life tidbits that have nothing to do with each other

We’re at Annabelle’s swimming lesson and I want to finish this before she finishes her lesson. I doubt I will since I barely have enough to make a full post. I’ve had the same conundrum for months and months now. I don’t like when I post twice a month, but I don’t have enough going on that is either A. worth sharing or B. can be shared on the internet. Do I yammer on about nothing (which I’ve done plenty of times) so I have something to post or wait until I have something good to talk about? Quality or quantity? That’s how we end up with a large amount of sub-par quality posts.


I have continued to go to the new gym once or twice a week since school started. For the first several weeks all I did was pilates because I didn’t trust myself to use any of the machines in the machine room. I don’t even know what it’s really called. Cardio room? Weight room? Cardio weight room? I still barely know how to use anything but my new motto is fake it til I make it. I’m sure anyone looking at me through the security camera can tell I’m faking it but I’m trying.

I’d like to file a formal complaint with the powers that be who named muscles. Why couldn’t you give them normal names? Couldn’t you have called them “front upper arm” or ”back of your knee” or “the one you pull when you try to move the couch by yourself because you don’t want to ask for help”? I took this picture when I was resting from a very strenuous arm exercise on a machine I can’t begin to guess the name of. I know three of these muscles and of those three I can identify where two of them are located. This isn’t a problem of me needing to be better at anatomy. It’s a you problem.

Narrator: She did not finish this during swimming lessons. Not even close. It is now eight days later.


A few nights ago when I was putting Annabelle to bed, she told me, “Mama, I think you’re the second or third smartest person in our family. I’m not sure if me or you is smarter.” She wasn’t one bit rude or cocky about it. She was genuinely trying to figure it out which of us is smarter. I’m no Thomas Edison, but I did teach her how to speak, use the toilet, and write her name which I believe gives me a few points in the smarter category. But to be fully transparent, I did have to google “smart people” because the only extra smart person I could think of was Albert Einstein and I didn’t want to compare myself to him. I have very little wiggle room for boosting.

Is it worse for my ego that I might be the third smartest or that she drew a picture of me looking like a balding Benjamin Franklin with no eyebrows or eyelashes? Hard to say.

Yesterday our day got off to a very late start. It was a homeschool morning which meant we were more flexible on time, but I still try to stick to a schedule. We had a doctor’s appointment at 10 and would be out all morning and I needed to get the roast in the crockpot before we left. Sesame was doing her thing (spilling as much cereal on the counter as she got in the bowl) while I simultaneously ate my oatmeal, seared the roast in the dutch oven, and put on mascara. We scrambled around for schoolbooks to bring with us, locate socks, brush hair and tell Linus that he was not dying so he didn’t need to meow like he was. We rolled into the office with two minutes to spare. We were an entire week early. Annabelle thought it was hilarious. I had a feeling it was the wrong day, but I live with the feeling that I’m constantly wrong about something so I rolled with it anyway. AB asked why I didn’t call and make sure it was the right day so maybe she is the second smartest in the family after all.

quirks and peeves

I was recently listening to one of my favorite podcasts and they were discussing their quirks and pet peeves. Elizabeth and I had a long talk about it and decided it’s much harder to pin down our quirks than our peeves. Our quirks are how we are naturally so it’s hard to say if they’re unique or not.

* I never throw away a butter wrapper without folding it first. I always fold it in half and sometimes, if I’m feeling wild, in half again.

* I cannot stay in pajamas all day. If I’m sick, I will get out of pajamas, into other comfy clothes, then back into pajamas at bedtime.

* Along those lines, I have to make the bed every single day. The day might go to hell in a handbasket but I will have a made bed! When you combine the pajama thing with the bed thing, it becomes quite the process if I’m sick. Get out of bed. Put on new comfy clothes. Make bed. Either lay down on the couch or lay on top of the made bed and cover up with another blanket. I can’t help it. It’s the way I am!

* I feel very bad for stuffed animals and dolls when they’re jammed into bins or stuck between the bed and the wall upside down. I’ve spent so much of my life twisting dolls’ hands and feet around so they’re facing the right out. Don’t get me started on how I feel about unused toys. It’s exhausting feeling compassion for every little thing.

* I love untangling things. It doesn’t matter if it’s jewelry, cords, yarn, you name it. For some reason, it’s calming to me.

* I will always clean up the table at a restaurant before we leave. I’ll stack the plates and put all the trash in one pile. I’ve done it for so many years now that Christopher has stopped telling me someone else is literally getting paid to clean it up.

* I keep all the cash in my wallet grouped in bill amount then put into alphabetical order by the Federal Reserve Seal. This makes it sound like I have much more cash than I actually do.

* I am very excited about someday becoming a grandma. I will be one of those old ladies with embroidered sweaters, big matching earrings, and my glasses hanging on a beaded chain. I’ve narrowed down my grandma name to two possibilities. I’m trying to make Christopher agree to cute matching grandparent names but he is not on board.

* I would rather give a speech in front of 1,000 people I don’t know than 8 people I do know.

* I have at least two hair elastics on my wrist at all times. I like to be prepared in case my backup to the backup breaks. I’ve taught this to Annabelle and between the two of us we could do six ponytails. It’s a legacy I’m proud to have passed on.

* Toothpaste all over the bathroom. If it’s not in the tube, the only place toothpaste should be is on the toothbrush. It should never come into contact with the mirror or floor.

* Ticking clocks. If I can hear a clock or a watch ticking, I will hunt it down and put a pillow over it. I’ve passed this on to Annabelle, along with my anxiety issues so she’s a very lucky girl.

* Children not being treated as people. It drives me nuts when someone asks me a question about AB when she’s standing right next to me. She knows how old she is, what grade she’s in and what school she goes to. Ask her, not me. It doesn’t happen as much now as when she was younger, but we’ve often gone out as a family and only been given two sets of silverware. She’s a person who needs a fork too!

* Certain government organizations telling us we’re “allowed” to travel. I’ve been allowed to travel this whole time. Don’t tell me I “may now move freely outside.”

* Several stores here have signs up saying ”masks are required by state law” in their building. Never once in this whole thing has there been a state-wide mask law in this state. Some cities had/have mask mandates within their city limits and many government properties can enforce it by law, but I’m talking about the state as a whole. I will respect stores asking me to wear a mask. I understand it’s part of shopping now and while I don’t like it, I’ll do it. But don’t put up a giant sign saying it’s required by law when that’s simply not true. Lying to get me to submit out of fear that I’m breaking the law if I do not comply is not the way to get me to do anything with, to use a phrase I frequently say to AB, a happy heart.

* Speaking of not having a happy heart, one of the things I like least about myself is the small stubborn streak I get when someone who knows less than I do in a situation tries to tell me how to do it. For example, I have been doing the same carline routine for months now. I fully understand how the process works. 99% of the time the same four ladies are out opening the car doors, but last week a new lady was out. She’s never done carline before but she stood there directing traffic like she’s always been the boss of the operation. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t drive slower than necessary because I was very annoyed. A new lifeguard at the Y made up a new rule about kickboards. I was not having it. I told Annabelle she could keep doing what she was doing. (I said it quietly because I didn’t want Sharon to think I was being rude.) Then I went straight to the aquatics director and asked her to straighten Sharon out. I think my exact words were, “I’m really sorry to bother you and I don’t want to be THAT mom, but Sharon is saying such and such about the kickboards and that is completely against what we’ve been doing for three years. I am so sorry. I see you’re working so I can leave.” It was a very calm and unaggressive request to straighten her out because I’m not a monster. I can still feel my blood pressure rising every time I look at newbie Sharon. I realize that was a VERY LITTLE thing to get flustered about and I’m not proud of it, but I have a hard time being told what to do when I already know what to do.

.thirty one.

Today is my birthday. I am not, as Sesame guessed, 17 or 69. I am 31. One of my family members so kindly told me I’m now closer to 40 than I am to 20 which is depressing. 

I honestly can’t remember many specifics from this year (I think I blocked out parts of it) but I came up with a few things worth noting.

Trips: I took a 30th birthday trip to Maine with Autumn and Joanna.

 I saw Katie for the first time in 3 years. 

I went to West Virginia, Denver, and on a cruise. I went to Ohio to hug Michelle after too many months apart.

Shows: My current favorites are This Is Us, Million Little Things and Virgin River. I just started Sweet Magnolia’s which is a mix of Gilmore Girls/Hart of Dixie/Hallmark small town movie. In other words, it’s right up my alley and checks all the predictable chick-flick boxes.

Beauty: Incoco nail appliques. I love having painted nails but get so frustrated when I spend an hour painting them only to have them chip the next day. I found the Incoco nails at the beauty world headquarters that is Walmart.

I continued my hunt for the perfect mascara. It’s been a long mascara road but someone has to bear the burden and I selflessly volunteer. I picked up a Rimmel mascara on sale because it said “buy one at $8.99, get one for $1.99” and if there’s anything to will get me to plunk down cash it’s a good sale. The second one kept ringing up at full price and I did not want to be that person who holds up the line, but I made her look at the sticker herself and even went so far as to wait for the manager to approve the price. Such cheap mascara is too good to pass up. I pair it with my L’Oreal primer and walk around town like this.

Celebrity sightings: Josh Groban, Josh Turner and Jimmy Carter. I did not get a picture with any of them but their people told my people they’ll be in contact soon for a photoshoot and autograph. 
Books: I can’t think of a favorite book I read this year. I didn’t read nearly as much as I would have liked. I enjoyed What Alice Forgot, House Rules, and The Things We Do for Love.
Firsts: We bought a house. I was a stage mom at the dance recital. We survived (more accurately, are surviving) quarantine and life being turned on its head. I completed my first year of being a homeschool parent instead of a student. 

Negatives: I haven’t been home to visit since early July and thanks to the current pandemic it could be a while. I saw several frogs. People close to me got very sick. I lost a baby in October and one in April. The latter has been an ongoing saga since February but that’s a story for another day. 

Listened to: AB talk practically around the clock for the 362 days we were together since my last birthday. If I had to pick a soundtrack for the last year it would be ”Mom. Mama. Hey, Mom? Can I listen to my story? Mom! I’m hungry. What is the man doing? How many furs do you think Linus has? How many rocks are in my hand? What are the inside of planets made of? Can you google where my shoes are? Do I have email? Is it almost lunchtime?”

top ten days

Every so often when something especially wonderful and unexpected happens, I add it to my mental list of the best days of my life. I call them my top ten days. In no particular order, here are six of my top ten days.

1. The day I told Katie I was pregnant. I had a little bib made that said something about Auntie Katie and mailed to her house. We were face timing when she opened it and I could tell by the way she started giggling that she was about to make the same announcement to me. We will never get over the fact that our due dates were three days apart. It will always be one of the greatest joys of my life.

2. The day Aaron and Elizabeth were born. I had been asking Mom for a baby for months. I was adamant the baby be a sister. In one day I not only got a sister, I got TWO babies. I was thrilled. I didn’t realize until years later how much extra work it was to suddenly have two babies when Mom was only expecting and prepared for one. All I knew was all my 5 year old dreams had come true.

3. The Spouse Spur ride. Shortly after we got married I joined Christopher at work for a spouse event. We got to ride in tanks, do an obstacle course and shot various guns. It’s still some of the most fun I’ve ever had. 
4. The first Army ball I attended. I was so excited when Christopher invited me to a ball a few months after we met. I had no idea what to expect but I knew 1000% I wanted to go. I wore the bridesmaids dress for Daniel and Erika’s wedding (I don’t think it would fit over my thigh today) and Christopher paid for me to get my hair and nails done. I felt so special. Growing up, Elizabeth and I kept a running list of soldiers we saw. We didn’t live near a post so we didn’t see them often but we were always on the lookout. The ball was the first time I went on an Army post and out of habit I almost remarked to Christopher that I saw soldiers. No kidding. That’s like pointing out grapes at a vineyard. Thankfully that was during my shy phase when I didn’t say much to him so I didn’t humiliate myself.
From another day on that same trip. This was the day Christopher asked what I wanted my engagement ring to look like. Let’s not forget this was only the third visit we’d had since meeting.
Look at those young kids!

5. The day Daniel told me Erika was pregnant with Ivy. It is not an exaggeration to say I was more excited about her impending arrival than I was when I discovered I was pregnant. Daniel called to say they wouldn’t be able to go to our cousin’s wedding in April “because Erika will be too close to her due date to travel.” I thought I misheard. Surely he meant a date she was due to close on a house at work. I asked for confirmation. “What kind of due date?” “Erika’s. She’s having a baby girl in May.” I screamed and started to cry. I waited YEARS for them to have a baby. I had been planning their baby shower since they got engaged. I even had a personalized baby gift for them for that long. I was beyond thrilled. I instantly went to the store and bought a bib that said “my aunt is my bff.” I told AB, who was only two at the time, that Auntie Erika had baby Ivy in her belly. I asked if she loved baby Ivy and she said, “I yove fried rice.” I appreciate her food enthusiasm, but new babies top even fried rice.

They didn’t tell anyone until she was past seven months pregnant then Ivy was born a month early so I only had to wait about eight weeks for her arrival. 
6. Josh Groban and Josh Turner concerts. Several years ago, Josh Groban was coming to a city near us and I so badly wanted to go. I didn’t have the money for a ticket so I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to go. The day before the concert, Andrew surprised me with two tickets. I wasn’t expecting it and to this day it’s one of the best gifts I ever received. We sat next to the aisle about 10 rows from the front. At one point Josh walked down the aisle next to us as he was singing and momentarily held my hand. I repeat, WE HELD HANDS. It was one of the best moments of my life. If the security guard hadn’t pushed him along I might have proposed. 

the bad, the good and the christmasy

The bad-
This has not been a great two weeks. I feel like every time I try to blog lately it ends up sounding I’m filing complaints with the Board of Life and Why Stuff Happens. But sometimes life isn’t all glitter and bunnies (for Christopher a life of glitter would be a nightmare) and that’s what I’m here to discuss today. Now is your chance to leave and look at perfect pictures on pinterest.

+ At the end of last week and the beginning of this week Annabelle was in the midst of her second round of bronchitis. Every night was rough. She had night terrors, she couldn’t find her pacifier when it was in her hand and she couldn’t figure out how to drink from the cup she sleeps with. I was so scared something would happen when I was asleep that I had her lay with me on the guest bed for a while. The next night was the complete opposite. She jibber jabbered until ONE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING. I cannot tell you the number of times I went in her room to give a piece of my mind about her behavior. She wanted her wand. She wanted to talk about Hungry, Hungry Hippos. She dropped (threw) Appletini out of the crib. She wanted more friends to sleep with. She wouldn’t stop flipping the light switch on and off so I had to move the crib a foot away from the wall. It’s interesting how bad nights happen when I’m just barely coming around to the idea of maybe sometime having another baby. A child who doesn’t let you sleep more than 5 hours a night is the only birth control needed.
+ The pipes under the sink leaked and soaked everything in the cupboard below.
+ I got stuck in a snow storm and it took an hour to the drive 28 minutes home.
+ Annabelle’s sleep strike leaked into nap time and she repeated the above nonsense for days.  
+ Every year I wrap presents while watching The Christmas Card. It’s a cheesy movie but I love it and look forward to my tradition every year. Annabelle’s nap strike reached a peaked on the afternoon I choose to watch it. She yelled to me for two hours. I eventually got her up and in an attempt to help she unorganized my cards and ripped wrapping paper, spilled her milk and knocked over her snack bowl. The whole thing was a disaster. 
+ Sesame dumped all her beads all over the kitchen floor, under the oven, down the cellar stairs and into every corner. I didn’t think it through too well when I bought the extra large container of beads.
+ She spilled them again the next day. I’ve since hidden the beads and might accidentally on purpose forget where they are.

The day I finally checked myself into rehab.

+ We couldn’t go to MOPS yesterday because I couldn’t get the car out of the driveway due to snow. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I’m from Massachusetts and grew up dealing with snowy driveways. Not counting his 5 years at Fort Drum, Christopher has no snow experience to speak of. My word/advice on the subject should be taken as law and followed. All we have to do when it snows is shovel within an appropriate amount of time so we stay on top of the situation and we’ll be able to get in and out of the driveway just fine. It snowed Wednesday night and Christopher said we didn’t need to shovel, we’d just drive over the snow. This is what I was thinking on the inside.

Thursday morning I couldn’t get out of the driveway. Last night he finally shoveled (or more accurately, “shoveled” because it didn’t look that way to me). This morning I got stuck again. I’ll spare you the memes of how that made me feel.

MOVING ON. Stay tuned for future installments of airing my grievances.

The good-
+ I love our Christmas trees this year. Nothing makes me happier at the end of the day than to sit on the couch in the quiet with the trees and mantle lit. 

+ One of Annabelle’s favorite games for the last few months is wrapping toys and giving them to us or vice versa. She’ll wrap them in whatever blanket or bit of paper she can find then makes a production of handing them out and singing Happy Birthday. There’s only so many times you can feign enthusiasm for the same toy but it’s so sweet. She wrapped these Christmas presents by herself and was so proud. Her favorite part is the tape. She thinks it’s important to use half a roll on each gift.

The Christmasy-
+ We decorated our gingerbread house. I’m pleased that no one (read: me) allowed perfectionist or OCD tendencies to get in the way of a good time.

+ I’m glad I have a child who loves all things Christmas as much as I do. She says “YOOK, MOMMY!!! IT’S A  _______! I YOBE IT!” every single time she sees something Christmas related. It’s like the first time every time.
+ The next movie on our Christmas watch list is my personal favorite- It’s a Wonderful Life. If only I had been born 60 years earlier I would have been Mrs. Jimmy Stewart in a heartbeat.  

I’m resisting the urge to make a Hump Day comment

* Within a span of seven days the following items in our house broke: the heat, the hot water heater, the kitchen sink, the internet, and the water filter in the refrigerator. Our house is cursed. Who wants to come visit?

* I was recently reading an article about a team traveling to Mars. I was feeling jealous not to have been included when I read that it’s a one-way trip. And just like that I decided I have no problem staying home. 

* At my last appointment the midwife was talking about birth plans. I didn’t tell her I developed a plan called JITB, or Jack in the Box. It works like this: you pick a short tune, preferably a lullaby or some other child appropriate tune (extra parent points if it’s educational), to be played you’re while in labor. The song plays for 10-15 second before suddenly stopping. As soon as it stops the baby pops out and you have the worlds fastest delivery. Move over, Hypnobabies. There’s a new method in town.

* I failed the glucose test on Monday so I go back on Friday for the 3 hour test. I anticipate
1. fainting from lack of food
2. being completely bored
3. failing again

* Since we’re on the topic of my health, I had to find a new primary care doctor. I didn’t know who to pick so I looked on the website of a large and popular doctors office in town. My method of narrowing down doctors was very scientific- Are they female? Do they look nice? Do I like their name? I am nothing but superficial. I eventually choose a doctor named Greta because she sidelines as a jazz gospel singer. This singing doctor discovery was almost as exciting as learning last summer that I had been assigned to a doctor named Mary Crawley. If you don’t know who Mary Crawley is than I not sure we can be friends.

* Speaking of Mary Crawley, this season of Downton Abbey has already DONE ME IN. As if not having Matthew and his wonderful hair around isn’t bad enough, now I have to hurt for Anna until the next episode. I MAY NEVER RECOVER.