me

searching for grace

One day last week a teacher at school asked me how I knew a particular person. I replied that she’s my aunt. How do you know her?
Her ex husband is besties with my cousin, that aunt’s younger son. And she’s known him since she was a teenager.
The teacher asked quietly if I’d spoken to my aunt or uncle lately.
In all honestly, I hadn’t spoken to them since my dad died in 2014.

(Here’s where a bit of backstory is important…
My dad was adopted when he was five year old.
The family who adopted him also had loads of foster kids.
This aunt is married to one of those foster kids. So even though I’m not blood kin to any of these people, that’s how I was raised. One of the foster kids is my uncle, and his wife my aunt.)

As the teacher and I stood in the hallway at school, she told me that my other cousin and his wife were found in their home, deceased victims of gunshot wounds.

I honestly didn’t know how to feel.

I remember the day he was born.
I was ten.
We were at Grandma’s and my uncle came over to share his joy. His first son had been born early that day. I remember being so excited about a baby cousin! I remember hugging my uncle. I remember joyful tears.

I keep thinking about that baby who became that little boy. Who became that teenager who became that grown man.
How could he be gone?

He’s gone because he found out his wife was seeing another man and he shot her.
Then he shot himself.

I didn’t feel equipped to process this information when I spoke to my uncle. All I could do was tell him I loved him.

I keep coming back to a seeming inability to make sense of it.
I keep thinking I wish my dad was here to talk about it with me.

My heart is hurting.
How much pain exists in one to take a life and then one’s own?
I’m actively working to understand.
I’m expressing love and support to my uncle, aunt and cousin.
I’m not at all judging, I’m simply trying to make sense of it.
I’m searching for grace and hoping my family finds peace in their grief.

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little joys

After the last couple weeks I am unbelievably content to be in my own home to sleep through the night in my own bed, and to get things the way I like them.

Oftentimes it’s the little things that bring the most joy and I’ve found big joy in the littlest things in the last week or so.

a gorgeous Georgia sunset.


unpacking the Autumn bins

Spending a day with Thing 1 and Baby K shopping at Home Goods and Target, and yummy (Baby K requested) lunch of cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and french fries at Five Guys. Thing 1 was thrilled with all the Halloween stuff at Home Goods, and in her own words, “I had no self control.” She sent Husband N a photo of her buggy and he remarked that the retail therapy was good for her.
I found more Autumn things and mused if YBW would be like, WFT? if I brought home more pumpkins. Thing 1 reminded me he was pretty clear about how many Baby Jesuses were too many Baby Jesuses, but had never applied that to pumpkins.
I actually only bought one pumpkin, I did however get new fall napkins and dish towels (which he did have something to say about) but I’m content and I suspect he accepts that.

I realized Sunday morning as I was putting away the new towels it might behoove me to roll them instead of fold them, and sure enough, I can get two and one half rolled towels in the space I got two folded towels.

I will admit to being excited about this…after all, I did say it was the little things.
Of course some of the regular towels are in the laundry, but the Autumnal plaid and mustard yellow towels will only be active September through November, and the Halloween ones only in October so I feel confident about the allotted space.
(especially since as soon as those fall towels get packed up, Christmasy ones will come out)

It’s still hot as balls here, but I’m embracing meteorological fall in every possible way!

I finally hung the lights on the roof terrace. Of course the outdoor extension cord I have isn’t long enough, but a perfect length one was delivered the following day.

Looking forward to using the fire pit as the evenings get cooler. (a gift from all our kids last Christmas)

When I sent that photo of the towel drawer in the group chat with the girls, I wrote: I discovered I can get more towels in the drawer if I roll instead of fold!!! It’s the little things
To which Thing 1 replied: Awesome! I love it
Then I wrote: Thanks! It’s lame but I got excited about it, so thanks for going with me!

I share that sentiment with y’all, it’s a bit lame, but I thank you for going with me.
It really is the little things.
Where are y’all finding joy today?

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laughing and crying as the eldest daughter

I saw an instagram post about this buzzfeed article 21 Tweets About Being The Oldest Daughter That Will Make Any Oldest Daughter Laugh And Then Probably Cry and had all the dang feels.

If you’re the eldest daughter, you know.
If you’re not, you probably have your own laugh then cry list for where you fall in your family’s birth order.

I sent this to Thing 1 and this was her response:

The one that got me was number 6. I watched for years as my little brother got away with bloody murder. I was held to an unrealistic standard and he pretty much got to do whatever he pleased.
The simple truth is that I’m better off as an adult in the real world than he is, so hooray for unrealistic standards…? (she asks as she laugh-cries)

This got me wondering…
Sometimes you’re not the eldest daughter but are thrust into that role because: family dynamics.
Sometimes you’re the eldest and don’t have this type of experience.
So, I’m curious about y’all.

How many eldest daughters out there? (solidarity, baby)
Did this list of tweets roundhouse kick you in your feels?
Did you laugh then cry a little?
I want to talk a about this with y’all!
Let me know what’s up.

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an inexperienced yet somehow expert road tripper

Thursday morning two weeks ago at 7:17am EDT Baby K, YBW, and I left home for Georgia.
(If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’re wondering about 7:17. My goal was to leave by 7:00 and we ran seventeen minutes behind. In the grand scheme of life seventeen minutes off schedule isn’t too bad and I quickly let it go.)

Baby K hadn’t made that trip since July of 2020 when her family moved here. She had no memory of making that trip. She had no concept of ‘road trip’. But with a bit of explanation and creative encouragement she was ready for the undertaking.

We had the right mix of toys, books, stuffies, and snacks. We had the right kind of attitude. We had a new and improved route. We had a girl eager to see her mom and dad.

Now, I’m here to tell you Thing 1 and Thing 2 were experts at car travel. They had more miles under their butts before they were out of car seats than many adults out there. Between their auntie in Charleston and their grandparents in Florida, my girls were experienced over the road travelers.
Turns out it must be genetic because Baby K was a delightful car traveler.

We stopped often enough for her to stretch her legs and go potty, and for YBW and I to switch driving. She ate enough snacks, read enough books, napped enough, and chatted and sang enough to entertain herself and us.


You’ll notice the busyboard to her right, the snack bag to her left, a cup of water in each cupholder and an apple core in her lap where it rested while she slept.

Our journey took a little over twelve hours.
Never once did that kid complain.
Never once did that kid whine.
She was content.
She was funny and playful.
She was kind and loving.

She was a better traveler than some adults I know.

She shrieked, “Momma! Daddy! I see Momma and Daddy! Daddy! Momma! I here! We here!” when we pulled into the driveway at her Nana’s house where her parents stood on the porch.
Her joy was reflected on the faces of her mom and dad.
She was with the people she belonged with and she was joyful!

Monday the following week, Thing 1, Baby K, YBW and I began the return journey.
(Husband N came home the following weekend.)
While we were packed a little tighter than we were going down, we managed to share snacks and waters and songs and conversations. We stopped for chicken biscuits and to pee on the side of the road. (potty chair to the rescue)
Somewhere between Columbia, SC and Charlotte, NC my car’s AC stopped blowing cold air.
(WHAT THE ACTUAL FUUUUUCK?)

Y’all, never once did any of us complain.
Never once did any of us whine.
Never once did any of us lose our temper.
We made the best of a bad situation.
I’m still not sure who lead the best example, us for Baby K or her for us.
She only expressed once that she was hot.
When she expressed not liking the road noise she understood when we explained it was either noise or heat, she chose noise. I mean, we didn’t really give her a choice, but she agreed that noisy air was better than being hot.

We made it home in just less than twelve hours.
YBW adjusted the temperature of the house via app from the road so we were nice and cool the moment we got home.
Baby K was happy to sit in the chair and watch Mira, Royal Detective while we unloaded the car.
We brought Thing 1 and Baby K here to our house because it was closing in on bedtime and we could share the responsibility easier together. I took them home (in YBW’s air conditioned car) Tuesday morning.
Sundance stayed with the dogs and cats and welcomed us home when we arrived Tuesday morning. Of course Baby K wouldn’t even look at her and Thing 1 and I were so tired we barely made conversation, but somehow she knew our gratitude and left us with big hugs.
After putting Baby K in bed for her nap (I got to rock her which I haven’t done in such a long time!) I helped Thing 1 change her bed and left those girls to their own devices.

Somehow a three year old girl, inexperienced in the fine art of road tripping, turned out to manage it like a dang expert!
I can’t explain it, but I’m certainly here for it.
She did have great help from her mom and grandparents, I’m just sayin’.

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from substitute teacher to substitute parent

When Thing 1 and Husband N left Virginia for Georgia Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, Baby K became YBW’s and my responsibility.
It was simpler for her mom and dad to handle the business of her Nana’s death without the responsibility of her three year old self.
She was also starting preschool for the first time that Monday morning.

I was meant to be at school all but one day the first two weeks. They were desperate for coverage in the SPED classes until the new hire’s background check came back and I was ready to get back to school!
I made one phone call Saturday night and instead of going back to school Monday morning I took Baby K to her first day of school.

I went to stay at their house because it was easier than bringing Baby K and two big dogs to our house. Not to mention so much farther away from her school. YBW stayed at home because that was easier for him to get to work.

Let me tell y’all something, people in their fifties shouldn’t be solely responsible for people who are three.
That girl is an angel (also devilish) and I’m not that old, but wow! Being completely responsible for her wore me out!
Of course, she was processing Nana’s death. Her mom and dad literally took off on a moment’s notice. She wasn’t sleeping well. She was equal parts excited and nervous about starting school. And while Birdie is no slouch, that’s simply not the way things are meant to be.

All that said, first day of school went off without a hitch!

I was so sad after dropping her off.
I called her mom to report the news and we both cried.
Even though I feel so grateful for the experience, Thing 1 should have been the one to kiss her and tell her to have a great first day, not me.
Thing 1 told me that if she couldn’t do it, she wouldn’t want anyone other than me to do it.

Papa came out Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the first week of school. We took Baby K for cheeseburgers, milkshakes and french fries. Her very specific request.

She was amused that her shake had both a straw and a spoon so she put them both in her mouth and told us she was a walrus.

We had three days of school that first week.
She came home hot and sweaty, dirty and hungry, and damn tired.
She came home happy to have been at school, happy to be with me, and ready to make the journey to Georgia to see her mom and dad.

While I was meant to be at my school, and my daughter was meant to take her own daughter to school, fate had other plans for us.
We’re unbelievably fortunate that I was able to drop everything and substitute parent!
Thing 1 and Husband N were grateful we made their life a bit easier as they had to be responsible adult children by temporarily relinquishing parenting responsibilities.
I’m unbelievably fortunate my husband dropped everything and came to help Tuesday. I was so grateful to have another adult share responsibility for Baby K.

You show up for family.
It’s just what you do.
Our kids needed us and we were there for them.
I was lucky enough to experience that first day of preschool with Thing 1 all those long years ago and with Baby K last week.
It’s not the way things were meant to be.
But it’s the way things were.
We made the best of the situation and we did it with so much love.

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Baby K weekend – August 2022

Last Baby K weekend of summer was chock full!

We woke up Friday morning and sent Papa off to work before we went to Target and Bards Alley.
Early Saturday morning we went to Roer’s Zoofari (formerly known as Reston Zoo). We chose this instead of the National Zoo because it’s so much more interactive for younger kids.
And let me tell you, our grandgirl interacted with all manner of wildlife that day!


We started in the butterfly garden.
Where she worked tirelessly (as tirelessly as a three year old can work) to ‘catch’ a butterfly on her stick. (the sticks were long cotton swabs dipped in red powerade)
While she didn’t actually ‘catch’ a butterfly, both Papa and Birdie were able to coax one on, then Baby K got to hold those sticks.

In the barnyard Baby K fed goats and petted a wallaby.

The largest goat stole the cup of carrots right out of her hand.


According to Baby K “the wallaby not very soft”.

We went on the safari (a tram that drives through the part of the park where the llamas, deer, bison, cows, and water buffalo hang out) so we could feed the deer and llamas. She wasn’t entirely impressed…

But she was impressed by the camel.

That girl was hell bent to get on that camel!
She was so brave!
Though not quite brave enough to go by herself.
(Thing 2 says, “Sometimes you need some Birdie backup”)

Interacting with wildlife is exhausting work, y’all.

Sunday morning I trimmed her hair.
We played with blocks.
“Let’s build a playground for the dinosaurs!”

The triceratops spent most of his time destroying the structures as quickly as we could build them. “He say BASH! BASH! BASH! Birdie”

She found the old tobacco can full of buttons.
“We are pirates! This our button treasure! Arrgh!”

My brother, cousins and I played with these buttons at our grandmother’s house when we were kids.

Time with our grandgirl is always an adventure and I’m so grateful to have this time with her.

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directed by James Burrows

I just read a memoir, Directed by James Burrows.
You know his shows…
If you love (or like, or even just watched) any of them it’s an interesting read.
If you don’t it’s still an interesting read.

I remember my dad loving Taxi and Cheers.

I was seven when Taxi began and twelve when it ended. I remember being smart enough to understand how good it was, but young enough that most of it went over my head. I remember not getting Latka at all. I remember wondering why Louie was always so dang mad about stuff. I remember thinking there was something about Reverend Jim that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I remember being fascinated by Carol Kane’s voice. I remember not getting why it was funny but oh my goodness, did I love to sit with my dad and listen to him laugh.

By the time Cheers came on I was eleven so I was a teeny bit more savvy than I’d been at the start of Taxi. I remember feeling somewhat ambivalent to begin with. I remember wondering why Coach was so dumb. I remember wondering why we couldn’t see Sam play baseball instead of be in the bar. I remember liking Norm from the first episode. Carla was mean in a way I understood and could almost relate to. Diane was snooty and I didn’t like that. And I could not even with that damn mailman! Yet I continued watching. I grew up with the people in the place ‘where everybody knows your name’. That show helped shape my sense of humor through my teenage years and into my early twenties. I especially remember laughing with my dad as the jokes landed for both of us.

When Will and Grace premiered, I was a twenty-seven year old mom of two young daughters.
I didn’t watch this show with my dad.
But I did watch it religiously.
It remains one of my most favorite shows of all time.
Will, Grace, Karen, and Jack are selfish and flawed, but their love for each other is real. And because they love each other, we loved them too.
I didn’t love the three season reboot as much as I loved the original eight, but I gotta tell you I was so damn excited when it came back I could hardly contain myself!

Obviously Jimmy Burrows directed many more shows…but these are the three that are most special to me.

If you look at these shows you’ll find they all have the same underlying theme.
Your family is the people you choose.
Those people in that garage were a family.
Those people in that bar were a family.
Those people in 9C were a family.

Blood doesn’t make a family.
Acceptance makes a family.
A magical combination of compassion and selfishness makes a family.
Choice makes a family.
Love makes a family.

The ability to choose your family is one of the universe’s most precious gifts.
I encourage you to choose wisely.

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mind your business

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This is what my brain feels like.

Ever since June twenty-fourth I’ve struggled to make sense of the world around me, but mostly I feel like that shit-show up there.

Look, I understand there are differing opinions regarding abortion. I’m not opening this up for differing opinions to hate on each other. This has been so heavy in my heart and I’m trying to make sense of it. I’ve journaled. I’ve had conversations with people I trust, people who’s opinions differ and are similar to my own.
But I’m still struggling with how to wrap my brain around it.

Is abortion always the answer?
I don’t believe so, but how could I possibly know what’s the answer for another woman?
Is it up to me to decide what’s the answer for another woman?
Absolutely not.
And here’s why: It’s none of my fucking business what’s the answer for another woman.

Unless you’re the one that’s pregnant mind your business.
That’s the bit that matters most.

What I believe is different than what she believes is different than what he believes is different than what you believe.
And no one wants (nor should they have) to live their lives according to another’s beliefs.

I believe in the right to choose.
But for me pro choice isn’t always pro abortion.
For me pro choice means it doesn’t matter what I believe about abortion, it’s not up to me to make decisions about what an another woman can or cannot do with her own body.

What’s happening in this country is more than negating bodily autonomy from (approximately) 170 million women. So many of whom already lack access to appropriate medical care.
It is an attack on women.
It is an attack on girls.

Abortion is a hot button topic. I get it.
No one will change their mind.
No one will choose to see the other side of the debate.
But that isn’t the point.
The point is each of us must do the ultimate kindness and mind our own damn business.

(This was me trusting y’all and it’s still not quite what I hoped to get out. I’ll be over here continuing to sort out how to feel. Let me know what you think but please don’t come at me. Abide no hatred.)

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grateful for a brain reset

This summer felt weird.
Almost like it didn’t really start until we came home from Thing 2’s at the end of June.
Then I blinked and July ended.
Now it’s all gearing up to get ready to go back to school.

I find myself searching for something just out of reach…
Perhaps I’ll focus on what was worth celebrating.
Perhaps a little brain reset?

I’m looking at all things for which I am grateful.
What better brain reset could there possibly be?

This is what I’m grateful for in May:
four negative COVID tests
YBW being only a little bit sick
Amber (she does my hair)
Jessica being here
Nicole and Jon being here
Baby K finally meeting (and loving) Nicole
two of my three alternative health care providers
Essie Willow in the Wind

What I’m grateful for in June:
LAST DAY OF SCHOOL (Dobby is a free elf)
celebrating at two graduation parties
Essie Aruba Blue
Baby K weekend
a day at Nats park with my darling nephew
an unexpected Holly day
finally being at home with Thing 2 and Boyfriend M
new ink
celebrating Josie at her surprise birthday party
one of my three alternative health care providers

What I’m grateful for in July:
celebrating twenty-five years of Thing 2
an extra long Baby K weekend
Democracy jeans
Six at the National and cocktails at Round Robin with Thing 1

dinner with Nora and Dale
Essie Spice it Up
a Bards Alley trip with Baby K in which she discovered kaleidoscopes
Thing 1 creating the perfect labels for my pantry containers with her Cricut
two of my three alternative health care providers

I’m chock full of gratitude this summer for:
being able to read so many books
fresh peaches
time on the roof terrace

a new grill
tequila
brewing some damn fine iced tea

Even though things are weighing heavily on my brain and heart, I’ve got so much to be grateful for!
I hope y’all’s summer has you chock full of gratitude too.

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didja miss me?

When Thing 2 was in second grade her teacher went on maternity leave. The substitute teacher was a man with precious little personality.
Seriously, we parents had many a conversation that went a bit like, WTF is up with this dude?
Anyway…
Thing 2 had been home sick and upon returning to school, she burst through the door and announced, “DIDJA MISS ME!?! (possibly like this)

Cut to Thing 2 getting off the bus that afternoon as I stand at the end of our driveway: *recounts story (may or may not have done the move)* and says, Momma! (all indignant-like) Everyone cheered except Mr M. (may or may not have stomped her foot here) He didn’t even look up!
My daughter was so fucking offended by the audacity of this teacher to be underwhelmed at her return.

I share this story because as I began to write, I thought (in Thing 2’s seven year old voice) Didja miss me!?!
I gotta say I missed y’all.
If you missed me too, thanks.
If you didn’t, no worries, I’m not offended by your audacity to be underwhelmed at my return.

I find myself missing writing.
I find myself lacking the desire to say anything.

So here’s a quick recap of what’s up in my world since we last spoke…
YBW tested positive for COVID the day before Mother’s Day. He was feverish and achy for about three days but once his fever broke he was simply congested and had a weird lingering cough.
International Week of the Birthday began on Mother’s Day, so needless to say, there wasn’t much to celebrate.
School finally ended the middle of June. It was a tricky school year and I wasn’t sad to see the end of it.
Spent a (hotter than balls) day at Nats Park with our darling nephew.
We went to visit Thing 2 and Boyfriend M in late June. Finally getting to be in their new home!
I got new ink.

Of course, the normal stuff: loads of Baby K time, read fourteen books, bubbly day with Holly, farmer’s market mornings…

I feel like I’ve had so much on my mind, so many awful and lovely little fish swimming around in my brain. I don’t feel like I’ve been able to chronicle any of it, I just had to live it.
Thoughts hatching all over the place, and thoughts refusing to hatch.

And you know, that’s OK.
Perhaps I needed a brain break.
I feel like I’m ready to come back swingin’.

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