Reading: Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie and Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr. Onboard to read next are From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein and The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters by Sam Kashner. I’m trying to branch out from my go-to topics of WW1, WW2 and presidents/First Ladies, but the library didn’t have the five other books I wanted so I went to the old standbys. Laughing at: these portraits Annabelle drew of me. This one is fairly accurate. Messy bun. Big earrings. “Lots of eyelashes because I know you like eyelashes.”
Believe it or not, the picture on the left is also me. She said it’s me “reaching for the moon.” I cannot look at it without laughing. It’s so funny and she has no idea why it makes me laugh. I will keep it forever and put it in her graduation and wedding slideshows. I can’t wait to show it to her in a few years. She’ll be mortified and I’ll think it’s hysterical.
Baking: homemade tortillas and naan. I’m trying to add to my cooking and baking repertoire which has led me down the path of making bread and bread adjacent recipes. The naan didn’t turn out right but that was due to user error, not recipe error. I got halfway through the recipe before realizing we didn’t have eggs. I made an egg substitute with baking soda and white vinegar but (unsurprisingly) it didn’t work as well. It tasted ok but we need to redo it. I want to make French bread but Publix is constantly out of yeast and I’m not about to concoct a substitute for that. A few weeks ago, Sesame and I made a mixed berry pie with homemade pie crust. I used a new recipe that called for white vinegar. It tasted odd but I told AB it would taste better after we filled and baked it. It did not. It was HORRIBLE. Hideous. It tasted like a cocktail of chemicals and nail polish remover. That’s the day I discovered that there’s cleaning white vinegar with “NOT A FOOD PRODUCT” printed on the side and regular white vinegar suitable for cooking. We could not get the taste from our mouths.
(I had to X out of giphy.com while looking for a good gif. Ever since I was pregnant I cannot look at or hear someone gag or vomit without having flashbacks of spending hours leaning over the toilet. I feel myself being seconds away from throwing up. Hyperemesis has forever scarred me.)
Not going: to Walmart. For years I went to Walmart multiple times a month. We did a large part of our grocery shopping there and I’d constantly be running in for odds and ends. I haven’t been since a few days before the cruise in March. It was back in the timeframe known as BtSV- Before the Stupid Virus. That’s an official name that will be used in all history books when they refer to this time. Walmarts here are not the cleanest of places in the best of times, but now they’re even more questionable. I’m going on six months since my last visit and part of me wants to know how long I can keep it up for. The other part of me decided today I need to suck it up and go back to Wally World because it’s significantly cheaper for basics and I will take one of the team to have a thicker wallet.
Sad about: our good friends moving. Just months after we moved here we met the sweetest family at church. When they found out we don’t have family here the husband said, “We’ll be your family” and they really have been. AB and I have had endless playdates with them. Sarah and I always go to our town’s big consignment sale together and convince each other that we DO need to buy the girls another smocked dress. We have our favorite playgrounds to meet at. I decorated the cupcakes for their daughter’s birthday and Sarah took me out when I lost Elliot. I’ve never once in three years been out in public with Sarah and not run into at least one person she knows. I keep telling her to run for mayor. Their daughter has dealt with several major health issues and AB has learned how to play with someone who needs more time or help doing normal things. It’s been so sweet to watch her care for Lana.
Very sadly for me, they’re moving to Japan this month. I cannot tell you the sadness this brings me. We just finished redoing our kitchen but we might need to sell the house so I can move with them. I stitched this for them as a going away gift. They adopted their sweet little girl from China so I incorporated that in with the flag.
Laughing: at AB’s remarks. I have never been a bikini person but I recently wore a two-piece bathing suit in the hot tub. The top was a little small so I wore a swim shirt over it. As usual, Annabelle had several questions about what was happening. “Why are you wearing a shirt? You never wear shirts when you swim.” “Because I’m not wearing a regular bathing suit and the top is too small so I’m trying to be modest.” “Are you wearing a zucchini?” Zucchini. Bikini. Same thing.
Reading: Stand All the Way Up by Sophie Hudson and The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts
Listening to: Virgin River by Robyn Carr. I watched the show on Netflix and a friend recommended the books. It’s very well written but significantly more steamy than the show. I popped my earbuds in very fast so AB didn’t hear anything I would have to explain.
When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi. In another life, I have a dream of being a brain surgeon so I enjoy reading about surgeons and pretending that I too could have saved lives in the OR. I’d also like to be an astronaut and when I was young, I dreamed of being a cash register. I really wanted to hold all those dolla bills. Neither has come true but Pinterest tells me to never give up on my dreams.
Annabelle has been “playing” the recorder lately. There is a direct connection between her playing and the increase of me wearing my headphones.
Wearing: After many many years of searching and experimenting, I am proud to announce I have finally found the perfect mascara.
I sent Christopher the link Annabelle knows my love language is mascara and gave it to me for my birthday. It has lived up to every good review I’ve ever heard.
Completely over: this stupid virus. It’s outstayed it’s welcome!
Returning to: church. Yesterday we finally got to meet in the building. There was only a smattering of the normal members, but it was really nice to be back. It’s unbelievable how much has changed since the last time we were there. Every other pew was roped off and they all had humorous signs attached to the ropes.
Not wearing: lipgloss. Masks have made lipgloss a thing of the past which is the real tragedy of the ‘rona.
Eating: I consider myself to be a potato chip connoisseur. I keep a running list in my head of good brands and what to steer clear of. For a while, Panera changed their chips from the brown bag to another, subpar brand and I almost wrote to management about it, but they brought back the chips in the brown bag so they’re back in my good graces. I was recently at TJMaxx and found a new brand- Deep River Snacks. Their chips are a tad salty but the thickness and crunch level are top-notch.
Another snack discovery is Bobo’s oatmeal snack bites. Warmed up they’re a good snack and taste a little like pie. Annabelle has turned down her nose at them but I like them. I got them in the TJMaxx snack section which is our poor-town version of Trader Joes.
Filling in: some gaps in education. Annabelle recently said something to me about “when cows lay eggs”. I didn’t know that was a gap in her knowledge! I thought she knew they didn’t come from eggs! Later that day, we are walking across the parking lot and she said, ”Do you think it was a good idea for bombs to drop on Hiroshima and Gagasnaki?” We have two VERY different ends of the educational spectrum here.
Dreading: the family presentation we have to give at the homeschool group in a few weeks. I know it’s coming up soon but I haven’t checked the email for the exact date because once I know I won’t be able to stop the countdown clock in my head. This morning my friend asked me if we had done it yet and said, “You say you went to visit your friend a few weeks ago but I thought you might have skipped out because it was your day.” That does sound like something I’d do and may or may not be planning to do on our week. Annabelle told me, “Mom. I’ll teach you how to give talks.” How much can I pay her to do the whole presentation while I sit in the corner cowering from the secondhand embarrassment of our family being the center of attention?
Trying: a new allowance/job system. I strongly believe in not paying children to do everyday chores. I will never hand money to my child for making her bed or cleaning up after a meal. She needs to learn to be a productive member of the family and society. I don’t want her growing up thinking she lives in a hotel or that she needs to be paid for hanging up her backpack. However, I will occasionally have Annabelle do a job, such as sweeping the garage or washing all the doorknobs in the house, that is beyond her normal chores and give her a few quarters. I want her to learn to manage money so I started a system I heard about on a podcast. Every day I write three chores/jobs she needs to complete that day. When all three are done, she checks the box for that day. If she does all three things every day for the week, she will get two dollars. If she completes all the jobs for every day of the month I will give her an extra two dollars. I told her some of it will be in quarters that she’ll have one jar for saving some long term and another jar for tithing at church, but beyond that, she can save or spend the rest. It feels silly to pay for getting goggles out, but I’m hoping this will help her get in the habit of checking her list and learning she needs to be responsible if she wants to earn money.
We’re two days in and it’s worked well so far. Come back next month to see if the momentum has stayed.
Wondering: when someone will start paying me for all the chores I do around here.
Reading: so much. I had a bit of a reading dry spell but I’m back in the reading game.
House Rules by Jodi Picoult. I’ve only read one of Jodi’s books that didn’t suck me in and this was no exception. I read it by the dying light from the fireplace like Laura Inglass of ye olden prairie days.
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austen. I’m only two chapters in so I haven’t fully developed an opinion, but the title caught my attention at the library and the subject matter is not one I normally read.
“These days, so many voices tell us what to do, what to think, and what kind of parent or friend or spouse to be that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated. Somewhere in the midst of online arguments and crazy politics and the ups and downs of life, we’ve lost sight of the gifts that are all around us: kindness, love, mercy, and joy.”
As someone who always tries to look on the bright side of life, I enjoy reading someone else’s perspective on trying to do the same thing. She always makes me laugh and I’m a little offended she hasn’t asked me be my friend or started texting me memes yet.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Michelle said to read this book months ago and I finally started it on Saturday. I don’t know why I waited so long. Michelle seldom steers me wrong in books so I should have checked it out the day she told me about it. I’m slightly concerned about falling and hitting my head and not remembering my life, but other than that it’s great.
Always giggling at: dad jokes.
Not a dad joke but so accurate because it happens seventeen times a week at my house. I can almost see the cat rolling her eyes.
Watching: You’ve Got Mail. I watch it every year and every time I love it more. I like to pretend it’s based off my relationship with Christopher as we also got to know each other over email. If Meg Ryan ever wants to play me in a movie I won’t complain. I forgot that the little girl in the movie is named Annabelle which further strengthens my theory that the movie is about us.
Blue Planet. AB wasn’t feeling well on Friday so we had a low-key (she calls it “slow key”) day. For science we watched a few episodes of Blue Planet on Netflix. It’s the companion series to the Planet Earth series and so well done. It’s fascinating.
Wearing: shorts and short sleeves because it’s still 70* and 80* during the day. It was 59* the night we went trick or treating and everyone was bundled up like we live on the North Pole. I tried explaining it’s appropriate Fall weather but they couldn’t hear through their earmuffs.
Sharing: my pearls of wisdom with the captive audience that is my offspring. To be honest, sometimes I don’t know who is the captive audience of who, she gets so clingy. I am very dedicated to raising AB and any future children to be kind. She has two signs about kindness in her room and I’m constantly reminding her to treat others with kindness and respect. When we were leaving the doctors office the other day, I went into too much detail explaining what “it’s better to be kind then right” means. I was really proud of my explanation and was sure she had soaked up every word and would apply it to her life immediately. Alas, she had not. She asked me a question about the office roof.
Baffled by: people who like raccoons. A friend at work told me she was shopping at Target and saw a woman in the store holding a baby raccoon wrapped in a blanket. A BABY RACCOON IN TARGET. The lady didn’t want to leave the raccoon in the car alone but she couldn’t buy her raccoon supplies while holding the raccoon. My friend offered to hold the raccoon while the lady picked up what she needed. Raccoon rescuer was hesitant that my friend would “steal the raccoon” but she accepted the help. My friend did not steal the raccoon even though apparently SHE’S BEEN WANTING A PET RACCOON. This place is so weird.
Slaving over: Halloween costumes. I give AB until October 1st to change her mind about her costume. Whatever she wants on October 1st is what I make and what she is without complaining. For months she said tiger so I bought the necessary supplies weeks ago but didn’t get around to starting it until last Saturday. The upheaval of the last several weeks took away all energy for dealing with orange felt and clothes from Walmart. All the sudden it was five days before trunk or treat at church and I had done nothing. I frantically began cutting stripes and gluing them to the clothes. I was halfway done when she announced on Tuesday that she didn’t want to be a tiger anymore. She was no respecter of my efforts and said she’d like to be Elena of Avalor instead. Because she already had the costume from the cruise last year so I let her switch. There’s no way I’d be whipping up an elaborate princess dress 24 hours before she needed it. For trunk or treat she brought her tiger with fabric tied around his body to make wings. She stood and acted in a ladylike and princessly manner.
The next night she stuck a plastic hammer in her belt and whipped it out to defend us against inflatables in neighbors yards. A few little boys we were with had light sabers and she fought them off with her hammer, never caring that they’re weapons were four times the size of hers. A princess has to defend her family however she can!
Chaperoning: Annabelle and Grayson’s second annual date at the fair.
Expect to receive their wedding invitation in 2039.
Listening to: stories from AB’s swimming teacher. She’s had a very interesting life and each week she shares such odd stories I sometimes wonder if she’s stretching the truth a little. I asked how she met her current (third) husband and she said at the mailbox. I asked if he was a mailman and she said he was not. He was going out to the mailbox to mail his divorce papers at the same time she was getting her mail while walking her dog. He said, “I like your dog.” She said, “I like your truck.” They’ve been together 43 years. And just like that, Brad Paisley has the outline for a new country song.
Waiting for: Annabelle to finish ballet class. It’s her first ballet lesson of the year and we barely rolled in on time because we got stuck behind a school bus. I accidentally got black sharpie on her pink tights while writing her initials on her shoes. She had an applesauce pouch on the way and spilled half of it on her leotard. I do not like dirty clothes. I don’t have any problem with her playing hard and having fun, but I very seldom bring her out in public with dirty clothes or a dirty face. She had Cheez-It crumbs on her face, applesauce stains on her leotard and sharpie on her legs. She’s a walking billboard in support of Shout and laundry detergent companies everywhere. It’s a humbling moment for me.
Considering: retiring from my night job. It’s been going along fine for several months now but this past Saturday was a real doozy. I like my boss, but I don’t like when she stays during the class. If I’m going to mess up it’s guaranteed that I’ll mess up when she walks by. First off, we were offering free mimosas. I didn’t know that we were mixing the juice and champagne separately so I handed out several cups of plain juice with not a drop of champagne. It’s been so humid we’d started using modgepodge to help hold the stencil on the wood. Modgepodge and white paint look exactly alike. I knew we had both in little cups on the table, so I smelled both and told the three closest people which cup was which. What do you think I gave the lady at my table to glue her stencil down? Not modgepodge. She started dabbing with the white paint in a place she didn’t want white paint. OF COURSE, the boss happened to be at the end of my table and saw the whole interaction. I don’t know what happened. Maybe all my sniffing of paint and glue messed up my brain cells. A lady asked if I’d help her paint an ombre sunset on the background of her sign. What I should have said was no. What I did say was sure! I’d be happy to! We ended up repainting the whole background because it looked so bad.
Laughing at: Annabelle. She’s been listening to hours upon hours of the kids podcast, Circle Round. Every episode is a folk tale from a different country and includes little sayings and tidbits of wisdom she likes to throw into daily conversation. We were having a picnic lunch at her playhouse and as she climbed through the window she said, “Every time a door closes, go through a window.” long pause “But it’s important to make sure that window isn’t locked before you try to go through it.” She has gotten so funny and really understands jokes and puns.
Pondering: how to discuss death with AB. We’re very open about discussing most topics in a child-appropriate way, so when our fish died I assumed she’d have questions since she hasn’t had much experience with death. We talked about why the fish died (most likely cause of death was heart attack thanks to being tortured by the cats) and that was about it. She’d stop every so often to look at him floating in the tank but didn’t say much. When I was sending him down the porcelain express she furrowed her brow and said, “What was that fish’s name, again?” Needless to say she isn’t going to lose much sleep over Martin VanBluey.
Listening to: new podcasts. I’ve added the following to my regular rotation-
Kind World. The episodes are all less than 10 minutes, but each one is someone telling the story of how another person’s kindness impacted their life. I love it. Most of the episodes are interviews with people from Boston which is the cherry on top.
Every Little Thing is one of the educational podcasts I’ve started. The episodes discuss topics such as how to get paid to clap on tv or why baseball stadiums have organs. I listen to the episodes then pass along the information to my family as if I spent hours researching.
Ear Hustle. It’s produced by a man in prison with the help of a woman who works there. For unknown reasons, I have a deep fascination with prisons. It’s such a foreign life and while I hope my recent life of crime never lands me in jail, I’m very interested in the goings on there.
Reading: Murder by Family by Kent Whitaker. Kent’s son orchestrated the killing of his mother, brother and attempted but failed murder of Kent himself. I remember hearing about the story when it happened a few years ago and saw someone mention the book a few weeks ago. I brought it camping and while it wasn’t a breezy beach read, I devoured it. The author talks about how he forgave the killers in the hospital before he knew about his son’s involvement. He goes into detail about how forgiving his son doesn’t mean he was any less devastated by the actions, but gave him the ability to grieve without also harboring hatred which would only bring him more pain.
On to lighter things! No need to talk about murderers anymore.
Taking: step classes. I don’t recommend it to anyone. It’s so frustrating, hard to keep up with and so hard.
A mom from school invited me to a class and I thought, why not? What’s can go wrong? I’ll tell you what might go wrong. You might miss the step and slip off the side. You might get your legs twisted up and look like a Twisler. You mistakenly face right when everyone is facing left which means suddenly you’re face to face with the rest of the class. Especially don’t go to the class with the two pregnant ladies in the front row. You’ll feel really bad about yourself when they’re doing full pushups on the floor and you’re doing half pushups on the bench because it saves you from having to lower your body the additional 4″ to the floor. I thought I’d be ok at step since I’m fairly decent at zumba but no way, Jose. If you mess up in zumba you can say you were being moved by the music. If you mess up in step you’re screwed AND ASK ME HOW I KNOW.
All that being said, I’ve gone to five classes. My personal rule is to not do any type of exercise I don’t like, but I need to get in shape and zumba and strolls around the pond aren’t cutting it. So I continue to go but not have a good attitude. In fact, I was so frustrated this week that I told the teacher I had to leave 15 minutes early because I had an appointment. I didn’t let her know it was an appointment to sit in my car and make myself think happy thoughts.
Misunderstanding: the Bible study book. The lady leading the study said the book was about Jeremiah, but I got to chapter 7 with nary a word being said about Jeremiah. I was so confused but since I missed the first 4 meetings I thought maybe I missed how Jeremiah tied in. I am BY FAR the least holy in the group, so I didn’t want to ask for clarification and tell them I didn’t understand the entire book. It wasn’t until last week that I looked at the cover and realized that it was written by David Jeremiah. It wasn’t about the Jeremiah in the Bible. Drop me an email if you want me to bring my knowledge of all things biblical to your church group.
Proud of: AB’s generous heart. I told her we should make thank you cards for her VBS teachers but it was such a busy week I forgot. All week at art camp she had been collecting “treasures”. They were sequins, buttons, tiny pieces of paper and ribbons she picked up off the floor. As we left VBS on the last night, she said she found a treasure in her pocket and gave it to Miss Robin as a thank you. She said she thought a good way to thank her would be by sharing her treasures. She’s such a little lovebug.