Monday, March 25, 2019

travels and cousins and kittens, oh my

I started this post seven days ago. Every time I try to finish it, I hit a wall at the corner of boring and dull. In the last 10 years of blogging, I've hit that wall many times, but it seems like I can't put myself back together this time.

This morning I said to myself "I hope I didn't leave my keys in that store." I thought this as I was sitting in my running car at a traffic light. In case you're wondering, I'm firing on all cylinders over here!

* Last week we visited with Christopher's family in West Virginia. I've driven through but never spent any amount of time in the state before now. We stayed in the capitol the first night and I can't say I would want to live there. As I was paying at CVS, the cashier looked at me and said, "Stay safe out there." I'm going to assume he doesn't work for the tourism board because no one will be slapping that on a billboard at state lines. Turns out he was right because the next day we almost got mugged.

Annabelle had the best time with her cousins, especially the girls. They played together for hours and she loves sleeping in the same room as Emmy. It was so cute to see them all bouncing around.
We went to a children's museum and AB learned how to change a tire. I hope she'll do all the work if I ever need her to because changing tires isn't something I can do. Speaking of changing tires, you know how many cars have the spare tire in the back? I was getting something out of my trunk recently and I lifted up the floorboards and found bags of craft supplies I didn't unpack from when we moved here 14 months ago. I'm not proud of it but if they have a home under there why move them? It will be easier to keep them there until the next move than try and find a spot for them in the house.

* The week we moved in I painted AB's room yellow. I printed bird pictures for the walls, made a bird mobile and put a large stick over her bed and hung little cloth birds off it. It was fine. I didn't love it but it worked. For the last few months when I rocked her before bed, I'd think about changing it up. I wanted to buy a chandelier but Christopher was not on board. I've been campaigning for a chandelier since I was pregnant but so far no chandelier has appeared. Lucky for me, the traditional 15th anniversary gift is crystal so I just have to stick it out for seven more years!
I didn't want to repaint the entire room so I spent many a minute on pinterest looking for easy ideas. My time on pinterest is probably directly related to how far behind I am in laundry. I ordered a tree wall vinyl. I bought four fake branches from HobLob to create a suspended branch situation over her head. These are the things that happen when I have nervous energy! It was getting a little out of hand. In the end, I painted her dresser white, printed new bird pictures and called it a day. I like it so much better. 

* I am trying so hard to not become a cat lady, but sometimes I take the cats outside on a leash so I think that ship has sailed. 
One cat will sit on the windowsill and watch the cat who is living in freedom outside. There's always a lot of meowing and scratching at the window until I give them a turn. This has started to backfire because Lucy thinks anytime the door opens is an invitation for her to run out. We were late for school last week because she got out the door. Annabelle is not helpful in these situations. I was holding my purse, the keys, my phone, library books to return, a bag of Walmart returns and my water bottle. I didn't have an extra finger, let alone an extra hand to grab the cat. AB had nothing but her backpack on her back and a small toy in her hand. "Oh dear, Mom! Lucy is out! Catch her, Mama! Catch her! Don't let her run away!" It didn't occur to her to help catch the cat. We got Lucy in but Linus ran out. We got him and AB didn't shut the door fast enough so Lucy ran out again. I finally got her to school and I swung by DD to get an iced coffee. I dropped it before I had a chance to take more than a few sips and the cats were more than happy to help with the clean up. 
Sesame has started making comments about the gender of the cats thanks to the clear view provided by their frequently upright tails. At the same time, I'm been having conversations with her about modesty and privacy. Last night I made a comment about Lucy walking like a lady and Sesame said, "That's because she's keeping her privacy tail down." 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Guest Post by Elizabeth, the Sister of the Blog

I just called Sarah to ask her for some quippy quotes to use in this post. She’s on vacation in West Virginia. She seems to be bouncing back and forth between pleasure with her temporary digs and sorrow at missing her cats. So I sent her a picture of a Hallmark card that says,

“You’re one day
closer to becoming a cat lady.”

She hasn't answered my calls. But, now that I think about it, how could she possibly answer calls while participating in such an action-packed vacation? Yesterday, she sent me a slide show featuring a trip itinerary. Meticulously organized events squish together in tiny, typewriter font. The shower schedule, menu options, dates and times of fun activities, and carefully delineated slots of free time weave up and down across the page. It's a wonder to behold.

Virginia may be for lovers. But West Virginia is apparently for the extraordinarily well-organized.

Of course, it should have been clear that she wouldn’t be available for any calls because I’ve just referred to that itinerary. According to today’s rundown of activities, someone in the family is tasked with picking up the week’s pictures from Walgreens. Since Sarah’s dedication to #theWalgreenslife is well documented, it’s safe to assume who is running that errand.

Frankly, I enjoy referencing the vacation schedule. Knowing what Sarah is doing at all hours of the day and night gives me no end of delight.  It feels deliciously clandestine, James Bondesque, and curiouser than People magazine. It's the best version of raising one blind slat to watch the neighbors bring home their in-laws(something Sarah has been often been known to do) and I enjoy lifting the slat on her. I've momentarily allowed myself to hope she’ll keep up the trend when she arrives home. Too bad it will never happen.

I guess that’s the scintillating stuff this blog provides. Let's keep refreshing the page, shall we?

There is something besides this site that’s refreshing over and over--legends of our youth. These stories could do with a retelling. I’ve gathered two, wiped away the dust from the details, and clacked a few down here. We might grow old, but they certainly do not.

The Unexpected Garden Party

It is generally understood among we four siblings that Sarah is the golden child. The idea has so much data to back it up that resistance is futile. While Aaron and I often found ourselves sitting on a stubby and wobbly stool, waiting for Mom to pronounce our fate, Sarah flitted sweetly through the kitchen singing hymns.

She also found ways to make people happier at the end of their day than they were at the beginning. Was it someone’s birthday? She remembered to celebrate it. Did someone lose a box of Polly Pockets? She remembered to return them. Was someone’s sad? She’d feel sad with them. Sarah knew how to be good and she did it with finesse.

That is, until the unexpected garden party.

We were little, then. Dan, the oldest, might have just reached the age of twelve. This makes Aaron and I two and Sarah seven.  One day, out of what seemed like nowhere to us, Mom sent Daniel, Andrew, Aaron, and I scurrying outside without explanation. She told us not to come in for a few minutes. Then, she closed the door and went inside with Sarah.

In a fog, we made our way around the yard, kicking sticks and peeling bits of paint off the side of the shed. Listlessly, we made our way the vegetable garden. We stood in the middle of the empty, raised square of dirt, woebegone and baffled. One of our own had fallen. What would become of us? What would become of her?

Andrew spoke finally. “ Sarah getting a….a... timeout?”

“Sarah doesn’t do wrong things!” Aaron was adamant. Then, “....does she?”

His voice squeaked like the rusty door on our mailbox.

We looked at each other with wide eyes. Shock nearly sent us over the edge of the raised garden bed full of wild zucchini plans and into the weeds below.  We pooled our collective memories and couldn't produce a time when Sarah had gotten a punishment. We did not even know she could.

To this day, I don’t know what Sarah did wrong. Even Mother of the Blog Barbara doesn't remember.

Sarah might have left the lunch apples unwashed while she poured all her girlish passion into mentally composing a scathing speech she might unleash in defense of a family member but probably wouldn't because she'd be too shy. Or she might have lost a library book while delivering an ornately colored church bulletin to a favorite birthday celebrant. Since then, though, she’s taken great pride in returning her library books on time and in pristine condition. She'd polished all Granny Smiths and Macintoshes on her shirt, at the very least. "Who knows who or what has touched these!?"

Our days of unexpected garden parties are over, which I take to mean that Sarah’s short run-in with mistakes is also over. The memory of that Autumn day in the vegetable garden has only just begun.

The Catch of a Lifetime  

The night before we went camping, Mother of the Blog Barbara would pack into the wee hours of the night. Long after sending us to bed, she’d drag our large, blue and white cooler across the kitchen floor downstairs and clink lanterns together as she carried three in each hand out our the rusty blue fifteen passenger van. On this particular camping trip, she remembered to pack the fishing poles and the fishing hooks. Boy howdy, she remembered the fish hooks.

After we’d arrived at the campground and set up our tents, we spent a few days blissfully. We sat as close as we could to the fire, enjoying the rare treat of warming our sneakers in front of an open flame. We canoed up the river and got stuck, leaving Daniel and Andrew to carry us back down the river. Every tiny, summerish thing filled us with wonder. Until we went fishing.

Full of ambition, Sarah and I stood on the edge of Smiling Pond. I watched her admiringly from behind.  Sarah, with the fishing skill of Serena Williams on the tennis court, swung her pole behind her and whipped it forward with passion. Unfortunately, her hook got stuck. It stuck in my scalp.

Sarah might have screamed. She might have rushed over to me and parted my curls to see if she really had caught a girl instead of a fish. But all I remember is kneeling by the side of a main road, fairly sure that the Pepperidge Farms tractor-trailer truck would squish me like as flat as a chocolate chip cookie. I was sure that, if a person could die of getting fished, I was on my way out.

After a trip to the emergency room where a doctor removed the hook from my scalp, we ended our fishing expedition and headed back to the campsite. And now I get to remember something else. Sarah sat on the steps of the camper next to me. While I sucked on a watermelon lollipop from a sympathetic nurse, Sarah shyly wrapped my soft blanket around my shoulders. “I’m sorry I wasn’t looking when I was fishing,” she said. “I didn’t know you were back there.” I sucked on my lollipop. She said, “But I’ll watch for you now. I’ll always watch for you.”

And she always has.

Friday, March 8, 2019

birthday month begins

A few weeks ago, we gave Annabelle the option of having a birthday party or taking a special birthday trip. I thought for sure she'd pick the party. She talks about her party for months leading up to the big day but I underestimated her love of hotels. I know she loves them but I didn't think she'd pick a hotel over a party. Her love of the "honeypot" aka hotel room ice bucket runs deep. Truthfully I was a little disappointed because I love setting up her parties but it did take things off my plate. Plus, with the changes in the family coming up with foster care we thought it would be nice to have a special time just the three of us. 

Her one request for the hotel was that it have a pool. I called before making the reservation to check on the status of the pool which was a gift of true love in and of itself since I don't like calls with strangers. We made strawberry cupcakes, went to the party store for party supplies and counted down the hours until we left. I don't love the usual kids selections at party stores (I'm more of a klassy party girl), but I knew she would want to pick out plates and napkins and it was her weekend. She picked Shimmer and Shine. I did my best not to steer her towards the cute rabbit plates. It's her party! Her weekend! If she wants Paw Patrol or Elmo so be it! She got to pick out a party favor for each of us and little bags to put them in. She was so excited.
For all the road trips she's been on, I would have hoped she'd learn not to ask "are we there yet?" every fourteen minutes for three hours. When we finally got to half an hour away, I said it was the length of two Daniel Tiger shows. She knows there are 60 seconds in a minute and asked us to count to 60 with her 30 times. Thanks but no. I can't make every birthday request come true.

Sesame brought her imaginary brother Matt to the hotel. Thankfully I didn't have to pack for him this time. She usually requests I pack his luggage and carry him through the airport. I didn't know until it was almost too late that I was supposed to bring him a party favor too. Thanks to my trusty imagination, I whipped a slinky out of my pocket for him. In this picture, she's smiling at Matt with true love. She has several imaginary friends but Matt is her current favorite. She also has a brother named John and a sister Olivia but they didn't come.
The main destination for the trip, besides the hotel pool, was the American Girl store. She doesn't love dolls like I did when I was her age, but she went two years ago and loved playing with the displays. I think we were at the store for half an hour before she got overwhelmed by the noise and screaming children and asked to leave. We said she could pick out a small item for her Bitty Baby and she kept saying, "You can pick whatever you want, Mama. I'll like what you pick." Most times I appreciate that she's very compliant and it's much better than the alternative of throwing a fit, but sometimes I wish she'd be a little more decisive.
 After a few laps around the mall, we went back to the hotel for the party. Yes, I put light candles near the sheets and no, nothing caught fire. 
AB was thrilled. She sat on the bed eating cupcakes off Shimmer and Shine plates and talking about her new American Girl cat. It took all of 25 seconds to clean up which made me think maybe the no-party route is the way to go.

The next day we went to a nature center/museum. The ride home took nearly 5 hours instead of 3 thanks to bad weather, but Matt behaved well during the drive. It's so hit and miss with those imaginary friends.

Friday, March 1, 2019

stream of consciousness

I’m coming to you live from the parking lot of Sesame’s dance studio. I’ve been meaning to blog all week, but I’m too tired at the end of the day to do more than sit on the couch and read BBC articles about the projected economic structure of Indonesia.


I go on Pinterest to look at memes and plan how I’ll redecorate my house. I’m so nervous about foster care that it’s made me go into full nesting and redecorating mode. I didn’t nest until 24 hours before Annabelle was scheduled to be born so needless to say I didn’t get much done. I’ve been vacuuming under beds and bleaching down tubs. I got a strip of removable wall vinyl that looks like white wood to put up as an accent wall in the bathroom. 
I recently put up new pictures in the play area but now I want to redo the whole thing. I bought a large tree vinyl for AB’s room. I’ve gone through my closet and donated clothes.
I need to redecorate the shelf in the other bathroom. It’s the one spot in the house that I’ve been fully pleased with for months. I walked in the other day and the shelf had fallen off the wall. The glass bird and various pots and fake plants had broken into dozens of pieces all over the floor. Annabelle came in the bathroom to see what was happening with the cats following behind like she was the pied piper. They all crowded around the glass while I yelled things about safety and no shoes on, etc. Then the cats started climbing the shower curtain AGAIN so I had to pull them down. I’d get one down and the other one would go up. The saying about herding cats being difficult is very accurate.

Speaking of the cats, they’ve reeled me in hook, line, and sinker. I wasn’t a cat person until we got L&L. Let me clarify. I’m still not a cat person. I’m a MY cats person. Sometimes they’re so annoying and it’s like we have two toddlers. They get into everything. They’ve ripped curtains so all the long curtains in the house are tied up out of their reach. They tip over cups of water. They’ll climb into the dishwasher when it’s being unloaded. They’ll climb into open drawers and settle down in the back so it can’t be shut. They opened a closed pizza box and dragged a piece across the room to enjoy.

This is a scene that happens several times a day:
Me: “LINUS AND LUCY GET OFF THE COUNTER. NO! Don’t touch that! Get your face out of that bowl! That’s not your food! How many times have I told you not to climb on the table while we’re eating! WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN.”

Me five minutes later: “Oh, you’re such sweet little cuddle muffins. You’re my favorite cats. Do you want to snuggle with Mom? You’re so cute I think we should get another kitten. Do you want a treat? You’re such good kitties. Do you want me to get you some milk?”

I took an unintended 24-hour break after writing the above. The people in my house demand things like meals and toilet paper so it's hard to get anything done. Maybe one day they'll be less high maintenance. 

We’ve had an up and down relationship with churches recently. We’ve been going to a new church the last few weeks and this past Sunday we went to their Sunday school for the first time. Christopher instantly hit it off with a few of the men who were talking about guns. “They’ve got a 9mil and they’ve got a 40 but it has an mmp and a kick so you’re better off with the 60. The other company sells a pistol that is good close range so you need the 15 for distance blah blah blah.” All I know about guns is once I held up the entire concealed carry class because my finger wasn’t strong enough to pull the trigger on the gun they gave me. It was so embarrassing.

You know else is embarrassing? Walking around the store with a large piece of tape stuck to your butt and neither of the people you’re shopping with notice and save you from the humiliation. 

Yesterday afternoon AB and I ran to the grocery store. She doesn’t nap anymore (much to my sorrow) but it was during the time she normally rests on the couch and watches a show. She had been up several times the night before with ear infection pain and was very much on the edge of a misbehaving cliff so I was trying to get out as quickly as possible. I was bagging limes when a middle-aged lady put her squash on the scale next to us and asked Annabelle to tell her the weight. Several minutes later, the same lady stopped us and gave Annabelle two dollars for helping her. Annabelle had done nothing but give an incorrect weight and she was given money. If anyone deserves money for making a last-minute grocery store run seconds away from a meltdown, I think it should be yours truly. I told the lady that Annabelle was taking a special birthday trip this weekend and she could bring the money with her. The lady whipped out another dollar and gave it to us. I really wanted to tell her my birthday is around the corner and I too would like someone to fund a birthday trip. 

I can't say this is one of my best posts ever, but as Socrates said, "better to have blogged subparly than never blogged at all."  Personally, I question the accuracy of that, but who am I to question the words of a philosopher? I couldn't even spell 'accuracy' correctly. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

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’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’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."

Monday, February 11, 2019

daddy daughter dance

Ever since the Daddy Daughter Dance last year, Annabelle has been talking about when she could go to another one. That day finally happened on Saturday.

I've been stuffing Annabelle into her 4T dresses so we could get the most use out of them, but none of them were worthy of the dance. She seldom makes a fuss about clothes, but she turned down the first three dresses I suggested. We finally agreed on this one and I love it.
Annabelle spent weeks planning how she wanted the day to go. Christopher would pick her dress (which she had already picked) and she would pick his tie. It was the sweetest thing to watch her as she watched him get ready. She adores him. That afternoon was everything I imagined years ago when I thought about having a daughter.
Nahall the tiger was a special guest.