Sunday, May 24, 2015


18 years ago today, I married this guy:

The kid came later. Now, everything in our lives is mostly about her, but I like to think that when she leaves for college (or to join the Hell's Angels or whatever), he and I will still have something good that's just for us.

Some of our daughter's friends have experienced divorce, and she sometimes worries that it will happen to us. "I don't want to live in two different houses," she tells us. As long as I continue to tolerate having thousands of comic books in my basement, and as long as he continues to tolerate the endless parade of foster dogs passing through our home, it's all good. We were together for five years before our wedding; 23 years is a long time to hang out with one person (we've been a couple more than half our lives, which is kind of crazy to think about). It sort of amazes me that we get along so well because, frankly, I can be feisty.

We are not doing anything extravagant for our anniversary. I got him some flip-flops and swim trunks for our beach trip this summer. We went to Home Depot yesterday and I persuaded him to buy me some room-darkening blinds for our bedroom. It's not for me so much as the dogs. They wake me up as soon as they detect daylight, and those dumbasses don't seem to know the difference between weekdays and weekends. So yes, it's an attempt to trick our dogs. I have to install the blinds myself, though. I did not marry a handyman.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. M.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I ran and I didn't die

My daughter and I completed our first 5K on Saturday. I had been telling her for weeks ahead of time that it was important for her to stay with me the whole time, even though I knew I would be running slowly. There were thousands of people participating in the event, and I didn't want to lose her in the crowd. I have to say that it was a lot of fun. The organizers had all of the runners set up in waves.  The kid and I were in Wave E, which was second from last. Each wave left the finish line a couple minutes apart. As we waited our turn, music was thumping out of huge speakers and there was a lot of adrenaline flowing through the crowd. I started to feel a little more confident. I know this sounds terrible but I saw some largish people at the start line and started to think, "Well, if she can do it . . . "

I think the kid was a little annoyed with me because I strapped my phone to my arm so that I could listen to music while I ran. I think she was under the impression that we would chat the whole way or something. "I can't run and talk," I told her. "Not happening." I ran for the first half mile or so, then walked a bit, then ran for a bit, and so forth. I could tell she really wanted to sprint.  At times, she turned around and ran backwards so that I could still see her. Occasionally she ran ahead and then ran back to where I was slogging along. When we got near the end of the 5K, I told her she could run ahead and finish without me.

After we crossed the finish line, we each received a really spiffy medal. The kid was excited and wore it the rest of the day, even when we went to the airport to pick up my sister. Get this: the kid never even broke a sweat. She didn't have to shower when we got home or anything. Kids and their boundless energy, I tell ya. I think my daughter was a little bit disappointed that we didn't "win" the race. I told her that it was never about that (and not just because winning it was an impossibility from the word "go.") It was about doing something together, being healthy, and all that jazz. We're signed up to do a 10K next month.  I'm expecting it to be similar to the 5K except, you know, longer.

The day after our 5K, my middle sister ran the half marathon, which was part of the same series of events. I was a little worried about her because it was super humid on Sunday. However, she ran like a pro and finished with a very respectable time. We cheered her on at a couple of spots along the course.  She got a spiffy medal, too. The whole weekend was a lot of fun. I don't think I see any marathons in my own future, but I can see my sister and my kid running one together someday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day

As I'm sure you'll recall from past blog entries, my husband is not a "how shall I pamper my wife? let me count the ways" sort of guy. He's not thoughtless, but I wouldn't really put him in the category of thoughtful, either. He's well-meaning, though, and that counts. Because I know that Mother's Day causes him some anxiety, I decided to give him a list of things I would enjoy receiving. (I took a Facebook poll first and was assured that supplying a list was the way to go.) That way, he could choose a couple of items from the list and it would be sort of like a surprise. I gave him the list two weeks ago. I thought I'd better give him ample time in case he wanted to order anything online.

On Saturday, I did indeed receive a gift that the boy had ordered. Yay! I had asked for a Happy Herbivore cookbook and it came in the mail. If you have ever thought of trying a plant-based diet, check out the HH site. The cookbooks are really good and don't contain a lot of super-exotic ingredients. Anyway, I've already made a couple of recipes from the new cookbook. In fact, I had a chocolate craving Saturday night and made a single-serving brownie recipe. Don't judge.

Although Mother's Day was on Sunday, Saturday was probably the better day of the weekend. In the morning, I weighed in at Weight Watchers and then the kid and I joined a group from our church for a wildlife walk at a local park. It was a lot of fun. We learned about all kinds of wildflowers and went on a nice little hike. After that, we went swimming.  As part of the birthday party package we purchased at a local recreation facility (like a YMCA, but not), we received a one-month family membership for free. So, we decided to take advantage of it and head over there for a swim. I worked out for about 45 minutes first. One nice thing is that since the kid is 10, she is allowed to be in the facility by herself. So, she can go to the pool, the game room, the art room, etc. P and I joined her in the pool after our work-outs. The pool has a (surprisingly fast) slide, so that's a bonus. The part that was less fun: sitting in Cabana #4 for an eternity while waiting for the kid to take a shower and comb her hair. I could actually feel myself aging as I waited. If someone had told me that I'd missed Christmas while I was in there, I would not have been surprised.

We actually have a tough decision now - whether or not to switch to the new place long-term. I joined "my" gym because it's very close to my house. I knew I would be more likely to go if I didn't have to drive far. Typically, I'm there at least three times a week. This other facility, where we have our temporary membership, has a lot of benefits. It has a pool, a running track. basketball courts (my other half likes to play), and it's about $10 cheaper. I can't decide if the longer drive is worth it, though. Quelle dilemma. I think it also depends on how much of my future I want to spend in Cabana #4.

On Saturday evening, we went to mall to do some shopping. The kid had some birthday money that was burning a hole in her pocket. My husband wanted to come along so that I could pick out my other Mother's Day gifts. I asked him if he also wanted me to pick out my own card and sign it. I got a cookie jar in the shape of a bulldog, a sunhat (for freeloading at Ocean City this summer), some sports socks, and a Fila tank top for the gym. Normally, I am never seen in anything sleeveless, but I got a little crazy for a second there.

We had so much fun swimming on Saturday that we decided to go back on Sunday. The three of us went to church in the morning.  The service included a flower communion, and the kid and I were participating in that. After church, P offered to take me out for brunch but honestly, as a vegan, it's sometimes easier if I just make my own grub. I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and black bean burgers for lunch. The kid had talked about presenting me with breakfast in bed, but I couldn't see how that would work. I get out of bed several hours earlier than she does, so . . .

After lunch, I ran back to the mall (I need to shop ALONE) and finally found a swimsuit. Photo below. Just kidding. I can't believe you fell for that. Anyway, I did another work-out at the new place and then joined the kid in the pool . . . wearing my spiffy new swimsuit.

All in all, it was a good weekend. A good Mother's Day, too. I'm still not convinced that I'm much of a mom, but I do my best. I mean, who else is going to sit in Cabana #4 all day while a certain curly-haired girl sings to herself in the mirror (for an excruciatingly long time)?

My "freeloading at the beach" hat. I was going for "mysterious" in this shot. Did it work?
I wasn't going for "goofy" in this shot but I feel like I nailed it anyway.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Birthdays and Visitors and Stuff

This just in: May is off to a great start. The snow has melted and we've had some truly beautiful days lately. I even planted some stuff. I may have gotten a little overzealous, though, and have some dead seedlings to show for it. Nothing like killing something that barely saw daylight, eh?

My dad and stepmom were in town for A's big birthday celebration. They've headed back to Maryland now. I gave my dad a couple of chores during his visit, and I must say he carried them out with great expertise. I asked him to install new faucets in both bathrooms. The old faucets came with the house and were probably the cheapest ones money can buy. One of them leaked and the other would only allow water to pass through it in a trickle.

My dad does not mess around. He drew diagrams, made a list of supplies, searched the basement until he found our water shut-off valve, and carefully studied the underside of both sinks. We went to Home Depot last week and got all the stuff. The next day, I had two new faucets. Woo hoo! 

The funniest part was when he was lying on the floor in my bathroom, peering up under the sink to see how the old faucet was attached. Gideon made his way up under my dad's arm and started licking his face. Gideon counts it as a "win" if he can get his tongue in your mouth. "Awww, he's your apprentice!" I told my dad.

He also fixed a light switch during his visit. The dining room light has not worked properly in years. But now it does! As I may have mentioned, I did not marry a handyman. My husband does not mind if my dad fixes stuff around the house. It doesn't offend him in the slightest. However, my other half did decide that he needed to clean out the gutters all of a sudden. He dragged a ladder into the back yard. He was teetering on the ladder while my dad smoked a cigarette on the deck. Finally, my dad could stand it no more, jumped up, and grabbed a wrench so that he could tighten the bolts on the rickety ladder - while my husband was still on it. He felt like his son-in-law would plummet to his death otherwise.

Anyway, it was a good visit. Next up: my middle sister arrives next Saturday. She is running a half marathon while she is here. The kid and I are walking a 5K (part of the same event my sister is running). I think I've officially given up on running. Between my broken foot and my misaligned hips, I just don't think it's in the cards for me. However, I still want to be active and to set a good example for my daughter. So, we have our 5K next weekend (which we will walk/jog/whatever) and then a 10K in June.

Oh, and Mr. M and I have our 18th wedding anniversary on May 24th. We've been married for 18  years, together for 23. You'd think the boy would know where we keep the bowls by now, but . . . I digress.

I'll leave you with a few photos.  Did I tell you what we bought the kid for her birthday? A speaker and a microphone. Yes, we are certifiably insane. The speaker has bluetooth so she can connect it to her iPad and sing along with all of the awful lyrics she loves. She's been singing non-stop since we gave it to her last Saturday.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A little note to my baby

Here you are, giving us the finger. So sweet!
Hey Goober,

You're ten years old! I can hardly believe it. Double digits!  Last week, we gave a couple of your old Dora items to a friend from church. You used to love Dora. Or Dura, as you called her.  You used to watch the Backyardigans and mispronounce their names, too - Plablo and Migua come to mind.

And now here you are, fully of sass and personality and braces. I am so proud to be your mom, and I am so grateful to your birthmom for choosing us to raise you. Or, you might be raising us. Sometimes we can't tell. Although I would sincerely love it if you would get up and get dressed on time, there's not much else I would change about you. I love your outgoing personality, your constant singing, and your crazy curls. You're the best hugger the world has ever known. 

Happy 10th birthday to the girl who made all of my dreams come true. I love you the 'mostest.'

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ignore the sobbing and wailing you heard

It was just me trying on swimsuits.  I don't know why I got it into my head that I need a new swimsuit. I already have one that I like (and which fits okay) and one that I like a little bit less. We are beach-bound in July so I thought it might be nice to have an extra swimsuit.  I looked at the selection at Kohl's a few weeks ago. However, I was on my lunch break and didn't have a lot of time at my disposal. I felt like I needed a longer block of time for the suffering and humiliation. So, I went back about a week later. Although I was originally opposed to the idea of a tankini (when I was younger), I found that they aren't so bad after all. Both of my existing swimsuits are tanks with swim skirts. I also said I would never wear a "swim skirt" but that was before I accepted that fitting room mirrors don't lie about cellulite. Anyway, I grabbed a few swimsuits and headed into the fitting room. First one: nope. Second one: nope. Third one: I think I muttered something about conspiracies and feminism and Kohl's role in all of that.  I may have given a nice big "fuck you" to fluorescent lighting as well.

A few days later, I stopped at Lands' End with my daughter. She sat on a stool and looked miserable while I poked around the swimsuit racks. I took two suits into the fitting room. I fared somewhat better here.  The bottoms looked fine (well, as long as I didn't look too closely) but the tops didn't have enough lift and support. The straps were too skinny.  I prefer a racerback. By then, my kid was shoving her foot under the fitting room door and acting like she might die, so I gave up.

Yesterday, I decided to try JC Penney. It never occurs to me to shop at JC Penney even though we have one within spitting distance from our house. I didn't have a lot of time because I had to get to a yoga class.  I wandered around the racks, looking for any eligible candidates. What was more memorable about the excursion was the exchange nearby between a customer and an employee. I couldn't help but listen to the whole thing.  From what I gathered, this woman makes a career out of buying and returning stuff. She went on at length about her visit to the store a few days before, when a new employee apparently had the pleasure of dealing with her. "Amy must have been new," she said, "Because she didn't understand what I was trying to do and she had to get a manager."  She brought up Amy's shortcomings several more times.

Now, I do not return stuff.  Ever. My husband got me some running shoes for Christmas and they were the wrong size. But even then - I simply exchanged them.  I did not return them. You could give me a bucket of vomit as a gift and, even if you gave me the gift receipt . . . I still wouldn't return it. I would just put it in my basement with all the other junk we don't want.  I worked retail in high school and college and the lesson I learned from all of that is: don't return anything. It just causes too much grief.

So, it was from that perspective that I listened to this conversation.  I think this customer was the retail version of a quick change artist. She would hand receipts to the cashier and then take some of them back. She said she needed to return some of the stuff and then buy it back. Something about discounts that had changed.  I don't know. It just went on and on and on.  No matter how wacky her requests were, the cashier simply smiled at her and attempted to comply.  I heard the cashier say, "So you want to return this one?" and the lady replied, "Why would I do that? Can't you see that I'd only get $3.99 back?"

I grabbed a couple of swimsuits and tried them on. Bleh. When I went back through that section of the store on my way out, I attempted to find the hapless but helpful employee. I was going to tell her that if JC Penney has some sort of superhero award, I wanted to nominate her for it.  I didn't see her, so I assume she was in the break room, drinking vodka straight out of the bottle.

Anyway, I've temporarily given up on my quest. I have managed to lose a little weight over the past two months but it wasn't enough, apparently, to make swimsuit shopping bearable. This summer, I'm just going to wrap myself in a tarp and bob around in the ocean. (Do they make tarps with a racerback and underwires?)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I know we *just* did this, but . . .

My husband and I spent most of the weekend painting our living room. He says we "just" painted the living room and didn't understand why we needed to do it again. I need to tell you when "just" actually was: 2005.  My husband has always had weird ideas about time. For example, if it's 6:10, he'll say, "It's almost 7."  We really need to paint the dining room as well but I'll wait a month before mentioning it. I have to ease the boy into things.

I headed to Home Depot on Friday evening to throw myself on the mercy of a very nice paint department guy. "I don't know what I'm doing," I told him, "but I want brown paint."  I pointed to shade of brown from one of the five cards I had in my hand. There are a lot of shades of brown. I was looking for something like caramel, I guess.

"Sure thing, young lady," he said. Young lady. Ha ha ha!

"I also need some off-white paint for the ceiling," I said.

"Well, turn right around and grab the 'Book of Whites' off the rack."  I was buying Behr paints and yes, they have a Book of Whites. It sounds like some scary thing the KKK published fifty years ago.  I selected White Privilege. Just kidding. I chose Cottage White.

On Saturday, I did my best to stall by driving to a vegan bake sale but eventually I had to face the music. I mean, paint. I think it turned out pretty well.  Just don't look too carefully at the corners.  The brown paint is called something like "Artisan Crafts" or, as my husband lovingly refers to it: runny diarrhea.

My friend Dave made me these pictures many years ago and I still adore them.