the sales kid who latched on to me didn’t seem to understand that I had already set up a sales appointment. He had no idea who the guy was that my appointment was with, and then took for-ev-er to look up my appointment. I had a bad feeling, but then the kid mentioned that he was new to the area (and therefore the job), and I realized he just had no idea what he was doing. Of course, it didn’t help that he assumed I was in for a bitty sedan, just because I’m a woman who looks young (and is therefore broke?). I withered him with my death-ray glare, don’t worry.

Once I finally got checked in with my (grumpy) sales guy, things went much better. He was good about explaining all of the price points, and didn’t seem like he was going to try anything. I had mentioned a few times that this car was a want, not a need (did I fail to mention ALL THE THINGS wrong with my jeep? Hunh.), and that I wasn’t too sure it was what I wanted to do. We test drove the RAV4 I had selected, just to make sure everything was how I wanted it. Then we got down to haggling – on my part any way. I explained the price point I needed to be at with monthly payments, after a considerable down payment. Things got dicey for a moment, and I stood up to go, and suddenly a manager was in there, offering me $3,000 more for my trade-in, after I’d already talked the sales guy down $2,000 for the RAV4. Suddenly I was magically at my price point. So I sat back down.

Notice how everything had gone nice and smooth? Here’s where everything started going more like they usually do when I’m around…

Sales Guy handed me off to Finance Guy. Finance Guy was really nice (and really hott), and we got going on all the paperwork, chatting away about different things. We got to the bit with the title, and he asked if I had a copy of the Ex’s release for the car, and I was all, “No, but I….was supposed to bring in the divorce decree.” But I knew I had a copy in my email, so I was scrolling through my phone while Hott Finance Guy started asking about my divorce – because it so happens that he’s going through one. So we sort of launched into a 20 minute therapy session, me giving him advice and listening to all his feelings, but it was okay. Because it turns out I was going to need all of these bonus points.

So we get everything squared away and all we have left is for me to give him all my monies for the down payment. Hott Finance Guy maybe mentions something about me writing a check for xx amount and I was all, “Wait, what? A check?” WHO WRITES CHECKS, DEAR READERS?! Turns out that the dealership can’t take credit card or debit card payments. Or electronic transfers. But! Because Hott Finance Guy was so enamored with me at this point, he convinces his boss to let me do an electronic transfer. So I call my bank. After I finally get ahold of a live human, she tells me the bank can’t do a transfer like that over the phone. I need to do it online. So I, on my tiny little smart phone, have to set up mobile banking, then enter all the information for a transfer and twenty minutes later…they can only transfer $1,000. That was not even close to what I needed.

I explained the problem to Hott Finance Guy. “Just go get a bank check,” he told me. I said I’d be happy to – only what car was I supposed to use, since my Jeepy Jeepy had been surrendered already. And that was how grumpy Sales Guy ended up riding along as collateral in my new car to go to the bank five minutes up the street.

I ran into the bank, was next in line, and explained to the teller that I was having a weird day and what I needed. She laughed when I told her the sales guy was out in the car and started drawing up the check. And then we hit another bump. Because OF COURSE! Let’s throw some more bumps in there! BUMPS FOR EVERYONE! The teller asked if I ever wrote checks against that account. No, I told her – that’s why I was in this predicament. Otherwise I could run home and get a check. Turns out I didn’t have anything on file with my signature on it in the files. They couldn’t issue the bank check without verifying my signature against something. This is when I started to laugh. I handed over my license and my (signed!) bank card. I begged. I reminded her that the sales guy was out in the car. She called a manager over (named Bee – we bonded), who quizzed me down about my last deposit, what bills I regularly pay, how much was in my other account… and then they decided to believe I was me. I got my check. And was on my way.

Thank. God.

And that is the story of how I finally ended up with my beautiful new car. But I couldn’t very well leave well enough alone, could I? Oh no.

When I went to get the girls, we walked out of After Care and started walking to where I always, always park the jeepy jeepy. Once we got close, I was all, “Wait – where’s our car? Did it get stolen?!” The girls looked worriedly around. They were all, “Oh my god, Mom!” And after a minute or two of fun, I clicked the unlock button on our pretty, pretty new car and was all “I guess we’ll just have to take this new one!” They laughed and screamed and clambered in and told me over and over how I had really got them. Bonus points to my girlies for being filled with admiration at my superior prank-pulling rather than mad at me for scaring them. I am delight to live with, you guys.

And that really was the end, other than showing off the car for all the neighbors last night, and then sitting in my new car in the garage, trying to figure out what all the buttons mean. Perhaps, if I study hard, I might become one with my new car by the time it’s time for another one.

Way back when, in the 1800s – no, wait, the 1980s…

February 10, 2015

All the muppet arms everyone – today is Kim’s birthday! Huzzah!!! In honor of her day, and to maybe take her mind off the snow (possibly eight feet on the ground at my parents’ house by the weekend), I thought I’d list ten of my favorite adventures. Good god, this is going to be difficult to pare down…

1. The time she went with me to choose a wedding photographer (because the Ex couldn’t get time off to fly home on that wedding planning weekend), and it was rainy and gross and really early on a Sunday morning. And we were stuck behind this really slow delivery truck on this two-lane “highway” in rural Mass. We were complaining about this truck for a good half-hour. Then traffic must have moved over because we slowly made our way closer and all of a sudden I yelled, “IT’S THE CHOCOLATE CUPPA-CAKE TRUCK!” Seriously – a Hostess truck with pictures of giant chocolate cupcakes plastered along its sides. Only my favorite food in the whole world. I cannot comment on whether we single-handedly pulled the truck over and robbed it of its contents or not.

2. The time when I was in junior high (or maybe my freshman year of high school?) and Kim was in 4th or 5th grade. I was training her in the art of sneaky spyhood and so sent her downstairs from our bedroom to which we’d been banished so our parents could talk. Our parents never sent us to our rooms – in fact, my parents hardly ever talked, never mind together, on purpose – and so we needed to find out what we could. So I debriefed Kim that she was to go to the bathroom, grab a snack, and head back upstairs after listening in to all she could. Twenty minutes later, Kim walks back upstairs to the room, eating her snack. I asked her what she had learned and I got this blank stare. She had forgotten her mission. But: snack.

3. The first time she was in Tejas and we had a tornado warning. The Ex was at the groceria, about a mile away. I had called him on his cell because I knew he wouldn’t know about the warning. He told me he could beat the storm home. (Because of course he would.) I couldn’t talk him out of it, so I hung up and Kim and I got Toddler Gracie and Bee-baby into the master closet, where we hide during storms. Ten minutes later, the Ex opens the closet door and finds us sitting on the floor, singing Girl Scouts songs to keep Gracie occupied, and listening to the NOAA radio. He seriously looked at us like we had on foil hats or something. Maybe, possibly because the storm had passed, but whatever. We were scared, but having an awesome time.

4. Speaking of Girl Scouts songs, there was the time in college when Kim was… Well, I don’t remember exactly why she had been talking about llamas with someone. But she was under the impression that llamas lived in any mountains. Not just the South American kind. So somehow we started talking about what noise llamas make – none at all (shoosh, those who are going to bring up the groaning they do when they’re pissed). Eventually, somehow, a llama was added into the Girl Scout song we sang about “Ohhhhhh, an Austrian went traveling on a mountain so high…”  Um. Do not ask why were singing Girl Scout songs.

5. That time she sent me a margarita glass full of flowers and listened patiently to me cry night after night when El Stupido left me for another woman, even though she thought our relationship wasn’t the best idea to begin with.

6. That time her Fairy Godmother status hit its pitch-perfect moment of glory when Gracie called her to announce her dad was getting remarried and how should she tell me? Everything worked out fine (spoiler alert!), but that moment right there showed me that the girls will be just fine navigating life’s tricky moments. If they don’t feel quite right talking to me or their dad or the stepmom about something, they know just who to call.

7. When she visited my college as a prospect and sat in on my Af-Am Lit class…and pretty much took over. My mentor’s reaction afterwards was pretty much “There are two of you?!” Priceless!

8. That time she was napping on our marshmallow couch at the apartment the Ex and I lived in before we built the house, and I took her picture (for that is what we do) and the moment the flash went off, her eyes popped open. (Honorable mention: every time she brings that story up to taunt me…)

9. When we started sending care packages to each other when she was in college. They were almost never fancy, just filled with random things we think the other would like. Small things, sentimental things. And always a card address to Richard (me) or Peter (her). Bonus points for all the confusion that caused when others saw the cards.

10. All the times we caught the giggles for no reason whatsoever, and then just. couldn’t. stop. There are people who just get you in this world. And she is one of mine.

Happy birthday, Kimberly Anna! I am so glad you are in this world!

Kim


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