Archive for the ‘What did I get myself into?’ Category

Jumping back into the water – all of me, all at once.

April 22, 2018

Hello. It’s me. I’ve been wondering if after all this time you want to hear me. But I want to write. I need to write again. I need to feel like me and it’s time to add this piece back into the mix.

So how do I do it? I spent the past week thinking about it, casually, and then I contemplated it more often and seriously this weekend. How do I write out loud, on my blog? How do I return? Dipping my toes back into the water doesn’t seem like a good idea: it always feels colder and draws out the uncomfortable part. Just jump back in, Katie. The water will feel warm and you’ll get your breath back in just a minute or two.

Still, it’s a weird feeling – being gone so long from my blog, and then just being here, in one fell swoop. Or jump, I should say. I wonder if anyone will notice, or if I’m just shouting into void, voicing words that won’t even be heard. But that thought, even though it echoes back frequently, doesn’t hold much weight. I write for myself. I always have. It’s why I shrug my shoulders when what I’ve written causes trouble (because heaven knows I’ve tripped backwards into trouble so often it’s like an old friend), because what I write is me trying to figure out what I feel, what I’m going through, how I should act and react. It’s how I process so much of what I go through in my life.

Okay, this is getting maudlin and more than a little cheesy. Just jump in, Kate!

So what’s going on in my life? What the incredible, impossible-to-ignore urge to write? Let me tell you a little bit of it. It’s all way too much to write about in one go. So for starters…

I’ve all-of-a-sudden gotten a giant promotion at The Place That Shall Not Be Named. It came at exactly the right moment when I thought I would implode from burnout and…okay, I’m going to stop there because we don’t talk about things at The Place That Shall Not Be Named. Talking about work is not what you do in public, in writing. Suffice it to say that I’m incredibly happy to be noticed and rewarded. I’m overwhelmingly challenged to think and improvise all day, every day. And so I’m exhausted and barely able to move at the end of some days. But it feels like the best unexpected blessing right now. So I’m just going with it and trusting in my angels that they know what I need.

Then there’s the girls. Gracie is turning 14 on Thursday. Four. Teen. That is, if she makes it! We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch, the girls and I. Bee-girl is turning 12 in a few months and she’s full of hormones about to explode. Every time she asks to talk to me, she starts with an epic eye roll and “No, I didn’t start my period.” Because she’s been so acting like it lately that I maybe possibly might ask that question a lot. Oof. But we’re surviving. A little bit ago I thought we might not. Show me a parent of two teenagery girls who didn’t think that once or twice! But something I didn’t expect and no one told me – when your girls hit this age, this hard-to-parent, oh-my-goodness, pass-the-wine, oh-no-you-didn’t! kind of age, your love for them grows even fiercer, like you might explode with love and protection instincts, and you just want to smother them with mama love and talk their ears off, and show them every card game you know, because you want to spend time with them, but it has to be sly and sneaky, or else they’ll disappear into their rooms. It’s a tricky time, but we’re managing. I’m managing. By the skin of my teeth some days, but we’ll be okay.

My reading life has come back, and I am rejoicing! It’s what keeps me going when things get dark, and I am so grateful for it! I’ve already topped 125 books for the year and some of the books I’ve read have been shout-from-the-rooftops! kind of wonderful! Exit West, by Moshin Hamid; The Chalk Man, by CJ Tudor (Oh, I can’t wait to tell you all about it in my Thursday book reviews!); Allegedly, by Tiffany Jackson; The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur; Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed. And speaking of Samiras, I’ve finally watched Orange Is the New Black after four or five attempts, and Samira Wiley, my god you guys! I need more of her in my life! For reals. And surely that show counts as literature, yes?

Other creative outlets are afoot. Bee-girl and I have started an Etsy shop, and as soon as I get a few items in there, I’ll set you guys up with a link and beg you to take a peek. Bee has slime, slime, and more slime. Finally, a place to ship everything she creates! And ohhhhhhh does that girl create a lot of slime! She’s a connoisseur of all things slime-related. Isn’t it normal to have industrial-size containers of Borax on your counters? And shaving cream. And food coloring? I’m blaming Uncle Kene for introducing my mad scientists with the wonders of Borax. As for me, I’m selling needle point creations of literary quotes and political jokes. I have baby blankets. And so. many. Christmas ornaments! Corrie and I spent an entire weekend making Christmas crafts, but we might need to wait a few months before our Christmas Shop hits the markets. Let’s just say we’ll be ready!

And running! I’ve started running again, using the Couch to 5k method. I’m on Week 3  and about to embark on Week 4 – 12 minutes of walking and 18 minutes of walking. I’m doing great! I’m so proud of myself. I told you I was crawling back into myself, and running is definitely a part of me. I started running because a dear friend PHYSICALLY MADE ME, and I will always be beholden to her, to use an Anne-ism. Running is something to strive for. It gives me goals and an outlet to pour myself into! When I get a bit better, there’s a running club I want to join. Maybe there will be cute, sarcastic, bookish types who flounder near the back of the pack, like me. Who knows?! But I can’t wait to find out! Goals are good. They’re fantastic! And I’m reaching for them.

So yes, I’ve been up to a few things. Just a few, because these past few months have been sort of dark and depressy. I’ve been missing for a reason. But I’m glad to be back. The water is warm, jumping in took a courageous moment of fuck-it proportions. But my water-wings are nearby if I need them.

But mostly I just need to write.



Five for Friday.

January 12, 2018

It’s noon-time: what are you eating? Are you eating? I can goes days without wanting to eat, I mean, like everything sounds like it will taste like cardboard, and then all of a sudden I want to eat everything not nailed down. Last night was one of those glutton-fests. Today, I’m forcing myself to eat a cup of noodles.

I hope your lunch is tastier (and contains far less sodium) than mine.

Let’s see what other bits of randomness are floating around in my brain, shall we?

1. My foot. Oh my mother-flippin’ foot! I rolled my ankle this morning. So you’d think I’d be complaining about my ankle. But oh no. Somehow when I rolled my ankle, I fell off the curb, down to the ground, skinning my knees and everything. Somehow in the process, I think I snapped a bone on the side of the middle of my foot. It’s slightly bruised, very swollen, and it hurts to stand on it. I think it’s swollen even on the bottom of the foot. So that’s gonna be fun to monitor this weekend.

2. I can’t get it x-rayed tonight because I volunteered to help with All-City Choir auditions. So I’m spending two or three (or six) hours tonight at the middle school, doing heaven knows what, but I’m guessing it involves a lot of standing and shepherding teenagers around. FUNTIMES. I hope there’s fries for that.

3. After I survive the endtimes auditions, Gracie and some of her friends are sleeping over. I’m wicked excited that I get to steal my girl for another weekend (that’s why I volunteered to help at auditions: so I could see her, even for a little bit), but I’m a little leery of all the chaos that means will be happening at my house. Plus: no x-rays.

4. And tomorrow there will be no x-rays because after I shoo the teenagery peeps out of the house, I’m shlepping myself northward to visit the wonderful and gorgeously talented Andi! First we were going to meet up for shenanigans, but then she had to work. But I am good at co-working! So we are meeting up for responsible grown-up shenanigans. In other words, we’re going to write like motherfuckers. And maybe vlog about our bullet journals. Who knows! 2018 is fire and gasoline, baby! [I’m trying new slogans.] The idea of vlogging scares me, but I’m with friends who make me feel safe, so why not? We will burn the motherfather down with our awesomeness. And then we’ll get some more work done. Because we’re amazing.

5. I’m thinking of trying minimalism. I’m tire of my house looking like a firetrap. Like a closet of toys exploded all over it. Like the kids are running the asylum. On one hand, I don’t really care. On the other, I bet I’d feel a whole lot calmer if it were cleaner. So lets see what would happen if it were cleaner. And you know what would make it cleaner? Donating or trashing half the stuff in it. So Imma challenge myself: throw away (or donate) 50 things. Yes, you’ll see a post about this, just to keep me honest.

So there you go! Five thoughts. Five of many more I could keep tossing, but, hey – I have things to write. Great big things. Here I go…

Reclaiming my space.

January 24, 2017

I think I might have mentioned in one of my Five for Friday listy lists that I have reclaimed a corner of my bedroom to recreate a space for me to craft. More than that, really, it’s a space for me to be. And the reason I know it was both far overdue and hugely important to my sense of self, is that I cried after I sat down and finished my first project.

I looked around at what I had built, even though the space was still just temporary, and I cried. It felt so good to have that piece of me back. It was a necessary piece of myself that I had set aside while I was coupled up – because there was no time when I was running a household of six (and when one of those six was so special-needs), and because there was no space.

It used to be that I insisted on the girls sharing rooms to create that special bond between them. Then I used the guest room as my craft room where I spent the bulk of my free time. The girls had the front room for their playroom when they didn’t want to be in the family room, and I had the craft room. Then Jeff and the Xman moved in and I moved Gracie into my craft room. At first she was literally living in my craft room, but slowly I moved pieces out so she could, you know, put clothes away and stuff. And put up pictures. And generally make it her own. Eventually, so many things were put away in boxes that I couldn’t really scrap anywhere, even if the mood hit me to take over the dining room table for a weekend.

So when Jeff moved out and I was faced with the glory of Free Weekends(!) once again, I started rediscovering myself. I started running again. And I made this temporary space.

And a bunch of scrap pages. It was revelatory. An honest-to-god spiritual moment. I found such an important piece of myself – one I didn’t even realize was missing. A piece and a moment I needed so bad after these past two months. And it came at the right time. The horrible break-up. The sisters picking me up off the mat. Being here for the holidays. And now finding my rhythm. And, oh look! myself, too. I’m good. I’m okay.

So I answered the question I had about whether creating “fun” space in my bedroom was a good idea (how many experts tell you to only do sleepy type stuff in your bedroom if you have trouble sleeping?), because it was now an AWESOME idea. And necessary. I needed this.

So this happened.


Eventually I am going to replace the folding card table with an actual workspace. I’m thinking it will probs be my scrap desk that Gracie is using right now (so I can’t steal it from her). When I mentioned the idea to Gracie, who I was worried would claim it in the name of Spain, she was all “Good! I hate that desk.” So. Okay. Won’t be a problem. I want to splurge and get me a grown-up desk with a bigger work area, but if when I have money to replace my bedroom set with something of a darker wood, I won’t know if my desk matches. And I don’t want to spend all of that money now on something that I won’t like later. Besides, Gracie’s desk has a bunch of very useful drawers for supplies.

Gracie’s happy with even the temporary arrangement. She loves having my scrapbook and craft shelves outta her way, because it opens her room waaaaay up.


Doesn’t it look nice? I mean, it needs a little work, but it’s coming along. I had suggested moving her drawers to that wall and the girl nearly took my head off. I’m rather keen on the corner of her dresser no longer scuffing a hole in the back of her bedroom door; she’s really into the idea of having a lounge area with her new bucket seat (hit gift from Christmas; woot woot), big pillows, and wifi Bose speakers (thank you, Santa). Also not pictured are her shoes, including my tall black boots that she’s appropriated. [Yes, we’ve moved into the delightful-yet-dreadful phase of same shoe sizes.]

So if I’m stealing back my desk that is now in Gracie’s room (on the opposite wall from her lounge area), her room will be really empty, so I proposed that I get her a desk for her birthday, and let her repaint her room. I love the purple and gray color scheme going on, but Gracie does not. She wants to do a silver/gold and royal blue – a scheme I could live with because it came out phenomenally well at Kim’s house. Gracie countered that she doesn’t really need a desk, she could live with just a small nightstand for her alarm clock and chapstick, etc. What she really wants is a small futon or couch for her room. There are a couple at Target that we’ve seen that are small enough that they might fit. I don’t know…

Even if they fit, am I going to give my tween a big head by giving her a couch in her room? Am I going to make my youngest feel even more left out when she can’t have a couch because I’m not getting rid of or storing the bed that I paid lots of money for, one that we need when we have guests and the girls have to bunk up. Oh, I can just see trouble coming. But if we do get Gracie the small futon, it’s additional sleeping space for when we have more guests! Two extra beds and a couch! Think of the parties I can throw! Ha!

Yes, we are all reclaiming our spaces. I will think up some fantastic makeover for Bee’s room, too. Just you wait. I feel like I can do anything right now!

Good god, what’s with this week? (Wednesday edition)

November 30, 2016

Jeff came over to get some of his stuff last night. It was terrible and difficult – moreso because he was kind and patient and full of apologies.

And my village? They are amazing.

GracefullyGracie, my darling daughter, has been providing comedic back-up. She and Bee-girl made me laugh all last week. They have a very limited knowledge of what’s going on (that boils down to Jeff and I fightfought all the time, and now he’s moving out, and I’m glad/sad about it), but it doesn’t matter. They make me laugh anyway. We spent a long week creating in-jokes (Me: “Your face!” Gracie: “Oh yeah? Well YOUR FOOT!”) and when Gracie heard Jeff was coming over last night (the girls were at their dad’s for the night)(yes, that was on purpose), Gracie texted me our face/foot joke about a hundred times. And I loved her more every time I got it.

Kim texted me a video of my cousin Hillary, and Hill’s girlfriend Em, opening a care package Kim had sent. Hill&Em were so Kate&Kim about it all that my sides split with laughter.

After Jeff had left, I broke out in stress hives, even though he had sat down and had a drink or two with me in an effort to end things on better terms. I posted to Facebook (because: wine) and Rhi texted me within seconds. She has a knack for chasing away the gloomies, even if she does sometimes underestimate my resolve. (Oven mitts? I don’t need no oven mitts!)

My cousin Shayne texted me to commiserate, and after many plans, I stopped just short of tipsily buying tickets to Ohio. I think there are fun plans afoot for 2017!

My Twitter hive has been sending uplifting messages and pictures of hedgehogs, and basically being my rock, my jumping off point for this next adventure in single mommying.

Corrie, of course, texted me to see who she needed to come shoot. Or, alternatively, if she needed to bring me more booze so we could drunkenly craft our troubles away. Since I had already tucked myself into bed (at 9 o’clock!), I assured her I was just going to sleep because I was absolutely knackered.

Yes, sleep, glorious sleep! I slept from 9 until 6:20 this morning. Well, except for this one vivid dream I had at about 11 p.m. that involved candy bars and Milky Way guts being all over everything. When I “woke up” (seriously questioning how “awake” I was because hoo boy), I needed candy more than I have ever needed anything in my life. So I threw back the covered and scrambled into the kitchen, where I wolfed down a cinnamon crumb cake snack pack the girls had in the pantry for lunches, two pieces of fudge, and the tallest glass of milk you’ve ever seen in your life. As one does. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve raided the kitchen in the middle of the night, and that’s including pregnancies and college. No more skipping dinners for me! Then I brushed my teeth again and climbed back into bed and went right back to sleep. Weirdo.

There are still more things that Jeff has to gather up and move. It will still be gut-wrenchingly hard. I’ll still cry, even though I want him to go. But – BUT! – it means the world to me knowing how much you all care.

My village is filled with good people.

And that is why I will be okay.

Remembering I was thankful.

November 28, 2016

I’m back! I was gone for what seems like ages, and I have so much to tell you about!

  • Jeff left. Yes, it is a huge change in my life and I’m trying to find the right words to tell you what happened while still being respectful, and also still being cognizant of the fact that the story is still unfolding. For now, let me say that our relationship became extremely unhealthy, very quickly. We decided he would move out at the end of the year, except he decided to leave suddenly on Tuesday night, just before Thanksgiving. It’s been a long, crazy, weird week for me.
  • We had Thanksgiving! And hoo-boy was our day one for the ages. In fact, I think I only survived because I narrated the chapter of my memoir (as it will undoubtedly go down) in one of my best friend’s voice, and kept imagining myself as Anne Shirley. Because it was mouse-in-the-pudding, sold-the-wrong-jersey-cow kind of day. After successfully making four pies, fudge, and buying half the groceria on Wednesday, I started Thursday by opening the fridge door and the lemon pie fell out onto the floor.


  • So I re-baked the pie. It was the one both girls had asked for, and Gracie’s favorite food of all time. Re-baking was my only option, and it justified always over-buying and having extras. Extra filling and extra ingredients for making pie crust. (Because homemade. Every time.) So that happened, and I pulled it off, and then I put the turkey in the oven. Gracie and I were getting out Christmas decorations and then we heard the explosion. Yes: explosion. It actually happened as we were talking to my family back home, and “I have to go, Mom says the kitchen is on fire,” isn’t exactly a good way to finish a phone call. Someone who was trying to make a pot of tea turned on the wrong burner, and the pumpkin pie that was resting on the stove in a glass dish exploded. All over the kitchen. I ran in just in time to see the pie on fire. And the other pie catch. So I put out the fire(s) by carrying everything out to the middle of the patio (the door is right next to the stove and a huge slab of concrete seemed my safest option). There was glass all. over. my kitchen. The other pies were ruined because: covered in glass shards. So Gracie and I picked up the glass, vacuumed and swiffered twice, and still found glass. My feet are so embedded, I sparkle like a vampire. My hands were shredded. But! I re-baked the pies for a second time.
  • We hung out all week, put up the tree, my partner-in-crime came over every single day. Oh! We made ornaments! I’ll have to post about those. That was a good day.
  • The girls were AMAZING. Bee dragged her mattress into Gracie’s room (after asking if it was okay), and basically camped out in there all week. They have never, ever done that. I don’t know what made them like each other all of a sudden, but I’m liking it! Okay, okay, it might have something to do with the fact that they discovered that they could Minecraft in the same game. There were whole chunks of days when I didn’t hear anything from them. It was creepy.
  • Then there were other chunks of time when all the girls did was hang out with me, like miniature grown-ups, and converse and crack jokes and help around the house or watch TV with me. It was great! Gracie has discovered The Office (which, yes, maybe she’s a bit young for, but whatevs. I know she’s fine.) and we had a blast watching episode after episode. We watched Christmas movies as we decorated the living room, and we laughed until our cheeks and sides hurt and so many stupid things. Talk about thankful.
  • Oh! And we decided on a theme for our Christmas pictures – Be Who You Are! It happened because I am half gung-ho for everything in a screw-you, mid-break-up kind of way, and half ugh-I-don’t-wanna-put-any-effort-into-anything. So I thought about going fancy, like we usually do. And I thought about doing just flannels and jeans. Gracie would never take off her flannel if I allowed it. So that would work. And it’s a pretty flannel – mostly white with blue. I asked Bee, but she wasn’t having that idea. She would wear fancy dress all the time if I allowed that. And she found her favorite fancy dress while we were out and demanded I buy it (which I did, just in cases. And because it was crazy cheap.). And then I was inspired. Bee’s dress is the same deep blue that runs through Gracie’s flannel. So I bought a similar one from the wall of flannels at the red big box store. And came up with this:


  • And that was pretty much my week and now I’ll have nothing to talk about this week. Heh. But that’s okay because I will be so tired from the single parenting and returning to work and school after a week of frivolity and staying up til midnight and 2 a.m. will leave me no desire to do anything other than hold my head up. Which, frankly, is what I might need to be focusing on.
  • So, yes, I am thankful. Thankful for my girls, who surprised me in so many delightful ways this week. For my best friend, who made sure I was in one piece, and kept me busy, and also hydrated. And for myself, because I did a damn good job, considering. Oh, and also because I asked for help when I needed it. Good job, me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope that whatever happened for you, this past week, that your head is held high today.

I’m with her!

September 28, 2016

Guess what’s going on today with the elementary school set?


Bee is running for Student Council Secretary and, yes, her campaign flyer is absolutely on my cubby wall. (Um, and possibly that is a version that I made just for the blog. I have no further comment on the subject.)

She has to make a speech that she wouldn’t practice in front of me because it made her nervous. She has two smashing posters (that were quite a long story) and a pretty good platform. Although she didn’t quite understand why I wouldn’t order a bunch of “I’m with her!” buttons for her to appropriate for her campaign. Hmph, she said, as she stormed off. (She was a lot more understanding about the posters.) Today is election day; it’s all come down to this.

My teacherly friends have promised to record her speech for me, and BLAHHHH! I just can’t wait!

Do a good job, baby! You’ve worked a good, clean campaign and I’m proud of you!

Five for Friday.

August 26, 2016

Ohmygosh what an overwhelming week! We have a new person at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeNamed, and she’s amazing and I adore her already, but training someone – it’s exhausting! And so I am more than ready to punch through my Friday and get to the weekend!

1. Music has been my salvation this week. When I come home and have no energy for anything, I’ve somehow found it in me to scoop a rum slushie and open iTunes. Then I belt out any song that strikes my fancy. Either sitting there or while I’m making dinner. Then Jeff comes home and looks at me strange. But not so strange that we didn’t have a music video night until WayTooLate on Wednesday. And then this morning I plugged in some really old mixtapes in the car on the way to work. Music is definitely the way to go.

2. If you haven’t watched Stranger Things, the Netflix series, you are missing out on the greatest TV show I’ve watched since West Wing. Not that it’s anything like West Wing. Except in it’s awesomeness. Everyone I know was telling me how much they loved it, and so Kim and I put on the first two episodes while I was on vacation. She mentioned that she had to sleep with the lights on. And I kinda looked at her funny, because – well, it wasn’t so scary. Creepy, but not scary. When we got home, I made Jeff watch the first two. And then the third. And I was still confused. Then we watched the fourth one after work and I decided Kim was WAY RIGHT and I couldn’t watch any more until the weekend when it was light out. But then I got nervous because everyone – they keep talking about it! Because of all the awesome! And so I sucked it up, Buttercup, and binged. And maybe got yelled at by the girls two nights in a row for screaming so often and so loud. Even Jeff screamed during the season finale, but that was maybe my fault. Anyway – GO WATCH IT. It watches like a book, and was cast by the greatest character caster in the history of casting. And it’s a complete homage to Stephen King’s It. Just trust me and watch it. You’ll fall in love.

3. Speaking of strange things, that child of mine still can’t keep her dang key on her. Now she’s carrying her purse (she settled on a phone case she had that also has a wallet type thing inside and a zippered pouch, all attached to a long string so she can wear it like a purse), but keeps taking her key out and forgetting it. Like in her dad’s car last night after the band meeting. So Gracie didn’t have her key this morning, but she said she had texted her dad and he would have the door unlocked. She texted him when we were on our way. And yet. I sat there for ten minutes, waiting for someone to open the door. Frustrated doesn’t begin to cover it. Yeah, Gracie tried to correct the problem so it wouldn’t be an issue, but you know what would have really solved it? Remembering her dang key.

4. And on the issue of wayward children, the Reward Board for the Xman worked so well you guys! Until his dad got frustrated and declared that he (not dangling – by “he” he meant both or either of them) didn’t have to follow rules that he (Jeff) didn’t like. And what’s the point of having a reward board if there is no rule-following to recognize? So I took the reward board and put it in the garage. The Xman was disappointed, but I told him why it had gone away. I spent all Friday night and Saturday morning making that thing, not to mention all the time I put into researching how to make it and what would even work before I had the concept decided. I am done throwing my effort and love into a colander. We’ll see what happens this weekend when I don’t say a blessed thing or make one single parenting move. Here’s hoping I have the strength to follow-through!

5. All of this traveling and all of these meetings for band and choir and tennis are going to kill us. I got home last night after getting Bee (Gracie decided last minute to stay at her dad’s. Again.) and grabbed take-out because we only had an hour at home before I had to dash out to a band meeting. Bee elected to stay home and clean her room and make her lunch. (No homework – yay!) Then Gracie and I didn’t get home until 7:30p. We both had to shower, then Bee had to shower, she hadn’t finished making her lunch, Jeff got back from Crossfit and had to shower and eat, and Gracie had to practice her drums for a half hour. It was a crazy night with a lot to pack into that last hour and a half before bedtime. But I bet we long for it during the three-hour concerts we have in our future. Being gone from 6:45a until 9:30p? Not looking forward to those for sure.

But still! FRIDAY! Huzzah! Even band meeting craziness and wayward children can’t harsh my buzz today!

A few words from the step-parenting front.

May 17, 2016

I couldn’t write yesterday. I was so defeated by my weekend, and so depressed about the reason why; nothing else presented itself as even an option. I could only write about that one thing, but that one thing seemed…well, sort of unsuitable.

The tricky topic? Parenting my boyfriend’s son, who lives with us every weekend.

If it’s anything less than a wonderful time, a fun family adventure, or a brand new braggable accomplishment, I feel like I can’t approach the story no matter which lens I use. If I’m honest, feelings will be hurt. The things I say will embarrass Jeff, hurt and anger the Xman’s mom, and that’s before we get to the part where we wonder what will happen when the Xman is old enough to read it himself.

And so I clam up. I hold the words inside of me, rather than pick through the landmines. The problem with choosing to say nothing, though, is that it sort of feels like a lie of omission. If I just pick up with a happy topic today, or even a neutral photo-heavy post, aren’t I offering a fictional front? Presenting a version of what’s going on that isn’t even anything close to reality? I know that not everything is my story to tell, but the truth is: I am really struggling here. I am not okay right now, to the extent that I feel like ignoring the topic completely is dishonest to myself and to others who might be struggling privately, too. I can’t write about what happened, but I can’t not say anything. And so I’m stuck, glommed down in the mud of ethical parenting and writing in a public space vs. being honestly, un- occasionally apologetically me.

I’ll say this: Parenting is hard. Co-parenting is incredibly hard, especially when some of the children involved are not your own. It’s tough when you agree on parenting styles and specific techniques, and it’s unfathomably difficult when you don’t. I have yet to meet a couple – even the ones who did it right and have stayed together – who didn’t say step-parenting was the hardest thing they’ve ever done. It was a win for us that the frustration and anger this weekend was directed at the stubborn little boy who was causing all the disruption. Yes, it was because he was a 5-year-old acting like a 2-year-old, as they are wont to do sometimes, but that still doesn’t make the behavior okay. Just to be expected, and corrected.

Be a team. Make decisions together. Be consistent. Remind each other of the rules of the house and the reasons you’re parenting the way you are. Communicate. And not just decisions – it’s okay to verbalize your frustration with the situation, too. Parenting is hard and step-parenting is ridiculous; you have to have a way to vent some steam or you’ll pop your top. Have a bestie to confide the things you won’t say to your partner (and there will be some, believe me).

The Xman won’t be three five years old forever. These weekends when he spends very nearly the entire weekend in timeout (I wish I were exaggerating) won’t always be the norm. We won’t always have to cancel plans and embarrass ourselves in front of our friends, or ignore our other children because one is going for gold in extreme tantruming. If we put in the work now, the Xman will learn the rules and turn into a terrific kid, and we won’t any of us dread the weekends the way we do right now. If there’s an “us” left at the end of the war.

The Great Thanksgiving Recap of 2015.

November 30, 2015

Did we really just have Thanksgiving? I’m not asking just because it’s the first morning back to work and school and routines and grown-upping, or because I’ve been back home for less than 24 hours, or because the whole world seems to be underwater. Okay, maybe for those reasons. But everything seemed to spin by even more quickly this year! Probs because of all the busy. And I mean busy!

Fakesgiving. So the girls and I decided that since they were going their way to Houston to visit Stepmom’s family, and I was going my way to visit (and meet!) Jeff’s family, we would have Fakesgiving on Monday night. I made a roaster chicken instead of a giant turkey, my gram’s famous green bean casserole, corn, homemade biscuits, canned cranberry sauce (that Gracie mutilated, that turkey!), smashed potatoes, and, of course, we made pies. Just apple and lemon, not the usual pie-a-palooza, but it was delicious and wonderful to have everyone together. I even got Jeff to skip Crossfit to eat with us without begging. It was so nice having a relaxing, luxurious Thanksgiving-before-Thanksgiving.

Colorado. Ohmygod: I think I might be in love. I mean, it’s no New England, but I could easily live there. The mountains are gorgeous, there are evergreens and spruces all over the place just like back home, and even the architecture of the houses looked like New England. Colorado even accommodated me with about six inches of snow – enough for snowball fights and sledding and walks in the snow. Perfection!

All that anxiety for naught. I was so nervous going to Colorado. Part of it was meeting Jeff’s family, sure; I’m a validation whore who needs key people to approve. I know this. But I’m great with people, so it was more anxiety about not knowing how things would be. Like where we would sleep, if there were going to be enough tissues with my allergies going full force, how Xander would be after an entire week, whether I would be able to parent the kiddo in front of people while knowing I was being ultra-scrutinized – you know, all the unknowns that anxious people know they can’t control and get so wrapped up about anyways. Yeah, so Jeff’s mom picked us up from the airport and I felt at home in about ten minutes. His family reminds me so much of my own, with all the constant chatter, his mom who loves to sew and craft, the trivia being bandied about, his dad would fit right in with my crazy uncles, and his siblings like to sit around the table and make sarcastic comments and tell stories just like mine. I know I was still quieter than usual, but give me a trip or two and it’ll be like I was always there.

Go, go, going. Oh my god, I miss sleep. We were up for 21 hours straight our first day, hanging out with everyone and then visiting his sister’s family and then going to a hockey game. We did Thanksgiving and cooked and held babies and drank and tried to ignore the chaos created by the kiddos. Oh, and didn’t kill the dog for stealing an entire. pie. We went sledding and had an epic snowball fight and took a walk around the neighborhood. Went driving in the mountains and had a big family lunch at a famous local pizza joint that was in a town I swear was Northampton transported. We went to the shooting range. Met up with old friends. And talked about a year’s worth of conversations. Then, for good measure, we had another 20-hour day when we journeyed home, all the while dealing with constant meltdowns from the 4-year-old (because two perfect travel days would be too much).

Flooding – again. Meanwhile, folks back home got more than 9 inches of rain. So many roads are closed, it’s ridiculous. I had to go thirty minutes (and three routes) out of my way to get the kiddo to school and me to work. Please stop, rain. Although I appreciate that you didn’t breach the ceiling when you found a roof leak. Could always be worse, right?

At least, that’s what I’ll tell myself while Jeff is off getting flu-tested. Nothing says epic vacation like waking up dead-sick.

Fingers crossed, Monday. Please don’t kill me any more than you need to.

Two more days before I can start counting down for real.

October 29, 2015

We had a rule at our house: no counting down to the holidays until after Halloween. (Such a silly rule.) But you guys, it’s awfully hard to abide by such rules when there are so many fun plans afoot!

Like: Kim bought tickets for Christmas already. Huzzah!! She’ll “only” be here for two weeks this year, but I am already brimming with ideas of what we’ll cram into them. She flies down the Monday before Christmas, so she’ll be here for all the fun Christmas shenanigans (like our gingerbread competition), and doesn’t fly back until just after New Year’s, so she’ll be here for all the after-parties, too. She may or may not have plans involving the kids’ giant bonus gift, mwa ha ha….

Naturally, now that we kinda know the who and when of Christmas, I’ve been sorting through crafts and adventures and daytrips and all kinds of ideas for this year’s advent(ure) calendar. I always like to have a few new ideas to throw into the mix. And making lists and researching fun holiday ideas online has been a fun diversion this week when I need a minute or two away from the insanity of work and pets.

But those aren’t the only fun holidays plans taunting me. There’s more.

Like: Jeff and I bought tickets to travel to visit his family at Thanksgiving. I know. Meeting the family. I’m a bundle of nerves. And also excitement because the mountains of Denver, you guys! I can feel story ideas bubbling at my fingertips! And then nerves again because we’re taking the Xman with us and I’m sure it will be a piece of cake to meet all of Jeff’s family while being scrutinized as I co-parent his boisterous four-year-old. We fly up at the crack of middle-of-the-night on the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving and fly back the Sunday morning after. Four days. I can do four days, right? At least I’ve already met Jeff’s brother-in-law, so I know there’ll be a friendly in all the chaos.

So there you go. It’ll be grand fun, I’m sure, and even if things veer slightly off-track, it will still be a bloggable adventure. I just have to wait two days before I can start counting down…at least out loud.