Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Hello there. I'm not really sure where to begin. I can't believe a full week has gone by since my last post. After seven days of daily updates, the pause seems like forever in blogland, but it flew by here.

Back to School Picnic

I basically spent the last week feeling like I was behind at everything. Work (still behind); mothering (go to your rooms); wife-ing (Happy Anniversary! I will now fall asleep on the couch just after being pissy because you weren't happy enough that I was home (seriously wtf, me-of-last-Sunday)); school (does homework exist this year? yes? oh you've done it? well, okay, good! pretend like I knew that), activities (what? you got moved up at gymnastics? but that fucks with my whole carefully crafted fall semester carpool schedule! can't you just stay at level 1 and pretend it still challenges and fulfills you? no?), PTA (meeting on Tuesday night? that's today? I'm discussing the by-laws? I know nothing of these by-laws); dinner (um, we could go out for tacos (read: margaritas), again?); exercise (ughhhhhhh); teaching barre (late for my first class back, a class with TWENTY participants, though I did have a rocking new 90's playlist that reads as vintage to my new college student clientele); and basically everything that exists in my life.

It was a long week that started on Tuesday but felt like it started on negative Saturday. It was 100 days long. It was technically 4 days long and I worked from home on Friday, so it was really only 3 days long but omg that is a LIE. I was so exhausted every night I tried to read a book (that I love, from a series I've read many times before) and fell asleep while holding my kindle on at least two occasions. I know falling asleep while reading is a normal thing for most people, but I've done it three times in my ENTIRE life and all three of them were in the last 10 days. It's just been a lot. I'm forever grateful I was able to jump out of my life to go to Minneapolis to be with my mom and grandmother, and then to do it again to be with my parents and help them after the flooding, but at some point there's a reckoning and my reckoning lasted all of last week.

So here I am. Barely. Today was also not great and a million hours long. I left my house at 7:15 a.m. to drive to Dallas with a coworker friend to spend a million hours in a conference room and then had a super stressful drive back full of traffic and frantic texting with my nanny who was already late for her second job while I tried to get 2 of my children to two different activities and my toddler to a safe place she could spend the 20 minutes before I could get home, all with a cell phone on 3% power that died 20 minutes outside Fort Worth. We all ended up home at 8:15 p.m. I've had a margarita. I have not had dinner. Let's see where this takes us.

~ ~ ~ ~

Parents. My parents are doing okay. It's hard. It's hard every day. There's still a million logistics and contractors and bids to obtain and organize. Everything about flood insurance claims is about as difficult as it can be; there are so many hoops and though they are in the best position to try to jump them, it is still so hard. Their dream home is dismantled. They've moved into their one-bedroom apartment across the highway with all the contents of their downstairs in 60+ bins, plus all the clothes from their water-logged drawers that their sweet friends washed for them at night during the cleanup that are now just sort of in stacks on the floor. There are forms and claims and pictures and a million water-damaged items to list and detail out for the adjuster. The flood insurance settlement, whenever it goes through, goes directly to the mortgage holder which is then paid directly to the contractors. "But what about the work we did ourselves? And the supplies we bought to do it?" "Well, there's a separate form you can fill out to claim that." Of course there is. And underlying all the steps and processes is the cold knowledge that flood insurance, something they are beyond grateful to have, does not make you whole. It has a cap. They'll far exceed it. They're paying rent + a mortgage and recalculating how many more years they have to add to their much-anticipated-and-planned-for retirement. And again, they're the lucky ones. They have the insurance. They have savings. They have jobs they CAN extend. They don't have young children at home. They don't have to pretend everything is okay. They have the apartment we found on day 2. But it's hard. It will be hard for a while. But I'd say they're doing okay, most of the time. (I can barely watch the coverage of Irma, it just feels so close and personal; I hope very much that my Florida and southeast coast readers are safe and okay.)

My mom went back to school today. Their first day of school! Now at a new high school they're sharing way across town. It's tough. She was allowed 45 minutes in her old classroom at KHS on Saturday, with a mask, under supervision, to get what she could out. 45 minutes; to pick between personal items, special things from students over the years, and all the stuff she needs to actually try to teach this year. That was hard. I'd say it's just all kind of hard. Her former 5 minute commute is now over an hour; her in-class teaching time is much diminished and she's worried about cramming all the Biology II AP content her students need into 2.5 hours per week. She's a wonderful teacher; the idea of not serving her students weighs heavily. My sibs and I had flowers delivered to her today. And by delivered I mean my brother picked them up and drove them over because he's the best. She was thrilled. We just wanted a little brightness in her day. (Particularly since her birthday was Wednesday, the day they moved into the apartment, which was... not great.)

My grandpa. He's doing better than okay! He moved out of ICU to a crowded room on a different floor that made my grandma get lost and stressed, but then he was moved to a cardiac recovery room that was much better and now he's in a rehab facility! A lovely rehab facility that is making him work very hard which makes him very tired and possibly crabby but every step is literally one step closer to going home. My grandma joyfully texted yesterday that he has a transfer date to Texas! He'll still be under medical care, but they have a hospital connected to their retirement community and it would be SO WONDERFUL for both of them to be back home. His hopeful transfer date is September 18th, exactly one month from the date of his heart attack. He has some benchmarks he has to hit before then, but we know he's working hard to get there. It's hard to believe it's been 3 weeks (and a short lifetime) since that awful morning but I'm so, so glad he remains on the path of recovery that will lead him back to singing "You Are My Sunshine" with his Mary each morning.

Me. I'm doing okay too. Better than okay much of the time. I don't want to wallow in it too much more, but I will say that even after a week's distance, being in Houston was decidedly one of the harder things I've had to do. My parents are still young and working and very much in charge of their own lives. Despite being 34 with a family of my own, I think I a little bit expected them to comfort me when I got to their flood-ravaged house. Like they would make me feel better for them and we'd all bond and laugh and fix things up before going out for dinner. Not really, of course-- but somewhere secret in the back of my mind, precisely that. It was... shocking to see the house. Shocking to see them in it, sad and overwhelmed and stressed. Shocking to need to take charge of certain things, to work alongside and occasionally in front of them in their own home. Just as it had been shocking the week before to see my mom hurting and a little scared in my grandfather's hospital room when he was still very much on the edge of 50-50. I have no idea how my brother is still going (he and my dad power washed their whole back patio/possibly the entire yard yesterday) because I slept like 12 hours in my first day back and was still kind of wrecked the rest of the weekend.

But the weekend ended and the week began. We're slowly finding our groove. We've yet to have a full week of school where I am here for all of the days, so we're trying that out this week (which already started out crazy due to the aforementioned conference in the too-far-away land of Dallas). It seems to be going well. They both love their teachers. I have yet to hear about homework (I mean, they have it; they just do it before I'm home and it doesn't seem to be a big deal yet). Claire is (finally!) getting super into reading (thank you Happily Ever After and Ivy and Bean book series). Both big kids obsessed with their roller skates and roller blades and we spend a lot of time out on the street wheelin around. Landon got moved up in his tumbling class, which I didn't even know was a possibility, because he can do back-handsprings unassisted and now instead of class on Wednesdays at 4:30 which allowed for a beautiful carpool with a friend and Tara and which didn't mess with my precious family dinners, he now has class Mondays AND Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 which is wrecking all kinds of havoc but he's so delighted we're making it happen anyway. Somehow.

Winston is on week 4 of his dog behavior training. Despite the story I'm about to tell you, he's doing great, and it's making a difference every day to have the structure of commands and pack order in our lives. This week, our new homework is to add a "timeout" whenever he doesn't obey a command. Timeout means he has to go to his crate or a different room or wherever you can get him the fastest that is away from us, wait a few minutes, then go spring him by asking him to redo the command. If he does it, he's out. If he doesn't, back in timeout he goes. Over the last week he went to timeout a handful of times, fairly cheerfully, and got out on the first try/redo. Then yesterday he decided he didn't want to lie down on command anymore. Just, no. I asked him, he refused, he went to timeout. I opened the crate 5 minutes later, he walked out, I told him to lie down, he refused, so back in the crate he went. Then we did it again. Then on the fourth time, I let him out, said firmly and clearly: "Winston, DOWN." And he looked at me and TURNED AROUND and walked back into his crate. He flopped down with a huge sigh and probably an eye-roll, tucked his fat wrinkled head into his paws, and sighed again.

Unsure of what do to, I closed the crate.

After a while, I opened it back up and this time he stood up, turned around, and flopped BACK DOWN facing away from me still in the crate. I... closed the door again.

He spent a really long time in timeout simply because he refused to leave it. Eventually it was bedtime and he had to get out to go potty. So, I feel like he won that round.

(I took the picture above early one morning last week when I came out of our room at 6:45 a.m. and found Landon and Winston lying on the ground. "Winston woke me up at 5 a.m. but then he got tired and didn't want me to move. I've been here a long time." I feel like that story sums up both Winston and Landon pretty well.)

Also this week, between a PTA meeting I'd forgotten about and new kid activity logistics I'm still trying to figure out, I played games with Cora. I was just about to sit down on the couch and read my book or look up something I didn't need to know on the internet when I realized I could use this time better. Particularly since, as I joked on facebook, a huge part of why I had three children was so someone would always be willing to play board games with me.

I love them like I love margaritas, nachos, and beautiful shoes.

Winston and Cora played Zingo, another family favorite. Then Claire had to put her game away because she was cheating and somehow that was my fault.

Family games giveth and family games teacheth life lessons and taketh away.

On Saturday, James and I finally went out to celebrate our anniversary! We went to our very favorite restaurant and it was every bit as delicious as we always know it will be.

New appetizers, new desserts, same ridiculously good entrees and bosc pear martinis. (That last one is just for me.) Oddly, the only other picture we took was of an empty plate between us, which feels symbolic in some way. Or literal. Every plate they brought us ended up licked clean.

Cora got a new dress from a friend who knows her heart and she wore it every waking moment of the weekend. As you can see, it's perfect for all occasions.

An ensemble for waiting on the dog trainer to arrive?

Nailed it.

Going on a family bike ride?


Little bit of pogo-swinging in your afternoon?


I love everything in my closet, but nothing with quite the intensity that Cora feels for all her most beautiful items.

Also this weekend, I cut 4 inches off my hair! But no one noticed because I never wear my hair down.

It felt significant on the inside.

And we went to the zoo. One hour before close on a beautiful Sunday evening. We had most of it to ourselves and it was lovely. My kids will never fully appreciate how incredible it is to live 5 minutes away from such a great place.

And so here we are. Trying to get back to things. My to-do list is largely caught up. I'm not starting every text or email with an apology for being behind. At least 50% of the phone calls with my mom do not involve either one of us crying. My grandpa is taking short shuffling steps back to San Antonio. The kids are good. James is good. Winston is working really hard on it.

My neighbor brought me dinner last week after reading my last post. She's a former teacher who read about my mom and her classroom and the new school and me in Trader Joe's and decided it was all too much, so she made me food because she couldn't make any for my parents and she didn't want me to have to go back to the store for another day.

It was incredibly kind and given my insufficient planning for that first week, quite needed. She talked about a time when her kids were young and her sister had passed away unexpectedly and she had to go identify her because her parents couldn't. "That's when I grew up," she said. Never mind that she had children and a husband and a home of her own. It's the first time you step up and in for your parents, the last little part of you grows up. Even if they're still there, and- to be clear, mine are still very much there and working their jobs and very much handling their lives... it's just, I understood exactly what she meant. It's a moment- even brief- of stepping up for them that you hadn't had to before. And you're so glad you can, that you're there, that you can give back, but it's... hard. It's hard and it is exactly what family is for. You're just used to all that help and support flowing down in one direction; it's disorienting and deeply gratifying to get to push it back up.


  1. Cora's smile on the board game picture - that totally made up for a crappy morning!!
    Good morning that you are adjusting to this new normal. Have a nice week!


  2. Winston! That story about him refusing to leave time out made me spit out my coffee. We had a Scottie for ten years, we lost her in December. But she was notoriously stubborn, and that story reminded me so much of her. She only did things when she wanted to but we loved her anyway.

    I know exactly what you mean when you say that helping your parents through this hard time caused the last part of you to grow up. That perfectly sums up an experience like that. It's life changing. I hope things continue to fall back into place and start feeling normal again for you. Take your time, an experience like this is hard- emotionally and physically.

  3. Glad you're getting back into the swing of things. I hope things move along on your parents house and they're out of the apartment sooner than they think. I can't even imagine how your mom feels being displaced not only from her home but her job as well. So disorienting!

    My mom was in the direct path of Irma (in my hometown of Naples, you may have seen it on CNN...ugh) and is on her way home right now. We have NO idea of the state of the house but we're imagining flooding (she is 2 miles from the Gulf and also has a ton of water around her) at the very least. My brother is following her and we are all on stand by if need be to send supplies or help in any way we can. This has been a very rough year weather-wise and I'm hoping maybe for a calm winter??

  4. The pictures and stories are gold. Thank you for sharing. I love Cora's dress! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Have been reading your blog for many, many years and never commented, but my daughter came home from her elementary school today here in Tennessee with a flyer saying that her school has adopted Kingwood High School and will be raising money to send in support. We would be donating anyways, but now we will be doing it in honor of you and your mom and the rest of your family.

  6. This was the most wonderful comment, I'm so glad you reached out to share it. I immediately copied it and sent it to my family who all found it to be such an amazing connection across the internet and so heartwarming to hear there are people in Tennessee thinking of our beloved school. <3

  7. You probably already know this, but make sure your parents register with FEMA re: disaster relief. Also, the SBA typically makes very low interest loans available to assist with rebuilding, for which your parents should be eligible.