The Beach (was not like Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach)

Well. That was… interesting.

Maybe I’ll just do a little exercise in which I throw out keywords that applied to our camping “vacation” and you can draw your own conclusions, yes?

  • Sand
  • More Sand
  • Sand on bodies that precluded the reapplication of sunscreen
  • WIND
  • Tent {see also: ripping from the ground, flying over dunes}
  • Port-a-Potty
  • BABY RATTLESNAKE
  • Wind
  • Wind
  • Sunburn

I think I’m pretty much finished.

Although, kids being kids, the girls had a fantastic time, and I couldn’t get Georgia out of the ocean. She had a complete blast. Adele magically did not get sunburned, so I’m giving myself mom points for that. Also, I’ve never been so dirty in my life. (Well, maybe that time I did Outward Bound after my freshman year of college. I was in an open boat for three weeks. There were no showers. I was stunning after those three weeks, let me tell you.)

In any case, we’re back. Today is G’s last day of school (what? how on earth did that happen?) and then we’re off for the summer. I only have to entertain both kiddos at home by myself for two weeks before we head of to the first of our three road trips this summer (THREE. I WEEP) so I’m steeling myself to be Fun Mom, and not Neurotic Mom, for those two weeks.

I’m really trying to be more go-with-the-flow, but I’ve also realized that my kids do better with scheduled activities, so we’re going to have to find some things to do. It should be an adventure.

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Target is my New Nemesis

This morning, I realized that the weather was topping the 90’s and was well on its way to the hundreds (yay, Texas) and hauled Adele and myself to Target to get some of those windshield covers. Do you know what I’m talking about? I needed those things that you pop into your windshield when you’re parked so that the dashboard and the steering wheel are shaded, thereby avoiding third degree burns when you get back in the car. Side note: I strongly feel that the heat is why I’ll never own a car with leather seats in Texas; the idea of all the flesh sizzling off my legs just isn’t all that appealing.

In any case, I walked into Target and found my way to the auto section of the store, and while I saw car seat covers and steering wheel covers and Turtle Wax and evergreen-scented car air fresheners, there weren’t any car shades to be seen. I walked around for a while and finally asked a red shirted Target employee where I might be able to find them. He looked at me with a completely straight face and said ” Oh, we don’t have those right now. We probably won’t get them until summer.” Uh, excuse me?! It’s May 26. It is already 99 degrees at 9:30 in the morning. I AM PRETTY SURE THIS QUALIFIES AS SUMMER. He didn’t laugh or anything after he said it, so I’m pretty sure he was serious. I goggled at him for a minute and then thanked him and walked off; what I really wanted to say was “you and your employer are crazy if you think it’s not summer yet.”

And just to make the point about how hot is actually is, can I tell you what we, as a family, are doing this weekend? Yes. Well. We are going camping. Because we are gluttons for punishment.

No, actually we’re going because Casey really, really wants to, and while I attempted to point out that it might be a little difficult to camp with a mostly-but-not-all-the-complete-way potty trained two and a half year old, he seemed completely undeterred. We’re also driving the 5ish hours to Port Aransas to camp on the beach, so maybe it will be breezy? And the sun might not feel like it’s baking us every minute of the day? And maybe the water won’t feel too bathtub-esque since it’s not yet June? (See how I made myself sound sort of optimistic with all the question marks?) I do think it might be fun, so I’m going to try REALLY hard to remain optimistic, especially since I’m sure the girls can cover the whining if things don’t go as planned. I probably don’t need to join in, or all three of use may get left by the side of the road.

We’re headed out early tomorrow morning with a car full of shovels, pails, snacks, drinks, sunscreen (I’m bringing four tubes and one can of spray sunscreen… overkill for a two day beach trip?), floaties, inner tubes and a tent. I’ll report back with photos and stories. If we make it back in one piece, that is.


Is this thing on?

Um, hello?

Hi there?

Helloooo (echo, echo, echo)?

If a website goes un-updated in the woods and there’s no one around to read it, does it… wait, that’s not right. Moving on!

Things have been happening around here, I guess… nothing of too much note, really, except that thing BIG THING that’s been hanging over our heads is no longer hanging. Earlier this year, Casey applied to take the Foreign Service exam. He did pretty well, and made it through about four rounds of tests/interviews/background tests. Have I mentioned that he speaks Mandarin Chinese? He does. It’s… unexpected, considering his Wisconsin-Texas background. He looks like this when he’s being serious:

Casey

And like this when he’s maybe not so serious:

All I’m saying is, Chinese is not the first thing that comes to mind when you meet him.

In any case, a lot of things have sort of been on hold while we waited to get word about the outcome of the tests. If he passed, there was a chance we could be moving. We wouldn’t know whether that would be within the US, or abroad; we didn’t know whether it would be in the fall, next spring or next WEEK, even. (Though considering the hair-tearing angst I just went through to get G into kindergarten, I was really hoping we would be able to stick around at least long enough for me to feel that the angst was worth it.)

He got word on Tuesday that he didn’t make it to the next round, which would have been an in-person interview. He’s disappointed, and I’m disappointed for him; when someone you love wants something really badly, you want it for them too, regardless of whether it would cause your family to move to another continent where you don’t speak the language. I had actually gotten mentally prepared to be the non-Chinese speaking one in the family; I fully expected that the girls would pick it up in about .5 seconds and I would have to rely on my five-year-old to help me do the grocery shopping.

I’m still so proud of him for doing so well, and for making it as far in the process as he did.

You know what this means now, right? Home improvement decisions! I sincerely desire a bathroom larger than the size of a postage stamp! Time to get on that!

In other news, my worlds collided recently because my dad DONE JOINED THE TWITTER. My dad. Twitter. WORLDS COLLIDING BOOM SMASH.

My dad, you see, doesn’t know what a blog IS, as far as I know. He doesn’t know that I (half-assedly) write one, or that I write for Style Lush, or that I have “friends from inside the computer.” I am sure he would be suspicious of most of these items of info. I do have a photoblog of the girls that I maintain (again, not regularly) for friends and family, and he reads that, but that’s about the extent of his/my internet world. My dad’s a very intelligent and funny and up-to-date man (loves his iPhone, plays Words with Friends like a champ) but he’s also very busy and I just never thought something like Twitter would even hold his interest. As of this moment, he is following exactly two people (my cousin and myself) and it may very well stay that way. But, you know, STILL. I don’t even link my Twitter stream to my Facebook because the two are so completely removed from each other. It’s that whole adage of “Facebook is for people you used to know, Twitter is for people you WANT to know” situation. I don’t think I’m hiding anything, or censoring what I say, but it’s just a completely different medium for me. Ah well. Time to become transparent and say “Hi dad! Let me talk to you about blogs.”

So, if you’re reading this… hi, dad. Let me talk to you about blogs.

(Huge thanks to Jennie and her super kind and flattering post from today, which alternately made me tear up and gave me the much-needed kick in the pants to FREAKING WRITE A POST ALREADY. If you aren’t reading Jennie, you really should be. She’s a very large part of the reason I even blog at all. Inspiring, that one.)


The Longest Time (In Months and Hair)

Is it still January? And has this not been the LONGEST January in the history of Januaries? I really can’t believe it’s only the 23rd… it feels like this month has gone on and on and on. Perhaps because my in-laws were here for a week? (I jest. I genuinely like my in-laws. I do not genuinely like the fact that, due to eating at restaurants and playing incessantly with grandparental gifts,  my children have decided that sleep is for babies, not kids, and that they now go to bed at nine. NINE. PEE. EM. 9 p.m.)

I give that two thumbs down, Ebert. Obviously. Well-behaved children go to bed at 7:30 in this house. The end.

To remedy this, I allowed Adele to skip her nap today in order to facilitate a decent bedtime. I’m not really anticipating that this is actually going to work, but we’re trying it just the same.

Onward!

So while ago, I cut my hair. It had gotten long. Too long, I think. Not like Crystal Gayle or anything, but long for me. Not so much like this:

as this:

(Casey took that. Thanks, Case! Also, I’m pretty sure we should repaint our house, but if we try to strip the old paint off, it’s almost certain that the wood itself will fall right off. Ah, priorities.)

So I chopped it. And now I miss it. It’s poofy. And I blow-dried it today and it made me look like Shirley Jones. No, Florence Henderson. One of those 70’s-era housewives, anyway. (Minus the bangs.)

Joys! Obviously I will be growing it out again. As Bridget Jones says, what is happiness if not the pursuit of attainable goals?

Also, while my in-laws were here, Casey and I got to go out to a real, adults-only (not in the “adult bookstore” sense, just a sans-kids sense) dinner. There were multiple courses, and wine, and dessert; no one stole any food off my plate without asking, and I didn’t get up to refill anyone’s drink or fetch additional silverware, though old waiter habits die hard and I noticed that the table next to us could have used a couple extra knives. In short: BLISS. We really have to do that more often. Also, if you’re in Austin, I highly recommend East Side Cafe. Delish!

So, to recap: January is long. My hair is not. Adult dinners out are necessary.

Any words of wisdom you care to impart?


Extended Hiatus: The Excuses Edition

1. So much laundry. Kid number two is so much messier than kid number one (it’s true! it’s one of the secrets other moms don’t tell you!) that I spend multiple hours a day with my washer and dryer. Not that it really matters, but we got a new washer and dryer in the fall and I love them so much that I honestly don’t MIND the laundry anymore. The folding, however? Well. I  do not claim to love the folding.

2. Traveling! In town! Out of town! Massachusetts over Thanksgiving! New Orleans for Christmas! New York for the marathon!

I looked like this:

My pants were ridiculous. I meant to buy tight pants! They were SPANDEX, for goodness’ sake! And still, at mile 16, apparently they were sagging. Hmph. Anyway. The marathon was fabulous, one of my very best friends got engaged, and I ate a lot. The end.

3. Casey turned 32. He enjoyed it. I am still older than he is.

4. New Year’s happened. I took sparkler pictures and Regan and her family came by and ate hot dogs, which made her child throw up. I’m sorry, Truman.

5. I didn’t really make any resolutions, except to stop biting my nails (ew, disgusting) and to try not to yell. The cause of my yelling is usually whining, so Georgia has promised to try to stop doing that. I’m not holding my breath for either of these things, but it’s good to have goals.

6. I am not training for another marathon anytime soon (uh, or EVER) but I would really like to take a ballet class. Who’s with me?

7. I’ve been taking pictures again. I got really burned out last year when I was doing the 365 Project, and I realized that if I make it a chore, I won’t have fun doing it anymore. So! No more of these organized challenge-type things. I like to take pictures, and I’m going to keep doing it.

8. The last, final, and truest excuse for the not posting: I am kind of lazy.

But I do love you, internet, and I vow to remain faithful. Or, you know, more faithful than I have been. Maybe I’ll post twice a month? Like I said, it’s good to have goals.


a slip of the tongue

I’m afraid I’m turning in to an accidental night owl. I never was one before; I’ve always been a morning person. But lately when I get in bed I just start thinking and my mind races, and I toss and turn. Sleep doesn’t come, and I look at the clock and realize I’ve been lying in bed and changing positions for two whole hours and then I get so angry about the wasted two hours that I REALLY can’t sleep and it’s just a vicious cycle of sorts. Then I finally fall asleep and am awakened by one of my cats at 4 am wanting to be let out. I’m livid about this, by the way; I’m completely accepting of the fact that my children are going to be waking me up during many nights over the next 18 years or so, and I signed on for that. I did not sign for it with the cats, so both of them are now getting the boot each night before I get in bed.

So sometimes, while I’m practicing my Not Sleeping routine, I think about current things that are occupying my waking hours, and sometimes I think about past things. Usually such memories are embarrassing ones. Why is it that we can remember every little slight, every humiliation in minute detail?For example, I lived in Rome for a summer during college. I graduated with an Italian language minor, and I learned more living with a host family for 2 months than I ever did during classes. These months weren’t without their embarrassing moments, of course; the best one was the evening at dinner when I blithely said to my host mother, ” Non vale il pene” which I thought was “it’s not worth the pain” which basically is an equivalent to “no big deal.” Now, see, it would have meant that, had I not said “il pene” rather than the correct word “la pena.”

That’s right, folks. I said “It’s not worth the penis.” At dinner. To my host mother.

Luckily she had a sense of humor.

And you know what the worst part was? I had READ that slip-up in a book. The protagonist in the novel did the same thing and I REPEATED the mistake. In the words of Homer Simpson, I certainly felt S-M-R-T.

Please tell me there are those of you who have done something similarly humiliating. Strength in numbers, people!


Uncertainty

The house is much, much quieter now. We’ve mastered the dropoff, the pickup, the waking up, the lunch making, the hair combing. We’ve figured out how to schedule bathtime, book time, bedtime. We listen to music, we talk about our day, we giggle and laugh. I get frustrated when I have to ask her seven times to please put on her shoes. She gets frustrated when I won’t let her have a snack ten minutes before dinner. We have a routine. We know each other. She thinks I can fix everything.

But yesterday she came home quiet, and said that S and S, her preferred school pals, didn’t want to play with her. “They said they were playing a game with just two. So they wouldn’t let me play. And that they didn’t want to be my friends today.” I wanted to hit something, to hold her tight, to play with her EVERY DAY and show her that those kids don’t matter.

But instead I just held her, and smoothed her hair, and read her a book. And that night, I cried in my bed, because someone hurt my baby’s feelings. I can’t believe it’s already starting.