Today, I was asked to substitute for The Caterpillar's Sunday School class because someone was out of town.  Honestly, I had forgotten about it until right before church started so I didn't discuss it with her at all.  My phone just reminded me and may I say that if you ever ask me to do something and you don't see me putting it in my phone, you can pretty well count on that thing not getting done because I will have forgotten all about it.  Also, if I ever lose my phone, I will most likely need to call the police to have them take me to my home because I don't know how to get anywhere anymore without the crutch of GPS.

She had already headed off to her class when I remembered was reminded, so I walked in and sat down next to her on the row with the other kids.  She didn't notice me for a second.  Then she looked me up and down and said, "What are you doing here?"

"I'm going to teach your class today."

She looked confused.

"Is there something wrong with that," I asked.

"No.  I'm just confused."

"Why?"

"Because we already asked the other lady who was going to be our teacher today and she said, 'It's not any of your moms or dads..."

"Oh," I countered, "Well, there's a good reason for that."

"What's that?"

I leaned down and whispered earnestly in her ear, "I'm not your real mother."

For a split second, her eyes widened in horror while this new piece of information bounced around in her brain and then she realized that I was kidding and she rolled her eyes and turned back to the cat's cradle game she was playing with the girl who was sitting next to her.

It's tough to be a member of this family if you have feelings.

It's not so hard if you don't have those.

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It Figures

Posted on 7/25/2015 06:49:00 AM
A long time ago, I wrote this post about a flowering clematis plant that I tried to make grow and bloom for forever. I wanted one of those explosions of beautiful, purple flowers around the mailbox like so many other people in the neighborhood had.  

I nurtured, fertilized, encouraged, watered and loved that plant for more than a decade and while it never completely died off, and even grew into quite a large vine, it never bloomed more than one or two flowers at a time each year.  Never not once. Sometimes I got maybe a total of six or seven blooms during the season, but they didn't all bloom at the same time.  Instead, one pretty flower would show up, then die a quick death before the next one dared to come out.  So the whole thing always just looked like an errant weed that I was too lazy to pull.

The day before we moved out of that house, this happened.



I hate you, clematis bush.

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Getting Past the Semicolon

Posted on 7/15/2015 11:15:00 PM
The last time I felt it was six months ago. 

We moved out of the old house and into the new one.  Even though I have threatened multiple times over the past decade that if we ever moved, we would most certainly be hiring a moving company because it was cheaper than the inevitable therapy and possible psychiatric commitment that would be necessary for me after touching every single thing I owned twice (once to take it out of the old house and once to put it in the new one), it became painfully clear that we wouldn't be able to afford it.  Not when we were just moving across town and the distance didn't require such heroic methods.

So we begged, pleaded, asked politely, sheepishly inquired, of a dozen or so friends who all stepped up to the plate, offered trailers, and came with pick-ups, strong arms, willingness to give up a Saturday, and way more good will than I would ever expect for the likes of us.  They showed up in the morning and when the morning people had to leave, others came to spell them.  They took in payment: doughnuts, pizza and Coke.  We didn't even offer beer.  It was terrible, horrible, grueling, and I put more miles on my car in one day of back and forth trips than I had in the previous two months put together.

And much to my surprise, we got it all moved before nightfall, but only just.  Or at least the lion's share and whatever was left was incidental.  We didn't have enough time to put anything away or find our clothes and/or food, and we broke three bookshelves and/or cabinets, and our bed didn't fit through the hallway, and the Shortlings' beds were still in pieces, and there was no way we'd be sleeping in any kind of proper sleeping apparatus that night, but it was all moved and in the new place by that evening.  

Since the beds weren't, ahem, available, we took our L-shaped couch and shoved the two parts of it together to form a giant litter box of sorts.  I threw some pillows and blankets in it and all four of us squeezed in - feet to head to feet to head - exhausted, sore and nearly asleep on our feet.  The KingofHearts pulled out a book and read a chapter to The Shortlings and I put my arms around each of the girls, mostly because there was nowhere else for my arms to go.  I threw my head back against the arm of the sofa and looked up out the window at the stars that night.  The KingofHeart's voice wafted into the air above us and I could hear crickets and was so grateful to have accomplished so much that day and so grateful for the friends who helped and supported us and so grateful to have this family that I love traipsing through life with me and I realized it then: this is what joy is.

Because life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful.

That was the last time I noticed it.  Because then life got really, really sucky.  The renovations on the old house didn't happen as fast as we wanted and then the selling of the house didn't go smoothly and the new job wasn't all that great and all hell broke loose with family and friends and the kids' school year went out like a lion and I worried about it all way more than necessary and everything pretty much sucked for a long time, which has happened before, but my ability to cowboy up and get through it pretty much sucked too.  We kept slogging through, mostly because what else are you going to do?  We tried to do things that would help - to find those little moments of joy.  We carved out time to go to plays and movies.  To spend time with friends and to eat good food.  We tried to scare it away with humor and love.  To make sure to notice the universe and enjoy the beautiful spring in this beautiful new yard we have.  But it all just felt hollow to me.  I tried to remind myself that there are so many good things, and I was right.  Intellectually, I know that.  It's just sometimes hard to feel that.

Depression lies. 

It tells you everything is bad when it its neither good nor bad; it just is.  It tells you you're not ever going to feel that moment of  joy again when that moment is sitting right there waiting for you to notice it.  It says there is no light at the end of the tunnel while it holds a blindfold over your eyes.

Sometimes the only way out is through.

I don't know if I'm close to the end of the tunnel yet; I'm pretty sure I'm still slogging through.  But tonight, I drove the Dormouse back from an activity and it was clear and cool out and I had the windows down with my arm stuck out one of them.  I drove past a field filled with Queen Anne's Lace and four horses grazing in it, wading up to their withers in flowers.  Then I parked in the driveway and went out to get the mail while The Shortlings went inside.  I could hear the cicadas and the frogs and I looked up at the tree tops slightly moving in the breeze while I stood in the middle of the street with my head pointed skyward, looking like a crazy person to any of our neighbors should they happen to glance out the window.  There was nothing special about this evening to make it better or worse than any one of a dozen evenings over the last month.  And then I noticed it again.  It was only a tiny flicker of contentment, but it was there.  And that counts.

I think I can see the light.



For those I know who didn't make it through.



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Cloudy

Posted on 7/09/2015 07:44:00 PM


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Javelin

Posted on 7/07/2015 05:07:00 PM
Either that storm was very forceful or we have extremely fast-growing trees in this part of the country.



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Secret Meaning

Posted on 7/06/2015 05:05:00 PM
In Hawaii, if you wear a flower behind your left ear, it means you are married, taken, have a significant other, or maybe you just don't want anyone bothering you! If you wear a flower behind your right ear, it means you are single, available, and approachable. 


If you wear a flower over your entire face, it means you're gonna need some help crossing the street.

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What's More American*

Posted on 7/05/2015 10:33:00 PM
*Sing it Bing. 

Our Independence Day started off with great bang (no pun intended) as we discovered one or both of The Shortlings (I have my suspicions about the guilty party) had smuggled home some friends from camp in the form of a colony of lice.

*shudder*

If you have read about the Great War on Lice 2011, you'll know we're old hat (pun intended) with this issue and honestly, finding it myself meant the children weren't under threat of expulsion from school.  This fact alone, meant I could deal with it swiftly and wasn't going to have to miss a couple of very important Work Things coming up while I tried to convince some school nurse that my children were no longer unclean! unclean!

So whilst I simultaneously washed every stitch of bedding in the house, treated three heads of shoulder length hair for lice (I still don't really think I had them, but basically if one person in the house does, you need to assume they all do), combed through them all with fine-toothed combs (I totally get that expression now), and tried to explain to The Dormouse why we had to postpone our promise of a trip to the rock climbing gym (you generally have to wear their gear/helmets and knowingly transmitting parasites to gym equipment seemed pretty skeezy, even for us), I was pretty proud of myself for not being overly irritated about the whole predicament.  That is until I did twelve loads of laundry on a holiday and both The Shortlings were pissed at us because they didn't get to do Every Single Thing they wanted that day.  Then I fantasized about leaving them on the side of the highway with signs around their necks that say, "Good kid.  Take one."

The KingofHearts helped though.  He went out and got a haircut.

Stupid men and their stupid short hair.

By the time we really finished with that, it was about five o'clock and we had just enough time to try and salvage some of the day.  So we packed up an impromptu picnic and drove over to a parking garage where we spent last fourth of July.  It's our secret weapon when we can't get somewhere specific for the Fourth, like the Capitol lawn or Philadelphia art museum steps.  We find a fireworks show we'd like to see which we know will be way too crowded for comfort.  Then we find a parking garage near it with an open air top floor and drive up there and tailgate.  

We are not the only people who do this, but there are few enough of us that we can generally spread out and enjoy ourselves.

While we were waiting, The Shortlings made friends with the Ethiopian family in the van next to us. Then they all got together and managed to involve the Asian kid down the row, the other white kid on the other side of the lot, and the mixed race kid across from us in a grand game of hide and seek behind parked cars. 
 

 The Caterpillar has a unique way of counting when she is It.
 

Some more folks showed up and a few of them brought soccer balls and footballs.  So then there were soccer games and games of 500.


And at some point, I realized everyone on the rooftop is sharing food and toys and pop-its and suggesting games for the kids to play together and oh look see that kid in my car?  That's not mine. But weirdly, I'm cool with it and so were his parents.


And no one is really keeping score about who gave which kids what or who's allowed to play wiht that basketball they're using to set off the pop-its because we just kind of all like each other even though we only just met three hours ago.  

Then we watched fireworks and celebrated our country's independence through the t-top of a Jeep Wrangler. 


I've been pretty disappointed in the discourse of our country lately and am astounded at the ability of entire Groups of people to thumb their noses at entire Other Groups of people and basically say, oh I know what you think doesn't affect or diminish my life in any way but I don't care what you think so screw you.  It's disheartening.

This night was a microcosm of that great American melting pot I sang about on Saturday mornings when network TV used to try to trick children into learning.  We likely won't see one of those families ever again. We didn't exchange information. We won't call or meet for dinner.  But we had this moment together on the roof of the parking garage.  This lovely, perfect, un-pressured moment.  This is kind of the point of the whole grand experiment, I think. To see if we can all make it work and get along. 



I'm pretty sure we can. It's just whether or not we want to.

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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