Something exciting happened for Rolo yesterday


Obligatory Before and After.

She is as excited as she looks. We went straight to the store after school yesterday and bought Hi-Chew, Saltwater taffy, Fruit by the Foot, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, and Jolly Ranchers. Our Sticky Candy Party was usurped when the neighbor invited Rosalind out to McDonald’s and the park with her family, but we’ve still had a few celebratory pieces of candy snuck in here and there.

Related to nothing: Rolo is tall. Also, I had no idea this skate park even existed until her scout troop went to clean it up. I’m learning so much about my town right before I leave it.


Brain Vomit

I know that it is time for a post, but my mind seems too chaotic to settle down to any one story or topic. My mind feels like the ball in a pinball machine. It can’t settle in one spot before it pings in twenty different directions. It’s weird because I also feel very dull. It’s a place my brain goes from time to time that feels pretty much just like when an awkward silence falls over the table on a date. The more I scramble for a topic, the duller my brain feels.

Despite how the previous paragraph sounds, I feel totally fine. A little stressed that I am not getting everything done that I should be but really quite okay overall. Just like, ugghhhh, come on 16 days from now. I think I might even be getting everything done that I am supposed to? I keep trying to pack boxes only to realize that I can’t pack anything else right now. I took down as much of my classroom as I can at this point and brought stuff home. I donated an entire carload of stuff last weekend and can’t donate again until I’m done using stuff two weekends from now. I’ve thrown out trash every Friday for weeks so that I can avoid going to the dump. I just…want to be done…and I can’t quite be done just yet.

Everyday my students and I stare at each other knowing that we have to keep plugging forward but silently acknowledging that none of us actually want to be doing anything at this point. It’s a real question of who wants to do their thing less. Do they want to work less, or do I want to grade less? Who will crack first? Time will tell. Just kidding, it’s them. They cracked about four weeks ago.

Anyway, here are the highlights presented in brain-pinging fashion:

Sergio is settled in Albuquerque and seems very pleased with everything so far. Follow his Instagram if you would like to see the few pictures he has shared so far.

Rosalind had her spring concert at school and did not knock the kid beside her out cold despite some close calls.

It snowed hardcore on May 1st causing me to take no less than five videos of it and whine to everyone I could think of.

The job of moving has been made easier by Rolo’s little friend next door. He has laid claim to nearly everything we didn’t sell or don’t plan to take. Some of it is a great deal and some of it is junk. I’m guessing his parents hate me by now.

Rosalind has hit the horror inducing age of talking on the telephone. Unfortunately for her, she was born with all of my phone awkwardness and not one tiny stitch of my desire to avoid the phone at all costs. You’ve never eavesdropped on anything as awkward as a kid that wants to be on a phone with friends so badly and yet can’t open her mouth to say one natural sentence. I nearly hyperventilate in the next room every time a friend calls.

Even though we are many states apart, our family all managed to watch Infinity War last weekend so that we could discuss it freely without spoiling anything for each other. Pretty sure Sergio and I talked about the movie for a good two hours afterward. Does that make us weird? I don’t know.

I saw this portion of a poem by John Donne the other day, and it is just so damn fitting for this time of year.

“Busy old fool, unruly sun,

Why dost thou thus,

Through windows, and through curtains call on us?”

These pictures are from about 9 pm. Can’t imagine why my sleep schedule is off right now.

The Middle Places

I want to pack up everything in the house, but I still have to eat and clean and wear clothes and make coffee for now.

I want to break down my classroom, but the kids get sad when rooms are sad too soon before the end of the year.

I want to stop making new lessons and hounding the students, but the coasting time is at least one more week away.

I want to quit going to meetings and helping plan for next year, but that just isn’t allowed.

I want to get interviews for jobs in Abq, but I probably won’t until my license is approved.

I want to let the movers come early so that I can deep clean the house and then donate or dump anything leftover, but there are still three weeks and three days left to live like a normal person.

I want to either grocery shop like normal and make complete meals, or stop cooking entirely and eat cereal and takeout everyday, but instead we should eat up the random assortment of food in the cabinet.

Rolo and I both want to break out the Spring shoes and clothes, but the ground is taking it’s sweet time to fully cooperate.




Clearing House

Poor Sergio had to do so much work when he came back to visit. We made a huge dent in the amount of stuff we need to get done in the next three weeks. We leased an apartment in Abq, scheduled our utility start dates, accomplished an amount of paperwork on both of our professional licensures that could make your head spin, packed several boxes to the point of taping and labeling, bought additional boxes that we are currently filling up as we can stop using items, got the oil changed in the car, and perhaps most importantly, we had a garage sale!

I’ve only had three garage sales in my life and the results are always mixed. A lot of the things I thought I knew about garage sales from my past experiences proved untrue here. In the past, people were much likelier to buy my weird junk than my actual items of value. The first yard sale I was ever involved with was when I was ten years old and a woman bought a box of broken trophies. Why? What would you do with those?

However, here in Fairbanks we have three nearby military bases. This means there is a constant stream of people moving in and out. Garage sales are a huge part of the way people get settled while they wait on their stuff, and most people that leave Alaska tend to leave a lot behind. It’s a pristine model of supply and demand.

I did have to work hard to stay focused on my goal though. Remember, when you are having a moving sale, the goal is to rid yourself of stuff. It is NOT to make a profit! It is NOT to get out of your quality items the value that they are actually worth. It is just to watch your stuff walk conveniently away from your home. It’s hard to get into that frame of mind at first, but I settled in pretty fast. When someone asked me what I was charging for x, I would think of what I wanted to say, then I would go down a level of price. If I thought $15, I would say $10. In reality, if I had taken time online and waited, I could have gotten $25, but that’s not convenient, ya know?

Speaking of things I thought I knew about yard sales being wrong, our hottest item turned out to be the twin bed platform frame and mattress. The frame was not a surprise, but the mattress floored me. First of all, it squicks me out to buy a used mattress from strangers. Second of all, it was a thin Wal-Mart mattress. I didn’t know how to turn off the Facebook Marketplace comments and so had to delete my Facebook for two days to avoid the total onslaught of people wanting the bed. It was crazy.

The biggest inconvenience of the sale turned out to be that people did not bother reading the post that clearly stated a date and time and physical location. I’m not online selling! Stop messaging me! Just show up! Two and three hours after the sale was over (Craigslist and Facebook posts were deleted, and signs were down) people were still pulling up and seeing the closed garage and then KNOCKING ON OUR DOOR! Nope.

Except not nope because at first we just reopened the garage. We finally realized we could just say that we were sold out without seeming like we were being jerks.

Anyway, I am now a few decent donations to a thrift store away from being done with all of our excess items and $360 wealthier than I was on Friday night. I can live with that.

Later Saturday afternoon we went to Hoodoo Brewing to have a couple of beers outside on the patio with Sergio’s friends, and then we had wood fired pizza at East Ramp Pizza. It is located right off of the runway of our airport for the puddle-jumper sized airplanes. It was a great Fairbanks day and a much better send-off for Sergio than we managed the last time.

Rosalind slept until 10 am this morning which is unheard of for our little Early Bird, and I definitely feel her. It was a busy ten day visit.

T-minus 29 days until we are on our way!

Stuff I’m…


Technically, I am still reading We Were Eight Years In Power and Ready Player One, and The Professor (at home) and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (at school) and The Secret Garden (with Rolo). However, the fact that I was reading the first one back when I last posted a “Stuff I’m” post, you can tell I’ve not been doing enough reading. I did manage to plow through Good Omens between these posts, but I’m ashamed to say that screens are winning the attention battle right now.


Somebody Feed Phil – Sergio is back in town with us for ten days and he introduced me to this food and travel show. Netflix dumped several food shows all at once. I really enjoyed Ugly Delicious as well, but something about the host of Feed Phil totally speaks to me. It’s just a genuinely nice show.

Brooklyn Nine Nine – I’ve been re-watching all the past seasons on Hulu. I don’t think this show gets enough credit. I love it. I audibly laugh at least once per episode. Great cast. It’s up there with The Office, Frasier, and Parks and Rec for shows I can watch over and over and always find entertaining.

American Vandal – We’ve only seen two episodes, but the premise of this show really hits my funny bone.


Home cooked meals – Sergio didn’t get much home cooking while living in Arkansas at an extended stay hotel, and Rolo and I changed our meals to very easy things for busy weeks. We’re all enjoying some slow cooked food for a change. Sergio smoked steaks the other night. That was yummy.


Packing up for the move. Applying for jobs. Having a yard sale.


A lot of grading. Applying for a teaching license in New Mexico (my Arkansas renewal came through about four days after we decided to move). Hanging out with Sergio while I can. Watching Rolo and Sergio play MarioKart (I played one round and made everyone nauseous with my poor steering and then my thumb cramped hard). Researching the school situation for Rosalind in NM.


Nothing much! Spring is here, so the excitement of that far outweighs the tiny bit of inconvenience that comes with it. Minor inconveniences are things like the ugly snow as it melts, trash defrosting and being just everywhere around town, excessively slushy backroads and driveways so that you can’t yet take off snow tires even though all the main roads are beyond clear, too much light at bedtime. These are all very minor things in the grand scheme of things.


Springtime sun! The birds starting to come back! I saw a squirrel! Sergio is here to visit! Only 4 1/2 weeks of school left! Easy driving! Warmer temps! I got the class notebooks graded in time for midquarters after thinking I couldn’t get it done! Cheese fries for lunch! The end of the swim, piano, and scout seasons coming up soon and giving us a bit of a breather! Summer is so close I can taste it!



Hello, Loved Ones. Let me start by apologizing. We apologize for sucking so hard.

I have put off this post a bit because I do not enjoy disappointing people. I prefer to deal with that sort of thing by NOT dealing with it at all. Avoidance for the win!

Again, we suck so hard, and we know it, and we get it if you just feel too tired to stay engaged in our lives anymore. We would appreciate it if you would stick with us, but we absolutely get it. I don’t think of Sergio and myself as flaky people, but when we flake out, we do it with gusto.

Okay, okay, I’ll get to the point.

We are no longer moving back to Arkansas. We are instead moving to New Mexico.

I know that sounds weird because Sergio already moved back to Arkansas, right? The timing is a cosmic comedy of epic proportions. But the kind of comedy that makes you drop your shaking head into your hands. That kind of painful, have to look away kind of comedy.

The only way to explain this, to offer any justification, is to be honest now where I wasn’t so honest before. Sergio and I were both initially very relieved and excited at the idea of moving home to Arkansas. When you are offered a way out of Alaska at the height of winter, you sometimes overlook the problems with the offer. It is especially easy to overlook the problems when your friends and family are such a large part of the opportunity. However, the mental fog lifts not long after the light starts returning, and after we moved beyond that initial pleasure of telling everyone, imagining our lives back home, and sort of reveling in the ease of the plan, my brain kicked back to life.

Sergio and I had always had an agreed upon mental list of criteria that any future opportunity had to meet in order for us to give up our very comfortable jobs in Alaska. Proximity to family was definitely on the list, but it wasn’t the ONLY thing on the list. Yet, we took a job offer back home that met ONLY that criteria. Not a single other item was checked off!

It was at this point that I started panicking. My gut was screaming at me at literally every hour of the day that we had moved forward with a decision too quickly. I was not sleeping. At all. Remember not too long ago when I got a weighted blanket to ease my anxiety and help my sleeping? Yeah. If my life were a plot-driven narrative, that would have been foreshadowing for you guys. I was not sleeping for a very specific reason.

We moved forward anyway because Sergio is a far steadier person than me. Despite us both realizing that some parts of this move weren’t exactly ideal at this moment, we both really did like the idea of being home again and figured it would work out eventually.

Only three Wednesdays into Sergio’s new job, an offer that we had pursued back in December came tumbling unexpectedly back into our lives. It felt cruel. If this offer hadn’t been postponed due to Federal budget confusion, we would have always been headed to NM. We would never have teased people with the idea of moving home only to snatch it away again.

We actually just dismissed the offer outright at first. It’s too late! The wheels have been put into motion and there is no going back! Except that when we gave it some thought, we realized that the wheels could just be turned in a different direction. Nothing had been done yet that couldn’t be changed. So we slowed down a bit and gave it some thought, and after a few long phone conversations, we realized that the only thing standing between us and taking this opportunity was the thought of disappointing our families and friends. And this is where you get to blame our parents instead of us because had they been angry, or sad, or unsupportive, we probably would have just stayed the course. Instead, they were very understanding and supportive. With that burden lifted, we accepted the offer.

I’ve slept pretty soundly ever since. My gut is quiet and calm again. I think that is a good sign that this was the right call.

It doesn’t mean we don’t regret that our initial plan wasn’t the right plan. It would have been very nice if it had been.

I do think there was a purpose to this poor timing though. Hear me out. I was always going to wonder what opportunity we had left on the table in Arkansas if this NM move had come up first. There would have been a part of me always looking toward home as the ultimate goal. By doing it this way, I got to experience all of the feelings that came with moving home and now understand that the adage “You can’t go home again” is an adage for a reason.

I hope our friends and family will stick with us through this decision. I mean, we may not be just up the road like you expected, but we DID STILL shrink the distance by over 50 hours for most of you. Come on out and see us soon.





Mom-ing So Hard

I don’t enjoy when Easter falls right on the heels of Rosalind’s birthday. The reason is that I am very lazy. It’s too much to do a birthday and then BOOM! Easter bunny duties as well.

Basically, I was already stressed out at the idea of having to Mom it up so much on two consecutive weekends when Rolo decided to make a real challenge for me.

Weekend One: Birthday sleepover in which five children were around my house for hours on end. They didn’t all stay the whole night, but they were all there for a long time. I was definitely up past my usual bedtime. I was also miserable with allergies and have more than one picture of myself resting on the kitchen floor in between making lunch, dinner, breakfast, and cupcakes for the kids. I was taking those pictures to send to my husband so that somebody felt appropriately bad for me.

Week Between Weekends: I mostly recovered from being sick by Wednesday. I did, however, tell my students on the Monday that I didn’t intend to move out of my chair or speak anymore after giving directions, and I was true to my word. On Wednesday, Rolo asked to go to the doctor for her rattling cough. I knew she didn’t have pneumonia or a sinus infection (pretty much the only two things we go to the doctor for), but I obliged. She was put on Flonase. I didn’t have to mom so super hard that week, but it was just made all the more difficult since we were both tired and sick. We were just two tired and sick people bouncing off of each other all week.

Weekend Two: I managed to remember on Friday afternoon while grabbing some dinner groceries that Easter was THAT VERY WEEKEND. I bought eggs and some basket goodies. My bar for Easter gifts is pretty low, if you can’t tell. I had to go back later that night to find plastic eggs at the craft store next door. On Saturday we managed to dye ten real eggs. I even managed to gather my energy to let her try a variety of dying methods. Rolo then had the audacity to write a letter to the Easter bunny asking if it would PLEASE hide eggs OUTSIDE for once! How dare she. Rolo lived to regret the decision to have eggs outside when the difficulties of searching for eggs in the snow presented themselves. The most unexpected event was when a neighbor dog came and stole eggs right out from under her nose. Rude.

Not two hours after egg hunting and basket perusing, Rosalind yanked a tooth right out of her head. We had neither one been aware that it was even loose the day before and here it just came right out. Now I was on the hook for tooth fairy duties. This was getting ridiculous!

Tuesday: The very next night, Rolo came running into my room at 1 am with the dreaded words, “I puked.” This is deja vu, right? Didn’t we just do this like a month ago? By the time she was on her third puking jag at 3 am, I went to get my computer from the car to make sub plans. I was up until 4:40 am trying to get sub plans in order. She woke me up with her puking twice more (she was sleeping in my bed after 1 am) before I gave up and sat her up on the couch with cartoons at 7 am. She didn’t puke even once more all day! I’m glad and all, but it still felt sort of insulting somehow.

Nine year old Rosalind hasn’t proven to be less work than previous ages. False advertisement.


*Her cough has mostly gone, so I guess the Flonase was the right call. Her puking seems to be a bug that is going around. I’ve run into no less than three parents today, all with almost identical stories to my own. All the kids puked relentlessly for six hours and then made instant recoveries. No big deal. Knock on wood, I’ve been able to return to my normal amount of lazy mom-ing since yesterday.

Dear Rolo,

(Sorry this one is a little late, Future Rosalind. Perhaps you’ll remember one day when you read this that I was sick throughout the weekend of your birthday sleepover, and our internet went out for a couple of days, and you’ll be able to forgive my tardiness with your annual letter).

Dear Rosalind,

You are NINE years old. The time seems to be flying. While I will always wish that I could revisit you at all your ages, I really liked eight years old. It feels a lot like how much I enjoyed year four. There must be something about the every four years marker. Each of these ages present their own unique challenges, of course, but the rewards outweigh them by a long shot.

In some ways you change less and less drastically each year. There are parts of who you are that are fixed personality traits now. I no longer look at you in blob form and wonder whether you will grow up to be kind, talented, smart, patient, quiet, studious, or any other number of things. I pretty much know what you are already and just wonder how these traits will manifest over time. Smart? I think so. Talented? Are we talking about piano or soccer or chapter books about pigs? Because the answer varies. Patient? Only with babies and toddlers, but with them, endlessly so. Quiet? Not at all, but I notice more and more that you do require quiet time to recharge. Studious? Sometimes. Kind? Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. You aren’t evil or anything, but I don’t know that people will one day point out kindness as your defining feature. Acerbic, perhaps? I can list millions of examples of your kindness because you really are deeply caring and kind, but outwardly you can cut a peer down with one quick phrase. It’s not something you have found a perfect balance with yet, but I have faith that you will. I would actually say stubborn wins the award for your dominant personality trait. Intense. Anxious. Enthusiastic. Curious. Intuitive. Funny.

Knowing who you are as a person has opened up a whole new world of parenting. This seems to be the year that you entered the “companion” zone. I would not go so far as to say we are friends because I am firmly a “parents can’t be friends until close to adulthood” sort of a parent, but you are suddenly really delightful company.

You chat with me. You ask good questions. You can carry on a conversation (though you often get chastised when you ask questions and then immediately interrupt the speaker to state what you think the answer is…over and over and over until I lose my chill). You have great taste in television. I was feeling bad about our parenting skills when I realized that your favorite shows are not age-appropriate (The Office, The Good Place, Futurama), but then I realized that all of your most tolerable friends are allowed to watch the same stuff, and I felt less alone in my bad parenting. It’s not just tv shows either. Your dad and I stumbled into showing you a bunch of Stephen Spielberg movies this year. You will sit and watch musicals with me. We share a certain number of Youtube interests. You have developed a funny new appreciation for Tenacious D that cracks me up.

I know my focus on your interest in pop culture seems weird, but what I’m really trying to say is that you have reached the point of being in on all of our references, inside jokes, and useless knowledge. It makes you loads more interesting to hang out with!

Most days I would choose to hang out with you! As a person! Not because I’m your mommy, and I love you, and need to smoosh your cheeks with kisses, and sniff your hair and be in your general vicinity just because your survival depends upon it, but because I just enjoy being around you. I mean, I will totally still ALSO smoosh your cheeks with kisses and sniff your hair if you’ll let me, but you pretty much never let me. And frankly, sometimes I’m kiss-sniffing your hair these days to check if you actually used shampoo in the shower. Since the answer is sometimes no, the urge to sniff your head is decreasing slightly anyway.

You’re a fantastic travel buddy, a fairly adventurous dinner companion, a bullheaded poop-face, a flash of quick fury and almost instant regret, a caretaker of babies, a frustrating friend, a budding makeup artist, a comically conservative dresser, a voracious reader of graphic novels, an anxious gamer that prefers open worlds with few consequences, an epically bad phone conversationalist, and just a generally decent person to hang around about 83% of the time. Yeah, we should probably continue working on the other 17% and completely nail down a few of those pesky behaviors. Like seriously, the shampoo is just RIGHT THERE! Use it! But you are only just barely nine now. I suppose if you had everything figured out already, it wouldn’t make for a very exciting childhood.

Happy birthday, Rolo Cate!