Archive for the ‘Blessed and possessed’ Category

She won’t stop chanting “Fashion show at lunch.”

May 16, 2017

I knew Gracie had grown in leaps and bounds lately, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when she told me she didn’t fit into any of her summer clothes. None of her shorts fit. Very few of her tshirts. And only two of her pairs of jeans from this spring. This spring!

I was going to try to take her to the outlet mall this past Saturday, but I knew Bee would hate that idea, and our friends were busy, so I couldn’t leave her in the middle of a playdate. Also, I had to supervise Bee’s project, and that took a lot more time than I thought. So as a compromise – and because they were having a 40% off sale – we all went out to Old Navy Saturday morning.

Gracie picked out a few pairs of shorts, some shirts, and wanted to really get some jeans since they were 50% off. I pointed out, though, that if her jeans from this spring didn’t fit, who was to say they’d fit in November when it was cool enough to wear them again. My teen ceded the rare valid point and crossed jeans off her shopping list. Don’t worry – we still have armfuls of clothes to try on! (Bee helped load ’em up. She had a couple shirts, a jacket, some tank tops, and a dress or two [I think? it’s all a blur] in the mix. But she culled entirely from the clearance rack with one exception, so I’m proud, not mad!)

As soon as we checked out, Gracie started in on “Hey! I know what we can do when we get home! Fashion show! Fashion show! Fashion show at lunch! Fashion show! Fashion show! Fashion show at lunch! Yep, that’s still her favorite. Even more so since she watched The Office and learned what it was from.

And so, unsurprisingly, this happened later Saturday evening:

Fashion

Yeah, words-on-tees trend got Gracie like whoa. And since I know she’ll wear it, I’m more than okay letting her load ’em up. She also has on a new pair of shorts, dark wash, with a cuff, even though she says she’s not a fan of cuffs.

Fashion2

We almost missed this shirt, and I’m glad I got out of line to grab it because it’s an actual. color. instead of just white, black, or grey. I knew Gracie would love it because arrows are her jam. For the record: arrows > neutrals.

Fashion3

Gracie picked out two dresses (of the 40 she tried on); this one, and a similar blue floral that I have to exchange because while the hangar said Small, the actual dress, it turned out, was XXL. Not quite Gracie-sized! But now Gracie has something to wear to church besides the two semi-formal dresses she’s been rotating between.

Fashion4

This might be Gracie’s favorites, for obvious reasons. My baby girl won’t ever not be in a hurry to grow up! We both saw the mannequin sporting this top and liked it. I wouldn’t ever be able to wear it – more because it’s white and would make me nervous that I’m spill something on it…or out of it. Gracie doesn’t have any such worries. And she did look terrific in it! So we added it to the Buy pile, after making sure it looked just as good(ish) with the sleeves pulled up over her shoulders. You know – in case Dad freaks out. And these shorts are a new pair, too. Gracie much prefers the fringed hemline to the cuffed ones from earlier. I like them both – you need different looks!

Fashion5

This tank might be a little too low-cut to be worn outside the house on its own (that would be the layering in the layering tank bit, m’dear), but I love the fatigue green on Gracie and the pineapple shorts sets off my girlie’s tan very nicely. Also: pineapples!

So mi chica has a good base for her summer wardrobe. She could stand to pick up another couple shirts and a sundress or two, but we did pretty good for an hour or two on a Saturday morning. Certainly we picked up enough to stage a fashion show! fashion show! fashion show at lunch!

My best of times, worst of times Mother’s Day.

May 15, 2017

Mother’s Day is never an easy day for me.

I’m filled with gratitude for this amazing village that surrounds me, helping me to be the best me – as they step in to designate hit for me when needed – and helping to raise my girlies for me. I have great sisters (birth sisters and accumulated sisters), cousins, friends, and the best dang stepmom I could have dreamed of. So many people help keep us upright and I am blessed!

But even with all of that happy, there’s the reality of my own mom. Mother’s Day goes in both directions. And my mom is…not how I remember my mom. But I still need to honor Mom as she is. I called her and let her talk for as long as she could. I talked to her about what was going on with us, and she didn’t have much to add from her end. But I know it meant a lot to her to hear from us. Kim and Rhi were there, so I felt like I was, too. Talking – even when she’s obviously having a bad spell – is good for her.

But it wrecked me. Seeing Mom be Not-Mom is always a gutpunch. On Mother’s Day, even more so.

So.

But let’s rewind. The girls and I were having an epic, wonderful weekend. We had a dance party on Friday night, and then after we wore ourselves out with wii-dancing, we played board games and talked and talked and talked. Everyone got along and it was great!

Saturday was the same. The girls went on errands with me without complaining, we went summer clothes shopping for Gracie (who has outgrown all of her clothes since spring), and Bee found a thing or two. She had more that she had picked out, but when I would point out that they wanted $20 for a tank top, she decided herself that it was ridiculous. Watching her carefully weight wants and needs, and the spending of my money, it was glorious!

After shopping, Bee knocked out her project and did it with minimal fuss. Gracie ran out grocery shopping with me, like she does, and I only had minimal grumbling when I made her. She put away the groceries when I got back while I helped Bee finish her project. Bee even wielded the hot glue gun all by herself! And the project was AMAZING:

Bee made the house and lined up the cotton and grapes. It was my idea to do a beginning, middle, and end slide on a rolling paper background, wrapped around two pencils to wind and unwind the paper scenes. (I am so frickin proud of my idea to mount the pencils on push pins that I super-glued to the base. The pencils went onto the push pins with the eraser. That way the bottom was attached firmly, but the pencils could still twirl. Genius, right?!) And then Saturday night the girls kept asking to do something as a family! Something as a family! Please? So we watched movies and had make-up tutorials that we re-enacted on ourselves. Don’t ask me how late I let them stay up! Because they weren’t arguing and we were having fun all together.

And then actual Mother’s Day showed up. Bee decorated all my usual seats with scarves, to make it fancy. The girls got ready for church and gave me a million hugs and told me how much they loved me. It was lovely.

After church, they came home and we opened cards and…no gifts. The cards were nice – don’t get me wrong! But – and here’s where I feel like a horrible person who’s a little materialistic, but let me explain how it’s not – I know I shouldn’t take how my Ex sees my value as a mom by him helping the girls get me a gift for Mother’s Day, but I do. I know he appreciates me – we get along so much better now and we’re honest to god friends, like I was at one point afraid we never would be. I’m close with his new wife, the girls’ stepmom. We call ourselves sister wives! ha! But I can’t say the lack of gifts didn’t hurt a little. I felt like I wasn’t worth the effort. My sister Kim helped the girls get me something, just in case, and it was lovely. Bee picked out a season of Victoria, that she and I could bond over together. (Kim’s right – time period costuming is definitely in our future!) And Gracie got me a bouquet of roses that she arranged.

But, after Gracie arranged the flowers and I got big hugs after church….everything went downhill in a hurry. The girls bickered all afternoon. They entrenched themselves in the living room and turned into zombies, playing Minecraft. I had to do laundry. I had to load the dishwasher. No one wanted to do anything fun with me. My afternoon of watching Victoria wasn’t realized. They were busy. No one wanted anything to do with me. I had my heartbreaking conversation with my mom and the girls had their turns talking with her. And then they went back to…not me. Which, I could have handled in small portions. I don’t expect every single moment to be devoted to me. I just wanted some sort of acknowledgment that it was Mother’s Day and I mattered. That they liked spending time with me. Without me asking. Just one activity together. Like the rest of the weekend!

Dinner was more of the same. Bee asked if she had to make dinner. Why couldn’t I do it. (Sigh.) They watched me set the table. I finished first and rather sit and talk to them at the table while they ate, I just got up and left. I shut my door. You’d think they’d realize I was hurt. They definitely got it when I came out, hours later, and was crying. I had to clear up the leftovers. The girls went right back to Minecrafting in the same seats they had been in since they got home from church. I told them through tears how hurt I was and how they had ruined my day, since they only came to talk to me when they were complaining and tattling about their sister.

So, no. Mother’s Day wasn’t my favorite. So many things went wrong. And no one took any trouble to make it right.

I could have kept quiet. I could have just sighed and hoped next year would be better. But I decided to write about it because this is the truth of what happened. It might hurt some people’s feelings. I don’t mean it to. I just needed to write it out, to purge my hurt feelings.

And maybe things will be better.

Five for Friday.

May 12, 2017

Praise the Godstars – it’s Friday! Let’s jump right in, shall we?

1 I am pages – pages – from finishing Laini Taylor’s Daughters of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I haven’t had this much fun getting lost in a series since I don’t know when. The books run about 600 pages each, and were the kind that you wanted to gulp down read savor as you went along, so it’s been a fun two weeks. That being said, I’m ready to start filling my timeline chock-a-block with new titles and reviews! It’s been decadent taking my time, but I’m ready for the next adventure!

2 Gracie-boo is sick, sick, sick with that bronchitis that’s been going around. I’m hoping she makes it all day at school today. Then we have the weekend to rest up. Our “big plans” for tonight were to grab fast food and binge on 13 Reasons Why tonight, so as long as she can hold on, I know we can get her through this.

3 I know many people have many different feelings about 13RW – and every single one of them is valid. We’ve unfortunately experienced a lot of suicide, and so I choose to watch the show with my girls (if they want) and talk about it with them. I’m terrified of not having those lines of communications open, that hand out. Gracie was the first one to inhale the series, and then she accused me of starting it without her (she had offered to rewatch with me), but it was Bee-girl who had played it. So we’ll all watch together.

4 Speaking of Bee’s all-of-a-sudden grown-up tastes, she’s been begging me to read It with her. I had stopped because it was freaking Gracie out (and, well, Gracie just flat out doesn’t want to be read to), but Bee begged me to continue! So I might read that one just the two of us. I wish there was a graphic novel adaptation I could let her read, quasi-unsupervised. (No way I’m handing over the paperback – I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with orange pom poms staring me in the face. Beep-beep, Bee-girl.) Kim suggested I tweet the idea to those who might be able to make it happen. I’m thinking I let Bee illustrate a few panels first. Then send them my rather stupendous idea!

5 Mother’s Day, with all of its rather complicated feelings, rushing at us all. Here’s hoping this weekend is not the worst.

So there you go. A quick and dirty list to jump start our Friday! Go forth and make the most of it!

Mayfesting our Saturday away.

May 8, 2017

Saturday was Mayfest, a carnival held down on the river in the cultural district. There are rides and games and several music stages. Bee’s After Care program (all of them in the city, in fact) were putting on a show on one of the stages. Since Bee is the captain of the step team, the After Care director had been asking me since Christmas if Bee was going to be there. She knows we’re responsible and that many kids flake out and don’t show up to Mayfest because: traffic. The traffic is a nightmare. Last time we went, it took two hours to make a 20 minute drive.

So I wasn’t really looking forward to Mayfest, because on top of the lovely drive ahead of me, I also still had my bronchitis to deal with. My plans had been to just cuddle up with a book in bed and never change out of my pajamas. But: Mayfest. It was my Ex’s weekend; I could have laid Mayfest at his feet. But they had other plans and it was important to me after promising the director all year that Bee be there. And Bee’s best friend’s dad wasn’t able to take her and her mom was working, so now we were bringing Zari*, too.

So, Saturday rolls around and I pick up Bee-girl and then Zari. We headed out to the festival two hours early because I was a little paranoid about parking, and we wanted to have time for some carnival food and maybe a ride before we had to meet up with the group to practice.

And you know what happened, don’t you? Traffic was a piece of cake. I face worse traffic coming home from work every day. Sigh. So we enjoyed our extra time. We found the stage where we’d be performing and checked out all the rides and food tents (because the ground were laid out in a circle and our stage was the very last one). Then we all grabbed ice cream and drinks because 86°, all the sunshine, and we were all in pants. (Whoops.)

Then, because I’m a good mama who likes to let loose every once in awhile, we splurged on more than a few rides:

The girls loved the bungee jumps (and that’s good, because it was the most expensive ride there!). They did flips and jumps and I have no idea how they had energy left to stomp after all the jumping! They also demanded video, so I didn’t have memory left on my phone to get pictures of the rest of the rides. (They’re all on Bee’s phone and I haven’t gotten them from her yet.) They did a Superman-type ride where they laid down and did a tilt-o-whirl type thing on their stomachs like they were flying. (EESH!) They did the really high swings. They did a mirror maze that I thought looked fun and crazy enough that I’d have to go in there after them, but they were pretty good. [Bee-girl even said to me when we were pulling into the driveway that she hoped I wasn’t too lonely waiting while she and Zari were on all the rides. What a sweet girl to think of that!] The girls had a blast and I enjoyed being able to give them a bit of fun while we waited for the group to get there.

We also stuffed ourselves with food (ice cream, funnel cakes, roasted corn, turkey legs, beer, and so many cold sodas) and took advantage of all the freebies. And I have to say – the festival was really wonderful at having enough to do without spending tickets! (I guess to make up for $3 drinks?) There was a splash station, give-aways and free treats (we all got apples, yogurt, and won tshirts, towels, and sunglasses), and a stilt-walking station that gave lessons. The girls were surprisingly adept at stilts! I was amazed that after a time or two, they were walking up and down the walkway without a single falter! Their favorite freebie tent, though, was the art show.

Mayfest2

We spent a good half-hour in there, cooling off and examining technique on all of the drawings. They looked for and found their classmates entries, and Bee lamented that she hadn’t entered. (Her obsession with art mediums – especially drawing – has grown recently and I’m starting to wonder if art won’t play a larger role in her life. She has an aunt and a great-uncle who are both professionals, so there’s a strong possibility!)

After the art tent, it was time to wander back to the reason we were Mayfesting to begin with – the dance competition. The girls were impressed with the few shows we got to watch (I loved the traditional Mexican folk dancers), and they killed it when it was their turn!

You could see their faces light up when they heard the audience gasp and cheer them on. No one else had done anything outside of traditional “dancing” since it was a dance competition. But stepping is what our school wanted to do, and so that’s what they did, and I’m proud of them for it. I don’t think they won anything more than a participation ribbon, but they weren’t in it for a prize. It was wonderful to see my flighty, funky, hilarious little spazz monkey get up there and shout out the call-outs and lead the steppers with a loud, commanding voice and confidence in every movement.

It was a good, good day. Even if I went through three travel-packs of tissues and got a little sunburnt. I wasn’t planning on walking around a carnival for four hours, but I’m glad I got to spend some more time with my squinky, and that I got to give her a day of fun with her friend. Not a bad Saturday at all!

 

*Not her real name.

Five for Friday.

May 5, 2017

Friday! I am still terribly sick. My head is pounding, my teeth ache from all the sinus pressure, and my throat hurts. I’m not getting out of bed this weekend unless it’s wicked important. Thankfully, my brain doesn’t have to stretch too far because today is Five for Friday day!

1 Today isn’t the easiest day for Gracie-girl for a couple reasons. We had a long talk last night and while I promised her I wouldn’t get into details, I do know how she loves staring in my blog. So I just want to say: Fries before guys, sweet girl. And I wish you knew how badly I tried to swing it so my lunchtime today coincided with yours, so I could bring you a bouquet of french fries. (Ooooh, or a bucket of Chicken Express mashed potatoes and a bouquet of spoons, so you could share with your friends!)

2 The staying-in bit will be easier because I finished the second book in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series last night, which means I am ready for Book 3 tonight. I’m cozying up with it and not moving until I finish it. And then I plan to hoover up anything else Laini Taylor has ever written!

3 The not-getting-out-of-bed thing might be complicated by Mayfest. Bee-girl’s AfterCare leader has been asking me since Christmas if Bee was going to be able to make it to Mayfest. Bee’s the captain of the Step Team, and they’re performing (naturally), and since Bee is the captain, she’s the one who leads the steps. She needs to be there. Only her dad and I thought it was next weekend, during my weekend. So we’re scrambling to change plans and figure out how to get her there, and whether we can help her friend out (because her mama can’t take her, so could we?). Which would be fine if it was my weekend and I wasn’t sick and I could just make command decisions with an un-fuzzy brain! We’ll get it sorted out.

4 Bee also has her Big Project due for English and history classes. She’s making a model of Esperanza’s camp from Esperanza Rising, and so she and I were planning all of the things for that. I’m glad she has two weekends to get it done, and her dad was all over it, but these are the projects I love helping with, and I’m stuck batting clean-up. I know Bee is going to get dinged for the 25% that’s graded on neatness, so I’m trying to help her recoup some of that with the 25% graded on creativity. Like, what if in the back of her model, I showed her how to make a moving backdrop out of two pencils and a long piece of white paper, that can be colored in, and spun around the pencils, to change from one scene to the next? I bet she could handle something like that. And it could make her shadow box more dynamic instead of static. We’ll see what Bee-girl thinks!

5 Being sick and on self-imposed bed-rest also means that I won’t be working on my Little Free Library this weekend. Well, maybe if I have a burst of energy I can pull it all out of the box and make sure the “attached to a metal pole” plan is going to work. If it won’t, there’s no point in bribing my big, muscle-y guy friends to come help me dig a post hole. If that will work, I need to figure out my paint scheme and get that going so I can assemble that sucker and get it going. Now that I have a plan in place, it’s hard not to just go do it already!

So that’s my plan for what is – hopefully – a restful weekend! I hope yours is just as relaxing!

Hidden superpowers.

May 1, 2017

When I decided to steal my girlies for a roadtrip, part of me wondered how much of a good idea it would be. Granted, Gracie decided to stay home instead of going with, but even with just half of my dynamic duo, was a five-hour road trip so soon after their trip to Houston (and Galveston) really a smart idea? Could they handle another mega-car ride so soon after the first?

Turns out, my Bee-girl has a hidden superpower or two that she didn’t tell me about. And turnpikin’ is one of ’em.

SATe

After a tasty, tasty pancake-and-egg breakfast, the three of us girls hit the road, armed with mix CDs, fully charged phones, half-baked directions, and all manner of stories we needed to catch up on. And even though we ran into a minor delay at a PlaceThatShallNotBeDiscussed because of a CrisisThatShallNotBeHintedAt, we still made incredibly good time, racing into the city well before rush hour.

And that was including the 30-minute lunch break we took to introduce Auntie Kim to Buc-ee’s, the world’s largest rest stops. I really wish I had’ve had my camera ready for that, you guys. Her. face. Priceless! I understand; we have gas stations smaller than the restrooms alone. The place is just massive. But so clean and rather addictive, and conveniently halfway between our house and the party hotel. Even with our pit stop, we still rolled into San Antonio early enough for dinner and some shenanigans…

Mostly we walked along the Riverwalk, scoping out places to eat and get an early cocktail. We checked out some local curiosities and stopped in a gift shop or two to peruse. We may have found Auntie Rhi (avert your eyes!) a Sully puppet, but couldn’t find a matching Dr. Quinn. Alas…

I love seeing all of the hidey-holes and different shops and museums around the Riverwalk. Some people might find it kitschy, but I love never knowing exactly what you’ll find around the next corner. Because it was Fiesta, for us it mean there was usually a parade around every corner, several times a day, complicating even matters as mundane as crossing the street. Didn’t get to Bee-girl at all, though – nothing got to her! Except maybe when we told her to go pretend to kiss the bull that just happened to be standing at the side of the road…

We finally had to show her how!

Not a bad first evening, even though we called it an early night. Kim had meetings to prepare for, and Bee and I had been go-go-going all week getting ready. A slam! game of War and half of Bee’s Easter candy while we watched mindless TV was the perfect end to what should have been a draining first day – and was, unless you were a certain 10-year-old with superpowers to brush off even the most grueling of five-hour treks across state!

 

April 26, 2017

Dear sweet baby girl,

I always get rather emotional on your birthday, but this year, this year that you officially, formally, instistantly become a teenager, I am even more of a loving, teary-eyed mess than usual. I can’t believe I get to be your mom. I can’t remember life before children, and I can’t remember why anyone would try. Being a mother isn’t my entire reason for being, but being the mom of you and your sister is by far the most important piece of me. It’s what I love the most. And that you were my first baby seems to be the rightest and truest thing that has ever happened to me.

You’re exactly what the universe decided I needed, my own special gift. A pain in the ass, sure, but a gift all the same. And I can’t even tease you too much about your teenagery, sarcastic, over-achieving, lazy, helpful, eager-to-please, confident, anxious, full-of-laughter, loyal, football-crazy self because, well, I sort of nudged you in that direction, didn’t I? You’re my mini-me, which helps (I hope) in helping me parent you. But I hope it doesn’t hurt too much. I am always trying to do my best by you because you exceed my every hope, sweetheart. You still seem to be so many steps ahead of me, funnier, smarter, braver, YOU-er than I could ever have hoped. It makes me want to smoosh those cheeks and embarrass you with how much I love you (truly, it makes me shriek with laughter every time you [mostly] jokingly “MOMMMEEEEEE!!!!!” whineyell at me, when I jokingly [mostly] go too far); and it makes me want to throttle you, too, at times, when all my knowledge (because: mini-me!) doesn’t give me any advantage at all. Because for all that you’re my mini-me, you are wonderfully, gloriously, wicked awesomely your very own person, Gracie-girl. And you’re stubborn, so you ain’t budging off being exactly who you are!

I’ve been stricken dumb, so often, during this past year, as I watch you grow and mature, and robbing me of my words isn’t easy to do. You continue to keep track of your own school work, study schedule, and homework. I might ask, as part of engaging you about your day, but I don’t double check. I don’t think you’ve required that since second grade! You have surprised us all with your progress in tennis (you joke as much as any of us at the idea of you and physical coordination belonging in the same sentence), but haven’t really entertained the idea of entering into any of the competitions – and given your proclivity to enter into and join everything else, I’m grateful for that! What hasn’t surprised me is your domination in band. You’re second chair in percussion and the feminist in you loves bragging that first chair is the only other girl in your section. You’re consistently asked to perform some of the trickier parts during performances, and the first thing you comment on afterwards, when I catch up with you, is the one part where you think you messed up: ever the perfectionist.

It’s funny, seeing which of those pieces (like the perfectionist at school) remain the same, and which parts of you are evolving. You were so quick to say yes when your crush asked you out, after for so long expounding on how you weren’t dating until high school. Ha! You’re quick to help out when I really need you to (putting away groceries without being asked, taking care of chores when I don’t feel well, offering to take care of Bee’s chores when she has a migraine); offering to pay for so many of your own expenses now that you have an allowance; coordinating all the details for transportation, etc., when you and your friends want to go somewhere and you need rides. In fact, watching your social life blossom and evolve has been one of the more intriguing and reassuring aspects of this past year. You are fiercely loyal, but you know what is Drama and what is Worth Working Through. There are a few exceptions, but you are still doing an excellent job of picking out good people to add to your village. I might make good on my threat of taking away your phone at night if I hear about any more 2 a.m. text-capades, but I get that you thought you were being there for a friend during a critical time. What makes me trust your judgement is that you don’t have any time for drama. You don’t like making scenes. You don’t like being subjected to gossip or getting shafted. You won’t stand for unfair behavior too many times. You’ll go to the end of the earth for your friends (and twice as far for The Boyfriend), and you’ll hand out chances, but only so many. I like that. It makes me feel like you’ve been listening. Like when you bop me on the arm (our accepted consequence) and lecture me when I call myself an idiot (for whatever reason). You know I won’t stand for you doing it, and you’re sorting out when to hold me to the same benchmarks. And I let you, because how else will you learn? And it does do my heart good to see that you’re taking it all in, baby girl.

There are other ways teenagerdom is settling in for you. You were never really one for keeping your room ship-shape, but GOOD LORD, GIRL. Cinderella’s woodland creatures who could tidy an entire house in the blink of an eye would keel over dead if they saw your room. It takes it a couple do-overs before I don’t keel over! And I’m not that fastidious! You’ve adapted well to my recent decision to ditch cable, but what you do miss is football…and awards shows. Like the Oscars, the Grammys, and that sort of thing. I remember getting all twirled up in it when I was in junior high, so there’s still hope for you, sweetheart! (And even if you continue to enjoy them, I promise to allow you to be your own person, no matter how ridiculous I think those shows are.)

And that’s what I find most encouraging about this past year: even as you grow up, even when we disagree and have those types of fights that everyone’s warned me comes with raising a teenager, we always find our way back to being okay. We both have Irish tempers that might need to cool off first, but you’re good at knowing who you are, Gracie. You’re good at putting your feelings into words, and expressing yourself and your perspective. You’re good at explaining why you were fighting, and apologize when it’s called for. And you’re not too proud to share that with those who matter. You know that family matters.

And I hope you know how much you matter to me.

I love you, Gracie-girl. More than any birthday letter can say. And I always will.

Love,
Mom

In which all the shenanigans are afoot.

April 25, 2017

It would be a good, good week if it wasn’t so unnaturally quiet. The girls are off on a mini-vacation. Their stepmom had plans to visit her sister this past weekend in Houston, and since they were going to be in the area, Stepmom and the Ex asked if they could hold the girls out of school a few days so they could spend a few days in Galveston. They rented a condo and have gone on dolphin tours, held sandcastle competitions, and scored sunburns so bad I’m not even excited anymore that they’re going to peel. (Because: ouch!)

I miss my girls terribly, but that means I’ve had time to do some planning of my own. Because the girls will be home for one day tomorrow – a teeny, tiny day in which Gracie turns thirteen (!), and I become a mom to a teenager (!!) – and then we snag Auntie Kim from the airport and she and Bee-girl and I zoom down to San Antonio for another mini-vacation! See? SHENANIGANS!

Kim is delivering a presentation at a conference, and so the plan was for me to make the five-hour drive, steal one of the extra beds, goof off with Kim, and drive back, all refreshed. Corrie was going to come with, which would be handy when dealing with all of the driving directions (I still haven’t gotten my glasses fixed), and also the tedium of a five-hour drive, but she’s out of town on two separate week-long work trips this month, and she’d rather not get kicked out of her house. So rather last minute, Kim and I arrived at – what if the girls came?

It’s terrible timing. Missing almost a week of school? Unheard of! We don’t do that! But, as my Ex put it: it’s not every day your daughter turns 13! And I’m not going to have many opportunities for a “free” vacation. Bee could bunk with me in my bed, and we could grab a cot for Gracie. It’d work out great! Also, Gracie’s an excellent navigator! So I took a deep breath and checked with their dad to see if he’d wig out if I pulled them from school and got the green light. Only one problem: Gracie didn’t wanna go.

See, she’s a regional finalist for the Big Idea competition. She proposed a health-based community center/retail shop for diabetics – one stop shopping where they could buy groceries, get recipes, get a check-up, work out with the supervision of health professionals, and find a “village” of other people with the same health issues. Because Gracie’s the oldest, and because she was only 4 years old when her dad and I separated, she’s known for a long time about what living with diabetes means. I used to drill her about what to do if she and Bee were alone with their dad and he had a hypoglycemic seizure or he wouldn’t wake up or was acting confused. She’s channeled all of that into an interesting health center – she even thought about adding “halfway housing” for people who were recently diagnosed with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes and needed help adjusting to a drastically new lifestyle. We won’t know whose idea wins the grand prize until the awards ceremony – which is early afternoon on Saturday. And even if I could convince the district to tell me if I shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get her there, Gracie said she wanted to go either way. “It’d be a great experience!” she said. I hate when my daughter is more responsible than me.

So Gracie is staying with her dad, and Bee and I will be adventuring to San Antonio. I’ll get some one-on-one time with Bee-girl, and still have a navigator for the ride home. (This will be a big test for Bee-girl. She’s a little flighty; I hope it works out with us home safe and sound and not by way of Louisiana.) Bee is wicked excited! Kim’s colleague told us about a wicked candy shop that’s near our hotel, and Kim discovered our hotel has a heated pool on the roof. And somewhere in my texting all of that to Bee, she thought the pool was on the roof of the candy store and possibly that Kim’s conferences were in Hogsmeade?

It shall be a grand adventure, even without the literal magic. And who knows – with Bee helping me find my way back home, we might end up in the magical back alleys of England. Who knows what shenanigans we’ll fall into with that one in charge!

In which I finally caved and said yes.

April 4, 2017

I had A Day with Miss Gracie yesterday. It was one of those golden days that I’m sure I’ll look back on a hundred times later.

It didn’t even start out all that extraordinary. I picked her and M. up from school. I dropped of M. and got Bee-girl from After-Care. The coordinator there loaded us up with cookies and desserts they had leftover from Panera – it pays to be a nice parent, you guys. And while we were driving, I told Gracie about my crazypantsbananatown day, and she told me about all the drama going down at her school. Something about a text-storm at 4 a.m. [good lord – yeah, if that continues, the phone is outta there] and then a bunch of smack being talked about her at school. I listened as baby girl told me all about it, and agreed (mostly) with how poised her responses were. Gracie’s doing fine. I’m parenting fine. All is well. …At least on that front. …For now.

Our evening…meh. It seemed pretty average. Bee had a headache, so she laid down for awhile. Gracie did her normal just-got-home things: played with the dog, changed into comfy clothes, texted all her friends. Told me more about all the drama. In fact, I remember quite a bit of her following me around as I tried to transition out of my day. Earrings were getting shucked, shoes getting put away, hair pulled back. Finally I told her I was changing and just stopped caring if she was in the room. Tell you what – as soon as I unbuttoned my slacks, that girl was gone.

We had a good dinner (shrimp scampi and salmon and garlic button croissants. And pretend we had a veggie) and the girls and I laughed our way through some household chores. And it was Bee who came and hung out with me in my room and watched TV with me; she and I started putting together the Ghostbuster’s Ecto-1 Lego car. But then it was bedtime and Bee went to bed without a fuss (because: headache earlier) and I made Gracie come entertain me while I cleaned the kitchen. So I rinsed dished and loaded the dishwasher and recycled 93284032 cans and wiped the counters and cleaned the sink and checked on my pet ants, all while Gracie told me stories and more about her day. It made me think of when my mom would be cleaning the kitchen and ask me to entertain her. It’s a good way to sneak in some bonding time.

I should have sent her to bed after the kitchen was clean. But the wiseass I raised kept trying to convince me that we should flop down on my (comfy, comfy) bed and talk or watch Bones instead of cleaning. So I told her we could hang out in my room for a bit. She immediately flopped down on the bed and started making herself comfy while I got ready for the next day, picking out outfits and jewelry. Then I got the grand idea of letting Gracie help me to game out my outfit for my date on Friday. She adjusted a few things and I went with her decision, so we’ll see how it plays out. In between all of that, Gracie took alllllll the selfies. I’m sorry, World: there are no selfies left. Gracie took them all last night. Sheesh.

That’s when the begging began. About just staying right there and sleeeeeeeeping. I can count the number of times that child has slept in my bed, and two of them were after times she ended up in the trauma hospital.

I can’t believe I gave in.

I know the girl kicks in her sleep. No one wants to sleep with her on vacation because we know she is a restless sleeper, she snores, she drools, and she kicks. And coughs! I made the girl get up and take some cough medicine. God, I was tired by that point, but she thought it was Christmas morning, getting to sleep on the NASA technology mattress she’s in love with. Lights went off. And then the moving began. Over and then the other way, and shuffle this way, and that arm… It was a nightmare! I put a hand on Gracie’s upper arm. Told her rather firmly to stay still (because the girl was out – dang, she can sleep!) and she stopped.

So I did get some sleep after all. My little girl is growing up so fast, it’s nice to have those moments – or an afternoon of moments – while we can. Even if those mean I have to deal with a bonkers teenager who sleeps like monkeys are jumping on the bed.

The tradition we got suckered into.

March 28, 2017

I spent half my drive into work trying to figure it out: was it the first free program to get yanked, or had a short grant finally ended? Today is STAAR testing day – statewide mandatory testing of all non-testable skills and subjects of all classes ever classed. Or something. NOT BIG ON MANDATORY ONE-SIZE FITS ALL TESTIACNG. (Can ya tell?) And every other year, since Gracie was in 3rd grade and we kicked off on this adventure, the girls got a voucher for a few breakfast value meal from McDonald’s. This year? No coupons.

I actually tried (and think I succeeded at) mathing it out – if it was a five-year grant, and it started the year Gracie was in school, that means this would be the first year post-grant. Thus, no coupons. Maybe it was a grant funded by McDonald’s, aimed at getting good breakfasts every year into kiddos on test days in major cities. Maybe some other major city gets to start their five-year run this year. Maybe it was funded by the city and they put it on the chopping block. Maybe our school’s free breakfast program for every student was so successful they didn’t need to pay twice for the same advantage. Maybe not enough of the coupons were being redeemed. Dude, I better not have been the only parent dragging my butt outta bed early on test day!

Because I totally got suckered in. I think I did it the first year and it was a catastrophe – buying breakfast for the Bee-meister Meister-Burger because her sister had a coupon – and then made Gracie late or me late or something. And so I wasn’t going to do it the next year, but the Ex offered. And then it was a tradition and we all just kinda made it work for two days. Yes, eating a good breakfast is a good thing. But forcing little kids to get up 30 minutes early? A little counter-intuitive.

But! Test day. If the kids wanted to get up early, then fine. My sleep schedule has been so screwy, I didn’t care. Of course, then I didn’t fall asleep until 2:30 a.freakin’m., and really could have used that extra thirty minutes, but whatevs. I could pull it together. I even remembered to tell the Ex what the plan was for the morning, in case the girls were a little early or a little late. And offered to grab something for them or especially for the girls’ niece – because I believe walking into someone’s house with delicious breakfast food is rude, unless you’re going to share. Especially when one of the peoples is a three-year-old who wants whatever her aunties have!

Except, I don’t think the warning that the girls might be early really hit home because we pulled up to the house and it was dark-dark. “Dad sleeps until 6:30,” Gracie announced. “But I told him!” I whined. And then, as it hit me, “Uh…is the house alarm gonna go off if you use your key to go in?” “I think so,” she answered in a way that took all the doubt out of “think”. I thought we might be a few minutes early, but not 15-20 minutes. The only times I’ve gone through the drive-through, there’s been a huge back-up…probably because of the free coupons. I had no idea I was only going to need five extra minutes, or we all coulda slept in a bit more.

Dang it.

It was kinda funny when the three of us girls just looked at each other, collectively shrugged, and then Bee started handing out sausage biscuits. The hot cakes were a little messy for the car, but breakfast sandwiches? No problem. So we got to eat breakfast together in the dark of the car, idling in their dad’s neighborhood (sorry, neighbors, if that was keeping any of you up).

At least I don’t have to worry about it for another whole year. The girls get to spend the night with their dad tonight and the breakfast tradition baton is all his. Mwa ha ha!