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Step One:  Assessment:

Self:  Aware of a lot of responsibility, slightly ill, feeling a bit uncertain in a vague way.

Son: Middling sick for a couple of weeks, ailments of un-understood origin, tired, a bit lonely looking.

Pop Tarts: Cinnamon sugar, Special Edition Chocolate Strawberry, Cherry, Special Edition Wild Berry.

Step Two:  Preparation:

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Cube the yummy parts of three pop tarts and warm in pan with 2 Tbs of melted butter.  Place in ramekin (thanks Catie – best garage sale purchase ever).

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Cover with two triangles of dough from the Pillsbury Tube of Terror for Crescent  Rolls.  Alas, I know this only because I tried to do a top and bottom and that didn’t work … so maybe just one will.  Bake according to package instructions, except it didn’t quite work so I cooked it longer and it isn’t like this is about to become a holiday tradition or anything so … cook it.

Finish:

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Spread with cream cheese and sprinkle with holiday sugar of undeterminable age.  The pop tart chunks finish about the way barely cooked cookie or brownie dough taste / feel.  So that part was kind of awesome for how stale the pop tarts were.

The best part?  Trying to entertain the kiddo by making pop tart casserole, then sitting down to a 7 hour mythbusters marathon.

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Fast version:

After two years of working part-time or less, it took less than a month of working full-time again before Aspirational Me said, “If I had a little bit more time I would definitely cook more interesting meals.”  Aspirational me is a total liar, that lazy bitch didn’t even come up with Munchie Monday.

Slow Version:

In January I had instated a Civility Bootcamp that had a troubling ending (tl’dr he was delighted when I packed up 90% of the stuff in his room and he never really cared if he got it back).  That is kind of coming to a head right now.

I think that it is a good thing to make sure my useful things have a chance to be useful for someone else if I am done with them.  To that end I’m a believer in consignment and my hometown has a vibrant (aka rabid) consignment system.  Now, it seems (in retrospect) that the spring consignment would have been a good time to make some money on the things Jeff didn’t want.  For reasons I don’t even fucking remember anymore I barely sold anything at the spring consignment.  It seemed right – and occasionally I am a Dumb Dumb – hard to tell what won here.

So now it is time to prep for fall consignment.  I have a new full-time job, and I won a scholarship to learn a TON of neat stuff about lung cancer (cool, given the fact that my 83 year old dad is handling a second occurrence in the last year right now), and ….

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I spent the weekend gathering up every place I had “Jeff’s room” tucked away and touching every damn piece of it.  Stuffies for goodwill (consignment won’t play that), every piece of “precious paper” in the trash can, every multi-hundred set of everything sorted the (OMG) out.  I didn’t clean it, or tag it, but at least I got it sorted.  I haven’t washed the clothing or found enough wire hangers, but it is sorted.

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Aspirational Me doesn’t think this is all headed to the goodwill.  Aspirational me thinks that I’ll work 12 days in a row, and then on the first day I’m home with my family I’ll be tagging 80 pieces of clothing and then heading to the 7 bins of toys.

Aspirational me is kind of a dumb ass.

The Raccoon Tail –

This is what it means to travel in the family you grew up in.  Family reunions where they are thrilled to see you but nobody brought anything to DO, trips that take a long time in the car but you have a lot of books.  There is always a pool, you realize later that had a lot to do with you.  Sometimes you and your dad go swimming without mom.  It is just what it means to travel in your family.

The Places They Have Never Seen –

Somebody in your family picks you up so you can go away and try to put down parts of yourself.  You pretend to know about Warren Zevon and Jethro Tull until you actually did know about them.  Learning about walking out a hotel by yourself and still managing to get back.  Coming home and telling your parents about a place they’ve never seen before.

I’ll take one ticket (or two) –

You’re doing it for real now.  Traveling.  With your own money, taking time off of your own job, making the plans, and learning your airport.   Vegas because you’re supposed to, Barbados because it is fun to say,  Savannah because of the book, because it is warm, and you might want to live there some day.  Panic hits in Savannah, it was too soon to go away, and the rescue comes at the airport in the middle of the night when your night-owl best friend arrives with cigarettes and enough room for you and your suitcase.

Come on, it’ll be fun –

It is a weekend, or a week, or a month.  You make sure there is a pool, and maybe a park too.  It is more than one suitcase and more than one ticket but you have company that makes you laugh and is brave enough to mention that you should eat instead of just hissing at them.  He naps in the backseat, and you mourn the loss of map reading while your phone helps you navigate.  It just what it means to travel in your family.

The Well Worn Seat –

Some random day that you didn’t even notice pass was the day that traveling was done.  I mean, you *could* with some help – but with all the gear, and how easy you get tired, or cold, or sore it wouldn’t be worth it.  It might have been London you missed out on – but they never even knew to miss you.  A ride north a few hours in the fall maybe, see the colors and stay the night.  Maybe, but the leaves will change color here too so maybe you’ll just wait.

All of this because I got off the phone with my mom, thought of a raccoon tail tied to the back of a bike, and thought of Jeff.  I’m feeling deeply sentimental about all the parts of my life today.

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I’ve learned that having kids who are both capable AND on the same side as you are is something that comes and goes.  Before I had kids I thought that the Terrible Twos and Teenagers were tricky but that the lengths in between were, on average, calm.  Now, I sense that is an optimistic and naive version.  It is clear when looking at LIFE that stretches of 12 years in generally good spirits was just not … not thinking.

This weekend my corner of the internet has been filled with variations on two themes: (1) the new Doctor episode and accompanying spinning and wringing of hands, and (2) oh SHIT DragonCon is in a week and the costumes aren’t done.  My mind has been chattering about both, and this morning was slated for some hard core costume work.

When Jeff & I went last year it was a brand new adventure, with so much to see and so much to think about.  It is true this year as well, but there is a lot to consider when moving with a kid through huge crowds and a fair number of mainly naked folks of all body types.  There are questions.

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We have spent the year talking about costumes.  We had some big plans which we shrunk down to a reasonable level.  We made compromises.  We imagined with reckless abandon.  Even now, with only 5 days to go we are negotiating bits and pieces of each costume based on skill, time, and dollars.  I painted his pokemon hat and shoes, he made bloody bandages for me.  We killed hours in the car wondering about things.  We filled silent spaces with discussions of cannon and who and why and how.

The second year will be different.  He’ll be bigger, John Barrowman won’t be there, I won’t have a day on my own, there will be less driving because we’re staying with family in ATL.  There are fewer panels that I really want to try and make, and I understand just how long the lines can be for other things.  It will be different.

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None of that really matters though.  Last year when we decided right away that we wanted to come back we were different people.  It won’t be last year with him being taller.  It will, and can only be, he and I right now.  We’re tired, we’re trying to negotiate new jobs and new schools, and new rules, and a different pace than we’ve been at for the last couple of years.  We’re fragile and hopeful all at the same time.  We both are fast with the F*ck It flag and quick to repent when the flag flies early.  We’re excited about it, but happy to have had some time at home this weekend.

We’re ready for this and ready for it to be a memory too.

And if nothing else, there is this.

I NAILED the fucking hat.

My kid at Chuck E Cheese having a great time at his birthday.  Also TICKETS!!!!!!

My kid at Chuck E Cheese having a great time at his birthday. Also TICKETS!!!!!!

Today we had my son’s sixth birthday party.  As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, we are passing through “important moments” at a rate of about one every three days for a couple of weeks here.  So this time I engaged the help of the fine folks at Chuck E Cheese, giving my son the party he had been hoping for since June 2013 when his BFF Logan had a party at CEC.

I may never host a party again.  The service and experience was THAT spot on.

Registration was simple online, they called to confirm a couple of days ahead of time, they met us at the door with a party planner and some tokens, and BOOM. Party.  Our party had friends of mine and their kids, it had friends from daycare and last year’s school.  A wide group of folks for a mere 6 years but at Chuck E Cheese it was easier because they didn’t need to know each other, they just needed to be ok with blinking lights and “the college bar at 10p on a Thursday” noise levels.  My husband who doesn’t like that noise level brought ear plugs in case it was too loud for him or anybody else, and I think some of us were noise tired after but it was too loud.

So we all zoomed around and played games for an hour, I’m lucky that my son was able to be intuitive enough to make sure to spend some time in the same zoom pattern as most of his friends.  We all won tickets.  We ate adequate pizza and my son had a round in the ticket thing which looked like X tickets, was counted as X+Happy tickets, and rounded up to X+GoshILoveYa tickets.

The checkout happened at the end, when I paid per child head, then the extra food & drinks I had for adults.  When most of the adults had gotten their own drinks CEC was happy to not charge me for the 11 that I didn’t use.  I had spontaneously added five kids as the party got really rocking and it was no problem at all.  They had candles (mine were on the window sill) and fire (I had bought a lighter in case), they used our cake but the other parties had used theirs (which also looked pretty yummy).

So:  None of my son’s friends felt left out (I hope), I didn’t have to freak out and could have even skipped making the cake (but I like that part), it was $100 cheaper than any other hosted-at-another-place party I have ever done, and there was something for the adults to do.

Win.  That simple.  Win.

If the point of birthday parties is to have fun, then this works.

(oh, and it looks like you might be able to skip the party hostess (I wouldn’t) and just have everybody meet there – and good on you if that is what you want to do).

The one downside.  We took our tickets and a little extra money and got an awesome ticket prize…. which seem to not work.  Which is too bad because my son SUPER cut his finger on trying to get it open.

Otherwise.  Awesome.  Would do it again in a heart beat.

Writers Block

 

I’m less than 48 hours from the start of my new gig.  I am delighted at how much walking into a new role in a new facility just feels like going home.  As I sat with the news that I had been hired I mainly remember thinking, “ok, cool, I’m back in it now.”  It feels right.

Last year I wondered about how I would spend unstructured days, and when I would be Aspirational Me and when I would be slacked out on the couch.  Ten months later, here is what I can tell you:

1.  My days and weeks were anchored by Writer’s Block, my nickname for my friend J.O. and I getting together and working quietly next to each other.  It kept me working on projects when it would have been easier to do anything else.  I am glad hearted for this time with her and I will miss it deeply.

Also – the local coffee place Hendershots has a great core of routine people during the week, we aren’t friends but by golly you get a group of folks to make eye contact with.

2.  My weekends were anchored by CK lunches.  Friday lunch with my awesome circle of female friends kept me from feeling lonely, isolated, or alone.  I am going to miss the predictable routine of seeing these ladies and sharing our lives with each other.  When things feel all a mess there isn’t a thing that can’t be solved with chunky guacamole and ALL THE GREEN.

3.  I was athletic for a bit.  I got to try out if I was someone who could work out a lot, and I was, for awhile.  I got as far as 5 days a week with a double on Friday and the movement felt good when I did it but after I took a week break to rest my screaming feet I (kind of) never went back.  Even with the time and endorphins I struggle to keep moving my body.

4.  I didn’t improve or expand my cooking at all.

5. I essentially never slacked out on the couch, maybe an afternoon here or there but the hours upon days of watching reruns just never happened.  For that I thank Writer’s Block and CK Lunch.

6. I can plan a decent Time But No Money vacation, with the help and support of a lot of people.

My husband and son were wonderfully supportive, the stars aligned when I needed them to, and my heart is grateful over and over again.

Inhale:  Yes, there is a lot.

Exhale: Right now breathing is important.

Inhale: I want clarity.

Exhale: In due time.

Inhale: I can’t clearly see the shape of future days.

Exhale: You only imagine you can even in the most stable times.  Your imagination is not mandated to be the truth.

Inhale: I have a mark I’m sure I need to hit.

Exhale: Don’t race past *this* moment.

Inhale: I don’t like discomfort, for myself and for those I love.

Exhale: My discomfort is growth, their discomfort is theirs.

Inhale: I want us all to be safe and ok.

Exhale: I can hope but not control.

I have a long list for tomorrow.  Only one thing must get done, and that is to be a present parent for my son’s first day of school.  I will breathe.

Changes are afoot, and I am reminded again that nothing at 40 is all good or all bad, it is always grey and that can be good.

School is getting ready to start and after a summer of exciting and fun things that have felt pretty random and generally lacked structure my son is having a hard time getting his feet underneath him to get ready for school.  This shows in a barrage of “Why?” questions that rivals that chunk of time when he was three and everything was a question.  It also happens a lot near his birthday in general, which is fine, but it is kind of tiring when my own mind is filled with, “How?”.

I’m returning to organizational work in about 10 days, and I’m really excited about it.  I’m excited about the work, the new people I’ll be working with, and getting paid again doesn’t hurt my feelings at all.  It comes with a commute and for the first time in two year the default to the answer “How / When will we … ?” is no longer that I can take care of it.

I’m proud of my family and what we’ve done in the last couple of years.  I’m proud of the way that I’ve been active, more importantly pro-active, in maintaining my friendships over some pretty bizarre situations.  I’m proud of my kid going into first grade, I’m proud of my new gig, I’m proud of the work my husband has done and the things that are on the horizon for all of us.

The level of “How?” right now feels dense, and a little intimidating.  School transport, time with my friends, time with my husband that I’m not dozing.  It is a lot to figure out, and I won’t be on my own trying to sort it, but still, everybody has a lot to think about in the next 2 weeks.

Oh yeah, and birthday parties because I’m surrounded by a hell of a lot of leos.

 

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We have turned south bound on the 19th day, and on the 20th we took an unplanned stop for a day of TV watching and eating microwave mac & cheese because Jeff has strep throat.

I love traveling with him.

I would not trade these days for anything.

I am so grateful for everyone who made this happen and there are SO many people who made this happen.  My life is such a gift.

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Things that are true:

1.  Two weeks into Epic Summer Roadtrip.  Great time, wonderful visits, working on dealing with homesickness.

2.  Went to a book signing on Thursday (Chris Colfer for TLOS3) and it was interesting, good , strange, fast, and has me debating all kinds of meta stuff in my head which I would talk about except that it is the shape of a circle and I cannot find the entry point.

3.  Kiddo is McDs binging right now and WOW.

4.  The very first place I wanted to go when I had a minute to myself was the garden store that I love so much, but I knew I wanted to go there because my first thought was “I need to go to church”.  It is about reverence and peace.

5.  I thought my robot necklace was lost but now it is found.

6.  AirBnB is a GREAT way to (1) save money, (2) meet cool people, (3) actually experience a town when you travel.  Do it.  It isn’t mutually scary – only scary on your side and it will work out fine.

7.  I like borrowing dogs.

8.  I like this, but it is hard and I am a bit tired.