As If We Never Said Goodbye

Forgive me, Internet people, for I have sinned. It has been 420 days since my last confession.

my christmas "elfie" got photobombed.

There is literally no reason for this picture to be here ... and yet, here we are.

(No, wait: that’s not true. It’s been 17 days since my last confession -- yes, really! -- but it’s been 420 days since my last blog post, which is what I really mean. Or, at least, that’s all you care about, anyway. Which is fine, because nobody cares how often I go to confession. Except maybe that poor priest who had to hear my first actual confession in 15 years. But he’s not allowed to rat me out, so you’ll just have to sit there and stew in your own juices and wonder what I had to confess after all that time.)

[Okay, fine. Can’t have you all worrying about me since it’s been so darned long. I’ll give you the short version, which is basically what I gave that priest, anyway: you know those Commandment thingies? I broke just about all of them except the ones about murder and adultery. I’m also pretty sure that I committed all of the Cardinal Sins, too, especially gluttony. I mean, Meghan Trainor might be all about that bass, but my “good-butt” jeans are most decidedly not.]

{Oops, there I go busting out the Pride already. But trust me: I still fit into these pants right now, and I intend to keep it that way, and if that’s sinful pride (prideful sin?), so be it.}

Gaaah, that’s a lot of parenthetical-type markings at the beginning of a blog post. ANYWAY. The point of all of this is to say that one of my resolutions for 2015 is to post more often. You know: like, more than once every 1⅙ years.

INCIDENTALLY, if you happened to find yourself wondering what I did during my mostly unintentional (yes, really!) hiatus, allow me to direct you to my Instagram and Twitter feeds. If you don’t know what those are (hi, Mom!), then let’s just say I spent a lot of time having something vaguely resembling a “normal” life, reading everything I could get my hands on, and trying to figure out (1) what in the Dickens my kid means when the words come out of her mouth and (2) where in the Dickens she picks these things up, anyway.

Oh, and I stopped being a grad student and became an actual, real-life, certified teacher of 7th-12th grade English Language Arts in the state of Pennsylvania. I have all kinds of paperwork to prove it and everything (including the student loan bills). They’re somewhere in this house, anyway. I can tell you where my diploma is, at least. Which, if you know anything about my life, is definitely progress. Victory in our time!

Anyway, I fully intend to get back to business now, beginning with my New Year’s resolutions. Except: I don’t really “do” resolutions, really. I mean, I make them, just like everyone else, but I also break them pretty easily (see: my attempts to learn to make a flaming dessert, which have been ongoing for approximately eleventeen years at this point).

But now that I’m mumble-something years old, I’ve finally gotten around to realizing that broken resolutions aren’t really fractured promises so much as they are detours -- or maybe I mean “scenic routes.” Sometimes you have to break a resolution in order to find out if it was one worth making in the first place. So I guess what I am saying is that I plan to make these resolutions more like guidelines (not unlike recipes and speed limit signs).

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Blog more often. (See paragraph 5, above … the one after the {squiggle brackets}.) This one is self-explanatory and doesn’t require any clarification; yet here I am, writing at least one whole additional compound-complex sentence about it, including a properly-placed but entirely gratuitous semicolon.
  2. Treat myself better. Not necessarily in a “splurge” sort of sense (although I do intend to at least try to get massages and pedicures more often), but more in the “give myself at least a small break once in a while” kind of way. Stop beating myself up for small mistakes and lapses in judgement. Wear my “good-butt” jeans just because. Have an extra pudding cup because I want to.
  3. Take better care of myself. Again, not the usual “stop eating food that tastes good and work out 4 hours a day.” I’m 40 years old -- it’s okay, I’m fine with it, really -- and I’ve been on a diet for, like, 39½ of those years. That isn’t what I mean. (Although I do need to lose weight and exercise more.) Of course I’ll refocus my efforts on eating healthy food and not having Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs for dinner four nights a week. But I should also get a mammogram and a Pap smear and maybe some baseline blood work to make sure that my blood isn’t made up of 75% bacon grease. And I should definitely check in with a therapist for a tune-up.
  4. Keep learning. One of the things that I learned (or that was reinforced) while I was in grad school was how much I love to learn new things. I completely changed careers and lines of intellectual inquiry, which was so revitalizing for me. I know I was annoying, and I appreciate everyone who tolerated (and continues to tolerate!) my insufferable excitement. But I know I’m not done learning, and I want to keep learning something new every day.
  5. Try new things. This is, of course, related to “Keep learning” -- but the differences between those two resolutions are vast. It’s one thing to know who The Doctor is, but something altogether different to experience Doctor Who. I like to know what my students are reading, but it’s important to also read those things as well. Knowing and understanding are not the same, and unless I try to apply the things I have learned, my “personal education” will always be incomplete. (This might mean that I make more Pinterest recipes or try again to tackle Don Quixote; hard to say how this one will pan out. Hopefully this will give me plenty of things to blog about this year.)

So. I guess I’m back. And already it’s as if we never said goodbye. (Probably because we didn’t, but still.)


Happy Halloween (A Little Late) (Okay, A LOT Late, Shut Up)

Here are some pictures of our trip to Hersheypark in the Dark. It was awesome, as you can see.



This costume turned out to be one of Shae's better ideas -- and, yes, it was hers. She wanted to be "Bad Sandy" from Grease. I drew the line at the leather pants because I am decidedly anti-yeast-infection. She really looks like a generic "Pink Lady" but with her particular hair and the faux-pleather jacket it's pretty easy to make the connection. (She's also on record more than once as being dressed as "Lela" from Teen Beach Movie, if you're into that sort of thing.)


Movin' up in the world! Last time I took a "you must be this tall" picture at Hersheypark, Shae was a Hershey's Kiss (36" to 42" tall). Now she'd be a Twizzler (54" to 60" tall) if she'd stand up straight. I am not complaining, because I got to avoid roller coasters for most of the day by claiming height restrictions. We'll see what happens when we go back later this year, around Christmastime.




It's much more funner to be at Hersheypark when you're with other kids -- Shae had a "ride buddy" for most of the day. By the time my niece is finally tall enough to go on the big kid rides and coasters with Shae (in approximately 2025), I'll be able to just hang out in the Food Court, as God intended parents to do.



Yes, we had a costume change in the middle of the day. My niece went to participate in the Hershey Half Marathon Kids' Fun Run and while we were already in the parking lot, we switched over to warmer clothes and more comfortable (read: not school) shoes.




We stayed out until dark, which we've never done at Hersheypark before. Granted, we normally go in the summertime, when it doesn't get dark until 10pm instead of 6pm, but still. Shae was even going to get a chance to go on a coaster with her Daddy, until it started to rain and all the "good" rides shut down. (Her word, not mine.)


A (mostly) good time was had by all. (And of course there was free candy, which never hurts.)


Children of the Candy Corn

Earlier this month, we took a seasonally appropriate trip to the pumpkin patch to go ... pumpkin patching, I guess. Is there a verb for what one does in a pumpkin patch when one is not Courtney Stodden? (Don't run out and Google "Courtney Stodden pumpkin patch," okay? Trust me on this one.)

Patchin' Fashion

This is what you wear to the pumpkin patch when you're my kid: a Halloween-themed T-shirt that is maybe but not quite too small, but still big enough to wear in public, generally speaking; pieces of not one, but TWO years' worth of Halloween costumes over capri pants, because hey, why the hell not; an assortment of LiveStrong-style bracelets from only God knows what organizations (I think one of them might say "Got Milk?"); and one leg warmer as an arm cover.

Oh, and let me take this opportunity to point out that it was in the mid-70's that day. So, you know.


The short version of the story is that those tiny little pumpkins were a huge hit. Also the gourds. I am a fan of gourds, and I have to say that the kids all had an excellent eye for nice, nubby, grotty-looking gourds that look positively fantastic in a nice arrangement that my husband made at home in a pretty red bowl. LOOK AT THAT: married almost fifteen years, and I am still learning about his special skills.


Children of the (Indian) Corn

Perhaps unexpectedly, my favorite part of this pumpkin patch trip was traipsing "through the corn maze" -- a/k/a looking for Indian corn. The kids found some pretty Indian corn, too, and we let them run around in the cornfields for so long that I'm pretty sure we had them convinced that they were actually in the corn maze that was advertised in great big letters all over the place. (I don't "do" corn mazes, because with my luck I'll get stuck out there forever and they'll need to call out the National Guard to find me and it will be too late because Voldermort will have already ported me away to Little Hangleton and I think it's possible at this point that I might be getting my pop-culture references confused again.)



SPOILER ALERT: There were pony rides. There are ALWAYS pony rides at these things.


Shae did end up finding us a lovely pumpkin that she and G carved up the very next day, and which ended up in the trash already because hey did you know that fresh pumpkins can get all gross and moldy and "smell like the cat's butt"? Trust me on that one, too: we learned that the hard way.

Special thanks to Anthony's mom for letting me us his picture. Thanks, Anthony's mom!


Flashback Friday!

UGH. It's mid-October, rushing headlong into LATE October already, and I haven't put up any pictures in 5,000 years because of reasons (mostly involving ways in which I suck). So today let's celebrate "Flashback Friday," where in this case we'll be flashing way the hell back to ... late August.


OF COURSE there was a slip-and-slide involved. Why wouldn't there be? It's not like we were at my uncle's house, in his backyard, where there is an in-ground pool with hot tub, or anything.


Isn't it kind of amazing how slip-and-slides are, like, the great social equalizer? I mean, sure, they're plastic-coated death traps, but have you ever met anyone who didn't have a great time at an event that featured a slip-and-slide?


I, personally, have not. I wish I had [1] a bigger yard and [2] actual water pressure so that I could put a slip-and-slide in my own backyard during the summer. I mean, we love watching "Adventure Time" while sitting in front of the giant-ass window air conditioner and eating popsicles, but sometimes you need to go out and make your own adventures, you know?


GUH, just looking at this pictures reminds me of how much I miss the summer already, and we have another nine months until it comes back around. This summer was weird, hot in the beginning and cool at the end and many kinds of sinus headaches in between, but the worst day of summer is still better than the best day of any other season except possibly my kid's birthday.


Okay, and maybe Christmas. I like Christmas. And Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving, too. Which reminds me: I just learned about bacon vodka and I am thinking about making bloody Marys to have with my Thanksgiving dinner that I'd make with our traditional V8 and bacon vodka, if I can find any. Doesn't hat sound delightful?


SHUT UP YES IT DOES. A bloody Mary made with V8 and bacon vodka sounds like Thanksgiving dinner in a goddamned glass. Veggies, bacon, and alcohol, all in a Dixie cup? That there equals ZERO clean-up, and if I have TWO I'd be asleep on my uncle's couch before everybody else even got home from the football game.


I also like Halloween, because I love Reese's peanut butter pumpkins. Although I will admit that, except for possibly pumpkin pie, which I adore (just the the crust -- only the pumpkin custard and whipped cream parts), I am kind of over pumpkin everything right now. But pumpkin-shaped chocolates? Yes please.


So here we are, face to face, a couple of Silver Spoons ... no, wait, that isn't right. Here we are, all caught up. Ish. I have more pictures to put up but I need to ease myself into it. For now, just enjoy this little flashback to the Last Major Federal Holiday. Hopefully this will be enough to get you through until next time.

(Oh hey I just realized there are no pictures of me as usual but I wanted to prove that I was participating in the festivities. So, [1] you can either pretend those pictures of my sister are actually me, or [2] you can enjoy this screen print of a Twitter conversation I had with an actual NPR personality. Your choice.)


Coast of Carolina

Oh yeah ... vacation. We've been home for more than a month, so it's probably time to put some pictures up, isn't it?

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Truth be told, I haven't written about vacation yet because I'm practicing my usual Zennish strategy of better living through denial. It's like, if I pretend that vacation isn't over yet, then it isn't.

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It was our usual family vacation: a chaotic mess of early rising, child limbs, Crocs, pancakes, ice cream, tantrums, Disney movies, mismatched outfits, and missing pacifiers -- and that was all on the first morning.

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The weather wasn't the greatest, too hot the first few days and almost too cold after that, and the ocean was cold even by my standards (in the mid-60s, which -- look, I can tolerate A LOT, but I draw the line at hypothermia on vacation, you know?), but we barely even noticed, to be honest.

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All the kids were just phenomenal. My sister's boys get more awesome every day, my niece is just the bee's knees, my kid was fairly well behaved most of the time ...

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... there are even a couple of photos with ME in them, for a change, although let's be honest here and admit that I have GOT to learn how to pose so that I don't look like I'm made up of, like, 75% boobs and back fat.

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I always hesitate to say that I can't wait to do it again, because that's such a gigantic understatement. I'm ready to go on vacation again pretty much the second we get in the car to come home. If I ruled the world and could do whatever I wanted, I'd arrange it so that we could all be together whenever we wanted, always.

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Are we going back there, to the coast of Carolina?


As soon as possible.

PS - If you're interested in seeing ALL my vacation photos (all the good ones, anyway), you can view them here, including the Instagrams. If I can figure out how, I'll add my sisters' pictures, too.