Tuesday, May 24, 2016

All Sorts of Goings-On

I haven't written in a while (except for my brief anniversary post), mostly because I thought you might be tired of listening to me bitch about my feet. Good news - you're mostly off the hook on that score now.  I own three pairs of definitely-not-cheap Vionic shoes at this point and, for the most part, that's all I wear. They aren't the cutest shoes in the world but, let's face it - the cuteness ship has sailed for this old lady anyway. I do feel slightly annoyed with my podiatrist because he didn't mention these shoes as an option. I have given up on curing the plantar fasciitis (and obviously I can't make the bone spurs go away). I now just focus on walking without pain. My Fitbit tells me exactly how many steps I take each day. When I walk 11,257 steps in a day, that's how many times my brain says, "Ow." (My brain hears about it from my feet.)  It's hard not to focus on the pain when you are reminded of it thousands of times a day. The shoes help tremendously. I may order another pair, but I will need to have them delivered to my office because I think the Mister is getting suspicious.

I think we've established that I have never been, and never will be, much of an athlete. However, my daughter and I did complete a 5K on Saturday.  I walked most of it, with some intermittent jogging mixed in. I tell myself that even though I can't really run, I'm still modeling healthy behavior for my child. She and I have a 10K in a couple of weeks, another 5K (pet walk) right before that, and a 15K bike event in July.  Saturday's 5K was a lot of fun. She was dying to take one of the dixie cups offered at one of the water stops and pour it on her head. I let her, because I couldn't really think of a valid reason why she shouldn't do that.

What was really fun about last weekend, though, was that my sister and her daughters were in town for a visit.  My 17-year-old niece wanted to tour a college campus while she was here.  She and my sister also ran a half-marathon on Sunday (the marathon is part of the same series of events as the 5K we did).  While they were running the marathon, P and I were in charge of keeping our other niece alive. She is six months old and we quickly realized that we are pretty rusty on some of this stuff. We drove to the 11-mile mark to cheer on our runners, and you should have seen us trying to figure out the stroller/car seat situation. We attached the car seat (with sleeping baby inside) to the stroller and then could not get it back off to save our lives. A car full of people was parked behind us and I could just tell that our act was the source of great amusement. All three of us were bent at the waist, pushing buttons and flipping levers in hopes of liberating the baby from the stroller.

Another big highlight of the weekend was my daughter's spring choir concert. I was so happy that my sister and nieces were in town for that, too. The concert was really, really good and I'm not just saying that because my kid was in it.

A few weeks ago, my daughter auditioned for one of the upper-level touring choirs. On Friday, we found out that she got in. She was so excited.  So, starting in August, she'll be with the older girls in the touring choir. I think this will go a long way in helping her with vocal development, maturity, and whatever else comes along with such things. The touring gets pretty expensive, though, so I hope she is prepared to sell candy bars like I don't know what.

After a fun, eventful weekend, my sister and nieces headed back home yesterday. I miss them already, but I will see them in just a few weeks when we descend on their house for a visit.  They live about a thousand miles away but we visit as often as we can. We were blessed with incredibly beautiful weather during their visit - I hope they can return the favor.

That's all the news for now. The puppy is still a terror. We like to play a fun game called "Guess what's in my puppy's mouth?"  Yesterday, we thought he just had some dental floss but when we tugged on it, it was wrapped around a fist-sized wad of Kleenex. It was actually pretty impressive. He has also started humping Gretchen periodically. That goes over about as well as you'd expect.

19 Years Ago Today

19 years ago today, I married the handsome guy who had proposed to me on bent knee. We had been together for five years when we got married - apparently it took few hundred dates for him to notice that I was the girl of his dreams and all that jazz.

I wish I had some sage advice on what it takes for a couple to stay together for 24 years. Honestly, I think it comes down to personality types. He's easygoing and I'm not. End of story. I don't even think shared interests is a firm requirement - we don't like the same music, we aren't the same religion or even the same political party, and we don't have any shared hobbies. But, we get along and there is a lot to be said for that. We get on each other's last nerve sometimes, but there is always respect on hand, and that IS important.

Happy anniversary to my sweetie, my guy, my comic book geek. Here's to many more years of wedded bliss (or something like it)!

p.s. In an expression of true love, we just spent the last ten minutes bickering about whether or not it's going to rain today.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day (sub-title: This is What $65 Flip-Flops Look Like)

Hey, Happy Mother's Day! On Mother's Day, my first thought is always of my own mom. While it's true that she did give me faulty hips and such, she also gave me lots of good stuff, like having the courage to be a free-thinker. She knew how to build character before character-building was even a thing. I love you, Mom!  My next thought, each Mother's Day, is of my daughter's birthmom. Without her, I would not be a mom. There are no words to describe how I feel about her - believe me, I've tried. And you guys know how I love words.

As for my own role as a mom, my main request for Mother's Day this year was: "I don't want to pick up anyone's stuff off the floor." I know, it's a big request. I feel like I spend half my life picking up crap that doesn't belong to me. "Why is this sock in the middle of the living room floor? Why are your shoes right here where the puppy can chew them?" And, since we do have a puppy, sometimes I am picking up actual crap.

In addition to my outlandish request about not having to pick up stuff that doesn't belong to me, I told my husband what I wanted for Mother's Day a couple weeks ago. I asked him to order some Vionics flip-flops for me. They are made for people with chronic foot issues, which I guess I now have . . . ever since plantar fasciitis came to town and refused to leave.  He nearly keeled over when he saw the price. He did buy them for me.  In case you're wondering, here is what $65 flip-flops look like:

So far, I love them. They are very comfortable and have the all-important arch support. I worry about arch support more than I worry about ISIS and Donald Trump combined.

The kid made an art project for me. I am not sure if I will use it for my bamboo spoons and such, or if I will use it as a pen/pencil cup. For all those years when I was trying so hard to become a mom, this is the kind of stuff I thought about. Art projects just for me.

It's been a good day. We went to Noodles after church. Then we made a quick stop at Kohl's.  We have guests coming soon and I wanted to buy some new bedding. My kid also needed some new  underwear. I had some Kohl's cash (and God knows you can't let Kohl's cash go unspent) so I wanted to stop on the way home. My daughter refused to come anywhere near me in the store because she knew I was buying her the underwear. "Mom! Gross!"  

I thought, "What the heck? They're for YOU!" Who knew that some new drawers would be so traumatizing! By the way, if you see her around, be sure to ask her if she is wearing new undies. I feel like that conversation will go well. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Even Songbirds Need to Practice

As a parent, I'm sometimes torn about how to react when my child gives minimal effort to something that should clearly receive a much higher level of effort. Is it okay to demand excellence or it is better to say, "Well, at least you tried?" She entered her school's talent show, which was held this evening. She's known about the talent show for at least a month. We spent a lot of time listening to song choices that might work well. The song also needed to be appropriate for an elementary school, of course. She chose "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. (The song contains the word "damn" but of course we just changed it to "darn.")

I printed the lyrics for her. Twice (because she lost the first sheet I printed). I played the song for her on my iPod. I found a karaoke version on YouTube so that she could practice singing along. I knew she didn't know the words very well and yet she did not practice. As the talent show got closer, I became more and more alarmed that she was not practicing. Or maybe it was something more like annoyance?

Anyway, she sang well but bailed halfway through the song because she did not know the words beyond that point. So, part of me is thinking, "My kid rocks!" and part of me is thinking, "My kid is super lazy!" I sometimes think of that scene from the movie Parenthood where Steve Martin worries about messing up his kid (after encouraging him to play second base in a baseball game). He pictures a future scene where his son is in a clock tower, gunning down students. Someone yells, "It's Kevin Buckman! His father really screwed him up!" I don't want to push her too hard, but I do want to encourage her to develop her gift and to take it seriously.

I still think my little underachiever will someday do great things with that voice of hers.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Eleven (Going on Eleven-Teen)

Happy birthday, baby girl! The days are winging past me so fast - I fear you'll be in college before I know it. Right now I complain that you waste too much water with your insanely long showers, but I know the day will come when I will miss hearing you singing into the shower head for 45 minutes straight. Hey, would this be a good time for me to tell the story about all the times you pooped in the tub when you were little?

I am so proud of you and all that you are. You make me crazy with your dilly-dallying and your refusal to be a part of the whole "a place for everything and everything in its place" theory that seems to work for everyone else on the planet, but you just wouldn't be you if you didn't follow your free-spirit heart.

I love your singing. I love your sense of humor. I love how you still call me Mommy sometimes. I love your crazy curls and your expert-level hugs. I'm so happy to see you developing the heart of a volunteer. You understand the value of fostering homeless animals and then letting them go. We also joined the local reptile club so that you can volunteer at their events.

When I was a kid, I loved a book called A Spell for Chameleon. The book takes place in a land called Xanth, where every resident is born with a specific and unique magic power. The main character, Bink, doesn't know what his magic power is and sets out to find out. I know what your magic power is, baby. You make everyone around you feel special. That's an awesome talent indeed. 

What do I want to remember about you at this age? I want to remember that you are growing in your independence. We finally gave you a house key! You're testing the waters and feeling your way through the world. I love the fact that we can talk about weighty topics now that you're a little bit older. We also laugh about dumb jokes together. A couple weeks ago, we were in the car with the puppy and you said, "I can't buckle because Grover is sitting on my butthole."

I replied, "What?! Grover is sitting on your butthole?"

You laughed. "No, Mom! Gross! He's sitting on my buckle."  We still laugh about it all the time.

So, here's to dumb jokes and arguments over just how much lip gloss is appropriate for a fifth grader. Here's to sleeping with Lamby at night and wearing fancy wedge heels during the day. Here's to "can you help me with my hair?" and "stay out of my room!" Here's to "Please buy french bread" and "please stop buying french bread because I don't like it now." Here's to emojis that confuse your old-lady mom and "I love you, Mom" texts that don't.  Here's to you, kid, on your birthday and every day. I love you more than you'll ever know.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Water Park Weekend

In keeping with our "there's no way you're getting a birthday party every single year" tradition, we let our daughter pick a weekend destination for her birthday (instead of a party). She chose a massive indoor water park, located about 2 1/2 hours from our home. We let her choose a friend to bring along.  I also ordered a cake so that we could take that along, too.

The water park is a resort and so, of course, you can stay there. However, I could not bring myself to spend quite that much money. By my calculations, the weekend would have cost about a grand if we went that route. Instead, I booked us for two nights at a Best Western that had a pool and free breakfast. (It was still $300 for the hotel, but regardless . . . still an improvement.) I then purchased day passes for the water park.  We arrived on Friday evening and of course the girls wanted to go swimming in the hotel pool right away. We had stopped at a Red Robin for dinner along the way, because I had a coupon for a free birthday meal for my daughter (call me cheap all you want, people! I prefer the term "thrifty!")

I poured myself an adult beverage and headed down to the pool with the girls. I knew I'd be traumatized enough by spending the whole day on Saturday in a swimsuit, so I decided to pass on the swimming on Friday. Speaking of swimsuits . . . the kid has been bugging me for a bikini for a while. She had tankinis, but nothing that was stomach-baring.  I don't know why I wasn't too thrilled about the idea. I have a lot of trouble articulating it. It's certainly not about body-shaming my child. Her body is perfect like it is. Anyway, I gave in and bought her two bikinis at Justice last weekend. She tried on a couple at Old Navy that she liked, but they felt very flimsy to me. My concern was that she would tug at the top endlessly if it didn't fit well. Also, she is in between sizes so that complicates matters, too. The ones at Justice fit better, even though they cost at least double what the ones at Old Navy cost.

The girls had fun swimming in the pool. Or at least I assume they did.  There were a gazillion kids in there. The hotel was pretty crowded. Apparently, there were a bunch of soccer tournaments going on. I was tired so I didn't last too long after we went back up to our hotel room. The girls plowed through a party-sized bag of Doritos. Quite the party indeed! I have no idea how late they stayed up. Those two are perfectly content to play Minecraft until they can't see straight.

The next morning, we grabbed some breakfast and then headed to the water park. The place was enormous. We didn't know where to start! The girls ditched us pretty quickly, which was fine. They are old enough to be on their own a bit. P and I rode a bunch of different water slides. I rode a couple that he refused to try. They had two slides that were a little bit harrowing. You climb to the top of a platform, stand in a tube, and then the floor drops out from under you.  There were two variations - one that dropped you straight down and the that other spun you through a loop. I did both. I couldn't help but notice I was the only chick up on the platform. I guess it's more of a dude thing. I am probably slightly more adventurous than people think I would be.

We regrouped mid-day for lunch. P gave me some cash and told me to splurge on a fancy drink at the bar. I have been really stressed about a medical issue and some work stuff. So, maybe he felt a little bit sorry for me. I don't know. Anyway, I went to the bar and ordered a mai tai in a souvenir glass. I noticed that prices weren't posted anywhere. The bartender made the drink and sat it down in front of me. Guess how much it was? No, higher. Nope, higher. Twenty-seven dollars. It was a pretty large drink so yes, I did share it with Mr. M. "How much was it? Like $15?" he asked.  I just smiled back at him.

I didn't get a lot of photos from our water park adventures because of course I wasn't walking around with a phone when there is water shooting out in a million directions. I did take some photos of the girls attempting the boogie board attraction.

After our water park adventures, we headed back to the hotel to shower and clean up. We went out to dinner at a vegan place.  The girls weren't that enthusiastic at first but once we were out and about, I think they had fun. The most exciting thing for me was the chocolate cake - I ordered a slice to go. That way, I could have cake while the others enjoyed the kid's birthday cake. Win-win!  Back at the hotel, we sang "Happy birthday" to my daughter and then had cake. Her birthday isn't until Tuesday, but she has school and then choir practice that day. So, there won't be a lot of time for celebration.

I was hoping the girls would be so tired that they wouldn't even think of asking to go to the hotel pool. Ha ha!  Ten minutes later, I was once again seated poolside. I watched a stand-up comedy routine on my Kindle. I was wearing ear buds, but that didn't stop an elderly security guard from looking over my shoulder and asking, "How do you like that little TV of yours?" Oh, mister.  You are so cute with your little-TV business.

So, that was our weekend.  The next day we had breakfast, made a brief stop at an outlet mall (the kid has money from her grandparents burning a hole in her pocket), and then drove home.

On the way home, it occurred to me that this being-a-mom job is much more thankless than I ever imagined. Being a wife, too. I don't think either of them realized just how much preparation it took to pull off a successful weekend like that.  From making reservations weeks in advance, to doing research on the best places to stay/eat/whatever, to making sure we brought a lighter for the birthday candles . . . I mean, I made it all happen. I made arrangements for the dogs. I made sure we had birthday plates, napkins, and utensils. I packed snacks and drinks. But had I forgotten something? I'd have never heard the end of it.

Oh well. The important thing is that my kid had a kick-ass birthday celebration. Plus, I'm sure I'll get a big raise at my next mom review.

Don't you tell me there's no such thing as good vegan cake.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Middle School Orientation

This can't be right. My daughter starts middle school in September?  I am pretty sure that I just dropped this kid off at 4K the other day:

And now I have this:

Her dad and I took her to middle school orientation last night. In our district, middle school is 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I have been careful not to tell my daughter how much I hated middle school, because I want her to have a positive experience. It is going to be a HUGE change for her.  Here is the part that scares me the most:

She'll be in class a full hour and a half earlier than she is now. As I might have mentioned once or six thousand times, she is not a morning person. The three-minutes-between-classes thing scares me, too. I'm worried that by the end of the first year, I'll be able to wallpaper our living room in tardy slips.

As part of the orientation, all of the 5th graders and parents were ushered into the auditorium to get a rundown from one of the guidance counselors. She explained what classes the kids have to take and gave tips on being successful in middle school. Then, a panel of 8th graders answered questions. There were a lot of questions that I wouldn't have thought to ask. Can you chew gum? (Depends on the teacher)  Can you take a backpack to class? (No) Are hats allowed? (No) Why are there two cafeterias? (They each serve different stuff.) There is a lot to know.  My daughter seems more excited than worried at this point.

Then, we walked through the cafeteria where there were displays set up to advertise different extracurricular activities.  My kid is already signed up for Choir and is anxious to get involved in theater, too.  I noticed that she walked right past the display for the Math Club without even pausing.

I was happy to see some of the things the school has put in place to help incoming 6th graders get acclimated.  For example, at lunchtime, 6th graders only eat with other 6th graders. I would imagine that this will be less intimidating for them and, possibly, cut down on bullying.  It sounds like they generally keep the 6th graders together as much as possible.  Also, they are offering some summer programs.  There is a three-day session in August called Middle School Matters, where they give the kids a chance to practice opening their lockers, learning their way around the school, etc. I've signed the kid up for that. Also, they are offering some fun summer sessions with stuff like "Babysitting basics."  So, I signed her up for a couple classes. She wants to do a Minecraft class and a bread-baking class. I think that will give her another opportunity to be inside the school and get her bearings. The school itself is huge compared to the one she attends now.  When the tour guide brought us back to where we'd started, I actually had no earthly idea how we'd gotten there.

During the tour, the kid and her friend walked as far away from their parents as they could get. This might be because I had mentioned that her dad and I might get the urge to square-dance during the orientation. I didn't do anything too embarrassing . . . as far as I know.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to have a good cry over all of this growing-up business.