Get it together, Mom.

August 22, 2017

Okay. It’s “only” Day 2.  I have lots of days to recover. And it could be worse. I realize there’s perspective. I just haven’t…found…it yet.

A good mom would remember to re-up Gracie’s lunch account balance.

A good mom would remember to create an account for Bee, in her new school district.

A good mom would have remembered to check on school lunch pack-ability at their other house before 9 p.m. But at least I offered to drop packed lunches off if it was needed?

It’s going to be a long, long year.

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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.

Back-ish.

August 8, 2017

1,000 emails of work on the wall,

1,000 emails of work!

Take one down,

pass it around…

999 emails of work on the wall.

Okay, yeah, not quite how the song goes, but I think I might have something there. It goes very nicely with the case of very itchy, very wheezy hives that suffocated me last night and nearly sent me to the emergency room. I was hoping those, at least, would be gone by morning, but not so much luck.

But it’s okay. The day will pass one way or another. So! Ready or not, here I go! Vacation stories will wait for a bit. They’ll be a good reward for making it through this day.

Supermama mode is exhausting!

July 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That drawer did not want to attach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five for Friday.

July 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Book Reviews: The Catch-up Post.

July 20, 2017

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, but it’s been even longer since I’ve reviewed the books I’ve been reading. And since I’ve busted through my slump (again), I’m still about four books behind pace for my goal of 31 books this month.

Because I have so many books left unreviewed, I’m going to pick and choose some to review, and just list the rest. That way we’ll have a clean slate for next time, and if you want to know more, you can ask about particular titles down in the comments. Ta da!

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay (2017, HarperCollins, 320 pages, ebook). Ms. Gay is one of the authors I will pre-order, no matter how broke, no matter the topic, no matter whether I am physically able to even read at that moment. She speaks nothing but truth, and her truth slays. Such was the case with Hunger, which I knew explored Gay’s lifelong battle with eating disorders, but because I knew I was going to read the memoir, I didn’t delve deeper than that in the pre-released hype. So I was unprepared for the story beneath the story: that much of Gay’s eating disorder stemmed from being gang-raped at a very young age. I knew Gay had been raped; I was not aware of the circumstances. It was a very difficult book to read, because of how Gay kept laying the words down one after another, surgically revealing layer after layer after layer of history and fact and feeling. She made it clear it was not to exorcise anything; she was not a survivor, but a victim, unwilling to mitigate one mili-measurement of blame that so righteously belongs at the feet of her abusers. Still: when a book hits close to home, the words are hard to read. At the time, I rated the book as a 4-star read because Gay jumped around when I wanted her to shine her light more brightly into a corner I was still examining, and because for me, as a reader, being compelled to read factors in to my rating system. This book I had to put down because so. many. ghosts. Still…Roxane Gay slays dragons, you guys. And that deserves fair princesses in all kinds of guises. Including the 5 of 5 stars variety.

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (2016, Ecco, 368 pages, library book). 2 1/2 of 5 stars.

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, by Xiaolu Guo (2007, Nan E. Talese, 283 pages, library eloan). For my READ HARDER romance challenge! 2 of 5 stars.

The Other, by Thomas Tryon (1971, Alfred A. Knopf, 280 pages, eloan). Okay, you guys, I get why this horror story was so influential. You can see how King and everyone else drew inspiration. And not only horror authors, but Hollywood and even those writing the beautiful scores that set the mood for the movies and play in my head while I’m reading. But still…as much as I loved the mood and shiftiness, the suspense that reminded me of books like Henry James’ The Turning of the Screw, I didn’t like the stuffiness that accompanied it, the language that kept pulling me out, which sounded more like Knowles’ A Separate Peace. It sounded dated. Antiquated. And…meh. 2 of 5 stars.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2017, Clarion, 452 pages, library eloan). Good YA book that discusses adoption, LGBTQIA+ issues, and is written by a POC. 3 of 5 stars.

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (1991, Dell, 850 pages, paperback). Re-read! But still 5 of 5 stars.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide, by Peter Allison (2007, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 243 pages, ebook). Re-read. 3 of 5 stars.

Don’t Turn Around: A Safari Guide’s Encounters with Ravenous Lions, Stampeding Elephants, and Lovesick Rhinos, by Peter Allison (2009, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 240 pages, ebook). Re-read. 3 of 5 stars.

Loving Day, by Mat Johnson (2015, Spiegel & Grau, 287 pages, ebook). I picked this up as a Deal of the Day and didn’t quite know what to make of it at first. The voice was catchy, like falling into a David Bradley novel, and the subject would bounce back and forth between nerdtastic and straight up whacked. I loved the way ghosts played with the racial identity fumbling and searching. I loved the dark humor. I did not like how the second half of the book felt less structured and more of a plot-of-convenience. It was a book I longed to read with my New Black Aesthetic class back in college. 4 of 5 stars.

All Grown Up, by Jami Attenberg (2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 197 pages, library book). I liked Attenberg’s The Middlesteins alright, and even with my criticisms I could see the author had a whipsmart handle on psychology and knew how to wield her knowledge like a weapon. All the same, if I had know All Grown Up was going to be a novella told in second-person quasi-prose, philosophizing on everything I think about when I’m not supposed to be thinking. It’s a study in an almost-40-year-old woman’s narrative. Or, at least, of a kind. 4 of 5 stars.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?, by Alyssa Mastromonaco (2017, Twelve, 244 pages, library book). I’d seen this book around and was intrigued at what a higher-up female political operative could tell me about the behind-the-scenes happenings of one of my favorite presidents – and how much would it differ from what I’ve learned from The West Wing? (Answer: Not a lot, and almost entirely, all at the same time.) I wish the book had been structured into tighter chapters with narrower focus, because as it stood, I found the dull parts hard to avoid, but the good bits hilariously entertaining and informative. It was just hard to predict what would fall where. It was a lovely trip down memory lane, making me pine for President Obama’s reign to return and save us all. 3 of 5 stars.

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, by Joshilyn Jackson (2012, Grand Central Publishing, 322, eloan). 2 of 5 stars.

We Are Unprepared, by Meg Little Reilly (2016, Mira, 362 pages, used paperback). 1 of 5 stars. (But good to laugh at, sort of like Zoo, if you like to laugh at unintentionally funny environmental thrillers.

Boy, 9, Missing, by Nic Joseph (2016, Sourcebooks Landmark, 329 pages, library book). 2 of 5 stars.

It’s Fine By Me, by Per Peterson (2012, Greywolf Press, 199 pages, eloan). 2 of 5 stars. [Sidenote: I adore Graywolf Press – they’re one of my favorites and just seeing their imprint can sway me to pick up a book – and I usually love reading books in translation, so I think this might just have been a right book, wrong time situation.]

Alphabet, by Kathy Page (2005, George Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 264 pages, eloan). 2 of 5 stars.

Lily and the Octopus, by Steven Rowley (2016, Simon & Schuster, 307 pages, eloan). There was a lot of eye-rolling involved. And so you know – I love a good dog story. I loved Marley & Me (uh…right until a certain chapter about a certain clearing at the end of a certain path). I loved Art of Racing in the Rain even more! I thought Lily was going to be an odd sort of mishmash of the two. But oh no. The magical realism felt forced. The popular acclaim promised via stickers all over the (digital) cover raised expectations that were never met. Lily? Not my favorite pet. It’s possible that I’m jaded by my ex-boyfriend’s demon dog who also happened to be a dachshund. More likely it’s that the author jumped from subject to subject and “cute” anecdote to another without properly explaining the last one so’s you could understand what the heck really happened. I think Rowley was trying to do too much, riffing and trilling and soloing before he had laid down a proper foundation. Or maybe that’s just the way it read to me. But – at least I didn’t cry? 1 of 5 stars.

What You Don’t Know, by JoAnn Chaney (2017, Mantle, 384 pages, eloan). 2 of 5 stars.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places, by Colin Dickey (2016, Viking, 320 pages, eloan). I love ghost stories…in the daytime. They scare the shit outta me after sunset! Dickey’s selection of cities, businesses, houses, unusual locations, and other places was varied, well researched, and entirely believable – and that’s coming from someone who vacillates between being scared to not believe, and wanting furiously to believe if only to prove there’s something more after this is all over. Dickey’s writing is professional and entertaining – not an easy feat to maintain for so long a book. It’s not quirky enough to earn the title of cult classic, but conversational enough to pull in a varied audience. It’ll make a great gift for the believer and non-believer alike – and the hardcover is pretty enough for coffee table display. 4 of 5 stars.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, by A.S. King (2014, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 307 pages, eloan). 2 of 5 stars.

Still Life with Tornado, by A.S. King (2016, Dutton Books for Young Readers, 295 pages, eloan). King is one of my favorite contemporary Young Adult authors: she’s edgy and whipsmart. She doesn’t talk down to her readers, but isn’t afraid to ask them to think around corners or tackle magical realism or any other device or topic that might be entirely new (or a little intimidating, even if the reader is 38). So I wasn’t surprised that Still Life was asking me to believe two, three, four different versions of our protag were walking the city at the same time, visiting our protag’s home and staying for dinner with the family without being noticed. 10-year-old Sarah joins Sarah at the dinner table and no one notices? Um…okay. It was weird at first, and I wasn’t sure that I liked it, but as the narrative flipped between past and present, and more clues were revealed and – even more so – after I had finished the book and digested it bit by bit, piece by piece, I realized how much more transformative the reading experience was. I wouldn’t say I loved the book; I certainly wouldn’t say it’s a reading experience for just anyone. But it was different. It was remarkable. And for someone who reads as much as I do, being surprised by a book – especially an umpteenth book by the same writer you’ve read before – is worth noting, indeed. 4 of 5 stars.

There are more – so many more! – but let’s leave some for next week, shall we? God, I love when I actually get books read! BOOM!

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!

It’s going to be a very long month.

July 11, 2017

It’s only been three days. Wait, no – scratch that. Two days. I saw the girls the day before yesterday. But two days feels like three days; it feels a long longer than even “just” three! The girls are spending their month of summer visitation with their dad, and it feels like an eternity.

When the girls were little – those late toddler years and early school years – July was a much needed respite from broken nights of sleep and exhausted late evening hours filled with whining and bickering. I could sleep in sometimes as much as 45 whole minutes on work mornings if I didn’t need to drop the girls off at daycare, or, later, twenty minutes if I didn’t need to drop them off at Stepmom’s. I could spend evenings hanging at Crisanna’s pool, or on my own patio in a lounge chair reading a book. I could cook grown-up meals with herb-crusted chicken and asparagus or mac&cheese that didn’t involve shapes. It was a delirious month-long staycation, even though there was still work and responsibility. I still got to see Bee and Gracie for dinner two nights a week, and I still got to keep my weekends, and that was just enough time to enjoy fun summer activities, but take a break from each other so we could leap into each others’ arms and finish off the summer with gusto and renewed appreciation for one another’s company. And that’s just how it worked out.

But then this thing happened when my daughters morphed from little kids with all the trappings of early childhood (tantrums, stubbornness, grouchies, minds of their own, the Up And Down Bedtime Brigade, , vivid imaginations in the middle of the night, picky appetites…) into imaginative and delightful kids in the thick of middle childhood, and then Young Adults and burgeoning Actual People who I would be honored to call my friends. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m their mama, not their friend. I am not afraid to pull rank or put my foot down. I set the rules, and I expect them to be followed. Without fail. There are consequences for rule-breakage. And there are rewards when toes stay on the right side of the line. And for the most part, that’s how it goes, generally. I have good kids. Kids I enjoy spending time with. Kids I like watching – and discussing – movies with, or participating in readathons with, or going adventuring with. It’s fun! It’s not fun all the time, but enough of the times.

Enough of the time for me to feel it keenly this year. More this year than other years. Because my house is really empty this year. This year there is no boyfriend or boyfriend’s extremely willful kindergardner-who-acts-like-a-toddler. This year there is no puppy-dog to hang out with, or cuddle with, or talk to, or go on runs with. It was more than two years ago when I picked out the boyfriend, and more than three years ago when I adopted the puppy-dog, and that long ago the girls were still in the blossoming stages of middle childhood. Young enough that I still needed the break. Long enough ago that things were different.

And so July is passing by turtle slow. There are 90 minutes left before I’ll see the girls again and enjoy my mid-week sleepover. A week-and-a-half before my next weekend with them. Seventeen more sleeps before vacation. And after vacation, July will be over and I will have survived it for one more year! And, if my memory serves, almost immediately after that, there will some sort of incident that comes with an inevitable rock re-entry that will make me wish we were still back in July.

But that, like July, will pass. My girls will be home and all will be well.

All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Or, so I’ve been told.

This is a giving of thanks, not a complaint.

July 10, 2017

Readers, this totally bizarre and crazy thing has been happening around here.But first, let me explain.

You understand that I live in North Texas, the place of insane summer heat and near-constant drought. I’ve lived here for 17 years now, and I realized early on that there’s a flow to these things, the sun and the heat and the cooling rains. Spring here, lasts about four minutes long, in terms of “spring-like” temperatures. More what it means is rain. It rains here in the spring and we all rejoice, because we know what’s coming. When summer sets in, the rains stop. We get a last round of rain and storms at the very beginning of June, and then the 100° weather sets in, and the rain stops. Like, dead stops. No more rain for us until around the middle of August. Seriously – it’s usually a birthday present for me that we get rain and I do a happy rain dance. If the first rain happens when we’re at work, you’ll see everyone abandon their work stations and run outside to rejoice like little kids in a snow flurry. It’s adorable.

But this year – this year is, like I said, totally bizarre and a little crazy.

This year the temps have hit the 100°-mark more than once and the heat has been crazy at times, but in both directions, which is odd. For all the times that it’s been rather high, we’ve also had days when the highs were in the high 80s. And for June in Tejas, well that’s just absurd! Even crazier: it’s still raining, well into July. And not just here and there – it’s raining and storming every night! Whether it’s a round of storms in the afternoon about 3 or 4 o’clock, or a round later in the evenings about 9 or 10 o’clock, it’s been happening just about daily. It’s like summers in Massachusetts when we had a daily thunderstorm just to clear the air of all that humidity before the day carried on with whatever it is days carry on with. Of course, in Massachusetts, the storms were usually just some thunder and some bruise-colored clouds; here, the storms look a little more benign to look at, but they can do a little more damage. Last week, one of the storms dropped two inches of rain in just 45 minutes!

They aren’t fun to drive around in, for doctors’ appointments and bringing the girls here and there for the July schedule, and whatnot.

NOT that any of this is a complaint! It certainly beats being one month in to a brutally long Texas summer. I’ll muster the bravery it takes to face ferocious storms all on my own. For cooler temps and a little bit extra rain, I’d do much more!

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