Marathon Monday

Today is Marathon Monday in Boston, the first day of Massachusetts’s spring break, and also Patriots’ Day. It’s Marathon Monday that drew me home this weekend – away from my non-vacationing classroom in Pennsylvania. My father’s running his 14th – or possibly 15th or 16th, he hasn’t kept track – Boston Marathon and if he runs, I cheer.

My first memory is of cheering in the crowds – only really able to see a smear of legs at they passed my toddler eyes and my mother’s too-close, over-smiley face as she bent down and asked excitedly, “Tiff, did you see him? Did you see Daddy?”

I’m sure I lied and nodded. Then she plopped me in a stroller, grabbed my older sister’s hand and pushed me through the crowd to our next cheering vantage point.

I loved it.

I love it. The energy of the runners. The names block-printed in sharpie down arms & thighs. The runners in costumes. The runners on teams. The serious runners. The runners who worry they can’t make it up the next hill. Or the one after that. Or the next one. The course is not flat.

I’m a great cheerer too! If you’ve got your name somewhere on your body, I will yell it out. I will clap, smile and tell you that you are the fastest, bestest, enduring-est runner, and I’ll ask you when you’re going to start sweating, because you’re just making it look too easy. Or I’ll tell you how proud I am of how far you’ve made it, and I just know you can keep going.

The runners LOVE me. My mom and St. Matt tend to slowly edge away, which suits me fine because then I have more room to wave my arms while cheering.

Now that I’m taller than kneecaps, I love being able to look into that sea of runners and pick out my father. There’s a my-heart-might-pop-with-pride feeling that comes from spotting him and knowing all the adverse weather, business travel, and injuries he’s overcome in order to prepare for 26.2 miles on one of the most grueling courses.

Last year he finished in 3:33: approximately 8-minute-miles: 26.2 of them. His best time was 2:37: approximately sub 6-minute miles: still 26.2 of them. Want to join me in a pride-splosion?

I have a post-marathon tendency to think, perhaps, next year, I could join him out there. Maybe I should start training for a marathon. Look how great this is! There are older people, heavier people, runners with so many braces they’re practically bionic. I could do that.

And then I get injured.

So, I’m putting this in writing. Do. Not. Let. Me. Start. Training. For. A. Marathon.

5K’s? Sure. Easy. 5-miler? That’s okay. Any distance longer than that and I might as well start asking for the physical therapy referral now.

I repeat: Do. Not. Let. Me. Start. Training. For. A. Marathon.

And start brewing the post-race tea & honey now. My father will need it for lungs that sawed 26.2 miles. I’ll need its voice-restorative powers because post-race, post-pride-splosion hugs, I’m back in the car and making the reverse of Friday’s journey so I can be back in the classroom tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow after school, no matter how inspired I feel, no matter how beautiful the weather is, or how loudly the trails by my house call my name: Do. Not. Let. Me. Start. Training. For. A. Marathon.

St. Matt may need to hide my running shoes.

Brick

There’s a brick tied with pink ribbon that sits on the floor beside the bureau in my childhood bedroom. It was a gift from four of my best friends in high school. The same ones I met for lunch today and girls’ night in Boston yesterday.

As we settled into our chairs and rattled off our drink orders, the restaurant’s speakers began to play I Who Will Save Your Soul by Jewel, a song that came out in 1996, our sophomore year.
“It feels like I come back to Massachusetts and I’m back in high school,” I observed.
Except it’s not like that at all. When I came home last night the door was unlocked and the lights were on, but it was my husband waiting up for me, not my parents. And he wasn’t sitting there to smell my breath and make sure I hadn’t broken curfew, he was waiting up to hear my stories and give me a good night kiss.

Today at lunch we didn’t talk teachers and tests, Friday night plans and boys. We talked bosses and jobs, wedding plans and babies. But when the check arrives, we still pass it to the same person to compute the math, and we know who to ask to if we need chapstick. Fourteen years after we banded together as naïve freshman, we still know our places within the group – we’ve grown and matured, but haven’t outgrown each other.

The back of my bedroom door is now naked. Bare of everything except a small oval tile painted with a red rose and the words: Tiffany’s room. This tile used to be surrounded by collages made by friends, posters of Scott Wolf, Jonathan Brandis and Leonardo DiCaprio. Photos from dances, beach trips, and goof-around days used to paper my walls and frame my mirror. My bureau used to be buried below Bath and Body Works body splashes, tubs and tubes of Lip Smackers and the tiny paper triangles of intricately folded notes. The antique sewing desk where I pretended to study for bio and chem tests has been replaced by a massive table where my father stacks papers and tax files. My antique twin-sized sleigh bed has been upgraded for a you’re-now-married queen.

But the mural I painted the summer before I turned 16 is still on the wall. My ceiling still sparkles with the glitter thrown upon the painted clouds. The pink hoop-skirted, parasol holding doll lamp my father brought back from Paris when I was eight, still illuminates my bureau (and still sports the electric blue eyeshadow I painted on her at nine).

And there’s still a pink ribbon-tied brick on the floor directly inside the door. A brick from my high school, collected by my friends when our school was torn down and before the replacement structure was built. A brick tied with pink ribbon to remind me no matter how far I go from home, how much things change, and how long I’m gone, I still belong here.

#Coffeefail

There are a few things I can depend upon in this world. The emphasis here is in things, not people. There are lots of people I can depend upon. This blog is about things. Well, about one thing in particular.

Coffee.

But lately I’ve experienced a new and rather scary phenomenon: #coffeefail. It has happened three times. **

Coffeefail –1: The time last week where I nearly feel asleep during the five minute drive home from the coffee shop. I should have been in caffeinated bliss, but I was uber-dozy and St. Matt had to poke me to get me out of the car.

Coffeefail –2: The day a few weeks back when it became all too apparent why I don’t make the coffee in our household. While driving home after work, I’d decided a post-school pot would be necessary if I wanted to stay awake until St. Matt arrived home around 7. How tricky could it possibly be? I’d seen St. Matt do it enough times.

After I opened the package with a little too much anticipation – creating coffee-confetti that Puggle #2 was more than happy to start licking up – I figured I’d make up for the missing grounds by adding hot cocoa powder.

Apparently this is a no-no. And apparently I’m the only one in the world who didn’t know this. If you were also excluded from this crucial piece of information, learn from my mistake. Don’t do it. Ever.

Coffeefail – 3: This morning I stumbled downstairs around six. I was in bleary post-roadtrip disorientation. I should know my childhood home with my eyes closed, but my mom keeps moving stuff. And buying new stuff.

Like a new coffeemaker.

It’s pretty. Red. Metal. Shiny. It has lots of buttons and display screens. I was flummoxed. St. Matt was baffled. There are multiple filters & compartments – where does the coffee go? How do I make it come out? Crisis.

I stared at it with my best puppy-dog-lip-quivering face – hoping it would take pity and magically begin brewing. It’s pretty fancy, I thought it might have a sensor that detected critical-caffeine-deprivation. Instead it just blinked from three different LED lights.

St. Matt must have sensed how close I was to haphazardly pressing buttons and pouring grounds in all orifices. “Back away, Tiffany. We’ll ask your parents.”

I sat on the floor until they woke up. Saved!

But, wait. They don’t know how to use it either! They don’t drink coffee. Mom bought it for our visit, but couldn’t remember where she put the directions. And she thought it might need filters, but she’d forgotten to buy any.

I might have been quietly rocking and moaning by this point. Puggle #2 might have come to sit in my lap to offer puppy kisses.

I turned to Twitter for solace while St. Matt and Dad hunted down the directions and determined filters were needed. Dad fiddled with buttons and programmed the clock. St. Matt grabbed car keys and pulled me off the floor.

“Let’s go get filters.”

“Coffee FIRST.”

So Dunkin Donuts for coffee, then Stop ‘n Shop for filters, then home for more coffee. Crisis averted.

I still, however, do not understand the logic of a coffee maker that’s smarter than its owners. Why would the designers needlessly complicate something users will be handling before they are properly caffeinated?

Coffee makers need exactly one button. I can read: Coffee, Go!, or Don’t-worry-buddy-caffeine’s-on-it’s-way. Even better, coffee makers should have a sensor: when eyelids part, percolating commences.

That would be #coffeewin

**I realize examples two and three are not actually the fault of coffee, but they still resulted in my failing to maintain the appropriate level of caffeine in my bloodstream, so I include them in #coffeefail.

Watch out Boston, Here I come!

There’s a song that they sing when they take to the highway


And conveniently that is a line from my song; the song that I sing when we prepare to make the six hour trek from Doylestown to my childhood home in Massachusetts.

We’ll be making that drive today as soon as I hit “publish post” – I can’t wait!

I LOVE roadtrips. I always have. When we were younger, we drove 11 hours each way to get to our beach home in P.E.I.. The drive was always one of my favorite parts of the vacation. I also enjoyed lobster cookouts on the beach, seeing the Anne of Green Gables musical over and over, chocolate-chip pancakes at the Morell Diner, dune races… but the car trip would have made my top 10 list.

Well, I should clarify: the first eight hours were enjoyable. By hour nine my sister would have gotten carsick, the boys would have run out of Gameboy batteries and resorted to he’s-looking-at-me, no-I’m-not, he’s-breathing-on-my-side, and the dogs would be panting and drooling down my neck. The 10th hour was the most awful; we’d all have to pee, but my parents would pull their we’re-almost-there, not-much-farther, can’t-you-hold-it? Occasionally Nick couldn’t.

And worst of all, I’d have run out of books. Not all my books for the trip – my mom knew better than to give me access to all of them at once. But I’d have finished the 3-4 she’d parsed out to me for the drive.

That was the whole joy of the car ride – I’d willingly accept the seat in the back row on the non-door-side of the caravan because I didn’t want to be bothered. Who cares about the extra leg room? I didn’t have to let people climb over me to get out. I didn’t have to reach for things in the cooler or pass out napkins and juice boxes. I didn’t have to hold the dogs’ leashes when the sliding door was opened.

I could slip on my foam padded walkman headphones, turn up the volume on Belinda Carlisle or New Kids on the Block, and flip open a book.

I’d spend a few hours with the Sweet Valley Twins, totally enamored with Jessica and her Unicorn Club, but accepting that I was much more of an Elizabeth.

My sister would poke me when we stopped for gas or food and hand me a leash.

Somethings never change.

Have you figured out my road trip song? Here’s another hint:

Now the first of December was covered with snow
And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go


I have to give St. Matt some credit. He won’t let me get away with tuning him out for the whole ride, which is only fair since I make him do all the driving. When we were first dating I would read book aloud to him. This worked. Sorta. Except, when he got out to pump gas, I would stealthily read ahead and then try and get away with just summarizing when he got back in.

Now we do audiobooks. He’s okay with me tuning him out – as long as he has something to tune into. There are strict pause-button policies that go into affect during any bathroom breaks, gas refilling, puggle pit stops, or if I think of something I need to write down thisveryminutesoIdon’tforget.

Today– we’ve got Airhead by Meg Cabot, Feed by M.T. Anderson, and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E.Lockhart.

And of course we also have music too – it may not be Circle in the Sand or Hanging Tough, but I’ll be singing just as loudly and just as off-key.

And of course I’ll also be singing…

Goodnight, you moonlight ladies
Rockabye, sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won’t you let me go down in my dreams?
And rockabye, sweet baby James

Not a James Taylor fan? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered:

How about a true Boston band? Guster:
The sooner you leave, the sooner you’re home
Back in Massachusetts

Or Augustana:

♫I think I’ll go to Boston…
Yes, I think I will. Now.
….Pity poor St. Matt, writing this has put me in a singing mood and he’ll have six hours in the car to listen to ALL of my road trip songs. (Suggestions welcome!)

Tiaras + Books + Friday Eve = Smiles

I’m not naturally an unhappy person. Naturally I’m a please-keep-her-away-from-sugar-because-she’s-already-overly-effusive person. But I don’t compartmentalize well and I wear my heart on my sleeve (even when I’m wearing strapless). My puh-puh-puh-poker face? It’s a mythical creature more elusive than the unicorn. If something exciting happens, I radiate; if something scary happens, I tremble; if something upsetting happens, I bawl. And when something devastating happens, I shut down.

Luckily, while I may not compartmentalize, I am very easily distracted.
I needed something to distract me right now. (Distraction Fairy, where art thou?!) There is no better way to distract myself than doing something good for others – especially when it involves books!

Enter Operation Teen Book Drop! (See http://www.readergirlz.com/ for more information). As soon as I hit ‘post’ on this blog, St. Matt and I are off to purchase and drop books. I’ve got my bookplates and glue sticks ready to go and a list of potential drop sites color-coded and annotated. I’m so excited to buy books for others and have spent far too much time thinking about which titles I want to share.

I’ve already got tomorrow’s Distraction Fairy lined up too. TIARA DAY! This is a Susan Adrian suggestion that I may have taken a little too literally. I know people will post tiara’d avatars on Twitter, but do other people actually wear their tiaras? Because I am. Not only will I be wearing a tiara, but my kiddos will be as well.

It has been decreed, tomorrow will be Tiara Day in room 202! We voted, and even the boys decided ‘Tiara Day’ sounds far better than any gender-neutral version. Royal Headwear Day? Please. Besides, many of my boys plan on borrowing their sisters’ tiaras and rockin’ some rhinestones. This may have been influenced by my (male) vice-principal’s announcement that he would join us in our tiara endeavors. We will also listen to ♫Punk Rock Princess♫ a frightening number of times. Can’t wait!

Know this now, when I tweet, blog, or otherwise visit the cyber-world tomorrow, I will be doing it bejeweled, with a magnanimous royal wave, and while keeping my chin up and my Distraction Fairy occupied.

Hubris & Bitter Irony

Today’s been a day to survive and endure so that it can become tomorrow. I have to keep shrugging off the guilt-cloak that accompanies getting what you indiscriminately, casually wish for. I didn’t cause this – it’s just an awful coincidence. Why do I assume responsibility for things I can’t control?

Three years ago when we decided to get a second puggle, the breeder sent us eight photos and told us to choose the future-Bruschi-Schmidt.

St. Matt and I agonized over the pictures. I wanted them ALL; he wanted #512 or #514. I wanted a boy to balance Biscotti’s pink-collar’edness. He pointed to #’s 512 & 514.
In the end we chose 514 to become our Bru-pup, but what if 512 had become Bruschi Schmidt instead? We wouldn’t have ended up with a dog whose tail wags in his sleep, who Hoovers his dinner without chewing, and whose extreme underbite causes ‘Elvis lip;’ those characteristics are unique to 514.

And #514, what would’ve happened to him? I like to think he has the best possible life as a Schmidt puggle: full of tormenting Biscotti, Doggie Day Care, a garden to snitch green beans from, and two humans to snuggle each night.

But maybe that’s not true. Maybe 514 would’ve been better off named Otis Magee, living with a retired librarian in Wyoming or equally happy as Zeus Foster with a California family of four.
I shouldn’t fool myself into thinking 514’s happiness depended on me choosing him over 512, or assume that 512 is miserable because we didn’t pick him.

My hubris continues into teaching; I manage to convince myself that I’m the best one to teach ‘my’ kiddos – and I’ll come to school sick because I hate turning my kiddos over to a substitute.

I lose the perspective: I only get to borrow these little ones for nine months – same as the teachers before me, same as the ones they’ll have next year. They’re aren’t mine at all. If any of the ‘Schmidties’ had been placed in room 201 or 203 instead of my room, they would’ve been just fine. The fact that this group of kiddos is on my roster means I’ll love them and I’ll teach them to the best of my ability – but it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have succeeded without me.

And as a writer, the things I scrawl on paper can’t cause things to happen – so amid all the other emotions I’m processing today, I shouldn’t add guilt.

But I have, because the irony’s too bitter not to leave me guilty.

In TBALMCSAP the protagonist deals with something awful, something I’ve luckily never had to experience, and that has required much research. Yet, even in my gratitude, I’ve often thought: God, it’s hard to put myself in that position and I have so many questions, if only…

Today I was handed a cursed opportunity to find answers because someone I love was dealt the same situation as my MC.

It’d be hubris to think I caused this, but the guilt lingers. I wish I’d never wanted a clearer ability to empathize and I half-wish I’d never written the MS. My first instinct on hearing the news was to barter: I’d scrap the writing project indefinitely if everything would work out fine in real life.

But life doesn’t work like that – my writing neither caused this, nor can it affect the outcome. I can tell myself this, I can write it, I can call it hubris, but there’s guilt nonetheless.

There’s also wisdom; in this case not mine. It came from a wise friend, who reminded me that my research for the book prepares me for what’s to come and equips me to be a support system. Rather than abandon TBALMCSAP, she pointed out that it’ll be richer for this experience and may someday be a resource for someone learning what I learned today and going through this terrible experience.

I know she’s right, and I’m tugging at the strings, but right now my guilt-cloak is terror-tightened and laden with research notes.

Conferences aren’t all they’re CRACKED UP TO BE

Today’s blog isn’t going to be all hyped up with jellybean-inspired hyperness or toilet-tweezers antics. On the whole, it’ll be more serious than my usual hijinx.

Last night I read Courtney Summer’s Cracked Up to Be. I planned on starting it while I worked out and made it all the way to the basement before I cracked the cover while tying my sneakers. I was absorbed instantly and stumbled my way over the elliptical with my eyes glued to the pages and my hand groping for the buttons on the display. I punched a few of these to set it for hill intervals and turned my total attention to the book.

I didn’t lift my eyes from the words until St.Matt came clomping down the stairs wearing a sleepy but less-than-saintly expression and carrying all our bedding.
“What’s wrong?”
“Bruschi peed on me!”
“He did what? Why?”
“I don’t know – I was sleeping!”
“Did you take him out?”
“Well there’s really no reason to now, is there?”
I nodded solemnly and managed to wait until he walked into the laundry room before giggling.

After starting the washer, St.Matt came to stand by the elliptical.
“Good book?” He was really asking: Are you going to going to bed anytime soon?
“Excellent.” which is Tiffany-speak for: I’ll be finishing this book before I even begin thinking about sleep.
“How’s your workout going?”
“Good, it seems really easy today. I’ve been on for –”
I lifted the book to check the display and saw it flashing 00:00. I hadn’t hit start. This is why I need wait until after I get on the elliptical to crack the cover a book.
“I’ve been on for 31 pages,” I answered him as I pressed the start button.

I stayed on until I hit page 97, then I had to get off because it was too hard to breathe. Not because I was tired (although I bet I was by that point – I just wasn’t paying attention). I couldn’t breathe because I was crying, because all the air had been sucked out of the room.

Before I go any further, I want to say I think this book should be required reading for all high schoolers and all high school parents. It’s only fair to warn you, you won’t all like what you read, but it’s realistic and honest.

I wandered upstairs to the couch to finish the book – stopping periodically to take some deep breaths and unclench my tension tightened hands. I wanted/ want to save Parker – to save every child like her. And Summer’s honest writing doesn’t allow the reader to keep a safe emotional distance from Parker’s pain.

When I finished reading my chest was tight and my abs hurt from sobs. I had to focus on the inhales and exhales and tell myself: it’s just a story, it’s not real.

Except, for a lot teens – it is. Maybe not Parker’s exact story, but the sense of identity tied to perfection is an overwhelming and impossible reality.

Cracked Up to Be was both the ideal and an awful book to read the night before portfolio conferences with my class. In my district, students attend their spring parent-teacher conference, which focuses on identifying their strengths and weaknesses and setting a few, specific academic goals for them work on in the final semester.

Can you imagine an experience more anxiety-inspiring than walking into a room where your parents and teacher are going to discuss your strengths and weakness – and expect you to participate?

With Parker fresh in my mind, all I wanted to do was give each of my kiddos a hug, say: “You’re amazing, you’re loved, and I’m so proud of you.”

While the actual conferences did comprise of more than those sentiments — I did, after all, have twenty minutes with each kiddo — I hope they all left knowing those three things. Because they are, every one of them, amazing, loved, and impressive. I hope that if they ever enter into a Parker-type-period, they remember this and remember no matter how flawed they feel or what mistakes they’ve made, they’re still amazing, loved, and I’m still proud of them.

There’s a reason I have the following Emerson quote hanging on the door of classroom so it’s the last thing the kiddos see before leaving each day:

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered withyour old nonsense.

No matter what happens on any given day, I truly expect the kiddos to come back the next one and impress me again.

Because they are so amazing, so loved, and I’m so proud of them.

Dust of 100 Dogs & Heat of 1000 Blushes

I wanted to be a vet for a whole week when I was little. This career path followed right after my I’m-going-to-be-an-astronaut phase, which was curtailed after I tried to dress my infant brother in my Astronaut Cabbage Patch’s outfit: helmet and all.

The vet phase was also short lived. Lasting exactly as long as it took for me to discover that vets don’t just play with puppies all day: they also have to treat sick dogs, put dogs to sleep, and deal with blood. Also, my mother pointed out to me, vets don’t just treat dogs. They treat all sorts of animals. Including snakes. When I just prefer giving my pets CBD infused dog treats that are natural and they enjoy them.

I decided I wanted to be a Sea World trainer instead. It’s a good thing I changed my mind about this too, because that career path would ultimately not have worked out for me; as evidenced by the fact I hyperventilated at 19 while at Stingray City in the Caymen Islands.

I’ve outgrown my eight-year-old career indecision, but I haven’t outgrown my phobias about blood or snakes. I also haven’t outgrown my sensitivity to all-sad-dog-things. Twenty years later, Stonefox still makes me teary. Winning the race was NOT worth it!

So I was a big wimp – a bigger drama queen – and made a fuss about reading Dust of 100 Dogs. I bought it, I looked at it, I built all sorts of scary theories in my head….
And then I finally read it.

That’s when I realized: I’M AN IDIOT. The book is not about a pirate who kills 100 dogs. (Yes, that is one of the plotlines I invented).

A.S.King’s book is unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a beautiful mix of historical, with current, with fantastic. I loved the structure of the book – the past, the present, the dog training facts – each facet worked together to tell a story that transcended the parts. (And I’ll freely admit that for each Dog Fact, I did a mental inventory of the puggles. They pass.)

Sidenote: the characters’ names are awesome too! Saffron and Emer have made their way onto the list of potential names for the distant-future-residents of the NTB.

Sure there were intense scenes – but I handled them. Part of me thinks I should get a merit badge for bravery, but a bigger part feels ridiculous for being such a wuss. Imagine what I’d have missed out on if I had talked myself out of reading this. It’s like brussels sprouts – how long did I resist those? Now I love them!

I was so inspired by my outstanding bravery and King’s equally outstanding prose, that today at the bookstore I picked up another book with a scary cover: Bliss by Lauren Myracle.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll start talking myself into reading it.

My Miraculous Anti-Aging Treatment & Jellybeans

Tonight’s blog is brought to you courtesy of Starburst Jellybeans.

I’m reverse-aging. Really I am. Every time St. Matt and I step through the doors of my in-law’s house, we lose a couple of years. If I spent a week there, I might resume sucking my thumb and carrying around a bedraggled Pound Puppy (Cuddles, I miss you!).

The effects are not always immediately noticeable, but by 8:30 last night, I was already college-aged again. Partially to blame for this transformation is St. Matt’s best friend since 4th grade, college roommate, and the best man from our wedding. A.K.A. – the man who knows enough to blackmail St. Matt for all he’s worth. In the interest of his privacy (and so you don’t contact him for incriminating stories), let’s call him Speedbump. Yes, there is a story behind that nickname and YES I will gladly tell it if anyone asks. (Sorry, Speedbump, I’m easily influenced).

With Speedbump’s arrival we were all of a sudden back in senior year: St. Matt’s playing Super Mario 3 – albeit on Speedbump’s iPhone and the boys are talking jobs and job opportunities. Junior year, us finally old enough to drink: the boys comparing designer beers and getting me ‘Rita’s to go with the jellybeans I’m pre-Easter nibbling. Sophomore year, Speedbump and I sharing our current favorite songs and bands and laughing that there is still NO overlap in our Venn Diagram of musical taste. Freshman year – the boys swapping stories about who could run farther/faster and demonstrating 18 year old machismo.

I woke up this Easter morning even younger, sneakily eating jellybeans along with my breakfast and adding so much flavored creamer to my coffee it couldn’t possibly be tolerated by anyone over the age of 13. It was a 10-year-old version of myself that hunted for an Easter basket and oooh’d over lip glosses, flip flops, and MORE JELLYBEANS.

Consuming these jellybeans pre-church was a big mistake.

The biggest mistake of the day, however, was seating ME in the pew between St. Matt and my sister-in-law. I always forget, until presented with the auditory experience, exactly how bad a singer the pastor at my in-law’s church is – comically bad. The first time I heard him, I looked around for the cameras, thinking it was an episode of Punk’d. I do appreciate his desire to celebrate God through song. I do. But seriously, could they at least turn his mic off during songs?

Well, St. Matt’s lips started twitching on my left, my sister-in-law hid a smile on the right. Me? I giggled my way through He is Risen, and set the Schmidts on either side of me tittering too. When, before the next song, St. Matt suggested I “Try and keep it together,” I stuck my tongue out at him and resumed the game of peek a boo I was playing with the toddler in the pew in front of us. Like he laughs quieter than I do? I think not!

By the time we left the church, we were respectively aged 8, 8, and 6.

And by the time we sat down to Easter Dinner, I was clearly not old enough for wine (and clearly too full of jellybeans to eat much supper). So I asked for Coke. It was served to me in a fancy glass so I wouldn’t feel left out…. Just like when I was 5.

But I’m home now and back to doing adult things like grocery shopping and looking over the week’s schedule. As soon as the jellybeans leave my system and I can stop bouncing in place, I’m sure I’ll start feeling like a grown up again.

Now’s where’s my sippee cup? I want some chocolate milk.

Hijacking the NTB

We had an addition put on our house this fall. They took the roof off our Victorian and turned our not-quite-walk-up attic into a third floor master suite. We did some rearranging of the second floor bedrooms during the process too. My one request during the whole ordeal (okay, I had more than one request, but the one thing I was truly adamant about) was that I get built-in bookshelves and a writing space.

 
Up until that point I wrote in our living room which, since there are people and puggles ‘living’ in it, is not a convenient place to write. I would also occasionally take Huey-the-Laptop and write in the dining room, or if it was nice out, write on the patio. Since most of my writing time occurs while other living things are sleeping, the living room was not the worst place to write – but it’s far from ideal.

So, bookshelves and a writing area. St. Matt agreed. The floor plans cooperated too; the front of the new bedroom has a dormer that’s 10 feet wide by 5 feet deep. It’s all windows and has an amazing view. If the blueprints were treasure maps (which St. Matt told me repeatedly they were not, despite all the X’s and dotted lines) then this would be the area pirates would be fighting over. St. Matt gave it to me. I set to work designing my desk – six feet long with room for a window seat on the end. He said sure. I added drawers and bins to my drawings. He said sure. I asked if we could make the surface out of one of the antique doors that had been removed during the process. He said sure. I asked if he was capable of building all this. He said sure. I got excited.

The contractors left and we moved into the addition on 12/23. St. Matt has been busy. I still have no desk. My bookshelves are framed and exciting, but the shelves aren’t in yet. (This has not, however, stopped me from piling books in them and having endless conversations about which books I’m going to select to come upstairs).

Have I been nag-y, pest-y, or whiney about this? Nope. I know, shocking isn’t it? Before you decide I’m lying, here’s why.

I have hijacked the room-that-will-be-a-nursery-if-we-ever-have-kids. Since that’s a long title, I’m just going to call it Nursery-to-be or NTB. Why this room? Because I had a brilliant idea while painting it post-construction.

Like most of my brilliant ideas, this one has an aspect of fortuitous accident. We were in Lowe’s (Home Depot?) AGAIN and St. Matt was doing something boring. So I did what I always do when I’m bored in a hardware store: go visit the paint guys. And that day someone was asking the paint guy about blackboard paint. I decided to eavesdrop. Having purchased his blackboard paint, the other customer left and I chimed in: “That’s pretty cool. If I didn’t hate blackboards with an unnatural degree of loathing, I’d get that.”

Paint Guy: “You hate blackboards?”
Me: “Yup, and I’m a teacher, go figure.”
PG: “So what do you use in your classroom?”
Me: “I have blackboards, I just won’t use them. I have the kiddos write the date and we stick stuff to them with magnets. I also have a Smartboard.”
PG: “Do you hate whiteboards too?”
Me: “Nope. Those I like.”
PG: “Well, they make Expo whiteboard paint too, you know.”
Me: mouth open.

We left with four containers of it.

St. Matt: What are you going to do with that?
Me: Paint, duh.
St. Matt: What are you going to paint?
Me: Don’t worry, I have a plan. (It should be pointed out these are the same words I used to reassure St.Matt when I dropped tweezers in the toilet, when I also did NOT actually have a plan. I wonder if he realizes when I say: Don’t worry, I have a plan, he should actually immediately become very, very worried).

Back to the NTB… In typical my typical insomnia productiveness, I painted it while St. Matt slept. Boy was he surprised in the morning! It has light green walls, a mini-mural in the closet, a blue clouded ceiling, and yes: the clouds climb down off the ceiling and become white boards on the walls. This is my childhood dream come true: walls I can write on without getting sent to the naughty chair.

These walls are where I storyboarded TBALMCSAP and this is now where I like to write, curled up on the bed in the NTB and facing my color-coded-by-character walls of awesomeness.
If we ever have a reason to use the NTB as an actual nursery, I’m in big trouble. Maybe we could put the not-yet-an-issue-baby in another bedroom. Or maybe, just maybe, St. Matt could finish my writing desk…

… And the still-in-the-distant-future-baby could sleep under that while I continue to hijack its room.

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