Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Gross Foods

We've come across some distasteful food items recently and acquired a list of three which = can be made into a blog post!  But they just made me laugh through the disgust.

1. Sean sent me this picture. I first laughed at the name and foulness:

But what Sean said about it made me laugh more:  "The "Mayocue" is totally gross but what offends me more is 'saucy sauce.'"   {cry laugh emoji}  Really?? "CUT. Print it. Put it on the label."

The next one I spotted at TJ's and had to send a pic to Sean.  "Did you want me to pick you up your favorite?"  All of this could not be more opposite of Sean.

mmm..ketchup flavored. what a good idea.

This last one was amusing. Found on the top of a container of cottage cheese. Don't you love when the advertisers are desperate to make their product appealing? Especially when it's trying to be fancy. Always, though, your reaction is not what they want you to do-- "ooo, i never thought to do that!"  Instead it's, "NO. NEVER."

Raspberry hazelnut snack bites.  Just grab a nilla wafer, some Nutella, a dollop of cottage cheese, topped with a raspberry! Tres elegant.



Sean sent me this the other day:

"I didn't know I was supposed to be checking for that."

Which brings up the question: was it always this way? Or are you now making them with real chocolate? Also it's not like I was under the illusion that Hersheys comes from the finest cacao of Venezuela.  But putting "real" on the package is drawing attention in a way that I don't think shines positively for you.

I told him of a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels I used to like until I couldn't shake bad feelings I got when I kept reading "chocolate-flavored" and not just "chocolate."

Sean then told me that McDonald's used to sell "Chocolate-y chip cookies." and how he was like, wait... that might just be cute, but it also might be some legal thing. 

Chocolate-y chip! makes me lol. Now you know what to say when you're not using real chocolate. "What's in this, chocolate?"  "Mm-hmm, it's chocolate-y! Would you like some chocolate-y cake?"

Is nothing chocolate anymore?

Anyway..that's about it.  CUT! Print it.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019


In an episode of Parks and Recreation, a show you should have binge-watched several times over by now, Leslie Knope creates an online dating profile on Hoosiermate and incidentally ends up matching with her co-worker Tom Haverford, which is preposterous.  It's a hilarious episode where Leslie actually tries to date Tom, unbeknownst to him, and they try to figure out how they could possibly be a match when really they are the opposite. Here's the dialogue:

Leslie Knope:
So, I was wondering, how did we get matched up on hoosiermate.com?
Tom Haverford:
I created 26 different profiles, each one to attract a different girl. Tom A. Haverford is athletic. Tom B. Haverford is brave. Which letter did you get?
Leslie Knope:
N, Tom N. Haverford.
Tom Haverford:
Ha! The n stands for nerd! I never check that one because no one ever responds to it. Tom N. Haverford collects globes! His favorite movie is books!

Ha ha. Makes me want to watch it again.  But then I looked around my front room and realized I am collecting globes as well, which I am not ashamed of in the least.  Let us examine:

1. Tiny globe. This globe is cute and sits on a bookshelf. We refer to it often.

I should have put my hand out for scale.  It's small. 

2. Here's a globe stress ball we keep on the piano for obvious reasons.

We refer to it as well for our geographical needs and also stress release. It is very useful. 

3. Not really globes I guess, unless you're a flat earth-er. We acquired these erasers from somewhere and I liked that one of them doesn't have North America on it. At first glance I was like, what in the hey is this? And that was a good lesson for me.

4. Next, we have another globe stress ball. (Can't have enough. Globes or stress balls)   I was looking at it one day, spinning it around....  

 ...until I realized something was very, very wrong. It took me a second but-- where is Europe??

Aaaahhh! It's totally gone! And no Arabian Peninsula, either! We see the curve of Iran and then it just cuts everything off west of Russia.  Have you ever seen anything so frightening? This was extremely unnerving for me. So disturbed. Why? Why is it gone? It's a cheaply-made stress ball/globe but even so, you can't just leave out peninsulas and continents willy nilly. Someone's going to notice.  It made me think of stories and movies about dystopian societies, and I shuddered and did a few squeezes to get over the stress.

And those are my globes. Weirdly, I do not have a regular-sized globe which seems a tragedy. I love them though and go to them whenever I see them. I'd love a good-sized relief globe. In my ultimate globe fantasy, I'd have one of those huge ones that stands on the ground and it would be in the center of a designated room--The Globe Room, it would be called, where I stored all my globes. Global Office?  Anyway, and I'd sit there and look at it and spin it wildly, just like I did with my family's globe as a kid. I just took a minute to browse images of "floor globe big" on google and I suggest you do the same. So many cool globes. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

)en's Cookbook: Frozen Choco-Banana Deluxe

There's a chocolate place in Provo, UT called Taste that I love.  It has charming decor and ambiance.  It's driven by passion and purpose, with a mission to spread the good word of fine chocolate and other gourmet foods to the world, something I wholly support. They do tastings which are super fun as well. Whenever we go there, it is fairly empty and I'm afraid, like I have been with on other occasions, that it'll go out of business because no one understands what a gem it is. It's like our used-to-be favorite pizza place here.  When it started it was exciting, something different, something with some elegance and a higher standard.  Slowly over time, we've watched it lower its standards, I'm assuming, to meet the lower standards of the general public here.  It's a judgment I'm making and it's harsh but I stand by it.  People often don't understand the importance of good food and bemoan anything priced higher than fast food which provides me an opportunity to show self-restraint when I stay my hand to slap them across the face twice.

I had a conversation with a person once about this very thing. They had mentioned the possibility of dining together somewhere and they asked me what kind of food I liked. I replied, "I like good food."   They didn't seem to understand as I believe they meant for me to list of various food chain restaurants and arbitrarily connect them to words like "Mexican" or "Italian."  I tried to explain saying I don't care what it is, as long as it's good. Still, they were mystified.  I offered one food place I enjoyed and they commented that they're pricy and pretentious.  I countered saying, "they care!"  And continued to support my argument.  As an open food snob, I defend all attempts made by someone in the culinary arts to have standards, to make a statement, to create something somewhat different and share it with the world.  To simply be thoughtful about their food-making. Thoughtful. Obviously, this was not going to be a match made in heaven because I realized soon after we were at an impasse and this shared dining experience may never happen. It was a little awkward, I'll be honest. But also awesome, and informative.

Taste makes an "iced chocolate" and it's just so good. It's on the bitter side so none-too-sweet (*celebratory firework explosions*) and is made of 150% cream, I am convinced. Whewww it is full fat.  It's all thick and icy chocolatey goodness. Mmm, so good.  I get it on occasion and I'm always glad when I do.

Well I decided to make my own at home.  It may have helped to have some ice to crush but instead I opted for three ingredients:

1. frozen banana pieces
2. valrhona chocolate powder 

3. Banana milk. Banana milk?? What's that?

 I just discovered it.  We've always been able to stomach cow's milk in our home so I've never paid much attention to milk alternatives unless we are catering to someone else's needs.  I think soy milk is out now, right? I've enjoyed almond milk a few times.  And I recently read about banana milk and being that bananas and cinnamon are two ingredients very dear to my heart, I decided to give it a go.
And it's tasty! I don't know if I'd replace all of my milk needs with it, but I opened it for the first time for this frozen choco-banana drink and it was supes delish.

Side story:  Chocolate and banana is a winning combination every time, an opinion shared by my mother and perhaps passed down to me.  I'm not sure if this is still true for her but it is for me in that if I go to Coldstone Creamery, I get the same thing every time: Chocolate ice cream with banana mashed in. It's all I want.  Long ago, Sean and I were having a meal at a restaurant located at the base of the Brooklyn clock tower that always reminded me of Ghostbusters:

Image result for brooklyn clock tower atlantic avenue

I ordered a milkshake and asked them if they'd throw in a banana for me. They stared. Banana? What? Why?  They did not understand this combination. While I let them explain egg creams to me, I tried to explain chocolate banana milkshakes to them which they seemed to regard as inconceivable.  I can't remember if they conceded in the end; some people don't. I am always trying to persuade establishments to "throw in a banana."   Recently I tried this at another ice cream place where I knew they made banana splits so they had bananas on hand and they refused.  My first memory of doing this was in college at the ice cream counter on campus. They didn't serve banana splits but I asked them, "if I go get a banana, will you make me a banana split with just some ice cream?"  They stared at me but I convinced them and they did it and it was excellent. Wow, I am remembering all kinds of things involving me and bananas.  In fact, I'd better include a picture of my favorite sweatshirt:

go, banana!
Which brings us to today and my recipe.  (I really need a "jump to recipe" button.) I didn't measure anything so here's my recipe for:

 )en's Frozen Choco-Banana Blitz
(I can't think of a good name for this at all. I have tried several.) 

1. pour some banana milk into a blender
2. throw in some frozen banana pieces
3. add cocoa powder. 
4. blend
5. add more of these ingredients to suit your needs. Or wait, "to taste."


A very satisfactory replacement for chocolate milkshakes or iced chocolates or whatever frozen chocolate drink you need in your life, for chocolate + banana is a match made in heaven, and ever shall be.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Little Things

There's an old saying that goes, "it's the little things."  I think it was Confucious who said it. It's very profound.  But I believe in its power.  I often mentally and verbally (and literally)  make this statement and keep coming back to the point that seems to want to remind the world to come back to the basics, that life is really about the simple joys.  I take note of the simple joys and mark them in my mental notebook as another tally in favor for joy, the mark of a good day, of what can make a day good as long as it's noticed, recorded.

Julian had a rough night of sleep last night. Still, he got himself up and dressed. Hair-mussed and adorably puffy-faced, he came downstairs and talked to me and read a little and ate breakfast. He's probably too old for this but he tolerated me spraying his hair even though he haaates it.  He hugged the cats, shared some life philosophies, and then before he left, asked me, "Mom, can I take this book to school?"  It was one from our collection of Roald Dahls-- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He and I are currently reading a murder mystery and in his wakefulness in the nighttime he needed something lighthearted so a little RD is what he chose.  And it just reeeally warmed my heart. That he loves to read, that he is reading Roald Dahl, and that he wanted to take it to school to keep reading.  It's the kind of moment where suddenly, you see everything culminating to it flash before your eyes. That crazy flash-forward montage you see in movies.  All the steps leading to here--

FLASH: Me reading it as a kid and swearing one day to write like this.  FLASH: Me buying these books as an adult.  FLASH: Hoping to read them to a kid. FLASH: Having baby. FLASH: reading them to him when he's old enough (which we have, by now. Most of them at least). FLASH: him being old enough to read them himself. FLASH: today, this morning, that moment.

It is the little things.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Of Cats and Bones

After my last lovey post about cats, today, I have something else to say. Last summer it came to pass that I broke some toes but didn't know it until weeks later.  It was the dumbest thing ever and has been the biggest thorn in my whole left side since then.  Allow me to tell the tale. Also, you're in luck because I have illustrations (photo and drawn).

First, here's how it initially happened.  The Big Fat (cat) was near me and in a state of being wild and crazy. His primal instincts kick in and he develops a simple need to hunt and kill, no biggie. When this happens he has to be shut away or if he can he'll sneak out into the night to sow his wild oats.  But he is utterly unknown to himself. It's like he transforms from a cat to a were-cat. Very few differences. But oftentimes when this happens we'll have a standoff. I have come to be able to read his signs very well and know what he's feeling and what he plans to do.  Often when we face off, he'll accept the challenge and I do all I can to be the dominant one. It's a battle of wits and prowess. Me, with commanding voice and height but zero claws and boring human teeth, vs him, with animal instinct, insane reflexes, and, of course, sharp claws and teeth, though small and short, with wimpy voice. With finger in air, I scold and warn him he does NOT want to attack me or he'll be very sorry.  "NOOO! NO" i say. Finger held aloft. He usually submits but not without a short pounce and a nip at the ankle that isn't very hard. He just has to get his nip in so he can quietly tell himself, "I won. Me. I did." 

Well, one day, such a thing occurred and he looked particularly out of his mind with aggression. He wasn't, but I have to get over my own instinctual fear of cats hunting me but unfortunately have yet to be 100% successful. So, when he did pounce, which wasn't very hard, I completely and insanely overreacted and reflex-kicked to the side to avoid getting a bite (which again, is never hard) and rammed my ever-loving foot SO HARD into the stair that I was unwittingly standing very close to. Too close to.  Illustration:

"SON OF A BIH!!" I may have yelled.  It was a doozy.  I held my foot and cursed the cat a good long while, as one would do.  The toes were red and angry but I did nothing to mend them for nothing was broken that I could see, and after a few tender days, they more or less felt fine. I didn't know that little compact toe bones can still move even if they're broken.  Fast forward a few weeks when my toes feel ok but my ankle starts bugging me quite a lot.  It was all very new and mysterious to me as I had not, up until this point, ever broken a bone (to my knowledge, anyway. more on that) nor had any similar injury.  But I put two and two together and guessed this new ankle pain had something to do with my toes and the EFFING CAT.  (still mad)

So I made an appointment with the podiatrist and they took some x-rays and sure enough, I had broken two toes with that initial stair kick. Also, he pointed out to me, I had apparently broken another, different toe long ago. What?!  And I seemed to recall a bad day long ago when my pinky toe suffered greatly but couldn't remember details.

The ankle, of course, was due to tendinitis from walking on the outside of my foot because I was tendering those poor broken toes, numbers three and four. So I bought an expensive brace and learned how to wrap my toes which I did for a while which was annoying. Any time someone would ask me what happened I would have to tell them the slightly embarrassing but still rage-filled story. It was just so stupid. So stupid. Stupid... [echo]

Well, since then, and what I think is due to cursing my cat (I should know better) he has inflicted a curse of his own on me, for I have shockingly repeatedly injured these same toes on countless occasions. Countless.  Often it's tripping over stools, whose legs jut out a little bit and are in cahoots with the cat.  One day, waaay too soon after the initial injury I slammed those toes so hard into the stool leg I just knew I had rebroken something. It was awful and I had to try so hard to hold in my curses because I was afraid of what would happen. I started to get really freaked out that my toes would eventually just shrivel up and fall off after being beaten and battered so many times. The same toes.

Well, the cat wasn't just in cahoots with the stools but with the kitten as well.  One day I was descending those same fateful stairs when I spotted, too late, the kitten reclining leisurely on one of the stairs. I think I may have been carrying something too, like a basket of laundry or something, because I feel like my vision was obstructed.  Not wanting to step on her, I stepped on the air over her, which is impossible, so what happened was I sort of stumbled down the rest of the stairs, on my toes bent over forward. Yaaaay.  To illustrate:

see my folded-over toes?

Of course, I still blamed the big cat for this because I can't be mad at the kitten. But seriously?? Again? AGAIN WITH CATS?! This time, I took a picture because are you effing kidding me. It's important to mention here that this injury occurred on my second toe. At the time, I had assumed I had originally broken my second and third toes and was re-injuring my second toe. Sean and I had some debate over it, as he was one who frequently helped me tape them, and thought it had been numbers three and four.  But, it was a year ago, so the details were hazy for both of us.  But I saw the bruise and thought, there, surely that's done it. These toes are toast.  Pics:

bruise right above my thumb

feet are disgusting and i'm sorry

That was several months ago. And I guess over time, since I kept hurting my toes (over...and over... and over again), I began to subconsciously-- you guessed it-- walk funny again, thus bringing on the tendinitis. This of course affected not only my ankle (again) but also my knee something terrible. And I knew it was only a matter of time before it would get to my hip and take down every last joint I had.  Recently, my whole left leg was completely gimpy and the pains spotted the land, this time with numbness and tingling. Ugh. It hurt to walk, lift my leg to climb stairs (like, my knee could not handle a suspended leg) sit, cross my legs, or wear shoes that were remotely tight.  And, once again, I shook two bitter fists to the heavens above, forever to rue that pivotal day last summer when all of this SHIZ began.

One morning, due to the new developments of the worrisome tingling, numbness, and general pain (even though I knew for that, i prob just needed to put the brace back on), I decided to make another appointment with ye olde podiatrist, just to confirm all of my theories, tell my tale of woe, and see if I could do anything to avoid that old neuropathy. It was early in the morning that I made this decision, because I remember wondering when the office would be open and that i'd try to schedule it as soon as it did.  Immediately after having this thought, I then TRIPPED OVER THE KITCHEN MAT and freaking BUSTED number two AGAINNNNNNNN.   Like, completely folded over. Again. {cry cry cry}

Same toe, different bruise:

different nail polish so you know it's legit. also my whole left hand looks bruised. ignore that.

This time it was bruised at the joint same as above but also at the space below, directly above my thumb. I should have drawn circles on these pictures.  But yeah... {deep breath} are... you... seriously...effing...freaking...fudging...kidding me. Like, what is happening?!?!?!?  Am I dragging my feet now? Dragging my toes?  Are they truly so gimpy that they just simply catch on things now? Are they jello now? Do I start calling them jello toes? with jello bones?  I had no answers except for the cat's curse.

It had become par for the course for me to injure a toe on my left foot on any given day, at any given moment.  It was laughable that I had done it again on the day I had planned to schedule an appointment. Also, this was when I still thought the original broken toes were two and three, not three and four, as it turned out to be.  We discovered that later that day when I was in the foot doctor's office and, after having told my tale of woe, congratulated number two for joining the ranks (ol' pinky toe was a long ago veteran that never even got to have a moment of recognition).  The doc said the neuropathy didn't seem severe and would probably go away after a week or two.  I wasn't jazzed about this guy because he was super distracted and I had just finished explaining my foot and leg had been hurting and going numb for a good couple of weeks so... like.. it takes four weeks to fully heal? But, then, I hurt my toe again that morning so maybe that reset the healing. I don't know.  I opted to not have an x-ray even though I'm super curious to see if  that second toe was broken. It was bruised for days and I find that I must be gentle on it.  I guess I'll just find out when I have another severe toe injury sometime down the road and get it x-ray'ed then.

So that's where I am now.  My knee is better (thankfully) and my ankle is struggling but I'm back to taping the toes and wearing the brace, which helps. I'm thinking I'll probably do this for.. the rest of my life? Just to be safe?   Sitting here, my final thought about all this stupid, stupid business is how that darn cat seems to have won in the end, after all.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Hidden Kitten

Time to talk about cats.  I told some people the other day that I could honestly and sincerely talk about my cats for the longest time. We all laughed and then I continued to do so, to everyone's discomfort (but mine).

When we got our second cat last December i learned a lesson. It was: OH YEAH, I AM ALLERGIC TO CATS.  Just her special recipe of dander, apparently, because the big one never bothered me like this.  I sneeze approximately 1,000 times a day. I am seriously considering tracking how many times because I really want to know. I've gotten really good at it, too. I let each sneeze out like a cannon, loud and hard, fast and free. KA-BOOM.  That's my achoo. And it's funny, every time I do it, it's so hard and feels so complete, I think to myself, there, now. Surely that's the last one. Surely I got it all out. There can be nothing left to sneeze. I will never sneeze again.  But no, I am always wrong.  I always do.  But I do think this every time. Maybe this'll be it... finally...
The little one is all grown up, yet like all babies of the family, she will always be a kitten.  She is also our favorite and we all beg for her love which she doles out sparingly and randomly.  We think she may be on edge a lot due to the Big Fat but she is calming down a little bit more each day. I think. It's hard to tell. I also wonder how much human contact she had before we got her.

The other night Sean and I were watching TV and normally what happens is she will jump on the couch, I think in search of love and affection, not know how to get it, get scared and bolt off the couch and flee.  She'll do this multiple times in an evening.  Well, this night we were sitting there and she jumped up, we reacted very calmly and rationally ("hold absolutely still. her nerves are based on movement") and she actually curled up and laid down next to us! Even touching one of us! It was magical. We felt so lucky, so privileged, so humbled.

We love a lot of things about her.  One of those things is how, amidst her nervousness, she'll sometimes flop right in front of us and roll over, exposing her soft snowy white belly which is the greatest gift of all. We don't know why she flops. Maybe her fear turns into paralysis (omg, I just typed "paralyzation" over and over for FAR too long)  which is sad. Or, I think I've read that some cats are just floppy. I think this might be an attribute of the rag doll cat breed?  Anyway, it cracks me up every time.  Sometimes when she's flopped near the edge of the couch on the floor, we cannot resist and must plunge our hands into her soft belly and she'll just roll underneath out of our reach. Julian calls her a cinnamon roll and I'm like dang, that would have been the perfect name.

Another thing I love about her is how she loves to go outside but won't go far.  Also, if we don't crack open the door a bit, she'll freak out and come back, crying to be let in.  She just needs to know she can come home if she wants to.  Yesterday she was out in the backyard along the fence and I opened the door and called out to her to come in.  She mew'ed back and we talked back and forth like this several times, "Come on! I need to go! Come on in!"  "mew!"  She doesn't use her voice much so when she does, i love it. Anyway, I said, "ok, then, I'll come near you and then you'll have to escape."  So that's what i did. I just walked over to her and she darted back into the house.  It's like she really didn't want to come in but is also a little scared of me which is also sad but it's not from neglect or for lack of effort on my part, I assure you.

But one thing I love most of all is how she loves to hide.  She feels safer, I think, if she can burrow in somewhere.  Often this is under the blanket on the cat chair.  If she can make a tunnel out of something, she will, and she will snooze there and be so happy.  This presents hazards, of course, if we were to want to sit on that chair or our bed. We have to be careful. I've shown this picture before but it's worth another view.  We generally don't let the cats in our room but sometimes I can't help it with the little one.

This next picture is just the two cats trying to get at me (or something) in the bathroom. They sometimes fight, they sometimes play and chase, she's kind of obsessed with him, he doesn't usually care until he wants to.  But when they do things like this together, it sort of warms my heart and just makes me laugh.

What I love most about her hiding tendencies is how she's often not totally hidden even though she thinks she is and I know that's how she'd wish to be.  She'll run and hide but juuuust barely. She'll tuck herself underneath a dresser or bench and almost always, some little part of her will be sticking out and we'll be like, "ohhh look who's so hidden! Where is that little cat? I just can't see her anywhere."    Examples:

kitten burrito!

where, oh, where?

When this happens, it is physically impossible not to boop whatever is poking out, which she hates, but we do it anyway.

Ha ha ha, she's sticking out sooo far. This looks mid-hide but no, she was lying there, completely still.

 But I know she wants to be hidden. Just kills me.  "Good job, you! Found a gooood hiding place. No one will find you there." 

I spy! Also, look at the nice big blue couch chew toy we got for our cats. 
the little pawzzzz
peakaboo! Julian and I squeal and fawn over stuff like this. In fact, most of the time it's Julian who initially points these kinds of things out to me. As he should.  Too cute. Also: curled paw!

Here's one of the big cat so he doesn't feel left out. He loves my bed but I do not allow it. However, the other day I left the door open and he snuck in and seized his moment. When I returned I found this, but what made me laugh was his wide, fearful eyes. He knows he's not allowed on my bed but I could just hear him say, "I want to be here- LET ME STAY HERE. JUST LET ME STAY. SEE, I'M SLEEPING."

So that's about it about the cats for this weektoday, now. Speaking of, I just went downstairs and saw her standing at the open doorway, staring at me like a statue.  I think she wants to go out but feels anxious and needs a friend, so I will go get my book and appease her wishes.

Thursday, August 29, 2019


Julian turned ten a few days ago.  TEN. Honestly, it's hard for me to even find the words to celebrate him. There's just so much there and some of it quite complicated.  Once again, about a week before his birthday, something was going on... I can't remember what exactly but I looked at him and he looked at me and I said, "Oh. You're ten now. It happened."    Turning ten is huge, the "first big number," as poet Billy Collins said. And there are a lot of examples where this is true and maybe I'll put them down here:

1.  Julian had a birthday party this year. His first ever, where it was just kids, no parents and actual games and activities planned.  In all the years before we would have a park gathering with cake and a pinata and then when we moved here where no one goes to parks, we invited people over and did basically the same thing.  One year, for his 7th birthday, we did invite kids and people for a dance party but parents were included and we didn't do anything but set up a dance floor with spinning lights and music and Julian was there about 30% of the time. But it was freakin' fun for those of us who just needed to get our dance on to ring out the end of summer.   This year he said he'd like a party and we considered it and realized he could handle it whereas years before, we conjectured he'd likely end up being the birthday kid who had to spend it in his bedroom due to overwhelmed'ness and hard to control emotions.  Also it always sounded like a big drag to me, i'll be honest.

But, we decided we could do it and he deserved it. He invited 12 kids, boys and girls.  He thought of the jello-eating contest which was awesome. We had three categories of prizes: the clean award, speed award, and style award. Prizes were school supplies- ha ha ha. But cool ones, like black pencils and a battery-operated pencil sharpener.

We also had pin the glasses on Julian and a huge inflatable water slide.  Always a winner.

We played a get-to-know-you game called Three Weird Things. I made everyone come with three weird things about themselves to share because I celebrate weirdness and it's much more fun to have weird things in common than something normal.  If, when you said your weird thing, someone else said "me too!" you both get an M&M from the bowl.  The kids were hesitant at first but after someone started sharing, the others warmed up and it was pretty magical. I especially loved when the twins would share things like "[holiday] is my half-birthday."  "me too!"  Good job, twins.

Beforehand, he and I practiced how to receive gifts. I'd throw out different things and make him practice responding nicely and equally to each one:

"Smelly sock!"

"This is great, thank you!"

"Lego set you've been wanting for a long time! Keep it fair."

"Oh, awesome, so thoughtful, thank you!"

He did so well and, though I could tell he had some party overload, he kept up the enthusiasm and graciousness.

So, he's come a long way.

2. School started three days later.  He began the 4th grade and wanted to ride his bike to school. He got a new bike lock and was excited about it.  I jogged along with him realizing how silly it was. Because he clearly didn't need me and I couldn't even keep up. After helping him lock up the bike, we hugged and parted ways.  This is a huuuuuuge difference from a few years ago when he would cling to me and cry and I'd have to peel him off me, shove him in and slam the door.  Last year he was pretty nervous but had a friend in his class.  This year he didn't know of any friend in his class and still was a-ok to go on his own.   His independence astonishes me more and more. I guess all of this is pretty standard but still, it's so weird when kids change so drastically and you're like, what?

3. He's not afraid to be alone. He doesn't have a lot of friends but he's content to either be on his own or join the group, whoever it is.  He'll play with kids and never learn their name.  It's amazing to me. I often remark to Sean how I'd have never done that as a kid. But then, i didn't have to, I had all these siblings.  He often tells me stories from school, how sometimes he'll eat lunch alone or sometimes he'll find some people or they'll find him.  He is so nonplussed about it. I admire that so much.  Such a champ.

Other things about Julian:

4. He generally thinks fast food is gross. (Except for you, Chik-fil-A. {heart}) It could be one of his Weird Things.

5. He will spontaneously declare, "Life is a gift!"  I think I've been morbidly telling him his whole life to just be grateful for every new day because you never know what's going to happen. But I stand by it. I think I heard a quote from Black Panther about how, if a parent doesn't prepare his/her child for the parent's death, they will have failed as a parent.  And I was like, yeah! Yeah.

6. He loves to read with me. I've decided you're never too old to be read to and even if you are, I don't care, I'm still going to do it when you're 18.   We read a bunch of books together this summer and it's my favorite thing.

7. We were sitting together one day talking about life and things and I casually mentioned a hypothetical situation describing if he were to get mad at me for something and he said to me, "Mom, I've never been mad at you!"  And I sat there and choked up a little when I realized he's right. He's never been mad at me. He's been upset and frustrated and super rage-y at times but I was never the subject.   And I vowed to never be mad at him again. I might get upset or angry too, but it will never go to him.

8.  He apologizes for things from the past, so unnecessarily. Things where he recognizes it might have been difficult for me.  For example, I used to take him to a kid hair cutting place in Bklyn that was also a toy store with cool toys and a train table. Like, it was the best. The seats for the haircuts were race cars and you could choose a movie to watch.  But it was a struggle. One day not long ago, he said to me, "Remember that haircut place I used to get my hair cut at? I HATED it. I am SO SORRY."   He was four when we moved away.

9. And a good quote from several months ago:

"Reality never agrees with my ideas! I have all these good ideas and reality RUINS IT."  {cry face}

10. And one from a few days ago:

"I don't think I make very good sarcasm, and I'm going to have to when I have kids."    

True story, son. Let's keep practicing.

To close, I'm experiencing a shift, a turn of the tide.  Like I'm stepping way and Sean's stepping forward. They go on bike rides or running every night to make sure they both get in some exercise. He has taken Julian camping a few times this summer. I told Sean I wanted him to go and teach him everything.  It is weird though, to be #1 for ten years and then be like, I think less of me would be better. I guess all parents have a moment where they realize they need to step back and this has been a big one for me. He's growing up and I just hope I don't get in his way.

To really close, I should like to leave the poem by aforementioned Billy Collins. It's a little depressing but that never deterred me none. I read it on Julian's birthday to some family members and again at a friend gathering some days later and bummed everyone out. But I love it:

On Turning Ten
Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.


Now for a bunch of pictures.
"Why would anyone sit in a chair normally when you can sit sideways?" CONCUR.

Sean always reluctantly makes me a sand sculpture and then does it way too close to the water.
This one was wiped out 30 seconds after this picture. Sort of makes me mad. 

As much as he loves it, Julian is freaked out at the ocean and insists on wearing this life jacket, which I fully support. 

There are too many pics here but I realized I am much better at printing blog books than I am regular photo albums. 
hiking buddies
piano practice: a separate universe.

recital time

all the awards

make yourself at home, julian. honestly, it's his happy place. here he is reading and giggling like crazy on the nasty library couch, making it nastier with a full sprawl. 

Sean sent this to me the other day and said they're still working on braking. But check out the skid mark! Also this was exactly how he looked. Sean made him freeze after the crash so that he could take a pic. Good job, Sean.
Occasionally we try to carry Julian how we used to. Sometimes I'll have Sean hoist Julian up onto me so I can carry him on my hip for .2 seconds before I collapse and break all my bones. 

To prolong the bedtime, I'm sure, Julian always has something up his sleeve as he's getting ready for bed. Often it's a skit or performance of some kind with costumes. This one was a presentation of "Julian Two" and.. ho-ly crap, i'm shook. He actually did apologize for the terrifying antler feet; it was all he could find. We were like, "so you wanna go to bed with that thing there?? Nighty night." 

We took him school shopping even though he didn't really need anything nor care about anything except for finding a sport coat. He is hoping to look really cool this year and this jacket fit the bill.  So dang funny. He couldn't decide between a normal blazer and a velvet one. We urged him to choose the velvet, which he did, and it is awesome. Cracks me up.

We made buttons at a museum a few days ago and he asked me to pin his to his bum. I asked him if I could put this pic on Instagram and he said no but he didn't say anything about my blog and I didn't ask. 

another Seansterpiece

backyard party

everywhere but.
I was really proud of the gift bags filled with Julian-specific items + a few extras:
boxes of jello
instant mac 'n cheese
trident gum
post-its and erasers
little practical joke/prank toys
kitty cat bookmarks
and i can't remember what else. but it all made me laugh. "here's your box of jello, thanks for coming!"

official summer list of 2019. well done, everybody.
And the first day of fourth grade. Teacher: Mrs. Kaylor.  Feelings: Quite ambivalent.

"Well, here's to another year of pain and suffering!" 

this blog post brought to you by bedtime bathroom selfies.