About Good Times with Jess

I started blogging in 2004. My blog and I have been very single, dating, traveling, bartending, very married and now I'm raising 2 kiddos.

Market Basket and their delicious dog food, don’t take my word for it

I’m enjoying our new Market Basket. If you don’t have one in your town, you could consider driving to ours. That seems to be what everyone else is doing.

I have never given my grocery-shopping strategy so much thought. I’ve never even used the words “grocery-shopping strategy” before.

The left side of the store has produce, bread, frozen foods. The right side of the store has all the refrigerated items: milk, butter, eggs, yogurt, smoked herring, hot dogs. The necessities.

So from a stacking-the-cart strategy, it would make sense to start on the right with the gallons of milk and end with the produce and bread. Although good luck with the eggs.

But there’s no moving quick in that store, so that would mean by the time I got home, my milk would be on its way to room temperature.

Starting from the left keeps the milk cold, but then I’m left rearranging the bread the whole time so it doesn’t get crushed. It can’t go in the baby seat because RB is taking up prime shopping-cart real estate.

And starting on the left means circling back for ice cream. I guess I could circle back for bread and ice cream.

The store seems designed to make people start from both sides. Is that better for traffic flow? I can’t tell. It’s constant dodge-a-cart out there.

It doesn’t help that RB’s new favorite question is,

“What are you doing?”

We’re in the car. She asks,

“What are you doing?”

“I’m driving to the grocery store.”

Two seconds later,

“What are you doing?”

“I’m driving.”

Two seconds later,

“What are you doing?”

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”

“I’m right here.”

Great. So you can imagine how helpful this line of questioning is in the store. I turn down the bread aisle,

“What are you doing?”

“Getting bread.” I get the bread.

“What are you doing?”

“Putting the bread in the cart.”

Bread falls over, risking being crushed by the frozen pizza. I try to rearrange,

“Why are you doing that?”

I don’t know. I just don’t know. Is there a better way? Please feel free to tell me your Market Basket strategies.

I head for the number one check-out lane. It is a phenomenal lane. It’s open on one side so there’s no risk of RB grabbing several candy bars and a People magazine while she’s waiting.

The new brand of beef jerky I’ve been enjoying for the last few weeks slides down the conveyor belt. The bagger asks,

“What kind of dog do you have?”

“I don’t have any dogs. I thought those were for people.”

It’s one of those brief moments that lasts forever and I’m able to question all my life choices:

‘The beef jerky is organic, so I had assumed that that puts it in the realm of people food, but in retrospect I’m sure there’s a big market for organic dog food.’

‘I’ve eaten dog and dog food before, so not the end of the world.’

‘The smell DID remind me of dog treats.’

‘But they were in the people-food aisle, not the dog-food aisle.’

I smile at the bagger and remark,

“Well either way, they’re delicious!”

Having reconvinced myself that they’re people food, I march myself home and relay the story to Captain,

“Isn’t that funny?”

“Wait, so are you eating dog food?”

“I don’t think so?”

RB returns to pester me,

“What are you doing?”

“Putting away groceries.”

“What are you doing?”

“Putting away groceries.”

“What are you doing?”

“EATING DOG FOOD!”

“What?”

Vietnam is the place if you want to try dog

COVID? What COVID? I’m worrying about WWIII

I’m hoarding coffee, chocolate covered popcorn and potassium iodide. Only one of those may be useful during a nuclear winter.

So while I understand more COVID variants are on the way, my news consumption has veered toward the war.

Captain on the other hand, has been able to remain on high alert for multiple disaster scenarios.

He’s by far the most cautious member of our family. And I continue to underestimate that. I booked zip lining in Denali without even thinking he might not be up for it. After a decent campaign on my part, he’s a cautious yes.

Of the four of us, Captain has managed to stay home the most. His occasional trip to Home Depot is enough to make him swear it off for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile RB has been back in the YMCA playroom for a year now, with a runny nose every other week to prove it.

Captain went from staying home to hanging out with 100,000 of his closest friends at Disney World.

We waited in our fair share of lines and if you’re going to wait in line, Disney World is the place to do it. There’s plenty to see and if you ask BB, TOUCH! As we meandered through line after line, BB touched, caressed, tapped, rubbed, patted EVERY possible surface.

Captain looked like one of those cartoon characters whose face is getting redder and redder until smoke comes out of his ears.

He asked BB, he implored BB, he explained, he scolded, he stared, he shook his head, he brooded. To no avail. It seemed her goal was to leave no surface untouched.

Meanwhile this is the same kid who will not touch ANYTHING that has been on her sister’s plate. BB could be desperate for more chocolate. If the only chocolate left is on RB’s plate, BB will abstain. Even if RB never put a finger on it, once it’s on her plate BB deems it too foul to even contemplate.

As Captain tries to grapple with his world of limited-germ exposure imploding, I glance at BB. She’s running her slightly open mouth along a hand rail.

If we leave Disney World without COVID, it won’t be for a lack of trying to get it.

Or maybe we’d already had it? We hadn’t been testing every runny nose we got. So I thought, who knows? A month later I confirmed that we did NOT have it before.

First Captain was congested. He asked,

“Should I take a test?”

“Sure!”

He decided not to. I didn’t push for it. See aforementioned most cautious family member.

Then I was congested and RB was congested. Still no test taking. I was leading my normal life: exercising, corralling children. Then boom, I couldn’t smell my coffee. COVID test was positive.

I lost my taste and smell for a week. That sucked a lot more than I thought it would.

Moral of the story is, if you’re tempted to lick the high-touch surfaces of Disney World. Go for it.

Now we’re “boosted” again and I’m free to direct all thoughts of impending doom into building a nuclear fall-out shelter. Hence all the chocolate covered popcorn.

BB pushing the cart with her hands AND mouth. Nice to meet you new Market Basket!

Do you know how to breathe? MAYBE. But maybe not

Did you know you’re breathing wrong? Or at least 70% of you are. I had NO idea.

I finally got around to reading Breath by James Nestor. It’s been top of the stack since November, which is a tough time for any book to move up to the “currently reading” status.

I have strong feelings about many things and it’s not unheard of for me to read something, have strong feelings about it and then a few months later I have a hard time telling you the name of the book.

I could be wrong, but this one will be hard to forget. I’ve talked about it so much BB is walking around reminding me to close my mouth.

I even taped my mouth shut to sleep the other night. Effective in making me breathe through my nose, ineffective in that one of my security blanket’s most important qualities is how she feels on my lips.

BB asked me to close her mouth when I check on her at night. That’s what some Native American parents used to do for their babies.

I’m not going to do this topic justice. I’d recommend reading the book if you wonder what the heck the difference is.

The amount of health benefits associated with nose breathing versus mouth breathing is almost enough to make me tape my mouth shut during the day. Almost.

This week I attempted zumba with my mouth shut. I thought maybe I’ve done it with my mouth shut before and I didn’t realize it? OH NO.

I don’t know if I’ve ever exercised with my mouth shut. It was HARD. But also amazing. I had substantially increased stamina over just last week.

I was sitting in the library last weekend. I had just started reading the Breath book. A woman exclaimed,

“I LOVE that book! It changed my life! It’s amazing.”

I thought,

‘Whoa. She’s coming on strong. This is what I get for reading in the children’s section where people can talk at whatever volume they want.’

I question her,

“Really?”

“YES! It’s all about nose breathing.”

OKAY.

Well I hope I see that woman again and we can exclaim together, while breathing through our noses.

My quest for normal messiness

I’m not trying to have any more kids, but it often feels like it would be nice to have another point of reference. Where does each random behavior my kids exhibit fall on the spectrum of what’s “normal” for a 5 or 2 year-old?

My gut instinct is that BB is on the extreme messy end, but what do I know? She’s the only 5 year-old I’m living with.

At the beginning of the pandemic I turned our dining room into BB’s art room. BB is incapable of cleaning it on her own. Sometimes we do it together. Sometimes I do it by myself. Sometimes I see Captain in there muttering under his breath.

One evening I came downstairs and Captain was staring into the abyss of layers and layers of paper, glue, scissors, crayons, paint, pipe cleaners, markers, jewels, stickers, foam, feathers, and felt pom poms spread across the expanse of the table and floor.

As I write this, it occurred to me, maybe it’s my fault for giving her so many mediums.

I press into Captain’s side. He says,

“How does this end?”

“You mean what is going to become of BB?”

“Yeah.”

“I think she’s going to be one of those people who ends up with rotting food in her bedroom and she won’t care.”

He looks at me in horror. I have missed my opportunity to make us feel better.

I don’t let the kids take food upstairs, so this future is not imminent.

BB simultaneously knows her surroundings are a mess and doesn’t care. One morning she woke up inspired. She rushed to her art room and sketched a picture of her bedroom, complete with a dresser full of half-open drawers and clothes falling out every which way.

She’s observant. She knows things are a mess.

When BB eats anything, 20% ends up on the table and floor. That’s if we remind her to hold over her plate. Without any reminders the situation deteriorates. And while she’ll acknowledge a grape, tortellini or whole cookie on the floor, the chances of her picking it up are zero.

My gut instinct tells me she’s messier than the average bear. School reassured me that that’s correct.

BB came home and told me,

“I got in trouble at lunch today.”

“What happened?!”

BB is nothing if not an extreme rule follower. Minimal baby proofing required because she just wouldn’t do what she wasn’t supposed to do. So I couldn’t begin to guess what happened at lunch. BB explains,

“I made a mess with my lunch.”

“On purpose?”

“No! But the teacher didn’t believe that it was by accident.”

And there is the proof. BB is so messy that other people can’t fathom it’s her normal state of being.

Two years ago I questioned if I could parent my way out of the mess, then RB came along and is at the opposite end of the spectrum. BB couldn’t be messier and RB couldn’t be neater. BUT that is not a clear positive. RB, in my opinion, may have severe OCD.

RB NEEDS to put things in their spot. Her lovie has had a specific spot since she was 11 months old. If she takes a book off the shelf, it goes back in the exact same spot, between the same two books.

When BB gets home from school, she strips and leaves a trail of laundry from the front door, through the kitchen into the living room. RB follows on her heels, picking everything up and muttering,

“Put away, put away.”

I will tell RB to go play and instead she’ll be under the kitchen table with the dust pan sweeping up half of BB’s snack.

If I leave something somewhere it doesn’t belong. I have a pint-size person at my feet telling me,

“Put it away!”

If I put her water bottle anywhere but in its “spot,” I’m going to hear about it.

When I pick RB up at the YMCA playroom, she’s compelled to clean up before she leaves.

Going to a playground with her is really just a trash pick-up mission.

So as impossible as it is for RB to leave a mess, I now feel how futile it is to hope for BB’s underwear to not end up on my kitchen table.

BB is desperate to share a room with RB. It has the whiff of a social experiment and I’m inclined to give it a go. But not until RB is done with her crib.

RB loves her “cribby,” as much as I love having her contained. She likes to sleep all smushed up at one end. So considering that, she’ll fit in it for another three years.

How does this all end? Will our home somehow average out and end up in the middle of the messiness spectrum?

I’m at the point where I wonder if maybe BB’s M.O. leads to a more enjoyable, go with the flow lifestyle, with or without underwear.

My dining room
Room to spare

No more masks! And more from BB’s version of events

Bye bye masks! It would feel good to burn them all, but BB still needs them for the bus and it’s not my style to get rid of something I might need in the future. Just ask my over-stuffed house.

I’m relieved for BB. It’s tough going wandering around with a mask and fogged up glasses. Last year, a week after her ophthalmologist appointment, her pre-k teacher mentions,

“I’m worried she’s having a hard time seeing. How are her glasses?”

Great as far as I know. I ask BB,

“Are you having a hard time seeing?”

“My glasses were fogged up.”

Now she wipes them, but a year ago I think she may have just sat there and waited it out.

And now there is no daily feedback from her teacher. I’m left to sift through BB’s version of events in an often futile effort to discover the truth.

The other night BB was telling a very long winded, detailed version, of that day’s recess. It bordered on fantastical. She finished with,

“Then So-and-so grabbed snowflakes from the air, made a snowball and was about to throw it at So-and-so, but I stepped in between and blocked it.”

“I thought you had indoor recess today.”

“Oh yeah, we did. This was back in the fall.”

The next morning she prances to breakfast in a tutu. She tells me,

“Mr. L. told us to wear tutus today.”

“Your gym teacher told everyone to wear a tutu?”

“Don’t tell him I said that.”

And BB may be introverted, but it’s good to know she feels very comfortable giving her teacher a piece of her mind.

At the beginning of the year her teacher called on her to answer a question, to which BB replied,

“Oh no Mrs. C. I wasn’t raising my hand.”

Then last week BB came home and told me,

“Mrs. C. told me to practice my lower case letters.”

“Ok.”

“I told her I don’t have time for that.”

I told Mrs. C. it turns out we do have time for that.

Then in passing BB mentions that math is hard. A little alarm bell goes off in my head. I ask,

“What’s hard about it?”

“I lose my breath saying all those numbers.”

Good to know.

And this was from awhile ago, but it may be one of my all-time favorites. BB and her class were learning the song “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.” BB informs me,

“It’s in old English and it always makes me want cupcakes.”

“Cupcakes?!?”

“Yeah you know… My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee ICING!”

Now I want a cupcake too.

Never thought I’d be in the pool 2 days a week in JANUARY

Our regular routine has resumed, except some crazy person signed RB and me up for two parent/child swim lessons a week.

Yes it was me. It sounded like a good idea in December.

The YMCA lowered the lesson price. Then after I signed up, they offered a 25% discount on a second class.

EVERY MORNING RB asks to go swimming. So I thought why not?

Why not: It’s freezing out. So much effort. It’s freezing. Less fun than enjoying my coffee. It’s freezing.

Why: RB wants to go. Plus I already shaved for the first lesson of the week, so might as well take advantage.

The Powers Aquatics program is incredible. I regret regret regret not signing BB up for it when I had a chance. Although I’m not convinced she has the right personality for it. RB does.

BB can swim circles around RB, but with Powers Aquatics I think she could’ve been at this level 2 years ago. BB declined a second weekly swim lesson. Solid choice.

The girls’ locker room has always been my go-to for shower and changing. It used to be empty. Now it’s packed. And now I realize that my post-swim strategy is not a popular choice.

Everyone seems to focus on their kid first. Ok, sure, we make sacrifices for our children, but this isn’t one I’m ready to make. As it is, RB is a shower hog. She wants to be held and the minute I turn to get some hot water on me she shouts,

“MY TURN!”

After our shower, she gets her towel and she waits while I get dressed. She watches the freezing women and the dressed kiddos.

I’m treating this like an oxygen mask airplane emergency situation. I’m putting my clothes on first before helping others.

It’s working for me.

The dream is that come this summer both kids will be swimming circles around Captain and I’ll be reading my book.

Plus with two lessons a week, I’ll get double the underwater photos. If that doesn’t make it worth it, I don’t know what does.

Mickey, magic and a melt down or two

I’m having a serious case of the post-vacation blues. We hemorrhaged money all week, except for the few seconds Captain found ten dollars on the ground. And I swore I wasn’t going back for ten years.

Now I’ve got Alexa playing the Disney fireworks music on repeat and I’ve got tears in my eyes. You could send me back next week.

The whole thing feels a little miraculous. We departed January 1st as thousands and thousands of flights were cancelled. Ours was on time and no one even made a peep about RB being on mask revolt.

It was our first big vacation in two years. A plane. A hotel. Gorgeous weather in the middle of winter. My best friend Goofy. A hot tub. Drinks. Being fed with a wave of my magic arm band.

And I got to hug one of my real-life, best friends who was in Magic Kingdom the same time we were. It was magical.

I couldn’t ask for anything else. Except maybe a few more hours of sleep for RB. Actually A LOT more sleep for RB. We had one too many meltdowns. They were all too many and I lost count.

Our double stroller turned out to be a nice way to hold our coffee and push our bags around. RB was determined to walk. And not just walk, but walk without holding anyone’s hand. I started eyeballing the kid leashes.

RB’s pace was so SLOW. Nevermind that we couldn’t count on her to even be going the right direction. So one morning in Animal Kingdom I forced the stroller issue. I didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn, to reserve rides, to be held back by a toddler strolling along somewhere in the vicinity of her luxurious stroller.

Well I learned my lesson. The only thing slower than a toddler walking through Disney World, is a toddler flat out on the ground refusing to go anywhere, do anything, or let anyone touch her.

So she walked. She even complained about her feet hurting at the end of the day. You can imagine about how much sympathy I had for that.

We went with Genie+, it’s a must. Then Disney wants to charge even more for individual lightening lanes. I guess it’s worth a try. We did pony up for Rise of the Resistance. A two hour wait wasn’t for us. But $9 a pop for Space Mountain?! I’ve been going on that ride since I was in utero. Not happening.

Screen time told me I was on my phone an average of 12 hours a day. And I have the blisters on my finger to prove it. I’m still reflexively opening the app and checking the ride wait times. This week looks pretty good.

BB had the time of her life and that in of itself made the trip. Turns out she loves traveling, roller coasters and the huge water slide at our hotel. If those are the only things we ever have in common, our future is bright.

Captain does not love roller coasters but he was a very good sport and tagged along. Either that or he didn’t want to be left with RB. She was really out to lunch for a good portion of the trip.

She reminded me of super drunk people who insist they’re ok to drive and then pass out two seconds later.

BB went hard and was asleep the second her head hit the pillow. RB went just as hard, but then decided to party in her pack-n-play for another couple hours while Captain and I escaped to the hot tub.

By the end of the trip, she was short about 28 hours of sleep. If she could’ve flown home next to someone else, that would’ve been nice.

It was very tempting to restock my Disney wardrobe. Aside from one new Forky shirt, I resisted. Do people wear these clothes when they’re not in Disney World? The last time I wore my Goofy shirt was when I worked there twenty years ago.

Twenty years ago. I didn’t realize how nostalgic it would be to return with my babies. And how unimpressed they’d be when I pointed out the places I had worked. Captain was the most incredulous,

“You drove the boats?!”

Which may be because he’s not super impressed with how many times I’ve crashed our car into things.

I DID drive the boats for the fireworks cruises and I didn’t always dock well. That’s why people are supposed to stay seated.

We did so much and I would do it all again. As I wallow in my 861 vacation photos and 6 videos, that’s after culling, the only thing left to do is plan my 40th birthday trip.

Alaska I’ve got my eye on you.

True love.
The melt down to beat all melt downs.
Magical.
Apparently they play Christmas music until February. I don’t remember that.
Shhh. I can’t emphasize that enough.
Nothing like feeling your ears flapping in the wind.
Til next time!

Happy New Year and more, from my pelvic floor

I’m grateful to be finishing this year off with a strong pelvic floor. If you don’t want to hear about my groin, then this post is NOT for you.

It all started during our slog of a conception effort for RB. I pulled something, bad. 

It was a very sharp pain that went away, but kept coming back at random times: unloading groceries, rolling out of bed, rolling off of Captain.

I tried physical therapy while I was pregnant, but it felt a little worthless. How could I strengthen anything when every day RB was getting bigger and telling me to sit on the couch and eat ice cream?

I figured I’d go to PT after RB was born.

RB was born. Flew out. Not sure what kept her in so long. So I wasn’t in any pain and thought,

“I’ll go to PT someday.”

Then the next thing I knew I was busy hoarding toilet paper and cookies and my pelvic floor was left to fend for itself. 

Then it was this September. Our health insurance deductible was maxed out and I was still getting sharp pains. I needed to sign up for PT or get off my squatty potty.

And it was not just because I needed blog material. Although that isn’t the lowest reason on the list for my return.

I don’t know how many of you have filled out an intake form for pelvic floor physical therapy before, but it’s a lot. It’s the 5 page history of my crotch the world never needed.

I wrote the truth, but then I was tempted to cross things out. I show Captain. It’s too late. Nothing screams poetic license like a second draft of a medical history.

Yes I could’ve just printed a new form, but I couldn’t be bothered. My physical therapist got the whole truth.

She was lovely. After BB was born, I needed a lot of internal work. See previous pelvic floor post here.

Five years later, I needed more strength. So for the most part I got to keep my clothes on.

The days I kept my clothes on, I went straight for a table in the main room where several other people were doing PT. My therapist would ask if I had any pain that week.

In a quiet voice I told her that I rolled off of Captain with no sharp pains. She declared,

“There’s no TMI here!”

I feel like there’s no TMI between her and me. She’s read my vagina’s biography. But it sure feels like the 80-year-olds across the room may not be interested in what my crotch has been up to.

I graduated from PT three weeks ago and so far so good. TMI or not.

From my pelvic floor to yours, Happy New Year!

Santa, Mickey, and our elf. I’ll let you know how it ends

My ambivalent relationship with Santa continues.

BB loves the guy.

I remember my disappointment when I found out the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real and that was only a couple bucks here or there. I don’t wish I’d never believed, but the transition to not believing was a downer.

How crushed will BB be?

I keep asking other people how they felt when they learned the truth and in return everyone asks if BB is starting to have doubts.

Zero. Zero doubts. If anything, she’s doubling down on believing.

We’re headed to Disney in two weeks and BB has been studying her guidebook as if there’s a midterm coming up.

She points to Mickey and Minnie on the cover, who are looking fabulous in their 50th anniversary gear by the way, and asks,

“Are they real or people in costume?”

“What do you think?

“Well considering they can walk, and with smiles like those… They’re definitely real.”

So that’s where we’re at.

Santa on the bubble barge came to our neighborhood last week.

BB tells me,

“It was the real Santa.”

“How do you know?”

“I looked at his beard. How could he be fake with a beard like that?”

How could he?

And I don’t subscribe to this naughty list. It causes BB anxiety.

Over and over I remind her that she’s getting Christmas presents whether or not she’s nice to her sister. Even if it would be really nice if she were nice to her sister or at least maintain the status quo.

BB tells me,

“I told my friends that you said there’s no naughty list for me and they said you’re wrong. There is a naughty list.”

There’s nothing I can say to prove I know more than a 5-year-old.

I’ve been playing along for a few weeks now, but reached a breaking point.

A few days ago BB came home and asked our elf-on-the-shelf Tutu to please bring her a candy cane. I meant to put out a couple candy canes, but I forgot. Tutu moved. A miracle in itself.

The next morning BB was tearing the house apart in a fit,

“There are no candy canes! I asked Tutu for candy canes. So-and-so’s elf gave them a this and So-and-so’s elf gave them a that and Tutu hasn’t given me anything.”

When did the elves start bringing presents?! Santa help me.

Maybe because it was the first conversation of my day or maybe because it was Dec 18th, but something snapped. I wanted to throw the “magic” out the window. I tell BB,

“I grew up with no elf and I didn’t believe in Santa. Many people in this world do not have an elf or Santa. And maybe your elf knows that you had 8 nights of Hanukkah and now you’re going to have Christmas.”

Unswayed, BB tells me,

“I know, but I believe in Santa.”

I know. And believe it or not, Tutu brought candy canes the next night. RB gobbled hers up before it was out of the wrapper and BB’s is still untouched on the counter.

Who knows what RB makes of all this. Her priority is candy. She’s still walking around asking,

“More Happy Halloween?”

….

Don’t worry Goofy, we’ll be reunited soon!

If only that hat still fit. But I wouldn’t mind finding that Goofy cap!
No real Goofy here, but I felt like this was a quality photo.

Til death or disintegration do us part

And that’s a wrap on Hanukkah! It was a good one.

Captain and I had an evening out, which never fails to remind me how we got ourselves into this mess in the first place.

I sported the faux, suede leggings I wore when I met him, which he loves and my new fuzzy coat which I love and he said looks like a sheep. Who doesn’t love sheep?

It was a dreamy moment without anyone bugging me for presents or more presents or when are there going to be presents. On our way out, I float into the restaurant bathroom. As I’m washing my hands, the woman next to me says something unintelligible followed by,

“…. very nice.”

“Thank you!”

In my contentedness, I made the assumption that she was saying something about me. Perhaps my sheep coat is very nice?

She stops washing her hands, turns to face me and enunciates loud and clear,

“THIS RESTAURANT is very nice.”

“Oh yes, it’s a LOVELY restaurant.”

There’s no way to recover from having assumed this was about me, but we spend a good five minutes singing the restaurant’s praises just in case.

For Hanukkah, my mom spent the week mending Blankety, my security blanket. I’ve mended her here and there over the 39 years of her existence, but it kinda breaks my heart.

No one wants to take a needle and thread to someone they love. Yes I understand she’s an inanimate object.

Blankety has never been one to wash frequently, especially as she’s gotten older and has really started to disintegrate. I washed her when I first met Captain. Her equivalent of a new pair of faux, suede leggings.

I washed her again right before BB was born. And I washed her two days ago.

Did you do the math on that? The blanket I smush against my face every night of my entire life, went 5.5 years without a wash.

A month ago as I did inventory on our winter gear, I said to Captain,

“I can’t believe the winter boots I was wearing when we met are 10 years old. They’re older than our relationship.”

Captain eyes Blankety in our bed and mutters,

“That’s the oldest thing in our relationship.”

I point at 47-year-old Captain,

“You are the oldest thing in our relationship.”

I may have won that one, but it made me take a hard look at poor Blankety.

She faded from bright pink to brown several years ago. Then her remaining innards started showing through and I couldn’t bear to put her in the wash.

Then I started to break out. Then Captain mentioned she doesn’t smell great and he steers clear of her in our bed. I think she smells fabulous and I’m not trying to share her with him, so good.

My mom promised to mend her and I promised to wash her.

I won’t say she looks like a whole new blanket, but she is a whole new color. Let’s do it again in 5 years.

I’ll be 40 this coming July. It’s got me contemplating mortality and Blankety’s life span. Will she live another 40 years? Will my faux, suede leggings still be around? I can only be so lucky to find out.

Blankety through the ages:

Blankety in her newborn glory.
Circa 1991. Forgive the bad photoshopping of my underwear; I was going to crop the photo, but thought you might enjoy the loafers.
Blankety camping in Kenya.

She’s hard to see, but Blankety is under my chin.

No Blankety here. Just Hanukkah.

Hanukkah Hustle, ’tis the season

Anyone else concerned about the container ships stranded at sea?

I’m not sure what all is on them, but to be on the safe side I panic bought all of BB and RB’s Hanukkah and Christmas presents three weeks ago.

Hanukkah IS early this year, so that’s not too crazy. It still feels a little crazy, especially considering BB’s favorite color is in flux and how long can RB be obsessed with Baby Shark? Don’t answer that. Through December would be enough.

I thought I had a decent mental tally of what I had gotten each of them and it felt equivalent in my head. I put it all out the other day. Not even close.

I remove a third of BB’s presents to return to Target along with a pair of pleather leggings that didn’t fit. Those were for me.

The Easter Bunny made this same mistake, except she didn’t realize it until she put the baskets out and even then she thought it was close enough. The first words out of BB’s mouth were,

“Why did the Easter Bunny give me more than RB?”

Second thing out of her mouth was,

“Why did the Easter Bunny give us so many bathing suits?”

Maybe the Easter Bunny knew BB was going to spend the summer at the beach and couldn’t help herself.

And I will not make this mistake again. For the first time, I’m embracing duplicate gifts. Not everything can be the same. RB’s put-things-in-her-mouth phase is lingering. She still eats crayons.

This is partially my fault because I only let her color when she’s strapped in her highchair.

Which is her fault, since she’s proven that given a crayon and free range, she will color on any and all surfaces.

What about their different interests you say? Screw that. Their number one interest is having whatever the other one has.

And even so, I’m sure there’s going to be fighting. I already removed several large toys from the living room after any attempts at sharing turned into full-on screaming,

“MINE! MINE! MINE!”

I’m about to donate everything. Let them fight over the sticks in the yard. Plenty of those. And they BOTH put those in their mouths. BB tells me,

“I’m in a phase.”

“Oh yeah?”

“A puppy phase.”

“I see that.”

“Is that what phase means?”

Yup. I guess it does.

Home Goods has proven time and again that it surpasses any other store for the most random, Hanukkah tchotchkes.

And as I continue to complain about having too much stuff, I set off on one of several annual, Hanukkah, tchotchke expeditions.

Home Goods did not disappoint. Giant gelt stuffies. I grab two and head for checkout.

I can count on Home Goods’ cashiers for commentary. She exclaims,

“Oh wow! I’ve never seen these before!”

And before I can say anything, she adds,

“Well I’m not Jewish.”

“Well I am Jewish and I’ve never seen them before either.”

BB and I went out again yesterday. We popped into TJ Maxx. We approach the counter with a coat, jammies and 2 pairs of slippers. The cashier asks,

“Did you find what you came for?”

“No! We came for Hanukkah stuff.”

BB asks,

“Do we have time for the two other stores?”

“If we hustle.”

We roll through Joann Fabrics. Random I know, but they’re good for wrapping paper and I’ve exhausted the internet. Hanukkah overalls from Target are sold out.

BB asks,

“Are we going to the last store? We really hustled.”

An Ode to Coffee and Electricity

WHAT A WEEK. Electricity? Very under appreciated until it’s gone.

No matter how many times I forgot and flipped a light switch, it was to no avail.

I get annoyed when storms are over hyped, but the zero hype that there was for this storm meant I’ve been feeling bamboozled.

The first injustice hit quick. With only one of three nightlights working, BB joined me on the couch at 6:30am Wednesday morning.

My solo mornings, watching the sunrise, with the lights voluntarily turned off are one of the most pleasant, self-sustaining moments of my day.

Wednesday morning, as BB whined about no school, 30 minutes before anyone is allowed to whine at me, I realized that I was DESPERATE for a coffee. The giant, widow maker dangling by a tree thread over our front door wasn’t going to stop me.

I gathered both children and left a note for Captain:

“Gone for 2 coffees.”

And gone we were. As soon as I saw the first traffic light was out, I knew we needed to head out of town. Drive-thru after drive thru was closed. Road after road impassible. Next town over I saw people emerging from Whole Foods, to-go cups in hand.

Heavenly bells chimed. I looked down at myself: pajamas, random shoes, rain coat. It’s a drive-thru outfit. It’s not something I’d wear in public even in the depths of the pandemic loungewear movement.

Who am I kidding? I’m going in. The line was long, but not nearly as long as when I left 20 minutes later with 2 cups of coffee in my hands.

As BB whined and RB said “Coffee? Coffee? Coffee?”, I navigated our way home. I saw people drive underneath trees resting on wires. I stopped there.

We returned to find Captain searching the house for us, lost without the ability to text me. No one reads hand-written notes left on countertops anymore, even when there’s no electricity OR cell service.

I gave him a cup of coffee. As hard as it was to relinquish, he obviously needed one as much as I did.

We made a plan to evacuate to my mom’s. She mentioned not driving until later when it wouldn’t be so dangerous.

I spared her the coffee adventure for the time being.

In the meantime BB had her eye on Halloween and all things related. We were on notice for the school parade. Would it happen? Would it be canceled?

BB has started making her own social plans. She tells me,

“I’m going to A’s to go trick-or-treating.”

I explain that parents need to be part of the planning or she has no plans and I haven’t heard boo from A’s parents. BB throws up her hands,

“What am I going to do?”

“What do you mean?”

“I have to go trick-or-treating with you and dad?”

I’m not sure when spending time with us became a nuisance.

Halloween feels magical. It’s warm. We have electricity. The school parade was rescheduled for today. We join trick-or-treating forces with BB’s friend and BB seems unfazed by the parental oversight.

RB insisted on walking despite lagging behind. And if you’ve ever wondered what will happen to a full-size Hershey’s bar if you clutch it in your hand and refuse to put it in your bucket all night. You get to smear it everywhere when you get home. Just ask RB.

So did I risk my family’s life for 2 cups of coffee? Maybe. But we’ll never know what would’ve happened to them if I’d gone without.

Tired of hearing about my deck? Then this isn’t the post for you

My “new” deck is open for business!

New in quotes because it’s been in progress for three years. And while that’s a slight exaggeration considering March 2022 will be three years, it’s been three summers.

I have no excuse for my delay in blogging aside from wandering aimlessly around my deck.

It’s beautiful. For all the people out there taking their decks for granted, I’m not there yet. I’m enjoying everything about it. My brisk coffee mornings, getting brisker by the moment. My kitchen slider functioning as a door instead of a barricade. My children screaming outside my kitchen window instead of under my feet.

The day we took the barricade down and walked out from the kitchen, felt like a miracle. RB had never even gone through that door before. The old deck disappeared before her time.

Tentative first steps and then racing back and forth. The deck is 800 square feet. That’s bigger than the condo Captain, BB and I started out in.

The kids run and run and run. RB counting the whole way,

“Two four five!”

One and three are overrated.

As I sing the deck’s praises, everyone keeps asking,

“What’s Captain’s next project?”

THE DECK STAIRS.

He may have other ideas, but stairs and railings will really be the crowning touch.

I’m well aware that this deck isn’t on anyone else’s radar, but it’s the product of a lot of sweat and tears. Sweat from Captain and tears from the rest of us.

Side note: RB turned two! Which was as good an excuse as any to invite people over to stand on the deck.

There was a hint of Baby Shark, with a heavy dose of pumpkin beer. I went with deck party rather than birthday party. I have my priorities.

Although the birthday deadline was good motivation for the construction crew, i.e. Captain.

I pushed for something similar last year, but you can see how well that worked out.

RB is just happy to have “friends.” Friends in quotes because she can be friends with anything. She’ll say hi to any person, pet or inanimate object. And woe becomes the person who doesn’t answer her right away. She stands at the edge of the deck monitoring the street. When people walk by without acknowledging her, she raises her voice, waves with her whole body and hollers,

“Hiiiiiii!!!”

Which is adorable.

When she’s yelling it at Captain, when he’s on a work call, not so much.

If there was any doubt as to what age she is, she woke up with the attitude to prove it. She was giving me trouble when I was trying to change her diaper. I put her back in her crib and told her,

“You can stay there until you’re ready to get your diaper changed.”

She looked at me and sighed,

“Oh fine.”

Praise be

Go Pats! Or whatever

I’m all for sports. I’m all for people watching sports. It’s not my thing.

Yes I watch BB play soccer, but really I’m there because she can’t drive herself and I enjoy talking to the other parents.

I can get sucked into anything on TV, especially if it comes with snacks. I get absurdly invested. I’ll scream at the TV during the Super Bowl despite not having watched a game all season.

When I fell head over heels for Captain, my disinterest in watching professional sports didn’t feel like anything that was part of our compatibility. But it dawned on me, I don’t know how much later, he’s not into watching sports either.

So the two of us combined watch the Olympics, the Super Bowl and whenever a game is on at someone else’s house.

The first week of kindergarten, BB’s teacher sent an email and paper note home Thursday night:

“Our class will support and cheer for the New England Patriots on Friday, by having a Patriots’ Spirit Day. Feel free to wear Patriots clothing or Patriots colors to school. Go PATS!”

BB does not own any Patriots clothing. I have a Patriots sweatshirt. I used to work in a bar.

BB does have plenty of navy blue and red. BB also has very strong opinions about what she wants to wear. I read her her teacher’s note.

She’s irritated she doesn’t have anything with a logo. Captain and I are irritated this is even happening.

There are so many things in this world we could be raising awareness around and a professional sports team doesn’t seem like first place we should be putting this energy.

BB is very aware of logos: fast food restaurants, cars, Target, Stop & Shop. Our local Stop & Shop got a make over and BB said,

“Why’d they change the logo?”

“I don’t think they changed the logo.”

“Yes they did!”

Sure enough they did. I was more focused on the new wine and beer aisle.

Many years ago, non-sports watching Captain was gifted a pair of Patriots fleece pajama pants. There’s no arguing with fleece. They became his daily pandemic uniform.

When BB and I were out for a walk last year, a neighbor was flying a Patriots flag, BB asked,

“Why do they have a flag with Dad’s pajama pants on it?”

I explained football.

Now along comes “Patriots spirit day.” I send a mad, logo-less BB to school. BB returns just as grumpy,

“Only 3 other kids didn’t have logos.”

I ask Captain,

“Are we spending $15 on a Patriots t-shirt? It’s the last thing I want to spend money on.”

He goes off on a tirade about capitalism and commercialism. I do not even look to see what apparel is available.

Friday comes along again and another Patriots spirit day. At first I assumed it was the whole school, but it’s actually just BB’s classroom. I ask Captain,

“Is this going to be every Friday? Maybe I should get her a t-shirt?”

BB puts on another navy blue dress, red hair bow and leaves in a huff.

I put a t-shirt in my Amazon cart. It sits there for a week. I’m still so annoyed, but I’m dealing with an equally annoyed BB every Friday and for how long? Do they stand a chance of going to the playoffs?

Don’t answer that. I don’t really want to know.

BB’s also been begging for footie pajamas. I find some good ones for her at Kohls. While I’m on their site I search for Patriots gear. Just for the heck of it. Up pops a Patriots dress with sparkly hearts and the logo front and center.

Now I’m about as excited to buy Patriots gear as I’ll ever be. I’ve gone from hell no, to maybe, to how could I not get this for her? I show it to Captain. He agrees.

We let her know the good news. She questions us,

“Does it have the logo?”

“Oh yeah.”

She nods her approval.

I send a very happy BB off to spirit day today.

Considering BB turns every morning into a long, drawn-out, fashion experiment, if we’ve found our Friday uniform, I’m counting it as a win.

Go Pats!

THE BUS!

We’re getting the hang of the new routine, despite a few family-wide panic attacks.

We’ve lived in our home, at the corner of a four way stop, for four years and I’ve known all along that the school bus drives by many many times.

I just didn’t know how many. Six times in the morning and six times in the afternoon. If you think I’m exaggerating, there’s actually a chance I’m under reporting.

Until this year it was a special treat if we saw it go by, but it didn’t affect my life one way or another. Now the distinctive braking of the school bus is enough to send my entire household into a frenzy.

7 a.m.: I’m enjoying my precious one on one time with my coffee. The bus brakes and adrenaline shoots through my body. I talk myself off the ledge. BB’s bus comes at 8:07 a.m.

7:07 a.m.: BB is snuggling with me on the couch. THE BUS! BB is on the verge of a meltdown. I talk her off the ledge.

7:30 a.m.: Captain is in the middle of making breakfast. THE BUS! He looks at me panic stricken. I talk him back.

7:37 a.m.: RB is spooning some cereal into her mouth and the rest into her lap. THE BUS! She yells,

“BUS!”

I remind everyone,

“BB’s bus comes at 8:07 a.m.”

8:00 a.m.: THE BUS! My stomach lurches, Captain braces himself, RB squeals and BB screams,

“Is that my bus?!”

“Technically yes, but remember it loops around the neighborhood and picks you up on the way back?”

“I want to go outside.”

“Ok, but you have time.”

“I want to go outside NOW!”

ME TOO.

After an hour of panicking, I remind everyone, including myself,

“Even if we do miss the bus, we have a car and it’s a 5 minute drive to school.”

Then the whole thing repeats in the afternoon. The bus driver won’t let a kindergartener off of the bus without an adult there to meet them, so it feels even more important to not miss the afternoon bus. BB gets home at 3:25 p.m.

2:30 p.m.: I’m enjoying the quiet when… THE BUS!

Captain is still working from home, so he gets to shout things from the library/office/gym/room-off-of-the-kitchen-where-it’s-a-terrible-place-to-work-with-small-children-around,-but-I-didn’t-pick-it. He yells,

“THE BUS!”

“I know!! It’s not BB’s!”

BB loves the bus. She tells me,

“It’s not like when you were a kid, the seats are really nice.”

Of all the millions of things that are not like when I was a kid, the school bus seats look very similar. And I have had the chance to see them go by many many times.

My first day of kindergarten 1987! And I may be in the market for a pair of these high tops.

Magically I’ve got a kindergartener! It’s long, but sweet

Kindergarten check! BB is on cloud nine. Fishy Wishy is ready to repeat pre-k and I’m looking for my sanity. It’s gotta be around here somewhere.

Back in June when Flippy first came home, before we even had time to rename him, I was already thinking to myself,

‘It would be amazing if I manage to keep him alive. Then at the end of the summer I could send the text message, “When’s Flippy’s first day of school?”‘

A week ago I got to send that message. It felt as good as I imagined. I got a message back reassuring me that if we’d grown attached, we could keep him.

No. No. And no. At that point BB was running around in RB’s diapers and I just couldn’t handle wondering if Flippy was depressed or if this was the morning I’d find him belly up.

At the Cape there was talk of setting him free, never mind that he’s a fresh water fish. My beach buddy pointed out,

“Oh no, you can’t do that, he’d be like ‘Where are my flakes?'”

If Flippy doesn’t make it through his second year of pre-k, it won’t be on my watch. I’ve had about all I can do to keep track of the kindergarten schedule.

First there was the playground playdate and practice bus ride. There were 80 kids on the playground and BB went to the swings 100 feet away, all by herself.

I had promised myself ahead of time that I’d follow BB’s lead and not push too hard on the being around other people thing.

Then lo and behold, BB returned from her solitary swinging and suggested we go find some kids in her class. I spotted one standing with her parents. Worth a shot.

There must’ve been some magical, unicorn, fairy, kindergarten dust in the air. The girls took off around the playground. A little while later we lined up for the practice bus ride. BB’s new friend asked,

“Do you want to sit together?”

At which point BB held out her hand. They boarded arm in arm and while I had expected to get teary eyed when BB left for her official first day, I did NOT expect to cry for the PRACTICE bus ride. But I did.

BB had an amazing time. The behavior at home continued to deteriorate. Captain was at a loss. He kept saying,

“What is going on?”

“Kindergarten is starting soon.”

“Right but-“

“No that’s it. I guarantee it.”

I mean I didn’t know for sure sure, but it sure seemed unlikely she’d go to school in her baby sister’s diapers. We just had to get through 5 more days of reverse potty training.

BB threw multiple tantrums because she wanted to pee in the diaper, but couldn’t. And not that I said she couldn’t, just that she’s so used to going in a toilet, or outside, that she couldn’t relax enough to go in the diaper. It took her a few days, but by T-minus 3 days until kindergarten she was peeing in diapers again.

BB went for a school tour joined at the hip with her new friend. Then there was a 2-hour, drop-off, practice day. The class was divided in half by the alphabet. There must’ve been more of that magical kindergarten dust, because BB and her new friend’s last names fell into the same group.

Getting emotional over the practice bus ride should’ve been a warning to me, but I approached the practice day as if I’m not someone who can cry over a Budweiser commercial. BB’s kindergarten teacher held out her hand to introduce herself and I started to cry.

I made sure BB didn’t see. She waved goodbye and trotted off.

She may be a clone of Captain, but the one expression of my genetics might be BB’s adventuresomeness.

Two hours later I return and learn that not only did BB have a wonderful time, but she used the bathroom. And for someone who spent a large part of the summer refusing to use public restrooms, peeing outside and most recently returning to diapers. This was a very, very good sign.

Then the real deal. The first day of kindergarten. The only day I thought I’d actually cry. BB was super excited, then a little quiet. I was so focused on the logistics, and taking photos, that the tears barely came.

8:10am. How is it possible that I won’t know anything until she gets off the bus at 3:30pm?

Preschool would’ve texted a photo by 8:12am. I check my phone. I remind myself that if BB decides not to talk, she has all of her identifying info pinned to the front of her dress.

I check my phone again. I don’t know what I’m waiting for, but I check my phone again. And again. The next 7 hours would’ve been a variation of this same theme if it weren’t for my amazing neighbor throwing a “First Day of School, MOMosa brunch.”

It saved my sanity. And magically, however many mimosas later, it was time to welcome home my kindergartener.

Captain and I hovered on the corner. I obsessively refreshed the bus tracking app. It was making very slow progress. At least ten minutes late. As it appeared on the horizon, I stood camera ready, then the bus knocked over a neighbor’s basketball pole.

Keep driving! Where’s my baby? The driver stops, gets out, assesses the damage, decides to drive the remaining block to us.

BB bounces off the bus. She couldn’t be in a better mood. She’s full of stories and tales of eating vegetables at lunch. A unicorn of a day.

What a relief. I offer her help with something, I can’t even remember what and she rolls her eyes at me,

“Mom, I’m not a baby.”

Bye Bye Beach Bums

We’re home. We’re days away from kindergarten and I can almost taste a party on the deck.

Maybe it’s being 39. Maybe it’s COVID. Maybe it’s watching my kids grow up so fast, but whatever it is, I feel very aware of my mortality and how I’m really not 20-years old anymore. Like not even close.

I’m at risk of turning this into a fashion blog, which is the last thing I want to do, but I don’t know where else to work through this.

I am having a lot of feelings about the cheeky, bathing-suit trend.

First jeans, now this. How is a middle-aged person supposed to keep up?

Do I want to keep up? Yes and no. I don’t want to be outdated before my time, but I’m also not clinging to my youth. At least not in a butt cheeks hanging out kinda way.

Or so I thought.

I saw some beach bums last summer, but this year the cheekiness really took off. Once I see a trend everywhere, I start to think, maybe I should do this, maybe I should have less coverage.

Once upon a time no one wore bikinis, now everyone does. Even middle-aged people.

There was no way I was going to make a change mid-summer. The only thing worse than a 39-year-old bum hanging out, is a pasty 39-year old bum with full coverage tan lines.

Nevermind that even if I had started the season with a couple cheeks out, when would they have gotten tan? I have a hard enough time watching my children when I’m upright, never mind if I were face down in the sand.

I was discussing the decreasing bathing-suit bottoms with my mom, I tell her,

“I want full coverage, but I feel like it’s dating me.”

“You don’t exactly have full coverage.”

True. And even though BB has full coverage, once it rides up, she’s happy to leave it there.

The other day the kiddos were in the tub and I heard some strange noises. I pop back in to check on them. They’re on their tummies with their bums in the air. BB tells me,

“We’re dolphins and our butts are our blow holes.”

So they are. No coverage needed.

And now that I have “mama milkies,” I’m not interested in going topless on a beach ever again, but BB made that decision even easier.

During a post-beach shower, I took off my top; BB pointed at my chest and asked,

“Why do they look like doggy milkies?”

Oh help me.

As I return to regular clothing, I’m somewhere in the middle of the bare-bum debate and happy to table it until next summer. Especially considering it’s almost time to figure out what jeans I’m wearing.

Circa 2003. If only that bathing suit didn’t bite the dust. 😉

Do three showers a day now make up for no showers in February?

To bathe or not to bathe? This celebrity topic has me considering my family’s habits. I’ve determined they’re seasonal.

Back in February, there was very little bathing. Water conservation had nothing to do with it.

It got to the point where no one in the family was sure of the last time they took a bath or shower. Which often led me to issue a warning that we would all need to bathe soon. Although I never went as far as to say it had to be that day.

This didn’t come from a place of being anti-bathing, but from the same place of wearing sweatpants for a year.

Now we’re at the beach. I deem sand and indoor living very incompatible. We’re doing a minimum of 2 showers a day, maybe 3.

Awhile ago I learned about a friend who only showers her kids, no tubbies. I didn’t think that could be me. How could I take away the joy of playing in the tub?

Now I’m in there with the shower running, saying,

“Stand up!”

Didn’t they just spend the day playing in the ocean?

The advantage of the tubby is that it keeps RB contained for a minute until she decides to jump out. The disadvantage is that she really likes to poop in there. BB is still thrilled to have a tub with her. Maybe there is some love there.

It’s at least 2 showers a day because there is no way these kids can come in the house for lunch without a shower.

BB returns home with more sand covering her body than even seems possible. Gobs fall out when she takes off her swimsuit.

She’s the type of person who likes to go swimming and then makes sand angels. We’re talking wet hair, wet body, rolling and rolling in the dry sand. I can’t think of a better way to make sure you’re sandy for the rest of your life.

RB sits in the tub drinking as much bath water as she can, while BB picks seaweed out of her vagina and puts it on the side of the tub. She would prefer to hand it to me.

BB informs me,

“You know they sell special seaweed and you can take a seaweed bath to soften your skin?”

She’s learned about spa treatments from a neighbor. I gesture to the seaweed lined up on the side of the tub,

“What about this seaweed?”

She looks at me like I’m an idiot,

“NOOO. That was in my vagina.”

I get them out and send them on their way. I’m feeling efficient. If there’s ever a Ninja Warrior style competition that features drinking a beer, collecting beach gear, dragging it home, corralling 2 kiddos, bathing them, diapering, clothing, feeding and putting them to bed, I really think I’ve reached peak speed.

At 1:00am I jolt awake to,

“Mama… Mama!!! My vagina is itchy!”

Somewhat irrelevant, but this is what beach chairs are for, right?

Nine days of missing BB

BB is back. Nine days she was gone sailing. It was Captain, my in-laws, BB and her menagerie of stuffed animals.

Day 1: Bon voyage! I’m excited for her and glad to send her on her way.

Day 2: All appears well.

Day 3: Do I need to go get her? Day 4 is the last day she can bail. If not day 4, then it would be day 9, whether or not anyone decided on day 5 that that was a mistake.

Day 4: It’s a sailor’s life for BB; she’s committed to the duration of the trip. Block Island here they come. Captain says sometimes she acts “silly.” My interpretation of that is he’s glossing over bad behavior, but that’s on him. See you in 5 days!

Day 5: I’m poring over their photos. Can’t get enough.

RB is a lost soul without BB and our usual beach crew. She keeps attaching herself to random kids whether they want her or not. And when they refuse to make eye contact she walks closer to them, waves and yells,

“HI!!!”

RB’s standard volume is a 7 out of 10. When she feels strongly about something, anything, like making friends or being all done with breakfast, it’s a 10. The kids still don’t make eye contact. I try to drag her away. She refuses to acknowledge subtle social signals.

I redirect her back toward our stuff. There’s a new family setting up next to us with a fellow toddler. I think we’re in luck.

RB heads straight for them. I hover nearby. She takes a peek in one of their buckets. I’m hoping to make eye contact with the mom. Maybe share a smile, offer some of our toys, I see a bright future for poor RB who is desperate to socialize.

The mom really won’t make eye contact. I move closer. She moves the bucket away from RB.

Not so subtle. I make one last ditch glance for eye contact and I drag RB away for a swim. When we walk by later, the dad says,

“You’re welcome to play!”

I really don’t think we are.

Day 6: I miss BB.

Day 7: I really miss BB.

Day 8: I fall asleep creating all the unlikely catastrophes that can happen to anyone anywhere at anytime. A little bit like how when either kiddo sleeps 30 minutes later than usual I assume they’re dead.

Day 9: I’m reunited with a very-much alive, tan, instantly grown-up, sailor BB.

She spends the first hour of the hour-and-a-half drive home regaling me with stories. Stops. Says,

“Mom, I can’t tell you everything.”

And that was that.

She did tell me,

“I had one fight.” (with my MIL)

“What happened?”

“She wanted me to use the bathroom and I didn’t want to.”

I assume it was because BB didn’t have to go, but it turns out it was more of an issue than that. Captain tells me,

“She didn’t want to use any bathrooms besides the one on the boat.”

“Any? What did you do?”

“She went outside.”

“Outside? Like everywhere?! All the time?! Even at restaurants?!”

“Well a lot, yeah, there was grass.”

Huh.

BB returned with an additional stuffed animal, “Shiny the Block Island unicorn,” who was added to her already crowded bed. I tucked her in with 4 bunnies, 1 puppy, 1 caticorn, and Shiny. She said,

“There are a lot of people in here.”

“There are.”

“I wish I had someone to sleep with.”

Did nine days of her sleeping with Captain doom my summer? I remind her,

“What about all the people in your bed?”

Big sigh.

“What about your long-lost sister?”

Bigger sigh.

“How about I check on you later?”

“O-KAY.”

And I make my escape. Turns out there are limits on how much I missed her.

Beach birthday bonanza rain or shine

My baby is 5! I’m 39. And the class fish is still alive. However old he may be.

I’ve never met anyone happier to turn 5. BB canvased the beach, proclaiming her birthday far and wide. She was magnanimous enough to mention mine was coming up as well.

While I didn’t shout 39 to the world, no one would’ve heard me over tropical storm Elsa. I did tell quite a few people about my glorious birthday dinner with Captain, WITHOUT our children.

I may have mentioned my plans for a throw-down party next year. Mark your calendars.

I’m very happy to cling to my thirties for one more year. It’s got me comparing to 29. I’m much more content, big dreams have come true, I’ve lost some muscle tone and a lot of sleep.

I feel like more dreams can come true, but the sleep and muscle tone may be gone forever.

The summer beach plan is in effect and aside from enough rainy days for the entire season, so far so good. If anyone is going to test my resolve to be here all summer it’s RB. But then she’d test my resolve wherever we are, so I might as well be where I want to be.

It comes down to chasing RB around the suburbs or chasing RB around the beach.

I may be glorifying BB’s toddlerhood, but I don’t remember 21-month-old BB testing EVERY SINGLE LIMIT. ALL THE TIME.

The minute I turn away, there’s a very good chance RB will be standing on the kitchen table or scaling a bureau in an attempt to get the fish. As long as he may live.

The good news is that there are no tables at the beach, just rain.

RB’s attention span seems to be about as long as it takes her to yell the word,

“DONE!”

So no attention span.

We went out for BB’s birthday dinner. RB wouldn’t even let us put her in the highchair at all.

“DONE DONE DONE!”

BB said,

“This is the best birthday! Bester than last year.”

She doesn’t mind if RB’s not at the table.

BB wanted a fancy birthday drink. Last year she didn’t like her Shirley Temple. I was at a loss, but then it came to me. I ordered it for her.

She took a big sip, smiled and sighed,

“What IS this drink?”

“Sprite.”

“Sprite.” Said with so much reverence. As if she’s ready to worship whoever created soda. Kind of like I’m ready to worship anyone who manages to sustain RB’s attention for more than a minute.

As of Saturday, Captain and BB went sailing with my in-laws for nine days. Amazing for her and a very mixed bag for me.

It’s a little quieter and calmer here, but RB does not know what to do with herself. I almost miss the sibling fights. Everyone has 2 feet on or near the ground and are somewhat occupied.

BB has been begging to share a room with RB. This is good news because there are limited options at the Cape. And bad news because whoever wakes up first makes sure they wake up the other one. Refer to previous mentions of lost sleep.

I’m also missing Captain, in large part for his sandcastle acumen. It’s impressive, occupies many children not just our own and is enjoyable to watch from my beach chair.

It turns out deck building is a transferable skill. He’s also amazing with playdough. His current creation is drying on the counter.

So while everyone’s gone, I have not taken up the sandcastle mantle and we may or may not be catching up on sleep. But I have managed to write a very overdue blog post.

As far as the bad beach weather goes. It better be DONE.

The vantage point from my beach chair.
Dining out.
Play-Doh creations by Captain