Archive for the ‘The people who keep me sane’ Category

What you do when you don’t want today to be today.

September 11, 2017

I am going to have a lot of feels today. Sixteen years worth of feels. Also: I have friends and family who were in Irma’s path who sheltered in place and now aren’t checking in.

So.

I did things. I did lots of things yesterday to try to take my mind off of today.

I made last-minute fudge with my daughter because why the heck not?! Who cares that it’s twenty minutes til bedtime. We. wanted. fudge.

I was a little worried that Bee would expect to be able to have some tonight, but there was no way it would set in time. Her sister wandered through the kitchen when we were almost done, and was all “FUDGE?!!…?” and Bee was all “Yeah, but it won’t be ready til tomorrow.” So that took care of that. And then Gracie left and I gave Bee the pan and the spatula to lick clean. And we were happy and not thinking of today.

I rearranged letters in Target:

911b

Because I will go see this movie, even if I will have nightmares for weeks. It looks amazing, even if they weren’t completely faithful to the book. Somehow marquee letters makes IT seem a lot less nightmarish. And IT certainly distracts me, at least for a little bit, from thinking of today.

There was a mandatory clean-up of Miss Bee’s room, too. I made the mistake of looking in her room after she got home from her dad’s house. Then Bee took it to a new level and cleaned-out and re-organized her closet so it could be more like her friend N’s:

911e

A squishy, laughy (not so) little girl sitting on some pillows in her new closet fort? That definitely makes my heart swell and keeps me from thinking of today.

I tried to fill my night last night with happy things. I tried to remind myself that today would hurt, but the hurt would pass. I can both remember and be okay. Being okay does not betray those who died on 9/11, and those who responded. Because I know I’m going to think of reporters breaking down on-air because of the enormity of what happened. I know I will think of people jumping from high rises because actively killing yourself was better than staying and burning alive. I will think about the firefighters and other first responders – hell, ordinary people even – who went up the Towers, trying to help people.

No matter what I do, I’ll still think about it. I’ll remember.

I heard from my friend just now. The one hit by Irma. He and his are okay. The house isn’t, but they survived. Which is great because I also took this pic this morning:

And sunrises are kind of our thing.

911

However you have to do it, I hope everyone can be okay today. Be well. Even today.

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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!

#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.

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 all the shenanigans are afoot.

April 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still nope.

April 12, 2017

Last night I came home to an empty house. No spazz-monkey waiting for me when I walked in the door. Quiet. Just quiet.

Last night as I was shutting down the house, I moved around the kitchen on autopilot, filling Fenway’s bowls with water and food for the morning. And then it hit me that I wasn’t supposed to. I didn’t have to. No one was going to be impatient for their breakfast.

One of these days the loss won’t hit me like a soccer punch to the gut. But not today.

FenJules_2015

Fenway and Julie. This pic is all sunshine and love!

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!