December recap, vol. 1

I know we’re two days from New Years but I have a personal tradition of recapping December events lo, many days after which they happen so why stop that tradition now.

Welcome to the peaceful oasis that was my backyard a few weeks ago.Can I offer you a cocktail on my deck?Our new roof was being installed (? put on? put up?) and it wreaked havoc on my yard, my deck, and my cat’s nerves. Linus, who has never been described as a chill cat, had never been so high-strung in his entire life. He was squeezing himself into the smallest spots under bookshelves and beds. He got so scared he threw up. I wanted to slip valium in his cat food. Lucille was not bothered by the noise or her brother’s anxiety. The pictures falling off the walls from the constant banging don’t rock her boat at all.

It was at this most HGTV perfect home time that Joanna came to visit. Without fail, she’s been the most consistent friend when it comes to visiting us. She has seen all but two of our eight homes. I like to think I’m a generally good time but a different version of me comes out when I go home or my friends from home come to visit. We call it Massachusetts Sarah. Massachusetts Sarah does things like get a running start on one side of the kitchen in order to slide across the counter like a penguin. I try to be a low-level party bus at all times, but I am more reserved when I’m in mom/wife mode. Joanna came to town and immediately out came a lower energy/post-surgery, Massachusetts Sarah. We laughed until we cried. I’ve known Joanna from the day she was born so she’s only ever known me that way. To be honest, there were several years was a very brief period when I deemed her too young to play with because I am two years her senior, but I came to my senses. I did look on her fondly when she was a baby baby. Look how happy two-year-old Sarah was to be holding little Joanna. I was thrilled! She was less than happy about the arrangement. She insists she was unhappy about the bonnet but I’m sure it was how hard I was squeezing.

There isn’t much to do in our bustling metropolis which is how we ended up at Walmart within 12 hours of her arrival. I took her to the coffee shop and the one non-chain restaurant that’s clean and that about wrapped up our tour of the town. She helped me address Christmas cards and pack for Aaron’s wedding. I like to give my guests a good time when they come to visit, but I’m still recovering from the surgery and my overwhelmed level is about 12/10. She showed up willing to help and I reluctantly accepted.

Sesame had many events that all fell on the weekend Joanna was here. She had her first basketball game and I mean this in all love, but sports are not her thing. She has great sportsmanship and is very good at complimenting her teammates, but is not good at the sports part of sports. She doesn’t like loud noises so playing in an echoing gym with people yelling and shouting isn’t up her alley. She also doesn’t understand how to play the game of basketball which I knew going into the game but I don’t think she realized until she got there. But she gave it her best effort. When she played Tball with the Y in the summer, the coaches often showed up 15 minutes before the end of practice. Things are very different in this league. There’s a man assigned to keeping score and “halftime entertainment” when the little cheerleaders in big bows come out. I’m surprised there isn’t a concession stand and someone selling foam hands.

The next event of the day was a school concert held at the local mall. Nothing like singing of our Saviors birth between Auntie Anne’s and Star Jewelers.

Look at the way she’s staring at Christopher. All that love and adoration towards the person who takes her out for pancakes every Saturday and not one bit for the woman who literally fought tooth and nail, blood, sweat and tears to bring her into this world. The next morning at church, Annabelle sang a song with the children’s choir and our family did the Advent reading and lighting on the candles. I did not do the reading because have you met me? I do not open my mouth in public. I would consider performing a concert in front of six thousand strangers (NO ONE I know would be allowed to attend) after I spent all afternoon with wardrobe, hair, and makeup, but no way in heck do I want to read a passage from the Bible in front of our very nice church congregation. Christopher and AB read while I lit the candles. There was almost a catastrophe when I lost my balance while holding the flame but the building is still standing and Christopher’s hair wasn’t singed after all.

Joanna came to work with me one night. She made a teacher gift I didn’t have time to make and one small sign for herself to take home. I wanted to pick Joanna up and recreate the picture from when we were little in front of the paint but it didn’t seem like the right time. I’m sure my boss wouldn’t have minded, but Jojo wasn’t wearing her bonnet.


she is as literal as her mother

I have big news, people.


You’re not ready for this. You might want to sit down.
I finally picked out a new shower curtain.

I KNOW. You can’t make this kind of stuff up. It only took me buying six before I settled on this one and I am overly excited about it. I stop to look at it every time I walk by. Annabelle is going through an annoying phase where she wants to stay in the bathroom with her while she showers which is very inconvenient but it helps that I have a pretty shower curtain. Sadly the florals have not stopped her from getting two gallons worth of water on the floor each time she bathes.

That about wraps it up for exciting life news around here.


In addition to the curriculum the school sends home for Monday/Wednesday/Friday, AB and I have been learning about national parks. This week we learned about park rangers and made a mixed media picture featuring a self-portrait of AB as a park ranger.

As she painted, we listened to random tunes on youtube. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” came on and to no one’s surprise, I sang along with great gusto. Sesame asked what the song was about so I launched into a lengthy teaching moment about how we can be there to support each other when life gets tough and too hard to handle alone. I will be the wind beneath her wings. I’ll be there for her when things get hard and, to borrow the phrase in question, be like a bridge that gets her from the hard things to the better side. She can count on me! “Hmm,” she said. “That sounds like you’ll get wet if you’re a bridge.”

What a tender mother-daughter moment.

I’m winging it as a mother

Last year I did all the right things during Annabelle’s public school career. I sent in supplies whenever the teacher asked. I never cut anyone off in carline. We didn’t lose paperwork. We were never tardy without good reason (being at the doctor). AB never visited the principles office (her good behavior reflects well on me). I planned the one and only field trip of the year. Given all that success, I started this year off with my head held high in pride and sure I would roll into the new school as pro mom.

I did not.

On the first day of school, I forgot to put Annabelle’s picture on her about me page. I didn’t send her in with a sweater. We got to the classroom and found out I had forgotten to pack her Latin book. When I picked her up, she said I hadn’t packed her composition book. In my defense, it wasn’t on the ”bring to school” list I was given, but every other child had it. Annabelle has reminded me several times of what I forgot.

On Thursday, the front office called to say AB had a bloody nose. I thought she was calling simply because it’s the protocol to inform parents of injuries, but after a pause, the lady said, “So, how do you want us to treat it?” Um. Pinch it? Hold tissues over it? Look on WebMD? Why are you calling me for medical advice? I’m just the mom. Then I remembered they don’t have a school nurse so evidently, they call the parents who are supposed to be the experts on their children’s health. The lady said they had allergy medicine and asked if I wanted her to give Annabelle a dose. I said sure, why not. I didn’t think allergy medicine helped with bloody noses but what do I know? I can’t remember to put a school book in a backpack. Who made me the mom around here?????

Our Annabelle’s first big project was due on Thursday. They’ve been learning about John James Audubon and bird banding so we had to make a bird out of a paper towel roll. After assembling it, she was to label as many parts as she could remember. I have a large supply of feathers, pompoms, yarn, popsicle sticks, and all manner of craft supplies for such a time as this. I was fully prepared and ready to rock. I would redeem all the mistakes I made in the first weeks of school. It would be the best paper towel roll bird in the state. Sadly my help was not wanted or needed beyond operating the hot glue gun. I showed an impressive amount of self-control and didn’t hoover while Sesame made the bird. I assumed she’d use the tube as the bird’s entire body but she insisted that she wanted the tube to be the bird’s head. This meant the wings AND THE FEET were attached to the head.

He did end up being very cute and it does look like he has an entire body, but to AB still says it’s only a head.

Sesame Starts Second

Somehow the school year has started again. School starts stupidly early here. You’d think I’d be used to school starting in August by now but I’m not. AB finished first grade three weeks late (thanks, ‘rona) so between that and all our travels, the summer really was shorter than ever this year.

This year we’re doing a hybrid program at a local Christian school. Sesame goes to the school for two full days a week and is homeschooled using their curriculum the other three days. This schedule gives us time to miss each other, she gets time with other kids and I get much needed alone time. Win, win, win. We had a rocky end to our last year homeschooling but this year we made it all the way to the second day before there were tears! I’ve added a little to the curriculum but it’s 90% what they send home. She’s learning Latin and how it connects with science which is significantly more than she learned last year. The drive to school two mornings a week has given me a chance to reserect my School Drive Repetoire and I’m not mad about it. I wrote what I thought was a completely original composition last year, but I’ve been told I stole the tune from Daniel Tiger. My apologies to Daniel Tiger. Hit me up if you ever want to add incorporate my song into an episode.

She is tickled to be wearing a uniform. Why does she have to be such a big kid? Time is so rude.“Hey, Mom! Take a picture of me from my bad angle!” I can count the number of times I’ve said that on exactly zero fingers.

“Mama, you can’t take my picture ALL THE TIME while I’m doing school.”

Sorry, kid. I’m the principle around here and I want pictures.

Happy Camper

The years of the library reading program being our Big Summer Event are over. Gone are the days where popsicles, splash pads and picnics were all the excitement AB needed. “Mom, I love you, but is this summer going to be just me and you ALL day EVERY day? Nobody else?” She is such a motherhood morale booster.

She did a few camps and first up was VBS. AB doesn’t like situations with loud music and screaming children so she hated the first and last 20 minutes of each day while the other children danced and sang. She’d stand on the edge covering her ears or yell to the other children and ask if they also thought it was too loud. Other than that she had a great time. The theme was confidence which was very necessary for her life right now.
I was the snack lady along with another Sara. We know so many Sarah’s that each has a nickname and this particular one is Snack Sara. That is significantly more flattering than the previous nickname we’d given her- Germy Sara. She is sweet but a self-proclaimed germaphobe to the utmost degree. If I had a dollar for every germ comment she made during the week, I’d be able to buy out Johnson & Johnson’s entire supply of disinfectants. For some reason, she decided to become a school nurse which is about the most germ-ridden job you can have. She will put gloves on before helping a child at school tie their shoes because she doesn’t know where the child has worn the shoes and what might be on them. Needless to say, when it came to the division of tasks at the snack cart, she was in charge of the hand sanitizer, and I was in charge of handing out the food. I had to make 90 fish out of goldfish, Mike & Ike’s and sandwich bags. The director wasn’t able to locate a picture of how the finished project should look so it took a bit of trial and error to make them look somewhat like fish. It wasn’t until 53 fish in that I nailed it down. Christopher helped put the eyes and fins on. Most were crooked which made the fish look drunk and/or high which wasn’t a topic we wanted to bring up at this year’s VBS.

The next week was Poolside Pals, the little neighborhood camp across the street. Last summer we noticed a lot of activity at Miss Cindy’s house every morning but assumed she had several grandchildren who came to visit. Upon questioning of the neighborhood rumor mill, we found out she was running a daily camp with upwards of 20 children from our and surrounding neighborhoods. She hired local teens to help her sunscreen, make crafts, supervise and hand out snacks to the children. AB rode her bike over by herself the first few days and she felt like a million bucks. Our road is never busy, but Miss Cindy lives on the corner and every morning of camp there’s a small traffic jam at the stop sign outside her house. Into the mix rode a little girl who has very little awareness of what’s happening around her and doesn’t understand the rules of the road. Every morning she’d cause a pile-up. After the first few days, she decided it was easier to walk. She meet the neighborhood self-proclaimed “Asian cowboy” who was one of the helpers. We’ve seen him driving his golf cart ever since we moved in. He always has his white shirt tucked into his jeans. He wears cowboy boots and a white cowboy hat which he tips at all the ladies. He’s a real charmer. When Kezi was over, both girls went to Poolside Pals and one day Justin drove them home in his golf cart. Annabelle was a smitten kitten. She still lights up when we talk about him.  
Finally, this past week she went to drama camp. They did a Winnie the Pooh musical and she was a green bird. We found out about it and signed up too late for her to have a main role, but she was in the animal choir. She was very excited and told me several times that she “loved being on the stage.” A bold statement from someone who had only ever been on stage for a ballet recital. The play was adorable and everything I hoped it would be. She’s already talking about next year when she “gets a real role. I don’t have to be like, the main character, but I want to have a speaking role. And I don’t want to wear an itchy mask.”Start making her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame now.

goodbye first grade, hello summer

Today was our best first grader’s last day of school for the year. Not to make the day all about me, but I got us through the entire year without being tardy and forgeting her backpack or lunch. Mom’s Carline Karaoke enjoyed a three-minute medley every morning with varying levels of appreciation from the backseat. I have a variety of songs to fit each season, weather and after-school activity. “Today is Tuuuuuesday. Tuesday we go to the Y for swiimmmmmingggg. Ba ba da ba ba ba.”

I’ve been told multiple times that she isn’t happy school is ending. She said, “I will still love you Mama, but I think I’m going to be bored this summer. I mean, are we going to spend ALL the time together?” What a motherhood morale booster she is! Does she not remember our summers full of popsicles and swimming and making childhood memories? Has she forgotten all those mornings I spent inflating little pools and slipnslides?

The school year started off rough but once we got a morning routine and she became more comfortable with her class, things got better. We weren’t very impressed with the curriculum or how the school was run, but it was what we needed to do for this year and I’m thankful it was an option. She still struggles with spelling and phonics, but her handwriting and math have improved greatly. She made a few little friends and told me today that McKinlee asked her to be her best friend.
The only school event we’ve been able to attend was a student recognition ceremony yesterday. The class voted Sesame as Everyone’s Friend. “The Everyone’s Friend award if a very important award! It is special because this person is always nice, friendly and gets along well with everyone.” I’m so proud of her. Kindness and friendship are very important to me and I love that she’s practicing them on her own. She told me she didn’t think some of the awards were accurate. “Tati definitely shouldn’t have gotten the Care Bear award. She is NOT caring! Don’t you remember what she did with the monkey bars?” Sounds like the voting was rigged.

Our plan for next school year is for her to attend the new hybrid program at an established classical Christian school in town. She’ll go to the school building for full days on Tuesday/Thursday and be homeschooled the rest of the days. I think it will be the best of both worlds. I’ll get to homeschool her and she’ll get the classroom benefits. Let’s not forget that Tuesdays and Thursdays apart will be good for our relationship. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that. I’ll use the hours to compose new songs for Carline Karaoke.