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Sunday, November 29, 2015

All By Myseyellfff...

For some reason, last week I thought of the television series "Northern Exposure," and that I'd like to watch it again. And although it has been a good fifteen years since I've seen the show (which ended TWENTY YEARS AGO, people!), I kept thinking about the characters on the show, remembering them fondly. This morning, I was playing with Mal and thinking about Maurice, the tavern-owner. Then I remembered Ed... and was getting all mushy with nostalgia about these fictional characters.

What the?

Later, I told James that I think I've been remembering them fondly and wanting to see them again as friends because right now, I can't really maintain friendships. It's difficult to manage a full conversation, honestly, so all-out relationships just aren't happening. Fortunately, James is my best friend and he lives here. It's still not easy to complete thoughts out loud to each other, but we manage.

And my sister is only a few miles away, but between her kids and work and my very high needs kiddo, we still only really talk or see each other maybe once a week. But she's family, so comparatively, it's still "easy."

When Daphne was little, I was still "in there." I was out and doing things. I remember very distinctly, when there was some stuff going on in our church ministry, meeting up at IHOP with our lay leader and a woman involved. Daphne was probably Mal's age and was with me. She ate while we delved into some pretty heavy stuff, then took a bottle, fell asleep, and took a 2-hour nap on my shoulder while we continued our conversation. Mal won't fall asleep at a restaurant. Or anywhere but the car or home, really. He did doze off at my sister's last week, and it totally threw me!

But as I was thinking through this and the fact that we're going to miss James' work party next week because of our super attached sweetie, and how I have to bounce in and out of conversations with acquaintances because I have to jump up and chase Mal down or redirect him or tend to something or other, I realized... I'm using him as a scapegoat.

Because, yeah, he's a lot to handle. And, yeah, I'm super busy with him most of the time. And, true, I have to clock out from the real world and only access it via the internet after about 8 PM every night.

Still...

Friendship-wise, it's kind of more of the same for me.

I mean, social media is full of pictures of women getting together with their closest friends for dinner, or a girls' cruise, or things like that. And I just... don't. I never have. I feel sometimes like having a really close female friend is something I'd like, but I don't know if it's just that I don't know how to maintain that kind of friendship, or because I get antsy and like to move after five years or so, or what it is.

I remember going to a couple of girls' nights in at a friend's house in Las Vegas, and I was always miserable when I was there. I wanted to go, I wanted to have fun, but then I got there and I just wanted to be home with my family.

I didn't feel like I fit in. I almost never feel like I fit in.

When I'm with people, especially women, I look around and it's difficult to find someone who seems really sympatico with me. I sometimes have this affinity with men, but since I'm married, I prefer to keep my husband my best guy friend... and thank God that's not difficult; he's awesome! So he's my best friend period.

Anyway, I don't really have a point. I just wanted to put this out there, in case anyone else felt lonely as a mom, or as a woman, or just as a human who sometimes feels pretty alien in the world. So there. It's out there. And it's not just you.



Thursday, November 26, 2015

Please Make These! Pumpkin Gingersnap S'mores!

A few weeks ago, I came across a blog with which I'm marginally obsessed, if that's a thing. I mean, I don't have all day to spend reading up on past installments, but when I get some time, I like to scroll through. This lady has neat ideas, and I kind of want to be adopted into her family. I keep telling myself that we'll be able to do awesome crafty stuff like she does some day soon when Mal's needs aren't so pressing that they take all of my brain energy so that I'm left with no way to plan anything ever.

Anyhoo, the one post I could not get out of my head was Pumpkin Gingerbread S'mores. Hello. That sounds amazing. I wanted to make some, but came a little too late to the pumpkin spice marshmallow game, apparently. After seeing the exorbitant price sellers on Amazon were charging, I thought, "Duh. I can make them."

Making marshmallows is fun and easy and not much more expensive than buying them at the store... only they taste much, much better. Seriously, when I say "easy," I mean it. I've never had a batch of marshmallows *not* turn out good, which is something I cannot say for almost anything else I've ever made: cake, cookies, bread, candies, etc.

I found this pumpkin spice marshmallow recipe to use.


Beautiful pan of marshmallow. You can see the spices!


After they've been cut and dusted with corn starch.

My plan was to get Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Snaps because they are perfectly spicy and amazing. But first, I forgot to get them when I was at TJ's. Then, I thought, "The marshmallows and the chocolate will be square-ish. Why not make a pan of ginger snaps myself and cut them like graham crackers?

Fortunately, I found a good and easy recipe for those, too.

One review made me laugh; he complains about how all he can taste is the baking soda and ginger. Well, 1) I'd be willing to bet someone put 2 Tbsp. of baking soda instead of 2 tsp., and 2) they're GINGER snaps. You're SUPPOSED to taste the ginger.

I thought they were perfect.


I decided to use Cadbury's milk chocolate bars for the chocolate, because, I'm sorry, I know Hershey's owns them now, but the chocolate is still a lot smoother and better-tasting than the traditional Hershey bar.

Took the individual ingredients to our Thanksgiving luncheon and put them together there.


Isn't it beautiful?!

I baked them at a temperature I have no idea what it was (the oven was already on from cooking a ham), but just watched until the chocolate was glossy and the marshmallows started to wilt and brown around the edges. (I thought about using the broiler but have a notoriously difficult time with those things and did NOT want to waste any of this!)


So, my gosh, I can't even begin to tell you how rich and delicious these were. They were like having a slice of autumn jump into my mouth. No treacle annoyance, though it was plenty sweet. Just... just look...


Yeah. Try it. You will be glad that you did!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Another Quick Story

Okay, this one blew us away.

Tonight, Mal had brought me his animal board book to "read" for about the eighth time today. Instead, I reached up high for another animal book that we don't typically read because it's regular paper. But I needed a break from repeating the same six books over and over.

We'd gotten to one page when Mal stood up and walked to the bookshelf for another book. Oh well. It was his book of colors this time, and he brought it to me, opened it, and started going, "ooooh oooh." That's his ape sound and the only thing it could be was the orangutan on the "brown" page.

Once I'd turned it there, Mal put the book down beside the book we'd just been looking at... Dang it if that same orangutan picture isn't in both books, just flipped. An orangutan eating an apple. Mal recognized it and showed us.

Smart cookie (in a box).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Things They Know



Just a quick story I have to tell you about this kid...

Today, James and I were in Mal's room with him when Mal noticed that a page had fallen out of his Jesus Storybook Bible. It bothered him, and he showed me. So I said, "Go get the tape for Momma and I'll fix it." He looked at me like he knew I'd told him to do something, so he kind of walked toward his door and stopped.

I repeated, "Go get Momma the tape, so I can fix your book." He stood there for a minute, so I gave him some time to process, and then said, "Go get the tape and bring it to me, please" two more times. I told James I had no idea if he knew what I meant, but thought it was an interesting experiment.

A moment later, he went into the living room and seemed to have opened the correct drawer. We have 2 low-lying drawers that have various office supplies in them; pencils, envelopes, paper, markers, tape, staples, printer ink, two different cameras, etc. I couldn't see Mal, but I heard one of those drawers open, and that he was shuffling stuff around.

In case he'd forgotten, I said, "Get the tape and bring it to Momma."

He ran back into his room... with the clear packing tape! James and I laughed and congratulated him; I almost cried. Of course, I wasn't using packing tape to fix the book, but, oh my gosh, he went and got tape in a totally different room and brought it back to me. That's a lot of processing going on at once! So fun to watch this little guy grow. Such a blessing.

(And, yes, I immediately got the... whatever you call off-brand "Scotch" tape and fixed his book.)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Updates on the Malster

Okay, so it's been a while, and this kid is growing by leaps and bounds!



Last night, we went to see a model apartment in our complex, one that shows what our upgrades are going to be when we renew. I was walking the stroller up to the street, but it looked like Mal was rarin' to go, so I put the stroller away, and he walked (mostly ran) to the building. After, we came home a different way, and he decided he wanted to walk up the hill toward the office. It seemed like a good time to part company, so James stayed with him and I literally ran home to get a shower. James said he walked up the hill, came back down, ran back up, came down again, and ran up it a third time before fully realizing I wasn't there and wanting to come home. I mapped it, and that kid walked/ran over half a mile. If this is the kind of energy he has, no wonder he doesn't sleep very soundly for very long! Holy cow!

Mal loves to have books read to him. I read through most of his board books about 2-3 times per day. However, he's gotten to where he now has favorite parts in each book, and often will just jump up after we read his favorite part and get the next book he wants to enjoy. Also, he's taken to trying to find certain things in several books, and since I don't know what he's looking for, I can't help him. Often, he can't turn the pages to where he wants to be, so he'll get very frustrated. It's neat that he remembers the books, but I'm sorry I can't help him get to the part he wants!

Tonight, we laughed so hard at this sweet boy, and probably shouldn't have. But after dinner, I looked and saw that we had maybe 1/8 of a cup (like a small home scoop) of Ben and Jerry's ice cream left. I got it out to eat it, and Mal wanted to share. I tried to give him tiny bites, and give myself tiny bites, so that it would last a while, but it was gone too soon. I showed Mal that the carton was empty, and I even scraped out the melty parts that I could. But then I said, "It's all gone." He burst into tears and started stomping around. I told him that's exactly how I feel about ice cream. He then begged me to magically make more appear in the carton, and cried again when I couldn't. Such a cutie. It was then that we decided bedtime was imminent.

Mal went through something for a couple of weeks and he just didn't eat much food. He sometimes has periods like that, when his diapers will look like they used to look at 4 months or so: breast milk diapers. Well, he had some allergy stuff earlier this week, and was coming off of the not eating much, and he was nursing ALL of the time, with last night being the absolute worst... He pretty much nursed the whole night, waking up crying and climbing all over the place ten times or so.

Anyway, when I was telling James what Mal ate today, I realized that he's back on track with the solid foods, I think: slice of Dave's Killer Bread toast, Clementine orange, grapes, fruit and yogurt smoothie (literally banana, strawberry, unsweetened yogurt) pouch, freeze-dried grapes, 1/4 serving pumpkin cheesecake, slice of turkey sausage with cranberry sauce, turkey and dressing potato chip, sample cup of apple pie (all three were samples at Trader Joe's), veggie nugget, 1/4 cup macaroni and cheese, pouch of applesauce and carrots, graham cracker, 1/4 cheese quesadilla, 2 Tbsp. ice cream.

Oh, that list reminds me; I was at a different grocery store earlier this week and saw a very pregnant lady carefully selecting her organic vegetables. I think her eyes might have bugged out a little bit when I passed her and she saw Mal reaching into a McDonald's sack and come out with three fries, all of which he tried (unsuccessfully) to shove into his mouth at the same time. Whatever. It all balances out over time.

That's it for now!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Weird Weather and Words

The other day, Mal and I went to the park, both wearing shorts and t-shirts. The day before had been delightfully chilly, and I was so disappointed that this day was muggy and in the mid- to high-70s already at like 8:00 AM. Apparently, this is an austin thing, which I forget each year, but noticed in my "Facebook Memories" today I was complaining about two years ago. It gets chilly, happiness mounts as I get to enjoy leggings and sweaters, and then... well, someone asked if it were "Indian summer" (is that offensive? I don't know the origin) but I think a more accurate assessment would be that the cooler days are a fake-fall, which we don't actually have here.

Also, another little boy and his mom came to the park while we were there, and he was wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a Captain America hoodie which was zipped all the way up. I'd have been crying in protest if it were me. People dress weirdly here. The day before? Nice and chill; it would have been appropriate. This day? Way to give your kid heat stroke.

Another thing is that the temperature doesn't follow a "cooler when it's dark, hotter during the daytime" pattern this time of year. The high might be at 9:30 AM, then it dives and is 20 degrees cooler at 3:00 PM.

Alternately, I might get up and put on sweats and a long-sleeved shirt, only to have to change into shorts and a tank top in the afternoon, then back into long pants at night.

This morning when Mal and I went on a short jaunt around the complex, it was 58 degrees, and about half of the air conditioners were on. I don't understand why people don't open their windows. I've looked literally every time we've ever been outside and have only ever seen one set of windows (like a double window in one apartment) cracked open at all. It was VERY cool inside our apartment when we woke up this morning; 67, I believe. It got cooler when I opened the windows more. I don't think it ever got above 70 in here. If I had to work, I'd still leave the windows partially opened. I guess I'm just cheap that way.

To change the subject completely: All of those words I reported Mal using a month and a half ago? He's stopped. He rarely (but will a bit) says "Dada." The only other thing he says, and he says it ALL OF THE TIME FOR EVERYTHING, is "ba-hum." It means "help," "I want that," "no, seriously, help," and, of course, "nursies." The thing is, he understands A LOT. Like everything, almost.

We have this joke now when he climbs into my lap and wants to nurse. He'll say, "Ba-hum" and I'll say, "Nursies." He'll usually smack my chest and say, "Ba-hum!" So I'll correct him: "Nursies." Then he laughs or screams like it's the biggest joke, and it makes me laugh.

There have been a couple of times I've asked him to pick up and item and bring it to me, and he's done it. He knows exactly what "vitamin" means, and "bath." When we ask him if he wants to go outside, take a walk, ride his bike, etc. he knows what's going on. He sticks his tongue out on the page in a book where a kid is doing that. He waits for me to give him a kiss on the page in another book where that happens. He gets things.

The other day, I asked him if I could clip his nails. He walked over to get his grooming kit, opened it up, and... took off with the clippers so I couldn't. He gets things!

But it's like he's given up on trying to talk. He vocalizes almost constantly. But he isn't trying to make words, so... that's interesting.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

One of those days (actually, it was pretty great... but I'm tired!)

This morning, Mal slept until a bit after 7, the latest he's slept since the time change last week. He had also stayed up until well after 8 the night before, which was the latest he's made it since the same event.

I had a busy day planned, trying to stay out of the house so James could write for NaNoWriMo, but we decided to go out to breakfast together (meaning the three of us, since Daphne doesn't get up that early ever ever ever). We decided on Kerbey Lane, and James took Mal downstairs and got him into his car seat. As he was going so, we heard a "thud." James' brand new, meticulously-researched and long-awaited phone had dropped out of his hoodie pocket. He didn't tell me until later, but the fall chipped two corners of the screen, as he doesn't have a case yet.

I told James I needed to stop by the bank for cash first, so I might be a couple of minutes after him, then we left in separate cars. As I reached into my purse at the ATM, I realized something; I'd forgotten my brand spanking new camera, which I adore. It has 65x zoom, and I was so looking forward to getting some good pictures at the Austin Indian Powwow. I drove across the street to Kerbey Lane, and called James on the off chance that he'd gone back upstairs for an umbrella or something. I asked him where he was, and when he said, "Bee Caves near Batteries Plus," I just thought, "I don't remember seeing a store on that street," but I was thinking of OLD Bee Caves road, or I would have known something was up.

"How did you get there so much faster than I did?" James asked. I gave him a throw-away reason, but the truth would probably be more like this: I drive like a bat out of hell, and James drives like your grandpa.

I told him I'd just go home and get the camera, but after making a u-turn realized that if I did that, I'd have to get Mal out of his car seat just to run up for the camera, and it was just a big stupid thing; I was so close to all of my morning destinations and I just didn't want to go back out to the apartments.

I had to do a little mental self-talk as I made another u-turn to get back to the restaurant. I don't have to take pictures of everything. It's okay not to have a pictorial record of some things. Chill out. They'll have another powwow next year, and it might be easier to take pictures when Mal's bigger, and maybe someone else is with me. (Although, if it's November and I go in the morning, that's probably unlikely.)

When we got to Kerbey Lane, it was busy and I mentally kicked myself in the butt for not coming in the first time to get our name on the list. I finally did, and they said it'd be 15-20 minutes. They use a texting system to let you know when your table is ready, so I pulled my phone out and saw a message from James. He was wondering where I was. He had gone to the Kerbey Lane on Capital of Texas Highway instead of the one on William Canon, which apparently Waze didn't want to admit existed. I told him where I was and he said he could be there before we were seated.

I decided to let Mal play in the van until he got there, and we were on our way to the car, walking in the pouring rain, when I got the text that our table was ready, barely three minutes after I'd put my name on the list. Mmmkay.

The hostess got a high chair for Mal, but I let him stand in the booth next to me and I ordered his food right away. We have to use the high chairs strategically, only seating him when we need our arms free to eat.

Mal played, ate some crayons, might or might not have mouthed the salt and pepper shakers (the pepper shaker was a mistake, said his face), and ate some of the snacks I'd brought him. James did arrive before Mal's breakfast, and we enjoyed some awesome fried avocado Benedict, although we had to juggle our son a lot, and move around the things on the table an awful lot, and he ate about a cup of raisins.

Oh, when our meals came, I sat Mal in his high chair before realizing that the buckle was missing. James held Mal while I went to get another high chair. Brought it back, sat Mal down, and it had both sides of the buckle, but it didn't snap shut. I carried Mal back to the high chairs, set him in a third one, and buckled it. Good. It snapped.

Unfortunately, the side into which it snapped was cracked, and by the time we got back to the table, Mal was plenty mad about being jammed into high chair after high chair. This time, James went to the stash and found one that did work properly. Even it held Mal for about 3 minutes. He was just done.

I went out to the car, forgetting the diaper changing pad that had all of our booty-cleaning supplies, but fortunately James caught me in the parking lot before I left. Then Mal and I headed to our church's holiday bazaar.

There was a lot of cool stuff, and a very sweet lady offered to let Mal sit at a table with her while I shopped. He seemed really to want to do that, but then he'd get up and try to unplug the heat lamp they had warming a scented candle. At one point, when I was browsing, Mal grabbed a beautifully-knitted stuffed bunny, put its nose in his mouth, hugged it, then threw it on the floor. So, it was ours. I'm hoping it will be his transitional object.

I also got an insulated casserole carrier which I actually needed, but sort of had to get because it was made with this awesome fabric that has 1950s-looking RVs and people on it. So cute. Also, some nut-free fudge because James bought a bunch of nutted up fudge (with my blessing, but, dude, I hate it; however, I love him) when we had access to seconds at the unschooling convention.

I'd have loved to look at more things more closely, but... baby. So, I bought my stuff and promised to come back if I could find someone to come with me or on whom I could pawn off the sweet thing for an hour. Spoiler alert: did not happen.

Because he had some energies, before our next event, I took Mal to "his" gym. It was Dadurday all up in there. I've learned that Saturday is Dadurday and national holidays are take-your-grandkids-to-gym days. Every gym day is mommy day for us. Mal played a while, then we headed a couple of blocks over to the arena for the Austin Powwow.

When we got there, it was raining, and we had to park quite a way from the entrance. Mal was fascinated with puddles. Once we got into the gate (where there were no vehicles), he immediately kneeled down and put his face into one. An elderly gentleman passing by asked, "Is he trying to drink that water?" I said, "Yes, yes he is. He sees the dogs do it, so he does it." Of course, I meant "cats." I have brain issues when I'm tired.

Mal also sat in a puddle directly, so when I carried him indoors, we were both pretty damp. He loved the music and we were sitting up high in the stands where it appeared that other parents of littles had decided we'd all be out of the way. Our kids begged and shared food, took turns hanging out with adults they had not brought, and played together/parallel to one another. There are long breaks between songs as emcees explain what is going on, and I learned a lot.

I even cried a little bit. First, just seeing a culture so lovingly maintained. I have no idea from where my family hails, and we have no old world traditions (except for holidays that are pretty widespread). These are peoples who value their languages and lifestyles and don't want them lost to the future. Also, the kids next to us all had giant turkey legs and the smell was getting to me, as it made me miss Daphne!

After that, we came home and Mal fell asleep in the car. I figured we had about two hours of quiet and there was much I needed to get done on my computer. However, it was being stubborn and after nearly half an hour of motors grinding, I rebooted. That process took fifteen minutes. Then Flash kept stopping and wouldn't restart. By the time I got my issues worked out, Mal had awoken. He was still in nap mode, so I nursed him back to sleep. But that took ten minutes or so. I sat back down to figure out what to do first, and by the time I'd opened a couple of browser windows and had sent a message to a friend, Mal was awake awake. It had been barely an hour.

Mal has gotten into the habit of crying to get up on the bar stools because he thinks we're going to let him play with our computers. We're not, but we've both made the mistake of letting him bang around a couple of times, and now we're paying for it. We've decided to be mean and just say no, all the time, for any reason. He can't get into James' office. He can't use my laptop. And he's not happy.

I felt gypped out of my "midday break" and felt my emotional energy bottoming out as Mal continued to fuss. James asked what he could do to help, and there wasn't anything. I was trying to give him this day to write, but things weren't working out to cooperate.

Eventually, we all hung out as a family, ate some lunch, and then took a walk to the mailbox together. James wore Mal! Mal thought it was very funny, being in the carrier somewhere else besides on my chest. He returned home in a much cheerier mood.

There was a fall festival that started at 3. I waited around, killing time while he was entertaining himself, until a bit after 4, and then we went.

The festival was fun, but it made me happy yet again that I'm not in a megachurch. I appreciated their hospitality, though. Mal rode his first and second carnival rides, and he loved them!

Swing!

Teacup! (More like spitoon)
Other than that, he had fun just walking around, dancing to music, and eating a brat from Best Wurst. We had a nice time, it was chilly and windy, and Mal seems to agree with me that it's the best weather ever.

When we got home, he had a good-natured hour or so with his dad, took a bath, we video-chatted with his grandma, and then he came quietly and compliantly to bed. He's awakened once already but is back to sleep. And, guess what? I'm tired! Also, I haven't done that stuff I wanted to do earlier, but it requires brainpower I don't have anymore.

Maybe tomorrow, right? Hope springs eternal...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Our complex's best balconies!

After having lived in Las Vegas for nearly a decade, I was ready for some dang land when I moved to Texas!

After seven and a half years of dealing with an acre and a half (including thousands of linear feet of edging), I was ready never to have to maintain a stinking lawn again!

I've loved living in an RV and renting because I don't like "wasting" my time with yard work.

I do, however, enjoy being outside on mild occasions, one of the (few?) perks of living somewhere that it's hot: You can sit outside in the shade many afternoons and it's tolerable, and maybe even enjoyable.

Both at the Nuthaus and here at Vogefutter, we've loved our patios. They're seriously an extra room for us, and our lives would be much more claustrophobic without them.

For instance: You might have noticed that we had Daphne's birthday celebration on our patio. My sister and one of my nieces (I always spell that word wrong on the first pass) have horrific cat allergies, so it's nice to have them over and them not die or whatnot.

However... some of the people up in this complex have really gone the extra mile in making their "outside room" spectacular. Mostly, this involves lots of plant life... between the cats, the babies, and my killing things (besides my sister and niece - spelled it right that time because I typed super slowly), I don't know that this is an option for me.

But I certainly appreciate (and am mildly jealous) of their efforts. Here are some pictures from around the complex.



 Some of the downstairs units have recently had gates put up so that they have a wee "yard." So cute!



I like that the scarecrows are really for us. :)


We might be able to pull off something like this. Not too many plants, but still a nice space.






This is our caddy-corner downstairs neighbor, the 90-year-old woman and her 70-year-old daughter. They put out carrot chunks on the patio to draw rabbits. It works!



Pretty sure they're growing weed. Okay, maybe not. But this is a HUGE patio (the biggest model in the complex) and they have several structures with plant lights, and they also have the additional plastic I'm guessing to keep their dog from shimmying out between the railing. It's not too impressive during the daytime, but it's kind of hard to see what's going on at night, too. Whatever it is, it's a lot.

Daphne Turns 14!

Yesterday, my daughter turned fourteen! Why does that sound so much older than thirteen?

Heh... she blew the candles out in James' face! :) Yes, it's a cake surrounded by KitKats and covered with candy corn.
On Sunday afternoon, 4/5 of her Austin cousins came over to help her celebrate. They brought a care package of some of her favorite foods: Promised Land chocolate milk (if she can't have that, she makes it herself because she detests all over chocolate milks... so she makes it a lot, because $$$), mini peanut butter Ritz crackers, Velveeta shells and cheese... Goodness, do they know her or what?

TJ stayed after everyone else left, and he and Daphne had fun playing games, watching videos, and then messing around with Mal's toys. They're fun! They played made up ball games about the last hour and a half, and I'm so glad Mal was able to go to sleep even with balls hitting the wall and door of our room; I didn't want to have to tell them to stop.

In honor of her birthday, I wanted to share a story about Daphne from about nine years ago. It's poignant to me on several levels, which I'll explain in a minute.

For now, let's go back in time to August 2006, when Daphne was 4 (almost 5) years old....

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It was Sunday night and we'd had small group at our house. Before everyone left, the parents always had their kids "straighten" Daphne's room, which basically amounts to getting things out of the middle of the floor, since when it's not your room, you don't really know where stuff goes. At the time, we were in a group with seven or so kids besides Daphne, and they'd really gone to town. When the house was empty, I changed into my pajamas and went into D's room to put things where they belonged and to help her get ready for bed.

I literally cried. Someone had taken the Lite Brite onto her top bunk and had poured all of the pegs out, so that they were all in the bed, around the mattress, having fallen into the parts of the bed I couldn't access due to its construction, etc.

The kids liked to use the back part of Daphne's bed as a fort or hiding place, which was great because half of it was empty and there were doors on both sides. However, one side had all of her board games in storage. Although technically you *could* crawl in one side and out the other, neither Daphne nor her other friends had ever done it because: wall of games. But apparently it was tried this night. Boxes that had previously been pristine were crushed, and pieces from Monopoly and Don't Spill the Beans and Hi Ho Cherry-o were everywhere, along with Matchbox cars and cards and play money, and just a huge mess of busted boxes.

Someone had decided to have a "real" tea party with Daphne's tea set. She had a table and chairs in her room, and an en suite bathroom. They'd gotten water and had spilled it all over the place, which would have been okay if it had just been on the table and carpet. But there were books, probably a dozen, that were water-logged and bloated.

Literally everything that was not "normal" clothes had been pulled out of her closet (dress-up, jewelry, toys, etc.)

I have always wished I had the gift of hospitality, but it was clear in that moment that I didn't. I was so miffed by what I perceived as disrespect of our stuff (really normal kid stuff, but, gosh, what a mess) that I just wept during the almost hour it took me to right her room, put game pieces together, tape boxes, etc.

When we were done, I realized that Daphne was up past her bedtime. Also, that I was hungry. And I had no energy to make anything.

So I asked Daphne if she wanted to go to Taco Bell with me, and she did.

 Daphne, rocking her Faith Weaver Friends t-shirt and Dora the Explorer house shoes.


Me, in the pajamas I just wore two nights ago (I keep clothes forever) and my Mickey Mouse house shoes (sadly, trashed). I love and miss my dog purse.

We decided to entertain ourselves by taking pictures making stupid faces while we ate. Here they are.










Bonus adorbs picture.

Obviously, we giggled a lot during that meal, and by the time we left, I wasn't even mad anymore. It was a stressful night turned fun because we made fun of it. It's one of my sweetest quirky memories of Daphne's growing up.

::::HARRY POTTER SPOILER IN THE PARAGRAPH BELOW::::

The pictures are bittersweet to me. I really do miss the days when Daphne wanted to go places with me. It didn't matter if I wanted to take her for a bean burrito at 9:30 or just run to the grocery store. She even enjoyed driving around all day to hit 8 mystery shops and put 200 miles on the van while we listened to Harry Potter on audiobook. (I'll never forget coming back to the car after a reveal portion of a shop and her telling me that the headmaster was dead. What?? And then who killed him. WHAT?! I had to back it up and listen to it myself.)

::::SAFE TO RESUME::::

So that part stings a little, but I know this is a season, and when she grows up a little bit, she'll want to go out to eat with me or do other things. Maybe not until she's out and on her own and the whole away-from-home dining thing isn't so readily available, but I'll take whatever I can get!

However, these memories also fueled my flagging energy during the first year of Mal's life. As tired and spent as I ever was, I knew from experience that better days were coming. Fun days. Days of silliness and friendship. Days of mutual support and making each other smile. And I knew it because of my sweet girl's childhood.

I am grateful to have been chosen to be Daphne's mom. In every stage. It's an honor and a privilege and I'm glad we get to share a roof for the next few years. <3