Not an Ireland Post

So I came here with the intention of finally getting this Ireland narrative going. As you’ll see, I went off the rails entirely. If you still check in from time to time, I really appreciate it. I’m inconsistent lately. This summer has just been constant activity. Even when I have found down time (Ireland for instance), it hasn’t really allowed for easy blogging opportunities. We’re home for the remainder of summer and have a couple of weeks on the docket full of not a whole heckuva lot. I’ve also got at least … um…two post ideas. So maybe there is the tiniest shred of hope.

One of the reasons I’ve been a little out of pocket other than the traveling is that I have been quietly looking for a different job. This district is totally chill about transferring between the schools within the district, so I bit the bullet back in May and came clean with my admin that I would be job-searching through the summer. As much as I hate telling people I may not come back to the job they gave me, I am SUPER glad I was honest from the beginning. Always nice to not be a jerk!

The tricky part of this job search came down to the fact that I was only looking for jobs within a 15 minute drive of my home (as opposed to the 40 to sometimes 60 minute commutes I had last year). This left me with very few things to apply to and even fewer interviews. Even though I was glad to have a job still lined up, it was a bit disheartening knowing I wasn’t hearing much.

Until today! I snagged one! Pretty much the same gig as before, but 12 minutes from my door. No highway driving at all. I haven’t set foot in the building or met my new colleagues because it was a phone interview, but when I drove by today, I was encouraged by the amount of windows I saw. Did I mention I didn’t have windows in my classroom last year? Probably like 1000 times, right? I really appreciate natural light in a school building. Here’s hoping I can also snag a room with a window of some kind. Think good thoughts.

Now that I have that mental weight off of me, and the summer travels behind me, and even Rolo in an afternoon theater camp for a bit, I should be able come back very soon ready to rave about Ireland. And rave I will!

Until then, here is a photo story of Beau, my grandmother’s dog, in which I have popped him upside down in my arms like a baby for what might be the first time in his life. I don’t know why this tickles me so much. He was willing but clearly befuddled.

 

 

Rambling and Rambling…

So we have been back in the US for a little over a week…and tomorrow Rolo and I fly out again to see family in Arkansas. There hasn’t been much downtime yet this summer! Lots of good adventuring, but not a ton of just sitting around at home tackling summer projects. This accounts for some of why I haven’t managed a follow-up post about our travels. The other part is that I don’t have my computer, and I spent the early part of this week trying to track down my keyboard for the iPad with NO luck. I DID clean out the boxes my parents brought me from their attic to my shed (full of childhood “treasures”). That’s a story for another day though. Luckily, inspiration struck today when I remembered that my child owns a perfectly acceptable little laptop that she mostly forgot about after I got the iPad.

So here I am finally typing! Hi, everyone! Missed you!

How should we tackle this post? I think I mostly threw a bunch of pictures of our first few days at you last time. Maybe I should start there and give some details. Let’s see. We first went to LA, where it decided it should be cold and rainy on the day that we couldn’t check into our hotel for 7 hours. It was gorgeous the next day though and we wandered up and down Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier area taking in all the sites. Just so you know, a two minute Tilt-A-Whirl ride at the pier is $8. Silly. We watched skateboarders, street artists, and part of a bodybuilding competition. At one point, we all got our own ice cream, like literally each from a different store. I had Ben and Jerry’s. Yum. Rolo got something artisan from somewhere or other. And Sergio found some ice cream with real honeycomb in it. This was a favorite moment for me from LA. – each of us with our favored ice cream enjoying it all together. Oh, and we had excellent kebab just before this! I’ll try to look up the names later.

Our hotel was a very unique space (The Ellison) that was once owned by Laurel and Hardy. It was clearly residential at some point as our room was really a suite with a kitchen and living room. Rosalind’s bed pulled out from the wall like a drawer. It was very quirky and cool and comfortable. It was one block from the beach. After we finally checked in on the rainy day, we all curled up in bed and ordered FatBurger from Postmates. If you find yourself looking for a good, quirky, experience in Venice Beach, we recommend this hotel. Don’t mind the giant sign on the wall that says, “This is not a hotel.” It is a hotel.

We then met our Alaska friends at LAX and hopped an Air New Zealand flight to Heathrow. We opted to try the SkyCouch offered through this airline with the additional fourth seat option. This means that you can fold out your three seats into a bed and sleep two people. The third person goes across the aisle and sits up like normal (except on our way home where NOBODY else was in the middle aisle and Rolo also got a whole row of seat on which to lay out if she wanted to. Alas, the flight home was a day flight, so the unused seats offered more in mental comfort than physical). I was pretty skeptical that the SkyCouch would work out for anyone other than a mother/baby combo, but I am now a BELIEVER! I’ve never arrived in Europe so genuinely rested.

We stayed at a chain hotel in Covent Garden for this first leg of London. It was conveniently located and perfectly nice. We took the kids to tea at the Park Room again because we enjoyed it so much last time, and the Grover’s Tea option (you have to call ahead and tell them you want this, but it still available despite being absent from the website) is so nice for children. What I didn’t tell you in the last post was that about one hour before the tea began, I realized that I had lost my phone. Day two of our trip and I had lost my iPhone. Not. A. Good. Start. We all did our level best to forget about the big OOPS and enjoy tea. Either my phone was back at the Caffe Nero near our hotel, or it was gone for good, and there was little to be done in the ensuing hours until we made it back to our part of town. Against all odds, Caffe Nero had it safely stowed away behind the counter when we returned to ask. Thank you kind stranger in London for turning in my phone! Later in the trip, we ran into a forgotten phone in a lonely corner of the Louvre, and we took the time to get it turned into the nearest authority figure. I hope everyone got back what they lost because my returned phone saved the whole trip for me.

We also revisited the Tate Modern and the Borough Market on this leg. We had a really nice meal at Dishoom. We obviously had the Full English breakfast offered in the Borough Market. Sergio, Rolo, and I took in the Freemason’s Hall tour because it was just up the road and we’ve done a lot of London stuff by this point. I think this was my 5th time to London? It never gets old. It’s kind of funny how much the three of us enjoy being in Britain no matter how many times we’ve been before. The Freemason guide was very adorable and enthusiastic and he made lots of Trump jokes because the British seem to have far more humor toward terrible politicians than I can muster.

Rosalind and Graham (the three year old son of our travel companions) became fast friends throughout the trip. He called her “Roland” the whole time, and if that isn’t the cutest thing you’ve ever heard, then I don’t even know.

We then hopped another flight to Paris. We stayed in some very cute and functional flats in the 11th. We very much enjoyed exploring our neighborhood, though as I mentioned, the further from tourist central you are, the more French you need to know. It’s not that we hadn’t practiced, it’s just that I totally freeze up.

My favorite part of our neighborhood was the large market along Richard Lenoir stretching from the Bastille monument. We had a sausage sandwich on a baguette here with a side of cherries from another vendor. We had lattes in paper cups. Rosalind had fresh squeezed orange juice and a Nutella crepe. We sat on a bench and watched people go by. It was lovely. It felt like the most authentic experience that we managed in France.

As much as I enjoyed everything we did in France, a lot of it felt sort of manufactured to get as many tourists through as quickly as possible. Because we WERE doing all the tourist stuff, so of course. We took Rolo to the Eiffel Tower (her only specific request), explored the Louvre, wandered one of the gorgeous parks and the Natural History and Children’s Museums. We had croissants and cheese and cured meats and bread and bread and bread ( and brains, and foie gras, and even McDonalds at the Louvre). We went to Montmarte and toured the Sacre-Couer. Rosalind got a beret. We toured the catacombs. We played at the adorable neighborhood playground often. It was good. It was busy. It was sometimes very hot with Paris reaching into the high eighties while we were there. We often rested at outdoor cafes for a light beer (for us) or a bottle of wine (our friends) to ease through the heat of the day.

Okay, I think I have to stop there for today. Back later with Ireland! And then London and LA AGAIN! I know! So many legs of this trip!

Here’s the rest of the Paris pictures.

Just Checking In Briefly

Sorry for the silence, but we’ve been traveling. So far we have visited Los Angeles where it was rainy and cold the first day, but picture perfect the next morning. We had a few days in London where we revisited some favorites and tried some new things too. Now we are in Paris. We have spent the first day and a half exploring our neighborhood in the 11th and doing a lot of cafe-sitting. We did manage to wander a massive cemetery and see some interesting dead folks today. Or at least where they rest.

I haven’t taken a ton of pictures yet, but I’ll leave you with what I have for now. Edited to add: I found Sergio’s photos too, so there are actually a decent amount already, I guess.

Not So Pro Tips:

Live-action Aladdin is a great thing to watch when you have seven hours to kill before hotel check-in on a rainy day in LA because we enjoyed it just fine and wonder why the reviews are so harsh.

If you plan to stay outside the tourist center of Paris, even just as far as the 11th arrondissement, you’ll need to know more French than we anticipated.

Get the SkyCouch/extra seat combo ( Air New Zealand) if you are not a good plane sleeper. I was pretty skeptical that it would work, but Rolo and I got the best sleep I’ve ever had on a long overnight flight.

Pack literally anything you want because the weather never cooperates, and your wardrobe will be wrong for your destination at least 35% of the time no matter how prepared you thought you were.

 

Recently

Our rose bushes. They’ve exploded.

Eliot has had a haircut and he is in that fun place where he basically becomes an extension of the microfiber gray blanket.

Albuquerque has a little food truck that is a repurposed double decker bus from Britain. It’s a donut and coffee shop. We approve.

Mother’s Day. They brought me balloons and succulents and stuffed animals and all the food choices I could want for breakfast. Rolo insisted we do each other’s hair and match our earrings. Eliot got to come on our short hike. Charcuterie dinner yet to come. Good day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Less than two weeks of school left! Two weeks until summer travel begins!!!! I. CAN’T. WAIT!

Today Was the Day!

Half Marathon Day! 13.1 MILES!

Up to this point, we had only managed a little over 8 miles each. Not because that’s where we topped out, but because that is the amount of time we had been able to devote to training. It was anyone’s guess if we had another five miles in us or not going into the run today.

I know there are no real consequences to failing at this task, but we were both VERY jittery about the whole thing.

First of all, the half marathon started at 7 am. This meant we had to squeeze the whole weekend into yesterday because today was going to be morning work and then a day of recovery. I struggle with a few stomach issues while running, and one of them is that I can get rough side cramps (sore for days afterward level cramps) if I eat too closely to run time. So the first thing we did with our 5 am wakeup call was force Lara Bars down our throats. I hate eating in the early morning. A Lara Bar is especially chewy that early in the morning.

Then we headed to the race area and tried to use the bathrooms because long-distance running can take a toll on anyone’s belly after a while, and I have had a few close calls during our training days. If you are keeping count, that is two stomach issues for Dawn. And just so you know, I could NOT go to the bathroom ahead of time. Sergio once told some travel companions that I have “exquisitely shy bowels” when explaining why we couldn’t share a flat. Has any single sentence ever expressed more about me as a person? I doubt it.

Sergio and I have been training in the hills area of ABQ, and this proved wise because the race was on almost complete flats. Despite our training app always having us run in intervals, we jogged easily through the first 5k, and then even after separating, through the first 10k as well. Had anyone taken my time at that point, I was doing better minute to mile ratios.

It was really nice to run on flat surfaces for a change and have periodic water handed out. There were also bathrooms. Not as many as promised, but I was hopeful that I wouldn’t find myself in a real emergency without resources along the way if worse came to worst.

After the 10k (6.2 miles) distance, my body started complaining. I didn’t give in to my interval training quite yet, but I did let the pacing group behind me get ahead at this point. I allowed myself to start walking through every water break. My lungs were fine, I was chipper and chatty. It was my JOINTS! My hips in particular. I would say it’s because I’m old, but legit old ladies were passing me pretty regularly, so I can’t blame age.

The stretch between 8 and 10 miles was the real mental game for me. Everything over 8 was more than I had ever asked my body to do at one time. Everything below ten still just felt like SO MUCH left to do. This is where I probably lost the most time. I did some intervals. I took a very quick potty break. I had some motivating chats with myself. I switched from podcasts to music with a heavy beat. My hips and quads were seizing.

The crowds cheering us on got thicker at the 11 mile mark. Another runner and I chatted a bit and were reenergized that we had under a 5k left to go. The level of embarrassment at both walking and/or falling down due to cramped hips/quads overcame everything else and I maintained a run slow lope for the last two miles.

And I FINISHED! And Sergio FINISHED! 15 minutes ahead of me. I can’t speak directly to his experience because we set different paces after the two mile mark, but he said he really hit the struggle wall at eleven miles. He had the same pain in the hip/quad region.

So if you were wondering, the two greatest challenges in distance running for novices appears to be cramping hips/quads and the very real possibility of pooping yourself in public. Maybe that last one applies to me more than others, and I know you wish I would quit talking about it, but I think we need to be honest about running, and the trots are REAL! I’ve never mentally thanked my body quite so much as I did today after it got me all the way HOME before giving into gravity.

I know my time wouldn’t impress a real runner, but I’m not the least bit worried about that. Going into today, we were genuinely concerned we might not make it before the three and a half hour cutoff time, so we were pleasantly surprised with our times.

When we started this training, a 5k was my upper limit/push myself level of running, and now a 5k is my twice a week maintenance run, and I can totally live with that improvement. While I’m proud of us both, I think the credit really goes to Sergio for keeping this train on the tracks. If he hadn’t kept us motivated all these months, I would have quit on this goal SO HARD so long ago. Shout out to Sergio for helping me to do something I never thought I wanted to do, but now have done, and will brag about for the remainder of my life. Run a half marathon? Oh, pshhh, I’ve already done that. And I didn’t even soil myself. Thanks, dear, for the memories.

Updates

I know, I know, I know, I know. It’s just been so busy lately. Here’s a make-it-all-up-real-fast picture post to get us caught up.

Rolo had to do a science project for her class. We might have overshot the runway a little when we let her choose a hypothesis based upon rockets. Next time we’ll suggest something that requires minimal investment of both time and money on our part. Having said that, she really did a great job and learned a lot. I think she and Sergio had fun shooting the rockets. I was in a Benadryl-induced stupor most of the weekend they did the experiments, but it sounded fun when I surfaced from time to time. My contributions on this one were keeping Rolo on track with her deadlines and being super picky about her presentation being neat and orderly.

Rolo also wrapped up her choir involvement with two performances, one of which found me in a Mormon Easter service on a Saturday night … much to my surprise. Her secular choir turned out to be, uh, slightly less so than previously understood. She seemed to have fun, and I guess that’s what matters. There were other non-church performances and I only have too-long videos of those. Screenshot below.

We did some Easter stuff. Advice: use only gel food coloring as egg dye for the rest of your life! Game-changer.

And our first Farmer’s Market outing of the year.

We went back to the Waffleria and remembered to take pictures this time. Have you ever had a coconut waffle? Because it’s like the best coconut cake you’ve ever eaten, but in waffle form, and you should have it at every available opportunity.

Accountability check? Yes, we are still running, but our steady practice has been interrupted by sicknesses and responsibilities. Sergio seems really on track. I’ll just have to hope. The run is THIS WEEKEND!

Eliot loves the sun and the fake grass. And he bad needs a haircut which we’ve been trying to accomplish for upwards of three weeks but keep being thwarted in our efforts.

We saw Endgame on Saturday as early as we could so that we could avoid spoilers. I won’t spoil it for you except to say, it’s worth it. Go see it. If you’ve seen all (or in our case, 21 of the 22 MCU movies) the emotional payoffs will feel bigger. If you haven’t invested a decent portion of your life to the MCU, you’ll still know something significant is happening because this is one of those movies where people cheer throughout and then clap at the end. I don’t have a picture from any of this, but here’s one of Rolo’s school carnival on Friday.

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Rolo’s school running club came to an end on Saturday with a 5k. It was a big event attached to a larger Women’s running group event. While I could have hoped for more bathrooms and not having to be shuttled to the location, it was still a fun experience. More importantly, Rosalind has some skill with distance running! She and Sergio clocked an excellent first 5k time for Rosalind, and came in as the first of her school group. A full TWENTY minutes ahead of me and the kid I volunteered to be a running buddy for. Clearly there are different levels of motivation for running among kids at this age. We’re really proud of Rosalind, and more importantly, she is very proud of herself.

How to: Stalk Your Children

Come with me on this blog post journey, the real purpose of which is to allow me to avoid work. Best Gene Wilder impersonation in 3, 2, 1…Come with me, and you’ll be, in a wooooorld of pure procrastination.

But for real, I’m mildly unsure of how to best proceed with a work activity, so I’m avoiding it like it involves having a part of my body amputated. Maybe I’ll get it done tonight on the couch and allow the next 32 1/2 school days to slide by a bit more smoothly. That’s right. Counting down already. I’ll spare you another song snippet though.

We got our 10 year old a phone of her own. And just go ahead and slow your judgment roll, TYVM. We are fully aware that this child needs no additional screen distractions in her life. However, she is also trying to stretch out and be a bit more independent from time to time. By her age, my brother and I (and all people around my age) were pretty seasoned at having a few adult-free hours a day in which we learned the basics of caring for ourselves. Yes, that care typically looked like bowls of cereal in front of the tv, followed by fights over the remote until one of us (me) cried, but it still allowed us time to make some choices and mistakes and such. Ask me how many times I spilled milk, or sugar, or Kool-aid and then frantically tried to clean it up before my parents got home. Ask me how many times my mother immediately said, “What’s sticky right here?” upon walking in the door. Whatever the answer is, it is the same for both.

Kids Rolo’s age? Well, we might go to jail if we were caught leaving her alone for more than a saunter down the driveway. She has only JUST learned to spill sugar and Kool-aid all over the counters by herself. In two years, she will be expected to handle some real alone responsibilities, and I won’t even yet let her use the toaster or microwave while I go for a quick jog. This is bad planning! Kids need more incremental independence!

Another aspect to getting a phone is that Rolo doesn’t have the best phone skills. We’re hoping that with having to answer the phone and chat sometimes, she’ll have more opportunities to learn basic phone manners. So far, this has resulted in her calling us while she does her afternoon walks with Eliot and saying, “Talk to me, I’m bored.”

And if all that wasn’t enough, we got her a “dumb” phone. You remember those tough-as-nails Nokias that were the first phones of every early-Oughts teen? Yeah, they still make a model of that. A very light and colorful model that works just exactly the same. It’s so crazy how easy it is to remember the navigation. It doesn’t do much (yes, you can still play Snake all day!), but she couldn’t be more intrigued with the freedom it brings along with it. She is scooting to school alone each day and alerting us that she arrived safely. She is going to the park and keeping track of when to come home. She is also learning the hard lessons of keeping it charged, not losing it, and even overcoming the humiliation of your phone going off in the middle of class. And while it may not buy us a ton of time, it MIGHT get us at least two more years before she is lost to a world of social media and selfies on a more sophisticated phone.

Or maybe she’ll lose it today. Who knows? She’s only barely ten.

 

What I’m …

Reading: Almost none of these are the books I went to the store looking for, but I’ve discovered that B&N sells hardback books that are about to be paperbacks very cheaply if you aren’t too picky. I’ve felt ‘meh’ to ‘blech’ about a couple of these, but hey, cheap books!

Bear Town by Fredrik Backman

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Saga Volume Nine by Brian K. Vaughan

Harry Potter 5 (with Rolo) by J.K. Rowling

Watching:

Sex Education (Netflix)

Catastrophe Season 4 (Amazon)

Captain Marvel (Theater) – Loved! Really made me reminisce pleasantly about my teen years. We need ripped loose-fitting jeans to come back into style now. If we can all look like Captain Marvel in them anyway.

Aquaman (Redbox) – I did NOT enjoy this movie, but Rolo seemed entertained, so that was okay.

Free Solo (Hulu) – Could not have made it through this movie if I had not already known the outcome.

Listening to:

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend Podcast

Eating:

Tia B’s La Waffleria (So good!)

Firebird Nashville Hot Chicken (Yum!)

The Melting Pot (Fun for the girls for Rolo’s birthday, but the food is NOT good).

Doing:

Still running! We have a 100 minute run coming up this weekend. Which leads to –

Researching knee wraps! Cuz my right knee acts much older than 36. Thought I was about to bite it in front of students yesterday when I slowly shifted weight in a totally normal way, and my knee was like, “slide to the right, fall down low, all the way to the floor, cha cha real smooth.”

Toting Rolo to activities because she had a big piano event last weekend (with a few extra practices in the weeks before), and she has four choir events spread out over the next two weeks. She is also still in her running club, but that (mercifully) happens right after school.

NOT working on the house much because we are in a holding pattern now until after our summer trip abroad. Sergio and Rolo have some yard projects happening slowly (because Rolo keeps taking breaks to see if she can scale our garden walls), but I’m very uninvolved.

Looking forward to:

Summer, SumMER, SUMMER TIME!!!

 

Dear Rolo

You turned TEN YEARS OLD on Saturday. Can I just say, how dare you?! TEN YEARS OLD! ExCUSE you.

In some ways you are still just a little girl, all knees and elbows, and in other ways, the little girl is disappearing faster every day. I’ve had a long time to get used to the fact that you aren’t my chubby-cheeked little baby anymore, but both your father and I were floored by this particular comparison –

Again, I say, EXcuse YOU. I’m sure some of this transition can be chalked up to having a healthy amount of sunshine/vitamin D in your life for the first time in a few years, but, um, I can’t really deal with the fact that you seem to be firmly in the pre-teen camp now.

It’s clearly been a year full of growing up for you, and since you have the misfortune of having us for parents, we didn’t make this year any easier on you. It was another moving year, and this one was rougher because you were really well-established and comfortable in North Pole. You had a solid sense of self and place there. In fact, one of the reasons we chose to go when we did was because we knew if we kept waiting, it would only get harder. You were turning into a Full Alaskan. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s just that we didn’t plan to stay forever, and if you stayed forever, then we would have to stay forever. We’re selfish like that.

I know it might not seem like it now, but you will be more resilient and adaptable in the future because of the way we wrench you around. Despite all of my excuses and pseudo-apologies for upending your life, you have handled it just about as well as anyone could hope.

*So, in the interest of full-disclosure, I just wrote and deleted three paragraphs. I love these letters to you, and I think you’ll probably get a kick out of them one day too, but you have also reached an age where maybe I’m violating your privacy?

I feel like I need to be more careful describing your year now because it’s really starting to be your story to tell. I don’t know. Just know that I’m only going to publish two thirds of the picture from here on out, okay? You’ll have a ten year old one day and wonder why they are so much more emotionally nuanced than my account of you at the same age, and you need to remember, so were you. So was I. So was everyone. *

Without further ado…

You are as enthusiastic, curious, and confident in new situations as ever. You have a little bit of a tendency to be far more jazzed about new things until the hard work begins, but I think that’s pretty typical.

You love to perform. You love accents and characters and imaginative play that sounds just exactly like an improv performance. We are definitely looking into a theater camp for you this summer.

You have turned more toward the humanities recently. You are on the 5th Harry Potter book which makes my heart so happy because I’m a giant dork. You’ll have to come to terms with that soon. Sorry. We actually read them together a lot, but you zoomed right through the first three without my involvement. Yes, you would still prefer to play with Instagram filters or watch the most mind-numbing Youtube videos, but you also love a good story. You love to pick up a book, you still love to be read to, and you love when we listen to audiobooks as a whole family. You’re also finding a lot of enjoyment in writing lately. You have an excellent writing voice and a sense of humor that translates well on the page. It’s not that you’ve abandoned the sciences, we have a rocket science project in the works right now, but you seem to be expanding your interests.

As you get older, I see so much of your father in you. First of all, 40 degrees is not shorts weather, but you and your father disagree with me about that. Second, you are a social hermit, in that you are a social butterfly but also a hermit. You like people, you want a large circle of friends, but you don’t want to actually be outside of the house/neighborhood. Ever. Where should we eat? Home. We need to run an errand. Can I stay home? Do you want to go do something today? I’ll ride my scooter around and play with the neighbors. Okay, little Sergio. Between the two of you, I can get a little stir crazy. You can also both get frustrated in a fraction of a second, and sometimes watching you two bounce off of each other can be almost amusing. Nobody knows how to motivate you as well as your dad, though, so he clearly understands your mind better than I do.

You’ve been especially cuddly this past year. You are so quick to come seek long hugs from us lately. Maybe it can be blamed on you needing extra affection during this transition period, but I’ll take all the cuddles I can get for as long as I can get them. We have a very short time frame left in which you are still shorter than me, and I’ll still hope for extended hugs when you tower over me too, but it’ll be different when I feel like am the one being held instead of the other way round.

You are moving forward in the world more independently and there is only so much I can do for you now to keep you safe and successful and happy. This must be what people mean when they say having teenagers (I know you aren’t a teenager yet, this is just dread setting in) is harder than babies. As I like to remind you every year, you were a HARD BABY. I feel like my dues have already been paid. I think they are right. At least when you were a baby, I could protect you from all but the most terrifying eventualities. Now I have to stand by and watch as things like angst, rejection, conformity, failure, and temptation attack you from every angle. I’m starting to parent from the stands instead of the floor. It is not my favorite stage, but I suppose it is inevitable.

We are lucky, though, because we got a kick-ass little jokester with a pretty good head on her shoulders when we got you. I think you are going to continue navigating the world like a boss … even with us as your parents.

Happy double digits, Rolo Cate!

Love,

Mom

 

Extreme Makeover Tree Edition

We have this one tree in the front yard. It seems we have zero pictures that feature this tree because in order to get a Before picture of this process, we had to run down the street and take a picture of a neighbor’s yard.

There are a ton more trees in Albuquerque than it gets credit for having. There are massive cottonwoods in the bosque by the river. We are currently covered up in white and pink blooming spring trees that I haven’t firmly identified yet. There are a ton of willows.

Our tree is none of those. It’s a yucca. And when your favorite type of tree can best be described as a giant, ancient, moss-covered oak overhanging a creepy cemetery, a yucca just doesn’t really fit the bill, ya know?

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However, having to teach New Mexico history this year has taught me a lot about the historical significance and utility of yucca plants. There are definitely different varieties and ours may just be decorative, but it still gives me a much greater appreciation of the tree than I would have had otherwise. I think my original exact words were, “How much would it cost to take that out and replace it with a willow or something?”

Anyway, I’ve grown to appreciate the tree for just exactly who it is, and I will love it and care for it accordingly. Or maybe it’s more appropriate to say that Sergio will because he went out and trimmed it. FOR DAYS! It was no easy task. It involved pulling off the lowest leaves, cutting off the slightly higher ones, and then getting in there and just attacking it to shave up and trim off all the scrub left behind. And then he cleaned up the mess. And then Rolo went out and rearranged our xeriscaping because she loves chores that involve rocks. I literally did NOTHING on this project. I didn’t even help clean up the mess. Clearly, they had it expertly handled without me anyway.

It looks so. much. better. It was like a man in a gilly suit that needed a wash, and now it’s a lady showing off her sexy gams in her short dress!

Did you know it’s just a regular bark-like trunk under all that? I had no idea. Very interesting. We did throw away something like four giant trash bags full of trimmings, but we also have two or three large piles of the leaf/branchy things to play with in our front garden area. Weaving fun!