Winning the used bookstore lottery.

August 30, 2016

It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Bringing back some books that didn’t work out (and a few kids’ movies the girls have outgrown), and finding out you get a $35 credit? That doesn’t just make me happy; that’s like winning the bookstore lottery!

So I maybe went overboard deciding on what I really wanted…


The Disney Villains and Disney Animals are coloring books of good quality. Those and the Jane Austen coloring books are going away for Christmas. (As is Ann M. Martin’s Everything for a Dog, which I think Gracie will like.) Flatscreen was a clearance book ($3 for the win!), so that might get put away for me for Christmas. The others – Emma Cline’s The Girls, River’s The Girls in the Well Is Me, and Beatty’s Serafina and the Black Cloak are all for me to enjoy now, since those are the books I choose to think were free. Either The Girl in the Well or Serafina will probably be our new Out Loud books, since that starts up again this week. We haven’t had much time for it this summer since we’ve all been going 90-to-nothing in our own separate directions.

But now it is Fall (pffft) and we’re getting into the swing of school and schedules and all manner of organized things. Things that smack of normalcy, like going to bookstores on a Sunday morning. God bless bookstores and their fake lottery winnings that make me feel rich. That is exactly what I needed!

The girls who needed mama, but not really.

August 29, 2016

Gracie is at such a fun age. No, really! Sure she has her moments – any tween would – but she’s incredibly fun and smart and killin’ the bit about finding her own groove.

And Gracie-girl has always been independent. She’ll want me to double check on things (“Mom, is the stove set to the right temperature?” “Mom, does this look good?” “Mom, look how I rearranged my room – is that thing there put together the right way?” “How long do I heat this up for?”), even if she has the gist of it down and is really just lacking confidence. And I get it. I do. Baby bird is getting ready to fly on her own and wants to make sure she has the mechanics down. I tried to remember if I was quite the same way when I was a kid, but mostly, I just remember the bit from right after this stage, like making secret cookie dough when I was home sick and my mom was at work.

Except then it happened, and all of a sudden. Last week, one night after dinner, Gracie asked if she could make cookies. “Uh….sure?” I answered. She got out one of the molasses cookie mixes (woohoo – it’s gone) and got to work. Not to be left out, Bee got out my recipe for chocolate chip cookies and make those from scratch, too. (Only she required a bit more supervision.) Gracie all of a sudden had cookies from her batch. Just bam! Cookies. Without her mama. She didn’t ask me for help with the stove, or with watching the cookies, or with spatula-ing them off! She killed it.

Last night I went out for a walk with Corrie, and Jeff decided to grab a beer with a friend at about the same time. Just before I left, Gracie complained (rather erroneously) that there was nothing to eat for dessert. “Can I make these cinnamon rolls?” she asked, holding out the tube she found in the vegetable crisper. “I don’t care,” I replied, happy that she wasn’t intimidated by cooking for herself. And so she did. Thirteen minutes later, we had slightly burnt (but still delicious) cinnamon rolls.

After Gracie frosted her freshly baked dessert, Bee asked if there was more icing. I thought I had one more cream cheese frosting, but alas. “Can I make frosting with confectionary sugar?” she asked, just as I was about to go out the door. “Uh…” I started, not really sure how to react. “You don’t care that I’ll be gone?” She didn’t. “You’ll have to look it up on my computer,” I warned. She didn’t care. And so Bee made her tasty, tasty butter cream, double-sugar frosting. With butter. With beaters. The last one made my eyebrows shoot up when I got back. “You used beaters?!” I asked. “Yeah,” Bee answered nonchalantly. “That’s what the recipe said to do. Oh, and vanilla extract!” But I was still stuck on beaters. “And you got the beater part out of the hand mixer okay?” Bee just looked at the beaters in the sink before answering the obvious, “Uh, yeah?” Well, okay, kiddo.

Independent kids are the way to go, folks. They might make you worry about burning their hands or making a mess, but they feed you snacks when you get back from your walk, and so that’s all right.

Five for Friday.

August 26, 2016

Ohmygosh what an overwhelming week! We have a new person at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeNamed, and she’s amazing and I adore her already, but training someone – it’s exhausting! And so I am more than ready to punch through my Friday and get to the weekend!

1. Music has been my salvation this week. When I come home and have no energy for anything, I’ve somehow found it in me to scoop a rum slushie and open iTunes. Then I belt out any song that strikes my fancy. Either sitting there or while I’m making dinner. Then Jeff comes home and looks at me strange. But not so strange that we didn’t have a music video night until WayTooLate on Wednesday. And then this morning I plugged in some really old mixtapes in the car on the way to work. Music is definitely the way to go.

2. If you haven’t watched Stranger Things, the Netflix series, you are missing out on the greatest TV show I’ve watched since West Wing. Not that it’s anything like West Wing. Except in it’s awesomeness. Everyone I know was telling me how much they loved it, and so Kim and I put on the first two episodes while I was on vacation. She mentioned that she had to sleep with the lights on. And I kinda looked at her funny, because – well, it wasn’t so scary. Creepy, but not scary. When we got home, I made Jeff watch the first two. And then the third. And I was still confused. Then we watched the fourth one after work and I decided Kim was WAY RIGHT and I couldn’t watch any more until the weekend when it was light out. But then I got nervous because everyone – they keep talking about it! Because of all the awesome! And so I sucked it up, Buttercup, and binged. And maybe got yelled at by the girls two nights in a row for screaming so often and so loud. Even Jeff screamed during the season finale, but that was maybe my fault. Anyway – GO WATCH IT. It watches like a book, and was cast by the greatest character caster in the history of casting. And it’s a complete homage to Stephen King’s It. Just trust me and watch it. You’ll fall in love.

3. Speaking of strange things, that child of mine still can’t keep her dang key on her. Now she’s carrying her purse (she settled on a phone case she had that also has a wallet type thing inside and a zippered pouch, all attached to a long string so she can wear it like a purse), but keeps taking her key out and forgetting it. Like in her dad’s car last night after the band meeting. So Gracie didn’t have her key this morning, but she said she had texted her dad and he would have the door unlocked. She texted him when we were on our way. And yet. I sat there for ten minutes, waiting for someone to open the door. Frustrated doesn’t begin to cover it. Yeah, Gracie tried to correct the problem so it wouldn’t be an issue, but you know what would have really solved it? Remembering her dang key.

4. And on the issue of wayward children, the Reward Board for the Xman worked so well you guys! Until his dad got frustrated and declared that he (not dangling – by “he” he meant both or either of them) didn’t have to follow rules that he (Jeff) didn’t like. And what’s the point of having a reward board if there is no rule-following to recognize? So I took the reward board and put it in the garage. The Xman was disappointed, but I told him why it had gone away. I spent all Friday night and Saturday morning making that thing, not to mention all the time I put into researching how to make it and what would even work before I had the concept decided. I am done throwing my effort and love into a colander. We’ll see what happens this weekend when I don’t say a blessed thing or make one single parenting move. Here’s hoping I have the strength to follow-through!

5. All of this traveling and all of these meetings for band and choir and tennis are going to kill us. I got home last night after getting Bee (Gracie decided last minute to stay at her dad’s. Again.) and grabbed take-out because we only had an hour at home before I had to dash out to a band meeting. Bee elected to stay home and clean her room and make her lunch. (No homework – yay!) Then Gracie and I didn’t get home until 7:30p. We both had to shower, then Bee had to shower, she hadn’t finished making her lunch, Jeff got back from Crossfit and had to shower and eat, and Gracie had to practice her drums for a half hour. It was a crazy night with a lot to pack into that last hour and a half before bedtime. But I bet we long for it during the three-hour concerts we have in our future. Being gone from 6:45a until 9:30p? Not looking forward to those for sure.

But still! FRIDAY! Huzzah! Even band meeting craziness and wayward children can’t harsh my buzz today!

Silly stisters.

August 25, 2016

It’s good to know you’ve got silly stisters, and that they’ve got your back. Especially after a tough week.

I took this great selfie of us while at the Adventure Park, befittingly…


And this one of the girls back at Kim’s apartment. It looks like any other shot I might make them take, but what makes me smile is the story behind the outfits. They hoodwinked into buying them these soft (leather? rawhide?) shirts from Justice, and the matching duster sweaters. Matching outfits, you guys. From the duo who won’t stop arguing and wants nothing to do with being related to the other one.


So there’s hope for them, that they’ll grow into the YaYa-ness of being stisters, is what I’m saying. The silly – well, they’ve had that down for awhile.

My little Peter Pan.

August 24, 2016

It’s funny because the nickname doesn’t even fit that well; Gracie is – for the most part – racing towards Growing Up, not resisting it. Never resisting it! And yet…

My super-prepared little squishyface (don’t ask how that nick started) has been slightly more scatterbrained than usual lately. She Who Always Has Her Key has forgotten it a few times. She’s been late out to the car or getting out of the car when we’ve arrived at her dad’s, simply because she can’t find her key. It’s sitting on the bed or her desk, or the couch. I’ve found it in odd places and given to her more than a few times. It’s not always, it’s not most days, but it’s often enough.

So there was that. And then there was the matter of a planner that she wasn’t sure if she was going to have to buy. That planner really started it all. I found $20 in cash (a miracle) and offered it to her. “Here. Put this in your purse and keep it for emergency money. If you need a planner, you can use it for that. If you don’t, you should always have $20 on you for emergencies. I trust you to know what those are. But if you ever have to use it, let me know what you spent it on.” I trusted Gracie, but that would serve as a check and balance that the “emergency” wasn’t mascara or something someone had talked her into. Although if she had the money to replace it…

I thought I had solved our problem neatly. She needed to carry a key and money and who knew what else; I told her to put it in her purse. I’m a problem solver!


“Mom! I don’t want a purse!” is what I heard.

“Too bad,” was my reply, I think. I told her to just do it and put her purse (which is the size of a wallet, seriously) in her backpack. I didn’t care if she carried it everywhere, I just wanted to know she had a safe spot for those items, and that she had something she could carry, should she need to.

It worked. Gracie complied and then stuffed her purse in her backpack. Her backpack that she mostly leaves at her dad’s house. The purse comes out when she leaves her dad’s to come home and, I imagine, goes right back in when she gets to her dad’s in the morning to wait for her carpool.

You’d think that’d be it, but my brain has been swirling. Should I have forced the purse? I started carrying one during junior high so I’d have gum and lip gloss and my bus pass and pens and such. But Gracie isn’t me. She wanted to just keep things in her backpack. If she carried her backpack everywhere – I did in college – that might be an alternative. But she doesn’t, and for good reason. Was I gendering my daughter by making her have a purse? Yes, it’s a real concern. When the X-man reaches this stage, I’m not going to suggest a purse (unless it seems appropriate; I’d fight for his right to carry one if he wanted to). So was I right to force it on Gracie? Perhaps a wallet would suffice and she could keep her key in her pocket? Except that solution didn’t work this summer. And there have been purses she’s spent her marble jar reward money on in the past; it’s not like she’s been staunchly anti-purse.

You guys. I’m drowning in worry over what to do here. I think in my mind A Purse For Now is the plan, but hit me with some better suggestions if you have some. Even if it’s only to tell me my kid is just wanting to walk around unencumbered for one more year.

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!


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