Ice Cream, Tom Cruise’s Face, and Other Melty Things — August 2019 Month in Review

June melts into blissful firefly nights. July is sticky freedom.

August? August is reflection and anticipation: Did we do enough? Have the kids been appropriately bored? Were they given enough freedom to make terrible yet harmless choices? Did we use our time well, including not using it at all? Did we chase the ice cream truck enough? Are they happy?

What makes my kids happy and what makes me happy often swerve and loop towards and away from one another, although my kids’ happiness overall contributes to mine and vice versa. We’re a family after all and love makes happiness contagious. Also, there’s the chestnut that you’re only as happy as your unhappiest kid at any given moment, so there’s that.

Overall, 2019 provided us enough adventure, learning, and laziness to satisfy everyone’s pallet, although definitely not enough ice cream truck chasing.

The goal, as I told the kids before school started up again, is to keep the summer sense of adventure and play throughout the year. To be sure, this is markedly more challenging without large chunks of empty space in our daily calendar, which makes it all the more necessary.

This summer, I read two books about immortality  –  Circe and Eternal Life. Then I read Almost Everything, which deals with mortality. All three good reads in very different ways. The common bond among the three books is the message that mortality is good. Deep stuff for summer.

Olio Live, performed selections from the Pulitzer-Prize winning Olio, is a brilliant, challenging, and thoroughly satisfying listen. I hope to get my hands on the book and experience the complete works in print form.

Also got to read along with my youngest as she tackled Harry Potter. She needed some guidance with the Britishisms and keeping track of minor characters. We sat side by side and read to ourselves, with her asking questions as they arose. The introduction into the magic of that world is truly one of the things I love most about parenting. I had the same experience with one of my twins several years ago. The other twin never took to Harry Potter, although he appreciates it. This is the same way I feel about Shakespeare, which is near heresy for an English major and former English teacher.

We watched a few of the Mission Impossible movies again, starting with the most recent (not great) and working backward (better). We’ll probably watch the remainder of them in coming weeks.  Watching backwards is not really prohibitive, and prevents viewer disappointment. Plus Tom Cruise’s face grows more normal.

Go from this…
Image result for tom cruise mission impossible ghost protocol
to this!


My writing clicked along. I learned I might have aphantasia  which means I don’t see images in my mind, and certainly don’t create mental movies when I write. It makes things harder, especially writing description. I’ve always skipped over long descriptions in books because, well, they seemed kind of pointless. Just say they’re in a dungeon. I get the general concept. Move on. I don’t need to read about every nook, bat, and drip of water. That means nothing to me. Writing a novel forces me to approach description with care. I think my lack of a traditional mind’s eye can actually be an asset, a pipeline to keeping description adequate while moving the story along.

Here are some highlights of what I liked on the internet this month:

Some changes to the website in design and content coming in the next few months…looking forward to it all!

Happy September!

Surviving Summer Funtimes 2019 – Week the Penultimate


Some things are universal. Teen angst. Back to school angst. Angst about angst. August is Angstus. While still technically in summer slog mode, we careen toward the regularly scheduled frenzy.

We plan for anti-angst at the end of summer. Extra hugs. Full attention. Getting to stay up a little later. Squeezing in more yesses when appropriate. Excursions. Back-to-school shopping was tended to a few weeks ago, and we shall hold our breath and wait to routinize until we absolutely must.

I ask a lot of questions though, as craftily as possible. Are they feeling prepared? Worried? Anxious? Excited? Are they hydrated? Do they need a new water bottle? Can I get them a snack?

They’re apparently fine, mom.

I eye them like mad, looking for any clue that they’re not fine, mom. Just in case. I know they’re all pulling away at various paces, individuating and growing and groping around this world for a new handrail. Teetering into the world.

I ask a ton of questions, like some sort of over-concerned cross-examiner. Anything you want to talk about? Do you have questions about middle school? Are you staying away from vaping and bullies and looking for small ways to make someone’s day? Are your friendships solid?

We’re fine, mom.

My husband and I took the kids to the zoo last week. This was met with extreme excitement by my youngest – a budding zoologist and all-around adventurer, and with muted irritation by the tweens. There was some eye-rolling and appropriately expressed frustration that perhaps the zoo was for babies.

I listened, nodded, and made them join us. The pushback lasted until the parking lot.

Then the magic hit. Maybe because it’s a lot of walking. Or the wonder of the biodiversity. Or the fact that the “swamp” house and some other habitats are stinky as hell. But we all unclenched.

I looked at some of the animals, in these vast artificial habitats and wondered: Are they happy? Do they realize they cannot roam as much as they’d roam on their own? Do they realize they are safe? Are they safe? Do they feel like the world is gawking at their every move? Do they ever want to wander over and get some Dippin’ Dots?

Then I looked at the kids and wondered the same.

Maybe part of their zoo joy was seeing a lot of themselves in it all, amidst the wonder and the hot dogs and the peacocks and geese roaming the grounds. There’s beauty and tenderness and safety and fairly rigid boundaries and everyone really wants them to be safe and happy. And they feel like a lot of people are gawking at them. They are curiosities whose camouflage isn’t 100%.

I know they’re fine. And they will be. Fine doesn’t mean without struggle. It means capable of handling it. Capable of asking for help. Capable of doing the right thing no matter what.

Fine also sometimes means mom buys you Dippin’ Dots. Because it’s still summer.