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January reading recap.

February 2, 2018

I’m sure it seems like all I do these days is talk about reading challenge this and readathon stats that. I do! I’m a bit unapologetic for it because right now reading is the life vest keeping my head above water. So I will talk about reading all day long if that’s what it takes! I know you get it.

Now that I’m the llama whose gotten her reading groove back, I’ve really killed it with my stats in January. I read a total of 33 books in January! Which – holy bananapants, Robin! I’m proud of myself. I know January is a strong month for me, because I start out all optimistic and ready to conquer the new year, and a little panicky when my numbers are small (I know you have to start the year with 0 books read, 1 book read – I don’t ever argue that my anxiety disorder makes sense), so I hit my TBR with purpose and intensity! But even if (when) I slow down, I’m in good shape to make my goal of 200 books this year. Anything more than that is icing on the cake.

Best books I read this month:
I read a lot of good books, but these ones will be in consideration for best of 2018, I just know:

  • Home Fire, by Kamila Shamsie
  • Sing Unburied Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
  • Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong
  • Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
  • 84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff
  • Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs, by Pete Souza

I thought that seemed like an unusually high number – last year I had 20 books that earned “best of” rankings, could I really hit six of them this early? But then I looked at last year’s stats and I had six of them in January last year, too (Difficult Women; All the Ugly and Beautiful Things; Heartless; Hidden Figures; The Association of

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Something happened on the way home from the theater.

December 21, 2017

First of all: I wanted to title this post “Quote of the Day”, but this was going to be the longest set up story everrrrr. And it starts like this…

Gracie went to the movies with a few friends. It was a double-feature, and so she was supposed to get home kind of late. Like a good mom, I waited up for her. And like a good daughter, she stayed up for midnight breakfast with me. (Three egg omelette. Egg and cheese. Delicious!) And after all of that, we were both a little punch-drunk. One in the morning and all.

Fast forward a few minutes to me tucking Gracie into bed. She does this thing where she uses me to shut off her overhead light. She has a lamp and everything, and she can even stay in her bed (technically) and still reach her light switch, but does she do this? Of course she doesn’t. She still uses mama to shut off her big light when she’s snug as a bug in a rug. Because I’m a good mama (have I mentioned that?)(I am), I comply.

Tonight though, I was messing with my darling daughter. Tonight she anxiously told me, “No! No! Wait!!” and then “made” me turn her light on. A few minutes later, she did the same “wait, wait” bit and so I turned the light back on. I was, as I said, messing with her. We crack each other up, especially when we’re giddy and exhausted in equal parts.

Now, here’s where I take slight pause to tell you that middle schoolers aren’t required to take a foreign language. It’s absurd! I was made to, and by god if kids these days aren’t made to do exactly what I was, well that’s just sacrilege! I’m always telling Gracie so. Followed, usually, by getting on her case to start studying Spanish. I took it for two years in junior high – and excelled at it, despite the teacher being ridiculously too old to care about making the students behave, never mind learn anything – four years in high school, and another two semesters in college. I didn’t care much for it then (though I was awfully fond of my teacher in high school, and I might have stressed myself into nearly flunking my first semester in college, but I did retain an awful lot of what I learned. If I could do that, then Gracie could get so much from taking it!

Which explains why, to me, it was so flippin’ hilarious when Gracie, who was trying to get me to shut her overhead light off again, started in with espanol. “Te amo, Madre!” She pleaded. “Te amo!” I was laughing back with her, playing my part – or trying to – with a straight face. I failed. I failed so hard I don’t even know why I tried to begin with. She must have sensed the ground was softening, because Gracie dared another step, but even just the second step was one too far: “Por favor,” she started. My face must have lit up, but it quickly crumpled…into laughter. Because she couldn’t figure out what came next. “Por favor… Um… Por favor… Por favor shut off the light!”

I busted up laughing.

Okay, yes, it was definitely a moment you had to be there for an hour ago, but it totally made my day.

Good night, everyone. The last one out apague la luz, por favor.

School is here! The sun isn’t! Trump is Trumping! And, oh, hey – I’m back.

August 21, 2017

I’m back! Back in black. No – really. (It’s so I can be a ninja when I disappear during the eclipse. Guys – you gotta make the most of this.) It’s been a while, but not much was going on and I was taking a break. I needed to catch my breath. The good news is that it’s caught, because I feel like a runner crouched at the starting line, ready to hurl myself into the great unknown. Chances I’ll remain in my lane are low.

But – could we make for a busier day? School is back! Gracie is ready for 8th grade, her last year in junior high. (STAWWWWP WITH THE GROWING!) And Bee is starting what we think of as middle school for her, because 6th grade is middle school in the district she was in, but is part of the elementary school in the district she’s switched to. So while she’s in elementary school again, it’s like a bridge year for her. So! cell phone privileges all around! Also: no uniform policy for her, so she’s pretty stoked about that.

So there’s that whole schedule adjustment going on – today it was all smiles and excitement, but tonight there will be endless forms and another alarm tomorrow, and I’m thinking the allure will be gone. Basically, today is the first day of Jurassic Park, when all the dinosaurs are still in their cages and all the guests are happy and not running for their lives.

And then this afternoon is The Great Solar Eclipse, and WHO DECIDED TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY FOR SENDING KIDS BACK TO SCHOOL?! I mean, it’s gonna be a nutsy afternoon anyways! So that’s ridiculous. And so is the fact that I flipped channels the entire way to work and didn’t hear “Total Eclipse of the Heart” even once. What up with that?! Someone is doing it wrong. I thought for sure that would be on every other song today.

Then, tonight is addressing the nation – because we didn’t have enough going on. And I hear it’s not about how the Navy can’t seem to be in charge of boats any more, or a resignation, and please god don’t let it be about a red button. Other than any of that, I think I’ll catch the recap because I have a busy day booked and I really can’t end it with a picture of his face.

I hope you’ve all been kind to yourselves while I’ve been gone. I can’t wait to catch up with you all. Just as soon as I finished 29342038 days of new school year forms.

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!

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

A little #Riotgram fun for June.

June 1, 2017

Riotgram

I thought I might make a little bit of fun for myself during June. And the best way to do that is to kick off summer with a fun bookish challenge, am I right? Of course I am!

So I’m picking up this #Riotgram that the ever-lovely Book Riot is sponsoring. We’ll see how often I remember to post. No matter how often or how little, when I do, it’s sure to bring a smile to my face. I hope to yours, too.

Today’s theme is a shelfie. Let’s see what we have!

Shelfie

#Riotgram: Day 1. Shelfie.

Corrie was over Friday night, before Bee’s infamous birthday sleepover, and in the middle of dishing with me about who knows what all (we hadn’t seen each other in awhile), my bestie blurted out: “Did you color code your bookshelves?!” With some besties, you can tell you’re in when they know if you’ve cut your hair. With my circle, it’s knowing where my books go on my bookshelf.

Although, I have to say – I can’t find anything now. Even if I know, say, that Dicey’s Song is purple, I can’t seem to find it still. So my shelfie might look entirely different at the end of next week. Ask me again!

What about you guys? What’s the craziest thing you can boast of in your shelfies? Have you ever color-coded…and regretted it?

Dear Weather Gods: We were kidding about the bottle of Jack Daniels.

March 29, 2017

I knew it was going to storm. It was one of those days when Texans complain about the humidity…and they’re actually right. Usually the humidity they complain about is the kind that makes me shrug a shoulder and “meh,” at them and get the stink eye in return. I’m from a state where humidity and moisture content are ridiculous. It’s like yesterday afternoon, but all the time. A sit-down-in-the-wooden-kitchen-chair-and-have-to-peel-yourself-out-of-it kind of humidity. The air was hot and muggy and not moving anywhere. It felt like tornado weather.

It wasn’t supposed to start until later in the evening, but the line fired up early. It was slow as molasses, though, so really all the meant was that I could look at it every so often as I refreshed all the weather radars and shut off all the NOAA alerts for counties that didn’t even include mine. I eventually convinced myself to go to bed. I was going to be exhausted if I didn’t. Especially if things fired up during the night.

Go ahead and guess what happened.

My heart flew through my chest and up out of my throat every time that NOAA weather radio went off. I’d make sure it wasn’t a tornado, I’d check to see if it was headed my way. Then I’d shut off the lights (if I’d bothered), try to slow my heart rate, and lie back down. Sometimes it would happen three or four times in a row. After time 10 or 12 in about a 5 minute span, I decided that maybe I should just stay up until the line of storms passed. I still had more than half of my night’s sleep ahead of me, and with my insomnia issues, I knew 4 hours would be manageable.

That was when when got our first tornado warning.

I started flying through the house, finding sneakers, grabbing a twin mattress for the closet, convincing the dog to come with me. I took the NOAA radio with me. I took my lap top with me. I cursed myself for cancelling cable – and then changed my mind when I saw I could watch my news station live as long as my internet held out. Mostly, I kept telling the weather gods that Kim and I hadn’t really meant it when we said we were going to chuck a bottle of booze at the next twister in memory of Bill Paxton. Because the tornado the weathermen had issued the warning for? It was headed straight for my house.

There’s nothing quite like that moment, when you realize the exits or mile markers on the highways include your exit (less than a mile from your house), or when they name your intersection on the news, or casually intone the “radar-indicated rotation” is headed straight for the park that you can see two lots over from your back yard. Then the lights start flickering, and your hands shake a little bit more. You start listening for the roar, worrying over it, sure your heart will explode. You wonder if the sweat you’re producing is a symptom of a heart attack – surely it can’t be healthy.

It was the longest half hour of my life. The tornado warning was allowed to expire. Good gravy, that was close! I texted with the girls and made sure they were okay. I checked on Jeff – the other tornado in the area passed by just a couple hundred feet from his house; he watched the power flashes as the transformers blew.

I stayed awake for a few minutes, getting back to “normal” and seeing if I could ever sleep again. I didn’t think I would fall asleep, but I crashed hard, trying to figure out what was going on when my alarm clock went off.

As scary as that was, it hit me again as I drove out of the neighborhood and nearly ended up in the tree that was lying across the road – there were trees and street lights lying helter skelter, a goodish number of them across the road. A yard or two over from my house. That’s a little too close.

Good luck getting me to sleep the next night we have storms in our forecast. Good luck trying to get me to sleep at all.

Three years.

January 19, 2017

I saw a dad on the side of a the road, blinkers on, helping his kid change a tire on their own car. I couldn’t help it; I started crying out of the blue. If that wasn’t the signiest sign.

Then I started laughing, like I was nuts – crying one minute, laughing the next – because I wasn’t sure that a bigger sign wouldn’t have been the dad standing there, patiently explaining what the kid needed to do next to change their own dang tire.

In either case: you are missed.

Teenagerhood is coming. It is coming.

January 18, 2017

<….sound of goblin drums…>

<Oooh, wait…maybe of Twister violins….>

Because it’s already here!

Yes, go ahead and ask me how my day was yesterday. Oh, I’m so glad you asked! My ex-husband called last night. On the home phone, no less. We never use the home phone any more. The only peeps who use that are my parents and telemarketers, neither of whom usually call that late. (It wasn’t that late, maybe 8ish?) I don’t know what made me look at the home phone, because I never do that any more either. But I did. And it was my Ex. So I answered.

Gracie was insisting she had to bring her lunch to school the next day (today). Did I know anything about that? Uh, no. But yesterday was her first day back to school since the weekend. So maybe something popped up? Oh, but she was refusing to tell him why.

Oh, yes – you read that right. Refusing to tell him why. REFUSING.

You can see why steam was pouring out of my ears.

Anger wasn’t even my first response though. I was so happy my Ex had called! I love this whole Pull Together, Win Together thing. It bodes well for the next few years. You know, the Tough Teenagery Years that were suddenly dumped right in our laps.

After I cheered a little in my head, I moved right on to confusion. Because Gracie hasn’t once ever pulled anything like that. She’s a goody two-shoes. She might whine when she’s in A Mood. And yeah, there was the whole “lying about texting her friends” thing. But one bump in all the tween years we’ve braved so far? Not bad. So what was with the sudden obstinence? And how the heck were we going to deal with it?!

I told my Ex that I would call her (he was out with Bee), and see if she would talk to me, and get back to him. So I called Gracie-girl, who sounded as confused at a late-night call (I never call either – we’re a texting family) as I was. I explained what was going on, using my best concerned voice, and she still sounded confused. And maybe a little whiny. She had told Dad, she said. She hadn’t refused, she said. She told him she wanted to take her lunch to school, just because. Not that she needed to take it.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if she just kept saying she needed stuff from the store to take for her lunch, and when pressed for a reason she said just because, and the manner in which it was delivered came across as less than straight. Or if her version of what happened was completely different from what actually happened. I have no idea. And that’s between my Ex and Gracie.

However: I explained to Gracie that she can’t ever not answer, if that’s what happened. I patiently explained to her that her dad must have been so worried and concerned if he called me. She seemed to understand. I told her that if it’s a want, not a need (language we use frequently at home), that she can’t expect her dad to drop everything to go to the store if he doesn’t want to. That it’s selfish to even get whiny about it. She could negotiate it, ask nicely, trade chores, whatever, but it’s not something he has to do. And that she probably owed him an apology when he got home. That they needed to talk it out.

I called my Ex back and told him what I had found out. He said he would talk to that Gracie-girl of ours.

And I spent much of the night texting my bestie whose (amazing) daughter is a senior in high school. They have had a very similar relationship as Gracie and I. I knew she would have ninja mom answers for my new teenagery kiddo issues. She not only had all the answers I needed, but she immediately asked the obvious question that I had completely overlooked: was Gracie feeling left out, or was she being teased for buying her lunch? Which, dude, would explain so many things. Kathy gave me the best advice, talked me off the ledge (with a later assist from my sister Rhi), and made sure I was able to sleep instead of mulling over the problem all night long. AND Kathy did it all in the late hours of Eastern Standard Time, and I know she’s not a night-time person. Because I needed my friend. And my sister finished up our talk with the magic good-night tradition – a magical incantation she would say to everyone every night before bed when she was a teeny tiny toddler. Those magic words actually were just what I needed to hear before bed, and I didn’t even know until I heard them. My village is awesome, you guys!

So, I guess Gracie and I will be having a conversation tonight. I don’t care if she takes her lunch every day or some days or whatever – as long as I’m not making it! All that matters to me is that she eats, and not just junk food. If she’s being teased for buying her lunch because she’s the only one, then she can take it. That’s never been an issue. I just want her to be honest with us. And for sure she needs to answer when we ask questions. Or some poor pitiful penguin with be without a phone for a certain length of time. Not answering is a no-go.

The teenagery years. I thought I had more time. But at least I know I’ll have a lot of help as I muck my way through them!