Monday, May 29, 2017

Fidget Spinners and Toothbrushes

A three-day weekend with rain in the forecast and in actuality.


Fourth parts of swimming or some outdoor adventure went out the door.

Lucky for my family, I like a good cleaning out when everyone is trapped inside. As Camille said after we cleaned up her room, 'that was fun.' Ah, yes. Passing along the sweet joy of cleaning and organizing.

And, finding things.

My girls like to pack away various items in backpacks, purses, drawers and containers. Oftentimes, we spend many minutes looking for that one lost something and discover it in a backpack. (The girls have about four backpacks each. They also have about 10 purses. Each. Add to that an overwhelming amount of tote bags, wallets and pencil cases.)

We've got a lot of storage where you can hide Barbie clothes and accessories, American Girl clothes and accessories and My Little Pony clothes and accessories. Can you believe those little horses have clothes? Yes, tutus. And, head wear.

Pencils, lip gloss, stickers, candy, ponytail ties, rings, bracelets and nail polish also find their way into the many, many bags we have on hand.

When it is time to do a room clean up and put things in their place, we start by emptying out drawers. The girls have a teacher drawer, an American Girl drawer and a personal drawer. The girls can fill those drawers up with whatever they want. When it is too full, emptying begins. This go-round, we pulled the drawers out. We found a pair of G's basketball shorts that had wedged between the back and the bottom drawer. The girls have used this dresser for over a year.

We also found old Valentine's Day candy. Caroline had a half-eaten bag of Fritos in her drawer.

After we bagged up the trash, sorted through Barbies and made tough decisions about what play jewelry to keep, the girls had an organized room. We are on day two and it is still looking good.

Along with finding the shorts, the girls found Barbie shoes in the bottom of Caroline's teacher tote. Camille exclaimed, 'I've been looking for these.' (Really, the gold wrap up the legs stilettos? You missed those?)

The biggest find, sitting underneath the Michael Jackson Thriller hat and the Jessie from Toy Story hat, Caroline's fidget spinner. Overjoyed. She needed a fidget spinner after the week or so we've been looking for the fidget spinner. She was so anxious about where she had put it and why she couldn't find that bright yellow toy. It was in her room all along. Tucked under the hats in the dress-up area. Not in the place where it belonged, but in their room nonetheless.

What a find. Organizing may not feel like a fourth part to most of you, but to me, it brings such pleasure. Finding the lost toy made it an even better fourth part.

That wasn't the only organizing and clean-up effort. With only three more days of school, I went through the pile of art work and homework I've saved. Cleaned that out into a more modest, savable stack. I went through my files and whittled those down.

Then came the bathroom. The bathroom shared by the girls and now, that their brother is home from college for the summer -- it's his bathroom, too. Along with headbands, nail polish and play makeup, there now is boy stuff -- shaving cream, after shave and razors.

Plus, six toothbrushes.

He brought home six toothbrushes. I laid them out on the counter and asked him to decide if he needed all six. They haven't moved. All six are still there. They aren't labeled with the days of the week. There are six.

How long will they be there? Until he moves back to school in August.

How many times will I ask him to go through them? Several.

When will I eventually shove all six back in the drawer? Tomorrow.

I need a fidget spinner. Where did Caroline put that thing?

Right now, I'm so glad he is home. It's been enjoyable and pleasant. He's been spending time with us, eating with us, going to the pool and even staying at home with his sisters when G and I are out.

This week, he is off a couple of days so he is going to be home. I don't know if that means the toothbrushes will be put away, but it does mean he'll be having dinner with us. I don't know if he will empty the dishwasher or pull up the trash can, but it does mean he'll watch basketball with his dad.

I don't know if he will clean and organize his room, but it does mean he will be living here if even just for a few months out of the year. He's here.

With six toothbrushes on the bathroom counter.

Where's that fidget spinner?

Friday, May 26, 2017

FOMO and Beta Fish

Please don't let my son know I used the phrase 'FOMO.' Let's be clear, I just recently learned what that stood for so I'm thinking I'm pretty hip.

I'm not a regular mom, I'm a cool mom.

It's the beginning of a three-day weekend. Memorial Day is Monday. Yes, I'm thinking of those who served -- Granddad among them -- and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom. I learned about the red poppy this week and wish I had one to wear Monday. I will update my profile pictures on my social media sites with a poppy to serve as my way to honor veterans.

With a three-day weekend ahead of us, and then, only three more lunches to pack -- yes, only three more days of school -- we have the world of opportunity and possibilities. Where should we go? What can we do? A day trip? A drive downtown? Explore our city? Sample different ice cream shops? I don't want to miss out on a day that could have some activity. FOMO?

We do have a few obligations this weekend other than the usual grocery shopping, laundry and cleaning. We have a graduation party and a coaches' party to attend. Both will be fun and require little planning on my part. Then, we have our anniversary dinner Sunday p.m. 21 years in the books. Our anniversary was actually earlier this week and we chose to celebrate over half-price Sonic shakes. 21 years people, 21 years.

Monday is free, wide open. I asked the girls what we could do and they suggested going to the pool or playing with friends. Well, that doesn't sound like a day trip or an adventure. I'm going to keep working that angle.

I also have a stack of books from the library. A few cookbooks, a few fiction reads and some non-fiction choices, too. One is titled 'Women Are Crazy' and it is about making mom friends. That makes me a bit sad because I miss my mom friend who moved last year. But, I have tried to make friends this year and succeeded a bit with a couple of moms at the girls' school. Two. Maybe three.

My friend who moved said there should be a or Tinder for moms. Can you imagine the profile questions? Do you eat organic? Do you prefer Trader Joe's over the traditional grocery store? Do you buy gift cards or Barbies for birthday presents? Do you cuss? Do you drink? Do your children get baths every night? Are you good at braiding hair? Do you watch TV? Do you let your children watch TV? Do your children know the words to songs from Grease and they are only eight years old?

Maybe that is something she and I should develop. We could be rich. We could have more friends. Wait, nah. I'm good with the friends I have. Yes, I could add a few and plus, I do want to connect better with the girls' friends' moms. (Too much plural-ness and possesive-ness.)

It's so hard. It takes work. I don't try to impress the other moms, but sometimes I feel like I need to present my best self. Whoa. That's too much like dating, right?

And, yet, we are here on a Friday night looking forward to a weekend with few activities. If I had new friends, we'd have to do stuff. You know, get to know you kind of stuff. Unless, everyone is feeling like I do.

Do we have this FOMO belief? If we don't have plans, are we missing out? If we don't have a full calendar, are we short-changing our lives? Are other people sitting in their front yards with neighbors enjoying the 900 percent humidity with cocktails and laughter? Are there mom groups making plans for activities and day trips on Memorial Day?


(Right now, Chris would say something such as 'that's not how you use it' and I would try to have a discussion. Oh, wait, he's headed off to Austin for a fun start to Memorial Day weekend. He doesn't have time to explain the lingo kids use these days.Plus, he isn't FOMO-ing. He's in the middle of it.)

I felt a bit of FOMO yesterday when I saw my empty Nordstrom cart along with the banner announcement of a half-annual anniversary sale. It's not 'the' anniversary sale, but it is a sale nonetheless. I have some Nordstrom notes waiting to be spent and I have needs for my birthday trip. I started to shop. I found some boots, sneakers, a pair of jeans and a shirt. I kept looking. I kept paging through the site. I even looked at sleepwear. I don't need sleepwear. I kept thinking, there may be a deal in there and I had the FOMO. (Are you supposed to use 'the' in front of FOMO? This is exactly why Chris doesn't want me to try and use the phrase.)

This FOMO is real. Sometimes I do get caught up in what am I missing. I have a DVR that records two shows at once, but that means something might not get recorded. Am I missing out?

I am trying to buy a backpack for work and you would think I'm planning a lifetime commitment. Am I concerned I might miss out on the perfect one?

I struggle with finding items for the home because I might not pick the one because there are so many choices.

I try to find the best show to binge on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu. Too much, too many.

FOMO, already.

I do try not to get caught up. I do try to appreciate the here and now. I do try to only go a few pages in on Amazon searches for products and not look at all the results.

I do try not to Google answers to all life's questions. I can't control what other people do.

After Chris left tonight, he sent me a picture of a Google search he conducted. It was on possible reasons for why a fish would die. It read that a change in water temperature can shock a fish possibly resulting in death.

Guess what happened before Chris left? His beta fish, Larry died. The fish I cared for since Spring Break. The fish the girls took turns feeding every morning and night. The fish who I actually talked to at times. The fish who Caroline claimed she would play with because he wiggled when she looked at him.

I cleaned the bowl tonight while Chris readied for his night out. I carefully scooped him out of the dirty water and plopped him in a bowl. I rinsed the bowl, filled it with the nice lukewarm water a tropical fish needs, squirted in the beta fish drops to help do something to the water and then put him back in his fresh bowl. I sprinkled in some food flakes.

A few minutes later, I noticed Larry was not moving. He was upside down. No fluttering fins. No gulping for air and snacking on food.

And, no emotions from anyone in this family except for me. I felt so badly. Gervais carried him in a net to the toilet. Camille quickly volunteered to flush him -- even waved at him as he went down. Caroline didn't bat an eye. Chris took a picture.

Now, you get why I received that picture of fish dying from shock.

Wonder what Larry will miss now that he is gone? The three-day weekend? Chris' new apartment next year? A bigger bowl?

Time for another search. What kind of fish will we buy now? How many results will that produce? There goes my fourth part on an uneventful Friday night.

FOMO on the right fish. It's up there with the right backpack, right booties and right friends.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cable Outages and Library Books

Gray Sundays in the spring and summer months oftentimes mean 'stuck inside the house and why can't we go swimming' discussions.

This gray Sunday was a 'recover from the late p.m. birthday party' we had for the girls. They had two friends sleep over and by 10:30 a.m., it was just the Adams in the house. We cleaned up the yard and the glow-in-the-dark party favors, opened and put away new presents, organized gift cards and played with the new toys received from friends. 

I wasn't feeling well (the gray day, maybe) and Chris woke up with his back-in-San Antonio allergies. This gray-ness was kind of taking over. The girls wouldn't let it. I mean new American Girl doll accessories, gel pens and Shopkins kept the color in their day.

Along with G going to HEB and making returns to Party City with unused glow-in-the-dark hair spray, black lights and neon paper goods, Caroline had a make-up horse riding lesson and I needed to make a quick run to Target. And, when I write 'quick' run to Target, this time, it really happened. Gray days can make you move quickly -- a storm looked to be coming in.

After horse riding, which is where we learned there is horse camp this summer with arts and crafts and swimming -- oh, and horse riding, too, we dashed into Target. First stop, Starbucks. Three frappuccinos (my children). Then, a return of a dress my mom gave Camille, and we found a replacement.

With Chris home for the summer, and when he is indeed home, I can run errands solo even if G isn't home. I dropped the fraps and Caroline, showed Camille her new dress and then dashed to the library. No stopping and going in because we have a drive-through window. I mean, how easy is that. (Doesn't that read like Ina Garten?)

The librarian said to me it was a perfect gray day for reading. This gray Sunday was proving to be a winner. Yeah, it was a bit chilly at horse riding and yeah, we had to dash in and out of Target to avoid the pending rain. But, I could come home and just read and read and read. I had three cookbooks, three self-help kind of books and then some fiction. 

While I paged through a cookbook, I multi-tasked by watching some episodes of the newest season of Master of None. That is a good show. Aziz Ansari is funny. The writing is solid. There are some memorable lines and moments. I was humming along, thinking I would finish up that series and move into Kimmy Schmidt. I am a binge-r.

In the middle of episode nine, the internet stopped. I heard a couple of voices in the house bemoaning that the cable went out. I even heard one person mention he had to go LTE. The travesty.

I had books. I could relax and start to feel better. I continued to page through the cookbook. I continued to rest. Remember, my stomach wasn't quite right.

With the cable and internet down, my family came to the living room and then, the kitchen. Dinner made by G, table set by Chris and everyone sitting down together. I even came in and ate plain noodles (the Keto challenge is over, praise God). And, we laughed. We told stories. The girls imitated their brother. There was also some 'dabbing' taking place.

Cable and internet still down. 

I cleaned up the kitchen and everyone gathered in the living room. Then, I heard magic words from my son. 'Who wants to play a board game?'

Gasp. Take pause. Thank God for the cable and internet being down.

We played Dice-Capades. It is a fun game a co-worker recommended last year. It has you act out things, name lists of random items and answer trivia. All with various shaped and numbered dice. Caroline had to name six Presidents. Chris had to name a single talk show host. Gervais had to guess the amount Elvis paid for Graceland in 1957. Camille had to challenge Chris to three rounds of rock, paper, scissors. I had to list three palindromes (I went with mom, dad and tot. Chris suggested race car. I had never, ever thought of that one. Camille's face was full of wonder at her brother's brilliance).

Chris won. 

I'm thinking the Adams won. 

A gray Sunday with a few things to do that ended up getting done without the internet and cable.

Chris survived. The girls made it. G lived. I read.

I'm thinking we all got a fourth part. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tarps and Delayed Flights

Remember the purpose of the fourth part? It's to be all about you. Choosing what you want to do. Choosing things to do that make you happy and feel fulfilled. Reading, writing, working out, watching TV, cooking, drinking, sleeping . . .

(Those might be a list of my fourth part activities.)

(Since it is close to the end of school, I'm choosing drinking and sleeping these days.)

(And, since I'm on another five-day challenge . . .this time Keto . . .I'm not able to drink.)

(So, sleeping it is.)

Except for last night.

I didn't sleep very well because of two or three or four reasons. I was sleeping in a hotel bed. I went to bed really late because of a delayed flight. I was so excited to wake up and move my son home for the summer.

I forgot sleep aids. The room had a hint of cigarette smoke in the air -- I guess that is what you get when you use points. Caroline was asleep right in the middle of the bed when I arrived and moving a sleeping seven-year-old at midnight is like moving a bag of rocks.

So much for my planning.

Before I left the house yesterday, I had two hours with zero activities. I cleaned the fish bowl and fed the fish. I did laundry. I unloaded the dishwasher. I made sure I had my make up, nighttime moisturizer and contacts packed. I had blank checks in my bag (my son is in college, you need loads of blank checks).

I watched a little TV. And, left the house spit-spot.

Oh, if the flights would have been as cooperative and predictable. Nope. Delayed and delayed.

Fortunately, I had WiFi on both flights. I was able to watch the Housewives of New York on the first leg of the journey. I listened to a few podcasts while waiting for flight number two. And, I had window seats both flights.

But the second flight wasn't so pleasant. A large man -- in height -- sat in the middle seat. And, his right elbow was in my left side most of the ride. I had a 'lap baby' who I think was really about three-years-old in the seat behind me. He kicked and kicked and hit and hit and cried and cried and whined and whined. Hey, I get it. His bedtime was way overdue. He needed a sleep aid and his mom needed a drink, I'm sure. But, I was over the kicking, hitting, crying and whining. I tried to sleep but the frequent elbow to rib and kick in the back prevented rest.

I knew all would be better when my son picked me up and took me to the airport. It did get better. That short 10-minute drive was full of conversation. In that short ride, he told me about his thoughts on changing his major, ideas on the summer, saving money and a possible trip with his dad for their big birthdays (20 and well, something more than 20).

Hearing his voice in person, being in the same car with him and planning a few months together was my perfect fourth part.

Today's fourth part must have been the six-hour drive. It didn't seem too long and I did read and watch a few episodes of the new season of Master of None. Allora. Grazie mille. Prego mille.

But, there was rain in the forecast. And, we had a mattress and box spring in the bed of G's truck. After the moving it downstairs from Chris' apartment, loading it up and then re-loading when we discovered there were a few other pieces of furniture that needed to get into the truck, I wanted no ruin to come of them.

I dropped a few hints along the long, long drive as we made our way through little towns that we may need a tarp. I'd look at the weather forecast and mention it looked like rain up ahead. I made comments as we passed mercantiles (OK, they weren't really mercantiles but we were in small West Texas towns and there were only Dairy Queens and stores of wares) that there are bound to be tarps for sale.

As we rolled into Menard, there was both a little grocery store and a dollar store. I could drop hints no more. I said, 'We need to pull over and find a tarp.' Guess what? The grocery store had two . . . no price tag, so we made it up and $7 later, I had a tarp. Wait, we then had to kind of gently shove the tarp over the mattress without undoing the bungee'd, hooked up lattice-like contraption G put together to hold everything down. I think he said, 'straighten out the strap' a few times. Similar to my tarp plea, it went unlistened to so he had to go back and correct my work.

With under two hours left and a tarp wrapper 'round the mattresses and only a few flaps in the wind, we headed home. A couple of work calls didn't stop me from experiencing a full fourth part feeling.

Remember, fourth part is what I want to do. It's what brings me fulfillment. It's what makes me happy.

And, with all five of us under one roof, eating dinner together (I had planned ahead and made a pork roast that just required heating up) and organizing Chris' room, I was feeling really fulfilled doing what I wanted to do. I was happy.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Succulents and Kindness

Have you ever tried really hard to stay up late? Not like in our younger days when we didn't have children and you could take a nap around 6 p.m., wake up and get ready to go out. I mean, now, as parents, as working people.

I want to stay up late tonight because I want to watch Saturday Night Live with Melissa McCarthy as host. I want to watch and hear the cold open and her monologue. I want to laugh. Laugh hard.

This week has been a strange one for me. At work, some things happened that just weren't normal. Some things that just weren't right. In our country, some things have happened as they have for the last 110 days or so that just weren't normal. Some things that just weren't right.

I listen to the Pod Save America podcast and those guys are spot on in their analysis and reaction to the politics and happenings in D.C. They are funny and make me laugh. It's nice to laugh when you really want to cry.

I walked into work one day this week talking about The Great British Baking Show. It's a PBS show, but I'm binge watching it on Netflix. It's good, y'all. Everyone is so polite, so civil, so kind. The finale of season one included a garden party where friends and family gathered to watch the winner receive a cake stand and a bouquet of flowers. I cried. It moved me. People were nice.

I marched in the Women's Day March the day after inauguration. And, because I marched Penzy Spices sent me a nice enamel lapel pin in the shape of a heart with the words 'Be Kind' on it. I've worn it once. I should have worn it this week to work. I should be wearing it everyday.

I also have the chance to receive an award because I marched. PEN America honored all marchers with the Free Expression Courage Award. I can order a poster, a paperweight or a stand-up engraved award. I like free expression. I really like the First Amendment. I don't know that I have much courage most days.

You see at work, I had to be calm in a couple of situations that were anything but serene. I had to keep my mouth shut. And, boy, did I want to open my mouth and let a lot of words that wholeheartedly represent free expression come out. And, the words would not have been kind.

My reward in keeping my mouth shut, I had an upset stomach and didn't sleep too well this week. I guess my other reward was adhering to the age-old adage 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything.'

So why is it hard to be kind? Why is it hard to have courage? In the big things, we seem capable of being kind and courageous. It seems the day-to-day things are where kindness and courage are harder to come by.

This week is why I want to laugh while watching Saturday Night Live, but I'm a wee bit tired. It could be because we stayed up late last night eating at a hole-in-the-whole on the other side of town. And, I ate a lot of hand-pulled noodles in an amazing broth. A full stomach does not equal good sleep for me.

I'm also a bit sleepy because we spent the morning and then some time into the afternoon at one of my favorite places, our local farmer's market. It was a beautiful, no humidity, blue-sky, Chamber of Commerce day. We picked up some vegetables and two little succulent plants. The girls and I have wanted to pot some succulents and since I had $10 cash, I was able to buy two for $3 each -- the other $4 went to tomatoes I'm using in tomorrow's quiche (or frittata). (I'm making lunch for my mom -- we aren't going out to eat on a big event day anytime soon -- remember Easter?!)

The farmer's market also had several booths for the pottery market. I think that was a one-time thing and let me tell you the artisans came out and had some beautiful items. We found a pale green bowl that will now house our two succulents.

G, the girls and I also had brunch. It was good. We ate well. The restaurant where we ate serves amazing cured meats and has a wide selection for a charcuterie tray. We had duck ham, sausage, beet mustard, pickles, flat bread and some tomato jam that was, yeah, the jam. Then, the real breakfast came -- a big tray of bacon, fried green tomatoes, crab meat, fried eggs, biscuits, boudin sausage and a michelada. Never mind that I had ordered this carrot juice mule cocktail.

So, two drinks down and I was sleepy. I perked right up because I had the chance to sit and chat and laugh and chat and sit and laugh some more with one of my dearest friends. Her daughter (who lives in NYC) saw my posts on Instagram and told them I was there. Thank goodness for technology!

My Mother's Day Saturday was exactly what I wanted. I had a delicious brunch, caught up with my friend, picked plants with my girls and bought our favorite macaroons.

It wasn't as complete as it could have been because Chris isn't home yet. We did Facetime with him, but it just wasn't the same.

But the drinks and the food weren't all that made me tired. After coming home, we headed to the pool for a bit. After an hour or so, I had to head off to an appointment and then went to HEB to get the makings for tomorrow's lunch. As I loaded up the car with the three bags of goods, I knew I was sleepy.

I had to persevere though because I had to make the cake for tomorrow's lunch. I tried my Great British Baking Show best, but the cakes stuck to the pans. Ugh. I managed to get them out in one piece with just a few craters on the bottom. No one will see that -- good buttercream covers that up. Plus, it's my family. They will be kind about the food I make.

So, now I'm sitting. I'm writing. I'm trying to stay awake. I've only a few minutes more before Saturday Night Live starts. I think I can make it.

Even if I don't stay awake for the entire show, I'll get in some laughs. Plus, I got to laugh today with my friend.

Looking back, it was an all-day fourth part. Wow. Talk about self-kindness.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cast Iron Skillets and Flip Flops

My husband loves to fish. Really loves to fish. Many of you have heard him say, heard me say it or read my writing on when the season is over, 'I'm going fishing.'

And, he does. Most every weekend. He leaves on Fridays after school and then comes home late Saturday.

This weekend was no exception. He got home around 11:30 p.m. after getting off the water around 8 p.m. He picked up Whataburger for the drive home (I mean, what else do you get when leaving Port Aransas and coming through Corpus?). I, on the other hand, ate beef fajitas and amazing guacamole at a friend's house.

Recently, I counted 14 fishing poles in the garage. Wait, excuse me, fishing rods. Don't get me started on those little plastic drawers full of bait and hooks and line and other fishing necessities. There's waders and boots and things that hold rods that go around your waist and gloves and special scissors. My hobby of taking care of my skin through all sorts of creams and treatments costs significantly less than this fishing thing. (Insert G commenting, he brings home food for his family.)

Maybe all marriages don't have the spouses 'count' items and believe me, I don't do it out of spite (there were those days of where there might have been a bit of anger keeping track of athletic shoes, belts and socks and khaki pants and coats and ties), but sometimes I can't help myself. I usually count when I'm frustrated about our overall money situation or when I know some big expenses are coming up. Or, I count when I drive home from work one day and see a new fence being put up at my house and I have been wanting butcher block counter tops in the kitchen and there isn't the dollars. Well, there you go. 20 years of marriage and 21 years is only weeks away.

Why am I suddenly compelled to count? An expense we have coming up is the girls' 8th birthday party. Initially, the plan was a glow-in-the-dark bowling party and then, I discovered that is around $20 a kid and you get a slice of pizza from the bowling alley kitchen, a couple of hours of bowling and some Sprite. With plans of around 10 girls joining my girls for the party, I'm counting that $200 plus is not money well spent. Oh, you also get one bowling pin for friends to sign. A second one costs around $20 more. Yeah, we can't share that pin.

Instead, we decided on the ever-familiar, what we always do, party at home. And, we are getting our glow on. I didn't come up with that -- the wonderful invitation creator at Etsy did. For only $1 a printed invitation -- because, really, I'm going to print off on card stock -- we are rolling. I'm looking for the cake maker -- a glow-in-the-dark looking cake is not on the shelves at HEB nor is it in my baking wheelhouse. A dear friend is lending me black lights she already owns (most of you can guess who this friend is) and I've put in an order with Amazon Prime for some lipgloss that glows (hopefully, there are no cancer-causing toxins in there) and black headbands that we are going to paint and have glow.

We also made a trip to Wal-Mart. And, by we, I mean, Camille and I. The other Adams' weren't having it and really, can you blame them? Our intent was to find nail polish and hair gel that glows in the dark.

(If this were a drinking game, all forms of 'glows in the dark' would have you a bit tipsy now. Probably drunk by the end of reading this.)

We didn't find those items. We did find glow-in-the-dark fabric paint, glow-in-the-dark rings,  and glow-in-the-dark sticks (same friend who has the black lights suggested renting a cotton candy machine and making glow-cones. We won't be renting the cotton candy machine. You can buy that stuff bagged up. But we have the sticks!) We also bought black plastic tablecloths because according to Pinterest, you can flick and fling glow-in-the-dark paint on them and hang 'em up for a true glow-in-the-dark party experience.

The big find? 10 pair of neon-colored 98 cents flip flops. Come on, people. Can you see the craft? Can you feel the excitement? Can you understand the usefulness of flip flops? Can you acknowledge this is a much better go-home goody bag gift that can be used by the recipients? Can you hear the parents thanking me for another cheap pair of flip flops that will break in about, hmmm, 15 minutes of wear?

And, can you think of anything better representative of this time of year than flip flops? We all have too many pairs, but never enough. We've them in all colors and styles. Some have height in the heel. (OK, I don't. I don't get the platform or wedge or heeled flip flop. I also don't have sparkly ones.) Some are leather. Some are brand-name (my girl Tory makes a solid pair and they go on deep discount sale at the outlet mall every once in a while). Some are more athletic-y than others.

But they are all flip flops. I wear flip flops to the pool and beach. Rarely, and I mean, rarely, will you catch me wearing them outside of those two places. My fancier flip flops (because that's an oxymoron), I do wear around a few more places, but I always do feel like my feet are touching the dirty ground. Hey, it's summer. I do walk around barefoot -- including down the street to my sister's house. OK, judge me.

Camille and I went to Wal-Mart after we spent about three hours at our community pool. It's a great pool. It is rarely crowded. Sometimes, we even have it to ourselves. Yesterday, we went (remember, G was fishing) and there was just one other family. Today, there was a group of teenagers (the mom of two of them -- twins -- came by later so I got to chat with her. She's a Baylor grad. Loads to discuss.) and then, later another family we know came to swim.

Hanging at the pool (I didn't have on a bathing suit. I'm not that ready for summer) is nice. It's easy. You bring snacks. You fill a Yeti with rose. You read. You get a little color.

I didn't realize we had been there so long until G called to let me know he was home from HEB (bless him) and was making fish for dinner. Yes, he caught some this weekend. The cost of rods, equipment, gas, Whataburger, etc. was worth it because I didn't have to make dinner. Talk about a fourth part gift.

Now, when G makes dinner, he makes dinner. And, uses multiple knives, plates, skillets and pots. Spices, oils and vinegars are also in heavy rotation. Tonight, we had the fish, zucchini and tomatoes, brown rice and arugula salad. If you are keeping track, or counting, that should be two skillets and a pot. Nah, he used three skillets, two pots and three cutting boards. Two large knives, several forks and spatulas rounded out the utensils. Bowls for breading the fish. Yes, plural.

Counters were covered.

But you know what else? The table was set. Food placed out. Dinner served. Nice.

Obviously, I cleaned up the kitchen. He took the girls outside and I loaded up the dishwasher. I hand-washed some dishes that didn't fit in the dishwasher. (The pots and skillets and cutting boards take up a lot of room in the dishwasher. I know they don't belong there, Martha, but I'm a working mom, alright.)

I also scrubbed out the cast iron skillet. It was the skillet used to pan fry the fish. Olive oil and butter, plus the flour mixture he used to bread the fish clung to that skillet bottom. Nothing that a hot water bath and good scrub can't remedy.

Yeah, I counted the pots and pans.

I also counted the dinner served. I counted the four people around the table (Chris gets home in about a week).

As corny as this will read, I can't be more truthful. I also counted my blessings.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Coffee Creamer and Feeling Invisible

Day two of fever. Not spring. Not sports related. Just a plain 'ol 'where did it come from because there were no symptoms' low-grade fever.

I received a call right around lunch time yesterday that my sweet Caroline (cue the song) had a 100.4 degree fever. She bought her hot lunch -- they get one a month and she had picked a Wednesday, which around here means one thing: Mexican food -- decided she didn't feel like eating and walked over to the nurse's office. Temperature taken, call made and I'm on my way.

(I did have to make a quick stop to pick up some darling teacher appreciation gifts -- handmade cake balls shaped like little popped popcorn kernels packaged in a plastic popcorn container.)

(Remind you of Elaine and the Jujyfruits?)

(This week's teacher appreciation theme is 'in the movies.' What? No flower to bring or favorite soda? Thankfully, Walgreens stocks Fandango gift cards and it is a store open late on Sunday nights. Double thankfully, I'm in a Facebook group where people sell things like popcorn cake balls and, yes, I bought two.)

After bringing Caroline home and giving her some Motrin, she slept. I  mean, slept. I got some work done. The babysitter scooped up Camille and ran her over to the Simon Biles program we are on for gymnastics.

This little girl had been off the last couple of days, which I'm now piecing together as she wasn't feeling good. At the Fairy Tale Rodeo Tuesday, Caroline's team lost. But, it wasn't the loss that clued me in, it was her reaction to my being there. She was just mopey and kind of well, off. Then, she called me from school crying because she didn't say good-bye to me. I reminded her we did say good-bye and then thought to myself, it's because she was not in a good mood and didn't remember. At horse riding that night, her instructor said Caroline seemed uninterested and not wanting to do the normal things she does -- such as saddle the horse.

On the car ride home, I talked to the girls and Caroline cried. (OK, maybe I was a little upset. It's my control thing and wanting everything to go according to my plan and the moping and the spending money for her to ride horses and not being interested and I think you get the idea of how it could snowball, right?)

The car ride home also presented a conversation about a new girl coming to her class and she was excited because her teacher picked her to be the new student's buddy.

Fast forward to the fever, coming home and feeling a bit better last night.

'I feel invisible.'

'Everyone wanted to play with her and not me.'

'When I tried to be her buddy, she didn't need me.'

'I had to read the poem that was eight lines because she said the teacher already knew she could read.' (I'm still not sure what that really means, but it came pouring out as if it was the fact that explained feeling invisible.)

Oh my.

Those conversations are hard. I encouraged her. I talked to her about being new and maybe the little girls was just nervous. I shared that everyone was probably excited to make a new friend.

My Caroline has always been my sensitive one -- from her stomach to her feelings. She doesn't have the confidence Camille has (even though Camille is very tender-hearted) and can't just blow off what people are doing or thinking or saying. Caroline takes it all in. And, she waits until she just can't take anymore and then cries and cries and cries.

She is a people pleaser, too. She wants everyone to get along and I mean, everyone. She wants everyone to play together. She wants to have one special friend, but still all play together. She tries to make new friends, but struggles with being forward. She always says yes and let's others choose. She believes that is how you make friends.

The balance we have to strike usually involves encouraging and nurturing along with 'move on.' And, when you are seven-years-old, you really don't want to hear about 'move on' and 'let it go.'

I get feeling invisible. I've been in that place before. Even as an adult, I sometimes feel not a part of something. And, I'm a pretty confident person who more often than not, chooses to be by myself. I have a small group of very close friends.

I, though, am an adult. I know how to process through those things and have a husband and family I can always count on to see me.

You know who else I know sees me? God. And, I have been through things where I know He's seen me. He keeps His eyes on me and I feel it.

When you are seven, that's a bit harder to get, right?

This morning, since I stayed home with Caroline, we read my Jesus Calling devotion together. It was on giving yourself to God to be filled with His inexpressible, heavenly joy. In the reading, there was a reference to the word divine. Caroline asked what that meant because she knows it to be a city where Gigi and Pop lived and where Granddad grew up.

I tried to explain that it had to do with God's power and spirit and then, kind of stumbled through some other words. Then, I looked up the true definitions.

'From or like God'

'Extremely good or unusually lovely'

So when you run out of your coffee creamer a week or so ago and have been subbing it with plain almond milk and then that runs out so you get on-the-border, maybe expired 2 percent milk as a replacement, you think this is not so extremely good or unusually lovely.

Where's the joy in that?

Here's where.

It's having that time to drink coffee at home while working from home.

It's recognizing that even with the work requirements today -- and there are quite a few -- it is feeling more like a very long fourth part and you can find time to order coffee creamer and milk from HEB for pick up.

It's getting to share a 'grown-up devotion' (what Caroline called it) with your sweet one not feeling 100 percent.

It's watching her Bible journal because the verse referenced in the devotion was on a page where she could color in a word.

It's not watching the news and, instead, finding a cartoon favorite.

It's taking that invisible feeling and turning it around to feeling filled with something inexpressible.

Joy. Heavenly joy. Something divine.