single-parenting, Uncategorized

The Weekly Recap: R.I.P. Wonder Woman Mug

Sunday morning trip to Memphis

Last weekend, May Lee and I took an impromptu trip to Memphis to buy a birthday present for my dad. It turned out to be a lovely little day trip. During the drive over, we listened to The Greatest Showman soundtrack, playing the song “The Other Side” over and over so that May Lee and I could perfect our duet.

“You be Mr. Barnum this time!” May Lee would instruct, or “Let’s switch and you be Mr. Bailey!”

Sometimes we’d pause our rehearsals to argue passionately about what the lyrics to the song REALLY are. Currently, May Lee holds the high score for the most creative lyrics, and I hold the high score for accuracy. I try not squash her inaccurate and completely humorous lyrics with my need for accuracy, because it works in my favor when she replaces the swear words with “meow”. It cracks me up every time.

We rolled into town just a few minutes late for services at one of our favorite, local churches. When church was over, we ate lunch with friends at Memphis Pizza Café, one of my favorite spots. As has been my tradition at any Memphis Pizza Café location for over a decade, I picked up The Memphis Flyer as soon as I walked in. Then, I sat down at a table and ordered a Greek salad and a slice of pizza. The only thing that really varies in this equation is the kind of pizza I’ll order, as that selection is entirely dependent upon the state of my spirit. That day, my spirit said Hawaiian, which turned out to be an excellent choice.

 The Petting Zoo: What is thriving and what is not

We are down to 1 goldfish of the original seven. What strong stock must this remaining fish be made of that it has outlasted all the others? I fear that it is a female goldfish and that she is secretly harboring eggs. I fear that she will lay these eggs and that one morning we will wake up and there will be an entire, new generation of goldfish for us to care for in a cycle that will never end.

The turtle also continues to thrive. I suppose it is time to find a permanent location for her, also. Maybe she should move in with the goldfish, seeing is how they are both determined to survive living in this household.

The dog continues to be himself. Although, he appears to be less motivated to eat the cats these days. It could be the heat that has decreased his desire to chase and annoy the felines.

Speaking of felines, Tidden continues to be charming and mischievous, but Emmy Lou has taken on a new level of weird. For the last several days, she has taken to spending hours sitting in the dark on top of the toilet in May Lee’s bathroom. From the shadows, she will meow loudly at various, random times with no discernible provocation. May Lee and I will pop our heads in from time to time to check on her, and there she’ll be, staring off into space with the tip of her tiny, pink tongue sticking out of her mouth.

I fear that this may be the end of the line for her, and that some neurodegenerative cat disease that will ultimately cause her demise is overtaking her. But I’ve harbored this concern off and on for several years now, and yet here she is: alive and well and meowing from her perch on the toilet lid. Carry on, Emmy Lou. Carry on.

 When coffee betrays

This afternoon, after I woke up from a power nap on the couch, I couldn’t shake off the nap-induced haze and decided to make a cup of coffee. As the coffee brewed, I prepared my prized Wonder Woman mug by filling the bottom with Cheesecake Factory Strawberry Cheesecake creamer. (It sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? Strawberry Cheesecake creamer?! I was horrified when I saw it at the grocery store, and then I bought it anyway. I can’t explain myself sometimes.)

I filled the rest of the mug with coffee, slid my middle 3 fingers through the handle, and turned to walk into the living room. I can’t fully explain what happened next, outside of some sort of temporary, epileptic convulsion, because why else would the synapses in my brain betray me by sending messages to my arms and hands to completely lose control of the cup of steaming, hot coffee?

Coffee spillThe mug seemed to slide out of my right hand, causing my left hand to attempt to quickly grasp the errant mug in order to prevent the impending doom. What my left hand actually did, however, was send the mug spiraling into the air while coffee sprayed out in every direction. The mug hit the floor, sending ocean waves of coffee in every direction. I gasped loudly as coffee splashed up and all over my jaw, neck, chest, shoulders, arms, stomach, and legs. Pools of coffee formed in my flip-flops beneath my feet.

With my mouth hanging open and my brain frantically trying to assess the burn factor on my skin, my eyes surveyed the damage. The Wonder Woman mug was in pieces large and small. Pools of coffee were on the floor and spreading out with every second that passed. Coffee was dripping down from the cabinets, the stove, and the island.

I probably stood there for a full 2 minutes letting my brain click through it’s processing procedures:

Am I horribly burned? -“No. I’m actually good.”

How long will it take me to clean this mess? – “Most likely the rest of eternity. Maybe 10 years, if I’m lucky. Or perhaps a span of 3 years is a more reasonable amount of time to expect to find coffee droplets everywhere I turn in my kitchen, no matter how well I may clean it up now.”

Is my coffee mug completely destroyed? – “Yes, it seems irreparable.”

Do I smell like an incredibly delicious dessert? – “Yes, the strawberry scent of that creamer is strong, and coffee always smells heavenly.”

Is my skin becoming stickier by the second? – “It is going to take no less than 3 showers to remove the adhesive powers of this coffee creamer from my skin.”

In the meantime, May Lee was carefully collecting the fragments of the coffee mug and trying to console me with her optimistic belief that we could Gorilla Glue it back together. Still mostly in a daze, I slipped off my flip-flops and started laying down towels over the enormous mess on the floor, first using the towels to wipe the coffee from my neck, arms, legs, and feet.

In what turned out to be a crucial mistake, I neglected to put the flip-flops back on my feet after toweling them off. After placing a towel over an enormous puddle, I turned to retrieve another towel and felt the sting of glass in my heel. Hobbling over to the cleaner part of the floor, I removed the shard from my foot and proceeded to drip blood into my flip-flop.

It was in this moment of complete chaos where I found myself surrounded by blood and coffee stained towels and blood and coffee filled flip-flops that my child decided to make the clean up process into a game of make-believe.

“Let’s pretend the king and queen are coming to our house!” she said.

“Oh dear Lord,” was my only reply.

“They are coming in 5 weeks, so we have to get this place totally cleaned up!” she continued.

I smiled, because her imagination and willingness to help clean up was completely endearing. And yet, this make believe game of the king and queen coming to visit my house while coffee and blood mingled together everywhere I turned stressed me out so badly. My grown up brain knew very well that the king and queen were not actually coming to our house, but the stress in my body kept saying that their arrival was imminent. Apparently, my imagination is just as strong as hers.

We continued to scrub while May Lee happily pretended that the king and queen were coming. I kept chanting to myself that none of this was really happening, because denial is my favorite of the unhealthy coping skills.

It was at this point in the pandemonium that I realized what an enormous betrayal this really was. I was depending on coffee to help me make it through the rest of the day. It was to be the supplier of the inner fortitude required to play imagination games, clean the house, and listen to no less than 1000 of May Lee’s antidotes. Yet, here I was attempting to clean an enormous mess and to respond when and how I’m supposed to respond in this game of make believe with NO COFFEE. Then to add insult to injury, any coffee I may have from this point on would not be in my Wonder Woman coffee mug, which was a gift from my roommate at my last trauma-training module. The matching mugs were a symbol of our sisterhood of survival.

Sigh, I suppose we will survive even this.

I paused mid-cleanup to brew another cup of coffee, selecting the mug bearing the logo of the local funeral home. It seemed most appropriate for the occasion.

I suppose that we will be required to wear shoes in the kitchen and will be finding stray droplets of coffee for the next several weeks. Perhaps we’ll even try to superglue the mug back together and use it to hold pencils or for some other decorative purpose. Through it all, I will be drinking coffee, even though I feel hurt and betrayed at the moment.

You see, coffee and I have a long-standing relationship based in deep and abiding love, and where there is deep and abiding love, there is always forgiveness. With love, forgiveness, and coffee by my side, I can always find the strength to bid a heartfelt fare-thee-well to gentle creatures (such as goldfish) and symbols of sisterhood and thereby release them into the universe.

R.I.P Wonder Woman mug. You will be missed.

Mom, single-parenting, Uncategorized

The Handsome Thief

This year began with the need for home improvement projects, as a flurry of repairs presented themselves at the hands, or paws, of the latest addition to our family.

IMG_3927I call him the handsome thief. He is the Ocean’s 11 George Clooney of the feline set: all handsome and distinguished-looking but always up to no good, cozying up to you in order to relieve you of your valuables. Or in this case, your ponytail holders.

I bought a brand new pack of hair ties, and within a week, I was down to one or two that I could locate when I needed one. I went with the most simple and obvious solution first; I shut the door to the bathroom. Having observed us opening doors a time or two and with the promise of a gold mine of ponytail holders calling to him like sirens, he quickly figured out how to open the door to the bathroom. He now freely lets himself into any room in the house that he desires to enter.

I can’t even begin to express how irritating this is.

Let me take a moment here to offer some home design advice. I know the lever door handles look nice, but if you have or ever plan to have toddlers or pets in your home, go with doorknobs. If one lacks developed fine motor skills or opposable thumbs, one struggles with a doorknob. The doorknob is a friend to parents and pet owners who would like to simply close a door to prevent disaster. Such peace only comes with doorknobs.

Next, I tried storing the ties in the bathroom drawer rather than on the counter. Within the day, Tidden (his real name) was opening the drawer and helping himself.

After that, I tried placing them on the bathroom shelf, and this is where I realized my fatal error: HE SAW ME PUT THEM AWAY. I tried to act casual and remedy my mistake. I pretended that I was placing something else on that shelf that bore no resemblance to a ponytail holder. “Oh, look at this can of dry shampoo that needs to be put away. Let me place it up here on this shelf where nothing enticing to felines lives.” Yet, his interest remained. He cased those shelves for weeks, plotting his heist.

My daughter came to me during that time with a several ponytail holders she found buried underneath the living room rug.

“Do you want me to put them on your bathroom shelf?” she politely offered.

“No! No, we have to play it cool! He’s onto us! Act like the shelves don’t exist. Completely ignore them, otherwise he’s going to try to jump up there, “ I advised like any rational and logical cat-owner would.

My daughter looked confused, but she went with it. Even if she thought I was insane, she had heard the tales of Shiva, the cat we had when she was a baby. Shiva pulled the shelves off of our living room wall, very nearly taking out the TV in the process. These are the important pieces of family history that get passed down in this house.

The very next day, while we were still cleaning up from Christmas festivities and preparing for the New Year, we heard it. The Great Crash from the back of the house that could only be my bathroom shelf bouncing off the toilet before crashing to the tiled floor. Seconds later, a blur of white fur tore past us, eyes wide, ears flat, moving quickly and erratically as if his tail were on fire.

Since then, I have tried other hiding places. He discovered that I was sneaking them into the Glam Bag that Sephora sent in my monthly subscription box. I realized this upon entering the bathroom and finding the contents of the bag emptied into the sink and the ponytail holders conspicuously missing. The silver lining to this super annoying cloud is that I rediscovered the Vintage shade of Anastasia Lip Gloss that solved my months long hunt for the perfect lip color.

Having exhausted all my options for securing my hair ties, I have given up the will to fight this battle and have resorted to wearing the remaining hair ties on my wrist or otherwise keeping them on my person.IMG_3988

A couple of weeks after The Great Shelf Crash, Stax, in a display of solidarity to his feline brother, escaped the backyard. About this time last year, he did the same thing, causing me to realize that he also understood how levers work.

Again, I urge you to avoid all lever closures in your home, to include the gates on your fences.

This time, somehow, he pulled the padlock off of the chain wrapped around the fence that was placed there to ensure that he could not open the gate even if he lifted the lever.

So, off I went on yet another trip to the hardware store to purchase yet another padlock. This time, I shelled out the extra dollars for the super-deluxe-theft-proof padlock. I asked the salesman if that also meant Labrador proof. He paused for a moment, filing this away on his list of interesting customer service experiences, then replied, “I don’t know. How strong is your dog?”

Good question. I guess we’ll soon find out.

Christian, Mom, single-parenting, Uncategorized

The Weekly Recap:

Hello, friends. It has been quite the week. I haven’t had any stories to tell you about Stax and Emmy Lou, because they have done nothing outrageous as of late. Stax has taken to barking non-stop between the hours of 5 and 6 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. This has earned him some extra time in his crate, but other than that, he’s been mostly well-behaved.

Emmy Lou has also cycled back into a demeanor that is relatively easy to live with. Interestingly enough, she has taken up a new habit of running everywhere she goes. There is no smug, feline saunter through the hallway anymore; it is a full blown sprint on those tiny, little legs. It sounds as if a couple of speedy garden gnomes have taken up residence in our house. Come to think of it, this started right after I flea treated her. Perhaps the chemicals went to her head, subsequently stabilizing her mood and igniting her motor system. The running seems like a small price to pay for a nice cat.

img_2480Speaking of igniting, the biggest story of the week is my shower door, which betrayed me greatly. I finished my shower, turned off the water, and opened the door to exit the shower. Hardware flew with all the popping and jet propulsion of 4th of July fireworks, and with no hardware left on the hinges, the door pulled away from my grasping fingers and fell sideways leaving me exposed and completely perplexed by what was happening. Once I picked my jaw up off the tile floor and wrapped myself in a towel, I removed the door from its sideways resting place in my wall. Now it sits behind the bathroom door, waiting for me to move past my feelings of betrayal and into forgiveness so that I may return it to its rightful home.

img_2455May Lee kicked off her week with a surprise teddy bear sitting on our front steps that we discovered as we were getting into the car to go to church on Sunday morning. We don’t know who left it there for her, but we have several suspects in mind. My little girl is blessed to have so many people that love on her and pour into her life. In the afternoon, we attended the Fall Fest for our church. May Lee dressed as a renaissance princess, ran off and played with a boy most of the time, ate a bucket full of candy, and generally ignored most of the things I asked her to do. This independence thing is hard on both of us!  


As far as school and work, it has been a busy week for both of us. May Lee was able to attend a musical, and she recounted the entire plot to me with her own brilliant theatrics later that day. The girl has real talent in the arts and drama department. She also had a field trip to the zoo. My work has a whole lot of construction going on, and we are all very excited to see the progress. Our schedule has also changed, and I am still in the middle of transitioning to new job responsibilities. So, deep breath, we have been off of our normal routine this week. To compensate, I’ve been eating lots of treats. What can I say, old habits die hard.

A new, delicious, life-giving treat crossed my path this week and turned my world upside down. I have no self-control with these candies. I shamelessly ate them by the handful and made multiple trips back to the box for more. If you like peppermint and taffy, you need to try Lammes Peppermint Kisses. They are amazing.

Tomorrow is May Lee’s last soccer game, so our Saturdays are going to feel pretty empty after this. She has been blessed with a great coach, great teammates, and great parents of those teammates. It has been a pretty great first experience with soccer, and we’ll be looking forward to the spring season starting. In the meantime, we will enjoy the break and the slower pace.

I hope you all have plans for relaxation and fun this weekend! Blessings!

Christian, Mom, single-parenting, Uncategorized

Stax Ate the Internet & Emmy Lou Needs Deliverance

Because I do not fear fate or learn from experience, I seem to continue to invite disaster upon myself. This week I caught myself thinking, “Emmy Lou and Stax have really been low-key this week. I don’t really have any stories to tell about them.” This set off some sort of alarm in my animal’s highly developed foolish owner radar, and they immediately set about creating all sorts of havoc.

img_2265Emmy Lou has continued her reign of terror by sitting upon or lounging across items May Lee and I are currently trying to use. We have both received small yet painful puncture wounds as a result of attempting to retrieve our items from beneath that cursed animal. But it is not only the two of us that have been on the receiving end of her hostile attitude. When the pleasantly outgoing and super friendly pizza man came bearing the large pepperoni and black olive pizza that May Lee and I adore, the cat proceeded to hiss and spit at him as if he were delivering a box full of snakes or trying to baptize her with fire and water.

The new set up with PVC

During most of this time, Stax had been a complete joy. We were back to throwing the Frisbee and snuggling like old friends. Then, I came home on Friday looking forward to and in deep need of a restful weekend only to discover that Stax had eaten the internet. This was not his first time to eat the internet either, so measures had previously been taken to ensure that he could no longer reach the cable running to the house. In order to eat the internet this time, he had to some how work around the modified fence placed around the cable and the lawn chair turned upside down and placed against this fence in hopes of discouraging his mighty Labrador nose from butting into any crevices that may eventually open up with consistent nose-prodding and allow him to access the cable with his teeth. Somehow, without disturbing the upside down lawn chair, he managed to find and chew the internet cable.

By now, the true tragedy of this occurrence has probably made its way into your consciousness. No internet means no Netflix and chill. No Netflix and chill while I am battling illness and have weekend plans that revolve entirely around pajamas and movies. I made it through part of the weekend by viewing May Lee’s selections of Brave, Strawberry Shortcake, and Madagascar 2. When that got old, which happened quickly, we made a trip to the library where I stocked up on books to tide me over in the absence of internet access. The tales of the Kennedy men kept me entertained the rest of the weekend.

You may think that since the dog was in major trouble that the cat would have again taken the opportunity to secure her place as “the good child”, if only temporarily. Instead, she saw what the dog had done and raised the angry owner factor to the next level. She took a golden opportunity and quite literally pooped on it, and that was only after she was done urinating on it. And by it, I mean my bedding while I was happily sleeping underneath it.

At this point, I’m not really concerned about the fact that the geriatric cat may have finally lost her final marble. As far as I’m concerned, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

Y’all pray for this cat. She needs deliverance. Deliverance and a new home, preferably in heaven….if she can get in the gate.

Christian, single-parenting, Uncategorized

Just Call Me Ethel: The Adventures of Stax the Conveniently Forgetful and Emmy Lou the Evil

Where should I even begin when it comes to telling the tales of the animals that share my house? I think it is fair to say that both creatures are certifiably insane, but I feel that my life would be a great deal emptier and certainly less comedic if they were not a part of it. However, it would make things a tad bit easier if either one of them could behave themselves.

img_2265For example, when a neighbor and her sweet dog comes over to our yard for a chat, it would be nice if Emmy Lou, the cat, didn’t full out charge the neighbor dog and leave claw marks running down the poor animal’s side. Also, when your friend and her son come to stay for the weekend, it would be nice not to feel that I must arm the child with a foam dollar store sword and instruct him to beat the cat with it should she nip him in the arm again. And finally, it would be much appreciated if yet another neighbor, with both dog and child in tow, could enjoy a leisurely chat with me on my front porch without the constant stare of glassy cat eyes and the twitching ears threatening impending doom at any moment.

You may be tempted to think that the cat has had a good long life, and it would be the best for everyone if her entrance into kitty heaven were somehow expedited. After all, she has had thirteen, possibly fourteen, great years on this earth. One can never be too sure about the birth dates of animals one retrieves from the backside of a shed that is on the property of a business establishment that you also suspect to be housing a bookie operation. I blame Emmy Lou’s rough edges on her early upbringing and pray that one day she will accept salvation in full. Until then, her “guard cat” status in this house appeases my child’s various and ever-changing fears of the night. May Lee may have a reasonable and completely healthy fear of that cat, but she sure does sleep well when Emmy Lou is curled up at the foot of her bed. For now, the cat has secured her place in this home by affording me a decent night’s sleep.

mlstaxThen there is Stax, the yellow lab pup without a home. I think the first thing that we have learned in this story is that I am a sucker for animals in need of a home. Yet, as I write this, Stax has been outside of my back door barking for several minutes and for no apparent reason, because he is not at all enthusiastic in his barks. There is clearly no urgent danger about to descend upon our house. He just feels like being heard, I guess.

To give him credit, he has calmed down since his “surgery”. He no longer throws all of his 80 pounds into my back storm door every time I go inside after feeding him. Stax and I have actually enjoyed throwing the frisbee around in the afternoons, because he is now calm enough to follow commands, like “drop it”. In fact, I was throwing the frisbee for him on Sunday afternoon as I was walking to the shed to get the lawnmower out. It was all fine and dandy until I stopped to pour gasoline into the mower. This is when Stax abandoned the frisbee and trotted off with the plastic carton of lawnmower motor oil in his mouth instead. He also conveniently failed to recall that he knows the command “drop it”, even though he had consistently and obediently dropped the frisbee into my outstretched hand several times just moments before. He was not, however, going to drop the motor oil. He trotted to the left of me, then trotted to the right of me while always coming close enough to taunt me into playing his game of keep away but remaining just out of arm’s reach. All the while, he never failed to hold his head up high as if to parade his superiority at this infuriating game of fetch.

I tried to run through the back door to grab the treats, a sure fire way to ensure compliance to conveniently forgotten commands. But of course, the back door was locked, because I had entered the yard through the side gate and not the back door. I banged on the door for May Lee to let me in. By the time she got there and fumbled with the lock a few times, Stax was circling close, and I was still fruitlessly calling for him to “drop it!!!”. I attempted to snag him, but he alluded me, tossing his head wildly as if to rub in my complete and total incompetence. May Lee opened the door at this point, and I turned to climb the steps. As I did, I heard the thump of the oil carton hitting the ground and turned just in time to see the carton burst open, it’s ghost-like contents spilling onto the grass. Somehow I made it to the carton before the dog did. Perhaps he had his first taste of motor oil and was no longer intrigued with this particular game of keep-away, and this significant drop in labrador motivation allowed me the time to move in. Whatever the case may have been, he earned himself some time in the crate while I mowed the lawn. Even so, I think the scoreboard would reflect that he won that round.

It’s hard to say who could benefit the most from calling in an animal trainer: the crazy cat, the impulsive labrador, or the owner full of good intentions who can easily match the blessed animal’s insanity and impulsivity on any given day of the week. I think for now we’ll just say that “it is what it is” and enjoy the comedy, much like one enjoys the I Love Lucy show… if Lucy happened to be a labrador and Ricky were a cat. As for me, just call me Ethel.

Christian, Mom, single-parenting, Uncategorized

The Weekly Recap: Snickerdoodle Lattes, An Empty Purse, and a Farm for Christmas



This week has continued to be insanely busy with to-do lists that are never-ending. My ability to multi-task has grown substantially, and I think that is due in part to the fact that I’m sitting down and planning my week. I’m not getting it all done, but the structure is helping me use my time more efficiently. I’m working errands and tasks into the margins, so to speak, and I feel like I was rewarded handsomely for my efforts when I set out on my Monday lunch break to run an errand that would end up killing 3 birds with one stone.

A while ago- we’re talking a couple of months, maybe longer- a FedEx package was mistakenly delivered to my house. After a couple of futile attempts to get the package to its rightful owner, I queried the FedEx guys who delivers to my job about what to do with it. He suggested taking it to Mr. Postman.

Monday, I finally pulled into the parking lot of Mr. Postman with the mystery package, my Stitch Fix items to return, and a bill to mail. Friends, let me tell you, when I opened those doors and crossed that threshold, I was in heaven. I was so bumfuzzled by the divine aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the sight of cafe tables and chairs, and the dazzling collection of adorable home decor and gift items that I must have looked like Dorothy taking her first steps into the land of Oz. Somehow I communicated to the barista the nature of my shipping needs, and she took care of me well. Once that errand was complete, I eagerly chatted with her about their selection of coffees, ordered a snickerdoodle latte, and perused the many treasures in the shop while my coffee was being made. I have to say, this sweet little find may have been the highlight of my week

staxThe next morning presented a challenge, as it was Stax’s surgery day. After his escape from the backyard last week, it seemed clear that I could no longer delay getting him neutered. He was also due for some vaccinations, so my excuses for delaying the inevitable were running out. To get him ready for the vet is no small thing. I legitimately need the skills of a rodeo cowboy to get Big Yellow into his harness, but we managed to get to the vet where he promptly marked his territory 3 times. Bless that staff. One of them even helped me get him into the car after the surgery. On the way out of the clinic, we were talking about how confused Stax must be, to which the staff person remarked “Yep, he came in with a full purse and is leaving with an empty one”. I don’t know why, but that cracked me up.

As for my growing girl, it has been another great week. I can no longer escape the fact that May Lee is growing and maturing in leaps and bounds. Last week at her soccer game, she performed the chicken dance and numerous somersaults but gave very little effort to playing the game or following the coach’s directions. During one of the breaks, we had the following talk:

Me: May Lee, I want you to go out there and make a WHOLE BUNCH of mistakes. Like, hundreds of them.

May Lee: Huh?

Me: Yes, I want you to go out there and make a whole bunch of mistakes. I’d rather you make a whole bunch of mistakes than not try at all. And listen to your coach and do what she says.

May Lee ran out of the field and continued on in the same fashion as before. However, during soccer practice this week, I could tell a difference. She was “in it” and not so hesitant. She was trying instead of letting herself get intimidated by her own fears. I was a proud mama. This was quickly followed by another proud moment when we got home and she read 3 little books to me that she had made at school. She’s really growing and coming into her own.

May Lee is also pumped for the upcoming holiday season. She celebrated the first day of fall then immediately asked how many days until Christmas. She cannot decide what she would like to be for Halloween or whether she would like to dress as a pilgrim or a Native American for her school’s Thanksgiving Feast, but she does know what she would like for Christmas. Her Christmas list is as follows: horse, pony, unicorn, kitten, puppy, turtle, an Octonaut set, and toys of all our friends and family. When I heard that last one, I immediately pictured all of our friends and family members as little bobble-head dolls, then I giggled a little bit and wondered if I could actually make that happen.

As for the health journey, I’ve been doing pretty well, but I’ve been really hungry the last couple of days. Plus, I’ve been a little stressed. Therefore, I have indulged, but I don’t really feel guilty about it. I’ve come a long way with being mindful about whether I am eating out of true hunger versus eating because I’m stressed. What I am bummed about is not doing my new morning exercise routine the last couple of mornings. I think I feel more bummed about the missed exercise, because I can tell the biggest difference in my body from the exercise and not the diet change. I haven’t been doing that routine for very long, but just stretching and doing some crunches in the morning has really relieved my aches and pains and my brain fog. So, I’m thinking missing these last couple of days has set in stone my resolve to incorporate exercise of any kind into a lifelong, daily routine.
The weekend ahead looks like it is going to be just as full as our week, with soccer, lots of school assignments, and pulling together a donation for the silent auction at May Lee’s school. But we are going to make time for fun as well as business and hit up a local festival. Maybe a $5 pony ride will satisfy the pony craving and remove said animal from the Christmas list. One can always hope.

Christian, Mom, single-parenting

The Road Trip

Details kill me, and the final hours of prepping for a road trip are nothing but details. It’s brutal. I hate it. So therefore, I make the process much easier on myself by doing things like changing my mind last minute about arrangements for my dog. However, in a flurry of text messages, I was able to secure a last minute dog-sitter to come to the house, and this solved so many problems related to travel and getting back at a certain time to pick up Stax from the vet, not to mention the additional costs of boarding at the vet. I breathed a giant sigh of relief and went to bed Thursday night with that stress off of my mind.

I woke Friday morning to the ripping sounds of the dog pulling apart the fabric of his stuffed duck. This noise carried on long enough to pull me out of the haze of half-sleep to being awake enough to feel like it was important to make sure the ripping noise was in fact the stuffed duck and not one of May Lee’s precious stuffed animals. I rolled over and Stax raised his head to look at me with his giant, pleading eyes and perky, puppy ears while my shredded bra dangled from his mouth. Of course my dog would eat my one good t-shirt bra on the morning that we leave for vacation. Who wants to wear white at the beach anyway? That is the yin and yang of vacation planning: by securing a dog-sitter, I relieved myself of additional expenses and errands, but by failing to secure the dog in his crate that night, I ensured that those savings would now be invested in a new bra and that one of the first places we would visit at the beach would be the local JC Penney. Come to think of it and ironically enough, I bought that now shredded bra at the Panama City Beach JC Penney. The circle of life and what not…

After leaving work at 1 to run errands and pack up the car, I was right on time to pick up May Lee at the first stop for the camp bus. Then, we were off on our beach adventure! Except, it was dinnertime and she was starving, so we hadn’t even made it out of town before we were driving through the Chick-Fil-A for dinner. We stopped several more times for bathrooms, making this 4-hour trip feel like it lasted for all of eternity. When we finally did pull up to the Holiday Inn Express, we were greeted by a line of tween boys in various stages of dress but all wearing uniform baseball hats coming of the sliding double doors. “Baseball team?” I asked the woman checking us in. “Yes,” she said “Half of them just filed outside and the other half are in the pool”. She also informed me that we were getting the Jacuzzi king, since it was the only room left in the hotel, so that seemed to make up for sharing the place with a tween baseball league.

I grabbed a luggage cart and May Lee hopped on for a ride. It is my single-parent travel survival trick. When one has to get all the luggage in while also corralling the child, it is much easier and efficient to make sure the child can ride on the cart. We made our way outside, and I noted that chaperones nursing beers had finally made their way outside. The boys were nowhere in sight, but from the ruckus coming from behind the tall fence of bushes, I assumed that they were doing whatever tween boys on a traveling baseball team do in that general area. One of the chaperones looked at May Lee and said “Fun! Can I ride the cart too?!” May Lee just giggled. The woman then looked at me and said, “Bless you” with knowing and sympathetic eyes. I didn’t know what to make of that comment….was that pity? Was that empathy, because she also had her hands full with a team of young teenage boys and also a beer, which I can only assume was to help cope with the tween baseball team? Whatever the intention was behind it, I simply said “Thank you” because I’m not one to pass up a free blessing.

The next morning, we ate breakfast with the baseball crowd and attempted to navigate our way in and around them as they packed their cars full of gear and children and I packed up my one child that could still easily fit on the luggage rack. These dedicated parents were chasing boys and their siblings while wrestling with no small amount of baseball equipment. I couldn’t help but think that I had the way easier deal this morning, and I had a new found respect for the mom who blessed me last night as I watched her herd 4 boys into her car. Solidarity sister!

May Lee and I were feeling good as we took off down the highway. She was in the back seat exclaiming, “I can’t WAIT to be at the beach! I can’t WAIT to dig in the sand!” I realized that I had forgotten to get gas before we got on the highway, so we stopped about an hour later to get gas and use the restroom. The station was full of other beach-going families, some going to the beach and some returning home. All of them were generating an enormous amount of noise. I quickly shuffled May Lee to the bathroom, hoping we could make a quick exit from this place before my nerves were completely shot. May Lee was doing her half-panicked dance around this unfamiliar toilet and I was trying to coax her on it so we could leave this insane place! She finally acquiesced and went to the bathroom while 2 more families filed in. We exited the stall just as a mom with a child screaming the shrillest cry I’ve ever heard entered the bathroom. We quickly washed hands and were ready to get the heck out of there when I realized that I didn’t have my keys. The image of my keys hanging on the hook inside of the bathroom stall flashed before my eyes as I remembered hanging them there during May Lee’s unfamiliar potty dance.

What is the least creepy way to get your keys back from a now occupied toilet stall while the child next in line for the bathroom continues to scream at levels that threaten to rupture your eardrums? I didn’t know. I didn’t care. I posted up outside that bathroom stall, and when the woman exited I shot inside before anyone else could get in there and grabbed my keys. As I bolted out of the stall, I grabbed May Lee by the arm and essentially flew her like a kite out of the bathroom door and out of that infernal gas station.

We were happily back on the road in minutes and made it all the way through Birmingham without incident. We had planned to stop for lunch outside of Birmingham, but we hit a traffic jam just as we merged onto the highway out of town. I thought we could wait it out easily and stick to our original plan, but that was not to be. We were still in traffic and hour later, and we starving and in desperate need of a bathroom. I got off the highway at the next exit, only to discover that the only thing at this exit was a Home Depot. Good enough. We walked through the aisles of appliances, paint, and freshly cut wood to the bathroom. When we got back outside to the parking lot, we decided that we might as well break open the cooler and each lunch right there. So PB&J with Doritos was had by all, and we enjoyed it immensely.

Once our tummies were satisfied, we made our way back onto the highway and into the traffic jam. After 20 minutes, we decided to take advantage of our slow pace and get some fresh air. We rolled the windows down and said hello to our fellow traffic jam neighbors. We were, after all, surrounded by other cars packed to the gills with all manner of beach paraphernalia. These were our people, might as well say hello. Once the pace picked up a little and we could no longer socialize, we cranked up the tunes and had a little song and dance party. It passed the time and made the whole stuck-in-traffic-for-all-eternity thing a little more bearable.

I would like to say that once we were out of Birmingham that traffic died down, but that was not the case. We were in beach traffic from Birmingham to the coast, and it added 2 hours to our trip. But we did arrive, and we executed our luggage cart routine all over again. There are pieces of our travel routine that we have down to a science, and then there are the details that continue to be the bane of my existence. Either way, I sure enjoy this time with my girl. She is growing up so fast and pretty soon she will actually be able to drive the car on our road trips instead of just pretending to from the back seat while shouting at me to “just turn all ready!”. And really, that’s what this trip is all about, making memories and spending uninterrupted time with my girl. I’m excited about the memories we will make during this trip, so stay tuned!