Currently, the beginning of November edition

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.

currently, the short edition

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. 

Currently- the mid-June edition

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.

Giggling at: 

Currently- the february edition

Rooting for: Chance the Rapper. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say this is very uncharacteristic of me. I don’t like rap and wouldn’t recognize him if we were stuck on an elevator together. However, a few months ago I heard that he was taking a sabbatical to simultaneously read the bible and quit smoking. I’ve been keeping close tabs on his progress. The last day he gave us a no smoking update was back in December so I’m thinking that train may have derailed, but maybe he’s decided to keep that to himself. I’m concerned that he might never quit because two comments from that December 15th post about not smoking said “Smoke week instead, Chance. I got u some.” I guess he hasn’t gotten to the bible verse about bad company corrupting good morals yet. 

Learning: first aid. We had first aid certification this morning as part of our foster care class. The lady demonstrated everything then had us go up two at a time to practice on the mannequins. She said to do thirty quick presses so I did. Come to find out I was pushing on the stomach and not the correct spot between the breast bones. In my efforts to resuscitate someone, I gave them a stomach ache. 

Finishing: our foster classes. Today was our last class. We have one more home visit and medical record to get and we’ll be ready to go. We told them we can’t take a child until after a trip we already have scheduled in March but we’ll be certified soon. We have a crib to set up but beyond that the house is ready.

Don’t get any ideas about robbing our house while we’re gone. The guard cats have this place on lockdown. 

Nervous about: foster care. There are so many things that could go wrong. Everything little thing has to be documented and there’s so much government involvement. It’s going to disrupt our family in a way a second biological child wouldn’t. We don’t know the age of the child, beyond requesting that it be younger than Annabelle, and who knows the trauma the child will have been through. Every week I left the class half glad we were doing it but kind of wanting to throw in the towel say thanks but no thanks, this isn’t for me. I don’t want to love a child for months then have to give it back to the birth parents. On the other hand, I feel strongly that it’s something we need to do so we’re going to try. If it doesn’t work out then so be it, but at least we tried. I read this on facebook and I want to plaster it on my wall.

Fostering – “I could never do that.” One of if not THE most common phrases I’ve heard when the topic of foster care comes up. It’s usually followed with “it would break my heart” or “I would get too attached.” I know a lot of people don’t really know what foster care is and I understand where that comment is coming from but I want to say something: THAT IS LITERALLY THE POINT… Will we get attached? Yes. Will it be hard? Absolutely. Will we grieve? Yes. But foster care isn’t for people who won’t get attached & won’t grieve…it’s for the people who will. Because that is what this and every child who is a victim of insufficient care needs- someone who will get attached, to love them like their own, and yes…someone who will grieve. The church needs to understand this-we aren’t called to attend services once a week and sing a few songs, try our best, pay our taxes and go to heaven when we die…that’s not the gospel. The gospel is NOW. Jesus’s message was, “The kingdom of God is here!” If you have a heart for the hurting and a passion to stand in the gap and advocate for the needy, but you’re afraid you “could never do that” I want you to think about where that fear is coming from…it’s the enemy’s plan to stop the kingdom of God from manifesting on the earth today- he uses fear to do it and it is rendering the church useless in our community. Don’t be afraid to grieve, be afraid of what will happen to these children if we don’t lay our lives down to love them.

-Alyssa Short

Binge eating: gobstoppers. I didn’t think I’d ever eaten a gobstopper before starting the classes but I put some down the last five weeks. Each table had a pile of candy every week and I would eat a gobstopper every time I got nervous or stressed. I ate A LOT.

Smiling about: AB’s school valentine party. She changed her mind last minute about which valentines she wanted me to print so we ended up a gluing a paper heart to the end of a pencil and calling it a day. I wanted to attach the pencil to a card that said “You’re the write friend for me” but she didn’t appreciate the pun. She was so excited I got to stay at school for a while. She also made sure everyone knew the decor I made were “lovebugs, not butterflies. I mean, I know they’re like butterflies but they’re lovebugs. My mom made them. They’re not dragonflies either.”

currently- the unChristmasy December edition

Pondering: Jesus’ mother Mary. People often talk about how she had to tell Joseph she was pregnant, but I’d like to hear how the conversation with her parents went down. “Hey Mom, here’s the jug of water you wanted oh and btw, I’m pregnant and if you can tell Dad so I don’t have to that would be great. K, thanks bye.” 

Proud of: Annabelle and her desire to help the less fortunate. I gave her a quarter to give the Salvation Army outside of HobLob and the action really stuck. When we got home, she collected four baskets (she wanted all the coins to be separated), found her jingle bells and walked around the yard looking for people who would give her money for the poor people. She asked if we could walk around the neighborhood and knock on doors. It was so sweet. As much as I want to encourage her generosity, I was not about to knock on rednecks doors and ask for donations. Instead, I told her she can collect coins she finds in parking lots and donate that money.

Saving: money. I am very thrifty. Outside of groceries, I seldom buy items without coupons or discount codes. I have swagbucks, ibotta and several money-saving apps. I saved up my Walgreens points and got $50 worth of free products. I love a good deal. I was listening to a podcast and they had an excellent deal for The New Yorker magazine. It was something like 50% off plus an additional $10 off PLUS a free tote bag. I all but pulled over as I drove so I could get the deal before it ended. Then I remembered I don’t even like The New Yorker. In my attempts to save money, I almost wasted money on a magazine I don’t read because it was 75% off. I cannot pass up a good deal!

Reading: Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips. I started it at 1 in the afternoon and stayed up until after 1:30am to finish it. I couldn’t put it down. If you’re like me and ever wondered what you would do if there was a shooting while you were at the zoo, this is the book for you. If that sounds like a terrible story then move right along. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve considered where I’d hide during a zoo attack and it all played out in this book. Some of it was a little wordy (something crawled over the mother’s foot which led to several paragraphs down memory lane blahblah) but overall it was engrossing. 

Apologizing to: the mother’s from AB’s school. When I dropped AB off at school on Wednesday I asked if she’s been behaving well. They gave a glowing report. When I picked her up, Miss Shiela pulled me aside and said, “Annabelle blurted out to the whole class that Santa Claus isn’t real.” She gave me a look that said I needed to get my truth-spreading child under control. I apologized profusely. The day before Annabelle was at swimming lessons and made the same announcement to the whole pool. I thought I had gotten through to her when I said she couldn’t say that in public because other children might not know. Now I keep my eyes averted when I see a mother from her class.
I was starting to regret telling her if it meant she’d ruin other children’s fun, but she told me “I’m glad you told me because I was wondering why I’ve seen so many different Santas out there.”

Protecting: Linus and Lucy. If they don’t make it, it will be because Sesame loved them to death. She’s trying to teach them how to play patacake and do the cooking game on the ipad. They’ve been dropped, squeezed, kissed, wrapped in blankets, made to dance and treated like babies. She loves them. They tolorate her. It’s an arrangement that’s worked well so far. 

currently, the it’s still hot out edition

I drove by my nail salon this morning and saw a blue Nissan Rogue out in front. I thought to myself, “I don’t know why my car is there.” It wasn’t. I was in my car. The heat has officially fried my brain.

Trying: a new exercise class. I’d heard about barre classes a few years ago but never lived near a place that had it. I happened upon a studio down the street from AB’s school that has a class from 12-12:45. That gives me 15 minutes to drive 6 minutes down the road and be at school in time for pick up. I really had no excuse not to go. My experience can be summed up in the following picture.

A kind lady showed me which room the class was in and what supplies I needed. She said I could use 1 or 2lb weights, it was up to me. I almost picked the 2lb because I didn’t want people to think I was a wimp plus there’s no need to show off all my skilz right away. I decided to go with the 1lb since it was my first class. Pride would indeed have gone before the fall because 10 minutes later I could barely lift those tiny weights. My arms were burning. My thighs were cramping. My abs were shaking like never before. It didn’t help that every other lady in the class was slim and trim and my reflection made me feel like a polar bear next to them. But I pressed on and even went back the next week. I’ve heard through the grapevine that it takes weeks of exercise to notice any significant change in the body. Personally, I think change needs to happen overnight to keep up morale but life can be so unfair.

Listening to: the Dr. Death podcast. I have a wide range of podcasts in my rotation but they were all put aside while I listened to Dr. Death. It’s the true story on an incompetent surgeon whose patients were paralyzed or even died after he operated on them. A few doctors tried to stop him but the hospital system didn’t remove him before he caused significant damage. I listened to it for two days straight. I got so sucked in and formed many theories. I need you all to listen so we can discuss.

Watching: Making It. Making It is a crafting competition. Each week they have two challenges to create and everyone is so so good. I LOVE IT. It makes my crafts look like they were made by a toddler, but I was still inspired to get out my glue gue and redecorate the playroom.
Bob Herzog. Bob is a newscaster based in Cinncinati. Every morning he makes little videos while he puts on his tv makeup, and on weekends he records himself telling stories from the week or life in general. He is so funny and don’t we need a little more funny in this world? Sometimes you need someone to tell a story about how they lost their keys under the floorboard of their car for weeks to make yourself feel like you’re not alone in ridiculous things happening. 

Reading: I’ll Love You Forever to AB. People get very worked up about that story. They say it’s creepy that the mother is rocking her boy when he’s a teenager and even when he’s grown. Here’s what I have to say to that- that book is basically my autobiography. Don’t think I won’t want to rock Annabelle when she’s older. I fully intend to follow her to college and set up camp outside her dorm room. Not that I’ll let her leave me for college, of course. She’ll live in her bedroom across the hall from me forever. 

Going: to the splash pad. It’s not often we slather on the sunscreen in October.