some things about november

There is this chalkboard in my kitchen and for the longest time I would use it to hype my family up about the things ahead.  I would write the name of the month and then write all of the fun things we were going to do.


I liked it.


But then, exactly a year ago this past weekend, I wrote some things about November.  I wrote about Luke turning 30 (which was already over but a major event worth writing on there and crossing off, just because) and Thanksgiving and I remember writing the word "thankful" and cringing inside because I didn't feel it. Our kitchen drain was clogged and our dishwasher was broken and hours of frustration and telephone calls and desperation were going on, all around me, as I found a piece of chalk and threw those words up there. But we were just a few days off of Thanksgiving and I really wanted to be cheerful. So I wrote fakey cheerful stuff.  NOVEMBER!  THANKSGIVING!  THANKFUL! TURKEY TASTES GOOD!   I wrote it and looked at it and forced a smile at it.  It was my little bit of, okay, this week will be saved.  I can make this stuff come true. The plumber will come and my kitchen will not smell like this anymore and this fiasco will be a funny memory and nice-feeling things will happen.

But I didn't make it come true.
The drain was fixed and the dishwasher replaced and then -- my grandma died.
Unexpectedly.  Out of nowhere.
A year ago tomorrow, but it really feels like today because it was Monday.

So the turkey went into the deep freezer and all the other Thanksgiving stuff was pushed aside and away as we frantically packed suitcases with black clothes and sippy cups.  The framed photos of her as a little girl were grabbed off of the walls to display at the visitation.  It felt insane and hazy.

My grandma wasn't just a lady.  She was MY GRANDMA.  A beautiful wonderful lady who rocked me to sleep and sang to me and taught me things and made me breakfast (peanut butter toast cut into four pieces and a bowl of cereal and chocolate milk) and took me to school every single day of elementary school.  My mom and I lived with her until I was eight and after we moved out she would answer the phone in this particular cheerful voice asking, "How's our sweet girl?" every time I called.  She was the best.  She still is.  We just don't get to look at her and tell her so now.

Erasing that fakey cheerful stuff from the chalkboard last November was hard.  It's funny how your brain latches on to things and puts your sadness there. With each new month I would intend to write fun things but instead stand with the chalk in hesitation, mostly choosing generic words or drawings instead. A cat drawing stayed for many months, until yesterday when Alice brought it up.  "Why is that cat on there all the time?  It should be a turkey.  My school turkey needs a mommy and daddy."

Her school turkey was made out of her hand print, so at her insistence, we made a family out of handprints.

And then I went out to the garage and got last year's uneaten turkey out of the deep freeze and threw it in the garbage.

I am going to use my grandma's potato masher that now belongs to me and we are going to do this.  We will eat turkey and potatoes and dressing and I will hug my mom and kids and brothers and husband and be thankful, for real.




Our house is shrinking.  Our kids eat and eat and eat and then wake up bigger, in a slightly smaller house.  With five people in a 1,600 square foot ranch, there isn't much left over anymore.

We just bought bunk beds for the boys and replaced Alice's full bed with a (smaller, space saving) twin.  A girly iron flowery twin.


On more than one occasion I have considered dismantling this room, putting Clark and Alice together and making this the baby room. It probably would have saved a lot of trouble over the last year. But I just can't take this space apart.


We met a tiny newborn baby girl named Alice today at Target.  She was all snuggled up in her car seat while her mom paid in front of us. She even looked like my Alice did at that age, with black hair and a little pixie face. I picked my Alice up so she could see the baby better and though she didn't say anything, I can read her shy faces and could tell she felt special and connected, having the same name as the fresh pink bundle everyone was cooing over. I felt a few stabbing pangs of dissonance, of wanting my baby Alice back while also not wanting to give up my three year old Alice to the past or the future.

After we paid, my Alice cried because she didn't get to tell baby Alice goodbye, so I carried her all the way to the car and she hugged me so cuddly tight while I pushed the cart and she told me that my hugs are, "SO GOOD at helping to feel her better."


I made this room for her before I even saw her pixie face.


And yes, I keep adding to it and changing it. But the basic feeling is the same for me. And I just can't take it apart.


I know someday she'll have the walls covered in posters of Justin Timberlake, Jr or whatever.
But it's okay.  Because the older she gets the better I get to know her.




I am so glad I get to know her.


Laundry 2

I can't get everything just right and it freezes me.

I can't write here until my house is clean and I can't clean my house until I am wearing makeup and clean clothes but none of the clothes are clean so where does that leave me?

I don't know where this came from, the having to do everything in this order, but it's the only way I can build momentum and win the day rather than dragging through and collapsing and wanting to punch things.

There is dead laundry in a heap on the floor. You know, dead laundry?  It's at least as bad as debris.  Dead laundry is laundry that gets left in the dryer for a few days and is wrinkled beyond help but you have to take it out and go through it anyway for one reason or another.  You put it on the floor and it collapses there and doesn't breathe.

Dead laundry looks like a pile of wadded up paper.  Like someone wrote a lot of drafts or drew a lot of bad pictures and then killed them all and made a pile.  There is no energy in dead laundry.  There is nothing promising or engaging.

I think I have to move it back to the laundry room like it's dirty, mixing it in with the actually dirty laundry so I can pretend none of this happened, and start over. Otherwise I'll flee with the kids to the thrift store or the Target and I'll spend a few dollars I don't have in exchange for escaping the chore creature on the floor.

I wrote this a few days ago in a flurry and without reading it twice but I didn't hit publish because I have commitment issues.  Laundry drama.  I have created a genre.


Laundry Debris

So it turns out that I only know how to do things that are very very simple.  Okay, no, that isn't true at all.  It just feels true.  I can do anything if I am motivated.  I just can't get boring detail tasks done unless all the obstacles to getting them done have been cleared away.  Do not leave it up to me to make a lot of phone calls or send things in the mail or match socks.  Socks kill me. Remember when I threw all of Luke's socks away and started over?  That's kind of where I am at with kid socks right now.  I just want them out of my life.

Actually anything that has two matching pieces-- two-piece pajamas sets for kids?  No thank you.  My kids will never ever wear those two pieces together unless it is an utter coincidence because I will never keep track of them from the dirty laundry to washing to drying to folding to putting away.  One will make it through and the other one will end up under a tablecloth that doesn't get washed for three weeks or under the hamper and by the time it goes through the whole process, the other piece will be dirty again.

I actually have a word for these items:  laundry debris.  It isn't just the mismatched stuff, it's also the stuff people think they like but don't.  The last resort t-shirts and the too-stretched-out and the stuff you think you want to wear and try on but you don't really ever want to wear and take off in desperation before you leave the house, throwing it into the dirty pile when it is actually just unloved.  All of that?  Laundry debris.

So I've started doing laundry with baskets, a storage tub, and two garbage bags.  I put all of the top-tier stuff in baskets.  This stuff is easy to identify because you wear it all the time.  Then I put the underwear with the too-stretched elastic and the shirt Alice drew all over with permanent markers and the junked washed-too-many-times shrunken tops in one of the garbage bags to throw away.  I use the other garbage bag for things (even nice things!) that we can no longer use and need to be donated and I put the things that have been outgrown and need to be taken out of rotation into the storage bin.  Phew.

Basically, the only way I can solve the laundry problem is to actually solve the problem.  I only want to be washing, drying, folding, and putting away the top tier items, the stuff we really wear all the time.  Otherwise I just won't ever do it and I will have to buy my kids more new clothes just so they can go to school.

Part of my willingness to donate nice stuff comes from my luck at the Goodwill Outlet.  They sell clothes for 69 cents a pound and I have purchased Matilda Jane, Tea Collection, Mini Boden, Crewcuts, Stella McCartney for babyGap, etc., stuff there in the last few months.  So it doesn't phase me to put some nice stuff back into that rotation.  I like to imagine somebody finding it and being very happy.

Does anyone else have this very low threshold for laundry BS?  Do you have a system?  I am always up for improving mine.  Even doing it this way... I hate it.


So I made a new blog header.  I don't know if I'll leave it up. It feels a little too cheerful or something.  And I miss the chalkboard.  I'll try to do a new chalkboard soon but who am I kidding?  Nothing I think I am going to do ever gets done until eight months later when everything perfectly plays out and the light is right and somehow someway the right photo gets taken or whatever.  Anyway, I just had to change the header away from what was there or I was never going to post anything again.  I am ruled by how things FEEL and the old one just felt... done.  And it made me feel done.  Maybe I do just feel done?  I don't know. I think I blog less because I post so much on Instagram.  It isn't the same as blogging at all, but it does satisfy my desire to put things out there.




These are all from today.  Today!   I wonder what I'll post tomorrow.

Are you on Instagram?  Do I follow you?  I should.  Say something to me there and I will.


Tea for Alice

You all know I don't do PR stuff, like, ever. But when Tea Collection contacted me and asked if I'd do a little review, I couldn't resist.  I love their stuff, I do I do.

I picked out the 5-piece Ancho Androna set for Alice, mostly because I wanted the dresses and it seemed like a good deal.  The fact that it came with leggings didn't even make an impression on me.  But you know what?  The leggings are totally Alice's favorite now.  I never would think to buy nicer leggings like these because they sell them at the big red chain store and we have a whole drawer full.  But now that I have tried them I will definitely consider them for future seasons.  They are softer and the waist is more comfortable.  They are first pick from the drawer, now, every time.


My favorite piece is the Ancho Chile Stripe dress. It's hard to get Alice to wear things that aren't pink but she likes the way the skirt looks on this and I have convinced her that it is a twirly party dress. Love love love.  She wore it for her first day of preschool AND for her first ever school picture.


They have girl's clothingboy's clothing and even grown-up stuff.  And it's all so preeeetty.  And soft.  And Alice can dress herself in the mix and match pieces!  (This is huge. You guys, when I try to dress her now she TAKES OFF the clothes I put on her so she can put them back on herself. She is so three.)


I love their globally inspired collections. They actually remind me of the new bedding I just ordered Alice from the Kukunest sample sale store.  (It really belongs on her new twin bed, coming soon!)


And lately I've been going crazy for Mary Blair and It's A Small World-- the design and style and colors and whole vibe.  And anyway, these things all kinda remind me of each other and I love that.

**Tea Collection provided us with the clothing.  I really truly like them.