Ha, ha – I made it to Thursday!

May 28, 2015

Not just any Thursday – Kim gets here in T-9 hours! It has been far, far too long since I’ve seen her face and I am all kinds of excited. Why? Well, besides the fact that any visit requires bail money be set aside, we have a few fun things planned:

We’re surprising the childrens. Oh yes we are. For what is more fun in life than messing with my girlies? I’ll grab immediately after work, then dash her over to get the girls and be all SURPRISE! And there will be shrieks of laughter and maybe a few happy tears. Cannot. Wait. [Alternatively, if one of Kim’s three plans is delayed or a sinkhole opens up or another stupid storm system blows through and we need to rearrange the getting of the sister, I’m going to go get the girls, be all blase, grab some Subway, and then see how long before they figure out that they’re headed towards the airport. Sneakiness rules, you guys.]

Then The Sister gets to meet The Boyfriend. Sister #1, I should say, but this is a bit momentous in that she is the first of any family to meet him. This keeps getting realer…and less scary. Kim and I aren’t even worried. And you know how nervous I get when it comes down to people liking people I like a lot. Definitely A Sign.

Technically, it’s the girls’ weekend with their dad and stepmom. But when the Ex heard that Kim had accidentally confused her Memorial Day weekends (because of course she did), he graciously allowed us to borrow the girls on Saturday and Sunday. Which means tomorrow night the grown-ups can still go out and get to know each other. We’re hitting up a nice sushi restaurant and then the piano bar. Because DUELING PIANO BAR!!

Saturday Gracie-girl will have to attend her Nerd Olympics (at eight in the flippin’ morning – ugh!), and then her dad will drop her and her sister off at the house. Afterwards, we’ll all pile over to the Perot Museum for some fun and learning and more fun. And, knowing us, probably the teensiest bit of pretty, pretty trouble too. But the good kind, I swear.

The rest of the weekend and visit I haven’t even planned out yet. I’m a lawless rebel that way. But I know it will contain eighty-eight different kinds of fun. And, maybe with a little luck, some sunshine and a patio party with the redheads and company so we can bust out the waterslide and bourbon slushies and grilled foods. Because how awesome does that sound?

There’s an entire workday to get through first. But then, my pretties, there will be all. the. fun.

In which my Queen Bee retains the title.

May 27, 2015

When I was in third grade, I became Queen of Dioramas. My class had to team up with a partner, read a chapter book, and then create a diorama about the story. Then they had to present their book report to the class and show off what they had created. My partner was my best guy friend that year, Todd L., and we chose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Not only was our diorama the best in the class – it had a chocolate river, fake grass, trees, flower beads, and the great glass elevator with eleventy-million buttons hand-drawn – but we also brought in a pan of homemade fudge for the class. We said that Mr. Wonka himself had sent it along. (Yes, that was when I learned that going the extra mile gets you a lot in return.)

Last week, Bee came home with news that she had a project to work on. She was extra enthusiastic, I suspect, because the sting of lying to us about her last project was still floating around inside her wee little mind. (Good.) Bee had to choose one of three projects about Charlotte’s Web, and while I was sort of annoyed at first that we had another major project due with just two weeks! of school left, I pitched my irritation right out the window when Bee happily proclaimed that she had decided to do the diorama.

Dioramas for the win!

So Friday we popped into the local craft store and picked up a tube of small plastic farm animals, found a package of buttons with a spider in it, and grabbed some felt and miniature popsicle sticks. (At the time, I was envisioning gluing them to a facade and painting them to represent the barn, but Bee’s idea was much cooler.) Then we went home and got started.

Charlotte2I wanted to have the box on its side, like a traditional diorama, and kind of do a side view with half being the barn and doorway and then part of the barnyard outside. But Bee refused. And since there was a rather stern note about the kids being the ones to build the diorama, I figured I better let Bee do what she wanted. So Bee created a barn and barnyard and then asked me to help her tape them together. Then we made some barn doors. (And suddenly I was glad I let Gracie talk me into the extra red felt. Because I wasn’t counting on so big a structure.)

I helped Bee measure the felt to the barn walls, all the while assuring her we weren’t cheating if I helped just a little.

Charlotte1I drew lines onto the felt for her to cut out the necessary pieces, and then she glued them on. After she also attached dirt to the barnyard and a floor to the barn, Bee patiently figured out where all of her animals needed to go. Wilbur, the geese, the horse and cow (not strictly needed per the instructions, but we had them and they were in the story), Charlotte, Fern, and Mr. Zuckerman (also not strictly needed). Fern was a bit of a problem – she was required, but we couldn’t find a small girl cheap enough for me to justify purchasing. So we “borrowed” a Polly Pocket dress, stuck a miniature popsicle stick in it, and made her some felt hair. Ta da!

Charlotte3After Bee had improved the barn doors, made a garden, and figured out where everyone needed to be, she laid out sticks where her fence pieces needed to go so we would know how many we needed to make. I showed her how to lay two cross pieces close together, then attach two vertical fence posts with some glue, and set her to making ten sets. While those were drying, we made Charlotte dangle from the cross beam in the doorway with a bit of string, and made the rope swing that Fern so loved.

Our last bit of genius was to figure out Templeton. The instructions clearly stated we needed a rat. The problem was, there was no rat to be had. I knew we had one in our Legos (from a Harry Potter set), but I didn’t want to risk losing Scabbers for keeps. So we thought and thought and thought. And eventually came up with the solution: a raising and a tiny bit of string for a tail. Bee glued him in, and ta da! We were nearly done. All that was left was to use play-doh to create supports for the fence posts.

Charlotte4Bee was awfully proud of her finished product, and so was I! She planned her project, clearly communicated what she needed from me, and sat down and executed her plan without any prodding or cajoling from me. I didn’t even have to remind her to stay on task! She still has to stand up and present her project to the class, but I know that her confidence in how awesome her barnyard is will carry her through.

Awesome job defending the family title, Queen Bee!

Enough with the rain already!

May 26, 2015

If this sounds a little incoherent, it’s either because my rain-numbed mind has melted into sludge, or possibly because it’s hard to type with water wings on. Seriously, you guys – this rain? I’ve had enough. ENOUGH, I say!

I’m trying to be grateful, but I’m afraid grateful flew out the window somewhere during Week 2. We’re in Week 6 of rain. No, really. Six weeks of rain, with only three days in there when there wasn’t any precipitation. And even on those days, it was still overcast. So, yes, I am grateful that our record years-long drought has ended and I can stop worrying about that. I am grateful the grass is so green and the trees haven’t blanched into their summer dead-tan look yet. I am grateful that it’s the end of May and yesterday it was only sixty-five flippin’ degrees out. But ENOUGH already with the rain!

I want to have a patio party. I want to let the kids go swimming. I want to plant trees and install patio lights and for the love of god, not worry about the commute home! I want to stop worrying whether I need to call and get flood insurance. I want to stop hearing about high water rescues and tragic stories about families literally being torn apart and kids swept out of their parents arms. (Yeah, fun way to start the morning, with all those news stories.) I want to not have to turn back halfway through a run because we have another severe thunderstorm warning. I want to stop having to towel off the dogs when they come scrumming back into the house.

I want sunshine!

I’m trying to remember that we’ll have plenty of that come July. In August, I’ll be begging for a rainstorm. We’ll hear a few sprinkles one morning at work and everyone will pile out into the parking lot to dance and revel in them.

But right now, we’re all eying every creek and river we drive over, keeping a wary eye on the rising water levels. One coworker has already lost his house to flooding. One day last week, it took everyone more than an hour longer to commute because so many roads were close. Are closed regularly now. Because the rain – it will not end.

Someone send me some sunshine. Or at least some sort of rainy day storage device so I can store these days up and dole them out piece by piece, storm by storm, throughout the rest of this miserable summer.

Five for Friday.

May 22, 2015

Good morning, all! And for once, I mean that…well, as much as I ever can in the mornings. I actually got good, quality sleep last night. You never realize how much you miss good sleep until you ain’t gettin’ any. So let’s use my energy while I have it and see what’s going on…

1. Like I said – insomnia. I’ve always suffered from insomnia, usually delayed sleep insomnia versus early-wake insomnia, but lately, I’ve had it all. Coupled with the Sleepiness of Doom. The sleepiness had been worse – I literally couldn’t get through the day without dropping everything to take a nap, sometimes at 9, 10, or 11 o’clock in the morning. It was interfering with work to the point that I had to explain my mystery medical event to my boss to avoid getting in any kind of trouble for random periodic absenteeism. So I stopped taking my sleeping pill. It was one of the stronger overt-the-counter varieties, and it had been working fine…until it decided to work 24 hours a day. So I stopped taking it. And then my insomnia kicked in and I had the opposite problem. Sigh. I’ve switched to taking one of the weaker sleeping pills and I make sure to take it early enough that it won’t linger the next day. I think I’ve hit on the winning combo, but we’ll see. We’ll see.

2. Mothers’ Day earrings! Of course I forgot to snap a pic of them before I left, but they’re so pretty! Gracie’s fantastic fairy godmother, Auntie Kim, helped her pick them out for me. Only they were from England, and Gracie thought she was the shiznic picking out something imported, so they’ve just arrived. Tiny little flowers made from book pages. They’re fabulous! And so am I, because I figured out the book was Pride and Prejudice just from the words “sister” and “I endeavor to”. Boom.

3. Speaking of Kim… Guess who’s coming to visit? HUZZAH! And guess who’s coming to visit next weekend instead of this weekend, even though this weekend is Memorial Day? Womp wah. But it’s okay. We’ll take her when we can get her! We’re going to just show up to get the girls with Auntie Kim in tow and see if we can surprise ’em. So shoooooosh. (An extra thank you to the Ex for being so flexible with the girls’ visitation so they can play, too.)

4. Speaking of the girls, last night was the school-wide talent show. You know, that we only got one day’s notice about. My level of frustration knows no bounds about that, by the way. If it wasn’t Gracie’s last year, I would have just pulled her and not gone to show them that we can’t just drop what we have planned. Any way. Bee wasn’t in it, but Gracie said she was. That was all I knew. I assumed she was part of the stomp team, since that’s all I hear, morning noon and night. Stomp-stomp-step. Clap. Clap clap. Stomp. STOMP STOMP STOMP. But noooo. Not step. That’s just to drive me mad, apparently. Gracie-girl was helping to direct that talent show! Who thought that was a good idea, exactly?! That child does not need her sense of dictator-i-ness encouraged, thank you very much! I sense great danger ahead.

5. As far as reading goes, I’ve finished a few lackluster books this week. The Cruise of the Blue Dolphin. The Body of the World, by Eve Ensler. I re-read Gerald’s Game for my Stephen King re-read project. It’s not my favorite of the Kings, but I always like it a little more than I remember I did, which is always a pleasant surprise. Oh, Heart of a Woman – about Maya Angelou? – hoo baby, that a great read! Girl had done some stuff in her life! And also Cinderland by Amy Jo Burns. Amy reached with a few of her passages, making the language feel clunky and awkwardly constructed, but there were just as many that captured the raw feeling of needing to escape a failing armpit-of-a-town, not unlike my own collective growing up. For that reason alone, I think the group of kids I grew up with needs to read it.

So there you go. A few small things going on right now. Now I’m going to go plan out my weekend. One set of plans that I want to happen – plant trees, shop for vacation clothes, patio parties, bourbon slushies, food truck-apalooza – and one set in case it rains all weekend like it’s going to. Sigh. Make the rain stop guys. And in the meantime, enjoy your long weekend!

A tale of too many pests.

May 20, 2015

It’s been an interesting week. But I’m hoping since I have three little tales, that means my pest-bases are all covered and no mas for the time being. This mamacita can’t take much more!

Saturday, when it was busy not-raining for one of the two times in the past 21 days, I ran the X-man back with me to my house to take care of a few chores. I was way, way, way far behind on chores, but Jeff needed to show his face at a work function. No worries! X-man and I would do some laundry and clean the kitchen and put away the (non-perishable) groceries I had left out to go grab him; he would earn some marbles and I could check some items off my list. Life would be good!

Except as I was backing the car into the garage, I saw a giant, man-eating, hissing, limping zombie raccoon staring back at me from right in front of my neighbor’s garage across the street. I had thought it was odd that all of my neighbors were in their houses with their garages closed (well, except John and Corrie’s – theirs was open), but I thought maybe everyone was having a siesta. The raccoon hissed at me again, and limped and twitched a few feet left to right and then back again. Something was Not Right about that raccoon. So I kept an eye on him to make sure he didn’t charge into the garage after us, shut the door and got us into the house. Then I texted John and Corrie that they might want to close their garage door. And then I texted my neighbor so he wouldn’t open his garage and get his face chewed off. Then I called Animal Control, who promised they’d be out soon. Turns out the neighbors all knew about the rabid visitor, which is why everyone was inside. The raccoon had been walking between houses and hanging out at people’s front doors – someone was going to open their door with their dogs or kids right there and this thing was gonna get messy. Animal Control took its sweet time, but they finally arrived and took care of Pest #1. Thank god.

Pest(s) #2 have not been as easy to take care of. I’ve had an influx of fruit flies and I have no idea where they’re coming from. They showed up over the weekend, and I’ve been taking them out as quickly as I can. But it seems like no matter what I do, there’s just as many waiting for me when I get home from work or get up in the morning. I’ve scoured the sinks, bleached the dish disposal, gotten rid of any fruit lying around. Nothing seems to be working. I’ve set out a honeypot (a glass of wine, since that seems to be what attracts them most) and spray them with cleaner whenever I see them. I’ve gotten rid of most of them… but I’ve thought that before! If this is still going on come this weekend, I may have to call in the professionals before I get the heebie jeebies and light the kitchen on fire.

Which, clearly, is an option. Last night I saw a tick crawling across the bathroom floor. I smooshed it dead, flushed it, and then doused the bathroom with accelerant and lit that baby on fire. Except not really. I did my heebie jeebie dance and pretended it didn’t happen. Well, as I was checking the dogs, the kids and myself for any other freeloaders. I had just about calmed the crap down when I saw another one crawling on the carpet near my bedroom door. Something tells me this is all because it’s been raining since the beginning of time and my grass grew to over a foot high before the yard guy could find a few hours dry enough to come knock things back. Whatever the reason, we better not see any more. Or I’m not going to have enough rooms left to live in.

Moral of the story: more sunshine, fewer pests, please. The two seem to be related. Even if the common thread is simply preserving my sanity.

I little too inspirational, if you ask me.

May 19, 2015

I am so tired right now. I think I relaxed a little too hard (or maybe just not long enough?) after wearing myself out last night.

See, the problem is that Jeff, the Xman, and I all went to see the Crossfit Regionals competition on Sunday. Jeff’s pretty into Crossfit and I have to admit the competition was pretty intense; it was awesome to watch those men and women knock out rowing, chest-to-bar raises, and handstand push-ups over and over and over like that. It made me very conscious of the extra curves I’m sporting right now, in a way that was equal parts humbling and motivating. I know Jeff hit his workout last night with extra energy, and damned if I didn’t knock out a Jillian Michaels workout as soon as I got home.

Then, as if a Jillian workout wasn’t enough, I went all out making taco and fajita night last night, cleaned up after Bam the Destroyer, did the mommy thing (supervising showers, signing planners, checking homework), cleaned up after Fenway (who thought throwing up was a good way to get into the act), and then decided cleaning out the closet was a good idea.

I’ve been slowly trying to make space in case a certain someone ever needed to leave a few things. Except to make space for clothes on one side of the closet, somehow that means I have to clean the whole dang thing out and reorganize it. Because the boxes on the shelf on the short side of the closet need to be moved either into the attic or onto the long side somewhere, And so I needed to organize and rearrange. I consolidated what I could and threw away a garbage bag worth of things. I got rid of shoes I never wear and threw out tags and extra buttons that littered the floor, and weeded out old clothes.

All of that, after a full workout! I was pretty beat by the time I finished.

Next time Jeff asks if I want to go watch insanely fit people compete, I’m saying no. Clearly, it isn’t good for me.

Read Harder: A Challenge Update

May 15, 2015

For those of you who follow along, you know I’m near the midpoint of my reading year: I read approximately 200 books per year, and my midpoint – 100 books – usually falls towards the end of May. (My pace slows considerably during August, when I’m vacationing and Kim is here, and during the holidays, when I’m busy doing all the things.) Since I’m also about to hit a challenge in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge that I thought I’d leave til the bitter end  (Read an audiobook), I thought it was time to check back in on how I’m doing.

Read Harder Challenge 2015:

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25: I’m still planning to read either Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi or Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Seems funny to me know that I haven’t hit either of these, considering how much I loved other novels by these fantastically talented ladies.

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65: I read the new Toni Morrison, God Help the Child, in a single sitting. Easily one of the best (and most powerful) books I’ve read this year. It was so fitting that I was reading it as things were unfolding in Baltimore and one of the many themes Morrison explores is walking a mile in others’ shoes before you get all judgey. Take note, humankind.

A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people): Here’s where the challenge is already working, because I am not a fan of short stories. I say that, and I’ve already read one this year – Phil Klay’s Redeployment, which I HIGHLY recommend! I also read Ground Zero: Nagasaki by Yuichi Seirai, which was good but had a few translation gaps for me.

A book published by an indie press: I did indeed finally pick up Marie Calloway’s what purpose did i serve in your life?, which was published by an indie by the name of Tyrant Press. It examines the meaning of sexuality, intimacy and connections, and whether shame and intent behind the acts affects the labels we place on them and the meaning of it all. It packed a very strong emotional punch and reminded me at times of Paulo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes.

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ: I’ve read Ariel Schrag’s Adam, about a straight teenaged guy who moves to New York to spend time with his sister and gets caught up in her LGBTQ community. I’d also highly recommend Sara Farizan’s If You Could Be Mine that I read last year, about a lesbian teen in Iran who considers sexual reassignment surgery to legally (and publicly) be with the girl she loves. It’s an amazing YA book that read well for me, as an adult reader. Farizan isn’t as well known as she should be.

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own: I crossed this one off with my first read of the year – The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit, by Graham Joyce. Joyce is a British fantasist (although the book doesn’t read like fantasy – more like a hardboiled crime/noir story with creepy undertones) who is listed as one of Stephen King’s favorite writers. I can see why – Electric Blue Suit reminded me a lot of King’s Joyland.

A book that takes place in Asia: Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball started out amazing and I loved the premise – a man takes the fall for someone (we’re not sure who, though we have our suspicions) and refuses to speak in his defense or for any other reason. The second half of the book fell apart a little, and finding out I was right about puzzling out the answers was a bit of a letdown, but still a good read.

A book by an author from Africa: Half a Yellow Sun by Adichie wasn’t half the novel Americanah was, even though there are plenty of critics who disagree with me. Maybe it was the immediacy of the themes in Americanah that made me love it more than colonialism and the sorts of love and politics centered in Yellow Sun, it just wasn’t as much in my wheelhouse.

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.): I highly recommend the short story collection by Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. It didn’t let go until the very end and is solidly on my list of recommendations for teen or tween boys who are looking for something beyond Harry.

A microhistory: Anything by Mary Roach would make me happy, but I particularly have my eyes on Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

A YA novel: I read one of the books Gracie got for Christmas, Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan and OH MY GOD MY HEART. Read it, you guys, so you can be broken like me.

A sci-fi novel: Ugh. I am not looking forward to this. I wish 10:04 would count, but I don’t think it was sci-fi enough. I have no idea what I’m going to read.

A romance novel: I read some stupid, ridiculous, cowboy/hot mamacita-recovering army doctor book I got from the library and it was just as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe I’ll give this one another shot, but oof. You guys. So hard to find one that it’s dripping with bad writing and cliched themes.

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade: I just finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. I liked it…but maybe no as much as everyone else did. Is it just me, or do you guys wonder what in the world you missed when that happens. Hunh.

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.): I’m reading Cinderland by Amy Jo Burns. It’s a memoir, but I have hopes. If you guys haven’t read Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird, read that instead! It takes Snow White, turns it on its head, and makes you wonder how it ties in until BAM! you see it! I also tore through Sassafras Lowrey’s Lost Boi, a steampunk queer reimagining of Peter Pan. It was a bit heavy-handed, but still so well worth my time and there were bits so well constructed that I wrote in the margins.

An audiobook: Here’s that challenge I’m unexpectedly hitting early – though I am bending my rules and doing a re-read – Gerald’s Game for my Stephen King re-read project. Except I kinda sorta updated my iPhone and now I’m having trouble getting my apps back. Like Audible. So maybe I’m counting this chicken before it’s…um…read.

A collection of poetry: Juls recommended the incredibly hott Tyler Knott Gregson and I read his new release Chasers of the Light. Talk about hott language! Gracious! I needed to fan myself as I worked my way through it. Didn’t hurt that I was falling for a certain guy I know, at the time. Heh.

A book that someone else has recommended to you: I finally read Bossypants by Tina Fey, that my little sister has been trying to get me to read forever. I like Tina Fey (I love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler collectively), but I was a lil leery of reading her memoir. Mostly because I hated the cover, though, so… And I found that it fell a little flat. It wasn’t as funny as I wanted it to be, although I really thoroughly enjoyed the chapter about her dad. That was funny enough to make me laugh out loud, and well written enough to make me want to talk Mr. Fey into adopting me. I much preferred Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please of the two. (Yes, I put a comma in Amy’s title that isn’t there. She did it wrong, what can I say?)

A book that was originally published in another language: There’s another novel in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series being published later this year, completed from a partial manuscript found after Stieg Larsson’s death. I am all over that!

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics: Can you believe I haven’t yet read Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi? I’m thinking it’s time. I’m also reading Flora and Ulysses with the girls right now, and that definitely counts!

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over): First – how much do you love the little instruction they added? Right?! Second: all of my reading is guilty pleasure, without the guilt! This is gonna be easy! But mine for this year is extra guilty – The Best of Me, by Nicholas Sparks. NICHOLAS SPARKS, you guys! And seriously, don’t read it. The ending was AWFUL. Like, throw the book across the room kind of awful.

A book published before 1850: Oooh, I’m going to get in a classic! I could do Candide, by Voltaire, or Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher, or Gustave Flaubert’s Memoirs of a Madman.

A book published this year: This was easy – I devoured Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places, a YA book reminiscent of Eleanor and Park, except with the tears of Fault in Our Stars. Trust me – the warning is necessary.

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self improvement”): Dear Sugar was so good I read it twice, straight through. The second time I highlighted and took margin notes, and marked the ever-lovin’ hell outta it. And have made several other people read, too.

So there you have it – I’m nearly done! Seven out of twenty-four challenges left, or about a third. Not bad for being halfway through my reading year, especially when you consider how reluctant I was to dive into some of these!

What about you guys – any recommendations for those spots I have open? How are you faring on your own challenges?

Another year bites the dust.

May 13, 2015

Nights I was dreading this years sleepover: All of them since the last one.

Number of girls I had to convince to have a joint birthday party sleepover: 1 (But eventually Bee said she did want one, so it worked out in the end.)

Number of girls they were allowed to invite: 5 each, plus the Redheads who are family and so didn’t count towards the total.

Number of times I cried over the potential of 14 tween girls screaming around the house at midnight: All of them. All of the times.

Number of girls who showed up: All but 3 (one of Bee’s friends who I didn’t know, and two of Gracie’s friends, sisters, who live in the neighborhood but I haven’t met).

Number of RSVPs I actually received: one from everyone who came, surprisingly!

Bags of chips I bought, but forgot to put out: 3.

Number of pizzas we ordered: 5 large

…and were eaten: 4 1/2. We all ate, and then at some point the girls pulled the leftovers out after midnight and ate again. At least they didn’t go to waste?

Number of times I had to remind the girls no drinks in the living room: just a few!

…or food on the new couches: None! Huzzah for 9- and 11-year-olds!

Number of babies I almost stole: 1. Gracie’s best friend’s mom (who I’m friends with) stayed for quite awhile with D’s four-year-old sister and 5-month-old baby brother. And I snuggled with him the entire time. Heh.

Number of cupcakes arranged at different heights on the table: 72.

Number of candles used: 20. And Gracie and Bee got them all in one swipe, no matter how many odd places I stuck them or other trickery I tried to use!

Girls who went home: 1, at 10 p.m., and by design. I told her that I wasn’t comfortable with sleepovers until I was older, and hopefully that made her feel better.

People who were dismayed that we moved the new giant TV into my bedroom for Jeff and I to watch when we escaped the insanity: 2. And they were both mine!

Number of times Bam the Destroyer stole pizza: 4. And the girls all laughed! So all’s good.

Time the grown-ups escaped into the bedroom to get away from all. the. noise.: 10:30 p.m.

Time we went to bed: midnight.

Number of times I had to get up and tell the girls to stop screeching or talk quieter: 3 – and all before 1:30 a.m. So.

Girls who got toothpasted: 2. I told them to stay awake next year and get someone else instead. And reminded them it washed off. (But, kindly! It could have been worse, but yes, it’s still annoying.)

Nights before I have to worry about it all again: roughly 360. And boy is this mama happy about it! Sleepovers are exhausting, even with another grown-up there solely focused on keeping your sanity intact!

What day was it again?

May 12, 2015

I didn’t have the energy to summon Mother’s Day yesterday. I couldn’t think about it, I couldn’t write about it, I couldn’t even get annoyed with myself for being melodramatic about it. It just was what it was – and what it was, was over. Thank god.

I have great kids. I know this. I know this and I’m thankful for them. Don’t think I’m not. But Sunday? Sunday they were rotten kids. Sunday they went to church and they were fine. They presented me with their gifts when they came home and were loving and lovely while they showed off their cards and the potted flowers they brought back from church and the keychain they bought me (with Stepmom’s help) that shows how to travel by map from Tejas back to Mass., and the giftcard for cheesecake. And Bee was tickled to show me the blueberry bushes – another piece of home – that she had smuggled to our house with Auntie Kim’s help. And lo, it was good.

But then lo, it was bad. Bad, bad, bad. I asked Gracie to empty the dishwasher, and all I got was whining and attitude. Even after I reminded her that it was Mother’s Day. And then there was a round of “let’s complain about everything Mom offers for lunch.” And then Bee abandoned the omelets she was making us so I had to finish them. The front room wasn’t cleaned when I asked. Gracie complained when I asked her to help me put away the laundry, and then walked away and pretended she couldn’t hear me. Then Bee walked away in the middle of me helping her to call Grandma to talk to everyone back home. So I announced in the middle of the living room, “You know what? I give up.” And then I dropped the phone where I was standing and walked into my bedroom and slammed the door.

Childish, yes. But hopefully more effective than what had been falling on deaf ears. And if it wasn’t? Well, I could just take a nap.

And so I did.

When I woke up, I packed up the girls and took us over to Jeff’s. X-man gave me a beautiful stone paperweight (that might turn into a doorstopper) and bookmark, and then the kiddos played video games while I had a glass of wine and some cheese. After X-man’s mom picked him up, we all went out for some Irish Nachos (official sponsor of rescuing Mother’s Days everywhere) and gorged on West Wing when we got back to the house.

They can’t all be fantastic Mother’s Days, but at least mine ended well and everyone was still alive at the end of it. Even if it was by the skin of their teeth.


Some years it’s like that – the whining and the rain and the defiance, even though I am constantly reminding them, “Hey, it’s Mother’s Day!”

(Sort of) Five for Friday.

May 8, 2015

Go ahead and see if you can get my theme this week.

1. I am so frustrated by/exasperated with/mad at my almost-nine-year-old that I can barely see straight.

2. I know this is an overreaction. But does it mean I can scale it back? Take a deep breath? Let all of it (ahem: any of it) go? No it does not.

3. Bee had a major project due yesterday. On kimonos – kind of her thing, right? We worked on most of it right away and all she had left was the essay. I didn’t even mention it to her dad because it was an easy, peasy kind of thing. We could finish it after school this week. And that was plan, until I picked Bee up on Sunday from her dad’s, and as soon as she was in the car, she was all, “Mom, guess what? I FINISHED MY PROJECT!” and was so excited and proud of herself. And so was I. I asked to see it Monday after school to make sure it was really-really finished, but she said she had turned it in already. Like she had with her powerpoint project last semester.

Which is why I was thunderstruck when the Ex texted me yesterday to say Bee hadn’t turned it in. Bee told him that she had done it at my house and had left it in her room. Kind of the opposite of what she had told me. Faced with her dad there in front of her and me on speakerphone, our poor little sobbing sparkler of a buttercup could only muster that she was confused. To which we explained the difference between “confused” and “caught in a lie.”

4. The Ex, bless his heart, said he had it and helped her finish her project. Bee came home, crying and apologizing, and didn’t complain once when I explained that I almost canceled her sleepover party tonight, but decided she was a very good kid who had made a mistake that she won’t ever make again. (There was poor pitiful puppy nodding at that.) I told Bee she gets zero privileges this week: after her friends leave tomorrow morning, there will be no dessert, no TV, no computer time, no fun adventures. There will be cleaning and chores and reading. It kind of puts a crimp in my plans for this weekend, but I guess I’ll get a lot of projects done around the house.

5. Because he loves me and because I must have sounded like a poor pitiful puppy myself, Jeff came over last night to salvage what he could of my sanity. I got a shoulder massage and he listened patiently while I explained the whole sorry scenario, and then he suggested watching The West Wing, because he knows what makes me feel better. Oh, and then we got to watch the most fantastic storm blow through with lots of lightning and not so much scary thunder. Watching a late-night lightning show with your honey with the lights off? That’s the kind of thing that makes up for so much crazy.

So here’s to the quickest, calmest birthday sleepover tonight. Here’s to having two wonderful little girls who only mess up sometimes. And here’s to having people who are willing to help me police the sleepover apocalypse. People are the best, you guys. And weekends are the best, too. Enjoy!


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