Archive for the ‘Casa de Katie’ Category

This is the song that never ends…

May 28, 2021

…yes it goes on and on, my friend! Some people, started singing it not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends…

Yes. Well. This, except with my posts. How many times have I pledged that I was going to pick up the blog and run with it again? Last night optimism, I suppose.

But here’s the thing: I think I need some sort of touchpoint while I find my way in my new (old) stomping grounds. I write blog posts in my head nearly every day. So why not just…write them down?

As I’m interviewing for job after job, and applying for about a hundred zillion times more than I’m called in for, I keep myself busy. I’ve written two 350+ page novels; plucked away at my memoirs; dissected my life with my girls, and tried not to think too much about them because my heart weighs 6,000 pounds when I do; created 100 versions of my resume; and adventured.

I should clarify: adventuring here – my adventuring, at least – is rather mild. It consists of venturing out into the sunlight at least once daily, so I don’t get stuck in the comfy and familiar nest I’ve made for myself in my room, and tried to find at least one fun or odd or picture-worthy something out in Woo or the surrounding towns.

Since I’m just back in town, there is roughly a billion-gazillion choices for me. I can’t decide what I love more: when I stumble across something nostalgic and preternaturally magical, or when I find something new that I didn’t know existed.

Whichever it is, that’s when I start writing the blog post in my head. (For the record, you’ve all loved hearing about everything I’ve found and pointed out. I have a dazzling track record and a dizzying intellect, if I do say so.)

And so, dear bloggy audience, I’ve picked up my pen again to actually reach out, to try to satisfy the gremlins in my brain who are begging me to scratch their itch. It’d help if they told me how to solve that problem, but I’m hoping this will do it for now.

If you’re familiar with the area and have suggestions for my travels, or pictures you’d love for me to post, go ahead and yell out your answers – no need to raise your hands.

Thank you for sticking with me as I re-combobulate my life. It’s a difficult task at 40, but sitting and crying in limbo waiting for the Universe to fix it doesn’t seem to be working. Time for me to carve out a little life for myself. That answer was the same at 21 when I moved cross-country and gambled on this random dude I found in a chat room on the internet; the same at 25 when I found myself married for less than a year and pregnant (with the first love of my life); 30-something when I found myself single and mom to two loves of my life; 40 when I asked for help climbing out the hole I found myself in; and 40-something when asking for help backfired, leaving me with…

…Well, with a sense of adventure.

I don’t know what I’m going to call my blog, but it turns out that you CAN get there from here, but it’s a hell of a worm-hole and I don’t know that I’d recommend it.

I’m still gonna keep walking towards that place I had in my mind all those years away from family and home. And apparently getting there right now includes day trips and fun pictures of home.

I’m clicking my heels together three times…. There’s no place like home. Because home has all these weird places and stories you get to brag about…

Five for Friday.

February 26, 2021

Good morning highs, good morning lows, good morning elbows, and good morning hoes!

Yeah, I don’t know what that was either.

It seems that bits and tricks on Friday mornings are all I good for, so let’s launch and not think all those negative thoughts about why I can’t seem to summon inspiration, bravery, and grown-uppish-ness on all those other weekdays to just hammer one out. Shall we?

  1. It is a fact universally acknowledged that the morning you wake up without any of the head-and-chest congestion that left you miserable for days is the best morning in the history of modern times. No, no: it’s just a fact. The sun is shining (eh), the birds are chirping, and I almost don’t hate interacting with people today. Good times, my friends, good times.
  2. I’m feeling so good, in fact, that I’m not hating the weather. True, the world has righted itself and New England is no longer 60 degrees warmer than hell Texas. But [sprinkling anti-jinx dust around me for good measure], I’ve acclimated better than I thought. It’s been a balmy 30 degrees here most days, and most days I need to remind myself to take my jacket with me “just in case.” God, that was my Mum’s favorite sayings. Just in case! Just in case you get stranded by the side of the road! Just in case you make a left turn and end up in Canada instead of Uxbridge! Just in case the weather drops 40 degrees! …Okay, well, that last one might actually happen; it’s New England. No, no, it’s not the “If a jacket sits unworn in the middle of a forest, and no one wears it, is it still a jacket?” philosophical debate that has me glaring at the weather. It’s the havoc it’s wreaking on my skin and hair with winter’s insatiable thirst for moisture! I can’t lotion up my skin fast enough. My skin is responding very nicely, as long as I feed and water it and take it for long walks. It’s my hairrrrr. My stupid, beautiful, curly, winter-hating hairrrrr. One week after plopping myself down in these here wintry climes, my hair decided it was going to dandruff the frick out. I’ve tried Head and Shoulders. I’ve tried expensive boutique solutions. I’m on my hands and knees begging for your best solutions. Bring it! Because one day (soon-ish) I will feel like the time is right to start dating again and I’m not bringing this hair situation with me.
  3. Speaking of feeling better about myself, I think one of the first things I’m doing with my new salary and wage earnings is to splurge on a trainer. Because obviously ain’t no way I’m getting outta bed and working myself out. Wait – is that even grammar? Ahem. Erm. Well. Bodies! Yes, I would like to fit back into the buckets of clothes I spent buckets of monies to move up here. The first step is to actually do something about it. I’ve cut out the snacking. Now I need to cut in a healthy dose of cardio and strength training. I’ve done it before – after carrying my second beautiful baby to term, I worked off the 50lbs of pregnancy weight, and went down four more sizes just for “fun.” I can’t tell you how much confidence that gives me! The question is now: Do I do what worked then – “just” sticking to 20-minute work-out videos every week-day morning before work? Or do I get myself a trainer? A trainer would help out local businesses and give me extra incentive to Doooooo It! But the responsible thing during the pandemic would be to stay home. But! At home my father (who pays for everything. ergo rules everything) sleeps 7p-3a, and my brother (who takes care of the house and its occupants, ergo you don’t want to piss him off) sleeps 1a-10a. There isn’t a lot of time to seamlessly slip in a work-out routine. Nor can I just work out in my room with my earbuds in, because our house was built in 1898 and the floors are creaky as shit. So many excuses I could latch onto. For now, I’ll be happy to answer just one: What’s a good Denise Austin-esque general 30-minute work-out video that’s going to help me shed pounds?? Oodles of karma to the kind soul who comes up with the winner!
  4. Yeah, it’s a crazy schedule here at Casa de Padre, at least if you’re trying to be considerate since you’re rooming without paying a lot of board right now. If I don’t have interviews for a “forever job” that day, I try to spend at least an hour running errands or just driving around the city, re-orienting myself with landmarks and street names and where that one street over there comes out again? It makes my heart happy to see all these places of home and not be haunted by the fact that I have to leave to go to back Texas at the end of the week. Every single blessed afternoon, I get a feeling of coming home that I thought only existed in books and fleeting dreams. But at the end of those drives, when I’ve squeezed every adventure and back-road in that I could, and sung my way through half-a-dozen playlists at the top of my lungs, it’s back to Casa de Padre I go. Back to the job applications, the dinner dishes, small talk, and all. the. quiet.
  5. You know what quiet needs? BOOKS! A blessing and a curse, dear readers, a blessing and a curse. Any one who’s spoken to me for more than thirty minutes knows that I read quite a bit, and these days I do a lot of my reading online. Reading online is convenient; my ebook mountains are usually supplied by the growing e-library selection offered by the libraries I belong to across several states (book nerds unite!); and not only does that mean the books I want to read are available nearly instantaneously, but I don’t need to find a place to store them in my 8×10 cubby hole here at the house. Which brings me to my dilemma: there’s a book I want to read. [Audience gasps.] Deacon King Kong, by The waitlist at my libraries are all daunting – not that it stopped me from cheerfully adding my name. But the book is available, conveniently, at my local Barnes&Noble. Or I could pay the same amount and get the e-book. The e-book won’t have to be shoe-horned into some scrum of invaluable artifacts from my past life that just had to stay out of storage…but giving my money to Barnes&Noble would make my heart feel so much lighter. And I can’t help but add: so much nobler.(Sorry, sorry – I had to.) While I’ve read the sneak-peek of Deacon a few times, and I adore it, I’m nervous. I’m not usually a James McBride fan. I’m afraid the rest of the book will fade away and I’ll wonder why, exactly, I spent precious discretionary funds on this title, of all things. And normally it wouldn’t be no thing, I’d just wait it out on the waitlist. God knows I have 394530949 other books on my To Be Read list to tide me over. It’s just that Deacon is part of the March Madness insanity of the Tournament of Books. I have 4-ish days to get ‘er done if I’m going to care about spoilers. With a good book, it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. But can you imagine reading Gone Girl and knowing the twist? Still good; the execution was impeccable; but not the same as as yelling HOLY SHIT!! on a plane-load of people. Ahem.

So yeah, there you go! My five little points of madness, or of tiny little nothingness-es, or of whatever you’d like to consider them. Five little trampolines to bounce into the weekend. Because yes, Virginia, even in a land of loose structure, bound by a barely-there calendar, weekends are still the end-all, be-all, responsible for this giant smile on my face!

Five for Friday.

February 12, 2021

It’s Friday! Wait; Is it Friday? I think it’s Friday. Somebody check for me! Friday! Yes. We’re pretty sure. One of a gazillion reasons I need a grown-up job with grown-up responsibilities: a grown-up Monday-to-Friday schedule.

And you know what Friday means? Five for Friday posts! I am ridiculously excited about my “Five for Fridays” posts. Just five random thoughts that may or may not have been big enough for their own space. So here we go!

  1. One of the toughest things about being “home” again – “home” being in the house where I grew up, and where my brother and father live – and my baby sister temporarily moved home at the end of August because of a COVID eviction, so her too – is not so much that I’m in a house filled with people; it’s that we’re all on different schedules. Like I said, the number of people doesn’t faze me, because I’ve always lived in a small house with a big family, with scores of people always underfoot. It actually makes me feel more comfortable. Homier. But my dad goes to bed at 7 or 8 p.m. He has insomnia like me, god bless. So he tries to follow a strict sleep schedule. So I’m very conscious of this, especially because I have the insomnia issue he was kind enough to pass along to me. Le sigh. My brother, whom I affectionately call the Grown-Up In Residence, also carries the Insomnia Gene, but he just rolls with it. He’s been laid off for more than a year, but has been the one taking care of my father, and also my mother when she was still living at home. He’s been sleeping on the couch so he can hear if my father falls during teh night. That’s why it’s “easy” that I take over his room upstairs. Joe stays up til midnight. 1a. 2a. Somewhere in there. So I know any accidental bumps coming from my room isn’t going to bother him, but I do know that despite fitting into most of the stereotypical “guy” attributes, he is very sensitive to sounds that might disturb my father. Because then he has to listen to it all the next day. Heh. So our house “shuts down” every night, ridiculously early,, at 8p. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Unpleasant, but straight-forward. No phone calls after 8p if I can help it, because the house was built in the late 1800s, so the insulation is laughable. You can hear a conversation on different levels and across the house better than you can in if the person was in the same room! And then the bathroom situation is…
  2. Okay, the bathroom. How many of you have lived in a house with multiple people – grown-up, actual people, not childrens – and only one bathroom. I know it’s not that uncommon the city, in older housing.Mostly I feel bad because I’m not the only one with sleeping problems. And when you hear more than one person tramping up and down the stairs at night – over and next to your bedroom, that can’t help. But! It does help your mindfulness, and when you’re lying very, very still in the morning
    listening for your sister to come out of the bathroom, it’s a good time for morning reflections and prayers.
  3. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on my* room here at my dad’s house, but a happier heart is going to keep me from falling into a deep depression. And to be honest, given the situation with my daughters, who are never out of my mind, I’m teetering, and have been So I want to do what I can’t to keep me right side up. Cheering up the room might fall into that category.

    Here’s how it looks now…

    I’m thinking maybe something mandala-y? Definitely something cheerful and happy. Warm tones. But I don’t want spend too much. My girls bought some tapestries at the old house. Gracie asked for some for Christmas, and helped pick some out for Santa. Bee was – IS – the queen of finding the cheapest sales online and avoiding scams. So I crossed my fingers and asked them for help. Sometimes I don’t get a response because: teenagers. Sometimes they don’t answer because…well. That’s a different story, and a sad one, and I don’t know how to fix it. But! I did get a quick answer about the tapestries and I’m trying to decide. So hit me up with suggestions!
  4. My head is a mess. Yes, that’s the most succinct description of me anyone has said in the history of psychoanalysis. In this week’s episode of WTF, Katie?!, we’re looking at why in the world I can’t seem to get it through my head that I don’t need to do timezone math anymore. I know – laugh all you want. It’s the silliest of little things wrong with me. I’ve been tethered to my best friend Corrie since we met. You know, 15 years ago. She’s been a huge part of keeping me sane through the move. And before the move. And every day even when nothing was going on. You get the picture. And sadly, I haven’t been able to deploy my Kidnap Corrie To Keep Her Happy, With me, And All of Sane because of the craptastic weather we’re experiencing not only in the north (expected), but in the deep south of Texas. We’re they’re getting six inches of snow. Because I’m gone!I Sheesh.What a slap in the face! “Dear Weather Gods, can I please have some snow? No? Oh, but now that I’m officially moved out, now Texas is getting snow? Oh. Okay. Just checking.” !!?!>#$#()_!!! For the love of Pete! But! Getting back to the tiniest of little points that I had, an entire paragraph ago, when I talktext Corrie, it’s still an hour behind. Cool, cool. But then when I go to talk to any of my aunts, the nursing home, my friend Juls, or really anyone else, I don’t need to do any math! NO MATH! I hate math! Why would I try to layer in any unnecessary math?! Insanity, I tell you. SOMEone please get that through my head.
  5. COVID. COVID COVID COVID. Please. You really need to stop now. Because now that I’m all up here in my cozy, cozy homeland, having completed this rather insane and intense cross-country drive all by myself, with a carload of shtuff… And now that I’ve unpacked that carload of shtuff and gotten myself as settled as can be for now… the distractions are wearing off and I really, really need to visit with my family, now that I’ve driven 1500+ miles to be with them. The people of Massachusetts are taking this “hunker down” direction seriously. As we should! But I would like to see my aunts and uncles, now that they’re across the city. And I’d love to be able to hang out with my cousins. Maybe a rowdy card game with everyone all at once? Tough to pull off, but I don’t mind being the details girl and organize it, if COVID WOULD JUST GO AWAY! Ahem.

And that is pretty much where my headspace is on this fine COVIDy Friday night. LOL And what are YOU all up to? Whatever it is, I hope it’s something that leaves you in better shape to be ready for bed when the time comes. No more 4a visits from Father Sleep. Or panicked 12:30p wake-ups the next day. But it’s fine. It’s FINE! Because it’s Friday. And after Friday, comes Saturday. God bless.

And good night!

*my brother’s

The brrr!-est welcome possible.

February 6, 2021

Welcome back to New England, Katie – here is two feet of snow to make you feel at home!

Seriously, that’s just what this feels like. I knew when I started my cross-country drive that there was a possibility for some snow, but the “possibility” was an industrious little booger, and by the time I hit Tennessee, there was a snowstorm looming. When I hit Virginia, the snowstorm had morphed into a full-fledged winter assault on the entire eastern seaboard.

I spent four days in Virginia waiting things out. And then I came home to this:

Yeah, it’s not the greatest photo, but it gives you an idea of the scale of the storm. Sidewalks have vanished. There’s three feet of snow around every curb, making every turn onto a new street a gamble with your life. And parking lots – man, parking lots have plowed 20′ mountains of snow to make way for a few parking spots.

But that’s life. Life in New England, anyway. We’re expecting another 6-8″ of snow this Sunday too. Thems the brakes, I guess. But even having to deal with all of this, I can’t lie: hearing snow crunch under my feet as I walked into my house; it made me smile a real smile, the kind I hadn’t let out in a while.

So yeah, snow is bad. But it’s home.

The real reveal: Bee’s bedroom renovation!

June 18, 2019

Bee has been waiting such a long time for this moment. It crushed my mama’s heart every time Bee asked, and explained logically why she “deserved” a room renovation, and then I had to tell her we couldn’t do it right then, because I didn’t have the money. Saving up, pennies here and there, and finally being able to say “YES!” was one of my happiest moments as a mom.

Seriously. Bee worked hard. She was patient while she waited for funding to come through. She worked to keep her room clean for an entire month before I would commit to a renovation. I wasn’t spending all of that money and carrying out all of that work and have her entire wardrobe on the floor, mixed in with the contents of her closet. Not the look I was going for.

Finally, she worked hard with me to empty her room, bagging clothes that didn’t fit, and donating toys she has outgrown. She (and I) worked hard to get to this: a completely empty bedroom:

I shampooed and steam-cleaned that rug twice; even got out a pretty large paint stain that little Miss Craft Girl didn’t want to confess to Mom. Thank goodness I’m magic!

While that was drying, the girls and I unloaded 23,942 boxes from the back of the car, and IKEA delivered the other 6 huge boxes that contained the bed. My living room looked like a cardboard box city!

For an entire week, it was me and an allen wrench against the world. No joke – Bee’s loft bed nearly killed me. I could lean one side against one wall, but then I had to get the big I beam from the loft to screw into a particular place on the other side piece. The VERY HEAVY side piece. And nothing was working the easy way. So it only took me four hours. Doesn’t every first step of building a bed end at 2 a.m.?? But I did it. And thankfully, Gracie was soooo into helping me and arranging the room that she put together a lot of the bed after I got the frame hooked up. Finally, between the two of us, we had Bee’s loft bed all put together!

My favorite part is that the bed actually fits in the space. It ends just before the window. [Bee-Tween didn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her bed block the window, or why a second exit from a room was important. I was afraid she was just asking the universe to send a fire in her room. Geez!] The space at the top is a little tight, but as long as the ceiling fan isn’t on, it’s fine. It really only overlaps by three or four inches, but its enough that the person up there could sit up and get their head whacked.

I wish I had a picture of Bee’s mattress going up – I even thought to have Gracie help me put on the mattress protector and the fitted sheet before we hoisted it. Good god – that nearly killed us too. Why are bedroom sets so deadly??!! Golly! We added sheets, her white comforter. Bee was set for the night and so! excited! It was really happening! Wish I had a picture of THAT, too!

The next day while Bee and Gracie were at their dad’s, I rushed to put together the drawers, the bookcase, and attach the two legs to the desk top. Bee had texted me and said she knew my back was bad, and if I had just done the drawers, she would help with one more thing when she got home that night. She didn’t know I was nearly done! I raced to finish the rolly-chair. I staged everything, added the fancy light and the iPhone holder. I anchored the extension cords with velcro strips. I plugged in the longest iPhone charger cord I have ever seen – Bee would definite be able to plug her phone in while she was up in bed. I anchored the mirror in the wall (using my new drill! yay!), and added a few things on the bookcase as a final touch.

My heart – when Bee came in and saw that I had finished her space….! I can’t even describe the happy that was swirling all over my crazy, fantastic, beloved daughter.


Wait – there’s one more bit! As kind of a check-in a few weeks (or just a week) after Bee’s bed/desk/office space was finished, just like they do on the home renovation shows, Bee and I looked at what we had done, and decided to add one more piece: she needed somewhere besides her closet to keep her clothes. The bureau she had didn’t match her aesthetic, so she nixed that. Bee decided to use the cubbies she had in her room before, I found some new fabric drawers that would match, and voila! The last perfect piece for Bee’s Magical Renovated Bedroom. You can see her new hamper, the perfect place for her full length mirror, and her body pillow that serves as seating. It’s all perfectly Bee!


Enjoy, Bee-girl. Love you with all my heart…love the way you fight for your funky little differences – like this alterna-drawers for clothes.

Keep being you!

Bedroom Planning 101.

June 17, 2019

When last we left our heroine, Bee-Tween’s bedroom was really, finally happening! I had given Bee her budget. (She nearly fainted with happiness; it was the adorablest!) She had permission. She just had to plan, go buy what she needed,…and then clean her room out. Meh, meh, meh. It was happening!


Bee didn’t even have to think twice about the bed she wanted. She had been hunting different loft bed possibilities for the past two years. This was the one she wanted; an IKEA model that would eat up a lot of her budget (and most of the space in her bedroom), but still leave a little wiggle room. In both senses.

I had to admit – it was really, really nice. Solid construction. Beautiful wood tone. The desk and bookcases looked gorgeous. The best part was that I didn’t have to pretend I could arrange furniture – Bee wanted the entire set, so I could just write down the model numbers and pick it up in one fell swoop! So that was our plan.

Except The Plan had a small little problem: the bed wouldn’t fit.

Bee-Tween had measured her room (three different times, to make sure) and brought the numbers with us. She thought it would work – on paper. I mapped out in her actual room back home what it would look like in real life. The real life problem is that Bee’s ceiling slopes on the side, so Bee would be smooshed in the bed.

As if that wasn’t enough, if Bee shifted to lay on the side of the bed (a queen-size) away from the sloped ceiling, the ceiling fan would be inches from her head. So her choices Bed2were claustrophobia or decapitation. Is this a bed or a torture device?!

But Bee was adamant. THIS was the bed she wanted. ALL of her plans were centered around it. I used this handy-dandy bold statement from IKEA that proved my point – Bee’s room was too small! Bee used it to prove the bed would squeeze in there just fine, and continued to have a knock-down, drag-out fight because she wanted the bed that bad!

I spent a lot of time measuring this way and that way in Bee-Tween’s room when she wasn’t in there. I finally found a way the bed might fit. It was going to be a huge leap of faith – I don’t think even IKEA would take back a mostly-built bed…and all the accessories that came with it that we bought because my tweenager wanted it and I wanted so badly to make her happy.

So I crossed my fingers, and said “Okay.”

Bee-girl isn’t the type to yell “THANK YOU!” or run up and hug you. But the girl sparkled and smiled her small little smile and I knew in my heart it was the same thing.

The very next morning, Bee and I got in the car, stopped at Starbs and the bank, and then hit up IKEA. The idea was to turn this into that:

…and I think we did a decent job. But we somehow packed the other half of the store into the back of my RAV, too.

For a girl who doesn’t like to shop, Bee did a fairly good job finding knick knacks and whatnots she could squeeze out of her budget. She didn’t want the two lamps that were included in the display, so she chose a different lamp, one that can charge iPhones and has a USB port at the bottom. She replaced the chair with a wicked cool round 50’s mod that somehow made the desk pop even more! A fancy trash can, a couple of white surge protectors, and a 20′ USB cord that would reach the top of her bed. Until we get a small ledge shelf that she can reach when she’s sleeping, she doesn’t have clock nearby; making her phone even more essential.

While Bee was thinking of all of that, I gifted her a new mattress. She was going to need one, since she was upgrading from two twins to a queen. I didn’t think that was fair to come out of her budget. We found a fancy memory foam one at an incredible price, so I added a new pillow, and she picked out a set of sheets.

Everything fit into the back of my RAV, except for the bed frame. That we had to have delivered, which they were able to do just a few days later! Everything seemed to be sorted out. Bee-Tween-Girl was finally getting her room! It was really real!

There was just one…more…problem.

The bedroom she left at home. Yeah. Maybe she should think about moving just a bit to make room. Meh, meh, meh – details.

When Bee-Girl got her room back.

June 13, 2019

You guys remember How Stella Got her Groove Back? That movie was a Moment for me. I was in junior high and seeing women empowered like that, encouraged to feel their feelings and act on them, to be who they really were and get other people to really see them – that was formulative. Discovering Terry McMillan right after that further fueled those feelings, and that Moment that my girlfriends and I had then turned into a Movement. It changed how we saw and interacted with the world.

Now I want you to tuck that bit of insight away, but not too far away.

Bee-girl is having a moment. She’s moving on up from Bee-Tween to a marvelous, majestic, empowered teen. [One who seems to be resisting a nickname, but that’s another story.] You know how she is.

She’s been planning and scheming her room renovation for more than two years. It was a fun distraction at first – measuring the room, picking out what kind of furniture she’d want, blackout curtains, colors, and whatnot.

Then her room became something more. Gracie got a room “renovation” a few years ago because she moved out of the girls’ shared room and we needed to actually build her a room in the former guest/craft room. [Great googly-moogly – I love our set-up now, but gawd I miss that space!] Two Christmases ago, two pivotal things happened that twisted Bee into knots. One: the new bed. Auntie Kim bought a new bed for that room because she visited a lot and that was her bed when she was here. (Gracie got bumped into the spare bed in Bee’s room.) Auntie Kim paid for the bed frame, which Gracie picked out with only a few vetoes; I paid for the super-awesome memory foam mattress that I kind of wanted to steal. Heh. The bed was one thing; the other was the new paint. Gracie had been begging to paint her room a different color, now that the room was hers. So Auntie Kim gave her a gallon of paint for Christmas. The accent wall is now peacock blue, and it’s lovely!

But it was also super-problematic.

Those two purchases made it seem like Gracie got a second room renovation. Bee hated her room – she felt it didn’t represent her style, her personality, everything was hand-me-down. She felt less-than. Two renovations less-than, in fact. And because sometimes life is difficult, and sometimes those twists and turns happen at the worst possible time, Bee didn’t get her promised room renovation for quite a while. I promised her $500 for her budget – the problem was finding time when we could afford that bit of luxury.

Finally, about a month ago, I finally saved enough to turn all of Bee’s schemes and Pinterest pins and mad-hattery ideas into motion. The sparkle on her face when I said Yes was one of Those Moments that you stockpile as a parent. A moment you’ll call up in the hard times to shore up your spirits. A moment when you and your daughter sincerely understand each other’s point-of-view. God bless therapy. And patience.

And, of course, IKEA.

I have so many pictures and stories to show you! The desk. The mirror. A rug. Curtains. A new drill and drywall patching kit to make curtains possible! Heh. An interesting wardrobe solution. More allen wrenches than this world really needs. And the bed. Oh heavens and stars, Bee has been searching the world over for the loft bed she had created in her mind. Thank you jeebus she found it! I just had to make it fit in her tiny, tiny room of dreams.

It’s glorious!

But this part is really my favorite part. This story about why Bee’s new bedroom was so meaningful. How she had transferred a lot of feelings into this idea, but then how she used her power to communicate that to me, and worked with me to make it happen. I’m really proud of Bee for doing that! Almost-13-year-olds rock pretty ducking hard, I’ll tell you what.

Bee-tween got her groove back. Just wait til you see!


This Monday goes on and on.

June 5, 2019

Saturday night, Gracie-guts spent the night at her bestie’s house for a birthday sleepover. They were going to a drive-in for a three-movie feature, with a small group of 15yo girls, and I pretty much thought Bestie’s parents were off-their-rockers. (Even a gaggle of good-natured teenaged girls are still teenagers, after all.)

About eleven p.m. Saturday night, I had changed my mind. I did want to be chaperoning the [assuredly muggy][and loud] trip to the drive-in. It had to be cooler than my house. Because my air conditioning unit decided to stop running. In June. In Texas.

Well, *&%#.

I had noticed it getting warmer in the house. I thought maybe it was because I was listening to music and enjoying myself. Or maybe because I had the door closed to my bedroom – the bedrooms are on the west side of the house, and tend to retain the heat a bit longer during the evening. Or, maybe the thermostat reverted back to its very conservative setting of 82°.

Sort of, that’s what happened. On it was 84°. With the fan still running inside. Churning towards 76°. Heading in the wrong direction couldn’t be good.

I shut the unit off, then restarted it. I opened Bee-girl’s door and let her know I was aware of a problem, and trying to fix it. I told her if I couldn’t get anyone out to look at it, I’d take us to a hotel for the night. (I wasn’t calling anyone at 11:30 p.m. to see if we could couch-crash.) Instead, I started cold-calling companies.

The middle-of-the-night thing was a problem. I had a guy I trusted, but I wasn’t calling him that late (I wasn’t sure he’d be up). And since it was 86° in the house by then, I wasn’t waiting around to see how hot it got. It sucked that I didn’t have the number in my phone of the company I’d used before whenever my unit leaked through my ceiling. Then again, they had bamboozled me last time, so maybe that wasn’t a big loss.

I pulled up Angie’s List (god bless AnNgie’s List) and started calling. One company couldn’t get out here until after 2 a.m. – I got on their waiting list, at least. Another couldn’t reach anyone through dispatch. The third company said it would be $200 for an emergency call, but that I could use that minimum payment toward any repair costs. I asked three more times to make sure I understood. I even gave an example: like, say it’s a pump that costs $130. I pay the $200 emergency call minimum, and apply it towards the pump. I’m out $200 total. If the pump costs $300, I’m out the $200 for the emergency call, it gets applied towards the more expensive pump, and I’m out $300. That’s the company I went with because the others charged more for a middle of the night call, or wouldn’t let it apply the charge towards cost of repairs. They dispatched their repairman from an hour away.

That’s all important because: the first company who wanted me to wait until 2 a.m.? They called back right after the other company dispatched someone. The 2 a.m. company was only $59 for the call, but I was honorable and didn’t cancel the $200 company.

But when that repairman arrived and tried to tell me I couldn’t apply the $200 towards repairs, I wasn’t having it. I’m sure they counted on people to say, Oh it’s midnight, just fix it, but I hate you and your bait-and-switch tactics. I was willing to fight. I chose them because of that option; I re-iterated it quite a few times to make sure I understood; and I would have canceled them and gone with the first company if they were honest. Thankfully, the repairman came in and said his manager said they could honor what dispatch told me. Probably because he saw that I was ready to pitch him out and go to Holiday Inn Express.

Just before 3 a.m., we had a brand new motor and a few other parts, a warning that I’d need a brand-new ($12,000) system within a year, and I was out about $1,100 for repairs.

But I had cool air. And Saturday night that’s all I needed to make me happy.

I don’t know whose serve it is, I’m laughing too hard.

May 23, 2019

Sometimes you have a LOT going on.

It’s the end of the year, high school is high schooling, and there’s DRAMA.

So, you do what you can. You teach kids how to question evidence. Write reports. Know when to bite their tongues, and when to speak up.

And sometimes you teach them that 8 p.m. on a Sunday night is a FANTASTIC time for a ping pong tournament on the kitchen table near glass windows and a low-hanging glass light fixture!

For real. Sometimes it do do be like that.

And so you make up rules and see how many times you can catch each other changing the rules, and you cheat just a little when you can get away with it, and generally just laugh too hard to stand up straight. Soooo, kind of like the rules of Uno, but with weapons in your hands.

[Don’t worry: Inhalers were on stand-by for the wheezers. {That be all of us. We’re a fun bunch.}]

Did you know you if you hit a ping pong ball just right in my kitchen, it zips between chairs, off the wall, through your hands, and between buckets high-speed style? It was a serious throw-back to that segment on Sesame Street when the pinball machine is yelling out “One-two-three-FOUR-FIVE-six-seven-eight-nine-ten-eleven-TWEL-ELL-ELL-ELL-ELL-ELVE!” Except maybe without the airplanes. Maybe.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say, is that when you do have a lot of things going on, what you need to do is stop, grab a paddle, and just. let. go. We could all use a little dab of that.


The Easter Bunny has risen!

April 22, 2019

…and he left much chocolate.

Easter was a bit different this year. My two very grown-up childrens decided they were too old to color eggs. They were too old for Easter baskets. They were too old for staged photos (pffffft). And since I have to pick and choose my battles…and maybe because I didn’t want to crawl all through the attic looking for Easter baskets…I decided to let them have their way.

We were still doing Easter – just a more “grown up” Easter.

I decided it was time to start a new tradition: we would volunteer our time and help with service work. It is, after all, what Jesus would do. (That may or may not have been yelled at the girls when they were being whiny.)

So I found a service work through one of the missions nearby where we could help Sunday morning. I was picturing helping with a meal line of some sort, but it so happens that most of those places have a minimum age requirement. The one I finally found was willing to take our minor-aged teenagers and give us some work we could do: sorting through goods that had been donated.

So, Sunday morning we moan and groan at our waaaay too early get-up time, and keep pushing it back further and further. Finally it was so late that I had to call to warn them we’d be just a leeeetle bit late. I’m glad I did because the woman who was supposed to meet us had called in sick. Which is kind of a pain, but it turned into even more of a to-do because the woman who was called in to run the place in her stead had no idea we were coming, or what the lady was going to have us do. So our grand idea to give of ourselves ended in a big kerplunk. Not the Easter tradition I had in mind.

We tried to manage. The girls enjoyed their Easter “baskets” –

Bee-girl, my resistant reader, was the first one to find a book from the Easter Bunny this year – an American Sign Language book. She’s been pouring over it ever since! Gracie got the sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. And I got….well, quite a few. Let’s see, my favorite is Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage. I also got Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay; Karen McManus’ One of Us Is Lying (Gracie has an eye on that, too); and Jeff Zentner’s Goodbye Days. Sooooo many good books! EB must have gotten a good deal at Half Price Books or something. Heh.

That afternoon, the girls and I got all dolled up to go to a nice restaurant as a treat. I picked Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse because it has steak so good it melts in your mouth, and enough seafood to keep Bee happy.

It was fun teaching the girls how to eat at a fancy restaurant, and the waitress we had was very cool with them (she told me later, during an aside, that she has a young daughter and has been thinking a lot about the teenage years, so that was why). It was just a fun time to eat food that was the best ever – we were all ready to pop! when we left!! The restaurant itself was gorgeous! And the service was impeccable. Gracie, especially, was crazily impressed by all the elegance. That’s her speed for sure! And me being me, I told her to keep doing well in school and that could be her everyday! (But I hope she remembers the service work, too.)

After our early dinner, we drove to Barnes & Noble to get a book Gracie needed. She and a friend went to see the movie After on Thursday night, and Gracie discovered it was not only based on a book, but that it was a series! And when we went into the bookstore…well…we sort of accidentally bought nine more books. Because it’s Easter! The book holiday!! We got The Librarian of Auschwitz (I picked it up, Gracie called second dibs); Interment by the brilliant Samira Ahmed; Gracie picked up Sadie (and I called second dibs); I picked up The Language of Kindness; Gracie picked up The Lost; anAt d I finally picked up The Woman in the Window. We couldn’t help ourselves!

It was a wonderful Easter, even if the morning didn’t go as planned. So many adventures at Casa de Katie don’t! But it’s okay. We take them as they come, because we are family!!