Before the Internet: A Childhood Flashback

With all this talk of simplification and minimalism going on in the world right now, I’ve taken some time to sit on my cozy bed, in the dark, listening to only the whirr of the fan, reminiscing on what life was like 20 or so years ago. I was always ready to be a grown up, and though I think being an adult is the perfect age for me, there are a few things I miss about the “olden days” of the 90s. Here are a few of them:

Playing Grocery Store

“BEEP.” That’s the sound my make-believe cash register would make as I pulled a jug of milk smoothly over the “scanner.” I loved playing grocery store, because it gave me the chance to click away at the spare computer keyboard my parents let us play with. I’d make receipts, and write special “codes” on them for returns. My sweet mom let me save empty containers and boxes to keep on my grocery store shelves. Even now, I’ll find myself holding a box of Teddy Grahams in my hand for a few seconds too long, contemplating the joy it might bring Maggie and Ruby, who I’ve sort-of recruited to the cashier position that’s been open for 20 or so years. The sight of play food and kitchens and grocery toys still gets me thinking about our next “sale,” even though the reality of adulthood hits me when I drop $400 real dollars at H-E-B.

Collecting Chicharra Shells

Recently, I plucked a chicharra shell from a solitary tree in my parent’s backyard to show Maggie a relic of my childhood summer nights.

That’s really disgusting, Mom.” -Maggie, 4.5

That’s not exactly how I remember our brown paper lunch bags stuffed to the brim with those tiny, crunchy locust exoskeletons we’d throw in each other’s hair. We thought of them more as a treasure, a prize. Whoever collected the most was the winner (of what, I still don’t know), so we’d scour from backyard to backyard plucking, crunching, and laughing. I still don’t hear the sound of a chicharra chirping without feeling the warmth of a memory.

Playing School

“Excuse me, Johnny, will you please sit still?!” I’d scream at my imaginary class no matter where I was – inside my room or outside on the “playground.” My poor Mom probably wondered a few times if I was insane (WHICH I AM, thank you very much!) when I’d spend the afternoon grading papers, writing frantically on the chalkboard, and pouring over that day’s lesson plans. ONE TIME, my mom volunteered to make copies up at the school, and while in the copy room patiently waiting for her, I snuck a triplicate nurse’s slip into my backpack, and basically won the lottery. We never dreamed of writing on that slip until the moment was absolutely right, when a troupe of cousins came to play. When we finally “sent” that student to the nurse’s office, we slowly, firmly pressed our white-bodied Bic Pen ink on the form, letting our letters glide importantly over the lines and check boxes, one by one. Don’t forget the tacky, huge signature at the bottom that every teacher must sign when doing something as important as this.

Coloring the Day Away

I can close my eyes and SEE the box of used, broken, very loved crayons we had at my Grandma Glen’s house next to a stack of coloring books. There were skinny crayons, fat crayons, sharpened map pencils, and even a few pens in that bucket of gold. I had no idea what stresses and worries anyone around me felt, or even the fact that my Grandma Glen was dying from ovarian cancer, because I was in another world. A waxy, beautiful world where the extent of the world’s sadness was just having to stop coloring.

Fun fact: my favorite color in the box (still!) is Cerulean Blue. Thanks, Crayola.

Stealing My Mama’s Coffee

Didn’t everyone drink the rest of their mom’s coffee while she chatted with her mom on the phone every morning? I found out years later that my mom knew I was drinking her coffee, but let me do it so that she could talk to her mom just a few minutes longer. I get it now, Mom. I totally get it.

Playing Outside Under a Street Light

Despite mutant mosquitos and the fading sun, the neighborhood kid bunch carried on, while our parents sat in the driveway in lawn chairs that looked like colorful seatbelt straps woven together, drinking margaritas, eating chips and queso, and playing board games on card tables. The front doors of our houses would be opened and shut, about 25 times each night, while we decided whose house to create our next mess in. I remember playing hide and seek, and almost peeing my pants a few times. We’d play basketball by the glow of the streetlight until someone scraped their knee and ruined the night.

These are things I know I can’t exactly recreate for my kiddos, but I hope to channel the warmth and energy to them through similar experiences. Even when Maggie says, “Hey, Google. Read me a story” when the night finally ends.

How Many Points for Pinot Noir?

Happy Seven-Weeks-Since-Having-A-Baby Day!

It’s time for me to review (only some of) the desperate things I’ve done in the past few weeks to feel like a competent human being:

  1. Spent hundreds of dollars on some shadow ombre highlights, because you KNOW I’m not going in every 4-6 weeks to update my damned hair, but I needed some blonde to feel alive. See you in the fall, Brooke the Hair Girl, who I owe my life to.
  2. Ordered all the closet organization tools I could find, because THIS IS THE YEAR I’ll finally publish a home organization book on the side, right?
  3. Created a spreadsheet of things I need to remember to do on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis, including brushing my teeth. Wish I was joking.
  4. Went emergency clothes shopping with mom since I tried on my “normal” pants the Thursday before I went back to work and I felt like a can of just-opened biscuits.

Which brings me to my favorite self-improvement effort I’ve done so far: joining Weight Watchers. Yeah, girl, I did that! I ain’t mad about it.

After the biscuit can clothes debacle, I sat myself down in the rocking chair I’d been feeding my new baby in hours before, and gave myself five minutes to cry. Marc sweetly approached me and asked if he could do anything, and through big, dramatic tears, I declined, telling him about my five minute cry plan, and reiterating that if my girls were this size, I’d honestly think they were beautiful. So, it was 9:55AM and my five minutes was up. Time to get a move on. I joined a week later.

My main goal is to learn to be healthier, and losing weight will be a bonus. Listen, I’m fully aware that my zero-point Diet Coke is not “good” for me. But right now, it’s better than ALL THE THINGS I want to put in my mouth, so I’m taking baby steps until I can become a certified, organic, bean-sprout-eating fool. I’m already down 7.6 pounds, thankyouverymuch. I don’t even care if that was 7.6 pounds in tears from crying in the rocking chair. I’m not letting anyone rain on my parade, because I’m doing what I can to better myself, and this works for me, for now. Okay? Okay??? Wish me luck.

P.S. New Rule: if you search for the things that you really want, and it doesn’t show up, you get to go with the lowest point of all the listings. Pretty sure Weight Watchers would approve.

Love you all, and the desperate things you’re doing to make yourself a better one.

Love You More, Girl Dad

Dear Marc,

We’ve been together for half our lives, but I still learn something new about you nearly every day. Sometimes it’s good, like when I learn that you can sense when I need you to do things like pick up around the house without me asking you to. Sometimes I learn less-awesome things about you, like that throwing your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of next to the hamper is apparently more difficult. (I still love you, though). But you know, we’re in the thick of raising a 2.5 year old little girl/crazypants, and getting ready for another, and I’ve been meaning to sit down and tell you what else I’ve really learned about you in the past few years that I honestly didn’t expect to.

You and I have had our ups and downs, haven’t we? We’ve ranged from “How are we gonna do this marriage anymore?” to “I’m glad we get to do this life together, exactly how it is.” I look at our lives now and thank God we made it through those bad times – Jesus – look what we’d be missing. Especially our kids. Which brings me to my real point, Bub.

I always knew you’d be a good dad, but I have to admit that when I found out we were having a girl the first time, I wasn’t sure how you’d navigate that one. You already have Crazy Me, and here comes this other Thing that could be crazy too. Being a sensitive teddy bear ain’t your thang, and I’m cool with that, but this little person is going to need you even more than I do, and she’s going to count on you to help build her up in this weird world. You don’t even have a pet name for me, because my name is, in fact, Alyssa. How were you going to handle this new person who will hope for bubbles and laughing, and thriving, and loving? (You know, Me 2.0?)

And then you knocked it out of the fucking ballpark, dude.

The minute we became parents together, it all changed, didn’t it? The last two and a half years have dragged on, and flown by, all at the same time, and it’s you who has been my slow-and-steady friend through the magic and the miserable. But even bigger than me and you is your love for our daughter, and that’s what makes me most proud to be your wife, your co-parent, and your friend. And if we had to nail down an exact moment when I knew you win this Girl Dad thing, it was when you bought Maggie FOR HER SECOND BIRTHDAY I Dissent, about Ruth Bader Ginsburg being a strong, smart little lady. Sigh. We’re yours, forever and ever.

Listen, you drive us crazy with your rules and things, (Why can’t we have 8 kittens???) but we appreciate you, and love you more than M&Ms, which is a lot. You’re really our hero.

Now go put your clothes in the hamper.

KLpbsmp

marc and mags