This blog post brought to you by not finishing Evie’s Halloween costume

I’ve toyed for some time with the idea of starting a “Five Favorite Things Friday” post series on The Evie Standard.  A lot of bloggers do this sort of thing, and it’s kinda cute, I think.

But you know and I know that “Five Favorite Things Friday” will start off great and then become “Five Favorite Things Every Other Friday” and then “Five Favorite Things Fridays in May” and then…

Yeah.

But today’s Friday!  Yay!  And here are five things.  I’ve used up all my commitment on watering plants and limiting caffeine intake, y’all.

1.  Update on last post:  After throwing up the last post, I noticed many more examples of Animals Gone Domestic in our fair city.  This is good for the blog, bad for me.  I fear I may end up starring in my own version of Life of Pi, trapped in a dingy in the middle of the ocean with a pissed off tiger.  Or an armadillo.  In my case it would be a pissed off armadillo.  Maybe I could finally convince the armadillo to trust me, and we could work together to find rescue.  Anyway.  What?  So, examples.

Evie and I attended a playdate at a local park this week.   The day was breezy, overcast and a pleasant 84 degrees.  As close to Fall as Florida is gonna get.  The park’s amenities included a path that wound through the surrounding woods. Before setting off on a walk on this path, another mom casually informed us that someone had said they’d seen bobcats in the woods.  Then what happened?  Everyone set off for the walk.

??**%%!!** (I just don’t have words anymore, folks.)

Also, a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page that her husband saw a panther walking around their neighborhood.  Ho-hum.  Panther.  Probably selling Amway.  Pretend you’re not home.

Someone help.

Oh!  And I wanted to show you guys this:

This sign is posted on Honeymoon Island, a state park located on a beach that we frequent.  I mean, really.  What’s a day at the ocean without a few rattlers?

2.   Gone Girl.  Readers, you know how sometimes you stumble upon a book that consumes your life?  That you can not put down?  My house is a mess, the laundry is piling up, and Evie’s Halloween costume is still not done.  But I could not put this book down.  I read it in three days.  And if I didn’t have this pesky homemaker gig to do, I’d have finished it in a day.  Or less.  I had to make myself stop reading it.  I considered picking it up at stoplights, and I almost, almost gave up nightly TV time with my husband, my favorite time of the day, to read it.

I’ve talked with others who’ve read Gone Girl, and they weren’t as impressed.  They didn’t like the ending.  They thought parts of it were unbelievable.  I agree that the ending wasn’t on par with the rest of the book.  It felt rushed.  It wasn’t as tight.  But I totally believed the rest of it.  It was kind of like a really good Law & Order episode meets Dial M for Murder meets…a Lifetime movie if you could admit you watch Lifetime movies.  Which I can’t.

Also, I read it on a Kindle, which I didn’t hate.  It was actually kind of awesome.  I recant my former statements about Kindles.

3.  The Neighbors.  This is a show you aren’t watching.  Why are you not watching it?  You should be watching it.  Quick, before it gets cancelled!  It’s about your typical American family who, seeing an opportunity to pounce upon a wicked-good deal in a tanked real estate market, buys a typical subdivided American house right smack dab in the middle of a community of aliens who have come to study our typical American ways.  Hilarity ensues!  Well, not consistent hilarity, but this show has so much potential, y’all!  It’s quirky.  It’s clever.  It’s charming.  It’ll probably never make it.  Or maybe it’ll fly below the radar like The Middle or Raising Hope as a nice filler between the Nashvilles and the Revolutions.

Besides, it stars Jami Gertz, a woman who’s got riding on the back of a kick-ass motorcycle in a gypsy skirt, legs wrapped around a late eighties Kiefer Sutherland AND holding Robert Downey Jr’s hair while he pukes up whatever battery-acid cocktail of cocaine, booze and wasted youth he’s consumed and then crying on a mid-eighties Andrew McCarthy’s shoulder about it on her resume.  And that, dear readers, make her awesome.

4.  Cats.  Why are cats such a pain in the ass?  I recant my former loving statements about cats.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  The newest little member of our family, Izzie, has upset the balance in our home.  Which I knew would happen but secretly hoped wouldn’t happen.  Sam, our other pathologically neurotic, always-on-edge cat, is determined to…just…just…make somebody pay for this!  She’s  righteously pissed that all the time she formerly spent being fat and shedding now has to be spent standing in doorways and at the top of the stairs, looking menacing.  Seriously, folks, it’s like living with an early-nineties Glenn Close.  I guess that makes Izzie Anne Archer and me Michael Douglas.  I’m fine with that.

It’s really all worth it, though, because there’s this:

Evie and Izzie reading a book together.  Izzie also sleeps with Evie every night.  Granted, it’s because I shut the door to Evie’s room so Izzie can’t get out, but still.  I have to protect Anne Archer from Glenn Close!

5.  Growing my hair out…again.  Oy.  This again.  Over the past ten years I’ve cycled through short hair, long hair, short hair again, highlighted hair, long hair with my natural color, badly highlighted hair, short hair again.  Really short hair.  And now I’m growing it out.  As she’s expressed to my many times, Evie likes my hair longer.  As he’s not expressed to me many times but I know it’s how he secretly feels, Gill likes my hair longer, too.  And I’m ready for a change.  I miss my ponytail.

But, holy moly, what a pain in the ass.  Worse than the cats!  I haven’t had my hair colored in a year, so the blond is now only at the very ends of a small section of my hair right in the front.  And the cut I had was many-layered, so, depending on the humidity, my selection of hair products and my level of giving a damn that day, I can look like this:

Or this:

It just depends, really.  What I really want to look like is this:


 And, dammit, one day I’m gonna find a hairdresser who’s knows what the hell I’m talking about.

Meantime, I’ve got Gene Wilder hair most days, my eyeballs have decided to reject my contacts on the same days as the Gene Wilder hair, and my skin, appalled and offended by my hair and 15-year-old glasses has decided to break out all over in mighty protest.

I’m about as far from Ms. Bancroft as one can get, friends.

But I live in Florida among the ferocious beasts.  And it’s October 26th, and I still have a kick-ass tan.

So there.

Advertisements

11. The four-year-olds are probably scared of you, too.

This past week I had the good fortune to participate in our church’s vacation bible school program.  I did it because I love my church and really enjoy helping out there and because my friend Susan, who heads up the program, told me I was going to.  Also, I absolutely adored VBS when I was a kid, so I wanted to help provide the experience for other kids.  I’m so glad I did.  I loved every minute of it, and I learned a lot.  And, oh look!  I got a blog post out of it.  The Lord really does work miracles…

HOW I SPENT THE FIRST WEEK OF MY SUMMER VACATION, OR HOW I OVERCAME MY FEAR OF CHILDREN NOT MY OWN, OR WHAT I LEARNED WHILE PLAYING JESUS AND DRESSED IN A DECADES-OLD HOMEMADE CHURCH COSTUME THAT SMELLED LIKE A COMBINATION OF OLD SPICE, COVERED DISH SUPPERS AND MOTHBALLS

1.  Surround yourself with people who know what the hell they’re doing.  They can tell you what works and what most definitely does not.  A good mentor never hurt anyone.

2.  Don’t be afraid to act like you might know what the hell you’re doing either, even if you don’t.  Speak up.  Suggest things.  A fresh approach never hurt anyone.

3.  It’s very, very hard to throw away something you’ve laminated.  Even if it’s 10 multi-colored fish cut up to look like a puzzle pieces with bible verses scrawled on their backs in your non-teacher handwriting that you will never, ever use again.  They’re laminated, not bronzed, for Pete’s sake.  Stop moving them around your work table and just THROW THEM AWAY.  Free yoself, Miss Scarlett.

4.  Sticky-tac, folks.  Sticky-tac.  It will affix anything to anything.

5.  Blessed are the troublemakers.  The same kid who makes every streamer in your room literally shake with fear any time he comes near them will later offer a perfectly beautiful explanation of what it means to be a “fisher of men” that will blow your mind.

6.  Cursed are Internet lesson plans.  Yes, it’s 10pm, and your brain much resembles a warm, squishy ball of sticky-tac.  Yes, all you want to do is curl up in your chair and finish watching The Hatfields and McCoys with your husband and snicker together at Bill Paxton overacting his way through another movie.  But take 20 minutes to make sure the bible verses your Internet lesson plan uses actually say what the writers of the lesson plan say they say.  Otherwise you will be very embarrassed when the game you try to play with kids the next day quickly dissolves into a depressing pile of abandoned Adventure Bibles and crumpled clip art.

7.  Full access to every supply closet in the church all week, friends.  That is all.

8.  Have a snack around 10:30am.  This will prevent the massive blood sugar drop at 11am that keeps making you forget what you were saying and confusing the kids with random blank stares instead.

9.  “Mrs. Langston” sounds weird when you hear it said out loud by 80 children.

10.  Watching children actually learn what you teach them and have fun doing it is worth every minute you made a fool out of yourself playing Noah’s wife with a redneck accent or turning the story of Elisha and Naaman into an homage to Monty Python.

So, like I said, I learned a lot.  And I’m gonna miss those little buggers next week.  Not today.  But next week.

I will also offer this:  Chances are good that with my bachelor’s degree and all the education courses I took in college there would be very little I would have to do to get certified to teach in the state of Florida.  I really, really liked teaching the 4th and 5th graders.  That’s all I’m saying for now.

Snowbirds in paradise

Do you know what a snowbird is?  We do.

Snowbirds are nomadic souls, usually past retirement age, who take it upon themselves to climb in their American-made cars every January and fly from lands of hard vowels and good pastrami south for the winter, which is to say until early June.  Twice a week I find myself behind a Buick with a tag from Ontario or Ohio or New Jersey going 17 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone, its left blinker inexplicably flashing and its driver’s head barely visible above the steering wheel.

Lord love ’em.  They are the Greatest Generation.  They’ve worked hard all their lives, raised their kids, paid their taxes, and now they just want to wander aimlessly around the park, all decked out in their black socks and windsuits, basking in the warm Florida sunshine and taking  orangey-yellow pictures with their orangey-yellow disposable cameras.

But if another one honks and throws their hands up at me for not pulling out to block a crowded intersection just because the light is green, I will get out of my car and reign down upon him or her with my most excellent speech on Medicare for All.  And if they don’t stop buying up all the drinking water and half and half at the Walmart, I will start buying up all the cough drops and Kleenex at the Walgreens.

Funny story:  Evie and I were enjoying lunch at one of our favorite restaurants this week, when a table of three snowbirds sat down right next to us.  These ladies were dressed to the nines, complete with huge prescription sunglasses (which they wore inside), rings on each laquered finger and tissues peeking out from their shirtsleeves.  We’ll call them Janice, Barbara and Rose.  After asking the waitress, her face dewy with perspiration, to turn down the air conditioning and politely drilling her on the freshness of the sandwich bread, they settled in for a chat.  Because I am a shameless eavesdropper dedicated observer of humanity, here’s what I overheard:

Rose:  Well, I don’t know.  She’s helping me, is all I can say.

Janice:  That’s what you said.  What did you say?

Barb:  Something about swallowing?  It was something about swallowing.  Teaching you how to swallow?

Rose:  Several times a week, hand to God, I would almost choke in my own kitchen.  I couldn’t swallow water!

Janice: Oh my.

Barb:  That’s terrible.

Janice:  Terrible.

Rose:  So this girl is teaching me to chew a lot more than I was so I won’t choke.

Janice:  She’s very smart.  And a pretty girl.

Barb:  Most people don’t realize how much food collects in your mouth.

Rose:  The right thing to do is chew it until it’s almost liquid.  Little bites.

Janice:  I’m ordering chocolate cake.

Barb:  What about the eclairs?

Janice:  No, she said they were filled with white cream.  Not custard.  White cream.

Barb:  White cream?

Janice:  White cream.

Rose:  What?

Janice:  The eclairs are filled with white cream.

Rose:  Not custard?

Janice:  No.

Rose:  I don’t care for sweets.

Barb:  No, you don’t.  What do you like?

Janice: Potato chips.  She goes nuts over potato chips.

Rose:  I could eat the whole bag.

Barb:  Really?

Janice:  But aren’t potato chips hard for you to chew and swallow?

Rose:  Well, I just hold a chip in my mouth until it gets soft.  You know.

Oy.  I’m still a little skeeved out by this conversation.

Y’all, I don’t want you to think I’m hatin’ on our nation’s senior citizens.  They’re the only ones who get my old movie references, and they’ve lived long enough to gain some perspective on and a sense of humor about life, two things my generation sorely lacks.  I have the utmost respect and reverence for my elders.

But I mean it about the half and half, you guys.  Seriously.

A spoonful of Evie

A trip to the mall always includes a visit to The Disney Store.  This is entirely for Evie’s benefit.  Disney is just for kids, not adults.  An adult who likes to watch Disney movies and play with the princesses and stuffed animals in the store and is looking forward to her daughter’s first trip to Disney World more than she is…troubled.  But I digress.

During today’s visit, Evie and I discovered something absolutely amazing and wonderous:

Y’all.  Mary Poppins totally was in The Disney Store and left her umbrella!  There it was, just leaning quietly against a display of t-shirts marked down 40%.  Evie checked with the saleslady to confirm, and, indeed, she had been there!  What had she been doing there?  And why would an organized, put-together lady like Mary Poppins leave behind such an important accessory like an umbrella with a parrot head that talks?

We wondered.  We discussed.  We speculated.  Finally, through deductive reasoning and her own keen sense of Disney character motivation, Evie concluded that Mary Poppins left her umbrella in The Disney Store on purpose so that Evie could find it.  Mary Poppins wanted Evie to know that she was real and that she was magic and, ipso facto, magic is real.  This was no accident, folks.  Now Evie knows for sure that when she grows up she will be able to clean up her room with a snap of her fingers, make medicine poured from the same bottle change color and taste like lime cordial and also sing songs about her favorite things with a dimple-faced band of Austrian children.  No.  Wait.

But, most importantly, magic is real.

When I was sixteen, I visited Disney World for the first time and met and talked with Mary Poppins herself.  She was dressed in the frilly white ensemble she wore during the Jolly Holiday sequence, complete with parasol and British accent.  It only lasted for a couple of minutes, but I’ve remembered that through all these years.  It was delightful, charming and…magic.

Evie’s right.

 

**Mary Poppins, copyright 1964, Walt Disney Productions.  Chim-chim-cheree, SOPA.

Pull on up to the table, y’all…

Some of you have told me that my posts about Evie are your favorite.  Okay, just my Aunt Ginger told me that.  But I assume it’s true for most of you.  So, in the Thanksgiving spirit of overindulging, I’ve decided to treat you today to a buffet of Evie.  Please enjoy.

1.  Today I removed Evie’s existing carseat and installed her booster seat.  I figured since she kept flinging her legs over the sides of her old carseat thereby honoring approaching drivers with a daily flashing, she was getting too big for it.  Little kid carseats are strapped into the backseat of a car using a complicated rope and pulley system that would probably contain its occupant even in the case of Rapture.  I found out today that you simply toss a big kid booster seat into your backseat all willy-nilly and throw a seatbelt across it.  I decided to see it as a metaphor for my grip on Evie growing weaker and weaker.  Then I decided to play 3-D bowling on my smartphone.

2.  For lunch Evie had a slice of pizza and water to drink.  She took a sip of her drink and observed, “Mommy, water is not very exciting.”

3.  Charlie’s mom, Oolie, told me that upon seeing Charlie’s bed strewn with toys and clothes, Evie shook her head, rolled her eyes and declared, “Boys.”  She then proceeded to “fold” Charlie’s clothes and tidy up his room.  Much learned have you, young Jedi.

4.  Evie’s Aunt Boo and Uncle J gave her a pink tricycle a couple of years ago for Christmas.  At the beginning of the summer, Evie could barely make the pedals turn with her little feet.  Today I watched her zip around the courtyard in it, taking the little hills without a second thought.  It’s amazing what they learn to do when you’re not looking, isn’t it?

5.  Evie let herself out the locked front door and into the courtyard.  Once found by her almost hysterical mother, she was given a very stern talking to, probably her sternest yet, and told that if she did it again, she would get a spanking.  Please, Evie, don’t do it again.  Please. 

6.  Last Sunday, Evie said a bad word in church.  While being led to Sunday School, she said, “Sh–, I forgot something!”  Her Sunday School teacher couldn’t wait to tell me about it after the service.  In fact, she could barely get the story out without laughing.  Her daughter and my friend, Susan, was helping with Sunday School that day, and she had a great time making fun of me.  I love my church.

7.  While getting ready for her first choir performance, I tried really hard to convince Evie that putting her hair up in pigtails was a good idea.  I suggested that most of the other little girls would have their hair up.  Evie still refused, saying, “I just want to be different.” 

8.  Evie and I were riding along in the car in reflective silence.  Suddenly, she informed me that when she grew up, she would have big boobies. 

9.  Evie knows the lyrics to almost every song on Adele’s new album and is not afraid to belt them out.  She also enjoys Beyonce, Maroon 5, Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson.  So far she is not a Belieber.  But that’s not really music, is it?

10.  Dontcha just love Evie?

 

Just the right amount of Evie

The hardest part about posting every day is finding ideas about which to write.  I feel certain there are ideas swirling around me all the time like little gnats of inspiration, and I swat them away.  That being the case, this daily exercise is good for me.  It’s toning all those creative muscles that’ve gotten all soft and squishy.  Maybe by the end of this month when an idea gnat propels itself directly at my face, I’ll…um…well, this metaphor clearly doesn’t work.  If something flew at my face, I’d swat it.  Anyway.

A good way to find ideas for writing is to check out daily writing prompts.  There are several different websites that provide these.  Some of them may seem vague or inapplicable at first, until you really think about it.  I came across one the other day that was “Describe how your house is different from others’ homes.”  I thought for a while about this one, and I couldn’t come up with any way my house is markedly different from yours.  Then I started really looking around here and realized there are some strange things going on.  Come along — I’ll show you.

Elmo has done something terrible.  His sentence?  To hang on the stairwell bannister until dead. 

 

Speaking of stairwells, do you have the alphabet lining yours?  No?  Well, why not?

This is pantry stew.  Tonight’s was a blend of a very old package of Almond Accents, some raw egg noodles, carrot sticks and a browning pear.  You know how Evie is when the inspiration to cook hits her — she’s got to get in the kitchen.  Gill offered me five bucks to take a bite of it.  


Meet Lucky.  Remember the wise old rocking horse from The Velveteen Rabbit?  I think Lucky is much like that horse.  Because he sits not far from where I do my makeup and hair, Lucky endures pretty much daily makeovers, manicures, pedicures, body wraps and facials.  I think he may have even had a haircut at one point.  He never complains; he just smiles warmly at his 3-foot-tall stylist.  Here we see him receiving a once-weekly application of Kleenex to the head.  I hear it’s good for the circulation.

Welcome to Evie’s restaurant.  Evie, the proprietress, is also head chef and sometime customer.  Evie serves a mean apple-punkin pie and a lovely cup of tea.  I prefer her peas with ice cream.  Delicious. 

This is my favorite part of Evie’s restaurant.  Because she’s totally up on the latest culinary technology, Evie’s was one of the first kitchens to have a combination gas burner CD player.  She even upgraded it to include an AM/FM radio that plays soft rock exclusively.  By turning the volume up, she can simultaneously raise the heat under her frying pan.  Love it!

I wanted you to have the full experience of what it’s like to dine at Evie’s.  You’ll note in the clip below that Evie is also cooking in the bathtub.  That girl never stops! 

I guess my house is different from others’ houses.  Who knew?

Even the turkeys wear flip-flops

Christmas decorations are going up here in sunny Florida.  The high temperature today is 80 degrees.  It’s weird.

As I’ve said before, fall is my favorite season.  After a long and torturously humid North Carolina summer, there’s nothing like the crisp air of autumn blowing in, carrying with it the toasted, earthy smell of dying leaves.  I loved getting out my turtlenecks and corduroy jackets to pull tightly around me as I walked under a gentler sun and clear, azure sky.  The deflated, anemic tomatoes disappeared from the farmer’s market to make way for apples, pumpkins, sweet potatoes.  Pumpkin spice coffee and Sam Adams’ autumn brew started appearing on the grocery store shelves.  We switched over to central heat, and the house was filled with the familiar, cozy smell of dust burning off in the ducts. 

There’s almost none of that here.  Today I’m wearing khaki capris, a t-shirt and flip-flops.  Florida has very little locally grown produce, so all the apples are shipped from Washington.  The palm trees don’t put on the blazing displays of brilliant color I’m used to.  You can feel cool breezes but not crisp breezes.

I thought I would miss fall more than I have.  Florida in November is…not bad at all.  When I look out my bedroom window in the morning, I can see that the quality of the light has changed, and the air is cool and pleasant when I step out on the balcony.  I can open the windows for most of the morning to let the breezes, softly tinged with the smell of the ocean, flow through the house.  The other night, Evie was outside playing with Charlie, and I was chatting with his mom, Oolie.  The wind was whipping through our complex, and the temperature was a bone-chilling 65 degrees.  We shivered in the arctic weather and agreed that it was the coldest we wanted it to get.

And it probably won’t get much colder than that, especially during the day.  I think I could get used to this.  After enduring 34 years of North Carolina Januaries, I would trade every one of them for a November in Florida.

Thanks for the memories, Goodwill

I hate clutter.  Always have.  I like clean surfaces and a place for everything.  Sometimes I wish I could deal with what I think of as clutter, especially after visiting someone’s house who has artwork, mementos, bric-a-brac and knick knacks everywhere.  I think of their homes as charming, lived in.  I come home to my own house and try to do the same thing.  Inevitably, though, I end up clearing all the windowsills, the end tables and dressers of all the little things I’ve set up in an effort to be different from who I am.  In the end I always find peace in emptiness.

If I do find a place in my house that’s become cluttered, it bothers me.  It keeps bothering me until I attack it, organizing, wrangling and restoring it to neat piles and ordered rows.  That’s how I end up with bags of stuff bound for Goodwill.  Goodwill has been the answer to all my de-cluttering needs for years.  It provides the perfect outlet to unload all my unwanted but still in good condition junk while also allowing me to feel good about donating to a worthy cause.  

After attacking a linen closet the other day that had staged a minor but earnest revolt, I was left with two garbage bags filled with mismatched towels, sheets and a slew of Eve’s old baby blankets.  As is always so, their punishment was to be shipped off to Goodwill.  But then I had an idea.  It came to me in the shower where all my good ideas live, right between my bottle of deep conditioner and some peeling grout.  What about the animal shelter?  Wouldn’t they need sheets and towels for taking care of all the animals?  I called the local office, and sure enough, they did.  Like, they really, really did.  By the end of the afternoon, the bags had been dropped off and I had successfully talked myself out of bringing home a new cat.

This got me thinking:  Dropping stuff off at Goodwill instead of throwing it away is good, but finding a place to take it who has a specific need for it is even better.  It felt really good to provide the animal shelter with something for which they were in dire need.  Where else could I take stuff?  Here are some of the ideas that came to me from within my shaving cream container:

1.  Toys that Eve’s outgrown.  I had been trying to save said toys for any future siblings (Simmer down, grandparents.  Not yet.). Not only was I running out of room, however, I realized that any future siblings would amass a similar toy collection of their own.  Why was I saving all of these toys?  I realize that I could take some of them to a consignment store and make a little cash, but I have a problem with selling anything that was given to us.  I know, I know.  But still.  So, I thought, what about preschools and daycares in the area?  Surely they could always be an excellent new home for gently used toys.

2.  Business casual clothing.  I have to face the reality that there are some things in my closet that, like the invention of fat-free butter, are just never going to happen.  I have several items I wore every damn day to work before having Eve without thinking a thing of it that I can’t even try on now without my thighs snickering at me.  Instead of hauling these off to Goodwill, why not donate them to a women’s shelter or to a program like this?  There are tons of programs out there who help homeless and/or battered women get back on their feet by providing business clothing and accessories for job interviews.  I also found out about The Princess Project and The Glass Slipper Project to which you can donate old prom dresses and other formal and semi-formal attire and accessories for high school girls who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.  What a neat idea!  And what a great place to take all the formal dresses in my closet!  Wait.  No.  But I know I have at least one sister who was in a sorority in college and might find this to be a great idea as well.

3.  Books.  (This one’s for you, KeAnne — you can do it, my book-hoarding friend.  Free yoself, Miss Scarlett!)  I was running into the same problem with Evie’s outgrown books that I was having with her outgrown clothes.  And I have boxes and boxes of books that I’ve already read or know I will never read.  I know it’s hard to part with books, but if you do it really fast, it doesn’t hurt at all.  And your local liberry would be so appreciative of the donation.  What they can’t add to their own collection they’ll sell at annual countywide book sales to make a little money on the side.  Who doesn’t want to help their liberry earn a little money?

4.  School supplies.  While cleaning out the garage today I found a box filled with hanging files, staples, paper clips, hole punchers, pens, paper and loads of other office supply detritus.  I don’t know how we ended up with all of this, but unless we’re planning on opening a Staples franchise, we don’t need all of it.  You know who would?  The elementary school down the street.  I bet they’d take it off our hands.

5.  Gill’s old tools.  Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, my husband will never work on a motorcycle in order to receive a paycheck again.  But he was a motorcycle mechanic for, like, 45 years before switching careers.  He has a lot of tools.  No, a lot.  I plan on taking them to the community college once Gill goes through them.  I’m sure someone in their mechanics department would grunt appreciatively upon receiving them.  Actually, come to think of it, I may just have Evie run them down there after Gill gets around to sorting them out.  She should have her driver’s license by the time that happens.

I’m still trying to think of other things in my house to donate.  In fact, I’m starting to think of Goodwill now as a last resort.  Poor Goodwill. 

What kinds of things can you think of to donate and to where?

 

 

 

If Evie had her own Facebook page…**

“Thank you for being a friend,
Travel down a road and back again.
Your heart is true,
You’re a pal and a confidante.”

 — “Thank You for Being a Friend”
        Andrew Gold
        (If you haven’t already, you need to get on The Golden Girls train, y’all.)

Moving to a new home means you’ll have to make new friends.  For some adults, this can be difficult.  Adults have hangups, insecurities, baggage and preconceived notions which can make the process awkward and strained.  Adults are also busy, so finding the time to go beyond the initial casual stage of friendship to a deeper, more meaningful level is hard to do.  Children have none of these problems with making friends.  They think of themselves as basically awesome and wonderful in every way, so why wouldn’t everybody want to be friends with them?  And they have no prejudices about other children, either, so they get to skip the awkward stage of making friends and go straight to playing, pretending, running, jumping, climbing and laughing with everyone on the playground. 

Evie is a good example of how this works for children.  Almost everywhere we go, she makes a friend.  I believe this is an advantage of putting her in daycare for the first three years of her life.  She is very social and loves to play with others. (Of course, she sometimes needs a little time to herself to recharge.  She’s a good mix of her Auntie, a wide open, bordering on pathological social butterfly, and her mommy, an introspective, bordering on unsettling weird girl in the corner.)

Would you like to meet some of Evie’s friends that she’s met in Florida?  Okey dokey!

 
Charlie and Evie having a snack at Clearwater Beach.  Charlie’s parents, Alex and Oolie, are from Russia, but they all live now right across the way from us.  Charlie and Evie’s bedroom windows are directly across from each other, so Oolie and I can share in the process of putting our babies to bed.  Incidentally, Oolie is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.  I wouldn’t ever tell her this, however, because it might make things between us awkward and strained (see above).  Charlie is teaching Evie and me Russian: “zabor” is the Russian word for fence.  Evie and I are teaching Charlie Redneck:  “whuuut?”  is the Redneck word for “vaht?”

Evie and one her preschool friends, Meghan, on a bicycle built for two.  As you can see, these are two of the cutest little girls that exist on the planet today.  But I digress.  Because Evie only goes to school three days a week, her class is small.  Apparently, the thing to do is send your three-year-old to the Dolphin class, which meets five days a week.  In hindsight I wish I would’ve done just so since Evie doesn’t want to come home when I pick her up, she loves school so much.  Anyway, the Starfish class, which meets Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday consists of Byron (the only boy, bless his heart), the above-pictured Meghan, Chyler, Gianna and our Evie.  Each day after I pick Evie up, I ask her three questions: 1) What letter did you learn today? 2) What was your favorite thing you did? 3)Who was your favorite friend?  She eagerly answers the first two questions, but seemed confused by the third.  Finally, one day she answered in a slightly exasperated tone, “Mommy, they’re all my friends.”  Point taken.

Evie and Julia in princess dresses.  Julia complained that the Aurora dress was scratchy, which Evie had never mentioned.  I guess maintaining your regal composure while wearing uncomfortable, cheap Disney costumes separates the real princesses from the commoners.  We love Julia anyway.  Even though she’s four years older than Evie, Julia comes over often from her house around the corner to play with little Evie.  They color, play computer games, do lessons on Evie’s chalkboard and make a complete mess with Evie’s dolls and dollhouse.  They share a deep love of macaroni and cheese, too.  One day, Julia and another little boy, Zeke, knocked on our door and asked if Evie could come out and play, and I had another in a growing series of “holy crap, I really somebody’s parent” moments.  By the way, now and again Julia will abruptly get up from playing with Evie and just go home.  Maybe she gets bored or has thought of something else she has to do.  Gill thinks this is weird, but I think it’s awesome and wish I could do it sometimes myself.   

 

Meet Nate, who is possibly Evie’s boyfriend.  Here they’re involved in some activity that requires bicycle helmets and sticks.  I don’t ask questions, y’all.  I just sit in my office chair in the driveway with my Diet Coke and supervise.  Nate is so cute with Evie.  One day she was riding Nate’s younger brother, Luke’s, bike and fell a couple of times.  The third time Nate rode up beside her and purposefully fell down too.  Evie stopped crying and started laughing uncontrollably with Nate.  Awww!  Nate’s dad is Trevor who often comes out to supervise with me and eat giant Tupperware bowls full of yogurt and blueberries.  Trevor and his wife, Christie, are from North Carolina as well.  After Evie and I returned from our recent trip to NC, Trevor wanted to make sure we ate vinegar-based barbecue and that the coleslaw had no sugar in it.  I like Trevor.

I’m glad Evie has made new friends here.  I’m also excited for the day when she grows up a little and meets her first best friend.  They’ll sleep over at each other’s houses, share clothes, practice dance routines in front of the mirror, get sick from eating too much raw cookie dough, spend countless hours on the phone, giggle and gossip about boys, fight and make up but always have each other’s backs. You never forget your first best friend, do you?  I bet you’re thinking of yours right now.

**Which she won’t because of 1) the massive time suckage issue; 2) the fact that Facebook once emailed me to ask why I didn’t have more friends.  I don’t need that in my life, people. 

 

I composed this post while rockin’ out

When we moved to Florida, I knew that Evie would undergo an adjustment period, and I was prepared to help her through it.  For a time she called our house “Daddy’s house.”  One rainy morning she fell into a little heap in my lap and cried about missing her friends.  She would not let me leave her alone at bedtime, begging me instead to sit beside her and hold her hand until she fell asleep.  And there were temper tantrums that erupted from my sweet girl that were quite unsettling, unused as I was to a person being perfectly fine one moment and then writhing and screaming on the kitchen floor the next, surrounded by a spilled box of popsicles I wouldn’t let her have. 

But, like I said, I expected all of this to happen.  I waited for it.  I girded up my loins and everything.  Eventually, “Daddy’s house” became “my house”.  What with the mom’s group we joined, her new preschool, the kids in the neighborhood and random people we meet at the mall, she’s made many new friends.  And her unpredictable explosions of anger at the unbelievable injustice of actually being denied something have downgraded into calm, intellectual arguments concerning the logical disconnect of being allowed that very thing just the day before.

Yes, there is peace in Evieland once again.  It is true what they say that children are great adjusters.  After all, their size allows them to be picked up from where they are and put into another place, so they better know how to regroup.  And Evie has always been at the forefront of adjusting.  When I couldn’t stand being hooked up anymore to a contraption that made me feel like a cow, she happily went from nursing to a bottle.  She transitioned from sleeping in a bassinet to a crib to a toddler bed seamlessly.  And although we did have some setbacks with potty training, once I pretended to call her school and tell them she couldn’t come because she still peed and pooped in her pants, she adjusted to using the toilet pretty damn quick (Devious and cruel? Maybe.  Effective?  Absolutely.)  Overall, Evie has always been the Great Accommodater.

But there is one area in Evie’s life on which she adamantly refuses to budge:  going to sleep by herself.  Before we moved, Evie was generally very easy to put to bed.  We’d read a few stories, rock for a bit and then I’d tuck her in, sing her a song, give her a kiss, say goodnight and leave the room.  I could sometimes hear her on the monitor, rustling around and whispering to stuffed animals, but within 10 minutes or so she was sound asleep.

Folks, those days are gone, baby, gone. 

Nowadays, according to Evie, the worst thing that could ever happen to you is to be left alone to fall asleep by yourself.  When we first moved in to our new house, I happily allowed Evie some latitude on this.  Her room was new and unfamiliar.  Hell, her life was new and unfamiliar.  I would dutifully sit at the foot of her bed, holding her hand and patiently waiting for her eyes to flutter closed and for her little snores to begin.  On the good nights, I could carefully sneak out of the room and Evie would stay in dreamland.  On the bad nights, Evie would wake up every single time I tried to get up.  Or I would almost get to the door, and the floor, which makes no damn sound anywhere else in the damn house except for right at Evie’s damn door, would creak and I would hear, “Mommy!”.  There were nights when I had to send Gill up to pinch hit because I just couldn’t do it anymore. 

But I figured all of this would subside.  After a couple weeks or so in her new house, something in Evie would magically click, and things would go back to the way they were before, bedtime-wise.  Okay, after a couple more weeks.  Definitely by the end of next month.  Labor Day, maybe? 

No.

Y’all, I tried everything.  Reasoning and cajoling.  Bribery and begging.  Reverse psychology.  Manipulation and anger.  Nothing has worked, and Evie stands firm on her position to this day. 

Early on in this battle, I thought back to past struggles I had with Evie’s sleeping.  I have to confess that there were a couple of times when out of nowhere she would freak out at night in her crib when I left the room.  After much research and hand-wringing, I decided to Ferberize her, which is a kinder, gentler way of making her cry it out.  It worked a treat, and after of couple of nights, things went back to normal.  I chalked it up to growing pains.  Later, after moving to her toddler bed, Evie was delighted to discover that she could now get out of said bed, open the door and run willy-nilly all over the  house.  Not being so delighted myself, I put a childproof cap over her doorknob.  I swear to you, all I had to do was look my child square in the eyes and tell her that now she wouldn’t be able to open the door herself anymore, and, y’all, she never even tried.

So, I thought about employing these methods again since they had worked to well before.  First, there was putting the childproof cap on the doorknob.  But, lucky us, we don’t have doorknobs.  We have those elegant curved door handles which thrill children who can easily open every door in the house and infuriate parents because THERE ARE NO CHILDPROOF CAPS FOR THEM IN CLEARWATER, FLORIDA AND THE SURROUNDING AREA!  I think I remember seeing some in Raleigh but a hell of a lot of good that does me now.

Without the childproof caps on the door handles, there is no Ferberizing.  I mean you can try it if you want.  If you do, send me a video of it so I can laugh at you.  I will admit I tried letting Evie cry it out (with a three-year-old it’s more like scream it out), while holding the door closed.  As I stood there, my hands white-knuckled on the door handle with Evie on the other side, screaming, crying and trying desperately to pull the door open, I’ve never felt more like Carrie White’s mother.  I will not be doing that again.

I suppose I could order something off the Internets, but I’m loathe to do so.  Call me crazy, but I think Evie is old enough now to do this herself, without childproofing products or sleep methods.  Maybe I am crazy. 

So, here we are.  Evie in her bed, falling asleep and me, in the rocking chair, waiting for Evie to fall asleep.  I refuse to sit at the foot of her bed anymore (1) because it makes too much damn noise when I get up; and (2) because it gives me the illusion of control in a situation where I have none.  Do I think Evie’s trying to control me?  Absolutely.  Does that make me angry?  Absolutely.  I think every child does at least one thing that inordinately infuriates their parents.  I am surprised at the amount of patience I sometimes have with Eve, but this particular situation sends me right up the wall.  I couldn’t really explain to you why.  I know a lot of parents who stay with their children until they fall asleep, and it doesn’t bother them.  It bothers me.  Maybe it’s because I know, I know Evie can fall asleep by herself.  She used to do it EVERY NIGHT.  Maybe it’s because I’ve tried everything in my arsenal to get her to comply, and she hasn’t.  This means I’ve failed, and I don’t like that.  Maybe it’s because I’ve put in a full day as Evie’s mom, and now I’m ready to punch my timecard, go downstairs and have some Katie time.

It’s probably all of those things.  But, because Evie won’t budge, I have to reconcile myself in some way to the situation while it remains a situation.  I’ve thought about it a lot while swaying back in the forth in the rocking chair, waiting for deep breathing to come from under the blankets of the pink toddler bed across the room.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1)  When Evie naps nowadays (which is rare because I’ve learned that an exhausted child at bedtime means less time in the rocking chair) she goes down perfectly by herself.  It’s just like the old days, and I have to wipe a tear from my eye as I reminisce.  So, I know she still can do it at night.  Here’s the rub: Evie Langston has a good reason not to.  I don’t know what that reason is, but I know that she has given up offers of boxes of toys because of it.  The reason is very important to her.  Is she scared?  I don’t know, but she hasn’t said so, and I’m not opening up that can of worms in case she’s not.  Whatever it is, it’s a good reason to Evie, and I’ve decided to respect it.

2)  Some may think me too dramatic and a pushover for deciding to “respect” a three-year-old’s wishes.  “You’re the parent!  Show her you mean business!”  Imagining what others might say about the situation made me finally realize something, though.  As soon as I start letting those voices invade my head, I second-guess myself and start letting the imagined opinions of others steer the ship.  Looking back on times in my life when I let this happen, I always feel regret that I didn’t take the wheel and do what I thought was right.  Because no one knows the relationship that Eve and I have better than…Eve and me.  And since having her, every time I’ve gone with my gut and done what I thought was best, things have always worked out really well.

3)  Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I will not be sitting in that godforsaken rocking chair waiting for a 16-year-old Evie to fall asleep.  Things will change eventually.  I don’t know when or how, but I have faith that they will.  Last night I tucked her in, said goodnight and walked out of her room.  I stood on the other side of her door to see what would happen.  It actually took a minute before I heard the soft, quick swishes of her feet on the carpet, coming to get me.  No whining, no crying.  Just coming to get me.  Probably I’ll keep trying that until one night I’ll walk out and she won’t come for me.  And that kind of makes me sad, and is another reason I stay in the rocking chair.  I joke about it all the time, but one day Evie really will be gone and out of the house.  She’ll spread her wings, leave the nest and won’t need me to sit beside her anymore and hold her hand.  That day will come.  Do I want to look back then to now and see myself frustrated because she wanted me with her for 15 minutes while she closed her eyes and slipped away from the day?  I think you know the answer to that question.

4)  Have you ever tried sitting in total silence for 15 minutes?  No TV, no laptop, no distractions, no nothing.  Just you and yourself, thinking thoughts.  It’s actually quite nice.

So, if you happen to look up at the clock tonight and see it’s 8:45, you’ll know where I am.  Rockin’.  Thinkin’.  Waitin’.  Puttin’ my baby-girl to bed.