Morning routine

finds us dodging each other
bumping almost shoulder to shoulder
stepping over a wet towel 
or bunched up pajamas
if it's a bad morning,
we'll argue
if it's a good morning,
we'll argue a little less
"clean up the toothpaste worms from the sink"
I remind her 
for the hundredth time
"I KNOW!"
she snatches the brush 
before I can get to it
so I plug in the hair dryer instead
I decide to let the exasperation 
and tone roll off
not. worth. it.
I wear my thick-skinned fur coat
24/7
grit my teeth, 
breathe in, 
breathe out
and carry on 
with my morning
"this eye looks good
 but why is this eye 
just NOT working?!"
a white washcloth smudges off
a crooked layer of eyeliner
along with a few tears
she doesn't want me to see
I lean in, mascara wand
trying to make some magic
happen for my own eyes
I don't have time 
to smudge it off
"how? how can you 
put on mascara
without opening your mouth?"
I continue applying my face
she continues applying hers,
sneaking a glance at my 
expertise
with a mascara wand
"I've been doing this longer 
than you've been alive"
she leans in with her own wand
mouth wide open
satisfied,
she steps back 
I look at our reflection
and try not to think
about the days
I braided her hair
in front of this mirror
and she'd want to help
with my makeup
Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Field Trip Conversations

Friday, March 25, 2022

“I won’t be able to read this summer. I’m going to India.”

“My dad wants to take me to California. Why California?”

“I’ll read and work on next year’s books. I want to win the competition.”

“I won’t be able to do anything. I’ll be helping with a crying baby all summer.”

“Can you just let us hang out in the library and we can skip the rest of our classes? Please?”

“I didn’t bring my instrument today so I won’t be able to practice, it’s just the last part of 7th period and 8th period, please?”

“Sorry, you got a rule-following librarian. When we come back from a field trip, you have to go back to class. The one time I break a rule, I get in trouble. I have to return the Suburban anyway, so we won’t be able to hang out.”

“Can I call my mom to see if she’ll have time to pick me up in time for her ultrasound?”

“Sure, use my office.”

Sighs all the way around. There’s a class reading in the library with one of my favorite teachers when we enter, ambient music playing in the background. I missed out on a lesson with them today. The girls reluctantly gather their backpacks. I take my time writing their passes.

“Thanks for participating. I’m glad you had fun. See you next Thursday for book club and have a great weekend.”

The others leave and S comes to the circulation desk. “I think they’re already at the ultrasound, no one is picking up. It’s okay though, I didn’t think I’d be able to make it anyway.” Her eyes say otherwise. “Can I get my pass, please?”

Thunderstorm

Monday, March 21, 2022

Spring’s second day brings a storm. Just like that, didn’t even have time to completely let it in. I rush out the door, vowing to squeeze in a quick walk before the rain comes down. If it decides not to stand us up. The air is heavy and thick with humidity, the scent of rain wafts around me. I remember when I’d run away from storms, and now I’m walking out the door to possibly meet one.

I’m listening to my audiobook, but thunder rumbles and growls, distracting me from the story. No point in trying to listen. Large storm filled raindrops plop ahead of me. I quicken my pace. I can probably make it home without getting drenched. My husband, always a storm tracker, but not never a storm chaser sends me a message. “I’m near the Little Free Library, not too far,” I reply. “There’s lightning, I’m coming to get you.”

So much for my walk, I’ll do some yoga later. My husband paces from one room to another, phone in hand, like an expectant father waiting for the sky to deliver. Sure enough, sheets of heavy rain start coming down, the wind picking up and slamming the windows wet. I sit down to write, I’m feeling a poem today. About the weather.

The rain has stopped, and the sun stands tall, saluting as the rain exits. I notice, but work with words stirring up in my head, until…

“At around 6:01 pm the national weather service reported a tornado on the ground near Jarrell…” my husband reads from his phone.

I keep writing.

He continues, “A confirmed tornado was reported over the I-35 flyover…” Not far from where my son works.

“He probably didn’t even notice,” I mumble.

“Call him to see if he’s okay.”

“I’m writing, you have your phone in your hand, you call him.”

He didn’t say it, but he was planning to go back to the radar that lives on his phone. He calls to check. “Are you okay?”

Nope, he didn’t, notice. Just a gust of wind and loss of power. Going home early.

We watch the news replay. It was right there. Close call, too close. It went right over his building.

“Are we going to die? We should totally go coffin shopping. I want my coffin to be long, the taller the coffin, the taller people think you are,” ‘tween interjects.

And, as quickly as those sheets of rain came down, the sun came out, and the storm went by, my words disappeared with them.

Welcome to the $1.00 Pyramid!

This is a take on the popular game show, The $10,000 Pyramid, where one person gives clues to a partner. The answer is in the form of a category. 30 seconds are on the clock for each round. Can you figure out these categories?

Round 1: Time change. Rest. Cleaning. Sleeping. Trip. Fun. Friends. Reading. Long walks. Birds chirping.

Round 2: Writing. Revising. Posting. Commenting. Daily. Difficult. Topics. Meeting. Orange.

Round 3: Coffee. Water. Darkness. Sleep. Lavender. Eye pillow. Cold room. Advil.

Round 4: Kiddie gate. Petting. Blanket. Kennel. Outside. Carrot. Treat. Sniffing. Chunk of rawhide.

Round 5: Text thread. 1:00. Lunch. Where. Kids. No kids. Two kids. Hey! Chilling. Pop. Fizz. Cheers.

Round 6: Bike. 20 minutes. Okay. Safe. Dad. Need. Man. Hands. Take. Crystal. From. Ground. Must. Have. Crystal. Hungry. Crackers. Only crackers. Oh, by the way…

Round 7: Marshmallows. Cereal. Rainbows. Blue diamonds. Green. Fruit. Flavors. Shiny. Gold. Trap.

Round 8: Pineapples. Welsh. Corgi. Center. Not. Crazy. Pizza. About. Pastries. Pineapple. Pineapple. Pineapple.

Round 9: New. Friend. Visit. Conversation. Meeting. Parent. Bedroom tour. Snacks. Junk food. Reeses. Clue #4. Hi. Barking.

Round 10: Dread. Last hurrah. Catching up. Groceries. Laundry. Menus. Calendar. Next week. Count down. Summer. Sigh. Enjoy. One more day. Chill out.

How did you do? Get answers here.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Two Minutes Ago

The 'tween is helping with dinner
burgers
Hubster is cooking
I'm playing with a craft project
Clean-up is mine for tonight
A chunk of lettuce flies from
'tween's  hands
and the discussion quickly goes to
the three second rule
"I didn't see that"
I say,
"It's okay," 'tween says
"the wet pieces may or may not 
have been on the floor,
it's not like someone's feet were there
and we don't talk about Bruno..."
Noooo! not that song again!
I've had some bubbly today,
I don't care
dinner is cooked
it's spring break
I had friend time this afternoon
I'll skip the lettuce 
It's still spring break
and I'm trying not to care
too much
Life goes on
with or without lettuce
on a burger
Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Off Kilter

The time change.

Two day getaway.

Spring break.

Breakfast turned brunch, in captions.

A favorite breakfast spot in San Antonio, Tx, but get there early. We didn’t.
We waited.
And waited.
And waited. A bored ‘tween is an inventive ‘tween. We stopped playing after I was the first to win. Of course.

Then we ate brunch and all is good in the world.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Mall Shopping to Build a Frog

Saturday, March 12, 2002

I stopped shopping at malls years ago. Too cumbersome. I got an Amazon Prime membership, so that’s where I’ve been since. My shopping trips usually consist of the grocery store, Target, Costco, occasionally Old Navy, and book stores. That’s about it. I hate shopping. My daughter gets lots of hand me downs from her older cousin and she isn’t into many of the current fashion trends. She prefers thrift stores.

A few weeks ago she requested a trip to Hot Topic to spend a gift card she received for her birthday last June. That’s how often we shop, almost a year later, and I haven’t taken her to use it. We browsed where she wanted to browse.

I knew better than to look for anything for myself, other than popping in to get my freebie from Bath & Body Works along with a scented candle. I bought her mall pretzels, stopped at a shop for a bag of crystals which will wind up strewn all over her desk, pairing up with the the other crystals of the same sort she already owns, and left.

I could use a new workdrobe, a new wardrobe I can wear to work. I’m getting tired of the same clothes. I look behind me and decide to come alone another time so I can have some peace and quiet while I dig into clearance racks.

She requested another trip to the mall this week. She’s enjoying shopping now, but thrift stores are her favorite. This time she requested a trip not to Hot Topic, but to Build-a-Bear. Yes, the ‘tween wants to go to Build-a-Bear. To build a frog.

“Didn’t you get rid of that Disney princess pup you got when you were five? Didn’t you say that place is so lame and only for toddlers and kindergarteners? You’ll probably toss it into the Goodwill pile in a few weeks.”

“Well, they didn’t have frogs back then. Bears are lame. Frogs are cool. And I will not put it in the Goodwill pile. It will be my emotional support frog.”

Before I listed a million reasons why she has no need for another stuffed critter, I reconsidered. It’s spring break. She’s been working so hard the past two years. She missed out on her end of fifth grade field trip and end of year celebration. She started middle school without her friend group January of last year following a rough semester of trying to learn from home. There wasn’t much learning going on.

What’s one more stuffed critter? I invited her best friend since kindergarten. Both had already researched the frog. I thought it was only available online, but that’s the blue tie dyed version. The green spring frog is what they wanted. Apparently, these are a hot item with teens right now. Sure enough, we arrived and there was a pair of middle school aged friends watching their frogs get stitched.

“We can go to a thrift store to buy the clothes because these are overpriced,” she explains to her friend. I’m teaching her valuable life skills. We made our way to get pretzels and made a pit stop at Hot Topic. More 80’s style pins, but of Moth Man. I didn’t even ask. On the way home, we found a Savers tucked a few blocks away from the mall, a blink and you’ll miss it type of location. We stopped and she found newborn sized clothes for the frog.

And that’s day one of Spring Break ’22. I can handle one more stuffed frog. It’s the trip there with a friend that counts.

Retro Library Badges

I want all of the stickers!

I’m so nerdy, subscribe to a sticker club. It’s like an ’80s sticker store, but in the mail. I purchased a year’s subscription for my mini-me two years ago as a birthday gift. I didn’t cancel the subscription, but decided to gift it to myself. Plus they offer a teacher discount, so how can I cancel? I’ve been hoarding stickers ever since. I don’t want to use them, but I totally need to use them. I have no business buying a sticker album either. Yes, they sell those too.

Deconstructing the mailing envelope.

Every month, I receive a shiny holographic envelope with another sparkly zippered pouch packed with stickers. Oh happy day, snail mail, my favorite! I’m sure I can repurpose the envelopes, so I hoard them along with my stickers.

Last week, I received a badge machine I ordered for our library’s maker space. Bingo! I packed up my sticker stash and envelopes. I’ve never used one, so it was time to play. I cut out circles from the envelopes and the front page of the ‘zine that comes with each pack. The covers have fun prints, so I read them, rip the cover, and save them along with everything else.

After several failed attempts at making a badge and before deciding to send it back, reading the directions might help. I left out the important metal base. Went back to try again and alas, awesome, shiny, 80s style buttons. I decided to make a few for students to see if they’d like them. I wasn’t sure if they’d go over well. My idea of cool stuff is not their idea of cool stuff. Once spotted though, our regulars all wanted one.

Taking it a step further, I decided to make some donning the covers of popular books. The backgrounds aren’t shiny because we print them out, but sure enough, students are looking for their favorite titles. My library assistant made a template so all we have to do is place the image of the book cover on the circle templates, print, and cut them out. We have books on the 2022 Texas Lone Star Reading List ready to print. One of our student aides has learned how to make them and the task is now hers to supervise others.

I’m hoping these will motivate students to read. Even if they don’t, it will bring them through our doors so we can have a little bonding time, chatting. About books. Or stickers. Or about what it was like growing up in the 80s. (Hello, primary source, here.) And they’ll leave with a mark of library coolness.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Twosday Slice

Tuesday, 2/22/2022

I know, everyone is “celebrating” this once in a lifetime palindrome of a day. And I like palindromes, so much so I was fascinated with one of the characters in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, who spoke in palindromes. The character, one of the daughters in the story (her name escapes me-it’s been years since I’ve read it), renames Emily Dickinson no snikcidy lime, one of my favorite poets.

I found myself trying to make sense of today’s oddity. I like oddities. We tend to find each other frequently and sometimes, people find me, odd. Never mind them. It doesn’t bother me. Usually.

I had to walk back into the house twice this morning for forgotten items. My watch, oh grand teller of time. And my H20.

At work, we started day one of a two day testing session, the bane of my existence. No matter how far removed you are from the classroom, you still manage to get suckered in for testing.

During lunch, I messaged my husband and suggested we do something to celebrate. Maybe a dessert. Maybe something out of the ordinary for a weekday with the kids, but what, I wasn’t sure.

Later, I got a message. My husband and my nineteen year old suggested we go out for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Dos Salsas, where two different salsas accompany your chips before your meal. To top it off, it’s also National Margarita Day. Margarita is my signature color and if I were to choose a middle name (my parents didn’t give me one), it would be Margarita. Why the heck not, I’ll have a margarita today, three days before the weekend officially starts.

No one complained about the choice of restaurant. We didn’t argue about the possibility of sharing oversized meals and this time I ordered what I wanted without thinking twice about adding a margarita. I didn’t balk at a shared dessert of fried ice cream-we rarely order dessert. The kids didn’t fight over the last bite of it either. We all got along and genuinely enjoyed our meal together.

And that’s the point. Being together. This felt like the first normal restaurant meal we’ve had in two years. We’ve been back, but someone always stayed home, and usually for pandemic reasons. I know we’re not “back to normal” yet, if that’s even a possibility, but it felt like we were all back today. 2/22/22. Two years (mostly) later. Two long, hard, bitter years.

Do we always do this? No. Have our dinners always turned out this way B.C.-Before Covid? No. But it sure did feel good to have my family back for a few hours. It’s giving me hope that we’re at a place where we can move forward and take all the things that got thrown at all of us and actually process them. For us adults, we had to put on our business as usual attire for the sake of our kids. But I think it’s important for them to know that it was far from business as usual.

I think today is a perfect day to use as a turning point. We can fully come out of where we have been and reflect on everything we’ve learned. We can share our gratitude about how it wasn’t worse even though it got rough. We can show how much we’ve changed and how much we’ve stayed the same.

Dos Salsas is still there. Mom still likes a good margarita. It’s okay not to split a meal, but totally okay to order dessert. Celebrate odd days such as these because they only come around once in a lifetime.

We only come around once in a lifetime.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge II-Texas Style

Stonehenge II-Ingram, Tx

Father’s Day, 2019. My husband’s “gift” was a weekend trip to Kerrville, Tx. Nostalgic for the hot summers in the Texas Hill Country where he spent some of his summers as a camp counselor, he wanted to share some his favorite places with us.

As our trips tend to go, there was bickering on the way there. I wanted to stop in Fredericksburg to stroll into the shops on the way there. I packed sandwiches and drinks so we’d have a nice picnic lunch at a park. We get there, the kids are hangry, we unpack our lunches, the flies start annoying us and everyone is grumpy. I mange to snap a few selfies because no one wants pictures.

Dooley’s, Fredericksburg, Tx

However, we popped into Dooley’s, a legit five and dime store. I swear I stepped back into my childhood. This is a place where you can still buy polyester day robes, the kind my grandma used to wore way before yoga pants and stretchy bands were a thing. Even the store fixtures time warped to their original tasks. I’m not sure if they were there in the 70s or earlier. My kids found souvenir keychains. And candy cigarettes. The kind I used to “smoke” when I was a kid that didn’t ever turn me into a real smoker. They each got a pack, the grumpy lunch experience soon forgotten. Word of advice if you go: Take cash or write a check. They don’t accept cards.

While on the road, we realized we departed for our weekend adventure on June 21st, the Summer Solstice. We also had no idea Ingram, near Kerrville, housed an art installation perfect for the occasion–Stonehenge II, along with Easter Island statue replicas.

Finding quirky roadside attractions is my favorite part of a road trip. I don’t remember how I found it. I think we were discussing the solstice. I must have searched it on my phone to read about its history and found information about all the people who travel to Stonehenge each year. It popped up on my search results and we added it to our itinerary. We were the only people there that late afternoon and ran into Chet of The Daytripper, who happened to be filming an episode for his PBS show. My son was more interested in the show and the video equipment than the replica of Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice. Sigh…

A volunteer community theater performs along the Guadalupe River. That summer they performed Madagascar-A Musical Adventure. The kids enjoyed it more than we expected. Buy the kids popcorn and soft drinks and it elevates their experience. Buy Mamma a mini bottle of wine and everyone’s happy. Like the ups and downs of the hills we travel, such is the way of a road trip. We find gems along the way, forget the grumpy parts, and take the good memories with us.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021