Top Ten Tuesday: Flashback edition!

August 23, 2016

Last week’s Top Ten Tuesday was themed “10 books about a place”, or something like that. First of all, can we discuss – there’s a theme that goes out?! I’m the dolt who thought everyone just picked their own theme, or saw something cool and piggy-backed. Apparently someone hosts and publishes a theme in advance. Brilliant!

Second of all, my dear friend Trish (I’m not picking, I swear) hoodwinked me into helping me think of some really good books set in Texas (Ruby by Cynthia Bond immediately came to mind). Of course I helped; I can’t resist any question about reading and books! And then that sneakypants wrote a post about books set in the BEST state: Texas! Which – no!! This is not the best state and I live here under protest! (Yes, yes, I’m going to be flooded with people who love it here. And that’s great! You can love it here! Keep living here! It’s just not a good fit for me and mine.) My (pretend) issue was that I contributed to such a list…uh, even though Trish hasn’t yet met read Ruby and didn’t use it for her list.

The point is that our banter challenged me to create a top-ten list of books from Massachusetts (although I reserve the “best state” moniker and twist it into a “best region” for New England because I simply can’t choose). So here’s my list. That I, um, came up with in 20 minutes after Trish asked. Yes, I’m ridiculous. (And well organized – I checked my New England list on Goodreads.)

I give you, in no particular order, my Top Ten Books set (at least partially in some cases) in Massachusetts:

Book175In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick. You know I tend more towards fiction, but this book had already been on my radar when the movie trailer hit everyone’s screens. The fervor caught me, too – and for good reason, I realized, once I started the book. I’ve read a bunch of books by Philbrick – he’s a New England historian I especially admire. His facts are straight, his storyframing is solid, and his writing reads like fiction. I read this while away for vacation meeting Jeff’s parents and it was a welcome escape at times. Has to be a 5 of 5 stars book for that action alone!

Book176Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane. I could have picked a couple of Dennis Lehane novels – he does love the Boston area. My original choice (a runner up, in fact) was Mystic River, which really captures the essence of Boston and its people so well. Lehane novels are gritty, but they’re good reads. He’s great at observing people and pinning them to paper. Shutter Island was another book I devoured before seeing the movie (with Kim, I believe) and it was creeeeepy as facking anything! Not something to read at night, alone, if you’re weak-hearted!

Book184All Souls: A Family Story of Southie, by Michael Patrick MacDonald. My sister Rhianyn kept going on and on about how I should read this, and so I finally picked it up at my used book store. It’s another non-fiction, a memoir this time, and once I started, I couldn’t put it down. Now – I’m not really from Boston. My sister Kim gives me crap all the time for identifying with it so strongly. I’m really from a much smaller city about 40 minutes east of Boston, just far enough outside its reach to not be considered a suburb (though it would be if the cities were here in Tejas). But no one writes stories about the Woo, and so I turn to stories about Boston – like this one. The people in All Souls remind me of the people in my hometown, and so I loved the book. The loyalty, the stubbornness, the contradictions, the poverty (although Southie has it way worse than my section of Worcester). It was hard not to root for the author and his family all the way through.

Book177Stronger, by Jeff Bauman (with Bret Witter).  The Boston Marathon has always been something that defined Boston. It’s one of the toughest and most elite marathons in the world of running. The survival stories after the  bombing at the finish line that occurred three years ago will define the residents of Boston for years to come. Our city repaired itself without a ripple, shrugging it off and running again as soon as the idiots were caught. The people who were hurt: not as easy. This memoir was written by one of the icons photographed that day, a man who lost both legs above the knee. It was a story I had to read, and one that I found honest, well-paced, and incredibly inspiring. It’s not for those looking for vicarious thrills in graphic medical or crime novels, but those looking for inspiration in how to keep on keeping on.

Book178Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey. This Caldecott Medal winner not only has gorgeous drawings to keep children engaged in the story, it’s awfully fun to read to your children, especially if you’re missing home. Bonus points if you bring out your New England accent while reading the adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their ducklings. [Bonus story: I read this book to my children so many times that when we needed to walk single file while out in public, I told them to “duckling up” – and they knew what I meant.]

Book17986 Years: The Legend of the Boston Red Sox, by Melinda Boroson. This is another kids book with warm, detailed drawings, but the real fun is the story behind the Red Sox first World Series win in…yes, 86 years. Gracie was just a few months old when the Red Sox did it, and yes, I stayed awake for every minute of every game, waaaaay into the early hours of the morning. Reading the book out loud – even to my too-old children, even to myself – still gets me choked up, every time.

Book180The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This is one of my favorite classics, the story of Reverend Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne in the wayback Puritan colony of Boston. And I mean waaaaay back. 17th century wayback. The romance of the story didn’t do it for me, it was the gothic feel almost, the way everyone seemed doomed and the drama was over the top. Feelings, man – they’ll ruin ya. But it will be extremely entertaining for those reading the story.

Book181Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri. I love all of Lahiri’s writing, but this was by far my favorite! Short stories that knit together, all of them filled with love and light and interesting musings far to clever for me to have imagined, and, yes, maladies of all sorts. The characters are rich, the writing richer – this is a collection not to be missed.

Book183Homecoming, by Cynthia Voigt. I re-read this series almost yearly. The story of four kids abandoned by their mom who has a mental breakdown while trying to drive them to the safety of a distant relative, the oldest daughter somehow walks the kids to Connecticut, improvising survival skills along the way. A gorgeous coming-of-age story and one about the value of family and knitting together in hard times. God, if you haven’t read it yet, I don’t know why. It’s certainly at the very top of this list.

Book182Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi. Ironically enough, even though I just explained that no one writes stories set in the Woo, um, this one is. At least, the beginning of the story is set there, and then moves on to a nearby suburb. The story itself is a spin on Snow White, a fantastic, wonderful, awesomely impactful story of the wicked stepmother as she inherits a stepdaughter, Snow White Whitman, who is beautiful and lovely and challenges Boy’s image of herself. Naturally, Snow gets shipped off to a distant aunt when Boy’s own daughter is born, but Bird is born dark-skinned, revealing that her parents have been passing all this time. The story is meaty and revelatory and filled to the brim with so much to unpack – be careful you don’t miss it for thinking it a simple story. Oyeyemi is genius.

Books that should have been on the list, but I actually kept it to 10: Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane; The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud; With or Without You, by Domenica Ruta; the Autobiography of Malcolm X (starts in Boston, so it counts); The Boston Girl, by Anna Diament; Girl, Interrupted, by Susannah Keyes; I Am the Cheese, by Robert Cormier.

It’s the school year again. How’d that happen?

August 22, 2016

It’s the first day of school and I can’t wait to check all of my blogs to see all the cute pictures! Cheeks for days!!! Except all of my friends kiddos keep growing up (um, don’t ask about my own. There’s a pool of denial and I’m wading through it, happily.) and so there’s more gangly legs and arms and cheeky smiles than there are cheeks and dimples. Which, still – adorbs! Because ZOMG our kids! Who let them get this old?!


So here are first day of school pics from Casa de Katie. We did not take all of these pics last night in the good light and while everyone was awake.* We did freak out because HEY! SCHOOL IS IN TWELVE HOURS! and stuff backpacks full of supplies, write notes to Bee’s teacher about missing supplies (she might transfer schools and I’m not leaving $150 of school supplies at the school she’s not attending), organize Bee’s uniform drawer and – you know – find clothes to wear and stuff, and we maybe wrote a note to Bee on her apple and drew a smiley face (a little Sharpie never hurt nobody), and packed a lunch because why fill up Bee’s lunch account when she might switch districts? It was chaos, but fun chaos. And then we maybe ran out and got take-out sushi for a snack at 9 p.m. As one does.

Good times!! We got the kids off to school (barely) with the help of 3098435 people. Gracie is carpooling with her bestie – bestie’s mom is driving them in the morning and Stepmom is getting them in the afternoon. I had to drop the Bee-girl off at school (and they opened the doors 15 minutes late, so I kinda wanted to strangle them) this morning, but I think Jeff will be dropping her off again this year. We’ll have to figure things out if she transfers to the new district with different start times (and is way far away from Jeff’s route to work).

It’s chaos! It’s insanity! But it’s all mine.

Here we go, school year! Middle school! New elementary school (maybe)! Band! Tennis! Practices! PTA! Volunteering! Orchestra (maybe)! ALL THE MEETINGS! 7th grade and 5th grade are gonna bring it! And for today – and maybe today only – we’re ready.

Bring it on.


*Except, yes, yes we did.

Mini Book Reviews: Two trans-character stories, a memoir I couldn’t put down, and my favorite birthday present.

August 18, 2016

It’s been a slower reading week, mostly because I’m on the verge of finishing two other books, both very gripping – and truth be told, I’m a little annoyed I couldn’t stay away from my Stranger Things/The Killing marathon last night so I could finish either or both of them. Not helping is the fact that most of what I did read this week was a simmering pot of meh. I hate when that happens. Let’s see what we have:

Book174Transformed (Charley & Electra #1), by Suzanne Falter (2016, New Heights Publishing, 214 pages, library eloan). Yes, my library is awesome: I got to borrow a trans superspy novel for free! I don’t know whether to brag or keep quiet because librarians got our back down here in relentlessly conservative Tejas, and I would like that to not stop, please! It was a quick, fun read made better by not being as picky as I usually am about plot and fidelity to character. A lot of happy coincidences fall from the proverbial sky. It was fun to thwart Christian fundamentalists who like to do what the Bible says instead of how Jesus acted, but overall, I can’t say I’ll be reading Charley & Electra #2. Borrow if you can, though, Fellow Readers, if only to send a message to publishers to broaden their horizons (and keep my librarians in business: clearly they’re awesome). 2 of 5 stars.

Book172Coming Clean: A Memoir, by Kimberly Rae Miller (2013, New Harvest, 272 pages, ebook). I snagged this one as a deal-of-the-day ebook because I have a thing for both memoirs and mental health subjects, including hoarding. We joke about my mom leaning towards the hoarding end of the slidey scale (or could have, had she stayed mobile), but when I’m reminded of just how intense so many peoples conditions are, I always reassess my mom back into mere “packrat” status. The woman swept everything into bins in the attic because it was easier (and because she had grown up with next to nothing, and didn’t know if she might one day need something). The conditions were never as bad as those described by Miller, who grew up in horrendous and unsanitary conditions created by her hoarder father (who someone remains a bit charming, in spite of all we learn). I realize that Miller wrote this book as a way to make peace with her family and the fallout of having grown up as she did, but my one critique was that Miller continuously lashed out against the population who would binge on TLC’s show Hoarders (and the others like it), only to feed the machine with her own memoir. I wish she had addressed the contradiction instead of leaving the disconnect to the audience to resolve; it could have made for an interesting section. 3 of 5 stars.

Book171Lily and Dunkin, by Donna Gephart (2016, Delacorte Books, 352 books, library eloan). This YA story also featured a main character who was trans, this time a high schooler coming out in his new district as a male-to-female student supported by his sister (bless), but not his father. If it sounds rote, it can be, but it’s also endearing and a sweet, smart space for teens to see themselves reflected. Lily (formerly known as Timothy) meets up with Dunkin, a boy struggling with his bi-polar diagnosis, and the two form their own support group. Overall, the story tended to be a bit too YA for me, but I would recommend the book to teens looking for themselves in a genre that features more supernatural characters than it does any outside hetero-normative bounds. But have you noticed how that slowly seems to be changing? And isn’t that wonderful? 3 of 5 stars.

Book173Home Field, by Hannah Gersen (2016, William Morrow, 432 pages, library eloan). This one reminded me of Friday Night Lights (in fact, the cover told me it would) meets The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: a feel-good story heavy with family history and drama that involves a dead parents, small towns, and a lot of good story that I just can’t emotionally connect with. The meat was all there, I just couldn’t dig in. Maybe it was the suicide that felt elbowed into the story, or the fact that I like to process my grief sideways – or even that I’m already scratching that itch binge-watching The Killing – but this was the wrong book at the wrong time for me. 2 of 5 stars.

Book170Post Secret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives, by Frank Warren (2005, Orion, 278 pages, hardcover). This was a gift from way back in the day – possibly in 2005 when it was published. I remember I was still married, and caught up in the wonder that is the Post Secret project. Jeff saw me scrolling through the online post one Sunday and asked about it, so I pulled out my coffee table book to let him indulge (small Sunday servings online sometimes just aren’t enough). It was a glorious reminder of how desperately humans want to connect with each other. I think we want to be understood even more than we want to be loved. In any case, it’s something I’ve been turning over in the back of my mind ever since. 5 of 5 stars.

Book169Hamilton: A Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (2016, Grand Central Publishing, 288 pages, hardcover). This was a brilliant, brilliant birthday gift from Jeff and the kiddos. I maybe told him about it way back when it came out (before it came out, if I know myself), and every single notation was worth the wait. I think my favorite was when Lin admitted to going full-on Jordan Catalano at one point. GAH!!! The essays about how certain pieces of the show came to be, and about meet-cute stories of how everyone fell into their bits and parts – everything exceeded the hype. And this is Hamilton, so that’s saying quite a lot! Shell out the big bucks for this gorgeous deckle-edged hardcover: it’s worth every penny. 5 of 5 stars.

There you have it! If I didn’t have my week in reading rundown until tomorrow, I could have added In the Dark, Dark Woods and You Will Know Me. The thing I love this summer is that I’ve fallen quite accidentally down a rabbit hole filled with delicious, dark, and twisty thrillers. The thing I don’t like is that as compulsive a read as they are, you can’t read the delicious, dark, and twisty thrillers in one gulp, no matter how willing you are to get brain freeze!

If school could just hold off a leetle bit longer…

August 17, 2016

School might start on Monday. Maybe. Possibly. I’m not really 100% on that because you see, I’m over here in this lovely land called Denial.

You see, I knew the mountain of prep work it would take and so I put it off all summer. I wanted us to just breathe and enjoy ourselves. We needed time to just relax as a family and not stress over things like new schools, new routines, new commitments and all. the dang. new. things. I had to buy to go along with it all. We had time. And besides, most of the things I needed to buy were clothes for the growing weed pre-teen. Buying things at the beginning of the summer didn’t guarantee they would still fit by the end of the summer. I was being smart! I would figure it all out after we spent our week in New England, I told myself.


So here we are. A few days out from the start of school – at least I think school is less than a week out; I can’t even bring myself to check on that – and I have a whole host of details I need to plan. Costly, pricey little details.

Like: Gracie has returned to the world of school uniforms. The district she’s in – the one she transferred to last year – didn’t require uniforms for elementary school or sixth grade. They don’t require them for high school. The two years of junior high? Randomly necessitate school uniforms. So that means:

  • Five pairs of khaki shorts
  • Five pairs of khakis
  • Five short sleeve shirts [that a mom told me could be any red shirt, so that’s what I bought, and then we discovered at registration that all shirts had to be either collared or crew neck. So now I have to return half the shirts I bought. Oh! And they can be white or navy, too]
  • Five long sleeve shirts
  • A few hoodies or sweaters

Like the $200 worth of school supplies that I had to pick up before we left on vacation, lest we return to find shelves picked clean. Gracie dutifully texted me earlier this week to tell me the list posted online was the wrong list, so there are additional things she needs. Because of course there are.

Like the tennis team that Gracie joined, with its 30340953 meetings and 0 notices that have gone out. The one that I had to scramble to get physicals finished for (with an assist from her dad who actually took her) because who knew you had to have those finished by the beginning of August?! In addition to all of the meetings and booster clubs and parent-involved requirements (besides carting your kid all over the city half the week), I had to get:

  • Three pairs of workout shorts for practice (because mama ain’t washing clothes every night)
  • Three pairs workout shirts
  • Three sports bras
  • Two water bottles
  • Sneakers (that I haven’t bought yet)
  • A duffel bag for all this crap
  • Tennis balls? Do I have to get some of those? Hunh. Check into this.
  • And a racket of some variety that Gracie knows but I don’t because I also haven’t bought this yet. Note for Saturday.
  • Oh! And then there’s the booster club package that Gracie’s dad paid for and the spirit shirts for that

Then there’s band. Gracie picked up tennis so she could free up her general gym requirement to make room for engineering club; band and choir were her other choices for extra-curriculars. But band ain’t cheap. Thankfully, Gracie’s dad took her to get most of her gear:

  • Snare drumming books
  • Mallet percussion books
  • Stick work books (oh the jokes)
  • Oh! And sticks! And mallets!
  • A bag for her sticks
  • Some sort of duffel for all of it (I don’t know if we have that yet, hmm…)
  • A band shirt
  • And her practice drums, which I was lucky enough to find online because the stores were out.

Who knows what else we have for band because those meetings haven’t happened yet.

I have a big, long date with my planner to get us all caught up with meetings and appointments and games and booster clubs and practices and everything else. I’ll be glad when all of these lists can hit the recycling and when it’s all second-hand next year. That’s my new mantra this week: it will all seem old hat to us next year! Because my old mantra of “It can wait!” doesn’t seem to be holding up any more.

Now we just need to figure out when school starts and how we’re getting the kids to and from, and we’ll be all set! Ish.

The StitchFix that maybe made me pause.

August 16, 2016

You guys, I’m in love with my new stylist. Her prints and styles (with one misstep) are much more me than the last one. I love that. I love having “grown-up” slinky dress shirts I can throw on with a pair of jeans instead of just a pile of tshirts. But there’s one catch. (Uh, besides the fact that my girlies are money-sucking back-to-school creatures hellbent on bankrupting me.) We’ll get to the catch in a minute.

First, the clothes!

Here’s the slight style misstep:


I love the kelly green color – you know I’ve been trying to grab everything I can in that shade! But the 1950s piping that cuts down the middle of the blouse? Not my favorite. Still, the fit wasn’t that bad, so if it was the only thing I didn’t like, I’d consider keeping it. I saw the total for the entire fix, and it wasn’t un-doable, if I kept everything.

Next was a shirt I was kinda digging, and then I put it on and fell in love with:


Cute print, a good length, the high cut near the hips helps lengthen my torso, a cute cut at the neckline without being all cleavage-y (a problem for us curvy girls), and it felt so slinky! A winner!

The jacket I loved and it would be super cute once Fall gets here (in another few months, but I understand that everyone else has Fall on the brain). Unfortunately, the sleeves were made for some anorexic Barbie or some such because I couldn’t breathe or move or even hardly get it on. Hmph.


The dress, again, SUPER CUTE!!! I was madly in love with the print and the colors! The waist…well, that wasn’t quite as adorable. I liked that it cinched on the side – a little different from everything else I have. But the waist fell above my natural waist, but below where a princess waist would fall, so….little awkward. And not quite as flattering with the few pounds I’ve found this year. I thought about keeping it…but since I didn’t love it, I tossed it back. But made sure to tell my stylist how much I LOVED the print and colors. This is as me as it gets!


Lastly, some gold earrings that I’ve been trying to win. Simple, gold, with a touch of flair that still can be worn with any number of outfits. They’re perfect for work (but not so much going out – a girl can only conquer so many challenges at once).

The jacket totally doused any hopes of keeping the entire Fix, so that meant the green shirt was out. The dress, too, as I’ve said. The blue print slinky top and the earrings were keepers. Which brought me to a decision point: what’s next? I have quite a few new pieces, but a problem has crept up. With health issues this year, I haven’t been running or even working out as steadily as I have in the past. The boyfriend likes to spoil me with dates where we eat tasty, tasty food, too – combined with the inactivity means I’ve gained a few (not so few) pounds since I started my Fix. And if I needed a reason to stop, I think it’s that the sizes I’ve put in are no longer fitting comfortably. I need to lose the weight I’ve put on before I can justify spending money making me look even better. I have work to do. Work on me, to get healthier, to not lose what I’ve spent good money on.

So this is going to be my last fix for awhile. I have a few months of summer left anyway; the goal is to be trending back in the right direction before I need to start worrying about Fall clothes.

Let the remodeling begin!

Mini-Reviews: With vacation reads!

August 11, 2016

Good morning, Constant Readers! It’s been awhile, but I’m back with a few books, including three or four I read on vacation – you know, when I wasn’t playing Rummikub with my sisters. It was a pretty decent selection…

Book163Imagine Me Gone, by Adam Haslett (2016, Little, Brown, & Company, 368 pages, library hardcover). I picked this book up because it’s supposed to be one of the it books of the year. I almost bought it from the bookstore for my trip because I’ve heard so many rave things. I’m glad I only borrowed it and read it before I left. The story is great, the tension is great, I cared (ish) about the characters. It’s very Franzen-esque. But, with all that said, I couldn’t lose my feeling of reading. It felt like a chore. There was no rabbit hole. It was work, every dang page. So all the great psychological insight wasn’t doing it for me when I had so much mucky slogging to do. 2 1/2 of 5 stars.

Book164The Man in the Monster: An Intimate Portrait of a Serial Killer, by Martha Elliott (2015, Penguin Press, 336 pages, digital loan). Yes, yes, yes – another dark and twisty book. It was how I was coping with all of the craziness going on in Turkey and France and German and everywhere else. I submerged myself. This book certainly fit the bill: there was explicit descriptions of the crimes (Michael Ross raped and killed eight women and stalked countless others), interviews between author and Mr. Ross, and an overall gloom to the book. One of the important questions Elliott struggles with is whether it’s okay for her to see and accept this serial killer as a person. I agree with her that it is okay, and her mission to talk to Mr. Ross extensively in order to help us understand the mind of a killer is valiant. The degree to which the author begins to befriend and care for Mr. Ross is not. It interfered so much, I couldn’t look beyond it; it colored every single thing I read. If you’re looking for true crime for whatever reason, I recommend skipping this one because I just can’t trust anything Elliott wrote because of the bond she developed with her serial killer. 2 of 5 stars.

Book165The Other Side: A Memoir, by Lacy Johnson (2014, Tin House Books, 222 pages, paperback). This was my plane read for my way to vacation, and I devoured it. It’s another book not for the faint of heart: the author, Ms. Johnson, was kidnapped and raped by an ex-boyfriend and spent most of the book discussing and analyzing the fallout from that tragedy. Her analysis was always sharp and on point, but never depressing even though she suffered greatly from depression herself. I liked her matter-of-fact tone when discussing sensitive details because a lot of victims will read that and feel not only un-judged, but less alone. There was also a lot of philosophical and political discussions of body and self and whether it’s ever okay to criticize or judge another. It was an absorbing read, much more intellectual and philosophical than I thought. 4 of 5 stars.

Book166The View from the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman (2016, William Morrow, 522 pages, very large paperback). This was the perfect book to read at night before bedtime while on vacation. It’s a collection of non-fiction essays and reviews, making one or two (or ten) the perfect size for me before I fell asleep. The reviews were largely about books or movies for which I haven’t yet had the pleasure, so those weren’t really my bag. The essays about reading and library, though – god, I started wondering how I could tattoo the entire essay on my body. Highly, definitely recommend for those essays alone (and the rest of the collection if you’re a sci-fi or horror fan). 3 1/2 of 5 stars.

Book167Marilee, by Mary Francis Shura  (1985, Scholastic, 368 pages, paperback). I needed a comfort read when I got home, and this re-read fit the bill. It’s a wonderful little historical romance, with our title character journeying across the ocean from London after her father’s death, and finding a new home with her brother in the brand new settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. It’s formulaic, yes, but the characters are vivid, the plot is strong, and I get carried away by it every time. (And I’ve read it about twenty times.) 5 of 5 stars.

Book168What She Knew, by Gilly Macmillan (2015, William Morrow, 512 pages, digital). Another crime thriller I couldn’t put down (I’m beginning to worry!). This one was about an English mum who let her 8-year-old run ahead of her at the park and he disappears. I didn’t guess who did it – or anything else about the ending – but I did guess an important bit that happens in the middle, so I was happy. It was a fun read if you’re looking for a good beach book. 3 of 5 stars.

And that’s it! I’m working on Dreamcatcher for my SK Re-Read Project and a book about hoarders and if I’m really good, I get to start my thriller I bought for vacation but never got to. Because rum slushies.

In which Bee is part (or, um, entirely) lemur.

August 9, 2016

One of my favorite things I got to do with my family while on vacation was visiting the ropes course at Storrs Adventure Park. We tried to let Bee, our resident billy goat, go climbing while we were at Lake Winnipesaukee, but we didn’t quite have enough time for it. She took it well, but you could clearly see how crushed she was. And so Auntie Kim happened to mention that there was a similar course near where she lived…

By similar, Kim clearly meant “more awesome.” The staff at the adventure park were shockingly young, yes, but they all enthusiastically loved their jobs, engaged with the kiddos without once speaking down to them (it helps that the minimum age requirement is seven years old, perhaps), and explained all of the safety gear over and over for the few of us who weren’t repeat climbers. (Though we obviously will be – I would buy a season pass if I lived even two states away.)

Added to the awesomeness of being one with nature again was the fact that it was randomly Lemur Day at the park. There was free pizza, and – even better – a stuffed lemur was hidden one on of the seven courses each hour. Any child 11 years old or younger was welcome to pick one up and then redeem the lemur for a free pass – oh, and you get to keep your new buddy.

Bee and Gracie maybe grumbled when I insisted on starting on one of the basic courses, but I wanted to make sure everyone understood the mechanics. There were two combiners, or whatever you call them – giant clippy things – that attached to the safety wires. Once you locked one onto the heavy gauge wire, you used the red “tweazle” (no, I’m not kidding) to unlock the other clippy thing. Then you attached it, too. If the tweazle was blue, you knew to grab your giant slidey thing so you could race down to the next platform. It took us all a minute is what I’m saying. And then we whipped our way through the 20 or so events.

We had a blast! And I’m only the slightest bit bruised (although I could barely walk that afternoon – I miss running and regular exercise!). Bee was convinced she was going to find a lemur since only one other little girl in our group qualified. I reminded her that we might not run into one. We only had two hours before we had to go to back to Grandma’s house. And then, at the end of a zip line, you ran face first into this furry friend:


Bee was so tickled! It was her special activity, the one that make her feel like she was a priority, so I’m glad she felt even more singled out. Lemmy the Lemur hung out with that kid the entire rest of the trip. Bee even scoffed when I went all rogue and, you know, packed the thing so he wouldn’t get lost.

Yes, I imagine the ropes course will be a mandatory stop every time we go back. I’d like to go do a night course to see all the twinkly lights some time. It’d have to be in the middle of the summer – I hear it gets quite busy once the students come back from summer vacation – but someone I don’t think anyone will mind.

Especially not this kiddo.


Back at ’em…

August 8, 2016

…So to speak. I’m home! I’m here! And…I’m moving! That might be about it. I was going to take a half vacation day and ease back into things, but…not so much. Because certain other adults in our house insist on being responsible and getting up at the crack of dawn.

So I’ll go into work. I’ll tackle the pile of emails and make about 90 different lists. Pretty soon it will all settle back into place.

And maybe, just maybe, there will be a glass of wine waiting for me at the end of the day if I’m a very good girl who grown-ups just right.

Hangin’ Around…

August 1, 2016

And on the third day, we hung out at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We drove everyone buggy and the girls ran Uncle Joey ragged. They played a lot of basketball and just generally hung around…


Then, after a picnic lunch, the Petites Ya-Ya stayed put to run around with Uncle Joey some more, while the Ya-Ya sisters (uh, that would be Kim, Rhi, and I) drove to Auntie Cheryl’s to see the house renovations. Along the way, we saw some wild turkeys hanging around in some random person’s yard. Kim obligingly circled back around so I could take a pic for you fine folk. Only I missed them. So we turned around yet again. Rhi tried to get better pics to send to me, paparazzi style. But I gots them!


We saw all of Auntie Cheryl’s cool renovations to the house, had some tea, and played a hand or two of Rummikub. It was the perfect afternoon diversion.

We grabbed the girls, dashed back to Connecticut, and made Confederated States of Yum for a laid back dinner. Oh, and had some adult slushies. I then maybe found a whirlygig on the floor and made Pinnocchio noses. Unrelated to the slushies, I swear.


And that was just Day 3. Tomorrow: some ghostbusting. You’ve been warned.

The family cookout that we nearly got kicked out of.

July 31, 2016

Today was a busy day. We had to drive all the way to my mum’s house, drop off the kiddos, run to the store to get beach towels and assorted things (uh, like a bunch of clothes for Bee that accidentally fell into the cart. But: leggings! and cool shirts!), then go back to mum’s and get ready for the family cookout. Every year, one of my aunts (and uncles) throws the most marvelous cookouts and everyone comes. I get to catch up with what’s going on, and usually (uh, always) there is way, way, way too much laughing. I found out after we left that we were, in fact, rebuked for being too punch-drunk. False: we were just that funny.

I also made sure to get pictures with all of my aunts and uncles…

And with my hilarious cousins…

We had such a fun time! The girls got to swim, and boy were they exhausted when it was time to leave. We spent a quick minute at Grandma’s getting our things, and then hit the road. And the girls maybe took advantage of Auntie Rhi…


I mean, maybe. Ahem. We woke them up for dinner at one of our favorite dinners. And we feasted!


Then we came home again (jiggity jig) and my sister oh so innocently told me we have wine. I think she’s trying to kill me. Because:


I’m too scared to close my eyes, you guys. But by golly, I’ll try. Because TIRED. Vacation is tiring!


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