oh shucks

Last weekend we went to the pumpkin patch for our annual Fall day o’ fun. I always wear pants out of principle even though it’s in the 80s and more like shorts weather. We like to go there and sweat it out as we go down the giant tube slide, paint pumpkins, shoot the corn cannon, and more. When we arrived the place was dead. The man at the counter was surprised to see us. He said all the festivities ended the week before “because it’s almost December.” It was two weeks before Thanksgiving. Do people not like to have fun in November? We’re ready for fun at all times.

Given the limited options, we decided to do the corn maze. This corn maze had the added element of finding clues along the way to find out which farm animal kidnapped the farmer. Generally, I’m against paying for an event where I purposely get lost. I can (and do) get lost for free any old time! The last time I did a corn maze was when I was pregnant. I was maybe three months pregnant but we got so lost I thought I’d still be in there when it was time for me to have the baby. Now the baby that I almost had in the corn maze was leading the way (the blind leading the blind) while I brought up the rear and hoped for the best. She sang “Roses are red, violets are blue. Baby, I love you! That much is true!” I sang “Where you lead, I will follow” from Gilmore Girls but apparently it wasn’t a proper corn maze song because it “didn’t have enough of a beat.” I don’t think there should be so many rules in a corn maze shaped like a pig.

Sesame’s summer as told by Sesame

“I don’t do blogs but I guess I can help with yours. Ok, let’s see. My favorite shows to watch this summer are Wizards of Waverly Place and The InBestigators. My favorite podcasts are Wow In the World, Who When What, Bobby Wonder and Circle Round. We went to a water park. We went to Boston. I went to Winshape. This is when we built one of our forts.
We played in the dirt pile in the backyard. It’s called Dirt City. I build houses and bury the shovel so when I come back I can dig it up with my hand.

I’m a ghost in this picture. I said, ‘no more pictures, Mom!’

We walked at the lake and fed all the ducks. My favorite ducks are named Bushtop, Hangtime and Dragon. Their favorite snack is bread.

We went to the coffee shop after church and I wore my gray hat. It was my detective hat from Halloween. The people at church liked it and kept saying it looked cute, but it wasn’t supposed to be cute! It was just a hat! I didn’t like all the attention when they kept saying that.

We did gardening. Mom’s tomatoes were a big snack for the bugs! The peppers are ok and they’re still growing now. That’s about it about my summer. Can I finish my puzzle now?”

Making Waves VBS

VBS is in full swing at church.

The theme is Making Waves for Jesus and we created an underwater extravaganza with coral reefs, waves, and a jellyfish wall.
I was helping with behind-the-scenes things so I didn’t do much of the flashy decorating, but I did hang the blue water around the stage and under the left screen. As I predicted, the kids loved Mrs. Jimmy the octopus, the little creatures in the reef and hand-painted murals much more than my shimmering waves that are getting more flimsy by the day, but no ocean life would be possible without the water so in a way my handiwork is the most important.

AB has an up-and-down relationship with VBS. She hates loud noises and yelling so she spent most of the large group time the first day in the back of the room covering her ears. Once we break up into smaller groups she enjoys it more but she still has a limit on how much stimulation she can handle at one time. Yesterday during large group time (the loudest part of the day) she helped me do check-in for my kids which distracted her from the noise and this morning she was with her friends so we’re making progress. She likes seeing the kids and playing the games but she’d like it better without screaming.

Last year I was the snack lady with the other Sara. Everyone loves the snack ladies. We didn’t ask hard questions and we handed out goldfish and cookies. What wasn’t to love? We did such a fabulous job we both assumed we’d be snack ladies again this year, but no such luck. Kati and Kelli are the snack ladies. Instead of working off a little cart like we had, they have a cart, two round tables, and a long table decorated like a tiki bar (or “snack shack” since we’re in church). It’s fine. Sara and I aren’t jealous. We walked so they can run. At the planning meeting, the director asked that we write down what role we were interested in this year. I said snacks or anything job except being in charge of something. I’ll be an assistant all day long but I really didn’t want to be a leader. Guess what j-o-b I have. A leader of 15 first graders. My teacher hat is on and I am in full leader mode. We are the most organized and well-behaved group. We do have the VBS problem child but we have him under control for the most part. Two older ladies are helping our group and I have a suspicion the director put me with them because I have young eyes. Neither of them can read print smaller than size 20 font so they can’t see names on the clipboard or read the regular schedule. One of the ladies got herself a large print schedule that they hold up to the light and still squint to see. We also have three youth assistants with us all day so we’re quite the parade going down the hallway.

Kids across the country are all the same. They all have the ability to get completely off track. Each day we sit through a half-hour carefully thought out Bible lesson and without fail, someone raises their hand and says something along the lines of, “Mr. Wesley, my sister has a boyfriend” or “Can I go to Sonic when I leave today?” I can sense the unrelated questions coming from six miles away. Four kids will raise their hands and when I ask if anyone has a question related to Mr. Wesley’s lesson, all four hands go down. My eyes may be young but I have years of seeing through kid shenanigans under my belt.

random roundup

I was at the library recently and the librarian was updating my phone number in the system. Immediately after she confirmed the area code, she pushed the books I had just checked out across the counter and said, “Who’s the carrier?” I stared at her. What an odd question. She saw me come in alone and the library has no bellboy service so clearly I was the one carrying the books out. “I’m the carrier. I’ll take them out myself.” It was her turn to stare at me. “Ma’am, I mean who is your phone carrier.”

I carried my own books and shreds of pride as I slunk out the door.

 

My friend’s grandfather died last week. I offered to help out in any way and she asked that I watched the children in the church nursery during the visitation and funeral. My friend and her brother each have three children so I watched a 6yo, two 4yos, two 2yos and a 4-month-old for almost three hours. We entertained ourselves with crackers (a babysitter’s best friend) and decorating the baby with glowsticks. One of the two-year-olds nearly escaped before I noticed her slipping out the door. I caught her just in time, but not before the other two year old saw what was happening and decided she liked that idea. No sooner had I gotten the first one back in than the second one tried to make her escape. Neither was thrilled when I put a chair in front of the door. You’d have thought I turned the place into Fort Knox instead of a party zone with music, snacks, and glowsticks from my personal stash. One of the littlest girls shared the stomach bug with me which was a real treat. The grandma told me when I arrived at the funeral that Millie had gotten sick the night before but at that point it was too late to turn back. Not that I would have retracted my offer to help, but I could have attempted to pump myself full of vitamin C and healthy vibes to ward off the germs. Evidently I am a sucker for germs because I offered to bring a meal and help out my friend Emily who just had a baby. Her children are 6,4,2 and 2 weeks. The second the baby was born, all health hell broke loose and the entire family got sick. Each person except the baby has been on at least one prescription. They got their roof replaced at the same time which added insult to injury. There is no antibiotic strong enough to help a newly postpartum mother with a sick husband, four sick children and half a dozen men on her roof.

 

Mother’s Day was lovely. Annabelle made me an All About My Mom paper at school which is always one of my favorite things. Under “In her free time, my mom likes to __________” she wrote “tel Unkle Arion and Tilr her opinions.” (Tell Uncle Aaron and Tyler her opinions.) She’s not wrong. I do love to share my thoughts. Christopher has pointed out that I don’t need to have an opinion on everything. He says it like I actually 1. frequently share my opinion with those who don’t ask and 2. only have negative opinions. I don’t appreciate his opinion on my opinions. For “I love my mom because _________” Sesame said “my life is like a puzl (puzzle) and she is a piece!” I melted like butter.
Every single day I tell her she’s my best girl. For years she’d respond with, “You’re my best girl too!” Now she says, “You’re one of my best girls. Ivy and Aunt Squidzen and Sadie and Emory are my best girls too. But you’re still ONE of my best!” Someone give that girl a talk about not sharing all your thoughts and opinions! But also, Tree meet your apple.

 

I was minding my own business one Friday night when I received the following texts from an unknown number. I assumed it was one of the twins or a friend playing a prank on me, but we had recently been watching some movie where a shady deal went down by a fence behind a bar so it seemed possible a gang member might have gotten my number when he meant to text Vinny from the Bronx. I responded in the only way that made sense for both a sibling and a gang member- a Mickey Mouse GIF. There isn’t much overlap in the Venn diagram of gang member/loved one but Mickey seemed like the best fit.

I truly didn’t know who was texting me. I was equal parts interested to find out if I’d end up as a human interest story or if Christopher had gotten a new work phone and hadn’t given me the new number. There was radio silence for nearly twelve hours which I took to mean that the tattooed gang leader had found Vinny’s correct phone number and The Deal was done/Christopher had given up on pulling my leg. Then this came through. Well, well, well. Now there’s was money on the table. Color me very interested.

It was my sister texting me from her new phone. All the while I had been texting her about it on her other phone but she hadn’t been responding.

It gave us a good laugh.

Easter Eggs & Teacher Lunches

We are a Baptist family currently attending a Methodist church. We visited all the baptist churches in town and have, for now, veered off the familiar path to worship with the Methodists. If there’s anything the Methodists love, it’s a special service for everything. We haven’t experienced many of these services at baptist churches so we don’t have a good grasp on what several of them are for. The day before Good Friday, Christopher and Annabelle attended the Maundy Thursday service. Sesame asked me what it would be about but I wasn’t sure. When I got home from the baby shower I was at that night, she was bursting to give me a report. “MOM! You won’t believe it. Jesus is about to be crucified and I have no idea what’s going to happen next in the Easter story. It’s a real cliffhanger!”

I’m so glad all our years of reading her the Bible and sending her to Sunday school are paying off. She’s really hiding those lessons in her heart. Everything she knows about Easter flew out her head once the choir started singing.

Opa came to celebrate Easter with us. We seldom have family for holidays so we didn’t take it for granted that he was there. AB was thrilled to have someone new to talk to and we all enjoy some quality visiting.

New topic that is in no way related to Easter or our risen Lord.

The PTO at AB’s school is in the midst of a reorganization. The two ladies in charge have all sorts of ideas for how to revive the organizations, bring i funds and make every single parent thrilled to volunteer all their free time. They threw around several ideas and asked for volunteers to fill the various positions. I ended up with the role of planning a teacher lunch every month. Everyone else looked at their drinks or off into the corners of the room and avoided eye contact with the director when she asked who wanted to head that up. I felt bad no one was speaking up so I said I’d do it. That’s how I end up in 92% of my volunteer positions. The feel bad portion of my brain takes over the ‘do I want/do I have time to do this” part of my brain and the next thing I know my mouth is offering to drive a homemade four-course meal to a stranger five states away in the midst of a tornado. Just last month my therapist was moving to a new office and said she had so much packing to do. Without any thought, I offered up my Saturday to help her pack, move and decorate the new place.

The lunch takes place on the third Thursday of each month and is called Third Thursday Lunch. It goes without saying that I didn’t give it such an uncreative name. I would have chosen a name with more pizzazz. I do pick a theme for each month because no partay of mine is without a theme. The lady who offered to help me showed up for our planning meeting and her face fell when she saw me. “You’re not who I was expecting. I thought I was doing this with someone else. I thought someone else was Sarah.” She said it several times over the course of the hour which did not start off our working relationship on a friendly foot. We did not gel that first meeting. She insisted we need to plan for 40 people. I said the secretary told me that it was closer to 30 teachers and faculty. She said the email announcement said 40. I wrote the email announcement so I know it said 30. We have very different ideas of how to plan and vastly different levels of confidence in parents’ common sense and their ability to donate food. She insisted we plan the menu down to the exact number of cheese and deli meat slices. She didn’t think I should put “jar of mustard” on the signup list. I needed to put “jar of mustard larger than 6oz but less than 24oz” and “loaf of bread with more than 8 slices.” Let’s give people a little credit. If we ask for a loaf of bread I think we can safely assume we will be given a whole loaf. There’s no need to specify that we aren’t given the bag from the pantry with two and a half slices left. That day I had a double ear infection, my stomach was hurting from the surgery, I had barely slept the night before and I had no patience for such nonsense. As we parted ways, I thank her for her help (“help”) and said, “Please don’t feel pressured to feel like you have to help next month.” As president of the Third Thursday Lunch committee, I thought it best to speak in a diplomatic fashion.

We pulled it together enough to host a successful first lunch in March and a second last week. It takes me weeks of planning and an entire school day to set up/decor and clean up for two half-hour lunches, but the teachers appreciate it. Some parents have gone off script and brought unsanctioned packages of desserts that were not on the signup sheet. You can guess how well that went over with my associate. Hint: like a lead balloon. She and I still have different methods but we’ve learned to work together and things run more smoothly than at our first meeting. Last week I had several parents sit with the younger classes so the teachers could eat in peace in another room. The principal was delighted with this new development. ‘It’s so great to see the parents in here!” It was nice of him to say that about my experiment and overlook the chaos and children clearly taking advantage of adults who didn’t know the lunchtime rules. We hit several bumps in the road the month but the teachers were fed and no parent volunteers lost students so I’m considering it a win. I haven’t seen any signs of the other new PTA initiatives so I think it’s safe to say that my run as TTL presidency has been the most successful. Perhaps I’ll promote myself from Third Thursday Lunch President to TTL Monarch.

Currently, the Marvel movies critic edition

Happy February!

We spent the first half of January recovering from our travels and the second half recovering from the ‘rona. It hadn’t hit us since March of 2020 (we were trendsetters) so it was bound to get us again at some point. I’m almost relieved we have it out of our systems for a little while. Annabelle only felt sick for two days but it took me out for over a week. It seems like all we’ve done this year is get sick, recover, cancel appointments/playdates, make never-ending meal plans and school.

check and check

Listening to: the Encanto soundtrack seventeen times a week. AB listens to it over and over and over. I got Finley Donovan is Killing It and True to You on Audible but neither are keeping my attention. I’ve had a hard time concentrating on anything lately so they may be good books and we can chalk it up to user error. Whenever I need something mindless to listen to, I go back to my old faithful podcast Cartalk. I know nothing about cars or the bolts that attach the piston to the internal combustible engine but for some reason, I find listening to an hour of Cartalk relaxing.

Not enjoying: when the cats escape from the house. When we got home from church on Sunday, the living room doors were open and both cats were gone. We got Lucy easily but it took a good 30 minutes to get Linus George Krasinski back inside. He found himself a hole under the deck and refused to come out. We finally got him and not two hours later he escaped again and the whole process repeated itself. I almost put up a ‘free cats’ sign. They escape several times a week and it’s the only time the neighbors hear me yell.
“ANNABEEEEELLLLLE. YOU LET LINUS OUT AGAIN!”
“I’M SORRY MOM! I DIDN’T MEAN TO!”
“Don’t just stand there with the door open! Now Lulu is out too! There goes Linus under the shed. Grab Lucy! She’s about to go right by—never mind. You missed her.”
                        quality family time under the deck while we waited for Linus to come out of the hole

Crushing: my New Years’ resolution. I have no word of the year. I have no resolutions. My plan is to keep the bar of expectations as low as it can possibly go. My one and only goal for this year was to buy new soap dispensers for the downstairs bathrooms. I crossed that off on January 1st. It might have even been the night of December 31st. We might be headed towards year 16 of this shandemic but we’ll do it with pretty glass bottles.

Showing off: Oliver. I don’t have anything new to say about him but he’s deliciously cute and the world needs to see more of him. When we were in MA, Sesame and I babysat him while Daniel and Erika took Ivy to Boston for the night. Oliver was not as excited about the sleepover as we were. He was very upset his parents would leave him with people who did nothing but dote on him and cater to his every need. He cried most of the time and said “mama mama” in such a pathetic little voice. I knew I had to do something big to turn the ship around and make him like me. I had to redeem the sleepover! We took him to the free zoo (pet store) for the first time in his life and he was as thrilled as an eight-month-old can be. At one point I told AB to watch Oliver in the living room while I used the bathroom. I specifically said to make sure he didn’t eat any of the Christmas tree needles on the floor. She came to the bathroom door to tell me that he was trying to eat the tree but she had given him a piece of tissue paper and told him, “I’m trusting you not to eat this paper while I go tell my mom you’re still eating the tree.” I appreciate her trust in him, however misplaced trusting in a teething baby to not eat a piece of tissue paper may be.

Watching: any shows I can find about cults (or “religious groups that are exclusive and full of rules but not a cult”) and Sweet Magnolias. The topics could not be more different but they both fill a hole in my heart. Several of my friends here are personally offended that the characters on Sweet Magnolias don’t sound authentically southern or use the right southern phrases. Most of the characters don’t sound southern to me and the ones that do sound southern sound like the friends who are offended.

We’re still watching Marvel movies. I’ve told Christopher numerous times that we’ve seen all these movies at least three times each but he insists we have not. We have. I know for a fact that we have. We’ve been watching them for the last 11 years. Why do we keep watching them? Because someone who will remain nameless but whose name rhymes with Farah gets very confused about what has happened in past movies. Christopher doesn’t appreciate many questions being asked in the movie theater so we’re trying to get ahead of the game by rewatching them all now before the next big movie comes out. Questions include but are not limited to:
Why does Loki’s hair always look greasy?
Why is Black Widow considered a superhero? She is extremely annoying and I have no use for her. No one can fight like that while wearing heels and not even having her hair in a ponytail.
Why did they kill off Jarvis?
Why does no one pay attention to Hawkeye like they should? He doesn’t have greasy hair.
Why did they kill off Tony Stark?
Why is Doctor Strange showing up again? He’s rude, has a terrible attitude, and is a selfish stick in the mud anytime he’s on the screen. Why does he survive when Matthew Crawley did not? (Downton is a totally different universe but I never miss a chance to bring up Matthew’s death.)
Who’s that character? What do you mean we learned that character’s backstory in the first iteration of the series directed by so and so in 2009? Do you think I can keep up with other universes when I can barely keep up with what’s happening on this universe?

The same person who continually rolls her eyes and sighs has so many opinions about said movies that you might be led to believe that she is more invested than she cares to admit. You would be correct. I was very upset when my beloved Captain America handed over his shield to a new man. WHY DID HE DO THAT. I will never love another Captain America as I loved him. Don’t come near me with your talk of a “new generation” and “the story must go on” and “plotline development.” Plotline Shmotline. Chris Evans is where it’s at. Yet another new Marvel series has hit Disney+. I’ve been told it’s the same universe as the other movies but on a different timeline or some such nonsense. Or maybe it’s the same timeline but a different universe. I zoned out when I was being told. I have drawn the line in the sand and declared I will not be watching it. Does it have Captain America? No. Thor? No. Iron Man? No. Is Chris Pratt singing and dancing while he hunts for aliens? No again. Then adios, Marvel. I won’t be spending any more time with you. I can’t watch movies where the characters shoot beams/lasers/fire out of their hands and/or eyes. I have a one-character limit for that and the new series has several hand-shooting characters so I will not be participating in that viewing.

See? It’s stupid.

Loving: my new purse. I’m not one for name brands, but I am one for sparkle and shine so when I saw a sparkle Kate Spade bag on sale for 70% off I fell in love. I never make large purchases but I thought I would make it my splurge of the decade. Immediately after I showed it to Christopher online it went out of stock. I took it as a sign to stick to my TJMaxx purses. Imagine how delighted I was when Christopher got it for me for Christmas. He’s the reason it went out of stock. You could say sparkle is my signature color.

Organizing: everything that stays still long enough to be organized. I picked up some new organizing bins and baskets and went to town. I organized my makeup drawer at 9:30pm. I’ve watched videos about under kitchen sink organization and efficiency. I’ve bookmarked several different styles of clear containers. Perhaps I should spend a little extra time organizing my hair. Annabelle drew this portrait of me and I can’t say it’s my best look ever.