Archive for the ‘Hey! You over there! Entertain me!’ Category

Anticipation.

July 12, 2017

“Why are you smiling?” Gracie asked. Barely asked – it was very early this morning and we were driving from our house to her dad’s, so I could drop them off before I continued on to work. Verrrrry early for smiling.

“Because I was thinking of how my hands just moved on the steering wheel, and how it was like I just handed someone some toll money. And how very soon I will be home and my sisters and I will over such silly things as tolls.” [But not in Mass – they just did away with human toll takers.]

It’s true. We’ll laugh about the silliest things. Me and Kim and Rhi and the girls and Liza and Hillary and everyone else. At godawfulearly in the morning and hilariouslylate at night.

Sixteen more sleeps!

5 for Friday.

June 16, 2017

Itttttt’s Friday!

Hunh. I thought just saying that would make streamers and balloons fly up everyone’s screens like on Facebook when you get a little reaction tornado.

Oh, well. Just being Friday is good enough. So what do we have going on today? Let’s see.

1. We had another incredibly fun week at Casa de Katie! Last weekend we went to the pool with one of Bee’s friends and Gracie and I sat and played Magic: The Gathering for a few hours, then we went swimming for an hour, and then the four of us cleaned out The Snack Shack of all the food. ALL of it. (Swimming is hungry work!) We were there probably half the day. It’s always fun being able to grab friends last minute and go do fun things!

2. Gracie and I have been Magicking up a storm. I ordered about 6,000 (not really) basic lands for only $10 so we can have actual multiple decks going. And Bee has started showing an interest, too, so we can all play. It’s funny – it went from Bee not-watching as we played and watched West Wing to Bee asking questions about what and why we were doing, and then Bee asking if she could be on my “team”, to holding my hand and helping me make decisions, to me being totally superfluous! And because she’s Bee, I let her.

3. I also ordered a box of baseball card sleeves so I could organize our Magic cards in binders, by color, and then by spell type. (Just like the old days!) While I was organizing them, I sat and watching the documentary “Tower”, directed by Keith Maitland, on Netflix. It’s based on the Pamela Colloff article “96 Minutes” about the 1966 shootings on the University of Texas campus, where a lunatic sniped at people from the clock tower. The film was mesmerizing and terrible, and I’ve never consciously felt so pulled in by direction choices as I sat and watched a movie – Maitland chose to tell the story in an animated format (think the kind of animation style they used to tell the story of the three brothers in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). He said animation allowed him to tell the story with so much more intimacy, and he was successful – I used the terms “mesmerizing” and “terrible” for a reason! In any case, it was very well done and I recommend it if you have an interest in true crime. The film is short, just 82 minutes, but it will feel much shorter.

4. On a much less morose note, I get to introduce Gracie’s friend Em to Bahama Mama Bucks today! Em got to come over and spend the night last night (and we had a wonderful conversation, the three of us, about boys and growing up and drinking and drugs and what junior high is like – I have great confidence that our girls are making good choices and growing up the way we want them to) and we watched Twister and somehow got on the topic of Bahama Mama’s. I think because we got Em from her dad’s house, which is almost all the way over by my work. And I told the girls that to get everyone back where they belong today – it’s everyone’s weekends at their dads’ – I would bring Em back to her dad’s house after work and then drop Gracie and Bee off at their dad’s house on the way back. And I was thinking about stopping at Bahama Mama’s and Em casually mentioned she hadn’t ever been. Well! Gracie and I maybe lost our shit and screeched and screamed and shouted and were generally ecstatic because we get to introduce Em to the deliciousness that is Bahama Mama’s. So! for the rest of today I will be drooling over their menu, changing the flavor of my snow cone from one kind of red to another!

5. The week hasn’t been without drama. (That would be too much to ask for, wouldn’t it?) On Wednesday night – late Wednesday night – Bee’s friend Tammy invited Bee to spend Thursday with her. Her mama had the day off and was going to take Tammy and her cousins and her aunt out and about and have a fun day, and Tammy got to pick a friend to come along. I talked to Tammy’s mom (who is a dear heart – I got a giant hug at Bee’s party when she dropped T off and she just seemed like our kind of people) and it all sounded good. They were going to the Mint, and then to the arcades, and maybe to Tammy’s aunt’s apartment to go swimming in their pool. All Bee would need was money for the gift shop at the Mint, and a bathing suit in case they went swimming. I loaded Bee up and off they went! Tammy’s mom asked what time she needed to be back, and I said 8:30. I know they were planning on stuffing a lot into the day, but that would give me time to get Bee wound back down before bed, and hey – I still had work the next morning! I couldn’t sleep in like the kids! Keep in mind I had this conversation at lunch time when she was picking the kids up. So Bee went off with her friend, Gracie went to Top Golf with her step-sister and niece, and I was monitoring everything from work. Gracie missed curfew coming home and I was annoyed about that (see: teaching lessons about time management), but that kind of got lost in the shuffle of the drama around Bee. Tammy’s mom called to ask (and Bee texted to ask too) if Bee could stay out until 9 because they were headed to go swim and they wanted to stay at least an hour. It was against my judgement because I knew they were going to be late if they hadn’t even hit the pool yet, but I said yes. I don’t do well with peer pressure when it comes to Bee and her friends. She didn’t make her group of really good friends until much later in elementary school and so I feel like the kid is playing catch up and I need to do my part. So I said yes. And sure enough, ten minutes before she was supposed to be home, she texted to say she was leaving. And then Tammy’s mom called to say she knew they were going to be late, but could they stop for a pizza on the way to put some food in the kids bellies after swimming. Uh – no!!!!! I told her again that I really had to get into bed, because I had to go into work early, and she could stop for pizza after she dropped off Bee. Bee would live with cereal or a sandwich from home. I know Tammy’s mom was taken aback by my answer, but I was taken aback by how cavalier she was with my curfew, especially since it was the first time she took my kid out. Bee walked in the door 30+ minutes late. She had a blast and kept telling me about all the fun things, but she knew that she wasn’t gonna get to do them again. Tammy is more than welcome to come with us anywhere we go – but no more weekday wanderings for Bee and Tammy’s mama. That’s an important lesson to learn too.

Wow, that was a lot longer than I meant for it to be! Sometimes a story just spills out, once you start writing the words on the page. I hope you all have fun stories to live out this weekend! I can’t wait to hear all about them, come Monday!

Mid-year Check-in: Read Harder Challenge 2017.

June 14, 2017

We’re at the halfway point of 2017, and as I set down my summery drink* I realize how much sweat and hard work has gone into this year already, because I just wrote the challenge was for 2018, not 2017. (Yeah, I’ll get right on that correction. Oops.)

This reading year has been a struggle for me. I’ve spent most of my time re-reading favorites (thanks, Goodreads, for finally allowing those re-reads to “count”), sinking into steamy romances, and…well…not reading. The last time I had this much trouble finding time and energy to read was the year before my divorce when things weren’t going the greatest for me and so I spent my time not thinking about anything. You’d think escaping into fiction would help, but for some weird reason, it doesn’t. This year, in the middle of this political nightmare, things are much of the same. My reading tallies are a hot mess!

Except when it comes to my Read Harder Challenge.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how close I am to finishing already! But I do have a few categories I still need to fill, and I need your suggestions to help get the job done! So let’s see where I’m at…

Read a book about sports: Sudden Death, by Alvara Enrigue

Read a debut novel: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

Read a book about books: My Soul Looks Back, by Jessica Harris (I cheated a little – it’s about authors more than books, but meh meh meh…)

Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author:

Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative: Lucky Boy, by Shanthi Sekaran

Read an all-ages comic: March, by Rep. John Lewis

Read a book published between 1900 and 1950:

Read a travel memoir: An African in Greenland, by Tete-Michel Kpomassie

Read a book you’ve read before: The Chaneysville Incident, by David Bradley

Read a book that is 100 miles of your location:

Read a book that is set more than 5,000 miles from your location: The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan

Read a fantasy novel: Version Control, by Dexter Palmer

Read a nonfiction book about technology: Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly

Read a book about war: American War, by Omar El Akkad

Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+:

Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country: This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jill Tamaki

Read a classic by an author of color: Amiable with Big Teeth, by Claude McKay

Read a superhero comic with a female lead: Rani Patel in Full Effect, by Sonia Patel (I make my own definitions of what is and isn’t a superhero. An outsider, a woman, who steps up and finds her voice? Superhero.)

Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey: When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon

Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel:

Read a book published by a micropress: Fish in Exile, by Vi Khi Nao

Read a collection of stories by a woman: Speak Gigantular, by Irenosen Okojie

Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love:

Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color: The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon

See? So much better than I thought it was going to be when I sat down, looked at what I had, and figured out what could go where.

Now here’s where you come in – what should I read to fill up my bingo card? For my “within 100 miles of your location” clue, think of anything in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. (It makes it easy, no?) One last requirement – if you’ve noticed (or remember from my other posts), I am filling up my challenge with books by people of color. I do diversely on my own, but this is one more way to make a very focused effort to do an even better job.

So hit me up with your recommendations! I’m only 5 books away from standing up and yelling BINGO!! …And maybe treating myself to something from the Book Riot store.

 

 

*Not really. But if wishing made it so…

Once more with fashion – I mean, feeling!

June 13, 2017

This past weekend the girls and stopped at the mall because I wanted to look in “some geeky-type stores” for some Magic cards – specifically, some lands, so the three of us could play together. Except on our way towards ThinkGeek, we happened across a shirt that Gracie liked that had some honest-to-god colors besides black and grey in it. And since it was a Fashion Week Miracle (and because the tank was $5), I let her buy it.

Fashion6

And then, because she had pulled off one miracle, when the Gracie-girl asked to stop in Papaya to look at some more shirts, and because the Bee-girl didn’t mind, I said okay. And then we found Gracie a few more church outfits, which just happened to be on her list of Things Needed.

How cute are those outfits?! I love how soft those gauzy shorts are! We got both pairs of shorts (the jean ones she already owned), the three tops, and another under-tank for less than $50. So – win!! And Gracie got to play Fashion Show, Fashion Show, Fashion Show At Lunch!, which is, like, her favorite game. So – double win!

Oh, and because I was a nitwit who didn’t think to include a picture of Bee’s earrings from yesterday (the ones that I successfully used to bribe her into getting her ears re-re-pierced)…

Earrings2

That’s what made her so cuckoo for cocoa puffs! I just hope her dang ears stay pierced this time!

Do my kids know how to bend me to their will, or what?

Re-Re-Pierced!

June 12, 2017

If I had to guess which of my girlies would have problematic ears, I would not have guessed Bee-girl. She is my girly-girl; the one who enjoys jewelry and frills and dressing up in high fashion. She is not the tomboy who shuns all bling.

And yet.

The first time I had to bring Bee to get her ears re-pierced, it was because the earring had sunken into her ear, we had to perform minor surgery at home to get it out, and then we had to let her ear close because of a giant hole. That takes a lot out of a mama. But the second time went a lot smoother than the first time (perhaps because she wasn’t at the horrid daycare that allowed kids to rip out Bee’s earrings four separate times!) and I thought we were home free.

Heaven knows why I’d think something so silly. Not in my house when nothing ever goes smoothly!

Apparently my girly-girl hasn’t been wearing earrings. I know she had a pair on at Christmas, because I bought them special, and all three of us had on our matching pairs. After that…uh… who knows? Bee somehow stayed away from the bling, until about a month or two ago when I tried to get her to wear a pair with a particular outfit. Except the earrings…well, they didn’t quite fit. And by fit, I mean the posts didn’t want to go through all the way. They fell just the tiniest little bit short. I felt like I could push the posts through and everything would be A-OK, but Bee, she felt like that was not the best plan. And every time I tried doing it anyway, she shrieked just a little too loud. So I stopped trying.

Instead, I suggested getting her ears professionally pierced. Again. But Bee didn’t want to. She didn’t want to pierce her ears at all. I couldn’t see her going through life as a fashionista without pierced ears, but I didn’t want to push the issue too much. So I bided by her wishes.

And then yesterday – we were at the mall t look at one thing, and we cut through Penney’s…where some shirts caught Gracie’s eye. And then some earrings caught Bee’s eye. “So if I got my ears pierced, I could wear these in a month?” she asked. They were gold posts with round beach-ball-type dangly bits. “Of course you can!” I answered, surprised. Thank god the earrings were only $10. Before she could change her mind, I rushed Bee to Claire’s and we waited in a long and obnoxious line. This was happening!

Before you knew it, she was done. And we got a 20% off coupon, too! Which came in handy after we picked up alllll the Christmas gifts.

tl;dr – Bee has sparkly new earrings for the next 4 weeks. And then after that, she’ll have different earrings every day, hopefully forever. Third time’s the charm! (Please god!)

Pierced

5 for Friday.

June 9, 2017

The first week of Summer Vacation is in the books! The girls are enjoying themselves immensely. They’ve completed their chore cards every day but one – and then when they lost their phones for the evening, they were pretty quick to complete their chore cards the next day! Don’t worry too much – there’s plenty of time for fun and hijinx after chores. Let’s see what we’ve been up to! (Uh, otherwise known as “What’s. Your. Evidence? Heh.)

1. Bee’s been making her own fun, just like a curious, fun-loving, independent 11-year-old outta! Every night when I walk in, I ask how their day was, and I get stories stories stories like the girls are going to pop if they don’t tell me everything as fast as they can. So I was surprised when I looked over at the bookshelf the other night and saw this:

Summer3

Isn’t that the prettiest sand art? I love the shape of the middle one best, and the colors in the one on the right would look perfect in my office. [Fun fact: 3/4 of my office is decorated with art designed by Bee-girl.] The sand art kit is something Bee got for Christmas – Santa knows how much we love crafts and crafting at my house – and I had forgotten all about it. But apparently Bee went excavating in her closet or among the shelves in the front room and found it…and then made pretty, pretty sand art without asking for help or, you know, telling anyone. I adore how independent my girls are becoming! They will make excellent grown-up!

2. That is, if I don’t kill them first. I am slimed out, you guys. No mas! NO MAS! The slime fascination started a year ago. I thought it would, by now, have abated, but no. Not my kids. My kids hang the hell on when they sink their teeth into something. Consequently, my kitchen counter looks like this:

Summer2

Seven containers of slime. SEVEN. And it’s only “neatly” gathered because I snapped at them to do it. There was slime here, there, and everywhere, and I was seriously about to pitch it all. I love that my nerdlings know how to science slime out of borax, glue, lotion, markers, shampoo, and thin air (okay, maybe not that last one), but I’m about done with it. D-O-N-E, done.

3. I think I unleashed some sort of unstoppable force from a corked bottle, you guys, and the undo button doesn’t seem to be working. Trust me, I’ve been Ctrl-Z-ing that sucker all week and, yep, not working. See, I found a shoebox of Magic: The Gathering cards, and I thought, Oh, hey! Wouldn’t it be cool if I taught Gracie and Bee? Bee wanted nothing to do with it, but Gracie…hoo boy. First, she loves organization. She was an ace at helping me to sort color, and then sort by category – creatures, enchantments, sorcerys, interrupts, instants. Then I made a few decks (nothing fancy because I didn’t have many cards) and taught her all the moves. Which wasn’t easy because Magic has a lot of details and moving parts. But Gracie’s whip-smart and picked it up and OHMYGODYOUGUYS. I wasn’t in the door five seconds before she was all, “Do you want to play some Magic?” I’ve created a monster. A very cute monster, but still…Summer4

4. My other bit of mad genius this week involves the television – which may be why Gracie is enthralled. I’ve been trying to get the girls to watch West Wing for AGES. Seriously. I just don’t know why Gracie won’t give it a shot! I got her into Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Lie to Me, Christy, Dr. Quinn (okay, guys, they were much younger and needed a family show!), and my sisters got them into Once Upon a Time, Vampire Diaries, and who knows what else! The point is that she should trust me and give it a shot. But no luck. Until…I maybe thought to bribe her with extra sleep time. I told her she could push back her wake-up time by an hour if she watched an episode of West Wing. That worked so quickly I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before! After that episode, I told her she could shorten her reading time from one hour to thirty minutes if she watched another one. Success! And then…she was hooked. We’ve been watching as we play Magic every night for an hour or two. It helps that she’s in love with Sam Seaborn, but I’ll take whatever I can get!

5. Of course Gracie and I were playing Magic and watching West Wing last night just after dinner. She wanted to get in a game and an episode before I dropped her and Bee off at Stepmom’s last night. We were in a time crunch, trying to finish all the things, and I needed to change my clothes. So I asked Bee to go get me a t-shirt. (I was in a work shirt that was not going to be going-out-to-Target appropriate.) Bee was gone a long time, and then came out with jewelry. “These are going to be you accessories…” and I saw what she had and my brow crinkled. Huh? Turns out Bee thought I was asking her to create an outfit for me for work! I saw what she had picked out: jeans and a t-shirt and a necklace and earrings. I wouldn’t have thought to put any of it together, but then again, I don’t have a single fashion gene in my body! I told Bee I was going to wear her outfit today and I did:

Summer1

The t-shirt was too casual for work, but with black peep-toe heels and flashy jewelry, it work! The cardigan…I wasn’t too sure about that. I’m still not too sure! But I did it anyway.

So what do you guys thing? Does my outfit work today? Is the cardigan knot ridiculous? Isn’t our week of summer fun the absolute best?! I’m pretty proud of it. And of all the fun my girls had. It was a good mix of responsibilities and free time. (Though I’m sure the girls would disagree.) How do you guys regulate summer time for your kids?

Tell me in the comments. And make sure you have a fabulous Friday and wonderful weekend!

 

 

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!

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.

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!

 

In which I resolve, I geek out, and I confess.

January 1, 2017

2017. Finally. Because: Wow, was 2016 not my favorite year to date.

And so…I resolve to focus a little more on the good going on all around me. That might mean gratitude lists, or it might mean making good things happen. It’s going to mean different things at different times. For sure it means more adventuring! The only resolution I’ve stuck to so far is the one I’ve made about reading more, reading “better”, and reading more diversely. I’m going to see if I can make this my second resolution that does the distance.

 

I geek out about how Santa was very good to me. In addition to several very lovely gifts, I got an entire stack – stacks, evenof the best gift of all: books! It comes to no one’s surprise that my favorite part (other than reading the books) is organizing and listing them. Drip with jealousy, dear readers. Drip.

It shall also come with no surprise that I finished one already. The surprise, really, should be that I finished only one. To be fair, I also finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Pride and Prejudice, which I was re-reading simultaneously, depending on which I felt would tickle my fancy that evening. Well, that and my sister is visiting, and I never get to read as much when I’m entertaining. It’s a good change of pace for me.

But before I get carried away with a social life and not reading, let’s see what I get to choose from when I do get to dip my toes into the pool of titillating stories and torrid affairs!

Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay (2016, Grove Press, 260 pages, hardcover). Short stories usually aren’t my jam. If you tell me they’re linked – like these – you’ll get a much better chance of getting me to jump into the pool. Ms. Gay’s writing, as always, was impeccable. Voice might not be the most critical of the holy triangle [voice, characters, plot][which, uh, is there a MOST critical?], but if it was, you’d find me hard-pressed to find someone who could wield her instrument with as much precision and beauty as Gay. The stories center around women of difficult natures, nasty women if you will, and how they have earned their badges of honor. These women are survivors, all. Many of them have stories that will make you cry – one of them quite literally, and you figure out how to do that quietly at two in the morning. 2. a.m. So you should pick the book up, with a pack of tissues – and highlighters and pens and your most critical eye. Because stories like these are even more important right now. 5 of 5 stars.

Setting aside the rest of my reviews (aren’t you glad I’ve only read the one!), what else did I get?

  • The Dead Lands, by Benjamin Percy (which was referred to me by @writerrhiannon, and I am very excited to read!)
  • The Nix, by Nathan Hill
  • Various coloring books (which: books. Still count. Especially: Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables, and others…)
  • Agent Bride, by Beverly Long (delightfully delicious romance that I can’t wait to Mystery Science Theater my way through!)
  • A historical publication of town hall meeting notes from my hometown
  • Afterwards, by Rosamund Lupton (I very much enjoyed Sisters)
  • Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn (because it’s been recommended by several book peeps, including one who says it’s one of her all-time faves)
  • The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard
  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, by The Countess of Carnarvon
  • We Are Unprepared, by Meg Little Reilly (which Kim says is wickedly awful in a hispter-y survivalist sort of way)
  • Full of Grace, by Gina Ferris (oh my – I remember reading this romance series unironically, back in the day)
  • Highland Whispers, by Sharon Gillenwater
  • Shatter, by Michael Robotham (blurbed by Stephen King. Need I say more?)
  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman (I’ve read, but didn’t own)
  • The Fighting Ghettos: First hand accounts of Jewish resistance to the Germans, by Merer Barkai
  • 50 Greatest Players in New England Patriots Football History, by Robert Cohen
  • Flatscreen, by Adam Wilson
  • Everybody Sees the Ants, by A.S. King (I LOVE King
  • The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon
  • Seriously, I’m Kidding, by Ellen Degeneres
  • Stories I Only Tell My Friends, by Rob Lowe
  • The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (I devoured it this summer and will need a pick-me-up re-read in about 20 days, I’m strongly predicting)

 

And this is where I confess that I met one of my dearest friends over Christmas break – the fantastically sassy and wonderfully witty Andi – and she was even more !!!! than I dreamed. Meeting your friends – for me, at least – is always awkward. I the Queen of Awkward – don’t all be jealous, now. But Andi was gracious and hilarious and forgave me when I had to cut our day short because of a work crisis. Crisis aside, I got to explore the flagship store of my favorite “little” used bookstore . And, yes, a few more books fell into my cart. Whoops. (And everyone who believes that “whoops” – I laugh at you, sirs. LAUGH.)

For my Little Free Library (making its way to me, as soon as the backorder unclogs itself), needs some books. And so for it, I picked up:

  • Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann
  • The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

I am SO FLIPPIN’ EXCITED about my Little Free Library! But as much as I wanted to spend alllll my monies on that, I also splurged and got a few books for myself:

  • The Rotters’ Club, by Jonathan Coe (which looks a little like Trainspotting)
  • The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (which Andi and I impulsively decided to read together. It’s true love, I’m tellin’ ya…)
  • Caleb’s Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks (because I adore the fair Geraldine)
  • In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin
  • Freddie & Me, by Mike Dawson (A coming-of-age [Bohemian] Rhapsody graphic novel loosely [or not] based on Freddie Mercury)(Guess which book I’m most excited to read?!)

I also got a few little things to put aside for Gracie, either for her birthday or next Christmas. I a $2 book of home plans, Gracie’s newest love; a mud mask; magnets that say “I ❤ Geeks”, the deathly hallows, Snape’s face and ‘Always’, and the Hogwarts Express 9 3/4 motto; oh, and Harry Potter pins for her backpack.

If only I could take Andi home with me, it would have been the most successful trip ever!

Not a bad start to 2017. So here’s a raised glass to you, New year – let’s keep things moving in this very promising direction, shall we?