An eighteen hour travel day and two littles, Alaska here we come!

My moment of truth is almost here. We leave for Alaska in 4 days and I’ve been trying to come to peace with the packing for months now.

I traveled around the world carry-on only. I’m very happy to wear the same shirt everyday until the weather changes or it wears out. Yes I washed it. Things can dry overnight, or when it was hot enough, things dried right on my body.

Turns out when I returned home a couple years later, I didn’t smell great, but that was news to me.

Now we’re headed to Alaska and in addition to our carry-on allotment we have a giant checked bag and a carseat.

I’ve been whittling away at our packing. BB was desperate to take a skort. I nixed that. That’s two items of clothing functioning as one and it might not even be warm enough to wear it.

Then there are the non-negotiable items: the giant, crib-music player that RB turns on multiple times a night. It’s a necessity. Anything related to sleep takes top priority. But it gives me the heebie jeebies. I’m devoting suitcase space to a 3d lullaby machine, that could’ve been used for a gazillion skorts or just less stuff.

BB has 2 security bunnies and her large fleece security blanket. Who gets attached to a large fleece blanket? Another non-travel friendly, sleep necessity.

We’re moving towns every few nights, so the less we have, the easier it’ll be. In theory.

Our biggest item is the travel crib. I’ve gone in circles about this. A few of the places I really want to stay don’t provide cribs. So there were several options: stay somewhere else, RB sleeps in a bed or on the floor or take a crib.

If we’re doing this, I’m staying at my top places. I contemplate a free-range RB and a sun setting at 11pm. It sounds disastrous.

They sell black-out shades that cover an entire pack ‘n play, like you’d cover a bird in a cage. GOODNIGHT!

I’m sold. The travel crib fits in our biggest roller, with room for snacks.

I got the last room at one of my top picks, a place that hangs out over Seward Harbour. The woman who runs the place and I are on a texting basis. That’s how small some of these places are I guess?

She says,

“I only have a second floor room, but I don’t like to put kids up there.”

“Why not?”

“I was sitting in my office and I saw feet dangling. A kid was hanging off of the balcony and when I went up there, the parents kind of just shrugged and said they knew.”

I assure her my children will not be hanging off of the balcony. THIS IS WHY I NEED A CRIB.

Years ago I met families backpacking with their kids and that’s always been my dream. Someday I thought, maybe I’d have a family I could do that with.

Now I have my family and we’re taking six backpacks, three rolling carry-ons, one large checked roller, one car seat and one umbrella stroller.

Happy 40th Birthday adventure to me!

I’ll be back in two weeks. Stay tuned.

Sorry Goofy, no room for you on this trip.

Family Time

I locked my children outside.

The good news about our deck stairs being unfinished is that there’s a baby gate blocking them at the top. It has turned our deck into a giant, outdoor playpen.

The kids went out. I locked the screen door and I’m enjoying my coffee in peace. That’s how school vacation week is going.

It started with our Passover seder. Considering 2.5-year-old RB refuses to sit through a regular family dinner, I knew we were doomed.

She sat for longer than I expected, however long it took her to drink the prescribed 4 glasses of grape juice.

At which point she slipped out of her chair. She was quiet, happy and BB didn’t make any moves to follow her. We continued to read from our picture book Haggadah, which somehow still manages to feel like it’s really long.

RB let herself out onto the deck and was doing who knows what. She reappeared, pressing her face against the screen door, shouting,

“Happy Passover guys!”

Happy Passover!

BB found the afikomen, while RB read a book and said,

“Where’s the komen?”

I gave BB a five dollar bill and gave two ones to RB. BB was crestfallen. I offered to trade her three one dollar bills for her five and she couldn’t have been happier.

Having saved two dollars, Passover was officially a success and we rolled right into Easter. RB again had zero interest in hunting for hidden things.

BB was hyper focused on finding all the eggs, but had little interest in the candy inside. RB sat in the pile of eggs BB brought her and mainlined jelly beans. They may make a good pair after all.

Now one child is napping and the other one is washing my car, or the bottom half of it.

I call the Alaska railroad. I’m hoping to upgrade our train tickets to Denali. There are two service levels: goldstar and adventure class. Adventure class was all that was available when I booked, but a couple goldstar tickets appeared yesterday.

The woman on the phone reminds me that the seats are not interchangeable. If BB is in goldstar, she can visit adventure class, but if RB is in adventure class she can’t go to goldstar.

The woman asks,

“So who are the two staying in adventure class?”

I pause long enough that she feels compelled to add,

“You can’t leave the two kids there by themselves.”

Well good to know I wasn’t the only one considering that.

Captain is facing a new requirement of 3 days a month in the office. If he’s to be believed, it may be the end of him. I’m not convinced.

The idea that there may be a time in the future when I’m home alone, feels so improbable that I can’t write any more about it.

Vacation week also seemed like a good time to test out RB’s new ipad. It was a success. She entered zombie mode.

There is hope for our trip and anyone else stuck in adventure class with my kids.

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!

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.

I’d love to volunteer! Actually GOTTA GO

Am I a PTA mom? This is the existential life question I’m facing.

Of all the stereotypes I’ve been in my life, the suburban-mom one has hit me the hardest. I’m not sure why.

It’s all choices I want: house, yard, kids, dog (dead now, but he was great). Yet moms talking about arts and crafts still makes me feel cringey. Makes me want to pack up my family and backpack around the world for a year. Or a summer. Or whenever everyone uses a toilet.

Two more weeks and BB graduates from pre-k. One more summer and she’s off to kindergarten with 180 of her closest friends. It’s a school with 10 kindergarten classes. I can’t wrap my head around that.

In April there was a FB post about a PTA meeting for her future school. April Jessica was fully vaccinated and signing up for everything.

The PTA emails me back,

“You’re welcome to attend, but if you wanted to wait until our June meeting, there may be more that pertains to incoming kindergarteners.”

Good plan. I wait. The June meeting comes along. Should I go? My calendar is filling up, but I’m eager for as much information about school as possible.

I take my suburban-mom self to the meeting. They need help with next year’s book fair. My hand shoots up.

Maybe I’ll never volunteer for anything again, but I have a hard time saying no to books. They continue,

“Could we train a parent to use the cash register this year?”

“I’m great with a cash register.”

Everyone stares at me. If I can make change for incoherent, drunk adults, I’m confident I can make change for book-loving five-year-olds.

It’s very nice to have face time with the principal and vice-principal. Maybe reason enough to go to the meetings. The vice-principle mentions,

“All the supplies are in for the science kits, we just need to assemble them.”

One of the women in charge volunteers,

“We can stay and help you.”

OH DEAR. This is testing my resolve. I stay. I start assembling kits. How long do I need to stay? I make it through one package of straws, 2 straws per kit. I grab my bag, yell nice to meet everyone and make one of the most awkward exits of my life. Followed by a great sense of relief that I’m no longer assembling science kits.

I send the requested follow-up email to confirm my interest in helping with the book fair. I haven’t heard back yet.