Are You There Judy? It’s Me, Ally.

My new copy of Judy Blume’s classic.

Eleven year old me only read it once or twice. It might have been the library’s copy. Maybe it was my then bff’s tattered copy. I read it and I loved it. That’s how I traveled to New York. I went to confession with Margaret for the first time. That’s how I found out about other religions. Seriously. I didn’t know details about Christianity and Judaism, I just knew they were different. I didn’t know people argued about such things, especially the adults. I also had friends who seemed to know a lot more than seemed knowable at the age of eleven.

I organized a small watch party for the movie this past weekend. Adults only, until my thirteen year old invited herself. Okay. This is rare. I bought another ticket.

The movie theater wasn’t full, but it was one of those that reminds you to turn off your phone and remain silent or you risk getting kicked out. When movie Margaret takes a walk in her neighborhood, I yelled out “It’s HER!” as if she was there with me. Judy Blume. Being a sucker for fangirling over authors, I can imagine what I’d do if I met her in person.

Then came “I must, I must, I must increase my bust!” Except now, my chant has changed the word increase to decrease. In true book nerd form, there we were, chanting and doing said exercise along with a bunch of pre-pubescent girls on the big screen, laughing. Go ahead, try kicking out a bunch of hormonal middle-aged women.

Memories of enjoying this book took us back in time. If this movie would’ve been around back then, would I have enjoyed it in the same way? Would I have read the book? Our post-flick discussion had us telling stories of our own initiation into womanhood. Some are funny, some terrifying, but they all tie us together. Just like a good book.

Are you still there Judy?  It's me, Ally.  I know you're there.  I know you would've made sure this movie was made the way you wrote it.  I wouldn't have missed it for anything and I'll gladly watch it infinity times.  Thank you, Judy.  Thanks a ton...
Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Frozen Broccoli

“Someday I’m going to be a grown-up like you and I’ll have to use that fork thing when I eat. So let me be a kid and eat my broccoli however I want, even if it’s with my fingers.”

She’s not wrong. I mean, she is eating the broccoli, I observe as she kicks her legs back and forth in her seat at the kitchen table. Her seat since she turned one. Same spot. No one sits there. If they do, she reminds them there are other places to sit.

I’m the one who gave her frozen broccoli florets when she was three. I thought it was odd, but that’s what her home daycare sitter did. She’d give all the kids florets of frozen broccoli on hot afternoons. Any time I took some out to add the obligatory green vegetable side dish to our dinner, she asked for a piece. In my curiosity, I gave her one, expecting her to toss it aside. She ate the whole thing and asked for more. Then she ate more at dinner.

Okay, so broccoli is a thing. She likes it, so why fight it? Now, it only gets eaten with seasoned salt. Small pieces. Warm, not frozen. Sometimes she’ll stab a fork into it, but I still see her occasionally get some with her fingers. I don’t argue anymore, because yes, sooner than I’d like, she’s going to be a grown-up like me and have to use that fork thing when she eats.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Are You There Judy? It’s Me, Ally

Hey Judy,

Me again. This time I’m not asking for advice on big life lessons. I want to say thank you. Thank you for writing great books. They got me through puberty. And now, there’s A MOVIE!

I can’t wait to watch Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret. Did this happen intentionally? Were you thinking about making this a possibility years after you published every pre-pubescent girl’s guide to body changes on purpose? How many pre, peri, regular, and post menopausal women will be in every theater across the country when it opens?

We’ll drag our daughters by the ears to watch it with us. (Do they even read anymore?). I’m orchestrating a watch party, at one of my favorite eatery theaters of course, because we must have access to fancy snacks and mimosas. Beer. Wine. Cocktails. I’m sure my favorite place will have a full menu of book related fare and fancy sips.

I might sneak in a pack of Oreo cookies, take a stack of four, and put two back as a nod to Blubber. I’ll drink a glass of orange juice before I get there in honor of Deenie. I’ll buy a brand new bra so I’m ready for “We must, we must, we must increase our busts!” However, in this case, it doesn’t need increasing, just lifting. I will mortify my thirteen year old with no shame.

I read this book twice in middle school. Years later, it was part of a Banned Books display in our school library one year when I took my class. Two boys were curious, I explained why it was my favorite, and they each checked out a copy. “There’s no better way to learn about girls than to read about them.” Sold!

I plan an adult me reading of it before the movie is released. I’m looking forward to loving it all over again.

Your Faithful Book Fan,


*Occasionally, I write to Judy Blume.

First letter is here.

Second letter is here.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Secret Spaces

Aesop-Fabled Bookshop and Cafe, Waco, Tx

Ever find that secret little spot unexpectedly? I found one last summer, a secret garden* of sorts, tucked into a cul-de-sac in my neighborhood. I visited agin this morning.

Monday, we took a day trip to a book store I had been eyeing. Local book shops are my favorite spaces because they’re full of charm and quiet energy.

Within walking distance from our lunch spot, we visited Fabled Bookshop and Cafe in Waco, Tx. Upon entering, Aesop the Owl welcomed us with a tip of his hat. The book cases, dark and cozy, held the usual sorts of books. Shelf talkers, scripted by employees introducing people to their next great read, persuaded me to choose them from the shelf, if not add them to my TBR list.

I always like to check out the kid’s section even though my youngest is thirteen. She upgraded to the YA section, but the lure of kid lit always draws me in at least to take a peek.

I didn’t find it, but my daughter did. I gasped in excitement, so much as to cause her embarrassment even though the two year old writhing away from her mom trying to read her a picture book on the blue velvet couch barely noticed us.

Faux fur coats hung neatly in a built-in wardrobe. We parted the coats on the rack, and sure enough, there’s a door! Is it real? Does it open or is it just for show?

She hunches down, pushes the door, and sure enough, it opens to the other side, the YA section, of all places. As she makes her way through, a group of college aged kids are on the other side, hunched down, making their way in.

“Come on in! The White Witch is gone and Mr. Tumnus has hot tea waiting for us,” I playfully say in my best Lucy voice.

“Oh, yes, we shall come in!” Through the door they enter the kid’s section.

What a gem of a book shop.

*You can read about A Secret Garden here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


Enchanted Rock. It’ll enchant you to want to hop on boulders and flit around like a mountain goat until you realize you’ve gone too far and the only way to a trail, any trail, is down. And it’s steep. If you hike often and lift lots of weights, no problem. We don’t. Sure, side stepping your way down works, unless the descent is too steep. Without rails and nothing to hold on to. Slide down if need be. If you’re wearing weather proof shorts, you’ve got the perfect seat to a fast slide all the way down a massive pink granite rock.

Don’t lose the trail map. On second thought, study the trail map, make a plan, and read about what’s on the other side. Not many people going your direction? That’s a slap in the face, shake you back and forth until your eyes pop out sort of sign that maybe you’re going the wrong way. The hard way. The way meant for experienced hikers twenty years younger. The guy rappelling down the boulders you went around? Yeah, he won’t be able to save you.

Toes slide to the ends of shoes as you have a death grip on the rock trying not to lose your footing. Stay balanced. Focus. One foot in front of the other, lean back a little, bend the knees. Be patient, be patient, be patient. Once you get going it’s hard to stop so if you want to jump step it down, you’d better be ready and balanced for what’s coming.

There’s a trail. No one is on it. This goes to the lake. The car is on the other side. How far to go around because we so are NOT going back up to the other side. Go back. Regroup. Thank goodness for the checkpoint telling us YOU ARE HERE with an arrow marking our spot. Yes, we are, here, but how do we get out?

Take the other trail. But Mom! It looks like we have to go back UP! I can’t do that again!

More people. That’s a good sign. Better than the map. Keep going. It’s a bit rocky, but nothing close to what we just went through. Aha! Here we are. Everything looks familiar. Stop for a snack. Guess who thought of packing them? Take more glugs of water.

Dad! This is the way we came up!

And the way we should’ve come down. Who says adventures are always fun?

Life lessons learned: Together, you’ll get through steep descents and boulders. Sometimes, you’ll slide down on your ass.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Netflix Dumped

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Ever been “Netflix dumped?” It hurts. Not as bad as a real break-up, but still. I mean, I made a commitment. I promised. I said yes to an entire series with you. Then you went off and didn’t even wait for me. You cheated and watched. Every. Single. Episode. Without me, after I promised you I wouldn’t stray.

This isn’t the first time you’ve done it either. Season 4 of Stranger Things. How could you? After all, on your eleventh birthday, I vowed to let you watch season one. I fulfilled my end of the deal. We watched that first episode the night of you birthday. I even allowed snacks upstairs. Every day until the end of season three, we all watched it with you.

I worked that day and you just couldn’t wait. You promised you’d wait for me to get home even though summer break had already started for you. Lucky. But no, I got home and you had to brag about binge watching it. TWICE! Because you started watching when they dropped it at midnight. You would’ve thought you’d won a hot-dog eating contest. Glutton.

Then Heartstopper. Same thing. You watched a few episodes and swore you’d wait for me. I only got through the first three and you left me behind. Again. You had already gone through them twice, so why rush the third round? Sheesh.

The last one was Wednesday. Seriously!? You didn’t even know about Wednesday Addams until you found teasers for this Wednesday! I don’t want to watch anything with you again. You keep Netflix dumping me. I hate being mistreated this way. Take all the fun out it. I’ll watch on my own from now on. Don’t start on me when I decide to watch something without you.

Swimsuit Shopping

Three hours at Target. I didn’t plan to spend so much time there. What I typically say to myself after a Target run is I didn’t plan to spend so much money there.

When the kids were younger, I’d put them in the cart, stop at the snack bar, order a bag of popcorn, and speed walk down the aisles grabbing what I needed, a little of what I didn’t, and maybe a little something for myself. A bottle of wine strategically placed on an end cap or a new notebook. Later, I dropped off the oldest in the LEGO aisle, speed walked with little sis in the cart, bag of popcorn in tow, and picked him up on the way to the checkout lane.

Yesterday, I’m the one who needed a bag of popcorn and a bottle of wine. Three hours! Swimsuit shopping. Little is now thirteen and she scored a dressing room while a line of hopeful weekend Target shoppers patiently waited their turns. The downside to big box shopping is no one runs to get more outfits in different sizes for you. That was my job.

I found the dressing room stall she took over. She let me in to see one option. “The bottoms are weird.”

Sure enough, they were weird. Too much fabric was missing. “You’re not adult enough to wear that, no ma’am. I’m not adult enough to wear that!”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought, but the top is cute.”

I stepped out to wait and out flew empty hangers, tops, bottoms, and a request for more. “Can you please bring me something bright, but NOT anything neon colored. Maybe something neutral that will suit my skin tone.”

Oh for the love of summer! There weren’t many other options. “You hate florals, so I don’t know what else you want.”

“Just pick something. If I get out of here, someone else will take my spot and I’ll have to get in line and wait all over again.”

I return to the massive swimsuit section to hunt for muted tones. I selected florals with neutral backgrounds. On purpose, along with some abstract prints. With spring break a week away, maybe that’s why everyone was shopping for swimwear. It could also be because all swimwear tends to disappear by April. Get it now or try to squeeze into last year’s swimsuits, if they still fit.

Knocking on the door, I offer a pile of four more swimsuits. “These aren’t quite your style, but you might like them once you’ve tried them on.”

“Ummm, I said no neon colors. I want something bright.”

“You said neutrals.”

“Well, neutral brights.”

I decided not to go where my brain wanted to go, we’re in public.

She hands back everything I brought without trying them on. “Never mind. I’ll take a look myself and get back in line.”

“There’s no line. It must come in waves and it’s calmed down now.”

I take the hangers and get them in order. The two teens working the dressing room looked exasperated. We’re heading back, so I decide to put them back myself.

There are two more possibilities from a wall of options. She heads back to the dressing room and I go back to my shopping list. I haven’t gotten anything I meant to get. I’m in the gardening section when I get a message.

“Where r u? Mom? Mom? Mommy!?”

She finds me and plops into the cart a hoodie, a pair of yoga pants, another swimsuit, and a pair of silver hoop earrings. She makes her way toward a bunny Squishmallow plush toy in the holiday section.

“I have a gift card,” she grins.

“With fifteen dollars left on it! You have two swimsuits in here. They’re priced by the piece,” I explain. “How much is that one top?”


“And what do you plan to wear on your bottom half?”

We discussed options, chores, the gift card, homework, and more chores.

“I’ll meet you at the checkout lane,” I call, as she heads back to return most of what she thought she was getting.

Three hours. One swimsuit. Hoop earrings. A Pusheen hoodie. Pruning shears and some odds and ends I needed.

Target runs seemed so much easier when I stopped to buy popcorn.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Valentine Timeline

Sticky shoeboxes covered with construction paper
long slot cut through the top
where little envelopes drop
one for every classmate
wiggly heart shaped Jell-O
Cindy's mom brought to the class party
shiny gold boxes wrapped in red cellophane 
holding chocolates
the popular girls got 
from their little 

Outgrown class parties
replaced with
little messages delivered between
are any of those for me?
they're all for those girls
a pile of them
I wonder what they say
They sigh as if annoyed,
but we all know
they like attention
"I have so many!"
Oh, shut up
but secretly,
I wish they were mine

First boyfriend
and my first
"real" Valentine's Day gift
a thin gold bracelet
with a heart slipped through the chain
I never wanted to take it off
until that one day
several months later
where it made its way 
to the back of my jewelry box
do I dare wear it again?

Galentine's Day before it became a word
ditch the study sesh
none of us have boyfriends 
so why not go to dinner together?
No tables available at the one 
cafe, of course not, 
couples got first dibs
because people plan for these things
we drive around, 
it's late now,
and we find a little Italian restaurant
where I taste fried calamari 
for the first time
order our entrees
and realize we don't 
mind being single

A rainy weekend
greets the rare Saturday
Valentine's Day
No plans made, 
but we have each other
Where do we go to dinner?
Everything is booked
Let's just go to our regular place
My gift is first
should be perfect,
it's something he enjoys
then I open the card
and he hands me a small box
okay, I say
and there it is,
the ring I had been eyeing
I say yes
he slips it on,
call my mom
and we head out 
to dinner, nothing fancy
but I can't stop staring 
at glittery possibilities
of forever

More valentines
cute pencils with fun erasers,
stickers, snacks, a book for each one
goodie bag assembly line
load my car and brace myself
for my first classroom party
on the other side
every student gets something
it isn't fun being left out
even if it's from the teacher
chocolate candy
and cute little notes pile up
on my desk
sugar comas 
(I'm glad I'm not the parent!)
chocolate fountain and goodies
from PTA in the staff lounge
and bonus points for the one
who brought a small
bottle of Champagne 
flavored jelly beans

Craft stick picture frames
with my little 
cherubs inside them,
trimmed with sparkly hearts
googly eyes, and glitter
whipped cream topped pancake 
with berries and hot cocoa
fluffy stuffed animals
heart covered pajamas
bedtime stories
"I lovey dovey you!"

Gift bags with snacks
because they're always hungry
can't go wrong with candy
lemonade for one,
a root beer for the other
decide against deodorant 
and find a silly squishy plush toy
because they still like getting them
"Oh, by the way, can I get
something for my friends?"
It's 9:30 p.m.
the day before VDay
No, just no.
We should be getting ready for bed
"I'll ask Dad!"
You won't

Wrestle with insomnia
get up and find my seasonal
place them on the table,
one of those shiny gold heart 
shaped boxes wrapped in red cellophane
for hubster
and a green squishy love bug plushie
flanked with a red Ring Pop and a tube
of mini-M&Ms
she skips down the stairs as if on cue
the minute I put everything down
she picks up the love bug 
twirling it in a dance
and sings her happy theme song
"You're going to school with me today!"

At work the office calls
I have a delivery
For me?
a bouquet of flowers
unexpected and appreciated
homemade dinner 
text message exchange with 
my oldest
who stopped by to visit on Sunday
I pour myself a glass of cheap Champagne
fill the sink with dishwater
and toast 
all of the ways people love me

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Excuses, Excuses

I don’t like getting those notices from my kid’s school about her not showing up to class. Must’ve missed the bus. Again. Sometimes it’s a mistake so I have to make a call or send an email to get it cleared up. Not my favorite thing to do.

I got another call yesterday, but it was expected. Well check appointment in the morning to affect first and second period attendance, orthodontist appointment during the last two periods of the day. I took care of the morning and hubster took care of the afternoon.

It was a long appointment. No time for breakfast so I promised to swing by Chick-fil-A on the way to drop her off at school. We got into the car, buckled in and were ready to go. Except for one thing. Despite the other piles of well-check advice sheets, I forgot to request a doctor’s note to submit to the attendance office. I blamed the blood work that was ordered and a death grip on my arm as the distraction.

Back into the office I go. Of course, I had to wait, but it wasn’t as long as I expected. With the proof of skipping school in hand, I exited the building. Taking a deep breath, I realized I could remove my mask again. As I pulled off one side of the mask, a wind gust snapped that paper right out of my hand. It went up and up and up, swirled a bit and kept climbing. I hoped it might get caught on a car’s tire or in a hedge or something.

Nope, it kept flying, like a paper airplane with a jet engine. It got caught high in a tree, flapping wildly like a mean little kid sticking out his tongue, waving his fingers on either side of his head singing “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo, you can’t catch me!”

And I didn’t. Never mind. I know she wasn’t skipping.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Blurred Images

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Taking a picture of a teen is like taking a picture of Bigfoot. The Loch Ness monster. Chupacabra. Results are hard to decipher. You get a blur of hair or a running body. You get the back of one standing with others, a line-up of sorts, in reverse. They’re all dressed alike, same height, same hair.

Mine gets on a tire swing and for a split second, I see her little-hood oozing out in her smile. She sees the camera and immediately gets back into her grumpy character where everything about life is horrid, brows furrowed, braced teeth gritted, and a small grumble eking out “Mo-O-m! Ugh! I hate pictures!” because she also hates speaking.

I got what I could, sifted through a hundred photo bursts, and found a glimmer of hope, one capturing the essence of who she really is deep inside all of those defensive teen-aged layers–even if that first teen year is the only layer there. It’s tough and almost impenetrable. Almost.

“Get one of me with Dad.” We stand, stiffly posed along the bank of the San Gabriel river. The light is perfect. We’re both not grumbly middle-aged parents. We’ve shed our own layers for a while.

“Give us a warning, at least,” I remind her, because we know she’ll capture us mid-yawn. Eyes closed. Mouths opened.

Brows furrowed with a small grumble starts out a whiny “F-i-ah! You’re taking selfies! Take the picture so we can move on and let other people get a turn.”

Laughter ensues, she shows BFF the screen, pretends to run, but first returns the phone and then runs. We take a look and there we are. It’s a good one.

Even better are the selfies. There she is. They’re good ones.

All layers–the one layer–shed because she played. Dimples in their original location. Braced teeth. A sparkle in her eyes. She’s still there.