Archive for the ‘Love that dirty water!’ Category

Supermama mode is exhausting!

July 24, 2017

The poor girls and I didn’t get much of a weekend. I mean, it was AWESOME, because we were in PACK EVERYTHING! mode. But you know what? Packing is exhausting!

We spent Friday night picking out clothes and getting that mostly situated. It also involved about 193 loads of laundry. Clothes, towels, bedsheets, blankets – I want everything clean, clean, clean when I come home!

Saturday while Bee-girl was picking up the mess of toys in the front room that I’ve let her ignore for three week…ahem…Gracie and I went to the store to get a toilet kit. The guts had stopped working and the toilet wouldn’t shut off after it filled with water. The water just constantly trickled down the overflow pipe. Unless you held the weight above the water for about five minutes to trick it, and then it would shut off. I was so sick of doing that, I had handed the job to Gracie. Gracie was beyond sick of it, and both kids were tired of ignoring their toilet and using mine (unless there were guests over)(uh, besides Gracie’s bestie Em who might as well be my third daughter), so it was beyond time to just get that toilet fixed.

We went to Home Depot, with Gracie mutter under her breath the entire time that she was busy and she didn’t want to fix a toilet and blah blah blah. She listened to the man explain to me that I probably just needed this $3 piece to replace in the top of thing inside, and assured me that I had picked out the correct mechanism if I needed to replace the entire thing. The mechanism was only $7, so I got them both and figured I’d return whatever one I didn’t need. Since Gracie did such a good job listening to the guy (this will matter when she has her own toilets and has to fix them – she thinks she’s not retaining anything, but she is!), so I bought her a brat from the Hot Dog Guy on the way out. The way to bribe Gracie to do anything is with food!

Now that we had a happy Gracie, she was very helpful in helping me drain the toilet tank and fetching dry rags to catch any drips and run off. She learned how to shut off the water to the toilet (and I told her where the water to the house was, just in case), how to unscrew the guts’ master screw under the tank and the seal inside the tank. And then she learned how to put a new one in, working backwards from all the steps we had employed. She even spotted my mistake when I accidentally connected the water tubing to spray into the overflow pipe instead of the toilet tank. “See?” I told her. “You are going to be so happy later when you have a toilet issue and you know how to fix it.” Gracie just rolled her eyes.

So it was a luxury to use the girls’ bathroom once again, and while Gracie was cleaning that mess up, I was fixing something else. I mean, hey – if we’re cleaning so we can come home from vacation to a clean house, we might as well make it a working and functional one, too, right?

That’s why there were boxes of sandwich bags and saran wrap and tin foil and waxed paper scattered all over the floor in the corner of the kitchen. The drawer that holds clips and elastics, pens and scissors, playing cards – it’s not a junk drawer, because everything in there is a thing of necessity! – and the drawer was off the track.

It’s happened before. the track attaches to a flimsy white bracket, which has broken a couple times. I nail in something in a different one of the holes, secure it to the wood, and we’re good to go again. So I had a nail, a hammer, and I had smooshed myself into the cabinet, head, shoulders, boobs, and all.

That drawer did not want to attach.

Seven nails, the bruised feelings of one 11-year-old, eleventy new curse-words, and I don’t know HOW I kept dropping the nails just before they caught and held up on their own, but I did! It’s because I have my own special brand of awesome. Eventually, after my entire upper body had disappeared into the cabinet, I somehow got the nail in. The drawer doesn’t open and close perfectly, but it’s good enough for me!

Then, because mama wasn’t done getting the house in ship-shape and Bristol fashion, we tackled smoke detector batters. ALWAYS CHANGE YOUR SMOKE ALARM BATTERIES TWICE A YEAR! New Year’s Day and 4th of July is how I remember. And I’m a little late, but don’t tell!

It was easy enough: I grabbed the ladder and a new pack of 9volt batteries (it’s important to have a new package to ensure the batteries aren’t run down at all), and I dragged that ladder all over the house, swapping out batteries and hoping we didn’t get that quick “BEEP!” right after, meaning either the battery was bad, or I had goobered something up. Mostly it went just fine. In less than an hour, I had fresh batteries in all of my smoke detectors and that means: peace of mind.

So I slayed toilet monsters, drawer dragons, battery ding-a-lings, and…the mall?

Yes, The Mall. Because Gracie owns only one pair of sweatpants and has outgrown all of her long-sleeved shirts. So we stopped by Old Navy (conveniently next to the library so we could return our books), and then walked half the mall. Bee-girl was amazingly patient and helped keep up the goofy mischief. I wouldn’t survive a mall trip without it.

We didn’t find any long-sleeve shirts, but Gracie girl did find a cute hoodie and sweatpants combo for the plane. The hoodie was really good quality, too. And PINK! Gracie-girl never wears pink! Well…unless its emblazoned with the word PINK somewhere on the front. So that felt like a triple win!  Gracie will just have to shop for her long-sleeve shirts from my closet.

Or not. Because I’ve lost three of my favorite tshirts that way. And no amount of dragon-slayin’ tactics is going to work getting those back – once my girlie has ’em? THEY GONE.

[Shhh….Don’t tell Gracie, but…. I love when she shops my closet and steals my clothes. Not just that we’re close enough in sizes, and fashion taste, but because…well, it just makes me feel close to her. I love the idea of sharing clothes with my daughter. It’s peak!]

And that was that! Nothing tops that. A productive weekend, but one with still SO MUCH to do!

Five for Friday.

July 21, 2017

Morning, all! I have a LOT going on in my brain right now, so let’s see what I can do to shake some of it out this colander so I can maybe be productive. And because there are just SEVEN MORE SLEEPS until vacation, guess what this week’s theme is? Ready? GO!

1 Like I said – only SEVEN MORE SLEEPS until vacation! Gah! I am wicked broke, but I swear my excited goes up the more my bank account balance goes down. I am ready to just cut loose and have fun with my family and visit with everyone! I have no idea how I’m going to fit it all in, but I will. We have our family cookout on the second Saturday, but there’s no way I can wait until then to see everyone. I’ve been talking quite a bit, particularly, with one of my “baby” cousins (who is a grown-up, but I’m – what? 14 years? – older, so you get where I’m coming from) these past few months, and I CANNOT wait an entire week to see her face. So. There are possibly kidnapping plans afoot. And then I want to see my besties from high school – maybe I can twist their arms and get them to come to Connecticut for dinner a night? Because we can’t stay at my parents until after dinner – we would go insane, and they all go to bed in the living rooms, so. No place. And then I have another group of friends from high school who don’t really hang out with the first group…. And then there are all the cousins I’d like to see apart from the family cookout where I’ll be spread a bit thin…. And then there are my Connecticut friends that I “borrow” from my sister from time-to-time. Maybe we can do a game night one night? With fancy drinks and bar snacks? Yeah, I need more time and more of me! HALP! Heh.

2 While my brain is spinning around faster than a fidget spinner trying to figure out my visitation schedule with the fam and friends, the rest of me is spinning around trying to organize everything else. Gracie cried a little when she looked at the whiteboard on the fridge, filled to the fuzzy edges with everything I we needed to get done this weekend. I knew it was coming. I knew. The whining! The travesty! OH MY GAWD, MAKING THEM CLEAN! I’ve been very lax this summer once my precious tweeny teens were shuttled back to their dad’s house. When I get to see them, the last thing I want to do is clean house together. So it’s…a little primitive just now. Nothing that CPS would think twice about, but nothing I’d want to show to company, either. And there’s nothing I love more than coming home to a shiny, clean house after vacation. Bottom line: there’s gonna be some heavy cleaning this weekend, and not a single one of us is gonna like it.

3 I actually started in with the cleaning last night after the girls and I pigged out on pasta that we said we weren’t hungry for, but then tucked in like it was our last meal. But – I digress. I cleaned. I ran three loads of laundry (and that was just a dent). I still need to do towels and beach stuff and blankets, blankets, blankets. But at least knocking out all of our clothes means that we have a closet full of clean clothes from which to pick our outfits for vacation. And that’s what’s on the docket for tonight – outfit-palooza! We know how to party down on a Friday night at Casa de Katie, you guys. Don’t let anyone tell ya different!

4 Once we get our outfits picked out – which, all teasing aside, is actually kind of fun – we get to sit down and figure out our Mix Tape sich. I have one all planned out already, but I’m not as super psyched about it as I usually am. I mean, is it just me, or are there not really a bunch of good summer songs out this year? The few good ones have been out so long that I’m over them already, then there’s the group of songs made specifically for the tween set (thank you Chainsmokers), and then there’s…what’s left. On my CD.  So there’s that, and then there’s a Best of Vacationland mix I’m making. And then there’s a surprise theme that I’ve been thinking about off and on for a few trips, but never seem to have the time to pull together. That might happen. Again – all depends on how much I get done this weekend.

5 One outfit we usually pack every year is a dress for a tea party. It started back when my mom could still participate and was practically the same Mum we grew up with. [Sidenote: I can hear everyone protesting, and I know Mum is still Mum. But one of my coping mechanisms is thinking of Mum as Old Mum and Now Mum; making her two different people allows me to love and respect both while respectfully allowing each to have their own limitations and rules. It’s a functionality-type thing.] Mum loved having tea parties with us when we were little, and with Gracie and Bee when they were little. So we packed a dress. The past few years, we haven’t needed the dress. It takes up space. And at some point, you start wondering why you’re taking up space with something you’re not going to wear, especially if it comes with another pair of shoes. But this year, this year we’re vacationing at Lake Winnipesaukee in the middle of the week, and Rhi suggested packing a “gawdy” dress and jewelry like Gram would have worn, so we can go down the boardwalk and find a dance or bingo or some sort of Gram-approved activity. It’s perfect. I have to pack a dress.

So there you have it! Five things that have taken over my brain and won’t let up – not even with them pinned down on paper. Here’s hoping the rest of the day is kind to me because it looks like I’ll need it this weekend!

 

5 for Friday.

July 14, 2017

Good gracious – is it really Friday? I can’t believe this week sped by so fast. Things happened.

1. Postcards for the girls arrived from Auntie Kim’s stay in Prince Edward island. They were stunning; gorgeous pictures dotted the front and Kim described such happy adventures…I was seriously tempted to steal them. In fact, I was given the idea because Kim told Bee not to let me do it! I put them down on the kitchen table for the girls to find…but I maybe placed them on the corner quite close to my bedroom door. With an idea that they might accidentally fly in through the doorway later. Then the next day my own postcard arrived! And it was a postcard packet of tea! Which means it was lovely and descriptive and delicious! I immediately placed the girls’ postcards on their placemats. All was well.

2. Speaking of Auntie Kim, this arrived in the mail this week, too:

Anne Hair

All I’m gonna say is you should maybe expect to see it again this summer when Kim is here. Mwa ha ha!

3. I told a cute story on Facebook this week, and it could be its own post, but I have another story that relates to it, so I need to re-tell it.

Bee has been enjoying quite a few sleepovers with Mama this summer. We made the delightful discovery that she’s outgrown her kicking and sleeping-sideways phase, and now can go an entire night on the other side of the bed better than anyone I’ve shared a room with. (Yes, that includes 4 different college roommates, and Auntie Kim, with the exception of Audra, my roommate junior year – she was gloriously quiet and considerate and a good egg.) Anywho, George, Bee’s pet giraffe who serves as her protector, was in my room still, and so I told Bee that I had slept with him the night before while she was at her Dad’s house.

Bee: Moooooom!!!!
Me: But I had bad dreams!

And then that night after work I went looking for George so I could take a playful picture and send it to Bee, for we are a playful family.

Bee: Aw, man! You found him?!
Me: Yeah, he fell under the bed, waaaaay under, behind some boxes, and inside a bag! Silly George!

George

And then I slept with George again. Because July is long.

4. So the story that relates: Bee came home last night and rushed into the house. “You better not have hidden George!” I teased. Well – half-teased. Bee was only staying for dinner, and then I was on my own to fend against bad dreams and PTSD. Bee kinda did the deer in the headlights thing, so I told her to go find him. “But he’s mine!” she whined. I checked for packages as we were having The Great George Debate, and thank god my Prime Day packages arrived. Know what my big splurge was? A gallon of white Elmer’s Glue! Bee has been the Glorious Slime Master this summer, so much so that I’ve refused to spend any more money on it, because glue and shaving foam adds up! (We have borax for years, thanks to Uncle Kene.) Bee has been pouring all of her allowance into the necessary items, and I lucked into my glue purchase for just $8! I have never gotten such hugs. And then George turned up pretty quickly. Huzzah for Prime Deals!

5. My cousin Hillary is reading the Dark Tower series with me and I AM SO EXCITED!! She made it six chapter in during her commute yesterday, and I didn’t get a chance to talk to her last night (the first night in a long time we haven’t chatted – I love reconnecting with cousins!), so I’m curious to see if she made it through to Tull yet. I forget exactly when the movie comes out, but I think it’s when I’m back home. I know the movie conflates the first couple books and I don’t know if Hill can make it that far, but by golly, I’m going to use every trick in my bag to try to get her there. Because adding her and Em to our movie adventure would make it so much more fun! And if I can’t bully my baby sister into reading my favorite book of all time, then I’m glad I can make someone else read it! Huzzah! And Harrumph!

And that’s just a small slice (mmm…pie) of my week. Here’s hoping for a wild and fun weekend you guys!

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!

Five for Friday.

July 7, 2017

It’s been a weird, tough week. But not too tough for Five for Friday! I love my little mental colander that lets me sort out the things I can throw overboard before the weekend. We don’t need no clutter ’round here, mental or otherwise!

Let’s see what we’ve got…

1 Poor Bee is home with a fever. I got the girls for dinner last night, and Bee mentioned a headache, but that’s not necessarily out of the ordinary (though I hate the near-constant pattern, poor thing). As soon as we got home, Bee went to lie down instead of towards the kitchen for food, so I knew it was serious. I checked on her a little bit later, and as I brushed back her hair, I noticed she was approximately 390°. Okay, or maybe just 101.3°, once I checked with the thermometer. Stepmom graciously allowed Bee to stay the night with me so I could take care of my sweet baby. Her temp did go down a little with some Tylenol, and it’s gone this morning, but the headache lingered. Here’s hoping it’s not an ear infection from her swim lessons!

2 I was glad for the company because I was a little afraid of sleeping alone in the house last night. Know why? The night before, my house alarm went off in the middle of the night! Scared the pants off me! I called 911 and the cops took their sweet time – more than 10 minutes to get to the house. They didn’t see anything amiss, and all the doors and windows that I could see (I wasn’t going into rooms where the doors were closed until the cops got there) were secure, but I was still scared out of my mind. That happened at 2:30 a.m. and I never went back to bed. Every time I shut off the lights and tried to close my eyes, I broke out in a sweat and started to freak out. So nope. I didn’t necessarily want Bee to be scared like that if it happened again, but I like having another person around to help me make sense of everything. I hate being alone. I can do it, I’m tough – but I hate it.

3 Which is just one reason why I hate July so much. It’s the month the girlies go to their Dad and Stepmom’s, and I have to stay home by myself. The custody arrangement flip flops. I used to love it when the girls were toddlers and I needed a break. But now the girls are older and (usually) fun to be around and I enjoy my time off with them. The arrangement has stayed the same, regardless. I just have very different feelings about it. (And so does Bee – she begged me not to make her go, but I think that might have had everything to with the fact that she got in trouble and didn’t want to face up. She knows better though – Dad, Stepmom, and I have worked hard to be a united front, so she was marched straight back over to her dad’s. No mercy! Heh.)

4 There’s a nice big reward at the end of the month for those of us who make it through. I purchased our tickets to go home! It’s the same week we’ve gone since time out of mind – nothing ever changes in our family routine – so we’ll be vacationing the first week of August, like always, including the weekends on either sides, like always. I’m so excited, I have perpetual Kermit-arms over here!!! I can’t wait for our family cookout and to catch up with cousins and see family and friends and hear everyone talk with the right accent and have a break from this insipid heat and eat some real fish & chips… oh my god, the list is my happy place! Kim asked me what the girls were the most excited about, and I didn’t have an answer, although honest-to-god, it might be packing. HA! Prepping for and anticipating the vacation is at least half the fun!

5 I think besides catching up with my favorite people, what I am most looking forward to is our vacation-within-our-vacation. My sister Kim graciously sprang for a cabin in New Hampshire at Weirs Beach. It’s the same property (if not the same house) that my family has vacationed in since I was a little girl, and we’ve stayed there with the girls before. We have all the fun! It’s a 2-minute walk from the boardwalk, there’s a beach, arcades, mini golf, bumper cars, tiny little tourist shops, boat rides… I fell asleep last night daydreaming that we were there and having fun doing all of the things we’ll get to do in a little less than a month. And having our vacation-within-a-vacation smack dab in the middle of our trip home is so well-planned because I’m sure by then we’ll be ready to get away from my parents’ house for awhile. I love my parents, but seeing how sick my mom is…it’s harder than words could ever describe. And my dad is…well. He’s the same as he’s ever been. I sacrifice my children as buffers. (Sorry childrens.) So the vacation will break all of that up, and still give us enough time on the back side of the trip to get back in good graces with the parents and aunts after leaving for a few days. Oh! And my brother was able to take that entire week off from work, so the girls will have fun hanging out with their crazy uncle! I am really, really, really looking forward to going home!

And that is a very happy place to leave our 5 For Friday! Hopefully the fun and excitement carries me through today and spits me out the other side ready for some fun this weekend! What do YOU have planned? Anything fun?

#Riotgram, Day 5: Something Magic.

June 5, 2017

I was going to use my silly string picture for “Something Magic”, but then I needed to use it for “How You Read” instead. So I went looking in my older pictures for a particular shot of toddler Gracie pulling every. single. book. off the bookcase…and peering over her shoulder to see if she’d get caught. (She totally missed the camera, for the win!)

Instead, I found this:

Riotgram5

One of my favorite aunties [Hi, Auntie Cheryl!] reading to Baby Bee, back home in Massachusetts at my mom’s house. You want to talk about magic? I think there’s plenty stuffed into this moment. Family who loves me? Check. Reading to your babies even at this age, so they grow up to be readers? Check. Being back home in New England? Check. I happen to know that there’s snow outside. Check! And that pic was taken Thanksgiving night, so there is lots of pie about to happen. Check! [Except for Rhi. Don’t think about that particular night of pie, Rhi!]

There is so much magic happening in and around that picture of Auntie Cheryl reading to Bee, I just can’t stand it. Reading is awesome. And magic ain’t too bad, either.

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.

It’s gonna be a little kitsch, but I don’t care.

April 11, 2017

The idea came to me when I was on a run, like all of the best ideas do. I think I had passed a house that had a giant butterfly or two attached to the roof (talk about kitsch), which made me think of our neighbor when we were growing up, Albina.

Albina was like a grandmother to us. She was quiet, and kept to herself, and with our side yard being so big (more than two house lots, but just), it wasn’t like we could throw pleasantries over the fence. So we kids talked to her whenever she was out gardening and we were out playing, and she must have talked to my parents from time to time. I know that when she drove past in her little four-door sedan (with the electric windows that we thought were so. fancy.) and we were outside, she would stop and talk to mum.

Not only did we talk to Albina when she was outside gardening (which seemed like all the time – the woman loved her flowers and plants), she sometimes borrowed me to help her run errands. We go driving around the city, picking up various things. I think she liked the company. She didn’t have any family. So I was her stand-in granddaughter. And I liked that. She always took me to McDonald’s for lunch when we ran errands, and she knew all the best McDonald’s with the coolest outside playgrounds. Even if the “cool” ones were far away, she would take me there. She liked to treat me.

Sometimes the errands we ran included picking up new ceramics from her supplier. Albina ran a ceramics class out of the basement on her side of her duplex. The shelves were lines with unpainted figurines. Everything from bears to kittens to clocks to doll’s heads and hands. Everything! She had shelves and shelves. She had two long tables with chairs and so many jars of paint! And there was a TV and two giant kilns in the corner. It was a wonderland!

For a couple summers, Albina taught Kim and I ceramics two days a week. We’d go over in the afternoon and stay for an hour or so. Albina would pick out a piece for us (or sometimes ask us for ideas) and that’s what we’d work on. We did Care Bear banks, a Holly Hobby clock, a baseball nighlight for Joey, and so many other things. We’d paint whatever section Albina had picked out for us, and we’d use whatever paint she gave us. There wasn’t really a lot of choice involved, but we didn’t mind. And we watched Albina’s show, Days of Our Lives, while we painted. Mum wasn’t very pleased about that, but not enough to say something. I laughed to myself when my roommate in college was addicted to that show and I still knew so many of the characters, just from the short time I spent watching it with Albina.

One of our favorite things about ceramics class, though, was the walk. We’d leave our yard, walk to the end, past the three giant pine trees, and turn onto Beanie’s path. (Beanie is what we called her; she always chuckled so at her nickname!) Once we hit her walkway, Kim and I would start counting the ceramics we saw attached to Beanie’s roof, or the side of her house, or hidden in her garden. There were gnomes and butterflies, kittens and frogs, signs and mushrooms and stepping stones. It was all so magical! Truly, each piece felt like a talisman of some sort.

And so that’s my tribute: I want to start placing nice pieces of ceramics around my gardens, fairy gardens, and house. I want to cover my yard in a tribute to Albina. I’ll try my best to keep it from being too tacky, because I want to capture a little bit of the magic that Beanie’s house had. I think keeping most of the pieces at least partially hidden might be key.

We’ll see. I have an entire yard and house to start decorating. Kitschy or a bit magical – I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Baby, it’s cold outside…

March 14, 2017

…and if I say that it’s because the low today is 40° and we’re in serious danger of some patchy frost, my sisters and family and all of my friends just might will most definitely chuck snowballs at me with enough force for them to make it.

Because it’s blizzarding back home, with about 20 inches forecast, so what – maybe three-foot drifts? I’m trying to remember. Enough that one sister (at least) joined the milk and bread (and wine) crazies, and bought a flotilla of apples – enough that her flotilla would be even when she lashed the apples together, making me worry that my other sister had hacked the first one’s account – one sister with OCD is all I can handle – and then reported back that she also got four bottles of wine (evidence again), two kinds of cheese (evidence for), and a frozen cake. DEFINITELY RHI, THEN! (Kim would have bought baking supplies.) So the Stisters are okay.

Meanwhile, I wore a sweater with a deep (and really cute) v-cut in the front and back necklines and I’m freezing. Because I forgot my scarf. The scarf that would cover that one teeny tiny patch and then I’d be nice and toasty warm. I did remember a coat, because my blood felt awfully thin when I opened the back door to let the dog out. It’s a good thing I know for a fact that my blood thickens right up again when I go home for visits, or there would be some sort of madcap immersion therapy going on right now.

You know – after I got over being cold because my neck is uncovered.

Good thing it’s going to warm up to 67° later!! (Here is where I tell you that I have three extra beds, a couch, and a lot of floor space for those who want to evacuate before the next Snowpocalypse.) Have fun storming the castle, everyone! Let me know, occasionally, that you haven’t gone all REDRUM!

Because I still can’t believe that happened.

February 15, 2017

Yes, this post is, like, two weeks late, but I still have thoughts. And daydreams, and squeals of joy, and jaw-dropping, gaping, lit-face kind of wonder.

My team, the Patriots, those guys so dear to my heart (even if I broke up with my fantasy husband) – they won the Superbowl. SERIOUSLY. They WON THE SUPERBOWL! I mean – !!!!!!

(And that’s with 10 days to pull myself together. I still just have handfuls of exclamation points. I’m trying.)

Brady (my new Ex), has been demure in his interviews, insisting it wasn’t his best game, and I have to agree – both with his assessment of the quality of play, and also with my loyalty as a fan. Some bad karma’s gonna come of this, and I fully expect it will be doled out in free agency.

We went all out for preparations. I think we bought every type of chip that exists in the world. Gracie made sour cream and onion dip, and Bee arranged everything and made some salsa. The family Superbowl pool was drawn up, squares were picked, and the excitement was through. the. roof.

superbowl

And then: the game started.

It was not the best game.

I couldn’t believe (but kind of) that the dumpster fire of 2016/2017 was consuming my Superbowl. I mean, I knew Julio Jones was going to be a beast, but really? None of the Pats were going to show up?

At halftime, I removed myself from the game as an act of self-care. My anxiety couldn’t be quieted by any of the meds I fed it. I felt like a traitor, but I did it. I had to. I planted myself at my laptop in my room and followed the game on my phone. (Hey, I couldn’t remove myself entirely.) Gracie had abandoned the game, too, fleeing to her room in tears. Apparently, she also started FaceTime-ing with The Boyfriend as her own act of self-care. And this is kind of important to remember for later.

So there was Bee, our anti-football girl, sitting watching the game by herself. She would run in and tell me when something big happened. I explained why I had removed myself and she said she would only come in when we scored…which happened just as soon as I put on my good luck ring that I had worn during the last Superbowl, but forgot this time.

Yes, I am ridiculously superstitious about football. And since we had scored (and then again!) when I walked out of the room, and when I put on my ring…that meant I couldn’t go back. I can’t lie – that second score gave me a glimmer of hope. I started thinking that at least it wouldn’t feel like we got skunked. Every time Bee came tearing into the room with a score update, my heart beat a little faster. And that fourth quarter – !!!! Gracie had drifted back to the living room, and so I was trying to interpret the game from a room away based on my tweenager’s screams. Anyone with a tween knows that screams and squeals could be anything – good or bad. And they were a lot more instant than my twitter updates. “WHAT’S HAPPENING?!” I yelled back more than once. When we made that 2-point conversion, I started hoping way more than was healthy for me. If it didn’t come off, “crushed” wouldn’t begin to describe how hurt I’d feel.

Overtime. Slater won us the coin toss. And I knew. I knew after that 4th quarter momentum that there was no way we’d be denied. I hovered on the threshold of my room, superstitiously refusing to watch from the living room. Our comeback had been staged with me in the other room. I couldn’t jinx anything. But that moment. That moment when White crossed the plane of the endzone and everyone went nuts, HOLY MOTHER the scene at my house! There was jumping, screaming, yelling – it was chaos of the purest joy. I maybe yelled that Goodell could suck it, and then Gracie’s Boyfriend maybe chuckled from her phone where he was still on FaceTime. I was mortified – I haven’t even met the kid! – but went back to partying with a (slightly) cleaner mouth.

superbowlb

I ordered us all Superbowl Champions hoodies and shirts. I read every article I could find online. I made Gracie stay up to watch the post-game coverage with me. I maybe yelled “LET’S GO TO HOUSTON!” A 4-hour drive was totally do-able! Undoubtedly fans would still be partying when we got there. My kids somehow talked me out of that madcap adventure.

It was midnight before I went to sleep. And I still haven’t come down off this high. One day it will feel real. It will feel less like a daydream. But apparently two weeks isn’t nearly enough time. Not now. Not for a good while, I imagine. And I’m glad for it.