All I really have to say about July is that it is H-O-T

+ I went to a new zumba class today. I dropped AB off at theater camp down the road from the studio when the class was about to start, so I had no excuse not to go. I checked the schedule online to be sure it wasn’t Silver Sneakers senior zumba and it wasn’t, but the average age of the attendees suggested otherwise. I was the youngest by a good 35 years. Normally I go to the evening class at the same studio where everyone is more or less my age. I zumba through that class with a negative cloud of comparison over my head. The others at night are so good. Given that I’ve had no body parts replaced yet and can move without pain, I left the morning class feeling good about my performance. Three older ladies from church were there. Martha, who has a reputation for being quite stern with the children and didn’t move so much as a toe during any dance sessions at VBS, can in fact move her hips. I will no longer fall for her stiff facade.

Less than two hours later, I lost my Grace and Coordination crown when I fell down the stairs while carrying a laundry basket and landed hard on both knees. I’m sporting two large bumps and hobbling like I’m 78 years old. I fit in quite nicely with the old ladies at the next morning class. Maybe I can get some good recommendations for knee surgeons.

+ Annabelle is entering the stage where she gets embarrassed by her parents’ behaviors. What a delight this is! I’ll sing no louder than a whisper in public and she flaps her arms and practically melts through the floor. If I display too much enthusiasm, she says, “Mooooom! Someone might seeeeee!” All that makes me do is have! more! enthusiasm! for the new flavor of chips.

+ Christopher casually shared that he doesn’t think Taylor Swift and Jason Kelce’s relationship will last. He doesn’t believe it is the real deal, the fairy tale love story of America. The shock of hearing that he had an opinion nearly blew me off the bed. He seldom has opinions on the potential relationships of our real-life friends! Now here he is, becoming a reporter for People magazine.

+ When I was pregnant, the one and only gift I wanted from Grandma was that she crochet a baby blanket. We didn’t know the gender, so she got a variegated yellow and green yarn. She brought it to the hospital and delivered it to Sesame in person. Annabelle has had it since her second day of life. They were inseparable for years. We left Memere Blankie at the Stone Mountain hotel when AB was a few months old. Housekeeping didn’t put much effort into returning it, but a sweet grandma who worked there heard my sob story and searched the hotel until she found it. As she’s gotten old, Annabelle hasn’t been quite as attached to Memere Blankie. She’s always around the bedroom, but she moved from being in the bed to being folded on a shelf. She’s never too far away. About a month ago, Memere Blankie went missing, I was distraught. We tore apart AB’s bedroom and the guest room. I searched the linen closet and unfolded every blanket we own to see if she was caught inside. I looked under all the beds. I even looked in every suitcase because the last time she was seen was the day AB and her friend were packing for their pretend trip to Germany. One could argue, and I do indeed argue, that it was a one-woman search party. Christopher operated under the motto of “she’ll turn up.” Annabelle was worried that the blanket wouldn’t be found so she didn’t want to look too hard and be disappointed. I believed in action! She won’t turn up if we don’t search! Weeks passed and no sign of the precious blanket. I convinced myself she had either been thrown away or donated by accident. I planned on visiting every thrift store in town to find her. On Thursday night as we did our bedtime chat, I told Annabelle we should pray specifically that we find the blanket the next day. Friday morning, I was searching the closet and looked in a little unicorn suitcase. There she was, rolled up and as beautiful as ever. Annabelle had put her in the bag to take as her carry-on luggage on the big pretend trip to Germany. Thanks to the power of prayer and my frantic searching, all has been righted. I offered to keep Memere Blankie in my room but Annabelle said no thank you. Ever since, the blanket has been back in the bed instead of on the shelf.

June snapshots

Because my birthday falls on Memorial Day weekend, Christopher had an extra day off work and we
were able to visit a lighthouse and beach in Florida.

Carol had Grandma call me to say happy birthday.

That night, my facetime with Autumn and Joanna morphed into a facetime with
Katie, Mom and Elizabeth as well. The more the merrier!

We visited Jenn after eleven long years apart. We did everything together at Fort Campbell. We probably saw each other four times a week and talked on the phone just as much. Then she dared move to Korea
and I wasn’t sure we’d ever be reunited. Lo and behold, she’s settled a few hours from us in Alabama.
We kept in contact all these years and picked up right where we left up- with talking about people
we follow on instagram and laughing.

It’s no easy feat getting pictures of/with Sesame these days. Gone are the days of plopping her little baby self in a chair and taking 48 pictures. I’ve found the best approach is the surprise photo. No warning.
Just stick up the camera or phone and tell her to smile.
We celebrated our best guy on Father’s Day. Annabelle googled his gift. “perfect, small but not too small corn hole that’s light weight, and cheap but also good that my dad will like!!!”
She found a cornhole game that checked all the boxes.

I took upwards of 24 pictures of my hydrangeas. Since moving here, I’ve looked at the non-flowering shrubs and told myself to research how to make them bloom. This year, it decided to bloom without me doing one thing. Sometimes laziness pays off!

Not pictured:
the snake in our upstairs closet
5,276 hours of VBS volunteering
AB’s 48 hour at-home EEG where the machine failed on us and only recorded 2 hours

noteworthies from November

Student of the month “for demonstrating honorable character.”

The L’s celebrated a birthday. They were less than thrilled. It seems they are not party animals.

This year’s 4th grade science fair experiment was about German candle carousels and thermal energy. 

Sesame will look out the window for an entire plane ride. The last few flights she chose
to take pictures out the window instead of watching a show or doing any of her several activities.

Houston for Thanksgiving. Lots and lots of card games around that table. 

It took months too long, but Fall finally showed up.
I found all three colored leaves in the backyard then took myself leaf-peeping.

on this most patriotic of days, I made myself see stars

I love the 4th of July. The festivities, fireworks, music, chips and dips. The chance to bust out my red, white and blue paper straws. I love the whole thing. Back home I’d count down the hours until The Boston Pops came on tv. It was one of my favorite shows of the year. There are no Boston Pops or parades in this land we lovingly (?) refer to as ”the butt sweat of America,” so we have to make other plans. The last few years have felt decidedly un-fourth of Julyish, but this year we turned it around.

Sunday night we went to a patriotic concert at church. During one song, they played a slideshow of family members who were in the military. Many were in the World Wars or Korea and let me tell you, it once again confirmed that I love a man in uniform no matter the decade. Had I been alive back then, I would have accepted a marriage proposal from just about any man who put on that cap with the little visor. I repeatedly poked AB and said, “He fought in one of the world wars and is related to someone in our church. Isn’t that so cool! Don’t you think he looks so handsome?” Every time she’d shrug and say, “I don’t know. I guess he looks fine.” As Lorelai says in Gilmore Girls, “You look like me yet my ways are lost on you.”

She perked up significantly the next day when we went to the festivities at the newly renamed Fort Benning. She was so young when Christopher got out of the Army that while she’s been told a lot, she doesn’t remember much of what he did or any of the Army activities I took her took wearing a themed smocked outfit and appropriately matching bow. This time she had 452 questions and observations.
We’re a proud 10th Mountain family so she instantly saw the patch on this guy and took a picture. 

I thought the whole thing was great. The more Pomp and Circumstance with a capital P and C the better. I didn’t bother asking AB if she thought anyone looked good in uniform because she doesn’t give the feedback I’m looking for. Christopher told her about the schools he attended and the countries he went to. I told her about the balls I attended and the many high-ups I met. Guess whose stories impressed her less. Hint: my stories. I did demonstrate for my family and the couple hundred people in the close vicinity what it sounds like when you walk into the back of a parked Black Hawk. I was responding to my friend’s text about makeup colors while walking and BAM. I went smack into the stabilizer. See Exhibit A for the exact details on the scene of the crime.

Exhibit A

When you live with the people I live with, if you accidentally call it a propeller instead of a stabilizer you will be corrected. If you’re Elizabeth and call it a plane instead of a helicopter, you will be corrected. The details are not important here. The fact is I walked into it, they must have heard the smack in Utah, I was mortified and now I have a sore lump on my forehead. I will be contacting the VA to request compensation for my injury. Instead of saying I was injured while doubling checking an eyeshadow name, I’m going to say I was injured while corresponding with a fellow American. Like I said, details are not important here.

The only post to prove June actually happened

I’ve been trying to blog every single day this month. Here we are at June 30th and I have nothing to show for it. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve bemoaned to Christopher about it, I would be on my dream trip to Europe instead of sitting in traffic in our town.

+ Another year of VBS has come and gone. I was asked to make a sign that looked like a highway exit sign. I researched the same font used on real street signs to make it as authentic as possible. When Sesame and I were hanging silhouettes of people in various athletic poses in the church hallway, she told me, “Mom, none of the kids are going to care that the rock climbing guy looks like he’s climbing the picture frame.” I had a suspicion they’d have the same feeling about Highway Gothic, but I would know. Despite my best efforts and hours of arguing with the computer and then the Cricut machine, I couldn’t download the font or get the cutter to work. I had to use a subpar font and cut the letters out by hand. I consoled myself with AB’s supportive comment that the kids wouldn’t notice anyway. It looked realistic and neither the Lord nor the children cared about fonts.

+ I’ve had several interactions with mechanics and people in the car business lately. I went to Autozone for windshield wipers for both our cars. The kind lady working asked what brand I wanted. Bosch? Rain-X? PIAA Si-Tech? I’ll take any brand that keeps the rain off and doesn’t smear. She asked the make and model of my car and I confidently said 2010 Nissan Rogue. After that, we rolled next door for an oil change. This was not the same place where I told the mechanic “You look hot” meaning ”you have too many layers on for the current temperature and I’m concerned about your risk of heat stroke” not “I am attracted to you.” Obviously, I can never set foot at that place again. I can keep up with the tires, windshield wipers, and any warning lights but I am horrible about getting the oil changed in my car. I’ll go for five years without once thinking about the oil. We’ve been married for 12 years and Christopher will still ask me when the last time I got my oil changed like it’s something I regularly think about. I never look at the sticker they put on the windshield saying when to come in. The last time we had the oil changed, I stuck a piece of paper with the mileage of the next oil change next to the odometer so I’d stay on top of it. I would not let it pass me by this time! Between the wipers and getting the oil changed at a mere 22 miles over the number on the paper, I was riding high on car pride! Daryl the mechanic asked what year my car was and I said 2010. He looked and told me that no, it’s 2014. After a moment I realized he was correct. We did get it the year AB was born, not the year we got engaged. Why Daryl bothered asking when he could figure out the answer himself was an unnecessary step. I don’t need to be a middleman here. Then Lionel the mechanic asked if I needed synthetic, combination synthetic, or high-milage oil. Again with the questions! If the way I remember what year my car is is to know that it’s the same as a major life event and I get that wrong, don’t ask me about oil types. All I know about that is you shouldn’t use olive or sesame oil in your car.

I also recently drove into a brick mailbox.

I NEVER EVER drive into things. I’ve never caused an accident. I had a very clean record. Our neighbors on the next street over have the same house number as us and we frequently get their mail. At this point, the USPS should reimburse me for the number of times a month I fix their work and do a mail drop at the correct house. There was a dip in the ground I didn’t see when I pulled up to the mailbox, the car jerked to the side and slammed into the mailbox. The brick around the mailbox is a bunker so it’s fine, but my car and my heart/ego are not. I felt so sick. Annabelle was very sweet. “It’s ok, Mom! It was an accident! We’ll tell Dad I did it so you don’t have to tell him you did it! He’ll think it was me!” I appreciate the sympathy but that’s not a story he would buy. When I brought the car to the body shop, the man looked at it and said, “Oh! A Rogue! I love those! Bainbridge?” I didn’t know if he was asking where I got it, if he was referring to a specific style of Rogue I wasn’t aware of or what. What I could have done was ask for clarification. What I did say was, “I don’t know…” He said, “Is your last name Bainbridge?” Not only do I not know the year or required oil type, evidently I don’t know my last name. I will not be answering any questions of any kind from here on out.

+ I bought a hat for the cats at Aldi. When I tell you it has brought AB and I an unprecedented amount of joy, I mean it. Linus only kept it on long enough for this picture, but we’ve created an entire storyline to go with his new hat-wearing identity.He is now Master Linus George Krasinski, a French painter visiting the Lourve.

He needed a bowl of fancy French milk after his day of sightseeing.

+ Finally, in other great fashion news, look who I got back into overalls!

Currently, the end of summer edition

Starting: my morning car ride karaoke back up. I only drive to school twice a week so I have to make the songs good. The passenger isn’t overly impressed with my selections but to be fair, I’ve been singing the same two songs for three years now. I sing It’s a Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood and one about having a great day. Once I start a tradition I cannot stop and I will not stop until she asks. Sometimes I change the words to “It’s a hot day in the neighborhood, too hot for September! When will it cool down? When will it cool down?” Copyright pending.
Annabelle did not want a first day of school picture in front of the beautiful balloon arch. I didn’t bother asking. She barely wanted me to walk her into her classroom but I didn’t give her the option. I strolled in like I owned the place. I spent so much time there last year that part of me feels like I do own the place. All the teachers have special beaded lanyards this year and I believe I should have one also. But back to AB. She’s in 3rd grade which is unbelievable. She only started walking last week. I tried to sit with her last week when I was in there at lunchtime and out of the side of her mouth she said, “MOM! I’m with my friends! School is for friends and home is for family and cats!” I said, “Don’t you want a little snuggle? A little kiss? A little hug-a-roo?” “MMMOOOOOMM!!!” But ten minutes later she walked over and kissed me on the head.

The Tuesday/Thursday teacher sends home the work for the other three school days but I add in my some of own curriculum as well. I was talking to AB about what she’d like to do for art this year and she said, “I’m going to paint the Mona Lisa on a grain of rice with a rainbow over her head.” Cool, cool, cool. I was thinking more along the lines of what pinterest might have to offer but reach for the stars!

Planning: teacher lunches. The third Thursday teacher lunches I was in charge of last year have started back up. Someone who wasn’t one bit at all whatsoever involved with my three successful lunches last year but is in somewhat a position of authority at the school told me I needed to plan the lunches a different way this year. He said we had to send out the information and signup link in a new way that parents weren’t used to. I knew it would fail and told Christopher so several times. Don’t mess with my system when it’s not broken! Don’t do it! Christopher said, “You wouldn’t do well in the corporate world. This is how the corporate world operates.” I wouldn’t and that is why I’m a stay at home mom and not in the corporate world. As I predicted, the new system fell apart in every way possible. We pulled it off by the skin of our teeth but it was a complete disaster from a planning standpoint. Mark needs to stay away from my system!

Unsuccessfully avoiding: football. I am not a fan. It is one of the most unorganized sports I’ve ever experienced and I’ve watched toddlers play soccer. I have a shirt I really like that says “New England vs. Everybody” on it. I wear it loud and proud in honor of my homeland because New England is better than everybody. It never once occurred to me that it was in reference to the New England Patriots. Every time I wear it people want to talk football which is unfortunate because I live in the college football-obsessed capital of the US of A. I cannot escape it no matter how much I try. The only football factoid I can contribute is Tedy Bruschi, a former Patriots player, and I had the same orthodontist- Mom’s cousin Frankie. That is the extent of my football “knowledge” and it doesn’t carry me far.

Wearing: my new hat. I have a well-documented interest in Chance the Rapper. I don’t know if I hear him on the radio (I don’t even like rap), but put a magazine with him on the front next to me and I’ll dive right in. I know about his childhood and his family. I know that a few years ago he decided to quit smoking and read the entire Bible at the same time. Personally, that seems like a lot to attempt at once but more power to him. I haven’t read any recent updates so I don’t know that he succeeded on either endeavor, but I’m sure he’ll personally update me when he has time. I’m very invested in his life. We’re an unlikely pairing, Chance and I, but look at Martha and Snoop. Stranger friendships have happened. I’ve been telling Christopher for years that I love Chance’s black #3 hat. Look what arrived in our mailbox this week. WHEN I TELL YOU I PUNCHED THE AIR FOR JOY.We’re basically identical twins. I can get a job as a Chance impersonator if my job at Board & Brush doesn’t pan out.

Mourning: the death of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. I appreciated the many texts of condolence I received. Even the swimming lesson teacher texted me yesterday and said, “I know the queen’s funeral is today if you want to push the lesson back so you can watch it.”

One evening you’re on cloud nine with your new hat and the next you’re under a cloud of sadness. Life, man. What a rollercoaster. Maybe I’ll sing a song about it on the way to school.